Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25, 2013

Hey, Everyone!

Another good week this week! Unfortunately, Benita could not get baptized this week but we will keep moving forward. Hay que seguir adelante.

Let’s see. It’s been a long week. Monday night, I went to Penco Centro and Elder Clawson, who speaks very little Spanish, and I got lost up in the hills. Some Chileans gave me some bum directions. Punks. But we ended up at the top of a huge hill looking over Valle Hermoso and it was great. Pics next week. Then on Tuesday, Elder Saenz and I tore it up. Wednesday, I went out and worked with Elder Navarette in the pouring rain--that was a great experience. Actually, it really was--he taught me a ton. We did a ton of service this week--mostly cleaning up yards and stuff like that but on Saturday we helped the Balcons build a house. That was kinda cool.

Elder Saenz and I are doing really well. It’s really nice to have the zone leaders with us, feeling like they trust us to do the work we need to. We are super excited to be helping Julian and his daughters, Barbara (14) and Natalia (15) get ready for their baptisms on Saturday. They are going to be great. We went over the baptismal questions with them, and they had some doubts about a living prophet but I made brownies for them so that smoothed it all over. Ha ha, just kidding. Actually, we watched some good Thomas S. Monson talks, talked about the Book of Mormon being the keystone, went by with converts, and today we are going to teach revelation. Should be good, real good stuff.

We are working hard to keep finding those people who will be baptized in April. We are really excited to keep the zone going strong. It is great being in this zone with elders that really are all invested and doing all they can; it changes the attitude. Changes the whole game, really. And it’s nice to feel like we are really contributing to the zone now. We have a good attitude, and Elder Saenz is great, too. Good teacher. He’s definitely a pretty gangster Ecuatoriano-- loves rap and talks about his life before the mission like he was a drug lord or something, but great guy!

I’m having a great time and loving the work here! Hopefully we will have lots of great news and great pics for you all come next Monday! And General Conference is coming up, too! Wahoo!

Say hi to everyone for me! I hear Duke is in the sweet sixteen! GO, my favorite sports team! GO!


Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

Hey Folks, 

We have been having a great week here. Well, honestly, pretty mediocre, but the greatness of the last couple weeks are keeping us through. We are working hard teaching Julian and his great family. They have three daughters, two who are 14 and 15 and are actually willing to listen and go to church (which is rare in Chile), and Fernandita who is 2 and just the greatest. Ever. I’ll snag a picture this week with them. We are also teaching the mother of Fabian and Mitzi, the young couple in our ward whose baby recently died. She doesn’t understand a ton but we are trying to teach her really clearly so that she will be ready for her baptism Saturday and be able to really progress in the gospel! We have also been really focusing on Nora. More about her later. This week we also found Cyntia, who is 14 and a friend of a family in the ward. We weren’t sure if she was really that interested or just felt obligated by this family but then we went and taught her in her own house with her mom and they could quite possibly be golden. We will just have to see.

We had interviews with President this week--President just basically told me we are doing great, try to fix your shower that is terrible, and then we talked about Duke and basketball for pretty much the rest of the time. Not sure if that meant that he has given up on me or if he was just tired or if he just wanted to talk basketball--probably a mix of all three. Also, on Wednesday, I am going on a minicambio with one of the assistants, kind of nervous about that. He is a Chilean and no one is really sure if he is actually human. But I´ll just do what I do best, which is basically just talk to lots of Chileans and try to act interested in their earthquake stories and then try to share the gospel with them, and then, sometimes after that, they and the Spirit change their lives. That would be ideal.

Now about Nora and Pablo. Pablo is a convert of about 1 year and is super funny, but a crazy, little, old guy. Reminds me of one of the vultures from Jungle book. He makes us yummy food, though, and is a fun little friend. But his neighbor, Nora, he asked us to go visit. He really insisted with her, even though he never comes to church either and has Word of Wisdom problems, and so we started sharing with her. The first time we went, she was SUPER depressed and closed with us, but with the Spirit and some inspired teachings she started opening up; now she is getting ready for baptism. She is a little manic depressive, a little suicidal. Kind of scary. We have been leaving her with church videos to watch--she is watching the Doctrine and Covenants seminary videos this week. So she is going to learn a lot of random stuff, I guess. Pablo is spending lots of time with her, and we pass by daily, and she was a lot better after coming to church yesterday!  But she has been smoking about 40 cigarettes every day for the past ten years. And yesterday she only smoked five. She is super happy and is just completely changing her life. She loves church, loves reading, loves praying. Actually, the hardest part is the guy that’s already a member, Pablo, because he offers her his cigarettes and booze. Crazy goon. Gonna go talk to him about it tonight with Nestor.

So that’s about it for this week. Tell the Glaziers their cousin is doing great--apparently her second day here or something in four contacts they taught four lessons--apparently she is doing something right. Have a great week! Say hi to Allie for me, and my boys Thomas "the tinker" Fitzpatrick and Carsen "hairy man" Barnes.

Love yáll
Elder "now you see him, now you don’t" Brown

March 11, 2013 (a week late)

Hey, Everyone!

Sounds like it’s about time for Spring Break back in the ol’ states. Good stuff. We are headed into winter here. Uh oh. Especially given that our shower is electric, the heat cuts every two minutes, and in the best of situations is only barely warm, it could be a very cold, wet winter. But exciting!

We have been doing really well here. It is beautiful, the weather is really nice, it’s fun feeling like you are just hiking all the time because of the hills, the ward is ridiculously awesome here (compared to some other wards that I have seen), we have all kinds of support and help here, it is great being with companions that are great, etc. Basically, just lots and lots of bendiciones. All those long, hot, sweaty days in Talca Centro are starting to pay off!

Big news of the week: We have been working with Patricia, the mom of a young man in the ward, preparing her to get baptized! She has been to church a lot but never really clicked with the missionaries, never really accepted a date to do it. Felt pressured. Then when Elder Saenz and I went by last Friday, she was just like, “Yeah, great! I feel ready! Let’s do it next week.” Bingo. Half her extended family are members, too. She got baptized by her son on Saturday. It was great. That was in the morning on Saturday.

Then Christopher, a joven that has been having problems smoking, that we have been praying and fasting for, we were able to baptize as well on Saturday in the evening! Crazy, crazy day. Super hectic, filling the font, keeping it hot, getting refreshments, speakers, telling all the ward at last minute notice, running around like chickens with our feet cut off. They are both great and there was FABULOUS attendance, given the circumstances. I love good Mormons. This ward is great. I played special musical numbers in both, go piano go, and the speakers really showed up in a big way. There are lots of youth and RMs in this ward who help us a ton.

So that is the greatest. Starting to see those blessings. It’s weird, I feel like I have not changed much in what I am doing, still being as exactly obedient and diligent as before, but now we are starting to really blow up the sector! We are teaching a family, a guy named Julian and his less-active wife, who is a Marine. His two daughters showed up to the baptism on Saturday alone because he was sick. He has worked in Moyok in North Carolina, he was a part of Blackwater, he has been everywhere, and his family is AMAZING. I feel so lucky to be able to teach them, and it was all because we just pushed ourselves to contact people in the street.

Sounds like things are going really well there! Too bad for the boys’ tennis team [to not be attending the tournament anymore]. That was such a fun trip. It is weird that just about all those kids are now on missions. Where is Brett Jaynes headed?

We are having good times here. It is super fun living with Elder Rees, super great guy. Elder Carter is fun, too. Elder Saenz is also great. But Elder Rees is stand out. We are working hard and having success now, too!

But anyways, where was I. We are also teaching a lady named Nora who is progressing really well, who lives by us and is great. She was a reference from this great recent convert, Pablito, and when we taught her first she was super depressed. I really felt inspired to share 3 Nephi 22:7-8 with her, and she really opened up. She has come to a bunch of stuff, including church, and is excited for her baptism! Hopefully she stays here--she had plans to go to Iquique soon.

Also there is a mom of a member here that we found, really neat experience. About a month ago, this young couple lost their baby when it was being born. The dad is the ward secretary, fabulous guy, convert, and the mom is a returned missionary. She is still super sad. But we ran into them in the street one day, and they invited us to accompany them to the cemetery. We went in hesitantly, and I must admit I was there thinking, “What are we doing here, wasting time we could be using to find new investigators and do the work?” But we helped them get some flowers and take care of the grave, and we talked a little bit about the plan of salvation, with the mom right there. Then, after, we went to their house, taught a lesson, and the next time taught her in the chapel with the pila and she is getting baptized in two weeks. Very special experience.

So those are the investigators we are focusing on right now. I am learning a lot with Elder Saenz, he really controls a lesson well and speaks Spanish well. Ha ha obvio. But we are having fun and practicing so that I can participate a little more, too. But we are doing well being really obedient, doing the things we are supposed to be doing and going that extra mile to really own our sector and help this ward. The ward really expects a lot from us now. It’s great. They are so willing to help, and we have TONS of great.

That is about all for the week. We are eating well, working hard, living that missionary life. I feel more and more like a real missionary every day. I mean, Elder Rees and Elder Carter are kinda great examples. I think that this whole mission thing might work out for me after all. But all of this success, from really changing very little in what I am doing, has caused me to think that maybe sometimes we just have to sweat and burn and die in the streets of Talca before we receive the fruits and progressing investigators and baptisms and ward members of Valle Hermoso. But I am so excited to keep working here. Just gotta keep it up! 

I have gotten some good letters from Allie, and from the whole Bradford family, too!! Loved that one-- Danny is great. Classic Danny. Gabe sounds like he is too intelligent to handle. Good Chris is doing her thing, and Sister Bradford, as always, has her words of wisdom and refined, dignified support. I don’t think I heard from the obispo though... Also got a letter from Ben! Sounds like he is doing well and really enjoying and learning a lot. Actually he just sounds like same ol’ spiritual Ben. I don’t think that the mission can change people who were already perfect.

Any news from Tom and Cars or any of those other champs?! Did they tent this year, and was it just so gratifying to rub it all in UNCs faces? I am sure that attending singles ward was more fun this year than last year. Tell Jordan and Adrienne and Han I say hi.

So, yep! Doing well. I hope everyone there is great. Say hello to everyone!

Elder Brown

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March 4, 2013- New Area!

Hey, Folks!

How is everyone doin’?! How is the weather up there? How are the lovebirds? How goes wedding prep? How goes mission prep for Alice? How goes all that other stuff that happens? These are all rhetorical questions, by the way. I kinda already know all the answers-- Good, cold, good, good, great, good.

So it has been a very busy past week! We have been having a great time here in Valle Hermoso. It was a lot harder to leave Talca Centro than I ever thought it would be. All the hot, long, hard, sad stuff and hot days there seem to, dare I say it, melt together, and now I just remember all the great members and Elder Ulibarri, and that house, and all the great times there. It was sad to leave everyone, the bishop, Fabiola’s family, a few others, but I feel really good about how I left it. They should be having some good success here soon. Finally.

So on Monday, we ran around all day saying bye to everyone. Renato and his family had ordered a cake and written my name on it and stuff! It was great to see that the members have really seen the effort we have put in here and that we are appreciated even though it’s been super hard. My bike got a flat tire all the way out there by his house and then we had to get to Fabiola’s-- it was terrible. I was SOAKED in sweat when we got there but classic Fabiola had our clothes and made me go change. So it was all good.

Tuesday morning, we made breakfast burritos and headed out. It was sad to leave but super exciting. I got to Conce at about noon, and we spent the rest of the afternoon until about four getting the house ready. Brand new house for us, so we had to put all the beds in, fridge, tank of gas, shelves, etc. It’s been tough stuff. But great. Elder Saenz is a champ-- really nice guy, into Reggae a ton, rap, stuff like that. He teaches really well and talks with absolutely EVERYONE he sees about the gospel. And he will NOT take no for an answer. We have gotten into tons of houses of old people just because they finally gave in after like 7 times saying no. Doesn’t usually pay off but it did one time-- we met Monica and she is starting to progress, married to a Menos Activo and has a daughter!

Valle Hermoso is beautiful-- there are tons and tons of hills here, and I love it! It is super pretty, the ward here is about twice the size of Talca Centro, all the members are great, they all want to help us and want to give us references, we have two more missionaries (zone leaders, none the less) to help us here, starting a new zone, and everyone is excited, and we have big plans. It is great! I feel like President was just messin’ with me, stickin’ me in Talca Centro forever to help me learn some humility and give me some good hard times, and now we are gonna start reapin’ the blessings of all that hard work and obedience there. I am super excited.

For this week, we have two baptisms planned—one is Christopher, who is 16 and has smoking problems. We have been fasting with him, and he fasted and loved it, and he is great. I am so glad to be here with him. Also, we have Patricia, the mom of a recent convert youth who is now preparing for a mission. She is also great. So they have interviews this week and should be ready for Saturday! We also found a great guy, Julian, who is a Marine and used to live in North Carolina! Great family--he has two daughters, 14 and 15, as well. We also have been finding other news--so this sector is rising from the ashes, the zone is gonna be great, we are with the varsity zone leaders (Elder Rees is the greatest and we get along really well). I am super excited.

We have had a lot of cool experiences this week-- met some good people, some crazy old people, eaten lots and lots of food from the members, super good stuff. They are way better cooks here than they were in Talca, and the people are in a lot better shape. Probably because there are so many hills. My camera thing is being weird, so I’ll send my pictures next week. But this place is the prettiest.

How is everyone? How is Allie? Getting ready? It is super hard to send letters from here, we have to go to Conce, but I will try to send one next week. I am pumped to be here, though--we are now really close to Concepcion, which is awesome. We were at the mission office all morning and have been having a great time with all the elders I haven’t seen for a while. Good times. Also, packages and mail receiving is gonna be about two weeks now! Wahoo!!!!!

Have a great week! Love you all!