Saturday, August 31, 2013

Here I am!


Dad, I really really loved to get that letter from President Davis about what a stellar missionary you were. That really gave me a boost and made me want to be better! Also, you must be in super good shape. I can't believe these distances you are telling me! Is it pretty hard to keep the yard up without a lot of help from the kids anymore?

So for this week, it is only 3 days until transfers, and Elder Adamson is going home! I feel like I'm going to mess up Fort Madison really badly, especially since they decided to have me train... Me. The missionary who has been out three months. To train. mmhmm. Great. Elder Adamson has described this change as "the blind leading the blind." Good thing Christ has healed a few of those in His time;)

Elder Adamson and I spoke in church yesterday on sacrifice. It was really funny, because when the Branch Presidency member was introducing us, he said, "our two speakers for the day both have the same first name!" meaning "Elder". Then I stood up to give my talk and told everybody that we had the same REAL first name! meaning Brett. It was pretty funny.

Most of the week has been the same ol same ol though. We have been working with quite a few less actives, and trying to find new investigators. Knocking doors is always kind of a fun experience because you NEVER know what is behind that door. We did knock on this one guy's door, and he opened the door and said "What can I do for you two?" "Well!" We responded, "we are sharing a message..." He quickly cut us off and said, "Not with me you're not!" Bang.

Then, a little later on, we knock on this door and somebody inside yells, "Oh man! The Jehovah Witnesses!" The guy was pretty nice though. Just a little disinterested. But let me tell you! When somebody thinks you are a Jehovah Witness, it feels like plain old Identity Theft. But I guess that's just our cross to bear!

I love you guys a whole lot, and I am really starting to love the mission. I have met so many great people and continue to meet them. I finally feel comfortable wearing a name tag and doing missionary work all day! It really is the most fulfilling work.


Elder Brown

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Live"... from Elder Brett Brown

Of Courage and Covenants

This week has been so incredible. Rh*nda was baptized! In just 8 weeks, this wonderful lady met us, changed her entire life, and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She asked me to baptize her, and it was an unforgettable spiritual experience. Nothing feels better than exercising priesthood authority to help someone else come closer to their Heavenly Father.

Before I launch into that though, Dad, I'm going shopping for a sidebag and all that good stuff today, so thank you so much for your help with the finances of everything! I'm sorry you haven't been feeling good. Knowing your schedule though, I can't imagine that you haven't gotten sick sooner! Who have you set apart to go on a mission that I would know recently? How many missionaries are out from our stake currently?
So for the baptism. I'm not going to say other cool things didn't happen this week, but here are the highlights. As missionaries, we share the Restoration at every baptismal service while the people participating in the ordinance are changing out of their wet clothes. Because Elder Adamson was solo on this one (I baptized Rh*nda, so I was changing) He decided to compile Rh*nda's incredible story from his journal entries and read it with scriptures laced throughout it to teach the Restoration. It was powerful! The whole baptism was permeated with the Spirit. To think that 8 weeks prior to this service, she had no idea that the missionaries lived just down the street or that her next door neighbor was a wonderful member of the branch, and now her whole life is changed? It's just unreal how much the Lord has guided each and every member of her story to bring her to this point. She bore her testimony shortly after the ordinance, and spoke of the wonderful people that had been the answer to many prayers along the way. I got her testimony recorded on this little recorder! So handy. Thanks for that again.
After the baptism, Sister Speir (her neighbor), Rh*nda and the two of us went over and walked around the Nauvoo temple. As we walked around and the sun went down over the Mississippi, there was a surreal peace that filled my heart, and subdued each one of us. I looked up at the windows of the temple and felt very distinctly that Mom understood exactly the feelings that I knew at that very moment, and that she was feeling that way. I felt my heart, after two months of being heavier than I ever admitted, truly heal. I know that only through temple ordinances can the Atonement heal us UTTERLY. Only through Jesus Christ can this healing really occur. He is so proud of Rh*nda, and is so proud of all those who make and keep sacred covenants.

Don't ever allow yourself to forget the promises you have made. They will link us for eternity, and I, for one, don't want to lose a single one of you. Keep your courage. Keep your covenants. He will provide for the rest.
All the love in my heart,

Elder Brown

Friday, August 16, 2013

Boy, do I love you guys!!

Well Howdy!

Here I am again, still on a mission. Just in case you forgot, I'm in Iowa. Well, that about covers our review section for the day!
Just to start off, thank you sooooo much for all of the emails that I got! I loved them all! I'm sad to hear that Brooke and Lyle are leaving for Sacramento, but I'm sure they are going to have so much fun living with Aunt Becky. And Brooke, you are such a great missionary! I had no idea that you have been going out with the missionaries! That will bless your life so much. Missionaries NEED member help. Finding a good member to accompany you is like finding a paddle on a rowboat. You need it to be able to really GO anywhere. I have felt the blessings of member missionaries as I have worked with Rh*nda. She's getting baptized on Saturday, and she has asked me to perform the ordinance! But her baptism has largely been accomplished by her neighbor, a member of the church who has become her best friend! This wonderful sister has been an answer to desperate prayers for help. Thank you for your efforts, and keep it up! The missionaries need you.
Michael, I'm excited for your new job! Let me know how Full-Timin' it goes for you! Let me tell you, knocking on doors isn't gonna help if you want to sell your accounting services. You should make an area book. That'll do the trick! Pass it on to future accountants so they can see your "formers, potentials, and such." Finding is the best when you have a good area book! hahaha
Dad, I love to get Mom's letters each week. Those always come in such good time. I love to hear from you and to hear about you training for the triathalon. Brooke says you are in really good shape! Are you getting buff?! It's fun to hear about Caleb crawling around everywhere:)
OK! News for the week. This week I learned a ton. A ton a ton a ton. I have really felt humbled this week. We've had a couple lessons that I just tried to wrestle with the whole time, and I just wouldn't allow the Spirit to take over, so naturally, they didn't go anywhere. It's hard to do this because every time I think I've finally got missionary work, I get another curve ball. But I'm learning, I think. I keep praying that the Lord will keep me around. I know I'm still pretty unreliable, but I'm trying. The hard part is that I really felt prepared, but I still struggle to apply the things that I'm learning. But He will help me. "I know in whom I have trusted" as Nephi says.
I went on an exchange with Elder Austin, my Zone Leader, and we went finding for most of the day. He is such a good missionary. I love that guy! He taught me that you HAVE to be yourself if you are doing missionary work. People don't respond to robots. I'm not sure if you've noticed ever, but I tend to be a bit robotic at times... NO MORE! I want to change so desperately. I want to turn myself over to the Lord, but it is hard work. It's like Brooke said in her letter when she quoted Elder Anderson, "Repentance is a journey." And so it is.
I love you all! I know the gospel is true, and no one can truly improve their life without it. Keep your faith burning bright, and the Master will mold you into a new creature. Jeremiah 18:6.
All the love that I have,
Elder Brown

PS. As for these pictures, it's amazing how much facial hair you can grow in between 9 30 and 10 30 PM. Just some pictures of our "9 o clock shadow."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Spiritual truth doesn't come from logic

You know, whenever Chase sent letters home, he always got to start his letter with some foreign language, so I decided I'd try that too. As weird as some people talk out here in Iowa, it's still not a foreign language...
Anyway! I really appreciate all of the letters that I got. I included a little soundbyte recorded on the voice recorder you sent! Hope you like it! By the way, the sirens in the background at the end are an ambulance and a firetruck. They stopped at our next door neighbor's... I don't have a clue why.
I had no idea that you were doing a triathalon until Grandpa told me, Dad! That's awesome! Are you and Michael doing that together? And I love hearing about stake coordination and how that goes. You are a wonderful missionary, and I bet it's neat to work with the mission president as well. As for having 26 baptisms in the stake, that's INCREDIBLE. Our zone covers about half of a stake, and we average about 6 baptisms a month. I don't know what you are doing, but keep it up! haha
Is Chase thinking about someday settling at an accounting firm like the one that Michael is at? That would be so fun if EVERYONE ended up in Chico. I solemnly swear that I will try to end up there:)
It's gotta be kinda a party with everyone at home now. How is it having Brooklyn and Caleb there? Is Caleb starting to walk or anything yet?
So for this week, we had a little scare with our golden investigator! Do you remember me talking about R*onda? She was the lady that was a miracle when we found her. We taught her the Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity and Law of Tithing all in the same lesson. At first she was great with all of them! She was living them anyway, all except for the fact that she drank tea. We had a misunderstanding where she thought that she was going to be able to drink a certain type of tea, so we tried to clear it up in the next lesson. The members that were at the lesson are so wonderful for R*onda, but the discussion got kinda crazy cause she didn't want to give up her tea. She had done a lot of research on how it was really good for you, and we started trying to prove logically that it was bad. NEVER USE LOGIC. The Spirit is the only one that can confirm truth. Proof of spiritual truths doesn't do a thing. They need a testimony of it. so, at the end, when everything was kinda intense, we bore our testimonies on the word of wisdom then asked her to pray about it.
The next day we watched the pageant with her, and she mentioned that we had taken away "her tea flavored lollipop..." Suspicious.
She needed to be living the Word of Wisdom by Saturday, and we helped her move on Friday, so we were going to bring it up again. When we started into the conversation, she interrupted and said, "guys, I gave it up the night we talked about it. I'm sorry that I was acting like a two year old!" She laughed, and I cried for joy. It was a miracle! this woman is truly an answer to prayers.
Now for your questions, Dad.
I have been very very lonely without my guitar... I miss it so much! It's a necessary sacrifice, but boy do I wish I could play it! A couple of weeks ago a member offered that I could play hers, but we were running out of time, and it took all my willpower to say no. Oh boy I miss it a lot! It's just hard not to be constantly creating that thing. It was something I focused on daily if not hourly. It was part of who I was! But I'm doing good without it. I have found other ways to relieve my stress!
Local customs... well, tons of men walk around with their shirts off. Pretty much no man wears a shirt on a hot day except for the missionaries. I have no idea why... too many lessons have been taught to shirtless dudes in my opinion! haha just kidding. I really love it here! It has a very laid back culture of sitting in your yard and visiting with neighbors.
Remember, the gospel is true!
Elder Brown