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

Monday, June 23, 2014

Follow the Spirit- Great Things Will Come

Hi mom and dad :) .  I did get the package, and thank you very much for that.  We are enjoying the new variety of music added to our meager collection, and are all quite grateful.  The contacts are all good, but I don't know how safe they are in my hands... ha

Thanks for the quote from Bruce R. McKonkie, it's a great thought about missionary work.  You're right about us being far apart right now, but it's only for a short time.  In God's eyes it's the tiniest of moments anyway.  But at the same time, it's doing so much to change me.  I am a different person than when I left, and I will be even more changed by the time I arrive back.  It's one of the miracles of being a missionary :) .

This week has been full of some crazy miracles in finding people who are interested in the gospel.  As you know, we work with Slovaks of the Roma cluture, because that's all that we really find.  Once in a blue moon we've met true Slovaks, but they've never been at all interested.  This week, however, we've found two different homes of such Slovaks in two different places that turned out to be absolute miracles.  Elder Misselwitz and have been doing some different finding than has been ever done among the Slovak-speaking missionaries--knocking doors in largely English (or ideally mixed-culture) neighborhoods and asking them and people on the street if they know of any Slovakian people in the area.  Well, this has resulted in us digging up a few Roma families (including a really great Hungarian Roma family this week--they've got to be some of the friendliest people I've ever met; these ones didn't try to offer me their daughter, either), but this week we found a home through this method with a bunch of non-Roma Slovaks.  When we first knocked on the door after being directed to it by someone who thought they might've been Polish, nobody answered.  As we were about to turn and leave, a young couple came around the corner to the house we were standing at.  After asking them where they were from, I was a bit shocked to find out they were Slovak!  The girl went inside, but I talked to the guy for a good amount of time, in the end setting up a return appointment in spite of a very busy work schedule.  But that's not the only miracle to do with such Slovaks.  One day, as we were on our way to contact a potential in Attercliffe, we passed a couple of guys listening to some decent music blasting really loud from a fantastic car sound system.  After we'd passed them, I had the thought that on the way back I should compliment them on the system and music, asking what band it was.  I did so, and as I spoke to the guys (who I'd intitially thought were English), I detected a distinctly Eastern European accent.  Asking them where they're from, they answered Slovakia, resulting in a conversation that led to them inviting us over anytime.  (P.S. Dad--the band name is Pioneer, and it had a good sound that I think you'd like ;) ).  Following a little prompting to compliment some people on their music led to finding Slovakian people in the unlikeliest of places who are willing to hear what we have to say.  I can't stress enough how unique these situations are.  These kind of miracles haven't happened before in this branch.  Follow the Spirit at all times in all the littlest things--great things will come.

Here are some pictures from the baptism on Saturday.  It was a great day :)

That's what I wanted to share today :) .  Thanks for your love and support, you have mine always with you as well.  Have fun in California, I'll stay here in the same place where I'll be for another year.  Ha.  Love you lots!
Elder Brown

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Extra, Extra! It's a Handwritten Letter!

Dear Family,

Thank you so much for writing me letters.  It is a real comfort to open a letter from home.  I am very distanced from everything out here, and every connection to you is supremely precious.  I'm glad you're doing things together even though things are so busy.  Going to concerts, performances, movies, family get-togethers- it's all good to hear about.  It means my family is strong and maintains love and unity, and that's something not enough families do.  Thank you for that.

I like how mom mentioned that you're reading Bible stories now as a family on Sunday's.  It's close to my own studies of the scriptures.  For awhile I've been making my way through the Old Testament and though my rate of progression has slowed a lot since the added time restraints of being a district leader were given to me, I still continue to learn a great deal from it.  I was familiar with the well-known stories and verses, but there is much more besides that I've never studied before.  I'll soon be finishing Psalms, and I'm certain I'll continue to find great things.  The later sections of the Doctrine and Covenants are still my favorites out of anything though, so I'm not sure if the last half of the Old Testament will top it.  I guess I'll have to read and see.  :)

I'm writing this letter on P-day (well, P-day is actually over but Elder Misslewitz is throwing up pretty bad so I had to cancel our plans for the day).  I actually had a decent stroke of luck while we were at the Allen's house.  Their garage is full of flogged missionary clothes from all over the mission that have built up over time in various flats but have now been gathered to the Allen's garage.  There was loads of stuff, and for some reason Elder Misselwitz was really interested in finding something he could wear, so I figured I may as well take a look through it while I waited for him.  I was looking through some suits and found a jacket that fit really well so I checked the pants that went with it.  The waist was one size down from what I usually wear but I tried it out just in case.  Turns out, I've lost weight out here and the lower size fit me fine.  Now I have a new suit (I believe it's English too, which are much better than the American ones) for free and it looks pretty good.  Score!  I don't have to waste a P-day doing extra shopping nor do I have to spend any money.  I like it!  I was kind of needing a new suit anyway because our mission president recently sent out a ruling that suits are to be worn at all times except in the maybe three days of summer where it actually gets hot enough to warrant white shirts and ties only.  Two suits for 24/7 use is a bit insufficient so this was a pretty needed blessing.

I filled my first journal this last week and I must say that it's now one of my most treasured possessions.  I have learned so very much from keeping it.  Many priceless memories are captured by my pen on it's pages.  I'm also able to see how much I've grown already by flipping back once in a while to read older entries.  I know when mom has shared entries from her journal about me at a young age I've always thoroughly enjoyed hearing them (even if they were sometimes completely embarrassing).  I think it would be fun sometime when I get back to get together for Family Home Evening and share some good journal moments from each of our own journals.

I'm quite exhausted all of the time (which I have none of) but I can't complain because it means I'm helping get a lot of good things done, and that's what I signed up to do.  I would only be worried if I was well-rested and had nothing to do.  Some of the time investments that I make are ones I don't have to do but choose to do knowing it will bless my future.  Others are ones I could make excuses not to do, but if done I better fulfill my responsibilities and build others up.  My time is completely prioritized and by doing this, I make every second count.

I'm about out of paper so as always, I'll close with my love for you all.  You are always in my prayers and often in my lessons that I teach because I both love and admire each and every one of you.  I love hearing from you whenever you write- it's my connection to the family I'm to be with forever.  Please keep being loving, keep being together.  Laugh, hug, smile together!  Keep the Love!!  Love for each other, love for God and His plan.

Elder Zachary Brown

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

New Work in Manor

Hey mom and dad!  We had transfer calls and such, so Monday is a normal proselyting day and p-day gets moved to Tuesday.  This happens every six weeks, but I'm sorry I forgot to tell you.  It's easy to forget little things like that when I have so much else to tell you about.  There's nothing new in the Slovak branch transfer-wise; all the companionships stayed the same.  It's a bit weird because we were all expecting at least Elder Krylborne (Elder Sindylek's current companion) to move or get dropped from zone leader because this is his last transfer.  President has made that a bit of a norm--drop zone and district leaders a transfer or two before they go home.  We're happy to have him stay, though--he's a great guy.  Elder Misselwitz is also on his last transfer now, so this next one I'll be with someone else (we'll see who).  We also know that next transfer Elder Sindylek will be training the new Czech native coming the end of July, so he'll for sure be dropped from zone leader.  Lots of changes are coming next transfer, but this one's pretty lacking news-wise.  I'm glad you got my letter--I do my best to get those written often.  It's pretty hard, to be honest, but I love writing them.  I don't get to use my writing skills here as much as I like, but there are outlets--preparing instruction for my district, writing in my journal, and writing letters.

This week's been pretty crazy.  We've had a ton of work to do going around supporting members and investigators in Darnall because there's lately been a huge surge of anti-church people showing up and trying to destroy all the good that's going on here.  It's quite a lot to handle, but God's on our side, and these people who are staying firm in the church are so strong and truly amaze me.  They will be (and are) so blessed for their faithfulness and steadfastness.

As for the new work we've begun doing in the Manor and Manor Top areas, it's progressing very well.  There's a family in both of those areas that are very good, and we've had some very strong lessons with them this week.  One of those lessons was just yesterday after district meeting.  It was our second time being in the family's home, and so we spoke with them for a bit.  Most of the things they were saying pointed toward a need for us to talk about the message of the Restoration of the church, so we began to teach about that.  As the progression of events in our message were unfolded to them, they got quieter and quieter and more and more still.  By the time I shared the story of the First Vision and where the Book of Mormon and priesthood authority came from, the Holy Ghost had filled the room with gentle strength, pressing on their hearts to tell them that what we spoke was true.  They gladly and gratefully accepted a Book of Mormon, and the woman began flipping through the pages with a smile touching her lips.  They also accepted the invitation to be baptized if they came to know from God through prayer and reading the Book of Mormon that what we had taught was true.  I left that house completely at peace in my heart, knowing that the Spirit had testified through us and that we had fulfilled our calling with them that day.  I love lessons like this and people like this--willing to listen, open to ask God, and happy to walk His path.  These things are what bring me joy out here doing what I'm doing.  I love it.

This weekend there will be the baptism of R, who was married the other week, along with two of his kids.  He and I had connected really well when Elder Sindylek and I first began teaching him, and he was ready for baptism for a long time, just needing to get married.  He wants me to baptize him, by which I am honored.  This is another one of those joys of missionary work--when someone's changed their life to follow God by being baptized.  Being able to perform the baptism for him adds even more sweetness to that day.  He'll be a strong man and builder of the kingdom the rest of his life.  I know because he already is such.

Those were a couple of the biggest joys this week has brought, and I'm really excited for what this week will bring to follow.  Love you lots, and I'll write you next week :) .

Starsi Brown

Elder Brown, Elder Allen, Elder Misselwitz and friend

Monday, June 9, 2014

100% Diligence

Hi mom and dad :) .Thanks for the picture of Tamsyn, I got you all some pictures this week from some of the stuff I've been up to.  I will get your letter off to you this week 100%--I literally have half a page left to write.  Thank you for the CDs, our music selection recently got limited to MoTab-style only, so everyone else's supply of music has become unapproved.  Leaving us with my skimpy supply of one album of MoTab ha.  The farewell meeting for the missionaries returning home sounds pretty cool--we don't do anything like that here.  We don't even do departing testimonies among us missionaries in the zone conferences anymore.  I really did like the birthday package, though.  I'm already a good bit into the journal you sent, and most of the food has been devoured.  Plus Mike Wazowski lives again for now, and our other Flatscots are overjoyed about that.

This week was pretty crazy full of things we've been doing, and it's all been really productive and really good.  One big highlight is that we're working with J again, and he's coming back around.  That's a big miracle that we're really grateful for.  President Pilkington came to sacrament meeting on Sunday with his wife, and they did a fantastic job with their talks.  Sister Pilkington had prepared a small but impressive testimony in Slovak that she moved half of the people to tears with (both men and women), and everybody was dead silent while President spoke, eyes riveted on him and scarcely breathing.  From the youngest child to the oldest man, all eyes and ears were on him.  Not even the young men or women were even slightly bored.  That's saying something.  I absolutely love hearing President speak--he's got a fantastic presence about him that just pulls everyone's focus to what he's saying.  That Sunday we (all the missionaries in the Slovak branch) had also been praying really hard for sunshine because we wanted everyone possible to make it to church.  That morning was probably the sunniest one out of the last two months, and we walked rain-free to church.  Prayer works, what can I say? 

We've begun teaching some of the people we've been finding in the Manor area, and things are going well there.  We also have found another area (Manor Top), where we tried a brief bit of finding before the wedding of R and R.  We had finished District Leader Specialized Training and got out a bit later than expected.  Our plans included doing an hour of finding and then coming back to the chapel for language study before the wedding, but with getting out late, we ended up with only about 25 minutes left for finding.  Counting in travel time to the area we wanted to try and back again, it left us with less than 10 minutes to actually walk around.  It was raining, and I'd forgotten my umbrella at the flat, so it was a little tempting to help set up for the wedding or something to not have to go out for a seemingly meaningless 10 minutes, but we went out anyway, figuring we would at least be diligent with our time.  After we got off the bus in the area, we walked down an alley and at the very end of the alley coming our direction was a woman who looked Slovak.  I stopped her and spoke with her for a couple minutes, and ended up with her address and a return appointment for this week.  Soaked, we walked around for a few minutes and then went back to the chapel.  Those 10 minutes in the rain proved the concept of giving your all and being blessed in return true.  We also now know that Slovaks live in that area, and we weren't sure before.  This was a fantastic miracle, and it confirms my testimony of 100% diligence all of the time.
That's all I've got time for, but I love you lots and hope you have a great week!
Elder Brown

The food is some chocolate pancakes I made (using hot cocoa powder) with chocolate frosting and bananas on top.

From the wedding; it was a great day :)

Monday, June 2, 2014


Hi mom and dad :) .  Thanks for the package, I really liked it.  That notebook case you sent was actually exactly the thing I was looking for these past few weeks, and I have no idea how you found it.  Kudos on that one, inspiration while gift shopping works!  Thanks for the contact lenses.  We do have means of listening to CDs in our flat, and new variety would be much appreciated :) .  Thank you :) .

This week's been pretty long and difficult because of a lot of things, but that didn't stop the miracles from happening.  Unfortunately, our investigator dropped us two days before his baptism, which was obviously really rough.  It was over the phone, so it made it difficult to try and help the situation.  At the time that I spoke to him, however, we were actually in a neighborhood doing some finding.  This neighborhood has been largely untouched by missionaries from the Slovak side of things, and things started off pretty slowly.  We had looked at some maps and decided to go there, and in the beginning we were just asking everyone if they knew of any Slovakian people living in the area.  At first it was just flat out "no"s, but we kept pushing farther into the area.  We started getting vague answers and small clues of places we might try, so we followed the unspecific directions as best we could.  It was a bit like playing hot and cold, and eventually we started getting very specific instructions.  We'd knock on doors and English people would answer who would immediately be "not bothered", but we'd hurriedly ask if the knew of any Slovaks around.  For some reason they'd usually actually try and think of some with honest effort, and we got some specific doors to try that ended up having Slovak families living there.  We didn't get to teach any of them yet, but just a few hours spent doing some digging turned up some good results.  We'll be going back there very soon.  The reason we didn't return already was because I was sick Friday night through SundaySaturday being literally slept away in an attempt to recover.  I did go to church in spite of continued illness on Sunday.  It's a good thing, too, because a bunch of people who wouldn't have made it otherwise were able to come.  There was some construction going on on the tram lines, so the usual stop was changed, and nobody would've known without me calling them upon finding the posted papers and telling them.  Thus, that sacrifice wasn't in vain.  After church I had to go home because I was feeling pretty lousy, but I'm back up and running now.  This week's set up to be pretty good, I think, and I'm feeling optimistic about the new area we've opened up.  We also received news that a new native Czech missionary has been called to this mission, so we're really excited for him.  He won't come until later this year, but it's a good thing he's coming because Elder Sindylek will soon be leaving.

That's all I've got time for today, so I'll wrap things up.  I love you very much, and I know that God's part in our family is inexpressibly instrumental.  We have a strong bond of love between all of us, and it's centered in our faith in truth.  Have an amazing week, you're always in my prayers :) .

Elder Brown