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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Another Amazing Week

Hello, my dear parents :) .  

I'm glad dad enjoyed his jambalaya haha, I'll gladly have some if he deigns to grace me with it.  I was so pumped to see the picture from Lane with Sindylek, it made me laugh.  He actually is visiting the branch at the moment, so I think it's awesome.  He actually came teaching with us and the branch president one evening to see O and D's family, which went very well.

This week was an amazing one once again.  The miracle family of last week's email is still going strong, and O, D, A, and M will be baptized this Wednesday!  It's going to be a special event--I'm really trying to make it better than ever and start implementing some good ideas that've been discussed in the mission to make the evening extra-great for all those involved.  Pres. Pilkington may even make his way over to Sheffield for it if he can, which would of course bring even more of a special spirit to it.  They all passed their interviews, and I've been so impressed by the strength of their hearts in doing what's right.  O and D both had to give up coffee, which they did the day after we'd taught them about it, which was the only way that they could make their date.  They replaced it with Ovaltine (props to the Allens for coming up with the idea all those months ago for A, who's still going strong), and it's been a real trial for D.  She said that every morning she feels a very strong urge to drink coffee, but she prays for help while in the kitchen and makes herself a cup of Ovaltine instead, pushing forward and through the challenge.  The granddaughters are a couple of very smart girls, and impressed us in the interview on Saturday.  (I was translating for E. Crabb).  M, the youngest, couldn't remember much about prophets, but she passed the interview on the condition that we reteach her about prophets before her baptism.  Then, without any coordination from us, the Primary teachers do a lesson on Sunday for the kids about prophets!  Is that inspiration at work, or what?  She understood so well that evening we didn't even need to spend much time on the subject, and instead had a brilliant lesson about fasting.  O and D will be fasting this Sunday, which will make their day even more amazing with receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost as well.

Aside from the light shining from that family, we had some other great miracles throughout the week, actually scheduling 2 more couples for baptism who we'd not taught before.  One of them is a referral from a part-member family in Firth Park, who are doing a great job fellow shipping from a bit of a long distance.

Church attendance was astounding once again, topping last week's sudden peak by an additional 8 people.  All 3 of the branch's missionary teams had good turnouts from the 3 areas and people being taught, including new people and some who have been less consistent that are becoming more consistent.  It was an amazing miracle, truly.  Now it's time to work hard to try and build it even more!

I love working in this branch.  It's become a home to me, these people a part of my family.  They love me, and I love them.  I guess a year and a half in one area will do that to a missionary, and it'll be an even stronger bond by the end of two years.

I love you so much, too.   Don't think I've forgotten about my birth family!  Rather, be happy that you now have loads of new brothers and sisters :) .  When you get to meet them one day (and you will--it's a must), you'll be adopted right into their hearts, too--you'll see.  Have a great week!

Sending my love and theirs,
Elder Brown

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Most Amazing Lesson of My Mission

Hi mom and dad :) .  I'll report first that I passed my driving test!  Finally, it's done with.  I like my new companion a lot--I was excited to have someone here who could really put something into the work going on here, and we've seen an astounding stream of miracles this week.  I'm absolutely going to do my best to pass on all that I've learned, and I'm confident Elder Bowen will do great with it all.  God hears your prayers for specific people, because the ones I asked you to pray for are the ones with whom the miracles happened.  Thank you so much for those prayers.  

To start off the miracles, I was baptized and confirmed this weekend!  That was fantastic, and he's really made very good progress.  I'm proud of him and the pace he's learned at; what a great guy :) .  Church attendance this week was the highest we've had since at least June of last year, reaching nearly 60 people total and about 45 Slovaks.  It felt so good to sit in a room much more full than it's been in long time.  There have been some hard stretched, but we and the members pressed onward with faith, and we're now seeing some beautiful things happening.  There's a core group of strong members who are showing wonderful signs of personal growth and faithfulness, rising up to things that they've never done before.  The recent converts are strong ones as well, also making similar progress and putting down good roots among their fellow members here. 

The investigators we've been able to schedule for baptism this week are already showing incredible faith and are pressing strongly forward towards their goals, which brings me to my next miracle:  O and his whole family are now scheduled for baptism!  That's him, his wife D, their son R and his children A, M, and R Jr.  The lesson where that happened was one of the most amazing lessons of my mission, which is honestly saying a great deal.  The day I picked up Elder Bowen and brought him to the area we had this appointment set up with them, and I knew days earlier that I wanted to set a baptismal date with them in this lesson.  I put a lot of thought into in, used a training model in district meeting to get some ideas, and went in with the expectation that amazing things were going to happen.  The Spirit guided that lesson in the most powerful of ways, changing words just before they left my mouth, prompting me to share key scriptures at just the right moment, and sending our message deep into the hearts of every person there.  When the baptismal invitation was given, it was with all the testifying might that God's Spirit brings, and first D, then O, then the girls accepted.  I didn't challenge R because he was previously living with a girl without being married, but O himself asked R, and we found out that his partner is no longer living there with them.  He accepted baptism as well, brought his son in, and had a side conversation with him as we were speaking with O.  R Jr. then asked us if he could be baptized as well.  Absolutely amazing, truly.  The all attended I's baptism, thoroughly enjoyed it, and then O and D made it to church and loved it again, even more than last time.  R was stuck at home with a searingly painful toothache with his son, but we gave him a blessing Sunday evening, committed to either re-arrange his work shifts or find new work to allow church attendance, and set a new goal for baptism with his son.

We also re-scheduled M (M's wife) while Elder Diaz was on exchange with me just hours before Elder Bowen arrived.  This was a huge miracle, as she was thinking previously that June or July would be a good time, and now she's scheduled for the end of this month with one of their sons (M Jr.).  Their daughter, D, was scheduled for the first time as well, and will be baptized the week after her mother.  We also re-scheduled R, J, and A, the three Elder Williams and I had a miracle lesson with.  We ended up with a total of 12 people scheduled by the end of last night, whereas we'd started the week with only Ivan, who's now been baptized.  It's amazing, isn't it?

There were more miracles than just these, and I couldn't go into as much depth with conveying to you the stunning nature of those I shared in this e-mail as I would've liked, but I'm so grateful to God for his hand in our work this week.  We've seen some of the greatest miracles yet, but they're just beginnings and we'll see some amazing finishes to come.

I love you so much and am so grateful for every bit of effort you put into sending off those prayers.  They are heard and answered.  More miracles next week!

Elder Brown

I's baptism!

Me with a few of the zone leaders who are in the same going-home group as me (taken at last MLC

Last is me with an addition to a weekly planning session we went to to make it more interesting. Ha.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Transfers and Investigators and Food

Hey mom and dad :) .  Well, transfers rolled around again and there were loads of changes in the zone.  Elder Baird, my fellow zone leader is leaving to be a district leader in South Shields over a district with each companionship now training, including him (making a total of 8 missionaries, 4 of which will be in training--crazy, right?).  Elder Vogli (my companion) is leaving to Melthum, and I will be getting Elder Bowen (the newer Slovak-speaking American who Elder Frahm's been training in Leeds).  Elder Frahm is returning to Sheffield 4 as well, and will be living in Rotherham with Elder Pohorelicky.  Elder Williams will be getting an English-speaking companion and will live in the Sheffield 2 flat, which means he'll be working in Firth Park only (still attending Sheffield 4).  The zone leader coming in (once again, he's not my companion) will be Elder Crabb, who's served as zone leader for a while now.  It should be really good this transfer--we're expecting loads of miracles and success, and with all this new missionary strength in the branch, we should see an increase in all good things here.

This week was amazing in a lot of different ways, but I'll start with church--our companionship had 10 investigators there!  Four of them I told you about last week, which were O, his wife D, and their two daughters.  The really enjoyed church (which was the big key for D), and the plan is to now schedule them for baptism on Wednesday after I get Elder Bowen.  Send your prayers that direction!  Also at church was I, who then passed his baptismal interview and is well on his way to being baptized on Saturday

P, the partner of a T, (who live in Doncaster with the P) came to church with the P, and the day before church we had been there to teach them.  Their next step is getting married, which has kept them back for a while, but they told us that they want to now, so we're working to get that all sorted out. 

Over the last couple weeks as we've taught F, our recent convert, his grandson has been staying in the lessons and learning.  He accepted the baptismal challenge, but didn't feel ready for a date yet.  We invited him to church last week, but he was going to football (soccer) training for the first time that morning, so wouldn't be able to come.  We found out this week that he didn't like the training, and wouldn't be going there anymore.  We asked him if he'd come to church with his grandpa, which he agreed to, and then he did!  He enjoyed it a lot, having a couple friends there his age, and happened to come on the week of some kind of stake youth meeting in the evening.  He then went to that, and F told us last night that he enjoyed that, too.  Things look promising there, so we'll see if we can get him scheduled for baptism, too. 

M, our recent convert, brought F and two of his non-member kids (D and M jr.) to church as well, and they all enjoyed it and I think they went to the meeting in the evening, too.  He had a great miracle from last week, as well, which I don't think I told you about.  He was in a great deal of pain due to a lump that had formed on his lower back, which prevented him from attending church a couple weeks back and his son's baptism.  Well, we offered to give him a blessing, and after we did and left, the lump had entirely disappeared within an hour, along with any pain.  Amazing, that.  The last investigator there was little V Jr., who loved it as usual.  We had a great lesson with his dad this week where we got his dad reading to him from the Book of Mormon scripture reader, which they'll now make a habit of doing.  Great things are happening all across the board.

You're amazing, and I love you so much.  Have an amazing week--I pray for your welfare and happiness every single day, and I hope you see the blessings all around you.

Elder Brown

our district from this last transfer

Some lychee fruit that I ate and really enjoyed--I'd never had it before, so I can check that off the list of foods to try

Last is the fish that preceded the lychee, which fish was cooked Chinese-style by Bro. Stanton (who's previously lived in China) and was excellent.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Time to Blast Into 2015 with Strength and Confidence

Hey mom and dad :) .  I got your second package this week, so I was really happy about that.  Thanks for the food and such--I laughed at the random instruction manual in Czech in there.  I take it that was dad's addition, based on the topic of the manual.  I'm glad people ask after me--if I'm forgotten by the time I get home, it'll make me a little sad haha.  It's weird to think about all the Sister missionaries who went out at the same time as me, because they're all starting to go home.  Tough luck for them.  Thank you for the pictures; they're really good.  I love seeing you all (and no, you hadn't sent those yet, so you're not losing your mind).  I'll send one of me with the P family in Doncaster and some of the food they gave us.  This week wasn't slow at all, actually.  We had an amazing week with loads of success, and our district (Elders Williams, Pohorelicky, Baird, and Diaz) is really rocking it.  We were just at the chapel all day for New Year's watching movies (I really liked How to Train Your Dragon 2).

We had some really amazing miracle lessons with people this week.  One of them was with the family of a man we met a month or so ago that came to church once.  We were unable to teach him after only a couple lessons because the people he was staying with weren't to positive towards us and he wanted to respect them.  He got his own house and a job, and has been waiting for his family to arrive from Slovakia before moving into the new house.  Well, they arrived, and we were blessed to find where they lived.  We taught his wife, who was really excited about what we taught and had to say, telling us she'd talk to her husband about whether they'd come to our church or not.  The next lesson there was with her and her son and his partner, who had come from Bradford to now live with them.  They enjoyed the lesson a lot (as did we), and we left them with Books of Mormon.  Yesterday we went there again and found out that they had wanted to come to church, but one of their other sons (someone we were already actually teaching and has moved in with them as well) had a vehicle accident because of some ice, and the car was totaled (he was miraculously fine though).  They tried calling our branch president for a ride, but he was already at church when they called, so they were really disappointed they couldn't come.  O, the father of the family, has diligently been reading the Bible every morning for years, but his wife told us in this lesson that in the morning he had actually read the Book of Mormon; wow!  She herself had also been reading, along with the new son that had recently moved in.  We gave them all the baptismal challenge, and all of them accepted it.  The two sons aren't married to their partners, but we'll get some weddings in the works, and that'll be awesome.  The wife wants to come to church and see how it is before accepting a date, but they bought a new car yesterday, so they should be able to make it on Sunday this week. 

Also, I came to church and loved it, so he's looking really good for his baptismal date this month.  Lots of miracles all around!

Thanks for being the awesome parents you are.  You serve as a great example of what it is to raise a family in righteousness, and I'm so grateful for the effect that's had on me.  Your work and effort, but mostly your love, has guided me to finding where true happiness and joy lies: in serving God.  You're the best, so keep it up :) .  We finished 2014 strong, and now it's time to blast into 2015 with strength and confidence in where our hearts lie.

Love you so very much,
Elder Brown