Wednesday, October 30, 2013
I only have time to write about like one experience every week, so here's this week's miracle:
This week we've been really praying for everyone to read the Book of Mormon, because we know of the good it does in people's lives, and it's something these people really struggle to do. The miracle is, almost every single one of them began to read! It was the most amazing thing, because they started to change. Their homes became different in the course of a single day; lighter, more comfortable, because the Spirit was there. They also have been keeping other commitments because of it, like going to church. This week was the most amazing Sunday yet, because of how many people made it to church. We totaled 13 investigators from just my companion and I, and there was a overall total of 85 people at sacrament meeting! This is the most this branch has had yet, and we are so close to our goal of 100. One of the families that came was the one I told you about last week, and they didn't even have shoes. We found some for them so that they could walk with us the 2 miles to church, and they did, and they loved it! They've also been reading the Book of Mormon (which they also dearly love), which I know makes all the difference. Another one of our investigators is prepared for baptism, and should make it to church this Sunday and be baptized the following Friday. Hooray! He's also been reading the Book of Mormon. Truly, that book works miracles in people's lives. It's wonderful to watch.
Love you tons!
Monday, October 28, 2013
CHAIR SCOCCER: How this game works is every person starts out with their chair setting up right. You have to protect your chair from getting hit from the ball. When it does get hit for the 1st time you turn your chair over, upside down. 2nd time you out and have to turn your chair back over and sit in it. You can still play but can't leave your chair. You try to get the ball and hit another persons chair and then you are back in the game. Last man standing wins.
And one of the missionaries playing volleyball.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Hello mom and dad :) .
First I wanted to thank you for the things you've sent me in the mail. It is so good to hear from you! Also, thank you dad for the letter about your mission, I'm glad you were able to do that for me, and I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the picture! It's good to see your smiling faces :) . Tell Jaalah she had better be in the next one, I want to see her smiling face, too.
I'd like to share another miracle that happened this week (seriously, they happen every day, but I only have time to send the best of them). Yesterday we found a Slovak family that had just recently moved in a week ago. Elder Sindylek and I were walking down the street, and some kids across the street started calling us over to come and teach them. We of course went over to them (we'd have been really dumb not to have), and they welcomed us into their home. Their dad was there, named Gejza, and we began talking with him and his children. He told us that the rest of his family arrives(his wife and some other kids) . As we spoke with them and began sharing with them who we are and what we do, they got increasingly focused and interested, to put it lightly. Even the children were so tuned in. Everything we shared with them they just soaked up and accepted. I've never seen or heard of a family so prepared for the gospel. We shared with them some scriptures from the Book of Mormon, which they absolutely loved. Elder Sindylek knows the scriptures super well, and had the most applicable verses for these people. The girl who was holding it (her dad has bad eyesight, so she was reading the verses for him) was cradling it in her arms, and when we gave them their own, she acted like we'd given her a bar of pure gold. I watched her a bit while Elder Sindylek was talking, and she was flipping to random verses and reading them under her breath with the biggest smile on her face. Then, when we gave them the baptismal challenge, they all individually, immediately, and emphatically accepted. This was such a shock to me because the father had previously mentioned that he had been baptized in another church. They didn't even care though, and asked us if they could be baptized like the next day. We were like, "We need to teach you a little more first..." and then we made a baptismal calender with them and set a date for them to work towards. At the end, we explained how to pray from the heart rather than using a memorized prayer, which I thought they might not be open to changing, but they wholeheartedly accepted it, and wanted to try. It was so amazing. They want us to come every day, but we have other people we need to teach, too, so we can't really do that. But we will certainly be going by often--they are an amazing family, and I can't wait to see them grow and progress! This is exactly what is meant by people whose hearts have been prepared to receive the gospel that will lead them back to our Heavenly Father. I am so blessed to be a part of this--it is such a privilege.
Love you all lots, I hope you have a fantastic week! I'm excited for your letters, I will love reading them. Until next week, with much love,
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Hello mom, I love you very much, I just wanted to start off with that :) . What do I want to hear from you? Anything that has been meaningful to you, really. Things that brought you joy, spiritual experiences, things that are hard so that I can pray for you. Thank you for the letter you sent, it was good to have something to hold in my hands like you said.
This week has been super busy with all sorts of experiences happening every day. Everyone loves to hear about weird foods, so I'll start with that. I ate pig tails one night, and goja (which is intestines stuffed with this potato-type stuff). It's not Slovak food or English food, but gypsie food. I expect I'll have more such things to come, seeing as that's who I'm teaching--the Slovak gypsies. Once again, these people are so awesome here! They have amazingly open and willing hearts, and are so prepared to receive the light of this gospel. I would like to mention a couple of the people we are currently teaching that are really quite amazing. One is Helena, the mother of Marek, who is the boy we baptized last week. She hadn't attended any of her multiple family member's baptisms prior to his, and hadn't been interested in the church. However, after Marek's baptism, which she attended, things changed in her heart. When we went over to follow up a bit with Marek, we ended up teaching her a full lesson, and have met with her multiple times since then. Here's the amazing thing: she watched the Restoration video one night on her own and loved it so much that she watched it 5 more times! since then she watches it 3 or 4 ttimes every night before bed, and she says that she's never slept better in her life. The crazy thing is, the video is in English because they lost their remote control and has no way to switch it to Slovak! So she understands none of what is said, but simply feels the Spirit that the story of Joseph Smith brings. Of course, when we found out about this we immediately taught her the lesson of the Restoration and explained what was in the video. When I related to her the words of Joseph Smith about his experience in the Sacred Grove, the Spirit was so strong in the room. She knows that it is true, and feels it so strongly. We asked her to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it and our message to know if it is true, and I can't wait to follow up with her about it. I feel that she soon will be joining her family as a member of the church, and we plan to give her a baptismal date the next lesson we have.
Another person we are teaching is named Martin. He just recently began meeting with us, but already his growth stuns me. After only a couple lessons, he accepted the commitment to live the Word of Wisdom and completely gave up smoking and drinking, just like that. He'd been smoking like 3 packages a day, but now nothing and he doesn't even want to. He soaks up everything that we talk with him about--his heart is so open. We took him to see a baptism of a different investigator from another district, but we ended up missing the actual baptism thanks to heavy traffic making the bus very slow. However, we took him to see the baptismal font, and talked with him about how the baptism works. He told us that his heart keeps telling him that he needs to be baptized, which was so special. He really feels the Spirit very well. We suggested a baptismal date to work towards, but he told us it was too late and that he wanted to be baptized the very next day. Of course, we have to teach him some things still before that, so we told him to think about a different day and we would talk to him the next day. We have him scheduled for the 26th now, and I am so excited to continue to watch him progress.
General Conference went really well with these people. We chose just a few talks for them to hear out of all of them, because we only had a single two-hour block to show them it. The people I talked to really loved President Monson and President Uchtdorf. To get to the building where we are meeting for church as the Slovak branch, we have to walk about two miles as the missionaries, because we go around and gather the people so that they can follow us to church. For them, it's more of like a mile and a half walk. We do a lot of walking here, and there are a ton of hills. I don't have to worry about losing my athletic abilities anytime soon, I guess. We also use the bus system a lot, but depending on where we need to go and when we need to go, sometimes we can't use it.
I haven't got much time left now, so I'll finish up now. I'm doing well, no worries about anything. Busy, busy every day. Love you lots, I hope things go well for everybody this week! you are a fantastic family, I am so grateful to have you. Truly, you bless my life so much.
The first are the pig tails that I ate. Yes, I ate it. No, I didn't like it. It had a ton of fat and the skin was really weird.
The second picture is goja, the intestine meal with potato stuff inside.
The third is of Marek's baptism, with a bunch of other Slovak children and some ward members. The Elder I'm standing by is Elder Williams' companion, that's just how the order ended up, I don't know why.
Me on the top level of a double decker bus! I can check that one off the bucket list.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Monday, October 7, 2013
Everything went fine with all the flights and connections and customs and all that, nothing too interesting and I only have a single hour to email, so I really don't want to use it talking about meaningless things like airplane flights ha. It all went well, and I made it safely. I haven't met my mission president yet actually, nor been to the mission home, just my flat. Has it rained? Of course. Not all the time as expected, but fairly frequently, and it was when I landed. I have plenty of money, no worries. I haven't eaten anything very interesting yet, just a kebab from a Indian food restaurant that I didn't like very much.
I am in Sheffield where I thought I would be haha. There are many, many Slovak people here, and I have already taught over ten lessons (all in Slovak). The people we teach are gypsies of a sort, but the are the nicest, most open hearted people you have ever met. They accept the gospel with such willingness. My companion is from the Czech Republic, one of two missionaires in the mission (the other is one of the zone leaders). Elder Williams and I are the only other ones who speak Slovak, and everyone is so excited that we're here. Apparently they knew they would be recieving two new Slovak-speaking missionaries by October before I even got my call in March! So we have been long anticipated and awaited. In fact, you can watch a clip about my mission that was featured at the very end of the General conference World report (about 49 minutes in). It shows a bunch of people I've already gotten to know, including my new companion quite a bit. we had a baptism actually, my first one already! It was an eight year old boy, whose father is a recent convert and whose mother is a recent investigator. The boy's name is Marek, and he has the greatest spirit about him. He wanted me to speak as part of his program, I have no idea why, I had only just met him. He wanted me to baptize him, too, but Elder Sindylek (my companion, I can't include the accents because this computer doesn't have a Slovak keyboard) convinced him to have the branch president do it. His father doesn't have the priesthood yet, he's too recent of a convert. Marek also gave the closing prayer for his own baptism, and the other speakers were the Czech zone leader and one of Marek's young friends named Erik. Erik did a great job, and I was really impressed. Of course, every part of the services was in Slovak, including my talk. Everyone seems really surprised at how far along my Slovak is, but I feel pretty under where I need to be at. I only nderstand about 60% of what Slovaks say because they speak so quickly, and they also have a gypsie dialect that has some things that I didn't learn in the MTC. But I know the language will come in time--I can't really expect to understand 100% after a few days.
I love you all very, very much! I wish I had more time to write, but as the general authorities have said, exact obedience brings the miracles rather than blessings. I also have to write my mission president his weekly email during this time as well. So I send this with all my love, and I'll try and get you some pictures too. Keep up being a fantastic family, you're doing quite a wonderful job. Cheers! (as the English say instead of hello, thank you, and many other thigns...don't ask me why, because I have no idea).
Elder Zachary Brown
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
This is Sister Debbie Allen. My husband and I are the senior couple serving in Sheffield 4th branch. We are from Mesa, AZ. Your sons made it safe and sound. We had correlation meeting and Tea (aka dinner appointment) at our house tonight. They seem to know the language and will be a great help. They looked tired after a long plane flight. Tomorrow they will hit the ground running and doing what missionaries do. We have a daughter serving in St George on a mission. I know how it feels to get email about your missionary. Love Elder and Sister Allen