28 Mar 2016

      Malo e lelei!

Unsolicited logistical update: My companion is not going to Nakolo, he'll go elsewhere. We don't know where, or if he'll still be training. The sisters are leaving our district as well, and we don't know whether we'll get elders or sisters next.

I've been studying Nephi in some depth. I've always looked at him as someone who never felt sad, never needed his heart softened, never made a mistake, etc. The more I read about him, the more I realize that everything he went through was just as hard for him as it was for Laman and Lemuel. The difference is how he responds. I found 2 Nephi 4:17-35 especially meaningful; this is written shortly after his father dies. He goes on for a couple of verses being sad, but the rest of the passage is him remembering the goodness of God, praising him, and reaffirming his will to follow him.  

My foot got infected, so the doctor told me to stay home a day.

Easter was great. I've been studying the atonement

I'm out of time. I had a good week and I love you all!

Elder Brown

21 Mar 2016

      Malo e lelei!
Transfers happened last week wednesday in our district. The district leader's companion is now the zone leader, and I'm with the district leader (for at least the next transfer). Our areas have been combined and we're now taking care of both wards in Tofoa, which is a very welcome change of pace. I got to meet a lot of the new members yesterday at church and I really like them a lot.
My companion has been in Tonga for a while now, understands the culture and his language is good. I should be with him for at least this transfer. His name is Elder Pulotu, from Mesa, Arizona. He spent the majority of his mission in Ha'apai. 
We're in a threesome right now as my trainer awaits the next intake from the MTC. He'll be going to Nakolo, southeast Tongatapu. We're excited for him.
Nothing really dramatic has happened besides that.
I'm still praying, studying, and working as hard as I can. I'm putting forth as much effort as i possibly can.
I'm a little overwhelmed and I don't know what to write.
I'm thankful for the ability to pray and receive answers. I'm thankful for the Book of Mormon. These, above anything else, have helped me through the week. For one reason or another, this week has been really hard and I've struggled to be happy. The fact that God listens to me, loves me, and cries with me when I'm sad is very special to me. He loves us and I know it's true.

'Ofa atu ka moutolu!
Elder Brown

14 Mar 2016

                Malo e lelei!

Transfers are on the 20th; sorry for the false update last week. My companion will have been here for over 8 months. We both love the area and the members very much. He's just getting a little antsy.

We worked really hard this week and got rejected like crazy; very seldom was the door 'slammed in our face,' but there were a thousand "come back tomorrow"s and "she's in the shower"s. It was frustrating, but nothing we can do about it.

I'm very close with my companion by now. He's great and I love his guts. He's a good egg.

The Koreans are at it again. Mele Tamoepeau (a recent convert) and her brother, Salesi, (who wants to be baptized) have been hearing all kinds of stuff about the church, Joseph Smith, etc. whenever they go to church. We struggle with them.

I finally got a good knife, and we've been slaying coconuts like crazy. very very nice.

My camera fell out of my pocket and got ran over. The outermost lens cover shattered. and there are marks all over the front. Other than that the thing works perfectly; every button works, the flash is ok, the screen on the back is alright, etc. Mom and dad bought it for me; I'm sorry it's jacked up. I'll be more careful.

I'm just about out of time. I have 5 minutes left. I'll send some pictures. Sorry about my lousy time budgeting skills.

I had a very good week.

'Ofa atu!
Elder Brown

Chicken catching party
The kids stole my camera 
Fried oreos at district meeting
Amina Tonga. A good little boy. His dad died and his mom left, so we haven't seen him for a while. We love his guts
They seemed so innocent at first
The neighbors, Penisimani and Tevita (left to right) both good boys
Elder Erickson- friend from Georgia just home from Samoa.
Foot infection caused him to return a month early. 

7 Mar 2016

      Malo e lelei!
The internet's down again in Tofoa, so I'm back at the stake center in Havelu. No one's fighting for this computer (so far), but I'll try to be quick anyway.

Transfers are next week. Everyone is telling me I'll stay in Tofoa for another two or three transfers; if my companion leaves, he will have been here for seven months. If he doesn't, we will all make fun of him. If I leave and he doesn't, he'll probably beat me up.

We woke up very early on Saturday and made pancakes for Bishop Matakaiongo and his family. We listened to general conference talks as we flipped and poured and attended to our other pancake-making duties. The whole operation took about two hours, so we got plenty of talk listening done. The talk from last conference, "What lack I yet" by elder Larry R. Lawrence. This was Saturday morning. I decided to approach fast Sunday yesterday with this question and mind, and learned quite a bit.

A couple of pigs somehow got through the gate at our house, got under the house and broke the water pump. There's a bunch of other breakabk. We spent about an hour chasing them out. Our backyard is pretty overgrown and full of trash/scrap metal, so it took a while to make any progress. We threw coconuts and hit them with sticks until they ran outside the open gate. It was good bonding time with the Bishop and his son. 
We were supposed to go to the shore and pick up trash, but the senior couple forgot to pick us up. We waited for hours before they told us they weren't coming anymore. We were bummed about the wasted time, but at least we got some studying done and had a laugh with the bishop.

I'm being kicked off once again but I had a great week. I love you all!

'Ofa atu,
Elder Brown
We found a lucha libre mask on the ground

there is a new Indian restaurant in town. They seem to be getting a little desperate.

29 Feb 2016

Malo e lelei!

We had a very good week. The three girls I emailed about last week were all baptized and confirmed​ last week. Their names are Nina, Finau, and Ofa. I've sent a picture. It was a beautiful thing.

I finished the Book of Mormon in Tongan, as planned, within 60 days. I can read it at a fairly steady speed and only occasionally have to look up words. I wasn't easy at first, but I has helped quite a lot. President Tupou is going to give us an extra hour for personal study, starting in a couple weeks. So, starting then, I will read it in 30.

I'm at a different church than normal for emailing. I've been on and off the computer like 6 times; the clerk, the bishop, other elders, etc. all need to use the computer. I'll hurry.

My companion and I have been doing well. I've been sick and he's been helping me. giving me peppy talks and telling me I can do it. I love him a lot.

I'm really getting 'encouraged' to get off the computer. so off I go.

Ofa lahi atu! Excuse the brevity.

Elder Brown

A gift from the mother of Nina and Finau. This is a beautiful bag. Be not deceived by looks; this thing will never break.
Struttin about with my beautiful bag.
We happened upon the Tongan olympic headquarters and they let us take a picture of the Tongan sports hall of fame. Paea Wolfgramm (the only tongan to earn an olympic gold medal) had a massive shrine all to himself, but I didn't think to take a picture. 
Elder Winward and I in a jungly place

finished the Book of Mormon in Tongan! as scheduled. not easy but very nice.
My ward mission leader, Ti Matakaiongo. He's the best
Personal study/breakfast while filling up the baptismal font

(from left to right) Ofa, Nina, Finau. All beautiful girls.