Proof Is In The Fruits

 

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We had the opportunity to go to SLC and Temple Square for the YSA fireside on Jan 14th.

 

January 15, 2018

A lot happened this week.  And it was a great week.

We found a couple of investigators and we have a bunch of referrals currently.  So, the work is going great; to me it shows that faith and diligence, combined with patience, brings the blessings of Heaven.

We also had interviews with our mission president and during my interview we talked a bit about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I felt inspired to focus on the gospel: faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Covenants, and receiving the Holy Ghost, daily. In the past, as I have focused on these things, I have seen the biggest changes in myself and I have learned the most about recognizing the Holy Ghost.

To me, applying the gospel of Christ is a great evidence of the truth of the Restoration.  We learn the gospel (in its fullness) from the Book of Mormon.  And once we know the Book of Mormon is true we know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet.

In Moroni 10:3-5 we are invited to pray about the Book of Mormon with “real intent,” we learn from modern prophets that real intent means to be willing to act on the answers we receive, or in other words act in faith.  Therefore, faith is essential to learning if the Book of Mormon is true.

In Alma 32 we learn how we can gain or grow faith.  Essentially, Alma sets forth a method we can apply to see if the fruits, or results, of something are good.  A central message of the Book of Mormon is that gospel of Christ brings peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come, through Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  In the gospel the Holy Ghost and the joy, peace, and happiness it brings are considered the fruits of the gospel.

Sometimes we overlook peace in this life.  Of course, everybody wants peace in this life but discount it as we focus on just enduring our trials here until we can get the eternal life in the world to come.  However, I have learned that the peace and joy we gain in this life by living the gospel of Jesus Christ is way more important than I first thought.

The apostle Paul states in 2 Corinthians 1:22

“Who [God] hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (emphasis mine).

I want to focus on the word “earnest.” The bible dictionary definition of “earnest” teaches something amazing:

A pledge or security. The word thus translated is a commercial term denoting the deposit paid by a buyer on entering into an agreement for the purchase of anything. As used by Paul (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14) it means that the Lord gives us His Holy Spirit in this life as a foretaste of the joy of eternal life. The Spirit is also the Lord’s surety that He will fulfill His promise to give eternal life to the faithful. (LDS Bible Dictionary)

When we apply the gospel, and feel the Holy Ghost, it is much more than being happy. It is a divine assurance that we will receive Eternal Life.  The gospel brings us joy so we can know for ourselves that it is true; that we can know that it brings us ‘good fruit.’  Every time we apply the gospel and feel the joy that follows, it is evidence that the restored gospel is true and good!

And when we know that the restored gospel is true and good, then we also know that the Book of Mormon, which teaches us that gospel, is also good and true. And when we know that the Book of Mormon is good and true then we also know that Joseph Smith is a prophet, that Jesus is the Christ, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom, and that we have living prophets today, that God loves us and made a plan for us.

It is my testimony that I have seen the fruit of the gospel. I have definitely felt that joy and peace. I hope to feel it every day. I know that the gospel and the Church that preaches it is true.

Regards from Elder Brown.

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Me and my companion Elder Oostyen at Temple Square, SLC

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I am wearing my UNC-Chapel Hill hat that I received for Christmas. Thank you Chapel Hill First Ward!

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At my 18 month mark, I burnt all my ripped and worn out clothes. 

 

 

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The Remarkable Unremarkable

The Remarkable Unremarkable

 

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Me and Elder Oostyen (pronounced O-stein)

 

January 1, 2017

This week was great, there was a ton of holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Calling home last week was super awesome.  I love my family. They are so awesome.

Christmas is really interesting as a missionary serving in the YSA Stake. On Christmas Eve we ate with a bishop. Funnily, we ended up eating with him again Christmas Day. Most YSA people are not home for the holidays. But thanks to some miracles, we actually found people who were home somehow, and so that was also awesome. We had a Christmas tree dressed up with Krispy Kreme and mission swag. But ultimately calling home was the best part.

Also, the work has started to pick up in our area as we have set better goals and worked harder.  It has been cool to feel like awesome stuff is about to happen.

Sorry for the short email I’m running short on time

Regards from Elder Brown.

 

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Our Krispy Kreme topped Christmas Tree.

 

January 8, 2018

This was a great week.  Things got better every day. We are getting many things done here in the Stake. One thing we are trying hard to do is to find people to teach, and we have had ideas come straight from God helping us figure out what to do.

But for the most part the work was unremarkable by the world’s standards: no standout miracles, no super prepared people; just randomly popping up. Yet I still feel great joy and satisfaction in the work.

And honestly that in and of itself that is amazing remarkable to me.

How is it that we can feel joy and satisfaction even in the “Slog?”

To me two principles taught to me by the Zone Leaders this week stand out as at least part of the reason why. These principles are Faith and Diligence.

As missionaries, we make goals and then work to accomplish those goals. Working with faith and diligence means that we believe that we can achieve our goals and we work energetically, steadily and courageous until there is nothing else that we can do.  Our goals actually strengthen our faith and diligence because they give us something to stretch towards. But our faith and diligence also influence our goals and plans, and it was interesting for me to observe this this week. As we work with faith and diligence we grow closer to the Holy Ghost and we receive more inspiration in our planning.

This can be summarized by this Scripture (D&C 50:24)

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

I got to see that in action this week.  And that makes this week super remarkable to me, it builds my testimony to experience the promised blessing of this scripture. Sometimes, the greatest miracles are the most overlooked. Often times, it is the “small and simple things” that God uses to bring about “great things.”

I love this Gospel. I have come to know that this Gospel is true because of how much good that has come from it.

Regards from Elder Brown.

 

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On Splits with Elder Lowe

 

Whom the Lord Calls, The Lord Qualifies–And Transfers

 

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Out on Exchanges with my zone leader, Elder Iloa

 

December 11, 2017

This was a week in which I learned a lot. I love my District. The missionaries that I serve are wonderful and have such a great capacity.

Lots happened this week. We had a wonderful zone Conference about the Savior Jesus Christ.  I was able to go on many exchanges and we were able to do a lot.  AND A KRISPY KREME OPENED IN LOGAN!!!  (I’m gonna get fat).  #southernfood

But sadly it hasn’t snowed this week and the snow is disappearing off the ground.

This week I have definitely seen that the principle, “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies,’ often taught by president Monson, is true. This transfer I have had the most responsibilities I’ve had on my mission; those responsibilities include training, being a district leader, and being the senior companion leading the area. Often times there seems to be a three way split on how I have to manage my time. It is a constant balancing act. It is really difficult.  However, the help from God this transfer has made this a wonderful experience for me.  I have found that no matter how hard a task is, with God it both possible and a positive experience.  I find what I have to do is rely on God, study his word, partake of the sacrament, pray and act in faith.  On occasion he will inspire me on an idea that I should try, or he’ll give me words to say, strength to continue, peace, joy etc.

On the other hand, when I act immaturely, be disobedient, prideful or un-Christlike unrepentantly I find that I’m left on my own, and things don’t end well.  Instead of ideas that inspire, my mind goes blank; instead of words that fill my mouth, I struggle to get words out; instead of strength, tiredness; anger instead of peace; unhappiness instead of joy.

But when I humble myself and do the things that bring God into my life, the faults cease and the blessings flow. No man is big enough for the tasks that God will give to him; God is aware of this, and he has sent His Son to perform a perfect atonement, whereby man might become better than he is.

I have a testimony that Gospel is true, and that it works.  The power that enters the lives of those that love the Gospel is the power of Jesus Christ, which he obtained through his perfect Atonement.

Regards from Elder Brown.

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December 19, 2017

Today Transfer happened again. And I’m still here in the Providence YSA Stake. And I have a new companion, Elder Oostyen.  And I’m still in the Providence YSA Stake, it’s awesome!

This week was awesome as well. We got a lot done with the members and we found somebody who wants to be baptized. Elder Score has become such a great missionary.

We got to go the temple today as well and we were able to spend a lot of time in the temple. I have found that what people say about the temple that spirit of the Lord is the strongest in the temple is super true. You could feel the Holy Ghost inside that place everywhere. It made it so peaceful and joyful. The temples are truly houses of The Lord.

Sorry that this isn’t longer don’t have too much time.

Regards from Elder Brown.

White Christmases

 

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(From left to right) Elder Brown (me), Elder Score, our investigator, and Elder Wood

 

November 27, 2017

We had an awesome miracle today. One of our investigators had an issue with the word of Wisdom and was afraid of committing to change but he had some spiritual experiences and was able to quit his addiction.  And he had some worries about tithing but he decided that he wanted to pay tithing the other day. We are finding prepared investigators, and other great things are happening.

I was thinking back on some small lessons my parents taught me that have been really helpful on my mission.  I’ll share one from each of my parents.

A lesson from my Mother:

The lesson my mother taught me was to be interested in the lives of other people.  For a long time I only wanted to talk about awesome things that I was doing.  But morning during the car ride to high school, as I was sharing something in my life with my mother, she kindly instructed me to learn what was important or interesting in the lives of other people—essentially, to turn outward instead of inward.  I heard her advice that day and that advice has helped me all throughout my mission. When I talk with investigators, members, and especially with my companion her advice has helped me foster trust and love in relationships with others.

A lesson from my Father:

My father was a bit more direct in how he taught me this lesson.  I had gained the habit of asking people in round about ways in ways to do stuff. I developed this habit since I was afraid on imposing on people. My wise father caught on. One time I asked him if he would like to help me do something in my usual round about way, to which he frankly responded “no.”  I was a bit taken aback, to which he explained, “I don’t “want” to help, but I am willing to help. Ask me again, but be direct.”  After that, every time I would ask in a round-about way he would respond similarly. Eventually he helped me break this habit and learn how to ask direct questions. This has been an essential skill. As a missionary we are inviting people to do things all the time. And we cannot be unsure or unclear in our invitations to repent, to change for the better. Firm and direct invitations give people the best chance to see the reason to repent and choose for themselves a better way. This has also helped me train other missionaries and work with others. I now use this skill every day.

My parents have taught me so much. There are a ton of other lessons I’ve learned from them, but these two lessons have really stand out to me. I love my parents!

Regards and Merry Christmas from Elder Brown!

 

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Snow! Have I told you how much I like snow? 

 

 

December 4, 2017

 

This week has been stellar.  I love December, and while on the mission it just gets better.  The Christmas session brings such a wonderful spirit into Cache valley. All the Christmas lights go up, the nativities start appearing and the snow starts to fall.  It is the happiest time of the year, a time of joy, anticipation, forgiveness, and peace all wrapped together in a wonderful session. Y’all know that I love snow—and snow really is the icing on the cake which can truly turn Christmas into a White Christmas.  Guess What???  It snowed this week, so we are starting December off awesomely.

And speaking of White Christmases, our mission president has a different idea on another way to have a white Christmas—to help children of God to dress in white and make the covenant of Baptism. Our mission has set a goal this December to help over 100 people make that covenant with our Heavenly Father. There is such a huge enthusiasm in the mission right now it is wonderful. And not only the missionaries, but the members are also excited.

One of our investigators got baptized this week. It was really miraculous how his baptism came together. He was struggling on a couple problems for a while and wasn’t progressing. But he started to go to church and suddenly he was able to get over all his problems and become really committed to the Gospel.  After that he was baptized in a week.  It really helped me see how powerful going to church really is and how being at church is a place for us to receive revelation and guidance for our lives. I was so happy when I saw our investigator receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. There is no better way to spend December.

Regards from Elder Brown.

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Why are the chickens roosting in a tree? Good question. At least they came to Church. 

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Meet “The Church Cat” that hangs out at our ward house.

Thanksgivings

 

Thanksgivings

 

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Snow!!!

November 8, 2017

 

So, I was just called to be a district leader and a trainer. That is definitely a lot, and definitely exciting. In addition my area was spilt, so I’m now only serving in the YSA Stake and I’m not longer serving in the Providence South Stake.  In a sense I have been transferred but not transferred. I am moving apartments though—going to going to a 4 man apartment. Elder Lowe is staying in the Providence South Stake, and he is now a senior companion.

This last transfer (past six weeks) has been the best transfer of my mission. Elder Lowe is such a great missionary, and it’s been amazing to work with him. It has been cool to see Elder Lowe grow, he was already a really good missionary when he came out, but now he is an even better missionary. And I’ve learned a lot this transfer too.  I feel confident in my understanding of doctrine. I have been diving into the Book of Mormon these last transfers and as I was reading in 3 Nephi I could just feel the power of Jesus Christ’s words; I learned so much from it.

General Conference also made a huge difference in my life. Listening to the words of the modern prophets was amazing because I saw how what they said applies to me, and those I serve.  The things I learned in General Conference has still stuck with me and I can definitely say I am a changed man.

I’ve also seen the power of God in motion in my life this transfer.  I have seen so many prayers answered I can’t list them all.  I have seen the Holy Ghost fill my mouth and guide my thoughts.  I’ve seen people feel the Holy Ghost; I’ve seen changes in so many people around me. And I seen the Holy Ghost fill me and others with joy, despite the trials of this world.  I know that pure joy comes from the gospel. I can’t dispute it—it it is real.

And I’m a bit nervous about what lies ahead for my mission and my life. I not sure if I will ever not be nervous or worried about the future. But God had lead me in the past, so I know He can lead me in the future, and that knowledge brings me hope.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love y’all, have a great week,

Regards from Elder Brown.

 

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Sunset in Cache Valley

 

 

November 13, 2017

This has been the first week of a new transfer.  And despite not actually having moved areas so many things have changed and it feels totally different.  We have moved apartments and are now living with another set of missionaries. I have a new companion and I called to be a district leader.  But I’m still in YSA, I still have the same Zone leaders and I still got a car.  It’s like everything was recreated and made new again. Not much else to add this week.

Regards from Elder Brown.

 

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Me and President Monson

 

November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving is this week. That’s exciting, at least for me.  I absolutely love the food during thanksgiving.  But we are part of a YSA Stake so it will be interesting how Thanksgiving works for college students.  I’d imagine that many of them go back home for holiday.

It is also interesting to see how it effects the work in the area.  We have a bunch of lessons set up next week, since so many people are getting back in town next week.  After thanksgiving we will get an extra busy week, which is awesome.

Also, we got to watch the Face to Face with Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard. One of our recent converts actually got to go up to the event and watch it live.  I learned so much from that and felt the spirit strongly.

Regards from Elder Brown.

 

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At my battle station

 

Not So Scary–Answer, Invite, Serve

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October 30, 2017

A lot happened this week, but since most of it was works in development, so it’s hard to talk about without a milestone in these stories yet. One really cool thing is that Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came to our mission. He spoke to us and gave us a lot of training.  So, I got a lot of great notes from that. He talked a bit about the sacrament and teaching. It was all really good.

He also talked about member missionary work. One thing he said is that members are often scared of doing missionary work, and that it is often because of misconceptions.  This of course is a classic trick from Satan, he lies to make missionary work seem harder than it is. Let me clear some stuff up. It is fairly simple and straight forward.

First—Answer. People worry that they have to teach people like missionaries do, as in they’ll have to teach them all the doctrine taught in the missionary lesson.  Or they’ll worry they can’t teach any gospel principle outside of the missionary lesson. While there are some sacred things which we don’t talk about all in great detail, all we really have to do is just answer their questions, whatever those questions might be and the best we know how. We don’t even have to knock in their door and say would you like to know more about my church.  Just answer questions leave the teaching to the full-time Missionaries

Second–Invite. God allows all people chose for themselves; but they can’t choose if they do not have a choice placed before them. Inviting people to church, or to have missionary lessons, or to a ward activity, or a family home evening gives them the ability to exercise their agency. They might say no, but that doesn’t matter. Respect their decision and keep answering questions.  If another opportunity arises, great.

Third–Serve.  Go out of your way to make the lives of others better. This means being an example and demonstrating what Christ-like love is. As people feel your love they’ll feel their saviors love, and feeling the love of Christ enables them to use their agency and make a choice. But service also helps us feel the Savior love, we feel our Heavenly Fathers appreciation for the service we do for his children, so if nothing else service draws us nearer to Christ and Heavenly Father.

This week I have been able to see the examples of many member missionaries going out of their way to answer friends questions, to invite others to come to church or take the discussion, and to serve their friends and family.  It has been Truly inspiring to see the courageous efforts of others. And guess what, people didn’t always say yes. And nobody lost any friends over it.  And they seemed a lot happier.

The Lord has promises us great joy and greater receptiveness to the Holy Ghost as we make efforts in missionary work.  I have seen them in my life.  Please seek after these blessings yourself, they have made a big difference in my life.

Regards from Elder Brown.

How Great Shall Be Your Joy

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October 23, 2017

This week has been a great week.  The work here has really picked up and we have a lot of things going really good for us.  This has been one of the best transfer of my mission, and has been one of the greatest moments of my life.  

 As such, I recently had a thought, it is this: “I am so grateful to be able to be able to serve the Lord”.  As I expressed this thought to my Heavenly Father I felt the spirit very strongly.  It is a amazing privilege to be able to serve, especially in missionary work.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:

“We do not preach and teach in order to ‘bring people into the Church’ or to increase the membership of the Church. We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives. … We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God.”

That quote stirs me. When I meet somebody who is willing to meet with us I think of how I will be able to play a part in the greatest blessing somebody can receive in this life.  It is such a privilege and a responsibility, and it has brought me great joy.

Regards from Elder Brown.

 

Baptism and the Book of Mormon

 

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Baptism Day!

 

October 16, 2017

This week has been an amazing week.  And the main reason is we had a baptism this week!!!  And to make it better we’ve become good friends with the person who got baptized.  His service was really great, and he bore a powerful testimony on how powerful service and the Book of Mormon was in his conversion.

I’ve seen the power of the Book of Mormon this week.  In addition to the testimony our convert bore on the Book of Mormon I’ve seen other moments this week which are examples of the witness that comes from the Book of Mormon. I was able to acquire a reprint of the original printing of the Book of Mormon.  It’s cool to see how the Book of Mormon still has that witness no matter how it is written.

We found an investigator while tracting, he lived in Utah all his life but didn’t grow up a member.  What was interesting is he readily accepted to the challenge to read the Book of Mormon. When we check up on him, he told us that he thought it was good.  And he also just seemed happier the second time we met him.

Another person we tracted into grew up in North Carolina (#beststate), and was raised in the churches there.  But we invited her to read the Book of Mormon and she accepted the challenge. Later she told us how she has always been curious about the Book of Mormon.

Really, I wonder why more people aren’t curious about the Book of Mormon. It is claimed to be additional scriptures, additional clarifying instructions from God.  It has a promise that all who read it and ask God will gain a witness that the Book is true. And that by that simple truth we will know for sure that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that Jesus is the Christ, and that God has reestablished his kingdom on the earth today, which is the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Through the Book of Mormon we also learn the Gospel, or the things that we must do in this life in order to return to God in the next life.  We learn the Plan of Salvation, we learn in detail why Jesus Christ is savior, and why we need him in our life. We learn how we can overcome the devil. We learn that God loves all people on the earth.  We learn how we need to change our life for the better.

I love the Book of Mormon. I love the witness that I get each time I read it. I have learned for myself it is true, through the witness of the Holy Ghost which brings me peace, happiness and understanding. I would encourage y’all to read the Book of Mormon.  No matter who you are that Book of Mormon will bring blessings into your life.

In the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

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Me holding a reprint of the first edition of the Book of Mormon. Very Cool!

 

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At a teaching and dinner appointment

 

 

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New Haircut, same mug.

 

 

 

Winter Is Coming!

 

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In Logan Canyon

October 9, 2017

 

My favorite time of the year is coming, Winter!  The leaves are already starting to fall and the mountains are changing colors. We have already seen some snow on the mountains—it has been exciting! I just love how peaceful and calm things get in the winter time. Elder Lowe, who is from Florida where they do not have a Fall or Winter, is super excited, and he’s been amazed with everything going on so far.  

How amazing is this planet? Everything is amazing. The fact that that same planet houses both cold and warm, and how everything adapts and reacts to the changes of the weather, it just amazes me.  Even just the simplest tree is so sophisticated; it amazes me that each tree detects the change in the season and begins to shed its leaves. And not to mention how amazing each animal is: bears fatten themselves up and hibernate, insects go into hiding, and the birds fly south to warmer waters.

I’m reminded of President Uchtdorf’s talk this Conference: A Yearning for Home. In it, he spoke of how animals have an innate sense to find their way home. All of this wonderful world makes me feel like the prophet Alma who said:

Yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.  (Alma 30:44)

How loving is our creator for “not even a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s notice.”  (Elder Rasband paraphrasing Matthew 10:29 and By Divine DesignGod knows every single detail of this wonderful world. And He in his great love gave life to everything in this world, and He gave life to us also.  

In his amazing plan He not only gave us this life and beautiful world, He gave us a purpose as well—To learn and to grow, repent and improve, and be perfect as He, our Father in Heaven is perfect. And He provided a way for us: He sent his Son into this world, to bear the mistakes of all.  And if we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, get baptized by water and by the Holy Ghost and endure to the end, Christ will make us perfect.  Be Ye Therefore Perfect–Eventually

 I just love my Heavenly Father, this world he has made for us, and his Son Jesus Christ who allows us to fulfill the purpose for which we were sent to this earth.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

 Regards from Elder Brown.

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Logan Canyon

 

 

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Logan Canyon Part 2

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The leaves have already turned and fallen up Logan Canyon in preparation for winter

 

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Providence Utah on the Foothills

 

 

 

 

General Conference Musings

 

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October 2, 2017

This was a great General Conference, the third one on my mission. Recently I’ve found that I learn a lot from conference, more than I did before my mission. I feel like sharing a few of the insights I had during General Conference.

There were two major things I was impressed by:

First was just the reason for loving service.  I was very impressed by President Erying’s talk when he was talk about the Mormon Helping Hands disaster relief efforts. It is hard for me to put into words exactly what I want to say. Basically I was think of how important it is that we help take care of the temporal (physical) needs of God’s children.  Our bodies are precious and so anything we can do to help save people’s lives is huge. I just feel like I want to serve people, and make people’s lives better.

The other thing that struck me was how important the Book of Mormon is.  I realized that the Book of Mormon is the gateway to testimony, and testimony is the foundation for everything.  When we know the Book of Mormon is true then we know that the Holy Bible is true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that we have a living prophet and living apostles, and that there is a God and he sent his son Jesus Christ to be our savior. But more than that I realized why we must use the Book of Mormon daily.  If we don’t feed our testimonies they will shrink, and possible even fade away.  But by reading the Book of Mormon every day, which is the great testimony builder of our dispensation, our testimonies will grow.

I believe that God expects us to use the Book of Mormon, he spent put a lot of diligent care into bringing the Book of Mormon forth in our day and age.  I believe that so many questions people ask in this day and age would be answered if they would just read the Book of Mormon. Reading the Book of Mormon might be a small task for us but behind that small task comes an exceptional amount of power.

It is an exciting time to be a missionary.

Regards from Elder Brown.