Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Quase Natal!! AII!!

Quase Natal!! AII!!

Oi gente,

This week has been a little more than crazy. With all the choir performances we´ve had, it´s been difficult to work full days and feel good about the stuff we did, but I know this is only a small part of the year and we´ll miss it when it´s gone.

I´ve begun to learn about other aspects of the mission, namely transfers and people leaving to go home, etc. It´s really kind of strange when you get to know someone well and develop a great friendship, and then the next week they´re back in the states, their two years done. It really does pass by faster than I even thought it would.

Portuguese is coming. Thank goodness for the awesome gift of Tongues. Without it, this would be a funny (or rather, funnier) experience.

I´m going to be in Santa Felicidade for another transfer with Elder Duarte, and we´re really excited to continue the work here. We have one goal: divide the ward!!! We´ve baptized 4 people (more than was in the rest of the previous year) and have more on the way. It really is a blessing to be in a place where people get baptized, not somewhere like China where Jesus Christ was just some guy who lived in Jerusalem.

I want to thank the members of the Alpharetta Ward (or whatever it´s called now after the division) for the totally awesome package and notes. I will definitely be needing to walk more after eating all that chocolate and using all the chapstick. Also, we don´t have a microwave, so maybe that could be the next present. Just kidding; please don´t send a microwave. Thanks again!

One thing is especially interesting about the mission: you really learn to deal with rejection like never before, with all the people telling you to die and burn in heck (has only happened once), having the neighbor´s dog actually try to rip out your jugular vein, and the like. I´m sure dates will be easy after the rejections here.

I have a testimony about this gospel. I know He lives. NEVER deny that, any of you! ALWAYS do your best and you´ll never have any regrets. Keep on going and things will always improve - we just need a good attitude, hard work, and a smile.

Fogo nos ossas, e Feliz Natal por todos!
Elder Brown

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quase Natal! Aiaiai!!!

Hello hello everyone, hope everything is snappy fresh.

Things are going very well here in Curitiba. Busy, insane, and almost always hectic and pressed, but good. I am learning more and more daily about how to really deal with pressure and adversity and use it in a meaningful and effective way.

First of all, we had a baptism on Sunday (Jennifer Carolyne dos Santos Falcão, 10 years old, girl) and another on Tuesday (Afrânio Gianini Kansas Cenra, 20 years old, man). Baptisms really are freaking awesome! There is a reason why we want people to be baptized and I´m learning more about that daily. I have a goal to baptize at least one person every week of my mission, and so far only my first week and one other haven´t had one. We will have at least 2 more on Sunday.

I would like to share on thing that I have learned that I think will help all those who are wondering how to learn to learn, teach, and serve better, whether in the mission field or not. There are three things we need to do, and they are successive: Obey, Go and Do, Love. I´ll explain: -When we Obey, strictly, almost Nazi-like, we will have the Spirit with us. If we don´t obey, we won´t. It´s almost too simple, but some missionaries just can´t figure out why they aren´t having success. When we have the Spirit, it will teach the people that what we are teaching is true. Also, when we obey we will receive confirmation that we really are doing our part
- When we Go and Do, we carry that Spirit with us to the people that we teach. Then they will feel something different within them and wonder what it is. Also, when we Go and Do, instead of Sit and Stew (remember John Bytheway), there will be no trunkiness, there will be no homesickness, there will be no whining and crying little boys and girls. There will only be good missionaries.
- When we Love, people will understand why we are here and want to follow us – or rather, the Savior – to Baptism and beyond. People can understand when they are loved and when they are not. Love cannot ever possibly be artificial, and when true love is expressed and felt it is a miracle to behold. Also, when we love, the people will love us back, and we will receive yet another confirmation that the things we are doing and the Gospel we are preaching is true.

Those are the Three Things. I think unless I learn another huge thing out here (which I don´t think I will...not! Sucka!) I would like to use this topic for my homecoming talk. Let´s not worry about that now, though; lots to do between now and then.

In other news, Brazil is another country. Seriously. The team here in Curitiba, Coxa (which means thigh, like on your leg. Yeah, it´s not quite as intimidating as the Dragons or the Axé-Murderers, but ya know.), lost the other day. Nothing really bad happened, just some busses were lit on fire in the middle of the road and some people in my área blew up a bus stop. Yep. Good stuff. I´ve also seen more jiggling midriffs and awkward cut-lines than I´ve ever wanted to see. But I´ve also met some of the nicest, most humble people in my life here. There is a Sister in the Ward, Irmã Daysi, who is probably the best member missionary I´ve ever seen. We taught 30 lessons last week (which is a LOT, and hard, but great) and probably about half were with her. This translated to a lot of lessons with a member and a place on the record books for the week! Woo hoo! I know that records aren´t why we´re here, but they sure are a great incentive.
Also, Portuguese is coming rapidly. I was talking the other day with some of the other Elders and one of them asked how long I had been in the field. When I told him less than a month he about fell over. There are some Elders here who have been here over 6 months and I feel like I´m already clipping their heels. One thing that is very important, though, is to remember why this is happening. It isn´t because of me or my greatness. It´s because I decided to be obedient, work hard, and let the gift of tongues do its work. I´m about able to understand everything people say and getting better at expressing myself.

One thing that has been a little frustrating has been study time, or more accurately the lack thereof. Since my companion is the DL, I have to go to a lot of meetings with him and that takes away some time. Also, choir has been a little nuts. We only have it during Christmas, and I can see why. We basically don´t have PDay – we have Choir day. And I have been a little scared because I have a rather large part in our program; I´m singing O Holy Night, Be Still my Soul, and I Wonder When He Comes Again with a Soprano Sister from Ponta Grossa. It´s been more than a little intimidating, especially with O Holy Night, but the faith and trust that President Araújo has shown in me has been miraculous. He has quite an amazing voice – we sang a song together during choir practice and we blended very well. I´m excited to be able to sing for the mission.
Another thing I´ve learned here is to not compare yourself to others. This is something that I´ve had to work on a lot here. It´s very difficult not to get down on yourself when you can´t speak the language, can´t sing as well as you´d like, or hearing about others who were so much better. I have learned that if you “thrust in your sickle with your might”, you will be qualified to the work (See D&C 4). My voice has improved (it´s much more manly now; I can really belt the big notes and the vibrato has finally arrived in its glory), the Portuguese is coming daily, and I can feel a physical and spiritual change in the increased strength of my testimony. I was thinking the other day after we taught the Plan of Salvation, and it occurred to me – it will actually happen! Wow! I have a testimony of this Gospel. Pray when you want to speak with God, and listen and Read the Scriptures when you want to hear Him answer. I love you all more than a lot.

Elder Jacob Brown, Brazil Curitiba, Área Santa Felicidade

Thursday, December 10, 2009

One Month in the field!

Oi gente, eu espero que todo bem com vocês,
(Hi guys, I hope all is well with you,)

This last week has been amazing. Although we didn’t get to have a baptism on Sunday, we are making up for it with at least 2 this week. We have a goal to baptize every week and so far we’ve been doing well.

We have two investigators that we just met this week - Afránio and Eduardo - who are getting baptized. Afránio is 20 and has already been to church 4 times before receiving the missionaries. He is a freaking stud. He bore his testimony last Sunday and isn´t even a member of the church! (YET) We shared the first 2 lessons with him and he nearly cried for the strength of the Spirit. We also shared the Word of Wisdom, and he instantly took the earring out of his ear and it hasn’t been there since. He also instantly committed to quitting coffee, something that prevents many, MANY people from getting baptized. He is going to serve a mission and bring many to the Gospel.

Eduardo and his family are a little different. Eduardo is extremely excited to get baptized and already chose to have me baptize him. This is pretty awesome and we are thrilled. The only problem is that the rest of his family is not active but all baptized. We have two goals with this family: baptism and retention. It Will happen! We taught the Word of Wisdom to them as well and it was a little more difficult than with Afránio; the mom, Jociane, smokes and drinks coffee. The daughter, Luciane, also smokes, drinks, and drinks alcohol. We had a challenge, but challenges are very do-able, something I have learned here. We worked with them in their house about these things for almost an hour and, finally, they gave us their coffee and cigarettes and we threw them in the trash. It was pretty cool to watch their faith turn into action through the influence of the Spirit.

We also taught another family – Teresinha, Jackeline, Claudecir, and Diane – about the Word of Wisdom (Palavra de Sabedoria) and had a similar lesson with a similar Spirit. We just have to check on them and see how they did, because they weren’t home when we checked on them yesterday.

We have already taught 12 lessons this week (a Record for us) with 8 of those with a member. Woohoo!! This Will translate to a lot of Baptisms.

Another cool experience: to adhere to the Standards of Excellence (Padrões de Excelência) we need have at least 15 contacts in the street every Day with 5 addresses recorded. While this may seem easy, in reality it takes some time and effort, and sometimes becomes very easy to lose track of. This sometimes results in miracles having to happen on Sunday, the last Day of the week. This last week, we were short on contacts because of trainings and my companion got a little sick and we had to go home to rest. We had to do over 100 contacts with over 40 addresses on Sunday, a Day when very few people are on the street (sober, that is). We did 113 contacts with over 50 addresses! Obviously, it is much better to do 15 a Day, maybe 16 or 17, and call it good. But it is Nice to know that miracles Will and can happen IF we let them and IF we have faith in Heavenly Father.

As I think I’ve already Said, I get to sing several solos in the choir for the Mission Conference. This is both a little nerve-wracking and extremely exciting. I get to sing Acalma-te o Alma Afligida (Be Still my Soul) and O Noite Santa (O Holy Night). O Holy Night is a VERY hard song to sing, and especially sing well as it is so darn high (I get to sing a high G sharp full voice...whew), but I know that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon through the Power of God and that the Savior walked on water during a storm, so I´ll be Just fine. The choir sounds really good and the conference Will be awesome.

List of investigators: Afránio, família do Eduardo (Mateus, Jociane, Luciane, and the old grumpy grandma),família da Jackeline (Teresinha, Claudecir, Diane), família do Denilson (Tatiana, Luna), família da Jéssica (Wéllington, Elizabeth), família do João (Janete, João Carlos), família do Edson (Sirlane, Denilo, Henrique, Sylvia), Clésio, Liliane and Edineia, Matilde, Inês e Jair, Marcos e Sonja. There might be more but I can’t remember.

I Love you all sôo much. I AM working my buns off here and it feels great on the back. I AM gaining a stronger testimony daily of this Gospel and of Jesus Christ. I know that He lives and loves us more than we can possibly imagine. I know the Book of Mormon cannot possibly be false, no way. And I know I Love all of you, so much.

Elder Brown

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One Month in the field!

Oi gente, eu espero que todo bem com vocês,
(Hi guys, I hope all is well with you,)

This last week has been amazing. Although we didn’t get to have a baptism on Sunday, we are making up for it with at least 2 this week. We have a goal to baptize every week and so far we’ve been doing well.

We have two investigators that we just met this week - Afránio and Eduardo - who are getting baptized. Afránio is 20 and has already been to church 4 times before receiving the missionaries. He is a freaking stud. He bore his testimony last Sunday and isn´t even a member of the church! (YET) We shared the first 2 lessons with him and he nearly cried for the strength of the Spirit. We also shared the Word of Wisdom, and he instantly took the earring out of his ear and it hasn’t been there since. He also instantly committed to quitting coffee, something that prevents many, MANY people from getting baptized. He is going to serve a mission and bring many to the Gospel.

Eduardo and his family are a little different. Eduardo is extremely excited to get baptized and already chose to have me baptize him. This is pretty awesome and we are thrilled. The only problem is that the rest of his family is not active but all baptized. We have two goals with this family: baptism and retention. It Will happen! We taught the Word of Wisdom to them as well and it was a little more difficult than with Afránio; the mom, Jociane, smokes and drinks coffee. The daughter, Luciane, also smokes, drinks, and drinks alcohol. We had a challenge, but challenges are very do-able, something I have learned here. We worked with them in their house about these things for almost an hour and, finally, they gave us their coffee and cigarettes and we threw them in the trash. It was pretty cool to watch their faith turn into action through the influence of the Spirit.

We also taught another family – Teresinha, Jackeline, Claudecir, and Diane – about the Word of Wisdom (Palavra de Sabedoria) and had a similar lesson with a similar Spirit. We just have to check on them and see how they did, because they weren’t home when we checked on them yesterday.

We have already taught 12 lessons this week (a Record for us) with 8 of those with a member. Woohoo!! This Will translate to a lot of Baptisms.

Another cool experience: to adhere to the Standards of Excellence (Padrões de Excelência) we need have at least 15 contacts in the street every Day with 5 addresses recorded. While this may seem easy, in reality it takes some time and effort, and sometimes becomes very easy to lose track of. This sometimes results in miracles having to happen on Sunday, the last Day of the week. This last week, we were short on contacts because of trainings and my companion got a little sick and we had to go home to rest. We had to do over 100 contacts with over 40 addresses on Sunday, a Day when very few people are on the street (sober, that is). We did 113 contacts with over 50 addresses! Obviously, it is much better to do 15 a Day, maybe 16 or 17, and call it good. But it is Nice to know that miracles Will and can happen IF we let them and IF we have faith in Heavenly Father.

As I think I’ve already Said, I get to sing several solos in the choir for the Mission Conference. This is both a little nerve-wracking and extremely exciting. I get to sing Acalma-te o Alma Afligida (Be Still my Soul) and O Noite Santa (O Holy Night). O Holy Night is a VERY hard song to sing, and especially sing well as it is so darn high (I get to sing a high G sharp full voice...whew), but I know that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon through the Power of God and that the Savior walked on water during a storm, so I´ll be Just fine. The choir sounds really good and the conference Will be awesome.

List of investigators: Afránio, família do Eduardo (Mateus, Jociane, Luciane, and the old grumpy grandma),família da Jackeline (Teresinha, Claudecir, Diane), família do Denilson (Tatiana, Luna), família da Jéssica (Wéllington, Elizabeth), família do João (Janete, João Carlos), família do Edson (Sirlane, Denilo, Henrique, Sylvia), Clésio, Liliane and Edineia, Matilde, Inês e Jair, Marcos e Sonja. There might be more but I can’t remember.

I Love you all sôo much. I AM working my buns off here and it feels great on the back. I AM gaining a stronger testimony daily of this Gospel and of Jesus Christ. I know that He lives and loves us more than we can possibly imagine. I know the Book of Mormon cannot possibly be false, no way. And I know I Love all of you, so much.

Elder Brown

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another week bites the dust

Oi gente! Todo bem?

It´s been another boring week here in Brazil. We aren´t working at all, everyone speaks English, and I´m eating all the candy and lollipops I want. Also I get to play basketball every second. Haha. Wouldn´t that be more like a mission of another religion…whoops, didn´t say that. Life has been busily excellent, as I like to put it, here in Curitiba. We had another Baptism (Alan, 9 years old) and Jéssica was confirmed a member of the church. It´s amazing how differently you see everything in sacrament meeting when you feel like your head will explode because of all the things you still have to do – where is so and so? Where are the papers for the baptism? Why is the chorister insane? All these things. But, again, the church is true and Heavenly Father only lets us become so crazy before helping us out of the hole. That´s always a healthy reassurance.
Português is coming pretty quickly, something I know isn´t possible without the help of Heavenly Father and His Holy Ghost. The gift of Tongues is most certainly real! A lot of members keep commenting that it sounds good and that I don´t have an enormous Texan or Utahn accent going on, which was a major goal of mine. My other goal is for the only thing that will give me away for being American is my blonde hair – the Portuguese will be fluent and my arms and neck will be tan. Won´t that be the day.

Also I´ve been really blessed with my companion, Elder Duarte. First of all, he´s Brazilian, so Portuguese is a must for conversation – even though he understands English well. Second, he´s a hard worker and not a fubeca, which is good because if he wasn´t he would have road rash on his pants from me dragging him everywhere. But ´tis not so, all is well. Third, he is very funny and is a good missionary. I have some roommates that are, um, interesting, and they seem to be more interested in pizza than their missions. But, we will help them daily and all be edified together. The only problem that I have right now with my comp. is that he doesn´t seem to mind if we´re late, something that is very irksome to me. I don´t like to get ready, be on time, and then have to wait and arrive late at our meeting because of that. I will just continue to be on time, though, and I´m sure it´ll get better.

Studying here has been absolutely awesome. I´ve already read How to be an Extraordinary Missionary, The Day of Defense, Our Search for Happiness, Our Heritage, and I´m almost through with Jesus the Christ. There´s honestly not much else to do than read when you have any down time (which is obviously very limited), but it´s very enjoyable and relaxing and I´m learning a lot.

Also I´ve developed a new way of marking my scriptures, and it´s very thoroughly detailed. I think that if others wanted to read them they would need the Urim and Thummim, there´s a lot going on. I organize things into history (black), doctrine (red), principles – if, then, etc. (teal), scripture mastery or miracles of God (blue), people (dark green), places and times (light green), definitions (purple), and things I like a lot (pink). It works well for me and I encourage everyone to do the same, it´ll help you pull a lot more out of the scriptures. A few days ago my companion was pretty sick so we stayed home, and hence I had a lot of time. I am really starting to understand what it means to “hunger and thirst” for the truth; once I see something I like or that I haven´t noticed before it´s exciting! I encourage everyone to read 1st and 2nd Nephi again, thoroughly. You will learn a LOT.

As far as teaching, it´s been amazing. Obviously my teaching right now is limited because I´m not fluent in Português yet, and that´s sometimes a little frustrating because I know exactly what I want to say, but not how to say it. It´ll come, though. It´s been cool to learn from my companion and see how he teaches, and also be thinking later about how I might´ve done things differently. It´s sometimes a little frustrating when our lessons tend to be the same way every time, but I will continue to learn this language until every person has their own unique experience with the lesson, and I won´t feel like a vain repititioner.
I´ve also noticed something else: it is incredibly depressing to watch someone feel the Spirit and to testify of it to them, and then have them not want to learn any more. Also it´s difficult when the tiniest excuses get in people´s way of hearing our message, being baptized, coming to church, continuing to smoke, not getting married, etc. It´s tough, but such is the mission field, as I am beginning to learn. For every experience that makes you want to give up we will always be provided with another experience, equally or more powerful, for the good. That´s been reassuring, and I´m learning to find the good in the day even though it really is the same thing for 2 years. The good news is that it´s the best thing that I can be doing: bringing people to the Gospel! We have a goal to have a baptism every week, and we´ve had one the last 2 weeks. Let´s keep this train rolling! I hope Thanksgiving was good! It was definitely a little difficult for me to think about turkey and crown jewel (I´m sure it was excellent, Mom), and being with the family. One thing I´ve learned to do is every time I think of family or something back home, I let that motivate me to continue. I think, “what if they could see me right now? Would they be happy or disappointed?” So far I can honestly say that I have worked every day, my best. Obviously there are things I can improve on daily, but that´s what the 2 years is for. At the end of our missions we should be our best missionaries, and then Heavenly Father sends us home to preach there. That´ll be good, and I hope that all of you are taking missionary work more seriously now. Bring people to church! Talk to them about how happy you feel and why! Ask them if they want those blessings too! They will, usually. Then bear testimony and let the Spirit convert them.

Irmãs e Irmãos, eu sei que Jesus Cristo realmente vive. Eu sei que O Livro de Mormon é mais do que verdadeiro, é real e as coisas que O livro fala sobre realmente vai acontecer. Eu tenho um grande testemunho sobre O Evangelho de Jesus Cristo. A missão è uma lugar muito especial, porque eu posso sentir o Espirito sempre. Eu espero que vocês podem também.

I Love you all! Work hard, pray hard, and smile throughout!
Elder Brown, Curitiba Brazil, Santa Felicidade.

And Yes, mom, I´m ok. Shoes, comp, everything. Ask Lala for the address to the mission home, she has it.


Italian immigrants started arriving in Brazil in 1875 and in Curitiba in 1878. They came mostly from the Veneto and Trento regions, in Northern Italy and settled mostly in the Santa Felicidade neighborhood, still today the center of the large Italian community of Curitiba.[23]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Week 3!

Oi Everyone!

This will assuredly be short, but housekeeping had to happen at some point. First of all, I love and pray for all of you.

My first baptism of the mission field was on Sunday!!! Her name is Jessica Porciuncula Cavalcanti (9 years old) and she was excited to be baptized. Her parents are also receiving the missionaries and with a little more work they´ll be baptized too.

A lot of people here have a problem of not being married, and that makes some situations difficult. Not too difficult for the Lord and His missionaries, though  Anyway, we had the baptism and, of course, it seemed like everything was going wrong at first but it finally all came together. We got in our white clothes and took a picture and it was great (I´ll try and attach pictures, but can´t make any promises yet).When we actually got into the font, I was anxiously repeating first her name (which was hard to memorize) and the ordinance in Portuguese. It happened, though! She was a little nervous entering the water (because it was about 40 degrees, Faranheit. Not warm, but ok for baptism). So that was great, and we have 4 set up for this Sunday!!! It´ll be a weekly record!!

Also, I have been learning how fast time goes when you´re doing the things the Lord wants, you stay obedient, and you work your guts out every single day. I feel like I just arrived at the MTC, and here I am with almost a month in the field. It´s been great to be put under the Spiritual microscope like this.

I will also be singing a few solos in the Christmas fireside, which is a little daunting but also very exciting. I will be singing O Holy Night, Be Still my Soul, and a song called Guard Him, Joseph with a Sister from Ponta Grossa. It should be great.

Also, questions to be answered for Mom:
I don´t have the address with me but will do so next week. Check on the website of the mission. Shoes = perfect. Couldn´t have asked for better. Language = improving daily. I can understand just about everything people say, though speaking is a little more difficult. Also my companion is awesome, and we are working hard.

I love you all, and I have a strong testimony of missionary work. All of you can help!! Let´s baptize everyone!

Elder Brown

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Week 2 in the field!!

Dear family and friends, So happy to be here in Curitiba! There are so many things that I´ve been learning every single day. To give a brief update on how I´m doing, I´ll make a list of what has happened in this last week:

Bitten by a dog (just on the pants, I didn´t bleed that much)(didn´t bleed, don´t freak out please),
video
walked more in one week than in 2 months at the CTM, taught 1st, 2nd, 3rd lessons and commandments, invited people to be baptized and had them accept, at least 15 contacts in the street daily, wake up bright and early every morning at 6:30, watched as a little kid peed on the floor in the middle of our lesson, getting stuffed with food at member´s homes for lunch, having the Português firehose set to destroy the brain, but yet understanding more and more of what people are saying, trying to communicate and watching people´s faces contort in confusion as I talk in real good Portogeez, having a great companion (Elder Duarte) and learning a lot every day and also working our bottoms off, getting a severe watch tan line in the first few days, and having my nose and ears peel off (Don´t worry mom, I learned), going to the Policia Federál and meeting up with my buddies from the CTM….the list goes on and on and on. Basically, I have been thrown off a cliff with a little kit that tells me how to put together a parachute, and right now I´m in the screaming and worrying phase. This week, however, will hopefully be more of settling down and reading the instructions, and taking away a little more of the stress. Yesterday I had a great opportunity to go on splits..with the LZ Elder Nascimento. Since Elder Duarte is the LD, we´re going to have these a lot, and I was more than a little nervous to go to another area and work with an Elder who is way more experienced and qualified. I soon learned, though, that through hard work and smiling, every missionary can be any position. Like a leader in the church said, the greatest secret to missionary work is WORK, and that´s exactly what we´ve been doing. Every day has been a grind, but it´s the best kind of work that we can possibly be doing. Sometimes it gets a little frustrating, but then, at the end of the day, on the last street, with the last person, who has the dogs from Heck, you get a person that is ready and willing to hear the Gospel. It´s those little moments that make this whole ordeal worth it. We are teaching several families right now, and like Dad said, many people just don´t think being married is important. There are 2 great families, Edson and Sirlane and also Marcos and Sonja, that are about ready to be baptized and have been for quite some time, but are still unmarried. It´s difficult, but they are trying to get the money and stuff ready, and HF will bless them and us for their efforts. We are also continuing to try and find people – one of the hardest things to do. A frustrating thing here has been that in the Area Book, some of the Elders were maybe a little less than what I like to call organized, and the book is kind of a mess. Also, when I first arrived here, our house was comparable to an explosion. The lights wouldn´t work because there was a storm nearby, clothes everywhere, and the like. That was a scary day, the first day. It´s tough to be excited when you don´t know what people are saying, but again, it´s those little moments that really push us to keep on going. Dad was right – the first few weeks at the beginning (and the end) are the hardest, but I know it won´t always be this way. After a while, it´ll start to come together and get easier. I do have one goal, however; never to get “comfortable” with where I am. Constant improvement. One awesome thing that happened at the end of our CTM time was our district got together, made a circle, and took turns telling each person what we learned from them. This was a great opportunity to recognize that people really do notice the little things we do. We had an awesome, AWESOME district. The main thing that brought us together was our desire to serve and become the best missionaries that we possibly could be. Because of this, I know that Elders Hardy, Beckstrand, Brown, Lott, Landeen, Carter, Martin, and McClure, and Sisters Schneider, Lindenlaub, Ward, and Armstrong will always have a special bond. This love was amazing to watch grow and blossom as we grew in the CTM, and I already feel like I´m being stretched and growing even more out here in Curitiba. It really is a testimony to me about how much our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to find in ourselves our true potential, for He already knows – we just have to discover it for ourselves. To all that read this letter, know this: I KNOW that Jesus is the Christ. I know that He came here for us as individuals. I know that as I continue to Preach His Gospel here that people will see my testimony of Him and be converted through His Spirit. I know that we can all work miracles with Faith and works, as well as through sincere and mighty prayer. I am learning here how to become a missionary, how to become a man, and how best to represent all of you and, most importantly, our Savior Jesus Christ. Again, I KNOW He lives. Love you all more than words can say (well, they can say how much, but I only have an hour here…you get it) Ciao, Elder Jacob Brown, Brazil Curitiba

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

short

I just had a huge long email deleted, so sorry that this won´t be long

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Week 9...holy cow, this is fast


11-4-10
Oi todas as pessoas,

Doing very well here in Brazil. Today is my last Pday in the CTM so I have to do a lot of stuff in order to get all ready. Beyond excited, nervous, and ready/unprepared all rolled into one.

We went to the temple in São Paulo for the last time on our mission so it was especially nice today. I´ve had all the parts memorized for the temple for a while, and that´s been really nice. It´s wonderful to be able to go the temple with a specific purpose and be able to receive specific and direct answers - the last several times the answers to various questions I have had have all been the same: love one another. At first it was a little frustrating because I wanted something a little more, or something like that, but I´ve learned to be grateful for whatever response comes (because the Lord knows us waay better than we think we do).

One more week...crazy. We´ve gone through all the required material already, so this is basically review and perfect week. Português is going well - my ears are helping me yet again. I´m getting to the point where I can hear all the words people say. Speaking is a little more difficult, and some of the grammar is a little tricky, but it´s only been 2 months and we´ve got a long way to go yet - it´ll all come together.

Last Friday was proselyting in São Paulo!!! In short, it was this: crazy. There were so many drunk/high/homeless/crazy people that it was kind of hard to find someone/thing sober enough to hear our message. We did, however, have some very good contacts. Our first one, a man named Alex, was amazing. So much faith and hope! We talked with him about the Nephites and how they came from Jerusalem, and he accepted that really well. The main thing he wanted to know was what the difference was between our church and the others (haha sucka - RESTORATION!!!) so we hit him with the Joseph Smith stick pretty hard and he actually really accepted that well . We gave him a Livro de Mormon, testified of its truth and translation through JS through the power of God, and said bye.

It´ll be great to be able to do things like that in Curitiba and then be able to follow-up to see how they did - sooo excited for that! Our other contacts were not quite so golden - one man, whom I will refer to as Hobo João, was maybe a little crazy but just wanted someone to talk to about God. A little frustrating; we started to talk to him and he started to take command of the situation quickly - every time we wanted to say something he would keep on going, and we ended up sitting next to him for about an hour. Seemed like 4. He told us that he believed that God loves all people differently and not much would change his mind. He was a nice enough guy, though, and he accepted a LM. He also gave me a flashlight and a ring with a missing diamond, which both smell strongly of urine and mint. Not a good combo. We talked to a lady who was baptized but went inactive because of other people, a few more hobos, a guy named Benjamin who accepted an LM, another guy from the Assembly of God who seemed a little annoyed with us but received a book anyway. Other Elders in our district were talking to people that wanted to trade some home-cooked fresh Mary Jane joints for the Book of Mormon. As appealing as that was, they politely declined and ran away. All in all, a very crazy experience. I´m actually pretty glad that we´re going to Curitiba; it´ll be a little tamer, I think, and not as insane.

I´ve used my musical abilites about as much as they could have been used - directed the Choir twice, accompanied the choir 3 times, played in Sacrment, played for other meetings, sang a duet last Sunday for the CTM conference (In the Hollow of Thy Hand) and have been overall very busy. It´s been immensely worth it, though, and I know that my efforts have not been wasted.

I had another meeting with the same guy who told me that I was a bad DL - basically he said he was very impressed with my efforts and commended me on the improvement. It was very welcome to hear that, especially from him. I feel like people genuinely love you here, even if you have a more difficult time loving yourself. One of our Brazilian roommates, Elder Almeida, acts just like me and shakes my hand every time he sees me (I even taught him how to sing opera, and now he sings with me in the shower). Another Brazilian waves his arms like a conductor every time he sees me, and lots of other funny things with other Brazilians. One Elder really, REALLY wanted a pair of my basketball shorts, and though I said no at first, I decided that it would be best. He even gave me 30 Reals for them, so I´ll use that to pay for supplies today.

I love you all so much. I know that this church is true, real, and progressing in it´s message. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I love the Book of Mormon and it´s surety, truth, and converting power. I know He lives.

Elder Brown

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Week number.....um, I don´t know anymore. This is going to be a fast mission :)

Week 6

Hello everyone!

I am doing well here in Brazil, not just surviving.
Some highlights of this last week:

Elder Richard G. Scott came and spoke to us last Friday! You’ll probably be surprised to know that he’s pretty short - around 5 foot 7. Also, you won’t be surprised to know that he’s an incredibly spiritual man. It absolutely emanates from him, and it was awesome to be in his presence.

I also got to direct the choir twice!!! Once on Tuesday for the Devotional and again on Friday. It was absolutely amazing!! I was actually not nervous for several reasons - first, we prepared a lot. Most people here just try to throw something together in the last hour they have before the program starts, but not I. We practiced well beforehand and I stressed about what to do, and when it came time to actually practice, it seemed to just flow together perfectly. I felt the Spirit immensely, and I know that those who sang and those who heard did as well. I could literally see their testimonies on their faces as they sang - amazing.

Also, Elder Jay Jenson of the presidency of the 70 spoke to us, and his whole talk was about how hymns bring the Spirit - woohoo!! It was a very awesome experience, and I felt like I was at home up there, in front of everyone. They listened to me, did what I said, and we were all edified together.
I have developed how a theory on how to lead, so see if you agree: first, love the people. Second, love what you do. Third, take responsibility - you ARE the boss, and they must know and recognize that. When those three things are present, the people will feel that they are loved, that you sincerely care about them and also what is happening, and also that you know what you’re doing (or at least look like it :)) and are running the show. I really, really enjoyed that experience. I’ve also been able to play the piano several times for the choir/sacrament/etc. , and I´m singing a solo/duet with Elder Monson (I know; he is related) on Sunday for the mission conference meeting. It’s been great to be able to use these things that I love to do so much and with such variety.

I also need to bring back a copy of the Brazilian National Anthem - one crazy song. Tell Ali to learn that one.

Talked to one of our Zone leaders (a teacher) here about some people that are a slight concern at times, and got some excellent feedback on how I’m doing as a DL. He’s extremely sarcastic and funny and reminds me a lot of Papa Bear Brown. Anyway, he told me that I’m doing really well as the DL, which was a relief to hear, and that it’s good to see someone that genuinely cares about the people, something I’ve been working hard on here.

One thing I would suggest to everyone at home or otherwise is this: if you’re learning a language like me, say a prayer in that language. If you can, say the whole prayer, and if you can only do a little bit, say a little then end it.

Next, say another separate prayer for those whom you love - the prophet, your family, friends, dog, etc.

LAST, pray for yourself and what you want to improve on. Pray specifically for Christlike attributes and then, after you pray for it, make a covenant with your Heavenly Father. Promise Him that you’ll do something for Him and ask for that specific blessing.

I PROMISE that as you are faithful in keeping these special covenants that your sincere desires will not go unanswered. Also remember this: our time is not the Lord´s concern- we need to be concerned with His timeline.

Last, after you are finished praying, WAIT and LISTEN. You will receive more personal revelation, comfort, and peace in this manner when praying in the peace of the night, during your special time with your Heavenly Father.

Class is going well - I’m doing well in Português and getting better daily. I’m actually thinking a lot about being a linguist/international business major when I get back, just because I enjoy learning the language and feeling intelligent in that way. Maybe I could be fluent in 4 languages someday - English, Portuguese, German, and Spanish. If I could do that, I would be very pleased.

How is BYU Football doing? Have they given up yet?

How is the family? I heard that Peter is doing wrestling- awesome! Now he’ll stand a chance when I get back :) Just kidding, just be careful how much you feed the machine - you might create a monster. How is Ali´s SAT and choir and school stuff going? How tall are Julie and Kathryn now? Do we have a job yet?

I love you all so much, and love reading your letters. Thanks for being supportive in so many ways - I can literally feel the blessings of your prayers.
2 more weeks here!!! AAAAHHHH!!!

Love you all; work hard, smile often, pray always.
Elder Brown

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Week 5!


Oi todas as pessoas,

Everything is going especially well here for several reasons: I just got to eat at a meat buffet where they carried around huge spits of meat and asked you if you would like more (of course, I politely declined them all; I ate some chicken hearts, warthog, and other stuff. Very tasty!); I also directed the choir last night (Nearer My God to Thee) and got very good feedback; I also get to direct when Elder Scott (yeah, the apostle) comes on Friday!!! Woo! Pray for me please. Also, Português is coming very well; every day is less worse than the day before. I´m able to read o Livro de Mormon and understand almost all of it, which is cool.

We went proseyting last Friday!!! We were given three LM´s to place and placed them all; we had such a good taste of the missionary spirit. It was amazing: even our first contact, ever, went well. We just walked right up to this man sitting on a bench and started talking to him about the gospel. It turns out he had a LM already (which stinks...most people already had LM´s but didn´t read, so we just had to challenge them to read it and maybe give them the nearest church address), so we just talked to him and then said bye. We probably talked to around 20 people (which might sound low, but we were doing pretty well) and, again, placed all three books. The people are so faithful and kind here! Even if they were busy or didn´t really care about our message, they would listen to it. The people we placed LMs to were very faithful and loving - one lady basically comitted to coming to church and maybe getting baptized if she felt the Holy Ghost. My favorite exp. that day was talking to a man who had already received a LM and was actually reading it with his family (amazing man). Elder Lott was a little tired so it was basically my turn, and I felt I performed admirably. I think people should get ticketed for talking too fast - he was definitely over the speed limit. It was amazing, though - it´s been what, a little over a month - and I´m nearly conversational in Português. It took me almost 6 years in German to do the same thing. Just goes to show you how the Spirit will take over and help us to do those things which might seem difficult at the time. Anyway, I talked to him, opened Moroni 10:4-5, and testified of the power of Moroni´s promise. He committed to praying that night with his family - I think he´ll be baptized! That was such a good feeling after watching his face light up as we talked about everything - polygamy, the Trinity, Lehi´s vision of the Tree of Life - and I´m ready to do it again. We do it again next week - in downtown São Paulo. That´ll be interesting, but it´ll be amazing, I know.

I feel like I had a strong testimony before I left, and I believe I did; now, however, I feel like a magnifying glass has been placed over it. I know now more than ever that this is what we´re supposed to be doing. I also found out that the meeting I had about me not being a good district leader was basically made up (why, I´m not sure), and that I´m doing well. We started a tradition in our district to compliment the person who says the closing prayer, one per person. Yesterday was my turn, and I basically was blown away with how kind and observant people were about me. They pointed out things that I had neglected to see in myself, and I know, I KNOW that I´m serving my very best, and will continue to do so.

Eu sei que a Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos de Últimas Dias é a somente igreja verdadeira na essa terra. Eu sei que Joseph Smith foi chamado para ser uma profeta moderna, e que ele traduziu o Livro de Mormon atraves do poder de Deus. Eu sei que Jesus Cristo é o Cristo. Eu sei que Ele vivo e ama nós muito. Eu amo vocés muito tambem.

All my love,
Elder Brown

I will be sending letters to our house

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Week 4!

I was in the temple today, which was amazing, and I had several thoughts;
first, I´ve learned better how to pray here. I pray three times at night: once in Português, once for my family/companion/district, and once for me. This has really helped me have the Spirit more, and I love being close to the Lord.
Anyway, using that rubric, I prayed in the Celestial room about the usual things.

Then, I thought of something: we saw a presentation by Richard G. Scott last night and I was impressed with how spiritual he was. I thought, I wonder what I could do to feel like that, to have the Spirit that strong! As I thought in that room, I had an overwhelming feeling that whatever happens, all I have to do is trust in the Lord and what He wants for me. I know that He wants me to be great, as do you and Dad and I. I also know now that even though it might be a little presumptuous, why shouldn´t we shoot for the moon? Why shouldn´t we try to live like the Apostles of the Lord? If we live like them, wouldn´t that qualify us to be like they are? I think so. I also believe it´s a process - you can´t just be really good one day and then take 10 years off, that´s not how it works.

Enduring to the end is a process, not a sprint. I´ve learned that through enduring and living with a smile (not just enduring with a grimace) we will be blessed.
I love this gospel. I love all of you. I know that it is true and that He lives.

PLEASE get your friends to write :)
I pray for you daily, and I know you do for me.

Elder Brown

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hello hello!


Oi minha familia, como çeta?

Another week here, mostly the same as the last one. It´s really pretty strange: when you first arrive, there´s a certain look that you have as a missionary - a ltitle nervous, shy, and confused. After a few weeks, that look is replaced with another one: outgoingness, cabin fever, and muita bonita bons de sentimentos. Baasically what I´m trying to say is I feel like I finally know my way around here, and that´s comforting.

Something interesting happened yesterday: our teacher for the afternoon, Irmão Fiallo, pulled me aside and basically told me that I was not doing the best job I could be doing as a District Leader. My pride was a little hurt, since I´ve been trying very hard to make sure everything is taken care of in that regard, but she was/is totally right. For example, there is a game most Elders play here called Ninja Destruction ( you try to hit the other person´s hand with your hand, and you can dodge and stuff - fun and addictive game) during any spare moments we have, which are very few. Sometimes, however, I have allowed the members of my district to play the game when study time has already started, which looking back isnpt appropriate, no matter the amount of wiggles we have in our system. We talked about that and I could sincerely feel that the only reason she was telling me this was not because I´m a bad missionary or a bad district leader - she just wants me to help myself by being the very best district leader and missionary I can possibly be, something that I lost some sight on for a few days. In short, I was doing very good, and in the future I will be doing excellent.

I asked her to continue to point out things that I could improve on throughout my time here, which will help, I´m sure. We went to the Federal Police today, which was pretty cool. They took (literally - it was so fast) our fingerprints and then we went home - kind of fast and fun. Then we just have our normal pday today, and we went to a place which sells these little pouches of pizza stuff and dessert stuff - very good and pretty cheap.

I can feel that I´m progressing in the language, finally. Someone in another district commented during a teaching session that I already sound like a native, which is of course preposterous but very kind. I´ve been working hard on that with my companion and district and we improve daily.

I have a testimony of this church and of this Gospel. Though it´s been difficult, I know that this is exactly where Heavenly Father wants me to be, and it´s right where I want to be also. I love you all and hope the best for you, but only if you send letters :)

Sequentially,
Elder Brown

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Week 2!

Hello again!
Now I don~´t have very much time, so this might be a little shorter than all of us would like, but here goes: As I think I mentioned, I was called to be the district leader here for my district, which instead of being an overbearing responsibility has been a tremendous blessing. I get to interview people and see how they´re doing, which gives me a chance to feel of their spirit. I also committed myself to praying for each member of my district, my family, and friends each night, which has been immensely rewarding. It´s so nice to know that Heavenly Father has time to listen to all of us for however long we need to talk, about whatever is on our minds.
Brazil is sooo cool. It´s like a different country here! Seriously, even if everyone was white and it was all in English you would know you weren´t in America, and I love it even more specifically because not everyone is white and rich. There are lots of really humble people here who come from really humble circumstances, and it gives me such great motivation to teach them about the Gospel. Today being Pday, we got to walk around and see some more of the city, explore a bit. It´s so cool and slightly weird to see a small Asian-looking girl spouting rapid Português.

I got my first haircut today from probably the coolest Brazilian I´ve met so far. He was singing opera and asking me questions in Português (most of which I could actually understand), and that was great. The whole haircut took about 5 minutes, which was impressive. Plus now, according to my companion, I look like a Nazi. Woohoo. I got to accompany the choir yesterday, which sang A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. When I first started to play the music I was actually very frustrated and embarrassed because I wasn´t playing it as well as I thought I should be able to. After a while of feeling sorry for myself, I said a small prayer to be able to convey the Spirit through the song, not just make myself sound good at the piano. I noticed an instant improvement, and the performance went very well. Just another instance where the Spirit has been comforting according to my specific needs.
Today we get chocolate banana pizza! It is the best food. Period.
Also I got a bag for about 20 bucks that is like a small packpack just for your scriptures and other small stuff; it ahs my name and a symbol of Curitiba on it (two missionaries harvesting wheat, like D&C 4).

The CTM has been so dang good. The only difficult part about it is the language now, and even that is going well, though we dont´t exactly feel like we´re so great all the time - quite the contrary. We had the opportunity to teach Brazilians the first lesson yesterday and it was extremely humbling - I felt like I didn´t know any Português and it took forever, but we did it and it´ll help us in the long run. We´re all working really hard to learn the language, and it feels like we´re drinking from a firehose or swimming with flippers made of brick - tough to stay above water.

We´re surviving, though, and taking it one step at a time. I think that´s the only way to do it, honestly - one day at a time. Otherwise you´ll go crazy, with all the work we do. I also keep getting the feeling that I could be working harder, but looking back I know that I´m working as hard as I can; I will, however, keep improving so as to raise the bar higher, as it were. I´m pretty tired today, but I´ve actually had no problems getting up on time and helping the others get up on time and get to bed on time - again with the District Leader stuff. It´s been so nice to have that responsibility because of the trust and the extra spirit that it brings between our Heavenly Father and I. It´s been such a wonderful blessing, and though I won´t focus on leadership and the things which really don´t matter, I find myself yearning to do even more. I´ll just take it as it comes, I suppose.

Eu sei que Jesus Cristo é um Profeta de Deus. Eu sei que Joseph Smith foi chamou ser um profeta por disse dispensação. Eu sei que O Livro de Mormon é verdadeiro.
All my love,
Elder Brown

Friday, September 25, 2009

Greetings from Spain!...er, Brazil


Hello hello!
Well, the good news is that Elder Brown made it safely to the mission field. Unfortunately, he was shot 56 times in the head with an assault rifle. Fortunately, due to his enormous brain, he´s just fine.

In all seriousness, the CTM (no I didn´t spell it wrong, that´s the name) is probably the best place ever, other than heaven. The first day we got here was one of the best of my life - orientation, unpacking and meeting the companions, eating (suuuch good food), volleyball, and studying the scriptures. Life surely doesn´t get better than that.
Unfortunately, that was by the far the easiest day we´ve had here. Every other day has been absolutely pedal to the metal, studying Portuguese and how to teach the Gospel almost like a full-time job - like 8 hours a day. That´s been more than a little taxing mentally and physically (especially since I live on the 6th floor and going up the stairs is going to insure an Elder Brown with a very sculpted buttocks), but every second has been absolutely worth it. I´m finally feeling like I can do this, I can learn Portuguese without dying first.
Ok, every email I write will include a quick lesson, so here´s the first
one: thank you = obrigado. It´s used so much that I found myself used to it before I even got off the plane. This has been Portuguese time with Elder Brown. Todo bém! (which means everything from all is well to are you ok...very useful). So I´m sure you already have received the letter from my first night by now, but if not here´s my address for the MTC (if it´s wrong on Facebook have Mommy or Ali update it, please):

Elder Jacob Alexander Brown
Box 31, District 37 B
Brazil Curitiba Mission
Rua Padre Antõnio D´Angelo, 121
Casa Verde, São Paulo, SP
Brazil, 02516-040

Well, to be honest, it´s not really fair that they only give us 30 minutes, but my typing has been pretty good lately so I´ll do my best to include the important stuff this last week. First of all, we were separated into districts; there was a little confusion because there were a few guys like me who were supposed to come on the 9th but ended up here on the 16th, so we will be at the MTC for one less week and our district has been here a week longer than us. Instead of being difficult to catch up with those Elders and Sisters, both in Portuguese and in the social aspect, we´ve all grown very close in the week that we´ve known each other. My companion is Elder Lott, and he´s a stud from Idaho who Ali would definitely have a crush on. The other guys in my room are Elder Hardy from Layton, Utah (easygoing guy who likes sports like me) and Elder Beckstrand (really nice guy with a big heart
- also a breakdancer, which in Utah they call "b-boy", which I admit is a little too gangsta for me...still cool though). They´ve been a great blessing to me because of their faithfulness and desires to keep the rules and work hard - it´s a great district. I was called to be the District Leader and that has been a huge blessing in and of itself - I get to have individual interviews with each member of the district and I´ve been so excited to be able to serve these great people in any way that I can. I´m just mainly trying to be the best example I can, work my guts out on the language and learning how to teach the lessons, serve the district, and more importantly, serve the Lord my very best. I can honestly say that I haven´t wasted a day here, and I don´t plan to change that anytime soon.
In short, it´s been very busy, very overwhelming, and very slave-labor-y, but it´s almost been one of the best weeks of my life because of what we´re
doing: serving the Lord. I want all who read this to know that I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that this is His Gospel and His church. I know that we can be happier by abiding its principles and rules than by any other way. I love you all with all of my heart, and though I know we miss each other, I´m doing exactly what I´m supposed to be doing.

All my love,
Elder Brown
P.S. send me letters! Please!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Curitiba Temple!





Dear missionary families,

Attached are some picture of your missionary taken at the Sao Paulo Temple last Wednesday. My husband and I are also missionaries and have the privilege of serving in a branch presidency at the CTM on Sundays. We have loved being with this fine group of elders & sisters. They are going to be great representatives of our Savior.

Tchau,

Sister Pratt

Monday, September 14, 2009