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