Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Oi amigos e família, espero que todo é bem com vocês.
Here the work is essentially rolling like a snowball. Getting bigger and better every day! Sometimes it´s difficult to know what will make the biggest impact in these emails, but I´ll do my best.
We taught a lesson to Miguelina this week that was probably the most spiritual lesson of my entire life. She is a member of the Assembly of God and has a rigorous belief in the Bible. BUT, she also is starting to read the Book of Mormon with her husband, Miguel (yeah, they look like Tom and Tomika Doman with the name similarities). They are absolutely devouring it. They´re taking 2 Nephi 32 into complete effect and I wouldn´t be surprised to see teeth marks and a chunk missing from the title page. But, she still has three doubts: eternal marriages, eternal families, and baptisms for the dead - basically the BIG stuff about our church. She is always talking about her doubts and how she wants an answer, but we keep explaining over and over that she´s already received her answer - the missionaries and the BOM!!! She´s really starting to notice this. We were talking about when we first started to teach their family - Elder Duarte and I were looking for another family and couldn´t find it, then I had a feeling to knock a certain door. We knocked, and out came smiling Miguel, probably the happiest man in the world. We started teaching him and after reading the BOM a little, he said in one of our lessons, This book is amazing! There´s nothing in it that´s not supported by the Bible, and it supports the Bible too! As we were talking about this with Miguelina, she started getting a little emotional - not crying, but feeling the Spirit. She basically said that when we are here, she doesn´t want us to leave, because of the feelings of peace we are able to feel. During that lesson, I feel like I did everything right. Instead of thinking of what to say, I was listening and praying for my companion. We were testifying with power and authority of representatives of Christ. We were bashing her doubts with our own firm knowledge and faith. After a while, we stopped and I bore a specific testimony about how I prepared for the mission and the things that happened that tried to impede me. I felt empowered! It was natural that she felt it, and I actually noticed a physical difference in her countenance. When we started teaching her, she frowned a lot during our lessons because she was confused and had doubts. Now, she KNOWS that it´s true. She kept trying to pitifully bring up the doubts again, but Elder LeBaron wouldn´t have any of that. We challenged her to be baptized that Sunday and to be interviewed the next day - she accepted!!! Another miracle: becuase Miguel works as a bus driver, his hours are nuts and he can´t make it to church on Sundays until next month. Becuase of this she was worried when we could meet them at home to interview them. I felt a huge prompting to say a prayer - I explained: we´ll say a prayer and then you will tell us what time to come by, and that will work. I said the prayer, and after the prayer, with a  little struggle, she said that we should shoot for 5 oclock. Not even joking, my companion and I looked at each other and gasped - we were thinking the exact same hour!! We told her that and she got even more excited. We also brought a member - Julian - with us to that lesson, and he was also very excited. After we left that lesson, we both did huge fist pumps and I remember screaming "SIM!!!!!" really loud in the middle of the road. That was a good day.
They didn´t end up getting baptized this week becuase of Miguel´s work, but they WILL be baptized on the 7th of March. Woo! The ward here is getting ready to divide! When I got here the ward was a little miffed about missionaries because they would either get only 1 good one and another one who was going home soon and losing motivation. Since then we have saved 14 souls and will save 4 more this week! This ward is rolling!
I know that obedience is amazing. Through it, people are baptized. I also know that as we subject ourselves to His will we will forge ourselves into the tools that our Father can weild to "thrash the nations" with the power of His Spirit. Let´s baptize!!!!
Todo bem, all is well. 4 baptisms this week!
 Elder Brown, Santa Felicidade, Missão Brasil Curitiba

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

O Melhor Semana da missão!! (por enquanto, obviousmente) = The Best Week of the mission! (for now obviously)


OI gente, espero que todo é em por todos.
HI people, I hope that all is well.

This was by far the best statistical week of the mission. Let me roll down basically how it went: So I ´ve had a goal - to have a Semana Azul (blue week). Let me explain: every week we have a excel spreadsheet with all of the numbers in the mission - numbers of baptisms, lessons, dates marked for baptism, etc. Each slot has a color - red for under 50% the Padrões de Excelência (standards of excellence), yellow for above 50%, green for the Standards, and Blue for above. The standards here are REALLY high, so even getting yellow or green can be satisfying at times. But, for all those who know me at all, they will attest to the fact that I am never satisfied, NEVER. For this, I wanted a blue week.

Elder LeBaron is a stud. We had a talk before the week started and talked about what we wanted to do for the week. I said two words - BLUE WEEK! He was just as excited as I was to do it, and off we went with the fire in the bones (and for him, fire in the hair - he´s a redhead). Basically, there are several things you have to do to do everything possible for a blue week. First, you have to be extremely obedient. When you are, the SPirit is there and Heavenly Father will pay even more heed to your prayers and requests. Usually, this request is to have people be home so we can teach them, and, simply put, people were home this week. Second, you have to WOOOORK! It´s not called missionary work for nothing: there is no satisfactory cure for hard work, as someone famous said. When you work your brains out, the days seem to go by too fast, meaning there is no time for being selfish and getting trunky. This means that you will have one purpose: saving people´s eternities through baptism and confirmation in the true church of Jesus Christ. Third, you have to love the people. When you do this, the members will be your friends, and your investigators will want to do what you say. It´s almost funny to me how simple it is, and it´s extremely frustrating that not all missionaries, despite their supreme and endless wisdom having been here several more months than me, don´t seem to get it.
Anyway, I´ll rant on the fubecas (slackers) later.

So, yes. This was the goal. And we ended up with everything blue except for 2 areas - baptism and people going to church. These two areas are difficult because it´s not all up to us. It´s very addicting to baptize every week, but if they don´t go to church, they can´t. It´s the frustrating truth, but we really can´t do the Satan plan and will people to be baptized, regardless of how much we know that it'll bless their lives.

Also, I had the best birthday ever. We had 6 lessons marked and ended up teaching 8 and finding 4 new people to teach. We also have a lady in our ward, Irmã Daysi (who I´m certain I´ve already mentioned  as the best member missionary I´ve ever seen) who loves the missionaries and loves Elder Marrom (Brown) becuase he makes funny faces at the 1000 kids who live nearby and they laugh. She made us cochinha (a snack with meat and cheese and other stuff wrapped in dough and fried- looks like a tear drop and they´re not the healthiest things on earth, but tasty) and sang Parabéns pra você, happy birthday to us Americanos do Norte. An awesome day. I love serving a mission. I was thinking about some of the other Elders who really don´t seem to know why they´re here and it made me a little sad, but also extremely motivated. It´s hard to be the only one waking up precisely on time and going to bed on time and cleaning up after himself, but it is possible and it´s empowering when you think of the blessings that you will receive, big and small. I love you all; thanks for the birthday wishes and know that it was spent well - we didn´t take the day off or anything. Also know that we have 3 more people being baptized this week.
That brings my total for souls saved to: more than one, and many to go :)

Elder Brown, Santa Felicidade, Curitiba Brasil

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Missionaries returning to Brazil CTM!

Interior courtyard Brazilian MTC is filling up with missionaries again
By Robert Walsh
Mormon Times
Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010
SAO PAULO -- The young men are wearing white shirts and dark ties.
They and the nicely dressed young women are carrying scriptures.
Many of them can be seen studying. Others talk quietly or play hacky-sack in a courtyard.
At dinnertime, the Wednesday night menu is pizza, and the soda fountain is busy.
Brazilian missionaries at the Sao Paulo training center have finished dinner in the cafeteria and are headed to evening classes. Photos by Robert Walsh
These young people are Mormon missionaries at the Centro do Treinamento Missionario de Sao Paulo -- the Sao Paulo Missionary Training Center, or CTM -- and the scene would likely be similar to the Missionary Training Center in Provo.
But there are some differences.
The busy street on which the Sao Paulo center is located is full of small businesses and shops -- many painted in bright colors.
The drinks in the center's cafeteria have different names: the national Brazilian soft drink Guarana (both regular and no-sugar), agua com gas (water that's carbonated) and such juices as passion fruit and mango.
The dominant language heard in the Sao Paulo hallways is Portuguese.
The Brazilian missionaries stay less time because they're serving "stateside" missions.
"The Brazilians don't need to learn Portuguese," said Elder Vernon Christopherson, executive secretary of the center.
For that reason, the center's missionary districts are either all Brazilian or all American. And their Sunday meetings are done in their native languages -- Portuguese or English.
Elder Christopherson, of Orem, Utah, served a mission to Brazil from 1961 to 1963 and is back here with his wife, Jerry, as a senior missionary couple. They will return to the United States in March.
With room to accommodate 646 missionaries, the center is second in size only to the one in Provo. But in mid-January, there were only about 50 missionaries there; last October, there were close to 400. The problem was visas for American missionaries called to Brazil.
"We're not receiving many (missionaries) from the United States now," Elder Christopherson said then.
That situation has now improved.
Jose Pecanha, a training supervisor, stands near a painting of Christ in the center's front entrance.
Jose Pecanha, a center training supervisor who has worked here for 3 1/2 years, said in an e-mail that as of Feb. 14, there were 132 Brazilians and 75 Americans training there.
When the American missionaries do arrive, they come in at different levels of missionary experience because many have spent time in U.S. missions while awaiting their visas.
In a January meeting with former missionaries who were touring Brazil, Elder Christopherson shared information about the Centro do Treinamento.
When new missionaries arrive, he said he likes to quote President James E. Faust, who served in Brazil, about the two kinds of missionaries -- those who have calls to Brazil and those who wish they did.
Elder Christopherson said Brazil is "the second nation of the church" because of the number of faithful Melchizedek Priesthood holders. "The power and knowledge of priesthood holders are equal to those in the United States," he said. And São Paulo, a city of 22 million people and more than 30 stakes, "is a wonderfully dynamic place to be."
The Centro do Treinamento has basketball and volleyball courts, peaceful interior courtyards with lush tropical landscaping and a small indoor track -- 14 laps make a mile.
Missionaries attend classes, of course, including those for doing role plays and practicing door approaches. They are recorded on videotape so they can watch their performances and learn from them. There's also a room set aside for one-on-one teaching so they can get more experience and special help as needed.
The missionaries also get a crack at real proselyting while at the center.
A church van takes them to a downtown street -- usually Paulista Avenue, one of the city's busiest streets -- and they do street contacts to pedestrians. Or they might just go to a street in the center's neighborhood and do cold contacting there.
"The U.S. missionaries are terrified to do it (the first time because of the new language)," Elder Christopherson said.
American missionaries at the center have the proselyting experience twice during their stay, while Brazilian missionaries do it once because of their shorter stay.
There's also a temporal component to their time at the center.
"Everybody is expected to do service," he said.
Missionaries mop floors, polish the furniture, run the vacuum cleaner and pick up litter on neighborhood streets.
The Centro do Treinamento Missionario de Sao Paulo has room for 646 missionaries.
They also go to the Sao Paulo Temple -- a little more than 10 miles from the center -- almost every week. Some of the trips used to be to the temple in Campinas, about 60 miles northwest of Sao Paulo.
"We have cut back on expenses," Elder Christopherson said, "and it's a great blessing to have the temple so close."
Pecanha, who served in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission and is now studying international relations at Faculdades Integradas Rio Branco, said working at the center is "the best job someone can get. Here you're surrounded by incredible young men and women of the church, not only because of the missionaries but also because of the other teachers who live in a high moral standard and are always willing to (improve) their lives."
For him, the best part of working at the CTM "is to see how committed the missionaries are to the work and how the church, through the gospel principles, can help us have a higher vision about the world and about our purpose in life. ... When I see a missionary crying, because he or she is having a hard time learning the language, or learning a lesson topic, or acquiring patience or any of the Christlike attributes, I think about what the gospel has brought to them and to their family. I wish each member of the church could see how engaged they are to this work."
Pecanha said another favorite part of his experience is seeing the missionaries after they've completed their missions.
"It's mesmerizing to see how much they grew and how they learned how to love the culture and the people they've served. We see after that they learn how to become leaders. It catches my attention because I have an impression that our countries don't strive to make leaders anymore but followers, and through the mission they learn how to think by themselves as they learn the gospel."
Elder Christopherson said that despite the language differences, the American and Brazilian missionaries have no trouble integrating.
"I don't know of a friendlier people than Brazilians," he said.
And the smiles of the missionaries -- whether Brazilian or American -- are a large part of a universal language.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

quick update


Hi everyone; don´t have too much time so I´ll just write the basics.

First of all, I found out something about fasting in the mission: it´s very hard. We walked in the heat and on the hills in Boa Vista during our fast and it was heck. We got a lot done, but parched isn´t a good enough word. That night, I literally had to fight my body from getting water.

The next day, Sunday, I proceeded to have the craziest day of my mission at church. There were literally about 50 things to do, and neither the Bishop or the WML were there to help. Basically, let´s just say that fasting while doing all these things was difficult, and a major test of faith. One thing I have learned, though, is that blessings and miracles DO happen when we show our Heavenly Father our devotion and dedication.

We had 4 people baptized this last week!!! Eduardo, Liliane, David, and Guilherme were baptized and it felt amazing. I literally felt the selfish feelings of the fast leaving my body as I baptized three of them, and Elder LeBaron the other. It was a marvelous experience and I´ve never felt the power of fasting and sacrifice like that before, neither the feelings and rewards that it brings.

We don´t have anyone marked for baptism for this week (yet) because a lof of dates fell because people didn´t go to church. BUT, we are praying a lot and yesterday we taught 8 lessons and the day before 7 - we´re on a roll.

Elder LeBaron and I are getting along great and the work is rolling. We have a goal to baptize 10 more people this month, and we might even pass that.

I love you all and want you all to know that I KNOW that this really is the true church. Jesus is the Christ. He WANTS us to be happy and succeed! We just have to do our part.

Really the mission isn´t hard; it´s very simple. Serve, obey, love, work. These things are simple to do and I´m doing each one the best I can.

Love you all so much,
Elder Brown

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dear John...hehe, not.

Oi gente, todo bam?

So this week was very interesting. First of all, I have new companion as of 9 oclock this morning: Elder LeBaron. Second of all, I´m still in Santa Felicidade. Thirdly, I´m excited! Vamos explicar sobre todo: So this last week was the end of my second transfer in the mission. Weird. We seem to be in a sort of time warp, and the time passes ricidulously fast (especially when You´re working and baptizing). We waited anxiously on Monday night to find out about transfers and found out that I would stay and he would go. While he´s already been here for three transfers and it was about time for him to go, it felt strange. In the mission, your trainer is called your 'dad' (pai), and it´s strange to get transferred again after getting so accustomed to one person and his actions, insights, teaching methods, etc. But such is the mission! Change, change, change.

Elder LeBaron is a stud. He´s from Utah (I think he´s the only missionary from that place...not sure) and he´s going to be the District Leader in our district, since Elder Duarte was the last one. He and I have a lot of stuff in common, and he was super excited to be coming into a place where the ward is super excited to have good missionaries and baptisms happening almost every week. It´ll be an awesome transfer with him.

Yesterday, I spent a good 4.5 hours cleaning our house to prepare for the transfer. Let me just say that Mommy would be proud - I cleaned the junk out of the bathroom (for about 2 hours..messy stuff. Missionaries can be such slobs), swept all the floors, cleaned the walls, organized the papers and stuff, organized the Area Book, wrote a list of things to do to start of the transfer well, put all of the member´s phone numbers in my daily planner...very busy, but very productive day.

It was weird: we were talking to our LMA (Ward Mission Leader - Lider da Missão da Ala), Rafaél, and he said that in all his time in the church and on his mission he´s never seen a ward more excited for the missionaries. This can only mean one thing: more baptisms!!! When we work by ourselves, we can do about 10 things. When the ward does work, they can also do about 10 things (theoretically and metaphorically speaking). Together, though, we can do about 35. It´s the magic of synergy!!! Let´s use it to baptize the heck out of Santa Felicidade! We should have 3 or 4 more baptisms this week.

One problem here in the mission is that people need to do a certain amount of things in order to be baptized.
• First, they need to hear all the missionary lessons (restoration, plan of salvation, gospel of Jesus Christ, and commandments before baptism. After, laws and ordinances).
• Also, they need to keep the Word of Wisdom, and have been keeping it for about a week (for drugs you have to wait a while longer, obviously).
• Also, keep the Law of Chastity, meaning getting married and/or not doing "that stuff" outside of marriage.
• Also, they need to read the BOM (Introduction, 3 Nephi 11, and Moroni 10:3-5), pray about these parts and ask if they´re true. See also D&C 20:37 for the specific commandments to be baptized.
• THe last thing they need to do is go to church at least twice before their baptism, meaning at least once before their baptismal date, then the day of.

This is reeeaally hard to do, because of one thing - Satan. He is always trying and poking the people that we teach and giving them little things to do that will impede their progress and prevent them from going to church. For example: we have an investigator who has been being taught for over 5 months. She had a baptismal date all ready, she was interviewed and keeping the commandments, and the next day all she needed was to be baptized. BUT, something happened and she didn´t go to church. The next week, the same thing happened. Another week, she was ready to go and was walking out the door to go to church, and who should drive up but her sister...there is always something. Because of this we need to be firm with our investigators to really do everything they can to get to church, and when they do, it´s a miracle.

The most we´ve had come to church until now has been 9; I would like to double that for this transfer. I want 18 people to see how sacrament meeting goes down! SO the work is continuing here. We are baptizing, working, and loving it. I´m excited to start working with Elder LeBaron and learn from him; it´ll be awesome.

Love you all, and thanks for everything. Remember, letters sure do hit the spot on a rainy day! :)
Elder Brown, Santa Felicidade, Special Correspondent to the Queen