Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014

Hello, Everyone!

Well, it’s been another eventful week on the mission front. As Dad says, Chile is on fire, and not just the spiritual kind. Valparaiso has been burning since Saturday; hopefully it’s out by now but we still haven’t heard. Last time we heard, over 3000 people had lost their homes, and there were at least 11 dead with a lot more missing. Very sad. Yesterday at church, they were talking a lot about it, how in the temple this weekend they had been there with another ward from that area. It reminded me of the talk a few conferences ago about the people of Mexico losing all their crops in a freeze and still being there to work in the temple. It’s always a testimony builder to see those good examples of consecration, and know that even with all the terrible stuff that goes down in the world there is still a lot of good out there... and it’s worth fighting for! --Samwise Gamgee.

We also had interviews this week. We then had lunch with President in the mission home, which I’ve never done before, we ate tacos (which never happens), and an apple cake that was amazingly flavorful and American. So that was fun. 

And, in other news, we had a good run in with the Chilean police detective force. Apparently, if you don’t change your address in their records within thirty days after changing addresses it’s a legal infraction. Welp, now we know. It wasn’t just me, it was a bunch of missionaries, but I guess that’s what I get for not following the details with exactness of what the office elders say to do. Ah, well. Unfortunately, it sounds like all the lawyers and all this stuff had to get involved and we are going to see what that means--it didn’t seem like a big deal when we went in--the detective I talked to had already talked with tons of missionaries, has a Book of Mormon on his desk and a photo of the temple on his screen.

We have been working hard in our sector to just find some new people to teach; we have been talking with tons of people, knocking doors, getting our members involved, and little by little we are starting to see some possibilities. We have transfers this week, and it’s more than likely that I leave Chiguayante. But I want to make sure that I leave everything here hopefully MUCH better than I found it, and make sure Elder G is good to go here.

This morning we had to get up super early to go look for H’s dad in the bus terminal and bring him to the house. He has Alzheimer’s and was getting in from Puerto Montt and no one else could go look for him. Good thing we are called to serve.

It’s been a fun week. It’s starting to get cold and rain more here, but that’s just the way it goes! Can’t always be blue skies or we would never really appreciate it!

Have a great week!
Elder Brown

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014

Hello, Everyone!

Wasn’t General Conference the BEST! I think one of the huge wins of the mission is how much you gain an appreciation for General Conference. It is like a mix of a huge movie coming out, or Duke in the finals of March Madness (a dream that will be completed next year, right?). So awesome. We were able to watch it in English as well, so that was great. We were able to really learn a lot of great things to apply in the whole zone, but I think personally I learned a lot of good stuff as well. We all have perfecting to do but, as we were reminded in the conference, it’s all about love and being, not just talking it up and being hollow.

Something I was thinking about was the difference between the Spirit I have felt during General Conference while on my mission as opposed to before my mission. And I think it comes down to two basic reasons that are super important.

1. In the mission, we are more spiritually prepared to receive revelation. We give more importance to the talks, we honestly treasure them, we seek to apply them, and, because the Lord sees all that, he blesses us with more of his Spirit and a higher capability to apply. We also are studying daily, deeply, have lots of prayer during the day, and see tiny miracles in all we do. And, after more than a year and a half of being a missionary, I feel like my spiritual appreciation, power, potential, and capacity have grown a ton. After a weekend like that, ya just gotta feel like you need to share it with all the world, and now I feel like I have at least a part of the know how to start!

2. In the mission, we have our priorities straight. There aren’t other activities, practices, games, shows, etc, that call for our attention and make watching conference a ´sacrifice` and pull our attention away from the talks, make us only listen with half our hearts, or not even listen at all. It’s nice reading the talks after, but the Spirit is special seeing the conference given tal cual. It’s easy in the mission--in fact, the conference is almost like a little break where we are protected by all the hard things of our sectors and just spiritually fed. But how much harder is it to really appreciate conference when we have fifty other responsibilities calling for our attention?

I was thinking about these two things a lot, and thinking about how I am going to keep applying them after my mission. Now is the time to obey with exactness and build my testimony of these things, because after there are new temptations, distractions, and it’s so easy to lose the clear perspective we are blessed with as set apart servants of the Lord. So I am going to apply these things now, and after, and may we all do the same! 

I also liked something that Brother Dallstrom said, that even though we may think we are ´just this way` we should never think that we cannot change. We can’t give up on ourselves, we need to improve. We need to leave our pride, our lack of love, kindness, patience, and forgiveness, and each day BE better, because in the end, it’s our character that will be measured. "The soul that rises with us, our life´s star," as Wordsworth says.

Just some thoughts. We had a fun zone activity today, ate empanadas and hiked a hill. We are working to find some great investigators, and feeling frustrated for the lack of progression in others! Pray for us!
I love you all! Thanks for all your examples and prayers!

Elder Brown

Eating empanadas at a zone activity, then playing pelotes

After hiking the Chiguayante hill--holding the national flower of Chile, which he did NOT pick, because that would be illegal. It happened to have fallen off its plant, so he brought it home.

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014

Hello, Everyone!

It’s been a fun week! H. passed his baptismal interview at the last second and got baptized (in a freezing font in the middle of a huge rainstorm) then confirmed in the sacrament meeting the next day. So that was the highlight of the week. Super great guy, really happy for him.

Other than that, we are seeing some problems in the zone for stupid stuff—it’s good, though, because it’s all stuff that Elder G. and I are getting over lately so now we can totally testify from heart how to do it. It’s great. Just nitpicky stuff about people wanting more cleanliness in the house and others doing nothing (I know how this one goes all too well), as well as just some general unkindness, pride, and just some missionaries feeling bad about not having the success they are wanting. The good thing is tomorrow, being the first Tuesday of the month, we are going to have the chance to teach a classic zone class; we have a lot of great ideas-- this is going to be a classic. 

We taught a great lesson the other night to R. and E. We were teaching about marriage and charity to get these chambones married at some point but still nothing going on, and they are still bickering constantly to us. They talked at us for like ten minutes straight, just pure complaints about ‘she does this,’ ‘he does that,’ and then an idea came to me. Revelation. We cut it, and I was like, look, now we are going to go in a circle and say one thing we LOVE about our comp. I started, went in a circle, they got all quiet, awkward, and then we went around the second time, and then told them that’s what they need to do and peaced out. But hopefully we finally see some progress with that marriage. I really just want them to be members--they are so great, and so ready. I feel like if for no other reason, I needed to be in Chiguayante for them, and their two small future missionary boys.

Today we had our leadership council again, and then played paintball after! It was fun, even the mission presidente and his wife played! Neat stuff. I imagine it’s even more fun when all the equipment is good and stuff and no one cheats but whatever.

We are having fun and growing in the zone! SOOOOOO pumped for General Conference this weekend! And Priesthood session! We are going to bring all of Chiguayante to hear the prophets voice.

Love you all!
Elder Brown

Exciting baptism day!

Paintballing with President and Sister A

Camo wearing with Elder G

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014

Hello, Everyone!

It’s been a great week for us, for the work, for the zone, for the people of Chiguayante, and for the ward! We are very excited for all the changes that are happening in our sector and in the work here--let me tell you…No, there is too much, let me sum up. 

H. is a great guy. I was going to take a picture of him for y’all but I forgot. He is getting ready to be baptized on Saturday! It has been a miracle that came from talking with everyone, faith, and patience. 

And this week we also found M., who is a miracle, too. She worked with missionaires in Santiago for a long time, never got baptized, moved to Tome, never got baptized, and now lives right by our church here in Chiguayante. Golazo. She is super ready, smokes a bit and is not married, but has lots of desires and she came to church and loved it. So we are really happy about that, as well. We found her in the street--by talking with everyone. 

Kinda making me wonder why I didn’t start this whole “talk with everyone” thing a lot sooner in my mission; it seems to work a little bit! Just some advice for any of you missionaries or future missionaries out there-- the cure to anything you have going on is to just open your mouth and don’t let a person pass you by without them hearing your testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I feel like I am progressing a lot in this sector, and that we are starting to see all the blessings from a very long time of hard work and stress and disappointment, but now things are all coming together. SO excited for General Conference this next week, and for all the zone. 

We have had some powerful lessons this week, especially with some less actives. We have been sharing the story that Elder Holland shared in October of 2012, of Peter and Christ at the Sea of Tiberias--Do you love me, and what it means to really love Christ. And that, at its base, I think is really the foundation of a testimony-- a solid motivation to obey, sacrifice, and consecrate yourself. 

Loving the work, and working hard. A great quote from President Uchtdorf for the week: "It is not your responsibility to convert anyone. That is the work of the Holy Ghost. Your task is to share your beliefs and to not be afraid."

Have a great week and remember why we do what we do!

Elder Brown

The cutest gaucho EVER!

Dancing the Cueca at a ward party in Chiguayante--a dance about a rooster and a hen which everyone knows. "If you don't know it, you don't fit in. I'm learning!"

A favorite family, the Familia Riquelme. Hermano Francisco, Hermana Pamela, Francisca (9), Montse (4), and Pedro (14, not shown). They were reactivated and now have tons of neighbors who want to come to church and learn more!

Simply adorable, says Mom.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014

Hello, hello!
This has been a great week; we have been talking with everyone we see, we have had some great meetings, and now we are starting to see miracles from all our efforts! Just another testimony that obedience to what the Lord wants brings the promised blessings, even if they are delayed sometimes. 
We are teaching H. right now, a great guy. He was Adventist, and was having problems accepting baptism because he has some worries that if the owners of his house find out (they are Adventists, too) they will kick him and his fam out, but on Saturday a miracle occurred. We were having a baptism from the other companionship in this ward, and invited him, and in the middle of the baptism he leans over to me and whispers, "I’m getting baptized at the end of the month.” Winning. 
Also, S. was going to come to church but it rained and she didn’t make it, super disappointing. We hadn’t prepared her well enough, I guess. Granted, we only saw her once in the week but whatever. Next week, she will come and be spiritually blown away.
As always, we are remembering the importance of our message. Not one soul can go without hearing about the Restoration of the Gospel; everyone needs to hear about what Jesus Christ has done, and continues to do, for us. So we have been sharing it with everyone, and remembering it ourselves. I have been learning a lot--in my spare time (ha, if it existed), I have been going over all the talks of all the conferences of my mission. There are some classics. I am so excited for conference! Just a few more weeks! Somethin’ crazy is gonna happen. I’m callin’ it.
I hope everyone is doing well, is happy, is working hard, is playing hard, and is finding joy in the journey. I’m loving my time here, all the things I’m learning, and hopefully what I’m becoming. The trick is just makin’ it stick. 
I love you all!

Elder Brown

The "Best Thing to Happen to Lider" (Chile's WalMart equivalent)--a pack of mini Ritter Sport that only costs about $2!

Elder Cruz, Zach's "grandson" (his trainee's trainee) with a real, live bull--appropriate since he is from Spain

Saying "adios" to good pal Elder Durrant on his transfer to Linares

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014

Hello, Everyone!

Not a lot of time this week because I accidentally erased the whole informe and had to do it all over again. Way to go, Brown.

But it has been a week of miracles! Just gonna talk about miracles in this email. First, we had Elder Zeballos come, a Seventy, and he gave a conference. It was amazing and became yet another point in my mission that is going to make me better. Other miracle--seven of our investigators came to church this week. That was awesome. It has been so long but, finally, we are starting to see some possibilities opening up in the sector. Biggest miracle—S., the lady that was reading a Liahona when we knocked her door randomly, finally came to church! We had completely given up on her, on Thursday we went and she just kept saying that church isn’t a commandment, that she is Catholic, etc, so we bore testimony, cried in our souls, and left. BUT SHE CAME. I was playing the piano, the closing hymn, and looked up and randomly saw her, just about started crying right then and there. Wow. That was an answer to prayers right there. Some much-needed fruits, just one of those reminders that even when we feel like nothing is working out, the Lord is always there helping things along.

Cambios were today but I am staying in Chiguayante with Elder G. So we are going to have another six weeks to see miracles here, and then most likely I will head to my last sector. Weird. Lots to do, very excited for this time-- and general conference!
I love you all!

Elder Brown

Zach and Elder G eating at Mamut, which he calls "Chile's answer to The Texas Embassy in London," which is where his grandparents and their missionaries always went for "real" American food--Zach says Mamut isn't exactly "real" American food, but as close as they can get, and they love it!

The Chiguayante Zone before transfers on March 11.

Monday, March 3, 2014

March 3, 2014

G’day, folks!

It’s been a fun week. We have met a lot of Chiguayantinos, or sea people that are from Chiguayante. They are mostly chill folk, quite a few Evangelicals and more testigos than one would hope for but, when it comes down to it, they love their families and want the best for them, even if they don’t accept our (and The Lord´s) help in that.

We have been going crazy with opening our mouths and talking with everyone. It’s been fun, interesting, embarrassing at times, awkward (which is really fun), frustrating, and spiritual. We are the Lord´s voice, His hands, wherever we are, and we have the responsibility to help our brothers and sisters understand what He has done for us, the price He paid for us, and what that means for us and our families. Granted, not everyone wants to listen but I”ve learned that I can walk a lot faster than any Chilean, to keep up when they try to get away. And in every twenty or so people, there is someone that is a little interested and wants to hear more, which makes it all worth it.

This week, we have a conference with Elder Zeballos; it is going to be great, I am sure. It will probably be my last general authority visit in my mission, so I am really hoping for it to be something special to help me internalize everything that I have been learning, be more Christ-like, and just be my best for the rest of my life.

This last time has been full of challenges, sadness (I found out last week that one of my converts is pregnant out of wedlock, and that the others aren’t going to church), and trials. At some points, you just have to ask yourself what it’s all for, what I’ve been doing out here, if in the end no one remembers or is changed. I still think they were changed and remember, even if they try to forget, but I do know for sure that I have been changed. Maybe all this missionary service isn’t exactly what I was expecting or wanted, but I think it’s what I needed, and I am extremely grateful that the Lord loves me enough to give me these learning opportunities and really internalize my testimony of the Atonement. That’s what it’s all about, in the end. 

We are having fun, trying to be healthy, keep the house clean (I clean, at least) and help everyone! I hope everyone else out there is doing the same, and I am so proud of all of you! Thanks for your examples and prayers always.

Elder Brown 

During a Friday night meeting at the church, they were pretty sure the place was haunted. Here they are, looking for ghosts.

Zach loves Peruvian food!