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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy P-Day Email

Zdravim mamu :) .  I also attended the temple today (we always do on p-days), which I always love doing.  I don't need any hand sanitizer, there are loads of dispensers all over the MTC.  So no worries there; I'm feeling a lot better, too.  Crazy that you were feeling low when I was, sorry to have done that to you ha.  Completely unintentional.  I miss you, too, and all of the things that were so familiar that I no longer have.  But that's part of the sacrifice that I have made to my father in heaven.  All that I have is consecrated to him, and that means following my call to be a missionary.  I don't worry about it so much, because I know that soon enough I'll see you again.  These two years I will never see again.  Sometimes I have to remind myself of that, but I always get right back into the work.  We learned so much this past week in the language.  If I come home and say things weird grammatically, it's because of Slovak.  Also I never say a lot of common English words anymore, because one of the things we do to learn the language better is speak it all the time, as much as we know.  So a lot of sentences are like half-Slovak, others completely Slovak.  But words like yes, no, hello, goodbye, thank you, and a few others never come out of my mouth anymore.  Bear with me if I come home and still do that.  It's what happens.  French I have locked away for use when I return.  I know it's all still there (sometimes I accidentally use French words while trying to speak Slovak), but I avoid thinking it or saying it.  I've prayed though that I will retain it and not lose it, and I believe that I will be blessed with that.  Thanks for all of your letters and dear elders, it means a lot to me to have those.  I feel the strength of your love in everything you send.  I do my best to send you mine.  Thank you for raising me how you have.  My progress to be here was almost entirely a result of being taught in my youth the ways of righteousness.

For dad, thanks for all of the hard work that you do to support our family.  I understand something now that I thought of while in the temple.  My calling right now is to serve investigators and help them come unto Christ.  Your calling is to do that with us kids.  You do a great at supporting mom in teaching us. All the time you put into a job that you don't enjoy very much blesses our family a great deal.  You are a fantastic dad, and I wanted to thank you for all that you do.  I miss going to the movies, watching sports on TV,  and playing games with you.  We'll have to catch up on that when I get home.

I'm halfway done here at the MTC as of Sunday, I believe.  Time hasn't really flown, but it hasn't really dragged either.  It's just going along, passing day by day.  I'm going to be working on some letters today, so I'll get those sent.  I don't know if they'll get to you by tomorrow, but they should be there by Monday, I think.  Cheer loud at the football game, I was always yelling my lungs out every time, so you have to cover for me.  If you see any of my friends there, tell them hi for me.  I believe Sarah will be there with her family, so if you see them give them an "ahoj!" from me.  Lane probably will be around too, so give my brother a hug if you see him.  I was glad to hear you've all learned how to say "I am a child of God".  It's pretty important.  Except usually I'm saying that "we are children of our Heavenly Father" to the investigators, but hey.  Close enough.  I've seen a bunch of people here that I know from Bear River (most of them are the guys and girls who were a year older than me), and a couple people my age.  Unfortunately I've only had my camera when I saw two of them, because I really only have it on me while I'm going on the Sunday temple walk.  I'll try and get you those pictures today during laundry time, I forgot the memory card again.

I decided that I'm going to be putting all the stuff I don't take with me to England into a box that I'll leave here for Lane with his teachers.  That way he doesn't need to buy as much stuff here, and I'm not just putting it in the free box for any old person to have.  (Stuff like my belt clip for my ID card, my little purple monster friend, my memory card reader for my camera, and any extra candy I have).  My district has gotten good at knowing when other districts are leaving so that we can get all the good stuff out of the free box (basically a box that Elders put the stuff that they don't want to take with them but that other Elders might want into).  I don't take very much candy because I don't have a lot of time to eat it, but some of the Elders have quite a stash now.  Well I hope that this email was somewhat adequate.  Like I said, I'll be sending letters as well.
Love you all very much :) ,
Starši Zachary Brown  

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's Mail Time!

Dear Family,

A lot of the things I tell you in these letters is bits and pieces from my journal.  It's something I'm very glad to have here, partly for the help it gives me in organizing my thoughts and feelings.

To answer some questions before I share some thoughts I've had, yes I am at the actual MTC.  I don't have to stay at West Campus (which I believe is the Raintree apartment place dad asked me about).  However, my zone gets transferred over there October 1st.  All of the Slovaks leave that day so there's no need to transfer.  Except Elder Williams and I have our departure date scheduled for October 2nd... I'm really hoping I don't have to pack, transfer for a day and then leave.  The box of candy was great, and of course I shared!  It was a good idea about the gift of tongues.

A thought I had in my personal study I would like to share with you.  The seminary theme my senior year was "stand ye in holy places".  In the scriptures, the mountains are considered holy places, apart from the world, equivalent to temples.  Here on the earth, we live on dry ground.  Sometimes it's very flat around us or valleys seem very low.  Yet the dry ground is actually the high ground- the low places are filled with the oceans and the seas.  If there was no more water in those places, our high position would be very plain to see.  I was struck by the thought that we are constantly standing on the temple built for us by God.  He has given us a way to remain separate from the low places, a barrier we call the seas.  This reflects how our lives should be in order to come closer to our Heavenly Father.  He has given us commandments that can act as a strong barrier between us and the low places of the world, the sinful and base things that would drag us down.  We are given bodies that are holy temples of the Lord, places that can receive revelation from God and house his Holy Spirit.  As followers of Christ, we become the high ground.  We can stand on one another's testimonies and be lifted up, and we can be the support for those who seek to leave the low places behind.  Yet as high as we are, there are mountains upon the mountains we dwell on.  Progression continues and we seek always for a standing ground still higher and holier.  It's vital to fill our protective oceans to the brim and then recognize that our journey upward never ends in this life.  It's up to us to climb higher, and we can count on God to provide the footholds we need.

I've discovered that the best way for me to unwind here at the MTC is to play basketball.  (sorry, that was a rather random and abrupt change in thought)  Nothing works as well for releasing energy.  A lot of energy gets built up here because we sit around so much and it can cause stress sometimes.  Besides prayer, it's one of the best things I can do to collect myself.  Like gathering my thoughts and organizing them, I mean.  It makes me happy to play a sport I love.

Each day here seems to last forever, but weeks begin to roll by quickly.  It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was listening to Elder Scott, but this morning it feels like it happened yesterday.  Yet my departure day feels so far away.  I mean, October?  That's over a month away.  I think the reason for this is that my days are so repetitive.  I'll enjoy the variety of the field.

I love you all very much and miss you lots.  Thank you, each one of you, for the words you send.  The support makes a big difference and I just like hearing your familiar personalities too.  By the way, Dad, Vai Sikahema spoke at one of our devotionals.  I figured you would know who he is- he played for BYU.


Elder Zachary Brown

Saturday, August 24, 2013

To His Mother :)

Hello mother I love :) .
I'm not sure when my letter will get to you, but it will be after the weekend (I'm going to have to send it today because it will be pretty long, and I haven't had the time throughout the week to get it all finished.  Also I need to write the Jaalah and Tamsyn back too).  Most of what I want to tell you about is in there, but I'll write this email anyways just for you :).  Oh, and in case Tamsyn needs this by Sunday, I'll translate "I am a child of God' for you here, too.  it's:  "Ja som diet'a Boha".  Pronounce Ja like "yah" in hi-yah! (what someone might say when karate chopping something) .  Pronounce som with a long o, like in "oh" or "so" or "know".  diet'a is pronounced dee-eh-ta (eh being like the e in "red").  Boha is pretty much how it looks, with the a being like the a in Ja.  Same with the a in diet'a.  Hopefully that explanation makes sense haha.

Things are going quite well here, and the language is coming along.  It's much slower than I would like, but it's coming.  I wish I could just know it in a day.  But I can't :p .  i was sick for most of this week (I had a cold), and that made things pretty difficult.  It's hard to keep focused or stay awake or learn when you're sick.  Especially being sleep deprived, which is what a mission does to people.  My teacher said he was always tired every day of his mission, but when he got home he was fine.  Hopefully my body adjusts enough that that won't happen, but I doubt it.

It was raining lightly when we got out of the temple this morning, and I thought to myself that if it was like this every day in England, I really wouldn't mind at all.  Unfortunately, I have the feeling that the rain will be coming down a little harder there most of the time.

Slovak is pretty different from English.  I know I say that every time, but more and more I learn how different it is.  there's no such thing as articles in Slovak (no the, a, etc.).  also, pronouns are almost always optional, because the way the verb is conjugated shows who it applies to.  Also, adjectives and nouns have to be conjugated to match the case they fall under when following prepositions and verbs, and when certain things want to be said.  Like "Boha" means "of God", but there are five other ways of saying it to change it's meaning off the base word "Boh" (which just means God).  Really confusing, and I have to memorize all those cases.  the cases also change based on what kind of noun it is.  then they're different if they're plural.  That's only a small portion of what I have to be able to pull from memory at conversational speed for my sentences to make sense :p.  And of course, there are random exceptions to every rule we learn, which we also have to memorize.  Needless to say, I still need to use my notes when teaching my investigator.

Speaking of whom, my companion and I have been very successful.  He has been keeping the commitments he makes with us, where he hasn't kept them for the other companionships.  It means we're doing something right, which is good.  A couple lessons ago, Starši Williams was nearing the end of his part of the lesson when I got an impression to give Peter the baptismal challenge.  We had certainly not planned on this, but I decided I probably should if I was being prompted.  So I flipped way back in my notes to where I had written it down a couple weeks ago, and when Starši Williams had finished I gave the challenge.  my companion looked at me like "this wasn't in the plans", but then Peter says "áno!", which means yes.  It was so crazy!  We were really excited.  well my time's up now, so I've got to go, but my letter will be there soon.  I love you very much, and miss your hugs.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Happy Letter Day!

Dear Family,

Thanks for the love you all send every time you write me.  Whenever I write you I try to convey as much love as I can.  I hope you can feel it.

I wanted to tell you about a talk I heard on Tuesday by Richard G. Scott.  He came to the Marriott Center and spoke for our devotional.  It was broadcast to all the MTC's around the world and I was part of the choir (which was enormous!)  That was awesome, but Elder Scott's talk was so amazing.  The Spirit was there big time with every word he said.  The best part though was at the beginning and end of his talk.  Both times he invoked an apostolic blessing on the missionaries from the pulpit, blessing especially the missionaries learning languages.

The power in his words was tangible, it was so powerful.  I could feel the power of his love, priesthood and spirit in great strength.  I've never felt anything with so much strength.  I know of a surety that he is a true apostle of the Lord, and that he pronounced his blessing with full support from the Spirit.  We have the most amazing devotionals here at the MTC.

So Elder Williams and Elder Jardine sent mom letters.  Haha.  They really want to get something back from you.  I think Elder Jardine also wrote Jaalah.

I got to go through the Provo temple today, which finally opened.  It was really good.  I got to see the new film which was pretty cool.  The cafeteria food there was also very excellent.

The language continues to come along very well, but it's still slower than I would like.  That's good news about my visa, I'm glad I won't have to wait to get out into the field because of that.  I'm also glad to hear about the Regent Scholarship, that's really good news.  I was actually wondering about that the other day so thanks for letting me know.

I hope you liked the pictures I sent, it's pretty much everything I have.  There's not very much to photograph at the MTC, and when we go to the Marriott Center we can't take pictures.  I got one of the Provo temple but I don't have anything else from outside the MTC.  I'll probably have more when I get to England.

My companion and I now have the calling of sacrament coordinators.  (the Bulgarians are headed out so they've re-shuffled the callings.)  We got really nervous when we both got brought in for an interview at the same time.  We were like, "this had better not be for zone leaders", and thankfully it wasn't.  That is way too time consuming!  All they do is go to meetings, it seems like.  Speaking of zone leaders, Elder De St Jeor (whose call is to Bulgaria) has been reassigned to Idaho while he waits for his visa.  haha.  He's the SYTYCD guy, if you didn't remember.  It made me glad to know my visa is already cleared.

I love you all so much.  I couldn't ask for a better family.  I know every day I can count on some kind words from my family, usually mom.  :)  It warms my heart every time.  Thanks again, you're all the best!

Love, Elder Zachary Brown

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Elder Brown and his companion, Elder Williams on laundry day

The first picture is Elder Jardine (the one putting the other in a headlock), Elder Rasmussen (the one in the headlock) and Elder Williams in the background (my companion).

Elder Lyman and Elder Garlick (Elder Garlick is the redhead, Elder Lyman is the one with his mouth open really wide).  Now you have a picture of everyone in my district!

The second picture is Elder Williams by the cream soda tree, which always smells exactly like cream soda.  I have no idea why.  You should plant a cream soda tree. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Another Letter, Woot-Woot!

Dear Mom and Dad,

I wanted to thank you again for the things I get from you every day; the dear elders, note cards, letters and packages.  It makes me smile every day.  :)  Of course, all the other elders have been complaining about it... I easily get the most mail out of the 6 of us.  Haha, it's all in good fun (the complaining), we all get along awesome.

In our Sunday devotional this week, the speaker talked about something that I found really interesting.  In the book of Jacob, he tells the parable of the olive tree.  Each time the Lord goes down to prune his vineyard, he calls a servant to help him.  Every time except the final time it's just he and his servant, and the last time he varies a little.  He calls a servant, but then the servant is commanded to bring other servants as well.  It says that they were few, but the Lord labored with them.  The speaker said that one of the general authorities had said that the servant in the final time is Thomas S. Monson, and the additional servants called are those of us of the generation of the missionary age change.  That means me!  My missionary work is directly prophesied of in the Book of Mormon, and I'm promised the Lord's power will be with me.  That's a promise of great strength.  I know that if I give the Lord my all, He truly will give me the aid of His divine power.  I know that with His support, I can do all things.

Things are going well here, I continue to learn a great deal.  The language is very different, but I understand more in exponential amounts every day.  Spiritually, I'm stunned by how powerfully I've felt and learned from the Holy Ghost here.  I rely on his aid constantly.

For sure keep me posted on the Jazz and BYU, dad.  Thanks!  It's really fun playing basketball here during gym time, I like it a lot.

Thanks, Mom, for putting the things you did in my journal.  I love reviewing my patriarchal blessing and mission call.  Also, thanks to both of you for the notes you wrote in there.  It was a really pleasant surprise that first day which had been pretty stressful.

We learned about cases today in class.  They're something I was unaware even existed, but I guess a lot of languages have them.  They're really difficult to explain and understand, especially if I were to try like this.  It's good that we did, though, because I was really confused before.  Things with the language make a lot more sense now.  I think it was partly thanks to the way Brat Fish taught it that it went so well.

I love you very much and hearing from you is the best.  :)  Thanks for being awesome parents!  I pray for the family every day, I hope you are doing well.


Elder Zachary Brown

Friday, August 9, 2013

It's Friday!

Hi mom and dad :) .  To start off I guess I'll just answer your questions.  Yes, my shoes got here the second day I was here.  I have no idea about my visa, I haven't heard anything as of yet.  I thought you might like to know that I met a guy off of So You Think You Can Dance.  He's actually one of my zone leaders, and he's pretty cool.  His name is Elder De Saint Jeor (I think I spelled his name wrong), and I guess he made it to the first round at Vegas.

You wanted to know what my daily schedule is like, which is fairly consistent except for the times which I do things at.  The times vary from day to day, but I have time set aside for personal study, where I usually read my Book of Mormon unless I need to study something specific for a lesson with an investigator or do assigned reading from class.  I have about 6 hours of the day set aside for classroom teaching in 3 hour blocks, where my teacher, Brat Bodily (Brat means brother), instructs us on the language, teaches us ways to teach, etc.  He very rarely uses an English word, and it's been that way from the second I got there.  I had no idea what he was saying the first day, except that he kept saying dobre (there's an accent over the e, but my computer can't include that) and giving me a thumbs up and a questioning look.  I figured out pretty quickly that it meant good, and so I always just said dobre whenever he asked me anything, even if I had no idea what he was saying or what I was supposed to do.  It turned out all right, so it's all good.  I also have during my day time allotted for language study, where I have been making and studying flash cards to help me memorize verbs and such.  We also have time to exercise every day except Sunday, but it isn't always in the gym.  Only like half of the days can we go in the gym, where I usually play basketball.  I've also played volleyball and four square while I've been here.  It's kind of weird because we're not allowed to keep score in any of the games.  They don't want us to be competitive, I guess to help prevent injury or something.  

Our investigator, Martin, agreed to prepare to be baptized the other day, which was great.  He's actually our other teacher (I can't remember if I told you that), and he taught class for the first time yesterday.  His real name is Brat Fish, and he's a really good guy.  He definitely has a different teaching style than Brat Bodily, but he's great nonetheless.  We now will be teaching him as a different investigator, as well as Brat Bodily.  They play their roles with perfect diligence when they are being our investigators, and we are expected to treat them as such.  We also will soon begin having real people to teach in a program called TRC.  Brat Fish said that mostly the investigators there will be return missionary volunteers, but sometimes they are members or even nonmember volunteers.  We still will teach in Slovak with these people (I guess there are people in Utah that come from Slovakia--who knew!).  It's still pretty hard to do this, and we still have to rely on our notes, but we're getting better every day.  I have some pictures, but I'll probably have to send them next week because I forgot the cord for the camera to plug into the computer with.  Anyway, that's a summary of what's been going on lately, I hope you are all doing well back at home.  Thanks for the Dear Elders and letters every day, I love having something to read every day from you.  It's really good for giving me another lift during the day.   I love you very much, and miss you all.  
Elder Zachary Brown

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Real in the Mailbox Letter

I'm rooming with 3 elders, my companion Elder Williams (from Idaho Falls), Elder Jardine (from Brigham City) and Elder Rasmussen (sort of from Virginia).  They're all way fun guys to be around, but one of the coolest things is that when we all saw each other (the other two Slovak Elders included) we felt like we recognized each other.  Every one of the Elders in our Slovak district are so familiar to each other.  Elder Jardine especially looked so familiar when he walked in the first day.  I almost stood up and was so excited to see my friend... until I realized I had never met him.

Elder Williams is a pretty chill guy, but he's actually really funny too.  He also has a great understanding of the gospel and has had some really valuable input for the two discussions we've had with our first investigator (which were entirely in Slovak).  He was a wrestler in high school and had a 3.8 GPA so he knows how to work hard.

Our district is different like that.  There isn't a more hard-working, dedicated and focused group here, I think.  When other missionaries are out in the halls socializing, we're studying the scriptures or the language.  I know this will bless us in our progress.  We've all also been working really hard to SYL (speak your language) with each other.  Whenever possible we use the Slovak we know to talk.  It can be difficult because a lot of what we know is pretty religion related, which doesn't come up in a lot of normal conversation.  Even at the MTC we aren't constantly bearing our testimonies..haha.

We've had two discussions with Martin at this point who is an investigator each Slovak companionship meets with every two days.  We can only speak in Slovak while we are in there with him.  So far we've taught him to pray, had him pray with us, challenged him to pray daily, given him a Book of Mormon, challenged him to read Alma 32 and asked him if he would like to prepare to be baptized in 2 weeks.

The days at the MTC are really long, but Starsi Ferrell (a missionary to Slovakia who just left today- he was delayed leaving because he broke his foot) said that starting today the grind begins and time passes quickly.  He's a really good guy and he was our reference for all our language questions.  We'll miss him even though we only knew him for a few days.

The food here is alright but... it messes with everyone's digestive systems big time.  Especially the orange juice.  So, I've been eating carefully.  Haha.

I listened to the most profound and inspiring talk I have ever heard last night.  It was entitled "Character of Christ" by David Bednar and was given at the MTC at Christmas sometime before I got here.  Never has a talk been so applicable or brought the Spirit so powerfully to me.

Dallin H. Oaks' daughter also came to a fireside and played her violin mixed with giving a talk.  She has a master's degree from Juliard, so you can imagine how amazing the hymns she played were.  That combined with the spirituality of a General Authority's daughter made for an excellent fireside.

I don't want you to worry because I'm happy here.  This is where I'm supposed to be, of that I am certain.

Friday, August 2, 2013


I love it here at the MTC, it's really going to be an awesome place for me.  Already I have learned a great deal about many things, including the language.  Slovak is very difficult.  It is complex in ways very different than English or French.  It even sounds very strange.  I know I am going to need the blessings of the Lord to help me to learn this.  My companion's name is Elder Williams, and he's a really good guy.  I think we're going to get along very well.  The two of us are the only one's in the language class that are going to England, the rest are all going to the Czech Slovak mission on the Slovakia side.  In fact, I was told by my branch president that we are the first Elders that they have going to England speaking Slovak!  I guess there won't exactly be anyone to train us when we get there.  From what it looks like, we'll either have English speaking companions or we'll be with each other over there too.