Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas

Haha mom you sound a little bit tired! It was so good to see and talk to all of you guys last week! I can't believe how fast time flies... it's crazy!

The weather finally decided to take a drop. Actually a pretty big one! The other day it was clear down at -48 which is preeeety cold! I can't believe that Sister P passed away. I'm so happy for her. I'm going to miss her so much but like you said it was her time to go. She's been without Earl for too long so I'm sure it was such an amazing reunion for those two to finally be reunited once again. 

I was reading a letter from the time capsule that dad wrote me when I was little today. It's so weird to think of how if it wasn't for the change in age that I'd still would have a few months left before I would leave! I'm so glad that I was able to go when I did. I absolutely love my mission!  It's going to be so much fun to come home with a new attitude, personality, and perspective on things. It's so amazing the changes that I've been able to go through in just 6 months so I can't wait to see what happens in another year and a half! 

That's great that Meg and Quinn are all moved in now! I'm sure that it's awesome to have some more people in the house! You're just not ready for that empty nester stage yet!
I love you mom!!
P.s. your package should get here today... I didn't pick the necklace and I know it's not your type so don't think that I have that bad of taste! I mean I grew up with 4 girls come on... haha!
-Elder Brown


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Feliz Navidad

Feliz Navidad!

Holy cow mom from how much you've been having to snow blow I'm gonna take it that its been snowing quite a bit? I can't believe how much you've had to snow blow/shovel! Haha but hey at least that's your work out for the day right? Be careful that you don't do too much and have you knee give out on you! That'll be so nice when Meg and Quinn move in and they can help you out with it! I loved all the pictures you sent me! Looks like you guys are all primed and ready for Christmas! I can't believe it's already here... that's so crazy! 

This week has been pretty average missionary work wise until last night. Somethin pretty strange but really great happened! We got a call from someone but we were in a lesson so we weren't able to answer. We called her back and she told us that her name was Pat and she had flown in from a village a few hundred miles north. Her flight in Bethel was canceled so she was staying the night in Bethel with some members and wanted to talk with us. we weren't really sure why she wanted to talk with us but we went over anyways. When we got there she explained to us how she had met with missionaries before and had been attending the Bush branch (church over the phone) for about 6 months. She knows that everything is true and wants us to come out to her village and reteach and explain some things and then baptize her! This next transfers (I hope I get to stay!) We're going to be able to fly out on a 4 man bush plane and go to the village she is and teach and baptize her! Just yesterday my companion and I were fasting for a baptism so this was an incredible answer to our fast! Just another perfect of example of how our Heavenly Father is so mindful of all of all of us!

This Christmas season it has been amazing for me to see how forgotten and corrupt the true meaning of Christmas has become. As I was thinking this morning some of the lyrics of the song the Away in a Manger came to mind. "Be near me, Lord Jesus' I ask thee to stay close by me forever and love me I pray." All of the gifts we receive during this season will eventually be lost, broken or forgotten. However the gift our savior gave us is not one that is temporal or worldly; not one that can be broken or lost. He has given us the greatest gift of all one that is infinite and eternal. This Christmas season may be celebrate all it is that our savior has done for us and cherish all of the things we have been blessed with. As we do so we will be blessed with the spirit of Christ, the true meaning of Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!!


-Elder Brown

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Where's The Snow Yo?

Hey guys! Well can you believe it's already Christmas time?! I can't believe that it's already that time of the year... It seems like it was just yesterday that it was the summer.... holy cow time flies by so fast! Thanks for all of the pictures you sent me! Mom. You're scaring me a little bit! It looked like you were getting just a little bit too cuddly with Santa in a few of those photos you sent me.   I'm glad you got my North Pole ornaments I thought you'd like them! I bought them for pretty cheap so that's probably why one of them was missing. The party at the Jacobsens looked pretty fun! Its so weird to see how much everyone has changed in just 6 months... Crazy! 

So there is literally no snow here... The heat wave melted everything and it hasn't snowed since but it's been freezing so it's just a frozen wasteland! People have been asking what I wear everyday so I'll attach a picture of it! 

So this week has been amazing. Things out in Bethel have completely turned a 180 and we have been blessed so much. We've picked up  new investigators this week which in unreal. I have a few stories I want to tell you but i'll try and keep it short so you don't get bored. 

Story #1

A few days ago we were walking around tracting and we went to follow up on someone who told us to come back another time. We walked to the door and knocked and Robert (the person we were looking for) wasn't home. We did our little speal and he looked surprisingly happy and let us in. We started talking with him and he just sat there and started crying saying how crazy this was. We asked him what he was talking about and he told us how he had been praying this morning that someone would be led to him to help him. He has been going through some really rough times and we were able to give him a Book of Mormon and talk with him for a while.

Story #2
About 2 months ago when we were tracting we knocked on this door and a lady came out and was trying bash with us. We answered all of her questions and she was just really rude and ended up telling us to get lost and slammed the door in our face. For some strange reason we both felt the strongest prompting that we need to go back someday. A few weeks later I made some chocolate chip cookies for her that we knock ditched at her house. Yesterday we decided to go back and try and talk with her again. Right when we pulled up a boy on his bike pulled up and ran inside. We went and knocked on the door and he let us in. He started venting to us on how he's been battling depression as he's been trying to give up a few addictions and has been going through a rough patch with his mom. He asked us what God thought of what he was doing and we were able to tell him how much God loves him and taught him the Word of Wisdom. The Spirit was so strong and he started to cry and asked us if we would please come back and teach him and his mom. I have no idea why we felt so strongly that we needed to go back to that house after they had been so rude. All i can say is that Heavenly Father knows each and every one of his children and knew how close they were to being ready to receive the restored gospel. He knew that they just needed a little more time and then they would be ready for us.
It is just crazy to see how the Spirit works. I think these stories are perfect examples of why we always need to be worthy and listening to the promptings of the spirit as we go throughout our day as it will lead us and guide us in all that we do.
Hope you all have an amazing day!
See ya next week!!!!
-Elder Brown

Monday, December 9, 2013

Santa Baby!

It sounds like you had an awesome time at the Santa party! I'm so jealous that I had to miss that... Did he miss me? You need to tell him that I said Hi and put in a good word for me because I think he's mad at me... This year he sent all of my presents in the mail! How lame is that?!! Tell him that I'm still really thankful for the gifts but that I prefer if they just appear under the tree on Christmas. That'd be awesome!! Haha but Mase looked like he's still not a huge Santa fan yet. Are all of the Christmas decorations all up now? They better be! Luckily I got all of my Christmas decorating in since we went over and helped a couple of family's put there's up because we didn't want to miss out on all of the fun! By the way I sent you something in the mail that should be getting here today... I think you'll like it!
Well this week has been pretty darn great! The weather has been pretty crazy... It was 45 degress a few days ago! I mean I'm not going to complain but it was just a little weird! I heard it's like -2 in Mexico or something? We had the Zone Leaders come up and visit us for a few days to check and make sure that we're still alive. It nice to know they haven't forgot about us. And what's even better is that they brought up our shipment of food!! We were running pretty low there for a minute and only had a few packets of ramen left but they came up and saved the day so we should be good for a while!

One of my ZL's is Elder Bryce Beirne. He's the former University of Arizona Quarterback and is a pretty cool guy so it was really fun to have them come up! This week we were able to do a ton of finding. I think that we have a total of 13 call backs and at least 5 of them seemed pretty interested so we're really excited to go out and visit them and see what happens! 

Last Tuesday I caught what they call the Bethel Crud and started to get sick and it just kept getting worse and worse. Yesterday it was pretty bad and I didn't want to get anyone else sick so we decided to just camp out in the church for the day. Its pretty frustrating because I HATE just sitting around doing nothing when there's so much to do! But it's alright first things first right? Maybe I should stop kissing so many Eskimos... I'm kidding of course!!! 

Well I hope that everything is just fine and dandy in the Lower 48!
Love and miss you guys!
Elder Brown

Monday, December 2, 2013

Griswald Family Christmas Tree

Hello there!

Sounds like you all had an awesome Thanksgiving! Thanks for sending me the pictures mom, looks like you went all out as usual! So since Lizzy is practically allergic to everything, could she even eat any of that stuff? You have no idea how bummed I am that I missed setting up the Christmas decorations... that's my favorite part of the whole year! But that's alright Elder Nielson and I loaded up on Christmas decorations so we're going all out. I got this killer deal on some ornaments that i'm sending down to you in the mail so hopefully they make it to you alive!
This week was pretty good! It was the first week of the transfers so we had a ton of meetings we had to sit in front of the church and watch over PVC (Kinda like skype). It gets pretty hard to pay attention but it's not too bad. For Thanksgiving we went over to the Helgesens and it was so good! They had a turkey, ham, prime rib, and then all of the other works! We found a ping pong table in the shed so we went back at night and had the traditional Brown family ping pong tournament! Not to bad for a Thanksgiving in Bethel right? I just think of that picture of Kate sitting over a fire stirring her pot of soup and feel bad... poor girl! 

So funny story of the week... We were doing service painting some Mold killer on the walls. When we were finished I went over to the sink and started washing all of the paint out of the paint brushes and rollers. I kinda noticed that the paint wasn't really coming off very well but was just sticking to my hands. Then someone came over and looked at me all weird and said "you know thats oil based paint right? That stuffs not coming off your hands.." So I scrubbed and scrubbed but none of it was coming off! We had a lesson in 30 minutes so I had to just forget about it and run and get ready. Luckily there were some cleaning gloves in the cleaning cart in the church that I put on so the paint didn't go everywhere! Needless to say I spent the rest of that day and most of the next day going around visiting and teaching people with blue gloves on my hands until I could get a hold of some paint thinner! haha!
As for Robert.. He moved out of Bethel and went to Anchorage. We have a lot of problems like that because no one who comes to Bethel really stays for very long.. so it can kind of get a little frustrating! We had a lesson with the Brinks last night on the Plan of Salvation. The spirit was so strong and you could tell that Sister Brink and her two kids could feel it. At the end of the lesson we invited them to be baptized. All of them looked at Brother Brink but he told us that he could not leave his church. That all of his family was in the church and that he would not desert them neither would he let any of his family. It was a real bummer. The Natives ties with their ancestors is a really big deal and all of them are afraid to offend them by leaving the church so thats why its so hard to work with the natives. But if you get one of them... man you'd get the whole city.
So right now we're going to go cut down our Griswald Family Christmas tree a ways up river and then tie it on the top of the car and bring it back. Man I miss that movie... hopefully we won't forget the axe :)
Have an amazing week!
-Elder Brown

P.s. I've been sending everyone i've written a letter to my wrong address... whoops! So if you haven't gotten a letter from me in a while then its probably cause I never got it..
My RIGHT address is
3250 Strawberry Road
Anchorage, Ak 99502

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Hello Hello Everyone!
Thanks for forwarding those emails from Mikey and Liza! I love reading emails from other missionaries just because you get to see the complete change they get to make in their lives as they grow closer to their Savior. I used to not understand why all missionaries are so weird when they get home... now I know! I got a good laugh from Mikey's email when he was talking about how he can't feel his hands! This week has been pretty eye opening weather wise... I always thought that I loved the cold (an I still do!) But this just might be a little too cold to love... This week the weather has been between -10 and 0 which doesn't sound too bad right? But then you get the rush of the wind screaming off of the tundra and with the windchill it drops down into the -30s and -40s. FREEZING!! When you walk outside and breathe in it feels like needles are getting shoved into your lungs. But I love every second of it :) Tracting is a whole lot of fun! We get to dress up like astronauts and walk around for a while. We have to use golf balls or hockey pucks to knock on the doors because its so cold that it'll split your knuckles! (thank you so much for the gloves mom!!!!) And its only November... haha!
This week truly has been so amazing! We've been able to see so many miracles as a result of working hard and enduring the long storm we were in these last few weeks. We were supposed to have a lesson with Robert (the one who just walked into church last week) but he was a no show so we were really bummed about that. But this last Friday when we were walking into an appointment he happened to be walking past the house and asked if he could come to the lesson with us. We both were pretty shocked but of course were more than happy to let him come! After the lesson we went back to the church with him and talked for a while. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he asked for sections to read (no one ever does that here). He told us that he was going to read it and find out if it is true and when he does that he wants to "Be baptized in your church" Crazy!! We also were about to have a few amazing lessons with the Brink family. Last night we were sharing a Thanksgiving message with them and decided to go around and share things we were thankful for. They started crying and told us how they were so thankful for us coming over and sharing the gospel with them. It's crazy how easy it is to grow to love the people! I really think that their whole family will be baptized here pretty soon. We just been so blessed with so many things! All of our investigators are coming around and we've been able to pick up so many potentials.Things really have been going so great. I've never had a time when things have just been going our way but i'm so thankful for it!
This time of year especially I am thankful for so many things. I'm especially thankful for the family that a loving Father in Heaven has so kindly blessed me with. I'm grateful for a mother who is so strong and such an amazing example to me yet so selfless and kind. She truly is the most Christ like person I know. All she does it go about her day serving others and her children and yet asks for nothing in return. It truly reminds me of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. How everything they do is for us. While other people are imperfect and may not always be there for us, our Father in Heaven is perfect and he is always there for us. He gives us that shoulder to cry and and is that rock that we can always rely on. All they ask is "If ye love me keep my commandments." If you really think about it... us keeping the commandments does not profit them anything yet it is the only thing they ask. The commandments are there to bless and to guide us back to their presence. This Thanksgiving season please show your love for your Savior and Heavenly Father by doing just that, striving just a little bit harder to keep him commandments and to "thank the Lord thy God in all things"
I'm so grateful for all of you and everything you mean and do for me! Have an amazing Thanksgiving!!
Love you guys!!!
-Elder Brown

Monday, November 18, 2013

Anchorage Vacation

Hey family!
It feel like it was just yesterday that I was emailing you! This week has gone by so fast. Like I said in my last email President flew us into Anchorage for most of the week for Zone Conference. You would think that it would be such a nice break, but the whole time I was there all I wanted to do was to get back to Bethel! Zone Conference was great as always but I'm not going to lie... being back in civilization with all of those people was a pretty strange! It was great to be able to go out to a fast food place and eat something other than ramen noodles for once! But hey, I guess I shouldn't be complaining because I'm sure that Kate would kill for a package of those things instead of the bugs and worms she probably has to eat! haha. The roads in Alaska in the winter are crazy! They try and plow the roads but it gets all packed down before they even get a chance. So all of the roads are literally a pure sheet of ice death trap. Without the studded tires it could get pretty sketchy! But I still get pretty scared when we're going 60mph down the freeway on that stuff! I guess it's too expensive to ship salt up here so the plows try and pour dirt on the roads but that doesn't really do anything.
 
This past week has really been so amazing and we really have been so blessed! Because of how slow things were going we really decided to crack down and do everything we could to qualify for the blessings of investigators we really need. Finally things have really started to pay off. The night before we left for Anchorage we received a text from a girl saying that she had really been going through a hard time lately and needed the gospel in her life. WHAT?!! I'm pretty sure I've never heard of that happening before! I guess she had met with missionaries a few years earlier but nothing had really come of it. Then just yesterday we had a guy just walk into church during our priesthood meeting and say "Is this church?" Everyone kind of looked at him big eyes and we told him it was the Mormon church. Then he said "Oh Awesome!" and came and sat down and listened. After the lesson we went up to him and asked him if he'd be interested in learning more and now we have a lesson with him in a few hours!! It really reminded me of this scripture from D&C 121:
 My son, apeace be unto thy soul; thine badversity and thine afflictions shall be but a csmallmoment;
 And then, if thou aendure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thybfoes.
No matter what it is we always have this promise. We are given trials and burdens to test our strength and to build character. These trials build us into the disciples of Christ that we need to be and to reach the potential our Heavenly Father knows we can reach. At times our faith may be tested but so long as we endure it well we will be blessed with better understand and strength. 
Our Heavenly Father knows each and everyone of us personally and by name. He knows what we are going through and so long as we are obedient to the commandments he gives us then we qualify and will receive all of the blessings he so desperately wants to pour down upon us.  (There is a alaw, irrevocably decreed in bheaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all cblessings are predicated And when we obtain any ablessing from God, it is by bobedience to that law upon which it is predicated D&C 130: 20-21)

Love you guys!! Have a great week!


-Elder Brown --- Out

Monday, November 11, 2013

Into The Elements

Dearest Family -
Goodness gracious I can't believe it's already November! My companion and I were just talking a few minutes ago about this. When you look at two years in worldly terms such as two years of high school or college it seems like such a long time! But two years on a mission seems so short! It seems like I've only been out a few weeks. Time flies when you're having fun right?

Things in Bethel are going pretty good! I really can't believe that I've already been up here for 4 weeks. President Beesley likes to bring all of the deep Bush elders in every once in a while to keep us sane so we're flying into Anchorage on Wednesday and then staying until Saturday so that should be pretty fun!

So cool story, Last week when we were teaching seminary we got a call from a guy that lives in Boise that had been living in a small village about 600 miles up the Kuskokwim river from us. He was just there working for a few months but while he was there he gave out 20 Book of Mormons and a ton of Plan of Salvation pamphlets. I guess he had a lot of success and that a lot of the people up there were really interested in everything about the church! We're talking with our Mission President but we should be able to get a bush plane to fly us in for a few days so we can teach them. That would be so amazing! I guess when they say the gospel will travel to every nation kindred and tongue they really do mean EVERYONE! It also really made me realize just how easy it is to share the gospel when you're a member. Heavenly Father really is hastening his work and he's relying on us to help him bring other people into his fold. I read an article from someone (can't remember who), but it was talking about hastening the work and sharing the gospel. It said something to the fact, with the enlarged emphasis on spreading the gospel Heavenly Father surely is preparing more and more people to receive it.

So this Friday we hit a huge pothole on our way in for the night and popped our tire. We figured out that we wouldn't be able to get it fixed until late the next night so we decided that all Saturday we would walk. Of course the one day we decide to walk the weather goes against us and makes sure that it's pouring rain with 50MPH wind gusts! You guys probably think I'm just being a baby and I probably am but it was COLD! The church is about 3 miles from downtown so we traveled into town and spent all day walking around trying to see people. The only bad thing was that after about 5 minutes of walking we were completely soaked to the bone! But we really were blessed that day and were able to meet so many new people as a result. It really firmed up my testimony of how much we get blessed as we put forth our efforts in serving the Lord!
Have an amazing day and be safe!
Church is true!
-Elder Brown

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween


Holy Cow... Man it's been a crazy and exhausting week with so many ups and downs! It sounds like you guys have had such an awesome week full of fun stuff and parties!
I can't believe that Valley View is finally letting everyone have a Halloween parade. Of course they let that happen long after i'm gone haha! Ben's costume sounded like it was so sweet! And of course I'm sure your scones and chili, and soup were amazing! Haha you're calling yourself Miss Kay now? Has Mama Brown given in and started watching Duck Dynasty? I don't believe it! And I'm pretty proud of you guys for doing all of the leaves! Actually i'm pretty shocked... but good job!

I was pretty bummed out that I was going to be missing everything so I decided that I'd do some of it on my own! We couldn't find a pumpkin to buy for less than $20 up here so we decided that maybe we wouldn't carve a pumpkin this year. We had a lot of fun! Since we had to go in early, at 7 and miss all of the parties, we decided that we'd throw a party of our own! 

The night before Halloween I followed the recipe and made all of the scone dough and it actually worked out pretty good! Milk only gets shipped in every Wednesday and so by the time P-Day comes around there's never any milk left. So getting buttermilk was a little difficult but I finally found some buttermilk paste that I guess is the same thing? The scones actually turned out really good so I'm pretty proud to say my cooking skills are improving! Right when we got back to the church Halloween night I started making our Halloween feast which consisted of Scones, Halloween Oreos, Taco soup and candy. Since I didn't know what "cream the eggs and sugar" or any of those other cooking terms were I ended up having to ask a bunch of the moms what in the world that meant. And none of these poor people had ever heard of a scones, so a couple of families came over and at scones with us! (Grandma, if that scone recipe was supposed to be a secret then I'm really sorry cause they all made copies of it).  

After we ate, and they all left we set up the traditional "doughnut on a string game" that we do every year at grandmas but we decided to make it a little bit harder by flying around on our Nimbus 2000s jumping at it. (When you're out in the bush and there's literally nothing to do you get really creative haha!) I'm sending you the flash drive so you'll have to watch the video of it when you get it.  At the very start when you hear a big crash that's when I was flying around the church on my broom and ate it... haha! After all of this we pulled all of the tables and chairs out from underneath the stage so that we could switch things up a bit and sleep in our "Halloween Cave" for the night! We brought a tv into our little cave and then fell asleep watching 17 miracles. It was a pretty good night.
So to answer some of your questions....
Well to be honest I'm not really sure how we find people to teach. We do a lot of everything. We do have a car to drive around in, but we spend a lot of time walking around. Compared to in Kenai when we had 700 names on our ward roster we don't have anywhere near that here. I guess the main way we spend most of our time trying to find people is by tracting and just walking around town OYM (open your mouth) and talking to people. Probably my favorite thing to do is go to the store Saturday night and talk to all of the drunks that hang out there. A few weeks ago we got 10 people to commit to come to church the next day! Haha of course none of them came but I just think it's pretty fun. 

To be honest things this past week have been pretty brutal. We had our main investigator who was ready for baptism move back to Alabama and then found out that a few of our investigators who we thought were golden aren't really very interested. It's been really frustrating. All the missionaries say that going out to Bethel either makes or breaks you. You really find out a lot about yourself out here. Last night when I was at the lowest low I've had yet, I started to read President Monson's talk from this last conference and he said something that really stuck out to me.

"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before."

After that he recited a poem that I memorized and really have grown to love! It goes like this

"Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow."
As I read that it really reminded me of our family and everything that we've had to go through. Despite all of it, it's made us stronger and resilient to any trials that come our way. After reading this talk it made me look at everything that I've already been through in this life and laugh at what I'm now facing. It's nothing. I'm thankful for all of the trials I've been able to face and to overcome because I know that it's made and is making me into the person and missionary I know I can become.
Ok enough of that! Yea we did run out of water last week and then I went to do dishes last night and found out that we're out again! I guess someone left a sink on in the bathroom during church again... 3 more days of towel baths! haha! It's pretty fun to experience though. It really makes you grateful for things back home!
Well this is really long and my hands hurt so i'll talk to you guys next week!
Gingumgin!
-Elder Brown


P.S. Thank you so much for the Package! I especially liked all of the rugs (or my comp and I were thinking that they might be scarfs?) that you sent me!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Operation Salvation


Waqaa!!
Hello!
Gosh it's so weird having Halloween right around the corner and being out in the mission field. I guess it's kind of my first major holiday since I've been out so, that's probably why it feels so crazy! It sounds like you guys have had an awesome week though! Gosh I'm so jealous that you all had the annual pumpkin carving night without me! Alright i think it's time to admit it... looking back now I totally regret not carving pumpkins every year... I was a little punk and thought I was too cool for that but I miss it now! So Mom, Jody, and everyone else I'm sorry! But I guess it's just my loss right? Going to the Halloween party and Grandma and Grandpa's will be so much fun! So every year on Halloween all of the missionaries have to come in pretty early I guess because there have been some people dressing up as missionaries and going around door to door? But anyways my companion and I have this huge Halloween party all planned out! We're going to have scones, play the doughnut on the string game, and have a pinata so it should be awesome! I mean you've gotta have some fun everyone in a while while you're out here right? So I just figured that I'd carry on some of the family traditions! Thanks for sending me the scone recipe! I have no clue what its means to dissolve yeast, cream eggs and sugar, or alternate dry ingredients with butter milk so I guess we'll have to see how this all turns out! haha! You're going to be amazed by the amazing cook I've become! I can cook top ramen so many different ways now!! :)

This week has honestly been so amazing! I'm not going to lie it was a pretty good culture shock for me when I first got up here... But I love it so much! We've been able to see so many miracles it's crazy! It just goes to show how mindful Heavenly Father is of us all. It's up to us to first put forth the effort and show we're willing to work and then he blesses us! We found out that one of our investigators who's ready for baptism is moving down to Alabama this week which is a real big bummer. So right now we're really focusing on finding some new people to teach. We're really not sure how long we're going to be out here but we're going to try start "Operation Salvation" and tract the entire town. Hopefully as we're led by the spirit we'll be able to find those people Heavenly Father has prepared to receive the gospel.
We had a lesson with the Brink family last night that has probably been the high point of my mission so far! We taught them the Restoration of the gospel. You could literally see everything click in their eyes as we were teaching. So cool! Everyone either started crying or at least was tearing up during the lesson the spirit was so strong... Yea I guess I'm a baby judge me ;) But I'm so excited to start teaching them! I've never taught an entire family who aren't members yet so it should be a really cool experience!
So if you can speak a little bit of their language all of the elders and natives really warm up to you so my comp and I have been trying to learn Yup'ik. Not a lot but just enough so that we can have a really simple conversation with them! It's such a weird language.... but it's pretty cool!
Well that's just a little bit of what's been going on out in the bush... But guess what?? It's finally snowing outside!!! WOOOO!!! haha well I hope you guy have an awesome Halloween without me... just kidding :)

Gingumgin!!
(I Love you!)
Buqaa!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bethel


Hey Family,
Thanks for giving me an update on the NY trip! That sounded like so much fun! I can't believe you didn't take any of the guys with you... pretty mean.  So while you guys were at Broadway were they also playing the Book of Mormon Musical? One of the recent converts I was working with in Kenai Josie Jones (I think you mentioned her?) was in NY with her twin sister Ali and they went to see it and they ended up both getting converted! You hear of stories like that all the time so I think its pretty funny how they made it to make fun of Mormons but a lot of people have actually accepted the gospel because of it! Michael McCann was telling me that they station missionaries outside of it after with Book of Mormons and Pamphlets so that they can teach people more about it if they're interested.

So this past week has been pretty laid back. Elder Wingard and I drove up to Anchorage Tuesday for transfer meetings where I met my new companion elder Nielson! He's such an awesome guy and I'm so excited to serve with him! (thanks mom :)  )  He's from Nephi Utah and has been out about a year. He love hunting and played a lot of sports so we have a lot in common and get along really well. Well we were told that our flight didn't leave until late Thursday night so we hung out at the mission home for a few days and worked with missionaries in Anchorage until then. Like I said before everything in Bethel has to be flow in so food is SOOOO expensive up here! But Elder Nielson brought down three suitcases and we went to Walmart and bought a bunch of food that will hopefully make it last until we fly back into Anchorage in 5 weeks. We got to the airport and found out that out flight actually was the day before but they were able to switch it over really easily because no one really flies out here... Bethel is pretty crazy... its definitely a lot different than anyone else in the U.S. We cover a pretty big area including  a lot of villages within about 100 miles of here. About 80% of the population is native and 10% is Asian and the other 10% is white. It's a pretty 3rd worldish place. Its flithy. Luckily we live in the church and it's so nice! I have a basketball court right out my door when I wake up and a flushing toliet! We don't have running water but have to have it delivered to us twice a week to fill up our 600 gallon water tank. That seems like a lot of water but for the whole church you can use that in about 2 or 3 days so we have to be really careful of how we use it! The water here's really dirty... so we have to use filters and boil so that we don't get sick. I know it's still nothing like what Kate's going through but it's a pretty cool thing to experience!

Bethel is just a branch and that's a completely different feel than a ward! But I like it. Everyone is so close knit and really welcoming. So Saturday night when Elder Nielson and I were coming back in for the night, we got a call from Brother Kendall asking us if we would talk for 15 minutes tomorrow morning... i was pretty stressed out to say the least! Since I had literally no time to prepare I just decided that I would go up there and see what the spirit directed me to say. I was pretty nervous but it went great! The people up here are crazy.. its a definite culture shock. There's so much crime up. They had to make Bethel a "Dry Zone" meaning that no alcohol can be sold in the area because of how bad it gets up here. But of course they have bootleggers smuggling it in so they still get it anyways. I've never been around so many drunks in my life.  At night, haha no actually all day they're literally all wandering around the streets like zombies. Its really sad. These people definitely need the gospel! I know with the Lord's help we can help make its a better place! But really I'm SO excited to be up here! The members are so great.
Hope everyones doing great and stayin out of trouble!!
Love you guys!


Monday, October 14, 2013

Going Bush Wackin'


Ahhhh hey guys! I finally get to write you this week since everything's all set up again! These last two weeks have absolutely been CRAZY!! General Conference last week was so awesome! I've never been so excited for it before (probably being a missionary now helps), but I was so glad when it finally came around! Since we really don't get any other ones General Conference really is the only holiday the missionaries have to look forward to! I felt like all of the talks this session were especially amazing and I learned so much! The way we're doing missionary work is completely changing. Instead of us going into the wards and trying to get them to help us in our efforts it's completely the opposite now. We're here to help the members of the wards in their efforts in sharing the gospel. Eight of the talks in Conference were either on members reaching out and bringing back in those lost sheep who have strayed away, or else sharing the gospel with everyone around them. I especially loved Elder Ballards talk and how bold and straight forward he was especially when he challenged every member to reach out and share the gospel with at least one person before the end of the year. Think of how many people are out there and don't have the gospel in their lives. Even in Utah they're all over! Even though I loved every talk, I think the talk President Monson gave about his wife was probably one of my favorites! 

This past week was by far the best week this area has had in a long time! We were able to gain 3 new investigators in one week which is pretty unheard of! We've never had more than one or maybe two at one time but now we have six! It feels a lot better when you have a completely full schedule compared to not having anyone to go and see. Right now we have three people on date to be baptized, one next week and two the week after that! So one of our investigators is a born again Christian named Kyle... and to make things even worse he's a registered preacher and has gone to schools to study the bible all his life.  He knows the bible cover to cover and pretty much has the whole thing memorized. I'll be honest here... my bible skills are not very great. So to say the least I was a little bit nervous before our first lesson, but we got in there and talked about the restoration and the Book of Mormon and it went so much better than I expected! He tried to Bible bash with us for the first little bit but then we started talking about the Book of Mormon and how it really is just another testament of Jesus Christ and how all he has to do is read it with a sincere heart and pray about it and no matter what he'll be able to get his answer and know for himself of its truth. I'm not really sure what's going to happen with him but we'll just have to wait and see! 

 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; aspeak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be bconfounded before men

After this experience I know how true this scripture in D&C is. It was crazy to see the huge role the Holly Ghost plays in our lives as we're teaching investigators

Transfers... Going into transfers I was completely positive that I was staying in Kenai. Usually when a companionship finishes training the trainer leaves the area and the trainee stays. Our whole district got together in the morning to play basketball and wait for transfer calls. President Beesley called and I answered the phone and was told that I was getting transferred to Bethel!  When I first heard this I was completely shocked. I was so disappointed that I was going to be leaving Kenai. I really have grown to love this place and everyone in it! The members here are really so amazing. I'm going to miss them so much. But if I was getting transferred I figured I would get sent up to Anchorage or something since they always keep the new missionaries close until they get a little bit older. Bethel is a small native Eskimo village about 1,000 miles West of Anchorage. The only way to get there is by plane or boat so it's CLEAR out in the bush. All of the missionaries that get sent out to the "Bush" areas have been out for at least a year or more and they never send the "Greenies" out there. I'm a little bit nervous about that. Of course right when things really start picking up here in Kenai I get shipped out. It kind of stinks but I know that this is where the Lord wants me to be. The weather up in Bethel is supposed to be insanely cold so i'm going to have to buy all of my winter stuff in Anchorage before I get shipped out. Since everything has to be flown in the prices are crazy and there's really only a few small stores to get things. Since I can have a 3rd back fly free in Alaska I'm loading up a huge suitcase full of candy and and all that good junk food stuff and shipping it up! It's going to be really weird being all by ourselves out there with the closest missionaries a thousand miles away. From what I've heard it's going to be really, really, tough. But I know that with the help of the Lord anything's possible !I fly out Thursdays from Anchorage so i'm pretty excited! 

My ankle is doing ok. I was running through the woods trying to shoot a squirrel with a blow dart gun and a log slipped out from underneath me and I twisted it pretty good. haha I guess that's what I get huh?

Gosh I can't believe the Utes beat Stanford! That's so sweet! thank you so much for sending me those articles! It kinda sounds like they're all over the place this year. If they pulled it off against Stanford maybe they'll be able to hang with the Ducks! Go UTES! Don't forget to get all of the leaves taken care of and make sure that the tramp gets taken down and stored away for winter mmmmkay?

Love you guys!

Stay safe in NY! Don't get killed by terrorists or something like that.

P.S. - I'm going to be shipping a few packages home because I can't bring all of them up to Bethel but they're everyones Christmas Presents so DONT OPEN THEM UNTIL CHRISTMAS!! ok??! You're gonna love my redneck authentic Alaskan Wrapping paper :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Senior Companion


HEEEELLLOOOOO FAMILY!

How the heck is everyone doing??! Haha I hope everything's going great and everyones still alive and staying out of trouble!

On my mission I've realized how important it is to do two simple things: family scripture study, and Family Home Evening.  Make sure that everyone's doing family scripture study every night and family home evening EVERY WEEK! So I guess I need to apologize for all of the times that I moaned and groaned over them. I really am so thankful that despite all of the whining and complaining that we do, that you still made us do them. There's a huge difference in the families that are doing those two things and those that aren't! The spiritual aspect of family scripture study and Family Home Evening is really important, but even more important is that we take some time out of our day to meet together as a family and grow even closer. I was listening to a talk this week that I really loved and I want you guys to listen to tonight for family night. It's called Beware of Pride by President Benson. Something I've really noticed since I've been out, is how being prideful is probably one of the biggest things that almost everyone stuggles with. It is something that we have to at least attempt to overcome if we are going to draw closer together not only as a family but also to grow closer to our Savior. As we start to overcome pride all of our relationships will flow so much better.

That's awesome you guys had such a cool experience at the temple! That's something I really miss. We're supposed to be able to go every 3 months, but our zone is too far away from Anchorage so we don't get to. The last week and a half before I left I loved being able to go to the temple almost every day.  It was so awesome! Like you were saying, because it's the house of the Lord the veil in there is so thin. I've never felt the presence of Dad nearly as strong as when I'm in the temple. I think that's why I love it so much. 

Anyways... I can't believe you hooked up the boat to the Suburban ALL BY YOURSELF!!! WOOOO!!! who's a good girl? Hahaha! Now the question is did it make it to S.S. Marine alright without any crashes or anything? Is the boat ok? No mishaps at the dock or on the lake that I should know about? Is it waxed and vacuumed and cleaned out for the winter? Make sure you look at the fall clean up list that I left you in the housekeeping manual so all of those things get done and that the house gets ready for winter. You might want to start up the Snowblower and make sure its running before the first snowfall and doesn't need to be taken into the shop. 

So I didn't get transferred. At least not yet. We still have two weeks left in this transfer and then I'll be done training. We find out next Saturday if we're going to stay or not or where we're getting shipped off to! I really hope I get to stay here at least one more transfer. The ward and people here are honestly so amazing and I've really come to love them so much! They're so great to the missionaries and things are really finally starting to take off in regards to the work so I'm so excited for that. The reason I put the Strawberry road address in Anchorage on the letter to Lizzy is because I'm not really sure where I'm going to be sent after this, so thats the address to the mission office and they'll just forward it to me from there! Since it's the 2nd to last week of my training I get to be the Senior Companion for the week.  I get to drive, lead out in the lessons and planning and all that fun stuff! I'm pretty excited so we'll see how it goes. Its crazy how after just a few months you can completely forget how to drive a car.This morning when I was trying to drive, it took me a good half hour to get used to it again! haha.

This last week has been really good and was our best week so far! We spent a ton of time in the back woods helping people chop down trees with chain saws and haul them off and split all of the wood. Its so much fun! But pretty dangerous. This last week one of the elders serving by me got his finger chopped off by his companion. Terrible huh! I guess the piece of wood he was holding for his companion fell and he went to grab it and Boom. Bye bye finger. They were able to re-attach the finger but its pretty sad because the bone got all infected so now he has to go home and heal before he can come back out. Sketchy stuff!

So there's been a huge change in Elder Brown. Before I came out I wasn't really a huge fan of kids. I didn't want anything to do with them. Working with all of the families has really gotten me to love them! Even though they can be a little difficult sometimes, they're so much fun to be around! So guess what? My ankle gave out on me pretty bad a few days. I kinda knew it would happen but I has hoping it wouldn't be this soon. But such is life. 

If you guys wouldn't mind could you maybe send me attached to an email a different arrangement of If you Could Hie to Kolob? Since a lot of branches out here don't have anyone who can play the piano I've gotten really into it! Yea mom you were right alright? I regret not practicing when I was younger like I was supposed to. So Ben and Lizzy... PRACTICE THE PIANO!!! Especially the hymns. Don't be like me and regret not doing it. I promise it'll come in handy! And you guys really are the best for sending me those Halloween Oreos!! Those are my favorite :) 

Well that's pretty much all the fun stuff that's been happening around here! GENERAL CONFERENCE IS THIS WEEK!!! WOOOOOOO! You guys better be good kids and watch all of it!

Love ya! 

Elder Brown

P.s. the Salsa make it up here without breaking :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Winter Wonderland?


THERE'S SNOW ON THE GROUND!!!! Yea I thought that i'd be way excited for winter but this is just a little bit too early for me... I mean it's still kinda September isn't it? That just means from here until about May this is what its going to be like haha!

So that bear attack that was on the news you were telling me about I guess was about 30 miles from where i'm at right now! Someone was telling us that the bear populations up here have been exploding lately and a ton of people have been having problems with bears stalking them and their houses. Just a little bit scary! But pretty cool :)

Haha mom that story of Mason crying at the rec center made me laugh pretty dang hard! What a little punk! Meg was saying that he can make animal noises now too? That's so cool! It's going to be so weird coming home and having him be all grown up. By the way thank you so much for all of the sports updates. You guys are awesome! I'm so glad Utah was able to hold out against BYU! After hearing about them beating the Longhorns I was getting a little bit nervous but now I get to rub it in Elder Coombs face a little bit :) (He's a pretty big BYU fan) Speaking of Elder Coombs... hahaha so I guess before he came out he had 3 dreams that he brought a Huskie home. When I was serving with him my first week he told me about the dreams and how he thinks he's destined to take one home but I just laughed at him. But just this week someone offered to give him a Huskie puppy to take home with him if he wants it.  President said it was ok, so today we're going to go look at it haha! He's from Nephi and only has 3 weeks left.

This last week I was able to go down to Homer for a few days with Elder Bernham which was seriously so much fun! Homer's by far my favorite place I've been to up here, it's so pretty! Its just a little town at the end of the peninsula that's just surrounded by the mountains and all of the glaciers. We just went around visiting people that he had served while he was down there but it was great! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find my celebrity guy... Well I guess I kind of did. We had a pretty booked night full of people we needed to see when we drove by his homestead but I couldn't convince any of the other Elders to stop and go visit them for a little bit. It was a bummer but it was pretty cool to at least see where he lived!

Things here in Kenai are going pretty good. We wake up at 0630 and then have an hour and a half to work out and eat breakfast and everything like that. Then we have studies from 0800 to about 1100 and then we're out the door! We go around teaching lessons and visiting people until 2100 and then are in bed by 2230. Our teaching pool here has been alright... Right now it consists of three 10-year olds. That might sound pretty bleak but all three of their families are less active so by teaching their kids we're able to help the families get active in the church again which is really awesome! 

The ward here is really amazing! The people are so nice and welcoming and I absolutely love them! The members here are really good to us and we get fed just about every night which helps a ton! I guess in some areas in the mission you're really on your own so i'm pretty thankful. I mean I already can't look at a package of ramen noodles the same way anymore. After being out for just about 3 months I'm already so sick of eating that everyday for lunch. I guess I need to get a little bit more creative! The food up here though... its a wildcard. We've been eating a TON of fish which I love now! I mean it's a whole lot better than some other things we've eaten... (like burned goat intestine) You'd think that the food in Alaska wouldn't really be that bad since its still part of the United States but guess what? You're wrong! Dinner at quite a few of the families houses is actually pretty good but some of the others... ahhhhhhhh. I'm making you guys a Christmas package full of some of the amazing things i've eaten so you guys can have a pretty good taste of Alaska too :) 

This week has been pretty crazy and we've been doing a ton of service! Everyone up here is trying get all the wood they need for winter so that's what we've been doing. Most people's houses are run by a wood stove because gas up here is so expensive and it can't even make it out to most of their houses! We've been going over and helping people down trees then cut them up into sections and haul them off to be split and stacked. It's a ton more work than I thought it would be! Right now we have two people on date to be baptized Jordan Smith and Nani Demello. Nani was supposed to be baptized this week but her and her family have been having a problem with coming to church so we had to push her back and now both her and Jordan's dates are after transfers so I really hope I get to stay here one more transfer and see them baptized! Teaching 10 year olds was pretty weird to start with but it's been really forced me to get good at working with kids so i'm really loving it! 

Well I hope everything's going great in the land of the prophets and that you're all still alive! Is the house still standing?

Mom- you need to make sure that you turn off the water and clean out the system within these next couple of weeks alright? 

Love you guys!

-Elder Brown

P.s. Thank you so much for the package! The cookies were so yummy :) I'll try and start thinking of some things for my Christmas package and i'll try and send you a list next week or somethin! You're the best!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Halibut Capitol

Hey family!! So.... I just read Kate's email and i thought that Alaska was cool... but it doesn't even compare! 


Right now I'm down in Homer the Halibut Capitol of the world! It's so amazing down here I love it! I have some awesome pictures that I'll have to send to you next week because I don't have my USB converter with me. But anyways, My district got permission to go on kinda a 2 day vacation so I came down here to Homer with my District Leader Elder Bernum and then my comp and a few other Elders went over the Seward for a few days. So all of you guys know that before I left I was pretty obsessed with the Alaska the Last Frontier show. I was talking with one of the members in my ward and they knew the Kiltchers and told me that they are inactive members! They live about 20 miles out of Homer and are in Homers area! Elder Bernum was born in Homer and really wanted to come down here for a few days so we talked to president and got permission to come down! Today I'm trying to track down their address and then we're going to go out and visit them tomorrow! Hahaha I'm pretty excited hopefully I'll be able to find them. I don't really have a ton of time to write today because we're going to go dig for some clams but I'll write more next week! 

Hope everyone's doing great and that you're all stayin' outta trouble :)

Have a great week!

-Elder Brown

Monday, September 9, 2013

Blessings of the Priesthood


Hello Everyone! 

First I want to say THANK YOU for all of the sports updates and pictures! I love them! And especially thanks for the package you sent me! Candy is pretty hard to come by up here so you guys made my week! I was so happy when you sent me those oreos... I've been saving up my money for forever so that next month I can go and buy some of those Halloween Oreos they put out that are my favorite!!!! :) I'm glad the Utes didn't choke against Weber and it looks like we'll get a pretty good feel about how the seasons going to go when they play Oregon State this week so you'll have to let me know how it goes!

So this week has been pretty interesting! The start of the week was pretty slow just because of all of the rearranging with the transfers that went on, but once we got into the swing of things it really started to turn around! So I was laughing when Sarah told me how she got a huge sunburned at the Utah game because, it's almost the complete opposite up here! It snowed in Anchorage a few days ago so either this week or next week I'll be walkin in a Winter Wonderland! Not to excited about that...

Well as far as investigators go...we had a little set back. Our investigator is struggling with some things that we will hopefully be able to help her through.  Pray for our investigator!

I had something really amazing happen that was a huge testimony builder for me. Last week we went over to the McCubbins house to visit with them because we heard that Sister McCubbins daughter Amy wasn't doing very well. Amy is 28 and confined to a wheelchair and has severe disabilities and can't even talk. Sister McCubbins told us that Amy hadn't been doing very well this week and asked me if I could give her a blessing. During the blessing I did something I had never done but for some reason I felt inspired to do. I blessed her that she would be healed according to the will of the Lord and his plan for her. After the blessing I really didn't even think that much of it and we left. About a week after the blessing we went back over there and she gave us a little more background on what had really been going on when we came over and gave her a blessing. Before we showed up, Amy had been doing awful.  Her blood pressure and oxygen levels were rapidly decreasing and getting dangerously low. Sister McCubbins had packed her bags and was ready to take her to the hospital because things were looking so grim. However, after we gave her the blessing, within 2 minutes her blood pressure and oxygen levels had improved to above average levels.  They hadn't seen those levels from almost two weeks!  It is so crazy how the priesthood has truly been restored to the earth once again and how we can act in Heavenly Fathers name according to his will and bless others. 

Anyways things were pretty slow here the past few weeks but just these last few days we picked up two really solid investigators so I'm really excited for this transfer and for all the potential it has!

Hope everyone is doing amazing and enjoying the sun!

Love you Guys :)

-Elder Brown

Monday, September 2, 2013

Doggie Biscuits


Hello Hello Hello!! :) How's everyones week been?? Gosh when I heard that you guys went up to Park City I got so jealous! That's seriously one of my favorite places to go in the world! Did you guys stay at the Mountain Side Marriot as usual? Out of the group of missionaries that I was supposed to come up here with 2/4 sisters have already gone home. Can you believe that? So i'm pretty sure that the Utes started their season this week and I haven't gotten anything from you guys about it! I need schedules, scores, and all that stuff!!! Sarah told me we only beat Utah State by 4 so I hope this year's not going to be a bust like last year. 

Well this week has been pretty weird... It been the first time that i've realized just how cut off from the world I am! Everyone's talking about new movies, TV shows, and music and it's just been throwing me off! Its kinda funny cause when you're on your mission you expect that everything back home just kinda stands still and doesn't change! Things lately haven't been too productive. We had transfers this week and found out that my companion and i are staying in Kenai for at least another transfer. This last transfer has had its ups and downs but it has been alright.  But the Lord knows whats best for all of us and what will make us better missionaries so i'm excited for this next transfer and that I get to stay here in Kenai! I can't believe that it's already been two months! This week was just full of a ton of service. Now that it's supposed to snow here in a little bit everyone has been going crazy trying to run around and cut enough firewood to last them the whole winter and keep them warm! Most of the people in my area don't have gas that runs to their house so they rely pretty heavily on the wood to get them through. So really we've just been cutting down trees and splitting wood the whole week! We went as a district and worked at this flower farm for about 5 hours digging holes and man... I have so much more respect for farmers now! I was completely beat and SO sore after that! But it has been good to get out and do some work outside since we don't really get to exercise a whole lot! The average weight gain in this mission is 50 pounds. If I get home and i'm over 170 I want every single one of you to just walk up and slap me. But don't worry that's definitely not going to happen!!!! haha

This week we've been working with the Miller family which has been really humbling! Sister Miller is a single mom (about 30?) with 2 little kids. She's had a really rough time lately and has barely been making it by. They live in a single wide trailer and have four dogs that never go outside... I'm sure you can see where i'm going with this! So the dogs of course aren't really potty trained so it smells like a cranny in there. No actually worse than a cranny. My comp and I had to go buy some vasaline to put under our noses before we go in... it's really sad though! She was talking with us about how hard it is to wake up every morning and not even haven anything to put in your kids lunch bags. That really hit home with me. All my life I really have been so blessed. I've had a clean house to go home to with a warm bed and food in the cupboards and pretty much anything extra that I wanted. The Miller family has something that I never really realized until dad died. Its that in those times where you're at the lowest of lows and you can't think that you can push any further you realize what's really important, your family. I'm so grateful for the family that I have and how close we've been able to grow because of everything we've been through. I can't believe its been 5 years... Man I miss that guy everyday.

So as I was saying before everyone up here has at least 2 HUGE dogs. I was getting pretty sick of having those stupid things chasing after me when we were trying to run up to the door so I decided that we should go to Walmart and buy a bunch of doggie treats to put in the car with us. Now every time we pull up to a house with a bunch of angry doggies we just roll down the window a little bit and throw the treat out and book it to the door! Haha so far its worked pretty well so I guess just like us the way to a dogs heart is through his stomach! 

Well that's pretty much it for this week so I hope everything's going good in the land down south! Thinkin about you guys all the time and miss ya like crazy!

God is great, the Book of Mormon is true, and people are crazy
-Elder Brown

Monday, August 26, 2013

Got One


Hey Everyone!!!

That's so crazy that Kate's in Vanuatu now! I'm pretty excited to hear all of her stories so you'll have to be sure to send me her emails and some of her pictures! I can't believe that summer is already over and that it's already time for school to start again! It was so weird to see everyone up here go back to school since this was the first time I haven't had to go to school at the end of the summer!!! But anyways I hope school's going good for all of the kids! I can't believe that Lizzy's a big 9th grader and that she'll be in high school next year and driving!! That's a pretty scary thought if you ask me... 

So this week has been a little bit hectic to say the least... We had Sister Olson's baptism on Saturday and it really was so amazing!! We spent most of the time Saturday getting everything ready like making the programs, cleaning the building, filling the font, and I even did some decorating to make it look nice and pretty (you should be proud!) Just to give a little bit of a refresher, we started teaching sister Olson the very first week I got to Kenai. What really has amazed me the most is the complete change that she has made since we first met her. It was SO COOL to be able to be there step by step and to see the complete transformation she made as she grew closer to her Heavenly Father and accepted the gospel. When her step-son Leif baptized her I had never felt the spirit so strong! I had goosebumps all over and I've even have to say I got a little teary eyed haha! It was just amazing to see all of your work finally pay off especially after all of the ups and downs we have had. She asked me to confirm her so I was lucky enough to do that yesterday! I had never done this before so I was a little bit nervous but it was amazing to be able to give someone one of the most valuable and precious gifts they can ever receive in this life! Even though this is a huge step in the right direction for her, her journey is just beginning! The point of a missionary isn't to baptize people. Its to get them to the temple so that they can make those sacred covenants with their Heavenly Father and be sealed together as a family for time and all eternity. The Temple is the goal!

Another family we've been working with is the Demello family. Sister Demello called us one day and said that her and her family have been inactive for a while now but that they wanted to come back and needed our help to do it and that they had a daughter that needed to be baptized! Can't get any better for a missionary right? They've had a rough couple of years but it has been so cool to work with them and to help them come back to Christ! In just the two weeks that they've been coming back to church and taking the lessons their lives have done a complete 180! It just goes to show how much the gospel really does bless our lives and how Heavenly Father really wants to help us! All we have to do is to show him our willingness to do whatever he asks. 

Hope everything is going great in the land down south!!

Love you guys!

-Elder Brown


Monday, August 19, 2013

Trek


Hey guys!!!! How are things going down there?? So I got the pictures from Masons party... what the heck? He's only 1 year old and he gets an ATV? I thought that maybe since I'm you're actual child that I would get something like that!! haha :) And I was really confused by all of those pictures.. you guys looked like you were happy and having a good time? Thats not supposed to happen while i'm gone! So I heard through an email that Kate is leaving for Vanuatu this week? I'm kinda sad that she's going to Vanuatu... I was hoping she would stay in Baltimore because lets be honest... its nothing compared to Alaska! But Vanuatu comes pretty close. Now I''m going to have some competition to see who can take the best pictures so i'm going to send one that I think will be pretty hard to beat!

Anyways... So this week was pretty unusual! We had zone conference up in Anchorage for half of the week so we drove up there Tuesday night. All the time while we were staying there we got to stay in the mission home which I LOVE! It's kinda got that home away from home feeling. For our zone conference we wen't on a Pioneer Trek to kind of build up zone/district unity! We drove up about 50 miles from Anchorage to this area called Pioneer Peak. By far the most beautiful place i've been and that I probably will ever see! So before we hit the trail with the handcarts we did a couple of trust exercises with our district. So its kind of hard to explain but pretty much our district leader was on these stilts and he had to fall back and we were supposed to catch him. Well needless to say he kind of fell back right when this plane flew over us so we were all looking at that... I'm sure you know where this is going! So he did a trust fall from about 4 feet up and fell and smacked his back on all of these rocks in the parking lot! He was a really tough sport and kept on going but we found out yesterday that he tore 3 discs in his neck so he's in a neck brace now..  I guess our district needs to work on our unity a little bit more and maybe not getting distracted so easily?... So we started pulling the hand carts and it was so much fun! It had been raining for a while so the whole trail was full of mud. On a lot of parts we were about calf deep in mud pulling the handcart! We got to a big river and all of us figured that this was where we were going to stop since it was about 50 yards across and it was fed by a HUGE glacier in the back of the valley. We figured out we had to cross it so we had to wade waste deep in freezing cold glacial water across the river! It was pretty fun. To end it all off we had a big fire and roasted hot dogs and smores and had a devotional. Made me pretty happy :)

So we stayed up in Anchorage until Saturday because Elder Bednar was coming up to reorganize some stakes and so he was going to have a meeting with all of the missionaries! On Friday we got to go to the Anchorage temple which was so amazing! If you haven't been to the temple lately then you definitely should go see the new video! I learned so much from it! On Saturday we got to meet with Elder Bednar and there really aren't words that can describe it... along with Elder Bednar, Elder Maynes from the Presidency of the Seventy, and Bishop Causse from the presiding Bishopric were there. It was amazing to be in a small meeting with that many men high up in the church. There were only about 60 of us in the meeting with them so it was very personal. All the other missionaries in Alaska had to watch it over PVC so we got lucky. He didn't give a talk but rather we all had a discussion with him on seeking learning by faith. We were able to ask him questions and he would answer and talk about all of them! One thing that we talked about that I loved was about how he hates some parts of the LDS culture or habits we all fall into. When we pray we often pray for things that we simply want God to give to us but we aren't willing to do our part and act on our faith to put us in a position for him to help us. He used a few examples that I really liked. Example 1: All too often in our meetings we pray and say "please bless all of those people who are not here today that they will be able to make it next time". Instead of praying for that and just forgetting about it immediately after, we have to ACT on it! In order to really act on that request we would have to go and find those people who were not there that day and visit them, tell them that we miss them, and get them to come back!!!! That is just one example, but we can apply that to almost everything that we pray for. Example 2: People often pray for the missionaries asking Heavenly Father to help them find those people who have been prepared to receive them (I was guilty of this too) The way that members can actually help the missionaries and act on that prayer is to do their part and look for their own missionary opportunities. We all know those people who do not have the gospel in their lives and we can reach out to them and prepare them to receive it. "Every member a missionary". If you think about it... a huge way that Heavenly Father answers prayers is through us! 
This entire discussion with him just reminded me of the scripture in James 2 that says that faith without works is dead. The way that we learn and become converted to the gospel is by exercising our faith ! Hearing Elder Bednar bare his testimony was one of the coolest things ever! It wasn't a testimony, it was a statement. He pretty much stated that he knows/has seen personally Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. There are only a few people in this world who can say that! When you're around him you just know that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ.

So one more funny story and then I'll stop writing.. So this week we were doing service for this lady we are teaching who has a bunch of dogs and were putting up a fence for her. So you're probably thinking that the fence was to keep the dogs in right? Wrong! In the last two weeks she's had two of her 6 dogs taken by wolves right out of her backyard! So we had to put up the fence to try and keep the wolves out haha! Its just so cool to be up here where things like that happen!

Well I hope you guys are having as awesome of a week as is possible without me being there!

Love ya!

-Elder Brown

P.S. We have a baptism with Sister Olson this Saturday and her son Leif got the priesthood yesterday so he can baptize her! So Cool! i'm pretty excited. Then we have another one set up for the 7th!


Editors Note:  Not sure if Elder Brown's story about dropping his District Leader is true.  Sounds a little fishy to me.  You know his personality, likes to tease.  I'll verify it next week:).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fruits Of His Labor


Hey Guys!!!

Mom i'm so sorry to hear that you're sick!!! Pneumonia sounds awful but at least its passing through you pretty quick!

Lizzy and Ben: Shutting mom up in her room all day and throwing some saltine crackers under the door doesn't count as taking care of her!! I'm sure Kate will whip you guys into shape though :)

It sounds like you guys have been living up your last few weeks before school starts! Its SO weird to hear that you are all going to Cherry Hill and swimming still! I can't believe that it's still warm enough for that down there! This week it hasn't gotten over 50 degrees so i've had to whip out the sweaters! If I think this is cold everyone's telling me that i'm in for a rude awakening in a few weeks haha!! But it seriously has been raining ALL DAY everyday for the past week! The rivers are really starting to fill up and the whole area's on flood watch. I can't believe that Mason's already one! I can still remember sitting in the waiting room for hours. and hours. and hours. and he still didn't come!!  I'm glad you got the pictures and hopefully you can see how amazing it is up here!

This week has probably been my favorite so far! We taught Sis. Olson the third lesson (Gospel of Jesus Christ) We had already gotten a soft commitment out of her for baptism but she had told us that she wanted to find out for herself whether it was true or not which obviously is a good thing! The lesson went really well and the spirit was so powerful!! My companion and I both bore our testimonies and she ran out of the room bawling... I wasn't too sure if that was a good thing or bad things... Well when she settled down she came out and told us that she knew that it was true and that she had been waiting for this for her whole life! Music to our ears! So we set a date for August 24th! We came back a few days later and started teaching them the commandments. After the lesson we started talking about who would be baptizing her. Bro. Olson and Leif (18) both were baptized in 2003 and neither of them have the priesthood. With how soon the baptism is we were a little worried that they wouldn't be able to get it before then but our bishop was really great and they're both getting it next Sunday! Leif will be doing the baptism because Bro. Olson has Parkinsons pretty bad and can't walk too well. I'm so excited for all of them!

Right when I got here we started teaching a less active family, the Spanns. They're such an amazing family! Both of them were pretty rebellious earlier and have tattoos of skulls all over but i've never met a nicer couple! We've gotten them to come back to church and now we're working with them and the bishop and they've set a date to go to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. There is nothing better than knowing that no matter what happens in this life, you can be with your partner not just for this life, but for eternity! The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes up for everything that is unfair in this life. 

A few days ago I was pretty down in the dumps. It had been raining all day and literally no one who we had been trying to see was home and if they were they didn't want anything to do with us! All week I had been praying for a family to teach. I realized that we can't pray for things and just expect them to be given to us. Sometimes we have to show the lord that we are willing to do anything for him, and to actually work for that blessing before he'll help us out. Anyways... My phone rang and it was a random number we didn't know. I answered and a lady came on the phone and told us that her and her family had just moved into Kenai. They weren't active and hadn't been for some time. She said that she wanted us to come meet with them and help them get reactivated and that she had a few kids that wanted to take the lessons and be baptized! Can't get any better than that right??! We start teaching them tonight and i'm pretty excited :) Like I said, the lord is always watching over us he's just waiting for us to call upon him to help us out! if we are doing everything we can and staying faithful then he will bless us!

Our area is heating up! We have 3 other investigators that are getting close to baptism and 4 really solid potentials! However, as every other missionary knows anything can happen. Like is says in the scriptures without the Lord I am nothing. All I can do is try my hardest, "study and little harder, pray a little longer," and try to help them feel the spirit. Teaching with the spirit is the key ingredient. He is the ultimate and true teacher and without his influence conversion is impossible.

This week I decided that i'd try a little experiment. I wanted to see whether or not constantly being optimistic and happy makes a difference! Let me tell you this much... Its not easy! I came across this quote that I really like:
"The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."
No matter how bad we may think our day is going, it can always change. Everything is mental. If we can just take a second and calm down and readjust our attitude, it can make the biggest difference! For me it was just as simple as putting on a really big fake smile for just a minute and then things started to lighten up! As members of the church, we need to be the the light that shines in the world covered in darkness. Its that light that we show (our optimism, mood, attitude) that brings other people into the gospel. And honestly... nothing is really ever THAT bad. Just by making a simple change in our attitude and smiling just a little bit more we can not only make a difference in our lives, but in the lives of everyone around us. Chill out, smile just a little bit more, and be happy. (Yes everyone I know that this is pretty hyprocritical coming for the Elder Brown you knew but hey people can change :)  )

I know this is really long so I'll stop but I hope you guys are doing great!

-Elder Brown