Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday-May 31st 2010

Hello All,
The end of another week here in Bangnaa. Things are going so great! This is the most I've been blessed on my mission.

Over my mission my perspective has really changed a lot. The first few months of my mission, I was concerned about myself. In the MTC and the first month or two in country, my concerns were focused on trying to keep myself alive. After a few months, my perspective changed. I had a rough couple of months that removed all of my focuses on myself and my own abilities and focused entirely on my companion. After awhile, when I became more experienced and more capable, my focus changed to my investigators and my area. As a district leader my focus has become bigger, instead of my own area, my focus has really been changed to the whole district. I really feel a sense of responsibility of the work that gets done in all the areas that I oversee. I am also really glad to report that everything is going great. Numbers are way up and attitude is way up. Every companionship in the district will be seeing baptisms in June and July.

Our vision as a district has really been focused towards what I call a "realbie", as opposed to a "fakebie." All of our efforts have been focused towards finding investigators that WANT to investigate, not that we WANT to investigate. There is a very important difference. This week is my one-year milestone as a missionary. I have seen a lot of stuff; I have worked with a lot of missionaries. I have decided that I don't want to waste anymore time teaching people that won't ever go anywhere. There are thousands of people in Bangnaa that have been prepared, that have been hand-selected by the Lord to hear and accept the gospel. I want to find those people. Through my desire to find people like that, we have been finding them! Simply wanting to "learn about Christianity" is not enough. If people aren't serious from the start, I won't teach them. Spending months and months trying to convince someone to keep commitments is not only a waste of time but it is a disaster waiting to happen. If they have trouble keeping commitments before baptism, then they won't be able to keep covenants after baptism.

There are lots of "key-indicators" as a missionary. We track our work in various ways. The mission keeps track of daily results such as: lessons taught with members present, other lessons, referrals, new investigators, and new potential investigators. The mission also keeps track of various other statistical indicators weekly. This is to help find out how many "potentials" it takes to turn into a baptism. The mission has calculated that 90 new phone numbers or "potentials" will turn into a baptism. While there is a brute-force, quantitative method... I think it is much easier to sort the wheat from the tares since the moment I open up my mouth and talk to them on the street. Working closely with the Spirit really is the key. There is no substitute to working with the Spirit. Anyone who is preparing to serve a mission or who is serving a mission now, I will repeat myself: learn to work with the Spirit.

As a missionary we are called servants of God. I fully believe that a missionary can go two years as a missionary and NEVER have a single day where he was a servant of God. Waking up on time, teaching lessons, even baptizing people does not make someone a servant of God. Studying the scriptures, being a good person, and not drinking coffee also does not make someone a servant of God. These may be good indicators of a servant of God, but they do not define servitude. A servant of God is someone who has a personal relationship with God; someone who knows God's will at any given moment and is willing to do it. The only way we can know God's will is through the Spirit. It is amazing what God will tell us if we ask! I really think most people would be amazed as to how much revelation is waiting for them if they simply asked. It is because of our lack of faith. We fear that we wouldn't receive an answer, so we don't try. I see many missionaries who are teaching investigators and they say "Oh, I don't know if we should keep teaching him. I'm not sure he is progressing." Why not pray to God and ask him! If I want to know if Max is interested, I ask God. If I want to know if I should see Joe today, I ask God! He really answers. This is how we find the elect. God has chosen them, we ask God who they are.

With one year behind me as a missionary and only one year left. I wonder where I will be in another year. I feel like I have changed a lot in the last year. I feel like I have gained a lot of confidence. I have gained a lot of happiness. I am always smiling nowadays for no reason. I really hope that in the next year I can accomplish everything that God has for me and that I can become the person that He wants me to be. Serving a mission is the best thing anyone can do. I have gained so much insight about myself, about people, and about life.


Elder Brown

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

mission president email 5-27-2010

Picture of Buddhist monks in Thailand praying for Peace in Bangkok.

Because of the recent concern for the missionaries in Thailand the Mission President Smith, sent this out.

"Sister Smith and I feel like we get the very best missionaries that the Church has to offer to come and serve in Thailand. I don't want to minimize the situation in Thailand, however most of the reports that you get on the news are very localized. Bangkok is a huge city in terms of population and geography. What you and the rest of the world have been watching on the news happened in downtown Bangkok comprising a few blocks in total. Our missionaries have not been in any immediate danger. We have monitored the political unrest very closely and have been in close contact with General Authorities and Church Security. Church Security bulletins basically restate what I have written so far. All of our missionaries have cell phones, if we hear of any problems even remotely close any proselyting area, we call the missionaries in that area and ask them to stay home until we can assess the extent of the problem.
Our proselyting activity has been very fruitful lately. The last couple of weeks we have established new highs in new investigators and lessons taught since we have been here. Most of our branches and wards are experiencing increased activity.
Today we had a landmark event for the Church in Thailand, we had a Priesthood Leadership Training for Stake and District Presidency broadcast by satellite to other countries in Asia originating at our Asoke Chapel in Bangkok. This training had been on the books for months. We had Elder Oaks, Elder Hallstrom, Bishop Burton, and Elder Pratt from our Area Presidency in town for the training. It was a wonderful uplifting experience for our stake and district presidencies."

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 23rd 2010-Bangnaa

Hi All,
Well this week has brought a number of entertaining events. I will try to say something that is good.

On Saturday I had the opportunity to interview two people for baptism. That was a pretty fun experience. The night before I was feeling kind of nervous; I was thinking about how little I know and was hoping that I would be able to understand everything and make the right decision. When I woke up on Saturday I was feeling confident that I could make the right decision. It turned out to be really easy actually!
The first guy who came in for an interview was an older man, about fifty years old. From the very first question I asked him, I received the confirmation that he wasn't ready to make covenants with the Lord. We talked for awhile and in the end I told him that more preparation would have to be done for him to qualify for baptism.
The second man came in, he was a little younger, probably in his late thirties. I asked him to say the opening prayer, and after about the first two or three words that he spoke in his prayer I received the confirmation that he was ready to be baptized. It was a great experience because it helped me realize that this is not the church of man, this is not the church of Bangnaa, this is not the church of Elder Brown, but it really is the Church of Jesus Christ. He is the one that approves people to join.

This weekend was a milestone occasion for the church in Thailand. On Saturday their were four general authorities in Thailand. Thailand has never had this many GAs in the country at the same time. Elder Oaks, Elder Hallstrom, Elder Pratt, and Elder Cohi. They came in on Saturday for a Priesthood Leadership conference that was held in Thailand and broad casted throughout all of Asia. It was actually pretty cool because the state of the country has been a little bit shaky the passed few days and the church that was chosen was in the center of most of the problems, but when the GAs showed up all of the political violence stopped. All of their meetings happened without any problems.

On Sunday Elder Hallstrom held a meeting for the entire Bangkok area so we went to that. Almost all of the talks focused on strengthening the family. It was a really good meeting and we had four investigators in attendance, so that was good. I was surprised we had four people there just because the meeting was so far away. It was about an hour in a taxi on the other side of the city. On Monday Elder Hallstrom held a meeting specifically for missionaries. It was a good opportunity to hear from a leader in the church. He gave some motivational words to help us work harder.

I am glad to report that the situation in Thailand is getting much better. I was in central Bangkok today and everything seems like it is back to normal. Almost all of the city is back open and all of the mass-transit is running.


Elder Brown

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17-2010

Hi All,
I don't have much time today, but I thought I would take a little bit of time to talk a little bit about my area and my investigators.

This week we had nine investigators at church, which is a great number. A lot of them are new people that we found this week. I'll talk about each one of them a little bit.

The first five is a family that was actually brought to us by a recent convert. There names are Jum and Worawut, they have three kids. I'm not sure how much we will see them in the future because they don't live in Bangnaa. They will be here every once in awhile and they will come to church when they are in town.

The next guy is a new guy named Joe. He is a guy that we met on Saturday. The Sisters actually met him first and they gave us his number. I gave him a call up that day and met with him. He is a very serious investigator. He is dedicated to studying and to coming to church every week. He wants to study and find the truth so that he can share it with all of his friends and his family. He has a wife and a kid, but they live in another city.

The next guy is a new guy named Go. I actually met him about two weeks ago but he was out of town. The guy is a great, honest guy. He is not married. He is in his early 30's and he works as the head of a Nike factory.

The next guy is a guy named Doh. He is an older guy(50's) and has a young daughter. I actually stopped teaching him about a week ago, but I had the thought to just call him and invite him to church. He showed up, so that is great.

The last guy is a guy named Nog. He is a great investigator. His baptismal date is on the 30th of this month. He is very ready. His family is also learning; his Mom and his sister. We are trying to start teaching his Dad as well. His dad will probably start coming to church at the end of this month.

The Lord has really been blessing us lately. I feel like we have received a lot of prepared investigators lately. I have noticed that the more we trust the Lord, the more He will trust us. I hope things can keep going this well.

This is all I have to say today. Love you all.

Elder Brown

May 14-10-Update

Many of you have asked me about Danny's safety and about the political situation in Thailand. This is what I have heard from danny and other missionaries closer to the unsafe areas. Danny is outside Bangkok and has avoided the uprising in his area.

But Danny shared that he heard that Bangkok was burning. "The Last thing I heard was from other missionaries on Saturday. They were evacuated from their area. Missionaries gave me reports of gas stations being torched. But I don't know much besides that. Lots of other scary details that I probably shouldn't tell you. Haha. I haven't seen anything out here in Bangnaa though".

The main centers for most of the protesting are in Asoke,
and we avoid it like the plague. Plus, if there's even a
whisper that there will be red shirts in an area, we just don't go. To quote
President Smith, "Your safety is worth more to me than all your
investigators and results combined."
So please, don't worry. The Lord
watches out for us and we've got a good hold on the whole situation. If
anything does end up happening, plans are in place and everyone will be
taken care of. The mission is organized incredibly well, being able to get
in touch with everyone within a matter of minutes. We appreciate all your
prayers and concerns though and will let you know they are definitely being

from Sat morning...

As far as the protests, we are watching them super close. It is definitely
a mess and all the Elders in those areas (International, Asoke and Din
Daeng) have been sent to other areas, away from the violence. They are even
going to church out there and not making the trip in. President Smith gets
security reports from the internet, members, leaders in the church, us (we
get them from missionaries close by, who we have now moved), news, and any
other path he can get them from. He's well aware of what's going on and is
making sure all our missionaries are safe.

It is in the Lord's hands,
Please continue to pray for all the missionaries' safety wherever they are serving.

Danny's Mom

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mon May 5th 2010


Well this week has been a crazy week. This week was the end of my sixth moves-cycle as a missionary. Six down, only ten left to go. That means my time in Thailand is more than 1/3 over.

On Monday, Elder Webb received a call from the President to go Zone Leader. He is now serving in Chang Mai, probably the most coveted area in the mission. On Tuesday I received a call from the President. He started the phone conversation by saying, “Elder Brown, I have a couple of things for you.” I was very shocked that he said the word couple. Turns out God has called me to go Senior Companion, District Leader, and Trainer all at the same time!!!!##%%:}

This has been a fairly large jump in responsibility.
I'm starting to deal with the stress a little bit better though. On Thursday my left eye wouldn't stop twitching. That was interesting; I think I am coping better now though.

The best part of the story is that our district has also increased in size. The elders in Samup Pragaan joined into our district. President Smith has combined some districts together to reduce the number of district leaders and to increase the number of members in a district. This is great news because one of my favorite missionaries just moved into Samup Pragaan. Elder Fowles from my MTC group is now in my district! I will get to work with him and learn from him. He is a really hard working, brilliant Elder.

(so all the next part is in missionary speak-baby, grandchild, kids are how they refer to eachother)
So I am training! I got a beautiful wonder-bread-white baby. It would have been fun to train a Thai person, but I think training an American will be even more fun. My "kids" name is Elder Tibbetts, he is from Mesa, Arizona. Training really has been pretty entertaining, it brings back a lot of memories from when I was new; except this time, I get to be on the other end of the string. My trainer, Elder Nance, finished his mission this moves. It was pretty sweet that he actually got to meet his "grandchild". Elder Nance is now at home trying to find a girlfriend. Maybe I'll be kind and send him some dating tips.

Having a "kid" has really showed me how far I've come in the language. He asks me all sorts of questions about Thai and usually I can answer them but I can't tell him a reason. All I know is that “it sounds right, so I say it.” He usually doesn't like that answer, but as fluency increases, I just don't need to know all the “rules” I just speak and it works.

Yesterday was a pretty stressful day. Yesterday was Sunday and we called all the people we had appointments with and they canceled. Also we had a two hour ward council meeting that was very frustrating. After the meeting I went home and grabbed some fruit and said a prayer. It really helped. We left the house and went finding for about three hours. In that three hours we found about six people, got into two houses, and gave one of them a baptismal date. That was a pretty sweet experience. We will see what happens to him.

Hey that's all I have. Thanks everyone for the continued support. Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes. God will bless you! Keep praying for me, this moves is going to be hard.


เอ็ลเดอร์ บราวน์
Elder Brown