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

Monday, September 29, 2014

Reactivation and a Fireside

Hi mom and dad :) .  Thanks for the email and inspiring picture.  I'll be sure not to fly into any glass doors this week.  There was a baptism this week (M) from Elders Williams and Pohorelicky, and I was taking the pictures, not having them taken of me.  I'll see if he can send me the pictures or something.  Thanks for the package, I can't wait to get it :) .  Any mail puts a positive spin on any day.  Even the food advertisments.

This week has been good, and has involved shifting some of our focuses.  We've been working more with the members and less-actives, trying to really lift them up and imbue them with some strength to endure trials and such.  It's been a lot of work, but there have been some great miracles.  One of them was with the mission President's fireside on Sunday evening.  We invited tons of people and many commited, but only 4 ended up coming.  Three daughters of a member couple came with us by bus, and F from Rotherham came with Bro. N.  He's the one who was the first branch wedding we had, and he's so solid.  He has like 3 different hard-labor jobs, but he still comes to church even if he's dead tired after working all night.  He absolutely loved the fireside, and then got to meet President Pilkington and shake his hand.  It was an inspiring meeting for him, and the whole car ride home he was telling us how he knows this church is true and that people need to take it more seriously than they do.  He said you don't find people like this just anywhere, and that it's something to be treasured.  What an amazing man.  The three daughters (one who's investigating, one who's a recent convert, and one who's like 6) made the effort to even come to the fireside early. We as missionaries had to be there to practice a song an hour early, and these three came that early with us so they would know the way.  It was some real dedication, and they all enjoyed the fireside as well.  I wish more people had come, but those who came left spiritually filled, uplifted, and content.  We've also been working with a less active man who is planning on coming back to church in a couple months time.  He wants to work some things out with where his life's at first, but then he wants to start coming back to church.  In the meantime, we're working with him, keeping in contact and striving to uplift him and give him strength to overcome some big challenges.  He would have a big impact on many other people if he were to return to activity, so we're really hoping he keeps going strong with these changes.

Those are two of the highlisghts, and this week we'll be working hard again to finally bring a full room of people to church.  I love you very much and keep you in my prayers as I strive to build God's kingdom here.  When you see blessings in your lives, let me know about them because I know they're coming.

Elder Brown

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nine Scheduled Baptisms!

Hi mom and dad :)

This week's been really successful with our teaching, finding, and scheduling.  We currently have nine people scheduled for baptism, four of which we gave dates this week.  Each one of them has a unique story about how it led to that (it's four people and three different households), so I really don't have the space to tell you about it here.  I'll go for a brief-but-awesome summary.  The first is an 18-year-old who moved to Darnall about two weeks ago from Slovakia.  One of our other scheduled investigators is friends with him and referred him to us, so we took her with us to the lesson and it went great.  He accepted the baptismal challenge straight away as well as a date, and he seems really excited about everything.  The next is a lady Elder Frahm and I found a long, long time ago but never were able to teach because of various reasons (including that she was NEVER home), but she recently moved to a different house.  She's friends with one of our other investigators who lives on the street she moved to, which was a really good common ground to talk about.  Throughout the whole lesson about the Restoration I could see her connecting with thing after thing that we were saying, the Spirit of God really lighting her up.  She was so happy by the time we left, and she also accepted a baptismal date.  The last two, who we scheduled yesterday, are the wife and daughter of a member in Doncaster.  They both have been taught for a while now, and they both love the Book of Mormon and have testimonies about it.  Our lesson was about that, and in the end we tied it to what they needed to do because of it.  The mother accepted the challenge first, and then her daughter did as well.  Also in the home is a couple who also wants to be baptized but just need to get married first.  In other words, we're teaching some really great people who want to do some great things.  The absolute biggest focus we have is to get them to church, which is something we're praying, fasting, working, and teaching for with all the tools we can.  Hopefully we see some resulting attendance.

Thank you for your prayers.  They were very much heard this week.  I thought about it through the whole week that someone must be praying really hard for us and our people, because miracles have been flowing in earnest.  I'll have to let you read my journal about it sometime.  Thank you so much.  I love you with all my heart and pray for you as well.  Look for the return blessings, because they're on their way.

Love you!
Elder Brown

Monday, September 15, 2014

Many Difficulties but Plenty of Good

Hey mom and dad :) .   

I don't know if I like how transfers went.  My companion is still the same as last transfer, which is really good because I like him and couldn't handle a difficult companion on top of everything else.  There are a lot of struggles in the branch right now, and a huge portion of the load falls on me.  There are many things out here I never thought I'd ever encounter on my mission, but there it is.  By the way, Leeds (where Elder Frahm got sent) is really far away from here, so anyone found and taught there won't be a part of this branch.

In spite of the many difficulties and challenges we face, there have also been plenty of good things to be grateful for.  We taught a lot of lessons this week, scheduled some surprise people for baptism, and found some new people to teach in both Sheffield and Doncaster.  Church attendance was a huge disappointment (easily the most difficult commitment to get people to keep), but the rest of the week was pretty successful.  In one lesson in the Gleadless area of Sheffield we were teaching a lesson with some people we found there a while back when their 22-year-old son came in, who we'd not taught before.  He stood there for a bit, listening, then sat down.  He asked us why so many people said bad things about this church, and this led into a really good conversation.  He listened well and asked further questions that were also quite good, in the end telling us about an experience he'd had with another church (the one preaching against us).  Basically, the pastor of that faith showed up at their house one day before church and verbally forced L (the name of the guy we were talking to) to come.  Immediately upon entering the building, L felt terrible about the atmosphere and things that were going on there, so he ran outside and walked all the way home alone in the dark.  He asked me what that was, and I explained that it was God warning him to leave, and that he'd done well in following the prompting.  L listened more to what we taught, and when we invited him to be baptized, he readily agreed, accepting a date as a goal as well.

We also ended up scheduling the 25-ish year old brother of a lady we scheduled a couple of weeks back, which was a total surprise.  We went there with Brother N to teach her, but she wasn't home and her brother was, so we started teaching him.  Our Elder's quorum president wandered into the lesson partway through and ended up bearing great testimony of baptism.  Also present was Ludo's (the one we were teaching's) father, who was baptized back in December, and he was a fantastic support as well.  God was there in strength, so it felt quite right to offer him the baptismal invitation as well, which he accepted, and then accepted a date as well to work towards.  In essence, good things are happening in our teaching, but we need people to be taking steps of their own by doing things like coming to church.  That's what we're really working for and having a hard time coming up with results, so we'll keep pursuing that as best we can.

This week's been busy, but it's been good as well.  I know God will help us with the things we need as long as we keep striving to do and be our best.  Thank you for your prayers; they are heard by God and felt by me.  I'm so grateful for you, and I love you very much.  I look forward to reading your letters :) . 

Love you lots!
Elder Brown

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Big Changes and a Full Planner

Ahoj, mom and dad :) .  You're right, this is transfer week, and holy cow!  Things got crazy.  Elder Sindylek is going home, so Elder Williams will finish training Elder Pohorelicky in Rotherham, leaving the flat we've been together in our whole mission.  Elder Frahm got transfered to the Leeds 3 area to build a Slovak area there--that one was a huge shock to us all.  He'll be in a tripanionship, which means he'll for sure be training the new MTC-trained Slovak-speaking missionary coming in mid-transfer.  What does this mean for me?  I'm all of a sudden in a 2-man flat, the area Elder Williams and Elder Frahm have been covering now has to be absorbed into either our area or Elder Pohorelicky's, and I'm losing my mission father (E. Sindylek), twin (E. Williams), and son (E. Frahm) all in one fell blow.  Dang.  This'll be a really interesting transfer.  We're trying to get things arranged for the Rotherham Elders to get a car, because that way I don't have to take on an entire area (leaving me to cover two entire large cities and 14 individual areas by myself) and Elder Williams can continue teaching his investigators.  Crazy stuff, but I'm sure it'll all work out.

Aside from all that, our week has been really good.  We've found some good success both finding and teaching in all of our areas, which is fantastic.  I've never had so many potentials in my planner--I've got the rest of this week to try and fill the last page available, because that's what I'm on.  We scheduled a couple more people for baptism this week, and as for the others who were all previously scheduled, they all still are.  We had to reschedule a couple of them because they needed a bit more time, but they'll come around soon enough.  I'll send you pictures when it happens.  Our last branch baptism from a while back ,Pavol and Margita, came to church this week after a couple weeks of missing, which was fantastic to see. Margita's doing a lot of missionary work with her friends and family, and she also brought a lot of great thoughts up in Relief Society.  Hooray!  It's always great to see things like that happening.

That's all I've got time for this week (sorry for the shorter email, I had a lot more to read from other people's emails this week).   Thank you for all of your love and support.  It makes the hard times easier and the good times better.  I'm excited to hear from you next week and tell you what this new one has brought for me.  Love you much!!

Elder Brown

My current mission family

Elder Sindylek's last week at church group picture.

Us with the Sheffield 2 Elders, one of which is leaving the zone

Monday, September 1, 2014

Doncaster, Darnall and Amazing Things

Hi mom and dad :) .  Thanks for the pictures and email.  I'm glad you liked the letter--I thought the beer story was funny too, but I wasn't sure if it would be as funny on paper.  I'm glad it gave you a laugh.

I have to say, this week has held some amazing things.  Doncaster has picked up a bit, us finally getting a couple of lessons out of the loads of potentials we've street contacted.  The very first lesson ended up being one where we scheduled the lady for baptism, which is a fantastic sign.  The second lesson was with a guy who's basically an assistant pastor or something, and he was actually really receptive and willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it (which is extremely uncommon from people of that kind of religious position).  He could make a way awesome fellowshipper for people there.  I have also been really impressed by one of our Darnall investigators, who's progressing very well towards her batismal date.  I have a lot of admiration for the effort she's putting in, and God will be blessing her a great deal for it.  I have learned a lot about different styles of finding people the past couple weeks, thanks to the different nature of the people of the Doncaster area we're in.  The approaches I used in Darnall don't work very well, but I quickly found some ways that do work. 

I'm also pleased to report that nobody believes that I'm American when I tell them, one man saying I speak better Slovak than he does.  Then another guy was floored by my ability to speak a little Roma, half-jokingly asking me if I wanted a gypsy girlfriend, pointing at a couple of girls next to him (which I obviously turned down).  

We also were able to visit a family that recently moved into the Sheffield 1 ward (we're in Sheffield 4) from Portugal who were having a rough time.  President Pilkington gave us specific instruction to go visit them (Elder Moreira being Portugese) to help lift their spirits.  It was a great visit--they're super friendly and were overjoyed to see us.  They spoke in Portugese the whole time with Elder Moreira, but I was remembering bits of Spanish all over the place, speaking it a bit and understanding a bit as well, able to make a few connections to what they were saying to French.  It was actually kind of crazy.  I never put a specific effort into learning Spanish in any way, yet I was able to keep track of where the conversation was and say a couple things once in a while.  I think it's safe to say that I've seen God blessing me with the gift of tongues in several ways, having it come to special light this week.
Things will be pretty interesting this week with things that are coming, so I'll look forward to letting you know about it.  As for now, I've got to go, but remember that I love you very much.  You're the absolute best, so don't forget it!

Love you much,
Elder Brown