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

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mailbox Letter!

Dear Family,

It's me again.  The only one who writes you handwritten letters... it's kind of funny about that.  I don't know that handwritten letters are very commonly sent nowadays except between missionaries and their families.  Interesting fun fact:  as of March, it's been a year since I got my mission call.  I didn't remember it being such a long gap between that and my entering the MTC.  Mother's Day is coming up in not too long here, so I'll be talking to you face to face pretty soon.  England faked me out a bit ago- I saw a sign announcing Mother's Day as Sunday March 30th, and this was about a day or two after I'd already emailed you.  I was like, "Great, I haven't made any arrangements for that or told my mom anything."  Then I started thinking about it and I remembered Mother's Day for us in the USA is in May, so then I was fine, but it had me going for a minute.

Congratulations to Grammy and Papa for their new calling as ward missionaries!  It means we're adding even more missionary strength to our family.  :)  I love it!  I know many miracles I see out here are a result of the prayers of everyone at home.  I was able to recover from the chicken pox relatively quickly which certainly was influenced greatly by your prayers.

You mentioned going around to the English temples when you come pick me up, and I've got to say that I'd love that.  I miss the temple a lot and I'm glad we went a bunch before I left.

I know what you mean about needing a project, Dad.  When I didn't have anything to do while I had the chicken pox I was going crazy.  You said you have more to dig though...what more could you possible have left to dig up?  I have always thought it would be cool to have a moat around the house, of course.

I liked your story about following the promptings of the Spirit before the colorguard competition, Mom.  It was pretty good because it made a big difference for Jaalah and her team.  Way to go, Mom!  You are also doing a lot of great things for the Youth Council which is a lot of work.  That kind of service doesn't go unrewarded by our Heavenly Father, and I know you're also a blessing to all of those kids.

I also like how you are studying Christlike attributes with me, mom.  I've been studying knowledge for awhile now but I think I'll change it soon.  I'm not sure to what yet, but it'll be fairly soon here.  In the email I just sent you I told you about the baptisms from the past couple weeks, but I didn't have time to tell you about some other miracles that I wanted to.  I like to share these experiences for so many reasons, but there are a few main ones.  I want to bring hope to everyone that cares to read that there are still people on this earth going in good directions and doing good things.  There is a great deal of darkness and evil all around and it's only intensifying, but so is God's work.  Miracles still happen.  People are changing for the better.  The Lord is establishing His kingdom everywhere and it is no small thing.  I have stories and miracles more than I can even tell you, and what I'm doing is only a fraction of what is going on all over the world.  I also want you to know that you as my parents did things right with me.  The fruits that are coming as a result of my decision to serve can be directly linked to a couple of people who decided to raise a family in God's way.  I want to show you what effect you've had on the world through me.  I want you to see how much I love God and His children and what comes of it.  Keeping those two commandments will bring more souls unto God than any other.  I also want you to recognize that it's not limited to missionaries either.  The vast majority of the miracles I share have come about thanks to the efforts of members of the church, most recent converts, and even non-members who are making their way towards God.  I want my words to you to inspire, encourage, uplift, and bring the spirit.  I want you to be just as much a part of this experience as I am.

Let me tell you about S.  S was baptized not too long before I arrived here, maybe a month or so.  His children have one by one followed his example, and he continually supports and encourages his wife to do the same.  A few weeks ago he had the opportunity to go to the temple and do baptisms in Preston, along with a handful of other amazing recent converts.  All of them had the greatest experience there and loved it.  They of course told everyone about their experience there and how beautiful the temple is, and S was no exception.  However, he didn't just stop there.  The spiritual exuberance  led him to have a friend over with him one day when we came to teach a lesson with him, expecting the usual family members to be present.  To our surprise, S introduces us to his friend, D, and starts telling him about the gospel.  The time we spent there was probably half taken up by S emphatically bearing his testimony about various foundational principles of the gospel.  By the time we had to leave, S asked his friend if he wanted to walk to church with him on Sunday as well as start having us over.  D asked us if doing the things we'd talked about would make him happier and help him with his personal problems in life.  We told him from our hearts and speaking from our own personal experiences that it indeed would.  He agreed to come to church and have us over, and we left utterly amazed at the boldly heartfelt sharing of the gospel that had just come from S.  A few days later, guess who came to church?  D with his 9 year old son!

Some of you (probably mom especially) might be surprised to know that I've gotten fairly decent at cooking.  Eggs, pasta, mushrooms and pancakes.  I'm branching out from the frozen foods I was living off for a long time.  It's probably healthier.  The main reason I didn't bother before was because of time constraints, but I found out that I can put together a meal of pasta, sauce, mushrooms and grapes in about 15 minutes, so that's not a problem anymore.

We found a little place to play basketball in the mornings for exercise that's a 3 minute run from our flat, tops.  We're getting a basketball today so that will be a lot more fun than doing hundreds of crunches.  It's really hard to find motivation to do that in the morning.  Doable, but difficult.  Basketball is a much better option.

I wanted to thank you for the extra little note you sent me the other week, mom.  You're right, I had a lot of stress from the many new demands placed upon me, and it was really uplifting to read what you wrote.  Thank you very much for that.  :)

I have a goal for myself to translate for General Conference after I get home, and I am continually working hard to expand my fluency further and further.  My vocabulary level is growing increasingly more complex, which I thoroughly enjoy.  The language is natural to me now and doesn't feel uncomfortable for me to speak and I just love it.  I can't really do much with French now having not used it for awhile.  Foreign language mode form my brain is completely wired to Slovak, so French requires a lot of effort for even simple phrases.  I'll pick it back up when I get home though.  Still, Slovak by my standard is the best language other than English currently spoken.

As always I close with my deep and abiding love for all you members of my family.  It's such a powerful and special thing we have among us, and I'm so glad to have you all be such a large part of my life and to have the chance to be a part of yours.  The best part is that it lasts forever.  :)

Elder Zach Brown

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