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

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's His Work, We Need Not Be Afraid

Hello, mum and dad :) !  They don't say "mom" here in England, apparently it's quite American.  As for my health, I'm still sick because it turns out I have the flu, not just your ordinary cold.  Doctors here are rubbish.  All they do, no matter the illness, is tell you to rest, drink fluids, and take paracetamol.  Ok.  Still, though I had some rough patches this week, I'm doing a bit better now and we were still able to get some good things done.  I'm coughing a lot, but I'm breathing fine thanks to the inhaler.  

Transfers proved to be interesting again.  I've lost dear old Elder Moreira, who was sent off to Grimsby (the name doesn't make it sound very happy--good luck to him haha) and my new companion is Elder Vogli, from Albania.  He was in the Sheffield 1 ward for nine months when he first got into the mission (not long after I arrived), so he's quite familiar with the area and we already knew each other.  Now he's here in Sheffield 4 with me and the Slovaks, so it'll be good.  He arrived on Saturday and bore a short testimony on Sunday at church in Slovak and introduced himself (his name and where he's from) all day in Slovak as well, so he's doing very well already.  He's quite energetic and without a doubt totally Albanian (if you know any, you'll know what I mean--I've become acquainted with several Albanian missionaries during my mission).  One of our zone leaders also left to a different area, so there are two new people in the flat now.  We all get along well, and I think it'll be a fun transfer.  The flat itself is just fine, though I do prefer the one I was in before.  The toilet room is so tiny that we can barely step in and manage to squeeze the door shut.  I guess they can't ever send anyone very large to this flat--they'd never make it out of the toilet after getting in ha.

One of our biggest miracles this week was a continuation of one from last week.  Remember the non-gypsy Slovak who came to church last week with one of our members?  Well, we had a lesson with him this week and it went fantastic.  We basically taught about the Restoration after getting to know him and all, and he definitely felt the Spirit throughout it.  He'd already read a bit from the Book of Mormon, having recieved one from the member who brought him to church, and had no problem agreeing to keep reading and pray to know if it's true.  Not only that, but he accepted a baptismal date to work toward, and is now scheduled!  He came to church again this week as well, this time making his own way (the member he came with last time had to go to work this Sunday).  Another miracle was with one of our scheduled investigators; he passed his baptismal interview on Friday!  This means he should be having his baptism this Saturday, and we're all excited for him.  He made it to church again as well, showing some good dedication.  He had until now caught a ride with the branch president, but the van was full this week, so he had to find a different way.  Instead of using this as an excuse not to come, he agreed to come with us by bus even though it hadn't been previously planned on and we had a very small amount of time to actually get to the bus stop.  This week at church our Elder's quorum president and his wife brought their new-to-England relative to church for the first time as well, and we'll be going by there this week to teach them (she enjoyed church a lot).  In additon to these people we've found a few other new people (also all in the Darnall area) through various other methods.  Though there is a lot to deal with right now to keep the branch afloat, God is providing miracle after miracle, showing us that this is His work and we need not be afraid.  Rather, we'll keep working our hardest and we know good things will happen.

I love you very much, and I'm so grateful for all of your support, but most of all your love.  You're the best parents for me in the world, but I think you already know that.  If not, now you do :) .  Write you next week!

Elder Brown

Monday, October 20, 2014

Moving and Miracles

Hi mom and dad :) .  This week has been a good one, but pretty crazy at the same time.  I've been sick for the past for few days with a cold which unexpectedly triggered asthmatic symptoms (which haven't bothered me for the longest time until now--I think because of the lack of sports thanks to recent rules banning them [a bunch of missionaries went and got injured :p]).  I didn't have a working inhaler, so I got one on Saturday and that improved things a lot.  I'm on the uphill now, and we kept working through the sickness anyway.  We also had to move to a new flat on short notice, which required a lot of time and effort on our part.  The zone leaders (who we now live with) and the assistants all helped us move.  I'm not sure how long we'll be at this address, as it's actually up for sale.  Just so you know.  Plus, this week will be transfers, so who knows what will happen. 

 I loved all the stories I recieved from you all, and I've begun translation of one (dad's).  They're fantastic!  I've highlighted parts of each story that I've liked, and will be sharing these examples with people I teach.  I already have been doing so.  Please thank everyone for me who's helping out with this.  I'm taking driving lessons every other week and haven't booked my test yet, but I should be doing that tomorrow.  I am working on a letter, but I am currently very behind with a lot of things because of moving and illness, so I can't promise it'll be out to you anytime soon.  Thanks for your pictures, though--I've sent a few to you.

One of the fantastic miracles we had this week was actually yesterday at church.  We had good attendance, first of all, (hooray!!) and then one of our members walks in (L, the 2nd counselor on the branch presidency) with a non-Roma, Slovak friend!  Have we ever had one at church like that before?  No!  He enjoyed the meetings and was glad to invite us over to see him later this week.  Way to go, L, and wow, what a miracle!  The non-Roma Slovaks are usually not as open to hearing about God as our beloved members are, so this was quite a good miracle to see.  Also this week we had some great lessons involved in encouraging members to write their conversion stories so we can make a book out of them, and we've had some very positive responses.  It's going to be a good book :) .  
One man we're working with who's preparing for baptism is doing absolutely brilliant.  It should be the first of November if things work out right, so we're excited with him.  He's waited a long time, unsure if it's something he should do or not, and he's decided and is ready now.  There's plenty of good news from this week, and we're ready for another successful week this time around to finish off this transfer strong.  Hopefully Elder Moreira will stick around with me for a while longer--he's a great help, looks like a gypsy, and makes work fun (just look at the picture I sent).  We'll see what happens, I guess.
Love you lots, and I'll catch you next week!

Elder Brown
P.S.  You're super awesome!

Monday, October 13, 2014

God Works in Mysterious Ways

Ahoj, mom and dad :).  

Thanks for the awesome responses to the email I sent you, this will be awesome.  I'll be using them for sure, and I may make it into a book translated into Slovak with my language study time--we'll see :) .  All the Slovak missionaries are supposed to be working on it, so it should be fantastic.  By the way, I passed my theory test this week for driving, so soon I'll be moving on to the actual driving test.  I'll let you know when I get an exact date on that.  I did get your package, which was quite good.  Thank you so much!  The fruit leather turned out great--you could be making money off of that.  I ate it all already.

This week was pretty awesome, if packed with a lot of extra meetings.  They did, however, do a load of good, and our branch has seen some great things from all the work and new ideas.  As you've gathered from the email I sent you, we're working on getting people inspired to action by using some things they've not encountered much of, then applying it to them.  Using the couple stories I already had heard and could remember about our ancestors, I've already been sharing a message about the effect people can have on their posterity.  Church attendance this week was up, including a less-active member and several of our investigators.  It was interesting to see that as we shifted our focus to sustaining the members and rejuvenating the less-actives this week, our investigators progressed along with the members.  We've also found a couple new people to teach thanks to the efforts of our amazing Slovak recent converts.  Lessons were down, but progression was up.  God works in mysterious ways. 

In Doncaster this week, the English missionaries had a baptism, and we wanted our investigators there to be able to come and see how it all is.  One of them ended up being able to come, and she absolutely loved it.  She told everyone that she was "very happy" (she has some decent English skills), and had a lot of other positive things to say.  This included telling me that if she gets baptized she would want me to baptize her, she'll come to church next week, and that my rendition of "Nearer, My God to Thee" (I've played around a bit with some of the hymns on the piano and have my own versions that I sometimes play during the prelude before meetings, which is what I did at this baptism) is just like something she sang in her church in Slovakia and that she loved it.  Wow.  Another one of our investigators in Doncaster who couldn't make it had us over for a lesson after the baptism.  It was the same one we had an outdoor lesson with the other week, so we did the same thing again and had similarly good results.  One of her neighbors came over at the end of the lesson, and we invited him to come pray with us.  Our investigator convinced him to say the prayer, and he ended up nearly in tears by the end.  He had previously gone to a different church, but left it after some things happened that he didn't like and hadn't prayed since.  He was so happy after this prayer that I think if he'd been smiling any wider, his eyes would've disappeared.  He's going to come over to her house from now on whenever we're teaching there, which has the added benefit of being able to go in the house since we'd not be alone with a woman.  Two of our investigators who came to church are now beginning to work with us to arrange their marriage, which should happen at the end next month if everything goes according to plan.  Their baptism would then follow in the weeks after sometime, and both we and them are excited for it.  One of the other people we're teaching who came to church is getting very close to his own baptismal date, so we were overjoyed to have him at there on Sunday.  This next week is sure to be filled with miracles as well, so we're praying, planning, and working hard to play our part in bringing God's children closer to Him.

Thanks for your help and love :) .  You're truly the best, so don't forget it!  Have a miracle filled week, too.

Elder Brown

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Special Project that Needs Your Help

Hiya, mom and dad :) .  I've just been in a special meeting with President Pilkington (our mission president), and he's given me some specific instructions to make an exception and e-mail you today.  We have been discussing some branch needs and have devolped a series of plans that we are now going to be implementing.  One of these involves compiling a book of people's conversion stories (including those who are less-active) and getting some excitement back into them. 

This extends even further, however.  We want them to realize what kind of legacy they are leaving for their descendants, and thus need some help from you.  We need the stories of those descendants of ours who had very humble beginnings.  They do not have to be church members.  We need the stories of how they began making decisions and choices that put their families in a better position for the future, leading down to us and the good standing we are currently in.  They were not electrical engineers, secretaries, nurses, businessmen for large corporations, or anything like unto it.  Rather, they would have been the lowest of social classes who desired a better future for those who came after them.  Farmers, factory workers, laborers.  We are here today with the oppurtunities we have thanks to them.  I need to know about them. 

Who are they?  Where are they from?  What did they do?  Why did they do it?  How does it connect to us and our oppurtunities that we now have?  How have you yourselves played a part in doing the same thing for your posterity?
I will be sharing these stories to these Slovak people here in England, showing them what an effect they can have on their families though the beginnings may be small.  We are showing them what their best efforts can actually do.

We have been instructed to e-mail you today so as to enable us to have this information by next Monday when we do our weekly e-mailing.  This is a way for you to become involved in a very close way with the work we are doing, and it's also an oppurtunity to learn of how we came to be so blessed.  Get the whole family involved in this, if you can.  Let everyone know for me (aunts, uncles, cousins included), and forward what you would like of this e-mail to them. 

This will play a huge part in building not just individual people but a whole nation that has for centuries been downtrodden and looked down upon.  We are giving them a chance at a better life, and over time this will change an entire culture of people's fate.  It all starts now, though, and we need the stories of those who did a similar thing for us.  Please help us out and get as many of these stories as you can to us by Monday, as we need to get this rolling as fast as possible.  You can continue in following weeks to send stories (I will print Monday's off from the computer, and can do so with following ones or they can be sent through the post), and I will gladly begin using them.  Here's a chance to be a direct part of a Sheffield 4 miracle--don't let it slip by!  You'll leave your own mark on the beginnings of these people's legacy.

Please share this with the whole family--all input will be treasured.  E-mail time has recently been extended to an hour and a half, so don't worry about reducing what you receive from me in my weekly e-mails.

I love you so much and hope you can help us out with this :) .  I'm excited to see what awaits on Monday.

Much love and thanks,
Elder Brown

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Pretty Awesome Week

Hi mom and dad :) .  

Thanks for the email and pictures, I love seeing you :) .  I can't believe I've lost another relative while I've been out here.  It's all happened within these two years (well, really the past few months).  My prayers are with you and the family.  So...I prayed for you to have some huge apples this year, and look what you get...HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!  Ha just kidding, but that would be pretty funny.  Hooray for another missionary friend!  I'm excited, she'll do way good.  My companion's uncle opened up the stake she's going to, fun fact from Elder Moreira.  

This week was pretty awesome in a lot of ways.  We ended up finding and scheduling 3 new people for baptism, one of whom we haven't even taught yet.  What happened was that we were teaching a lesson about the Restoration with the brother of member (who was there in the lesson and actually referred us to him in the first place), and also in the lesson was another one of our scheduled investigators.  After we asked the brother (somewhere in his 50s) if he would be baptized and he agreed, we were talking about a day to do that.  Then the already-scheduled guy (the member's 27-year-old son) tells us to wait a second, goes out the door and calls someone to come over.  A guy I'd street contacted a couple days ago comes in, and is told to sit down by the son who called him in.  The son then asks him when he's going to get baptized.  We scheduled him then and there before even having a lesson because of another member's work that was going on.  This man recently arrived from Slovakia to live with his brother-in-law, who happens to be our Elder's quorum president, who then started telling him about the church.  They were reading the Book of Mormon together when something from it came up in discussion and led to this man's decision to be baptized.  Essentially he'd decided to get baptized before we'd taught him anything as missionaries because a member was talking about what he knew to be true.  That's epic.  Another cool lesson was taught in Doncaster outside on the sidewalk in front of a lady's door.  We couldn't go in becuase there was no man in the house, so we set up a couple chairs outside while she sat in her doorway, and we went from there.  It was one of the most interesting lessons I've taught for sure, because the whole street is basically full of Slovaks, and they kept wandering by to listen.  One man stayed in the lesson for most of it, agreeing with everything we taught and vocalizing it.  Another man came out of his house a couple doors down, sitting in his own doorstep to unobtrusively and discreetly listen in.  One of the most miraculous moments was when I was about to tell the Joseph Smith story.  At that moment, the noisy street was rather suddenly clear of people, and we were able to teach and testify about it in an environment where the Spirit could be present in earnest.  Coincidence?  No way.  I call that a miracle.  Our church attendence was a small bit better than last week, so progress is being made.  We're still working hard on that one. 

I can't wait to hear more from you, so I'll look forward to your letters.  Love you lots and talk to you later :) .

Elder Brown