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

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Baptism and Snow

Hi mom and dad :) .  I'm glad you're home and safe!  I loved talking to you and getting to see you all again.  It's easily the best part of my Christmas time here.  You're all just too awesome...it's hard to keep up ;) .  I'm glad I look good--don't be afraid to tell lots of beautiful single young ladies that. 

I don't have a ton of time to write this week, as I had to write a quite lengthy e-mail to President Pilkington, so my apologies :/ .  I told you about one of the biggest miracles of the week (the extremely successful exchange with Elder Williams), which was amazing.  The baptism was our highlight for sure, and in spite of the opposition from the weather, we were able to get things to work out with people and have it go through.  Little V Jr. didn't make it, unfortunately, because his father decided that he's not ready yet, but he'll still be learning from us and going to church.  We'll be working hard to get our newly scheduled people ready for their dates, with faith and work on their part, too, it'll happen.

I love you very much and hope you have an amazing week.  You are in my prayers (I've said a couple extra special prayers for you this week, I hope you felt them).  Much love, and Happy New Year!

Elder Brown

F's baptism (as well as R and F's from the other Elders).

I wore the hat for our trip to the Peak District with the Nettleships in honor of aunt Tiffany

Finally is me out in the snow--we had to walk home in that after being at the Nettleships because the roads were to bad to drive on.  Ha.  I thought I'd escaped the snow when I left Utah.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Loaded Week and a Brave Baptism

Hi mom and dad :) .  

I'll just answer questions first...not!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!! :).  The only gift I have for you is my love, email, and pictures, but I hope it's enough.  I love you very much; congratulations on making your way up on the seniority chain by another year.  Ha.  My driving test will be this Wednsday morning, so if you could keep me in your prayers that would be awesome.  I'll be fasting as well, because I really need this license to be honest.  I'll be Skyping from the N's on the 25th for 40 minutes, but that's as far as I know yet.  When I find out more details, I'll let you know, perhaps through Sis. N.  Our missionary Christmas party is on Thursday, and Elder Williams and I will be singing (he'll play the guitar and I'll play the piano in an arrangement of the song I asked you for).  I have a bit of a cold, but nothing severe.  I think it's mostly from lack of enough rest.  I get to bed much later than 10:30 some nights because of zone leader business, especially Sundays (when we collect and report the key indicators for the zone from the week to the assistants).  

I've been enjoying the days of Christmas idea you had with the word themes--I liked the poem in today's about Christ's area of service being a small one (Bethlehem and Galilee), but how it has the biggest impact of all.

(editorial note) Here is the poem he is referring to:

“Father, where shall I work today?”
And my love flowed warm and free.
Then he pointed out a tiny spot
And said, “Tend that for me.”
I answered quickly, “Oh no, not that!
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done.
Not that little place for me.”
And the word he spoke, it was not stern; …
“Art thou working for them or for me?
Nazareth was a little place,
And so was Galilee.”

Right, so basically this week was loaded with lots to do, but we did indeed have a baptism!  M and A from Doncaster were baptized by their father, P.  A impressed me immensely with her great courage; she's 12 years old like Tamsyn, and terribly afraid of the water.  She was brave enough to accept a date, and stayed strong working towards it.  When the day of her baptism came, she told me she was scared, but she never once said she wouldn't do it.  Going into the water, she was crying from fear, but held her resolve strong and was baptized by the strong hands of her father, coming out of the water up the steps into the arms of her just-baptized mother.  After changing into dry clothes, she came into the room where we were waiting (just a small group of missionaries, her immediate family and aunt and 2 cousins), where I was playing my very best interlude music on the piano (my variations of a few hymns). I could see in her a light of happiness and satisfaction that she had conquered her fear to do something for God.  She will be bountifully blessed for her diamond courage, and she shone even brighter the next day at church after her uncle gave her the gift of the Holy Ghost.  What a beautiful event.  Truly, I'm impressed.  Sometimes I think we as people need to "man up" as it's said, do what's right even if it's hard, and conquer the fear that's in us.  A's really set the bar this week, I think.

I'll talk to you soon enough; remember that I love you lots and that I feel your love and support every single day.  Thank you so much for everything.  You are the best.

Elder Brown, your ever-heroic son

Monday, December 8, 2014

So Much To Do

Hi mom and dad :) .  Updates first: I'm not sure when my next driving test will be; I meant to book it today, but I couldn't remember this morning in the 5 minutes before we left where I'd put my debit card, so I have to look for that later.  I got your packet and package, so no worries there.  In spite of intensive pressure from my flatmates to open the package now, I am indeed waiting until Christmas.  Endure to the end, baby!  Just so you know, Christmas calls will be much shorter this year: only 30-40 minutes.  So basically, have everything ready that you want to talk about so we don't waste any time :) .

With this zone leader calling I have so much more to do, it's insane.  Writing in my journal has turned into a morning-only thing with the 10-15 minutes I usually have before studies start after I've gotten ready for the day, this being because of follow-up calls in the evenings with the district leaders.  There are over 40 missionaries in our zone, so it makes for a lot to handle.  We have the responsibility for attending planning sessions, studies, doing exchanges with companionships that need some help, etc., and it's a big time commitment.  These last few days have been some of the most stressful and exhausting of my mission, which is saying something.  Still, I'm alive and loving the chance that I have to serve in greater capacity than ever.  I especially loved the Mission Leadership Council meeting I attended on Friday--it's with President and Sister Pilkington, the assistants, and all the zone leaders and sister training leaders from around the mission, and it made for an inspiring meeting.  We basically discuss various aspects of the mission that could use improvement or adjustment, and come up with plans and ideas to keep things headed in the right direction.  I've never been a part of such an important church meeting where I was able to give my own input, and watching the way the Spirit directed things was amazing.  I've never seen anything like it.  There were probably 20 of us in the room, with differing thoughts and opinions on how things could be done, and yet everything eventually came together on every point to create an inspired solution.  It was truly amazing, and I know with far greater understanding than ever before that the leadership of this church is led and directed by God.  This doesn't just happen in our mission, I'm certain, and takes place in profoundly greater and greater measure amongst the leadership of the church as a person considers further and further along the chain until the prophet and his personal communication with God Himself.

Though this week was packed with running to and fro to various meetings and so forth, we still had room for miracles.  For example, M and A made it to church from Doncaster yesterday, so they'll be having their baptism this Saturday!  That was awesome, and thank you so much for your prayers.  They were heard.  Plus, while we were helping out some members who live in city center, a couple guys walked in and we started talking to them.  It turns out they live in Doncaster and are really interested in our church; not only that, but they have a car, so it's possible for them to come to church.  That was good, and also we were able to schedule the grandson of our Elder's quorum president, who recently turned 8 and told us he wanted to be baptized.  He's been attending church for years already with his grandpa, so we asked his non-member parents for permission to teach him.  They said it would be ok, so V Jr. is now scheduled to be baptized just after Christmas!  We've had some good lessons there already with him (in a mix of three languages: Roma, Slovak, and English) that have kept him entertained at the same time as teaching him the basics, so he's doing really well.  Also, Elders Williams and Pohorelicky had a fantastic baptism this weekend, and it was a beautiful experience for everyone there.  His confirmation at church also touched many people (including him), and made sacrament meeting that much better.

I'm excited for the coming week, and I'm grateful for your constant support through prayer, letters, and love.  You are the best parents ever, and I can't tell you that enough.  Love you lots!

Elder Brown

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A New Call and a Baptism!

Ahoj, matka moja a otec moj!  Well, bad news first--I didn't pass my driving test, though I only had 4 faults, 3 of which weren't serious (the national average is 9, and it takes 11 to fail, I think).  The last was that I forgot to check my mirrors while turning off a roundabout (I'd missed the correct turn, so I was a little flustered), so that was considered dangerous and I failed :( .  Next time it should be better, though, it was a silly mistake and one I won't repeat.  Transfers have shaken things up a ton--I have been called as a zone leader, and will serve in that position with Elder Baird.  However (and this is entirely unusual), I will still have Elder Vogli as my companion for all non-zone leader-related things, and Elder Baird will also have a non-zone leader companion in his area.  Crazy, right?  Elder Williams is now filling the district leader position that I've left empty.  This means lots more work, but it'll be manageable as long as we have lots of help from heaven :) .

The absolute best miracle this week was the baptism of M--it was fantastic, as was when he received the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday.  He wanted me to perform both ordinances, though we tried to suggest other options of branch members, and I have to say that I've not felt the Spirit so strongly during any other confirmation I've done.  The words I spoke were not my own, but right from God to him, and there were some powerful promises given, including that he will lead his family one day to be sealed in the temple.  Ma didn't end up getting baptized, still feeling unsure of things, but she really enjoyed the baptism of her husband.  She's told us that she thinks she needs a month or so, and will tell us when she's ready to have a date.  If you could keep her in your prayers, that would be fantastic.  She reads the scriptures every night and prays, and she's living all the commandments, so I know she'll get her answer if she keeps it up.  Mg and Aa (from Doncaster) had their baptismal interviews the same night M got baptized, and both of them passed.  They're scheduled for the 13th, but they have to come to church on the 7th; their car was in poor condition this Sunday and they couldn't make it, so if you could also pray that they can get that worked out this week, that would be fantastic.  They're both so good, and they're excited for their baptism.

Mom, I wanted to thank you for the prayers you send on prompting from the Holy Ghost.  I have felt that support on multiple occasions and wondered where it came from and why.  Thank you so much for that.  Thank you, dad, for the email as well. You're the best parents ever, and I'm so glad to have your support and guidance.  You are one of the greatest blessings I will have in my entire life, and I love you very much.  I'm looking forward to talking to you :) .

Elder Brown

After M's Baptism