Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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!
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...)
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.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Well, my letter is going to be short this week! I just typed up a big letter, and then my computer died on me and I lost the whole thing! Now I only have 10 minutes of computer time, so I will type as fast as possible to get as much information to you as possible!
Good news/bad news! My departure date has been moved forward a week. I am now departing on August 10th. That is 3.5 weeks away! I should get my flight information in the next 2 weeks. Exciting! I feel like I am not ready yet, I am going to have to study harder in order to be prepared to leave on that date. The MTC feels I'm ready, so I'll listen to them.
Things are so good. Today I would just like to quickly talk about my teachers here in the MTC. We have two teachers that teach our district, Brother Duval and Brother Saakha. They both teach us about 3 hours a day, everyday except for Tuesday and Sunday. They are both so amazing and support each other so well.
Brother Duval is a great guy. He is in his late 20's and just graduated from BYU with a Bachelors in Biology. He is headed towards Optometry School. He took his admissions test last week and did very well! He scored in the top 99% in the entire country! He was so happy. All of his practice tests he scored much, much lower. He knows that he did so well because of his faith. A lot of people in the district didn't like him very much at first because he works us very hard. Even the first day we got here, he didn't speak any English to us. We were all very confused and had no idea how we would ever learn what he was talking about. Over the past few weeks we have really begun to appreciate him for working us so hard and expecting so much out of us. I know that his hard work will pay big dividends once we get to Thailand. His wife gave birth to his first kid yesterday. This is a great time in his life. He served his mission in Thailand so he can relate to us very well. He has taught us so much about planning.
Our other teacher is Brother Saakha. He is a convert to the church from Thailand. He grew up Buddhist and met the missionaries when he was 19 years old. He served his mission in Canada. His conversion story is absolutely amazing. Have I told you it yet? I can't remember. He is studying at BYU for his Masters in Special Education. It is very ironic that he is a special education teacher and is teaching us! We sure can use it! He is one of the most Christ-like people I have ever met in my life. He is a shining beacon of the missionary efforts in Thailand. He really teaches with the Spirit so well. I am very grateful to have a native Thai for a teacher. He can tell us so many things about the culture and about Buddhism that no one else ever could.
My district is doing so great. We are by far the best district to ever come through the MTC. We have 15 people in the district! The biggest district in the MTC right now. 12 Elders and 3 Sisters. It is amazing that we can all stay focused and dedicated. We don't have a single person in the district that is not completely focused in being the best missionary they can possible be. It is going to be a great day when we get to Thailand.
The field is white, already to harvest! We are not going there to plant seeds, we are going there to harvest. Just like the Lord has promised us. If we plant seeds on the way, so be it!
I am out of time! Too bad the computer died. I had some great RC experiences this week. I am up to 9 investigators that I am working with. One of them is being baptized on Saturday! That is exciting! Well I have 10 seconds left. Gotta go! Bye!!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Greetings to Babylon.
I hope all is well outside the bubble I am in.
First off, I'd like to share some of the 4th of July festivities we had here at the MTC. We were surprised on Saturday to find out that we would be having a special fireside at 7:00 PM. It was very funny. The fireside was a historic look at all the parts in history that have prepared the way for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ; unfortunately, the entire thing was a fiasco.
It was pretty much two hours of non-stop laughing. It kinda made me feel bad, but we couldn't help it! The MTC presidency and other leaders acted out some of the ancient scholars such as Tyndail, Luther, etc.. Also many of the founding fathers were depicted. They "attempted" to dress-up in authentic garb of the period. They presented their message from another room with a background that was green-screened behind them.
Everything that could go wrong went wrong. The wig that Benjamin Franklin was wearing was quite possibly the silliest thing I've ever seen in my life. People kept forgetting their lines and way over-dramatizing everything. I wish you all could have seen it! Best comedy show I have ever been to. The green-screen went out several times, so objects would appear out of no where. At one time Thomas Jefferson's wig disappeared and then reappeared.
They should've just made it more patriotic. You know, American. Blow something up or sing really loud songs! Oh well, maybe next year!
Afterwards we went outside to watch the stadium of fire, we could see it because it was hosted at BYU. The mission president let us stay out passed curfew to watch the show. It was a mad-house. Missionaries were running around screaming and being completely ridiculous. Pretty good stuff. All-in-all it was probably the funniest day of my life.
Anyways, this week I have been thinking a lot about prayer. Last week our task in the TRC was to teach an investigator how to pray, why we pray, and what we are feeling as we pray. It was pretty difficult to do in Thai, but we got through it.
It made me think, why is prayer one of the first doctrines we teach as missionaries? Why is it so crucial? When Elder Holt and I teach the first lesson we almost always start off by teaching them about God and then teach them how to pray. This doctrine is taught even before we mention Jesus Christ. But why?
We are told in 2 Nephi 32:9 that we must always pray: But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul. (This whole chapter is great, I would suggest reading it; it is pretty short) We learn that we are to pray always and that anything we ever do should be preceded by prayer.
This really got me thinking. I pray when I wake up. I pray before every meal. I pray before and after every meeting, class, inventory, lesson, and MDT. All-in-all I probably participate in over 30-40 prayers a day.
This idea made me reflect to my early days in church, even all the way back to primary. Before we started a meeting we would always have someone offer a prayer. The prayer was always very simple, and usually repeated the same things each time. Often times kids would say ridiculous things like "bless God that he can be Ok" or "bless the food" when there wasn't any food to be eaten. But the point that I am trying to get at is by saying a prayer, we are acknowledging the existence of God or at least the possibility of there being a God.
This is monumental! For us to submit ourselves to God and to say to God by our simple gesture, "God we know you are there, please help us". I know that when we say those prayers God will complete his promise as stated in 2 Nephi 32:9. He will consecrate our performance. Everything we do, we will do better. Everything we want, will be granted to us. Everything we have ever wondered about, can and will be revealed to us.
The other crucial aspect of prayer is that it invites the Spirit. The Spirit can only be present if you do something to get it with you. Reading the scriptures, praying, thinking about Christ, etc.. Prayer is an easy way that we can access the divine companionship of the Holy Ghost at any time that we want! What a great blessing that is! If we are feeling down, overwhelmed, or simple need someone to talk to, we can pray to our Loving Heavenly Father and he will comfort us in the absolute best way possible.
Reminds me of a President James E. Faust quote a good friend gave me, "I believe the Spirit of the Holy Ghost is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world. It can be more mind-expanding and can make us have a better sense of well-being than any chemical or other earthly substance. It will calm nerves; it will breathe peace to our souls. It can enhance our natural senses so that we can see more clearly, hear more keenly, and remember what we should remember. It is a way of maximizing our happiness."
Wow! What a wonderful apostolic promise! Through prayer we can invite the Spirit. Through the Spirit we can maximize our happiness. Sounds like a great deal, yeah?
I know that these words are true, I've tested it out. I've had days where I have forgotten to say my morning prayers, there is a HUGE difference. President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, "Every morning..., missionaries should get on their knees and plead with the Lord to loosen their tongues and speak through them to the blessing of those they will be teaching. If they will do this, a new light will come into their lives. There will be greater enthusiasm for the work. They will come to know that in a very real sense, they are servants of the Lord speaking in His behalf. They will find a different response from those they teach. As they do so by the Spirit, their investigators will respond under the influence of the same Spirit."
I know that this teaching is true, and that it applies to all of us; not just missionaries. As we pray, we will feel God's presence with us. We will feel His love for us. We will gain access to his Spirit that will help us accomplish seemingly impossible things.
Just as an update. I have started doing chats in the RC. They are very fun! On mormon.org there is a button on the bottom of every page that says "ask questions" when people click on that link they are directed to me in the RC. It is amazing to talk to people! It seems that the conversations that I receive over chat are much more meaningful. I really feel like I am changing peoples lives and directing them towards Jesus Christ.
I have three new progressing investigators that I haven't told you guys about yet. I am about out of time for my email this week, so hopefully I will be able to share those experiences next week.
The Thai language is coming well. I have a vocab of around 1200 words now and am progressing very fast with reading. I can read the Book of Mormon in script now, it is very slow though. This week we will teach our first lesson entirely in Thai. That should be fun!
Well I am out of time for this week. Keep writing to me and praying for me! I love hearing from all of you. I really can feel the effect of the prayers you offer in my behalf. Keep it up!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
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
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