Elder Brown 27 February 2017

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!

'Ofa atu!

Elder Brown

Elder Brown 20 February 2017

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!

'Ofa atu,
Elder Brown

Elder Brown 13 February 2017

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!

Ofa atu
Elder Brown

Elder Brown 6 February 2017

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!!

Elder Brown