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

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

1 comment:

  1. What a great letter. Sounds like you are really busy and doing a lot of good there. Keep up the good work!