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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This Week's Email

Hello mom and dad!  Merry Christmas and Boxing Day, and a Happy New Year on top of it all :) . 

This week I found something interesting about something I ate a couple weeks ago.  At an investigators house, they gave us some really tasty beef that I enjoyed a lot.  Afterward when I mentioned it to my companion, he said they had told him it was pork.  I told him that there was no way, because it had the texture and taste of beef 100% .  I found out yesterday that it was actually horse meat, and they were just too embarrassed to tell us, but still wanted to give us something.  I actually liked it, but I'm sure both of my sisters will be horrified that I ate horse.

As usual, God has blessed us, his servants, with some great miracles.  The first is that our investigators in Rotherham, F and A, finally received their passports and other ID back from the government after eight months of waiting!  This means that they can finally get married, and then be baptized as well.  They're already as good as members, doing everything they need to do, so we're excited for them.  It'll still be a while before they're baptized because the marriage process takes a bit of time, but things have finally lined up for them.

Another of our investigators, A, has been working on giving up coffee for the last couple months, slowly drinking less and less every day.  Two days ago, she gave it up completely, showing great faith and amazing progress.  She will be getting baptized very soon, hopefully in the beginning of January.

Overall it's been a fantastic week, and we're very excited about the miracles we've seen.  Christmas was great, and the goals our branch and mission have set for the new year set our sights high.  We're optimistic, and have faith that the Lord will provide us with what we need to meet our goals.

It was great talking to you all on Skype--I loved seeing your faces and hearing your voices.  Next time it'll be Mother's Day :) .  Love you lots, and I'm excited for your letters. 

Elder Zachary Brown

Monday, December 30, 2013

Boxing Day in England and a trip to the Peak District

 A Thanksgiving meal on Boxing Day

Watching the Emperor's New Groove

Elder Brown and Elder Juran helped me and Brenda clean up the dishes. We needed someone tall to put away things on the top shelf. This is where Elder Brown comes in. ~ Debbie Allen

During Christmas and Boxing day the missionaries are allowed to play a few video games. We were able to let them use our IPad's during the time. They LOVED it! ~Debbie Allen

Here are the Elders that work with us in the Slovak Branch. They REALLY enjoyed a day off. ~Debbie Allen

I saw some interesting buildings at a nearby dam too. One is like an overflow drain, the other's like a caretaker building, but they look really neat.

We also found some random carved stone that we don't know the meaning of, but it looked interesting.  Ha :) .

Friday, December 27, 2013

Boxing Day Celebration!

In England, Boxing Day is a big deal.  It's the day after Christmas.  Zach's great grandparents came to Utah from England and brought with them the Boxing Day traditions.  We have always had a Boxing Day party with the Dunn's the day after Christmas.  For Zach this year in England as a missionary, he wasn't allowed to proselyte so the senior missionary couple put on a special celebration for them complete with crackers!  Thus the crown on top of his head.  :)  It's awesome to know that even oceans away, we were all celebrating Boxing Day together!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Email Before Christmas!

Hello mom and dad :) .  Sorry that last week's email was cut so short.  The librarian made me get off a few minutes early, and that's when the most of my organization happens.  Hopefully it doesn't happen again.  First off, I'll be Skyping with you!  Just be ready a little beforehand, and don't freak out if it's not exactly on the hour ;) .  I'll be doing it from the Allen's home, and I'll have an hour to speak with you.  I got a package this week from aunt Elaine, so if you could thank her for me that would be great.  Also, I got many cards from ward members, I'll make a list and let you know who to thank when we talk or when I email next.

This week has been brought many miracles and happy things.  First off...J got baptized!!!  Hooray!  I'm so happy for him, he's really come so far, and I've seen a lot of happiness enter his life thanks to the changes he's made.  His confirmation in church on Sunday was also powerfully spiritual.  He's quiet and shy, but the Spirit is in him, and he's truly a great person.

We also had another miracle yesterday with a man named T.  He's somehow related to J (I'm not sure how yet), and he's investigated the church on and off in the past.  He's been taught all the lessons, but never was able to be baptized because he struggled to make the changes in his life that he needed to.  Then yesterday we went to J's house, intending to have a lesson with him, and T was there (he lives with them), and we ended up teaching him.  He told us early on in the lesson that he wants to be baptized next Saturday, and explained that for the past couple months he's been changing how he's been living so that he can be baptized.  All that time that he was making those changes, the missionaries had no idea, and weren't even teaching him.  Instead, it was the members who were giving the support, helping him a great deal to turn his life around.  We had a couple options that night before we decided to see J, but we felt like it would be a good idea to go there.  Turns out it was :) .  We let T know that he needed to come to church for the next couple weeks before being baptized, and he readily agreed, happy to do whatever he needs to.  This miracle shows how powerful of an effect the members can have in a person's life, how they can affect a person more than even the missionaries sometimes.

Love you lots, I've got to get going now, but I'll talk to you very soon.  See you in a bit!
Elder Brown

J's Baptism

Here's another picture of something I ate this week. It's called halusky (there's supposed to be an accent over the s), and it was pretty good. It's the national dish of Slovakia.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Baptisms and Pictures

Hello mom and dad!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!  (Sorry that I couldn't do it on the exact day)
First of all, I've been enjoying the daily gift from your package.  It's fun to see what each day brings, and the scriptures to go along are very clever :) .  I also received one from Grandma and Grandpa Brown, so please thank them for that for me.  I haven't opened it (I figure it's most likely something I should save until Christmas day), but thank them for their generosity.  Also thank the Udys for me, they sent a Christmas card as well, and I really appreciated it.  I still don't know what's going on with Christmas communications, it's a new mission president than last year, and he hasn't given any word on how it will be yet.  Grammy wanted to know how to send me fish and chips, and the best way would just to put money in my card's account.  It's the least risky and the most convenient.

For P-day last week we went to a place called Peak District, and it was a lot of fun.  I'll send some pictures next week, I don't really have time this go-around. 

This week was a fantastic one, as my pictures should show.  J and P got baptized!!!  Woohoo!  I'm so happy about this.  They are really great guys, and they've done a lot of amazing things already.  I know they will continue to strengthen in their faith.  I actually had the privilege of baptizing P, because he chose me to do it :) .  That made me really happy.  I also assisted in the baptism of J (he's a bigger fellow, so Elder Juran needed some help getting him out of the water) .  It was a great day, to say the least.  Then both of them bore some wonderful testimonies in sacrament meeting after their confirmation.  I loved that sacrament meeting.
I had a lot more of miracles this week, but I wrote them all in a letter I sent on Sunday, knowing that I wouldn't have a ton of time today.  Sorry about that, I just had a lot to do today.  Out of time, love you lots!  Bye!

my completed Book of Mormon project

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Week of Miracles!

Hello mother I love!  Thanks for the pictures and the email :) .  Looks like the usual Utah ha.  I'm glad you enjoyed my letter, I always enjoy yours.  It's nice to see a letter on the entryway floor that has my name on it.  I got your package this week, so I'll be opening it today :) .  I'm excited!

This week has been absolutely full of miracles, so much so that I can't even begin to fit them all in this email.  I'll just have to send a few of the major highlights.  This coming Saturday we'll have a baptism (actually two people on the same day)!  Peter and Jalos; hooray!  And another one the following week, as well, maybe more if things go really well.

One powerful experience we had was with a man named Milan, who lives in Rotherham.  When we went to teach him this week, the rest of his family was gone, and so we just taught him.  We talked about the Restoration of the gospel, and at the end we invited him to pray to know if it is true (if Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet and if the Book of Mormon is true) .  He said that he already knew it was, but that he hadn't actually prayed about it yet.  So for the closing prayer, we invited him to pray about it right then, and he agreed.  He offered a warm, sincere prayer, and waited for an answer.  Then he said another and waited.  Then the same thing again.  I open my eyes in time to see him sit back on his knees and open his eyes very wide, with a deep intake of breath.  Then he kind of shivers, and looks at us.  We stand up and he begins to tell us what happened, tears beginning to stream from his eyes.  He told us after the third prayer he heard whispers telling him that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he needed to read the Book of Mormon, and saw Elder Sindylek and I standing in front of him with a blue background behind us.  He opened his eyes, thinking that we had said it, but we were kneeling across the room from him, of course not saying anything.  He said he also felt a great warmth come over him.  I know that he had this answer because of his great faith and patience in asking, as well as his diligence in keeping the commandments, including reading the Book of Mormon.  This man now has a firm testimony and a solid witness of the gospel's truth.

We also had a surprising lesson with one of our other investigators, Jan, who has been unsure for a while if he wants to be baptized or not.  At one point during our lesson, we mentioned that Peter and Jalos are getting baptized.  Turns out, Jalos is his uncle (which we didn't know beforehand), and when he heard that, he asked us if he could be baptized as well.  The soonest we could schedule him for was the week after, and he agreed.  Since then, his newfound real intent has lead to diligently keeping commitments he struggled with before, like coming to church and reading the Book of Mormon.  I'm so excited and happy about this.  He's got a great spirit in him that I can see in spite of how shy he is.

That's all I've got time for this week, but I'll put the rest in my letter home.  I love you all so much, and I'm excited to speak with you on Christmas.  It'll probably be over Skype, but if not, it will be a phone call.  Thanks for all you do for me, you're in my prayers each and every day.

Elder Zachary Brown

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Big, Long, Letter!

Dear Family,

I'll answer a few questions first, because that way I have a topic to focus on and I can write it down faster.  I go to the library to email, which I only do on p-day.  I go to an actual church building about every p-day as well, to play sports or watch movies.  There's actually a lot of movies we can watch- basically any PG animated film, and some other movies that are on the President's approved list.  Tron, Remember the Titans and the Princess Bride are movies we've watched.  The sports we play are volleyball, basketball and floor hockey (I haven't played this because I play basketball instead).  I also play the piano while I'm at the chapel on p-days now since you sent me music.  :)  The place where the Slovak branch goes to church on Sunday isn't an actual church building.  It's a few rooms of this office type building that are rented for our time every week.  One of the rooms is like a presentation room, which is where we have sacrament meeting, and the other meetings are done in more classroom sized spaces.

I do get copies of the Ensign so you don't need to send those at all.  Thanks though!  Grammy asked me, in keeping with the Thanksgiving spirit (which doesn't exist in England) what I am grateful for.  Definitely people who have been prepared by the Lord for us to teach and then sent to us.  There's really not much else better than that possible in missionary work, because it means we can devote all our time to fulfilling our calling by teaching.  So, that's what I'd say I'm really grateful for right now.

Thanks Grammy and Papa for the letters you send and the thoughts you share- they're great to read.  Also, thanks Grandma and Grandpa Brown for your words as well.  I hope things work out for you to serve a mission, I'll pray for you, too.  Thanks Alysia, as well, for your letter- I know people will be very blessed by your efforts to do missionary work as a member and eventually serve with Ryan.

The adult session of conference sounds fantastic!  I'm glad they are encouraging member missionary work because it's one of the biggest aides to us as full time missionaries.  When they come with us to teach the lessons go much better.  The best investigators we have are the friends of members who wanted us to go teach their friend.  I know it's hard to find time with school, work and such but if you make some time to go with the missionaries to teach it will bless both the people you go to teach, the missionaries and our own family.  The Lord recognizes the sacrifice and will really bless you for it.

You asked why the Slovaks would want to leave Slovakia and go to England and you also asked what they do for work.  The answer is, the Slovaks (the native ones) aren't leaving Slovakia, it's the Slovak gypsies.  The reason is basically government benefits.  They get much better benefits here in England, and many if not most, don't work.  Some of them do have jobs (many of the church members, interestingly) but most are living off benefits.  Their children do go to school and are learning English.  Many adults do as well (it's more like an English class) and the ones who do are usually motivated because they have a job and need to be able to speak English.  Actually, it's really a good thing that so many of these people don't work during the day.  It means we can teach people the entire day and we never have times where nobody is at home.  It's easy to schedule appointments but usually don't ever have to do that because  we can just stop by and they'll almost always be home.  As of today's end, I have taught 201 lessons!  (I'm writing this on Nov. 26th)  There's no way I could have done this without being able to teach all day long.  I feel so blessed to be teaching so much.  Many missionaries don't teach that many lessons their entire mission.

I'm sorry this letter is taking so long to get out.  These past few days have been ridiculously busy.  We've eaten at home a lot less, and it's during the extra time I have during meal times that I write the most.  The time at the end of the day  has had little to offer besides a few spare moments to write in my journal, thanks to lengthy planning sessions and other things (like transfer calls).  I wish the day lasted another hour or so.  Then I'd have enough time to take care of things like letters home and to spend time writing in my "small plates" journal.  It's been rather sadly neglected lately.  I could really use some more time, but it's a rather inflexible resource to work with.

My personal studies are coming along very well.  I've read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Preach My Gospel since I've been out and I'm nearly finished with the New Testament and Bible Dictionary.  Have you ever read the Bible Dictionary beginning to end?  It's really quite interesting and is full of great information.  I read it in the mornings while I eat breakfast and then while I wait for my turn in the shower.  Like I've said before, I make use of every single second I have.  I can't afford to waste any time at all- there's way to much I need to get done.

One of the reasons I'm trying so hard to read through all of the books of scripture is so that I can use them in unison as effectively as my companion.  He knows the scriptures very well so when we run into someone who's making up their own doctrine and trying to tell us it's in the Bible, he's able to confidently say, "That isn't in the scriptures at all," or "show me where it says that", knowing they can't support what they're making up.  It actually happens a lot.  I want to be able to testify of what is and isn't in the Bible with the exactness and confidence that he can so I'm focusing my studies on this.  My scriptures are filling with marked verses, cross references and notes and I love to look at what I've accomplished, what I've learned.  Marked scriptures look so much better than blank pages.

One thing are whole mission has been asked to study by the mission president are Christlike attributes.  We're supposed to choose one to focus on per transfer (every six weeks) and learn as much as we can about it, and strive to apply what we learn to how we act and think.  It's really good idea because I've noticed how interconnected every Christlike attribute is with the others.  When one is studied in depth, the others become clearer as well.  If you are looking for something new to study, this is a great way to provide a focus and keep things interesting while reading.  Pray about which attribute to study and one will come to mind.  Then pray for inspiration when you study.  When we invite God to give us revelation on a specific subject that we put effort into learning about, it comes.  We just need to ask and then do our part.

This wraps up another letter home.  It's a busy, constant work I'm living.  you are in my thoughts and prayers every day.  I bear testimony to people all the time about how much my family has blessed my life thank to our connection to God and His gospel.  People always feel the truth of it when I do and it's something that nobody can deny as being good and true.  Thank you for that.  You are wonderful examples of the kind of family Heavenly Father wants us to have, and your examples shine through me to these people here in England.  You probably never thought about that kind of possibility when you decided to build an eternal family dedicated to God, but there it is and here I am.  I love you so much.  These people here know it because I tell them.  I tell them of the joy my family brings me.  And I'm telling you, too.  Love you!

Love,  Elder Brown

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Love and Joy

This week has brought miracles just like every other--it seems to be part of being a missionary for doing God's work.  The first I'd like to mention is of both of the families that we are teaching in Rotherham.  First, we went over to one of their houses to teach them about fasting.  We start talking about it and ask if they'd already heard about it before, and surprisingly they had.  Then they explain to us pretty much every aspect that we normally teach before we even tell them about it.  It was a pretty easy lesson, that one, and they were completely willing to fast on Sunday.  How much better does it get?  Then we head over to their neighbor's house, and follow up on their Book of Mormon reading, expecting that they've read, but expecting it not to be a whole lot.  Turns out, in the week since we've seen them, they've read from the introduction page all the way through Jacob 2!  That's over 105 pages!  Even better, they understood and remembered what they read, and were telling us what they thought certain symbolisms meant, and were 100% correct.  For example, they were telling us how they had the overwhelming feeling as they read Lehi's dream that the Tree of Life just had to represent Christ.  We've only had three lessons with them total.  Amazing?  I think so.

The man we baptized last week (Miroslav) went teaching with us this week.  He's a really smart guy, and we'd had a lot of success teaching him.  He remembers everything we teach, and is always sharing what he understands from his scripture reading, which is a lot.  When we take recent converts to teach, they usually contribute a lot to the lessons, because they have really great testimonies, and also are able to answer questions well.  When we asked Miroslav a question, he didn't just answer it.  He taught part of the lesson to the people, explaining concepts that are right out of Preach my Gospel (which he's never read, and I doubt he even knows it exists) .  Really, it's impossible to ask for anything more.  We recommended to the ward council that he recieves some kind of calling where he can teach, because he's already great at it, and could become truly amazing if he were given the oppurtunity to grow.  We're excited to have him as our newest member of the branch.

 That's all there's time for this week, and I'm glad to report a very good one.  I love the people, and I love the work.  You're an amazing family, and you are an immeasurably valuable treasure in my life.  Irreplaceable and utterly lovable.  Until next week!

With joy and love,
Elder Brown

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Late Posting of Last Week's Email

Dear Family,

This week has been really amazing. We first of all had a baptism!!! Miroslav was baptized and confirmed this week, and it was a fantastic experience for everyone there. This was even better because we had several investigators who attended it, and they all felt the Spirit very strongly. The branch president gave a talk, and part of it was pretty boldly encouraging Miroslav's wife to be baptized soon as well, saying that a husband and wife should be together on things. It was great! We followed up a couple days later, and we're now teaching her as well. The baptism really sparked her spirit and her desire to learn and come unto Christ.

We also have been teaching the family I spoke about last week that I was really impressed with, and every single lesson with them has been exceptional. They continually progress, and are reading the Book of Mormon every day, including Peter, the husband, who started out not being able to read. A miracle? Absolutely! His wife (Marta) also told us that she has been praying every day to have an answer about if she should be baptized or not (this has been for a couple weeks now), and she told us that she hasn't yet. We had a couple of great recent converts there, and one of them bore her testimony about her own baptism. Since these two women were friends in Slovakia, it made her testimony even more personal. We are praying that soon Marta will receive her answer.

Also, Jalos, an investigator of about two years thanks to his fear of water (and thus reluctance to be baptized), told us yesterday that he wants to be baptized on the same day as Peter and Marta! It's a huge miracle, because we were actually wanting him to try a fake baptism to get used to it, and he decided that he didn't even want that and just wants to be baptized! Hooray!

I love you all very, very much. We don't have much of a Thanksgiving here, but my family is at the top of my thankful list. Remember that always! It's been an exceptional week, and I can't wait to continue to watch these people grow. Once again, I love you!
Elder Brown