Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A really good week.

Hi everyone!


So, as strange as it seems to others and to me....I´m freaking 21 years old! What?!?! I just got here! I´m still 19!

Or, at least, that´s what it feels like. It was a reeeally good birthday. I was a little (possibly selfishly) disappointed that I was transferred because I knew that the ward in Vila Oficinas would have done something - a big baptismal service or something (which we actually had with Déborah, ironically enough), but to my surprise basically everyone here was wishing me happy birthday! I have never possessed/eaten so much cake in my life! It´s so good, but it´s making me sick! It all started with the morning-of, me saying my prayer, etc. When I woke up, there was a little package on the nightstand with candles lit and my comp. was filming me singing crazy Brasilian birthday songs. He super-taped the package shut and he gave me a tie!!! Yay! It got better - we went to do interviews the whole day and during the day the Sisters and Elders in the Zone called to say happy birthday (my companion´s doing, again. Love him.), which put a certain spring in my step.


Then, arriving quickly in our area to visit some recent converts who were confirmed Sunday...we had an interesting experience. So, they´re names are Daniele and Francielle. I have never, EVER in my life seen shyness to such a degree. They would not leave the bathroom from the moment we came in. How they were baptized I have no clue, but the Elders had to teach them facing the other way, with the girls peeking out from under blankets, etc. Craziness. Finally Francielle, the less-shy one, came out, blanketed. I, also blanketed, was encouraged by my loving companion to sing for them(he does this in EVERY house...I´ve never sang so much in my life), blanket on my head. If they liked the song, they clapped once; bad, twice. I started out with "Let Me Be Your Wings" from Thumbelina. Yes, that song, Ali. Then a miriad of hymns/other songs. Then, with Elder Melo trying to convince Francielle to listen to the message un-blanketed, I went to the bathroom door to "persuade" Daniele, singing another 7-8 hymns. Defeated after about 45 minutes or unsuccesful diligence, we turned around and they shook our hands without us looking at them. Weirdest/funniest thing ever.


It was then that I beheld for the first time the eternal area of blessings - Bonsucesso (which literally means "Good Success"). It has been the ward that has baptized more than ANY OTHER WARD IN BRASIL in a few years. To put it plain, their attendance last year was 250, then they split the wards. It´s 250 in both wads now. Nuts. They´ve baptized weekly for a long, long time. They´ve got a Bishop and WML from Heaven who give all their heart, might, mind and strength to the Lord. After doing a few interviews there with a few really cool and really poor old men (Nicanor and Jair), I couldn´t help but thinking "how did this all start?". I asked Cristiano, their godly WML. He said - "Marcos. Bispo Marcos", and then explained how he, alone, has paid for a bus to get all investigators and bring them to church, etc., etc., etc. It was impressive, and I was severely intrigued. If he could do it, why can´t every ward be like this? It´s a choice!


Anyway, it was a great birthday and I received cake from my "son", Elder Marx (who lives a few streets down with Elder Melo´s son, Elder Halgren. High-quality men.), Daia (after the interviews...she called us and said that a huge scorpion was in her bed, and I needed to get it (Mom, just remember the "get the Spider!!!" incident) while they prepared the ENORMOUS cake. Her kids are seriously on crack.). I have been eating delicious, succulent chocolate cake for 4 days straight, and we still have more. Sheesh. But we played soccer today with the Zone so it´s ok.


There´s seriously too much to say. We´ve got LOTS of people getting ready for baptism, the ward is super excited - I gave a talk on Sunday and played the piano, which got them even happier about the work - our house is amazing and the Irmã that lives above us washed/folds our clothes and cleans the house. It´s almost heaven. Maybe I´ll stay here until the end! A real blessing.


We had Zone Conference yesterday and the Assistants to the President slept in our house to prepare the training. It was fun, and we got to help with the trainings. I actually thought that we wouldn´t participate as much as we did, and we talked a lot about the Law of Justice - how if we do our part, God is bound to bless us! President and Sister Cordon were as always awesome, and the Zone´s excited as ever! If we baptize 45 people this month, we can go to the temple in Curitiba!!! It´ll be awesome!


Love you all. I wish I could write more, but I just want to say that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior. Through obedience and prayer we can use His help and take advantage of ALL the blessings waiting for us. Don´t hold anything back! If we do that, we will be fighting against God and we will always have regrets! Submit yourselves to His will and follow His Spirit courageously! He won´t lead us wrong! The Book of Mormon is the key to our happiness and surety in this church - IT IS TRUE!!! I´m sick of people being afraid that people will make fun of it, call it our Bible,etc. ANYONE, including the Pope or a Baptist preacher, will receive an answer of its truth if they follow Moroni´s council to read, ponder and pray with faith. It is true. It changed my life.
Jesus is the Christ and He wants to bless us! LET HIM BLESS YOU!



Elder Brown

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ponta Grossa!

Hey everyone,


Well, until this point in my mission, I have served in 3-5 different bairros in Curitiba and just outside it on the east side, Pinhais. And now, that changed. This morning I got up early and got transferred to Ponta Grossa, a city about 2 hours from Curitiba! It is famous for baptizing TONS of people because the people are nicer/more open, and I can already say it´s true. My new companion is Elder Melo and he is the man - we´ll work like rabid, organized dogs (do those exist?) and enjoy every minute.


The main highlight this week was Sunday. For those who have been reading the emails these past months, they will know that we are teaching a woman called Débora. Her sons were baptized and she almost was too, but then thought that she needed more time to prepare, wasn´t ready, etc. So anyway, she stopped receiving our visits for a time and it was a little sad because she has a lot of potential to be a great leader in the church, but we tried to be patient and help her prepare, even if it was for a long time in the future. They went on vacation right after New Year´s to Rio Grande do Sul, where they´re from, and stayed there for over a month. The day before she left, we were able to go by her house and leave a message. She talked about the same doubts, problems, etc., and we were pretty direct with her. We invited her to prepare to be baptized when she came back from the trip, and...she accepted!!! Then, the trip. It was really hard to stay in contact with her all that time, but we know that the Lord was preparing a way. Then, the big day arrived - she had just returned home and we talked about the interview, etc., and she said ok. Then, Satan pulled a fast one and she tried to tell us later that she hadn´t marked a specific date, and that she wasn´t quite ready yet. But we invited her to be interviewed at church, right before sacrament meeting (which is at 10:45). She seemed a little surprised when she came to church and we introduced her to our District Leader, but she was interviewed and...passed! She wanted to be baptized that afternoon! Our District Leader said "enche a pia! (fill up the font!". So the baptism was announced in sacrament meeting and everything was going great. After the meeting we turned on the water and went home (5 minutes away) to put away our suit jackets, pois estava quente. When we got back, the baptismal font had barely filled up at all. Turns out that the local water company - Sanepar - had turned off the water for repairs. So we went to EVERY single faucet in the church (even the one for filling up the sacrament cups) and filled buckets with water. That only raised the water up a few inches, but in the end, that was all we needed. People showed up and we had a warm and wonderful baptismal service. Endrigo, Débora´s son, performed his first baptism! She knelt in the font and was baptized and just BARELY (less than an inch) went under. We showed our faith by filling the font with EVERYTHING we had, and he blessed us. Then we ate cake and everything rocked.


So that was awesome. I could stop writing now. But I won´t.


One thing that anyone who has ever served a mission knows is that feeling you get before each transfer, right before you leave the area. Did I do my best? Was that all that I had? Is the ward stronger now? Did my service affect anyone? I know that the Lord accepted my sacrifice in Vila Oficinas. Maybe we didn´t baptize every week, but we baptized. Maybe we didn´t teach a million lessons a day, but we taught a lot. I loved working there, and now in Jardim Florença, Ponta Grossa, we will baptize EVERY WEEK!


This is the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. He loves us. He wants to bless us. We just need to let him! Be obedient (100%!) to His commandments and He, will, bless, you. It is written, and cannot be taken back. The law is fixed and the consequences in the balance. HE WANTS US TO BE HAPPY! That might not mean that we won´t have hard times - maybe we´ll have lots of hard times - but He will help us (1 Nephi 3:7, 1 Corinthians 10:13,  the people of Limhi, etc.) and bless us (4 Nephi). If we become prideful, He will quickly and justly show us who is boss! (4 Nephi 1! THE best chapter about the Pride Cycle.). But if we repent, He will bless us.


Love you All. See you on the other side, as a 21 year old. Let´s not buy beer - let´s teach people about Jesus.


Elder Brown

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Hi everyone,

We got to go to the temple today!!! It was awesome! We all got there at around
8:30 and we got to study the scriptures and be interviewed by President at the temple while waiting for the noon session. There wasn´t enough time for my comp. and I to be interviewed so we were interviewed afterwards. It was such a great spiritual recharge, and I received some great advice.
To answer a worried Mothers questions:

  • Do you need toothpaste? Floss?

We´re good. It´s not too expensive here, and I try to brush my teeth at least twice a week. Just kidding. Three times.

  • Anything else? Tylenol? shoes are slowly dying because of all the rain and old age. I reeeeally don´t want to buy new ones, but...we´ll see. I´ll wear ´em to the road and use them for as long as I can.

  • Tell me about your most spiritual experience of the week in your main letter

The interview with Maria. I think that was probably one of, if not the most spiritual experience of my entire life. She´s from the Ala Autódromo (my second area!) and she´s the Bishop´s mom! (the Bishop, José Antônio, has been a member for 3 years. He´s the man.). I came to do the interview, already knowing her a little bit. We started up the interview, everything normal. Then we started talking about Joseph Smith, the Restoration, etc. and she got a little indecisive in her wording. I had a hunch (Spirit) and asked if she had prayed to know. She said she had, but that she felt like something was stopping her from knowing. I explained, knowing full well that it was a little strange, about how Joseph Smith was almost not able to survive before the First Vision because of Satan, and she said she felt the same way. I retaught her how to pray and invited her to pray, right then, to know, using those exact words. She started praying, and she wasn´t able to say anything other than "não consigo...não consigo" (I can´t do it). I have never, ever prayed like I prayed then in my life. I was physically and spiritually working so that she could receive the courage and power to pray, to ask and receive and answer. I felt Satan battling with the Spirit, and I willed the Spirit to help her. There were several times, in about 20 minutes of praying, when I thought about stopping, just giving up (Satan), but we didn´t. She stopped and re-started about 5 times, and by then I was sweating and shaking from staying on my knees so long. BUT, she finally did it! She asked if it was true, and we waited for a few seconds. She cried. She sayed she finally felt peace. I testified of the SPirit and it´s role in our conversion. She´ll stay strong. That´s the spiritual experience of the week, other than the awesome temple, as always.

  • Who did you teach this week?

People, mostly. Because of the lack of time, we taught Errolflinn (yeah, he´s a gay, drug-using, drinking, crazy, 70-year-old-woman-kissing guy that wants to be baptized. Yeah. The mission.), Élcio, Rosa and her family of 6, Jaime and Roseli, Manoel, Luis, Terezinha, Lurdes...and a lot of other first lessons. Great week!

  • What did you learn/ pray for in the Temple?

I prayed to know how I could best forget myself and love my mission, really enjoy it and not just endure. I felt, again, the same answer that I have been receiving for a year and a half - Love one Another. It´s true. If I don´t change, I´ll keep getting the same answer. But I will change! I will forget myself and go to work! I don´t have to be the best, I just have to be me and do my best! I also prayed to know if the Lord was accepting my serving as a missionary. I know that He is, and that I can do even better. That is very comforting.

  • When I pray for you, what can I pray for?

Pray that people that we teach, by the power of the Spirit, feel the desire to go to church, and that my comp. and I can teach effectively and a lot! And for Élcio especially - he´s getting married soon.

  • Are you completely healthy? Do you have any issues with the food/ water etc?

I´m doing really well! I´m losing a lot of weight because we´re running in the morning and playing soccer, and I´m eating less at lunch. My pants don´t really fit anymore, but I´ll wait to get new ones until after the mission.

(thanks, Mom, for your love and concern)

Other things:
- Élcio fell and bruised his rear. He showed it to us, too. It´s black.
- there was a member that prayed to Joseph Smith. Great.
 - There was this REALLY crazy drunk  gay guy (not Errolflinn, another guy) that was hitting on us. After he saw that we weren´t, um, interested, he kissed my hand. Really hard and passionate. Ech.
- we made these plastic poncho things. Fun.

I know that He lives. I know that He loves us. This is the
church of Jesus Christ.
Elder Brown

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