Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Week Forty-Five: Hyun Kyung-Don

Dear People,

So, last Wednesday I rode a train to Deajeon to see off Elder Child and meet my new trainee. When I entered the room of new missionaries with all the other trainers, one of the trainees was standing up and translating for President Madsen. He was really handsome and yes, he's the one I got. His name is Hyun Kyung-Don. Upon our short introductions I learned that he is from Seoul, he's 19 but has already attended a year at BYU Hawaii and another year at BYU Provo. If you ask how, it's because he skipped high school to study for the ACT and TOEFL tests and got admitted to BYU-H when he was 17. He's fluent in English, which is a blessing and a curse because when I can't say something in Korean it's super tempting to just say it in English.

We had a crazy first day. We barely had time to dump his luggage at the apartment before running to an English teaching appointment. He flawlessly turned the English appointment into a lesson about true repentance and we got the investigator who previously only had English interest to agree to have religious discussions from here on.

We also met another potential investigator on his first day and he bore a super powerful testimony about why he chose to come on a mission. He has a really great habit of testifying in a way that makes it impossible to doubt that he believes what he is saying is true.

He is full of fire and dedication and so much humility. On our second day, we were in the middle of weekly planning and I asked him a question about an investigator. He paused and said: 

"I'm so so sorry, I'm trying to focus, but I'm really hungry, I think if I ate first I will be able to focus better." 

It was 7:00 and we had nothing but ramen for lunch. I forgot to feed him dinner. I'm a terrible person. He forgave me.  I'm so excited to serve with Hyun Kyung-don.

I keep on re-learning principles that I've already learned before but just aren't seeming to permanently change my behavior. For instance, I absolutely must stay clean and organized or the Spirit will be restrained. My progress seems slow and sometimes I don't feel successful as a missionary. I'm almost at my year mark and it's hard to feel like I've really made an impact on Korea, but I'm I need to remember that success is conversion to the Savior. I won't be successful by working hard the way I want to work hard. I will be successful when I give Him all my heart and all my will.

I'm finally understanding how everything about the commandments and ordinances of the gospel just leads back to following Christ. We were sitting with a potential investigator who was asking what his family can do to progress and be a better family. In my mind I was screaming "get baptized and follow the commandments!" and as I was thinking about why those things bring happiness it hit me that following the commandments is just following Christ. That's what brings happiness, not just abstaining from coffee or changing behavior on a certain day of the week. It's trying to live like Christ that brings the joy of the gospel.

I know Jesus Christ lives. I know that He is the path to lasting satisfaction. I bear my testimony of this in His name, amen.

I love you, 

-Elder Brown

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Week Forty-Four: I'm Training, Probs a Korean

Dear People,

Transfer calls were on Monday. I'm staying in Gwangyang for a fourth transfer and I'm training! I will meet the poor new Elder tomorrow morning. There are six new Elders coming in and five of them are natives so I'm likely going to to be training a Korean which is crazy stressful. This will be the first time I've been senior companion . . . I'm about to get super humbled.

My companion Elder Child is about to go home tomorrow after his 27 months of service. Watching a returning missionary pack up is a really good way for one to miss their family, but I'm glad I'm still here! I had a nightmare a while ago that I came home at the same spiritual state I'm in right now. I have so far to go. There is a great work to perform. There is a great harvest waiting for me to decide to plunge my sickle into. In my grandpa's words "I must start with the mission field that is my heart"

Because I'm going to train I've been thinking about how how I felt my first few days in the field, how consecrated I was, and how far I've dropped from that point. From the beginning of the MTC I thought it was just part of my nature to be super faithful and energetic about missionary work. I was proud that it seemed to come naturally to me, I was proud that I had been blessed with such great desire but my fuel tank of consecration has been running empty for a while and I've done little to refill it. 

While Elder Child was packing, I was reading some talks and stories about consecration and being worthy of the Spirit. It led me to offer a really powerful repentance prayer last night. I felt the power of Jesus Christ's Atonement.

A marvelous work is about to come forth among the people of Gwangyang and in the heart of Elder Brown.

I love you.

-Elder Brown

Week Forty-Three

Dear People,

On Thursday morning our branch president called us early in the morning and said that our elders quorum president had a sudden heart attack and asked if we could go together to give him a blessing. We got all ready and were waiting outside, but then he called again and informed us that he had just passed away. That was super unexpected and sad. His wife is the Relief Society president, and they still have a couple young kids. Please pray for their family. Life is weird.

I watched a video on Mormon Channel in a series called Hope Works about making the distinction between our spirit and body that helped me understand that it really is all about returning to live with God.

Before we were sent to earth we were in God's presence. We knew we belonged there. We were at peace, we knew we were loved and understood. We were At-One with him. The Fall took us from that and dumped us in a field where we often don't feel love, and are rarely accepted by society. It is very clear to each of us that something is wrong. Something big is missing. From the time we become conscious everything we do is trying to fill that void, we are trying to return. We hopelessly try to fill this hole with money, power, knowledge, or beauty. Whether we know it our not, we are all trying to save our selves.

There is one way and one name by which we may be saved. There is one specific reliable way to gain all our deepest desires. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that will fill the void. 

One of Elder Bednar's study methods is to prayerfully choose a topic he wants to understand deeper, get a cheap copy of the Book of Mormon, read it from cover to cover marking things that relate to the chosen topic, write a couple paragraphs about what he learned about that topic, put that piece of paper in the copy of the Book of Mormon, then place it on his bookshelf of other copies that he has followed this pattern with. "If you start doing this now, by the time your my age you should have a bookshelf of 400-500 copies"

I am starting my first copy with the topic of "Pray Always" I'm super excited.

I'm going to go play virtual golf now, but I love you all!

-Elder Brown

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Week Forty-Two

Dear People,

My area is the second hottest place in Korea and we be 'proaching the hottest time of the year... for the last couple of days we've been walking in a "real feel" 109 degrees. Sweat's flowing freely.  A couple days ago a random guy literally pulled us off the street into a convenience store to buy us a drink. "It's too hot! You're going to die!"

This Sunday we were asked to teach gospel principles class and we chose the topic of repentance. As we taught, I learned something about the principle of confession. When we don't confess in prayer our shortcomings, we are showing God that we believe we can overcome sin on our own. Changing undesirable behavior is not repentance. We must recognize our sin and confess the exact nature of it with no justification of our actions in order to repent of it. Changing our behavior does not remove the effect of that sin. Christ does.

 This week has been really hard, probably the hardest of my mission so far, but I wouldn't trade this for anything. The church is simply true. The Book of Mormon is simply true. It is seamless. It is the surest channel of the Spirit. It is a map to lasting happiness.

Insight about missionary work I got after failing to properly introduce our message to a man in an ice cream shop and trying to impress him with ourselves rather than our message:

Anyone who sees us will recognize these things: These sweaty teens are in a foreign country. They are learning a difficult foreign language. They are wearing very uncomfortable clothes. They must have a motivation to be doing so. Something very significant have compelled them away from family, school, friends, and their country. 

There are a couple possible compelling forces:

1. Money. They are either getting paid a lot of money, or through this mission thing they will eventually make a lot of money in their church. 

2. This is a study abroad. They like travel and want to see the world.

3. It's a mandatory thing. If they don't do this they have to do something harder, like military. 

4. It's a social/family/cultural thing, if they don't do this they will be estranged from their religious community 

5. They have discovered a glorious truth and can't bear to sit still until the whole world has had opportunity to partake of it's blessings.

If the missionary commandment to "open your mouth in proclaiming the gospel" is not upheld, our very presence in the field becomes a paradox. If we don't quickly and genuinely bring up our desire to share our message with everyone we come in contact with, our reason for being in the country will never be recognized as reason number 5. We must do everything we can to obliterate the possibility of people thinking we are here for reasons 1-4.

I am very very guilty of not displaying reason 5, but it's been an important step for me to recognize this problem. I am going to do my best to repent every day and love the Lord enough to open my mouth.

Heavenly Father lives and is anxious to bless us. He is doing literally everything in His power to help us return to Him, but the choice is up to us.

I love this work and I love you.

-Elder Brown

Week Forty-One

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

No time today, but life's good. We've been doing a lot of district proselyting activities focused on Teaching English, they've been pretty effective. We're racking our brains and praying hard for ways to touch people's hearts. Finding is really hard. Missionaries need members.

My favorite scripture this week is 2 Nephi 2:8 

"Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah. . ."

Everything about our message really just leads back to returning to remain in God's presence. We will all return to God regardless of our actions on earth, but without preparing for that time by following the gospel of Jesus Christ we will not stay in His presence for very long.

I know that God lives. I know that he answers prayers, especially ones asking how we can draw closer to Him. I'm pretty sure those are His favorite prayers to answer.

-Elder Brown

Monday, July 17, 2017

Week Forty: Rainy Season

Dear People,

Once upon a time it rained. A lot. And I had holes in my shoes.

I'm still not tired of missionary work. I am shocked when I realize how much time has passed and how little I understand about everything. We will never know everything we can about Jesus Christ before we die. We will never understand the Book of Mormon enough to not study it diligently and methodically every day, we will never become perfect at sharing these things with others. 

I had a pretty discouraging experience yesterday on a bus talking to a really nice atheist guy. I felt so insufficient in presenting the message according to his needs, and by the end of the conversation when I tried to get his number he just laughed and said "I don't believe". 

There is nothing more humbling than this work, but there is also nothing that makes it more clear that God lives. I have learned for myself that God lives. He loves all of His children. Nothing we do will keep him from desiring to help us.

That's what it comes down to. I feel like everything else is really just appendage to that.

Something that experience and several others have helped me appreciate is the truth that no one else's actions, belief, or lack of belief can negatively effect our own joy in living the gospel. No one else's lack of belief in the Book of Mormon will detract from the joy and wonder that I receive while studying it. 

A member's son was baptized on Sunday. Even though it wasn't an investigator baptism it was really cool to see the progress of the church in Korea in that simple way. Sometimes I forget how new the church is to Korea. There are very few multi-generational families, almost everyone over 30 years old is a convert. 

Keep doing good stuff. Read Preach my Gospel. Ask me questions because I don't really know what to write about...

I love you.

-Elder Brown

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week Thirty-Nine

Dear People,

This is going to be short because I want to go bowling.
Yesterday we found a taxi driver that seemed so gold. He talked about how he goes to church every week even though he feels like it's not completely true and doesn't like that there are lots of churches. We super tactfully introduced our message and we felt like we were doing everything right but he just nodded and grunted and showed not even a glimmer of interest. This happens so frequently and it is so frustrating. Everyday it becomes more and more plain to me that the church is true, and because it seems so objective in my mind I noticed that I got into a habit of planning my lessons in a way that logically presents the truth of the message. I try to convince in a way that I don't feel the Spirit and we don't see results.
I was on a split with Elder Anderson who talked to me about Brigham Young's conversion in Chapter 11 of Preach My Gospel. I learned a lot as I read it.

“If all the talent, tact, wisdom, and refinement of the world had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared, in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by learning and worldly wisdom, they would have been to me like smoke which arises only to vanish away. But when I saw a man without eloquence or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and a light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true”

Having faith in the converting power of the Spirit is going to be my focus for a while. I struggle with this, I'm such an objective thinker: "If we can just explain it in this way in this order and make them understand this, there will be no way they won't know it's true!" There is no lasting conversion without the Spirit. There is no lasting conversion without repentance involving the savior.

Oh fun story, at the beginning of the week a member called us and asked:

"Do you know Jung Dong-Wook?"
 We go through all our previous investigators and are like: "Uhhh, no..." 
He's like: "Hmmm...  come to my house at 7:00 Thursday prepared to teach the first lesson"

So we get all excited and are role playing for this new referral and are so happy that the members are doing missionary work. We show up at his house and just his family is there and they seem happy to see us, but there is no investigator in sight. We're just talking with them too nervous to bring up the referral but then he sits us down with his 8 year-old son who is about to get baptized and we realize that Jung Dong-wook is his son. So that was a little awkward but teaching him was really fun and was the first time I've taught a little person.

Life is good. Pray for missionary opportunities.

-Elder Brown

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Week Thirty-Eight

Dear People,

Yesterday I was studying lesson 2 pretty in depth trying to figure out all the intricacies of why we need to die, and why we have to rely on the Savior rather than suffer for our own sins and all that sort of interesting stuff, and as I was reading in Abraham I felt a pang of discouragement.

Here are my thoughts:

I accept that this is complicated and can't all be understood at once. I accept that I don't have to have an answer to everything to know that it's true, but If I can't explain everything, how can and I teach and convince others of the truth? This just seems so hard to understand and even harder to explain.

I was only having this discouragement for a couple seconds when I felt the Holy Ghost very strongly and the clear thought came into my mind: "Is this feeling hard to understand?"

No. The Spirit is not difficult to understand. And if my investigators feel Him I won't need to convince them of anything. That's His job not mine. My job is much simpler: it's to bring Him with me and my companion to lessons.

Of all the teaching skills and knowledge I can develop, nothing will ever be more important than living in a way that allows the Spirit to come with me everywhere I go. 

I realized that I've been lacking a lot of faith that my investigators will feel the Spirit, and that's probably because I haven't had a good relationship with Him recently.

Transfer calls were yesterday I'm staying in Gwangyang! I'll probably be here for a few more months because this is my companion's last transfer and I'll need to introduce the area to the next missionary who comes in. I get to send Elder Child home and keep all the language books he won't be able to carry on the plane!

I can't believe how long I've been out. My year mark is September 28. I honestly thought I would have accomplished a lot more and been a lot better at Korean by this point, but I know that I have been working hard. I'm happy and growing everyday. 

I love you. Be good and stuff.

-Elder Brown

Monday, June 26, 2017

Week Thirty-Seven

Dear People,

I totally forgot it was Father's Day until I saw all the father themes on lds.org. Shout out to my daddy-poo. I could talk about that guy forever. To all who didn't know him very well, he likes birds a lot. He's a pretty solid painter, and he's kind of obsessed with the ancient connections of Japan and Israel. Also he likes Calvin and Hobbes. He's also really spiritual and stuff. Yeah, that's a good overview I guess. 

I'm feeling the gift of tongues. There is so much power in reading the Book of Mormon in the mission language. When I am speaking I can see the words on the pages I read earlier. Korean is still super super hard but the foundation is set.

Miracle this week: Korean missionaries are notorious for keeping really bad records and so there was a certain record of a less-active member that moved like ten years ago and the record should have been destroyed but wasn't. Not knowing that she moved, we visited her house to find her whole family there. They had never broken the contract on their apartment and moved back after three years of living in Jeonju. We never would have known to find her if we hadn't had the record. God's hand in this work is so apparent.

Last week on a split with the Zone Leaders I was up in Jeonju and while waiting for the bus to take us home a happy-looking middle aged man walked by and asked "Are you from America?" I said yes and he nonchalantly responded "I'm from North Korea." and kept walking. I jumped up, stopped him and excitedly asked him how and when he got out. He came out through China somehow and has been here for less than a year. I told him we were missionaries and after looking at our nametags he proudly stated that he too believes in Jesus. I told him we have a very special message about Christ and he agreed to meet the missionaries in Jeonju. I'm excited to hear how that turns out. North Koreans have such a special feeling around them. That nation is going to implode once the gospel can be preached there.

I mentioned in my week 9 MTC email that I met a North Korean escapee and would probably write the story later. I'll write it next week, it's a good story.
Important truth I've been thinking about: If we ask, God will always tell us what we need to do to improve. The answer will always be clear and it will generally be something we really don't want to do, but no matter how hard it may seem to us, why shouldn't we do it? Why ignore the priceless gift of pure wisdom from our Father?

God lives. The Plan of Salvation is not a good idea or colored circles. It is our purpose. Find joy in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church is true.

I love you,

-Elder Brown

Here are some pictures from our Buddhist temple trip a while ago.​
In this picture you can see part of one of the gold leafed massive statues that we weren't allowed to take pictures of.​

My Zone

Monday, June 5, 2017

Week Thirty-Six

Dear People,

We switched our P-day to  today because tomorrow is Korea's independence day so no one will be working.
Sorry I'm already out of time, this will be short.

This week I re-learned a couple principles I've already learned since the beginning of my mission but apparently forgot about. Namely time and environmental management.
Every transfer or so, I'll restart all my goals and simplify my life but I slowly start picking up new projects and start new little goals that sneakily replace other keystone habits and then I crumble. 
I also somehow forgot how importance of keeping the apartment organized and clean. Doing personal study with a pile of dishes in the sink will reliably give me about 25% of what I could have learned if I had put forth my best effort to make my surroundings spiritually conducive.

When Elder Bednar did a Q&A with the missionaries in Korea before I came, some one asked something like "What can we do to better develop . . . " (a Christ-like attribute or something)
He responded with something along the lines of: "It's not about doing more. It's about doing the same things consistently." 

I'm trying to simplify and consistently do the things I know are the very best things I could be doing. I have learned much more than I did when I had several projects going on at once and I have been feeling the Spirit.

Yesterday in testimony meeting, I was impressed with how clear it was that the people bearing their testimonies really happy. And it was so clear that it was because they were actually living the things that they believed. That is the key to happiness. Live what you know.

I'm going to quote Nick's email without his permission again because I love the truth he shared:

 "If you are looking for a testimony in this church but do not yet have one, or require one stronger please take my advice. Carefully ponder and study the Book Of Mormon. As you read, let yourself be skeptical and ponder the possibilities about what could be true. Read and study the whole book. Whether you think it is true or not humble yourself before the lord and ask with pure intent. King Lamoni's father offered up his sins to know the lord. As we ask for answers we not only need to be willing to except Heavenly Father's answers but also act upon them. This gospel is not easy. It is said that it is simple but difficult which I agree whole heatedly. . . This life is meant for enduring not enjoying however joy comes from enduring well. True joy, not temporary happiness. I hope it doesn't sound like I am preaching, I am just offering a personal account of what I have learned. But I cannot stand the thought of being out here trying to get strangers to read and ask if this book is true when loved ones back home can't seem to get around to doing that. Just do it. Please. Try to remember the punk I have been in my life and look at the only variable that has caused me to start becoming a small fraction of the man I hope to be. Use logic if you have to. The result will be the same if we are humble. I gotta go. My time is up and the guy next to me is on a really inappropriate dating site."

His words are my words. I am preaching this to total strangers, I hope so badly that the people I love that I left to be out here are doing these things. 

I know Jesus Christ lives. I know God reveals any truth we are willing to work for. He loves giving knowledge and love as much as we love receiving it. He wants our happiness more that we do because he loves us more than we love us. If we loved ourselves more we would more consistently do the things that bring happiness.

I wish I had more missionary stories rather than just boring stuff, but honestly the work is going pretty slowly. We are struggling in this little area, but we are not discouraged. When Elder Oaks came he told the members not to pray that the missionaries to find people to teach, rather pray to know which of your acquaintances are ready to hear the gospel and pray to know how to share it with them.

Pray for the missionaries, but only after you pray for your personal missionary efforts.

I love you. But I love Heavenly Father and his glorious work more.

-Elder Brown

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Week Thirty-Five

Dear People, 

I love you :D

Just so you know, even though I will never be able to write about or tell in the future all the little things that happen each day and all the little ways that my conversion is deepening, it is happening. Every day.

I was having a pretty hard time last week feeling the joy of living the gospel and being a missionary, but even though I wasn't feeling it, I kept going. I kept doing all the little things, kept working hard, thought back on the happy times and eventually it passed. I don't know exactly why I felt that way, but I am so grateful that I had the habits in place that helped me to decide to keep doing the dance even though I couldn't seem to hear the music. It would have been so easy for me to slip into sin and have to go through pride cycle like we all do so many countless times. If I had, I would have been very humbled, been brought to fervent prayer and repentance and I would have certainly felt the savior's love, but I know that when I faithfully get through those rough patches that feel like abandonment, I learn so much more and feel the savior love so much more that I would have if I had used it as an excuse to fall into disobedience.

This morning I read the talk by Ulisses Soares, and a quote on this subject stood out to me: 

"In these moments of trial, the adversary—who is always on the lookout—tries to use our logic and reasoning against us. He tries to convince us that it is useless to live the principles of the gospel. Please remember that the logic of the natural man 'receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him.' Remember that Satan 'is an enemy [of] God, and [he] fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth [us] to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.' We must not allow him to deceive us; for when we do, we falter in our faith and lose the power to obtain God’s blessings."

If we were always feeling ecstatic about living the gospel we wouldn't actually be exercising much faith. Walking  obediently when we don't know exactly the results is when the real blessings can come in the long-run.

So three general authorities visited our mission this week including Elder Choi, Elder Gong, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and their wives. We're so indulged. I shook an Apostle's hand for the first time! Elder Oaks had us all line up to shake his hand and greeted us by name. I thought I was wearing my Korean-only name-tag and was expecting him to ask my name or just say "Elder" but he just said Elder Brown nonchalantly and I was convinced he straight discerned my name until I looked down and realized I had my English name-tag on. Boring.

It turns out Elder Oaks is . . . a really goofy person. His whole body shakes really hard when he laughs at his own jokes and his huge smile is really contagious. He literally quoted Nephi 3:7 as "Nephi 3rd. . .15  or something" It was so cool to see God doesn't expect even his Apostles to know everything, There are things much more important that knowing every scripture reference and church history date or being perfect teachers or many of the other things we sometimes worry too much about as missionaries but he does need us to faithfully and consistently love Him with all our heart. I watched him nod off twice during other people's talks and then jerk awake and smile really big. General authorities are just people too, they share all our weaknesses, but that doesn't take away from the powerful reality of their callings. God calls the weak and the simple. I know that a prophet of God spoke to us this week. My prayers were answered by his words I was brought closer to Christ.

Life is so good. Read general conference talks. Read the Book of Mormon everyday and pray about it. Prayer is the most reliable way to learn spiritual truth.

I love you.

-Elder Brown

Week Thirty-Four

Dear People,

"The spiritual understanding you and I have been blessed to receive, and which has been confirmed as true in our hearts, simply cannot be given to another person. The tuition of diligence and learning by faith must be paid to obtain and personally “own” such knowledge. Only in this way can what is known in the mind be transformed into what is felt in the heart. Only in this way can a person move beyond relying upon the spiritual knowledge and experience of others and claim those blessings for himself or herself. Only in this way can we be spiritually prepared for what is coming. "
-Elder David A. Bednar (Seek Learning by Faith)

I wish with all my heart that I could somehow dump the things I believe on others and make them believe them and make them be happy because of it. I wish I could make others read the things I read or hear the things I hear and make it change them, but I learned this week that we will never find peace as we search for ways fix other people. We must not study things with the attitude of "I wish so and so would read this". Life will be peace-less turmoil until we recognize that God has a plan for the ones we love and he has a plan for us. We can humbly make an inventory of our own weaknesses and focus on overcoming them by approaching Christ.

There were two awesome broadcasts this week, one by Elder Stevenson about media and the church, and one by Kim B. Clark of the seventy about applying principles that Joseph Smith learned in early translation events to our lives now.

I should really write about Korea more... Korea is sweet. Korean is sweet. I'm going to take the challenge where you read a verse in English then in the mission language for the whole Book of Mormon and then you get fluent or something. 
We've got quite a few investigators right now actually; two of them have accepted soft baptismal commitments! I'll be sure to write about them as they progress. Stuff is going well, I'm really happy.

Elder Oaks is coming to visit our mission this friday! Korea is getting an unusual amount of attention from general authorities recently. We're so indulged. Pray for him to get the revelation that Korea needs right now. We're struggling.

I bear my testimony of Jesus Christ. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. As we obey His commandments we learn why he gave them to us and we learn the immensity of His love for us.

I love you and stuff,

-Elder Brown

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Week Thirty-Three

Dear People,

I have no time, but I love you.

My theme for the last couple days has been goal setting. Specifically this quote by M. Russell Ballard:

"I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the technique of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When you learn to master the principle of setting a goal, you will then be able to make a great difference in the results you attain in this life."

I have that written on a paper above my desk. 

Solid stuff is going on, we found a gold new investigator named Gang Weon-Woo. Hopefully by next week he'll have a baptismal commitment. He's a sixteen year old kid who has met with several missionaries in the past. (I spotted four different copies of the Book of Mormon on his bookshelf)

Mothers day video call was awesome, Tori asked me one of those typical questions that I wish I had had a good answer to: "What is something that has happened that strengthened your testimony recently?" I thought about it later and my answer is my truly repenting, including doing everything possible to help me avoid making the same mistakes again and humbly praying for forgiveness. I felt the power of the Atonement, I feel clean, and I am enjoying the Spirit. Repentance is the happiest gift.

I love you, pray and stuff,

-Elder Brown

​​I'm going to try to buy a camera today, here's a picture of our soccer activity last week.

Week Thirty-Two

Dear People,

I don't have much time because we are about to go do a sweet Zone soccer game. We all got matching jerseys with our names in Korean. They're sweet.

There is a coastal city way south called Yeosu where we did a district proselyting activity this week. Every year they have a huge festival celebrating Admiral Lee, a super famous war hero that lived down there, and there were thousands of people. We had sticker boards with the question "What is most important to you?" written on top and then a few categories where people could stick a sticker. Most people put their stickers under families or health which was the goal and we had a bunch of Word of Wisdom pamphlets to hand out. We told people we have a message focused on families and we got a bunch of phone number of people we can call later. One of the people who stopped at our poster lived in Gwangyang, my city, and he was also co-workers with basically our only investigator. He seems like pretty high potential.

Another miracle this week was on Sunday. We came a little bit later than we normally do and the members rushed us and were all like "There's an investigator here! She's golden! She was reading the Book of Mormon and came looking for us on her own!" That is something that just doesn't happen in Korea. I still don't understand all the details but apparently the church she is in is a really ghetto organization that sort of believes everything. . . maybe including the Book of Mormon. . . But either way she seems like a miracle.

Korean is still vicious but I would say my understanding is at 80% for street Korean and 90% for missionary Korean. I can say everything I want to say. It's been such a slow, discouraging process learning this language, but it's amazing looking back and seeing how far I've come.

I was on a split with one of my native Zone-leaders last night and as we were walking the streets, he talked to me about the struggles that the Korean church is going through. The Church is shrinking in Korea. His generation is bearing a ton of weight, Korean society does not like the church, everything seems to be against it. The members have it so hard, I can't blame them for wanting to move to the states, which many members do, but then the church in Korea doesn't grow. You all have so much to pray for, but if you remember, please pray for the members in Korea. They need help.

I love this work so much. I love you all so much. Do the little things, especially family history work, I went on family search a couple days ago and was super disappointed by the amount of information on there. Learn that site so well. You are the best you know.

-Elder Brown

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Week Thirty-One: English is So Easy

Dear People,

You are all so faithful and loving and serving, keep it up. 

The Asia North area plan is focused on finding more joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ by: Striving, Strengthening, Simplifying, Elevating, Inviting, and Loving. The things that stood out to me as I was figuring out my focus this week was Simplify, Elevate, and Love. By pure revelation I realized that I can just add those three words to my last weeks three word focus to make:

 Simplify my Time
 Elevate my Words
Love through Service

So that's my focus this week and it's already been so great.

So yesterday I had another miracle journal entry! I got on a bus and noticed two foreigners snuggling in the back. I sat down towards the middle of the bus because people who speak English are terrifying and they looked really romantic and I didn't want to kill the mood, but I looked back at them a couple times and finally the girl noticed me smiled, waved, and pointed me out to her bearded white boyfriend-guy. He waved too so I asked "Where are you from?" and they said South Africa so I naturally grabbed my bag and ran back there, when they asked where I was from I casually said Utah, and they just looked at me funny and were like "uh.. where's that?" It's so weird explaining where Utah is to a white person. Even Koreans know where Utah is.  After we talked for a bit, another of their friends got on the bus, she was from Ohio

Background information: "English Speaking foreigners in Korea are either LDS missionaries or English teachers. English teachers are known among the missionaries as being super weird, unfriendly, social outcasts. They basically never have any gospel interest and you always have a dark feeling after talking to them. 

These people were normal, friendly, and had more gospel interest than anyone I've ever met. It's probably because they teach English in Busan and aren't from here. The English teachers that live in Deajeon mission are sort of the rejects from the cool cities. Anyway, Elder Child joined me, the conversation seamlessly shifted into what our message is and why we chose to come out and share it. We almost finished the entire first lesson before we had to get off at our stop (and avoid going into Busan area). They were so attentive the whole time and asked amazing questions. It made me so ridiculously jealous of English-speaking missionaries. I read Moroni 10:4 to them in English. . . it was just so easy and fun and powerful. It motivated me to get really good at Korean so that I will be able to have that natural of a conversation in the language of the people that I'm called to serve. I wish we had got there numbers, but they got an amazing introduction of the church and Book of Mormon. We've been praying for them to follow their promptings to research the church more.

My favorite scriptures this week requires combining scriptures from two different books to become 2 Mophiah 9/2 : 39, 41

2 Nephi 9: 39
O, my beloved brethren, remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.
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.

Disobediece always brings sadness. Keeping the commandments always brings eternal life. 
There are no exceptions.
The commandments are instructions for happiness.

I know this church is true. It is against my personality and natural tendencies to be doing what I'm doing out here. I don't like talking to strangers even a little bit. Only a deep and abiding witness of the blessing that come from the gospel could break me from the natural course motivate me to do what I am doing everyday. Read the Book of Mormon. Listen to the prophets.

I love you all,

-Elder Brown

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Week Thirty: Families

Dear People,

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you have all watched the Prince of Peace campaign videos and have shared them with your non-member friends. If you haven't, it's ok, don't beat yourself up about it, repentance is real. I watched the gratitude one again and and really liked the quote:
 "I have so much to be grateful for that it would be disrespectful to God if I wasn't happy."
This Sunday on the way home from church we were walking through a park full of happy families, doing their thing, playing, picnic-ing, playing sports, enjoying the spring weather. They all seemed so happy, I realized that Sundays are kind of their P-day; they work so hard all week and it's their only relaxing day. I said to my companion: "We are asking these people to give up their favorite day of the week, to give up all of this in exchange for sitting in a cramped church building for for hours. Why would anyone do that? Why would they give this up?"

Because the plan of salvation is real. We give up some short lived pleasures now and trust God's commandments so we can be with our families eternally.

Another realization I made as I watched all of those happy families, is that none of them will likely find the gospel until it is introduced to them by either a missionary or another member. For some reason, part of Gods plan for His children is that the gospel is introduced to them by their own brothers and sisters. We can choose to become God's tool in bringing the gospel to his beloved children that are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. The church will continue to grow, but our use of agency will affect the rate of that growth. 

The greatest joys of earth life come from family relationships. Do not take them for granted.

Elder Child and I have a goal to baptize two families on May 22. You all have plenty of things to pray about, but if you remember, please pray that we will find prepared families to teach.

Living according to the gospel will give you the best life you could ask for or imagine. There is simply no way to get around that. I know the gospel is true. I'm out of time, but I wish I could go on for hours to express how important the gospel is to me. It is everything.

I love you so much.

-Elder Brown

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Week Twenty-Nine: It's Probably Ulcerative Colitis

Dear People,

I mentioned last week that my companion Elder Child is gluten intolerant; that is actually just what we have all assumed because he's been sick since he started his mission and as soon as they put him on a gluten-free diet he got better (gluten is just calories or anything bad I think). Recently, however, he's been having other problems even when he is avoiding gluten, so President Madsen had us to go a hospital to confirm exactly what he has. In order to avoid leading the doctors to look in the wrong place for the problem, we were advised not to mention our suspicions that it is Celiacs Disease (even though his mom and grandma both have it) So we went to the doctor, told him the symptoms, the doctor prodded him a few times and was like "It's probably Ulcerative Colitis. We'll do a rectal scope." At that point we finally brought up the gluten thing, but he was like, "It couldn't be that" so they proceeded. Throughout the whole thing there was a woman named Cha Ah-rhym who was the interpreter for the Doctor and nurses. She's super cool and she's worked with a bunch of missionaries throughout the last couple years so she's heard a bit about the church. While my companion was doing his business, I got to give her a Book of Mormon introduction. It was awesome. I'm pretty sure Elder Child had to go through all that nonsense just so that Cha Ah-rhym. could hear a Book of Mormon intro. Poor guy. After they didn't find anything during the scope, we talked more about our near certainty that it was Celiacs and the doctor was like, "Hmm I actually don't know anything about that because it's not a thing in Korea" then he got out his phone in front of us and Googled it.

So that was ghetto.

Yesterday we met a sister member who was baptized like 20 years ago who has a powerful testimony of enduring to the end. Her husband has been coming to church every week for the last five years, but won't get baptized because he doesn't want to give up drinking with his friends. She talked to us about how the missionary that baptized her is now inactive and how it was hard when she found out about that, but when she read a journal entry from the time when she joined the church and was overwhelmed with peace. She asked us if we kept journals and I excitedly validated her feelings that they are so important. It's silly to deny that writing down spiritual experiences makes remembering them much easier and more powerful. Even if we are not having frequent spiritual moments, when we ponder and write each day, we will realize how we can change our lifestyle and thought processes to be able to deepen our conversion daily. I cannot imagine anyone losing their testimony if they would take just a couple minutes to think about each day of their life and write down their thoughts.

Enduring to the end is so deceptively difficult, but incomprehensibly rewarding. The gospel is so so simple. So simple that we overestimate our understanding of it constantly, fall into pride, and sin. Enduring to the end is the repetitive cycle of getting back out of the pride and repenting. Each time we go through this process we can learn a little bit about how to avoid doing the same thing over and over again.

An investigator that the Sister missionaries were teaching was baptized on Sunday. Baptism is just the first step. That becomes really apparent when you are in a country with 90% inactivity. Baptism is important, but it's the enduring repentance that brings the joy and conversion.

This week we had to drive out into the super back-country of old-Korea to visit that Peruvian sister we met a few weeks ago. We rode on really old bus full of incredibly old Korean women through the gorgeous hills and cherry blossoms listening to cassette tapes of traditional Korean music. T'was a serene experience.

My favorite scripture this week is 1 Nephi 10:5-6

Love y'all,

-Elder Brown

P.S. Several people (including Russians) have asked me if I am Russian. Apparently I look Russian. Awesome.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Week Twenty-Eight: Bought Diet Pills From a Yogurt Lady

Dear People,

So in Korea there are these ladies that wear pink and drive little portable refrigerators around selling yogurt and filling in the Ice cream truck niche. Last week one of them called out to us waving two coffee drinks at us, the conversation when roughly like this: 

"Hey! foreigners love coffee! buy my coffee!" 

"No thanks, we don't drink coffee."

"Buy my coffee!"

"Through a modern prophet we've received a commandment to avoid coffee tea. . .etc."

"No, it's totally cool to drink coffee!"

"I'll buy something else..."

The only other thing she had was some weird little apple drinks that were $2.50. I grudgingly bought one. When I looked closer at the label, I realized it was some sort of diet drink, when I opened the lid there were two little green pills stored in it. I was was supposed to take them and wash them down with the nasty drink. That was the best $2.50 I ever spent. We gave her a Word of Wisdom pamphlet.

So my new area is called Gwangyang and my new companion is Elder Child. He has been out on his mission for way too long and is super experienced so  I'm learning a lot from him. He discovered two transfers ago that he is gluten intolerant so he's struggling to survive in a culture where everything has soy-sauce in it. Gluten seems to be in everything and gluten intolerance is not an issue in Korea so they don't bother making it easy to find gluten free stuff... He's a champion about it though.

I love the new area, but we have no investigators at all, so that's rough. I have a goal to talk to everyone that is put in my path. My new branch president is fluent in English and served part of his mission on Saipan! He claims to be the first and last Korean missionary ever sent to that mission. He has a lot of stories.

Conference was awesome as usual but I was pretty sick during it so I'll probably get more out of it when I study it in the Liahona. I assume y'all are going to do the same. 

In case you are wondering, the church is true still. God's purpose and the purpose of our life on earth has not changed since Adam and Eve. Living the gospel has always been incredibly simple and deceptively difficult. Faith and humility are central to it. Don't underestimate the importance of the little things. Cling to daily prayer, scripture study, and church attendance like your peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come depends on it.

Be certain that you are spending your labor on that which will satisfy the soul.
I cannot describe how deeply I know God lives and that Joseph Smith was a prophet called by Him. I can't describe it and I don't have to, but I'm am determined to live according to that knowledge. It's never enough to know.

It doesn't matter where we are on the ladder of conversion, just what direction we are going. It doesn't matter how much faith you've exercised in the past if you have given up.

Life is so, so sweet. 

I love you all,

-Elder Brown

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week Twenty-Seven

Dear People,

Sorry I couldn't write last week, my house made elaborate plans to travel way out of the way for P-day and we predictably didn't make it home until 6:00. (I was against it from the beginning -  but no hard feelings)
I will be leaving my first area, Gunsan, tomorrow and transferring to a place called Gwanyang. I'm super excited. I've been really really happy for the last couple of days for some reason. Maybe it's just because winter is over and the flowers are blooming and I don't have to wear a coat. Sometimes I can't suppress a huge smile as I walk down the streets. I'm feeling good about the language and have gained a new passion for seeking the gift of tongues. 

I've been thinking a lot about a recent convert that all the missionaries are really close with. Even though he has really solid knowledge of the gospel, he has been struggling to come out to church and to keep some other basic commandments for the last few months and we've spent a lot of time with him. We joked about him being inactive, and light-heartedly urged him to do the basic stuff. Last week his grandpa suddenly passed away, and in the emotion of it, he turned to drinking. I know that if he had been doing the little things, that could have ended much differently. My testimony of the little things has really grown, and as a missionary I want to be sure to put sufficient emphasis on the little things like daily prayer, daily Book of Mormon reading, taking the sacrament every week, and doing family history work. These are the things that become the huge things when the hard times hit. 

The peace that comes from repentance is not a psychological discovery. Repentance is not just a behavior change from evil. Someone with immense will-power can turn their life around completely and have no desire to go back without actually repenting because the effect of sin is not removed completely until Jesus Christ is involved. 

I don't know how to start describing how much I love the gospel. It's the only thing I care about. If anyone has any doubts or has found an inconsistency with the gospel. Look harder. I look for an hour every day and I've developed some pretty keen study skills. The plan of happiness is perfect. There are no inconsistencies. Look harder, read Preach my Gospel chapter three it's pretty cool.

Page one of Preach My Gospel has a missionary's purpose: "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end."

In Chapter three lesson two, the purpose of Earth life is beautifully expressed: "Have joy and prepare to return to God's presence."

Christ paid the price for us to be able to stand with perfected bodies in the presence of the Father. It will happen no matter what, and for some that will be torture.

Our job right now is to prepare ourselves to be capable of remaining in that glorious presence forever. Everything we do and think can tie back to that.

I'm happy, I'm sorry I'm not writing more normal stuff like what I'm doing... but I'm still super new to this missionary thing and I feel really unorganized. I hoping to have it all under control by my year and a half mark. :D

Thank you for writing to me, I read all the emails and love them even if I don't respond, time is just so short. 

I love you all.

-Elder Brown

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Week Twenty-Six

Sorry, we made bad decisions today and plans didn't work out, so we ran out of time and will email next week.

I love you though, and love the emails, I printed them out and read them.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Week Twenty-Five

Dear people,

1 hour to email is not enough. Please pray and try to change God's mind about that policy for me.

I was riding in the back of a taxi earlier in the week and my attention was drawn to a loud clanging noise overpowering the other busy street noises. I watched a very old Korean woman repetitively slam a large brick on a bike lock (of what looked like a child's bike) until it broke, then walk away slowly with her new bike. Everyone around the scene just passed by as if this was a very common occurrence. I hope this is a common occurrence because It was legit. 

I wrote the second entry in my miracle journal yesterday. We've been trying to meet up with a previous investigator named Peter for the last week or so, but he travels the country a lot and rarely comes to Gunsan, so we kept having to cancel appointments and we almost gave up on him, but yesterday we finally met. In Korea it's rare to find anyone that is actually interested in religion rather than just wanting to learn English or have American friends, and it's miracle-rare to find people that have religious interest and are actually seeking the true church. Peter has met with missionaries for a really long time, he's been to lots of churches looking for the right one and has a rough life. He started by saying that he's just really confused about our church, it's too complicated. "I love Jesus, but I don't believe in Joseph Smith" We explained that we don't "believe" in Joseph Smith any more than be believe in the Apostle Peter. We believe in Christ. We talked about the Book of Mormon and Christ's ministry on the American Continent. We read almost all of 3 Nephi 11 with him and he was super excited and said that missionaries had never told him this before. "If this book has Jesus's teachings in it than it's just like the Bible! Why doesn't everyone go to your church?"

That question gets me every time. Everyone who hears the first lesson should recognize that if this is true, it is the most important thing to have happened since the Atonement. We're going to meet him every week and he's almost as excited as we are. We said a thank you prayer after he left. It was really spiritual. That was also a milestone lesson because I couldn't think back on the last sentence he said and determine if it was English or Korean, it all kind of merges..

I'd like to quote my best friend's testimony:
"God is real and loves you a ton. Satan is just as real and wants you to be miserable like him. Faith is nothing if you stop pushing forward. it only grows or shrinks. Obedience to God will give you the best life you could ask for and there just is not any way around that. Christ lives. It has taken me so long to feel like I can say that. Satan is the worst and tries to make me embarrassed for saying that and that is wrong. What Christ did for us is something I can't just ignore. . . I am late for a lesson so peace out friends. Don't give up on yourselves." 
Elder Nick Denhalter

I love this gospel. It is true. Nothing compares to living it and repenting. There just is not any way around that.

"The world's alternative is so lame and boring" -Austin Fife

Nothing compares.

I want to write more, but that dang sentence at the beginning of this email is my frustration.

I love you all,

-Elder Brown

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Week Twenty-Four

Dear People,

We had Zone Training yesterday that focused on using family-history in missionary work and they talked about the Korean genealogy keeping system. Apparently there is an organization that keeps track of the genealogy from ancient times and most homes will have a huge book called a Jokpo that has the whole record, but it's in Chinese characters for some reason so no one can read it.. I was feeling the Spirit of Elijah super intense and stuff. We don't get to work on our family history while we're out here, so do it for me and if I get back and don't seem excited about it, remind me that I was super excited about it on 17/3/13.

Yesterday we also had a Family Home Evening with the ward and Tommy and So-Yu-Ri both showed up! We taught the ward how to play Spoons and chair soccer. They loved it. I bore my testimony about FHE. I talked about how I have a really big family and through my whole life my parents were very diligent about having family home evening every single week. Even if we hadn't have had it I would probably still have a meaningful relationship with each member of my family, and each of them would probably  have found strong testimonies in the gospel, but because we had that foundation of learning together through FHE, I know that no one in my family will ever leave the church. We all love each other too much. The Spiritual ties that we grew up with are much more powerful glue than that regular family relationships.

After the Family Home Evening was over everyone was just sitting around the card tables eating fruit and talking. The members were talking to the investigators, everyone was happy, and I was overwhelmed once more by the Spirit and how divine this plan is. God puts so much trust in us to help his children find him. It's a one by one thing. I heard a quote once that salvation does not happen by congregation. That is so true. It's a individual process with each one of us through the help of our brothers and sisters.

So much great stuff is happening, I'm learning so much. The mission isn't supposed to be the best two years of my life, but it should be the best two years for my life, but it's kind of been the best time of my life. If anything after my mission is going to be better than this, sign me up. I'm not going to get sick of missionary work for a while.

I love y'all, be good, do family history work and stuff. Ok bye.

-Elder Brown

Monday, March 6, 2017

Week Twenty-three

Dear People,

I am really sick of males. My sense of humor is all gone now sorry, I'm just going to give up and embrace Korean humor which isn't funny to anyone besides Koreans. 

We met a 22 year-old Chinese guy who is has been here a year and is pretty good at Korean, but almost no English. It feel super good to understand every word he says in his simple Korean. His name is Ryu-Joon-Wei and he has never heard of Jesus Christ. That is a slap in the face. They did role-plays like that in the MTC, so I've heard the words "No, I've never heard of Him." but hearing that from a real person trips brain circuits. Chinese people are super famous in the Korean mission for being super awesome and accepting and humble, so I'm super excited to meet with him more. When we invited him to church he asked us how much it costs to come.

Here's a quote from a book:
In the mission field, my companion and I were teaching a Harvard University student. After we told him the Joseph Smith story and bore our testimonies to him, as we had done many times before, he said, “Wait a minute. Are you telling me you believe God and Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and told him he was to set up a new church?” We said we did believe that. He continued the interrogation: “You also believe an angel gave plates to Joseph Smith, who translated them into the Book of Mormon, and that the Savior appeared to the people on this continent?” We said we did. “You also believe the president of your church is a prophet who receives revelation from God, as did Adam, Noah, and Abraham?” We said we did. Getting more animated by the minute, the investigator said, “That is the most incredible story I have ever heard. If I really believed all of that, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I would run down the streets screaming it to everyone. Why aren’t you more excited about it?” That was a penetrating question.

Why aren't we more excited about it? 

There is kind of an apathetic culture in our mission because baptism expectations are really low because it's such a low baptizing country we hear "Baptisms aren't what's most important" a lot and that is true, but this scripture kind of sums up how we should feel about hard missions:

Moroni 9:6 And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.

A low baptizing mission should mean you work harder, it's not an excuse to be more relaxed with your time and wait for the random miracles. I've been sucked into some relaxed habits and I've got to change. 

Another one of my favorite scriptures this week is 
James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

I want to get to the point where this kind of sin is the only thing I have to repent of each night. Where my only struggle is not doing as much good as I am capable of. 

I left my side bag with my camera at a bus stop in a different city yesterday, the Elders there are going to try to find it, but for now I am without a camera. At that bus stop I talked to a SUUPER old guy, the oldest person I've seen in Korea, and surprisingly I understood just about everything he said! He thanked me for learning Korean, and asked what the word for Missionary was in English. He looked me directly in the eyes as we were talking, I sensed so much wisdom in him and felt so much love for him. I love old people.

Life's good, I'm loving everything. Don't apostatize until I get back.

-Elder Brown