Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas pictures and video!

Since we got to speak with Caiden through Skype for about an hour yesterday for Christmas, and the day after was p-day, he decided not to write his normal letter today. He did send us a short voice recording and a few pictures. We also were able to get some pictures and videos from Facebook of him at some of the member's homes. This will have to suffice for this week.

This is a Christmas tree and presents that some of the missionaries helped provide for a family that had just moved to New York from Honduras. They had nothing but their apartment, but this is what they got to come home to! 
A Member gave them Superhero outfits for Christmas!



Christmas Dinner with some members

And, unbelievable gifts from some members!

Looks like it was quite the party.. This was Christmas eve.

This is the Elder's Christmas card. He said they were trying to look like a "Boy Band"! "Merry Christmas! We love you very much, from the missionaries."

video

Monday, December 19, 2016

The real meaning of Christmas!

So, we have a change everybody! P-days have been changed to Mondays from here on out. Not sure exactly why, but we will go and do! I can't believe that I get to talk to y’all in a week! I guess that gives me an excuse to write a little less this week ;) jk!

This week was certainly a great one, but a very stressful and tiring one as well! The baptism went really well! I'm so grateful for Nerio and the impact he has had on my life. He really has taught me what it means to be Christ like. He is so quiet, but the most humble man I have ever met in my entire life. His baptism was a special experience!

Saturday night we had the ward Christmas party! It was a fun time! I love this ward so much! We had to leave right after it started though because Hispanic parties literally never start on time, but it was super fun and there was a lot of good food!

We also had the mission Christmas devotional and it was AMAZING! Ah man, that is like my favorite conference in mission history! In the devotional, they asked us two questions. The first was “what does Christmas mean to you”, and I thought a lot about that. Obviously, it means the birth of Christ and all that, but I felt like that was just something that people say, you know, like I felt that was just engraved on my brain, so that wasn't a good enough answer for me. As I thought deeper about the true meaning of Christmas and what it truly meant to me I thought of my companion. He is so great and an amazing example. I don't think that he has thought about himself the whole entire time I have been with him and I think that is what Christmas means to me... not thinking about oneself. Giving ourselves to God, kind of like Nerio did this Christmas, and giving ourselves to other people like Elder Frei has done for everyone that surrounds us. Christmas really is the best time of the year!! The other question that they asked us was, “what was your favorite Christmas and why”? I thought even harder about this one because I have a lot of amazing Christmases! From cinnamon rolls in the morning, to awkward caroling around the ward, but this Christmas has got to be my favorite of them all, even though it hasn't even been Christmas yet! I think this year it finally hit me why we celebrate Christmas in this church and it will never be the same!

As a district, we went around to a bunch of investigators and less actives houses to carol to them and that had never been my favorite thing.... haha, IT’S SOOOOO AWKWARD!! Like, all they do is just stare weirdly at you while you sing in a terrible voice! Haha, so I just kind of went into this activity with a bummer of an attitude, but my outlook changed as we got to see that happiness on the faces of these people as we shared a quick hymn and a treat. The smiles and laughs were irreplaceable! So, I repented for having a bad attitude! :):) Caroling still will never be my favorite thing! ;)

Well, I gotta sign off! I love you all so much! I hope we make this Christmas week a great one and that we give ourselves to others! See you in a week!

Con amor,

Elder Brown
Staring down the photographer at the Mission Devotional conference

This was their attempt to try and get everyone in the mission into one picture. Didn't work. Can you find Caiden?

Posing at the Mission conference


Caiden and Elder Frei with their "Light the World" pledge sheets.

More missionaries, more "light"!

At the baptism of Nerio

Posers!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Testimonies and love

Family!!!

What's up y’all?? It's weird writing again, because didn't I just write like yesterday? It sure seems like that! But it's almost Christmas! I am so excited! It doesn't even feel like it here though. We haven't gotten like any snow or anything like that. It's a little bit cold, but Christmas just isn't the same without snow, so we are hoping that some will come soon! But I am excited to see y’all! It should be fun!

So, not much super crazy happened this week! It was another week full of service and helping others and so there really isn't much better than that! With sharing the initiative video and doing service projects with people, we also love showing the video called “Lift”. It's a Mormon message and it is legendary (if you haven't seen it.. watch it now)! I promise that the little acts of service we do, do not go unseen. I love it! The pure love of Christ is shown through service! I saw that love this week in a member who decided that he wanted to help another member out, a kid that comes to church by himself dressed in old jeans and a smelly shirt. The other member recognizing the need for help goes and buys him two new suits, ties, belts, white shirts, shoes and everything he needs to look like a stellar missionary. He is going to be able to bless the sacrament in his new suit! :) Your acts of service do not go unseen!

So, some good news and some sad news... I guess I'll start with the sad news. So we found out that Noemi has to work on the day that she was going to get baptized. :( and she can't really take off work because they only actually give her work one day a week and she has to sustain her and her 2 boys, so she is going to be baptized in January for sure. I hope I get to stay for that! Transfers will be two days after Christmas! I really hope I get to stay with Elder Frei for another one! But the good news is that Nerio is super stoked for his baptism this weekend! It's been such a good experience with him and I love him beyond measure! Given that we only met him a little while ago, we are trying to cram in all the things we have to teach him before he gets baptized. Meeting with him every day has been a blast! Please, please pray for Nerio!

Like a week ago we get a call from the mission office saying that they need our help. Supposedly, there was someone in Peru that wanted to get baptized, but she was under age and so she had to get written permission from her mom. But her mom lives in New Rochelle. So the mission president in Peru contacted our mission telling us that we needed to go over to see this lady and tell her what we are all about. The only thing they really told us was that she probably wouldn't sign and that she is really mean. So we were stoked to see her! :), those people are our specialty ;) Anyway, we couldn't get in contact her for like a week, and then the day before the Baptism we stopped by and she was home. She really wasn't too nice, haha! We talked with her and started to teach her the restoration and she just wasn't having it, fighting us on every little thing. But as my companion bore strong testimony of the gospel and the church, knowing that her daughter was making the right choice, after strong testimony her heart softened. She didn't sign the paper, she said she wanted to pray more about it and actually consider it, but she invited us back every week until she feels like she is ready to sign. Testimony really does open up the hearts of others. It makes hard hearts soft, and mean people less mean, haha! I love my companion and his testimony! He rocks!

I love you all! Can't wait to see you on Christmas! 


Ps. Sorry we didn't take any pics this week.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Another busy week full of service!Pictures

I legit love the mission more than anything in the whole entire world... like there is not a thing better than being able to serve the Lord! I love it so much! And this week was super busy as always and we kept the service train going by doing service projects every day! It's been super busy, but super-duper fun! I don't think there is a better way to show our love than service, and that's why I love this year's initiative, light the world, so much! Because the way Jesus Christ showed his love for the people was by the miracles he did, that is, the service he rendered to others, and we too are to do the same! Now, maybe we don't raise the dead or heal the blind, but the small acts of service we do daily are miracles because they change the lives of others. But another thing I love about the video is that we have the potential to become like our Savior Jesus Christ! By the daily things we do, we become more and more like him! And there is no better feeling than that! I love our Savior!

So, besides doing a lot of service this week we saw some amazing miracles! We are teaching a less active man named Miguel! I think I mentioned him in my last letter, but I can't remember. Anyways, he is so cool! But he has a really bad problem with drinking, and it's been super tough for his family, especially for their 3 younger boys who barely know who their dad really is. Well anyways, we have been trying our best to see him daily to help him overcome his addiction and he has been getting better, but with little progress. We have been praying and thinking about what we could do to help this man because it had felt like we had tried everything. But the other day we went over to see him and he opens up the door, sober as can be! Now that was super weird, because we had never seen this man not under the influence. To be honest, it was like the strangest thing I have ever seen. He completely changed. As we began to talk to him he had decided to change his life around. It was the first day in a long time that he hadn't drunken a beer and it was cool to see that change in him. Now, we are not saying that he will never drink a beer again and that he is sober for the rest of his life, but I love seeing a desire, a change, and a miracle in people's lives. That's what the gospel does... it changes our nature!

We are teaching some amazing people! We are seriously so blessed with the incredible people that are in our area. Nerio and Noemi should be entering the waters of baptism on the 18 of this month! We are praying and fasting that it happens! Satan really is doing his job, haha, doing what Satan does. I remember on our first lesson with Noemi when she said she would be baptized we told her something. We said that it was going to be a hard road, that Satan was going to do everything he could to keep her from being baptized and that she was going to face the hardest trials of her life, but that if she pushed through that it would all be worth it! And she has seen those trials... everything seems to be going bad for her. But she is awesome and she is going to do it! We have faith in her! Her job doesn't permit her to come to church on Sundays and so she is struggling with that, but she will make the right decision! We love her! But I think that is a life lesson that right before we are about to do something amazing, something that God wants us to do, Satan will do his best to make sure that we don't do that thing. I definitely saw that before I went on my mission, but I know that when we endure the hard trials, when we recognize that Satan is trying get us and we ask help from our Heavenly Father that huge blessings wait for us. There are blessings beyond our imagination that are waiting for every single one of us. I know that!

Well, I got to get heading, but I love YOU! Thanks for all you do! Let's make this week a week full of service and love! The week is what we make it to be!!!!!!!

Con amor, Elder Brown
Pictures from the service he was talking about in the letter 



The rest of these are from the most recent Zone Conference








Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thanksgiving!...And service!

Hey fam!

So, I had this idea that I was going to do this whole recording message thing for you guys, so I made it and it was super good and cool and then I go to send it and it was too big!! Hahaha, so basically, I just wasted like the whole day making that thing and now I have no time to write a letter, but I will try my best to fit everything in!

This week was amazing! Thanksgiving was so excited... my stomach still hurts from all the food that we ate, but it turned out to be a very incredible day! I'll basically just give you the run down. It was weekly planning day and so we did that, afterwards we went and bought cards to write some thank you notes to some of the people we are working with and it was just fun to see the smiles on their faces as we passed by with a treat and a note! Those smiles are what Thanksgiving is all about! :) After that we had the first dinner. It was with the Bucay family, and they loaded us up with all different sorts of food. The plate was huge and you had everything from Turkey to salad to pasta, so already we were stuffed to the brim. After that, like I had mentioned last week, we were planning on making Thanksgiving dinner for Nerio at the church because he told us he didn't have anywhere to eat. We decided we would whip up a little something, something for him. The dinner was supposed to be at 6:00 and it was five o'clock and we still hadn't made or bought anything for the dinner. We decided we were just going to go to the store and buy a rotisserie chicken, some mashed potatoes, a pie and some soda and call it good. Well, we went to the store and who would have guessed that stores close early on Thanksgiving... who would have known!! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ So we were kind of freaking out, in like 30 min we were supposed to have a Thanksgiving dinner ready for 3 and we didn't have nothin!! In a bit of despair we went back to the church. As we pulled in a member was walking in through the fence. He stopped us and asked where we were going and if we had anywhere to eat. We explained to him the situation and he said that he would just have us and Nerio over to his parent’s house to eat. It was a legit miracle! When we arrived they explained to us that before Hermano Ramos had left the house they had said a prayer that the missionaries would have somewhere to eat. Then after the prayer Hermano Ramos realized that he had left something in his car that he parked at the church so he went to get it and met us there! God really did put him in our path so that Nerio would have a good Thanksgiving! It was a super cool story, but because of time I can't explain it too well, but I hope you got how cool it was! Haha, then after that dinner we went to dinner with the Mercados, ate a ton there and then finished the night off with our last dinner at Noemi’s house. It was legit a day just full of food. So, if you see pictures of me this week and I am fat just know that it is because of Thanksgiving. Overall it was a great day and it was great to reflect on all the things I am grateful for... I love life!

So, this Sunday we had a cool experience! A member named Tito comes up to us and was like, “Elders... I found a family for you guys”!! Now, as a missionary that's probably the coolest thing you could hear! He has met the guy at soccer night and had invited him to listen to the missionaries. The man said yes and he set up appointment for us that afternoon! So, we go and they were legit the coolest family ever! They just moved here from Honduras and are amazing! In the middle of the lesson Tito says to the wife... “have you ever met with missionaries before”?? She was like... “actually yeah, like ten years ago they would always come by our house”! Then Tito was like, “wait - did you get baptized”? And she said, “actually yeah”! Hahaha, so Tito, not even knowing this family or this lady, was inspired to first speak with the guy at soccer night and then figure out that she was a member... just a testimony to me that God really does speak to His children through revelation and that when we act on that revelation, like Tito did, miracles happen! We are stoked for them!

Anyway, my time is up! I wish I could explain the rest of things that happened this week, but the lame voice recording didn't work, but just know that it was legendary and that missions are cool!!!


Con amor, Elder Brown

These next few pictures were posted by the member's. that they ate Thanksgiving with



Service day, working on someone's truck




What better service could there be besides scooping dog poop!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankfulness! And weekend miracles!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I love Thanksgiving! It has become one of my favorite holidays! Especially here in the mission. There is no better time to serve than today! I could go off for this whole p-day on things and people that I am grateful for, and I would love to! But, time does not permit... I love you all so much. I feel so grateful for the people that have surrounded me in my life and have changed me for forever. Words can't express the gratitude I have for my two parents who have done everything thing for me and have always been the most amazing example to me... mom, dad, I love you so much! I'm grateful for everything you do for me!

That's so much fun that you get to go to Kanab and spend Thanksgiving! Say hello to all the family for me! For Thanksgiving we are going to get fat, just from member to member eating lots of food! And then at the church we are going to cook a surprise dinner for one of our investigators that didn't have anyone to eat with! So it should be an eventful day for us! What a great time of the year!

There is like a curse, I swear, that comes with transfers! And it's that like the week before and the first week of the new transfer everything just falls apart! I have no idea why, but it happens like every time! So anyways, I was a little bit down in the dumps this past week, but Heavenly Father pulled through like He always does! This past Sunday we saw an awesome miracle! So, it starts like 3 months ago when I first got in the area. We were looking through the area book at former investigators, and a name stood out to us. It said that he had a fellowshipper who was in the ward so we went and talked to him. He told us that he wasn't too interested, but that he would give it a try by inviting him to the ward party that we were going to have. Well, he came! We got to know him a little bit, but that was basically it. We didn't see him again until the activity we had the other week and he just showed up. We talked with him some more, but again, no real progress. All we got was a phone number. So, this past Saturday we were texting everybody inviting them to come to church. We felt the prompting to text him and invite him. He had made it very clear when we talked to him at the party that he wouldn't be coming to church anytime soon, but we thought we would go ahead and follow the prompting. We texted him and he said he would think about it. So, Sunday comes and we actually were having a primary program, so church started an hour early. We decided we were going to go early to church just to call all of people to make sure they were all coming. We get there about and hour early and at the same time we are walking up, Nerio, (the guy we texted), walks up as well! He came! It was a miracle! Haha, but what were we going to do with this extra hour we had with him?? Well, teach him of course! Haha, we were able to have an awesome lesson with him before church and show him the restoration video as well! And then he stayed for all 3 hours of church! He is a stud! We are super excited for him! End of week miracles are incredible and real! : )

We had a zone activity this p-day where we got to play some volleyball together and president even showed up! He bought us all pizza afterwards and so, as always. time is slim! I love you ALL! You're amazing! And you make me want to be better!

As I reflect on Thanksgiving, I think of our savior Jesus Christ. What a great example of someone who was grateful and willing to serve! He was and forever will be the ultimate example. I am so grateful for him and his atoning sacrifice. I know it's real! And I can't be more grateful for a loving Savior and for his church. We really are loved - how amazing!


Con amor,
Elder Brown

Caiden and a little buddy.

Caiden with his "new" companion, Elder Frei. They were actually companions once before in the Bronx.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New beginnings and sad stories.

Buenas tardes mi familia y amigos!

Well, this week has most certainly had its ups and downs, but it has definitely been one of the weeks that I have grown the most on my mission! It's been sad, but also super exciting, and so, I am excited to tell y’all how it went on Saturday! Haha, so Elder Hinckley is officially gone! That was a hard good bye! This past week we got super fat due to all the goodbye food we ate, so that helped us deal with the sadness! Haha, he is going to be a great returned missionary! There are a lot of memories with that guy! And you guys will NEVER guess who my new companion is...... Elder Frei!!! Again! Haha, we are soooo excited! I literally could not be happier, and so things should be good. He got here yesterday and so it has been fun reminiscing on all the amazing times we had in the Bronx, and we can't wait to make some even better ones here! Woot Woot for amazing companions!!!

So, some sad news... Roxana canceled on her baptism last Sunday. It was devastating. So, Friday we had gone over just to go over the baptismal questions and make sure she was ready and she was super stoked.  Then Saturday we were supposed to do the interview and stuff before the activity we were having! We get there and are waiting for her to show up and we get a text saying that she wasn't going to be able to make it. Her dad said that if she went that he would leave back to Peru! So she didn't come. We were soooo sad. I'm not sure if I have ever been sadder than that. But, a really spiritual experience followed... feeling down in the dumps, Elder Hinckley and I did the only thing there was to do... pray! We went to a little closet room where there weren’t any people (the church was packed because of a huge activity) and we knelt down in prayer! We felt the strongest spirit, more than I have ever felt. We felt comforted and we knew and felt in that moment that God knows what He is doing. And he really does! So, it was sad but hopefully in the near future here she can step into the waters of baptism. Please keep her in your prayers as well as her parents!

Just kind of a personal miracle here… so, the other day I was on a split in the English program and there was nothing planned... and when I say nothing I am serious, haha. So we went out and started finding! Time went by with a lot of hard work and nothing really happening and I got a little discouraged... like come on! Give us something here! We decided we were going to take the ward list and start looking up people that had not been visited in a while and we knock into this man named Alexander. We say we are missionaries from the church, blah blah blah, you know the spiel, and he said yeah I know, come in. We walked into his home and he began to explain how he was a returned missionary and all this stuff about his life. We share a message, end with a prayer and as we are about to leave we ask him if there is any advice he can give us about the mission/missionary work.  He said something very simple but very wise that impacted me a lot. I have had this problem/question that I have been pondering for months, praying, fasting and doing everything I could to get an answer and it finally came through a humble returned missionary telling what he wished he would have done on his mission. It was an experience I will never forget and something that has and will change my life. God sends His answers in ways that we can never even imagine, and His answers are always life changing. Please never think or believe that prayers aren't heard or answered!!!! Because they are!

So, the activity we had on Saturday was super fun! It was with 2 wards and so it was huge. Una fiesta de los paรญses! (Festival of the countries) So everyone brought food from their countries, did dances and stuff like that, and it was legendary! The missionaries did a hot dog eating contest... and I did not win, haha, but it was fun! Spanish parties are the best kind of parties!
Thanks for everything! Have a great week! 

Con amor,

Elder Brown 

Right to Left: My trainer, me, my trainee, my trainees trainee, and my trainees trainees trainee! Pres. Smith's son in the front.

The Zone

The District

The Zone

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Bye bye and miracles!!

Well this is it! This is Elder Hinckley’s last week in the mission! It's so sad! He has literally been my companion for half of my mission up to this point, and so I feel like I am going to lose half of me. But it's ok! He is going to do great things! I'll find out who my companion will be on Saturday, so by next week I will let y’all know! I'm pretty stoked!!

As always, I do not have much time this week! It’s Elder Hinckley’s last p-day, so we have been running from here to there doing little things and saying goodbye to people! Sorry I say that every week! Haha!

Nothing super crazy out of the ordinary happened this week, besides the fact that I got to go back home in the Bronx and see some of the most amazing people in the world! We went down for Stake conference and it was so much fun! I got to see Lily, Rigoberto and Justino and all the amazing people I was privileged to teach down there!  I love them! Stake conference was amazing as well! Like always, I will give y’all the summary of the meeting! We talked about miracles. I believe in miracles... like I really do! They still are a thing, and they always will be, according to our faith. With prayer and fasting, literally anything is possible. We have been doing a lot of that recently! We have been praying and fasting for someone super ready to teach. Haha, all missionaries do that, but it just felt like we were doing it super, super hard! And… a miracle happened!! Noemi and her family, that went to the temple with the member, started meeting with us regularly. And then, out of nowhere she just texted us and asked if we could come over, so we did and she said, "what do I need to do to get baptized? I want to get baptized!" Haha, there isn't a much cooler thing to hear as a missionary than that! So, we planned the Baptism for the beginning of December!  It's been super cool to see little changes in her two kids, Alberto and Alan, go from like doing sketchy stuff and being little punks to reading the Book of Mormon and saying prayers. The gospel is life changing!

I can't wait for this Sunday and the Baptism! Roxana is soo amazing! I know you guys already know that! This week she bore her testimony to us and it was so tender! I don't know if I ever mentioned how we found her... well, we first met her because we helped her move homes, and we asked if we could come over and teach her some time and she was hesitant, but accepted. She has just been like the coolest investigator since that day on! Please keep keeping her and her family in your prayers!

Gosh, my letters have been poop lately, haha! Sorry about that! I just hope you feel the love I have for these people and the love I have for my Savior Jesus Christ. I know He lives. I know this is His church! Thanks for all your support and love!


Con amor, 
Elder Brown 

Caiden and Elder Hinckley were able to go back to their old digs in the Bronx last week for Stake Conference.
Here they are with 2 of their earlier converts. Sweet reunion! 

Doing some service

Doing service for others can be fun!!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Baptism! More conferences! And we are awesome!

I hate that it is November already! Haha, does it not just seem like yesterday I was in the Bronx with Elder Hinckley last November. Time is going by way too fast. And now Elder Hinckley has less than 2 weeks! Crazy, crazy, crazy!

So, what happened this week?! Well, the Baptism of Yari and Brayan went really well! It was on a Wednesday night at like 830, so we weren't sure if really anyone was going to come, but the whole ward showed up and a lot of investigators came as well, so it turned out great. It is always my favorite thing to see a recent convert after their baptism stand up to bear their testimony and say with surety that they know the church is true, and that their lives have changed. That's always a moment that I will forever treasure! So, the baptism went great! They were both super nervous, but super excited. We had the same feelings! Haha, I'm grateful for those two!

Halloween was like the best Halloween of my entire life! We had MLC that day and so we were taught from on high. Something that was the theme of MLC for this month was that we are doing a good job!! A lot of the time in our lives we just think that we aren't doing enough - and I can't lie, I have felt that before on my mission. I'm sure every missionary has felt like they can do more, but the fact is that we are doing a great job!! Seriously, we are doing better than we think! We have been talking a lot lately about what is a successful missionary, but this past meeting president had us ponder the question, “what is a failure missionary”? A failure missionary is one that doesn't try or who doesn't care. It just takes trying - giving our BEST! How grateful I am for that!!

We met the parents of Roxana this week and it was soooo amazing! They are seriously so awesome! We were kind of nervous at the start because her mom knows the Bible like a ton and is super active in her church, but she was actually so cool, and now she loves everything about the church! We had to push Roxana’s baptism back to the next Sunday because stake conference is this weekend, and so we are going back to the good Ole Bronx! Back to my hometown, but I am literally like soooo excited for her baptism!! And so is everyone in the ward! It's been legendary to see all the members friendship her and her family so well! Families like that make the mission the best experience ever!

Elder Hinckley is actually in Manhattan today with the other missionaries that are going home and they are watching the “Wicked” play! I guess all going home missionaries get to do that! So, I'm here with Elder Olsen again just eating a lot of food! It really doesn't feel like Elder Hinckley is going home and I can't believe it. I probably will be staying more here in New Rochelle after he leaves! Well, at least I hope I do! I legit love this place!

Well, it’s about time to sign off! I love you, fam and friends! You mean everything to me! Good attitudes make for good DAYS!


Con Amor, 
Elder Brown

Julian and Roxana

Imma queen! Jajaja!

Hartford Temple open house

The baptism of Yari and Brayan


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Photos from Zone Conference and MLC in the past week

Picture from Zone Conference last week

These 2 came from Sister Smith's blog following MLC last week. He does look happy doesn't he!