Monday, March 30, 2015

The Zone Shrinks, and So Does My Pant Size


I feel like all week long things are happening left and right, and then the moment I sit down to email, I come up blank. "Nothing happened this week!" My mind protests as I dig through the filing cabinets of memories. I have to say, this week, I agree with it.

There were some shake-ups in the zone this past week. The bottom half of our stake had the ward boundaries change fairly drastically yesterday, and it caused one of our areas to be absorbed completely into the other zone. This means our zone is now only composed of 7 areas. Isn't that ridiculous? One of the transfers I was in Fort Madison, the district alone had 6 areas! The mission is slowly stabilizing and shrinking. It is really sad to see a lot of the missionaries go, but it's the way of life out here.

Also, Bill came to church this week! It's been a long time coming, but he's committed to his date of April 25th. He is a great guy, but he'll need to overcome smoking if he's going to be baptized.

Hm... What else to report... I lost 4 pounds! Elder Swainston is a huge perfectionist, so he's making me diet with him. We run every morning and drink smoothies with spinach in them. It's weird. No comment. But hey, I'm getting good habits. I'm going to be buff as buff can be when you see me again!

We also went on exchanges in Dubuque with the Marshallese speaking elders this week. It was super fun, and I ate a bajillion different weird foods. I had tuna jerky! It's just like beef jerky, except made out of tuna. What did it taste like, you may ask? Do you know that smell when you are walking along the beach with a slight breeze coming off the water? Smells like salt and freshness, right? Suddenly, you catch a whiff of dead fish. Mix those two smells together, and you've got yourself some fish jerky!

Oh! By the way, make sure that you get some of those "BecauseHeLives" cards and start handing them out. I wanted us to be united in doing this. It's such a powerful tool! One of the best ways to motivate yourself to do it is to set a goal for yourself, such as, "every week, I'm going to hand out at least one." Then, report to Heavenly Father on your goal at the end of each week. Use this tool to share the gospel!

I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. He is the Son of God. I know this is His church on the earth today.

Love you!

Elder Brown

Picture: This is Kirby Heyborne from all the Mormon movies! He is on an ad in Dubuque.:)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nutso Busy

We were nutso busy this week. We had an exchange sandwich with zone conference in the middle. I practically didn't even SEE Elder Swainston for 3 days. It was really strange because I was in our area both times, and there is just something cool about splitting the work between two people. I just had an eye opening moment that Elder Swainston was supposed to be my companion and we were supposed to be teaching these people at this time. He is a great missionary and I look up to him a lot.
In other news, at Zone Conference I gave my departing testimony. It was a little bit weird because I'm not departing with nearly any of the other missionaries that gave their testimonies. Out of like 9 missionaries, 7 of them go home on April 10th, and Elder Allred, my MTC companion, and I go home the next transfer, so it was like giving your deathbed advice before you've even been admitted to the hospital. I felt like I should stand up there and say, "Just in case something changes between now and Summer, don't write any of this down. I'll be here all transfer. And then I'll STILL be here next transfer."
I don't know. I'm not really complaining, it just felt a tad bit premature.
But enough of my boohooing. We found quite a few new investigators this week! We just need some work on retention. We've found bajillions of people to teach, but a lot of them just fall off the map. We set up specific return appointments and leave them the appropriate commitments, but we're just sifting to find those who are willing to follow the Savior.
Which brings me to another thought. This morning I was reading in the scriptures, and Helaman 14:13 stood out to me quite a bit. Samuel the Lamanite makes a statement about those who will believe on the Savior. Look at what he says they will do if they truly believe. "And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits." I testify that that is true. The Atonement has a natural draw to it. If you understand how much Christ loves you and has done for you, sins become a lot less appealing. If you believe and have faith in Him, a natural result is repentance.

I'm so grateful for you guys. I love you and am so grateful for your testimonies. I trust that anyone with a sincere faith in Jesus Christ will eventually become purified and sanctified. The plan is a lot more simple than we sometimes make it out to be.
Keep developing faith in the Savior!
Elder Brown

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Week


This week was great. We had our Mission Leadership Council meeting in Iowa City, and then our Zone Training Meeting here in Clinton. It was so fun to be around the whole zone. I don't know if I mentioned this to you last week, but I have been working really hard to not be so selfish. It's been a large tendency of mine across my life. It just makes you miserable when all you think about is yourself. You are always worried about what you are going to say next or what other people think of you or what you look like or what type of missionary you are. If it's not that, you are the opposite side of the same scale, convinced that you are the greatest, or that your testimony is so strong, or that you are grateful the Lord made you so wonderful and yada yada yada. Well, I've been really really trying hard to focus more on others whenever I feel a need to think about myself.

Let me tell you, it's changed my whole outlook! I love it.

Hm. That's kind of ironic. I just wrote a whole paragraph about me and how selfless I've become.

I hope that came out right.

Anyway, this week was a ton of preparations for the baptism of Jesse and Tanya. They are ready! Tanya just needs to be interviewed and they are as good as gold. It should be a really fun weekend as we prepare for the baptism. It has been remarkable to see the changes that have taken place in that lady, and how open and willing the ward has been in accepting their little family. I can't lie and say that Tanya's Huntington's Disease doesn't cause a large struggle for the ward members, but I haven't once heard someone complain. We had an extensive discussion on how we could make it possible for her to feel welcomed and loved in all classes during our ward council. This ward is really really incredible.

So, we'll be spending a lot of time close to them as we help them to remain strong for the baptism this weekend. Thank you for your prayers!

That's what is happening in Clinton this week. The Lord continues to move His work forward. I'm grateful to be a part of it.

Love you all!
Elder Brown

Monday, March 2, 2015

Don't get me Trunky!


You all are going to be the death of me! I love that you are excited for me to return, but I am still full of energy to work and time to do so! I'm really trying to be all that the Lord needs me to be. This is a strange request, but can you not mention me coming home in emails or letters unless I need to be involved in a decision?

I just don't want to regret this last few transfers. They should be the most effective of my entire mission.

But! Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to see you all when the time is right, but I'm just grateful to be out here in the first place! :)

Alright, now for updates. Tanya and Jesse are still on date for the 14th of March, as is Zouzou. Tanya is solid as a rock for her date, and the others are progressing steadily, giving me gray hairs, just like usual. The good thing is that my hair isn't falling out like it was in Quincy! Missions do really weird things to your body. I feel like my spine is compressed because of how much my sidebag pulls on it. I think I'm crooked by now!

I officially sent home Elder Leavitt this week! He's a goner, back to Las Vegas. I traded him in for the newer model, Elder Swainston, from Las Vegas! Isn't that weird? I was Elder Swainston's first zone leader when he entered the mission in Davenport, and now I'm his companion! He is a really diligent worker. I love him already, and we have had tons of fun together. We already taught this crazy nutso guy who talked about how he would've been a member of the church if the people in Juab county in Utah would have taught him the gospel. He was not having any of the lesson we were trying to teach him. It was weird. 

But if you went two whole years without teaching a few crazies, you wouldn't have a single good story to tell, now would you?

In other news, I'm really excited about this new guy we're teaching named Bill. He is a really old guy who smokes like a chimney, but he is desperate to be cleansed of his sins. He is struggling to overcome his vices, but we're helping him out.

That's all for this week! Love you!

Elder Brow