Tuesday, November 29, 2011


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. 


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


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