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