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

 

 

 

 

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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.

Mom’s Famous Seven Layer Dip

 

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Elder Brown (me) in front of the Logan Temple

 

September 27, 2017

Greetings,

We had transfers week (which is why this email is being sent on Wednesday not Monday).  I am still in the Providence YSA and Providence South Stakes, and I’m still with Elder Lowe. But this transfer has been crazy. We have twenty-eight new missionaries coming in today, and only four leaving. And we just found out that a ton of the missionaries coming in are sisters, so most of the sisters are training. There are also a ton of odd things happing with the leadership because there is such a need for trainers.

This week I met two returned missionaries who served in Chapel Hill (I don’t remember their names), so that was awesome. One of them actually remembered eating at our house, and she remembered Mom’s “Famous” 7-layer Dip.

And the work is going really well.  We just found somebody super prepared this week and we put him on date.  Interesting he has a super busy schedule so Facebook has been essential for working with him.

And I’m finally not driving again.  Yay!!!

Regards from Elder Brown.

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The Cache Valley South Zone

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What the Cache Valley South Zone is really like.

 

The Past Month

 

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Elder Lowe and I after sharing a gospel message. 

 

August 28, 2017

This week has been successful and we worked really hard. People just didn’t answer their doors.  But that’s okay, we’ll catch them eventually. Also Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is coming to our YSA Stake. That is going to be awesome.

This is going to be a short email, so I’ll include something we are doing with our YSA Stake. The thing we are doing is Social Media. God has brought forth Social Media in this day in age.  And it has a lot of fantastic positives, and has been a good force in the world. It also has negative effects that should not be overlooked. A few examples are: wasting time, disconnections from reality, and comparisons.  But still there is a lot of good that comes from social media.

One of those good things is sharing the Gospel. We can share inspirational messages that can help people realize the goodness of the Gospel.  There are many ways we can share the Gospel, but I’ll just share one method. The Church has given us many sources of spiritual and educational inspiration: such as LDS.org, Gospel Library, mormon.org, the Scriptures and the social media accounts of the Church.  When we sincerely study these resources the Holy Ghost can impress us. Think of Joseph Smith, when he read James 1:5 he was struck by the passage and as he acted on it a miracle happened. What I’m getting at is that when we have impressions with the resources that I mentioned we should share what we experienced (unless they are super personal) on social media. As we share genuine experiences with the scriptures and other resources we will add more positivity to social media and we will help other people judge for themselves if the Gospel is good.

Regards from Elder Brown. 

Sept 4, 2017

How would I describe this week?  I would say it has been a full week, filled with a full spectrum of what life on Earth can offer. I’m saddened by the passing of my wonderful Grandmother Joyce Kepas. But I feel that she is in a better place now.

Elder Rasband came to our YSA Stake for stake conference, he still has one more meeting this next Sunday but being in the presence of a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and being able to hear him speak has definitely strengthened my testimony of living prophets in these days. However, I’m now 2 for 2 in awkward experiences with members of the Quorum of the Twelve.  But I’ll save that story for after my mission.

One thing that Elder Rasband said was about all the evils in our day.  He said that we live in the last days, and there are many prophesied evils that are spoken of frequently in the scriptures about our day.  Many people ask in this day and age, how am I supposed to raise a family with all the evil around us? Elder Rasband’s answer really inspired me.  He said that there are a lot of promises for the Saints of our day as well.  And because we live in the last days all the promises God makes us will be fulfilled in our day.

All the bad things that happen is proof that the promises of God are near, that God is real and that he is mindful of us.  It also means that we have a tremendous responsibility in these days.

And the work in the YSA really took off this week.  I’m very happy with how things are going in the work.  I’m excited for the future of this area.

Regards from Elder Brown.

 Sept 11, 2017

So, a major change has happened with missionary work across the country.  Every mission is beginning to use online proselytizing—meaning we are going to use Facebook and messenger to communicate with converts.  One thing really cool is with our mission president’s permission we can teach friends and family, or (friends of family?) from over the internet.  Also, everybody can friend me on Facebook, so that’s awesome.

But we don’t have it yet, so next week I’ll tell you more. Also the prophets have begun to overhaul Preach My Gospel.  Chapter 8 was just replaced, and they are still working on more.  I don’t know exactly how it’ll change, but it excites me.  I love Preach My Gospel and I’m excited to see more revelation be added.

As for the work here things are going really good, we are finding people.  Elder Lowe is gaining a lot of experience really quickly.

Regards from Elder Brown.

 Sept 18, 2017

It’s a great day to be a missionary.  Well it’s always a been a great day to be a missionary, but today the Lord has done so much to advance the work of salvation: for example, Preach My Gospel, and Online proselytizing has dramatically changed missionary work.  These things have also dramatically changed Missionaries.

Sister Bednar just recently taught about being a strong link between the generations, and about how much good just one person who stays strong in the gospel will do for the children of Heavenly Father.  This talk alongside the new resources in Missionary Work has gotten me thinking about how my mission has really strengthen us.

Missions can be really hard, but they can be very fulfilling.  Many other things are that way, but missions are special because of two things: One, a high standard of obedience, in which success is absolutely conditional in obedience; and two, a purpose greater than ourselves. Missions also build discipline, which is an extremely useful skill in life. It builds unwavering faith, needed to overcome temptations.  It builds courage. And now because of online proselytizing it builds skills in controlling technology.

Missions are awesome.  I know that they are worth all the sweat and tears.

Regards from Elder Brown.

Of Talks and Trainee’s

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Meet Elder Lowe, fresh from the Mission Training Center. He is great!

 

August 21, 2017

My Trainee’s name is Elder Lowe.  He basically came pre-trained. He is an excellent teacher and he already invited an investigator to be baptized. His speaking skills are really great. He’ll go far on his mission.

Something kinda funny happened this week—I had a bishop pull me over and “rebuke” me for wearing super worn down shoes. (See photo below). Eventually I need to get new shoes. Man, I really blew apart a pair of shoes in just one year of my mission.  Hopefully I can make the rest last till the end. [Editor’s note: I ordered Alex a brand new pair of shoes.]

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My shoes have given their all for the Lord.

 

We also gave three talks this Sunday. Elder Lowe did fantastic. I saw a lot of people cry as he was speaking. He is a really good speaker, and had great messages.

I’ll put some notes from my talks in this letter:

First Talk: How to improve your repentance. Repenting might seem hard, but that is often because people forget what repentance really is.  Repentance is the second principle of the gospel and comes after faith.  It is a change of our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that are not in harmony with God’s will. Note how repentance comes after faith; Elder Bednar in a recent broadcast to missionaries said that all the principles and ordinances of the gospel are inseparably connected.  Repentance without Faith in Jesus Christ is incomplete.

At the Martin Harris Pageant there was a cool part of the play that demonstrated this principle very well.  Martin Harris was commanded to repent and humble himself after he lost the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript. If he would do this, he would see the plates. But he struggled he didn’t know how he could repent (he couldn’t just bring the pages back).  When it was time to obtain the witness, Martin was unable at first to see it and departed to pray.  Joseph came to Martin and told him that he needed to have faith that the Savior’s atonement could heal him.  Martin prayed again thanking Heavenly Father for The Savior’s atonement; and then suddenly the angel appeared and showed him the plates in a stunning display.

Building our faith in Jesus Christ through scripture study, prayer, and service build enables us to fully repent.

Second Talk: Special Language of Prayer

When we pray we use more formal language in address God: Thee, Thy, Thine, and Thou.  Why? Because it shows respect and reverence to Heavenly Father. It is like in computer science. Syntax most of the time determines if a program will work or not.  As we improve the language of prayer we will feel closer to Heavenly Father, and we will feel more love and reference for him.

Third Talk: Always remember Christ.

The inn keeper who reject Joseph and Mary missed out on having the most important person ever born, be born in his Inn.  But he was too busy?  He didn’t have room for Christ?  Are we too busy for Christ? We covenant to always remember Christ.  Do we do this?  Do we have room for Christ?

Of us Christ has said:  “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”

He has not forgotten us, nor will he ever.  Will we forget him? Here are some ways we can always remember Christ:

  1. Seek to do the will of Christ
  2. Be accountable to God
  3. Seek the aid of The Savior

Regards from Elder Brown.

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Elder Lowe and I at a member’s house for dinner

 

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The best food I have ever made–with Elder Lowe’s help, of course–on my mission.

Worth More Than Its Weight In Gold

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Anna at her baptism!

 

August 7, 2017

This week was fantastic.

We worked hard, and had lots to do this week. We found a new investigator, and learned about many people who seem really ready. But most importantly, this week one of our investigators was baptized!!!

Her name is Anna. She has been investigating our church for nearly three years, and has had a testimony for the longest time; but she was afraid to be baptized. But as we taught her she just spontaneously set a baptism date, and she didn’t waver from that. Her baptism was amazing! It was amazing to see her already rock solid testimony grow after she was baptized. And after she was confirmed it grew even more.  I am so glad that she was able to make this sacred covenant. I know it has already blessed her life.

One thing she said during her testimony was that when she set her baptismal date, she felt like she was stepping out into darkness (because she had a lot of fears), trusting that Heavenly Father would help her.  But after she was baptized she said that Heavenly Father showed her that she wasn’t stepping into darkness at all; instead she was stepping out of it.

I have been studying the role the Book of Mormon plays in conversion.  Anna had many experiences with the Book of Mormon leading up to her baptism, and I have thinking about how amazing the Book of Mormon is lately, so I’m feeling like this is what I need to talk about today.

One thing I have been focusing on lately is on gaining a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon. And I’m not just doing this for fun, or because everyone tells me I need to. I’m doing this because I realize how much hinges on the Book of Mormon.

What exactly hinges on the Book of Mormon? Well, if the Book of Mormon is true, then there is a God and Jesus Christ is the savior and redeemer of the world.  Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God, and through him God restored his Gospel and his church once more to the earth.  And through that gospel we learn the correct way to live life, the way back to God, to happiness in this life and eternal life in the life to come. So basically, everything hinges on the Book of Mormon. Which is why I’m putting such an emphasis on it my life.

I love that the way we come to know the Book of Mormon is true is by receiving a witness from the Holy Ghost. As I was reading and praying about the Book of Mormon an experience I had came to my mind. I would like to share that experience today.

When I was eight and I had just been baptized, my parents had a party afterwards to celebrate. That night my parents told me that I needed to receive for myself a witness that the Book of Mormon is true. That night knelt down in my closet and asked God if the Book of Mormon was true and if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints was God’s church. At that time, I didn’t really understand how the Holy Ghost witnesses to us, so I just decided it was true and I went on with my life.  Clearly, I didn’t get a witness at that time, but I was eight so I didn’t care.

Sometime later I was walking to church from the car and I had a thought, “the Book of Mormon is true because we have it”. That because we had the Book it has to be true. I mean books don’t just come from nowhere.  But alongside the thought that came into my mind, came this overwhelming feeling of confidence, that the Book of Mormon was absolutely true.  I felt like I nobody could ever convince me otherwise. I had my witness—my “proof.” That was my first testimony of the Book of Mormon. It was less of the thought, looking back at it now, that logic is not sufficient to “prove” the Book of Mormon true; it was more of that feeling I got.

Now on my mission, reading the Book of Mormon really in depth, really trying to understand it, I’ve gotten that same feeling. But this time that feeling came with a feeling of love for that little book.  I read the pages and I find so much in those thin little pages that I can’t help but believe that the Book of Mormon is true.

I know I don’t know everything, but I know what I feel. I have never felt bad reading the Book of Mormon. I have never felt dread, or worry, or depression as I have read the Book of Mormon; in fact as I really read the Book of Mormon those negative feelings wash away, and I am left with feelings of awe, peace, love, and a desire to change and become better.

I would bet my life on the Book of Mormon. And I know that everyone needs to read the Book of Mormon daily.  This book contains the fullness of the gospel, a strong witness of Jesus Christ, and a grand promise that can lead us to the firmest foundation we could ever have. I believe just like the Angel Moroni, that the Book of Mormon is worth more than its weight in gold.  And I am glad to have it. In the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

Regards from Elder Brown.

God Is Calling

 

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On an exchange with Elder Faroni

July 31, 2017

This has been an interesting week that taught me a lot about the power of hymns.  It all started with a zone conference we had this week [Zones are divisions within a mission. Zone Conferences are meetings of all the missionaries serving in the Zone and happen once every six month.]  One of President Allred’s best friends from Washington came to our conference and taught us some methods we could use to find more people.  Most of what he said was about how we needed the Holy Ghost with us at all times to be able to do anything. But one thing he said stuck with me, and that is how singing hymns (i.e. sacred music) invites the Spirit into basically any setting.

Since this conference, I have decided to put a bigger focus on using hymns in the work.  For daily planning and companion study we now sing hymns before we pray, it really brings us together (even if we are not the best of singers) and invites the Spirit.  We also try to have a hymn before we teach any lesson now, and we try to make it topical.  It seems to really help, and set us apart as servants as the Lord.

Also, hymns can help us calm down. This Sunday I felt myself beginning to get frustrated, but as we were driving, we were also listening to some hymns about Jesus Christ. As I started to sing along I felt my frustrations melt away. It just goes to show the power of hymns. Hymns are powerful and I encourage everybody to use them more in their lives.  It really brings the Holy Ghost.

And in case anybody is wondering my favorite Hymn is called “Israel, Israel, God is calling.”  I especially love the message it contains in the third verse:

Israel, angels are descending

From celestial worlds on high,

And to man their pow’r extending,

That the Saints may homeward fly.

Come to Zion, come to Zion,

For your coming Lord is nigh.

Come to Zion, come to Zion,

For your coming Lord is nigh.

For your listening pleasure, here is a link to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing this song:

As a missionary that is my message to the world. God is calling. He promises protection, eternal life, happiness in this life, eternal families, second chances, new beginnings, a better life, mastery of his world, knowledge, peace, and comfort. Do not delay, do not procrastinate, for the Lord comes very soon, on a day we don’t know.  Therefore, the only day you have for sure to get with the program is today.

I can promise that life inside Zion is better than life outside Zion. Yes the rain of affliction will fall on the just and unjust, but only in Zion does the Holy Ghost also pour out from heaven like rain, and only in Zion can sins be forgiven.  I know that this is the case because there have been times in my life where I’ve not been doing the right thing, and I felt terrible and wasn’t able to function. But when I corrected myself, repented of my sins, then I came to know God and what true joy is.

In the name of Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Regards from Elder Brown.

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The Cache Valley North and South Zones, with President and Sister Allred and the Assistants to the President. Can you spot me?

Dear Grandma

 

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July 24, 2017

Dear Grandma,

It was great to read your letter. You and grandpa have always had a major impact on my life.  The memories that I can remember the most are the ones we made while visiting you and grandfather. I want you to know I love you.

My mother has been such a huge blessing in my life, and I know it is because how you raised her.  I remember as a little kid my mother telling me her spiritual experiences she had as a kid, the ones that defined her love of God.  When I was growing up my mother testimony made me love the gospel.

But as I grew older I have had to stand on my own two feet.  As a teenager, I forgot many of the stories my mother told me.  But those visits we made to see you helped me focus, helped me see the bigger picture than just my own life. I would honestly say more than anything I would not be on a mission right now if it wasn’t for you and grandfather.  How much the gospel meant to you, and how much righteousness means to you sunk deep into my soul and eventually filled me with a desire to know God.

Well, now that I’ve been out on a mission for a year I can say I know God.  And more than that I know why I want to be righteous, why I want to live the gospel.  Not for social reasons, but because I love God, and Jesus Christ who he has sent.  And I’m trying to do anything they ask me to do.  I know I’m not always perfect, but I know I am better off than I was before.

We Missionaries stand on the front line of that war that was fought in Heaven; but just like the 2000 stripping warriors, we have been taught by our mothers and our grandmothers, and what they know we know.

Love, from your grandson, Elder Alexander Brown.

Live Each Day

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This photo was taken on my one year anniversary.

 

July 17, 2017

Greetings,

Not much happened this week, except for the fact that I hit my year mark as you might be aware of.

One thing that really surprised me is the fact my outlook on my mission has dramatically changed. When people start telling me I have only such and such months to go it actually affects me now.  Honestly,  the whole thing about how hitting your year marks affects you is super true. I thought it was just going to be another day, but for some reason that major milestone struck me.

It just gives me more of a reason to improve as a missionary and live each day to its fullest.

Regards from Elder Brown.

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Can you spot Elder Brown in this photo?

Fourth of July and My Half-way Mark

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Our Zone in a Fourth of July Parade

 

July 4, 2017

So last week I promised I’d tell the story of those new investigators we got last week.  And I intend to keep my promise.

Our first investigator is Carson and his younger brother named Canon.  We found them through tracting. (Editor’s Note: Tracting is the term LDS missionaries use to describe contacting people via knocking on people’s doors.)  We basically were knocking doors just going around trying to build LDS member trust by sharing short messages.  At one home, one elderly lady invited us in. Her son-in-law was home and he was babysitting his grandchildren.  Those grandchildren were Carson and Canon.  We taught a short message on the restoration. Then I felt prompted to ask if they had been baptized. They both said no, and then Canon enthusiastically added, “but I want to be!”  The grandfather started to cry and he bore his testimony on the importance of baptism and said that we were an answer to his prayer.

We went back and taught them again and now they are both scheduled to be baptized in the future.

Now for the other investigator.  Her name is Anna.  She has met with the missionaries many times in then past, and comes to church, she just hasn’t been baptized.  I won’t share the reasons why for the sake of privacy, but we met with her twice and after our second meeting she decided she needed to be baptized. She has some worries, and needs lots of support, so keep her in your prayers.

In other news, we are going to have a super interesting week.  P-Day was moved to the 4th of July this week (which is why I’m writing this today).  We actually are banned from proselyting today, because events people have, like family bbq’s and fireworks and nobody wants to be bugged on the 4th of July.  So instead our Mission President is showing us a movie, it’s called Love Kennedy, and it’s a church movie like Ephraim’s Rescue.  The mission moved the transfer date to Thursday, which is coming up this week.  So, I’ll tell you about transfers next week. We are also teaching a bunch of active members, and this is becoming a scheduling nightmare (I think I need to hire a secretary). Things are looking up for this area.

Regards from Elder Brown.

 

July 11, 2017

So first off, neither I nor my companion Elder Jones were transferred.

Not much happened in the work this week. But excitingly I’m about to hit my year mark.  Which is great, but is also upsetting because it means I only have a year left on my mission.

Here are some stats I’m just going to make up (they are mostly accurate)

  • So far, I’ve seen seven people enter the waters of baptism.
  • In this one year I’ve read the Book of Mormon 2.5 times, the Pearl of Great Price once, 60% of the Doctrine and Covenants, half of the Old Testament, and two of the four gospels in the New Testament. I’ve read Jesus the Christ twice. I read uncountable amounts of LDS Conference talks. I’ve read twelve Ensigns, New Era, and Friends magazines (These are LDS magazines). And I’ve read Preach My Gospel cover to cover twice and I’ve read from it every day at specific chapters.
  • I’ve served in three areas, and have had had five companions so far.
  • I’ve said at least three prayers every day.
  • I’ve planned about 3,650 hours of work.
  • I’ve seen every single video on the LDS gospel library website.
  • I’ve eaten Sushi three times in a completely landlocked state. I’ve been to two Chick-fil-a’s but sadly eaten at Chipotle zero times.
  • I’ve survived one winter in Utah. And I am currently attempting to survive a summer here.
  • I’ve walked a crazy amount of miles and driven even more.

And most of all, I’ve gained something more valuable than all of those wonderful experiences, better than all the wealth in the world.  It’s something that was hard to get, and took intense effort to get—a testimony of Jesus Christ as my Savior.  I’d say my mission was worth it just for that, and I would trade everything else in the world for that testimony; it has gotten me through the hard times and the calm times.  And has brought me the most joy on my mission. My testimony is that Jesus Christ Lives and is at the head of this church, the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, today.

Regards from Elder Brown.

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My Zone from before last transfers.

 

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My District from before last transfers.

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Me after working out at the church gym.