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


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!


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