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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Weekend Miracles

This week has had some great miracles, which I think was definitely kicked off with talking to the Slovak lady while e-mailing last week.  When there's a good start like that, you know the rest of the week will have miracles as well.  What essentially happened was that I heard her speaking Slovak with her mother, asked where they were from (in Slovak, which shocked them), then got into a conversation that led to her asking if I would be willing to teach her boyfriend some Slovak because she found it hard to explain (Elder Sindylek had the same problem with me) and the university here only offers Czech.  I haven't met with them yet, but I'll let you know what happens whenever things work out there.

We had the best miracles over the weekend, I think.  Mi and Ma (the couple referred from the Elder's quorum President) passed their baptismal interviews this Saturday, and it was a miracle in itself.  Ma has been very solid, reading her scriptures diligently, giving up coffee in exchange for Ovaltine (the stuff really works great--counting her husband, that makes four people who've had no problem swapping it for coffee), and overall being excited and set on her baptism.  Then, the night before her interview, multiple barriers suddenly popped up.  Her mother called from Slovakia and told her that it wasn't right to be baptized into this church, that it would be a sin.  She then had a frightening dream about people dying and being destroyed because of her baptism.  When we came to do her interview, she told us about these things and let us know she wasn't sure if she still wanted to be baptized.  We read some scriptures with her and calmed her down, reminding her that she had always had only good feelings while we've taught her, and that good things are from God.  We also let her know that Satan doesn't want her to be baptized and will do whatever he can to stop it, the dream and resistance from her mother being evidence of that.  We invited her to go and pray about it while we did her husband's interview, sending the Book of Mormon with her.  Mi passed, and when she came back in we asked how she was feeling.  She said that she had prayed, and that she received an answer from God that where her husband goes, she should go also.  She said that she would be baptized, and passed her interview with brilliant answers.  We encouraged her to keep her connection with God strong and constant through prayer and scripture study, as well as coming to church on Sunday, warning her that the obstacles weren't over.  Well, come Sunday morning she almost didn't make it to church because of some barriers that came up, just as anticipated, but we worked out a way for her to come with help from some fantastic English members.  At church, she had a great experience, and all of her children but D were able to come as well.  N was also supposed to be baptized this coming Saturday, but she dropped her interview on Saturday, saying that she wanted to come to church more first.  I was honestly expecting after that no attendance from her at church, but she ended up coming despite having thrown up all night long.  On top of that, she brought one of Mi and Ma's children with her who otherwise wouldn't have made it.  Also at church were M and A from Doncaster, the wife and daughter of a solid member who drives from there every week.  It was A's first time at church, and she absolutely loved it, telling me several times that she would for sure be coming next week.  We had a couple lessons with them over the weekend, and they are now to the point of being ready for their own baptismal interview, scheduled to happen this coming Saturday.  We had as well four member youth at church, two boys and two girls, which was so good to see.  I hope they get back into the habit of attending every week.

So there you have it--my week's greatest highlights.  I'm excited for this week's baptism and baptismal interviews; keep the people in your prayers.  You're always in mine.  I love you so much and hope you have an awesome week!

Elder Brown

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Very Good Week

Hey mom and dad :) . 

 I'm glad you liked the extra email I sent this last week, it was good conference.  I'm excited for your letters, as always.  Bummer weather, but I find it hard to pity you.  It's been rainy and foggy all week, actually for a couple weeks.  I've forgotten what the sun looks like.  

Our week has been a very good one, and we've had some lessons that I've really enjoyed.  One of them was just yesterday with a new couple I've never taught before.  I'd contacted the husband at a bus stop late one night near transfers a few weeks ago as we were travelling home, and we hadn't been able to get a hold of him since then.  Turns out, they went on vacation and recently returned, so yesterday when we tried by they were home.  They aren't too familiar with religion (pretty unusual for Roma people), but I guess they recently started reading from the Bible every day together from the beginning, which is in itself really impressive.  We're trying to help many members have such diligent scripture study, and these two haven't even been taking lessons and started doing it.  They also speak quite fluent English with a pretty good English accent, so Elder Vogli was able to take part in the lesson a lot more than usual, me not having to translate what he said (except some gospel vocab that even an English person likely wouldn't be familiar with.

Sorry that this email is a bit shorter, I contacted a white Slovak woman sitting across from me at the computer and she was overjoyed that I could help teach her boyfriend Slovak grammar.  Talking to her meant sacrificing some of this time, but I guess since you got an extra email earlier and you'll get a letter soon, it should be ok.

Love you lots!
Elder Brown

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Spirit of God is an Attractive Force

This week was quite good with all that we've been able to accomplish with lots of aid from heaven.  The results were largely evidenced in our church attendance on Sunday, which was about the same as last week except that some new people came in the stead of others who weren't able to make it this week.  Amongst those people were some of the family members of the family I've been telling you about that was a member referral.  The father, M, was able to gain access to a car and bring some of his family with him to church that way.  His wife was sick, but one of his sons came who we were able to also schedule for baptism this week.  The lesson where that happened didn't actually involve any of the rest of his family, but was a couple doors down the street at his uncle's house (J), who's the member that referred F (our most recent baptism) to us.  In that lesson we re-scheduled J's daughter for the same day, and we're looking forward to the miracles that will come along with all of this.  Also at church was M's daughter, D, who's as of yet undecided about being baptized, but she had a fantastic experience once again at church.  She's really enjoying it all, and is progressing a lot.  Along with them, we had four other youth at church, two boys and two girls, putting our youth attendance at 6 total, the most in a long time.  One of these youth was a total miracle that he was there; we were nearly at the bus stop to head to church in the morning after having stopped by virtually everyone we teach in Darnall and found him close to the bus stop.  We asked him if he was coming to church, and intitially the answer was that he was going to work.  Then his friend came up (the one we've been trying to prepare for a mission) and said he was going to church, so the first decided that he'd come, too.  They're both about 18 years old.  His father is the one who was at the baptism and had such a great experience that we've been working with, so this is a great sign for that family.  Another family we're working with is a part-member family living in Doncaster.  The wife and daughter are both scheduled for baptism and are still working towards it even though we've been unable to see them for a while because of circumstance.  Good things are happening all around.  F has also been on fire with his own personal missionary work, talking to his friends about his baptism and how he felt.  You can see in him a lot of light, and he's happier than he's ever been.  There are a lot of people who've been and are being very positively influenced by him, and it's amazing to see.

Another interesting and unexpected miracle was when we went to teach some investigators we hadn't seen in a while.  Upon the door opening, we found out that they'd actually moved and their relatives are now living there.  They invited us in, asked a load of questions (which is unusual, to be honest--usually we end up having to speak a lot more than them), and had a pretty good lesson.  In the end, the man of the house told me we should come every day, that I'm gold and blessed, and that he believes we'll convince him to go to our church.  Fair enough.  Many people have been saying similar things along the lines of that we're good people and such, but what I think many don't realize is that it's not exactly us who they like so much and feel good things from, but rather the Spirit that we carry.  The Spirit of God is an attractive force that leads people to experiencing good feelings of peace, happiness, and comfort, so when we speak about God and allow that Spirit to be there, people feel it.  They just often don't realize what it is that they're feeling and just assume it's because we're extraordinary people or something.  What I'm getting at is, if we want people to like being around us, the best thing we can do is anything that invites the Spirit (i.e. read the scriptures, pray, go to church, and keep the commandments).  It's as simple as that.

I've got to go now, but I hope you have an awesome week.  You're the best, just like I always tell you.  I say it because it's true :) .

Elder Brown

Monday, November 3, 2014

I Love Our Members!

Hello, mom and dad, beloved and thought about :) .  

I'm just about better from being sick, but I've been able to follow the usual schedule this week (except morning exercise) despite the sickness, so we're doing good!  Nice pumpkins!  We didn't do one.  For Halloween we handed out Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlets instead of candy because we don't have any money haha.  We had to be in early so as to be safe and avoid people encouraged to do foolish things because they're wearing a mask.  Make any gospel connections you like out of that :) . 
This week was clearly fantastic as the pictures I sent will surely show.  We had a baptism!  F, a man who's been investigating the church for about three years but had stopped for a period, about a month ago had his heart telling him that baptism was something he needed to do.  He told his brother, who was baptized last December, and his brother told us.  We then had a lesson with him and his brother there as a support and set a day for him to work towards.  As we've taught him, he's made all the neccessary changes to get ready to be baptized and hasn't missed a week of church since the first lesson.  His baptism had a huge spiritual impact on many people, including all of the 8 investigators in attendance and the less active we got there as well.  In fact, this particular less active hasn't been to anything to do with the church in over three years, and we were able to get him to come to this baptism.  Even better?  He came by car with his non-member friend who we've been teaching in this less-active's house!  Everyone there was so happy, and the Spirit of God was very strong.  I ended up doing the baptismal ordinance because the member who was supposed to do it was unable to come, and it was a true privilige.  At church the next day we had a higher attendance from Slovaks than we've had for many weeks, giving the room a pleasant feeling of being more full.  Every seat will be full one of these days.  We'll get there.  We also scheduled a new couple for baptism this week, and they're a wonderful family.  They're relatives of some branch members and moved to the same street as 3 member or part-member families, including their relatives, who then referred us over there.  Our first visit was exceptionally good, our Elder's quorum president coming to teach with us (one of their relatives), and since then they've been doing great.  I love our members and the good work that they do.  That about covers our week, so I wish you a good one as well :) .

I'm excited to hear more from you next week and in your letters; thank you so much for them.  They really help a lot.

You're the best, love you!
Elder Brown

The baptism of F!  Elder Vogli, my new companion, is on the end.

Elder Moreira and I with Bro. Nettleship, who helps out in our branch as branch mission leader and 1st counselor on the branch presidency.

Elder Williams and I mourning the loss of our dear old flat.