Monday, October 26, 2015

Keep Loving

Got 5 people to commit to baptism this week! It was awesome! The spirit was way strong and definitely did not just help out the people we taught, but helped me out a ton too. It seems like whenever we teach something, no matter how strong I feel like my testimony is about the subject before we go and teach, the Holy Ghost always strengthens my testimony while we are teaching. It´s pretty cool. I definitely enjoy living the missionary life.

Our schedule got changed. Seasons down here are flipped, and, in the winter months, we get to sleep for 8 1/2 hours cuz of a lack of light and high stress levels or something like that. Now that we are going into summer and get more light, we only get 8. Oh well, every other missionary in the world only gets 8 so I prolly shouldn´t complain.

Presidential elections here were yesterday. So, Pres. Zanni sent out a message to all the missionaries saying that we could only leave our houses for church, so that we could "avoid surprises". Glad I didn´t get to find out what kind of "surprises" he was referring to. So this week we basically get two P-Days. It was sweet just kickin it in the pensh and hanging out. Of course we cleaned a bit and studied, but, that still left us with a few hours of free time. It was nice.

So down here, with pretty much every single golden investigator, there is some sort of marriage conflict. Either they are living with someone and aren´t married, they are married, but separated and living with someone else, or, they are married, separated, and dating someone else (or their spouse is). So, it is really tough to baptize these investigators who eat up everything we teach and follow through on their commitments. Mostly with the investigators that have to get divorced though (marriage is cheap and you only have to wait 20 days). To divorce here, you have to pay anywhere from $12,000 to $16,000. This is a lot of money by American standards. By Argentine standards, it´s pretty much a year and a half to two years of salary. And the process takes anywhere from 1-3 months. It´s tough.

I think their is definitely something to be learned from this though. I think that God is really trying to get a message to me through the difficulty of divorce here: that he disapproves strongly of divorce. This church is family centered, and we know that, as stated in the Family Proclamation, "children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and mother who honor their marital vows with complete fidelity..." Parents, give your children this right that they have, whether or not your parents gave you access to this right. Those who are not yet married, when you get married, make absolutely sure to give your kids that right, and to honor the vows you take at marriage so that your kids can recieve the happiness and support system they deserve. Remember, "Children are an heritage of the Lord" Psalms 127:3. I understand that tough times will come into marriages, that there will be times when you, as a spouse, will be angry with your spouse, or think that they are wrong and you are clearly right, or that there will be times when you do want to quit, to take the easy way out. But, guess who didn´t take the easy way out: Jesus. He could have walked away from the Atonement at any moment. He had every right. He had no sin. He did not have to do anything that he did. But he endured. He pushed through the pain, the agony, the suffering, for one reason: he loves us. And we aren´t even his kids. We are just his brothers and sisters. So, parents and future parents, no matter what, please push through for your kids. No matter what happens in your marriage, do everything in your power, and then some, to give your kids what they deserve, because Jesus gave us something we don´t. When you want to quit, think of the effect it will have on your children. Think of how much it could harm them. And remember that Jesus didn´t quit. He endured, and he will help you to endure too.

I am so grateful that my parents gave me the opportunity to be raised by parents who honor their marital vows, and, more than that, the ability to forgive each other. To take the high road and let things go, and to be willing to admit when in the wrong and yield to the other. I hope to provide the same opportunity to my kids, no matter how tough it gets.

Sorry if I "baje la caña" ("bajar la caña" is an expression that basically means to be straight up or speak boldly or directly). I just felt really strongly that I should share what I have learned this last week. That marraige truly is ordained of God, and that divorce is not. Love is the answer. Just like in Harry Potter, love is the strongest force their is. Because of love, Heavenly Father sent his son to bleed, suffer, and die in the most excruciating manner possible, being nailed to wood and hung up like a flag. Because of love, Because of love, Jesus died willingly pushed through the pure agony of the Atonement. Please use his sacrifice to the fullest extent possible. I know that as we use the Atonement, we can overcome ALL things, no matter how tough it or insurmountable it may seem. It is there to be use. So please use it. It will bring unimaginable joy.

I guess I´ll stop being super preachy and whatnot. This week really was great. Elder Yaques and I are getting along great, he´s a pretty funny guy. Some of his jokes are getting old though, but mine are too so that´s fine.

That´s it for me this week. ¡Chao!

Elder Brown

John 3:16

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

This dumb mouse climbed into an empty mouse trap. There wasn´t even food in it. It climbed in. Died. And we found it later  (Editors note:  GROSS!!!!)

Action pic while brick smashing with the brick I just smashed flying past my hand

The bus ride back from watching conference in Rosario

Making asado. My tie is off so charcoal wouldn´t get all over it

 Lunch in the house of a lady who goes way out of her way to make me-friendly foods

Why you don´t leave tupperware on a hot stove

Warming up for the Talent Show

Alexia's Baptism

Blessings and Miracles

This week was pretty great. Had another baptism. Alexia Avalos, the daughter of Lorena, got baptized on Saturday. The spirit was so dang strong. My comp had me conduct the meeting. I was pretty nervous, and forgot what all the abbreviations I wrote down meant. So I just kinda winged it. Which doesn´t work to well in a language you don´t know. Oh well, I didn´t kill the spirit, and she got baptized, which are what are important. My companion baptized her and I confirmed her the next day on Sunday. It was scary as heck. I messed up 4 times. But, as they say, the fifth time´s the charm. After conducting and the setting apart, both the Hermana´s and Elder Yaques told me that I sounded just like our mission pres. Idk if that´s good or bad. He is from Argentina, so it might mean I´m getting the accent down. But, he is from a part of Argentina where they speak really funny. So idk if I should be happy or try to change it.

Broke bricks for 2 hours this week as service. Our branch president is building a new house, and is gonna use the broken bricks to help fill in his foundation. Not the best construction method, but, it was pretty fun to just smash bricks with a hammer for two hours.

Elder Yaques and I hosted a talent show for the ward, well he hosted a talent show and I stood next to him and smiled. But it was cool to get a taste of the Argentine culture as people danced, sang, and acted.

Had prolly our best lesson so far this week. We went to talk with an investigator, who couldn´t at the time, and I felt like we should try knocking on the door of a family who kept saying "Come back later" and eventually just stopped answering the door, But, we tried anyways. And they let us in. I was kinda wary at first, cuz the whole house smelled like smoke, and there was still a cigarette burning in the ashtray. But, during the lesson, we couldn´t smell the smoke at all, and the spirit was just flowing. One thing the mother said that really stuck out to me, is that her son (who has some special needs and some sort of phobia complex), told her he feels something really special when he sees us, and we are the only people outside of his family and internet friends that he wants to talk to. They accepted a Book of Mormon and the mother commited to read it with her son and pray with her son and ask if it and our message are true. It was awesome.

The lady who we had tried to visit, turned out to be the shortest and strangest visit out of all others on my mission. She is a caretaker for an old lady, and asked us to meet her at the old lady´s house. So we met her there. The old lady has alzheimer´s and her voice sounds just like the voice of Kermit the Frog, except a bit higher. She told us the same story about moving into her house for about 5 min, starting over about every 1. Then, the caretaker told her to go get her harmonica. So the old lady said something to her dog, and went and found her harmonica. While she was looking, her daughter showed up, who hates religion. The caretaker tried to mouth to us to leave, but not before the old lady came back with her harmonica. She began to play it, and stopped about every 20 seconds or so to remind us she was playing for the "perrito", the "little dog". When the daughter left the room for a sec, the caretaker kinda pleaded with us to leave, and so we did. I don´t think we´re gonna be going back any time soon for a follow up visit.

Something I forgot to mention last week. Last week, on Sunday, a lady showed up last minute with her super sick granddaughter. She isn´t a member, nor anyone in her family, but, she heard that the Mormon´s can perform miracles. So she decided to try her luck. Her granddaughter had a really bad cold or something, and couldn´t breathe really well, and basically just spent all of her time crying because she feels so bad (ironically, her name, when translated, means "want miracles"). She asked us for a blessing, and we gave one to her granddaughter. Afterwards, she was fine. I don´t think I had ever felt so much purity in my life as when I placed my hands on her head to give her a blessing. It was so sweet to be a part of that.

Starting to finally feel charity. It is awesome. Charity really is awesome. Loving feels so much better than judging and teasing. I truly love the people here. The men are hilarious and literally always joking, even during super serious moments in meetings, they are still cracking jokes and trying to enjoy themselves. The women are super sweet. Not as funny as the men, but really nice and sweet. I am really grateful for the opportunity I have to serve them and learn to love everone, no matter what. Charity is awesome. I invite all of you to follow the advice of Moroni, and pray "with all the energies of the heart", for the gift of charity, and then work to get it, because it really is the greatest of all the gifts of God. It is truly amazing to feel nothing but love for everyone.

Moroni 7:45-48

Elder Brown

Monday, October 12, 2015

No time but lots of things to tell

Have the least amount of time so far, but the most to write.

Literally got smoked out of the guy´s house on Friday. We were teaching when one of his friends lit up a blunt of marijuana. Turns out, he has marijuana plants and sells it too. So we found the first opportunity to leave, and we bounced. Don´t think we´re going back.

Then, later on, we got stoned. Some people thought it would be fun to throw rocks at the missionaries. Others thought it would be fun to try to hit them. But we just kept going with smiles on our faces. And, miraculously, we found 5 new investigators later than night. In the whole rest of my time here, we´ve found 1. God blesses those who work hard and sacrifice in his service.

Accidently asked one of the sister´s in my district if she likes kissing. She and her companion were talking about one of their investigators who hits on them, and I asked "Le gusta besar?" Which, in my mind, meant "Does he like to kiss?" Which is a thing down here, people kiss instead of shaking hands sometimes. But what I really asked was "Does kissing please you?" Haha, I´ll get spanish down eventually.

Ponderizing is really awesome. I invite all of you to do it.

Anyways, I gotta go. Just wanna testify that the Lord truly does bless those who do his will with a cheerful heart.

Elder Brown

Alma 5:5

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Zone Conference

More Pics!

Elder Brown's First Mission Companion

Buenos Aires Temple

Drive from Airport to Rosario

Minions are EVERYWHERE down here!

Casilda District

Great Conference and Terrible Food

So the food here, for the most part, is really, really good. For the most part. Some food, however, has made me wish that I was eating gluten free bread (which literally tastes like cardboard). Hígado, is a meat that my comp had me buy (cuz he bought the fruit and vegetables) that he said is really good and tastes amazing when fried. It wasn´t until he was cooking it that I learned what it was: liver. Liver is the grossest meat. I have no clue how my comp thought it was good. He had me spend 40 pesos on liver. We didn´t even eat half of it because it was so gross. So we threw it over the fence to the neighbor´s dogs, who didn´t like it too much either. They ate it though, prolly cuz they are super skinny and starving.

Another disgusting food: berenjena rellana. Lorena invited us to come over on Friday night to celebrate her birthday with asado. Asado here is amazing, so I was really pumped, especially cuz my liver lunch didn´t fill me up. When we got there, she was making pizza and empanadas. Which was fine by me, I just thought this would be served in addition to the asado. So we helped her make the empanadas (which I knew I wouldn´t be able to eat but wanted to be nice). Then her parents showed up and her mom told us to just take a seat and she would help cook. Lorena asked me if I like berenjena rellana, and I said "I´ve never tried it. Why?" (but in spanish). That´s when I found out there wouldn´t be any asado. To say I was bummed would be pretty accurate. I masked it well though and accepted the offer of berenjena rellana. So she turned around, and made something and put it in the oven. When she brought it out, I realized it was eggplant with a bunch of veggies on top. I had never tried eggplant, but I´d heard things about it, very negative things. It smelled really good though, so I tried it. It is worse than liver. I choked down the two she put on my plate with a smile. But that smile vanished when she put down 6 more. I smiled and politely told her I was full. When I got home that night, I was hungrier than when I had left. Luckily, we had some lettuce to give me another 15 calories.

At 8:45, we said we had to leave to make it home on time. Then her dad offered to drive us home at 8:55. It was cold and had been raining, so we accepted the offer. Then he disappeared for a little bit and returned with a box of wine (here, all liquids are in boxes, wine, milk. spaghetti sauce, you name it, it´s in a box). He had drunk all of it with coke by 8:55. If wasn´t a missionary, and my senior companion, trainor, and district leader didn´t climb in the truck before me, I would have walked home and been late. I have no idea how we didn´t crash. The windsheild was all fogged up from the cold and the rain, and he drunk a bunch of wine. He almost hit someone on a bike, three parked cars, and two cars pulling out of parking spots. I don´t think imma do that again, ever.

Conference was good. Everyone had been saying there is nothing like conference as a missionary, and they were right. We showed up at the stake center to watch conference (because people can´t afford internet nor BYUtv down here), and they said the English room was down the hall and to the right. I was so pumped that I would be able to understand what was going on, and to be surrounded by other missionaries who speak english for 10 hours in one weekend. Then conference started, and the guy with the amazing voice didn´t announce which conference it was. Some guy speaking spanish did. I got kinda nervous, but everyone said this was normal, and the speakers would be in english. So I calmed down. Then Pres. Eyering started to speak, and the first few words were in English. I was so excited, and then the voice over kicked in. I felt like a deflated balloon. The only thing in English was the choir. When Pres. Utchdorf started to speak, and the voiceover kicked in, I wondered whether it would be worth it to try to understand. I decided that it would be, so I started to try to understand. I understood every word. I have know idea how, but I did. I testify that the gift of tongues is real, and that God is aware of us, and wants us to gain knowledge and light. After Uchtdorf, the stake secretary came in and told us he had gotten English working in another room. I was so relieved. The rest of conference was amazing and really powerful.

We also had zone conference this week. I didn´t understand much. That made it kinda boring. But what I did understand was awesome and spiritual. My mission president really likes to focus on repentance and held a public repentance session. He put a chair in the middle of the room and invited us to come sit in it and repent out loud. I had no clue what was going on though until an Hermana from the states with a really "Yankee" accent that I could understand went up. There was only time for 3 people to go. But, the spirit was really strong and it was the first time I felt a positive spirit of humility. Usually it I get a humble feeling when a 4 year old makes fun of my spanish, but this was very spiritual and powerful. So that night, I repented, and did my best to feel that same spirit of humility. He is definitely on to something when he says "I have never found such great joy as repentance" (but in spanish). I´m pretty sure he was quoting a scripture but I´m not sure which one, nor have I remembered to when I have had study time. I testify that repentance truly does bring unimaginable joy. Jesus already suffered for our sins, and already died for us, so let´s take advantage of it! That´s what it´s there for! It is there for us to gain joy and to feel relieved and spiritually rejuvinated (idk if that´s spelled right, I don´t have English spellcheck here). I invite all of you to repent daily, with all the energies of your soul, and, to feel, as described by Alma, joy such that nothing is as exquisite as your joy. I testify that there is literal power in repentance, and it´s amazing. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Brown