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

Youth are Strong March 7th

Well, well. Has another week really gone by already? I'm scared to admit that time is starting to pick up, just incase that slows it back down again. This week was awesome. I'll tell you why:

Tagalog. I'm improving, visibly, each day. The Gift of Tounges is real. The members are the key to my success in the language right now, they are such a big help to me. I learn so much from them.

Teaching. Again, members are the key! Shane, priests in America, go out and help the missionaries. You'll love the experience. I love teaching people, and seeing their improvement each lesson. The Church is true.

This week we taught a kid named Kenny (17). He has heard all of the lessons at least twice now, yet wasn't getting to church. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom. All through that lesson I prayed while Elder Harris taught, and he did the same thing for me. I felt the Spirit so strong, and I knew Kenny did too. I was nervous about that lesson, because he had a nice collection of cigarettes on his wall. Point is, the next lesson, all the cigarettes were gone, he had read the assignment, and was eager to hear every word we had to say. Yesterday he even showed up to church! The Church is true, I love the gospel, and I am excited to share it this week!

Much love, I'm still alive and well,

Elder Brown



Every day presents new challenges, but I am glad to report that I have witnessed miracles here. Somewhere in Alma 26 ish it talks about boasting in the strength of your Lord, and that is exactly what I would like to do now.

No matter what is going on, know that there is a loving Father in Heaven who is looking out for you, and that eventually all will be well. This week, we tried extra hard to get some investigators to church. That is basically impossible to accomplish here in the Philippines. But, after all we could do, we got half of our BGD's to get to church!! It was so great. And my Tagalog is at the point where I could actually talk with them.. There's two boys (Yuman and Mark JR) like 17ish. I was able to explain the sacrament to them and answer most of the questions. They're showing great promise and have a friend at church. Miracles happen!! We've been trying to get them to church for months.

The biggest miracle is Tagalog. I study all I can, but the first week or two was really hard to understand people. I didn't realize in the MTC how important having a HUGE vocabulary would be, so I focused more on sentence structure. Advice to those going to the MTC soon: study vocab like mad there. Apperantly you can't understand people no matter how slow they speak if you don't know what the word means! But I am happy to be able to say that I have worked hard, and it has payed off. Only 22 months left to master Tagalog, let's do this!

Funny Philipino thing of the day: Jeepney's. They are old WWII jeeps that America left, converted into these bus type of thing. I forgot a pic, but next week for sure. They are all metal, have insane designs, and have two benches inside facing eachother. You flag one down going the direction you want to go, they slam on their brakes and you jump in. They floor the gas and take off at incredible rates. They dodge traffic, zoom through crowded streets, and everyone thinks it's normal! The only thing I can really relate it to is the Bus in Harry Potter... 3 i think. Remember how it wove through traffic, stopped on a dime, and accellerated faster than a Ferrari? Yeah, that's basically a Jeepney. (spelt Diyipni in Tagalog.. sound it out.)

Today it is raining for the first time. Based on what I have heard, I am literally in the best area in the mission. Sorta. It is super beautiful with all the rice fields, waterfalls, and scenery. The members are stronger here than most places, and our investigators are progressing. What more could I ask for? I guess an In N Out would do me well. Other than that, I love it here, and am looking forward to the next 3-6 months in Siniloan Branch 2, Philippines!

Continue to read the BOM every day. Don't miss it for the world. Pray often.

Much love,

Elder Brown


Philippines San Pablo Mission
Barangay San Juan, Alaminos
Laguna 4001

Front Porch Refelction

TRIKES not your three year old version! Feb 21

Here's the thing. I prepared something awesome, but I forgot it at my house. So.. I'll have to wing it and make up for it next week.

Not gonna lie... I was bummed I had no emails last Pday.. but there were so many today it is all good now! Thanks (:

Here's what's up. No lies here. The first 3 days were hard. The next 3 days were hard. But the last 4 days that I've been here have been awesome. I'm finally able to understand some-most of what people are saying to me. The language is the biggest barrier. I thought I was good in the MTC... and I was.. but you need an incredible vocabulary and time to pick up the sound of the native language. But I'm getting it! I committed myself to work as hard as I can, everyday, to get this whole Tagalog thing down.

Yesterday we went on splits with the Priests in the ward. Which means... I had to lead the lessons!!! Scary. Especially when I've been able to rely on the incredible Elder Harris for the last week. But I spoke up, found words in my mouth, and knew the Church was true. In that order. I spoke enough that they could understand what I was saying, and even laugh because I wasn't quite pronouncing the words right. But hey, if I'm talking enough that they feel comfortable making fun of me, then that's just alright! It will come. I have to remind myself that I've really only been here for a week now. And that it will come.

More stories? You got it.

This week you get to know about "trikes".

They are motorcycles... usually 1970-ish kawasaki's. They weld on a third wheel and side car business. They weld on a roof / windshield type of thing. And they drive you around wherever you need to go. They are older than anyone reading this. They are sorta like pokemon, in the sense that they can only say "TRIKE?" Can you imagine that? "trike? trike?" just like a pokemon. When you get on one, they pile as many people as possible onto that tiny 250cc engine. We've fit 9, including the driver. Then you zoom on the "highway" to your destination! Because there are no addresses here, you just tell them the name of the neighborhood and that works just fine. Then you pay 8-20 pisos... like 16-50 cents. Depending on how far you go. It's awesome, it's fast, it's cheap, it's the way we do it in the Philippines. Hopefully I can send pictures this week.

Spiritual thought for the week: Turn to.. dang forgot it. Pasaway ako. Joke. Ok different spiritual thought... Hit up 3 ne 18:19-21. Read it, and pray always. Ok? That's what you've gotta do for me. Read the BOM every day, and pray always. Easy!

Love you all!! Thanks for the support.

Elder Brown

Mothers belated updates for a month:) Feb.

Kumusta ba kayo???

So.. here's what's up. I'm alive! Yes, I may be literally on the other side of the world, and yes, it is definitely 2am at home and 6pm here, but I live!

I'm assuming you're all very eager to hear how it is here. And I'm quite eager to tell you. But here are the rules:
1. You're not allowed to worry about me. I'll be fine. The Lord protects His servants.
2. Keep writing me. Dearelder takes literally forever to get here, but when it arrives I will be VERY happy. Shane... can you please put up some instructions so no one gets lost trying to dearelder me? Eh I'll do it. Just send it as pouch, to the Philippines San Pablo Mission.. with my name on it.. and BOOM. It'll be here in 12-845 business days.

This is the Philippines: (Sis, throw in a pic or two here). I'll email pictures in the next email.

It is incredibly beautiful. I'm in one of the four zones in our mission that is pretty much all out of the city. I live in this little town called Siniloan (east of manilla). The poverty is insane. But the people are so happy. I don't get it... ok maybe I do. For the most part, they lead difficult lives of hard work and little excess. But through that hard work, they have joy. They have families, they all believe in God, and they all want to know how to become closer to Him. I love working here. We have 6 or so PI's right now... I'll be sure to bring more into the fold once I get the language down.

About Tagalog.... hmmm. How do I say this... It is so difficult! I thought I was really good in the MTC. And for MTC standards, I was. But here... they all speak so fast, using words I don't know.. it's difficult. But it is getting much easier to understand already.. only day 4. So give me two weeks, and I promise I'll be conversing with the best of 'em.

I'm working really hard. Sometimes not everyone around me feels the same burning to do the best they can, and it's all I can do to help motivate them and do my best. Just know I'm giving it my all for the next two years.

The Church is just as true in the Philippines as it is at home.. just in Tagalog. The Church schedule is a little different (Elders Quorum, Sunday School, Sacrament), but the principles and ordinances of Christ's gospel are the same. I genuinely love the people here. They are so helpful to me. They want to learn. I love the gospel, and am more than happy to give my all to preaching it for the next 2 years.

Love you all and read the BOM everyday!

Elder Brown