Thursday, July 29, 2010

WOO!!! Elder Marx!

As I wrote last week, I will be training an American. He´s here now! His name is...yeah, it´s in the subject already. Elder Marx!!!! He´s from Arizona, he went to BYU for 2 years, he played football and plays low brass instruments, he´s enormous (but can´t eat more than me)(hahahahaa), and he already understands/speaks the language incredibly well. We are soo excited to get going!


I´ll talk a little about yesterday:

So while Elder Stoddard was getting all ready to go to his comfy office chair in the Escritório, I was getting our house all cleaned and, honestly, getting really, really nervous. They don´t give you a manual of instructions to train - they kind of just throw you in the boiling water and let you at it, your way. I decided to plan a little on what we would do when we got home, scrupulously cleaned our house, and then we got a ride with a cranky, tired member to the office. Elder Stoddard was instantly taken into the office and given his first training, and I was left to read a few letters that I got (Elder Brott {Mott} and Lynette Blunck, who´ll serve a mission soon!) and think about what it was that I would do with my "filho amado". As I was waiting, I seriously got this huge feeling in my head of doubt and worry, like for some reason I wasn´t worthy to train, etc. I started to read in Alma 12, and I could literally feel the peace that comes from reading the scriptures. It was amazing. After waiting for about an hour, Presidente Cordon arrived with Elder Marx! It was so cool! The night before, I had a dream that I met him, and it was seriously exactly the same as in my dream! Crazy!


After that, the Secretários talked gave Elder Marx the quick lowdown on their end of the mission, and then it was off to the Hi-Lux (Presidente´s car - it´s famous). We went to the mission home and then, because Sister Cordon had yet to arrive, we went to the temple and took a picture. The peace of the temple is magnificent, even outside (We get to go on the 18th of August!). We then returned and waited in the awesome mission home, talking about what we liked to do. I showed in (in the home) how to do contacts, use the planner, etc. Then he got interviewed and Sister Cordon and her kids arrived. They are so cool! It´s fun to speak English with real Americans. We then ate a magnificent lunch (made by a lady who lives in Santa Felicidade, my first area; she almost gave me a hug before I stuck out my hand). It was a great break and I heard Presidente pray in English - it was powerful to see the unity in their family. After that, Presidente took us to our house and toured it - he was impressed with my cleaning skills, to say the least :) . I then showed the house to Elder Marx, showed him the Area Book, talked about our Investigators with Baptismal Dates, other Investigators, and then he filled out a few papers that he needed to do. Then, contacts for an hour. I did a bunch, and he also did a few! He is fearless! Then we visited a member to introduce him, then visited a few houses (no one was home). We then had a great division with our WML and taught 2 familes.


Another excerpt in Português:

Sei que fomos chamados por Deus e que diariamente podemos ver a mão dele em nosso trabalho. Encontrei com um rapaz (o nome dele é Afránio) que batizamos no Santa Felicidade e estava/está passando por muitas provações difícies. Ainda assim, ele está firme no Evangelho e é maravilhosa para mim a ver o progresso deste rapaz. Sei que por meio de nosso trabalho é possível ver milagres.


Basically, I love the mission. These 2 years pass FAST. They need to be taken advantage of. After we do that, we will have an eternal satisfaction and a preparation that can´t ever be replaced or taken from us. Miracles happen. Pray for my Dad so that we can get a job. I know that all things are possible with God´s will and our Faith. Jesus is the Christ.


Elder Brown

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

uma semana mais louca = whew...

This was easily the craziest week of my entire life. Let me explain:

So, as we all know, I am with Elder Stoddard for the next week and then he goes to the office to be the financial secretary. Then, I will train an American (Elder Marx!!!! I´m so excited! We´ll convert a whole church!) for the rest of the transfer. After, I don´t know. But anyway, this week: on Thursday, we have our leadership meetings, and, because the LZ´s area changed, it was waaay far from our house, in Timbú. On the way (on the bus), I dropped/lost our cell phone. After we got off, I noticed that it was gone and freaked out. We ran to catch the bus but it had already left and gone to a garage in Quatro Barras (which is reeeeeeaally far from our house). We called the garage and found out that the phone was there. After the meeting, we went even further outside of Curitiba to get the darn phone. Miraculously, we found the garage and got the phone. Mission accomplished, right? Wrong! In order to get home, we would´ve had to get 2 busses. I, being stubborn, wanted to just pay for one bus, and so when it was time to get off and walk to the other terminal, we stayed on to see where we could go. We ended up going waay far into the Centro - outside of our District and Zone. I said to myself many times: crap. Dang it. So, then began the rest of the fun. I knew that there were a few busses in the center of the city that went to Pilarzinho, so we started looking for a Praça (Square) called Tiradentes (basically, Take-out-your-teeth Square. Yeah. Brasil.). This was when I discovered for myself how bad Brasilians are at giving directions. Even if they have no clue where something is, they´ll tell you to walk really far in a certain direction and then ask someone else. After about an hour of walking at break-neck speed, in the rain, without umbrellas, tired, frustrated, outside of our Zone, breaking the rules, etc., we decided to say a prayer. We stopped and said it and immediately we felt better. The first person we asked ended up being from Pilarzinho and told us exactly where the stop was. It was a miracle, and at about 3 oclock we arrived at lunch - 3 hours late, raining cats and dogs outside. But, fortunately, the members were amazing and understanding and we feasted on rice, beans, a meat stew type thing, salad, and juice. It was great.

So that was basically the craziest thing that happened this week. It rained the whole week, which meant that no one (NO ONE) was on the street and no one wanted to hear a message that would change their lives. We worked hard, but didn´t get much results. But we felt good about our effort and we know that that´s what actually matters.

Now, the interviews and weekend: (that´s right, folks; there´s more!) on Thursday (the same day as the cell phone situation), the Elders in Boa Vista had a baptismal interview, so I went there to interview Josepha, a 50 year-old lady who is really cool. She was very ready to be baptized, and we felt a pleasant and calming Spirit as we conversed. I felt really good - after all the craziness that had happened that afternoon, it was a pleasant change. Right after the interview, we decided to stay in their area to watch her baptism. It was a little crazy and last-minute (all the irmãs that were there helped us to know that we had to do things, and then didn´t do anything to help. Yay.), but it all worked out and was very spiritual. We (Elder Stoddard and I) sang Teach Me to Walk in the Light as a special musical number and it was really good.

The next day, Friday, we had a pretty good day of work with a couple of lessons, then at night we had to have 2 more interviews in Boa Vista, so we headed over to help them out. We did a split and I went with Elder Lima (Elder Stoddard went with Elder Soares, a verdinho Brasileiro) to do the interviews. Unfortunately, this being the craziest week, we weren´t able to do either one of the interviews. Consequently, we stayed at their house (which isn´t made to sleep 4 people) that night, feasting on pizza. I let my comp. use the other mattress and I slept on the floor with a blanket. Not the most comfortable night, but it all worked out. The next day (Saturday), we went to do one interview - she wasn´t home in the morning. We had a meeting with their WML and then went to lunch. Elder Stoddard and the greenie (who don´t know anything in our area) went to our area to suffer a little more, and we stayed to do the interviews. In the end and after almost a whole day of walking and waiting, we got both of the interviews done and they baptized that night. Both times I had to call Presidente Cordon about some problems that each one had. It was really funny because, after I had finished explaining what their problems and history were, and what my own opinion was, he asked me to repeat everything in English. We laughed, we cried, we baptized.

More fun: after this whole situation, we hadn´t taught very many lessons or followed up with our investigators to invite them to church. Then, after calling Camilla (our baptism) and visiting her daily to see if she was ready for baptism, we went to get her at her house and she said she didn´t want to get out of bed. Her brother said something like "why are you guys so persistent? Can´t you get a clue?". I almost punched him in the face, but instead of getting a restraining order and getting sent home from my mission, we explained about the baptism and that the night before we had called, etc. At the end of it all, she wasn´t baptized. The worst part of this was the reason why: Elder Barbosa. She loves him and wrote him a mushy note when he left. Then, every time I went by, she made a face and didn´t want to listen. Life is great.

So yeah, that was our crazy week. So far this week has been much better. We had an excellent training with the mission leaders and Presidente about a few tecniques that the Apostles and the Prophet want us to practice more from Preach My Gospel. It was 2 days long and it was extremely helpful - we could put the things we learned into practice and I saw the difference that it made - it was really cool! We´ll have another training on the 2nd and the 3rd.

We went to Parque Tanguá this morning with our District (just us and Boa Vista) and it was really fun. I´ll try to attach some of the pictures.

In short, the Church is true and Jesus is the Christ. I love you all and hope you understand and I know that all we believe is true, because I live it every day. It is impressive to see the miracles that happen - daily. The Plan of Salvation is true and real.

Thanks for everything, and special thanks to the Young Women from the Canby 2nd Ward! The care package was great!

A really big hug, and a side order of fries,
Elder Brown

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What the....transfer?

We had a craaaazy transfer this last week!


To explain a little: our mission has changed and is going to change even more in the next few transfers. We have what you could call an "old" mission, meaning a lot of the leaders are going to be going home soon. This means that after a while there will be a lot of new opportunities to learn and serve, and we´ll welcome that challenge with open arms. A few of the changes: Elder Barbosa was transferred to Iratí, close to Guarapuava (in the middle of nowhere) and is very excited. He was an excellent companion and I loved serving with him. Now, the fun stuff: an area in the district closed, and another one opened. I will be with Elder Stoddard (who is also really cool; from Minnesota) for 2-3 weeks and then he will be called to be the financial secretary and then I will be a TRAINER! I cannot contain my excitement for both parts of the transfer - Elder Stoddard is the man, and then I will train an American! WOOHOO!! Let´s baptize everything that moves!


Presidente Cordon is changing the way our mission works - in the past, trainers were more of a time thing, but now only the top of obedience and work will do. It is a blessing to know that I will be a part of this group - an Assistent and 2 LZ´s were called to be trainers, and so it will be a great responsibility and an excellent opportunity to serve. I am excited to do things exactly how Heavenly Father would want them done - completely obedient, completely devoted, and having an absolute party in the baptismal font. My goal for the district for this month? 20 baptisms!!! Let´s do this thang!


So, yeah. There is a lot going through my head right now. But, basically, I can sum it all up in a few words: excitement and the Spirit create lots and lots of baptisms. Sometimes on the mission people get trunky, they get lazy, and they decide that it really doesn´t matter about certain rules, etc. I have one large goal for my mission: never to lose this fire. Nevah! We will keep every rule, stay focused, and love every minute, because each minute is precious and not ours. It is the Lord´s time! When we put that into the big picture it is impressive all the things that Heavenly Father will be able to do because of our service. We will have to do better and work harder, but we are willing and able to do exactly that.


We will baptize Camilla this week! Woohoo!! Something that was kind of funny/ really scary was that yesterday (Elder Barbosa´s last day), Camilla (who is a very smart but hormonal 14 year-old) wrote him a long and very fragranced note about her never-ending love for him. It was actually really hilarious to read in a girl voice - maybe I´ll send that video later.


Our house is so clean! I love it! Organization is sooooooo GOOD! And no, I´m not fruity and girly - it´s manly and buff to be organized. (manly grunting noises, cars, gym sweat, oh yeah) (sorry).


I have a lot of friends who are going home this transfer, and it is weird. I am starting to get old here! I think about certain Elders who were here, but now most people here wouldn´t know who they were because they weren´t here! It will be SO much fun to train! We will do our best and help many people to the true church.


I love this work. I love the way I feel when I bear my testimony and hear other people bear theirs. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is the Son of God. He is our older, stronger, braver brother. He sacrificed His own life for us, voluntarily. This really is His church. NOTHING can change that. People will try - they will always try - to find something wrong about the church. Maybe Joseph Smith beat some kid up when he was little. Maybe the Mountain Meadows thing happened. Maybe we as a people are imperfect and sinners. But still, that does not change that fact that it´s all still true. The Church was restored BY GOD because He loves us. There is nothing wrong with bearing testimony of the truth! We don´t need to apologize to people that we´re members of the true church - we can look with confidence in their eyes and tell them that yes, this church is THE church. All churches are good - this is really the best. It is ALL true, and the feelings that I have had, continue to have and will have about the truth of it will never be taken from me, neither from any of you. NEVER compromise what you know to be true for the smaller and more menial and worldly things of the world. There is no worth there! Put your money on the source and your efforts towards the biggest goal - eternal life.


That was long, but that´s what I have learned here. The mission is amazing. Be missionaries!

Elder Brown

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Gym? Gym? Ohh....gym.

(From Last week 7-7-10)


(That one is for my mom and James.)

This week was nuts. Simply, nuts. We are So tired every day, but it´s a good tired.


I don´t have much time today, but I will write a few things that will be cool for everyone to know.

As you are aware, we started an activity in the ward (gincana) that counts every part of missionary work as points. It has been a huge success already and we are receiving tons of references from the members. Also, last week we had 15 investigators at Sacrament Meeting! It was so awesome! The best part is that we didn´t even have to get all these people - the members brought them! The only thing we have to do is get the ward working and then things are waaay easier and way more effective. So, to explain the big thing for this week, we started thinking about a good way to end the Gincana - It will end on the 31st of this month (yes, Mom, I didn´t forget that you´ll turn 25 on that day) and then whoever has the most points will be declared the winner. We were thinking this: we are going to plan ALL our baptisms (potentially around 20 people) to be baptized on the 31st!!!!!! 20 BAPTISMS!!! It will be an enormous act of faith and will require a LOT of organizational effort, but I believe it is possible as does my awesome comp. We are going to talk to Bishop tonight, then to our WML, then to the Ward Council. It will be a big undertaking and we will have to help lots of people progress, but it is possible and I know that the Lord will allow us to have this success when we continue doing our part. So...we will need a lot of prayers. Can we do it? Heck yes! LET´S BAPTIZE 20 PEOPLE!!!


Also, next week is transfers, so I´m thinking that I´ll stay and that Elder Barbosa will check out. We´ll see what happens.

We´ll meet our new President tomorrow at Zone COnference! It´ll be really cool and I´m excited to see what he wants to focus on. It will be an interesting "re-start" for several reasons. First, my relationship with Presidente Araújo was basically about choir. That´s it! So it´ll be good to start over and work hard. Also, now that we´re a little more experienced on the mission, we´ll actually work with him more, and that´ll be an exciting challenge. The only thing we need to focus on is the work, obedience, love, and having an extremely good experience - live the mission, as a wise man said.

Also, we had the best District Meeting of all time on Monday! We did exercises, creative contacts, and practiced a lot of fun things. It´s fun to be creative and try new things.


The Church is true. Christ is our Savior and suffered because He loves us. A LOT. We NEED to do our best, and if we´re not, repent, stop it, and let the blessings of the Gospel come into our lives. It´s really all true.


I talked with a guy on the street who was making crazy eyes, and when I stopped to talk with him, he started screaming and waving his arms, then stopped and got really quiet and said "Deussssssssssssssss." It was really funny.


Elder Brown

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Novo presidente?!?!

Well, as the subject says, as of today we have a new mission President. There are lots of things to think about and many things to do, but I guess I´d just like to "publicly" say that Presidente Araújo really changed the mission and that Presidente Cordon will do the same thing with the same effort. The work will not change, and the church is still true. That´s about it.


Also, I have been receiving several difficulties due to some new responsibilites. There are some Elders here that have decided that watching the World Cup (even though it´s prohibited) is more important than working and that it´s other people´s fault if anything bad happens. This is frustrating, mostly because I don´t have a whole lot that I can do about it. The things that have to be done are being done, but sometimes it gets tough. You feel like all your effort is a waste, that no one really cares, and that you´d be better off doing other things in other places. In these times - that ALL of us have every once in a while - it is most important to do the simple things that we already know how to do - pray, read the scriptures, blah blah blah. It´s almost annoying when we hear the same thing over and over again, but that´s because it really is true! These things actually work! It´s a proven formula that is almost too easy at times, and because of the simplicity of the way there are many who are lost.


I´d like to talk about an experience that happened this last week that was both extremely trying and inspirational:

First, there was the "lesson" with Vera and Ezakel. It was last Sunday - when Brasil was playing for the Cup - and, as usual, we were trying to find someone to teach/doing contacts, etc. We finally found an address from a contact we had done from the previous week. We stopped, knocked, and Vera answered the door. She made it very clear that they are very Evangelical, but we told her that the message is for everyone yadda yadda, we got in. As we waited for the game to end, studying flashcards, the man of the house was very quiet and watching the game. The game ended, and the floor was ours. We started to explain who we were, why we were there, etc., and then, without warning, Izakel opened his mouth and started to attack everything about our church - from the BOM to Joseph Smith to the Word of Wisdom. Obviously, we didn´t let him just ram on the church like that and tried to explain, but this type of person doesn´t even let truth in. We waited and took it all in. For basically 5 minutes he continued twisting our words and attacking everything that I have believed and loved for my entire life. In these minutes, as I was praying to keep calm and to have patience, I couldn´t help but think about all these things that he was saying. I started to wonder - is it all really a lie? Am I really wasting my time? Why am I subjecting myself to this wave of insults and lies? I thought, and thought, and thought, as he flapped and flapped his chops, and as he started to come to the supposed end of his rant, there was a silence. It seemed to last for a good hour, though it was just a few seconds. It was my turn to talk now. I could have burned the heck out of his stubborn head, showing and proving to him that the BOM is true, our church is true, etc. But, we bore our testimonies and testified that, no matter what anyone said, the message is true. He couldn´t say a word - he tried to, but it had no effect. All the doubts in my mind were answered by one sentence that I heard many, many years ago when I first "knew" the church was true - you already know it´s true. Although I wanted badly to chastise his ignorant hide for scandaling our church in such a manner, we learned a lesson in patience that was difficult to learn, but golden for experience. Simply put, the Spirit testifies to us that the church is true. If we don´t let these feelings in, that´s our own darn problem. It´s true, whether Ezakel likes it or not. Sucka!!!


Whatever problem encounters us, whatever trial tries to stump us, whoever tries to pull us down from our testimony, however Satan tries to mess with our lives, and whenever we feel completely and utterly alone, it is in this time that we must remember that HE LIVES.  He is the Savior of the world. All of these things are for our own good and growth. Everything will be ok in the end - all we need to do is our part, and do our best to help others do theirs.


I love all of you and want you to know that the mission is amazing. If you want to know how much you are loved, serve a mission.

Elder Brown


PS Thanks for the package, family!!! Love you all!

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