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.

 

How to Help Someone Going Thru A Faith Crisis

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May 15, 2017

I was recently asked his question: how do I help somebody struggling with their faith? Struggling with faith is a really broad term that can apply to on so many different levels, which is why there is no “one size fits all” kind of answer for this question.  Nevertheless, I am going take the best shot at this that I can.

First, I would like to express the importance of the fact that faith does not equal knowledge. God doesn’t require us to perfectly know everything; so first off don’t expect to suddenly understand perfectly.  And also, know that questions are not bad, questions are good. Second, I need to point out that faith and trust are synonymous, with the only difference being that faith is a trust in God.  In my life I have learned I need to trust my parents and others. Without people around us that we trust, we feel insecure and unsafe.  I’ll share a little bit from my experience.  On my mission I have had experiences where I didn’t trust my companion and it was really stressful. I felt like I had to close myself off, and it was a pretty miserable part of my mission.

But luckily for us, trust can be built—and so can faith!

Ironically, trust cannot be built without us trusting first.  We have to give the person we don’t trust a little bit of trust (as much as we muster), enough for us to see if they are worthy of further trust; then we watch and hope that they will keep their promise.  Most people understand this as it applies to trusting people, but they struggle to grasp the same concept with faith.  We don’t have to struggle. The solution to having a faith crisis is to exercise as much faith as we can.  If you have a question, ask God your question and expect an answer.  If you have trouble feeling the spirit, repent to the best of your ability, and then partake of the sacrament, and expect God to keep his promise. If you feel like you don’t have a testimony, study the scriptures, and pray for the spirit to bear witness to you that the words that you read are true, and expect God to send the Holy Ghost to teach you.

As for those concerned with helping others struggling with their faith, my advice is to love them, and pray for them, and listen to them if they open up with you.  Offer the best advice you can and direct them to put their faith, as much as they can muster, in Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father.

In the name of the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

In closing I’ll suggest some scriptures for your consideration: Alma 32 1 Nephi 8 Either 12 Hope I’ve helped somebody today. Regards from Elder Brown.

Covenants and the Gospel

 

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Hadley on her baptism day–with Elders Brown and Passee. 

May 8, 2017

You might be wondering why I picked this title–it is really simple; we had a baptism this week and I’ve been thinking a lot about the sacrament. So, I’m going to talk a bit about both.

First off the most important thing.  Somebody was baptized!  Her name is Hadley (Hadlee?) Christensen and she is awesome.  She is 9 years old and couldn’t be baptized at 8, so we got to teach her.  After the baptism, the bishop got up and announced that they were going to confirm her (which means she’ll be made a member of her church and receive the Holy Ghost) right then and there.  Which out of the norm.  Normally, converts to the church are confirmed during Sacrament Meeting. For it to happen right afterwards requires permission from a general authority of our church. The bishop asked for permission and got it.  (He did not tell us, so we were a bit freaked out for a while.) It all turned out for the best. The next day was our monthly Fast and Testimony Sacrament meeting (Members fast for twenty-four hours and donate the money they would have spent on food to help the hungry and needy. And instead of speakers, members who feel moved by the Spirit bear extemporaneous testimonies. Hadley bore her testimony.

As missionaries (and to an extent members of the church), we always get excited for baptisms. It’s more than just a social event (as it is sometimes seen as here in Utah). I is a covenant.  And more importantly it is the covenant that makes salvation possible and just as importantly, gives us access to the pure joy of Christ.

Jesus said in 3 Nephi 27: 15-16:

And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works. And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

This is Jesus saying that those who repent and are baptized are promised the gift of the Holy Ghost, and if they endure to the end they will live with Heavenly Father again, and be free of sin.

No other covenant, no commandment, no other way is prepared for salvation.  The Only by the way of repentance unto baptism, and baptism unto the Holy Ghost, then endure with the Holy Ghost unto the end.

There are many people who understand this–we need to be baptized to be “saved.” But many forget that once baptized we now have access to the greatest joy, which I don’t even know how to express in words. That joy comes from the Holy Ghost, and has honestly it is the reason I wanted to write this.  It is a feeling of being clean, and a feeling of limitless potential.  It has made new members of the church weep with joy, and men stand upon their feet and prophesy (JSH 1:73).  It has made those who have traveled across deserts be calm in affliction (Oct 2015 General Conference, Joy and Spiritual Survival), and those who are lost feel found (Luke 15).  It has filled a soul so much that there is no more room for hatred (Oct 2013 General Conference, Wilt Thou Be Made Whole), and has lifted those depressed from the depths of sadness to the heights of joy.  It is the joy of Christ.

When we take the sacrament we make the same covenant we made at baptism.  And we can experience that same joy if we are prepared for sacrament.  It is not just simply eating and drinking the sacrament; it is being willing (and perhaps even already making steps) to forsake our sins and to repent.  We often just take the sacrament ; but do we actually partake the sacrament.  Do we let Jesus wash away our sins?  Do we let the Holy Ghost fill us with the joy of Christ?  Or do we rush by it all, and forget our Savior?

I have a challenge this week: do whatever is necessary to be prepared for the sacrament, and meet the requirements Jesus Christ has set to be forgiven and receive the Holy Ghost.  If you follow this course then you will come to be filled by the Joy of Christ.

I leave is with you in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Regards from Elder Brown.

A Busy Week

May 1, 2016

We had a very packed week this week; but it didn’t start that way.  The beginning of the week was fairly normal–we had meetings and were looking for work (people to teach or serve). But as the week progressed things got hectic. The District leaders wanted to go on exchanges with us (which means one of us goes to their area, and one of them comes to our area).  But the day they wanted to do the exchange was the day the Zone leaders also wanted to do an exchange with us.  So, we pushed back the Zone leaders to Saturday and went on exchange with the district leader.

Afterwards, we taught a lesson with a young girl named Hadley who is going to be baptized soon.  We found out they are quite booked as well, and we scheduled the rest of the lessons we were going to teach that day.  But something came up in their family so we have no idea when we are going to be able to teach those lessons.

Also this week a recent convert named Trinity got back into town so we were able to teach her  We set up a lesson; but we thought it was with Hadley.  Fortunately, the grandfather caught us as we were working that day, and told us we had the lesson setup with Trinity.  We taught her a lesson on the plan of salvation.

We also had three parties this week.  We could only get to two parties, and I was exchanged away for one of them, but it was a way to meet people and get to know our community.

Sunday was insane.  We gave two talks, one presentation, and attended one of the parties.  And everything was on opposite sides of the stake.  We had to drive so much on Sunday, which looking back on it was really ironic.

But that was my week.

Regards from Elder Brown

Fielding 9

El Doggo Tres

 

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Me and El Doggo Tres

 

April 24, 2017

Hello from Fielding,

This week not a lot has happened in terms of missionary work, but things are moving along.

It rained a lot this week; and everywhere we go you can almost hear the internal screams of all the people, as they scream “we don’t need any more rain!”  What makes it worse is that the it is a really cold rain.  So, when we work out in it we get wet and we get cold.

I have a funny story this week.  We get followed by dogs a lot out here. One of the in-jokes Elder Passey and I have when this happens is that we call this random missionary-following dog El Doggo (because who wouldn’t name a dog El Doggo).  This week we had another El Doggo follow us; but, this one was a bit different. This El Doggo only had three legs. It sort of bunny hopped after us. Naturally, we named this dog El Doggo Tres.  When we knocked on the first house on that street, we asked if the dog was theirs and they said yes. Great! We found El Doggo Tres’ home. That would be the end of Tres’ following us. But no! After we left that house the dog still followed us, house after house, mile after mile.  We even went back home and guess what El Doggo Tres doggedly followed us there as well.  We left it outside our place, figuring that the dog would be able to find its way. Well he next morning we awoke and we found El Doggo Tres still waiting outside where we’d left him. For the next half hour we struggled to lure it back home before giving up on that idea. Instead, we put him in our car and drove him home. (Thankfully, we knew where that was).

That’s all this week.

Regards from Elder Brown.

Conference, Floods and Farm Animals

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At the Utah-Idaho border

 

April 3, 2017

This week has been very hectic.  I have a lot on my mind now, and there many things I could talk about.  But instead of talking about one things…I will talk about a bunch of things!

First, LDS General Conference was this week. Twice a year, our church has a church-wide conference where we receive guidelines from to our prophet and apostles and other leaders speak. This conference was exactly what I was hoping it would be. What I got out of this conference are two things:  The necessity of having the Holy Ghost into my life more (and how to go about doing that), and how to be a righteous Christ-like leader.  In almost every talk that really connected with me, I learned about those two things

Next off, #PrinceOfPeace.  (Elder Brown is using pound signs *gasp*). If y’all remember back to Christmas you might recall that our church had a Christmas initiative called #LightTheWorld. Well, it’s almost Easter, and now our church has an Easter one. It is called #PrinceofPeace.   And I couldn’t be happier with it.  As missionaries, we get to see this video a lot and I still never get sick of it.  I’ll post the video, but check out Mormon.org, there is a lot to this Easter celebration.  Feel free to share the video, and everything else on Mormon.org.  I don’t think anybody will regret checking this out.

Prince of Peace Video

Okay so what has been happing in my life.  Well, not much I can talk about.  But I’ll share what I can.

There have been a bunch of floods around here, though not as much lately. All the snow turned into water really, really, really, really, really, really, really quickly!  The Bear River is over twice its width, and looks like it still might get more water in it.

There are a bunch of farm animals here now (I have no idea how they got here, they just kinda appeared) and so we get to pet the animals sometimes.  I like to play around with the goats, because they are funny.  But occasionally we get followed by dogs, which reminds me if I ever get a dog, I’m going to name it El Doggo.

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*Insert cowboy pun here*

 

Everything is muddy now, and warm.  So, my winter gear isn’t helpful right now. And I have to constantly clean my shoes.  But one day the mud will dry.

That’s everything I can think about going on here in Fielding.  But outside of my mission…

…UNC made it to finals!  Carolina blue represent! Duke lost like it always should’ve.  Nothing can stop UNC now!!!

Also the TerrorBytes won states!!!!!!!  I can’t even explain how excited I am.  4561 TerrorBytes top tier! First states, and then THE WORLD!!!

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Victory for TerrorBytes! 4561 Represent!

 

Also, like nobody in Utah actually knows about FRC (FIRST Robotics Competiton) and only a few missionaries actually participated in an FRC team, but they all dropped out of it before competition. So, nobody else in this entire state is excited for this total victory except me.

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Even our car is celebrating! TerrorBytes Top Tier!

 

Until we meet again

Regards from Elder Brown

Hard Times and Hope

 

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Me holding a kid.

March 20, 2017

This has been a very up and down week for me.  I have had some struggles this week, and the week that proceeded it, that really brought me quite down. The work in the area got really disrupted, and we were unable to meet with basically anybody this week. Many of our goals were just dashed this week. And honestly, I felt abandoned.

But fortunately, I learned from this experience. I learned that God never abandons us. He’ll stay with us through the good and the bad.

I also learned—surprisingly—humility.  I didn’t expect to learn this kind of lesson from this but I did. During many parts of the past two weeks I was angry; angry that the disruption never seemed to end, angry that nothing was happening, and angry for other reasons which I won’t state.  But God ended up showing me that getting angry wasn’t going to help. In fact, being angry only made me feel worse. God showed me that by letting go of things that were not in my control and focusing on what I needed to do and could do, life becomes much easier and much happier.

I also learned to stop focusing on the negative.  It is so easy to just go on and on with negatives: negatives about the area, negatives about living conditions, negatives about ourselves. Yet God taught me that drowning ourselves in misery is, unsurprisingly, not the way to happiness.  (It turns out to be the way to misery).  In other words, be patient, and try to find the good things along the long slog ahead, because there are always good things. Do the everyday little things: say your prayers, read your scriptures, and be prepared to take the sacrament, it really makes all the difference.

And I also learned that things will always get better. At the end of this past week, real miracles happened that really helped pick me up. We found a new person to teach who knows next to nothing about Mormons (which is difficult here in Utah.)  So, we are super excited to work with her.  Things started to fall back in place.

Here is to hoping! And Guess what? Somebody fed us Spanakopita!!!

Regards from Elder Alex Brown