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!


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.


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,