Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Baptizing is fun!

Oi gente,

This week has been interesting. I’ll describe the main parts: first of all, I’ve finished all the stuff I need to do to become a Senior companion! This is exciting because not only will I have more control of what goes down in the area, I will be able to learn more about the missionary experience from other points of view. The list is as follows: read Pregar Meu Evangelho (in Português, obviously) front to cover, memorize a Lição da Expiação (a lesson about the Atonement of Christ - used to determine if people really want to be baptized or not), be able to teach the 1st (restoration), 2nd (the plan of salvation), 3rd (gospel of Jesus Christ), 4th (commandments - all of them), and 5th (post-baptism; laws and ordinances)(I practiced all of these lessons during companionship study with Elder Duarte and it , to be honest, stank like poo. It was hard, because he acted as basically the worst and most Satanic investigator of all time. BUT, now teaching the other investigators is easier), read Cartas do Presidente (a book of the emails the President Araújo sent last year; good stuff), review 100 scriptures of power (about each lesson and about missionary work), and review os padrões (the standards; all about a missão Brasil Curitiba).

While this stuff took a little bit of time and was fairly difficult, it was very possible and I´m gaining confidence and vocabulary daily in teaching and on the street. When we walk (which is to say about 50% of the time), we talk and talk and talk about everything under the sun. I try my best to talk only in Portuguese, but I´m also trying to help Elder Duarte learn Inglês so we talk in English too. This, along with being obedient, studying, not to mention the promised Gift of Tongues, has led to an amazing learning rate and depth.

So, that was the first big thing. Second, we had a baptism (Edson Costa)!!! He’s Cirlane´s husband (who was baptized 2 weeks ago) and he was thrilled and very ready to be baptized. He’s a very shy person, and because of his shyness he delayed his baptism a little because he thought he wasn’t "ready" (he thought that he would have had to give talks and say prayers in all the meetings, but we brought the Bishop to his house and the Bishop answered all of his questions just right. Woo!) Really, we are on a roll here. Baptizing every week not only is possible, it’s very possible!! All you have to do is your best - no more, no less - and you will witness miracles happening daily. For example: I’m sure that I’ve already shared about Irmã Daysi - easily the best member missionary I’ve ever seen - and how many people we’ve baptized because of her. Just this week, we will baptize at least 2 people (David and Guilherme), and maybe 3 (Anderson). It really is contagious - the ward is in a frenzied state of baptizing! The last baptismal meeting we had looked like a sacrament meeting with all the people there. I can only hope (and work and work) that this will continue to happen and won´t stop after we leave. One thing I´ve learned: there are many, MANY types of missionaries.

I’d like to share one experience I had this week:
I was on a split with another LD from our zone to do some interviews (and for Elder Duarte in their area), and it started great. This Elder is American and has about a year in the mission. It started to feel strange, however, after a little while - he only wanted to talk in English, he was talking badly about my companion and other Elders, and it just didn’t seem like I was a missionary. I did not like that feeling at all, and though I feel that we worked and were being good, I didn’t like that feeling. I started to wonder why - we were working, walking, etc. Why should we feel so different? I then realized the answer: the ATTITUDE is the deciding factor here, and in any aspect of our lives in general. Every day, I get up at 6:30 and say to myself, "this will be an awesome day to invite people to be baptized". I say a prayer, make my bed, wash face, and do my exercises. After, I take a shower, eat something for breakfast (usually something very small like cookies and milk) and get ready. Usually this doesn’t take too terribly long, and I’m ready to go by the end. Obeying the missionary schedule is NOT hard, but there are many, MANY Elders who feel like they really don’t have to do everything perfectly right. Maybe just this one time. Just a few minutes over. Just for tonight - not any more. That’s not how the mission works, and that’s not how our life works! We have the privilege to be here in the mission field and serve the Lord with 100% of our time. It is almost baffling to me how many people don’t want to do their very best - why not? We’re here, aren’t we? We were called by a living prophet of God to be literally servants of Him, right? Why not do our very best?

It really isn’t hard to do our very best, just takes diligence and a constant reminder. Ask yourself - could I have done that any better? If the answer is no, then you´re doing your best. If the answer is yes, find out how you can develop the ability to make that your best. After your best is achieved, don´t stop there! In the mission there are TONS of Elders who just decide to learn the minimum Portuguese that they can and sneak through to the end, with heavy American accents and having not have fully been immersed in the culture. I plan on doing just that! Why be here and waste time? Why not baptize every week!?! LET`S DO IT!! I love you all so much - we have 3 or maybe 4 people who will be baptized for this week! This last week I baptized my 10th person here in Curitiba! Remember that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God (D&C 18:10,15-16. Read it!). We are working, baptizing, and having a right dandy time, y´hear?

Grood. Elder Brown PhD, Missão Brasil Curitiba, Santa Felicidade

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

one sixth of the mission done! Wow...

This week was great, in short.
In long, it was very , very, very great.

I can´t go into absurd amounts of detail because of the time, but I´ll describe the big stuff.

First of all, Sons of Promise already existed before we started it. I saw a religious group called Filhos da Promessa and just about died. I´m sure their wives love them.

Second, we had 2 baptisms this Sunday! My goal is to get sent home because of hypothermia from being in the baptismal font so much. Actually, my goal is to just baptize and baptize, and come home much later.

We baptized Claudecir da Luz (14 years old, awesome kid; very easy to teach and he commited to everything. Lives in a very humble house - there is literally dirt and mess everywhere, but his house is clean.I need to take some pictures of Boa Vista - it´ll be a shock to some people.) and Dieke Star da Vale da Silva (his name sounds like a blockbuster movie; great kid, very excited to do baptisms for the dead).
One thing that has absolutely been amazing here has been the surprise of the members at our baptizing. Whenever we talk to our Bishop (Bispo Amarál) he asks ´how many´and we tell him. He always gives us the eyebrows raised when we tell him. So far I´ve had the privelage to baptize 9 people, 3 actually in the water with them. It´s awesome. There is literally nothing like it on Earth. You can literally see the spiritual, physical, and mental change take place in them. I think I should like to do this more...and I shall. We have 4 more scheduled for this Sunday.

One thing that I have learned here is to not compare yourself to anyone. As anyone who knows me at all will say, I am a very, very competitive person, almost to a fault at times. This can be a great blessing in the mission and can also be a huge blunder. If you start to compare yourself to others and get down on yourself because of their success, you are being selfish. We need to just work, just invite, and just baptize. If we do that, we are doing just fine.

It has been raining here non-stop, and that gets old. In Oregon it rains consistently, but just a little. Here it rains whenever it darn well pleases and rains with a purpose. We were standing under a bus stop covering and still soaked last week. Welcome to Brasil, Elder Brown.

Seriously, 1/6 of the mission has passed, and honestly I think there hasn´t been a day wasted. There have been hard days, days where we didn´t teach anything, days where no one was home or even on the street, but we persevered. I know that we will continue to see the miracles as we continue to work and go forward. I love you all and pray for you all.

(and remember that there´s a slight delay because of the excellent postal system, so it´ll be a while before I get it and before I respond).

Love you all - batizar, batizar, batizar!!!

Elder Brown

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


HI everyone, hope all is well with all of you.

I will try to talk a little more about the specific, day to day things that are going on here per request of the Poppa.

So, here was the week:
After the temple, we headed home and spent about 30 seconds resting and then it was back to work. We then headed onto the street to do some good ol contacting. Every day we need to talk to at least 30 new people and gain at least 10 addresses to find them later on and start teaching them. This is always a little interesting, and the first contact of the day is always hardest. Anyway, we contacted for a while and then it was off to the Amaral´s to teach their son. They are all active members, and the only reason we´re teaching Vítor Amaral is because the dad is a very big supporter of missionary work and wanted his son to receive the Palestras (discussions, more or less) before baptism. The only problem is they live a million miles away. Luckily, Elder Brown is a genious and scheduled for him to pick us up, thus saving the tender and easily bruised rear-end of Elder Duarte. We got there and taught his about the Plan of Salvation and it went really well. He is a freakin smart little kid and reads better than almost all of our adult investigators – his parents are great.

At the end of each day, we plan for the next day (about 30 minutes), I update the area book (very nicely and organized, unlike some of the schloobs here) and Elder Duarte calls the District to see if they died during the day. None have been lost so far. We also write in our journals, shower, and get ready for bed, maybe read Jesus o Cristo a little. Then it´s bedtime 10:30!

The one thing that has frustrated me here is the simple fact that some Elders just don´t understand how to be completely obedient. When it says to wake up at 6:30, you don´t wake up ], say your prayer, and hit the pillow again. You GET UP! I have resisted the urge to do loud Ukranian grunts during my daily pushups to wake some of the others up, but it´s hard sometimes to be the only one keeping all the rules. I shall not falter – I shall continue – I shall baptize weekly. Anyway, that was Wednesday (quarta-feira).

Thursdays (quinta-feira) E.D. has a meeting with the LZ´s ( in their area, in the center of Curitiba – Ala 2 (Second Ward)) and I get to practice teaching lessons and stuff with the other Junior companions. We got a new Elder in our zone, Elder McLoughlin. I´m not the newest Elder anymore! He came from Provo and his Portuguese is...not fluent yet. It´s nice to know how far I´ve been able to come in just a few short months. Thank you Gif t of Tongues! After the meeting we returned to Santa and had lunch on the other side of town. Unfortunately, she didn´t have any food and just gave us a few Reals to buy some ourselves. This always stinks, and happens quite often. So we went to the store, bought some food, and went home and ate. After, we taught Fátima (an old lady that lives on our street) the 3rd lesson, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We tried to teach some of our neighbors whose addresses we got from contacting, but no one was home. We then hiked it to Boa Vista (about a 30 minute walk in the freezing 100 degree, 80% humidity, rain on/rainoff weather. Yeah, the weather is nuts here. More about that later.) Taught Jackeline (a 16 year old girl who lives in a very humble house with her brothers, Claudecir and another brother, sister, Daiane, and mom, Teresina. They all have problems with the Word of Wisdom and going to church, but they are great and will be baptized)and also taught Bete´s family about the Word of Wisdom, which was ok but they are a little attached to their coffee and cigs (for now...muahahaha). We then taught Vítor Amaral again at his house, and then went home after contacting some more. A hard day, with not many people home, but ok nonetheless – we worked hard.

Sexta-Feira (Friday) was ok. Had a meeting with Irmão Rafaél, our awesome ward mission leader, about our investigators. Then had the weekly planning session – always a million laughs – then lunch in Irmã Daysi´s house! Taught Marina ( a blind lady who lives with her 2 kids; very awesome) about Alma 32 and after that, went to Ala 4, area of the Sisters in our Distict (Sister Pond and Sister Nickel). They are both new to our district and they rock – I got to sing with Sister Pond in a few solos during the Christmas concert. Anyway, they live veeery far away and the interviews, though really awesome for a really awesome family, meant that we returned home at 11:30 pm (or 23:30 here...weird, I know.). Not fun to lose sleep, but I´d lose more sleep for a baptism.

Sábado was very completely wet and insane. We had a lot of interviews to do and we had a split with the LZs, which was great. In the end, we had only 3 baptisms on Sunday, but the other three really will happen.
I don´t have much more time, so here´s the sum-up of the rest. Sunday Felipe, Cirlane, and Yannick were baptized! They aren´t a family, but they´re familys will follow and they will be very strong in the church. Felipe was a perfect investigator – a free baptism, as it were. Yannick was the guy who stopped us on the street and asked to be baptized, and Cirlane has been na inv. For a long time, but her and her husband, Edson, just got married and she just quit smoking – truly two miracles. Edson will hopefully baptized this week and hopefully we will have 4 baptisms this week!
Other than that, the last couple days have been very wet and hard. Lots of rain in short periods of time. BUT, we´re working and loving it very much a lot.

I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that the mission is EXACTLY where I need to be, and that there isn´t anything else on Earth I´d rather be doing. Baptizing is awesome! I plan on doing it a little more, say another 200 times, on my mission. I know that the numbers don´t mean everything.

Love you all, and hope the pictures came through. For all those who wrote, know that I did read and love your letters, but can´t specifically respond to each one. Thanks for all that all of you do, and know that I will continue to do my best for all of you, for the people here, and for the Lord.
Elder Brown, Curitiba Brasil

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Oi gente

Oi gente, todo bom? Bem.

This week has been nuts. Yesterday we taught 9 lessons (to clarify, 5 is the standard of excellence for every day) and had the fire in the bones and on the necks, being so toasty warm here. We literally felt the effect of what hard work and excitement can do for your attitude about the mission - our contacts were better and more effective, lessons were smoother, had more of the Spirit, and everything else s falling into place.

As many may know, for a good part of my life I was very interested in getting numbers and getting recognition - I was almost more worried about myself doing well than for instance the team or the class. This is wrong, and as I have been here I have been trying diligently to fix this aspect of my personality and make it a strength. One thing I have learned about numbers is this: they will come if you work and don´t think about them. That´s the funny thing; the people who really want high numbers and just think about it won´t generally earn them, and those who really are earning them through good, honest, diligent work will get them, and they won´t give it too much thought, just keep on going.

If all goes well, and it should, we should have 6 BAPTISMS on Sunday!!!! This is nuts as well. We are being rewarded for our work and it feels great and empowering. Even when we´re walking in Boa Vista on a very hot day (in January hehe. Welcome to the Southern Hemisphere.) and climbing and descending thousands of vertical feet, we still feel the blood pumping to do our very best.

I´ve learned a lot about prayer here. When you say a prayer, you need to be specific. If you want something, you need to ask for it specifically, make a covenant with your HF to do something for it, and then go and earn it. If you do these things, He will ALWAYS bless you with WHATEVER you might need, big or small. It might not always be in the way we think, but it will happen. For example, last week stank. It stank! There was no one on the street to contact, everyone was at the beach and not home, and if they were home they didn´t want anything to do with the Mormons. I got a little down because we wanted to work, but it seemed like we weren´t being allowed. THis week: yes. We´re working like mad dogs, teaching tons of lessons and getting lots of people excited about the Gospel. WHY? Because we prayed specifically for people to be home. THEN, we went and found them. Even if they were waaaay over there down the valley over the river and through the Jungle, we found them and taught them. Like Dad said, miracles really do happen, Daily.

I have also learned something about trusting and loving the other Elders. For my first transfer, one of the other Elders who lived in our house drove me crazy. I wanted to accidentally drop him off a cliff and yell ´good riddance to bad wubbish´. Obviously, that´s against the rules, but I noticed that some of the time when I could´ve been thinking about wholesome and spiritually uplifting things I was thinking about how I needed this Elder to be destroyed. This isn´t what Jesus would do, and I knew it. He was recently transferred and it´s now much better in our house, but I will make a better effort to love the Elders, even if they really do deserve to be pile drived into the ground.

I really love this area! There are so many to be baptized and the ward is really getting excited because of the success we´re having. I know that Missionary Work is ordained of God, and that we bless the lives of generations through our hard work and dedication. I will send pictures as soon as I get my parcel from the USA. Love you all, and um abraço com fogo nos ossos!

Elder Brown
Santa Felicidade, Curitiba Iguaçu, Curitiba, Brazil, South America, Southern Hemisphere, Earth, etc.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Family Letter!

To start off, here is Elder Duarte´s family´s email:
Let´s not let him down - I know ya´ll will do your best!

It really is so nice to hear (well, read) all of your emails. It is an amazing experience to be here to also know that we are praying for each other daily.

Awesome for the geuniea pigs and Peter´s first wrestling match! I bet the forfeit made him feel like He-Man (But there were none brave enough that could challenge this monster of a man...:) ) Por Dad´s request, I´ll try to write more specfically on what is actually happening day -to-day here - obviously it´s impossibly to relay everything, but we can try, right?

Basically, these last 2 weeks stank for teaching because of Christmas and New Years (Happy 2010! ALready?!?), and it´s not a fun feeling to be walking and walking and working and trying to teach people, but no one is home, no one wants to hear, and the pile of excuses are enormous.

One thing I would like to share is the hilarious act of contacting in the street. I would like to let it be known that I have been yelled at, sworn at, kissed on the forehead, Biblebashed (pathetically..that poor Evangelical lady didn´t know that her church wasn´t true), and also found many people to teach and baptize.

This week something extraordinary happened: we were returning from Super Dip, a local grocery strore, our arms laden with goodies (soap, shampoo, and crappy cookies to bide the hunger). We were almost to our street when a car careened towards us and stopped at our side. I was ready to go into Destructo-boy mode but that wasnt´t necessary. The window rolled down and a man and his girlfriend appeared. The man spoke: Oi Elderes, Eu quero me batizar! (I want to be baptized!) I half thought he was kidding and so I think I had an incredulous look on my face. He continued: I´ve heard all the lessons and I know the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Can I be baptized this weekend? I need to be baptized as fast as possible! It was insane! This kind of thing you just hear about, but it would never actually happen to you or me, right? Wrong! Miracles happen, daily.

The weird part was this: I was feeling very badly that day because we had tried to teach and do our part, but ended p not teaching any lessons. Also it had rained a lot and ruined plans for a service project to paint a lady´s house in the ward. Not a good day. After the store, we were heading home, a little sad and frustrated in the cloudy, Oregon-like atmosphere. BUt then, BAM!!! His Baptism will be on Monday! Next week, if all goes well, we will have 5 baptisms! It´s nuts! BUt it´s great.

Also, there is a dog that lives next door that I think I mentioned to Peter. It is literally the spawn of Satan. Every time we pass, it gets up and starts running like a madman, trying to get through this little hole in the wall to kill us. I think Satan works through dogs to kill missionaries, but it's a good thing that the mission supplies us with shotguns. Just kidding. HOwitzers.

Next week will be longer, but know that I love you and will continue to do my best. Love you all!

Elder Brown