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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hard Work As Usual

Hi mom and dad :) .  I'm healthy, well, happy, and...safe...um...I've made it this long, so I should be fine ha.  

This week has been full of hard work as usual.  That's what keeps us happy, right?  We had some good miracles come from unexpected directions this week, which is always great.  For example, Elders Pohorelicky and Fielding had two couples move into Rotherham from the Birmingham mission that were referred to us that they can teach now.  They aren't married, unfortunately, but it's still a good miracle.  Our dedicated branch missionary, Z, has been at it with us, and ended up bringing quite an unexpected face with him to church.  It was one of his cousins who we had been to teach together when I was with E. Bowen, but they teaching hadn't continued beyond two lessons because they said they hadn't made their minds up about it and needed to decide still.  At the time I remember thinking that even though I may not be the one to continue teaching them, I felt they would eventually investigate and join the church.  The man of the couple (J) told Z he'd decided he wanted to come to our church, and came this week with Z and his family, so that was a super good miracle.  He enjoyed church and we'll be teaching them this week with Z in accompaniment.  We'd left them Czech Books of Mormon (they're a Czech family, so shout out to Starsi Bitner, my brother in the Czech Republic), and I think they've been reading them.

This week we've found a sizable number of new investigators to be teaching, but frustratingly none of them have been accepting the baptismal challenge, or they're not married yet and can't be scheduled at the moment for baptism.  On the bright side of things, A passed her baptismal interview this week (that was a miracle), and will be baptized this weekend with a couple from Rotherham (the husband was supposed to be baptized the other week but had to be rescheduled) I interviewed this week.  We're of course very excited for that.
That's the essence of my week. 

I hope your week goes well with everything; I love you very much and wish you loads of pleasant things!

Elder Brown

Monday, April 20, 2015

Obstacles and Miracles

Čauky, mom and dad :) .  My week's been pretty crazy and we've been working hard with some unexpected obstacles facing members and investigators alike, but we've seen some good miracles despite this. 

 E. Pohorelicky is now back in Rotherham (serving with E. Fielding, an English speaker).  E. Bowen and Frahm are now together in the Firth Park area,  My new companion is named E. Stulen, who is from Norway and is a really chill guy.  I like him a lot; we already knew each other from a while ago when he was serving in this zone, and we get along great.  Thanks for the pictures, they're super good :) .  I'm glad to see your happy faces.  The flower picture looks professional.

There was supposed to be a baptism in the branch this week from Rotherham, but he had to be rescheduled because of a Word of Wisdom hiccup the day before his baptism.  However, his wife came to church for the first time on Sunday and told me afterwards that this is the true church, that in no other church is there what's here.  She's now scheduled for baptism with her husband, so that's super positive.  They're going to be trying to schedule their son for baptism as well, which would be fantastic.

As for me and E. Stulen, we had some disappointments this week as well, with M rescheduling herself for baptism next week and then not making it to her interview this weekend because of coffee in spite of E. Stulen and I fasting on the day she was having the hardest time with it.  Because of that her children didn't want to be baptized without her and we had to cancel all the interviews.  They'll all come around, it's just a matter of patience and continuing to help them overcome these challenges.  We have found some new people that we're excited to teach, which should be great.  Hopefully it will far outweigh the recent loss of several people who have stopped investigating for various reasons.  O and D are still on fire as far as missionary work is concerned, and they've laid the foundation for teaching some new people both in Firth Park and in Darnall.  Iv has been super good with it as well, actually getting an extended family member to take him to church by car along with another member and another investigator.  J and Z should have now received an e-mail concerning their appointment at the registrar, and so their marriage is in the works.  They were also at church on Sunday again, and seem to be enjoying it more and more every time.  P and T also have an appointment scheduled for the end of this month, so there are two marriages solidly in the works right now.  That's super exciting :) .  We reintroduced the third hour of Sunday meetings this week, which is fantastic news as well, and the temple prep classes for some of are key member couples are in various stages of completion.  This year we should have multiple couples attending the temple to be sealed as families forever, and they will be the absolute first ones from this branch ever to do so.  I dearly hope it happens before I leave, but there's a chance that I'll miss it by a couple of months.  I am excited for it, and I can see a bright future for these families if they keep going strong towards this goal.

I send you my love with the hope that things are going well at home :) .  I pray for you always, and think you are the best family ever!

Love you much,
Starší Brown

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Typical Day at Church

Hello mom and dad!  

About the Ferrari--its not even the nicest car I've seen out here.  I see all sorts of sports cars and super cars all the time--Aston Martins, Audi RAs, Mercedes, Lamborghinis, Porches, Jaguars, Bentleys, Rolls Royces, and so forth.  It's a massive gap, though--either the cars are really nice, or they're hatchbacks.  There's like no middle ground. 

I probably won't see the sessions of conference I missed, unfortunately.  There's no way to effectively work that in.  A typical day at church involves us arriving by bus with some members and investigators, saying hello to a few people, then getting started.  I usually am involved in translating, be it from English to Slovak or the other way around, and if it's not me, it's one of the others.  There's always a mix of English people speaking and Slovaks, but the Slovaks are getting more and more involved, taking more responsibility in teaching or giving talks.  When I first came to the mission, it was usually a mix of Slovaks and missionaries or English members taking care of the sacrament, but now it's just the Slovak members :) .  Hooray!  It makes me so happy to see men who I've helped change their lives now able to bless and pass the sacrament.  I don't attend priesthood quorum classes after splitting from sacrament meeting, but rather translate in Relief Society.  I've been doing that since serving with Elder Frahm.  Hearing women like A teach the women from the manual is the most amazing thing, because she couldn't even read when we first started teaching her.  She has such a great testimony, as well, and so even though she's not the most fluent with words or the most familiar with where things are in the scriptures, the Spirit is really there when she teaches.  I always make sure to have said hello to everyone in the branch before leaving, but lately that's been getting harder and harder to do since the attendance has been increasing (a positive thing, for sure).  I used to play the piano often for the Sunday meetings, but I've not been doing that for a long time because John Nettleship (son of Greg and Brenda) does that.

A bit of sad news is that M didn't make it to her interview because she ended up drinking coffee in spite of the replacement drink we got her (called Inka).  Her daughters want to wait to be baptized with her, so they're all going to have to be rescheduled and give it another go.  It's really hard for her to quit drinking coffee, so keep her in your prayers.  Her son, M Jr. (about 13 years old), though is now scheduled for the end of April--he's a really good kid and has been attending church regularly for a while.  He's just very active and rarely is in the lessons we have.  We talked to him the other day in a lesson about that, though, and so we're going to try to be seeing him quite often this week to get him ready for an interview on Saturday.

Some good news is that S (over a year ago called as a branch missionary but got a job that required him to work on Sundays) should now be coming to church again with his family because he seems to have gotten the opportunity to have Saturdays Sundays off starting this upcoming Sunday.  We had a great lesson there last night with him and his kids (a couple of which are baptized as well), and that's the picture I've attached.

I mentioned last week the good things happening in Doncaster, and we went there this week and ended up scheduling the couple for baptism that came to church last week with L.  We didn't see them at church this week, though, so I'm not sure what happened there.

I've got to get going pretty soon here, but I want to remind you that I love you very much and am working my hardest out here.  Many missionaries tend to slow down at the end of their missions, anticipating their return home.  That's not me, though; it's not in my nature to be like that.  I've never been a waster, nor do I intend to ever be one.  So no worries there :) .  I hope you have a great week!

Elder Brown

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Funny Story and Some Unexpected Miracles

Hi mom and dad :) . 

 I did have a super good Easter with conference and all--it was great!  I didn't get to see all the sessions, unfortunately, just because of the time difference and us having normal Sunday meetings this week, but what I saw was great.  

The funny story I promised is pretty short, but here you have it:  on the bus back fro conference Saturday evening, a drunk guy got on and started talking to us.  He told us he wanted to share a song he'd written, and it goes like this:  "It's just like heaven" (repeated several times with irregular hand claps) "When we're together" (less often than the first line).  It was a two-note song as well, and I was a little bit tempted to ask if he'd written a guitar part to go along with it.  Ha.  

We had a super good Easter Sunday attendance at church this week (Elder Bowen and I ended up with 12 investigators there, which I think is our high together), and M was one of those!  She's doing super well and has cut down her coffee drinking down to part of one small cup a day.  She's got to stop by Wednesday, so Bro. Stanton gave her a blessing after having her and her daughters over for lunch (I sent you a picture of us outside his house).  She's going to give it her best, and I know she can do it.  We're praying hard.

Transfers were this week, so that means Elder Bowen will now be serving in Firth Park with Elder Williams, Elder Pohorelicky will be coming to serve with me in Darnall, Elder Frahm is staying in Rotherham and getting an English-speaker (Elder Fielding), and Elder White is leaving to Huddersfield.  It'll be a good transfer, I'm sure.  It'll be fun to have another Czech companion again.  I am still district leader, though with my impending death (so we call our release date), that may change next transfer.

We've had some recent and unexpected miracles in the Doncaster area--we've pretty much only been working with the member family there and the couple living with them that's getting ready to get married, but there have been two new households this week that have suddenly turned up.  We've scheduled one of the people we taught, and the other two were introduced to us at church by good old L, our 2nd counselor on the branch presidency.  He basically brought them to church and handed them to us, so we'll be seeing them this week and hopefully we can get things going there as well.

I've got to go, but I love you lots and pray for you constantly!

Starsi Brown

Fish pie from Bro. Stanton (so good!)

Me in my new suit