Monday, July 28, 2014

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

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!
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 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


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
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

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!
Elder Brown