Monday, December 30, 2013

"This snow is a lot different from the stuff in Idaho."-Elder Ontiveros

Dearest Family of Mine,

I love you! I am so grateful to have received emails from Aunt Becky, Brooke, Michael, and Dad! I really live off of the strength those emails give to me. Thank you so much for always updating me on what is going on back home. I'm sorry if I can't answer all the questions which I have received, but I love each one of you and I read every email that comes into my inbox. Each one is noted and loved.

This week has been soooooooo cold! It still hasn't dipped below zero, but the coldest temperature that I've seen on the thermometer has been 7 degrees. It snowed on Sunday morning, and while Elder Ontiveros and I were walking to wake up someone for church, he looked up at the snow and said, "This snow is a lot different from the snow in Idaho. It's a ton more fluffy out here. It just floats down to the ground." I responded, "It's a lot different than the snow we got in California too." "It snowed in California?" He asked. "Nope, just rain," I said, "That's what makes it so different." He didn't think it was a very funny joke.

Probably the highlight of the entire week is that we got to return to Nauvoo on Thursday to witness the baptism of Karen! She had completely finished the Book of Mormon and was so prepared for her baptism. She had never heard if I was coming or not, but President authorized us to go and we made it a surprise! When we showed up, it was so wonderful to see the expression on her face. Seeing Karen get baptized was probably the best experience of my mission thus far. You see, every single person that I had met up until this point on the mission that has eventually been baptized knew Elder Adamson and had been taught at least 3 or four lessons with him, so I could never tell if I was really helping the area or if I was simply riding out his success in the area. Karen was my "independence baptism"! I had never had a chance to be the senior companion and help someone come unto Christ. She wanted to so badly that I didn't have to help much, but it was still amazing!

This is Karen and her grandson Shakir. Brother Billings is the one who baptized her. 

When we were walking out of the room after the baptismal service, she told me, "I've been praying morning, noon, and night that you would show up to my baptism, and just the other day, the weather got all cold. The weather always gets all cold when you guys come over, so I knew you were coming today!"

Not only that, but I saw Elder Lindhardt stand up at the front of the room and share with everyone the most humble testimony. Seeing that Elder stand up there and bear witness, the Lord showed me just how much he had changed. I was nervous that when I left, I had failed as a trainer because I couldn't see much change in him, but the Spirit testified that I hadn't failed. He was being changed by the Lord the whole time. I wasn't a perfect trainer, and he wasn't a perfect trainee, but we had fulfilled the measure of our companionship, and had accomplished all God had designed for us. It was a beautiful moment. Now I just have to do the same for Elder Ontiveros!:)

I love you people so much. I am excited to call on Christmas! I still don't have any more info on when or what or how, but I'm excited nonetheless!


Elder Brown

PS: I'm all the way through Journal #1. I just bought a new journal today. It's a big milestone!

Right before I left my last area. It's Mike, and Buddy and Rhonda.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Whites in the washer


Last week I bought bleach for my laundry, and I put all of my white shirts into the washer together. I had never used bleach before, and I knew how bad it could be if I happened to use it wrong, so I made sure that I looked at the directions. The back of the bleach instructed me to "fill the washing machine with water and clothes, then add 1 cup bleach to soap and water solution. Wait five(5) minutes for solution to settle, then begin regular wash cycle." So, I waited 5 minutes, then started the regular wash cycle. Out came wonderfully white, pure white shirts.

This last week has been much more trying than I initially expected after reaching this area. We have had miracles of course! We have just also had many many frustrations. Finals week for the University is coming up and everyone is going out of town or is too busy to meet with us. It has been really crazy trying to find people that will actually connect with us and be taught something! Not to mention, this town has been ghostly for the past week with Thanksgiving break being in session.

The more and more I consider the time I spent bleaching my clothes, the more I think about what President initially asked me to do when he sent us to this area. He asked Elder Ontiveros and I to "Whitewash" this area. I had never thought about that phrase until now! I started to think about why anything would be "whitewashed". I think the reasoning would have to be because something was previously stained, tainted, or soiled. This area had some ground in distrust for the missionaries, be it member, nonmember, and less active. The Lord didn't even trust the missionaries here for a while! To align this with my allegory, the whites were put into the washer, and the Lord applied the bleach. He put his Spirit over this area, and He is softening the people here, but it does require some time and some patience. I honestly think Elder Ontiveros and I got tossed in with the wash. God doesn't waste his resources. He's bleaching his missionaries too! I feel like each day is a serious personal purification. Soon, out will come wonderfully white, pure missionaries and members.

There has been such a cool miracle here though! A majority of the people that we have contacted have been Chinese students studying here at Truman State, and they are really cool kids. Their culture is so unique and interesting. I find it truly fascinating! But one young man in particular that I have to point out is N*o (yes, just like the Matrix). We knocked on his door the other day, and as we spoke with him, we asked if he believed in God. "No." He said, a bit puzzled that we would even ask.

"Well," we replied, "God exists! He made you. He is your Father!" N*o nodded. "N*o, if God made all of us, do you know what that makes me and you?" I asked.

He shook his head again, this time a little interested, "No..."

"That means we're brothers, man!"

"Oh! Cool!" He said, a smile coming across his face.

We went back two days later and shared all about who God is and how awesome it is that we get to pray. A chinese recent convert came along with us. It was such a powerful experience to see this young man who had had no idea who God is or, for that matter, who HE is, begin to understand. He does have a long, long way to go before he can really make the baptismal promise, but he has identified the Spirit speaking to him. The next day when we were in the church building showing him around, he identified the Spirit in the chapel, saying that the room "feels good."

Don't take for granted how incredible it is that God is real, and that you know that! Also, don't take for granted that He has ASKED you to talk to Him. That is such a marvelous blessing and privilege.

I love you guys! Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!


Elder Brown

Wednesday, December 11, 2013



   Hello again from Iowa! News this week? We've seen another miracle! K*itlyn, our long time investigator, FINALLY got baptized. After much trial and tribulation, she finally decided to make her covenant with Heavenly Father. It was a long and crazy ride, but it was one that really helped ME understand why baptism is so vital.

   Another amazing miracle of the whole baptism is that J*sey, our Recent Convert who was the one who helped K*itlyn get committed in the first place, spoke at the baptism! For only being twelve, she did a phenomenal job.

   I'm sorry I don't have many words today. It has been a draining week... I'll tell you a couple of the specifics:
1. One of my zone leaders, and the last missionary of my original district, finally went home today. I had held onto him, my trainer, and my other district leader, and after six months, I feel a bit... left behind. It's amazing to be on a mission, but it is sad to lose those who have been your family out here.
2. I'm getting transferred. President Jensen called today and asked if I would once again train and be district leader as well as whitewash an area. I accepted, but I'm still trying to get past that all. I've been here for nearly 6 months! I just don't quite know what to do with myself now. I guess I'll just move on to companion number 3.

I don't think anything is necessarily wrong. It's just a week of goodbyes and big changes. It feels a lot like when I left college. Just like everything is changing, and it's not going the way I wanted it to go! Luckily, I have a sure knowledge that everything is going to be pretty much identical to what it has been in my last area. Still doors to knock on. Still sheep to feed. Still people to love. Still fun to be had:)
Dad, I loved to hear about your wonderful missionary experiences! You are such a phenomenal man and I love you so much. Keep up the good work. I really hope all of you can feel the love and the prayers and the joy that fills my heart when I think of the fact that we are going to be a family forever.
Keep reading the Book of Mormon! It is the GREAT RETAINER of testimony.

Elder Brown