Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Man, what a fun week!!

Hey family! Como estan?

Question/answer junk.. I hope I get the package.. I'm not sure how important the suite number is, but I guess we will see! Thanks for sending it though! Yeah, I talked to the Frie's and to the Gardner's, so that was cool to have a little connection with home. Haha, I am really not 201 pounds.. I'm really like 188. I had my bag and my suit on in that pic, hahaha. I wish I was 201! Yeah, we get fed pretty often, which is good, and some of the pictures I'll send are from a less active's house named Juan, who feeds us a lot and also cuts our hair. He is wayyyyy cool! I'm soooo stoked for General Conference! What a great opportunity! That's cool to hear about coach Gilliam being coach! Good to hear! The languages in this mission are Mandarin, Spanish, English and Portuguese, I think... But that's all I know of. Our zone of Spanish speakers is like 15 Spanish speakers and fifteen English speakers, but I have no clue how many there are in the mission. Yes, finally got my own iPad and am treating it good! The standard of excellence is 21 lessons a week, so we try our best to hit that every week! Anyway, that's enough of that.

Man, what a fun week!! So first off, we had this new missionary meeting up in Scarsdale with all the new missionaries and their trainers that came! To be honest, I thought it was going to be pretty boring, but man was I wrong! The spirit was so strong there and just to hear the testimonies of all these new, amazing, excited missionaries was so much fun! I don't remember too much that was said at this conference, but I do remember how strongly I felt my savior's love and how good that made me feel. The main jist of the meeting was being loyal to the Savior. He is number one on our list and should be constantly and consistently. I want you to think to yourself what being loyal to the Savior means to you. Really think about it for a second. Being loyal to the Savior to me means always remembering Him, always keeping His and our Father's will in our minds and in our hearts. What we do as members of this church is hard. I've seen the difficulties people have of giving up worldly things to come unto to Christ and it is hard. But, as we set our hearts on the higher goal of being loyal to our Savior then things like that don't seem as big, trials seem to shrink a little bit and life just is better. I don't know about you guys, but I feel like the Savior is my best friend, some one who is always there for me and picks me up when I am down. A best friend who did something no other best friend would do and for that I am eternally grateful. He is our friend and our brother but He also is our Savior. Always remember Him. That's kind of what being loyal to the Savior means to me. He is so great, I love Him with all my heart! 

Something really cool happened the other day while we where tracting. So, we have this long road of just project buildings that are in our area and we had this one that we had been doing for the last couple of days that we weren't quiet finished with, so we were going to go finish it out one night. Anyway, as we were heading over there after dinner Elder Hinckley felt an impression that we should go to this other apartment building. We starting off and a lot of people were slamming doors in our faces or not even opening the doors and so we felt like it was kind of a bust. But we knocked on this one door and this huge black guy answered and sees us and about passes out! It was weird at first, but he began to explain how right before we knocked on the door he was talking to a friend on Facebook about how he needs to start coming back to church. (He was baptized when he was like 17) After he got done talking to this friend he explained how he prayed for the first time in forever for some sort of guidance. Right when his prayer finished we knocked on his door. He told us how he was really active in the church and was going to serve a mission himself, but he had some bad peer pressure and fell away. He was so excited that we knocked on his door and talked with him. He kept on saying over and over again about how we probably just changed his life. What a cool experience that was for me. He is an English speaker so we won't to get to teach him more after our lesson tonight, but this experience was just a testimony builder to me that the Spirit really does guide this work. 

I'm not sure if I have talked to you guys about Lili, but she is our investigator that is getting baptized this month! She is so funny and makes the best food!! The member and less actives feed us every time we go over and normally it is pretty good, but I hate Mongoo, and they seem to like to give that to me a lot, haha!

Last night I had the opportunity to take over the area...basically what that means is that another new Elder splits with me in my area and we take over the area for the day. Seriously the best day of my mission so far! It was soooo amazing! Hard, but the best. I split with Elder Nielsen, who has been out one more cycle than me, but our Spanish is about the same. He is an awesome Elder and taught me a ton of things! We had a record breaking day in the district with 10 lessons that day! We were non-stop; it was so fun! We stopped by Rigoberto's, who hasn't been answering his door lately and we can't call him because he doesn't have a phone, so we didn't think he was going to answer. But he did and I guess he broke his back or something, so he had been at the hospital for the last week which was really sad, but we taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ and it was the best lesson I have been in since I have been here. The Spirit was incredible and he is going to be baptized on the 24! I'm am so stoked. I gained a strong testimony of fasting and the blessings it brings yesterday. We were both pretty nervous about speaking Spanish by ourselves, so we decided we would fast and man did we get the gift of tongues. Fasting is so real!! 

We have spent most our day today at the Natural History Museum so I have been trying to write this in between events, so sorry about that. The museum is way cool, it just seems like we have been here for days! This lady that checked us in was a member so she got us in all the special movies for free! 

Anyways much love to you all!, 
Elder brown 
A couple of pictures from the "New Missionary meeting last week

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

First week in the Bronx!‏

Hola familia! Que lo que?

How's the good ole family doing? I love reading your letters and knowing all that is going on back at home. Sounds like all my friends did great jobs on their talks. I have some great friends don't I! About me emailing Cory, hahaha, we got my iPad, then it didn't work, so, they gave me a loaner one and we had to test out all the apps to see if they were being enabled with this thing called "Mas 360" so I was not breaking the rules. Hahaha, about the coat... Yes send me one asap. It is starting to get chilly around here. My address is 700 White Plains Road, 315 Scarsdale, NY 10583. And, I don't think you need to worry about sending me the camera... We just take pics on the iPads, and when I get my real one I will try and start taking a lot of pics. I'm not exactly sure what to take pictures of though, hahaha. More about Elder Hinckley... He is from Ogden, Utah and is kind of quiet and soft, but I love him a lot. It is just me and him kicking it in this pad. We have some Elders that live in the apartment next to us, but just me and him in this one. It is kind of quiet at times but I like it. I am broken-hearted to hear about Boston.. :(That is so sad! Give him a kiss for me! The ward here is pretty big, but there are a lot of menos activos (less active) so we visit them a lot. I hope that answers all the important questions!

So, about this week! Wow, what a crazy one! First week in New York was definitely one to remember! OK, so that night that I got here, that Wednesday after p-day was over and we got everything situated here at the pad, we went and did my first tracting ever! Hahahahaha, what a great experience! We head to this huge, most ghetto building I have seen, and start at the top floor and work down. My very first door I ever knocked on  in my mission this guy starts yelling at us about how we are a cult and how we don't accept colored people and how we needed to leave or he was going to come out and beat us. Hahaha, how awesome is that for my first door? Man, I wish mom could have been there! ;) Anyways, we just tracted the rest of that night...and got in some doors, taught some first lessons, and placed some BOMS, so it ended up being a pretty good day!  The worst thing about tracting is that basically all the people we find are English speakers, so right after you teach them and start to love them you have to hand them over to the English missionaries. It makes me want to scream, but it doesn't really matter who teaches them, just as long as they come to Christ, right?  Anyways, I forget to tell you something in my last letter that I thought was pretty cool. While we were at transfer meeting, Pres. Smith gets up to talk and he told the mission about how right when I stepped off the plane he saw me and leaned over to his wife and said he knew who my companion was going to be. Talk about inspiration, am I right? So that was pretty cool!

Thursday's are basketball night. Basically we just go to church and all the local ballers come over and the white missionaries show them what is good. (The only white people where I am are the missionaries. I see maybe one a day! Hahaha I love it! ) Anyways, every one was going crazy when they saw me, the white kid, dunk. Haha, they all wanted to take turns throwing me alleyoops. It was way fun.

Alright, now for some good stuff... So, some elders that were here like way before us had this investigator named Rigoberto. They taught him, but he stopped answering the door for them so they stopped teaching him. So we decided to stop by and see what was up. To our surprise, he answered the door and let us in. He is like this 80 year old man who is, legit, the nicest looking old Mexican man I have ever seen. Well, as we sat down he pulled out from his desk a BOM, all the pamphlets and basically every single church resource we have. As we talked, he told us that he was reading in the Book of Mormon about how Jesus was baptized and how he needs to follow his example. We were, oh yeah OK, that's awesome and of course, after that I asked him to be baptized and he said yes. We were so stoked afterwards! The worth of souls is soooooooo great; it's amazing! After the lesson he told us his life has been changed and he feels so much peace and joy in his life! THIS IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT!! It seriously feels so incredible to be a mouthpiece in helping these people. I couldn't be happier to be a missionary right now.

Another experience that I thought was pretty cool... As we were walking to a lesson this super drunk man on the street stopped us and started talking to us. As we talked he began to cry and then started to bawl. He continued to say how much he needs the gospel in his life and how important the gospel is to change his life. How true is that? The gospel changes lives and that is a fact. I have seen this change in my life and I am sure all of you have seen it to. Through Jesus Christ our lives will be enhanced and be changed in miraculous ways. I have a strong testimony of this. As I have been diving into the scriptures and into so many different books pertaining to the gospel, I have seen a difference  in my life. My motives have changed. The gospel and Jesus Christ needs to be the center of our lives. It's hard at times, but just like Matthew 16:25 says when we lose our life for His sake we then will find it. I love this scripture so much and it has kind of been my motto so far in the mission. This isn't my time, but it's the Savior's and me, as a missionary and us as members, need to try our best to give all we have to our Savior because everything we have is because of Him. The gospel is true man! I love it so much.

Gosh, I have so much to tell! So, we have this golden family named the Estevez's! We found them knocking doors in this super ghetto building. They let us in and we taught them of the Book of Mormon and the restoration. They seemed way interested and had a lot of questions. It was fun because he is helping me with my Spanish and I am helping him with his English. They seriously are great! Can't wait to talk to them some more! So on my first Sunday in the mission they had me go up and bear my testimony in front of the ward. It was scary because my Spanish is literally awful, so I tried my best to get all the grammar but it was hard. Although I couldn't understand everything that was said at church, I still felt the spirit just the same. That is awesome how that works, huh? Yeah, the language is tough for me, I will be honest. In the MTC I felt pretty good about it and I felt like I was at the top, but now I feel like I am so bad at it. Everyone speaks so fast and slurs their words and so I don't get like anything, and so then I get flustered and can't say anything. Most of the people are Dominican and their Spanish is so hard to understand. It has been really tough for me, but Hinckley is helping me a lot! Estoy mucho agradecedo por el. (Which I am most grateful for) He is trying his best to help me as much as he can. I love him. Anyways, I am grateful for all of you and your examples to me. I wish I could tell you about every single person we teach and all the members, but that's impossible so I will keep it brief, but want you all to know that I love my mission so much already and I love all the people! Pray that I don't die here in the Bronx! Haha, jk, but yeah, love you guys so much! Have the best week ever!! 
Much love, Elder Brown
Me, my trainer and my grandfather

Some pics of the pad

I don't know if you can tell what that says but it says 201.8 pounds

Friday, September 18, 2015

Caiden Arrives in New York

These pictures were posted on the blog that President and Sister Smith posted after they greeted their newest missionaries. It is great to see him out there in the mission field!
Caiden and his MTC companion getting off the plane.

Caiden greeting President Smith

The new arrivals with President Smith and his wife

Elder Brown...finally in New York!

I believe they are pictured here with the Assistants

With the Assistants and the President's 3 children

Getting introduced and preparing to meet his first companion

Meeting his first companion, Elder Hinckley

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First day in the actual field!‏


Well, here it is! New York!! It's sooooo crazy to actually be here and for my mission to actually start!! So, I really don't have that much time to write because I didn't get my iPad today, and everything has been kind of a rush, so I am sitting in a clerks office in a church writing right now! I feel really bad, Dad, that I wasn't able to talk to you! I hope you know I tried like 30 times... I'm not sure why it wouldn't work!! But in just a short three months I will be able to talk to you guys!

I want to thank Lois and McKay's family for the package; it was sooooo awesome!! They sure do know my love for crazy socks!! Haha, and Mom and Britt, thanks for the package also! Those notes from Bridger are seriously the best thing ever!! I love them sooo much!

So, just some things about what has been going on for the past little while. Like I said, I don't have much time to write and I will make sure to give you all the little details in my letter next week, but I will try to fit in as much as I can today! I will just start with Tuesday... The day I left the MTC. Three in the morning we all get up, say our goodbyes, throw our things in the back of a huge semi truck thing and head for the airport! Got to the airport, got everything checked and ready to go and took off for Detroit. Landed in Detroit just a short three hours later and hopped right back on another plane headed for white Plains New York. We greeted by the mission president and his family! Him, his wife, his three kids and some elder. He is seriously some awesome. Young and energetic! I can't wait to get to know him more. They took us back to the mission home where we had some dinner, did a testimony meeting and finished the night off with some apple pie. We got to bed pretty early because we were all so tired! We woke up this morning and ate some breakfast and headed for transfer meeting. This was where we found out who our companion was and what area we would be serving in. My companion's name is Elder Hinckley, and everyone tells me he is the best! So I got lucky! The first area we are in is Concourse, which is basically North Bronx. Yup, totally a different world from Orem, that is for sure! Haha, but I already love it and am so excited for everything ahead!!

Sorry this letter is so bad and doesn't have any detail or anything, but i just wanted to write and make sure you guys know I am alive and well! Next week I will write the best letter yet I promise!!

Much love, Elder Brown

Friday, September 11, 2015

The End of the MTC‏


Wow, another week has already flown by!! It’s insane, really, that in like three days I am on a plane flying to New York City!! That’s so crazy! I’m so stoked! So yeah, about the travel plans... We leave Monday night or you could even call it Tuesday morning at 3! We drive to the airport and our flight leaves at like 7 I think. I would love to talk to you guys so Mom be ready to answer the phone, and Dad, if you don’t mind will you send me your number so I can call you at work? Can’t wait to talk and chat it up for a few minutes con ustedes. I’m doing more amazing and I am so grateful for all your support while I have been at the MTC! I want to give a shout out to Sister Webb for the amazing package she sent me. The cake thingy that she sent was gone within 4 minutes. SOOO delicious! Also, LACEE YOU ARE THE BEST!!! Those were cinnamon rolls sent from heaven! When I got it I literally screamed with joy!! And Mom, you too! I loved the package you sent me! I can also count on you for some good rhyme things or whatever you call them! Seriously, it means a lot! Love you!! Mom, I am surprised you didn’t have that many questions this week! ;) My leg is doing great! All healed up, just got some knarly scars back there!

That so awesome to hear about the BYU game though! That is kind of like the hot topic around here! Everyone is talking about it! In two years that is going to be me making that Hail Mary catch for the touchdown, mark my words!! Hehe Lacee, that’s cool you got a new car. You will have to send a pic so I can approve. And maybe I will give it a detail when I get home! Ha-ha Britt, that is sick that you are running in a relay type thing! I always knew you were the most athletic in the family! hahahahaha (but really you are, now that I am fat) Thank you for letting me know about everything that goes on back at home! I really wish I could address every little thing but then I would be here for days, but keep keeping me filled in!!

Entonces... About my week. I had my first fast Sunday on the mission. Didn’t even seem close to as hard as the fast Sundays back home. Probably because I am just so full on the gospel and the spirit. That Sunday I had a meeting with the branch president, President Price. I don’t know if I have told you guys about him that much, but he is seriously the best!! He is exactly like me in every way and we really connect. And, he is like a 100 millionaire which is pretty cool! Anyways, in the meeting he told me something that applied to him and something that he thought would help me. He said we want to be so good and do everything perfect and be perfect at everything, but when we don’t we get mad at ourselves. He has a name for it and I think it is hilarious, "We ‘should’ on ourselves" (yeah when you say that out loud it kind of sounds bad) “Shoulding” on ourselves is a problem that I think everyone has. "Ahh, I should have done this I should have done that, I should have been better". Often times I think we get down on ourselves for things that we didn’t accomplish or things that should have gone better. THIS FEELING DOES NOT COME FROM THE SPIRIT. It comes from the adversary. He wants us to feel inadequate, or that we can’t seem to do everything perfect. His job is to make us feel like we aren’t good enough. When in fact, we can literally do anything, and when I say literally I mean with the Lord there is not a single thing that we cannot do. I know you all know that, and I know I am preaching to the choir here because you all are perfect ;) But seriously, think about that.... ANYTHING. Don’t take this as just another ole missionary who is talking about Philippians 4:13 again, but take this as a challenge. Join the Savior’s team. YOU WILL NOT LOSE. It’s a fact. Every time you will come out a winner. Yeah, there will be times where you are down a couple points and the clock is ticking down, but there is always another quarter. You are a winner every time. Sorry for this rant, but I feel so strongly about this and that is why I picked that scripture to be on my plague.

So, yesterday we had a thing called “in-field training”. Which basically is 9 hours of people telling you what to do when you leave the MTC. I felt like I was drinking from the fire hose again. But really, it was such an inspiring day and I learned so much on how to be a better missionary. Something that we talked about for about six hours was the impact members have on missionary work. You guys are sooooooooo important! Seriously, I passed over that way too much before I came on the mission, but members are pretty much the bomb! We as missionaries NEED you as members. The work doesn’t happen without either part. I want to make one more challenge to whoever is reading this. Find one way to progress the work. If it be sharing your testimony with someone or talking to someone on the street about the gospel or getting a referral to the missionaries around you, whatever it may be, always be looking for a way to help the church grow. This should be one of our single most important things we do in the day. Take that happiness that the gospel brings you and show somebody else the happiness, because I know that they will want it too! I love you guys so much and I know you are all being great member missionaries. Keep it up por favor!!  

Man, I wish I could share every spiritual experience that I have or everything thing I do throughout the day, but then I would never leave the computer! I hope you guys can feel the love I have for this gospel and for the Savior through my letters. It’s hard to put your feelings on a document, but I try my best! This is the true church and I know that without a doubt. There is no way that the Book of Mormon could not be true... it’s so true it make me want to jump with joy, which sometimes I can’t restrain myself from doing. But much love for you all!! Be safe!! 

Love, Elder Brown 

Oh PS, if you have anything to tell me before I leave for New York just send an email.  I am pretty sure I will get to check this before I peace out!
The packages this week in our room!
Me with some random 7'2" guy
The next ZL's
Some Goof Balls

Friday, September 4, 2015

Travel Plans?! Whhaatt?!

Hola, mi familia y amigos!! 

You’re kidding right?? My stay at the beloved MTC is almost over?? That’s insane! I even get my travel plans for New York today!! It’s crazy that I only have one more week left and then I am going to being teaching actual people!! Scary right?? Haha, jk, I am more stoked than I probably should be. The stay at the MTC has been great and, as you all know, I have loved it so much, but I have so much excitement to go to New York and tell people about the Savior and what He did for us!! STOKED!!!

Answering questions timeeeee! Yes, I am hearing from my friends! The weekly writers are Arthur Ferrell Coombs Jr 1111 and Cory mostly, but everyone else keeps me updated! It’s so much fun to hear from people!! I did get the opportunity to host Elder Ence this week. That was really cool!! I talked a lot with Elder Hale and Elder Keeley this week as well. Umm, I don’t think I will need a carry on. I think I have enough luggage for everything. But with the camera - I don’t know, I think it will work. It is just kind of old. And to be quite honest, I have basically sent you all the pictures I have taken, so I don’t see a need for sending you my memory card at this point. We have six guys that live in the room. All weird, but I love them all to death!

Also, thank you mom for the package with the Whitestrips and stuff! That was awesome! Dad, I do get your Dear Elders and they are seriously the best! Nothing I love more than a good Dear Elder! Also, thank you so much to the Wells for the great package! I hope you know the donuts were gone in like a second! Haha Syd, that’s awesome that you won your first game!! Keep up the great work! And Zach, that is sooooo dope that you landed the back flip!! You will have to send me a video for proof so I know you are not lying! Love you man! Keep up the great work! Andie! You make me laugh so much, I love you!! So listen to this Andie... I was hosting the day Cade came in and I wanted to host him, but some kid snatched him before I could!! I was so mad! But I have talked to him a couple times and I made sure to give him a kiss like you said! ;)  Also, thanks aunt Kanani for your letter. I am going to talk more about it later in the letter. Mom and Britt, thanks tons for your package too!! The cookies are bomb. I really LOVE the inspirational quotes you gave me!! They are all over my closet!! Last p-day I also got a package from the Pedersens!! Some amazing cupcakes!! Thank you so much for everything. I love you all so much and appreciate all you do and your thoughts and prayers. It means the world!

Now I’ll talk more about what when on this week!! So we have devotionals every Sunday and Tuesday nights here at the MTC. They are seriously the best parts of the week and I look forward to them so much!! Basically, on Sundays a big wig from the MTC speaks to us and on Tuesday we get someone from the Seventy. I loved the Sunday devotional this week! I don’t remember what the guy’s name who spoke was, but a story that he told us really hit me straight on. The short version on this story is there was a young man who got called to serve in a mission somewhere in Germany. After the MTC he arrived to Germany so excited to teach and so spiritually ready to share the gospel with everyone he saw. The problem was he could not speak a lick of the language. He began to get kind of discouraged and in a meeting with the mission president he asked, "Why did I not get called to an English speaking mission where I could be super effective?" Well, as we all might expect, the mission president said "You are called where you are supposed to be." Most people and I think me included, kind of take this saying as kind of a cliché, something that everyone says all the time. But this Elder did not. He took what the mission president said to heart and worked, and worked, and worked, and then he continued to work, then he worked some more. Although he barely knew German, he would not pass a single person on the street without talking to them. His lack in the language did not hurt his enthusiasm to work. And after all this hard work that he had put in he was fluent within 4 months and ended up being the best missionary that mission had ever seen. There are two things that I love so much about this particular elder. The first one is that he continued to work. He was discouraged at times, there were times that he didn’t want to do it, but no matter what he didn’t stop working. Success will NEVER come without work. Besides the spirit, I would say that work is one of the most important things as a missionary. Never stop working. In Uncle Scott’s email to me today he gave me a quote that sums it up perfectly. “If you are poor, work.… If you are happy, work. Idleness gives room for doubts and fears. If disappointments come, keep right on working. If sorrow overwhelms you… work. When faith falters and reason fails, just work. When dreams are shattered and hope seems dead, work. Work as if your life were in peril. It really is. No matter what ails you, work. Work faithfully… Work is the greatest remedy available for both mental and physical afflictions.” There it is... Work! The second thing I loved about this Elder was his enthusiasm... or his desire to work. I am so excited to be here on a mission. Sometimes I sit in class and just have to shake out my excitement to teach a lesson. Man I love it!!!

A couple more things... Sorry, I feel like this letter is days long! There was a day this week I was really struggling... I couldn’t focus in class, my Spanish was awful and I just felt like I was an awful missionary. My lessons went bad and I hadn’t felt the spirit with me for the whole entire day. Frankly I was mad at everyone. But, like I said in my last letter, I felt the love of our Savior and our God, but this time it was through somebody who I am convinced followed a prompting given by the spirit. Later that night, I received the package from the Wells. It really helped brighten my spirits, but the thing that changed my whole outlook on the day and on the mission at that point was a quote that Aunt Kanani gave me in her letter. The quote goes like this, "Don’t be gloomy. Don’t dwell on the unkind things. Stop seeking out the storm and enjoy more fully the sunlight. Even if you are not happy put a smile on your face. Accentuate the positive. Look a little deeper for the good. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life." -- Gordon B Hinckley.
On a day where all I was doing was dwelling on the bad, my Spanish sucks, this is so hard, why am I here. Countless negative thoughts all day. Why? Why be negative? The Spirit doesn’t dwell in a negative or mad person. We can’t do anything without the Spirit, so why?? Ask yourself that question when you’re down or when you are sad and mad. LOVE LIFE!! That is my favorite part of that quote. Love everything you do. And if you don’t love it either stop or learn to love it. Cuz without love it is going to be hard to be good at anything!! Love and work, those are the keys!! Haha, so anyways, thanks Aunt Kanani for the inspiration there. No matter what, we are being watched over.

Okay, last thing I promise.

The Tuesday devotional was sickkkkkk!! Guess who came? Elder Dallin H. Oaks!! An apostle! It was awesome! I was even on the front row. I could see the sweat on his brow! Haha, something that was said that I really loved, but I won’t talk too much about because I am kinda running out of time, but he said “Dwell in Christ”. Think about what that means to you, and then apply it in your life and I can promise you life will be so much easier. Always remember the Savior like the sacrament prayer says. Think of Him in every action and in every word. If the Savior stood beside me would I do the things I do? Love you all so much!! I Pray for you all every day!! The church is true!!!

Much love, Elder Brown
Me and Elder Nate Hale

Me and Elder Keeley

Some of the dudes in the zone