Monday, September 26, 2016

Week #63--September 26th

Good afternoon pals and gals! I have no time, so please don't get offended if I don't respond to anyone. We're in Rancho (with some homies) and I'll meet my companion tomorrow due to some complications of transfers this week. 


Transfers were rough today, that's for sure. I can honestly say I have not been anything like this since I got dropped off at the mtc. I've spent half my mission so far in this ward, and it's really left an impact on me. Poor Dan though, he took it harder than me. On Saturday we went to help Yvonne move and he told me in the car (because I had gotten the news the day before that I was leaving) "Well Brown, I got all my crying out last night, so I won't cry anymore about you leaving."

Plot Spoiler: He lied. 

I felt really bad this morning, because we had to pick up some last minute things before I left for Rancho and then Barstow tomorrow, and right before we left his house and he dropped me off for the last time he looked at me all choked up and said "Well, I guess I better go see my boy off". Broke my heart. I'm going to miss that family so much. I can't put into words how much I care about them. I just can't. 

And it's not just Dan. I love this ward so much. Obviously, I didn't connect with EVERY member, but there are so many that I will miss so much. 

BUT! No we're on to bigger and better things. None of the least of which being I am officially in a car! With a crap ton of miles! (Not this month, because we had to drive to the LITERAL opposite side of the mission, because we're in Chino rn, but it's w/e) I'm super pumped to be in Barstow. And we're whitewashing! This is my 3rd whitewash in the mission so far and I love it (that means both me and my companion will be new to the area, not just one of us). 
I just keep replaying in my mind when Nathan Wawro grabbed my mission map over 14 months ago and said "WAIT!! BARSTOW'S IN YOUR MISSION???" And now I am one of the privileged few to serve in the holy lands. 
Well, I'm excited to let you know how the rest of our time goes here in Barstow, but that will have to wait (at least until we get there lol).

Quick spiritual thought: Guilt is only supposed to drive you to repentance. No further. In fact, any further and it becomes destructive. So stop feeling so guilty. "And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance." (Alma 42:29) So don't beat yourself up over mistakes you've made or you are making. Even if those mistakes affect others. It's amazing what miracles God will bless us with when we sincerely repent. Those feeling we hurt? Will eventually be softened. Those words we said? Will eventually be forgotten. The cuts we made, and the bruises we beat will, in the long run, be healed by him who is mighty to save. Trust in God's powers to fix problems that overwhelm you. Now, that doesn't take away our requirement to act, for he needs instruments to perform his tasks, but it should (if the principle is properly studied and understood in individual study) take away so much of the weight that bears us down. 

That's something that has really plagued me a lot, but today getting to talk to President Taylor and through a few weeks of diligent study, I've come to see that guilt is a tactic used WAY to much. So don't feel so guilty. Feel bad enough to change, change, and then move on. :) Let God take care of the rest. 

I love you all so much!

Church is true!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Week #62 and a half--September 22, 2016

Good afternoon! This week and a half for sure had it's ups and downs, but the ups were super awesome to make up for the downs! Overall, so much has happened over the last few days that It'll be hard to summarize it all.

So if things seem choppy and poorly written, bear with me.

First off: DAN GOT BAPTIZED! It's official! After meeting with him for 7 months Dan made it into the waters. If anyone attending DIDN'T feel the spirit, it's their own darn fault! Because it was flipping amazing! A lot of people cried, everyone was touched and it was just a great day.
Elder Wedel and I got to be the witnesses, and standing there at the corners of the font watching Dan step into the waters was so cool. We just looked at each other and flashed really emotional grins of gratitude and love for Dan, and then our smiles widened even more after he the ordinance was done. At the end, Dan shared his testimony, which was the coolest thing. He took up his Book of Mormon and shared some of his favorite scriptures which was super cool as well. He shared 1 Nephi 3:7 and talked about how God won't give us tasks that we can't handle. He shared the scripture that helped him know he needed to get baptized Alma 12:34 "Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest."
And then he closed with the last few verses in Moroni 10 (32 and 33) "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot."

He also cried a lot and it was just a really cool experience over all. I love that man so much.
Also, Elder Edward Dube of the seventy came to the mission and we had a big conference. That was super cool. He called me up and had me stand next to him at one point and we re-enacted Moses 1. It was kind of funny because he said: "Alright, we are going to be re enacting the exchange between God and Moses. I will be Moses and that makes you..." To which I responded "Uh-oh" And that was pretty funny. Lots of good points were made.
Then we got to go to the temple, and I love the temple, but this time was really different. Different in a really good way. For the past few months I've really been struggling with a lot of things, lots of feelings of inadequacies, lots of guilt, lots of stress, but for the first time in a long time I felt completely calm. It wasn't the whole 2 hours, and it wasn't very over the top and emotional or what-not, but for a good space of about 5 minutes every worry departed. I felt totally at peace. It was totally silent and I was perfectly content with where I was. I wasn't worried about all the things we had to do after the temple, I wasn't stressed about everything we needed to do that week, I just felt happy. That was such an amazing experience.

It reminds me of a quote that has become my favorite, and a scripture that was shown to me on exchanges.
QUOTE: "The world sees peace as the absence of conflict or pain, but Jesus offers us solace despite our suffering."-David E. Sorenson
SCRIPTURE: Mosiah 2:41 "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."
Christ offers us peace in this life. He blesses us temporally and spiritually as we need it and as we seek it. The gospel brings a peace and love that nothing else can replicate. Vaughn J Featherstone said "the two things [Satan] can never duplicate are charity (that is, the pure love of Christ), and peace."
So search for that peace that only Christ can give!
I love you all!
Church is true!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Week #61--September 12, 2016

Good morning! Hope you all are having a great week. 

Well, this week was pretty normal. I got to go on exchanges with our district leader Elder Gibbons, and that was super awesome! We got to work super hard. Also we got to do service with Elder Paxton which was a lot of fun. (Quick side note, Elder Paxton and I were in the MTC together. It was Elder Golden, Paxton and I that came to this mission. Elder Golden and I were companions and Elder Paxton and I have now served in the same zone for almost a whole year, so we've gotten super close, and it's fun to see how we both have grown and continue to grow as the mission progresses).

I think this week was proof to me that sometimes the mission is slow. Sometimes in the mission very little (besides discouragement. There's always plenty of that) happens. But as long as we remain humble and teachable we grow!
Dan is still on track to get baptized THIS SATURDAY! If you can't tell, I'm extremely excited. I love that man so much. He is only the greatest ever. I feel so blessed that I got to be a part of this. SO BLESSED. 

We also had a ward activity and had a good turn out, including a less-active named Matt (I will talk about him in a bit) and had a lot of fun! Matt texted afterwards and thanked us for inviting him because he felt very loved and accepted. It was a horseshoe tournament between the high priests and the elders and Dan ended up winning against our Ward Mission Leader in the final round! 

Matt, (a less active that we've been meeting with) has recently sworn off church. Someone offended him during his re-activation experience and he said he was done. We had one of the most frustrating meetings on my mission. He kept talking about how he needs to get this 'state of the art treadmill' and lose a bunch of weight. Then he's going to get a face surgery that he needs to take 20 years off of his face. Then he's going to have to marry a young lady and after all that he'll be good enough to come to church. We tactfully evaded those comments and asked him if he's still been in touch with some members of the ward (including President Kirby in the Stake Presidency) and how they've been doing. He commented about how it seemed they were just always happy! They had good jobs, happy families, they were good people etc. And he wished he could have that. 

At that moment I shared what has become my favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon:  "for ye ought to know as I do know, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence. Now this is according to his word."

I love that scripture because of how simple it is. Keep his commandments and you're happy. Things work out in the long run. You get what you need. You can survive any trials. If you don't keep his commandments God doesn't have to keep the promises tied to those commandments, and you're on your own to succeed and progress. And even if you succeed by worldly standards you will always feel empty. "There is never enough in this world of that which does not satisfy."

I hope I can remember this when I'm off my mission! I hope all who have experienced these blessings can hold to the knowledge that God keeps his promises! I hope all who want to experience that which I have experienced, and that which many of you have experienced and that which millions around the world have experienced, WILL experience it by following the simple steps of faith we learn from the prophets ( both ancient and modern) and come to Christ with full purpose of heart! Nothing else bring permanent lasting happiness. 

I love you all and encourage you to pursue Christ. He will make all the difference in your life IF YOU LET HIM. For those who feel unworthy of his love and of his blessings, remember President Uchdtorf's talk from this last General Conference. The sheep is worthy of rescue from the Shepherd, not because he is worthy of it, but because the Shepherd's love for his Sheep. For his lamb. For you. He loves you. And because he loves you he wants you to be happy. He wants you to find "peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come" even though you may "know not where to find it" 

So come to him

I love you all

Church is true!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Week #60--September 6, 2016

First off, Happy Birthday to Sam and congratulations on getting the Priesthood!

Second off, some bad news. Our investigator Jonathan, who was supposed to get baptized this Saturday dropped us the night before his interview. He apparently talked to his girlfriend and decided it wasn't best to join the church. That bummed me out. I mean, he was SO happy! The first time we met him, he was just miserable. Absolutely miserable. He never smiled, he was always mopey and tired and nothing was working out for him. But then this last weekend when we met with him he was all smiles! It's slowly grown to that point, him getting happier and happier, things working out more and more, etc. But alas, the vicious cycle we see in the Book of Mormon caught hold. And who can blame him? It happens to all of us! We make mistakes and turn from God->Life get's harder->We turn to God for help->We get blessed->We are happy and think we don't need God anymore->aaaaand, repeat.
So hopefully we will be able to talk to him and help him see this and he will decide to get baptized some time down the road. 

AND THIRDLY: Dan has fully committed himself to baptism! It is 100% official! September 17th the many prayers for him and his family from missionaries, members here and you guys will be answered and he will enter the Waters of Baptism! 

We first met them in March and it's so cool to look back and see the progression from when we first started just spending time on P-days with them doing wood working and being told that they're not interested to this day! And in a year they'll be able to go to the temple together and be sealed. I am so grateful for our Father for he truly is the one behind all of this. I think a few months ago I would have wanted some of the credit, but genuinely I see now that this was a gift of God's Grace! 

He told us that Tuesday Morning he decided to get his answer and so he said a little prayer and opened up the Book of Mormon. He read us the scripture he opened to... And reading it I thought: "This has literally nothing to do with baptism. This doesn't fit at all." And he said: "And reading that, it just fit! And I knew I had to get baptized." Thank heavens it's the Spirit that truly teaches and not us. The spirit revealed something to him and touched his heart and now he'll be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! What a joy!

We tracted into a guy who is a Buddhist. A devout Buddhist at that, and on top of that he is/was a religion professor and told us he knew a lot about our religion and could sit down and explain all of our beliefs to us with a Book of Mormon in hand. Elder Jensen then asked "well what has your experience been with the church?" And the man replied "Amazing. And you know what I tell my colleagues when they try and talk bad about the Mormon's? I say the Mormons have some weird beliefs, that's for sure. But the Mormon Church is the greatest organization in the world for families."

We were both a bit surprised, and Elder Jensen said "Yeah, we believe that too!"
To which the man said "Oh no, it's a FACT." 

And ultimately that is the truth! Every reason I'm on a mission is for my current and future family. All programs in the church are designed to strengthen the family! And I add my testimony to that of the Buddhist! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the greatest organization in THE WORLD for families, and that's a FACT!

Love you all! Church is true!!