Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Island Life

First off, internet is deathly slow here. I'm in Santa Cruz right now (different santa cruz.. the one on marinduque) because we had a service thing this morning. We basically just carried a bunch of hollow blocks over a depressed river so that a member could build a house over there. Saturday last week we finally got home from Zone Conference in Lucena and went right to work in Gasan. Work is good! We found four souls that are so ready to be baptized. One is Sherly. She is the mother of a recent convert here, and had been kinda-sorta listening in on the discussions for what sounded like forever but might just be over a year. She told us she likes what she hears, but being born in a different church she wanted to know for sure that the Church of Jesus Christ is true before she attends a service or makes any big decisions. She had been reading from the Book of Mormon. We showed up looking for her daughter to check up on her after baptism and started teaching. After a good discussion about obtaining knowledge through the Holy Ghost, we invited her to come to church for the first time, and she accepted! So that was super cool. The other three people came to church as well.. that never ever happens that all the people we meet in a week come to church. I'm super grateful for the instant success that we have been given here in Gasan.



It's kinda sinking in that I'm a little bit responsible for what goes on here out on the island. A little terrifying, but nothing I can't handle. Our zone is super cool, and we're looking to see improvements in our work on the island. It's been famed throughout the mission for being the most difficult zone.. I don't see that yet and I don't plan on seeing it. We're here to harvest! And reclaim.



Anyways I'm excited for Christmas! I planned on sending a package home for the last few months... but somehow actually sending it has escaped me. So... family, y'alls will get letters and stuff but not till after Christmas. Sorry! We will talk next week. I don't know what the Skype situation is out here.. but I plan on being on the computer no later than 10 AM my time.. 6 PM your time. Maybe I could even get there an hour early. Anyways just plan on around then.. if skype is too slow I might need y'alls to load up a Skype account and use it to call our mission cell phone. President says that's cool if we can't get good internet. But I wanna see all your faces so pray Skype works!!! We've been asked to keep it under an hour.. just a warning.. so write down questions or things you wanna share and I am looking forward to the only Christmas call of my mission! ha. Cool.



No pictures this week because it took me over 5 minutes just to log into email here! I can't imagine trying so send 4MB of pictures through this tiny straw of bandwidth. I was going to SpeedTest it to get a real number.. but the site wouldn't even load. Ha. Love you all so much and thank you for the Christmas loveee!!!



Elder Brown



PS I love my mom!




Tuesday, November 29, 2011

FIRST TRANSFER

Mga Minamahal Kong Kapatid:

Namimiss ko kayong lahat. Sa totoo lang, medyo nalulungkot ako eh... Kasi, I'M TRANSFERRED! 

Ha. I checked that sentence with Google translate.. Google still can't speak my language. It should read:

I miss you all. To be honest, I'm sorta sad right now (the eh is just like the eh they say in Canada.. go figure), because I'M TRANSFERRED!

I can't believe it's been six months in Pila, Laguna. Can I repeat that? I can't believe it's been six months already and it's time to leave the area to the next luckiest missionary in the world. I have loved this place so much. The people are golden. White and ready to harvest. I love it here, and I'm looking forward to a new experience this wonderful in my next area. Before I check out of here, one last report on my best friends and siblings. Mariel is still coming to church every week, and is set for baptism next Saturday. Her family has changed my life the past month. Other investigators are doing well, but for the sake of time that's all I can say at the moment. Again, thank you for the continued support as I serve here in the Philippines. I love the work, I love this country. And again, I love you!

Elder Brown

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Fried Chicken Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is awesome. It's one of my favorite holidays of the whole year. Why? Presents? Nope. Presence. I hope y'alls are nagtitipon tipon wherever this great week finds you. (nagtitipon tipon... gathering. it's kinda cool cause it means more like gathering  as in the 12 tribes of Israel.. from far corners and its sorta a habitual word.. like every November season.) We're gathering in the great city of Santa Cruz on Thursday evening for dinner. Filipinos have generally never heard the word "Thanksgiving" or know anything about it, so it should be fun to teach the missionaries in our zone about one of my favorite traditions. I imagine we'll do the cheesy "What I'm thankful for" thing that everyone dreads but secretly appreciates when they get home and really think about what they are thankful for. I've delegated out the Thanksgiving favorites to be cooked and brought by our zonemates... fried chicken (I have only seen one turkey in the philippines... it was still alive though. I'll look better next year), smashed potatoes, corn, gravy, veggies, lots of juice (it's actually just Tang. that counts as juice here), soft drinks and ice cream. It's probably the most food I'll have on one plate all year, but that's half the fun of Thanksgiving, right? Anyways hope you've all got someone to gather with and enjoy some warm food this thanksgiving season. 

We've got some awesome investigators.. Mariel is still progressing very quickly. It's amazing how much she has already changed in her life... from following the Word of Wisdom to going to Church to just enjoying studying the Book of Mormon. Her other relatives can see the change just as clearly as us missionaries, and two of them have already asked to be taught as well. The Gospel is contagious like a yawn and infinitely better. We've been extra busy this week conducting baptismal interviews.. That is honestly one of my favorite parts of my calling. I get to sit down with real people who have made genuine change over the past few weeks or months. They have been prepared with the help of excellent missionaries and the Spirit is always strong confirming that these people are ready to make the baptismal covenant. 

I understand y'alls want picture of my daily things.. grocery, internet, house, etc. Next week. Promise.

I love you so much! Especially my mother!

Elder Brown

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Refferals are golden as is freid eggs.

It's been a great week! I don't have quite as amazing a message prepared for today.. just a heads up. Buuttt I do love you all so much!

Sunshine (the new convert from last week) was confirmed this week, that was cool. We've spent a lot of time with her and her aunt's family this week (Mariel). Mariel plans on starting at a new job in Batangas, about 2 hours from here. She'll continue the lessons with us as often as possible and has every Sunday off (amazing). As it is her third time hearing the lessons, she picks everything up quickly. She has a baptismal date of December 10!

A few months ago we baptized Justine Kyle Custodio, whose mom was less active at the time but came back to church. Her mom, Mercy, gave us two great referrals this week. The Custodio family is extremely poor but sets a strong example for the Church in their neighborhood. Even the well-off members of her community are interested just because of the joy they see in Mercy and her family. It's cool that members have such a powerful tool as their example to help us find new investigators. 

My favorite conference talk is still Robert D. Hales' "Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done". Still amazing, even a month later. Go listen to the words of the prophets! It also serves as great workout background music. 

Love,

Elder Brown


P.S. I feel like I should explain the picture. Not that I'm "conscious", but I haven't gotten fat. I'm just reclined in the chair enjoying some delicious breakfast. This is where we taught Sunshine for 2 months. This morning Elder Guba and I spent some great P Day fun here, brought eggs and everyone joined in the eating. Yes, that is how we eat when in big groups. Grabbing a banana leaf is way faster than washing 6 plates. Food tastes better from your hands (: The guy to my right (well to the left of me in the picture) is Julius. He's progressing quickly too. Stopped drinking, smoking, drinking coffee and tea. He wants so badly to change and it is amazing to see that change in such a short time. We're all laughing because right before this the guy taking the picture accidentally took a video of the scene. I've adopted a Filipino sense of humor. And I absolutely love it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

HAPPINESS A TRUE "10"

Every night I write in my journal. Every night I take a glance at the day, evaluate the good and bad, and rate my overall happinessl evel from 1-10. Childish? Yes. Helpful? Absolutely. It lets me improve; know what truly makes me happy in the field, and how to avoid the things that lower this subjective rating. Most days fall at 7, some extra good days at 8, few difficult, trying days at 6 or 5. I'm generally pretty happy. The baptism of Florencia and her family I rated 9.5. I suppose I was scared to set a limit on how full of joy I could be. A "10" seemed to force a ceiling to the happiness scale, as if I would never know if I had a "10" until I had experienced everything.

 Today was a 10. I say that with confidence. Never in my life have I felt such pure love for a family not my own. I believe, eleven months out, I am just starting to understand "charity". Today I had the honor and great privilege of baptizing Sunshine. Her conversion is inspiring in itself, but her baptism and testimony were of a celestial spirit. This 17 year old girl had truly repented of her sins, desired to enter the Church of Jesus Christ, and had made the necessary preparations. She has experienced trials I could only hope to be able to endure. Sincere faith in our Savior was all she had to rely on, all she needed to press forward to baptism a midst great tribulation. Having a pure heart, she was baptized at 1:00 this afternoon. Upon rising from the water, all she could utter was, "wow!". 
 Last Thursday we finally got a chance to sit down with her family. they had approved of her going to church and being taught long ago, but were understandably worried about their daughter actually joining a new church within days. As we taught the powerful message of the Restoration, hearts were softened. The Holy Ghost testified to loving parents that this Church is, indeed, the Church of Jesus Christ. We returned Friday and Saturday to share more. Saturday, the night before the baptism and just after teaching, her father was attacked by appendicitis. He had pain in his tummy for a few days, thus keeping him and his wife at the house long enough to teach them. We watched as Sunshine rushed her dad to the hospital in a tricycle. It was 9:10 PM, the night before the baptism.
 She shared in her testimony that her dad had strength to speak that night at the hospital. He said, "Pupunta ka bukas." (You're going tomorrow) She asked, "Saan, papa?" (where, papa?) "Sa binyag mo. Yan ang simbahan ng Diyos. Ipagpatuloy mo yan." (To your baptism. That is the Church of God. Proceed with it.) Though her father lay in pain and her mother needed at his side, she faithfully proceeded with the baptism. She added her knowledge that she had found the true Church, and thanked her Father.
 A "10" day requires not Dr. Pepper, it need not be free of struggle. A "10" day is had when results of honest labor are felt in the pure testimony of a newly baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
 If nothing else had happened today, it would have been complete. But there is more.
 Sunshine was accompanied by her aunt Mariel this afternoon. Mariel had been at Sunshine's house every night this week, actively participating in the lessons. In those few days she shared with us that her husband died three years ago, leaving her and seven children, the oldest of which is 15. SHe shared that she had been taught by missionaries twice before, but ignored the true message. Last Friday she stopped me mid-sentence, began silently sobbing, and said she felt different from her other experiences with missionaries. She resolved to give us a real chance and come to the Church, as well as support Sunshine at her baptism.
 Tonight we taught her whole family. Though I have felt this before, tonight the strong impression came to me to extend a baptismal date. As I followed, I felt love. A perfect Father's love for His faithful, imperfect children. I knew at that moment that I wished to be in no other place in the world. Inviting Marield's family to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel was my only desire. Mariel testified to the truth of the Church. She rejoiced in knowing she had finally found real hope after the passing of her husband; that she had been given a third chance to accept the Gospel.
 Not all days are "10"s. In fact, this could be the best day I have had as a missionary. However, It makes every other day worth it. It shines a light of perfect hope. It is a blessing I will treasure for the rest of my life. Today I humbly sumbit I have experiences, but if nothing else, a taste of the fruit of the tree of life: the love of God. It is, in every deed, most desirable above all other things (1 Nephi 11:21-22).

PS i dream in tagalog and when you guys are in them you are surprisingly good at tagalog in my dreams.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Souls Day with Curfew

Hey y'alls:

Happy Halloween! It's a very different holiday in the Philippines... still has a lot to do with dead people, but involves the cemetery a lot more. We also have a special curfew today and tomorrow (All Souls Day). Sounds pretty exciting, I know, but it basically entails everyone sitting around their deceased relatives drunk and playing cards.

The real cool part of our week was Zone Conference. Elder Teh of the Quorum of the Seventy taught and spent the whole morning with us. Leaders in the mission got an extra hour to learn from him. It was such a good experience. As soon as he walked into the room for the leadership training I felt just as you do when President Monson walks into the Conference Center. Peace, love, the Spirit was there. He spoke brilliant English (great for a Filipino), and just came off as a real man who has worked hard in his life. He was full of wisdom, had a great attitude, and was very approachable. I also had the opportunity to sit down with him after zone con for an interview. He's a great leader, and I testify that he is called of God to serve as a witness of Christ. I know I raise my right arm at every general conference meeting, and I do sustain them, but it is nice to meet them as well.

Gotta run back for curfew! Love!

Elder Brown

Monday, October 17, 2011

FAMILY INSPIRED BY YOUNG DAUGHTER

Howdy team:

I have a camera now. Sorry about the missed weeks of pictures, but we're back in business. Thank you to all those who are writing me, I know sometimes I don't have time to respond to everyone, but please know that I love you so much and I love hearing your mission stories, things that are going on at home, and all the things you share. I love you! 

On work. The work is just awesome. We've had a couple difficult days getting punted, but it opens opportunities to find the elect. The family in the picture is the Leron family. The girl is a member and has been helping her family come to church, understand the doctrine, and prepare for baptism. It's the best. They don't have much, but the more time I spend here the more I realize that it doesn't matter if you have a full 5 course meal every evening. All that matters is that you have the Gospel, and everything, absolutely everything, falls after that. These people understand that.

We did a service thing this morning. The storm that came through a few days ago flooded some parts of the city the Zone Leaders work in, so we went around to all the elementary schools handing out relief goods to those who have absolutely nothing now. It's way sad to see, but we've seen many come to the Gospel after being helped in their time of need. I don't work in the area that got flooded, but they get to wade through waist high water every day. It's all about the experience, and doing the Lord's work, right? 

All is well. Thank you for all the support! Love,

Elder Brown

Friday, October 7, 2011

MTC Reunion

So it's been a pretty crazy week. Elder DeYoung got transferred after only 3 weeks in Pila, and now I'm training Elder Guba, fresh from the Manila MTC. It's a whole new experience training, but we are working well together so far. While we were at transfer meeting, President took all the new Filipinos to the mall to buy some extra clothes... which left me, Elder Glenn (my MTC companion, also training this transfer), and Elder Eldridge (lived in our room at the MTC, also training) basically with the whole mission home to ourselves for 4 hours (there were other people there but they were all outside). Basically, we had some great times sharing stories, catching up, and strengthening each other before we were to head out to our areas. I am honestly a little surprised at how close a connection we felt after 8 months of being apart. I guess being attached to each other for 2 months straight is quite a while.

Work in Pila is still.. well, miraculous. Last week I think I told you about Greenchel (spelling changed.. this one is correct). Anyways we went to her house and everything went very well. She is extremely receptive and came to church again yesterday. Pretty much everyone came to church yesterday. People we have been teaching for months, people we ment just this week, almost everyone came to church. If that isn't a miracle, I don't know what is. Not only that, but the service was especially good. It was fast sunday (conference is a week late here), the Spirit was strong in the room, and all have said they're coming back. I'm loving this. There was a joke circulating at transfer meeting that people just randomly show up to church and ask to be taught in this area. It's true. I have absolutely no claim on any success, but I am literally living the dream and so grateful for it. We should have at least 8 of these great people baptized by the end of the month or first week of November, as long as they continue to progress this quickly. 

I got some more packages! Y'alls are the best, you shouldn't have, but I'm so glad you did (: Special thanks to mother and Randog. 

Love,

Elder Brown
 

Twenty and In the Philippines

Dear Everybody:

I love y'alls so much! My birthday was awesome, and everyone seemed to email exactly what I needed to hear this morning. So to those of you who sent me a good word, thanks. This week was SO fast. Last week was slow. But Elder DeYoung and I have been working hard, and once again miracles just dot our days. Unfortunately we just got word that he's transferred on Thursday. It's been a quick 3 weeks together, but we have a random batch of missionaries coming half way through the transfer so we'll see what happens there. 

The hardest part of this week was investigators not coming to church. Many right now are new and still have some excuses (sorta), but the others were just devastating. It's easily the most difficult part of these two years; working with someone and seeing them falter. But some good came of it. We had a full hour of Gospel Principles class to teach Greenselle (spelling). She came to church randomly yesterday with her friend who has been inactive for 5 years and had a spiritual prompting to get back to church this week. All in all, we're excited to have another soul to teach who seems so ready for the Gospel. With a new comp, I'm pretty sure I get to stay here for a few more months. I'll fill y'alls in next week. 

Thanks again for all the birthday love! Sorry we've still got some technical issues with my camera... but pictures will start coming again in the next few weeks. Love,

Elder Brown

Still Smelling Better!

Just because y'alls commented about my deodorant problem in the last email... After a good week of wearing it, I smell better and sweat more. I don't know. But I figured you'd like the update.

Pila is pretty awesome right now. We're working with a ton of really cool investigators, Flor and her husband are getting married tomorrow (nothing fancy.. but they're getting married!), and we've been watching miracles occur everyday. 

The two kids we baptized last week (Justine and Haru) referred their entire extended family to us. Their mom (Mercy) is the 10th of 12 siblings. Five of them have been listening to us for the last week and four showed up for church, bringing their respective families... I am pretty sure over half of the people at church yesterday weren't members. I will never question that miracles occur every day. Anyways one of them is an old pastor in the Catholic church, but yesterday while I was teaching investigator class he was asking questions and basically asked to be baptized. So that was cool. 

We've been super busy the past week with teaching just because of all the referrals people keep giving us. I'm too blessed.. someone go give the missionaries in your ward referrals, we need them and love them and care for them as you would. I'm District Leader right now.. it doesn't really mean anything cool or constitute bragging rights, but I do get to interview people for baptism. That's one of my favorite things to do as a missionary right now. Our zone is really masipag and we've had a few baptisms in the two weeks. It's so awesome to sit in front of a child of God who has repented, learned, grown, and is ready to enter into the covenant of baptism. 

Welp that's about all... I'll be checking out of the teens on Wednesday that should be fun. Love y'alls so much!!

Elder Brown

I Wear Deoderant

The subject line is true. I know you're all going to be disgusted, but I'm at least 15 months away and this will be a funny memory when we all look back on it. I thought that I could better spend P 200 on food and delicious things than deodorant each month.. So for the last 6 months or so that's what I've been doing! It was delicious food, but I got stinky. Go figure. Gong Gong found out, sent me deodorant, and now I smell so good! I forgot what it was like.. and when I got her package it was like magic. I'll never go without again. The world is now a better place.

This week has been pretty crazy. Elder Lacson packed up and left his first area, we went to transfer day, and I came back with a Joe! That's what Americans are called here. But anyways he's been out in the field for a while, we were told it is a temporary fix to the irregular arrival of new missionaries in 2 weeks, and we'll see what happens then. We're enjoying some english, american food, and working hard too.

I like when miracles happen. I mean, who doesn't, right? Yesterday we showed up to church and there was a 23 year old guy sitting, waiting in the priesthood room. There's only like 7 priesthood brethren that show up on time so it's easy to recognize new faces. Anyways we talked to him, and learned that he was investigating the church in Manila last year some time, but that his missionaries got transferred and he moved back to Laguna (where I am). He participated in all the classes and invited us over to his house that night. There, he told us that he loved what the missionaries taught him, he had read through 2 Nephi, and how he found himself at church yesterday morning. He said that a woman called him from Salt Lake on Tuesday, while on break from work, inviting him to come to church on Sunday. He didn't think too much of it, until she called again at 7:30 on Sunday morning. Usually he wakes up at 10. So he decided to come to church, had a great experience, and is ready to be baptized. Score! We're really excited to work with him. That was a miracle for me. It's not often that golden investigators get a call from Salt Lake and show up for church.

Yesterday, we baptized Justine Kyle and Ken Aldrix Custodio. Picture attached. They have little worldy possessions, but a tangible spirit presides in their house. Love those kids. Their mom is a member, doing all she can to be back at church every week.

Anyways love y'alls a ton, 

Elder Brown

PS HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROOKLYN!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Awesome Birthday Wishes Thanks!

Dear Everybody:

I love y'alls so much! My birthday was awesome, and everyone seemed to email exactly what I needed to hear this morning. So to those of you who sent me a good word, thanks. This week was SO fast. Last week was slow. But Elder DeYoung and I have been working hard, and once again miracles just dot our days. Unfortunately we just got word that he's transferred on Thursday. It's been a quick 3 weeks together, but we have a random batch of missionaries coming half way through the transfer so we'll see what happens there. 

The hardest part of this week was investigators not coming to church. Many right now are new and still have some excuses (sorta), but the others were just devastating. It's easily the most difficult part of these two years; working with someone and seeing them falter. But some good came of it. We had a full hour of Gospel Principles class to teach Greenselle (spelling). She came to church randomly yesterday with her friend who has been inactive for 5 years and had a spiritual prompting to get back to church this week. All in all, we're excited to have another soul to teach who seems so ready for the Gospel. With a new comp, I'm pretty sure I get to stay here for a few more months. I'll fill y'alls in next week. 

Thanks again for all the birthday love! Sorry we've still got some technical issues with my camera... but pictures will start coming again in the next few weeks. Love,

Elder Brown

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Best Week

I know the subject sounds kind of ridiculous, but it's true. Straight up. 

This week has been awesome. But I have like zero email time... Highlights.

Never mind just time for one highlight. Florencia was baptized, along with her 2 kids and a part-member girl! Florencia is the cute investigator with two front teeth and a testimony that can move mountains. The last few weeks she has completely changed her life as she learned about the gospel, from removing coffee from her tindahan (little store thing) to taking the saint statues out of her house. She was the perfect investigator and will quickly transition to becoming a strong member. 

Elder Lacson and I are headed to transfer day on Friday! It's been a good 3 months together, and we're both excited to see where he ends up and who will be my new companion come Friday. 

Outta time! But I got y'alls a pic from yesterday. Love,

Elder Brown

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reactivation and Washing Machine

Hello!

News: This week is transfers, but Elder Lacson is staying with me! So there ya have it. We're doing work.

More news: My brother took my mom out on a date this week for me. Love you mom (:

The mission: Success. This week I found a family that has been falling away for the last 3 months. They encountered a problem, found a reason to stop coming to church, and took the chance. I want to yell it from the rooftops that the Chance is never worth it. The Church is just true. Anyways we went back to them a few times this week, and got 8/10 of them to church! And the mom is stoked on reading the Book of Mormon again. They're the Leyva family. Love them. One of their 8 kids works with us a few times a week. 

We have a marriage soon!!! Nanay Flor (who has been washing my clothes) is about ready for marriage and baptism! It's kinda exciting to marry a couple who are both over 50. Gong Gong asked how much it will cost.. so you all know it will cost about $18. Poverty here is absolutely nutso. But we've got some awesome members who are going to cover the cost of the wedding. Stoked. That'll be a few weeks away so I'll get some better coverage then.

I wash my whites: by hand! It's simple. But I am missing the washing machine right now. How did you guys live before the age of washing machines?

I love you all, especially my mom!

Elder Brown

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Scraping Coconuts and Receiving 1,000 e-mails from Mom in 1 Week

Hello family!!! I love y'alls so much!

This week has been a week. Go figure. My momma wrote me about 1000 emails and I read them all. Thanks mom (:

We should have the Star Wars finished later tonight.. so you'll have to wait patiently for my starring role in the Filipino remake of the film.

We have been working hard this week.. Florencha made it to church. She's that cute little old lady with the two front teeth. She is already asking for a baptism date, and we are so happy to be working with her. Some other missionaries showed up at her door and we took a very sweet moment to explain our relationship with our Father. It's kinda crazy how the world has twisted a relationship that should be so simple... We are children of God, He offered His Only Begotten Son as a supreme sacrifice, and the Holy Ghost testifies of that truth. I love this Gospel. I love preaching it every day.

We have an incredible new investigator.. Brother Pimentel. His family (besides the eldest son) was baptized a few months ago, but he didn't feel like the time was right and declined baptism. He's just sort of a normal guy, slow to accept the Gospel but firm in what he believes. We had talked to him before, but all we really got was that he was waiting for the right time... Anyways we all know that today is the right time. So one day we walked past his house and decided to stop for an ice-candy (basically a home-made OtterPop). I saw him scraping the meat out of coconuts and saw an opportunity to serve. I admit it was very sneaky, but before he knew it he was resting, I was carving the coconuts, and he was feeling the Spirit. The next week, we held a family home evening at his house and he gave concluding remarks. He said something like, ". . .and I'm thankful that you are all members of the true Church of Jesus Christ. And I know I've been procrastinating this for a long time, but I feel like the season is right for me to be baptized." WOAH! He said that in front of like 30 people.. family, friends, and branch members. Anyways he's just like the golden investigator right now. I'm so stoked to get to work with him.

Life is good. I got your T-Shirt, thanks Gong Gong! Sometimes I forget that it's July and the middle of summer for you guys. I was wondering why you were all in Utah.. but I guess that makes more sense now. Love you!!

Elder Brown

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Father & Son Poem, Transfer

Hello!

First things first: I'm transferred! I couldn't believe it myself when my ZL told me last night so I had to check the transfer list early this morning.. and yep, I'm out of my first area already. Crazy. But the address you've got to write me is still the same everything goes to the mission office anyways.

Second: I gave a talk. Yes I've been teaching for the last, I don't know, 6 months, and given a few sacrament talks since then, but those were all in Tagalog. It's very different in English. Last Wednesday was Zone Conference, which means about 100 missionaries gather together at a stake center and President gives workshops and we eat food and it's a big party. But it also means that 2 junior companions and 2 senior companions get chosen right before it starts to give a talk for the opening excersizes. This conference it was on Alma 5:45-46. I had a feeling I'd get chosen, so I wrote a little outline about how we need to gain a testimony for ourselves, and how I've done that. Anyways Sister Anderson walks up and let's me know it's my turn to speak, so I hurry down to the last row of pews to make sure my talk is sufficient. It was... lacking a little. So I thought of what made my favorite talks so awesome, and realized I needed to write a poem... so I did. And this is the result of 5 hurried minutes as I huddled over my note book in the last row of pews in the San Pablo Stake Center.

A Father and His Son

The Father, a puzzle maker, had mastered His trade.
His son, still young, had but seen what he'd made.
The son, looking up, desired to learn;
His Father, reaching down, saw his heart yearn.
The puzzles were many, the son favored a few;
Though it would be a trail, the son started anew.
He picked one to start, depicting a dad and His boy;
The finished piece, pictured on top, would be more than a toy.
He covered the table with pieces of color, so small.
He studied them closely, made sure he knew all.
He sorted them out: red, green, orange and blue,
But struggled to fit them together, this his Father knew.
The Father, a master, smiled at the drive.
He gave His son hints, where mysteries would hide.
The process was slow, took more than just a day;
But when it was over, this gained knowledge would stay.
Be it 10, 50, or 100 pieces with which you start,
It can be done, if desired by heart.
The pieces will fit, they're made by a master;
But seek His heavely aid, it will go faster.

I've got little time to explain; search it yourself. This is how I learned, for myself, that the things I preach everyday are true. I am but a boy, seeing what my Father has made. I desired to know for myself that what I've seen was true, that the puzzle pieces fit together. So I spent hours, days, carefully studying all of the pieces I'd been given. I looked at the primary answers, pictured on the top of the puzzle box. My Father gave me hints, as I studied, as to where pieces would fit, where pieces I didn't see were waiting. The sure knowledge came slow, like water to a boil. But the puzzle is finished, and I know for myself that I am His child--that we all are His children.

I liked giving the talk. It was fun, I finally felt relaxed and comfortable as I stood in front of 100 of my mentors, missionaries that have been here longer and seem so wise. Go figure: I've learned how to like giving talks on my mission.

Third: Well, again, I'm transferred. I really loved the people of Siniloan, Laguna. I can honestly say I gave my all here, and will leave more prepared to do so the same in my next area. It's sad to leave, to have to say bye to investigators and members I have worked with for over 4 months, but I have hope, faith, that we will meet again. Our family, Rellosa, is still progressing well. The son, Frincer, is ready to be baptized and asked if he could next Saturday. Hopefully I'll grab some pics with the family this week before I leave.

Anyways love you all lots!!! Keep up the good work at home, and be missionaries.

Elder Brown

PS.. I've wanted glasses all my life, because I feel like they make you smarter. So on Saturday I saw some that I liked and bought them. They have no grade at all. But I feel so smart when I wear them.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Smemmories!! SIX MONTHS!

Hello. Well, this is going to seem outrageously early, completely unexpected, and though two days away, 100% true. I've been a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for six months. SIX MONTHS. six months. Personally, I don't believe it one bit. It has to have been at least six years, and at the same time could have been but six weeks. There is so much I want to say for the "six month" email home. But here's the problem: I've simply learned too much, experienced too much joy, led too many hands down the baptismal font in Siniloan to attempt a summary email. For items like those, I advise hitting the "Next Post" or "Previous Post" button, becuase this week is different. I hope you smile.

Smell, pala, is one of our strongest senses, intimately linked to our long term memory. Check wikipedia for the facts, cause I'm just going off what I remember from Psych 2 years ago. When we smell something familiar, we can be taken back to very specific moments in time, where our booger-ridden noses first encountered that smell. Can you see where this is going? Although I am literally on the other side of the world, typing in an unknown internet shop in a small Filipino town as now a grown 19 year old man, I have been taken back in time on multiple occasions over the last six months; I call these memories "smemmories". They range from walking the curb of Santa Maria on the way to find my best friend Kathryn, to learning how to ride a bike, to working for La Jolla Group just 7 months ago. And I've written a few down. They're in the order I smelt them, not lived them:

Running to the 'creek' and back at Salt Creek Jr. Guards; trying to fight through feet of loose sand on a 100 two-stroke at Johnson Valley; taking pictures with Meredith Chapman at the ocean museum thingy in Dana Point; waiting in the sun for Space Mountain with McKelle Coleman; sitting on my bed resting, while watching my dad try to paint my room red and blue (you need to be careful with bright colors); eating curly fries and drinking Dr. Pepper after a night swim in Laguna; snacking on a gooey, warm Pedro's quesadilla with Michael Rex after we drove to T Street on a cloudy day; walking from Fat Burger to the Aliso Creek Regal to see Harry Potter 7, redbull in hand; mom pouring melted button on popcorn out of the foofy Christmas mugs we used year-round; trying to pry off a small wetsuit on a cold morning in the T-Street bathroom before middle school started; reading the Book of Mormon on the downstairs couch, waiting for Mim to pick me up for Jr. Guards; struggling as a 4'6" boy told to mow the lawn with a push-mower; opening up my gear bag to find smelly socks that had festered in summer heat for 3 months; walking into the Kimball's house at who-knows-what-time (thanks Cherbs); stealing Presto's shirt for Lost Connection 2009; painting posters with Avery Miyahara for Clash of the Classes; stumbling into an outhouse at the Whiting reunion; playing Brawl with Shane; sitting on the top of the world 2 years ago with my best friend; running through swarms of mosquitoes with Presto after a sunset surf at lowers; visiting Aunt May and drinking a cold Gatorade in the shade of an Arizona parking garage; standing on the Springville skate park mini ramp, scared to drop in for the first time; strolling the RSM lake; basking in the december sun with a pin in my finger at Park City Mountain Resort, M&M's in hand; pulling the "Mobster" (Pop's car) into the parking lot for the Loft; waking up to pancakes in Ocotillo...

I think you get the point. And if not.. here's what I was getting at. I really, really love this work. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and if you're not reading it, my dear friends, start now. I love all of you so much and though I am completely focused on my friends that I teach every day, my nosey senses can't help but remind me of how awesome you are. Keep up the good work.

PS - we went hiking today. it was fun. and the people are doing well, hopefully we have two baptisms on Sunday.

Out of time! I love you!

Elder Brown

Lessons from my Mom

Hello! First things first, all is well. There was a little storm that came through but it just brought some cool weather and a nice drizzle (Filipino style).

I was at Jollibee this morning (sorta like McDonald's) and really wanted a Pineapple float. You know, pineapple juice with soft serve ice cream on top. Not too difficult, right? Wrong. At Jollibee, they sell pineapple juice, sodas, coke floats, and soft serve ice cream among the normal McDonald's types of things. But they will not, under any circumstances, change a menu item to fit your needs. You can't have it your way. So I gave in and just bought the items separately (for more money) and mixed them myself. I'm hoping to take my plea to the manager next monday morning, it really is a problem that they don't have pineapple floats. Point of the story: I think my mom is the best. I've clearly inherited her need to change every food order to make it fit my personal taste. And the Jollibee workers think I'm crazy.

Our family (Rellosa) is doing well. The son (14 - Frincer [yeah his name is frincer, not the Princell we've been saying for 2 months, oops]) is still coming to church every week and we're still waiting for Tatay Dennis to finish up work in the rice field so he can start coming to church. His crazy wound is all healed up for the most part. Frincer brought his cousin to the lesson last week and he's expressed a desire to be baptized too. They're the best. Dennis always shares experiences and the thoughts of his heart while we're teaching. Last night while teaching the plan of salvation he asked, "But what about the people that haven't heard the gospel, but repented and were good people, but already died? They haven't been baptized though, right?" It was awesome to explain the infinite atonement made and how his loved ones are hearing the gospel right now. So that's good.

Sorry not much time but I was more masipag about taking pictures this week so enjoy the adventures of Brown and Dioso!

Love,

Elder Brown

Monday, May 23, 2011

I really like this one. T.

Hello! First off, shout out to all of the incredible friends I have serving out there, whom I haven't heard from in ages, whom I thought might have dropped off the face of the earth, and whom have recently written me! I just got all of your letters. No joke. While I'm on the subject, I'm deeply sorry for those who have been so awesome in writing and I have neglected. Work is busy and I forgot how good it is to get a real letter, which has literally travelled the world, ripped and torn and a little wet from the journey. I'm currently in the process of saving stamp money and writing back when I find time. Patience, we've only got 2 years out here.

One thing this week: The watched pot.

I don't remember where, but I know that I have heard the saying, "The watched pot never boils." INSERT - there's a little pinoy sitting next to me mimicking my every move.. soo funny. I scratch my ear, he scratches his. I type, he types (computer is off). I sneeze, he sneezes. Kids here are the best. OK back to the story. The watched pot. So I was patiently waiting for my water to boil last week, as I had just received some 3 Cheese mac + cheese in the mail (thank you:). Elder Dioso was laying on the extra mattresses we keep downstairs, electric fan on to keep the heat off. I stood next to my lukewarm pot of water, determined to prove the old adage wrong. I'm going to ruin the ending. THE POT BOILED. Yes it took some time, and yes I didn't notice any visible changes in the water until the end, but sure enough, the water hit 212 and little bubbles formed on the sides of the pot. I grabbed the noodles, anticipating the roaring boil I like to have when cooking. After another minute the roar was heard throughout the Savannah and I threw in my soon-to-be American dinner. Just so you all know, I firmly believe that a watched pot will boil, and the sooner you learn this for yourself the better. See if you can't find out where I'm going with this one. I promise there's an application for you, too.

The past few weeks have been extra difficult (don't worry mother they're good now, otherwise I wouldn't be saying this). I felt a little bit of hope escaping my body as investigators went on vacation, didn't read, and lost a desire to feel the truth of our message. I'm not proud of that fact. But Elder Dioso and I pressed forward, the flame kept burning, and we did everything we could. This week, I noticed a few bubbles of activity in the hearts of our investigators. We'll focus on Yuman. He is 16, lives with mom, works for uncle to make some extra money. He won't be going back to school this summer because it's time to save up for college. We've been teaching him since I got here, but had to take a long break because his grandpa died and we didn't see him at home for a few weeks. His testimony was just... lukewarm. But this week was different. He had read the assignments, prayed, and even said that he felt a new desire to get baptized that he hadn't before. Then Sunday came around and he not only showed up at church, but brought another friend who we had taught before but had to drop because of a new job. Apparently he quit. Yuman quietly questioned about the sacrament again and I got to explain the importance for us as members. He humbly declined it when the deacon came around, and whispered, "I want to wait until I get baptized. That's on June 12, right?" I don't know what it was but I can see the roaring boil starting to take it's shape. Friends, this is why I'm here. Up from 0 two weeks in a row, 6 made it to church this week and expressed a desire to come back, get baptized, and take the sacrament. Yuman was just the focus, it has been a great week for everyone else, too.

So what's the application for you? What are you trying to do, but just can't see any visible improvement in? I know that before I came out here I could never feel the roaring testimony I so dearly yearned for. My desire was immense, flaming that gigantic pot of spiritual water I endeavoured to heat up. But the result just wasn't quite there. Starting the Book of Mormon happened many times, going to church was a given, but I was--figuratively--turning off the flame before the little bubbles of hope came in. It wasn't until this summer that I really decided it was time to give it my all and read through the whole Book of Mormon. It took faith that the pot would boil for me to spend precious propane (time, energy, effort) trying to heat that pot. Once I could see the bubbles of a roaring testimony come in, I began to have real hope. And now where am I? In the Philippines, for no other reason than charity. This concept applies everywhere. Use it for your own testimony, for the barefoot running feet you've always wanted, for that musical instrument you've dreamed about mastering. And know, for what it's worth to you, that I have a roaring, boiling, spilling over the edge testimony that Christ lives. I testify it. I share it every day. I want nothing more than my brethren to have the same thing, because it has literally brought me more joy than imaginable in a world so far away from home.

Love from the Philippines,

Elder Brown

PS pictures.. 1. The road our branch pres lives on, and the family we're teaching. It's the nicer part of our area I'll get the dirtier roads another week. And Elder Dioso, of course. 2. The backyard of one of our recent converts, Lady. I love going there cause it's so quite and there's a nice breeze. Sorry I'm not in them.. I got lazy with pics


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Great Kids

Green Mangos are Good!

Howdy!

I heard Shane and Clutch had quite the cowboy adventure. So, Howdy. I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures this week, but please enjoy one of my old Tatay and myself with some kids that we taught! They are grandchildren and children of members who live too far away to walk, so it is always very difficult for them to get to church. When they do, they are awesome primary members and Ace (the dude in pink shorts) is looking forward to serving a mission. And they love to grab us mangos out of the trees.

Speaking of mangos, they are so good!! There are two types here.. the yellow kind that you might have seen at home, and a green kind that never gets yellow on the outside. When the green one isn't ripe yet it is bitter but still distinctly mango, and loved by the locals. I wasn't a huge fan of the first one I tried and decided they weren't for me. But when they are ripe, they are more sweet and crunchy and delicious than the yellow mangos we can get at home! There's a catch: you simply can not tell when the green mango is ripe, for all it gets is green when ripe. So Saturday we were doing service in Santa Maria (the Sister's branch, we made some steps in a dirt hill so the rain wouldn't make it dangerous to leave home), and the members gave us a giant sack of green mangos as a thank you. So we took them home and I stared at this giant sack, wondering what to do. What I learned: The bitter not-quite-ripe mango is still amazing, and when you peel back the skin and find that it is ripe it's like opening a perfect Christmas present. I ate a lot of mangos this week.

So that was fun. Work this week was.. very hot. Very good, but so hot!! I've been working on focusing on what matters most, and was pointed to President Uchtdorf's talk from last October conference. It's awesome. So is my new companion, Elder Dioso. He's Filipino, likes american food, and teaches like a champ. What more can I say? We're doing well here in Siniloan, just looking for new investigators and trying to help our current ones come to church.

Love,

Elder Brown

Monday, May 2, 2011

Last week with Tatay Harris

Hello! Quick updates.

1. Happy Mother's Day mom!! I love you and thank you for the taco seasoning, it will be perfect for our Cinco de Mayo celebration. I will call you in a few days.

2. The "Tinda-Tract" (straight from my journal, 4-28-11, and I'll translate to English)

Oh no!!! I just finished this email and a brown out happened! (power stops and comes back) But I will retype all the things GMail didn't automatically save for me. For you.

The "Tinda-Tract" For use when punted, or when it is really hot and extra time is avaliable. Step 1- Decide on a baon(snack) and a soft drink. Step 2- Talk to every mayari ng tindahan (owner of a litte shop set up at thier front window) until you find your desired baon, or a nice person who has some time. Step 3- Purchase and enjoy the marienda (snack time), and kausapin mo siya (talk to him/her). Step 4- Become friends, hanapin mo and concern niya (find his/her concern), and sit in shade when invited to. Step 5- Solve concern, invite to hear more. Start now if possible, or set up a return appointment. Step 6- Return for your favorite snack and a great investigator!

3. Youth conference is soon, and I heard yours was just a few weeks ago.. otherwise I'd say to invite your friends. Two of our investigators are going, invited by incredible friends who have helped teach and sat in on the lessons. As always, members are the key. I know it. One of my best friends went to youth conference, and eventually was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 2 years ago, this month. I know that you have a powerful influence on your best friends, please do what you can to share with them the greatest message this world has ever known. I know that this Church is true. I testify that Christ lives, and that only through following Him can we have the greatest joy in this life, and in the life to come. Go to church.

Love from the Philippines,

Elder Brown (PS I LOVE MY MOTHER)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Holy Week!

What a day. What a week. But let's start off with today.

1. I GOT YOUR PACKAGES!! A quick 2 months after they were sent, I finally got 2 from Gong Gong and one from my loving mother. Thank you thank you thank you! Which means that I now have Capt'n Crunch, candy, and we know the address works!(slowly..)

2. We went to Infanta again. But this time it was sunny and the AP's came with so we didn't have to pay for a Jeep. I worked on my farmer's tan for a bit, got the underside of my foot arches burnt by hot (dark) sand, and my nose is red. I love the beach. I missed it so.. and one day I'll be assigned on one of our islands. It's ok to be a litte jealous.

3. Holy Week. Oh man... if you thought Catholics were nuts before.. Filipinos take it to a whole new level. Here's how I'm going to sum it up: There are 2 holidays here... 1 is Christmas and the other is Holy Week. Holy Week... well actually just look it up on google. It involves "penetensia" (spelling and that's what they call it in tagalog). Crazy stuff.. but of course an incredible opportunity to teach about Christ and His Atonement.

4. My favorite family right now.. the Relliosa's (spelling again). Dad and his 4 kids, mom is somewhere... else. But the important is that dad is supporting his kids, extremely quick with picking up Gospel principles, and an awesome pillar.. foundation for his family. I'm noticing that Tagalog is starting to mess up my English ha. Pillar works better there. He's a good pillar for his family. His kids have been coming to church but right now is the harvest for his rice field so he can't make it yet. But he wants to, and we're planning on extending a baptismal goal date this week. Super stoked for them.

5. Transfers are next week.. my tatay (dad/trainer), Elder Harris, is leaving me! But Tagalog should go through the roof when I get a Pinoy and it'll be fun to have a change. But dang it's been a fast 12 weeks. I try to slow it down by counting the days and sometimes people judge me for counting.. but I can tell you from experience that it doesn't slow down anything. Count all you want, we live life one day at a time and that day is all you've got--make it the best you can.

Love from the field,

Elder Brown


Monday, April 18, 2011

Updates!

What a week. But I actually want to spend a moment on something that happened last week. I forgot to include it then. We were watching the Sunday afternoon session of Conference, just us missionaries and the District President. It was a good conference, and at the end President Monson said something like, go home safely. Or I hope everyone makes it home safe. I can't remember exactly. Maybe it was even in the closing prayer.

Either way, after I heard that I jokingly turned to Elder Bragg (assigned in our zone) and said, "I hope he knows it's 20 months until I get home! He just asked me to be safe for a long time." Elder Brag goes home in two weeks. He jokingly said back, "God Speed, brother."

Yeah, the whole conversation was sort of a joke, but it was real and happened in real life and made me think. "God Speed". What does that even mean? How would Christ act the next 20 months to get Himself home safely? How should I act the next 20 months to achieve "God Speed"? Turns out I need a little change to get myself to "God Speed". To really fly and be as effective as I can here. Much I will have to do myself. The point I'm trying to make.. is that the time has arrived to be perfect. For me, for you, for everyone. We all need to acheive "God Speed". For me, it means focusing more on the people that are here. Finding out their specific needs, being patient, teaching with them in mind. I only have 20 months left. If you were wondering.. 565 days (including the one gained on the flight back home). That's not a very long time to invite people unto Christ. So for me, for you, for them, I am changed. I wrote on my wall a quote from Gordon B. Hinckley's father, "Forget yourself and go to work."

That was last week. This week, we continued to teach some awesome people, they continue to improve. A new family was referred to us this week, the Rellosa family. It's a dad, his 3 sons and daughter. The first visit, it was just Tatay Dennis and Princell (son-12). They started awkwardly on the otherside of the room as we introduced ourselves and our purpose. We talked with them about their family, Dennis's work, etc. We built trust. After every question asked, they leaned a little closer in to respond. When we told them we wanted to talk about God for just a few moments, they literally picked up their chairs and planted them no more than 2 feet away. We prayed and started teaching. We asked inspired questions, and because of their trust towards us, they opened up and we were able to teach to true concerns. I fear that sometimes missionaries get in the rut of just teaching lessons, not people. But experiences like that just affirm that we are teaching people, and they are ready to hear the message of Christ and the Restoration.

Pday was fun! We hiked at least 5 miles (uphill both ways) to these incredible falls. BBQ'd at the top, took a little nap, and raced down the mountain (in flip flops). Philippines, gotta love it.. PS Holy Week is upon us. Gonna be crazy!

Much love,

Elder Brown

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rice Harvesting Hard Work Helps to Reactivate!

1. Conference! So good. We're a week behind with conference. But there was dang good advice for everyone in those 10 hours of conference.

2. Service.

They say that if you really want to understand someone, you need to walk a day in their shoes. Wait. Back. There's a family, Tonga, that has been inactive since before Elder Harris got in the area. They are married in the temple, used to be strong members. Why weren't they coming to church? We could never get an answer. Tatay Tonga was always quick and short and a tad sassy with his answers to us. So we asked if we could do service for them, with whatever they needed. Turned out they wanted help on they're palayan (rice field). Back to the shoes. So, I, wanting to understand Tatay Tonga, took off my shoes and put on his last Friday (actually just took of mine, he works barefoot.) Elder Harris and I woke up early, put on our PJ bottoms and long sleeve shirts, make some makeshift ninja headgear, and walked to their palayan. I'm going to sum up the harvesting of rice in.. 10 words. If you want to get buff, work in the palayan. It is hard work! Sister Tonga worked with us. She kept asking if we wanted to quit, if our hands were getting cut up, if we were tired. Our answers were 'no' to all, but secretly I was so tired and my hands definitely have gnarly blisters and sometimes I even wanted to just lay down in the harvested rice and take a nap! After the half day of service, Sister fed us some food and we had a good chat with her. Last night, we stopped by their house again, and this time Brother Tonga was much happier to talk to us. He didn't see us work on Friday, but Sister must have told him. We rescheduled to help them again this morning, because they were behind on the harvest and the owner was getting impatient. Tatay was there this morning, and I was able to really see the power of service in building relationships of trust. They fed us lunch again, and we talked again. Turns out, they were offended by a misunderstanding a little over 6 months ago. They were done with the members in our branch, and didn't want to talk to the missionaries. But after our service Friday, they came back to church for the first time. Sister said she couldn't explain why, and that she thought maybe we had hypnotizing power (Filipinos are very superstitious people). Point is, something changed for them. Though I can't take credit, I am thankful for the opportunity to work with them, and help them come back to Church. That's what we do out here, help people. Invite them to come unto Christ.

3. I wrote this in my head while working:

It was Me, Harris, Tatay Tonga vs. Palay (rice), Sun. It was hot, the palay was rough and cut our hands. We labored through the morning, through lunch. The palay seemed to have no end. I smashed groups of palay on the wood block, knocking out thousands of grains of rice at a time. Tatay cut it down and tied it in bundles. Harris brought it to the smashing block. We worked tirelessly (though we were tired). The mud, the sun, the rice. The end was near. 4 teenage kids brought out, "The Blower". The final knockout punch to the palayan. It would blow away all the bad rice, grass leaf, etc. They realized we were white and looked in awe. I held my group of palay like a baseball bat, glared at the wood block, and a bead of sweat fell from my brow (ok, more like a waterfall.) But you get the point. It was intense. I fought hard. And earned that ice cream cone at the end.

Life is good in the Philippines. I'm comfortable. I love y'alls.

Elder Brown

Sure would love a Dr. Pepper!

Howdy!

Time is starting to fly. So I decided to count.. I have heard it might slow things down a bit. Without getting too specific.. Only ~45 million seconds till I find myself without a name tag and with a BRC & Dr. Pepper. You have to go to two different stores, even in America, for that kind of meal.

I'm doing really well. The work was a little slower this week, but that's fine because Ronalyn, Maria, and Kenney were all baptized! Pictures, of course. And we're teaching a few families that are showing good promise.. It's just still very impossible to get people to church. But next week is General Conference (yes, 1 week behind) and they show it in English... Not sure what to expect on this one. We're also teaching a witch doctor, that's always fun.

Again, you need to know how much we missionaries love and appreciate your help as members. All of the baptisms that we have had to this day have been because the members (you) trusted us with your relatives and best friends. Judith and MJ (10 and 14, respectively) trusted us with their best friends, Ronalyn and Maria. We are now teaching Ronalyn's whole family, and she gets to testify of the conversion that she has had in the last 2 months. Maria's older sister came to her baptism, and is warming up to us. You can enjoy all the blessings of missionary work in your own family and with your own friends, I testify of it. Remember the joy that we have, and that it is something that everyone in this world will recognize and familiar truth. Just be good friends, and when they're ready call up your local missionaries! Also for the youth - go work with the missionaries. They'll love your testimony and you'll get a taste for what it's like. 

I can write about these experiences all day, but I still have to cook some chickens over an open fire! The zone should be at our house soon, and they're going to be hungry. Can't let them down. PS training day is this week, which means I get to go to SM (the super mall kuwan). Which means I'll be eating KFC and bringing Pizza Hut home. We pay American money for American food, but it is so worth it!

The second picture (with the two Sisters) is of Nanay Amican and Ate Pacing. They are so great! Nanay washes my clothes and teaches me Tagalog (: and Ate Pacing is the Primary President.. She takes care of the kids we bring to church and referred her sister to us yesterday! Life is good in Siniloan. Much Love

Elder Brown

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Best Week Ever!

This week was incredible. Hands down, best yet.

If that's all I said, would you believe me? If not, no worries. I've got some explaining to do.

1. Our people. We've changed things up a bit. Transfer day was last week! So we've got a new Zone Leader living in our house, and it turns out his favorite hobby is cleaning! I am a lucky man. Elder Harris and I are doing really well as a companionship. We've hit numbers that are just out of control for our area, and have decided to shift our focus this week from the rush of appointment-to-appointment, to figuring out how to get each of our BGD's (baptismal goal date) to see the importance of coming to church. Most of them get the importance of the Atonement, Baptism, etc, but they just can't seem to walk to church. Our goal is to make sure every single investigator has a friend. A strong member who knows that their duty is to bring the investigator to church. Of course, if we find out that the person doesn't actually want to go to church, we can quickly resolve conflicts missionary style: pray and continue, or drop.

2. Their people. I just love them so much. I really do. Updates: The baby we blessed has made a miraculous recovery! And I am not afraid to use the word 'miraculous', because that is exactly what it was. A miracle, one that I was blessed enough to be a part of. Many of our investigators came to church today, and another is prepared for baptism on Saturday. His name is Kenny.. I think I wrote about him a few weeks ago, but basically he's a super cool guy who's friends with an inactive member. But they're coming to church together now, which is just awesome. I got to baptize JoMar on Saturday! So cool. Uncle Brandon wrote that nothing will be like my first baptism on my quilt, and so far, he was right. It was so incredible to walk him down in clothes that were obviously made for American-sized kids, explain what was going to happen, and perform the baptism in Tagalog. That is why I'm here, people, to bring my brethren to Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Another cool one was we were walking away from an area and heard someone call out, "Elders!" We turned and chatted it up with the guy. Tatay Garcia is what we call him. He had heard the missionary discussions earlier, and wanted to get baptized, but must have been dropped because he couldn't get to church in our area. Apparently he had a job in Manilla and his family was living here. But just last week, he got stabbed two times in the right lung, and one through his forearm. Doctors say he was dead (dow, or something like dead) for 2 hours, and that him being alive is a miracle. The bigger miracle is that he is home for a few months while his lung heals and he is able to return to work, and he wants to be baptized with his family. Incredible. I love this work!

3. You. I can not thank you enough for all the support. Keep it up. But more importantly, I want to impress upon you the importance of missionary work, especially as a member. You are the one who will ultimately help the most in the conversion process of your best friends. And if they are your best friends, what more can you possibly offer than the joy that you have in your life right now? I'm not out here because this is some big adventure or because it's easy. I'm here because I truly, honestly, with all my heart, believe that this Church is true, that Christ is our Savior, and that we can return to our Father in Heaven. If you do too, it's time to step it up. Like I said, our goal right now is to make sure all our investigators have friends. Contact your Ward Mission Leader. See what you can do. Be friends with your friends, invite them to hear about the gospel. Don't force anything, we are here to INVITE. That's all. But be good friends, and your friends will notice the Light of Christ shinning brilliantly through you.

I love this work. I love the Gospel. I'm loving life. Keep up the good work.

Much love,

Elder Brown

Monday, March 28, 2011

Missionary Spiritual Week Perfection! It's the PEOPLE WHO COUNT March 21


Today was so close to perfect. Of course, as a missionary, it's the people that count, not the numbers. But today, the numbers were made up of incredible individuals, each with his own unique need and concern. We were blessed with many opportunities to share messages of comfort, hope, and restoration. We gave two blessings, one to the baby daughter of Erlinda, a hard working, single mother who can not afford to bring her baby to the hospital. We invited the spirit to testify of hope in the Atonement, and of the power of faith. The other was to Tatay Eddie, a 56 year old man who has no family, lives far from the church building, and has diminishing health. He saves money each day to pay for "pamensahe" to church on Sunday. Both shed tears as they opened up, placing their burdens on us, and in turn, on Christ. Life is hard here, more difficult and humble than you can imagine. I was torn inside to hear their stories, to see their conditions, and to know what I have at home. At the smae time, I thought of home and wished for the same faith and reliance on Christ that I saw today.

We taught the Plan of Salvation to an entire family who lost a good friend just earlier today. The Spirit was strong, and as we knelt in prayer on their dirt floor, they felt the love of our Heavenly Father. We witnessed a precious moment that brought their family together, unified before God.

Another family received the message of the Restoration. Tatay Larry was very skeptical, it was his first lesson with us. But by the end, he was deeply engaged in the discussion of Joseph Smith, and the importance of the Restoration for his family. He led us in prayer tonight, and for the first time his wife and children got to hear his ask God for help with their family.

The individuals we taught were equally prepared to come closer to Christ. Flori, an inactive member, learned how to pray again. Mervie (12) will pray about the Book of Mormon tonight, after he reads with his two friends, recent converts of just 2 months. Jennifer (18) will do the same as she stays in the house of good friends who have given her work and happen to be less-active members striving to return to the Church. Mark JR Mateo (17) gave us his lunch hour to teach the Law of Chastity, he asked sincere questions instead of focusing on his new, nearly 24/7 job at the largest tindahan in Matalatala. Yuman (16) brought a friend, Ardee(17), to join us in his lesson about the Spirit World, and the Kingdoms of Heaven.

Sure, we gave 2 blessings, taught 6 lessons, visited 2 RCLA's, received 1 referral, and gained 2 new investigators. But as you can see, today meant so much more than 2, 6, 2, 1, 2. The 5+ miles I walked seemed quick, easy, and a joy when I arrived at the above-mentioned houses. 1 lechon manok, 2 liters of water, 2 Coke's, 1 Mountain Dew, 4 bags of chips, 2 cups of rice, 3 eggs, 2 apples, 1 orange, and 1 ice cream cone kept me alive, but these children of God put one foot in front of the other. We can count numbers all day, but they wouldn't mean a thing if not backed by a sincere love for the people they represent. Today is what we dream for as missionaries. I literally fast and pray for my invesigators who make this dream reality. This is not an every-day occurance, but I am doing all I can to make it so. I am working hard to move the work forward in Siniloan, and I am blessed to be here tonight, reporting my joy in the work.



Love you all, be member missionaries, prepare to serve a full-time mission, and consider serving as senior couples. I love the work.

Elder Brown


Ukelele and Ocean Baptism and Scolding March 17

I feel like Sis isn't updating my Blog like she used to... a little birdie told me.

But other than that, all is well in the Philippines! We didn't get hit by a tidal wave, but we did get a call from Pres telling us to have our 72 hour kits ready. I went to the beach that was supposed to be hit yesterday, and it looked fine. Apparently just a couple larger-than-usual waves came through and brought some rocks up on the sand. It was my first trip up to the beach, and definitely won't be my last! If I have any say in it I'll be on an island for the next area. But we'll just have to wait and see.

The work is good. We were a little slower this week with teaching, but we did get to see a baptism in Infanta (that beach mentioned above) and got to help the Sisters in our zone pull weeds for service! I've learned that that is pretty much all we do for service in the Philippines--pull weeds so that the members can plant more things. It's easy, you get to sweat, and they usually make some Tang for you after. What more could I want? Service is always a great thing in the week's planning.

I bought myself a Ukulele this week. Actually, I had another Elder buy it from someone in his area. Anyways, when I got it I realized that I have no idea how to play a ukulele, just that the idea sounded really cool. And even better, no idea how to tune the thing! But I got some sort of tuning figured out, and even a few chords. I learned "Come Thou Fount" on it just last night. I love playing, music was something that I missed most. But now I've got my own!

I hold in my hand, right now, a can of Dr. Pepper. I don't know what it is about us Mormons, or us Missionaries, but this is easily the most sought-after 12 FL OZ in the entire Philippines between us. This can came from America. It has travelled literally thousands of miles. A Sister missionary had to go to Manilla to get her visa renewed, and I convinced her (with money) to stop the bus at Mall of Asia and find a Dr. Pepper. She was successful. Tonight, it goes in the freezer. Tomorrow, I have cold Dr. Pepper for the first time in 5 weeks!! I know it's expensive, but I know what I want for my birthday. Dr. Pepper.

I'm healthy, safe, and happy. Not much else to say. My investigators are either doing really well, or not so hot. We focus on those who are ready. I'm a missionary.

Life is good in the Philippines. Till next week,

Elder Brown