Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Week Thirteen: Koreans Don't Celebrate Christmas

Dear People,

Christmas is deeply woven into American culture; every snack brand changes their entire product line for it every year. Koreans do almost nothing at all. Super weird. A part-American family invited us over for their kind of Christmas-y kind of American dinner though, so we were ok.

I finally feel like I know what's going on. I've been lost most of the time since arriving in here. Mentally and directionally. But I now pretty comfortably know where I am on a map and in our lessons. I can understand 76% of what my companion says to people, and I can convey about 30% of what I want to get across in Korean. I know what I should be doing at every minute. I know where I am going. I am super happy, and super excited.

I'm emailing late today because this morning we taught an investigator named Soh Yu Ri (서유리). She 28 years old and is so prepared. She has been looking for God, literally looking; going to lots of different churches and talking to the pastors about religion. Her big issue with religion has been that everyone is focused on salvation and how to get to heaven, but she really just wants to know how to be happy right now. My companion is so excited about her, he is praying that he won't get transferred so he can be here when she gets baptized. We think she will. I've always known that baptisms aren't the measure of missionary success, that is especially true in Korea where the inactivity is 90%. Baptisms are not rare. Strong active families are. Reactivation of a family is so valuable. Families can be a slice of heaven on earth. Skyping home reminded me of that. Families are very central to the Plan of Salvation. 

One of our other new investigators is Kim Shi Youn (김시윤) He is 27 and also has a ton of potential. We haven't actually taught him yet, but when we first met him we talked about Christmas and he mentioned something about wanting to "become more like Jesus". Who says that? Hopefully we'll be able to teach him with 서유리 and they'll get married. That would be the best story ever.

During my Skype home, Austin asked how my conversion to Jesus Christ has changed, I didn't give a very good answer so I've been thinking about it since. That is a good question. Our conversion to Christ is never finished, so it really should be constantly changing. I've recognized that I'll never be done and that I'll always need to be pushing myself and my change of heart has been promising Him and myself that I will. I will never get into a comfort zone with my conversion.

So much is going on, there so many awesome stories I should probably be telling, but the missionary brain is day by day. Yesterday feels like weeks ago. If I don't write stuff down I don't know how I would remember anything. Time flies so fast. 

I love the Gospel. It is perfect. It is super difficult to live, but even that is perfect; most easy tasks aren't worth doing. Just do it. Live the Gospel, do what you know will make you truly happy. You don't need to wait for anything. At any moment you can think of something you should be doing if you try. Just get up and do it.

-Elder Brown

The attached temple photo is actually not a temple, but everyone has a theory that the church is just going to convert one of these two massive stake centers into a temple if they need to. They used to be the biggest stake centers in the world. 

The baby picture of me was given to me by the lady at my alien registration. When I was telling her my information she freaked out a little and asked if I had lived here before and showed me her screen with this guy on it. Korea keeps good records... The bowl cut is still super in style here by the way.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Week Twelve (This is actually good)

Dear People,

300,000 people live in my area of Gunsan, with two people making sure they all get to learn about the restored gospel. That is about as many people as the whole Provo Mission that has 150 missionaries in it. About 35 of these 300,000 people are active members of The Church. Yay! Those 35 people are the best people in the world.  There is a 17 year old sister named Kim Jeeun who is any missionary's favorite person: she refers her friends, fellowships investigators, and bears her testimony to our English class.

 Speaking of member missionary work, it's not optional.
"We will obtain our exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom only on the condition that we share with our Father's other children the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ and observe the commandments that will bless our lives here and hereafter." "Freely you have received and our Heavenly Father will expect you freely to share with his other sons and daughters these glorious truths."
-George Albert Smith

I can't believe how little member missionary work I did before this. Missionaries are supposed to have a member with them for every single lesson they teach to investigators. Make sure that the missionaries in your area are doing that. Call them and make sure they know that they can use you at anytime. Missionaries will talk about you, they'll pray about you, they'll brag to other missionaries that they have someone like you, and they'll write about you in their emails home.

I've been wondering why I didn't make any member missionary efforts before this and I remember thinking: "I have so much personal progression I still need to be working on, that's what I need to be doing first." "I need to be focusing on my own gospel living inconsistencies" "I'm still working on myself" 
This was a selfish thought process. We will always be working on ourselves. We have no excuses at all! I found a quote somewhere that said "Missionary work doesn't require the pure, it purifies the unclean"

"Let there be cultivated an awareness in every member's heart of his own potential for bringing others to a knowledge of the truth. Let him work at it. Let him pray with great earnestness about it."
-Gordon B. Hinkley

It is so easy to just focus on personal progression. I wish I could just read about church history, the teachings of the prophets, all the Church's library of wealth all day. That is easy. Talking to people about the gospel is the opposite of easy. This is the hardest thing in the world. Missionary work is so so hard. Koreans are terrifying. Member missionary work might be even harder. I just have to talk to strangers that I won't see again, members have to talk to their best friends. I have nothing to lose out here. You have friends you can lose. You have to talk to people you have known your whole life. That is way way harder. But the gospel was never meant to be easy. Eternal life was never cheap, it demands everything we have. "Why should it be easy for us when it was never easy for Him?" -Elder Holland

Alright listen up. This is huge principle I didn't learn until now. Everyone knows the famous primary answer: "follow the prophet" "listen to the prophets". What does that even mean? It means we need to study the most recent general conference session as hard as we study the Book of Mormon. Mark the Conference edition of the Liahona or Ensign like you mark your scriptures. Keep them in the same place in your room. Memorize the scriptures that come from the mouths of living seers. Don't just listen to conference.

I love Korea and Korean people, but Korean food is a struggle... Kim-chi is an interesting concept. I've decided that in the beginning if they could have avoided making it they definitely would have, but they made it, and after eating it for a while you start to crave it apparently, so then they fed it to their babies until the babies liked it and fed it to their babies etc. It's a vicious cycle. Most of the other traditional cuisine follows this pattern. I'm clinging to the hope that I'll start craving it because right now I'm still in the mood for chicken sandwiches constantly.

I finally brought my camera and camera card this time, but not my SD card adapter. 
I'm over it already. I'm not even mad.
I don't even want to show off my awesome pictures.

-Elder Brown

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week Eleven: Rotting Fruit

Whenever I sit down and try to listen to the spirit, the first prompting I've started getting is "Clean up your desk. Get organized. clean the apartment" So I started doing that. Our apartment was crazy because it was designed for two but had three people, and we had nowhere to hang clothes, but we worked a little ever day, and I got super organized personally. 

About two seconds after I decided I was fully settled into the apartment, the President called me and informed me that I would be emergency-transferring the next morning to a different zone because someone went home early. Yay. So I was in my greeny area for about a week.

I've been in the new area for about three days. There is a U.S military base included in the area, so I'll be able to buy normally priced American stuff like peanut-butter and vanilla and speak in English a little bit. Yay. 

My new apartment is double the size of the last one with one fewer person and there is an oven, so that's super nice, but the second I stepped inside I was hit with the smell of rotting fruit. There seemed to be plastic bags of rotting fruit everywhere I looked; up in the cupboards, in the fridge, outside on the balcony thingy. So that was weird.

The apartment was just trashed in general, there was all sorts of stuff left over from dozens of companionship in the past. There is a missionary culture of just leaving all the stuff you decide you don't want for the next people. 
My new trainer Elder Benefiel has has been happily living in these conditions for the last seven weeks. He needed me. He's had five native Korean companions, so he's fluent, hopefully I'll learn fast. Right now, I'm understanding more than I thought I would be able to, unless someone is talking directly to me, then it's all out the window. I can say most things that I want to and get across most any general message, the struggle is interpreting the fast meshed together stuff. I'm loving it though. 

Spiritual stuff: 
The Spirit is not a stressful feeling.
The Spirit shows you what you need to change, but it's Satan that tell's you you need to be there immediately and are inadequate if you aren't rapidly getting to a certain point.
The Spirit works little by little. One thing at a time. He knows everything. "This is what you need to be doing differently right now" "Talk to that person" "Stop doing this little thing" 

It's never an overwhelmingly stressful feeling.

I've also come to appreciate goal setting. I've always had negative emotions associated with goal setting. Make broad goals that govern all the smaller goals. In Missionary work the weekly goals govern the daily goals. 

Do 21 "somethings" this week
Ok, so I have to do three each day
Ok, I will do one at this exact time, one during lunch, and one when I'm at this place.
If you don't make hourly goals to govern the bigger ones it won't happen.

I feel so often like I take two steps up the mountain and slide back one. I keep reverting to old habits, but I am not discouraged because there are just enough moments where I see how far I've come. God knows my desires, I desire to progress, to fill my potential.

I love the message of the Restoration. Nothing will get me more excited than this gospel. It is woven into me, I will never stop trying to improve and figure out how to talk to people in a way that lets the spirit work on them. I want to be God's instrument. It is so, so hard. It is almost impossible, but we can do anything if we lean Christ's atonement. I'm still trying to learn how to do that. This is our purpose on Earth. Joseph Smith taught that more than any other topic, we should be studying our purpose on Earth.

Alright, go read some books

-Elder Brown

I forgot my camera again this week...why...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Week Ten: Bath House

Dear People,

I'm in a super smoky PC-"Bong" and I can't breathe.

So I feel like I've been here for at least three weeks, so I'm not going to be able to pack in all the details I want of what has happened so far.

The airplane ride was sweet, I just read the Book of Mormon a ton and tried to not look at the movies playing on every screen around me. There was a RM behind me who was explaining who all the missionaries on the plane were to a woman going to the Philippines. I talked with her a little bit as well from behind my seat, and gave the RM a Restoration pamphlet to use. I wrote my testimony in a Book of Mormon and gave it to her at the end of the flight. The airline served bi-bim-bab which was fantastic, I was trying to eat it with chop-sticks but the flight attendant informed me that that's weird and Koreans use a spoon. Thanks flight attendant.

We met the president and ate Korean KFC on the bus ride to the Mission Home.

First morning in the Mission Home we ate our incredible last American breakfast for the next to years, and then the AP's took us to a "bath-house" where you get naked with all your best friends and some grandpa's you don't know and sit in a bunch of hot-tubs. I won't go into more details than that.

It turns out that I'm going to be training in a trio! They didn't have enough trainers so Elder Bradshaw is training me and Elder Tautaiolefue from my MTC District! I'm not alone! Everyone is super jealous except for Elder Bradshaw, who is super stressed about his situation. Poor Elder. They didn't warn him beforehand.

I was ridiculously stressed the second night or so because I was so used to MTC food portions, and Elder Bradshaw just gave us rice, kim, and two slices of "smart-ham" which is an even cheaper version of SPAM. I was super hungry as we were walking home in the cold with my trainer explaining to me how we aren't going to eat well in this area. I was certain I would be constantly starving for the next two years. But I quickly realized my trainer just throws away his money on hair products and random garbage, so I'm going to be eating super well. Meat is super expensive though, so I'll be eating a lot of tuna.

Korean missionaries do a 30/30 English teaching program. We will give a thirty minute free English lesson if they will let us teach them about the gospel for thirty minutes. This is how we find a lot of investigators. One of our investigators has a super sad story. He was a food delivery person for a few years, which is a super dangerous job because customers want their food fast and the bosses threaten them if they aren't fast, so they don't obey traffic rules. Within two years he wrecked ten times, getting a bunch of concussions and needing brain surgery. Now he has memory problems and can't live on his own. His daughter who he is living with is about to go to Canada for school, so he want's to learn English so he can go with her. His name is Choi Yong Ho. I love him so much.

Yesterday was my first time meeting the ward and I love them so much! I'm am memorizing names much easier than I thought I would be able to, and whenever I get a name right they always get super excited and say they are going to feed me... Also Choi Yong Ho showed up! I we invited him but I was not expecting him to because I assumed he just wanted the English lessons, and didn't seem too interested during the gospel part of the lesson. He left right after sacrament though and I didn't get to talk to him. The Church is also true in Korea if any one was wondering, It feels exactly the same. The people are exactly the same except they speak Korean and use two hands when they pass the sacrament. Everything is literally identical. Me and Elder Tau got to pass Sacrament and be part of a confirmation. A little girl was also baptized after church and we got to watch.

Yesterday's challenge for the Christmas initiative was to feed the missionaries and so we got a ton of food from members, I'm so happy.

Sorry I forgot to bring my camera, I'll send a bunch of pictures next week.

I love Korea and Korean, I'm out of time, there is so much I want to write about.


-Elder Brown

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Elder Brown called from the airport in Salt Lake City yesterday.  He was a little concerned because he was the travel leader and some of the group was not at the gate.  He spoke in Korean a little and was very enthusiastic about serving the people of Korea. 

 I received an email with these images from his mission president saying he arrived safely.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Week Nine

(I'm pointing to Kamchatka on purpose)​​​​​​​

Dear People,

I'll hit the airport at 3 AM Monday. I can't wait to speak in English to real people who haven't heard about the restoration. I am actually more excited for the airport than Korea itself...

This week we had an in-field orientation workshop thing, and as part of it we practiced street contact. It was the first time I've ever tried in English and it was so easy! If I can have one normal conversation with someone in the airport on on the plane about the restoration, it will make up for all the stress that will come the first month in Korea. 

This is me being very serviceable by taking pictures of a random group of people. They took a really long time to retrieve their cameras.
This week we did a English + Food fast. T'was way spiritual, and gave me a solid testimony of fasting. I felt so good, I wasn't even hungry by the time we broke it. During my personal study in the Book of Mormon I noticed an epic example of fasting. After Alma the Older ran away from the courts of Noah because he believed Abinadi. He had "sore repentance"but then was visited by the voice of the lord. Later on when he was was looking for an answer to how to judge the people, he fasted and prayed for many days before being receiving his answer. He had heard the voice of the lord several times before, but regardless of that, and regardless of his righteousness, and regardless of his position as a prophet, he didn't feel entitled to revelation. He fasted and prayed for many days. He understood the eternal truth that we all need to exercise faith before any of the good stuff happens.
This is me bending over and placing my head in a bush near the temple.

My district is too good. On my birthday they somehow found time to decorate my room with streamers and balloons. I don't know how to react to people doing things for me like that so I just awkwardly hugged everyone and acted sarcastically super emotional as if they had put a ton of effort into it, but then I realized that they had all also bought me a bunch of little presents from the MTC store and had a card that they all wrote really nice notes to me in. I felt so bad for being sarcastic at all; I felt so much love from them. One of my eyes leaked a little bit when I read the card. 

I'm trying to not be as sarcastic, I've found it often drives the spirit away.

I was interviewing district leaders earlier in the week, and one of the the new native Korean Elders opened up to me a ton. I had never really talked to him before this, I had just told him I loved him in Korean every time I saw him. But apparently just that simple act gave me his trust. He told me his life story and everything he was struggling with at the MTC in his broken English. I was able relate to him really well somehow. We talked for almost a half hour, and he said he felt way better afterwards. I know we were meant to be able to have that conversation.

Boring story:

For the last six weeks Brother Driggs has been playing the role of Cho Ho Hun every other day. He is an investigator studying English at BYU and is going back to Korea in a few months. My companion and I have been teaching him all the lessons. He's been pretty golden. Yesterday was our last lesson with him. When we came in the room, we explained that we were "being transferred" and this would be our last lesson with him. We talked to him about enduring to the end and how easy it would be for him to revert back to his old life once he went back to Korea. I told him it would be really hard when he went back. He asked why, and I said that he may not be able to make friends in the church, or he may not have time for it anymore. We told him we loved him and we would be praying for him. It was sad saying goodbye, we had grown attached to this character of Brother Driggs's imagination.

After our lesson, Brother Driggs told us that Brother Cho is a real investigator that actually visited BYU and went back to Korea just four months ago. He was baptized before he left, and Brother Driggs described him as having one of the strongest testimonies he had ever seen. Before he left, Brother Driggs told him the exact same thing we told him in our lesson: It would be hard because he may not have friends, and he would be busy. They stressed the importance of enduring to the end.

When he came home, his parents told him that the church thing was probably good for him while he was in America, but they didn't want him to do it anymore. 

In America, after you're an adult, your parent's advice is nice, but can generally be blown off without consequence: "Thanks mom ... I'm an adult ..." 
In Korea, you generally live with your parents until you get married, and the hierarchy of authority lasts until you die. It would be a big deal to ignore their wishes.

So He didn't. Brother Cho hasn't gone to church for four months, and isn't reading the Book of Mormon. 

Brother Driggs told us where he lives now, and that we will probably meet him. I'm going to find him and beat him up.

Not really. I'll just tell him I'm mad at him.

Love you. Do what Christ would be doing.

-Elder Brown

P.S  I also met a North Korean escapee. I'll probably write that story later.

This is Sister Oh re-teaching us how to read time 
Korean snacks

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Week Seven (But Actually Eight)

Dear People,

Every Sunday we get to pick from a few old MTC devotional talks to watch. The most famous one that I've seen twice is "Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar:

Character: Moral qualities that are strongly developed, strikingly displayed, and consistently lived. 

The Christ's character is the polar opposite of the natural man. When the natural man would have us turn inward, the Character of Christ turns out in love and service to others.

As we strive to acquire Christ's Character, we will slowly be converted to him. 

A testimony is a knowledge of that Jesus Christ's gospel is true. A testimony is easy. With only a little bit of effort and humility, anyone can have this knowledge.

Conversion is constantly doing the things that you know are true. We are never done being converted.

the word "repent" needs a different name because it is way too closely associated with sin. Repenting is turning away from anything and towards God. When my investigators learn they need to read the Book of Mormon so they start doing it, they are turning closer to God (repenting). When we put just a tiny bit more effort into our study or prayers, we are repenting. 

When you repent each night, don't just apologize for doing the things you shouldn't have done that day, tell him what you are going to do more.

What is our Character? Or what quality about us is strikingly displayed?

Yesterday Sister Oh wrote on the board in regard to our mission: What did you offer to Him? What are you offering to Him now? What are you willing to offer Him?

This hit me hard because I've always felt confident that I would give my life to him instantly if he commanded it, but if that is true, why am I not doing the simple simple things like talking to construction workers, working my hardest, or speaking Korean constantly like I should be.

Speaking of construction workers, I finally manned up enough to approach two of them with my companion. I said "Excuse me, may I bear my testimony to you?"  The smiled super uncomfortably and stared at us for five full seconds before saying "Engles... Espanol amigos...." 
Elder Leithead came to the rescue by pointing at his Korean nametag and saying "In Korean?" They showed about as much recognition, so I just bore my testimony in Korean and left. Mission accomplished.

It's been good, I have twelve days left before Korea. I am so close to my district, I will probably be more district-sick than home sick.

The Korean word for hair directly translates to "head-fingers"


​-Brown 장로

The model with the dreadlocks is pre-mission Elder Leithead. He's a champion.

Week Six

Dear People,

The Primary program has the plan of salvation all wrong. When you think of the Plan of Salvation, what is the first thing you think of? Not Jesus Christ probably. It should be called "The Jesus Plan" 

There was a plan given by God that allowed us to be like him if we had faith in Jesus Christ.

 The Plan of Salvation needs to be the center of our lives, and Jesus Christ is the center of the Plan of Salvation. Do you know what the first thing Jesus taught was when he visited the Nephites? Go look it up. Do you know what Nephi declared the purpose of his small plates to be? Search for it. Do you know who completed the small plates of Nephi and restated their purpose in his testimony? It wasn't Omni. The Book of Mormon tells the best story on earth. Learn it.

Life is about to get ridiculously hard for everyone. Our testimony in The Book of Mormon's truth must be sure. Our testimony of where the priesthood is must be solid. If any of ye lack wisdom about who holds Gods keys right now, Let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him. 

2 Nephi 26:23 For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness. 
24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him.Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.

He is ready to give his knowledge to the humble seeker, He is not a God of secrets. His gospel is for everyone.

I am obsessed with the parallel of a mission and earth life. My teacher puts so much emphasis on our purpose as a missionary. "Invite others to come onto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." Every move I make, every word I say should be focused on this purpose.

When I get home, I want to write a new purpose statement for myself and change it in each stage of my life. It will be different in college, it will be different when I have kids, it will be different when I am retired. It will be very different in each phase but it will always have the word "progress" in it, and it will always have the name "Jesus Christ."

Fun story for those that have read this far. One of the younger districts asked their teacher-investigator in Korean to read "Moroni 9:8" instead of "D&C 9:8"

D&C 9:8 - "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you;therefore, you shall feel that it is right."

Moroni 9:8 - "And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them."

Then they asked the them: "Will you do this tonight?"

Yesterday there was a devotional by Joy B. Jones General Primary President. Her husband said that there are 17,000 hours in a two year mission. I wrote in my notebook that I have straight thrown away at least 30 hours of my mission so far. When I am not focused on the work, I am mocking my time here. I am mocking the knowledge I have be given.

This applies to everyone on their earthly mission: We are mocking the purpose of this earth and our bodies when we are not fulfilling our purpose of progression and Joy.

I bear my testimony of the Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young's priesthood keys, of John Taylor, of Wilford Woodruff, of Lorenzo Snow, of Joseph F. Smith, of Heber J. Grant, of George Albert Smith, of David O. McKay, of Joseph Fielding Smith, of Harold B. Lee, of Spencer W. Kimball, of Ezra Taft Benson, of Howard W. Hunter, of Gordon B. Hinkley, and of Thomas S. Monson, As God's chosen Prophets. I know they hold the Keys. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

With great anxiety,

-Elder Brown

Week Five

Dear People,

Every p-day, two Elders have been spending the whole day preparing a shadow puppet show to give to the zone at the end of the day. I didn't go to their rendition of "Up" last week, but this week they performed the entirety of "Star Wars: A New Hope" They put a ridiculous amount of thought into it and had at least thirty very detailed shadow puppets of Star Wars characters. They even distributed little tickets to attend.

On Thursday, I had an intense fever, but I got over it pretty quickly. Being sick really helps you appreciate healthyness. We have to have regular trials and misery to remind us of our purpose. We need the bad to know the good, but that is not enough. We need constant reminders of what misery is. I can't wait for the "perfect knowledge of our enjoyment" we will have in the spirit world.

I was asked to be a Zone leader on Sunday, so now I'm a Zone leader which is really stressful because the last Zone leaders were really good and everyone loved them and I feel like I know nothing about the MTC. But I'll figure it out and grow a lot.

Sacrament meeting is awesome, everything is in Korean and after the Sacrament is administered one of the Branch presidency will randomly call two missionaries from the congregation to speak for 3-5 minutes, (In Korean of course). Everyone is supposed to have a talk prepared on the subject of the week, but most people take the risk to not prepare, and it's always those people who get chosen.

Gospel stuff:

The gospel is so simple. We are little babies. God is our father.

We are given simple instructions: Have faith, do what he says until we die.

My favorite scripture right now is the first sentence of 2 Nephi 2:5   "Men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil"

We know what we should be doing differently, so change.

Russel M. Nelson gave a devotional last night. 
It was soo good,​​ he talked about so much, it was like a general conference talk.

He mentioned how "God yearns for our honorable return home". I've been noticing a ton of similarities between this full time mission and our mission on Earth. I wonder if there was something similar to opening a mission call that happened pre-mortally. How exciting would it be to find out you would live on Earth! Christ's planet!  

I love the line in More Holiness Give Me Where it says "more longing for home" We are not home! We should not be comfy! Our time is short!  As a missionary, I should want to be here, but only because I have a specific purpose, and when it's done I should be excited to come home. I should not be happy just wandering around in Korea, eating cool food and learning Korean. If I'm not fulfilling my purpose, I may as well have stayed home. 

If we aren't fulfilling our purpose on Earth, we may as well have stayed home. Without bodies. Without knowledge of good and evil. Without Joy.

Study the Book of Mormon. I wish I had more time to study it now and I wish I had spent more time studying it before I left. Ten minutes a day seemed like a struggle, but now we get two hours and it feels like fifteen minutes. Ten minutes in the MTC is a joke. Time goes by so fast.


-Elder Brown

Here be some pictures: (Personal Study Time, Elder Myeong, Elder Lee, and Elder Partridge (who speaks five languages [six including the violin {He was home-schooled, but he's not awkward} ] and my cute little Korean scripture tabs.)​​​​ and the district singing a billion verses of Korean hymns. Don't sit through all of it. (I'm the one that can't hold still)

Week Four

Dear People,

The MTC is dedicated. I am set apart. I am surrounded by hundreds of other set apart, consecrated beings. I got used to the feeling within the first two weeks. You forget that the name tags that everyone is wearing aren't normal. You forget feeling the spirit is a very difficult task in the world. I would say in real life, but "real life" is as far from real life as you can get. Elder Holland said that being a full time missionary and being an apostle are the two closest experiences we can have to real life.

On Suday after watching an MTC talk by Elder Bednar, Elder Elliot said: "The mission field is the MTC for life!" So true. Elder Bednar is the greatest. He immitated Cookie Monster really well in a talk. According to Elder Bednar, all of the apostles are really funny, but you rarely see it in Conference because they have to be declaring the lords will. General conference talks by apostles are equilivant to the Doctrine and Covenants. They are ALL Prophets, SEERS! and Revelators.

Three Elders are super into sports and get almost daily college football updates which they freak out about. It's funny.

So in Korean, there are three main ways of speaking that signify different levels of respect. We, of course, are learning the most respectful, most difficult "High Form". No one speaks this form on the streets, so we have to learn to speak in High Form, but understand middle form, and try not to mimic it in lessons.

The word for Elder (Janglo) is used to describe only the very old, very wise men in the culture, so when people see Janglo on our name-tags, based on our behavior people will either think: Why do these immature teens have the title Janglo? This church is weird... Or they will think: That's interesting, even these very young people in this church are respectful and wise enough to be called Janglo.

So the pressure's on.

-Elder Brown

Week Three

Dear people,

A new native Korean companionship came in today. Elders Myeong and Lee. They are super nice, Myeong lived in London for a year so he's better at English than Lee. They are 25 and 21 years old, and the age hierarchy culture became apparent immediately. They are staying in Elder Rose and Omori's room because they have extra beds. Elder Myeong immediately stripped Elder Rose's sheets from the bed he's been in for three weeks and laid out his own stuff. Elder Rose is now in the top bunk and is not amused. Everyone else thinks it's hilarious. Brother Driggs told us to become friends with them immediately and we'll learn so much faster.

I could talk exclusively about Brother Driggs in all of my emails for the rest of the MTC, but that's probably not what you want to hear about. It is common knowledge that he is the best teacher in the Korean Zone. All the other districts and teachers admit it. If the natives close their eyes they can't tell he's American. We are so blessed. We have the first vision memorized. Most districts usually don't do that until their last couple weeks. Because he teaches us so much so fast, we have to make sure that we don't use him as an excuse to not work as hard outside of class. Ahh, I love him. Oh well.

Brother Driggs challenged us to speak the language constantly, and when we don't know how to say words, to just use English words in the Korean sentence structure. I'm going to do it.

There was a devotional from Elder Robbins from the Seventy last night. He spoke about Christ-like attributes. My favorite part was the comparison between mission companionships and eternal companionship. When he was a mission president somewhere he had an Elder that come to him basically distressed that all four companionships he had in his mission so far were terrible, and he really needed at least one good companion. Brother Robbins then asked him "Who was the common denominator in all of your companionships?"

He talked about how the idea that you can "fall out of love" was created by the devil to attack families. Loving is a choice. As long as you serve your companion you will love them. When we learned how to pray in Korean, the first thing/person we learned how to bless was our first investigator Sister Gang, who we hadn't even met yet. Each of the eight Elders in the district were praying three times a day for someone they didn't even know. But because we were "serving" her, we all genuinely came to love her before even laying eyes on her. 

If you want to love someone. Act like you love them -- Serve them -- and you will.


-Elder Brown

Week Two

So in the first email I didn't mention that on our third day in the MTC we taught our first Korean lesson to our first investigator, Sister Gang. It was the same day that we learned how to conjugate a three word sentence, so we said in essence: God loves you. God is your father. Pray to God. Gamsahamnida. 

We taught her everyday for the next few days. After the fourth lesson she revealed herself as our second teacher, Sister Oh, and that she was role-playing an investigator she had on her mission in Busan. She is speaks way less English than Brother Driggs does, and so we have to work harder to understand her. 

Brother Driggs told a story from his mission where he met a Chinese man who knew no English or Korean, who was in Korea doing some study or something for his master's thesis. Neither Brother Driggs nor his companion knew more than a few chinese words, but they convinced him to follow them to a nearby church where they had a Chinese Book of Mormon and some pamphlets. They taught him every day for over a week until he had to go back to China. He didn't get baptized because he wouldn't have had a church to go to in China, but he told them: "There are no missionaries in China, send missionaries because my family and I need to be baptized"
Brother Driggs has never heard from him since. He showed us how language is not anywhere near as important as sensitivity to the spirit. There is a reason the first sentence we learned is "God loves you" If that was the only sentence I could say my whole mission, I could still be more successful than a native speaker that knew everything about the church, as long as I am sensitive to the spirit, and can say that one sentence with power. Teaching us to understand this concept is the purpose of the MTC. Learning a language forces a missionary to learn this, because they don't have the option of letting other words get in the way.

Monday was our first "TRC Meeting", which is where we teach a lesson to actual volunteer Korean members living in the area. It's like a family home evening thing. Elder Leithead and I were super unprepared, we forgot how to ask where they were from or even what their names were. We were trying to talk about things we didn't have the vocab for. The spirit was absent and everyone was uncomfortable as we tried to read our Korean notes. It was really discouraging. Afterwards, Brother Driggs had the district come outside and asked someone to volunteer to jump as far as they could from a standing position. He marked the spot, and then said to jump farther. Then farther. He had a few more of us do it. We could all do it. "Reach your hand up as high as you can." "Ok, higher" "higher" We could all do it of course. "If I kept going you would have got on the benches, climbed trees, you could figure out a way to go higher." It was pretty obvious how we could apply this to Korean. 

Yesterday, towards the end of the lesson, Sister Oh announced that we would have ten minutes to prepare as a group a 30 minute lesson directed to her. It would not be a role-play. When she left, we brainstormed vague ideas of what to say and said a prayer to know what she needed to hear and to have the spirit. When she came back in there was an awkward minute when no one said anything, but Elder Omori started saying stuff, and others chimed in. We used about half Korean half English, mixed sentences. During that lesson I recognized the spirit in a way I never have before. I've had overwhelming spiritual experiences every-time I really wanted them, but this was a very unique clarity of thought, peace, wisdom, and a little buzz. I asked her to read Mosiah 4:27 (I think) "It is not requisite that a man run faster than he has strength" and I told her that God won't frequently ask her to give more than she can, but when he does ask it of us, he will also give her the strength she needs to do it.

She was crying by the end of the lesson and so were a couple Elders.

Yesterday, Elder Bednar spoke for the devotional. It was broadcasted to all of the MTC's and my district all sang in the choir. A super cool arrangement of "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer" He spoke about general conference and emphasized that general conference talks should be part of our daily study material for the next six months. The Book of Mormon is directed to our time period, but Seers direct their messages to today, exactly what we need right now.

A mission is in absolutely no way a sacrifice. Elder Omori and I were talking about this last night. Everything about the MTC gives to the missionary. If I went home right now, I would never be the same.

-Elder Brown

Week One

Dear people,

I am quite upset about the number of packages and emails that I have not received. I'm assuming that there were thousands of emails wrongly sent to I'm sure the other Elder Jay Brown is overwhelmed at the love he is receiving from strangers. 

From the minute you walk away from family they MTC tries their best to totally overwhelm you. I was led away from the car by a "Host" Elder who didn't even introduce himself to me. I was then passed through the hands of a bunch of old people that gave me my name tags, a lock, and a ton of Korean books. I got to go to my residence for thirty seconds to drop off my luggage, but then I was dropped right into my classroom where Brother Driggs was already teaching Korean characters to five flustered Elders. I was sat down next to my companion, Elder Bryson Leithead. A couple other Elders came in late too. There are four companionships in my class which make up my district. The first two days feel like a week each. They try to overwhelm you so much to drill in the concept that the MTC should not a comfortable place. There is not much growing in a comfort zone, and there is not much comfort in a growing zone. Brother Driggs described it as a hard place, but a happy place.

Time is broken here.

I suspect another reason they make the beginning so Hectic is so that we'll appreciate personal study time. I thought the MTC would be be like a half day of reading scriptures and a half day of learning the language, but we only get an hour of personal study each day, and it goes by in minutes. It is so hard to find time to even write in my journal. My ultimate advice to anyone wanting to be happy, is study the scriptures for at least an hour every day. Understand the basic storyline of the Book of Mormon, and Old and New Testaments. I feel like I know nothing about the bible.

 I love my district. I am the district leader. Every three weeks it will change, but whoever is next gets to learn from my mistakes. I get the mail twice a day and distribute it to the district. Elder Omari gets about five hundred packages a day from his girlfriend, so we're all depressed when mail comes. I love my district. I wish I could write about every one of them. It's like a EFY company only everyone really wants to be there, everyone wants to obey the rules, and they are all super humble. There are no sisters in our district, which is awesome because everyone can be themselves, but because everyone can be themselves, we get out of hand and laugh uncontrollably frequently. 

My companion Elder Leithead, is super laid-back. The first night before we went to bed he said he had been staying up untill four AM the week before he came, binge watching some TV show season that just came out on Netflix. After the first day of language class, he was super discouraged and homesick, so I immediately thought of all the miserable companion stories I've heard, and I was certain he was going to be a nightmare the whole nine weeks. But I was immediately humbled, because he is working so hard, and has such a good attitude. We get along really well.

On the third day we learned how to pray and brother Driggs told us that from then on all of our prayers should be in Korean. Say everything you can in Korean, and then say another prayer in English if you need to. We are learning pretty fast, I want to be speaking only Korean for the last three days before I enter the field. I am not super impressed with the older district's level of Korean use. I wish they would constantly be speaking it to each other because I know they can.

We didn't get to sing in general conference, but watching it in the MTC was amazing. The MTC is so perfect, my whole life has prepared me for this. I love Korean. It's is apparently the third hardest language for an american to learn. Knowing the characters beforehand was super super helpful, but we are all on the same page already, I am the best at pronunciation, but I am struggling remembering new words, they all sound so similar and all have way different meanings. Elder Taotaiolefue, a Polynesian Elder from Australia, studied Korean for three months when he found out where he was going, so he is way good. It'll be a long time before anyone catches up to him. 

I had a massive spiritual high the first four days, I was a baby. Then I hit a really rough spot Sunday morning, then another high Sunday night, but now I'm just content. There are talks from apostles that I think they only show in the MTC. They are life changing. We get to watch one each Sunday. We've only seen one, but it was life-changing, the best talk I've ever heard in my life.

We went through the temple this morning with all the missionaries and I recognized an usher at the veil as the actor for Christ in the endowment video we had just watched (my favorite one). He is also apparently a famous LDS singer, I shook his hand. There is probably a bunch more that I want to say but I've already gone way over my time. I am so so happy.


Elder Brown

First Impressions


This is not my real first letter, it's just to let you know I'm alive. I am indeed alive and well. I love the MTC so so much, it was designed by me. The minute I walked got out of the car, a "host" Elder took dropped my luggage off at my residence, I was thrown into Korean class with a teacher that was naturally speaking only Korean and teaching the characters, and sat down next to my companion with no introduction. My class of four companionships is my district. I love them. There is absolutely no free time, but I love it and want to live here forever.

My address is:

Elder Jay Jennison Brown
2005 N 900 E Unit   7
Provo UT 84602

-Elder Brown

Also my P-day is Wednesday so I have to wait a whole week

I miss no one