25 Jul 2016

Malo e lelei!

Good week this week!! I emailed last week about Viliami, my favorite investigator of my life so far. We were able to baptize him on saturday!!! Everything about this situation has been a miracle and a blessing.

This experience is a testament to how awesome the members are here; his fellowshipper family helped him establish the baptismal date, helped us get the approval of his parents, answered his questions, helped us with the lessons, set up teaching appointments, gave us daily updates about him, etc. We will begin to reteach the lessons tomorrow. He's the man and really wanted to be baptized. We probably never would have found him, let alone baptized him, if it wasn't for that family. We have the best members on earth here!

Another thing that's happened, we've started teaching another man named Viliami (another referral!). He's in his early 20's and has decided he wants to serve a mission. He says he was baptized a long time ago, but his records may have gone missing. If that's the case, we will reteach him and rebaptize him, according to the guidelines set by the mission president. He is very inactive; he hasn't gone to church in years, and he's sick of not being happy. We really hope and pray it works out for him.

The lesson of the week is that the missionaries are going to have a much easier job and a much more fruitful harvest if the members get involved!! Remember that Alma didn't accomplish anything in the city of Ammonihah until Amulek joined him. The invitation and the challenge for this week is to be an Amulek! Read the scriptures, pray and fast, and you will know who you can invite. Be brave, join the missionaries as they teach, pray for them, and you'll see miracles. I have!!!

In my personal studies, I've started to study more and more about the Savior Himself, in addition to the studies of His doctrine, His atonement, etc. It has brought the atonement to life and given it new meaning. I understand it now in greater depth. I love the book 'Jesus the Christ' by James E. Talmage; it has helped me to understand and to know who the Lord is and what he's done.

Great week this week!!!!

'Ofa lahi atu kiate kimoutolu! Alu 'o fakaafe'i ha ni'ihi kehe ke nau ha'u kia Kalaisi!

Elder Brown
Sometimes the children run out of things to do, which forces them to be creative. It's amazing how much fun you can have with apple slices and a syringe.
'Eua high school
A big ol boat, here to refill the gas station tanks

18 Jul 2016

       Malo e lelei!
A fine week indeed this week!

We spent quite a bit of time on Tuesday and Wednesday at the LDS middle school in Pangai helping a dental service group from America. A dentist from Idaho, his wife and kids, and a missionary couple who work in Tonga full time (one an orthodontist and one a dental hygenist) have been going around to church-run middle schools and checking peoples' teeth. At the mission president's request, we (I, my companion and the four sisters) went to help translate for the dentists who were doing the examinations. Although we'd all rather be out baptizing people, it was a fun experience. I learned a lot about dentistry, saw a lot of very bombed-out mouths, and we got to meet a lot of people, to include a few nonmembers. The dentists did a great job and thanked us very much. It was worthwhile indeed.

Last Thursday we ended up spending almost all our time attending to transfers. A couple of the sisters had a baptism, so We went, and right after we dropped a couple sisters at the airport to go back to Tongatapu. We got a couple hours to go visit and teach, and then we went back to the airport. We were a little frustrated because of that. Afterwards, however, we met a boy named Viliami. He is about 15 and he is he man. He shared with us that he believes the Church is true, wants to serve a mission and would like to be baptized. He came to church yesterday and we will teach him again today. He has been reading the Book of Mormon and believes it is true. He has family that are members, and he spends quite a bit of time at their house, so we have been working very closely with them. They have been talking to his parents, who say they are okay with him being baptized. This is a real answer to prayer and a blessing!

A little bit of a slow week, but next week should be better. My companion and I had some good lessons this week and met some cool people, to include members, investigators, and less actives. I love them all to death and I want them to do well. Ever since the MTC, I have prayed for the gift of charity almost every day. Weekly, on Friday before weekly planning, I do the Preach My Gospel chapter 6 Christlike Attribute activity, review my answers, pray for guidance, and set goals for the following week to be more worthy of divine help and gifts such as charity, humility, faith, etc. and I review these with my companion during companionship inventory, this is a run on sentence. It's something I love to do and it has helped me a lot. I've seen real growth and it's really cool how much help I've felt as a result. I've listened to a few talks over the past weeks and months that have helped me understand how this works and how to go about it: Elder Bruce C. Hafen's "The Atonement: All for All;" Elder Richard G. Scott's "The Sustaining Power of Faith;" and Elder Larry E. Lawrence's "What Lack I Yet?". Ultimately, any scripture or talk dealing with the Savior and His Atonement wil help us understand how this works. It's part of the gospel plan and very central to it indeed. Ether 12:27!
I love yous all!!! Keep on praying and reading your scriptures!!

'Ofa atu!
Elder Brown

10 July 16 'Ohonua ki ai! New Mission President- President Tuione, New Companion Elder Ofa

             Malo e lelei!

This has been a good week. We didn't get any new investigators and nobody wants to be baptized (yet), but it was productive and fun anyway.
Our goal and vision is to split the ward.  We've nearly met the membership requirement Hence, after meeting with the bishop, we've decided that we'd help the ward out with reactivation and retention in a big way. We are working with the bishop and home teachers to help people be strong in the church and (in many cases) to return to activity. Wish us luck!
Missionary leadership conference was great. The new mission president in the man! His name is president Tui'one. He and his wife were born and raised in Tonga and have been living in New Zealand. They are both young; i think he is in his early 40's and his wife is in her 30's. They are amazing! After we landed, we headed to the office to interview with the new president. Our ride was hours late, so we got to hang out with him for like an hour and a half, ask him questions, joke around, get to know him, etc. it was one of my funnest memories of the mission so far; he's just the man. He will be coming out to 'Eua next week to get to know us and (hopefully) go out and teach with us. 
He teaches us to be a mission that follows preach my gospel and the white handbook, no more and no less (beyond the necessary modifications, i.e. skirts instead of pants, slippers instead of shoes). This means rugby and basketball and volleyball is now allowed!! we're stoked. 
Transfers were yesterday. We're getting a new set of sisters in Tongamama'o, a city further to the south. Much needed support. Me and my companion are the only elders out here; there are going to be 6 sisters. I'm already starting to see this is a bit of a different ball game.
My companion is elder Ofa (the one who was in my class in the MTC) He's the man!
I've been going through the topical guide under the entries for 'obedience'. It's remarkable how straightforward a subject it is. A new favorite verse of mine is D&C 130:20-21.
"There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."
I've also been reading chapter 3 in Preach My Gospel. I've always read from it pretty consistently, but I've found some pretty cool nuggets of wisdom as I've read the lessons over and over again.
'Ofa lahi atu kiate kimoutolu! 'Oku ou 'ilo 'oku mo'oni 'a e ongoongolelei, 'a ia ne fakafoki mai 'e Siosefa Sāmita. Ko e siasi mo'oni eni, pea ko u 'ilo'i fakapapau 'a e me'a ko ia 'i he mālohi 'o e laumālie ma'oni'oní.
I know it's true!
Elder Brown