Thursday, February 23, 2017

Week Twenty-one

Dear People,

Hard stuff. The Atonement is awesome.

I was thinking about the phrase "Sharpen the Sickle" and I had a vision of two missionaries in a field beating it with baseball bats. Don't go into the mission field with a baseball bat. A couple of missionaries who came through this area were packing baseball bats.

We got transfer calls yesterday, I knew I would be staying in Gunsan, but the huge surprise was that Elder Benefiel is staying too, and we are both getting new companions! Gunsan leveled up to a two-team area! There haven't been two teams in Gunsan for like 20 years. So now we house is going to be a little less spacious but I am so so so happy for Gunsan, the members are going to flip. I love this area so much, I can't imagine liking another area better. It makes me want to work even harder and use the excitement that this will bring in the ward members to keep momentum rolling in Gunsan. I will meet my new companion, Elder Ulrich, tomorrow. He is about to go home; he just has two more transfers so hopefully he's a Korean master.

Awesome quote:
"There is absolutely no point in doing missionary work unless we hold onto the fruits of that effort." 
-President Hinckley

We can't forget about our converts our whole lives, they aren't statistics. He was mainly talking about investigators right there, but I think that sentence is applicable to every aspect of missionary work, especially the fruits that are the changes within the missionary. I cannot come back and revert back. He's invested a lot in me. It's also a good journal writing encouragement quote, Write your spiritual experiences or you will lose many of them and won't be able to learn near as much from them. Not just missionaries! I have a huge testimony of journal writing in strengthening testimony and growing. If every person in the world kept a journal, imagine how many of them would find the church. Imagine a less-active member writing in their journal about how they feel about life, how could they not see the difference the gospel makes? 

Gunsan built the longest sea-wall in the world that you can drive out on and visit the Islands off the coast. Last P-day we went to a cool Island call Shin Si Do. The sea walls also control the sea level so they can drop the shoreline and build factories where there used to be ocean. They are literally creating new land. It's awesome.

Favorite scripture this week: 
3 Nephi 19:24 "And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold,they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire."

When we follow the Spirit when we pray, prayer becomes an opportunity to learn His will and learn how He feels about us rather than expressing our will and our feelings to Him.

Do the little things, keep your guard up, I love you.

-Elder Brown

P.S. Watch the BYU made video about their IT called "Fix You" OIT

​Missed out bus out... We got an awesome lady to pull over, but there wasn't an adult male so we awkwardly had to refuse her... She probably thought we were the worst hitch-hikers ever.​

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Week Twenty

Dear People,

Both of our baptize-ee's showed up! And somehow both made it into the water! I think I've just heard way too many horror stories about missionary work, so my expectations are so low. I got to baptize Baek Ji Yoon, and Elder Benefiel Baptized Jung Seung Hwan. Baek Ji Yoon gave an awesome testimony beforehand about how she doesn't know everything yet, but she is going to take a leap of faith and learn a little at a time. She is so humble. Because both of them accepted everything so readily, I've been so stressed that they haven't had enough real spiritual experiences, and may not have enough of a foundation, but throughout that day I felt a strong peace and confirmation that it's going to be ok. They are in His hands. We have done everything we can, and everything will work out. He is the perfect orchestrator. Yesterday we met with Baek Ji Yoon, she is still doing great, we talked about temples, and when we asked what she was going to do that day, she replied that she was just going to study Gospel Principles and Our Heritage all day. I don't know why I was ever worried about her.

A couple days before Seung Hwan got baptized, he still needed to be taught lesson five, but we were on companion splits so I was with a fourth transfer missionary, Elder Plata. We were both super inexperienced so it was stressful leading up to the time we would meet him, but when we did it was super peaceful, we said everything we needed to say, I understood really well, and it was a huge confidence boost.

We got a visit from Elder Yamashita of the Seventy and his wife. They are champions. He pulled me aside to talk with him while we were eating lunch, I told him that my dad served in Japan and he expressed his gratitude for all the missionaries that have served in his country. I found out he thought I looked a little sad or something, which really struck me because I have never been happier in my life. I have been waiting for this mission my whole life and it is better than anything I imagined. I feel myself being molded by His hands, becoming the person I have always wanted to be. My path of progression has consistently been: big jump - big fall - then big jump that's just a tad bit higher than before, then a big drop that's not quite as far down as the last fall. I re-read my patriarchial blessing again and noticed that two times it mentions that I will move "steadily forward" that gives me a lot of hope. That's what I want more than anything; move steadily from where I am. I am really good at noticing my weaknesses, I feel the space that needs to be filled in my mantel, but I am not discouraged. I feel fluid, I came here with an attitude that I was going to change, so now I am changing.

Time is slipping through my fingers, I feel like I just got here and there is so much left to learn. Two years is precious. I am rapidly falling madly in love with this language, people, and food. It will be so hard to leave.

My favorite scripture this week is Helaman 3:35 - "Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."

Yielding your heart to God. What else would you want to do?

I rub you all!

-Elder Brown​​​​

Shauna's note: He sent a video, but it was too large to include here. I will work on getting it here later.

A ward activity we organized where we did a bunch of minute to win it games. This one was pretty darn impossible. Poor Tommy was trying so hard and finally got one at the end. They had never seen minute to win it and were super into it.​

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Week Nineteen

Dear People,

Two baptismal dates! Both this Sunday! Baek Ji Yoon, the golden sister that called because she met an LDS tour-guide at the Grand Canyon, was delivered into our hands. I couldn't make up a hypothetical person that was more prepared than she is. Last night we met and talked about the commandments and temples. She said in her prayer at the end that she wants to go to the temple. She also texted us several times later that day talking about miracles happening in her life that she is associating with meeting with us, so that's always a plus.
The other baptism also just fell into our hands, Jung Soong Hwan is 16, he's been coming to church off and on for the last few years, his sister is a member so everyone kind of just assumed he had been baptized too, but he hasn't, so we've been going through all the lessons with him and he's accepting like a champion, hopefully he'll get his parents to start coming to church again.

Fun fact, it's totally normal for Korean guys to wear makeup! Yup. Eyeliner mostly, but also lip-stuff sometimes. It's super awkward! Yay. It seems that the more feminine you are, the more attractive you are.

I am super good at having no hope that investigators are going to keep commitments, because I look at it from their position and know that I would be too proud to listen.

 I have always felt smug that I'm a generally faithful/spiritual sort of guy, I've felt pretty special sometimes, but I've realized that I know exactly the kind of person I would be if I wasn't born into the church with my exact circumstances. I cannot imagine my personality accepting the gospel by any other way than the way it was spoon fed to me. Our investigators have so much faith, Korean members have so much faith. I really didn't have to do anything to gain the testimony that I have and that is humbling. They've had to do everything.  I feel like God knew I wouldn't make it in any other way than if He pampered me up to this point. I am so blessed, I have freely received and now I must freely share this gift. Everything I have is from Him, so I can't keep anything to myself.

The church is so true it blows my mind. Everything makes sense. The is a concrete answer for ever gospel question. Teaching strengthens your testimony more than anything because you have to relearn concepts how your investigators would learn them and you have to answer questions that you have never asked yourself.

I blessed the sacrament for the first time in Korean this week. I had to define a bunch of words so it made me really think about the words which is always a good thing. During that sacrament meeting I felt something similar to being in the temple. Being in the temple and taking the sacrament are a couple of the few times when nothing else in the world matters. "a rest from all troubles, care, and sorrow" 

Every time you teach an investigator, ideally you would update their "Teaching Record" it keeps track of what they are learning, how they are accepting and keeping commitments. The more detailed the better. Sadly missionaries often neglect using teaching records or the Area Book unless something super important happens. When they don't use these tools they are wasting their time, future missionary's time, and the Lord's time, because we aren't building onto other missionaries work. I made a sweet recognition the other day that my journal is my personal teaching record! I love my journal, it helps me not repeat the same mistakes (as often). If I don't have anything to write in my journal, that's a good wake up call that I need to be more aware of myself and what I am spending my thought on all day.

So in case you are trying to learn to write Korean and you are left-handed, just give up. It's impossible. You have to learn to write with your right hand. I've been only writing with my right hand for the last two weeks. I don't know why my kindergarten teacher didn't force me out of being left handed, it makes life so much easier to write with your right hand.

Sometimes I think about how appealing a worldly lifestyle may be with the fancy ladies, and green tea, and not paying tithing, but my life is good! Really good! I get to wake up every morning, at 6:30AM and read some books, every day, for the rest of my life. It's fantastic! I love it. 

Keep reading general conference talks! Keep repenting!

-Elder Brown
We accidentally bought a ton of green tea icecream and had to separate it from the mint..

Korean "Bang"

 Baek Ji Yoon (with a picture of the Seoul temple in the back but you can't see it)