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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Week Twenty-Two

Dear People,

So transfer calls were last week and we were super expecting that my companion would transfer out of Gunsan, but he's staying, and I'm staying, and we got two new Elders! So Gunsan has leveled up to a two-team area. In other words, President Madsen/the Lord is expecting miracles out of Gunsan. My new companion is Elder Ulrich, he only has two transfers left so he's going pretty hard-core with missionary stuff, I'm super excited to work with him. The other new missionary, Elder Berezay, is fresh from the MTC, and he is super ripped. He helps me see how far I've come with the language, and is such an example of charity. He is so selfless and humble. This week was super stressful because we had to make accommodations for two new people and get a new phone and all sorts of garbage, but we are all set to set this next week on fire with spiritual flames. 

I haven't been feeling the Spirit during personal study for the last few days because I've been working on a Great Apostasy project, like studying all the events that happened from when Christ left, and I've also been reading the Book of Mormon just for the sake of knowing it really well. Yesterday I finally went back to doing what I'm supposed to do which is investigator centered study and studying what Preach My Gospel tells me to study, and I immediately felt the Spirit again. It's interesting how quickly we stray from the things we know are correct. As if once I know what I should be doing and why, I can justify not doing it because I understand the principle. Missionary work is so simple, Jesus Christ's gospel is so simple. Don't go beyond the mark. (or below it)

Also this family is awesome, I lost a rock paper scissors match so I had to eat some gnarly Korean bred peppers, the worst came after the video, everyone got silent all they were all actually scared for me because my eyes were super red. I feel like a real man now.

No one can describe how awesome a mission is. So good. So much growing. Six feet out of your comfort-zone for two years. So hard.

​The real missionary force behind Gunsan
​Elder Berezay's upper body.​