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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Today's Email

This week's been really busy and full of much to prepare for everything that went on this weekend.  Friday we had the baptism of T, and investigator of the church since 2011.  Over the years he really struggled to accept some foundational principles of the gospel, but years of missionaries who never gave up on him and family members and friends with great testimonies always were there to keep helping him out.  He's been switching his life around for the past couple months without the missionaries knowing about it, receiving a lot of support from the members.  He gave up alcohol and cigarrettes, and then started coming back to church.  He quit playing soccer (called football here) on Sundays and addjusted his work schedule so that he could come to church.  Now he's been baptized, and Sunday he recieved the Holy Ghost.  He's a brilliantly smart man with a lot of potential for teaching others, and has a great knowledge of the scriptures, reading them often.

On Saturday, we had one of the most anticipated weddings I've ever encountered.  For seven months, F and A have waited for their passports to return from the government so that they could get married, needing their passports or other ID to do so.  A couple weeks ago they received their papers, and so we have been helping to arrange things with the government and church to set up their marriage.  After an exceedingly busy Friday, we finally had everything all in order just barely in time to be ready for the next day.  Saturday was the wedding, which went fantastic.  After overcoming a few more unexpected roadblocks at the last minute (having to break into a safe containing necessary papers for the registrar to use, for example.  It was his own safe and he couldn't get it open the normal way, who knows why).  I translated for the registrar off to the side while the branch president performed the marriage ceremony.  Translating the script beforehand took an entire two hours of Elder Sindylek and I slaving over it, trying to make sure it was a perfectly precise translation.  It was only two pages long.  But in the end, everything worked out and everyone who was able to come enjoyed themselves thoroughly.  We are now working things out for the married couple's baptism, which will be sometime in the next two weeks!

God has provided for us, his missionaries, this past week yet again.  Knowing that we'd now have more time in the next few weeks, we prayed for help in finding some new investigators, and midway through this week, we did.  We were looking for a referral's house, and ended up knocking on two wrong doors and finding three new families to teach before we actually got the correct door.  We're teaching that family now, too, and are very excited about it.  They walked to church on Sunday in spite of heavy rain and wind, which astonished me.  They already have a great spirit about them, and clearly have a desire to come closer to Christ however they can.  I know that God is looking out for us in what we're doing out here, and I am so thankful that we are finding people here who are prepared to hear and accept His gospel.

That's my week in a nutshell, and it's one I'm going to remember.  It's not easy hearing about grandma at all, but I know that she loves me and I love her too.  I have no doubt that I will have her support from the other side.  She is in my prayers, as are all of you.  Love you much, I'll write again next week :) .
Elder Zachary Brown


Monday, January 20, 2014

A Heap of Miracles

Hey mom and dad!  I'm glad you got my package, it got there pretty quick.  That was nice of Sis. Nettleship to send the letter to you, she's really a wonderful woman and does a lot of great work with the kids and also helping out the many people in need.  I'll get you a couple pictures from the baptism.

The baptism of A and D went really great this last Friday, and I'm way excited for them.  They're going to do some great things, I can alrady feel it.  In fact, they already have, but I'll write you more about that in my letter home.  This week I wanted to talk about a finding experience I had while on exchange with one of my zone leaders, Elder Grimaldi.  I went to his area, which is English-speaking.  They are whitewashing it (meaning that they are starting from scratch without any teaching pool or investigators), so we had nothing to do except go out and look for people to teach.  We planned to go around to the homes of less actives, and street contact and knock some random doors while we were in the various neighborhoods. 

I'll start from the main storyline and miracle, then backtrack a bit and show some of the more hidden miracles that brought this one about.  At one point while we were knocking doors, Elder Grimaldi got a phone call.  It was Elder Allen, who was at an investigators house and needed help translating.  I spent about 10 minutes helping him out, and by the time I got done, there was someone walking up the street to where we'd been standing.  We went and talked to him, and he ended up being way receptive.  He told us that he happened to have a chunk of time right then and there to talk, and asked us if we had some time to share something with him.  He enjoyed everything we spoke with him about, accepting a Book of Mormon at the end and promising with conviction that he'd read it.  We were very impressed with his preparedness to listen, and are excited to meet with him again.  The miracles that are hidden behind this are many.  It starts of with us knocking the right doors in the right place, which revelation came from God to Elder Grimaldi.  Next comes God's way of delaying us at just the right spot until Paul (that was his name) arrived.  Elder Allen somehow knew that we were on exchange, and for some reason called the zone leader's phone to speak with me rather than the natural preference, my companion (the native speaker) .  Not only this, but the reason for the call was because the investigator wanted a priesthood blessing for something he's been sick with for five days with the medicine not working at all, in spite of his own prayers and diligent scripture study and faith.  This set up a need for translation, and Elder and Sister Allen "just happened" to arrive at his house at the right time to call me for translation.  Also, the only way I could've been there to delay us was if the zone leader's decided earlier that I would be the one to go to their area that day on exchange.  All I can say is, God goes to great lengths to prepare a way for those who are ready to hear his messengers.  We need to be ready for and receptive to his guidance so that he can work through us.  Then we see the miracles.

That's my message for the week, and I'm looking forward to an upcoming baptism and wedding this next weekend.  Love you very much, and I can't wait to let you know how it all goes :) .
Love,
Elder Zachary Brown


Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Sweet Note From a Sister in Sheffield

Hi Sister Brown. I'm Sister Nettleship of Sheffield 4th Branch. I just wanted you to know what an amazing young man your son is. Ever since the moment he arrived in our branch he has played a vital part. We love him very much and are so grateful that he is able to spend his mission with us. He is such a credit to you. Thank you for sharing him.  He is a remarkable young man. He is mature for his years, with a kind spirit that everyone responds to. His manners are excellent. He is constantly thanking me for the smallest of things. Nothing is too much for him. We rely heavily on all our missionaries for communication. I stand in awe of them all as I find Slovak to be a very difficult language. My husband is really doing well with it, but I can just about manage 'Deti - tiche', which means, 'children - quiet!' (I'm Primary President'.) Missions are hard on Mums. If you ever need me to help you in any way, please don't hesitate to ask. 

~Notes like this mean everything to me.  I know Heavenly Father is aware of me because he has awesome people serving in Sheffield, sending me kind notes about my boy.  It makes my heart happy.  It is my testimony that Heavenly Father does know and love us.  He counts on us to be His hands here on this earth, to take care and love each other.  I know that a simple kindness can change the night to day.  I am very, very grateful.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Email Time!

Haha thanks for the email po Slovensky!  Some parts made me laugh, like in the beginning where everything refers to me in feminine form.  That's Google translator for you though.  Still, it works pretty well.  Thanks for the pictures, it looks like a beautiful place.  I'm glad you could go and do that :) .  I sent your package home this last week, so you'll get that eventually.  I haven't finished the letter yet though.  I like the quote as well, it works really well with the miracles I see every week.

This week has been very busy and full of a lot of great things.  One thing that's required a lot of our time has been the arrangement of F and A's marriage!  After a great deal of translating legal arrangements (rather stressful, as legal terms aren't exactly an ordinary thing and have to be translated very specifically) at appointments that we barely got everyone to on time, we finally arranged things for them to be married on the 25th of this month.  By the time we finished everything, they needed to wait for some documents to come through in the mail to finalize the process.  The estimated time before it would arrive was two weeks, but as we were walking out, F told us that he knew they'd be here before Monday (this was on Wednesday or Thursday).  The papers arrived Saturday.  I have no doubt that it was thanks to his immense faith that his prayers were answered and that they arrived so quickly.  A miracle?  For sure.  This wasn't even the only miracle he told us about from this week alone!  His daughter was pretty sick one night, and so he prayed for her to get better before he went to bed.  You guessed it: she was 100% healthy by morning!

     Another wonderful thing that's been going on this week has been with A.  After the Allens brought her some Ovaltine to try in replacement of coffee, she completely gave coffee up!  She passed her baptismal interview on Saturday, and will be baptized this coming Saturday.  It's really exciting because she's been progressing so well over the last couple months.  She's been steadily decreasing how much coffee she's been drinking all the way up until she found something to completely replace it.  She's also been very diligently reading from the Book of Mormon every day, to the point where her 5 year old girl brings the book to her, wanting to read it together.  The little girl doesn't really even understand Slovak that well (let alone gospel terms), her first language being gypsy, but she still recognizes the value of it thanks to her mother's strong example.  Parents have a powerful effect on the lives of their children, every single family here confirms that to me.

That's all I have time for this week, but I can't wait to report on the baptism next week!

Love you very much,
Elder Brown

Quote Zach was referring to:
"When we begin to catch glimpses of who we really are, we can then begin to see the miracles that God can perform through us.  There are people who need to be loved, to be served, to be taught, to be mended, to be healed.  We are His hands here on earth, and our greatest joy is to be found when we are actively engaged in a good cause and furthering His work and purposes."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Little Late Posting This One but Here It Is!

Hey there mom and dad!  Thanks for the email (especially the bit in Slovak, it was a pleasant surprise to see that), as well as the pictures from L.  It's good to see that he's having a bit of fun while he's out and about.  I attached a picture of some more Slovak (not gypsie) food I had this week that was pretty good.  I'm glad Sister Allen is sending pictures, I don't have a ton of oppurtunities to take them myself.  So I got together a Christmas package for the family that I should be sending off today.  Don't worry, I didn't spend loads of money on it or anything.  The most expensive part will be sending it I think.  I hope you like it, I tried to find something for every person that would fit them and that they would enjoy, but was also special from England :) . 

I didn't get transferred by the way, I'm still in the same flat with the same companion.  It's something I'm grateful for, because we've got a lot of really good things going on with our work.  I didn't get transferred, and I still have the same companion, but our zone got switched around a lot. My companion and I will have a lot more work now because one of the native Czech speakers went home, and we'll need to cover his investigators now as well.

 As always, the week has not been lacking in miracles.  I'm am so grateful for the people I teach and the amazing spirits that they have.  It's a real blessing to work with them.  One thing that may seem small at first glance quite amazed me when I thought back on it later that night.  I was teaching a lesson with one of our Czech investigators (still a gypsie though) who is now living with a member family.  The members are L and A, and L is 2nd counselor in the branch presidency.  They have a daughter (S) who is mentally disabled, who I've only ever heard say "Ahoj (meaing hi or bye) and "Co to je?" (meaning "what is that?").  I was teaching L's niece and her two kids, who recently moved in with them. kind of alone, because Elder Sindylek was on temporary exchange with L, helping him prepare a lesson for Sunday, and so I was with Elder and Sister Allen.  I say I was kind of alone because they don't speak the language, but they did support me with things that I translated for them.  As I was teaching, I briefly forgot a word that I needed, and paused in my sentance for just a second.  In that brief moment, S says the word I need, and I continued teaching.  After the lesson, I thought back on it and realized exactly what had happened.  A mentally disabled girl, supposedly incapable of much understanding, who only has five words to her vocabulary, supplied me with an uncommon, non-conversational religious word exactly at the moment I needed it.  I don't think that's coincidence.  I believe the Spirit works very much among those who aren't all the way here mentally.  It was a small but sweet and mind-opening miracle of the week.

I'm out of time now, but I'll be getting you a letter here eventually.  You'll probably get my package first, I'm not really sure.  I hope you all enjoy the cruise!

Love you lots,
Elder Brown


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pictures!

Sis. Allen is so good to send us pictures of the things the missionaries are doing.  I will always remember the kindness she has given to us through words and pictures.  Here are some pictures she sent me today.

Shawarma is an Arab meat preparation from Lebanon, where meats are place on a stick. These elders loved it.




And the last picture is New Year's Eve!  Happy New Year everyone!