Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Day

Family!

I loved talking to you guys. I cannot believe how big all the kids are and seeing Caleb talk was unreal. I hate to think that you guys are doing fun things without me, so make sure that in the next little while your lives are boring. I don't want to miss out!

Just for those that don't know, Cory did not get baptized, but it was an awesome experience to have him come to church this last week. He is starting to open up quite a bit more. I don't really know what it is.

Our other focuses have been on a family we were led to a few weeks ago, Jessica and Clint. They are so cool, and we love them! It is helpful to have people that are so humble that you can work with. I've started to think that the most vital attribute for anyone to have if they are going to learn is humility. Although it is "impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance", I also am under the impression that it's equally as hard for a man to be saved when he has all knowledge, and pride to boot. SO! I'm really grateful for them. They humbly want to learn as much as the Lord will teach them.

It's also caused a bit of reflection on my own personality, because, well... I can be pretty darn prideful. It's always been difficult for me to accept counsel from others, especially those that are younger than me. I really want to change that. Elder Wardell, for example, is so smart and wonderful and full of faith, but a lot of times, I get the mentality that it's a "me and him" companionship, rather than a "we". I'm praying for that humility to be completely unified with him. He has it nailed already.

I love you all! Not much to say about this week that I didn't already say!

Keep your testimonies strong and your conversion stronger!

Elder Brown

Picture: The Loves gave us toilet paper for Christmas. Who knew that would be such a precious gift?


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Love's Christmas

Family!

Happy December! It was so exciting for me to walk upstairs today and see the Love's Christmas tree and lights all over the house. I was so pumped because I just LOVE Christmas. Being a missionary during Christmas is super weird, but I definitely don't want to be anything else during this time. I've realized more and more now that the time is a little shorter than it used to be how much of a blessing it truly is to be a full time servant. I've also realized that sometimes I act like a part time servant. My mind will remain focused! 

Thanksgiving was so so so fun. We spent the main portion of the day doing district meeting and then having our studies, then we went upstairs and helped the Love's make final Thanksgiving preparations. The night before, Sister Love asked me what Mom's favorite traditions were. I told her about the red cabbage turkey that we always made. Lo and behold, when we went upstairs the next morning, a red cabbage, cheese, sausage, and pickles were all laid out on the table beside skewers. Sister Love told me that I would have to put it together, but she had all the ingredients. What a sweet surprise. I miss Mom a lot, so it was a good thing for me to be able to remember her in that way.

We spent the rest of the day going from one place to the other, eating this, and then eating some more. I think every house we went to made me my own individual gluten free pumpkin pie and then made me take it home. I never want to see another pumpkin pie in my entire life.

But the week ended off with a fantastic climax. Cory, the young man who I mentioned last week, came to a baptism of someone else, and he liked it quite a bit. I feel like Cory's going to make it. He's got to! Someone's GOT to make it!

One last bit of info. Elder Kay is getting transferred for real this time around. I'm going to miss him a lot. He has been a powerful teacher for me here in Quincy. I've learned a ton from him. He is the easiest person to get along with, and he never takes himself too seriously. I love him and wish him the best in his new area.

Man, this email feels like an infomercial. 

Well, I love you! Hope you all have a great week!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

White Thanksgiving

Family!

It snowed here for the first time last week! I don't even know what to think. Last winter was MISERABLY cold, and I have not been looking forward to this one rolling in. Last winter had been the coldest and most snowy in the past 20 years, and they said this winter is supposed to be just as bad. I didn't think I realized this phenomenon last year, but the colder it gets, the more we smell like cigarett smoke. Think that's strange? Think again! You see, a large majority of people that we teach smoke cigarettes, and during the spring, summer and fall they find the initiative to smoke outside... but not so during the winter! -10 degrees sends them back indoors, cigarettes and all. It is a blessing in disguise, however, because a lot of people will have a desire to quit during the winter months that they never possessed before that. Pretty neat if you ask me.

This last week was a good one! We got to teach a whole lot of people who were all great. This guy named Cory that we are teaching is really starting to change. He has been reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it, and when we taught him on Saturday, he physically LOOKED different than before. His countenance is beginning to change. I loved that. 

We also had the opportunity to work with a man named Dan and invite him to church. He has also been praying and reading the Book of Mormon, and he came to church yesterday! He loved it, and on the way home, he said, "Man, I am just completely sold on your church!" He has already identified that he knows the Book of Mormon is true... we'll see where it goes! He is a good man.

Things are great out here! I'm going to restrain myself during Thanksgiving so I don't get too huge:) Should be a great day! 

Transfer week is next week. Elder Kay will probably be leaving since we have been together for 3 transfers already. Wouldn't it be nuts if we stayed together for four? We could definitely pull it off. I love this guy. He is reliable and easy to get along with. He has a deep doctrinal understanding and cares deeply about the work. He is great. Who knows! I wonder what the Lord has in store.

I love you all!

Elder Brown

Picture: (From left) Sister Browne, Sister Brown, Sister White, Elder Brown[me] and Elder Brown. Pretty impressive, huh? :)


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Monday, November 10, 2014

Halloween Photos



Gospel Restored to Earth!

Family!

First, I just have to let you know, the gospel HAS been restored! I know it with every fiber of my being. The message has power in the lives of those who will seek to understand it, but it starts with a spark of desire, and a willingness to act.

This last week, our investigator from Canton who is in a wheelchair(Jacob), came to church! He was announcing to everyone that he was being baptized on the 29th of November! He wants it badly, and we had a very powerful experience with him in our last meeting.

Let me start from last Sunday. Last Sunday, Elder Kay and I fasted that someone that we were working with, or would work with in the future, would actually begin to read and ponder on the Book of Mormon. It is the center of our message, and we have been pushing with all of our might to help people to actually read it and seek to know if it's message is true. We had reached a point of frustration as we had tried, time and time again to help our investigators progress. In a phone call with a mission leader, he related that "people suddenly become more solid as they read the Book of Mormon on their own." It was a small start to the answer we were looking for.

This week, 3 of the Lord's investigators in our area began to search the Book of Mormon. We went over to Jacob's house on Saturday night to teach him the Word of Wisdom. He has a long way to go, and only 3 weeks to cover that much ground. We focused a lot on the redemptive power that baptism has on us. We testified that because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ, he could be clean from his sins and live with God forever. That's why we were teaching him about baptism and inviting him to read the Book of Mormon.

He accepted the invitation to read the Book of Mormon and live the Word of Wisdom and come to church (all of which he is doing or has done). In his closing prayer to the lesson he said, "Lord, I bless you that you have had Elder Kay and Elder Brown come and talk with me. I ask you to help me live the Word of Wisdom by November 15th so I can be baptized on the 29th. I want to be baptized so I can be clean and walk with you in heaven and with the Holy Ghost. Amen."

It was one of the most beautiful moments on my mission, and it was filled with the Spirit. I love being a missionary:)

Love,
Elder Brown

Monday, October 27, 2014

Wheelchair Miracles

Family!

Hello! I really hope that everyone out there who is reading these are appreciating my dumb jokes, because I always try to include at least one or two of them. I try really hard, but I can't physically hear anyone laughing, so we'll just assume I'm funny and keep going:)

This week was another week. Tammy is off the radar. She dropped us because of a family crisis. At least she didn't get antied!:) We stopped by and asked her about everything and she said that she just cannot devote all her time to her ailing son with her constantly having us over. We'll go back there in a few weeks to check up.

But! In other news, we've been working with this SWEET handicapped guy in a little town near Quincy. He is in a wheelchair because of a car accident he got into a few years back. I've got to tell you the story of how we found him because it is miraculous. I'm going to disguise the names for privacy's sake. 

So there is this little town called Canton where a bunch of less active members live. One of those less active members has a bunch of kids who were never baptized, but are all in their 20's. His name is Steven Gardner, and his children on our list were Jade and Joshua Gardner. Both Elder Kay and I had looked over the ward list in the very first months we were together and felt prompted to go and visit Canton, so the next time we were in the area, we scheduled some time to go and visit the less actives in that area. 

We arrived and got out of the car, walking toward the first Less Active on the list. There was nobody home, so we trekked toward the next one, about a 5 minute walk away. All the while, I just kept having the Gardner family pop into my head, and I thought, "We for sure need to visit there before we leave today." The next less active on the list was at a fake address. There was an empty lot there, but no house! So we moved on. 

All along the way, we had been prompted to knock on one or two doors, but nothing serious had happened, so we continued to search for doors we felt prompted to approach. I saw one out of the corner of my eye with a drum set in the window. I can kinda play the drums, so I was excited to talk to whoever lived there. We knocked on the door, and I could hear someone inside, but no one came to the door. We knocked again, but whoever it was was taking a long time, if they were even coming at all. Just as we were walking away, a young man in a wheelchair opened the door. As we began talking, he introduced himself as Joshua Gardner. Both Elder Kay an I almost fell off the porch because we recognized the name. He was at a COMPLETELY different address than the one on the list(one that we later discovered wasn't even correct). 

We have now been teaching him for 4 weeks, and he has felt the spirit a lot! He has a lot of issues to overcome, but his grandma is an active member in Trenton, MO, so hopefully that will help out a lot!

I love you all, and I'm grateful for your prayers!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

20 October 2014

Family!

This week was GREAT! We had a really neat week. Nearly every lesson we had set up went through. I'm pretty sure we had only 2 cancellations the entire week. When we weren't driving, we were teaching, and the great thing was, the members were all over it too! This ward is so willing to interact with us and our investigators. I really love the members.

Two main experiences that I had this week with members:

1. We have been teaching Tammy for a while now, and she is really our only solid investigator. She is a member of another church, but she likes us a lot, and she has a lot of good questions. She has been reading the Book of Mormon a bit, and she hasn't really been understanding the purpose behind it, so we have been focusing mainly on that, but early this week, she told us that one of her problems was that when we had talked about the Plan of Salvation, she had a TON of questions about it, and she never felt like she received any answers. Well, Sister Stillwell, her main fellowshipper, and really someone that has become her friend, talked to her with so much love and care and described how she had come to know of it's truthfulness. When we came back later in the week, Tammy had re read the pamphlet but still felt uneasy about the questions she had, so we looked up some scriptures with her and coached her through them. There was a sweet spirit as we read about how we lived with Father in Heaven before this life. I felt my own testimony confirmed on this point. At the end, Tammy said, "Well, turns out we DID live before this. Now I just have to ask my Pastor why he hasn't been talking about this all along!" 
  Sister Stillwell responded, "Well, he's not a prophet, so he probably won't know!" She is so funny and great. Tammy got a kick out of that.:)

2. We had Stake Conference in Nauvoo, and I got to see a ton of members from Kirksville, Fort Madison, and Quincy all together. I am and continue to be very grateful that I've served in the same stake for 10 months now. It was such a neat reunion to see these wonderful people that I love so much! I got to see Sister Speir, who was Rhonda's fellowshipper and neighbor back in Fort Madison, Brother Mogenhan, who fed us all the time, and is now PRESIDENT Mogenhan(Branch President), and Karen, who was the lady baptized just after I left Fort Madison who we had helped to quit smoking. She is doing great! She has been a member almost a year and has been called as Assistant Librarian. She talked my ear off, just like the good ol' days!:)

I just love the members. You learn so much from them out here.

I know that this is the work of the Lord. Just look at the active members of the church all around you. That is a fruit of the Gospel. They live powerful lives and contribute so much. I feel like you can't leave their presence without feeling a little bit more resolved to live like Christ. That's what being a part of His church is really like. I love it:)

I love you all! 

Elder Brown

Pics: Me fighting "Zombie Joey" after the YSA Family Home Evening. They dressed up as zombies and delivered candy as a finding tool. Kinda unique. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Grandma Brown

Family!

So, we live with our Bishop here in Quincy. It's him and his wife and their family of 7 kids. Their names are the Loves. They are so so so great! Really often after nightly planning and things are done, we'll go up and visit for a short while before 10 30 rolls around. Last night, we got to participate in family prayer and family scripture study. It was so much fun to be able to feel the Spirit in a family. I haven't felt the Spirit that way in a long time. 

Now don't get me wrong. The Spirit has taught me loads of things in Sacrament meeting, and it has been present in a lot of the lessons that we are able to teach, but it's a whole different thing seeing a mom or dad explain the scriptures to a ten year-old. There is a different type of Spirit. When you are in a home with a family who all is trying their very best to keep the commandments and love one another, that's heaven. I don't know why I didn't figure this out way earlier in life, but that's it! Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation was all about living in love in a family setting for time and all eternity.

Super cool. I love being able to live in a home like this. It's a whole different atmosphere than normal. 

Anyway! As for our week, we had a great one! There is this lady that I'll refer to as Grandma Brown, because she has the same last name as us, and she is wonderful. She has been in a wheelchair since a very very young age due to contracting polio. We met her as she was riding down the street about a month ago.

We have been trying to help her come to church this whole time we've been teaching her, but the past weeks have been a let down as we have tried everything, but something would always come up last minute and shake the plans. This week, however, we had a lesson where we read the Book of Mormon with her and one of her friends and a member from the congregation, and she was explaining all SORTS of things to her friend about the apostasy as we read 1 Nephi 13. It is amazing! I don't think I've ever heard someone understand so thoroughly the Restoration of the Gospel after just 1 month. Sister Love (Grandma to our host family) said to her, "My goodness! If you understand this much already, just wait til you come to church! You'll be dangerous!"

And then she came to church! I think it was a little bit overwhelming, but we're teaching her today, so more news to come!

I love you all! Sorry my email is scattered!

Elder Brown

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

dropped, dropped, dropped

Family,
 
This is one of those weeks that I haven't wanted to tell anyone about. We got dropped by like everyone! And it all happened on Tuesday! Everyone!
 
You may be thinking, "Everyone? Can he really mean that?" Well, no. It's an exaggeration, but we got dropped/postponed by 4 of our most solid investigators. It was rough. Not fun in the slightest. It did teach me a lot about patience though. In Kirksville, I studied patience on at least a weekly basis because of how frustrating the work was there. We worked so diligently and hardly saw success. I started to realize that, just like an engine needs oil to stay cool and not explode, we need patience in order to avoid the same type of blow out. There is something cooling and relaxing about noticing that the work of the Lord cannot be frustrated. I guess that means that the workers of the Lord can't be either... eh? What do you think?:)
 
So! We march forward! Elder Kay and I will continue to push and help these people to come to the waters of baptism, and I promise I will stop being stressed and frustrated!
 
We had a great opportunity to have interviews with President and Sister Jensen this week though! That was really fun. Because Elder Kay and I had to stick around for all of the interviews, President and Sister Jensen took us out to dinner too. It was so fun to be able to talk to them and get to know them on a less formal basis. Turns out that President Jensen is really famous in scientist circles. He's like the best, smartest guy in the whole universe. He is a geospatial engineer, and he's written like a bunch of textbooks, published 150 science journal articles, and worked for NASA.
 
We asked what their favorite vacation spot was, and they said that they went on Safari in Africa once. President said, "It's really unique. It's like a huge, diverse, incredible zoo! The only difference is that everyone is eating each other!"
 
Anyway, it was a week being a missionary. We had really hard parts and really joyful parts. It's just a rollercoaster!:)
 
I love you all! Have a fantastic week!
 
Elder Brown
 
PS Sorry I didn't email yesterday. Library was closed for Labor day.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Inundated

Family!

I think that the post office had to shut down production because of you guys this past week! You are all so wonderful! Let me tell you, even though I couldn't be there for the wedding and reunion, I have never felt so included or had so many different people talk to me! I loved all of the letters that you sent my way to help me feel present with the wedding. I can't believe how big everyone has gotten. I definitely thought the picture of Bexley and Jonas was a picture of Maddie and Noah. Maddie and Noah must be giants by now if Bex is that big, and Jonas is a baby no longer!

I had a veritable flood of letters thanks to you, and I needed a couple minutes to read them all, and so I had my companion drive today. It was so cool to be able to read them! I felt such a strong spirit as I thought about how we will all be together forever. I'm really excited for that:)

So! Some great news! Betty came to church this week! She is a 78 year old lady that we met when we knocked on her door. She is a marvelous seeker of truth. She told us so much about how good she feels as she reads the Book of Mormon and ponders about it. She has already read all of 1 Nephi in the first week she has had the book! I feel like I'm teaching my own Grandma because I feel so much love for her. I got to sit next to her in church and sing with her. Turns out she can sight read music, so she didn't even need me. But, somehow, opening up our hymn books turned into a race! She beat me two times and got to the hymn faster than I did, but no worries, I soundly defeated her the other two hymns. She didn't stand a chance. We settled for a tie, and were 2 for 2 by the end of Sacrament meeting.

No worries. We paid attention to the talks as well! We introduced her to our Bishop shortly after the meeting, and without prompting, she said, "I feel good here!" to which he replied, "Well, you are welcome anytime!"

She now has a baptism date for October 11th.

Something I learned this week though, quite unexpectedly... Satan is so powerful these days. He will do ANYTHING to destroy a family or a soul. We've had so many disappointing let downs this week with a wonderful family that dropped us and a recent convert relapsing into alcoholism to one of my favorite recent converts in Davenport distancing himself from the church slowly.

Know this, if we don't actively fight his influence and "become a new creature", Satan's power is too much for us. I am only so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ which makes us strong enough to fight back. So, moral of the story, don't you EVER think you know enough to keep you safe. Rely on the Lord. He'll support you and guide you!

I love you!

Elder Brown

Picture: A mouse in our house! 





Monday, August 4, 2014

Transferred

Family,

Here we are! The home stretch! Dad gets married this Friday! I hope that someone can give him and Holly a hug for me since I won't be there to do it myself. Congratulations!

In news from the mission, I got transferred this week! I could not be more pleased with where I got called to serve. I have only served on the East side of the mission the entire time, and the whole time I've been in the East, I've been in one of three zones: Nauvoo(Fort Madison), Quincy(Kirksville), and Davenport. I wanted so badly to be able to serve in either Nauvoo zone or Quincy zone, and Nauvoo wasn't opening up, so I was crossing my fingers all throughout transfer meeting. They kept rattling off all of the areas that were opening up and missionaries would run to each other and hoot and holler and then go to their new seat. 

The minutes ticked by. Fort Dodge zone filled up, then Ames, then Ankeny, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Des Moines and on and on. I was starting to get anxious. It could actually happen! Quincy zone would be the last one called. Davenport rolled around, and that was the last opening. I got replaced. Suddenly, there was only one more zone leader area. Elder Kay, the remaining zone leader in Quincy turned around and made binoculars with his hands, making eye contact with me. It just had to be announced and I was in Quincy!

President Jensen announced, "In the Quincy zone--" I stood up and started to scoot down the aisle in the chapel toward Elder Kay, and I saw him stand up and start moving my way as well, pretending to be sneaky, "--Elder Kay will remain and be a zone leader, and he will get a new companion--" by this point we were already standing side by side in the middle of the aisle, just waiting for it to be announced, "Elder Brett Brown!"

I whooped and gave my new companion a big old hug. I'm back in Quincy zone! I got to revisit Kirksville on Saturday and go to their district meeting. I was so incredibly excited. The Lord placed me back here so I could be grateful for everything He did for us there. While I was there, I got incredibly discouraged at times, and through the work, I sometimes wondered if we were just spinning our wheels, but since that time, there has been an explosion of baptisms into that ward, and the work has become so much that the Lord has sent two more sets of missionaries back into the district. He did it! I felt such joy as we drove through the town. I was reminded very clearly of the pain that was associated with Kirksville, but I was also filled with joy as I thought of all of the blessings that were poured out there.

Just writing this almost makes me want to cry because I'm so happy. My companion has to be the most powerful and wonderful missionary in the entire world. He is so funny and great! He is 6'4 and he's from Mona, UT. I love this guy!

I love you so much and hope you have a great week!

Elder Brown

Monday, July 28, 2014

From Saturation to Satisfaction...and I'm getting Transferred

Family!
It's that time again! President Jensen called this morning and said that I'm getting transferred... I'll be going somewhere new to be a zone leader there. It has been such a wonderful experience to be in Davenport. I have changed and grown so much as a missionary since I arrived here, and I hope I can continue to grow in my next area.
This is what I sent to President in my email today. I don't know how else to say it, so I just copied and pasted.

"I am so grateful for the time that I have been able to serve here in Davenport. Thank you so much for giving me the companions Elder Roybal and Elder Weilenmann. I have learned more than I thought I could in this short time. I can honestly say that this area was what taught me about the phrase "men are that they might have joy." Up until this point in the mission, I thought it was just about working hard all day, every day, and then getting off of the plane at the end of the two years with really beat up shoes and a bag full of stories, but this area has done something to me. It's made me realize that the happiness comes AS you work, not AFTER you work.

I'm going to be sad to leave Paul and Dorrinda and Dave and the other wonderful members here. I have grown to have an eternal love for them, and they make me want to be a better lifelong member of the church.

We love you and pray for you always!

Elder Brown"
It's difficult to describe exactly WHAT has changed, or HOW it has changed. There is a phrase in the First Presidency Message of Preach My Gospel that says this.

"Dear Fellow Missionary:
We compliment you on the great opportunity you have to be a missionary. There is no more compelling work than this, nor any which brings greater satisfaction....
The Lord will reward and richly bless you as you humbly and prayerfully serve Him. More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among His children."
I think that's the word for it. Satisfaction. That's how I feel with this area. That's how I feel with my mission. I think at the beginning I was working just to FILL my days so I COULD come home with messed up shoes and a bag full of stories. Kind of like... Saturation. I was just "saturating" my days with activities.
I like this a lot more though. "From saturation to satisfaction." Kinda catchy huh? Don't steal it. It's trademarked!:) haha just kidding.
Anyway, more to come. I love you all so much, and I'm grateful for your wonderful examples to me. Have a great week!
Love, 
Elder Brown

Monday, July 21, 2014

Today's Photo


Success and Failure

Hey Family!
It is the strangest experience. The mission has ever surprised me with it's ability to stress me out and bring me joy. Don't get me wrong, it has always been worthwhile and impressive, but the range of emotions within a single hour could not BE wider.
Let me tell you a little about it. There has been quite a bit of struggle to keep the zone working effectively. There are so many different personalities and perspectives to work with and so many differences in upbringing. We have converts, lifelong members, the previously less active, etc etc.
This last week, we saw the biggest drop in number of lessons taught in the entire time I've been here. It was painful to hear. Immediately my mind jumped to all the things we could have done better, what we could have improved on, how we could have increased this or fixed up that, but at the end of the night, I was so frazzled that I could hardly think straight!
But here is the weird part. There is so much joy in me when I look at the people that we have worked with. Dorrinda got baptized this weekend, and it was so powerful. She stood up to bear her testimony and talked about how her entire life she had searched and searched for the word of God. She knew that there was much of it contained in the Bible, but that there were also lost books of the Bible that she needed to find. One day, while over at her boyfriend Brian's house, she had stumbled across his Bible, but she noticed that it was much, much bigger than her own. She wondered what was so different about Brian's Bible, because she knew Brian was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and she had always wondered if they read the Bible.
She perused through a few chapters in Acts, noticing that some of her favorite memorized scriptures were identical. She checked out a bit of John, and noticed that was the same too, but suddenly she came across more books that she had never heard of. Nephi, Helaman, Alma, Ether, and on and on.
She called out to Brian to ask him all about it. Brian hadn't been to church in a few years, but he started by going onto LDS.org and showing her the Restoration video. She was interested.
"Well," said Brian, "The Elders are coming over tonight to teach me. Do you want to learn more?"
When we showed up that night, almost 2 months ago, she was so prepared. She is reading the Book of Mormon and understanding it so well. She has quit smoking. Brian has come back to church. They have offered to go teach with us! They are so amazing!
So, we move forward. I think I'll always worry. Even if everything was perfect, I would still find something to worry about. What can I say? It's a gift. ;)
I love you all so much!
Elder Brown
PS We went to the Nauvoo Pageant again and guess who I saw there? RHONDA CARTER!!!!!!! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D She is the greatest! I saw a bunch of people from Fort Madison too. Rhonda is going to get her endowments here soon! I'm so excited!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Aftermath of the Explosion


Pictures:

1: Dave at his baptism with some of the missionaries that have taught him.
2: Paul and I with a destroyed pinata at a member's home


14 July, 2014
Family!
For those of you who have no idea of what I'm talking about today, please reference last week's email. It's a little too complicated to re explain.
Our spiritual time bomb exploded! Dave got baptized. He is such a wonderful man. He asked me to baptize him in place of the 16 other Elders that had previously taught him. It was awesome. He was so incredibly nervous. As we were getting changed in the bathroom, he said, "I feel like that fear right before a baseball game. I'm like jittery and nervous. I just wonder if I'm ready."
He had nothing to worry about! He did fantastic and was more than prepared enough to be baptized. When we got into the font, the coolest experience happened. As I spoke the words of the prayer, the Spirit witnessed that he was ready, and he sank into the water with ease. When he came back out, I could almost SEE that he was cleaner. It was the most amazing and real thing.
We went into the bathroom to change out of our wet clothes, but before I entered the stall, I saw him turn to the wall and link his hands together behind his head. He paused for a moment, and then reverently said, "So that's what that feels like." He turned and I could see that tears were running down his cheeks.
This is the best job in the world. I love Dave. He is the best.
Also! We had a powerful experience with Paul this week! We are now the ones who teach all of the new member lessons (the five lessons out of Preach My Gospel that we must reteach after baptism. This was previously done by the home teachers.) and so we brought Paul a PMG at our most recent lesson. We then read through the Restoration lesson with him, discussing the different points. It was amazing! He was taking notes and sharing what he was learning. Suddenly, when we got to the end, he saw the baptismal invitation. We read it with him and I said, "Do you remember when we did this?"
"Yeah... I totally remember that."
"We're not as creative as you thought we were!"
Paul received the Aaronic Priesthood on Sunday and paid his first tithing check to the Bishop. He came to a member's house with us later on and as we were talking with him he said, "Hey, is it bad if I read all of the lessons in Preach My Gospel before we meet again on Tuesday?"

See why I love Paul? He's great!
I love you all! Hopefully I'll continue to have good news!
Elder Brown

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Spiritual Time Bombs

Family!
We had a great Fourth of July! All of the fireworks and explosions have left me thinking about "Spiritual Time Bombs", but I'll get there in a moment.

So the family we were with on the fourth was the Roberts family. They are here for Brother Roberts to attend Palmer University of Chiropractic. They have 4 little little kids and they both served missions, so we go over often for dinner. They are so great!

We had a mandate from the mission president to have the car parked by 6pm and from there we could go to appointments or be with members (not investigators) until 10pm, so the Roberts invited us and the other elders to come over and be with them! It was so much fun. We played ladder ball (a game where you throw two golf balls attached with a rope at a ladder apparatus to try and score points) and ate gluten free brownies etc etc. Sister Roberts lit off all of the fireworks from there since we aren't allowed to touch them...:) haha There are so many more legal fireworks here than there are in California! It was amazing! It's cause everything is so much more green and wet here, so fire danger is practically zero.

So now for the important part.
There was a missionary who gave a training in a recent district meeting who talked about how "planting seeds" just seems so cliche, but he quoted Elder Neal A. Maxwell and told us that instead, we should plant "Spiritual Time Bombs"! I like that a lot more.
Well, one exploded this week that has been ticking for nearly 3 years.
Do you remember Dave? He is the one that has just had to get married to get baptized. He was living with a member and they had all these problems with her divorce papers yada yada yada... they have pictures of the temple in their house and all that good stuff. Remember him? I have talked about him in an email before, but it was a long time ago.

Well anyway, Dave texted us Wednesday morning at around 7 20. We haven't talked to him in a week or so. His text message read, "I need to get baptized asap. I'm at work right now, so just call me later."

I pulled the phone off the charger and yelled out to Elder Weilenmann, who was in the kitchen making breakfast. "Elder! You are never going to believe this!" I walked into the other room and read aloud the text message to him. His back remained turned. He grunted at me. We had had a few experiences where we weren't sure how to help Dave, and we had had some back and forth with him, so I was pretty surprised that Elder Weilenmann didn't respond more enthusiastically.

I texted back to Dave and set down the phone and got into the shower. During companionship study, about an hour later, Elder Weilenmann said, "Sorry I didn't react more when you told me about Dave. I honestly didn't believe you and I thought you were trying to pull a prank on me. This is amazing!"

Like I would pull a prank like that. Ha! How rude would that be! :)

But we called Dave later that evening and he told us that ever since Kassi has moved out (about a month ago due to family stuff back in California), he has had to deal with a lot more issues. He has been struggling with sticking up for his beliefs and everything. This last week, there was a family party where there was alcohol involved, and Dave said that rather than being tempted, he just took his cousins out to the driving range. He mentioned that experiences like that have lead him to be ready for baptism at this time. "I've waited years for the perfect day. I just need to get this done." He said.
He's gonna explode this weekend! Saturday night he is getting baptized! We've seen more amazing and crazy miracles here than ever before on my mission! It has been such a joy to be serving in this area. I love it here:)
That's it for this week! Go light some spiritual time bombs!
Love,
Elder Brown

Monday, June 30, 2014

Picture of Paul's Baptism


The Smell You Love Most

Family!
There is this part in Harry Potter #6 where Hermione makes this new potion. The potion is supposed to be like the best thing ever, and if you make it right, it is supposed to smell like whatever you love the most. For Harry I think it smells like Quidditch or something. I can't remember. Anyway, I had a revelatory moment this week when I smelled a smell that I've come to love the most on the mission. If Hermione were to make me this potion, I'm pretty sure it would smell an awful lot like this.
Let me explain. Paul got baptized this week! (Note, In rereading this, I noticed how strange that sounds. Paul is not my favorite smell. Be patient. It's coming.) He asked me to baptize him, and it was a powerful experience. I have found such great joy in helping Paul, and he will be someone that I tell my children stories about.
The baptismal service began shortly after Rita got to meet Paul. She was really nervous, and it wasn't even her baptism! She is REALLY afraid of water! But the service went smoothly, and great talks were given. Elder Weilenmann gave a talk, and then we moved toward the font. In order to get into the font itself, you have to enter through the restroom, so Paul and I entered in from the back. Right when we entered the font room, they opened up the curtain. Inside the room smelled like chlorine. Like baptismal font water. Like...covenants.
My favorite smell is chlorine, because it reminds me of my covenants and the ones that I have had the chance to help others make.

Paul was baptized this week! I felt so much joy as he entered the waters of baptism. It seems as though each new convert that makes a decision to be baptized brings me greater joy. My very first baptism, I wondered what everybody was talking about when they said missionary work was so joyful. I felt just about the same: tired and a little bit afraid. But each person that makes steps to be baptized gets further into my heart. I think that this whole missionary experience deals more with a sort of slow, yet exponential, growth of joy than a light bulb of joy that bursts to life every time someone receives salvation. It makes me wonder what it's going to be like at the end of my life when I have a family that keeps covenants and I have friends that I have shared the gospel with, etc etc.

I wonder if this is why the Lord wants us to be missionaries forever. It is the only way our happiness can ALWAYS be increasing!
I've included an audio file with some funny stories to go along. I love you all and I'm so grateful for your support!
Love,
Elder Brown