Monday, January 26, 2015

"Being almost obedient, Almost brings Blessings!"

My companion Elder Senkans and I, Elder Brown

Elder Brown looking off the shores of Guernsey Island

We are teaching a guy who is seventeen, but he seems like he is in his twenties the way he looks and acts. His name is Sh__ and he has a baptismal date for the 21st of February.

This week was wonderful! It started off a bit slow, but it ended really well. I think the best part of the week was blessings and miracles of exact obedience.

On Friday we had gotten the harvester in the mail, and I read it at lunch. There was one phrase that really stuck out to me. It was "being ALMOST obedient, ALMOST brings blessings." It really hit me, and I kept thinking about it, and at the end of our weekly planning session Elder Senkans and myself set a goal to be more obedient to a few things that seem quite small and too hard to manage to really try, but we decided to do it to test the promise of the Lord in the scriptures. "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say." On Friday night, the other Elders came in as we were discussing how we could improve, and we began talking with them. As a district we set some goals to be 100% obedient. The next day, we went on exchange as I had planned and announced at the beginning of the transfer. In that day alone, the district extended 4 baptismal dates, which were accepted. We gained 5 new investigators, and then on Sunday we had 4 of them at church, plus two other non-members who showed up, because their daughter (a member) invited them to come. 

The exchange was wonderful. Elder Heninger and I worked in his area. We had a really balanced day with finding and teaching and it was really cool to be able to plan together and then to follow the plans we made (because we started the exchange Friday evening instead of the usual) and be as obedient as we could and then watch the Lord do his work. My favorite quote from the exchange came from Elder Heninger after we left their newest baptismal date, who was excited to tell us that her surname was Moorman. As we left her home, and walked down the street, he said, "Never again will I ALMOST be blessed." Great things are happening here, the Sharpes are back, and the work is moving forward!

We only get to exchange with the other elders here, but the Zone Leader's are trying to get permission to do one exchange next transfer, they only get a certain amount per year, I think. 

We are Currently trying to get permission to go to Herm  or Sark (two small Islands by Guernsey) or both on a preparation day. The Zone Leader's haven't gotten back to me yet. The Islands are in our area technically, but we don't proselyte out there. Missionaries have asked in the past and didn't get permission.  We have little contact with Jersey Island, mainly District Leader Conference and Zone Conference. 

Nothing too interesting happened while the Sharpes were gone, just a bit of a bumpy sacrament meeting, but it worked out quite well, president Furbank from the stake came over for the weekend, so it was fine. 

The Sharpes are from Utah, they have been serving for 6 months, but just got to Guernsey a month ago and hope to stay here for the rest. I think they probably will, senior couples don't usually move at all. 
Anyway, love you all tons! Here's a few pictures.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Lots of community service!

It's been another busy week here! We work the whole of the island between the 4 Missionaries. My companion and I cover Vale, St. Peter Port , St. Sampson, and Castel. Basically the north half of the island. I have seen much of my area. I have been to each of the parishes that I just listed, but haven't been to the other Elders area at all really.

Gernsey Island

People generally have an English accent, but a lot of immigrants live here, from Portugal, and Latvia. Another interesting fact for you, there are a few people who live on the island and are in their 80's and have never left their own parish! (A parish is kind of like a county. St. Peter port is one) They have never left for vacation, never for anything. Lived in the same place for their entire lives!! Crazy right!?

We are focusing on finding right now, most of the less-actives we are already working with relatively often, or they have no interest whatsoever. It is weird to know basic information about all the less actives in the area. Most areas, there are too many for you to ever know them all, but here, it is easier than getting to know active members in an average ward! There are just so few of them here. Finding seems to be a bit boring right now though, because we just do the same thing, but we are working on some new ideas. 

One thing that is really cool about this area that I have never seen in any other area is the amount of community service we do here. Most areas in the mission just serve the members occasionally and if they are lucky, one of their neighbors,etc. But here, we volunteer at a non-profit food kitchen (once every other week), a charity shop (once a week), and we sing hymns at elderly care homes (about once a week or every other week). I am impressed at how well the missionaries have established themselves in the community here! 

This week we were knocking a road that we had felt inspired to knock while we were planning, and one man opened the door and was like "come in, come in!" and we both thought that maybe he didn't realize who we were, but then he said "you're the Mormon guys right?" and we were like "yeah!!" We taught him the restoration and set up another appointment, but he is Greek orthodox, and when we saw him two days later for our teach, we taught him about the Book of Mormon, he committed to read it, but said he would never become a Mormon, and that he didn't want to waste our time, so we just told him to call us if he changes his mind. All of that happened in 72 hours. Probably one of the shortest lived investigators I have ever had. 

I took a tumble on the bike last week going down a hill in the rain and my companion suddenly stopped because we missed the turn, so I braked and the tires slipped and down I went with the bike! NO blood, NO tears, just a small hole in my trousers and a few bruises. It was fun to laugh about it later.

I have some really cool pictures for you but can't send them until next week probably.
I love you all! Have a wonderful week!
Elder Brown

Monday, January 12, 2015

The fastest week of my life!

When we offer service here in England, the people never want to be helped they are too "self-sufficient" it makes it really hard to help them see the blessings of the atonement, because sometimes they just think they can do it all by themselves.

I am having a blast here, it is so much fun to be around other missionaries often, and having a senior couple to make sure that everything stays clean, and that each of the elders do their part and don't mess around and ruin things. Most 4-man flats in the mission end up getting thrashed, but the missionaries have tons of fun. We get to have all the fun without the apostasy! 

This week went by soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo fast!!!  I don't think I have ever had a week go by so fast, not in my mission, not in my life, not in my existence! We had a lot of solid work, but I can't remember half of it, when I think I remember something and mention it, my companion tells me that was last week, sure enough I check my planner and it was! I was telling people that I have been on the island only 3 days for about 5 days and didn't realize it. All this week I have been telling people I have been here for only a week, but it is now nearly 2! The Sharpes (the senior couple) left at 6 this morning and will be gone for ten days because sister Sharpe's mother passed away yesterday.  Elder Sharpe is the branch president, so things will be left up to us for a bit, which will be interesting. I have to deposit tithing into the bank today, all sorts of stuff that normally is only left to bishopric is now on my shoulders. Pretty crazy! Only 10 days though nothing huge.

I will be getting a new mission president before I come home. President Gubler will most likely be president for my last transfer, so I won't even get to know him very well. He is a master electrician, I believe from Utah, and he and his wife are currently serving as a senior couple in Germany. 

Bike riding is going well so far. I bought a good sized water bottle in Maidstone as soon as I knew I was coming here. So far I haven't had a problem. I came home lightheaded only once so far, and it was on fast Sunday which was my first week here, but it wasn't too bad. President has advised me to not go without water if needed when I fast, so I will make sure I don't let it get bad enough. I am starting to be able to really tell if it will be too much for me, and I can feel my blood pressure get close to dropping, and so far I have only had to stop a few times to walk up some hills, but we avoid the big ones for the most part. The bikes in Crowthorne had really rubbish gears, and so it was hard to change them, but here it is pretty easy, and I am getting the feel for when it is best to shift down/up.

I love you all, hope you have a great week! Sorry I can't send pictures this week, the library won't allow for usb's yet, and the Sharpes took their laptop with them so I can't send anything to you until they get back, or until the library changes its wicked ways, whichever one comes first. LOL

Have a great week!
Elder Brown

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Companion on a wonderful Island!

How can I focus forward in the New Year?
 (this is one of my favorite Mormon messages) 

Let yourself learn from the past, but don't let it determine your future. When we decide to change, all too often we get focussed on the world or life we are leaving behind. During this season of new beginnings, consider what God has prepared for your future. It is better than what you now have as well as what you've had in the past, and the way to attain it is through faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. He made the sacrifice that made it possible to move on. You can't go back, so it's time to start living forward in the best way you can.
"Look not behind thee." - Genesis 19:17

Elder Brown and the Gernsey Island 

 Our week was pretty good! We haven't tried any crazy finding yet, I am still trying to figure out what we could do here, but we did something called survey knocking. We basically go from door to door taking a survey which has questions about the gospel and what we do as missionaries. You would not believe how many people will speak to you when they think you are just taking a survey compared to regular knocking! It also help us immediately be able to tell if there is any real potential interest, and also tells us exactly what they need to hear! It is quite an easy way of tracting, and is more effective too. We don't do much knocking though, because we would run out of roads quite quickly, so I am really brainstorming on what sorts of thing we could do.

I think this New Years eve is much better than last years. I am going to love this place. We stay with the senior couple and the other elders in a 5 bedroom beech house! The senior couple (the Sharpes) made us a really nice dinner (shrimp, smoked salmon, bacon, etc) for new years eve, and they also cooked us a wonderful meal for fast Sunday! It is like having a family to come home to again! Weird, but wonderful!

Google maps doesn't work here, and even the Google play apps store doesn't either! I guess Guernsey is just too small for Google to care! I have had lots of fun here so far! All of the street names here are french. A few people speak french, but not really all that much. There are loads of Portuguese people that live on the island though!

They have their own currency here. It is still pounds, and they accept normal British pounds, but the money looks different, and it isn't accepted in England. Weird huh? 

Elder Sharpe is the branch president as well as the Branch Mission Leader, and probably loads of other callings. It is quite different, but I think it will actually work very well with some of the ideas I have tried to apply in other wards, but here it will be easier because everything is on a smaller scale, and the members that are active are committed because they have to be! I am excited and have high hopes for the work here!

My companion is from Latvia, his name is Elder Senkans. He has been out 3 months, so he just finished his training. There are about 30 names on our branch list, and about 8 active members come regularly, so it is quite small!

Elder Brown and Elder Senkans standing in front of the building they go to church in.

There are 4 elders here, and 1 senior couple. the zone is Poole, and I am the district leader here. It will be a bit weird, because our only communications with the zone/stake is through skype. I won't get to exchange with the zone leaders this transfer either, if ever.

I only could bring about 44lbs of luggage. One of the missionaries in the district here wants a hard drive, so he said he would buy this one off of me, I just need to know about how much it costs. I would probably use the money to pay back my companion for all the biking gear he had to buy for me when I first got here. I couldn't bring much stuff, so I only have about 5 white shirts, and it would be nice to buy a few more, but everything is expensive here.

I have had a sore throat and cold for nearly 2 weeks.  My new companion gave me some of his homeopathics and I feel better now! It is pretty fun over her on Guernsey, the milk here is soooo good! It is supposed to be some of the best milk in the world, but it is extortionate! So much money goes to milk here, because they have a monopoly on it, so there is literally only one brand of milk you can buy, unless you import it (which would cost more and taste worse)!

I love you all!!!!! I will send photos in another email. The library computers are really nice here, but they have taped over the USB ports, because they don't want anyone using them! But we have two laptops at the house we live in because the branch doesn't have it's own building.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Heading to a new Location!

  Elder Brown with the Leeds Castle Christmas Tree.

We went to Leeds Castle on the Monday before Christmas. 

 On Christmas after I Skyped with my family, I left the McKenzie's home with my companion and we spent the next hour or so with our two baptismal dates who had no-one else over for Christmas. They have just lost their son to adoption because they have been deemed incapable of taking care of him. He is nearly 9 months old. I think the most valuable lesson I have learned so far on a mission is that not everyone has a great family. Not everyone has a great education, not everyone has an easy life. I have learned how blessed I have really been. I have no reason to ever complain, I have no reason to be upset, angry or frustrated. The gospel has brought our family the most rich blessings, and I never quite recognized that. I hope that I can continue to keep that perspective throughout my life, because it fills me with the desire to serve and help others. Thank you so much for your wonderful example, and all the stress it took you to get me to where I am today. 

The next time you hear from me I will be closer to France than I will be to England! I'll be sure to send lots of cool island pictures! Not to shock you or anything, but I fly out from Gatwick Airport tomorrow to go to my new area, GUERNSEY ISLAND!

We got these kilts at Leeds castle.

These pictures are taken at Leeds Castle

Elder Simpson, Elder Brown, Elder Kroch

This castle is made of gingerbread. One of the only gingerbread houses that beats mine!