Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My Experience - Caiden Shay Brown

My Experience 
By Elder Caiden Brown 
(A letter to me in 20 years) 

Dear Caiden Brown, 

Your time as a full-time missionary is about to come to a close. And for that reason, I wanted to write you a letter that you can read in the future that will remind you of your experience as a full-time servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Never forget, Caiden, the ways your life has been touched by the gospel of Jesus Christ, service, and the pure love of Christ from the people that surround you, especially the wonderful souls that you were able to teach in The Bronx, Newburgh and New Rochelle. Never forget where you found YOUR Jesus Christ.

You came out to the mission field not knowing much. You had no idea how to speak Spanish and you weren't too familiar with the gospel as taught in the scriptures, but you had the desire to work, learn and serve. That desire carried you through your 2-year long journey. It definitely wasn't easy at the beginning. You struggled a lot with learning Spanish and that was really frustrating for you, but you had a great trainer (Elder Hinckley) who expected a lot out of you and brought the best out of all you did. Although it was tough, you fell in love with the people the moment you met them. Remember Rigoberto? He will always have a special place in your heart. He changed your life forever. Even though you couldn't communicate with him, there was just something there that brought you so close together. After a long 6 months of working with him you walked into the waters of baptism with him. One year after that you saw him walk into the celestial room in the temple. Never forget how much you loved the people.

You weren't really prepared for your first transfer when it arrived. It was heart breaking to leave the place that became so close to you. And you definitely weren't ready for the surprise that was waiting for you in the city of Newburgh. You didn't know what hard was until you served there. Amongst all the mean words, snotty rejections, long hot days and the true desire you and your companion had to be obedient and work hard, you found YOUR Jesus Christ. Remember May 22, 2016? As you were studying the words of both ancient and modern-day prophets everything clicked in your brain and in your heart - the gospel was real, Jesus Christ truly was your Savior, the plan of salvation was a divine plan made by a loving and real Father in Heaven, repentance was real. The Spirit had never touched you so strong before in your life, and you will never to be the same after that day. After leaving that personal study, you knew Jesus Christ. And you knew what he had done for you. Never forget, Caiden, May 22. The work was still hard after that. You learned what earnest and heartfelt pleading with the Lord was and the comforting power of the Holy Ghost through sacred fasts. You learned how to work hard and be obedient. Never forget the lessons learned in that place called Newburgh.

Remember all of your companions? You definitely got lucky with them! The influence they had on you was life changing and they all became so close to you. I hope they are still your friends. If not… contact them! They helped you reach your potential and show love towards the people you taught. Remember the Gutierrez family? They were a family with not much at all. They had just arrived from Honduras and were living in an attic with 7 people. It was hard for you and Elder Frei to watch that. You guys did all you could to help them out, by gathering the ward together and uniting in finding them a place to stay until we found them a new apartment, helping them with clothes and food, finding work for those that were capable and providing an amazing, humble Christmas. That Christmas was one that I hope you never forget. You began to understand really what life was all about, and how to find yourself and your purpose while amongst a world so caught up in things that don't matter. Elder Frei, along with so many other influences, taught you how to serve and taught you what life really is all about. Never forget Matthew 25:40.

It was a tender mercy for you to be able to return back to the place you love (The Bronx) to finish your time as a full-time servant of the Lord. You and Elder Munoz went into your last three transfers with a fire that could not be extinguished. You both came into the area not knowing anyone, and so you started from ground zero. You both worked as hard and as smart as you could and you learned so many lessons from each other. Remember Francisco? After about 3 weeks of doing all you guys could to meet everybody and to help the work of the Lord grow in the area you were in, a miracle happened. At an Easter party, the ward was putting together a man walked in the door and his name was Francisco. He had a friend in the Dominican Republic who was a strong member of the church and he wanted to come and figure out a little bit more about who we were. You began teaching him and a month later Francisco walked into the waters of baptism. Never forget that the Lord provides when you do our part!

It's hard to put into words the experience you had serving the Lord’s mission. The Caiden Brown that came home from New York was most certainly different from the one that left Orem Utah to the big city. I just want you to remember, Caiden, how close you came to the Savior throughout this journey. He became your best friend, someone you knew was watching out for you and someone you knew you could count on. When times got hard you received strength through direct communication with your Heavenly Father. You learned to develop your life on the teachings of the scriptures and to study them with “real intent”. You learned the importance of the sacrament, a time where you were able to receive revelation from a loving Heavenly Father. Those short 10 minutes when the sacrament was being administered became the most sacred part of your week. Remember when you had a lot of questions and doubts about what you were doing? Your purpose, was it even worth it? You took those questions and doubts to the sacrament truly believing that God would provide an answer. And he did. Right as the sacrament hymn began to be sung the Spirit touched your heart and answered all the questions and threw away all the doubts. Never forget the basics of the gospel.

Well, as you can tell, the time you spent in New York was sacred to you. And I pray that you never forget it. Caiden, never forget the Lord’s mission.


Elder Caiden Shay Brown

This is the picture of all the missionaries going home next week at their final temple trip. This came from the mission blog.

This is it...

Wow... this is it.. the last time. I just want y'all to know how much I have loved serving the Lord. It has been the most life changing experience in my life up to this point. And, it's sad knowing that it's coming to an end, but comforting knowing that I have a whole lifetime to serve Him and do his work.

This week was AMAZING! We had a lot of sweet, cool experiences and we are teaching some of the coolest people I have ever met! A week ago we met a kid named Alex! Super solid kid! Well, this past Sunday was his first time at church and he loved it to death! He got along so well with all the young men and really enjoyed himself. Well, after church we were walking home and he asked us "How old do you need to be to be baptized?" "8" we said. "So I can get baptized?" Of course you can!" "When can I do it?" "Whenever you want", we responded. "How about tomorrow?" 😂😂 we laughed a little bit and told him that there were a few more things we needed to teach him and so we set up his baptism for the 5th of August. He will be an amazing missionary!

I had my exit interview on Monday, 😭😭😭😭 but it was one of the most eye opening, cool experiences of my life. I sat down with President Smith and we said the opening prayer and he tells me that it's my interview - what questions do you have, he asked me. So I start with my questions and he interrupts me saying, "hold on I want you to meet someone". We walk outside the Manhattan temple and there were two men standing outside. President Smith goes and gives them a big hug. It happened to be one of his buddies from his young mission. His name was Brandon Fugal. (I'm not sure if any of y'all have heard of him, but supposedly he is like super famous 😂) Anyways, so here I am, little ole Elder Brown, standing in the middle of probably some of the most successful business men I have ever met and guess what their conversations were about? No, they didn't talk about the success of their businesses or the positions they have had since the mission, rather they shared spiritual experiences and built the faith of everyone present. We are taught to build the faith of every single person we come in contact with. A lot of the time when you are in Manhattan on a p-day or something like that you come across a member visiting from their state and after talking with them the thought always comes across my mind "what did you do to build their faith?" And, I saw that put into action on Monday. The most important conversations we can have are about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that as y'all have been able to read my letters the last two years that something has been able to grow your faith. I was able to get a blessing from President Smith after the interview and I just want to share a little something that was said... "Look to your patriarchal blessing.. it will tell you what to do." Amen to that! With the worries of what might happen after this coming week ends or where I will be in 10 years, I can look to that blessing and look for guidance.

Everyone in the area is doing really well! I'm bummed I won't be able to see Junior's, Antonio's (he decided he is going to be baptized on the 19th), Alex's, or Chris and his families baptisms, but I've seen them all change so much and hopefully I will be able to Facebook call in on some of the lessons after I get home.

As cliche as it might sound, I am sad to almost be done. I love Elder Munoz! He has been so great and such an important part of the changes that have happened in me these past 4 months. I'm going to miss him. I am going to miss all the incredible people we met here and had spiritual experiences with. And I can't wait to see them when I return. Olmstead has been a miracle place.

I wish I could write more and describe all my feelings, but it just can't be written down.

I love you all and I'll see you in a week!

He says he doesn't really like this picture, but he loves the Bronx!

Caiden and Elder Munoz with Alex

Silvan again with Caiden

Gabby and her family

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The spirit of the resurrection and loved friends!

My amazing family and friends!

I definitely procrastinated this email today, and so I am writing it kind of last minute. I just don't want it to end... it's been a little difficult I am not going to lie. I've cried a couple times, but I do still have two weeks and I'm dedicated to make sure my mind is in the right place to make it the best.

This week was awesome though! I guess I will start off with a miracle. So, we had gotten done with a lesson a little bit early and Elder Munoz and I have made a goal to at least spend 30 minutes either knocking doors or street contacting, because we have been busy and so we weren't really setting aside time to do those things. So we thought this would be a perfect chance to be able to do it. We offered a prayer that God would sanctify the few minutes we were going to knock doors and that we could find someone with a situation prepared to accept the gospel. So we start knocking, and we start talking to this one lady... she was really going through a hard time. She had just lost her husband like a month before and was still frantic about that, she had lost her leg in a car accident and that was prohibiting her to do a lot of the things she wanted to do and her mom was in the hospital sick. She was devastated. We shared a message of hope and the resurrection with her and tears were just streaming down her face. We shared with her the Book of Mormon and her tears turned into a smile. We were able to kneel down and pray for her and it was just a tender experience for me. We are excited to continue to help Omyra!

I told y'all about Antonio last week, right? Well, he is doing great!! The first hint he said to us this past lesson we had with him was that his daughter had called him from Mexico and told him that she wanted to be baptized. He asked why? She said that all of her friends were getting baptized and that she wanted to do so as well. He told her that that wasn't a good enough reason and that she needed to study and think more about it and then get back to him. He told her that he would do the same. So we had a great lesson about baptism and he ended the lesson saying, "well, maybe me and my daughter can get baptized on the same day"! Hearts are changing!

Junior is doing good! I really hope he makes it to his date on the 29th. He is progressing so much! He willingly accepted the word of wisdom, even though he smokes and drinks coffee all the time. He promised that he would live it and change his life. Hopefully he can stay true to that promise and that he can receive those amazing blessings of baptism!

But there was a baptism this week! I don't know if y'all remember me talking about Jorge, but he was a guy that Elder Frei and I found in New Rochelle like a month before I left. He was doing really good and we gained an amazing friendship in that short little month. But then I had to leave. ISN'T THAT JUST THE SADDEST THING IN THE WORLD?!?! But, he kept meeting with the Elders and he had to leave a lot of things behind but he progressed towards baptism and this past Sunday he got baptized! I was invited to go to actually baptize him, but things didn't permit with the schedule of both our wards and meeting on Sunday, but I heard that it was a great service! I'm so grateful Jorge took that step and hopefully someday he can have an eternal family!

Well, thanks so much for all your support and love. I have seen myself change over the past two years and I hope y'all have seen that change in me. I hope y'all are ready to meet a new and improved Caiden Brown, 😂😂 and I am ready to keep on changing!

Con amor,
Elder Brown
Baptism of Jorge!

Junior with Lemonade instead of tea!

He says he is really gonna miss Elder Munoz

Below is a video he sent us  and simply said, "When you're about to eat fish soup!!"

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Lord's mission!!!

Hey fam!

So last week I said that it was a legendary week right?? Well, this week topped last week by like a thousand! 😂😂 Just to answer a few questions y'all had about our return to New York... having to do with places to stay, I think wherever you can find the cheapest would be best. New Rochelle is a pretty expensive place and it doesn't take long to get from one borough to the next. So, Brooklyn wouldn't be terrible for transportation, especially if we are going by transit. The trains don't go up to New Rochelle, so if you are traveling from the Bronx to there then you have to pay like 12 dollars per person to ride the metro north, just take that into account. Probably would want to go to church at New Rochelle, and then after we could go to a member's home and eat. 👌😁Did I answer all those questions? What other questions do you have?

Well, the 4th of July was awesome!! We didn't get fireworks thrown at us like last year and so that was awesome! It was a scorching day and I have the biggest missionary tan line in the whole world! Haha, the ward was putting on a picnic and so we teamed up with them and did another APF (some kind of street contacting) at the park that they were doing the picnic at and it actually turned out really well! We were able to do a ton of service for people who had a lot to carry and we gave out a lot of Book of Mormons and found some awesome new people to teach! We had an awesome Fourth of July over here in the Bronx.

As some of you may know, President Uchtdorf came to visit our mission this past weekend and, wow!! What a special experience that was. The whole mission got together with a prophet of God to partake of the Holy Sacrament. Most certainly a moment to remember. He and his wife were amazing! You could just feel the love that they had for every single one of us, even though we weren't able to have personal moments with them. He said some amazing words, but some that stuck out to me was this, "You are always midway through the mission. It's never 3 weeks or 3 days until you go home, but you are always in the middle". The reason I liked that is because in reality the mission never ends. Like I have always said, my time as a full-time servant of the Lord might come to an end, but the mission isn't over. The mission is everlasting. Therefore, I am not close to being done and I never will be done, but we will strive to serve the Lord constantly throughout the remainder of our mortal life. I feel really strongly about not calling the time here in New York "my mission" because it absolutely isn't. If any of you catch me calling it that I just want you to correct me because it will never be "my mission". The work of the Lord is unstoppable... it's legendary.

Guess what??!?! Sweet surprise!! Waldir came back to church!!! He quit is old job and got a new one that allows him to come on Sundays! We were super stoked about that! He was able to talk to the Stake Pres., and he should be able to get baptized by the end of the year! That was an answer to a lot of prayer and fasting of ours!

I think I told y'all about Chris, right?? He is one of the non-members we are teaching right now and he is hilarious and knows so much about the church! (He went a lot in the DR) Anyways, we went over there this past week to teach him and he whips out from the cupboard like 6 Book of Mormons, an ancient Doctrine of Covenants and Pearl of Great Price and his Bible. We were like sooo surprised!! Haha, every single Book of Mormon had different missionary's names inside. He has read the Book of Mormon completely and so we are reading it again with him! He talks a lot and I love that about him! Haha, but he has so much potential! We are so stoked for him.

I wish I could explain all the amazing spiritual experiences we had this week, but as always time doesn't permit. I love you all more than words can describe!

Con amor,
Elder Brown

All of Chris's scriptures

P-day ball at the church

APF activity (Some form of street contacting)

Waldir's wall

Amado and Yovanny

Olmstead Zone

More Zone Conference pictures

Special meeting with President Uchtdorf (Caiden is in the upper right corner)