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.

Do Our Lives Matter?

alexmission22June 26, 2017

This week has been a very good week.  We found two new investigators.  One was a former investigator from the Young Single Adult ward, and another was a nine year that we found through tracting (yes that occasionally works here in Utah). I’ll share their stories another week.

I was asked the question this week: does my life really matter?

So many of my Generation have asked this question. It is sad. So much depression has come in this generation.  We want to make huge impacts on the world, we dream big, only to have our dreams squared to reality.  And we are left to wonder, “What was I supposed to do?  “Is this all I am?”

We seem to want to revolutionize the world and when we find out we are just a drop in the ocean we beat ourselves up and think “Why wasn’t I better?”

But this is why the plan of salvation is so relevant to us.  We don’t have to move mountains to make God love us.  We don’t have to solve major world problem to have God be pleased with us.  God doesn’t give eternal life, the greatest gift, to just prophets; but to mothers and fathers, to kings and Janitors alike.

The plan of salvation is our purpose, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is our plan.

The reason the gospel brings joy is because it narrows our focus.  Instead of worrying about the world, God would rather have us focus what is around us.  Instead of worrying about worldly honor we strive for honor from God, which will never perish.  And at the end we are not rewarded for the impact we had on the world, but for the impact we had on ourselves.

Please know that God loves you, and he wants the best for you.  He wants to see you again, he wants you to return to him.  Please stop worrying about how you measure up to those around you. Please stop stressing about the details, instead focus on what you did good.  Only then identify what you can improve, then improve it.  Come unto to Christ; have faith in him, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end, and you will find meaning for life.

I am thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Plan of Salvation.  They have given me a purpose and a plan.  They have taught me much.  Yes I will still have hard days, and so will you.  But don’t worry Jesus Christ has overcome them all.  And he would overcome all over again to help you.

In the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Regards from Elder Brown.

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Moving Apartments and Member Missionaries

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June 12, 2017

I’m moving today. So this will be short. I have a lot to do today.

Apparently, I’m the master of closing apartments, because this is the  4th one I’ve closed, and I’ve only served in three areas. We have to clean a lot, and missionaries who lived here before us have left way too much stuff behind. Note to all future missionaries, and parents of missionaries (so you can pass it onto your missionaries), nobody wants your apartment “treasures.”  Please throw away the things you do not need or want anymore.

We happen to just be moving around the corner.  Which is kinda funny. It’s kinda of nice to not have to relearn driving around the area this time.

We had an investigator named Cassey who was just baptized.  She has an awesome story.  Her grandmother had tried to choose baptism in the past but she was to scared to get in the water.  She lived all the standards and lived a fulfilling life.  Then she met a young man named Ammon.  Ammon was a returned missionary. Ammon and Cassey started to date. Ammon decided he wanted to marry Cassey in the temple, so Ammon asked Cassey to meet with the missionaries (that’s us). She agreed and shortly afterwards, she accepted all the commitments and  decided to get baptized.  Right before the baptism Ammon proposed.  So basically the baptismal service was also a celebration of their engagement. I preformed the baptism, Ammon confirmed her a member of the church and confirmed on her the Gift of the Holy Ghost. They both are very happy, and I’m very happy for them.

Regards from Elder Brown.

Salvation Thru Christ

 

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June 5, 2017

 

As many of you might be aware, I was just transferred into a YSA Stake.  It’s very interesting.  The leaders we work with are experts in smart phones, which is not normally something we have.  I mean, we can throw out a name, and somebody will track that person down pretty quickly and accurately within moments.  It’s crazy.  Also, we work with a lot of RM’s [Editor’s Note: short for Returned Missionary].  So, everybody knows how missionary work works.  But most YSA’s are gone during the day, so we can only catch them in the afternoon.

Our area also covers a family stake (that’s right 2 stakes, 14 wards!!!), so we have all of our bases covered.

I’ve also been trying to answer a question every week.  The question for this week is: “Why do we need a Savior? How can someone else pay for our sins?”

This is a huge question, and honestly the answer is not completely straightforward. Nobody can really answer this question for anybody else.  Everybody has to understand personally the role of Jesus Christ as the savior and redeemer.

The part of this question stands out to me is—How can somebody else pay for our sins?

To answer the question, I must also ask the opposite—How could anybody pay for their own sins?

When you come to understand how detrimental and fatalistic sins actually are, you come to realize how much help you actually need. Sin in any degree separates us from the presence of God, our Heavenly Father.  Sin is separation from God, often called the second death or hell. It is an offense to God, and His eternal judgement declares that in order for anybody who has made such an offense to come back into his presence, one must pay a price for these sins. We do not fully understand what that price is but we know there is a unavoidable consequence that must be paid.

We cannot pay the price ourselves. It is simply outside of our reach because we are all flawed, because we are all imperfect.  But Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. He was perfect, he is perfect.  Only he was completely free from sin, only he could pay that price for sin.  Jesus Christ choose to pay every price, for every sin. He was inflicted with every punishment, every pain, affliction, torment, and infirmity, for every person.

This is The Atonement of Jesus Christ. And because Jesus did this, because he suffered for our sins, our Heavenly Father gave Jesus Christ the power and authority to forgive sins. Only Jesus Christ has that authority, only Jesus Christ can forgive sins that separate us from God. And Jesus has said that he will forgive sins upon the conditions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: which is to have faith in Jesus, repent (or stop doing our sins), be baptized (or partake of the sacrament for those already baptized), receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End.

Because we have a savior, the condition for salvation is no longer perfection (which is simply impossible); it is instead improvement (which can be accomplished by every single person on this world).

But like I said I’ll never be able to fully answer this question.  But God can, and is eager to point all his children to the salvation of Christ.

So here are my recommendations for how one can get a fuller answer to this question.

–  Read the Book of Mormon, everyday, looking for the answer to this question.  I can’t stress this enough, I have been doing this for about half a year now and it has been amazing the answer I have received. (See “the power of the Book of Mormon” Thomas S. Monson, general Conference April 2017)

–  Pray and Ask God for the answer to the question.

–  Visit https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/jesus-christ for a more complete (and more simple overview on why we need Jesus Christ)

–  Watch the video “The Mediator” (can’t find a link help please mom).

–  Read D&C 19, it’s a overview of this subject, but it comes straight from the Lord.

–  Read Preach my Gospel Chapter 3, Lesson 3:  It explains the Gospel of Jesus Christ in straightforward terms.

–  Record any promptings or answers to your questions.  (Seriously do this)

I hope I helped answer this question.

Regards from Elder Brown.

Treasures In Heaven

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I am at Cinnamon Creek Campground, at the outmost edge of our mission, at the Fathers and Sons campout. Wish you were here, Dad.

 

May 29th, 2017

Hey Dad, I got your email. Thanks for the advice on making habits.

You asked a question you asked last week, “Why do the wicked prosper?” [Editor’s Note: Alex has asked us to ask him gospel related questions. If you have a question you would like him to answer, please send him an email.]

I think another way of looking at that question is—why don’t the righteous do better in life?

First off, the answer is not that riches are evil, and it’s not that there is no God. But both of those responses don’t look at the big picture. The answer is simple, the righteous lay-up riches in heaven more than they lay up riches on earth.

The things we have here will all disappear one day. But those things we seal up on heaven last forever. Christ didn’t say, follow me and I’ll make you rich beyond belief: rather, he said follow me and I will give you eternal life.

We follow Christ so we can have eternal life. Satan wants us to trade our integrity, faith, family, etc. for the riches of the world. Whereas Christ says seek first the kingdom of heaven and all those things will be added unto us. Abraham was a very wealthy man. Yet we hardly remember him for being rich; we remember him for the covenant that God made with him. God didn’t make the covenant with Abraham because he was rich, but because Abraham had integrity, faith, loyalty, and other Christ-like virtues.

And honestly, God is far more concerned with who we become than with what we have. Like with Job who was very wealthy and a righteous man, but God took it all away. And why did God take it all away? To try Job and build his faith even more. And at the end of the day Job had more than what he started with. Imagine the reward Job had in Heaven, the reward he had in heaven must be far greater than the reward he had on earth.

Long story short. The righteous have everything they need, for now and for eternity.

Regards from Elder Brown.

More pics:

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Kinda looks like North Carolina!

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Cinnamon Creek

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Me in my new short-sleeved shirt. Thanks Mom!

Farewell Fielding

 

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Saying farewell to Fielding, Utah. 

 

May 22, 2017

Farewell fielding

Today the roster came out, which means transfers are tomorrow.  (This is so much like opening your call letter).  And I got transferred to Providence South / Providence YSA!  Which means I am now a YSA missionary, which means I cover the entire Cache South Zone! [Editor’s Note: YSA stands for Young Single Adult. In our church we have specific congregations for young adults ages 18-30.]

Before leaving Fielding, I would like to share what I have learned over the past four and a half months I’ve spent here in Fielding.

First off, I have begun to learn about what leadership actually is.  The entire time I’ve been here in Fielding I have been the senior companion. And at first I thought that was a meaningless title, as both companions have to work, and both companions have to plan, and study, and teach, and so on and so forth.  But slowly I’ve begun to learn what my duties are as a senior companion, how I need to set the example, how I need to be teaching my companion, how I need to prepare us for studies.

I also learned the importance of working with members.  Those that were baptized during my ministry had great fellowshipping members far before we even got involved; while those who aren’t progressing don’t have much member support.

Fielding also taught me how to get the Ward and stake leaders involved.  I saw a great change take place in the area in terms of how the leadership worked with us missionaries.

Overall it was a huge learning experience for me. I’m glad I was able to come here and learn.   But I’m excited to try something new, and to go somewhere I’ve never been before.

(Psst.  My new area has a chick-fil-a, yay hooray!)

Regards from Elder Brown.