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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Teaching With Members and a Baptism

Hi mom and dad :) .  

I'm doing well today, just pretty glad it's P-day and I can relax a bit.  The exercise I do is pull-ups of various sorts, push-ups, and sit-ups.  Sports have been banned for months now (since I was with E. Moreira) and will never be approved again in the mission, so that's rough.  I can't wait to play basketball.

This week has been good, and M's been doing really well.  She's down to a couple small cups of coffee every day, and is working hard to make it 0.  We went to their house on Saturday and made them American pancakes (we tied it in with not cooking instead of going to church, using the story of manna; we basically gave them something to eat on Sunday without cooking by keeping the pancakes overnight).  Unfortunately, the time change threw some people off, including her family, and she didn't make it to church on Sunday amidst the resultant rush to get out the door.  However, she'll be sure to come next week.  

The baptism this weekend was fantastic (I've sent a picture), and there are a lot of good things that connect with that.  L, the one who baptized them, is related to them somehow, and has been a faithful member for three years now or so, currently serving as 2nd counselor in the branch presidency.  These two were the first people he's baptized, so it was a great moment for him.  He also gave one of them the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday.

Z (our branch missionary) and his brother P (the one who lives in Doncaster) did some great missionary work with us this week that's laid a good spiritual foundation for some people, planting seeds that will in time certainly bear fruit.  Z went with us teaching one day, and the appointments we'd hoped to bring him to and our backup plans fell through, so we weren't quite sure where to go with him.  He told us he'd take us somewhere, and we ended up getting into a door I'd been denied at before (actually, he didn't even knock, but just opened the door and walked in, asking if we could come in, too).  The man of the house is Z's cousin, so that's the connection.  We had a solid lesson about the Restoration, and set up an appointment to come back a couple days later.  That day we were in Doncaster, and P offered to drive us back to Darnall, and we then invited him to come teaching with us.  He did, and though we were told by the couple that they aren't interested in having more to do with the church right now, they did say that they want to get their lives in order, think about it more, agree with each other on it, and then decide.  I believe that they will come around eventually; I just may not be here to see it when it happens.

I've got to get going now.  Love you, bye!

Elder Brown

Monday, March 23, 2015

Healthy, Tired and Teaching

Hi mom and dad, it's good to hear from you.  Ha.  Thanks for writing me every week, though, really.  

I'm healthy and everything, no worries there.  Sometimes I get really tired, though...but that's mission life, so I can't complain.  I don't really have a car; I live with the zone leaders, who do, but I never use it.  All that work for my license, and I only drove for a single transfer, and even that not every day.  Oh well, I guess there's a reason for everything.  I was able to get a lot done thanks to having that license.  The best thing about this day for me...well, I would have to say it's emailing, because so far I've just cleaned the flat and done some shopping.  Who knows what'll happen later?  Maybe some great miracle :) .  I got an email from the mission office today containing what are commonly known as the "trunky papers" to verify my home information.  Yikes.  I attached a funny picture of the little boy of one of the investigators we teach.  He fell asleep during one of our lessons on top of my Gospel Art Book turned to a picture of Jesus.  He's a funny boy; very smart, 4 years old, capable of saying great prayers, and absolutely loves Christ.

I had the opportunity to do a couple baptismal interviews this weekend for Elders Frahm and Pohorelicky, and they went very well.  One of them is a woman who I found and taught first and then passed on to them because she lived in their area.  She had come to church with our 2nd counselor in the branch presidency and his wife (who is her sister), and really enjoyed it.  None of the other missionaries talked to her (who knows why), but I did and made quick friends.  I invited her after church into a classroom to learn where our church came from, and the lesson went great.  She lives in an area called Tinsley, which is not far from Rotherham, and it's an area that Elder Williams in the past tried to work in with Elder Misselwitz and didn't have any success.  After I passed V on to Elders Frahm and Pohorelicky, it resulted in a lot of people becoming interested from Tinsley and starting to come to church and progress as well.  One of those also had his interview this weekend, and I was really impressed by his understanding of what had been taught.  I'm just really glad to see that I was able to play a part in making that happen.  It's always worth it to talk to everyone, even if you think they're an investigator from a different companionship.  You just never know.  A, from Elder Bowen and I, didn't pass her interview at all...nope, she's definitely going to need a lot more time to prepare for baptism.

Stake conference was super good this week as well, not necessarily because I found the talks revolutionary, but rather because we had great attendance from the branch, and everyone really enjoyed it.  O was asked to talk about his conversion for 3 minutes at the Saturday night session, and he did a fantastic job.  I translated for him, and his humor had some good laughs from the congregation, then bore a really solid testimony of how he found this church and came to know it was true.  What a great man.  Elder Pohorelicky and I alternated translating into a microphone linked to headsets for the Sunday session, trying to keep up a simultaneous translation.  That got pretty hard sometimes when we couldn't hear what was being said (we were clear in the back so as not to disturb anyone), but we managed to do it and everybody liked the conference.  F especially enjoyed it, and was very pleased by the music sung by the choir.  It really was some fantastic work from them, and brought the Spirit right to my heart, too.  It's strange to think that this stake conference is my last one on my mission.

O and D have been doing some great member missionary work this week as well, extending even beyond my area of Darnall into Elder Williams' area of Firth Park.  Elder Williams was knocking during some finding time, and happened upon a couple who let them in upon opening the door.  They informed them that they had just had Jehovah's Witnesses over just a couple hours before and hadn't been impressed whatsoever, nor felt anything.  Halfway through the lesson, they asked Elder Williams and White if they were Mormons, and proceeded to explain that O and D had been over the day before and talked about the church with them.  By the end of the lesson, they declared that everything the missionaries had just taught them confirmed what O and D had said, and they expressed the desire to be baptized.  They also forewarned E. Williams that they weren't yet married, but that they already had in the plans to go to Slovakia at the end of April to be married.  They are now scheduled for baptism in May.

Miracles are happening as our members continue to fearlessly open their mouths and share what they hold dear to their hearts and know to be true.  Look for opportunities yourselves; you never know the results that may come.

Love you much!
Elder Brown

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Baptism, Teaching and FHE

Helloo, mom and dad!  

Singing with the Primary kids was fun; you would have also loved the musical number Elder Bowen and I did for this baptism and the last.  He played the organ while I played the piano in our unique rendition of "Israel, Israel God is Calling".  It was quite fun.  Thanks for the pictures, I always like to see what's going on in more than just words.  I've attached a picture of some of the people involved in last week's family home evening, which was great.

The week was really good again, and Elders Williams and White had another baptism, making the third week in a row that our branch/district has baptized.  If we didn't have stake conference this week, we could have baptized again and the next week, tying mine and Elder Sindylek's record of 5 weeks in a row (that was just from our companionship, though).  Stake conference this week will be in Doncaster like what happened once last year, so the branch is running a coach up so that people can actually get there.  Cars are quite the commodity in our branch.  The whole thing's already booked up, and there are loads of others who would've liked to go, too.  They really take stake conference seriously; for them it's a big deal, and I feel like we should all carry that kind of excitement as well.  Some good miracles this week happened with some people we're teaching.  I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but a while back Elder Vogli and I began teaching a non-Roma Slovak couple English, and they have recently begun showing interest in learning about the gospel.  We're now alternating lessons between English and religious, which is super good.  They're in their 20's, and pretty chill.  They showed me this picture of their friend in Slovakia who looks a heck of a lot like me; we could honestly have been brothers.  Maybe that's part of the reason new Slovaks I meet just assume I'm Slovak; I don't just talk the talk, but I look the part, too.  Ha :) .

Our investigator named A is doing very well, and has been progressing steadily for the last couple weeks.  We weren't sure with her at first when we began teaching her, but she's really been developing a testimony as she attends church regularly, reads the Book of Mormon, and strives to live the commandments.  She really wants to attend stake conference, and we've managed to get a ride arranged for her.  Her baptism will be on the 28th of March, so we're excited for that.  She's a good example for me of how having the faith to set goals brings about progression.

O taught the lesson to the priesthood brethren on Sunday, which is honestly amazing.  He is progressing rapidly, just really grasping what he needs to do and why, then acting on it.  He came out teaching with us this week, and his presence got us in the door of a less-active that otherwise wouldn't have "had time", and that lesson went fantastically.  We found out after the lesson that he was willing to go somewhere else with us to teach, and would've gladly spent all day with us.  Champion.

Love you all lots, and I hope you have a smashing week!

Elder Brown

Elders Williams and White's baptism

FHE last week

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hard Work, A Baptism and Amazing News

Hello mom and dad!  Things have gone exceptionally well in the branch this week, so that's made all the hard work we're putting in well worth it.  I've sent some more pictures since you miss my face so much.  Ha. 

Training people up in the district is going super well.  I've been really impressed by Elders Frahm and Pohorelicky, who took all the instruction and training and ideas for improvement and put them all into practice.  It showed great fruits with the way their week turned out, and I was really pleased by their efforts.  Elder Williams is killing it over in Firth Park as well.  E. Williams and White have another baptism coming up this week.

R's baptism went great in spite of loads of opposition from outside sources the whole time we were trying to keep it on track.  Loads of things just came pouring down that we had to deal with, and I'm grateful to say we were able to conquer it all.  He's got an amazing heart, R.  O and D were thrilled about it as well, now having their son join them in their path to God along with R's daughters (baptized with O and D).  They're all doing fantastic.

M surprised us with some amazing news this week; for two days straight she went without coffee this week, and though she's still drinking it, she's drinking less of it and as well less often.  She also said she's been in contact with her sister in Slovakia, who's planning to come and live in England in April.  This sister of hers was so impressed to hear that M (M's husband) was baptized that she said she would like to join our church as well.  I guess in Slovakia everyone had tried to convince M to attend church and so forth and he'd never had any interest at all, so to hear that he's completely turned that around is big news to her.  M's set a goal to be baptized with her sister in April, so she's got a day she's working for yet again.  Hooray!

 Church was fantastic--we had ten investigators there and nine less-actives, plus R received the gift of the Holy Ghost, so it was a good week.  The whole week is basically a build up to church, so it's always a relief to finally get there and sit down and know that I did everything I could to get as many people there as I could.  It's a good thing p-day is Monday to wind down a bit, because then it's go-go-go all over again.  Phew.  It's worth it, though.  For sure.

I love you all very much and I'm so grateful to know that our family can be together forever.  I think the separation from family for periods of time in this life teaches us just how valuable it is to know that we can all be together again.  I love knowing that what I'm doing here now is setting the way for these people to achieve these blessings as well.  That'll be joyful news to hear indeed.  Talk to you later!

Elder Brown

R's baptism

a doner kebab in nan bread if you ever wondered what they look like

Some of my favorite Slovak kids stole my camera the other day while I was translating for a Relief Society meeting and took some pictures.  I thought it was pretty funny, so I kept them and I thought you might like to see them

Monday, March 2, 2015

Keep Praying- I Know It Works

Hey mom and dad :) .  I'm glad you liked the pictures, I've got a couple more for you this week.  I absolutely loved the Valentine's Day package--it was possibly my favorite yet because of the letters it included.  I also quite enjoyed the Twinkies, and I thought it was funny how you decorated them.  I was impressed that each one was unique--there's a subliminal message there that all missionaries are not the same, I think.  Elder Williams is working hard in the Firth Park area, and this week they had a baptism (I'll send the pictures).  The companionships all stayed the same.  My task is to prepare all the younger missionaries for mine and E. Williams' departure, which is quite a lot of work.  There are a lot of skills that need to be developed, so I'm spending a lot of time and effort working to train them on things they need now and will need even more later.  In your letter you asked me a bunch of questions about if I knew certain things, and the answer is yes to all of them.  That's a great credit to you, so well done ye good and faithful parents ;) .

This week was successful and had a lot of good things happening.  R, for example, passed his interview after attending L's baptism, and then was at church on Sunday.  He's involving a lot of the members in his baptismal program because he's friends with them, and it's even better because they are pretty shy, and it gives them a great opportunity to be a bit more involved.  He's having a great impact on a lot of nonmembers as well, who know him and respect his opinion.  To see him attending church at preparing for baptism is opening them up more towards us as well.  It's absolutely brilliant to see how one person's good choices affect so many others around him.

Tamsyn asked about M, which is a good point because I don't think I mentioned her for a couple weeks now.  She is trying really hard to quit drinking coffee, and she's slowly making progress on it.   It's very difficult for her, and she needs lots of support from God; your prayers will be priceless in helping her overcome this challenge.  She has a great heart and truly wants to enjoy the blessings that walking God's path brings, and she has not given up in spite of the war it is to conquer her struggles.  She reads the Book of Mormon regularly and is praying for support; our most recent lesson with her was based around the scripture story of Alma and Amulek breaking their bonds and the prison dividing in two after they had suffered long at the hands of evil people but hadn't given up on God.  We'll be having a family home evening at their house today with a few other member families coming to join us.

Speaking of joint Family Home Evenings, they've been a very successful thing we've been doing the last few weeks at different people's homes.  Last week was at P and M's, the week before at O and D's, and before them at F's.  We do our best to make them entertaining and spiritual, and they've so far been very much enjoyed by everyone involved.

This week will be fantastic as well, I'm certain, with the baptism of R and hopefully some new people being scheduled for baptism.  Keep praying for us, because I know it works.

Love you lots!
Elder Brown

 P.S.  Sorry this one's a bit shorter; I had a lot to report to President on this week.

Me with some of the kids at the baptism.  I love kids :) .  That's probably why they love me.

Elders Williams and White with the woman who was baptized

My revised version of my tabbed Book of Mormon--the organization of the tabbing is far improved because at this point I know what I use and need.  Also, it's now protected from experiencing the wear evident on my original by some good tape.  Also, I made use of a few of the little pictures you (mom) gave me in those attribute letters to add some aesthetically pleasing bits of personalization to it all.  The Slovaks love it, especially the kids.