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


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

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Alaska: The New Frontier

Hey Family!!! 
I hope everything at the house is going well and of course i'm sure you're missing me! 
This week in the mission we have been focusing on fellowshipping inactive members and part member families. There are a TON of part member families and so we've just been trying to make a plan of attack, if you will, to try and bring them back in and get the rest of their family baptized. 
Fellowshipping is huge for bringing people back to church and keeping them there.  We spent some time figuring out who the families are, and who they are friends with.  We would go over and meet with them and talk about what needs are. Then we would head over to the part members house and ask if they need any service done or help around the yard. While we're working with them we start talking about the gospel and set up a time to come back and teach their families the lessons. When we teach the lessons we bring the friends to it so that they feel a lot more comfortable. We were excited when 3/3 of those families attended sacrament meeting! 
This week we went over to help Brother K out on his ranch. A ton of people out here are literally self sufficient and hardly go to the store for anything! He is a little different. He thinks that the Liberals and "Obama lovers" are trying to sneak on his land and spy on him so he has booby traps ALL OVER! When we walk around we have to always follow him so that we don't get caught in any of them. Plus he has three bomb shelters on his properties for when the "terrorists" come and bomb the back woods of Alaska. I asked him about how many acres of land he has and then he started accusing me of being a spy that was sent to come and map out his homestead. 
I little different kind of guy, buy you gotta love him! He has a big lumber mill on his property and he needed a bunch of trees cut down so he could finish his house. We went out with the chain saw and downed about 3 100ft trees and had to haul them a few hundred yards back up to the mill.  Yea so I guess you could say i'm pretty much a lumber jack now so you probably should start calling me Paul Bunyan now. He's a nice guy but our efforts might be used more productively somewhere else. 
I had my first encounter with a member of the Alaskan wildlife family yesterday the cow moose. We were walking down the steps of our a less active members house and weren't really paying any attention to anything but right as we turned the corner there was the big mama Alaskan moose with her baby about 10 yards away (keep in mind most of the members here live 2-3 miles off of the main roads on an ATV path/dirt road). They're so much bigger than the little moose back in Utah. My companion has been in Anchorage for most of his mission and all of the moose are pretty much tame there so he thought was he knew what he was doing. Our truck was the opposite direction of the moose so he figured that he could just walk to the car and be fine. The moose started charging after him but luckily she was just trying to scare him so she didn't run too far. The bad thing was now she was between me and the car! So I had to sit up on the deck for about 20 minutes for her to slowly feed away so I could make a break for the car!! Haha I got pretty scared when she started chasing after him. 

So from now on i'm expecting a weekly report from you guys and what you've been doing since I have no idea! I'm felling a little bit out of the loop.

Love you guys!!!

-Elder Brown