Christmas miracles!

It has been an amazing Christmas week! So many miracles, excitement, blessings, and happiness! Monday night, we took some ward members Christmas caroling. It was lots of fun, and we had so much success. I even had a random man give me a bag of oranges. As we was running off, he yelled, "THOSE ARE FROM GOD, NOT FROM ME!!!" Everyone was laughing so hard.

Christmas Eve was amazing. We spent all afternoon providing service to some of the missionaries in the mission. It was such a nice experience. We also had a ward Christmas party. It was so good to spend some time with the ward. We also had some less actives come. One of them made the comment, "I’m glad everyone just accepted me back, and now it feels so right." We also had an investigator there. The ward continued to spoil us, and gave us so much food/treats. The holiday season is going to make me fat!

On Christmas day, we delivered all the packages to the missionaries, so they didn’t have to travel all the way to the mission office to pick up their Christmas packages. Those missionaries never looked so excited to see us! As we were driving around, it was interesting to see the Chinese people. They just move on like it is another ordinary day. It is pretty sad, but that is why we are here, to help people learn about the baby Jesus!

We also made lots of cookies and delivered them to some less actives, investigators, and some members. They were all so grateful for them, and it felt good to do even more service on Christmas.

We had some really big miracles happen on Christmas day, we got lots of emails from the mainland representative telling us that more people were coming down for baptism. Before Christmas, we were planning on having 3 baptisms last week. After Christmas, the number jumped up to 8 baptisms. So last week we were pretty busy getting baptisms, missionary lessons, interviews, and everything else ready. It was really fun to see that many people baptised in one week!

So that was my amazing Christmas week. It was so enjoyable. I also got a picture with J-L– (the most adorable 3 year old girl in the world). She sat by me at yesterday’s baptism. She will never take pictures with the missionaries, but she finally did it yesterday! SUCCESS!

Love you all!

Love, Elder Brown

Christmas time is here!

My dearest friends and family!

聖誕快樂!This is such an amazing time of the year. Thanks for all the birthday wishes, I am so grateful for all the support I get. The ward I serve in took such great care of me on my birthday. The night before, we had the K– take us to a Japanese restaurant (pictures included). They are one of my favorite families in the entire world. The father is in the mission presidency, and the wife is the ward relief society president. Our recent convert A– also came with us. On Monday we also made the birthday cake from the package and had a little celebration with all the missionaries that came into the mission office. The day of my actual birthday, I got a nice phone call from President and Sister Hawks, then that night, a member bought a big mango cake for us to share as an apartment. You all know how much I love mango, so it was amazing.

On Friday, we had a small group of people from mainland come down to go through the temple. One lady brought her non member husband. She said, "I have tried everything, but he is too stubborn to accept the gospel. I am going to the temple, you try." She was right, he was a very stubborn man. We couldn’t get him to do anything. The most we were able to get was for him to listen to us say a prayer (this was after talking at him for an hour). The worst part was his language. He could understand mandarin or cantonese, but when he spoke, he used part mandarin, part cantonese, and two other dialects. It was so hard to understand him. Finally, we just gave him a liahona, and had him sit on the sofa while waiting for his wife… Stubborn old men.

Yesterday at church, the ward was so amazing to us. They kept bringing us Christmas presents, and giving us food. I love this ward so much. They are so amazingly nice to us missionaries. One member even bought us a whole ham!

It’s been pretty cold outside recently, but we have been bundling up to stay nice and warm. The weather here is so weird, but at least it isn’t snowing!

I hope you all have an amazing Christmas. I look forward to calling my family. Love you all lots!

Love, Elder Brown

(20 NOV 2013) The big Z (zone conferences)

Hello friends and family,

It has been a little while since I last wrote a letter to you. This past week has been completely crazy! We had zone conferences so we got to travel all over the mission again. We did some awesome trainings, and it felt good to be out and about helping people improve. Macau was my favorite of course. Elder Jackson and I ran around during our lunch break to kind of tour around the place. There is a really cool park with waterfalls and caves and ponds by the church, so we took a picture there (see attached). After the Macau conference, we had a little bit of time before our boat left, so we walked around with the Hawks. The day we were in Macau was also the Grand Prix, so they turned the island into a giant race track. We watched the motorcycles racing for a little bit. They go so incredibly fast. I think I would poop myself if you put me on a bike going that fast. We also got to see some of the cars. They are so loud, it sounds like a jet plane is taking off right next to you. It was a pretty cool experience.

We found Uncle F–! Everyone in the ward was pretty worried about Uncle F– (he is the one that fell and ended up in the Hospital). Well, they made him leave the hospital, but he didn’t go home! So everyone has been playing needle in a haystack trying to find an 85 year old Chinese man in a country of 7 million people. Well, we got a random voicemail one night from him. It was him just saying "hello" into the telephone for about 5 minutes. But we got a phone number and we were able to track him back to an old folks home. So he has been found!

On Tuesday, we ran home from our appointment because President Hawks went to pick up a new misisonary from the airport, and Sister Hawks wanted us to come eat dessert with him. When we ran through the door, President Hawks introduced Elder Jackson, but then when it got to me, the new missionary said, "I know all about you Elder Brown." I was like, "How do you know my name? How do you know me?" I was so confused. Well it turns out that he has been a follower of my blog, so for the rest of the time we were with him, he just kept quoting me and sharing my stories. It was really weird, but good to know that someone is reading and learning from my letters.

I ate pig’s feet this week. It was really weird.

I also got to call A– W–. It was fun to talk to him. He is too busy to meet with us missionaries, but he said he would call back when he has time. He was also pretty surprised that I could speak Chinese! YAY!

I had a very rewarding experience this week. As we were sitting in district meeting, a missionary was giving a training (a review of what was learned at zone conference) And she was talking about our inspired leaders President Monson, area presidency, president Hawks, the assistants… Wait, that’s me. I didn’t really realize how much the missionaries looked up to us. I thought of how many prayers were said to prepare for this conference and how many hours are spent praying and discussing the missionaries’ needs. Up until that point, I hadn’t seen myself as "one of the inspired leaders". It just felt really good, and gave me a good boost to keep working hard.

Well, that is my great week. I hope you are all doing awesome, and stay in good health. I pray lots for you all.

LOVE, Elder Brown

Party in the Shatin!

Oh man, what a week it has been. I can’t believe it is already p-day again. And next week is CHRISTMAS!!! Last week we had some new missionaries come into the mission, so we got to spend some time with them. I actually had one of the funniest experiences on my mission. So we were out on the street finding, and a random man came up to us and asked, "which came first, man or woman?" I replied, "man". He paused for a couple of seconds, then asked, "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" I replied, "The chicken of course, God created the animal, not the egg.". He paused for another couple of seconds then asked, "well how did the egg get there?". I was kind of confused by the question, so I asked him to repeat it. I was stumped, (and the new missionary didn’t really know what was going on) so I said the only answer I could think of, "Well, you take a boy chicken and a girl chicken and then they make an egg." We all started laughing really hard. After a couple of minutes of laughing, the man instantly stopped laughing, turned and just walked away. The whole situation was just so awkward, we couldn’t stop laughing even after he walked away. That is the first time I have ever explained the birds and the bees (in chicken form) to anybody, let alone in china/Chinese.

On Friday, we taught a group of people who came down from Mainland China to have a tour of the church. It was super crazy. In the lesson, we had one lady start breaking down and crying because of her family problems, we had another lady who refused to speak cantonse to us, and a mom who was telling us all her daughter’s secrets while she was there in the room. There was way too much female in the room for my companion and I, but we were still able to testify and help them learn more about Jesus. (see attached picture)

Friday night, I went on assistant/zone leader exchanges to Shatin. I was with one of my favorite people in the whole world, Elder Allen. It was also really fun, because it was the same apartment I lived in when I served Tai Wai. Being back there brought so many amazing memories. That was the same apartment I lived in last December, so it was fun to see all the familiar people, feel all the familiar feelings, smell the smells, and take a small trip down memory lane. We were also able to see some amazing success. Even though it was raining the whole time, we were still able to find them a new investigator, and even walk with him for 30 minutes back to the chapel. It was a great experience.

Yesterday we visited Uncle F– at the old folks home. He isn’t doing too good. Please pray for him. He has lost most of his memory, and is in a lot of pain. He thinks it has been 5 years since he had his stroke, not 5 months. We were able to take his home teacher with us, and it was good for him to be there. My heart broke a little as we talked with him and saw the condition he is in.

I don’t want to end on that note, so I will tell you about a miracle we had yesterday. Mrs. K–came to church! She is the investigator that is from Thailand. Miraculously, we happened to have 30 people from Thailand show up to our sacrament meeting. They were able to talk to her in Thai, and share their testimonies in her native tongue, it was such a great miracle.

Love you all. Stay amazing!

Love, Elder Brown

DINOSAURS!

Well, it has been another great week here in Hong Kong. Last p-day, we went to the dinosaur museum. It was a lot of fun. It was a little cheesy, but we all had fun looking at the fossils and the statues. Plus, I got to touch fossilized dinosaur poop!

This coming week is transfer week. My companion is going to be leaving the office, so my new companion has been with us getting trained. His name is Elder Matthew Bradley. He is from Ohio. He is one of my favorite people in the entire world, so I am very excited to be with him. I think the only time we stop laughing when we are together is while we are sleeping. It is going to be another great transfer! He was actually companions with Steve Brown in the MTC. I am his fourth companion from the Hobble Creek Stake in Springville, so it is pretty cool. It is going to be a bit of a challenge though, because his mission language is mandarin, but we serve a Cantonese ward, and any meetings we have with local leaders is in Cantonese. God is going to need to help us with this one, but he is already picking up on the language pretty fast considering he has only been learning it for 4 days.

We had a couple of miracles with finding families this week. The first was came after a couple of hours of walking around on the streets. We turn a corner, and there is a family just standing there. There was the mom, dad, and their two year old daughter (who is completely adorable). As we walked around the corner, they turned their daughter around and had her wave at us, so we went over and talked to them. THEY CONTACTED US!!! The mom actually has quite a bit of interest, and we were able to get her phone number. The second miracle family came as we were waiting for an investigator to get to the church for a lesson. There was an activity for a different ward that meets in the same building, so there was a lot of people at the chapel that night. We saw a random couple just walking around looking at the chapel. We decided to go over and talk with them, and they are super awesome. They live pretty close to the church, but have never walked in before. They decided that they wanted to learn a little more, so they just walked in, and we happened to be right there. So we were able to give them a tour of the church, exchange contact information, and send them on their way. Now we just have to pray that these two families don’t get anti’d, that seems to be the trend here in Hong Kong.

We had a member call us this week and tell us about some friend who he wanted to help introduce to the church. So we set up a tour/presentation about our church. When the "few friends" got there, they ended up being about 13 people. So we gave them a tour, and then opened it up for some question and answer sessions. They had so many questions, and it felt good to stand in front of a crowd and teach these people. It made me feel like one of the missionaries in the old times who would preach in front of big crowds. There was a few people who really had sincere interest. I love it when the members help us do the missionary work.

I have attached a story, that talks about trials. There are so many hard things in this live, but God doesn’t take them away. He gave them to us so that we can grow. Instead he gives us strength to overcome those trials, and in the meantime increase our faith, and become better, stronger people.

I love you all! Love, Elder Brown

Ingrid Olsen 12-8-13.pdf

Thanksgiving, deaths, and you guessed it… another pass out

My amazing friends and family,

This week has been a complete roller coaster. Let me start with Tuesday. We were talking to the zone leaders receiving their report so we could give it to President Hawks, when out of nowhere, we get a rapid knock on our office door. We open it up and the mission secretary is there and says, "somebody just passed out on the sidewalk outside, you need to help him." So we hung up on the zone leaders, and took off running outside. By the time we got there he was coming to his senses. His face was scratched up a little, and his glasses were broken, but he wasn’t too injured. We brought him into the church, and by that time they had one of the senior missionaries who is an ex-RM was there to help us. I am getting pretty lucky with these pass outs!

That night, we went to help the housing elders close down an apartment. There was lots of furniture that was very old and trashed, so once we got everything out of the apartment, we all wielded ourselves with hammers and went to town at breaking down large bookcases, wardrobes, desks, and other furniture down to little pieces. Talk about a good way to get rid of stress. It didn’t take 4 elders a long time to break everything down though. I also learned that if there is every a zombie apocalypse and we only have hammers, I know who I want on my side.

Thursday morning, Sister Hawks taught us how to make a turkey, because we were in charge of making it for our zone’s activity. President Hawks let each zone take a couple of hours on Thanksgiving to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner. It was a lot of fun, and it was cool to watch all the companionships work together to create a nice dinner. Everyone was so full by the time it was over, an we even had food left over. It was a great way to spend Thanksgiving.

After the Thanksgiving party, we found out that one of our recent converts had a tragedy in his family. His grandpa passed away. His whole family is taking it very hard. It is interesting, to watch a family who isn’t part of this church when a tragedy like this comes around. They are all filled with such sorrow, because they don’t believe they will see him again. What an awful thought. To never see your loved family members again. I love the hope this gospel brings, and it has been a blessing to help our recent convert gain a stronger testimony about the resurrection. It feels good to promise him that as he remains faithful, he will see his grandpa again. I love that thought, if we are all faithful, we can have eternal families. It gives me motivation to stay faithful until the end, because I love my family and I am willing to do anything to stay with them for eternity.

The sister missionaries in our ward started meeting with a less active member. Every time they met with her though, she would just say, "I will repent later, I just want to have fun right now." About a month ago, she was diagnosed with cancer. She was put on heavy doses of Chemo, but it was too much for her body, she couldn’t take the treatment. So she asked to stop treatments, and die with as little pain as possible. Whenever members or the missionaries would visit her while she was on her death bed, she would just say, "please pray with me. I want a chance to repent. I want to change now." She passed away last week, leaving behind a husband and a couple of kids. It is such a sad story, but really helps me to know the importance of being worthy at all times. We can’t put of repentance until tomorrow, because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

Yesterday we had a very successful day at church. We had a couple of people come, and the ward was very excited. I love watching people get excited about the work. I also love it when the ward leaders become active in missionary work. When they act and not wait to be acted upon. I have seen that if a quorum really wants to have success in brining investigators, or less actives to church, they need to be active. Some leaders go out and spend a lot of time working with less actives, and they are seeing the fruits of their labors. Some leaders wait for us missionaries to bring people to them, they see MUCH smaller results. So, to all of you church leaders (or just members in general) act, and don’t wait to be acted upon, and you will see blessings.

It is getting pretty cold here in Hong Kong. It is a weird cold though. Not a bite at your nose kind of cold, but a cold that starts on the inside and works it’s way out. I don’t really like the whole "humid cold", but it makes drinking a cup of hot chocolate so much more rewarding. plus, the cold weather makes it feel more like Christmas time. I am excited for the holidays!

Love, Elder Brown

the pictures are of us at the Y– family house (from last week)
The other one is of us preparing Thanksgiving dinner (how many people can you fit in one kitchen?)