Monday, December 28, 2015

Week #24--December 28, 2015

The weeks sure are flying by! If you can believe it, it's already week 5 of 6 for this transfer, which means there's a chance that my time with Elder Golden might be done! We both don't like to talk about it because we're enjoying ourselves far too much, but we know we'll have to get transferred eventually... But we figure at least one more transfer as a companionship would be real nice, haha.
The work is going well. We met a woman named Delores. She wants to be baptized. She has a big family too, which means a lot of baptisms! But we haven't been able to have an official sit down lesson with her because this last week was Christmas, but we're hoping to set something up for this week!
It was very refreshing to call home. It was nice to see my family and tell them how I love them. We spent a lot of Christmas with members, and that was nice. It was super weird not being home for Christmas, so it was nice to spend it with families that we have grown close to.
I don't know if there's too much I have left to say... Other than the Atonement is so real guys. I am so SO far from adequate. I feel so overwhelmed so often by all of the things that I'm doing wrong, but the Atonement is so very real. It gives me strength to know that the Savior broke the bands of MY temptations. He overcame the natural man, not just in general but the specifically referring to my sins and my temptations. He is helping me overcome that daily. It is such a real power. The healing power of the Atonement has changed and is changing me into a different man than what I was going to become without it. He has truly saved me, with his Grace. And that same power is available to all of us as we reach to him in Faith.
I love you all very much, 
and I know that this is Christ's one true Church on the earth today.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week #23--December 21, 2015

Hello! It's Christmas! 

Boy you talk about December flying by, this month has flown by. But life just keeps getting better and better! 
I can honestly say that Elder Golden and I are best friends. Not to say I don't have other best friends, but holy cow. We get along SO well. He is the funniest missionary out here and is one of the funniest people I've ever met. My mission has been made so much easier because I have been blessed with stalwart examples of missionaries around me who truly love the people they serve and are just overall incredible people! 

Elder Golden and I have also truly been blessed by the hospitality of the ward. They are such incredible people. They are very humble, but that which they, they give to the Lord. They've also showed so much love to Elder Golden and I! I think I may have mentioned in the past... But this ward has had a long streak of not so great missionaries, but it's been such a joy to bond with a discouraged ward and grow together. And now they're bringing all sorts of people to church, to ward functions, home-teaching numbers are increasing (slowly), and everyone is excited to feed us and work with us! A few Mom's in the ward especially have taken good care of us. During the Ward Christmas Party they gave us big stockings filled with goodies to thank us for everything, there's always plenty of gluten free things to eat, it's so great!

Cynthia and her daughters are doing great! I suppose I probably didn't mention because some people have asked about it, but both of her girls got baptized with her Thanksgiving Weekend. They've been working really hard to be good members of the church, they read scriptures together every night and have been relying on the Lord as they've been experiencing a lot of trials recently. I pray for them often because they're really struggling, but they find great comfort in reading scriptures to answer their questions and solve their problems. 

We met a woman named April this last week and we set a baptism date with her for January 30! She was going to be baptized in Arizona, but her house burned down and she lost everything. So right now, she's living with her sister who owns a daycare. April has 2 kids that live with her (2 and 5, fun ages) and it's a very small and crowded house. They all sleep in one room, but since the evening is the only time for her to read she'll use her phone light to read the Book of Mormon so she doesn't wake anyone. And that was before we met her! So she's super solid, and came to church and the ward party. Super excited.
I don't know if I have too much of a spiritual thought. I think you've all heard the same messages over the past few weeks about focusing Christmas on Christ, giving not getting and all that fun stuff. So I would feel like a broken record sharing something like that. So I just want to let you know that I love you all. So very much. I pondered this last week about what a blessing it has been to have such wonderful family and friends. I'm so grateful for your support, and your love. Any email I receive, even if it is just a quick note a few sentences long, means the world to me. I love you all so very much. So much. Please stay strong in the gospel. I say that because I love you all. 
We were at Cynthia's and she was explaining to me some of the difficult things she's going through. I apologized that I couldn't do much except share with her family a few scriptures. She looked at me very intently and said "You have given us the greatest gift. You have brought us the knowledge of Christ. You have brought the Spirit of the Lord into this home. That's the greatest gift you could've given us." 

And it's so true. The greatest gift that was given was the Lord's sacrifice for us. And, in turn, the greatest gift WE can give is bringing the healing power of the Atonement into the lives of those we love. God loves us so he gave us prophets, families and a Savior. When we love people, truly love people, the best way to show them is by sharing the words of prophets, bringing the knowledge of Eternal Families, and allowing them to access the POWER that comes through our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

I love my Savior, and I want you all to know that. I am so very far from perfect and so undeserving of the many blessings he gives me. I am so grateful that he has never given up on me. And he never will. He will never give up on any of us. We are never to far in the dark to be saved. Ever. He is ALWAYS there.
I love you all
The Church is True

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 22--December 14, 2015

Well, this week was definitely a crazy one! But Elder Golden and I are literally having so much fun, we can hardly take it! Mostly just the idea that eventually we'll get transferred is what kills us, haha. But we don't have to worry about that for a while! 
So like I said: Crazy week. Like CRAZY week. Sad news out of the way: Both of our investigators dropped us. Brianna stopped texting and Marcus.... well... That's another story I'll get to.
Monday night: we're busy. But we get a text that we'll be getting a surprise cleaning inspection of our apartment by a senior missionary couple.
This apartment has not been cleaned in months.
Literally. And the desks? Still had Christmas pass-along-cards from LAST year. Like, it was atrocious. Trash everywhere, past missionaries left their clothes EVERYWHERE. It was a nightmare. The kitchen hadn't been cleaned in forever... fun stuff. 
I'm partially to blame, yes, because I was there last transfer and didn't do any cleaning, but it was pretty overwhelming with just how bad it was.
Then that next morning, the alarm didn't go off, and they came an hour early. So they caught us off gaurd in our Pajamas having had no time to clean. They literally said they'd never seen an apartment in worse condition, and threatened to move us out if we didn't fix it by Friday Morning when they would have a return appointment.
It was fixed. After hours and hours of cleaning, it was spotlessly scrubbed up and down. All the missionaries could say was "Wow! Wow! This is incredible! We'll never say anything bad about you two again!" I was contented.
Then Marcus: Set up an appointment and told us that he was bringing a friend. At first, we were excited! And then we got there and saw that he had a brief case and papers... Just for bashing us. We tried to get out of there as fast as we could because he was very mean and demeaning. They're beliefs (of course) were skewed. They were close to the truth, but just not a 100% right. (like every other church) It was sad to lose Marcus like that. But we told them both that until they had read the book of mormon themselves and genuinely prayed, that they couldn't tell us they'd investigated our church. 
It was really discouraging, because getting bashed always is. But luckily, Elder Golden is also a very funny person so we were able to laugh it off, shrug it off and move forward.
We sang in the ward choir. I sang tenor. Yes, you read that right. I was the only guy who could. Equation for a Train Wreck: (Elder Brown as a Tenor)-(anyone else singing tenor)+(a choir of a bout 10 people)
But it was a fun experience, and I can officially check it off my bucket list.
Well, for my thought today: The mission is not always easy. And since I've recently finished the Book of Mormon, I started over with a question in mind: "How can I best make it through afflictions and tribulations?" because I wanted to know how to best make it through the Mission with how hard it is. Luckily, 1 nephi is packed with it. And I've gained a lot of insights. But at the end of the day, we have a group of people who literally experience a trial in order to receive the promise land. Nephi, Laman and Lemuel all experience the same things, and yet only one of those 3 allowed themselves to be changed and fully received the reward of the promised land. And what was the difference?

"And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands"
It's as simple as that. Being obedient to God's commandments allows us to grow through our trials. That's the biggest difference between missionaries who just go through the mission and the missionaries who legitimately allow the mission to go through them. 
Obedience. As missionaries, we're all on a mission. Different trials, yet a similar overall "wilderness", and obedience is what makes the difference between Nephi missionaries and Laman/Lemuel missionaries. Let's not forget that Laman and Lemuel did make it through, and technically got around to obeying the commandments. They went back and got the plates, they left their home, they helped with the boat, all of that. But they had a lack of faith to change, and a lack of faith to move forward. 

I could talk on this for a long time. but that's the main part of it.
I love and miss you all! If you made it this far, you get 20 brownie points because this thing is pretty freaking long. But you guys are all the best!
Church is true!


Personal fav:

Candid moment when we weren't paying attention and Elder Brown was being a Clown:

Another fav:

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week #21--December 7, 2015

Well, this week was awesome!

First off: Elder Golden and I are like best friends. So it's a blast going out to work every day. And boy are we going out to work every day. We get back to the apartment at the end of the day extremely exhausted. I never thought I would ever miss the feeling of being so tired, but it feels so good!

We've had a bunch of prepared investigators drop right in our lap, and have met so many interested people while out tracting (It works, and I'll never let anyone convince me otherwise). The members are getting a fire lit beneath them for missionary work, which is so cool to see! They're offering to come out with us more and more, and one stay-at-home mom even asked to a trade off, where we do house and yard work for her so that she can make more time to come do work with us and/or visit some people that are harder to visit. What great blessings we have received from the Lord!
On a more serious note, it was very heartbreaking and scary for many people down here. San Bernadino does not seem that far, especially considering the Rancho Cucamonga mission is a large chunk of the old San Bernadino mission. But the tragic events combined with Christmas have opened the hearts of many, and it's been cool to see.
I have had a lot of spiritual insights this last week, but the big one I'd like to share comes with a story and one of my favorite Book of Mormon scriptures that I've been thinking a lot about. There was a family down in Rancho that we were teaching for a bit who wanted us to bring them spiritual healing. And that was the main reason they had called for us to come, was for that spiritual healing. They were a little frustrated when we taught them messages like the Restoration and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not scriptures that gave comfort, and didn't bring them the spiritual healing they desired. Thus brings to mind one of my favorite passages:

(3 Nephi 9)
13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? 14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed arethose who come unto me.
I love this, because it shows that for Christ to heal us, we need to come unto him, repent and be converted. True healing comes from following Christ. We cannot expect Christ to fix the problem for us unless we are willing to allow him. The Atonement paid the price for everything. Every pain, every sorrow, and every sin can be healed through the Atonement. Christ has even given us a road map to success. I've been studying a lot in Isaiah and one thing I really enjoyed from my studies today was when he said this:

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:" Not sat in darkness. Not moped in darkness, but those that walked. Those that were willing to keep moving and to keep trying their best to progress even though the world around them was in shadows. Even though it seemed as if there was no hope in the immediate, near or even distant future. These are they who saw the great light.

So to those who are in a spiritual dakrness, or who are suffering from a spiritual affliction; no matter the form, keep walking. Keep going. Keep trying. As we follow Christ through our small and simple actions (like reading the scriptures, praying, preaching the gospel, repenting, etc.) we will be shown  THE "Great Light" and through Him we will be healed.

I am in love with my mission and all the people here in California! I am so blessed to know all of you and to have you all as friends. I'm grateful for the love and support you have all shown me and pray that you all continue to draw close to your Savior.

Church is True!