Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Letter #5 from Danny-June 30th 2009


It is a blistering hot day today in Provo. How is the weather up in Salt Lake? Feels like it is in the 90's down here. It is incredible to think that Thailand is going to be 20 degrees hotter and 100% humidity. Joy!

Few updates, mission presidents came in last week. Most of them left on Sunday. It was crazy seeing so many of them. Probably was around 90 mission presidents and their wives here. It was very common to be walking to a different building and run into an Apostle or into a Seventy.

The GA fireside was postponed until Friday of last week. As expected, it turned out to be a great show. I got in line about 3 hours before the doors opened. Good thing. They opened the doors 35 minutes before the devotional was set to begin. Within 5 minutes the entire gym was full. The next 30 minutes was fun. We waited in our seats as we watched general authority after general authority walk in. It was funny to see them kick people off the stand because someone higher rank came in and they didn't have enough room on the stand! In all there was seven apostles present at the fireside. Holland, Bednar, Cook, Perry, Cristophersen, Anderson, and Oaks.

Within 5 minutes of the starting time, they announced the speaker to be Elder Holland. This came as somewhat of a surprise because he had just spoken at the MTC 2 months previous. He gave a sturring sermon on the neccesity to have the Holy Ghost with us at all times. It really gave new meaning to the phrase always having the Holy Ghost with you.

His talk was entitled "The Divine Companionship". He went on to explain that this title had several meanings. 1st it talks about your relationship with your companion; if you don't get along with your companion you cannot be successful. 2nd he talked about the divine companionship being between you and your spouse.(this was mostly aimed towards the mission presidents in the audience) 3rd is the divine companionship of the Holy Ghost that all missionaries need in order to function.

He declared that missionaries should not travel two-by-two! We should be going out three-by-three; the third companion being the Holy Ghost. He told us to ask ourselves this question at the end of everyday: "Throughout today was the Holy Ghost our Senior companion, Junior companion, or was He not in our companionship at all?" This has been something that Elder Holt and I have been evaluating everyday.

Another point he made was from the scripture in the D&C where it talks about "thou shalt not teach without the spirit of the lord". I had always thought this scripture meant that if we did not have the spirit, that we would suck at teaching, or that without the Spirit we would have to rely on our own intellect, BUT that is not what it is saying at all. The word "shall" is an imperative verb. This means that the Lord is saying "I strictly forbid you from teaching without the Spirit". "Shall" is commandment language; just like "Thou shalt not kill", to a missionary "Thou shalt not teach without the spirit" is also a commandment.

The other words that he said that distinctly stuck out to me were "welcome to the work of angels, welcome to divine companionship, welcome to the greatest hour of your life". Elder Holland went on to say that we are sending out God's "bold declaration". What a bold declaration it is! This wording comes out of 3 Nephi 11:31-41.

*As a side note*
3 Nephi 11:31-41 is quite possibly the most beautiful language ever recorded in the history of the world. It far surpasses anything I've read in the Bible or elsewhere in the Book of Mormon. It surpasses any great literature I have ever read. Shakespeare eat your heart out. These ten verses are the spoken words of Jesus Christ as he first appears in America. They are so eloquent, yet so simple. So deep, yet unmistakable. Read them as scripture. Then read them as literature. Notice the double-crossing chiasmus. The inversed points between chiasmus at the peak of A and B(v. 33 and v. 38). THERE IS NO WAY A FARM BOY WROTE THIS BOOK. The verses start out by the Savior stating that He is going to declare is doctrine. The chi ends with the same word, declare, but this time, it is the Lord commanding us to declare His words.

Back to Elder Holland, he ended his talk by assuring us that if we are obedient and have the Holy Ghost that it is enough. "It is enough, He will let those missionaries and investigators feel a touch of heaven. That is when the Earth starts to tremble & the lightning strikes. Even though it is a still, small voice, it comes as thunder."

I am running out of time. So I will just have to tell you more about this talk another time.

Things are going great in the RC! I have quite a few serious investigators. This week I called back Polly and Deborah a few times. I taught their whole family a lesson about hope and how to get through hard times with faith in Jesus Christ. My lessons were mostly focused around Alma 58:10-11 and Alma 7:11-12. They are great verses, I would suggest you check them out!

I also called a guy named Brian Richardson. He is from Ohio. He is pretty much a golden investigator, if I don't get him baptized I would be surprised. I guess we will just have to see though! I am committing him to see the missionaries and to go to church this week, so I hope that goes well. He has a desire to read the Book of Mormon, and his wife has been for quite some time. He really strives to better himself through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and is super interested in the idea of Eternal Families. I'll let you know how that goes.

Today my district got to clean the temple! It was quite fun actually. We were there for about 4 hours. It is amazing to see how much effort and time they put into keeping the Lord's house as neat as possible. I spent over 2 hours cleaning small cracks in the windows with Q-tips. No joke! It was very fulfilling work and gave me a fun perspective on the temple.

This next Monday the older Thai district is leaving for Thailand! We will be the old group! The week after the younger Thai district is coming. That will be crazy to be the old, experienced veterans. The next district only has 4 Elders, so it might be a little bit different.

One last thing before my time runs out. Everyone go check out www.mormon.org . It is an amazing website!!!! I can't say enough about it. The resources on it are just so impressive. They have testimony clips of real converts and their thoughts about the church. They also have tons of full length church films that you can watch under the "media" section. Tell everyone you know about this website! It is amazing!!

I love you all and thank you all so much for all the letters, packages, and prayers I receive. Make sure to pray for the Thai people so that the Lord can prepare them to receive my message when I get there.

Love, Elder Brown

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Danny's 4th Letter from the MTC - tues-June- 23 -09

This picture was taken before danny left on his mission when Pres. Monson visited our stake conference!


Heading into the fourth week. I am now officially an MTC veteran. The English speaking district in my zone that came in on the same day as us left yesterday. Oh boy. It is weird to think that I will see another 3-4 English districts come and go.

Originally, I really wanted to go English speaking. I really think that there are great opportunities, especially state-side; but, I don't think it would have worked for me.

If I would have went state side, I would not have been able to realize how much I need the Lord to do this work. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a good speaker. They could've sent me out to an English mission, and through my sheer cunning words, I could've probably convinced a few people to come unto Christ with eloquent sentences and logic.

However, I am faced with a situation that is COMPLETELY impossible to accomplish by myself. Those of you who have learned another language will understand my thoughts.

Two months left. To learn a language. One of the hardest languages in the world. If I were to go to a school or university and tell them to teach me Thai in 3 months. They would laugh at me. It is completely and utterly impossible. No human can do it, regardless of their own mental capability.

Not only do I have to learn a language that is opposite and backwards from English in every way imaginable, but I have to learn the culture. The Thai language and the Thai culture are so tightly connected that without understanding how a Thai person thinks, it is impossible to predict how to structure a sentence.

On top of the culture, I will be in a completely foreign environment with completely different food. I will not know anyone. I won't run into someone I know from school; it will take about two weeks for me to even receive letters.

All of these things are great blessings to me. Stepping stones for me to grow on. Without these impossible challenges I would not need to rely on the Lord. Because he has called me to do the work, he will give me the ability to do it. Not from my own skill, but through his skill and knowledge.

I have really felt his help the last few weeks. Setting goals that are impossibly out of my reach is a very fun thing to do. When I set goals I think of what I personally could do. Then I double it. I know that the only way that I make my goals is because the Lord is granting my desire to learn the language.

The reason He is helping me learn the language is not so that I can look smart. It is not for my gain at all. The only way that he will help me is if my desires are pure. I need to learn Thai because I cannot teach the Thai people without knowing the language. I cannot bring their souls unto salvation if I cannot tell them about their loving Father in Heaven and his Son, Jesus Christ. For this purpose, He is helping me.

I can really testify that the Spirit is in this institution. It is the only way that any of this stuff is possible. We pray for the Spirit, he comes, and we learn insane amounts of material. May God bless me that I can stay worthy of his Spirit, without it, this work would be impossibly difficult.

This last week has been especially hard. Week 3 is the first slump for the 12 week schedule. It is when the reality of the work really hits you. I think I took it better than most people. I am really lucky that I have remained healthy.

The temple is closed this week and next week for cleaning. The mission presidents are arriving tomorrow. (interesting timing on closing the temple, wouldn't you think?) Feel free to write me about this subject if you think it is more than a slight coincidence.

Also, the Tuesday GA Devotional is canceled and rescheduled for Friday so that all the new mission presidents can be. Basically that meeting should be spectacular. There should be at least a couple of Apostles present, if not the Prophet himself. Except next weeks update to be very interesting.

The RC this week was very interesting. I talked to a lot of great people. I talked with a lady named RoseMarie for about 20 minutes. She has been Roman Catholic for 78 years. Her faith in Christ really impressed me, I sent her a DVD about the life of Christ and am calling her back on Monday to ask her what she thought. I plan to tell her the Joseph Smith story on Monday.

I also talked to a lady named Polly. She is an old lady, probably in her 70's. I was calling looking for her daughter, Deborah, but she was not home. I started talking to Polly. Her life really is so awful. She is 70+ years old and she is the only one in her family that even has a working body. Her daughter, Deborah, is completely crippled and can't get any medical treatments because she lost Medicaid. Her son, is in prison. Her other daughter is extremely autistic. I talked to Polly for a long time. She has great faith in Prayer. I told her that if she would pray every day for the strength to endure her trials that God would bless her. She agreed to me sending the missionaries to her house. They should be calling her today or tomorrow to set up an appointment. I'm calling her back on Monday to make sure that everything went smoothly. She desperately needs the gospel in her life.

This week I have been really thinking about the Book of Enos. It is a great book, one of the shortest in all recorded scripture. The message is very powerful and deep though. I would recommend that you reread it, it only takes a few minutes.

Enos is great. You can tell he was a great guy from the get go. First off, he thanks his parents. He acknowledges that the only reason he is in the position he is in is because of his parents. He then goes on to say that he really feels guilty for the mistakes he has made. He feels guilty because of his "conscience". The conscience lies inside everyones Spirit's. Because our spirits are created by Heavenly Father, they innately know the things that he knows. Thus, when we choose evil, we all know it.

Enos goes off into the forest. Away from the things of the world. Not only away from the things of the world, but closer to the things of God(i.e. nature). When he is there, he is very close to the presence of the Lord. He prayers for forgiveness of his sins. The word he uses to describe the situation is he "wrestles" before God. Not with God, but wrestles before God with himself. This really describes the repentance process. It is no easy thing, it really requires work and dedication from the person that wants the forgiveness.

God answers him and grants his forgiveness. Immediately he feels love for his brethren, the Nephites. This is great! True repentance causes a person to act; act in charity. As our understanding of the Atonement increases, our desire to share the Gospel will increase. Further in the chapter Enos prayers for the forgiveness of his enemies, the Lamanites! Not only is he concerned about his own soul, not only is he concerned about his friends, but he asks the Lord to help his enemies! This is amazing that Enos could have that much love.

I think this is is the key to ALL good missionary work. You cannot teach someone effectively until you are free from sin. Furthermore, you cannot teach someone effectively if you don't love them through the power of charity. People will not care about my message if they can't tell that I am honestly and earnestly trying to help them. If they can see the love I have for them and the desire I have for them to come unto Christ, they will listen to the message the Spirit brings them. People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Random Thai-Fact of the week: everyone in Thailand receives a nickname from their parents at birth. This nickname is the name that they go by for their whole life. They only reveal their true name to people that they love and trust. I thought that this was incredibly interesting in light of the temple. I am convinced that the people of Thailand had the gospel in ancient times. There are way too many cultural "oddities" for me to think otherwise. Wonder where the three wise men came from? Thailand? Probably!

Well, I am just about out of time. Sorry I rambled a lot today. I couldn't think of what to write. Ask me more questions! Tell me what you want to know! Any questions about missionary work or the MTC? Also any gospel/doctrinal thoughts, I'd love to communicate a message that is interesting and inspiring to you.

Thank you for all your letters this week, I truly am blessed with a great family. I get so many letters. It is great, it really keeps me going through the day.


Elder Brown

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Letter #3 -week 3 in the MTC - June 16, 2009

These pics were taken at Nathen's farewell a few days before many of the boys left on their missions!


The most common question I have received from everyone that has written me. That question is "What is the hardest thing in the MTC?" Although many of you might think the answer to this question is: waking up early, bad food, no dates, studying all day, etc.. It is not. The hardest thing in the MTC is avoiding the Swine Flu! My district is dropping like flies, it seems like every morning another Elder or two is down for the count. My entire zone is now on TamiFlu, so it is unlikely that I will get it now. The church found some secret supply of vaccines so now they are handing them out like candy. Unfortunately, I read the side effects of the drug. 70% of the control group experienced violent diarrhea. That is kind of a bummer. The doctor who gave us the pills (I'm quite convinced he wasn't even a real doctor) told us not to read the instructions because it would make us scared! Quite funny, oh well. I'll take that over being quarantined for a week. I can't afford being out of the classroom for that long, I will fall behind way too fast.

In Thai I can now pray, bear testimony, ask questions, get to know someone, and tell people about my family. We started the alphabet this week. I already learned most of it before I came, so I am ahead. Right now my goal is to learn 200 words a week. It is hard, but I think I can do it with the help of the Lord. It really is amazing how the Holy Ghost helps the learning process. Yesterday in evening class, we started the class with learning some teaching skills and after an hour we went into learning language. Before we started he told us to have 50 seconds to say a personal prayer to ask the Holy Ghost to help us learn the words. It really is surprising how strong the spirit is, not only during gospel discussions, but during language training. I know it is because I desire to teach the Thai people about Christ. Only through selfless service does the Spirit help.

Last Tuesday was my first General Authority Fireside. We have one every Tuesday at around 6:30. We do not know who the speaker is until he walks in.(most of the time) So, on Tuesday Elder Holt and I arrived about an hour early to the devotional. The missionaries start prelude music 30 minutes before the devotional starts. 5 minutes before the meeting was supposed to start, the MTC president stood up and told us "It is not policy to normally stand while singing, UNLESS someone from the quorum of the twelve were to walk in", shortly there after Elder Bednar walked in with his wife. Elder Bednar is one of my top three favorite apostles. His insight is so deep and he expects a lot out of his audience. He started his talk by asking us the question "How do you know when you are guided by the Spirit?". This is a question that a lot of missionaries ask themselves, they don't know if what they are doing is inspired or ever know if they have ever felt the Spirit. What he told us came as somewhat of a shock. His answer was "Don't worry about it." He promised us that if we are good boys(and girls), keep our covenants, and keep the commandments that ALL of our actions would be guided, whether we even knew it or not. It remind me of the story of Nephi and Laban in 1 Nephi 4. Nephi even says "I was led by the Spirit, not knowing before hand the thing which I should do". He was doing what he was told, but he had no idea that he would be doing what he was doing.(I don't want to spoil the ending for those who haven't read it :) go read it! it is a great story!)

Speaking of the stories of Nephi. There is a reason why they are at the beginning of the BoM! It is because Mormon knew that we would read the first part more than anything else. We all know how it goes, we pick up the BoM wanting to read the whole thing. Then we get the dreaded Isaiah chapters and stop! Months later... we pick it up again... only to get to the Isaiah chapters... and stop!

Funny story: there was a man walking down the street. He turned the corner and a guy shot him. He stopped, without being harmed. Reached into his coat pocket and picked out his Book of Mormon. He opened it up only to find that the bullet had stopped at the Isaiah chapters!! Nothing/no one can get through it! (that was a fake story, by the way.)

Anyways, back to my main point. Personal revelation is real, even if we don't know that the spirit is controlling our thoughts and actions. Anything that is good, comes from Christ. If you are interested in learning more about Elder Bednars experiences with being guided by the Spirit without knowing it. Look up a talk called "The 20 Mark Note" by President Packard. I think he gave it at BYU Idaho. I challenge you to try it out with any choices you make in your life. God loves you and He has promised that He will guide you in any and all choices you make. Whether or not you know it at the time! Sometime down the road, you will see that a seemingly small decision made a huge impact. Like Nephi, he didn't know what he was doing. But if he didn't make the decision to be led by the Spirit, we would not have that record.

I see all the Asian missions quite frequently. I see Nate at least five times a day. I see Ryan at least once a day, we study on the same floor. We all have all our meals and gym period together. Not to mention we live in the same building.

Things that you should send sometime, but are not urgent: ear plugs, ankle braces(the ones I use for volleyball), bleach pen.

I get to read mail every day in the evening. But like I said, I can only send out mail on Tuesdays. That might change when I get into the field. I can't wait to get into the field! It is so fun seeing missionaries leave. They look so scared, haha.

The RC was much more successful this week. I committed several people to prayer and to read the Book of Mormon. I have two people that I am calling back to night to followup on. I am trying to get some baptisms while in the MTC, that would be fun. With 12 weeks, it is QUITE possible. I wish my Spanish was better, a good majority of the people that I call can only speak Spanish. So I try to puddle through a conversation with them, but my church words are severely lacking in Spanish. Maybe I can improve! It is hard to keep my languages straight. Especially when reading in romanized Thai, it is hard to remember it is not Spanish or English.

I've been reading 2 Peter 1 the last few days. You should read that chapter. He talks about Christ-like attributes(the same that are listed in the D&C, except for one) and he then lists specific promised blessings to those who obtain those attributes in their fullness. Make sure to consult the JST towards the bottom, you might be able to make sense of it.

This week Elder Holt and I are giving a lesson on Jospeh Smith at District Conference, so if you have any cool stories and insight about Joseph Smith. Let me know!

Keep writing me lots! It really is great to hear from you guys. I'll send out some more letters today too.

One other scripture that I have really enjoyed is 1 Ne 1:1. "And I Nephi being born of goodly parents". I love how he gives credit to his parents at the very beginning of his record. Check the cross-references on that verse. Likewise, I give credit to you, my parents for serving this mission. The name is Elder Brown, I represent the whole family name. Not myself. I represent us in the name of Jesus Christ, or in Thai, nay phranaam khccng PhraYeesuKhrid.

Love eternal,

Elder Brown

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Please Mail Danny!

Danny's MTC mailbox is 319-0817 go to www.dearelder.com and you can mail him for free! He would love to hear from you!
If you want to write a us post letter here is his address:

Elder Daniel Elling Brown
Thailand Bangkok Mission
MTC MAILBOX #319-0817
Provo Missionary Training Center
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

Danny's favorite scripture!

Alma 26:12
Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak;
therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God,
for in his strength I can do all things.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Highlights from Danny's 2nd letter from the MTC - june 9th 2009

I am typing this letter as fast as I can, so there will be many spelling errors. Also the fact that I am not using English much anymore makes my grammar suffer.

Dear Family:

First P-day of my mission! It has been very relaxing. We have no class scheduled and we get to spend the whole morning and afternoon writing letters and getting our laundry done. Thank you for all the letters all of you have sent! It has been great to hear from so many people. Particularly my family. I hope and pray that you guys can stay this valiant at writing me my whole mission. :) Letters truely are the best part of the day. It is almost silly how much missionaries crave mail. At the end of the day, the district leader hands out the mail that came that day. It is funny watching the other missionary's faces as they hope and pray someone thought of them that day.

I'll just share a couple of experiences I have had:

Monday I got the opportunity to go the referral center. We call it the RC. In the referral center we take calls and make calls to a list of people that have expressed interest in learning about the church. Many Elders in my district had a lot of success, we got quite a few referrals in the short time that we were there. In the hour we were there, I got one person to agree to me sending them a Book of Mormon. There was one other later that was already sent a Book of Mormon. I was calling to make sure she received it, but the print was to small so she couldn't read it. I had her call the distribution center, I hope they helped her out there.

We have gym period every day. The first day was very disappointing. I played some 6 on 6 volleyball. Most of the people that were playing were extremely incompetent. So that was too bad. But the next day I met a bunch of Elders who were really good and we were having a really good game yesterday. It looks like the MTC is going to get me into good physical shape after all.

The Thai language is great. I really do love it. It sounds so cool! I am learning very fast and am picking up on concepts quickly. I really enjoy singing hymns in Thai, it just sounds so funny. There are some vowels in Thai that we do not have in English that just sound completely ridiculous. I am very confident that through the help of the Lord I will be able to be competent with Thai by the time I get out of the MTC.

Because of the influx of missionaries (swine flu keeping them here), they had to separate our district and place some Elders with other Districts for living quarters. Elder Holt and I got placed with the South Korean district. When we arrived we were a little bit reluctant to be with a different language. But it is quite fun learning words in Korean as well as
Thai. The only bad part is one of the Elders in my room got swine flu. He came out of quarantine yesterday. But he has been coughing up a storm ALL day. Oh well! Our floor was hit pretty hard with the flu this week. Many people in quarantine and lots wearing masks. But they have been coming back the last few days. I hope it passes soon, it is very weird to not be able to shake someone’s hand.

One of my instructors is named Elder Saahka. He is a Thai native that is working on his Masters at BYU. He is a convert from Buddhism. He is such a great man! I just hope that all the people in
Thailand are as loving as he is. He is very funny and is very familiar with the gospel. He served his mission in Canada, English speaking. Last night was a very meaningful experience with him. He was writing up testimony phrases on the board. Took him 5-10 minutes. As he was writing, the district got very noisy and started talking about worldly things: music, tv, etc.. After about 15 minutes he stopped us and asked us what just happened. He asked us if we really wanted to be missionaries and left for the night. As a District we then had a long, deep discussion of our personal goals and what we need to do to be able to prove to ourselves, and to Brother Saahka that we truly want to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Thailand. It was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life, kneeling there with the 14 other members of the District, begging God to give us the strength to overcome the world and set ourselves apart as missionaries of the Lord. I hope we can all remember the promises we made in that prayer. I have high hopes for this district.

In my district we have 15 members. 12 Elders and 3 Sisters. They are all wonderful. We are truely blessed with many many talents. 15 members is HUGE for a district, especially one headed to
Thailand. The last district they sent out was 4 members. Our district leader is great. He is an inspired leader. He is actually the grandson of Elder McConkie the apostle.

That is enough stories for now. I am running out of time.

I am about to head off to the temple for the first time. I am very excited for the trip up there. I have learned SO much about the Atonement this week. I'm sure my eyes will be opened to new things that I never before would have even guessed.

Keep writing me and keep praying for me, it really does help.

With all the love in the world,

-Elder Brown

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Highlights from Danny's first letter written on last wednesday june 3rd the day he arrived at the MTC:

Dear Family:
I am alive and well! I have almost made it through the first day! I am enjoying everything; the food is good, my district is great, and all of the meetings are very uplifting.
My companion is from Murray, ut. He went to Murray high and was on the swim team. He seems very nice and agreeable; I am confident that I can make it through the MTC with him.

Today has been quite an adventure lots of new things to learn. I keep going into the wrong buildings and into other peoples' rooms.

My P-days on on tuesday, we can only email and write letters on tuesdays. Tuesdays are also my temple day as well as devotional days So it is likely that my letters will be very high-spirited from the MTC.

I was made senior companion, so that means more work for me, but it should be worth it.!

I will end by sharing my testimony in Thai:

(he now types what looks like 3 rows of hieroglyphics}

and then says, that means:

The book of Mormon is evidence of the love of God for his children.

Elder Brown

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Danny got off without problem, we really did have to unload him at the curb, at least it was quick! Danny's mailbox box number at the MTC is 319-0817 if you want to go to dearelder.com you can mail him for free! He would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Address and Information

This blog will be maintained by my family. This is where all of my emails and pictures will be posted. I will also post my address here and hope that you will all write me, if you feel so inclined.

Elder Daniel Elling Brown
Thailand Bangkok Mission MTC mailbox #319-0817
Provo Missionary Training Center
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

I will be there for 12 weeks and after that my address will be:

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

You may send me mail for free at the MTC and for normal postage rates while on my mission using Dear Elder.

God speed,