Monday, December 28, 2009

Ubon Ratchathani - Dec-28-2009



Merry Christmas (belated) from Thailand from Our missionary group!

Hi All,
It was great to talk to the family a couple days ago! My Dad found a way to connect to my sister who is in New Zealand right now, so we all got on the phone and talked at once! It was great to hear from you all! No I am not homesick!
A little more about my new area: Ubon Ratchathani, It is beautiful here! It is more populated than my last area. Members here actually have cars! It is one of the largest provinces in Thailand. There are many Buddhist temples all around this place, because of this Ubon is where people travel to at the beginning of Buddhist Lent. The province borders the Mekong River in the east and you can supposedly see Cambodia. This is probably as close to Nate as I can get! (I have a friend serving in Cambodia) Hi Nate!
My companion and I are doing well and I am trying to get used to a new area! It is different! We are still on our bikes, Yes my bike survived the trip here without mishap. We are living in an apartment meant for 4 elders, but there are only 2 of us here. So we have lots of space and it is really nice.
Out of time, more later,
Keep praying for me.

Love,
Elder Brown เอ็ลเดอร์ บราวน์

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dec 16-2009

(Note from Mom): Danny tells us that he just lost this letter, cause his email crashed, but luckily he had saved it previously in word, so we got to hear from him this week! sigh...

If you would like to write to Danny, he would love to hear from you. It may take a while to get to him, since all letters go to the mission home. (4 weeks or so) Here is the address!!!

Elder Daniel Elling Brown
Thailand Bangkok Mission Home
50/829-832 Muang Thong Thani
Chaengwatana Road, T.
Ban Mai A., Pakkret, Nonthaburi 11120
Thailand



Well,

The news came. I will be moving out today. Elder Booth will also be leaving Sarakham. They are merging the areas together, so Elder Gardner and Elder Murphy will be serving together. Where I am going? I am still not sure...

I don't know if I have ever really explained it before... but in Thailand they have what is called a "moves meeting." Apparently Thailand is one of the few missions left in the world that still has a moves meeting. Once every six weeks everyone in the mission (or close to everyone) goes to Bangkok to meet together. The meeting consists of mission announcements, trainings, etc.. But the highlight of the meeting is they announce who is serving with whom and in what area. It really is quite exciting. We also get the opportunity to hear from the Elders that are leaving the mission and the Elders who are just coming in.

That will be happening tomorrow. But two days before the meeting, the assistants call to let you know if anyone is moving, so that they can pack. So I know I'm going, I just don't know where. From the inside information that I have gathered (my last companion is an AP...), I think that I will be having a native Thai companion this next moves. I really hope that I do. That will help my Thai immensely. I can communicate right now; I just sound like a Yankee. Also, it is very hard for the older generation to understand me (mostly because they can't even speak Thai themselves.) I did pick up a Laotian phrase book, so maybe that will help too. It is a very, very silly language. It is easier pronounce than Thai; but, there are more tones so that doesn't help at all.

Things I am going to miss about Sarakham:

Being out in the middle of nowhere -- Seriously though, I feel bad for people who don't have missions where they get to bike on dirt paths through rice fields while trying to wade their way through huge bamboo plants. This place is so simple. Many of the people here only work 2-3 months out of the year growing rice, then they just sit on their butts and enjoy the sun the rest of the year. It doesn't get much better than that. I will be an Easan kid the rest of my life. My accent sounds like I am from the middle of no where. That is because I am!


The investigators -- I have taught so many good people here! So many bad people too... But I really have been blessed. We have always had people to teach. I am thankful to the Lord for entrusting me with all the people that I have been able to teach here. I hope that I have taught them as much as they have taught me. Special shout outs go to Num, Jawng and his family, On, Em, Awy and her family, Man, Jimmy, Go, Dang, Oo, Wirwit and Samli.

Talking with college kids -- Sarakham is full of college kids. They really are my favorite people to talk to. The younger generation is so blunt. They will tell you straight up what they are thinking. If they are not interested they will reject you. Which is the biggest blessing ever. They also tend to be more open and less set in their ways.

The good times I had with the missionaries that I served here with -- Elder Nance, Elder Gardner, Elder Booth, Elder Murphy, and Elder Cline. Have a lot of good memories with them. I have been up and down every street in this city multiple times. Just looking down streets brings back memories; memories of good times and memories of bad times. all of which are blessings and have taught me lessons that will last me the rest of my life.


The members -- The members here are fantastic. The Lord has really been preparing them. A lot of changes are happening in the mission right now, mostly because the country has to reduce missionary numbers by over 40 Elders. This is the reason that the other area in Sarakham is being closed. All areas will be 2 Elder areas. This means that the members will have to pick up the rest of the work. I think they are ready. When I came in, they were very reliant on missionaries. Our vision here in Sarakham has been to strengthen Priesthood holders and prepare them to worthily fulfill service callings in the church. I can honestly say that are active Priesthood holders has doubled in size. They are ready. Some of the members I will miss the most:


Brother Bong: he is the 1st counselor in the branch presidency, church grounds keeper, Sunday school president, and assistant branch clerk. He is about 45 years old. He is also almost deaf, so when he goes teaching with us, it is hilarious. He never knows what we are talking about so he always testifies about the wrong thing. He is your typical Thai guy. He owns a rice selling shop in the city. I will miss his willingness to always help the Elders.

Sister Nog: is the Primary President. She is a convert of 4 years. She converted after the spirit talked to her on multiple occasions until she had no choice but to join. I am glad the Lord had her here. She is the go to person in Sarakham. She will help you all day, any day, with anything. She knows how to fix any problem. If you kick a soccer ball through a neighbor’s window, she can help you. If you break the faucet of your kitchen sink, she can help you. If your washing machine breaks and you need a new one, she can help you. If you have a craving for chocolate, she can help you. If you don't know how to find an investigators house, she can help you. She is a very great teacher and I love teaching with her because she can explain things so simply (she teaches primary.) She will be going to Salt Lake next year to go to the temple. You should try to meet her.


Brother Chaa: is a recent convert. He got the priesthood the week that I came in. He is just a cool guy. He is 22 years old and really kind. He always tries to pay for stuff for us and buys us stuff all the time. Teaching him is really interesting. I wish I could speak Thai better so I could understand his personality better. His native language is actually Cambodian though... I hope to stay friends with him in the future.

Brother Bawn: is actually a member in Galasin(a city about an hour away.) He goes to school in Sarakham and helps us teach whenever he is here. He is so willing to help with anything. He will be graduating college this year and will be going on a mission in April. I hope I get to be companions with him! The first lesson I ever taught in Thailand he was helping us teach. He is an all-around great guy.

Sister Ud and her family: one of the few active families in the branch. Sister Ud, Brother No, Sister Meen, and Brother Egg. They are all great. They all have leadership callings in the branch. Sister Ud has a restaurant that we eat at almost every day. I will miss their dedication to the gospel. They also have another daughter that is out serving a mission right now.

Brother Salad and his family: are awesome! Don't worry his name isn't salad; salad actually means pirate in Thai, which makes him ten times cooler. He has a wife and two young boys. Him and his wife both speak English fluently. They both served missions and are sealed in the temple. When I got here he was inactive. He hadn't been to church in about a year. We started teaching him and just showed that we cared about him and he came back. He hasn't missed a week of church the last seven weeks since he has been back. We have even got him to start teaching with the Elders again. The other day he told me a joke in English. "Why does Nephi come to pass so often?" "Because he likes to play Football." I thought it was hilarious... I wish him all the success in the world.

President Sumaid -- is all you would ever want from a Branch President. He is a young guy, about 30 years old. He is unmarried. He is a return missionary. He understands how missionary work is supposed to work. He is always willing to help us. His fire is amazing; I just hope my next area will have a president comparable to him.

It has been a great five months. I'll miss you Sarakham.

Love,

เอ็ลเดอร์ บราวน์ ( Elder Brown )

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Letter # 14- Dec 02-09


Dear friends and family,

Weeks go by so fast. I can't believe that tomorrow is my six month mark. It really feels like I just got here.

I just ate a delicious Japanese suki buffet and am in very high spirits. Hopefully I will be able to take a nap today too!

Things are going really well here. It is really great, I am really starting to see the fruits of my labors from the last 3-4 months that I have been here. Now that I have been here this long, I have been able to see people that I invited progress all the way through the lessons and start preparing for baptism. It is really special to have known investigators all the way through their progression.

One thing that I have been convinced of since I have been out here is that God has a plan for everyone. Missionaries are here to find the elect. That really is the absolute truth. I'll tell two stories to illustrate the point.

First story:

There was a guy named Wichian. We owns a school supply store close to our apartment. He is in his late 40's and his kids have moved out of his house. We scheduled an appointment to come back and see him. When we got there, he accepted us in. We taught him a very relaxed, unthreatening lesson. We just taught about the importance of Jesus, and why "white people worship him." We tried to make the lesson as comfortable for him as possible. We gave him a commitment to read a pamphlet and the sermon on the mount in 3 Nephi. We set up an appointment for the three days later. We came back, and to our surprise he had read everything. We then taught him the Restoration. We told him that Joseph Smith had seen God and that he could prove it for himself. He started laughing at us. His wife came over and started rebuking us for wasting their time. We bore fervent testimony and left him with a parting notion to repent and come unto Jesus. I don't think I have ever delivered such strong testimony in my life. His heart was completely closed. He did not give us a chance. The member that we brought to help us teach was crying. Wichian however, was not interested in the slightest to continue to listen to us. He gladly ushered us out his door. (well not really his door, because they don't have doors here.)

This man was not prepared. He is not the elect.


Second story:

About 3 months ago Elder Nance and I were inviting in a neighborhood that is on the opposite end of town over by an art university called Maw Gaw. I had never been there before. (now I've been everywhere... literally I have been down every street in this whole city, that is not an exaggeration) We had a lot of our lessons fall through that day which left us with 3-4 hours of inviting in the middle of the day. Lots of rejection. We decided we were just going to take a break and go have dinner. (typically we did not eat dinner, we just worked through it and then ate at 9:00 when we got home) But we decided that we were going to work down one last street. On this street I remember 3 guys that we talked to. They were terribly rude, terribly intoxicated, and terribly bad at Thai. But then we talked to a middle-aged guy standing outside his house. I still remember his eyes. He just looked sad. He looked like he needed help. We biked over to his side of the street and talked to him, his name is Jawng. He agreed to meet with us that week. We came back to his house, we learned that he had a wife and two kids named Beer(yeah, sad huh?) and Feem. At first, we met with him out side his house, his wife, nog(bird), didn't really like us. His kids loved shaking our hands. (they think it is terribly entertaining to shake hands, it can keep them laughing for hours)

One day (I think it was the third or fourth time teaching them) his wife decided to sit in and listen to us. I don't think either of them were interested at that point, but his wife was interested in having her husband learn because she wanted him to stop drinking. That was the first miracle we saw. They continued to learn but they still were not very interested. They just simply could not understand how this message could bless them. Until one day, we decided that we would focus and teach them nothing but the Restoration of the gospel that Jesus Christ taught through the Prophet Joseph Smith. We taught this lesson for 5 or 6 times straight. One day, while we were watching the Restoration movie, they finally understood it. They finally understood the magnitude of God appearing to a 14 year old boy. That is what started it all; that is, and has to be the foundation of true faith. That was the second miracle.

We continued to teach them, they would listen more, but they were always very distracted by their kids running around. So we decided we would focus on involving their kids into the lessons. We would bring pictures and ask them questions. The nine year old girl, Beer, really caught ahold of the message. She is praying many times a day. She is sharing the message with her friends at school. She is reminding her parents to keep commitments. She is in the Book of Alma in the Book of Mormon (childrens version.) She was the third miracle. They started coming to activities and family home evenings at the church. The met a lot of members and saw how happy they were. They felt very comfortable and happy at church activities. They wanted to become like those people. That was the fourth miracle. We started to teach them the Plan of Salvation, we were explaining where we come from, why we are on this earth, and where we go after we die. They were not very interested, until one day we showed up for our appointment. They weren't there. We called them to find out they were driving to Roi-ett because Jawngs father was on his death bed. He died that next day. He has visited them as a Spirit several times since he has died. This peeked their interest in our message. This was the fifth miracle.

Next we decided we were going to focus on getting them all to church this next week. Jawng and the kids had been to church a few times (late) but Nog had yet to come, because she stayed back and ran their restaurant by herself. We showed up that day and was planning to deliver a wonderful lesson on the importance of going to church, but as we arrived they were very excited to tell us that they would all be coming to church as a family this next week. God had already prepared them, we had to do nothing. That was the sixth miracle. And our luck continued, our investigator that was going to get baptized this week, changed his day to this week. So Jawng and his entire family can come to see the baptism as well. That was the seventh miracle.

Last night we went to teach them. We had planned to teach about Jesus and the important of the atonement in all aspects of life. I brought out my picture book (I have really started to use a lot of visual aids lately, it works really really well) and showed them a picture of Jesus. Jawng started going through the picture book and saw a picture of a temple. The spirit prompted us to teach him about temples. We told him about why we go to temples, what temples are like, and the blessings that await him if he prepares himself. The spirit was very strong and he was simple star-struck. He said "I had no idea that this message was this huge." He really understood the big picture. That was the seventh miracle.

This family has been prepared. They are the elect.


As a missionary, I am finding the people that God has already prepared. The people that are so easy to teach and accept everything you say to them. I am so glad that God is in this work and is helping me at every turn, or else it would be impossible. I have really been trying to pray harder and ask God where the elect are. I ask him to lead me to the right people and to talk to the right people. If I simply find them, they will be baptized. Wish me luck!


Love,

Elder Brown

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Letter # 13 - Mahasarakham- Nov 25-09


Hey!

It amazes me.

People are so different. Everyone has a different story. People are built by these different experiences. When teaching investigators, it is always different. Certain things click with some people, certain things are hard for some people.

It is amazing to see how God works. He works on such an individual basis. He works based on the needs of the individual, yet at the end, they all arrive at the same place. They all receive their answer in different ways, but the answer itself is always the same. That God lives. He micro-manages so perfectly that it appears to be on a macro-scale.

This unifies everyone. These different people are unified, brought into the path of God. As they strive to be fully converted they become more like God. They all arrive at the same place. They all are heading towards perfection. Heading towards truth, heading towards God.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because of one of our investigators. He will be getting baptized next week! He is a very humble man. He is uneducated by the worlds standards, he can't really speak Thai or read well. He had some very hard problems to deal with. But because of the kind of man he is, all of these obstacles were very easily overcome.

His testimony is simple. He knows it is true because he feels God's love for him. So he will do everything he can to be able to be baptized. At first, He didn't understand the doctrine at all. That does not matter. He was willing to sacrifice everything in order to be obedient. Now his sins will be washed away. It will be an amazing day. The atonement really is infinite.

So how can someone like this gain a testimony? He can't even read. I've decided it comes down to two things. All it comes down to is a desire and humility. Once we have those two things (and maintain those two things), all we have to do is hear the word of God. After that, we WILL gain exhalation if we maintain a desire and a humble heart.


This week was Zone Conference. We had a General Authority come visit, his name is Elder Pratt. He spoke this last conference. He is actually in the South-East Asia mission presidency, so that is always fun.

His words were very interesting. He talked about the prophecy of Daniel, about the stone being cut out of the mountain without hands. (very complicated prophecy, you can look it up if you want, but it is quite confusing) Basically this stone is the gospel, and it has been established by God, and it will fill the whole Earth.

He emphasized on the importance of prayer. Particularly on the importance of kneeling when praying. It was quite a wake-up call.

He also focused on the importance of memorization, which is something I have been slacking on. I have been waiting for the new edition of the Book of Mormon to start memorizing things, but turns out it won't be out until next November... so that is something I will start doing.

Things are changing here in this mission. It has to change. The status-quo is not good enough, and we will improve. Hard, effective work by the missionaries and the members is the only way.

That's it.


Love,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Letter#12 Bangkok-Nov-17-2009


Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand


Hello All,

Crazy week. Lots of work.

So, big event this week was moves meeting. We found out that two people were leaving Mahasarakham. Turns out that Elder Cline and Elder Nance were leaving. We left the area Tuesday afternoon to go down to Bangkok to meet our new companions.

The train ride down was about as good as 10 hour train rides can be (not very good.) But I did manage to get a little sleep. I was very nervous about my new companion and was hoping he would be as good as Elder Nance. I had a great 13 weeks with Elder Nance. I'll miss my daddy.

Side note: There is a big metaphor of play names for certain people. Your trainer is called your dad. You are called his kid. Your second companion is your uncle. If your kid trains you are called his grandparent. Your greeny area is where you are born. Your last area is called where you die. Branch Presidents companions are called the Branch President's wife. Etc.. All very silly.
End side note.


Moves this time was wild. I saw my whole MTC district there. (some of them I hadn't seen since the first day in country) It was a very big moves. Five Zone Leaders were being replaced, a Branch President, and an Assistant to the President. Craziest part of the moves was that my companion, Elder Nance, was called to be Assistant. Very very exciting! He had kept it a complete secret from me, I had no idea! Everyone was pretty shocked, he had kept a really good secret. He will do a great job.

I was assigned a new companion, Elder Gardner. He is a sweet guy. He is from Chandler, Arizona. He has been on his mission for about 16 months. Last moves he trained an Elder from my MTC district, Elder McConckie. I am really excited for this moves, even though it will be short. (it will only be five weeks, and one is already over)

Things have been difficult the last week because he is new to the area. He does not know any of the investigators, members, or locations. So I have been leading the companionship. He is catching on very quickly and I have been able to relax a little bit more. It has been fun to feel what it is like to lead though. All I can say is I am not ready yet. Maybe in another moves or two.

Elder Booth also got a new companion. His name is Elder Murphy, he is from Missouri. He is actually in the group 6 weeks ahead of me, so I know him from the MTC. Cool. So that means inside Sarakham we have Elder Brown, Elder Gardner, Elder Booth, and Elder Murphy. We have a great team here; the Son's of Mosiah would be jealous. :p

Cold season is finally setting in. It is absolutely awesome!!! Yesterday I went the entire day without sweating! It is kinda silly. All of the natives here think it is freezing! So, they wear really big jackets. They also put jackets on all the stray dogs because they believe it gives them good karma!

Cultural note: Speaking of dogs... I don't think I have ever talked about how many dogs there are here. They also think it is really bad karma to kill animals, so they have a really bad problem with dogs/cats. It is gross! They all have a lot of diseases and are so unhealthy you can't touch them. Oh well.

Speaking of Food: Every meal here is served with rice... except occasionally it will be served with noodles. There are different varities of rice though. There is white rice, brown rice, and sticky rice. Sticky rice is crazy good. On top of the rice is usually some sort of meat... pork, chicken, or fish. They eat lots of vegetables here as well. There is usually almost always an egg. Some of the food is bland, but I have found ways to keep things interesting.


Speaking of food. We just left Swenson's. Do you know what Swenson's is? It is a delicious American icecream chain that I never heard about until I got here. Apparently it is all over California. Yay for food chains. So we have all the essential food chains here! (I understand my friend Nate serving in Cambodia doesn't have any of these luxuries) In my city we have a couple 7-11's, a Swensons, a KFC, and a McDonalds. Everything a person needs to be happy.(Sorry Nate):{

I was writing to someone else and told her that you learn a lot on a mission.
And I thought I would share that thought with you guys as well. I told her that I
think that God invented missions to build strong members, not to gain new members. Because if God wanted to gain new members, He could just do it. I think it is designed to be more of a learning experience for the missionaries to prepare us as future leaders/fathers. God wants it to be hard, to help prepare us for life. I feel like my perspective of a lot of things has grown so much. I don't know how I would have ever gained such insight without this mission experience.

That's all I got.

Enjoy America.

Love,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Letter #11-Sarakham-Nov-11-09


Hi

End of my second "moves" here in country. That means that I am officially out of my training period. That also means that I will be going down to Bangkok today. We received news from the president that I'll be staying here in Sarakham with Elder Booth, and we will both be receiving new companions. We will get to meet them tomorrow.

Also exciting news. Today we will be taking a train from Kohn-kan, so that means we will be eating at T-bones. I have never eaten there, but I have heard the legends. It is an all-you-can-eat steak restaurant. Pork, beef, chicken, mashed potatoes, rolls, etc.. I am currently very excited. I have not had mashed potatoes in 6 months.

On that note. I have really been eating a lot of food lately. People in Thailand are all very very generous and they are very into food. Since Elder Nance is leaving the area after being here for 6 months. Everyone wants to take him out to eat and buy him stuff. Needless to say, I get to come along for the ride. We have been eating multiple meals a day at very expensive restaurants(expensive is relative) and eating so much that we can't move. It has been a good week! Well at least so far... I have not gone to 7-11 to weigh myself yet. (yeah... you go to 7-11 to weigh yourself here... weird, huh?) I probably gained a kilo or two.

On other good news we had a baptism this week. A lady named Dang. She is sweet. She is so Easan (basically the equivalent of being a hick.) She doesn't really even speak Thai, so it is hard. She bore her testimony in Easan after the baptism though, so that was fun to hear. Her husband will most likely be getting baptized in a few weeks. He is so great. I have great hope for him. They both come to church every week. They live about 60 kilos away, so it takes about 90 minutes to ride their motorcycle. They have great faith.

The second part of this letter was lost by email problems on Danny's end. He says he sends letters in parts because if they get too long they don't send.
the third part says


Letter Part 3:
Oh Thai. It really is quite fun! Thai is getting really fun now. I am really starting to be able to read fast. I am hoping to finish the Book of Mormon in Thai in another 2 months. I can read about as fast as most of the members here. (that isn't saying too much though... most people here have difficulty reading :)

An educational fact about Thailand; They don't have HALLOWEEN! I totally forgot that Halloween already happened. They have a holiday called rooy gratong though. It is almost at the same time. Fun holiday, too bad I didn't understand any of it. Something about worshiping a river Goddess and sending your sins up in flaming kites into the sky. Yeah, weird. Interesting way to get rid of sins! I am sure the Thai people would think our Halloween traditions very strange also. It is all good fun.

Well out of time,
Thailand is so sweet. Everyone should get a chance to come to this place. This place is so pretty. You have to come here sometime.
It really is the best place on Earth.
Church is true,

Love
Elder Brown

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Letter #10-Kohn-gahn-11-04-09


Hi.

Long day of traveling today. Have you ever noticed that traveling makes you really tired? I think I finally figured out why. Driving in a car/bus/train/etc. makes you bump around a lot. You have to use a lot of muscles to keep your body in the same place. Very exhausting, especially in Thailand. Buses in Thailand are pretty "sketch" usually. Typically the floors are made out of wood and the ceilings are made out of aluminum (makes for nice hot temperatures in the sun.) Sometimes they have air conditioning, sometimes they have fans, and sometimes they have nothing but windows that don't roll down...sigh.

Luckily today was a really good bus, we had air and nice comfortable seats. Today for preparation day we had a zone activity in Kohn-gahn at the king cobra farm/reservation. Yes, cobra farm! It was fairly amusing. Lots of big snakes. They put on a snake show where guys would battle with the snakes. It looked terribly dangerous. That is a big difference between Thailand and America. If I saw that farm in America, I wouldn't be too worried. I would know that the trainers were licensed and that everything was perfectly safe; but in Thailand things are different. Most of the trainers had missing fingers, and their was no safety precautions. Fun stuff.

Needless to say, that took up the majority of my day today. Meaning I only have about 5 minutes to write this email. So sorry again, I seem to always be out of time. I should have time to share one story.

I've figured out the number one problem of missionary work. People do not understand the Restoration. People do not understand that we believe that we are the only true church. People do not understand the magnitude of Joseph Smith seeing God and Jesus face to face.

Once they understand the restoration, they are faced with a choice. They either have to think we are crazy or they have to investigate further. There really is no middle ground. Either Joseph Smith saw God or he didn't. If he didn't oh well.... If he did, that is a pretty significant event that should effect most peoples life. Once they understand the restoration, the rest of our message has meaning. The rest of the doctrine is so significant because if Joseph Smith saw God, then the rest is true.

Anyways, we have been teaching nothing but the Restoration lately. Over and over again until people get it. We had success with this method with a family we are teaching. They weren't very interested. We had been teaching them for about 3 weeks, and they were very complacent, but once they understood the restoration they wanted to meet with us, they wanted to keep commitments.

To make a long story short, they started praying as a family. Last time we saw them we had their 9 year old daughter say the closing prayer of the lesson. It was a very powerful experience.

I know that through the Prophet Joseph Smith the Gospel was restored to the earth. I know he saw and talked to God and Jesus Christ! I am so grateful for this knowledge and testimony.

Anyways, I got to go. Talk to you in a week, I'll be in Bangkok next week for moves. See you then. Love you.


Love,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Letter #9 Mahasarakham Thailand-Oct 21-09

Our Church in Sarakham

Hello All!

Today we played sports from 9 until about 2.
5 hours of exercising is a lot for my out of shape missionary body! Yesterday was Zone Lesson, so not all of the Elders in the Zone came back, but some of them came. We had a total of 10 people. We played a couple rounds of soccer, a few games of volleyball, and a lot of ping-pong. Speaking of ping-pong. I am getting pretty good. We have a ping-pong table in our apartment(no idea how it got there), we use it every morning for our 30 minutes of exercising. Asians sure love their ping-pong.

A lot has happened lately, I am not sure where to start. First thing that comes into my mind is the language. I am very happy where my language is right now. The last two days language has come so easily. I have been able to understand almost everything that has been said to me (as long as it is Thai and not Suay, Easian, Lao, Ngo, Corad, Khmer, etc..) I have been fasting a lot for help with the language lately and I think it has really paid off. I have started reading the Book of Mormon a lot in Thai, I am half-way through Jacob now. I am able to say almost everything I want to say (sometimes I have to circumlocute.) Yesterday I led all the lessons as well. I'm so glad for all the help I've received; it really is a relief to not have to worry about speaking so much. Keep praying for me, it really helps!

Next up. I want to talk about Preach My Gospel for a little bit. Preach My Gospel is the "missionary" manual that we use. It was released about 4-5 years ago. I can't say enough about this book. I strongly recommend everyone to read this book. It contains all of the "necessary" doctrine of the church in VERY simple and straight wording. It also contains many sections and chapters on how to perfect yourself. There is so much knowledge, teaching skills, and spiritual information it is almost ridiculous. Again, I suggest all members: new members, veteran members, old people, young people, people who have served missions, people who are thinking about serving a mission, and non-members, read Preach my Gospel. I have recently begun studying the book much more closely. I am making a check-list of all the suggestions in the book that I am not currently doing. The list has already gotten very long. I can assure you that if you follow the precepts in the book, you will notice a sharp increase in your personal spirituality.

This past week, Elder Nance and I had a special fast for success with our baptismal goals this moves, particularly with Dang and Uuh. We are really moving very quickly with Dang and Uuh and we were worried that they wouldn't be able to overcome their addictions in time. We fasted for them and then met with them three days later. When we got there, we found out that they had both quit, cold-turkey, all of their addictions three days before (the same day we fasted.) We were very impressed. (again, I can't say enough about the power of fasting)

This week we will be having a baptismal service in Sarakham, but I won't be able to be here. It is one of the other Elders investigators. His name is Wirawhit. I'm sad that I will be gone that day. He is a lawyer and a very smart man. He received his bachelors degree in theology. He grew up Buddhist, converted to Christianity in college, and then he found Mormonism. He is very influential with the Christian sects here in Sarakham. He started learning with the Elders about a year ago. One of our Zone Leaders, Elder Israelson, invited him. He learned and he found out that it was the truth. He just didn't want to believe it. He tried to deny it for many months, but after reading the Book of Mormon 6-7 times through, he decided that he had to be baptized. Needless to say, he will be greatly appreciated here. He loves missionary work and will be very happy to do missionary work with and without the Elders. He is also in the middle of writing a book about how the Book of Mormon is true. Very impressive individual.

This week I had a rather fun thought that I'd like to share. I like agency. It is one of my very favorite points of doctrine in the gospel. Everything relates back to agency. God created this Earth and sent us here to exercise agency. That was the whole point. We needed to learn how to choose. Everything God does is to help us exercise our agency properly, everything Satan does is to cause us to exercise our agency poorly. To have complete/perfect agency, four values must be met. There must be a choice. There must be a difference between the two choices. One must be capable to make the choice. One must know the full result and consequence of both sides of the choice. Needless to say, we are rarely functioning at a complete/perfect sense of agency very often. God wants us to be able to make choices. The only way He can bless us is through our choices. The only way we can learn is through choices. The only way to gain Eternal Life is through choices. So what are the choices and how do we make them? A person could learn about Christianity their entire life. They could have a doctorates degree. They could have the entire Bible memorized. This has absolutely no benefit to someone unless this knowledge somehow effects their choices or causes them to make a choice. God's mission is to help us make these choices. That is why He has missionary work. Missionaries find people. We bring them knowledge, but more importantly, we bring them choices. We invite them to change their life. We give them the two options, we tell them the difference between the two options, we give them the ability to change, and we explain the consequences of both choices.
Missionaries are an extension of God's mission to bring people agency.

I'm sure your bored of my spiritual babblings by this point. But I have one last comment to make. It is about faith.

Recently I have become completely fascinated by faith. Faith is my number one priority at the moment. I am working every day to do everything that the Lord has asked in order to build faith. The comment I would like to mention is about the two kinds of faith.

All faith is things hoped for, which are not seen, but true.
The first type of faith is the faith in things that will happen such as: faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, faith that God exists, etc.. This is the type of faith that is built through experience and expectation.

But, there is a second type of faith, a more rare breed of faith. The second type of faith is a faith that causes things to happen. A faith that changes the outcome of a situation. I have heard many people say, "I can not have faith that that investigator will be baptized, faith has to be something that is true, and they have no hope."
I feel that a sufficient enough amount of faith can literally change the outcome and cause an action to happen.

I've got many more things to say today, but I feel what I have written is sufficient. Hope all is well. This church is true, if you don't believe me. Come ask me. I'll have God convince you. Love you all.


Love,

Elder Brown

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Letter #8 Mahasarakham Thailand-Oct 7-09

Sunset in Mahasarakham!!! It is beautiful here!

HI!

Today is great. Nice beautiful day. It almost feels like cold season is here... (about 90 degrees)

Yesterday was a really hard day. We worked really hard so I am still kinda in a daze. We had 8 teaching appointments.

Today I'd like to talk about Prayer and Fasting. Hopefully I will have time.


Last week we received a forwarded letter from President Smith from a lady named Coleen. She is about 70 years-old and lives in Salt Lake. She served a English service mission here in Mahasarakham about 10 years ago. She felt impressed to sent us the names and addresses of two people that she has kept in-contact with here in Mahasarakham.

We had the opportunity to go visit the first family this Monday. The fathers name is Somchaay and he lives in a neighborhood that we have been inviting a lot in the last few weeks.

We got to his house at around 6:00 P.M. We really weren't sure what to do. Coleen told us in the letter that we should try to approach the situation as casually as possible. She didn't want him to know that she had given us his information. She was hoping that we could simply walk by his house and accidently run into him.

We were hoping the same thing as well. We got to his house and it was very dark. We weren't sure if anyone even lived in the house. We thought that we should call President Smith and ask him how we should handle the situation. We called him, but the call didn't go through. So we decided to say a prayer instead. (duh, why didn't we think of that first?)

I said the prayer. I asked God to lead us by the Spirit so that we would know what to do.

When I said "Amen" I heard a light go on in his house. The front-door opened and a man walked out. We walked over to his gate and said hi to him. He eagerly invited us to come in and sit down.

As we went back into his backyard I received the impression that I was supposed to leave my backpack on my bike. I hesitated but I left it there.

We went into his backyard and chatted for a bit. We started talking about relgion. He is a fairly devout Buddhist. We talked about religion and beliefs for about 30 minutes. He seemed fairly interested. We asked him if we could come back another day and he said no.

It was fairly surprising. I know we followed the Spirit and that we were led to that man. We did everything we were supposed to. As we were leaving we wanted to leave him a pamphlet to read. Elder Nance reached into his bag to give him a "Restoration" pamphlet. He was out of Restoaration pamphlets. He asked if I had one, I told him I had left my backpack on my bike.

So instead Elder Nance gave him a "Plan of Salvation" pamphlet. I know that that is what we were supposed to do.

Our prayer was answered. God brought that man to us. The Spirit guided us in teaching him.

Even though it might seem that the occasion was unsuccessful, I have a feeling that we will be seeing Somchaay sometime in the future. Monday he was not ready, but contact has been made; a seed has been planted. I plan on visiting him sometime in the not so distant future.


Next:

There is true power in fasting. Really. God wants to bless us, but He is bound by rules. All we have to do is excercise our faith and then He can bless us.

God is bound by obedience and sacrifice.

We receive blessings through obedience because God has commanded us to do certain things. If we make the choice to follow Him we will be blessed.

Sacrifice works on a very similiar basis. As we give God things that He has not neccesarily asked for, we are entitled to more blessings. Sacrifice is the higher law. As we strive to be perfectly obedient, we can also go above and beyond the call-of-duty through sacrifice. We can give God things that He never, and sometimes can't, ask for.

Fasting is a sacrifice. As we dilligently fast we are entitled to help and revelation. This month I fasted for help with the fluency in the language. I also asked that we would be able to have a baptism this move and next moves. Lastly, I asked that we would be able to find more people to teach.

I can honestly say that God answered my prayers that day. As a companionship we received revelation on how we are able to get 3 or 4 baptisms this moves. Before fasting I would have not of thought it to be possible, but the day after we fasted the plan unfolded in my head as though it was placed there by magic.

We have also been receiving so many people to teach that we do not even have time to schedule appointments with them. We have to simply take their number and call them later when we have time open.

Prayer and Fasting. It works. Try it! Love you all.


Love,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Letter #7 Mahasarakham, Thailand- Sept 29-2009


HELLO! My first moves is over. Boy is moves-time crazy.

At the end of the 6 weeks we get a call on Tuesday around noon. That is when we find out callings/assignments/companions/areas. Everyone is always very nervous and excited. Going to bed Monday night feels a lot like Christmas Eve. Staying focused while studying Tuesday morning was very very hard.

Every Monday we have District Meeting, and at the end of the District Meeting before moves we have a "phayagawn" session. That is the thai word for "prophesy". We have a white-board and everyone makes guesses of what they think will happen in the moves.

The results of moves was rather uneventful. No one from Mahasarakham is moving. Only two people from the entire zone are moving and only 10 people from the easion are even going down to Bangkok. So it is time to get back to work. With that all said and done it means that I wil be in Mahasarakham for at least 2 more moves. (because my companion has to leave next moves, and if he moves I can't move)

With the lack of changing, it sure still feels like a time of change:

The rainy season is about over and we are going into the "cold" season. (notice the quotation marks)
All the beautiful green rice fields are starting to go brown.
The school semester is coming to an end here soon, so Sarakham will be a ghost town.

(On an interesting side note... the word Mahasarakham in Thai means "a great place of learning" because of it's name there are many many many colleges here. The place is packed with students.)

Even the church is changing a lot here! Last week the churches name changed. The word "saint" in Thai was re-translated from "sidichon" to "wisudichon". Now that the name changed, EVERYTHING has to be reprinted. All manuals, books, etc..

They changed many other words too. About 2-3% of the words in the Book of Mormon are going to change too. All the new translated materials should be released at the beginning of next year.

Most of the changes are very good. A lot of gospel words are very very difficult to translate into Thai. The culture is so different and there is just not a simple way to express many of the ideas we have in English.

Words like charity, chastity, prophet, heaven, etc. are very difficult to describe in Thai without giving them a false perception.

Many of the words are simply changing but a lot of them are just being updated so that they are the same as the Bible we use. Since the Thai Bible was translated from the Luther Bible a lot of the words, especially the names, are very weird. So they are updating them to be accurate with the German Translation to confuse less people.

All this change and many other things. Also the year is almost over and the year will change. 2553 seems like it is so far away.
(Another side note: The year is not 2009 here. Our calender system is based of the birth of Christ, there calender system is 543 years different. It is based off of when Buddha reached enlightenment.)
(Yet another side note: This year, 2552, will be the last palindrome year of my life unless I live to be 122 years old.)

Life is fleeting, very fragile and changing. No matter how much we want to think or make it otherwise. We may think that things will be the same in 20 years, but they will not be. Even outer-space, no matter how dominant and stable it may seem, it is always changing; whether or not we can perceive it. Stars will die, universes will collapse, and new solar-systems will be born.

With all these changes I'm so glad that some things do stay the same. The only truly unchanging thing is God. He is constant; he reminds so because he is perfect. He can not vary or sway from the consistency. That is why we can and MUST rely on Him.

In the whirlwind-life that we live in we can always look to God and see a constant. We can pray to Him and be given a rest from the unknown. I am so grateful for the knowledge of God and for the ability to look to Him and feel peace. I know that the only way to feel that true peace is in and through our living, unchanging God.


Love,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Letter #6 Mahasarakham, Thailand Sept-23-2009



"Phra That Na Dun" from a Buddhist park located in Na Dun district of Maha Sarakham Province


Last week in the moves! Crazy that moves is next Tuesday. Every 6 weeks "moves" happens. That is when the mission president receives revelation on who is going where, with who, and doing what. I'll know in 5 more days if anything is changing for me. I suspect that my district will remain the same, but time will tell!

Today was sports day. The last preperation day in the moves the zone gets together and plays sports. We all met at the church here in Mahasarakham. It was nice not having to go travel anywhere for the activity. We played soccer and ping-pong for a couple of hours and ate together. It was fun. It was nice to get some excercise aside from biking.

On a side note, we do have a ping-pong table in our apartment. Not quite sure where it came from, but whoever was the Elder that bought it, we appreciate it! Not only because we can play ping-pong on it every morning for our 30 minutes of "exercise," but we can also use it as a dinner table! It just so happens that our ping-pong table is the only piece of furniture in the whole house. Joy!

I hope I don't move out of Sarakham this moves. Just thinking that I could be somewhere different in 7 more days is very scary. There is a lot that I still want to do here. I still haven't taken hardly any pictures of this place. I have a feeling that I will be here for 3 more moves though. That is around 4+ more months. Time will tell.

This week has been incredible in terms of people to teach. So far this week (today is Wednesday) we've taught 8 lessons with a member. Lessons with a member is probably the most telling indicator. Lessons without a member are very difficult. Investigators hardly ever understand what we are teaching and are afraid to ask us questions because they feel we won't understand. I am grateful to have a branch that has lots of willing people to help us teach.

Today we were teaching a guy named Dang (means red in Thai), he lives very far outside the city (about 50 kilos), so he has a very hard time understanding our Thai. We would say something to him, he would look very very confused, then Brother Rung would say the exact same thing and he would understand. Thais understand Thais. Silly white people.

On a side note, I have started to enjoy rotten-fish sauce. Pretty much every good dish here in the Esan has rotten-fish sauce in it. It actually has a pretty good flavor. I still can't really eat the fish here... but fish sauce and fish eggs are pretty good.

I've been lucky to have had some time play the piano quite a bit since I have been here. I play the piano every week at church for sacrament meeting, priesthood meeting, and the new investigators class. I even get to practice quite a bit. Whenever Elder Nance and I go to the church to mass-call people (happens once or twice a week) I ususally just play the piano. I'm really happy that I stuck with piano long enough that I can sight-read hymns. The Mahasarakham branch hasn't had a pianist for a couple of years. Many of the members in the branch have never heard hymns sung with a piano until I came.

I have also been using some of my extra time at night and on preperation days to learn the Ukalele. One of the other Elders in my district, Elder Cline, has a Ukalele. I am getting pretty good. I know enough chords that I can play most hymns and primary songs with a little practice. I ordered a Ukalele from Roi-ett, it should arrive in a week or two.


That's all I got for the week. Juhgan next week.


Love,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Letter #5 from Mahasarakham,Thailand 09/16/09


Missionary
mish-on-ar-y
1. A person who gives up living with his family for two years to teach other people how to live with their family for eternity.

I don't have much time to write anything this week. This week has started out fantastically. Monday was the most successful day I've had on my mission. We had two different investigators(both have families) ask us if they could be baptized and how they do it. That is always a good sign.

We have been getting so many families to teach. I don't know where they have been coming from. Our general inviting approached has changed a lot to completely center around the message of the family. When I talk to someone I ask them about their family, ask them what kind of blessings they have seen from having a family, and why they think we are born into families. I then will usually tell them about the temple and eternal families. Thai people are simply fascinated about the temple. It truely is God's house. He visits it often.

Oh the mericful plan of our loving God...

I'm really grateful for eternal families. Love you all.

Love,
Elder Brown

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Letter #4 -Mahasarakham,Thailand-Sept 08 2009



To the left is a picture of a buddhist monastery.


Well. As you guessed. I have like no time today to write anything. I need to start writing more letters so that I have less emails to answer. I'll try to start writing letters so I have more time to write here on this blog.

Anyways. This week was interesting. We set our goals VERY high and had high hopes for this week. But the Lord had a different idea. Half-way through the week we decided it was time for Spring cleaning. We basically got rid of ALL of our investigators that weren't keeping commitments consistently. (we challenged 8 people with baptismal dates in one day)

The old method: find people to teach. The new method: find people that are really interested and ready to be taught. Our inviting technique has been changed a lot the last few days. We invite people quicker and refer quickly and powerfully to the restored message of the Gospel. It seems like the last few days it has been helping, but it is too early to tell.

Letting go of investigators is a hard thing, but it is a very necessary thing. It relates very well to the story of an apple tree.

An apple tree has lots of fruit. The apples ripen at different times. If we spend all of our time waiting for an unripened apple to become ripe, we will waste time. During that time wasted, there will be many apples that will ripen and fall to the ground and rot away. We want to find the apples that are ready.

It requires a lot of trust in the Lord to let people go. Just being here a few weeks I have developed good relationships with some of our investigators. But we have to exercise faith and have hope that God will give us someone better and more prepared to fill their places.

At the moment we have 3-4 investigators that are very committed to baptism and are excited and committed. The rest of our teaching pool is new investigators. We have been finding lots of families lately, which is very weird. It is the best teaching families; we can only offer our "super-deluxe" package to families, exaltation.

Anyways. I have just enough time this week to talk about one of our investigators. His name is Num. He is around 45 years old and would best be described as a hippy. A year ago he drank every day, smoked several packs a day, and was very addicted to coffee. These addictions came when he ran into a hard part in his life.

About 5 years ago he sent his Wife and 2 kids to America for a vacation. He had to stay in Thailand because he had to work. His family never came back.

It is amazing to think that he has come this far. He hasn't drunk alcohol in months. Is down to 2 cigarettes and day and mixes in a small amount of coffee in hot chocolate each morning.

He reads at least 2 chapters in the Book of Mormon a day. He prays at least 7 times a day. He has a sincere desire to be baptized.

He is such a great guy. I hope he makes it into the water some day soon. His life has been turned around so much by the Gospel.

I've gotta run. Next week I'll try to make more time to write. Later!!


Love,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Letter #3 from Mahasarakham,Thailand Sept-2-09


The first part of Danny's letter got lost somehow, so this is it for this week!

Danny sent home this picture of a spider with this explanation...

Yes that is a spider. The coin next to it is about twice the size of a quarter. That thing jumped at me while I was in the bathroom. Joy!

Cont-So, you know how they say there is a Starbucks on every corner in the US? I think that is a bit of an exaggeration... But I think it is a safe and accurate statement to say that there is a 7-11 on every corner in Thailand. It is insane. Not sure why the Thai's love their "sewen" so much. But they do. Anyways.

Yesterday, we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. Elder Israelsen came here to Mahasarakham and Elder Nance went to Roi-et with Elder Christiansen. It was a great experience for me! Elder Israelsen is such a great guy. He has been out for almost 2 years. He is from Logan, Utah. He really pushed me a lot, especially when we were out inviting. He made me do a lot of talking, it was fun and helped me grow.

A monk actually came up and talked to us. We told him about Joseph Smith and gave him a pass-along-card. He was very interested! He told us he would give us a call and have us come teach all the monks at his temple sometime. I hope he does! That would be very great... As long as we are invited, I think it is ok. Plus, it was a Zone Leader who did it... so it has to be ok!

I have to go! Sorry my email was so short this week. Hope all is well at home. Love you all.

Love,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

letter #2 from Mahasarakham,Thailand 08/25/09




Hello yanks.

Well it is week 2. Things are starting to settle down in Mahasarakham. I am getting into the routine of how things work.

Just some quick news about mail. The mail situation will not be nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. To send mail to me you need 1 international stamp. (98 cents I think) After you send it, it will arrive in Thailand in 14ish days. After it arrives at the mission office, the office elders forward all mail to the correct areas every week. (that must be a sucky job). So from the time you send a letter until the time I get it should be about 3 weeks. So write me some letters! I'll try to do likewise but I am still pretty busy.

Packages are a letter bit different. First off... if anyone desires to send me a package for some strange reason... do not send it UPS or Fedex or DHL. When the package gets here, it would cost me like 50 bucks. Please send packages USPS or USPS express only. (that is the regular postage service) Not sure how long packages take to ship... probably around 3-4 weeks. Packages can be picked up at moves meetings and at Zone conferences... so that is every 3-6 weeks. So if you want to send me a Christmas present, now would be the time to do it. Be aware... packages are expensive. :)

Anyways.
I don't have very much time to write today, simply because i wasted a lot of it trying to figure out how to upload pictures...

Language. The language is very difficult here. Sometimes it is better than others. Some people just speak so un-"chad" that it is ridiculous! The area I am in is equivalent to the South in America. The speech and slang is very different. Usually people can understand what I am saying (at least they pretend like they can), but it is very difficult for me to understand people. Girls are easier to understand for some reason. (too bad we can never teach girls...) I'm continuing to study every day. We get 1 hour in the morning for language. That is useful, but I think just being outside talking to people doing more for my listening and speaking skills than anything else.

Speaking of teaching girls. Obviously the rules on teaching girls is very strict. We pretty much can never do it, unless it is a referral, we have another priesthood member there, and it is at the church. President Smith is particularly pushing this lately because of the antics that happened last month. That makes things hard.

Funny thing though. We were in a lesson last week teaching this 20 year-old named Man. (so yes, clearly he was a man) After about 10-15 minutes, 6 girls and a gay guy walk into the house and sit down to listen to our lesson. That was very awkward. Elder Nance and I just pretended like they weren't there. After about 15-20 minutes they left. I guess they got sick of hearing our incoherent ramblings.

Man is good though. We met him after a few hours of very fruitless inviting. We saw him in a garage playing guitar by himself and asked if we could come and talk to him. We sat with him and played the guitar for a few minutes. He then asked us if we could teach him more about Jesus. It was fairly surprising. When we teach him next we will bring a member with us. I have good hopes for him.

We really do have a lot of investigators, a lot of progressing investigators, and a lot of investigators with a baptismal date. The problem is, they are all new. There were very few when I got into the area, but now things are starting up and we have tons of people to teach. We just need to get them going to church.

We have been having a lot of brain-storming sessions on how to be more successful at getting people to church. I feel like this week is going to be a really really good one.

I am out of time! Sorry it was so short this week, I'll write more next week.

Good luck!

Love,

Elder Brown

Monday, August 24, 2009

Feel free to email Danny at: elder.daniel.brown@myldsmail.net


Danny's p-days are on wednesday! Email (elder.daniel.brown@myldsmail.net) is probably the easiest/fastest way to reach him, but letters are nice too! send letters to the mission home address listed below.

Elder Daniel Elling Brown
Thailand Bangkok Mission Home Address
50/829-832 Muang Thong Thani
Chaengwatana Road, T.
Ban Mai A., Pakkret, Nonthaburi 11120
Thailand

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

#1letter 9/19/09 from Thailand - Mahasarakham area




The picture on your left is Danny's first picture from Thailand, the young Thai man (named Stop) in the front row sent it to us the day Danny arrived! Stop is a face book friend. It is taken in front of the Mission Home. It is great to see a picture of Danny and the other Elders and Sisters, THANK YOU STOP! The picture on your right is the Thailand District's last day at the MTC celebrating just prior to the group leaving for the airport and Thailand!



Hello from Thailand! (Excerpts from Danny's email)

I am very excited to write this email! I have so much to say and so little time to say it. I will try to get as much important information and fun stories into this letter as possible.

So District 29D left the MTC! It was a sunny Monday afternoon. The MTC will not be the same without us. We left in celebration. We had party hats, streamers, and a banner. We celebrated our graduation in style, and headed for the airport…..

….I tried to sit down and write some letters on the flight. Got quite a few done, then I tried to send them out! Turns out LAX does not have a mailbox. Go figure. Sorry to everyone that hasn't heard from me! I really did try, I promise. Communication will be very difficult here...

While on the point of communication, I'll address it. Mail takes 2-3 weeks both ways. Mail has to be sent to the mission home. Then I can pick it up every time I am in Bangkok... which is at MOST once every 6 weeks! So mail will be fun to communicate, but it will be slow... So email will be the quickest way to communicate. Feel free to email me at elder.daniel.brown@myldsmail.net. I will be able to respond through my family and they can forward my email to you. I get to use the computer once a week, so that will probably be the best. My email messages back might be short. Sorry! I don't have very much time to use the computer!

...After a long long journey through many airports and multiple problems we finally arrived in THAILAND!
It is amazing! I love it here! The country is beautiful!

When I arrived at the airport we were greeted by the APs, President Smith, and his wife. We then headed to the mission home. The mission home was really nice! The food there was so so so so good. It was a pretty nice place in a nice area. We got all of our business taken care of. Then the next morning was moves meeting.

It was a very fun meeting. The entire mission (around 150 missionaries) were there for this meeting. President Smith talked for a bit. He gave us a big talk on obedience because he just sent a group of missionaries home for breaking the rules:< Then the outgoing group talked and gave us advice. Then it was our turn (the new guys.) We went to the front and introduced ourselves in Thai and talked about ourselves.

Moves then took place. They called out who was going where and who they were going with. It was very intense!! I was the last person in my district to get called. I am assigned to serve with Elder Nance in the Mahasarakham area. It was great to finally know where I am going and what I will be doing!

So I am almost out of time so I will just try to hit a few more important points before I leave.

Food! Food is great here. Anything that I have bought from a restaurant has been very very healthy and delicious. (not sure about sanitation though...) I have been given things from locals and from members that has been very scary. I am not a huge fan of weeks old chicken inards-on-a-stick!!!!
My stomach may not survive!

All of our meals (except for breakfast) we eat outside the house. We just stop by little shops or stands and buy food. A good sized meal will be around 20-25 baht at a nice sit-down restaurant. That is approximately 50-65 cents. Everything is delicious! Some stuff is very spicy, but I am learning to deal with it. Out here in the Esan (in the country) the food is the spiciest and the sketchiest, so if I can handle it out here... I'll be able to handle it anywhere.

There are 7-11's everywhere! Seriously on almost every single corner. (in Bangkok there are like 3 on a corner) So we can stop by 7-11 - if we are ever in need of a treat that is some-what American.
My companions are about ready to leave, so I will have to rap it up with the story of my first teaching appointment.
We teach about 6-7 lessons a day, so we stay very busy. My first teaching appointment was on Friday (I think) with a man named Nawy. We biked out to his house. When we called him, he insisted that we came hungry so he could feed us. (not a good thing) We also brought a member with us. When we arrived at his house he was angry that we brought a member and told him that he had to wait outside his driveway. (that is when I knew things were going to get sketchy)

We went into his backyard. His house was right next to a lake. There were chickens running around everywhere. We sat down and he fed us this really sketchy stuff. I ate it to be nice. (didn't get sick, yay) He then pulled out this paper out of his wallet. On the paper was a bunch of crazy writing in Thai with weird drawings and symbols of infinity.

He started talking about how he believed in Heavenly Father and that he had a dream about Spiderman, Batman, and Michael Jackson in heaven. It was very very very confusing. He went on to talk about his drawing and how it related to God and Neptune.

We then asked him if he read the Book of Mormon. He said yes! But we found out that he just put it under his pillow at night and read it through "osmosis".

At this point we ran for it! He was a wacko, so we said a prayer and kindly invited him to church next week. Most of my other teaching appointments have not been quite that strange. (I've had some others that have gotten close though.)

It is great. I love it here. The people are great and willing to learn. The members are awesome. The food is awesome. The country is beautiful.

Sunday was great. It was District Conference. A member of the quorum of the seventy was there. It was so great to see all the branches! Lots of members!

Anyways. I have to go now. I hope to hear more from you next week! Pray for me! Pray that I can learn this dialect. (they don't speak Thai here :( it is some crazy dialect of Thai that is impossible for me to understand, I'm hopeful that I will pick it up though! :)

Love you all!

Love,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Note from the mission office about packages:

if you send a package to Danny, please
only use the U.S. Postal Service,
either by regular Air Mail or Priority Mail. *Do not use U.S. Postal service-Express mail.

If you use U.S. Postal Service Express Mail, it will incur a very large duty by the Thai government which must be paid by the missionary.

Also, if you use any private carrier, such as DHL, UPS or FedEx, it will incur a very large duty by the Thai government which must be paid by the missionary.

You can use dearelder.com to send letters-it costs about a dollar to send a letter!

Please Write Danny! He loves your letters!



For Now if you would like to mail Danny please send letters to the mission office:

Elder Daniel Elling Brown
Thailand Bangkok Mission Home Address
50/829-832 Muang Thong Thani
Chaengwatana Road, T.
Ban Mai A., Pakkret, Nonthaburi 11120
Thailand

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Letter#10 Last week in the MTC- Danny's leaving for Thailand Early!!!


Well, this is my last week in the MTC, 6 days left!

Things just keep getting busier and busier here in the MTC. It seems like I have less time to write than ever.

If you plan on writing me while I am still in the MTC, make sure that the letter gets here by Monday. I will still receive it on Monday, but after that, the letter will be lost.

I will be sending out letters next Tuesday from LAX airport, but after that. Everything will be to and from Thailand. Hopefully I'll get more information on how mailing/emailing works over there. I expect it to be pretty slow.


This week like I just mentioned, I don't have very much time. So I will just share a few things that I have learned this week. I have been focusing on the Book of Mormon a lot; I'd just like to share some facts with you about the book.

The Book of Mormon is the second best selling book in the world. It has "sold" over 142 million copies. Last year more Books of Mormon were printed in Spanish than in English. It has been printed in nearly 100 different languages and many more languages are currently being translated.

The translation process for new Book of Mormon languages is fascinating. The church is very strict on who they will accept to translate the book. Often times they spend years finding and interviewing in order to find someone who is fluent in English and in the other language. They also have to be of very high character and have the spirit with them. Often times it will be translated by a commitee of several people. This commitee with imense linguistic background, technology, and full-time effort can translate a Book of Mormon on average in 4 years.

When Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he translated it from its Reformed Egyptian into English. He had 3 years of elementary education. He was 24 years old. Barely knew English, not to mention any other language. He did not have electricity. He did not have access to a library. He translated the Book of Mormon through the power of God in 63 days. 531 pages in 63 days.

The Book of Mormon contains many forms of poetry schemes from ancient Jerusalem that were not discovered in America until well after Joseph Smith's death. The Book of Mormon has been identified as having many "writing voices". Meaning that the ancient records written by various prophets were written with a unique "voice". Whenever anyone writes, they have distinct words and grammar that they use. This voice changes around 10 times(each time a new prophet starts writing.)

Let me emphasize. Joseph Smith did NOT fabricate the Book of Mormon. That is completely impossible. He was not capable of writing such a work. He translated an ancient record through the power of god.


But don't take my word for it. Do as Moroni says in the last book of the Book of Mormon in Moroni 10:3-5.


Moroni promises us that if we read the Book of Mormon and pray about the truthfulness of the book. We are promised that God will reveal the truth unto us. I can promise you that this is true! I have tried it several times and it works!

This is why missionary work is so easy. The book sells itself, missionaries aren't even needed. We can hand an investigator the Book of Mormon, and if they would simply read it and pray about it, they WILL receive the answer from God that it is true.

So, I would encourage all of you, whether you have read the Book of Mormon or have never touched the thing. Try it out. Prove Mormonism. Read the book and pray. You will receive the answer.



I am so glad that Thailand has a Book of Mormon. The work would be so difficult without it. It is a true book and will change the life of anyone who reads it. I can promise without reassurance that if you read the book, you will be happier than you have ever been in your life.



See you all in Thailand!!!

Love,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Letter # 9-tues july 28-2009 - 13 days left in the MTC!


Hello!

So this week has been great! It went by so fast I can hardly believe it. It was fairly productive. I had a lot of great days where I got a lot of studying done and then I had other days where my mind wandered several thousand miles toward the west (or east, take your pick.) Thirteen days left! I can hardly believe it. I will be out of here before I can say Mahonrimoriankhommer. (I love being a missionary because I can make jokes like that and think that I am witty.)

Anyways, I have been neglecting to share my RC experiences over the last few weeks, so I will cover that first! I have been having amazing success in the RC, my weekly goal has been around 5-6 referrals a week. I have been fairly good at finding that many people and inviting them to learn about Christ. We are so limited in RC time that it makes things difficult; I am excited for the field when we can teach all day long!

This week, my goal was to get 5 referrals on Monday. After my 90 minute RC session, I only obtained 1 referral. Sounds like I failed, huh? NOPE! I found this amazing lady named Christina. She is a 31 year old single mom. She has a 4.5 year old boy. She is from Kentucky.

I wish I could send home a copy of the phone call that I made to her! I listened to it yesterday and wow! It is true that with the help and aid of the Holy Ghost missionaries can teach with power and authority. I don't know who was telling me what to say, but the script was amazing!

I talked to her for about 10 minutes about her life. Just how things are going. I really like to get to know people so that they can tell I am interested in their life and interested in them personally. She had SO many questions about the Plan of Salvation.

We talked for about an hour.

She shared with me a lot of amazing experiences she has had. She told me about how her 4 year-old son has been teaching her about God. He told her that he remembers watching her from Heaven, and he remembers that he chose to be sent to be her son and to learn and grow with her. He told her SPECIFIC occurrences in her life where he was watching over her. He also described God to her. How he looks like a man but much brighter and beautiful.

So. I know what you are thinking. The lady is crazy, right? No. She really is one of the most normal, straight-shooting people I have ever talked to in the RC. You can tell she is well-read and really has her act together.

Before coming on my mission, I believed in miracles. I really did. Well, at least I thought I did. I heard stories of people seeing angels and crazy mission finding stories and just thought... "Hmmm." But I can tell you for an assuridity that God does prepare people in many different ways. I believe that Christina was sent her little boy so that she could learn those essential truths.

I taught her the Plan of Salvation and at every turn she told me that I'm exactly right. She said it all sounded so familiar and had a familiar ring to it. I told her this is because we all knew the plan before coming here to Earth, we just are relearning it. She was feeling the Spirit. I taught her more about our mission here on Earth and where we go in life. She had lots of specific questions about things like cremation. I was happy that I could answer all of her questions. Even before I got to the end of my lesson she asked me, "Where is your closest church?", very exciting! I didn't even have to extend a commitment to her.

I told her about the missionaries and that there are representatives called by God that are in her area. She was very excited to meet and to talk to them. I left her with the commitment to pray and to know that all the things I talked about with her are true. I am fairly confident that God will confirm them to her.

The best part was when her co-worker came in the room and said, "Hey, Christina, who ya talkin to?" Christina said, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" her friend said, "The Mormons?! Are you crazyyyy?" then Christina said, "Hey, shut-up I like what they are saying to me, he's taught me more in 30 minutes than I've learned in a longtime."

I'm calling her back on Thursday or Friday to make sure that the missionaries made contact with her. I hope to teach her more about Jesus Christ and resolve any other concerns she has. I think she will be ready!

I'm just so glad that God trusts me with people like Christina. People that are so prepared and so ready to hear the gospel. I know it is because I am trying hard that He hands me people like her that want to learn and grow so badly.

So I finally finished all the temple-cards that I brought into the MTC! I had 6 girl cards, 16 boy cards, and 3 spousal cards.

The last two weeks I have been doing the sealings and I finished up the sealings earlier this morning. For those of you who aren't members of the church or who are not too familiar with sealings, I'll give you a quick run down.

Sealings are the crowning ordinance in the Gospel. It is the utmost blessing that can be offered here on Earth and in the life to come. Sealings are when a couple gets married in the temple for time and all eternal and gets sealed together with their family, spouse, and kids.

Over the past few weeks, it has become very apparent to me that I am not a mission to baptize. I am on a mission to get people to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. I have been keeping that in mind the last few weeks as I teach. My eyes should always be to the Lord's and with the Lord's, looking to the future. Preparing this person for what is to come.

Baptism is the gate; we learn that in the bible. It puts you on the straight and narrow and helps you gain additional blessings when you are ready to make covenants in the temple. Once they are in the temple, they can be prepared to receive that glory.

That is my purpose! To bring people to know of their immortality and to help them achieve eternal life. Sounds very similar to Moses 1:39, doesn't it?
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
How great a mission! My mission is in fact God's mission; I am so happy to engage in such a worthy cause.

For more information about the sealing ordinance take a look at D&C 131. It is a really short section, only 8 verses. They are very amazing and mysterious. You might like it. Enjoy!

With the remaining time I have I would just like to leave a quick scriptural thought. (Yeah I'm a missionary, give me a break) It is in Alma 38:2-5. Now as you read those verses, I want you to imagine that God is speaking to you. Also, replace the name "Shiblon" with your own name. Also, when it says "the people of the Zoramites" replace that with any worthy trial in your life.

1. Alma 38: 2-5
2 And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end.
3 I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering among the people of the Zoramites.
4 For I know that thou wast in bonds; yea, and I also know that thou wast stoned for the word’s sake; and thou didst bear all these things with patience because the Lord was with thee; and now thou knowest that the Lord did deliver thee.
5 And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.


Wow! Isn't that great? I came up with that myself, I thought it was very clever. Such great things God has promised us if we are obedient and diligent. I really love the word diligence. It is something that I have really been trying to achieve the last few weeks. If any of you have any good ideas on how to be more diligent, let me know!

Well in closing, I would just like to remind you all that I leave for Thailand(aka pratheedthay) in 13 days. So if you have been feeling the urge to send me a box full of goodies, now is your last chance. I will be able to receive mail up until Monday, August 10th. After that, it will have to be sent to me in Bangkok.


Geeze, the time just flies when I am writing these letters! I wish I had more that 30 minutes to write! I have so many things to say. I wish you all the best!


Love,

Elder Brown

Monday, July 27, 2009

Letter #8 tues july 21, 2009- from danny -it is late because i have been in ecuador the last 2 weeks


(The picture is an old pic of danny and his good friends after playing soccer...)


Hanlo, loog.

After today I have two P-days left in the MTC. Scary. 3 weeks from now I will be in an airplane on a 30 hour flight to the other side of the world. The flight should be great. I hope to get a lot of studying done. I am hoping we have long-layerovers in LAX and China. That way we can try to proselate and get some Books of Mormon placed in the real world. I am pretty sure I am leaving Monday night, but things may change.

So that means any letters that do not arrive here by August 10th I will not get. The Bangkok mission office address should be posted in my blog. Feel free to send me letters there! I'm not entirely sure how international postage works. I think you just have to go to the post office and buy international stamps. I think they are 98 cents a piece, who knows. Maybe I'll be able to email more, but I'm not holding my breath.

This week we got in the new Thai district! 2 new Elders and 2 new Sisters. The Elders were assigned to room with my companion and I. Unfortunately, one of the elders decided to go home after the first day. So the other elder was left without a companion and the only Elder in his district. Now that he is a solo Elder, my companion and I take him every where. We are his escorts! It works out well though. The new Elder is Thai. His mom is Thai and his dad is Laotion. He knows Laotion really well and knows quite a bit of Thai. He was born in Utah and went to Highland High School. He is nice to have around because his pronunciation is great; he went to the Thai/Lao ward in Murray for the past 3 years... so he definitely has some experience on us.

Today I'd just like to talk about missionary work and service in general. I've been thinking about it a lot this week. Why do people serve other people? Why do we even care about anyone else? Why do some people feel the need to serve and others don't? Hopefully through my study over the past week and my insight I can answer these questions.

Service is the act of love. If you love someone, you will want to serve them. You will want to do everything in your power to help them with anything they need. Kinda sounds corny, right? The words: no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care are so true.

Human beings are the only animals capable of service. We have the choice to help someone else even if it endangers or compromises ourselves. What an amazing gift! If you look throughout nature, you will not find a monkey that paid several thousand dollars to go help people in Ecuador. You will not find some insects that give up two years of their life to go care for the needs of people in Thailand. It simply doesn't exist outside of the realm of human beings.

Missionary work and service is one of the best ways to show God how much he means to you. To roughly quote Elder Packard, "The day I gave the Lord the one thing He would never take from me, I become truly free". This quote is talking about our agency. Our ability to choose what we want and when we want it.

When we came to Earth we were given free reign to choose right and wrong, bad and worse, good and better. We were given choice because it is the only way we can learn and progress. The law of agency cannot be compromised by God.

We can only willingly give our agency to God. We can submit ourselves to him, and do the things that he would want us to do. This is particularly evident in service. When we give up and sacrifice things of our own to do things for other people, we truly show God our love for him and other people. When we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of God.

Sacrifice is such a big part of service. For it to be true service we have to sacrifice something to achieve it. Can a mission truly be sacred without sacrifice? I think not.

The word phxa in Thai is one of the words they use as the linking word "for". You can only use the word phxa when the act is self-sacrificing and altruistic. Example: Elder Brown is serving a mission phxa the people of Thailand. D&C 97:8 says it very well. We must sacrifice to truly serve.


Another thought that I have been thinking a lot about lately has become one of my main goals while on a mission:

Never miss a chance to bear my testimony, don't waste that expectation.

I really enjoy this idea. Whenever I approach somebody while in Thailand, they know who I am. The first moment they see my haircut, the long pants, and the name "Jesus Christ" across my heart on my name badge... they know who I am. I don't want to be shy about my declaration. They know from that first moment that I am going to tell them something and that I am going to ask them to change their lives. They know that; they aren't dumb.

If I go up and talk to them and I don't extend a commitment to come unto Jesus Christ; if I don't bear witness to them that I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all of this world, I am wasting their expectation.

What if they would've accepted my message and I simply was too afraid or too shy to ask? All they needed was the invitation. I have made it a goal to never have any regrets about bearing my testimony. If I am prompted to share my message with a particular person, I will go talk to that person. If I get scared or get afraid that they may be too busy, I have 10 seconds to go and talk to them anyways. Missionaries must be bold! Acts 4:13


Jeffery R. Holland said during his address to the MTC that while serving a mission, you are closer to living a life similar to an Apostle then any other time in your life, he told us to use every minute of these 24 months to study and use this opportunity. (my computer just started doing weird things, it won't let me capitalize, please fix it) he told us "do not miss any chance you have to be apostalic" he literally meant it like it sounds. during this time i will have thoughts and ideas that i will never be able to have throughout the rest of my life. i better use it while i can.

well i am out of time. talk to you next week. hope all is.

love,

elder brown