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

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Stream of Amazing Miracles

Ahoj, rodiča moja!  

Thanks for the counsel, it's some that I've already been following.  Don't worry :) .  The best thing you can do for the people here is to keep praying for them and to keep supporting me.  It very directly impacts their lives, and both they and I are thankful for that.  Many of them are excited for when you all come to pick me up, and many of them want us to visit them.  We'll have to make sure to plan time for that.  I do have an English hymbook, it's the small pocket one that I keep with my scriptures.  I'll give that hymn a read (#266 The Time is Far Spent) and I'll probably have the district sing it in district meeting ;) .  It's unfortunately not in Slovak--our hymn selection is quite limited.  I've sent you some pictures, hopefully you like them.

This week we had a stream of amazing miracles one right after the other.  It started out with an amazing lesson we had with a member of the stake presidency who wanted to meet with the family I told you about last week.  He'd had a prompting the night before and had contacted us if we could go with him there the next day at a specific time, so we changed our plans around to accomodate that.  Well, at the end of the visit he asked the wife when her baptismal date was, not knowing that for the whole time we've been teaching her that she's been very reluctant to commit.  She responded in a way that totally surprised me--she said, "Whenever Elder Brown tells me I can be.  He can tell me tomorrow when he comes."  The next day we come back and I tell her that she's been prepared for baptism basically since we met her, and that next week she can be baptized if she would like.  She accepted the date of the 3rd of May and passed her interview that same night we scheduled the baptism.  Her neighbor of a few doors up the street got baptized the following day (the 25th), and that whole baptism was an absolute miracle.  His name is M, 15 years old, full of God's light, and the son of V, who was baptized a few weeks ago.  He has taken his baptism so seriously the whole time we've taught him and was quite prepared for it.  The light shining off of him when he told me thank you after I baptized him was almost tangible.  I feel quite strongly that he will serve a mission in a few years here.  While I was getting changed out of my wet clothes there was a brief testimony meeting, during which one of our investigators got up and bore her testimony.  She's 18 and her parents are both recent converts as well as her younger siblings, but she hadn't shown a lot of interest until recently.  Apparently in her testimony she said that she knew the reason why her parents had come here to England was to find the true gospel and that she actually felt things in this church, whereas her previous church had never brought about any feelings within her.  On the car ride home after M's baptismal service, another of our investigators who's the 17-year-old son of the woman getting baptized this week told us that he wants to be baptized as well after having seen what it's like.  He hadn't been to church yet, so his baptism will be a little later, but he walked to church this week with us and had a good experience.  Not only all of this, but M's father has also told us that he's made the decision to be baptized, and has been cutting down his smoking quite a lot to the point where he's almost quit.  We've set a date for him to work toward for baptism, and he's the type who's quite motivated to reach his goals.

Time to go, but I love you very much and I hope you have an awesome week! 

Love you much,
Elder Brown

M's baptism 

Elder Brown looking so happy with those Slovak boys!

Some food I ate that was interesting.  It was like ham with cheese and peaches and some rice on the side.

A picture that makes Elder Frahm look very, very small. Haha.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trials, Racism and Miracles

Hey mamka a patka!  The holiday was Easter, hence no email on Monday.  It was a really good Easter here, I hope you had a great one too :) .  That's a cool thought about the hymns, thanks for sharing that with me.

This week there was the most enormous trial that I have ever seen anyone endure in my life, and I want you to know that the story ends with great blessings and that everyone is all right, and that it's more than a miracle.

A wonderful family that we teach, the father of which is a recent convert that Elder Sindylek and I taught, this week faced the result of some extreme racism starting at about 10:00 at night on Thursday.  The family was all upstairs in their home except for their 18-year-old son, who was sitting at the computer.  The silence of the night was broken as a bulky stone crashed through the front window, barely missing his head and destroying the computer.  He called for his father, who came rushing down the stairs with another son, this one 16.  The first stone was just the beginning as one after another crashed through the windows of the house, both at the front and back, along with large bottles filled with alcohol.  The mother hid her crying children (8, 11, and 12) while her other sons and husband (3 total) down below were forced to fend off a mob of about 20 as they assaulted the house, attempting to gain access.  In the melee, P was able to get off a brief call to a friend who spoke English well enough to call the police.  After a while longer help arrived, but not before the entire house's bottom floor was utterly wrecked.  From the plates of the kitchen to the doors of the home, it was all destroyed.  When the police arrived, they were immediately evacuated, and the only thing the wife took a moment to grab before leaving was her Bible and Book of Mormon.  The next morning I got a call from the husband, who let me know all that had happened and asked me to help if there was anything I could do.  I of course made several phone calls to the leaders of the branch and then changed our plans to see them at the house they were staying at as soon as possible.

Sunday came, and the stricken family made the multi-mile walk to church with us and other members of the branch.  Following this, help was arranged for them to find new housing.  Yesterday we went to see them in their new home, and you should've heard the testimonies of God's power to protect coming from them.  Their house was destroyed, but they all got through the night with not a mark on them despite the mob's outnumbering them greatly, and not a single member of that vile group was able to gain entrance to the home.  The lesson before this had happened, we had told them the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and how they stood in the fire completely unharmed and how Christ was seen in there with them.  The husband testified to us of the truth of that, and his wife told us that her thanks to us was boundless because we had brought that power that had protected them to their home.  They now are living in a far better area surrounded by friends and family, and are much happier than before.  The trial was immense, but they endured and were living right before the trial came.  Because of that they were blesses.  Miracles are happening all around, even ones that bear close resemblance to the amazing stories of the scriptures, and I'm so happy to be a part of it.

Love you all very much :) ,
Elder Brown

Monday, April 14, 2014

Service Matters

Hey mom and dad :) .  You know, I'm glad you like the hat...I'll probably wear it when I get home sometimes.  The Slovaks all think I look "frajer" in it, which literally translates to a "dandy" or "ladies' man" haha.  One of the Relief Society sisters told me I look like a model.  I think I'll keep it.  I'm sorry about Tamsyn being sick :( .  I hope she gets better soon, and I'll remember that specific part in my prayers.  I sent her an email to let her know it's ok that she didn't get to email me.  

Thanks for taking care of my personal funds, I really appreciate that.  My instructor actually went into prostate surgery this week, so I've only had two lessons so far and I'm not sure when I will have another one.  It depends on his recovery time.  As for a test, I don't have to take one until my Amercian license loses it's validity here in October, so not for a while and nothing's scheduled.  I can legally drive here without any lessons right now, but it's just a mission rule that I have to take lessons first, and I'm glad for it.

We've had some amazing miracles this week, but I wanted to share one that's been a wonderful thing to be a part of.  On Tuesday we ended up going to help one of our new investigators with some translation to work things out in City Center with his Tax Credit stuff.  Apparently someone had his information and had been stealing money from his account, so we went with him to help translate to get his information changed.  Some miracles happened during that which I don't have time to write about here, but the result was that D (a common name, don't get him confused with the others, he's new) and his wife both were firmly set on coming to church and also getting baptised.  Come Sunday, we walk with them and their kids to church, which happens to be General Conference Sunday for us (we have to just choose a few select talks from the week before and show their Czech or Slovak translation the next week).  On the way there, I spoke to D and Elder Frahm spoke to his wife.  Afterwards Elder Frahm told me that she was saying that people had told them all this bad stuff about us, but after having us help them so much and listening to the things we teach, she knew that it wasn't really true.  They really enjoyed listening to General Conference and the talks given there, and afterwards they spoke to the branch president.  After talking to him a bit, they ended up finding out that they needed to get married before they got baptized, so they came up to me and told me that they wanted to get married.  Obviously I was quite surprised as this kind of came from out of nowhere, but I happily told them that we could help them with that.  After all, we've done it once already.  It looks like we'll be having a wedding in the next couple of months followed by a baptism!  It's an exciting thing, and it strengthened my testimony even more about the power that service has to help bring people closer to God.  

That's all I have time to tell you about this week, but I'll write more of the miracles in my letter home.  It's like 62% done now.  I hope you have an awesome week :) .

Love you all lots!
Elder Brown

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Work Continues Forward!

My heck, you drive worse than me!  Slaughtering an innocent deer who just wanted to get to the other side?  Heartless.  Really heartless.  Haha :) .  I'm glad everything turned out ok!  That's pretty crazy.  Now both you and dad have hit a deer (his was already dead though, I think).  My first driving lesson went really well, the instructor is a decent chap and pretty nice.  I just kept drifting too close to the curb because I'm not used to having the car on that side of me.  Plus, the roundabout system here is utterly confusing.  I guess I'll learn it eventually though.

The baptisms from this week and last were fantastic!  Last week was for M, S, and P, who are the family of M, who was baptized a few days after I started training.  They are a family from Rotherham, the second one now to join the church, and they are all amazing.  S wanted me to baptize him, so that was a great experience as well.  M, the father, has also been extremely active in doing missionary work with Elder Sindylek and Krylborne, who are now the only ones working in Rotherham (as they have a car, they took that over while Elder Frahm and I largely took over Darnall).  On a nearly daily basis he goes teaching with them and has even gone with them to find people to teach.  When he did that, he met some long lost family members, and they gladly let them all in.  They are now progressing very well and have come to church for several weeks in a row.  They walk, not having money to afford a bus, all the way from Rotherham, which is even further away from where we meet for church than we walk from our flat.  All of these things started out as a result of Frantisek (the father of the other member family in Rotherham) sharing his testimony with M, a stranger at the time, and inviting him to listen to the people who changed his life (the missionaries).  Pretty amazing, right?  And that miracle is still continuing with their continued devotion to God, that's the best part.

The baptism of this weekend was V and T, a mother and son that we found just over a month ago as a result of a member referral.  They have been so great at accepting the gospel and changing their lives to live it.  After about a week of meeting with the family, we taught about how V needed to give up smoking before baptism, and within a week and a half she completely quit.  T told us as we walked to church with him the first time that he would go to church every week the rest of his life (he's 11), and so far he's made good on his word.  M, another son of V is scheduled to be baptised this month as well, because he missed his baptismal interview and we had to postpone it.  He's been fellowshipping other nonmembers and encouraging them to come to church as well, though he's only 15.  D, the father of the home, is from the Czech Republic, and is a really good guy.  He's quick at understanding the scriptures and doctrine, and we're working with him to help him give up smoking so that he can join his family.  Across the street from them live some recent converts (R and D) who have come teaching with us for more than half of our lessons there, and have provided a great influence for good with the family.

Those are just a small piece of the miracles going on here in the Sheffield 4 branch, and there are many more to come.  Thanks for the pictures and email, I look forward to hearing about the miracles in your letter.  I sent you a picture, too--what do you think about my hat?  I like it :) .  Talk to you next week, and I love you all lots!

Mojou laskou,
Starsi Brown

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Hey mom and dad!  Thanks for the email and pictures, it's always good to see the family.  You're right, I have a couple of buddies in that picture!  It's a hard area they're serving in right now, I think the branch has 0 active members (that's what Elder Jardine said). 

This week's been a really good one with a lot of interesting things and a lot of big changes in the zone.   Elder DeShazer got moved for his last transfer to Rotherham, and I got made district leader in his stead.  So I'm training and district leader at the same time...it's a lot of stress and responsibility, and I honestly don't need any more stress, but I trust God to know what he's doing.  I'm also really going to miss Elder DeShazer a lot.  He's a great guy and is one of my best friends out here in the mission.  Elder Williams is now going to be with Elder Misselvitz, an English-speaking missionary from Germany.  It's a lot of stress on him as well because it means he doesn't have any language support anymore while teaching.  Also I'll be driving within a couple of weeks; I have to take some driving lessons, so I have to pay for that out of my personal funds.  It's like £46 an hour, and I'll have probably 4 hours minimum worth of lessons.  After $100 spent out of my personal funds the mission will reimburse expenses, but initially I have to pay it out of my personal funds, so I need you to move some money into my card's account.  I'm not sure exactly how much but probably so that there's $350 there or so.

I'm about out of time now, so I'll write this week's miracles in the letter I'm working on for you.  Sorry about that :( . This email's a little shorter this week because I've been talking to some Slovaks who happened to be here at the library today (there's a miracle for you--I've never seen any here before!).  I also have to write more to the mission president now with my new calling.   So I'll finish up here, but know that I love you so much.  You're the best family on the planet, and I can't begin to express my gratitude for you.  Keep being the amazing people you are, you're a light to the world and to me :) .

Love, as always,
Elder Brown

D's Baptism

Zach translating at stake conference.  This is the Slovak section.

Some rest for the weary.