Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Very Not White Christmas

Holy cow. I honestly don´t understand why so many people decide to live here. It is so dang hot and humid. Here´s a quick rundown of the day to help you all understand why. In the morning when the alarm clock rings, you wake up with sticky arms from the sweat you sweated during the night. You workout and that only worsens and intesifies the sweating. You get in the shower sweating. You get out of the shower still sweating. You eat breakfast and the food in your belly makes you sweat more. You study and the pages of the scriptures stick to your arms from the sweat. When you leave, you sweat even more from being outside and walking a ton. If you put your arms on the table during a lesson, you can´t take them off quickly cuz the sweat from your arms will have already stuck to the table a bit and it makes a loud noise. You get back to the pensh still sweating. You go to bed with the fan on full blast, but you have to be under a blanket cuz the mosquitos will eat you alive if you aren´t. I guess you get used to it after a while, but, I´m not sure why anyone would move here.

I really do love this place though, even though it may seem like it in the first paragraph. Christmas was great. It was such a party. People started drinking in the morning on the 24, and didn´t stop until the 26. In the afternoon, everyone started cooking asado. We ate lechón (pig asado) with the Branch Pres and his family. I wasn´t too impressed, especially since we had to pay like $100 for it ($100 in US dollars, like $1000 Argentine pesos). Everyone else liked it though, so I guess that´s what´s important. At like 7 pm on the 24, people started setting off fireworks, which didn´t stop until 3. On Christmas, I called my family in the morning, and, while I was calling, the other Elders in my district made asado. We bought like 10 pounds of meat for four Elders. It was gone in 15 minutes. The meat down here is way better than any meat I have ever tasted in the States (and we´re gonna eat asado again tonight cuz some members want to celebrate Elder Yaques´ birthday from two weeks ago). Then we had to go back to the pensh for the rest of the day for safety reasons (drunks don´t tend to stay in their homes, nor mind their own business).

Calling home made me realize a few things. 1. I miss my family, and it´s only been like 5 months since I´ve been with them. 2. I haven´t seen my Heavenly Father in almost 19 years. How much more should I miss him, and want to see him again? It made me think about things with a more eternal perspective. I asked myself two questions, that I invite all of you to ask yourselves also.
1. In this moment, am I living in a way such that, if it were my time, I had to die, would I be excited to see my Heavenly Father again, or scared?
2. What am I doing to make that reunion with him a joyous one, and not a moment of fear and regret?
Ponder those questions please, and if you would be scared and full of regret, ask yourself what is needed to be excited for that moment you see him again? Because you will see him again, we all will. If you would be excited, what are you going to do make that moment an even better one? I invite all of you, and will do so myself as well, to continually work to make that improvement.

A scripture came to my mind while thinking about all this on Christmas. It is in the New Testament. In 3 John. A little tiny book of one chapter.

3 John 1:4 "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."

If that was written by a mortal man, although inspired by the Holy Ghost, how much more excited and joyFUL (with extra emphasis on FUL) would our Heavenly Father be to know that we, his children, walk in truth? Can you imagine the joy you would have if he, a God, our Heavenly Father, is excited and joyful to see us? Can you imagine a God rejoicing to be and live with you? He will rejoice if you make the choices to be worthy and ready to live with him. I invite and encourage each and everyone of you to prepare yourselves to be worthy to and ready to stand joyfully in his prescence. I promise you, as a representative of Jesus Christ, that Heavenly Father will help you to prepare yourself to come back into his prescence IF you are willing to put in the effort. Because he wants to live with you again. He wants to see you FULL of joy, and will help you. It won´t be easy at times, but, he will always give us the help we need. I testify of this, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Brown

3 John 1:4

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Long Blur

This week flew by, but it took forever to fly by.
So during the weeks when we had no time to teach anyone because of all the other stuff that was going on, we had tons of people to teach, and all of these people were making obvious progression. Now that we have time, none of our invesstigators are progressing at all, and never can visit with us. So, we did a ton of contacting this week too. So we have been pretty dang tired every night again.
That aside, this week has been awesome. Up until Firiday, every single appointment we had set up fell through. On Friday morning, we went to visit a lady from the old investigators list. I think that visit was the best visit of my entire mission. The spirit was so strong. This lady`s sister died a year ago almost to the day, and she was pretty upset and mad at God and at life. When she told us this, and tons of other trials that she is going through right now, we got exacited. That prolly sounds really wrong and messed up, but, we could tell that she was totally ready to talk to the missionaries. Anyways, every since her sister died, she has been searching to figure out why what happened happened the way it did. She has talked to tons of different people from many different faiths during thios last yuear, and nobody has been able to figure it out. Elder Yaques told her that we could in two weeks. Then the words spilled out of my mouthd that she can too, and that all she has to do are three simple things. 1. Watch the Christmas video the Church published 2. Read the Plan of Salvation pamphlet. 3. Read a chapter from the Book of Mormon (I don`t remember which chapter we assigned). So we made some pretty big promises, that hopfully were from the Spirit. We straight up felt like Daniel and Joseph. We felt so good after tthis lesson. It felt great to finally teach again.
Later on, that night, we went to the Fonavi (really run down apartment complex`s in Argentina). Didn`t start off too well. The lady we contacted the other week when everything went perfect basically told us she`s not interested. So that`s that. But, we were funally able to contact two less active men that live there. One who we are gonna go back to visit tomorrow, and the other we had a great lesson. He we invited him to come to church this week, and this was his response, "Oh I always come to church. Every week. I only couldn`t this week because something came up with work So of course I`ll come this Sunday." I found his answer rather interesting because in the almost four months I`ve been here, I`ve seen him in church a total of zero times. But he come though, and it was awesome to see someone finally pull through with their commitment to come to church.
I wanna testify of the goodness of God. Like the scriptures say, "God is love." I 100% testify of that, and that he is really patient. He waits for years and years and years for us to progress. Here in the mission, sometmes we get upset because we can`t see our investigators or less actives progressing at all. It really teaches patience. It made me think of my own life, and how loving Heavenly Father has waited for me to make tiny progressions. For that I am really gratefull. I love my Father in Heaven.
Elder Brown
P.S. Sorry if this email has a lot of words spelled wrong or doesn`t make sense in some parts. This computer is a hunk of junk and spazzed out in the middle of the first paragraph and I can`t really see what I am writing.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Contacting, Contacting and tons of Joda

This week, I have done more contacting than in all the rest of my time in the mission combined. Just about every single teaching appointment fell through (and there were a few days when literally every single appointment fell through), so we have knocked and clapped and rang more doorbell´s than I could count. Found lots of old ladies who invited us to come back, and had forgotten that they invited us back when we come back. Also found some teenage girls who invited us back, and we have gone back. I´m just gonna say, that after our return visit´s, we have found sufficient reason to not return a second time to these teenage girls. Anyways, every night this week when we have gotten back to the pensh, I have been more tired than I have been in any other given night of my life. As soon as my head hit the pillow every night, I´ve been out, despite the never-ending "joda".

"Joda", pronounced "hoda", is an Argentine word that basically means crazy and excessive partying. And that is exactly what has been going on here in Casilda this last week. Well, now that I think about it, ever since we moved to our new pensh. Last Sunday, there was a HUGE concert two blocks from our pensh. The two biggest bands in Argentina both originated in Casida, and they both came to perform last sunday. It would pretty much be the equivalent of a One Direction and Twenty One Pilots being from, and coming to, Gilbert to perform the same night in the same venue, for free. It would be insane, and this concert was insane. The concert lasted from 3 in the afternoon to 3 in the morning. Pretty loud too. Unfortunately, we did not do a lot of contacting this day, so it was pretty tough to sleep that night. Every night since, there has been some sort of blockbusting party going down. People yelling and laughing until 3 or 4 in the morning, fireworks every other night. But, luckily, every night since Sunday, despite the unceasing partying, I have been totally pooped and have had no problem crashing and sleeping all night.

On Thursday, our lunch appointment was scheduled for about an hour and a half later than most are, so we were looking for some to do in that time between weekly planning and lunch. I was looking through the list of members, and just felt an urge to visit the last name on the list, Rosa Zorzenon. Less Active lady that we hadn´t met. So I suggested it to Elder Yaques, who shrugged his shoulders and said "Why not?" So we went. Turns out, she is and 85, and hasn´t been able to go to church for a number of years for health problems, and nobody from the church has visited her since 2006. So she thought she´d been forgotten. It was really cool to help her realize that her Heavenly Father has not forgotten her, nor ever will. This is something we can all apply, if you ever feel like you´ve been forgetten, know that you haven´t. God has not forgotten you, nor ever will.

I guess I´m really learning to appreciate the little miracles. With so much disappointment in investigators telling us they aren´t interested any more, with literally evrey single teaching appt failing, with the only people inviting us back being girls who only have flirting on their mind, it gets tough and tiring. However, it really teaches one to focus on the little things. The little miracles. We don´t need to baptize weekly. We don´t need all the promotions in work. We don´t always need to win the game. What we should always do, however, is focus on the the little things. Be grateful for the little things that might have always been there, that may seem really insignificant. I think we miss out on a lot of blessings because we are too focused on the big ones that we don´t pay attention to the little ones.

That´s not as much as I usually write, but, nothing too out of the ordinary happened this week. Just learning to appreciate everything.

Elder Brown

Doctrine & Covenants 78:19

Happy Thanksgiving

San Martín, basically the George Washington of Argentina

My Thanksgiving feast

The Casilda sign

Our Christmas tree, standing atop it´s throne of toilet paper, perched above the stove

First off, happy Thanksgiving! Ate the least this Thanksgiving than any other of my entire life. Our lunch appointment bailed, as usual, so we called this less active family who always feed us when we ask. So they gave us some take out food. So, my Thanksgiving feast was a handful of salad, four tiny dry chicken breast, and two dry hamburger patties (we don´t have any sauces because our fridge doesn´t work cuz we don´t have electricity), some popcorn I made, and some gluten free cookies I bought for way more than they were worth.

So transfers came in this week. 25+ newbies came this transfer, and another 25+ will come the next. So pretty much the entire mission will be somehow involved in training. As far as this transfer goes, Elder Yaques..... stays in Casilda for another transfer! And Elder Brown....... also stays! 3 transfers together. Four and a half months. That´s a really long time. Most people aren´t in an area for that long, much less with the same companion. Super uncommon. It´s fine with me though, we get along pretty well. He reminds me a lot of my brother Zach, except even more outgoing. So I´m pretty excited to work with him for yet another transfer. During the last transfer, we thought for sure one of us would leave, so while were working on the Plan of Action for December and trying to think of more ways to find new investigators, we realized one thing we have yet to try is singing. So we joked a bit and said that if we stay together in Casilda we would contact with singing Christmas and other hymns. Then the transfers came in. And we are staying together. So this transfer is gonna be really unforgettable.

Yesterday we contacted for about 5 hours straight. So 5 hours of straight walking standing, and climbing stairs. My legs were killing me when we got back to the pensh. Luckily, we have an elevator, we we didn´t have to scale even more stairs. Found 4 new investigators though. We feel really solid about 3 of them. The other was a young woman who seemed more interested in the prospect of having two good looking young men come back to her home to talk to her than what we will be talking about.

Awesome contacting moment though. We were contacting in what are called the Fonavis (these run down arpartment complexes). We passed this little kid playing in the dirt, and he told us his mom was there. He told us this like three times, so we asked which house was his, and he pointed and told us the door wasn´t locked and to go on in. But, that would break many rules, both legal and of the mission. So we went up and knocked. The kid ran up from behind us, opened the door, ran in to his mom yelling "Moommmm! There are some men at the door!" and ran back out to where he was playing and as he passed us said "She´s coming." Really unique start. When she got to the door we started talking about the plan of salvation, and Elder Yaques started talking about how families can be eternal, and that she could live forever. At the moment he said that, this lady´s 8 and 7 year son and daughter that were in school arrived home at a sprint, and gave her big hugs. I think her 8 year old said "I love you" or "I missed you" or something like that. Might have been the 7 year old. It was awesome. She invited us to come back Friday morning and is gonna read the pamphlet of the Plan of Salvation. I don´t think this all happened in the timing that it did by accident.

During the last week of every transfer, everyone has to deep clean their pensh, and the Zone Leader´s come and inspect the pensh´s of the District Leader´s, and they in turn inspect the pensh´s of all the Elder´s in their district. We cleaned and got inspected Friday. So we had to devote the whole morning to cleaning, and postponed our studies for the afternoon. After we finished cleaning, I felt pretty empty and kinda down. So I said a prayer to find out what I needed to do to pull out of this, and felt like I should read a verse of the BOM before we left. So I did. Was one of those moments when the scripture is exactly what you need, whether or not you have already read it dozens of times. Testimony really grew in that moment.

That´s all I got for this week. Take care!

Elder Brown

2 Nephi 4:28-30