Sunday, September 29, 2013

No rain, but a whole lotta water!:)


My 13 year old buddy in the branch whose last name is also Brown. I let him wear one of my name tags...

We had another baptism! L*vi got baptized on Saturday, and that was sooooo neat. We found L*vi about 2 months ago when we knocked on the door of a less active man and his family, and Levi came out and said, "hey guys, I want to be baptized!"

So what did we say?!
"No way! Find another church!"
Just kidding!:)  After a moment of stunned silence where our mouths hanging open, We said, "Well you asked the right people!"

Baptismal font in Nauvoo 

Now two months later, Levi is a member of the Lord's church on the earth. We had such an amazing baptism for this 9 year old boy, where he bore his testimony and talked about how he wanted to "be closer to God and live a longer life." At first when we started to teach him, I was pretty nervous that he would get baptized and then fall away just like his dad, but as he was up there talking, I felt the Spirit testifying that one day, L*vi would be leading a ward or branch and helping others to come to Christ. He might have a tough road ahead of him, but he will make it. He's on the Lord's side now.
L*vi and us and his grandpa!

Dad, I love the picture of mom's grave. We knocked on the door of a lady whose name was Cindy the other day, and I couldn't help but tell her how wonderful mom was and is. She wasn't interested, but I really loved that minute connection that I had with her. How are you doing with everything?
Seeing Mom's grave makes it a little bit more real. It's still hard to imagine she isn't around anymore, but I know that she sure isn't GONE! We have been giving people tours of the church building, where we take them through different rooms and share the Plan of Salvation with them. Each time we enter Spirit Paradise, I feel strongly that Mom is doing the same work. She's telling them about Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring! Those things are eternal. Those things matter.
So Shaun gets home this week huh? How weird... tell him I love him a lot and he is super great. I really look up to Shaun a lot. He is one of the reasons I know that this mission is possible and this mission can be a blast! Shaun knows how to have fun, and I know that he made the mission one of the most fun things for each one of his companions.
That's something that I struggle with a bit. What do you suggest for having fun? I feel like with training I should try to be serious and help my companion to focus a little bit more, but at the same time, I get tunnel vision and I hate every minute if I do that! I really want to be able to have fun!!!! I need to learn to do the Lord's work in a way that allows me to be really happy, and also be really effective. I think a few laughs along the way will increase my effectiveness.
Tell me more about the waterski trip!
What is Brooklyn learning about in Kindergarten?
I love the letters I get from each one of you guys! They are pretty funny, especially the one from Brooklyn and Chase about how aliens took over our pool...:)
The gospel is true! Study it each day. I love you all!
Elder Brown

PS Pictures are of me and  Also a picture of the Baptismal font in Nauvoo and one of Levi and us and his grandpa!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Growing a third arm makes running much harder!

Hiowa! (Pronounced Hi-O-Wa... Say it out loud. I made it up, cause I'm in Iowa...:))

Here I am again, one week further into the mission! Just to explain the title of my email, I need to spin you a little story first.

So Elder Lindhardt was a cross country runner in high school, and he was pretty good too. We go running every other morning, just like Elder Adamson and I would. Now, I don't want to give anyone any crazy ideas, so let me explain. When I say run, I mean that Elder Lindhardt runs and I frequently ask him to slow down so I don't keel over and die. If we make it two miles, it's been a good day. But! I need to stay in shape, so we keep running!

Our regular course that we run is down by the Mississippi in a park right along the banks. For those of you who have never been to the Mississippi or have any illusions about it's cleanliness, it's probably the grossest river I've ever seen. It has these MASSIVE lily pads growing in huge patches all over the place. I'm 90% sure that it's toxic, and I have a hard time imagining why people would take a boat out on it, but they do!

So, naturally, today as we ran by the river, my companion said, "man, I really want to go and touch that water." I responded as my old companion would have, "If you do, you'll probably grow a third arm." "Wait, from where? Like my stomach?" Elder Lindhardt says with a puzzled look on his face, then suddenly he grins, "Sweet. I'm gonna go touch it!"

I wish it HAD made him grow a third arm. Maybe it would have slowed him down and helped me out a bit with the crazy pace! But alas, he still only has 2 arms!

Anyway, I have some serious questions! Dad, you told me when Melanie leaves on her mission, but you definitely left out where she is going! That's really important! Also, I can't believe Shaun is home. That is amazing! It seems like he has been gone for forever, but at the same time, he was at college for a long time before he left as well. It sounds like he really did some good work down there in Brazil. That's why I love that guy! Tell him I say hello and welcome home!

Also, Brooke and Lyle sound like they are doing so good! I loved hearing about them canning and making dried fruit with Aunt Becky. I love them both a lot!

Dad, about what you mentioned with the grief for mom, that is actually very interesting. This last week was probably the hardest week of my life for the exact same reason, but here is the story.

We had Elder Robert C. Gay of the Seventy come to our mission this last week and give us a zone conference, and out of the 8 zones (about 190 missionaries) he interviewed 4 missionaries. One of the missionaries that he interviewed was me! I knew my time would be short, so the second I got in there, I started to just spill my guts to him. You see, when Mom passed, President Jergensen had been my mission president and he had helped me a lot. Not only that, but Elder Adamson knew the intricate details of the whole situation, and HE helped me a lot. Well, President Jergensen left shortly after I arrived, and then Elder Adamson just left last month. That made me feel more alone than I think I ever have before, and the feelings of stress and grief came rushing back. After I had told all of this to Elder Gay, he asked me to stay for another few minutes while he interviewed the other missionaries, and right after, he wanted to give me a blessing with President Jensen.

That blessing said that I would have the power to discern Mom's hand in the work that I was doing, along with the blessing that I would be able to turn to my mission president at any time that I needed. It also gave other blessings and told me to "get lost in the lives of the investigators."

The next morning, while pondering this spiritual experience, I began to pray harder than I have ever prayed in my life that I would have discernment right then. I began to ask my Heavenly Father if He would please just have Mom appear to me. Others have seen their loved ones, so why couldn't I? I prayed and prayed and prayed, but nothing happened. I went back to my studies feeling defeated, but with a prompting. "Read John 14" This is the scripture I read.

18 "I will not leave you comfortless (the greek footnote is "orphaned"); I will come to you."
19 "Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more; But ye shall see me: Because I live, ye shall live also." I learned that right now she is in a place where physically, I won't see her for a long time, but His promise still stands: "ye shall see [her]: Because [she] lives"
27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

I wanted flashy and immediate, but that is how the world gives. he does things a bit differently. he gives quietly, patiently, powerfully, and CONSTANTLY. He gives individually.

I know the gospel is true. I feel the prayers that you send my way every day. I wouldn't have made it this far without help from each of my family members. I'm sorry this is so long, but I've had a lot on my mind this week! Sorry sorry sorry. Thank you for taking the time to read this!

I love you Dad. I love you family! Thank you for everything you do. Hold on to His hand. He won't let you down!


Elder Brown

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Father Knows Best

I love you all sooooo much! I keep our big family picture in the front of my Book of Mormon so I can show everyone else how amazing my family is. I really do feel blessed to have such an incredible group of people that I am related to. I'm sorry I didn't get to write you yesterday, but it was Labor day and the library was closed up. So we instead have permission to write you on Tuesday!
Dad, thank you for your kind encouragement. I think more than anything I just need to work at it all before I really can feel comfortable in any calling. I love how you said the part about "congratulations". I definitely feel as though when people say congratulations it's like they are patting you on the back for getting a promotion... but it just doesn't click for me the same way. Sure! It feels good that the Lord trusts you enough to call you, but at the same time, I didn't really WANT to have to tell a bunch of other people how to do a job that they have been doing a whole lot longer than I have. Regardless, I'm going to do my best, and I'm going to love the time that the Lord gives me to serve Him in ANY capacity He needs.

Now being a trainer, that is a whole different story. Elder Lindhardt is my new companion. He is 18 years old and he is from St George, Utah. He is extremely enthusiastic and ready to do missionary work. To give you an idea about his personality, he reminds me a LOT of Drew Boyles. He is really funny and has the greatest laugh I've ever heard. He makes me feel good about myself because he laughs at all my stupid jokes. It's great! He is a really good missionary. At the same time, training is kinda crazy. I feel like I still have no idea what I'm doing, but my companion still hasn't been out for enough time to make any decisions in any way, so it's all on me at this point. He'll pick up quickly, but I'm a slow learner. He still has the attitude of "Father Knows Best" in all situations. I have an attitude of, "Wherever the car takes us"... Which hopefully is influenced by the Spirit! I love growing so much though. It is kinda painful at times, but it is so good for me.
An experience for you though! A few weeks ago, a recent convert of a little over a year introduced us to his 11 year old cousin Josie, and she started meeting with us after we invited her to be baptized. She has come to church twice and is really excited, but her parents, who we have talked on the phone with multiple times but never met in person, began becoming a bit antagonistic. So, we felt impressed that we really needed to set up a meeting with her dad specifically to meet in person rather than just with phone permission. As we talked to him on the phone, he said, "Elder Brown, I just want to know what you are teaching my little girl. I want her to know the Lord, and I don't care where she goes, I just want to know what you are teaching her."  We are meeting him tonight and hopefully we can invite him to investigate as well. I just see that as a miracle! The Lord sometimes works through His younger children to influence the older generation. I am excited to meet him.
Chase, thank you so much for your incredible example. I know that I can do it because I am related to you. Many times I have wondered how you must have felt on your mission, and I have looked to your example to carry me through the hard days. I am so grateful for you and Delphine both. I will make sure to follow your advice.
Michael, I love to get your letters and I am sorry I don't have a ton of time to reply each week, but I will do so when I can! I love you and your little family. I am excited to see Gwen when she is up and walking in 2 years!
Aunt Becky,  How is living with Brooke and Lyle? Are you and Brookie having a blast still? I remember how often she loved to go to your home and hang out with you during the summers.
I have such a profound love for each one of you, and I can feel your prayers like they are tangible hands lifting my spirits each day. I can't quite express how I feel in words! Just remember, this family is eternal! I have a testimony that we are feeling celestial glory each time we work together as a family unit. I love you all!
D&C 10:5

Elder Brown