Hello! I hope this letter finds you all doing well. The work here in England continues ever to progress.
You might like to know that we're getting a car. I will not be driving (I don't have any desire to do so) but Elder Sindylek will. He doesn't have to test for an English license because his Czech Republic one is valid here as well. Having a car will aid us greatly. We have had to spend a great deal of time traveling out of our day previously, which decreases how many lessons we can potentially teach. By having a car, our ability to visit more distant investigators is opened up, which will really help us spread membership beyond Darnall into places like Firth Park and Rotherham. Elder Sindylek is very excited to drive- he's been requesting a car for some time (before I even got here). This will be really good for us.
Mom, you would love the little gypsy children. They are so cute, all plump and dark. There's this one little girl who only knows how to proclaim her name, which she proudly does over and over. Frantiska Dunkova! Again and again, once every few minutes. It's so funny.
Everyone plays soccer here (or rather, football). Basketball not so much. Especially the gypsies; they love playing football, but I'm not sure they've ever played basketball. They certainly haven't ever played American football.
In our zone we send miracle messages to the phones of every companionship in the zone to their answering machines whenever a companionship has a miracle. It's fun to hear the experiences of others, and I love sending our own experiences. This week the zone leaders asked us to focus the messages on Book of Mormon related miracles, which I was excited about because that's where we've been having a lot of our miracles.
You would not believe how expensive some things are here in England, especially American things (like peanut butter). Also, gas is ridiculous here. You think it's bad in America, but Europe has it worse. Some things are really cheap here though, like soda. You can buy a 2 liter bottle of cheap, no name cola for a little over a half a pound. Not bad at all, really. Needless to say, this is what the Slovaks are drinking and thus it is what we are often given when we go by. However, some things just aren't the same. English cream soda is disgusting. (I found out after having bought a bottle) so if you want the good kind you have to buy American cream soda in cans, and since it's American and canned, it's more expensive. I was lucky enough to have some at a member's home with dinner, which was happy for me.
I got a Slovak hymnbook of my own finally! They were out at the MTC the entire time I was there but they have them in this ward and they received a new shipment the other day. They asked us missionaries if any of us wanted one and I of course did. They're much smaller than the English hymnbooks, having 35 hymns and 10 songs from the primary songbook. It's interesting to look at the translations and see how the words have been changed to fit the music notes. Sometimes the differences are really large.
In the mornings we have a half and hour to exercise after we wake up and before breakfast. Elder Sindylek and I go running every morning and distance wise it's about a mile and a half. There are so many hills though; so that makes it a lot more work. I haven't been running this past week since I've been sick (Elder Sindylek goes with Elder DeShazer instead). I've just stayed here and done tons of ab workouts. We don't really have the opportunity to play sports except on P-days, if we go to one of the chapels as a zone. The chapel gyms here are really small so they don't even have room for half a basketball court. It makes playing volleyball rather interesting.
I met a member this last week who touched my heart more than anybody else has done while meeting them for the first time. His name is Peter and he's an older guy who lives by himself in a house filled with CD's and cats. He's as lonely as can be- ever since his mother died, his family hasn't been seeing him. He told me that the church save him from being lonely. I think people judge him poorly because he's not 100% there in the head, even his own family, which is so sad. He said one of the sweetest prayers I've ever heard at the start of the lesson, which included thanking God that the missionaries could come, and asking Him to help us come again. I want to visit this man every week. He's a lonely son of God with nobody who cares except God and the missionaries. We who Heavenly Father sent to find him and care. The whole time we were there I felt the strongest compassion for Peter, and I was continually praying in my heart for blessing to be upon him. He needs a friend and I'm so grateful that I've been given the chance to be that. I will be that. Nobody should have to be so alone. But it shows that Heavenly Father knows His children and knows what they need and will provide for them. Peter's acceptance of the gospel has led to finding people who care. God has blessed him for being willing to listen and accept. I know that every person who does the same will be aided in whatever they need because God knows them and their needs, and can and will help them when they heed His words. Peter was also telling us how Elder Juran (the other Czech missionary) said that he could write him after he goes home in January. Peter was so pleased about this and I'm thinking I'll do the same thing when I return home.
The family I told you about a couple weeks ago is still doing great. They're progressing very well, and continue to gladly accept the messages we bring them. You should see how excited the children get when they see that we are coming to visit them. The 13 year old girl (the one who loves the Book of Mormon and now is reading it to her family every day) especially gets excited and it's just heart warming to see how they value what we bring to them. Their 11 year old boy has read the New Testament three times over and wanted a Bible. (his got lost in transition from Slovakia to England) We brought him one and it made him so happy. How many 11 year olds have read even a single verse of scripture of their own choice let alone the New Testament three times through? Tell me that's not amazing.
Thanks for the letters you send me- it's the only connection I have to home, really. I'm praying for you all individually, and I know God hears both my prayers and yours. Time passes so strangely sometimes. In the moment if feels so long, but after we're past it, we look back and realize it's over, that we've moved onto the next step. One day we'll be in Heaven, looking back on our earth life and we'll see how short this time really was. Yet it's so important how we act, how well we endure as time passes. Despite being in different places, doing different things, we're actually walking on the same path together. We're all walking the straight and narrow path that leads us back to God.
I've got to finish with the most important thing I send: my love. You are a wonderful family and I value each and every one of you. You are doing things that please the Lord and when I hear about it, it warms my heart. You are doing the things that I'm trying to help people out here in England to do. Thanks for telling me about things- what's important to you is important to me. I love you so much and I know Heavenly Father does too. I know He hears our prayers when we pray from the heart, and by walking His path we open the way for answers and blessings.
With Love, Elder Brown