Elder Zachary Brandon Brown
England Leeds Mission
Lister House, Lister Hill
England LS18 5AZ

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bits of the LAST Email

Yep the last Sunday at church went super well, and I was really happy to see some people make it that haven't been before (R and P, the non-Roma Slovaks I told you about a while back, they're the ones in the picture).  They enjoyed it, too, which made me happy.  

My plans this week: say goodbye to some more people, teach as many lessons as possible in doing so, and ideally find somebody new.  Wednsday I leave to Leeds after district meeting, and I have no idea what I'll be doing the whole day there.  I start flying Thursday.  I've got some good company the whole flight in E. Hillock, so I should be in high spirits when I see you.

I'm glad Sis. Crowley got in touch with you.  She's doing great things for the sisters in Relief Society, and I've enjoyed getting to know her. 

Editorial Note:  Here is part of the message from Sis. Crowley that Zach is referring to.
I get to work with Elder Brown. I just wanted to tell you that it's been a privilege to know him. He is an amazing and talented missionary. This must have been a very difficult mission. The language is very difficult to learn and it must be exhausting having to translate from one language to another for 3 hours on a Sunday. I don't know how we will manage without him. He truly deserves a medal! I could go on and on singing his praises. I bet you can't wait to get him back. Thank you for sharing him with us for 2 years. x

This mission is the greatest thing in my life in every possible way. The greatest joy, the greatest trial, the dynamic for the greatest growth, the greatest accomplishment, everything. I do not know how I would've or could've faced life without what I have become here. I stand all amazed. Thank you so much for supporting me throughout all of this. I love you so much and am excited to see you and express my love in person.

Zatiaľ sa majte, a čoskoro uvidím vaše krasné tváre :) .

S mojou nesmiernou láskou,

Starší Brown

Monday, July 13, 2015

Goodbyes and Pictures

Zdravim vas,  rodicia moji :) . 

I've had to say goodbye to some members of my Slovak family here this week, which was sad.  Many people are leaving to Slovakia over the next couple weeks to go visit during the holidays.  O and D left, as did V (the elder's quorum president).  More families are headed out this Saturday, like Z and A, and also the P's from Doncaster.  E. Frahm's going to be walking around a ghost town as far as Slovaks are concerned once I leave.

This week has been good, but we haven't had a ton of people coming to church in the last while as far as investigators go.  Some people are being lazy and need to get motivated.  We did have a good miracle while we were in Doncaster to see the P's for probably what was the last time.  P was across the street outside talking to another man when we started heading down the street, and invited him to come in and listen to what we had to say.  He came in, and he actually enjoyed what we were able to teach him a lot.  However, right at the end when we were introducing the Book of Mormon and were about to give it to him, his wife started yelling at him from outside so he ran out the door and didn't come back.  We left a Book of Mormon with P to give him, and P said he'd try and bring him to church as well.  The guy didn't make it to church, but it was still a good experience.  P's great about inviting all of his friends to listen to us.

Sorry about the shorter email this week--I had a lot to write to President today, so hopefully the pictures make up for it.  They speak 1000 words each, right?

Love you lots, I'll speak to you soon ;)

Starsi Brown

Me with V (the Elder's quorum president), M (the relief society president), and some of their family

A sister missionary named Sis. Chee came up to me and gave me a note from my Aunt Elaine, who is from the ward she gave her farewell talk in (American Fork), so we got a picture.

The third picture is me with O and D's grandchildren

O and D and I

Monday, July 6, 2015

I Feel Happy, Happy All the Time

Hello, mom and dad!  

That is good news about the Regent Scholarship, I'm glad that's all worked out.  I feel like I'll be able to apply myself a lot better to my schooling now than I was prepared to do before I left on my mission, so it's good that things have worked out all right for my scholarships, too. 

We've had some interesting changes this week, one being that E. Rogers is now serving in a different ward because a missionary from there unexpectedly went home and they needed someone to pop in and cover for him.  E. Rogers was in a trio and close to the area, so he was the obvious choice to move in there.  That happened the day before MLC, so the zone leaders took the guy going home to Leeds, then just stayed the night there to avoid unnecessary travel.  This left me and E. Frahm out in cold as to having transportation to the meeting early in the morning, and it looked for a minute like we wouldn't be able to make it.  Bro. Stanton saved the day by offering to drive us all the way to Leeds early in the morning, which was quite the sacrifice of time, sleep, and petrol (which is much more expensive here than in the States).  What a champion.  The meeting was super good, and I think E. Frahm gained a lot from it as well.  He's doing a great job with district leadership.

We had M and V come to church this week together with their kids, and that was fantastic.  They all enjoyed it a lot, and I feel they'll be attending as regularly as they can.  We've had a couple great lessons there throughout the week as well, to both of which we had the great blessing of having members there to support.  Bro. and Sis. Crowley came the first time, and they connected easily with the couple in spite of the language barrier.  V was already friends with Sis. Crowley from Relief Society, and M had the chance to meet Bro. Crowley, who he seemed to really respect.  Then Z and A came with us later in the week, and that went great as well.  I think it's what helped M the most in finally coming to church as well, because he was comfortable in knowing he would have friends there at church.  M and V are also making plans to get things rolling with their marriage, so though I won't be here to see it, I'm very happy for them and the progress they're making.

You asked how I'm feeling...I'm feeling torn to be leaving all of this.  I love church on Sunday here so much.  There is the most special spirit here with people whose fires of the Spirit are newly lit and growing rapidly.  They value the sacrament so much, and the reverence is unbeatable.  I love the kids running up to shake my hand in their homes, on the streets, at church, wherever, calling "Starsi Brown, Starsi Brown!"  Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to be with you, my family, again.  It's just going to be very hard for me not to be involved every day in strengthening the faith of these people who I love so much and have served my entire two years.  In many ways, I don't want to leave.  Home is where the heart is, and so much of my heart is here, woven into the lives of these people.  How do I feel?  Joyful for these people and their progress.  I feel inclined to do as much as I possibly can with what yet remains.  I feel glad to have a family that loves me to return to, otherwise I would have no reason to even go back.  I feel happy, happy all the time because I've learned how to be truly happy out here.  It's one of the most valuable things I'll be taking home with me.  It's my hope I can take that and share as much of it as I can with you and everyone else I can.  

You're the best, and I love you so much.  

Talk to you soon,
Starsi Brown

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Good Week for the Most Senior Missionary

The trio is going great, we're doing fine with it.  It's funny because when E. Frahm first came in, we were in a trio for a couple weeks as well (just with E. Sindylek, not E. Rogers).  I wish I could hear E. Williams' homecoming talk; he's guaranteed to make you laugh.  Enjoy it, because you'll not hear anything like it from anyone but him.  I've already seen him for the last time before he leaves; we both attended the transfer meeting this week to bear our departing testimonies because we're both leaving before the next transfer meeting.  It was strange watching all these other guys get up to give theirs, guys I've known my whole mission, knowing they'd be home by the end of the next day while I'd still be here.  You might remember E. Baird, who served with me as zone leader, and also E. Jaeger and McKeon who were in the same flat as me for a while.  All home now.  E. Crabb left last transfer.  Once E. Williams goes this week, I'll be the most senior missionary in the mission.  

This week has been a good one, and our biggest miracle for sure was that we were able to schedule M, the father of the family I told you about last week, for baptism.  If things work out, he'll hopefully be able to make his goal while I'm still here and I'd be very happy to make it to that.

This week will be quite a busy one with some meetings going off like MLC.  President wants me to attend this one despite my reassignment out of district leadership, so I'll be going up with E. Frahm for my very last one.

Church was great on Sunday, and a couple we're teaching named J and Z are doing fantastic.  They're very excited to join the church and have been asking our branch president about when they can get married.  It was one of the ones we were working on in the past, but they moved house and such, which threw off the plans we'd set, but now they're all settled in and it seems like we should be able to get things arranged soon here.  I'm afraid they'll end up married and baptized after I've left, however, because of a requirement in England to wait a month following their interview at the registrar's office before they can be married.  Still, I'll be happy to get the news when it comes.

V was also at church again with her daughter L, and they're both making friends and enjoying things.  I'm happy for them as well.

The members of our branch who're the family of the man who died in Slovakia were at church this week, and they all seem to be doing better as time goes on.  I think church helped them a lot, and also some visits we made to let them know they're loved and we are praying for them and have been even while they've been away.
I'll talk to you next week, but good luck with everything this week :) .  I love you lots!

Elder Brown

Me with E. Jaeger, Williams, and Frahm

Me with E. Wilkes (he went home with the transfer and I've known him since the beginning because we'd play basketball on p-days)

Me with E. White (he served in the branch for a couple transfers with E. Williams).

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Another Good Week

Hi mom and dad!  

Happy Father's Day, dad, even though I'm a couple days late.  I'll make it up for not being around for it, we'll have to go see a movie or something.  R's baptism this week was great, and he's got a fantastic heart.  He's just a genuinely nice guy.  

This week has been another good one.  I was in Rotherham again on an extended exchange, which went well.  I think I was able to help get things ready for transfers, which here are the results for:  E. Frahm will now be district leader in my place, and will be coming to Darnall with me and E. Rogers to be in a trio until I go home.  E. Bowen will be now serving with an English-speaking missionary named E. Schaeffer, who I don't know at all yet.  E. Pohorelicky and Fielding stayed in Rotherham.

I was sick for a couple days this week; my last night in Rotherham I was up all night throwing up, which was unpleasant to say the least.  It wasn't anything I ate, because E. Pohorelicky and I ate all the same things and he didn't get sick at all, so I don't know what brought that on.  I'm ok now, though, and so don't worry.

One very positive thing going on is with one family we're teaching that's starting to make some progress.  We taught them a long time ago when I was with E. Misselwitz I think, and we didn't see them for a long time because they weren't willing to really go anywhere with things.  E. Frahm and E. Jaeger (our zone leader at the time) saw them while E. Jaeger came on exchange while E. Frahm was on exchange in Darnall, and they tried by the family.  E. Jaeger connected with them really well and layed a great foundation with his explanation of the Apostasy to them, which they finally understood.  We've continued teaching them since then and just yesterday they accepted a Book of Mormon and agreed to read it, which they had in the past refused to do.  They're also due to come to church, and seem pretty committed to doing so.  I'm really happy about this, because I saw the potential in them from the beginning, but they just weren't ready yet.  I'm hoping now things will continue to connect and move forward with them.

Thanks for your continued letters and love :) .  They really pick my days up.  I'm only 5 weeks behind in my journal now, so maybe without having leadership responsibility I'll be able to get all the way caught up and send you a letter, too.  I'll do my best :) .  I love you very much, and I hope you have a fantastic week!

Elder Brown

So we replaced the Ferraris with this new mission vehicle--I've always liked Jaguars.  It's too bad I don't have long left to enjoy it, but while I'm here I'll make use of the horsepower.

E. Rogers had his birthday so we lit the ordinary candles sent for my birthday in cupcakes and Twinkies and took pictures.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Standout Moment, Updates and Exchanges

Hi mom and dad :) .  

The definite standout moment of the week was walking off the elevator on Sunday into church and seeing a couple little daughters of a less-active couple who've not been to church in a year or so.  We've been trying to help them get back the whole time, and so far they hadn't made it until today.  Seeing the daughters, I knew that the parents had made it to church and I almost couldn't believe my eyes.  I had to have had the biggest smile on my face, which they saw and I think it was contagious.  That was definitely my happiest moment this week.

An update on the man I told you about last week who was in the hospital in Slovakia: he passed away this week.  His family members who'd gone to visit him found out while they were boarding the airplane back to England, so they just  turned around to return for a funeral.  It's a sad thing, and I'd just ask that you keep remembering them in your prayers.  These people have very close family relationships, so losing this family member is very difficult for many people.

The exchange we had going in the district this last week proved to be very successful, and all the missionaries involved really benefited from it.  We're doing the same setup again this week to continue where we left off.  E. Pohorelicky and I scheduled a bunch of people for baptism, and church attendance was pretty good as well.  I enjoy working with him--I've always had the best unity in teaching with Czech missionaries (Sindylek and Pohorelicky).  E. Bowen did a great job in Firth Park; he was with E. Fielding, so it was E. Bowen's first time running the area with an English-speaker, and he did fantastic.  E. Frahm got into Darnall with E. Rogers and worked proper hard, turning up a great miracle with some people we stopped teaching a long time ago who now seem ready to progress.  Sindylek is living at the branch president's house right now for the summer to work, so I got to see him a few times this week and that brought back happy memories.

Unfortunately, the appointment at the registrar for a wedding permit fell through again...ugh.  I'll just tell you when the wedding actually happens.       
Next week is transfer calls, my very last one.  After that, I begin the final bit of my mission, a partial transfer to do as much good as I can before coming home.  I keep telling myself and others who ask that I have two months left (you know, June and July, never mind that June is half finished and I'm not staying for all of July)...I guess I'm in denial.

This week there are a couple good things happening.  There should be a baptism Friday from E. Frahm and Bowen, a man I interviewed yesterday.  He is more dedicated to scripture study than anyone I know; all day he reads the scriptures, the only other events in the day being taking his children to and from school, and praying.  His wife and children all have disabilities of some sort, and he does a great job caring for them as well.  He's at church every Sunday, and fasts about every week.  He's only been investigating for a month, but he's also completely given up smoking and coffee, and his wife has also quit smoking to help support him.  It's a miraculous path to baptism, isn't it?

I've got to get going, but I love you lots!

Elder Brown

Us with A, daughter of Z and A who visited for a couple weeks.  She's gone back to Slovakia, but she took her Book of Mormon with her and will be praying to know if the church is true, as well as living according to gospel standards.  One day she'll get a chance to continue investigating the church, I'm certain.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Change is a Miracle

Hi mom and dad :).  

I'm guessing at this point you've got my travel itinerary as well.  It's funny because those are the same airports I hit on the way here.  I'm going out the way I came back in, just with different people and being a bit different myself.  Getting people ready for my departure is going really well.  I'm actually in Rotherham now on an extended exchange with Elder Pohorelicky while Elder Rogers works with E. Frahm in Darnall and E. Fielding works with E. Bowen in Firth Park.  It started Sunday after church and will last until Thursday, and we'll do another one next Sunday.  There are lots of facets to it, but it's all going well and I'm happy with it.  Lots of work, but it keeps us busy and that's always a good thing.

This week went pretty well, and involved some interesting things like MLC.  I enjoyed that a lot, and it's my last one since this is my last full transfer, and next transfer I'm only in for a few weeks before going home.  I can't really be in leadership if I'm leaving right in the middle of things that transfer.  Highlights of my week...we finally are going to the Registrar's office this week to get a wedding set up for P and T from Doncaster.  For real this time!  We're super excited for this; I've been going to their home for a very long time.

Our branch has a lot of people that are related to each other, and this week the brother of four of them was hit by a lorry in Slovakia while he was riding his bike to work.  This resulted in about 15 people jumping on a plane to Slovakia to go be with him in the hospital because he's in a coma and a very bad state.  Please keep these people in your prayers, because it's a very difficult time for them.

A funny quote from E. Rogers this week (this is what he comes up with while we're trying to plan one night) :  "It's like I'm double concentrate and you're water."  It's in reference to how we balance each other.  It made me laugh. :) 

I'm glad of what I've come to learn over the course of my mission, and there's still plenty more left to go.  I've had some good moments of reflection on it a couple times last week, and I'm really pleased with what I've been able to add to myself and to others.  Change is such a miracle.  Testimony meeting was impressive this week as well.  A couple people recently baptized bore great testimony that shows a lot of spiritual development.  A was one of them, and she talked about how when she was 40 she had a blood vessel burst in her head and begin dripping on her brain.  It's a life-threatening event, but she has a firm testimony that God was the one who preserved her at that time.  I don't think it was just chance either, as she was able to eventually find her way to England, discover the church, and join it.  God's patterns are spectacular.  O talked about how because of some difficulties he and his family had been having, they'd been very close to stopping coming to church.  He bore testimony, however, of how the Savior always goes after the one who leaves the other 99 sheep of the fold to lead it back to safety.  He knows that this is true.  D's been involving her friends in lessons, and has helped the other young women in the branch be firmer in their own activity.  The youth group has been pretty weak for a while, but she's proven to be a very positive influence, and things are looking up there.  If the young women are there, I'm sure the young men will shortly follow.

There are many miraculous things happening, and I know that as we continue to strive to reach higher, God will be with us and guide us.  I hope you can strive for that guidance in your own lives as well.  Love you lots, and I look forward to hearing from you next week!  You're the best :) .

Elder Brown

Me at MLC with E. Boyer.  It turns out, my tie is approved.  And it's been sitting in my closet all this time!