> Malo e lelei!
We went to town with the zone leaders last week and got a few blocks of cheese and tortilla ingredients, so we make quesadillas from time to time. At first they weren't very good (we were using some pretty sharp cheddar which kind of threw things off) but now that we've gotten the tortilla making technique down and the cheese balance right they're a thing of beauty. Cheese is by no means a part of the Tongan diet, so our members and investigators haven't had anything like it before and they love it. The members will remember me as the guy who introduced Mexican food to Tonga!
We spent a lot of this week doing zone conference related stuff, and (unfortunately) spent a lot of time waiting around at the house.
We were told at P day on monday last week that President Tui'one would be interviewing us the following day. Our phone had been broken so we were told to stay in the house and wait for him to show up. We normally leave at 10, so we waited and waited till 2 and got sick of it so we went out and got something to eat and waited at a member's house by the road. We ended up peeking out the window every five seconds to see if President and the crew would come through, and by about 6 o clock we ran out of steam and called president on a member's phone, only to find out that he wasn't coming.
The next day was Zone conference, which was a very good and rousin' meeting. Once again, president told us to go home and wait at our house for the interview. The meeting ran a little long so we got home at 4 and waited for president, but no one showed up. Eventually it got dark and we're out of money so we had to go steal (borrow) a box of crackers from our neighbors so we wouldn't die.
Then we went out and did our thing on Thursday and got interviewed! I had an awesome conversation with president and although he was short on time I felt like I got across exactly how I was doing/feeling in less than 5 minutes. He gave me some promising transfer news (secret!) and told me he'd put me in a situation where I could go out with a bang! Tu'anekivale has been great.
This week Friday my last 12 weeks start, which is surreal. The last couple of months have flew by so I know this will be done before I know it.
We've been teaching and visiting a less-active man named Sione. He and his wife have already been sealed in the Temple but a couple weeks afterward he started smoking and drinking kava again. We've shared a lot with him and last week his wife shared with him the parable of the prodigal son, and for the first time since we've started teaching him regularly he's opened up to us and told us he needs help. He shared that he feels like he's eating with the pigs and he's too embarrassed to try coming back to church. It was a really emotional lesson and we got to sit there while him and his wife had a good talk and sione promised he'd quit smoking. He wasn't here for church yesterday but hopefully he'll start showing up. He's a good guy and we love him.
Good week this week! I'll be on a little later to email family!
'Ofa lahi atu!
What a treat for Elder Brown to meet Elder John Groberg and his wife Jean. Elder Groberg's experiences serving as a missionary in Tonga inspired the film "The Other Side of Heaven".
He returned a few year later and served as Mission President, organizing the first stake in Tonga!
The population of the Kingdom of Tonga is now 107,000, with 65,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Malo e lelei!
I missed last week so I knew I had to make this letter super good, but I'm low on time and a little under the weather so the creative juices aren't flowing the way they should. We had a good week and got work done!
On Saturday we went on splits with the district leader, Elder Nonu. He is done in three weeks and this was his first area so he was really excited to come here. We'd hoped that he'd be able to make it for fast and testimony meeting on Sunday, but president said no. He was super excited to come back and I swear he opened like 5 doors to us that we haven't been able to get in before. Normally when we visit a referral or go knock on a door they tell us to come back next week, that they're busy, etc. and this game seems to go on indefinitely. Elder Nonu was here for over 7 months so he taught a lot of people and I'm really happy he got to come here. He only got to stay from like noon to 8 in the evening, so we get to go again on Tuesday. Him coming here was an answer to prayers.
I'll probably be able to get on in a few hours in Ta'anea to read any responses, sorry I'm short on time. I love you all!! Thanks for all the support!
Malo e lelei!
Another fine week in paradise!
I've made a reputation over the last week as 'elder Brown the fix-it man'. People often ask me if I am good at fixing cars or phones or computers and, up until last Tuesday, I would usually say no. But on Tuesday we were eating at a member's house and they asked me if I was good at fixing TVs, and I said yes. He needed help hooking up the dvd player so I did it and he was impressed and gave me a pat on the back. So ever since then I've been leading everyone to believe that I'm a master fix it man and they ask me to 'fix' all their stuff. When they say 'fix my lawnmower' it usually means that there's no oil, or when they say 'fix my weed wacker' it usually means they ran out of trimmer wire, all problems well within my area of expertise. The citizens of Tu'anekivale are all duly impressed and I've managed to find yet another way to leave my mark on the place! When mom and dad come and everyone's lawnmower's are running smooth and everyone's ceiling fans are properly wired you will be very proud.
President Groberg came to Tonga and came and visited us in Vava'u. He is like 80 but he's held onto his Tongan pretty well (If my Tongan is that good when I'm 80 I'll be a happy camper) and he's got all kinds of the craziest stories. He worked in Niuatoputapu and then spent the rest of his time in Ha'apai, so he never made it out here to Vava'u, but he said that Vava'u was somewhere he always wanted to work. He shared a bunch of cool experiences and he's a great guy. For a guy his age he's full of energy and he's a lot of fun to be around.
As far as getting any baptisms goes, we've hit a bit of a dead end once again. We talked about baptism with 'Ofa and he seemed very uncomfortable. We teach him with a member who recently returned from his mission in Australia, and he is pushing pretty hard for him to get baptized, so when we asked how he felt about baptism or what he thinks would be holding him back we had a long awkward silence party. We'll try to talk to him in his own house and try to get a feeling for where he's coming from.
My dad is the best! I didn't know it was father's day until today, but I love him so much and we're grateful for all he's done for us. He's a special man and I can't wait to see him again!
'Ofa lahi atu!
Malo e lelei!
The internet has been weird all over Vava'u over the past couple weeks so I'm glad it's back to normal, knock on wood. We don't have anything to do today but email since everyone's getting moved around today, so I'll give you two weeks worth of goodies! I even promise to email Ali!!!!!
We got a new investigator last week who's talked to quite a few missionaries over the years. He is the only one in his family who hasn't been baptized; his father was just ordained as the stake Patriarch and his sister got back last month from Korea. At first we could tell that he didn't really want to be there, so we asked him if he was really interested and he told us no, we joked around a bit and he asked "we all pray to the same Lord, why don't you leave us alone? I already believe in Jesus." We hear that question like every day so we gave him our best lesson 1 and he said he gets it now. He came to church last week but didn't accept the invitation to be baptized, we're good friends by now and we'll continue digging.
Yesterday was transfers, and my comp and I are both staying. I love my members and the people we teach so that was a happy phone call.
Yesterday president Makai and his wife came to our sacrament meeting. They brought with them a couple of their friends from Utah and they asked me to translate. I had a really hard time following along over the sound of my own voice. Every once in a while, I'd come across a phrase that I'd have to think about, so I would end up falling behind a few seconds; I would invariably end up lost. I would start out each talk okay but a couple of minutes in they'd tell a joke or use a Tongan idiom and I'd be lost, so I'd make up my own talk and my own jokes so now they think I'm a Tongan expert. President Makai was sitting right there and he gave me some quizzical looks, but then he realized what was happening and we started laughing. it was bad for my linguistic self esteem but it ended up being pretty funny and me and President have an inside joke that isn't going away anytime soon. Mom and dad area coming to pick me up in October, so they should be aware of this before asking me to be their interpreter. Go find someone that speaks Tongan :)
This is a small area, and we have a day or two a week that's full of cool stuff that the rest of the time goes by pretty slowly. Everyone's gone until 1 or 2 and its hard to find stuff to do, Teaching doesn't happen as often anymore and we only get 3-4 lessons a week with an investigator. When it happens, it's a lot of fun and I appreciate it a lot more than I did before. I hope I get to finish in a crazy area so I can get some work ethic lessons in me again.
I love the Lord and this church is true. Sorry the internet's been uncooperative; hopefully it won't be happen more. Thanks for all the emails and the support!
'Ofa lahi atu!
Mother's Day Skype with Elder Brown!
Malo e lelei!
I got a camera, so although I'm short on time I'll post some pictures!
We went this morning to Mount Talau and had a grand old time. We woke up at 5 but the truck didn't show up till 6:30, so we didn't get to see the sunrise from the mountaintop. I got a picture on the road though and the sunrise was beautiful.
A quick cultural lesson about Tonga: Tongan Time is different from Hawaii Time. In Hawaii, things run a little behind schedule. It's not strange o start a meeting 15 or 20 minutes late. Tongan time is totally different and unpredictable: if we're supposed to have a meeting at 6, the thing starts right at 6 half the time and at 6:45 the other half of the time. My companion swears that he can tell when something'g going to start on time or not, but I have no Idea how it all works. I've just gotten used to waiting :)
President Tui'one is in New Zealand, so the first counselor, President Makai, took over and a few surprise transfers have taken place. My companion, Elder Langi, was transferred to Talihau and I'm now companions with Elder 'Uvea from Ma'ufanga. He came in about two months ago but he's very confident and he's a lot of fun. I love this guy! Elder Langi was hard at first and we left on a bit of a bad note; I think time will heal that one however and we'll be best friends before we know it.
Things have been really slow here; we knocked on everyone's door in our area last week and very few people let us it. We have a tiny little area so I'm not sure what to do from here other than go back to the people who weren't home. Knocking doors was the thing I was always scared to do when I got in, but now it's fun. I just wish more people would listen to us.
The weather has been absolutely gorgeous this week; its been sunny and like 70 degrees and windy. Just another day in paradise. I love it here and this place is absolutely beautiful.
It was such a blessing seeing my mother's face on mother's day! I know she prays for me along with all of you and I know that your prayers help me when I'm out of juice. Last week while we were going door to door I just wanted to sit down and go to sleep, but I said a little prayer and I made it. This would be a lot harder without all of your prayers and encouraging words.
I love the Lord,my companion, and the people of Tu'anekivale!
'Ofa lahi atu!
Malo e lelei!
This will have to be a short one, most of the baptismal plans have dropped through except for Semisi and Loleini and their family; it doesn't seem clear whether or not they'll be able to be baptized before the transfer, which has us at least a little nervous because word on the street is that this transfers going to be a weird one. We'll see what happens.Elder Langi and I are getting along a lot better now than we were before, and things are a lot easier now in our areaThe bishop is about to leave and I don't know what else to write about, so I love you and I'll continue to email to the greatest extent I can!'Ofa atu!Elder Brown
Malo e lelei!
We had a good week this week! We came early to the church and the network is cooperating, so I should be able to email everyone today,
The Wesleyan minister here went over to talk to Semisi and Loleini about the LDS church, and it's not super clear what they talked about. We've gone over a couple times since then but they tell us they're busy. They said to head over tomorrow, so we'll see what's up then. I know they felt the spirit and they've had all the lessons, so the ball's in their court. My blood is clean but it stinks to wait on other people like that.
Last week went pretty quickly; a lot happened and lots of people have made progress or lost interest; Everyone seems to have either gotten to a point where they're comfortable or where they want to change, and we're focusing on preparing people for baptism. Semisi and Loleini still seem to be the most likely for baptism, so we fasted for them yesterday and will be going to them tomorrow.
Friday and today are holidays, so the temptation to go swimming has been in full effect. I won't do it!
I love the Savior and we went around the whole week talking about him. We gave as many spiritual thoughts and- lessons or scripture verses as we could, and that made this week special. I love this church and I know that Jesus is the Christ and that he leads us.
Malo e lelei!
The internet was down again on Monday, so sorry I wasn't able to get a letter off. The bishop and my companion assure me that it doesn't happen often, and even though most of the areas in Vava'u have computers the connection in many areas is spotty at best. The internet people came yesterday and the computer is up and running, so we're sneakily here netting on a Wednesday. It's been two weeks in a row now, so I didn't want to wait till next week
Since I've gotten to Tonga, people have been telling me that the work in Vava'u is slow, and it definitely seems slow so far; I, however, happened to transfer in right when a bunch of people (whom missionaries have been working toward for months) are deciding that they want to be baptized, and so we have our hands full and we get to teach almost every day.
The family we're feeling the most optimistic about is Semisi, his wife Loleini, and their two kids. They have been talking to the missionaries for months now, but never seemed very interested. Last transfer, the district all came and helped to build a fence around their yard, which we were able to finish last week. This is one of the best wards I've worked in as far as fellowshipping goes; there's no awkward barrier between the Mormons and anyone else and it's taught be a lot. Semisi is still trying to quit smoking, so we're aiming for the 22nd for baptism. We love them and know they will make it.
We're teaching a 40 year old Australian guy in Ha'alaufuli. He's a lot of fun and a cool guy. He leads a congregation in the Churches of Christ, and he's very well read. He is the personification of the philosophies of men mingled with scripture, and it's been a challenge to teach him, even though he shys away from arguing and yelling. Teaching in English is still very awkward for me but we do the best we can, and the Elder I go teach with (elder Sulunga from Sacramento) is awesome. He reminds me of my brother Jacob and he's a great help.
General conference was great and many prayers were answered. Things in the companionship have been rough, and I found a lot of helpful thoughts and advice. I know that we have a living prophet and apostles.
I love you all! Thanks for all the letters!
Malo e lelei!
President came around and interviewed everyone in Vava'u today in preparation for zone conference tomorrow, and so we ended up waiting in the house for hours. We would have emailed if we knew he would have been late. I've been limited on time for a couple weeks in a row now so I'll do my best.
We went earlier this morning to M'ounga Talau, the highest peak in Vava'u. It's one of the prettiest views I've ever seen and We got some cool pictures. It was awesome.
The work here's very different and a lot of fun; I'm really glad to be in an area like this and I'm loving it. Vava'u is a lot slower, and there are a lot of less actives. There are a couple of families we are working towards and we are still teaching a lot. We're working a lot with the less active members, and we got one family to show up and they brought someone who hasn't been baptized yet, so there's another baptism potential there too!
The members love us and would do pretty much anything for us. We love them and they love missionaries. They would let us eat their food, use their car, kiss their daughters, take their boats, whatever we want to do they would let us do it and no one would ever find out about it. Integrity is important!
I love it here! 'Ofa atu!
Malo e lelei!
I have been transferred to Tu'anekivale, Vava'u and am companions with Elder Langi from Kolomotu'a. This has been a major motivation booster and I couldn't be happier right now. I know Elder Langi from before, he used to be in my zone when I was a zone leader and I love the guy. We're very excited to work here. Lots of people tell me that this is a slower area, but I've already met a cuople of the members and I love them. It's cloudy here, but if it wasn't I'd send you pictures. It's really beautiful here.
That's all I can get off today; They've got internet here so I'll be able to email weekly as long as it's cooperating. It took a little while to get the pictures uploaded, so I'll fully update you next week.
The internet was down for a few days….so happy to hear from Elder Brown this week!
Malo e lelei!
A good week this week! Our efforts centered around teaching Tangikina 'Olevao and working with her family. They have returned to activity and I have high hopes for them; I have no doubt that they will make it to the Temple in the near future and become one of the great families in Folaha. Teaching her was a lot of fun and working with their family was a very motivating experience. I love them very much.
We're still doing the normal thing over here, and working towards the 'Olevao family has the Folaha first ward excited. The second ward is feeling the heat and came up with six referrals during a ward council meeting (which we forgot to go to). The transfer is next Monday, so if I stay at least I'll have something to do.
Brother Truman G Madsen of BYU gave a series of 8 lectures about the Prophet Joseph Smith, each about 45 minutes long. I downloaded them all and listen to them while I shower, iron my clothes, eat, and whenever we have time at the house. He also has a series on the prophets of this dispensation, and I've listened to the Joseph Smith and Brigham Young ones, and this morning I skipped John Taylor and listened to the Willford Woodruff one, which is a favorite of mine. I love the prophets and apostles of our dispensation and it's amazing to see how the Lord worked through them.
I've thought a lot about what the early saints had to go through, and what it did to them. The same goes for the early Christian saints, the Israelites, seemingly every Book of Mormon prophet, and others. When we read about it, it seems clear and inspiring why things happen the way they do. When it's happening to us, however, it's not so fun.
It certainly would have made things a lot easier for Job if, before he lost everything, he got to see the conversation between Satan and the Lord, and learn exactly what the Lord had in mind for him. It would have been easier had he known the Lord would double his flocks and herds, or if he knew the date and time that the struggles would end. But he held on to his faith and waited it out, ending up a better man in the process.
I've gotten a lot of good advice from my dad and other friends about this topic, and I've been thinking about it a while. It would be nice to know why I'm here, why I was put with my companion, why I've been here so long, and when I'm leaving. Sometimes it's hard to sit still and say "when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." We see this pattern in the scriptures and we've definitely had some remarkable examples among the leaders of our dispensation. We all experience trials, big and small, and I think it's safe to say that no one can expect the kind of blessings we read about in the scriptures without being absolutely to keep being faithful and obedient till it's over.
I love the gospel, and (at least in a small way) I'm doing my best to wait it our and pray for a few things to change. I know the Lord will come through for me, and that he expects me to be willing to go through whatever he has in mind for me willingly, and that after I have patiently endured, I will receive the promise. (Hebrews 6:15, thank you Jacob for that verse)
This is a lot of fun and I love Tonga very much. Thanks for all the Letters!
1. Battle damage sustained while engaged in the war against sin
3. Elder Hirinuki and I in Longoteme
4. Teaching Tangikina, along with every other kid who wanted to come. She's the one in the gray and pink dress, and her two brothers, Maloni and Tu'a, came with her. She was pretty shy at first, so teaching her with her friends helped a lot. It ended up being a lot of fun and she got to meet some of her primary classmates, which is a great thing.
5. Baptism of Tangikina! Her family is a great one, and her parents are some of the kindest people I know. It was a lot of fun to teach her and to meet her family.
6. There was no internet on P day, so we went to Vaini. The internet ended up being dead there too, so we went to one of the members houses and played ping pong and cards. Then we found boxing gloves (just three of them, 2 left and 1 right) and had a series of one handed boxing competitions. With any luck, we'll find the second right hand glove and the shenanigans cup will be filled to overflowin
Malo e lelei!
I just got a camera today, and I was able to get a few pictures off of other people. It's not a whole lot but at least it's something!
Another slow week, but we have a baptism coming up! We've been working with a less active family who've started to come back to church, and they want us to baptize their daughter! They're a good family and they were very willing to start coming back, all they needed was a reminder.
The below picture was taken at Hufangalupe a couple of months ago with (left to right) Elder Wolfgramm, Elder Brown, Elder Tavo (now in Vava'u) and Elder Lasalosi, my old companion who has finished and gone back to 'Eua. This is the coolest place to go in our zone and we got a few pictures. Elder Vaisa (not pictured) was with us at the time and is the one taking the picture.
Last week we cleaned up around the Palace and helped to paint the fence (I'm not much of a painter). This is me with Elder Lesueur, who was in my first district. We're good friends and it was a lot of fun to see him again; he was in Niuatoputapu (where Kolipoki was trained) for several months and then moved to Vava'u for several months more; it was a lot of fun to see him again
We've visited virtually all the houses in Folaha and I can't help but feel like I've done what I could do here. We're having a more fun with Longoteme, which is easily the most Catholic are I've ever served in; We're teaching people and we have a couple of hopefuls, but we experience a lot more subtle opposition that I'm used to. I've never been spit on or slapped or shot at, nor do I ever expect to be; people respect ministers here, no matter what church. But it's harder there than I've ever experienced.
I'm sure there are plenty of places in the world where the missionaries aren't so lucky; I tend to think such is the case everywhere but the Islands. I love it so much here; this isn't an easy job but I know it could be worse. These people are special to me and I'll love them forever.
I was reading in Alma 17 last afternoon after church and couldn't help but wish I was in a more dramatic situation having more of an 'adventure' and getting thrown in jail and shipwrecked and shot at some more; that's what I always hoped my mission would be like, something like what Ammon or Aaron saw. Later that night, I came across the lyrics to 'I'll go where you want me to go' in the English hymnbook and found my answer once again. I'll have plenty of time for adventure after the mission, and whether or not the next several months have any of that in store is not up to me. I do know that I will be happier and more productive as I work hard, so I'll keep that up and see what the next month or two blows by way. I've heard a lot of advice on this subject over the last months and years, and once again it's made it's way into my heart over the last week.
I love the Savior and I know that this is His church. I love the Book of Mormon and I feel closer to the Savior whenever I read it.I love it here and time is flying. Thanks for all the letters! I love you all.
Malo e lelei!
Still no camera, I will have it tomorrow or I'll beat someone up
We had a couple of service projects this week; we just got back from one earlier so this may get off a bit late.
The Queen's mother passed away, so her funeral is being held later this week. We got to go to the palace and repaint the fence, pick up trash and clean the adjacent field. It was a lot of work and a very welcome break from the normal routine.
Earlier today, we walked through my first area and swept the sidewalks and picked up litter for the Queen and her family and helped to decorate the roadside. It ate away at our P-day time, but it was fun anyway.
The work here, even in Longoteme, has been slow this week, so we've started spending most of our time going door to door. We're running out of doors, so hopefully the members will feel sorry for us and give us someone to teach.
There is a girl named Lose, whom we taught last week. While we were teaching about Jesus, we invited her to be baptized and she said "Yes, can I be baptized on Saturday?" which we wish would happen more often. The mother is a member but, unfortunately, the father isn't the greatest fan of the church. He still lets his wife go to church every week, which is a blessing (normally the wife adopts whichever church the husband is a part of) and he is good friends with the branch president, so we have a good feeling about this one; we haven't been able to teach her since, but the father is a good man and I believe at the very least he will be willing to let his daughter get baptized.
As a boy, my brother and I would listen to John Bytheway. I have loved him for a long time, and he has become a favorite of my family's. One principle that has stuck with me is the importance of daily prayer and scripture study. We all hear about it and know it's good, but fewer of us follow through on that. The highlights of the week have come through personal study and personal prayer, and I have found real comfort as I've made meaningful prayer and study a priority. It's amazing how much a chapter or two can change our perspective on things and it's remarkable to see how clear the path can become when we pray for help. I love the Lord and I know that this is His church.
I love you all!! Keep fighting the good fight!
Malo e lelei!
We didn't get anyone new to teach in Folaha, but Longoteme is still doing very well. We walk back and forth a couple times a day (a bike would be nice) and that can get boring, so we invented a game called 'molokau hockey'. There are a ton of centipedes on the road, so when we see one we each run to find a stick and try to hit it at each other. We have yet to play it because yesterday was Sunday and that's not a Sunday game, but we'll definitely play it next week. I'll keep you updated on that.
We're teaching a man named Lisiate. His wife was baptized a year ago and we got to go through the temple with her. He was baptized in a Pentacostal church and, although he's been taught for over a year now (and despite the constant poking and pleading on the part of his wife) he has trouble accepting Joseph Smith, the word of wisdom, the book of Mormon, and anything that Joseph Smith touched. We read the Book of Mormon with him, pray with him, and talk about baptism like I've never done before.
Most of all, we have the longest question and answer sessions I've ever seen. Yesterday he and his wife invited us over to eat after church, and while the food was cooking Lisiate asked a million questions and brought up a million concerns. It was interesting and he gets it a lot more now. We started talking about why Moroni's on the top of the Temple in Liahona, he asked if we kill cows there (like Moses) and why not, etc. We covered everything from the restoration to the word of wisdom to the Godhead to temple work and it turned into a great lesson. My favorite ones are the ones which don't go according to script, and this was definitely one of those. We pray for him a million times a day and we love him to death.
Elder Renlund, President Hallstrom, President Haleck and their wives came to Tonga and we had a great meeting. We all feel very energized as a result. Elder Hallstrom's wife quoted Elder Jeffrey R Holland, and it has become a new favorite quote of mine:
"I would walk on hot lava, I would drink broken glass to find one more word, one more phrase, one more doctrine, any parable that anyone could give me of the life of Christ the living Son of the living God. The doctrine of Christ means everything to me as a result of [my feelings] for the author of the doctrine of Christ."
The new vision for missionary work, and our new goal for this year, it to 'preach repentance and baptize converts'. The first principles of the gospel have taken the forefront, and we have been assigned and challenged to develop a love for the Savior Himself, what He did, who He is, and I am already beginning to see it change the way I teach and think about the gospel.
I am listening to my new favorite talk, "come unto me," a talk given at BYU by Jeffrey R Holland. I swear it's one of the best talks I've heard. I felt like listening to him today, and I stumbled across this one. I found this quote especially meaningful:
"The Prophet Joseph Smith taught in the Lectures on Faith that it was necessary to have 'an acquaintance' (that's his phrase) with the divine attributes of the Father and the Son in order to have faith in them. Specifically he said that unless we believe Christ to be 'merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of goodness,' that unless we can rely on these unchanging attributes, we would never have the faith necessary to claim the blessings of heaven. If we could not count on 'the excellency of . . . character' (that is also his phrase) maintained by the Savior and his willingness and ability to 'forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin,' we would be, he said, 'in constant doubt of salvation.' But because the Father and the Son are unchangeably 'full of goodness' then, in the words of the Prophet, such knowledge 'does away [with] doubt, and makes faith exceedingly strong'"
I've been teaching about faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost and enduring to the end for over a year now, I love the Savior and all he's done. I've come to see the Savior as the center of the all we teach, as he well should be; and this quote is illustrative of the sort of spiritual breakthrough I've made over the past week: The Savior should be the center of every lesson we teach, and when we forget that there's not much power there. I look at the gospel differently now; it makes me happy every time I think about it. I love the Lord!
I'm working on getting a camera!!
I love you all! Good week!
Malo e lelei!
We had a baptism!! Her name is Fusi Tupou and she's the first baptism we've had in Longoteme, the other town we cover. The work there has exploded (relatively speaking) and it's the part of our area I'm now the most excited about. The Branch President really likes us and it's been a while since they had there own missionaries, so they keep us very busy. He is a great example and helps us a lot with our teaching. He's one of my favorites. Working there (and walking back and forth from it) has been good for my health and really helped to break up the routine.
My companion is Maori/Cook/Niuean from New Zealand. He is my second comp from New Zealand and I love him. We get along well and are getting some good work done.
We got to watch the annual missionary broadcast on Friday, which was really cool. The topic was 'teach repentance and baptize converts,' and we all learned a lot from it. Elder Bednar had a lot to say about the Doctrine of Christ, and I found it very eye opening and very interesting. We talked about a lot and it was a great meeting.
They changed the missionary schedule a couple of weeks ago! We just found out about it on Friday, and we're excited about it. We get a lot more leeway in our planning; we plan in the morning, do personal study, and then plan companion/language study to do throughout the day. The p-day schedule is also different. I love this work, and it's really nice to have just a little more freedom throughout the day; doing the same thing every day can get old.
Elder Renlund is coming to Tonga this week, and we're all very excited to meet with him. He won't be able to make it to Ha'apai or Vava'u, so it's a blessing to be on the main island. We're all very excited to see what he has to say.
We're trying to get all our netting and laundry done early so we can go to Nualei and play Ping Pong. We have to walk everywhere now, which adds another layer of fun to the whole thing.
Not being a zone leader anymore was a blessing; we have an extra 2 or 3 hours in our area to worry about doing actual missionary things. It's fun to get to walk again (my comp and I are fat) and we walk a lot. I feel like a missionary again!
I love you all! Thanks for all the letters and support!
Malo e lelei!
Transfers happened! I'm still in Folaha, which was a little unexpected; people seem to have been moving around a pretty often over the past few transfers, so the fact that I'd been in my area for 3 transfers had everyone 'absolutely sure' that I was moving; even the elders in the office told me I'd move, so I was pretty convinced. But I'm still here! By the end of this transfer I will have been here for 6 months, and it definitely doesn't feel that way.
This is a good area and although it was a surprise when I found out I'd be staying here, it wasn't an unhappy surprise. There's lots of work to be done, and my comp is going to be a real help.
I spent a few days in Ha'ateiho with the missionaries there, and it was a real treat. I feel re energized and motivated as a result of my having gone there. There was a white woman and her son that I got to interview for baptism, and they had been through so much. Every week during district meeting we would talk about her concerns and try to help her get her questions answered. This last week we got to see her baptized, which is the most motivating thing ever. It makes me want to become the best teacher and baptize everyone.
My companion is Elder Hirinuki from New Zealand. He came in after me, but he has the language down and he can teach really well. He is cook island/ new zealand maori and is a hard worker.
I'm no longer a zone leader! I probably won't be for the rest of my mission because of the crash, even thought the fix on the car was easy. That's ok with me, I learned a lot and the extra time we'll have in our area is going to be really valuable.
Now that I'm not a zone leader anymore and transfers are over, I will actually be able to email all of you regularly. I promise. Now I have no excuses!
I love you very much!!
Malo e lelei!
My comp finishes later this week. I love him to death and it's been a very fun few months, we had two baptisms and laughed with/at each other 24 hours a day. It's too bad to see it come to an end, but I'm excited for next week. I could stay here or I could leave, I'm just really anxious to find out who my comp will be.
We were involved in a minor accident Tuesday, nobody's hurt, and the car didn't suffer any damage beyond the bumper and front plastic cover. It wasn't classified as a 'serious' accident either, so whether or not I lose my driving privileges seems unclear.
We were at an intersection and I brake'd too late and didn't quite come to a complete stop. I looked right into oncoming traffic (we drive on the left side of the road) and saw a big truck . I tried to slam on the brakes, but was wearing slippers and for one reason or another that didn't work, and by the time I thought to reach for the parking brake it was too late, disaster had stuck
I ended up hitting their back left tire, which took the bumper and plastic cover off. there is no damage to anything important, but the bumper is trashed and will need to be replaced. I doubt I was going any faster than 5, and the truck suffered no damage and wasn't at fault so we let them go. The ap's said it's already been fixed, and we should get a different car next week. We (in consultation with the mission office) didn't feel the need to call the police so my record should be clean. At any rate I learned my lesson, and I will be driving carefully from now on; we hit a very big truck and if we hadn't slowed down we'd have been toast.
I read King Benjamin's speech a couple times this week. It has become one of my favorite parts of the Book of Mormon and I'd love to read it with those I teach. I love how the Book of Mormon answers our questions and broadens our perspective on things; things which seem like big problems don't seem so big anymore when we take time to think about what's important. It's reawakened my love for the scriptures.This should come in handy, because I think we'll be spending a little more study time than usual over the next week or so.
My comp and I will be headed out soon, I will email everyone later on, so feel ree to message me so I can read it when I get back!!
I love you all! Keep up the good fight!
Feel free to check out Elder Brown's blog: http://elderpeterbrown.blogspot.com/
Malo e lelei!
Unfortunately, I have less than 30 minutes. I'll write as much as I can but I likely won't be able to get an email off to the parents and the siblings, I'm sorry!
Next week is my companion's last p-day so I'll get the emailing done early. I'll email everybody!
The work's slow here; we haven't been able to find anyone promising this week. We're getting much friendlier with the investigators who we've been talking to for a while, and we may be able to get them to come to church, which would be a major step. Things still seem very slow here.
The missionaries are beginning to get along. This has historically been one of the highest baptizing zones in the mission, and now that the squabbling is beginning to subside I know things will get back to where they could be.
This week my comp and I felt totally out of energy almost every day, not just because this is hard, but because sometimes it doesn't feel like anything's happening, and that's discouraging. But I've learned here that it feels really good to keep going anyway, even if at times the only reason I can think of is just because I'm supposed to. It's a great source of comfort and definitely wasn't a habit of mine before the mission. That was the breakthrough this week, I realized I've started to understand that work is rewarding, even if things don't go our ways.
I love the prophet Nephi, and every time I read about him I want to be like him. I've spent a lot of time reading about him and his brothers and I learn so much every time. Read the book of Mormon!!
Transfers are in a couple weeks!! I will miss Elder Lasalosi and I'm exited to see who my next comp will be!
'Ofa lahi atu!
Malo e lelei!
The work seems to have slowed down, but well try our best.Im all but out of time we had like 10 late christmas packages to drop off and some quarreling missionaries that really needed some talking to. I wil write more next week.Our zone has the highest number of new missionaries and its been very interesting/eye opening to see who transitions well and who doesnt. Out of all the 6 new guys (those in their first 12 weeks) the ones who have struggled are the ones who fail to love and forgive their companions.Many of the missionaries whom I've talked to (who were struggling) started the conversation by sharing a long, seemingly memorized list of their comps shortcomings. When their companion would ask forgiveness they seemed reluctant to give it. One elder has a trainer who has gone his whole mission without doing formal companion study. They talked about it and have been doing it consistently for about a week and a half. Rather than moving on and being happy for his companion, the new elder is (quite vocally) approaching the situation with a "we'll see how long this ends up lasting" attitude. He has no intention of helping his companion, he almost seems to be waiting eagerly for his comp to fail so he can let someone else know about it.The parable of the debtors in matt 18 comes to mind. I reconize a lot of things every day that I need to change. To expect forgiveness from the Lord yet withhold it from others makes no sense and is condemned by the Lord in the scriptures. And although we may not be delivered unto the tormentors, we will not be happy if all we focus on is what is wrong with others. Our goal should be to help them, not be better than them.I hope i dont seem frustrated; im not in a nonsense mood right now and the stuff thats been happening should not be happening. I cant judje (i sat here for 5 minutes trying to remember how to type that word and gmail isnt giving me any help you know the word i meant ) because I have found myself on the wrong end of that equation many a time over the past year (20 for that matter).I have to go prepare a lesson for zone conference tomorrow which has to be 10 minutes and understandable to white greenies and a bunch of tongans. Length will be a concern (ladt time i taught it went pretty long) so preparation is key! We only just found out about this today; president keeps us on our feet for sure. The topic is love and humility; given the recent problems within the zone we have our work cut out for us.Im out of time and due to network problems i wasnt able to get this off on time; its about 6:50 Tonga time now. I'll do my best to get this off on time next week and email mother and the siblings. I read every email! Thanks for all that you do!!!!'Ofa atuElder Brown
Malo e lelei!
In Tongan, there isn't really a good way to say 'happy new year,' so they just say it in
English. Happy new year!
We Had a baptism on Saturday and the confirmation on Sunday! So 2016 went out with a bang and 2017 began with a bang! The one baptized is a 16 year old boy named Timote. We worked hard with him at the beginning, and he demonstrated, as many have demonstrated before, sincerity and a willingness to know. He prayed and got an answer! He wanted to be baptized, and did so. He has a great mind, asked good questions and remembered everything as explained to him. He wasn't great on reading the pamphlets, but when he understood the restoration he knew he needed an answer. He got one!!!!We get a car in the area I work, and because of transfers and people needing rides we ended up 300 km over the odometer limit for the month. President knows and he isn't mad.We get to go to the temple tomorrow for MLC and we do the meeting on wednesday. We will start our fast at 5 today and break it just after we get out of the temple. I have loads of questions and have quite a few favors to ask. There's so many details to worry about, and I'm struggling to know how to go about it. I love the temple, and I'm confident I'll find the answers I'm listening to.Once again, duty calls and the ap's just dropped off a stack of papers that we get to take to everyone. Sorry about the length, I did the best I could and took a while. I love you all very much!!!'Ofa atu!Elder Brown