Monday, December 30, 2013

Hunk of Burning Rio

Hey guysssz,

I Absolutely enjoyed talkking to most of the family this week. (Bryan, Holly, Ryan, and Valerie. I´ll try to pull some strings so that on mother´s day, we can use Google+). The time flew by super fast. Wayyyyy too fast, talking to yáll. After we hung up, I gave the laptop back to Caroline, the member whose house we were at, and she said I looked like I was crying a bit. Maybe I was, but it could have just been sweat dripping down my face.

For Chirstmas Eve, we passed by the houses of a few members to teach a short lesson aout the birth of Christ, and we ate tons of food. Panetone, Pudim, rabanada, frango assado, salada de frutas, guaraná, you name it, we probably ate it.

So it´s kind of hot here... Saturday this week had to have been one of the most miserably hot days I´ve ever experienced. It didn´t help that everyone we had marked with to teach was either not home or didm´t answer the door. Lots of walking. Lots of sweating. I´m practically drinking sunscreen now. Elder Seigh, one of the other missionaries in our apartment said it will be like this for at least another 4 months, until about April. It makes me so grateful when we can teach a lesson in the house of an investigator to stay away from the sun for a bit.

This week was pretty full of trials and patience building opportunities for me. I appreciate the advice you gave me, Mom, on how to keep a stronger relationship with my companion. I´ve tried to ask more questions to him, like you said, and I think it has been helping a lot. He´s getting pretty close to passing one year on his mission and at tims it´s a bit tough to animate him and help him be more enthusiastic in the service of the Lord. I try to put myself in his footsteps though. Elder Leite has a pretty difficult situation in his life, not only as a missionary, but within his family as well. He´s the only member of the church, and many people at home are against his decision to dedicate 2 years away fro his family to preach the Gospel to the people in Rio. His parents are seperated, and his dad  was drunk when he called on Christmas. I´ve learned to understand how great I have it, and that I should be patient with my companion, especially when they come from different backgrounds than I do.

Lots of contacts this week, a few good lessons, but It has been difficult to help anyone truly progress like we woould have hoped. Keep Elder Leite and I in your prayers this week. We´re working hard, and we´re hoping for better results this upcoming week. I love you all and was grateful to see your bright smiling faces last week!

Elder Braun

PS Mom and Dad, if any future missionaries have questions though out these upcoming weeks that I can answer, let me know! Anything. keep me updated on the how the mission prep classes go.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmastime is Here, too

Me and probably the two most adorable brazillian kids you´ll ever find.

Well.... Kindof

Hello my beautiful friends and Family. I´m not even sure what to putin this letter since I´ll be talking to you all in only 2 days. but we´ll see what pops into my head. My Trainer Elder Grow finished up his mission last week and had a chance to call me the day he flew home. It was pretty cool to talk to him and have a chance to say one
last good bye. He was a great trainer and we got along super well.

Words can´t begin to describe how different Christmas is here in Brazil. The Spirit of Christmas is still strong and prevalent, but I never imagined I´d have a Christmas that was SO HOT. It´s kind of weird to get used to, but I´m loving it. Elder Leite and I have been doing lots of street contacts with people and it gives us a wonderful
opportunity to share a  short christmas message with brazillians in the street. Yesterday, the  stake we´re serving in had a Christmas devotional. They arranged a choir from all the members here and sang lots of christmas songs (One was even in English). Every chance I get, I try to play that Jon Schmidt christmas song on the piano. Not many people have pianos here. Actually, like no one, just the church buildings.

Bruno and Ranna are still progressing, but this week was a little tough. Bruno´s grandmother died at the beginning of the week, and although that gives us a wonderful chance to teach the Plan of Salvation and testify that our mortal life is only a small step of God´s devine plan for his children, he became really busy visiting
with family, planning a funeral, and since he still had to work, we didn´t have many chances to pass by there and teach a lesson.

I think I´ve talked about this other couple, Jacqueline and Alexandre, but their starting to do really well and moving a lot closer towards being married and being baptized. (Jacqueline is the girl who I said looked just like Hannah Jensen, only Brazillian. I think I have a photo I can post). Her parents were baptized 4 months ago and she recognized a big difference in their life that gave her and Alexandre and interest to investigate the church. Although they don´t live in our boundaries, they often visit her parents and we get a chance to teach them. They both REALLY want to get baptized, but are in the process of doing the papers necessary to get married. We´ve been giving them goals and steps to follow, and with  the help of JAcqueline´s parents (Aguinalda and Rogerio), we´re praying and hoping that the process can be speedy and fast for them to progress towards baptism.

I can´t think of other big news going on, and I figure if something comes to mind, I´m talking to the fam in only 2 DAYS!!!!!! I´m super crazy excited. Speaking english. Seeing the new car. Seeing snow. Seeing my wonderful family. You can do it, Elder Braun, just two more days. I love you all and can´t wait to see how much you´ve grown these past few months!

Elder Braun

PS I made a skype account, ElderBraun, which I´ll use to talk to yáll on Wednesday. Get all of your questions ready!! I´m ready to give the inside scoop on all things Brazil! If you could try and add me as a contact before the call, that should make things a bit easier. I also will not guarantee that our call will start at exactly 8. It will probably be a bit later since 4 missionaries will be using the same internet and we´ll be taking turns.

Photo with Rogerio, Elder Leite, Jacqueline, Me, and Aguinalda

Monday, December 16, 2013

Staying Together in Alcantara

Dear Family,

First of all, I KNEW IT. I knew yáll would buy a car while I was out
here in Brasil. But seriously, I bet you are all loving having a
shiny, flawless piece of metal in the garage, and I´m looking forward
to ride home in that thing... in about 18 months :) What year is the
car? Is it brand spanking new?

I´m still not sure what skype username I´ll use to talk to you all at 
Christmas, but I´ll figure that out this week and let you know
I´m guessing I´ll be calling home around 2 in the
afternoon here, which is 8 in the morning in Spokane. Will that work
out all right for everyone at home? Goodness, this past week has been
pretty awesome, and with transfers this week, there should be some
pretty big changes and even more exciting news to come.

Sooooo transfers surprisingly won´t change a lot for Elder Leite and
I... mostly because we´re staying together in Alcãntara! It´s a litle
bitter sweet for me, I was pretty sure that Elder Leite would train
someone, and I was expecting I´d move to a different area, get to see
more of Rio, but my Father in Heaven seems to have more Cariocas
waiting for us and prepared to hear our message of the Restoration of
the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But we have some investigators who are
really progressing and are finally showing desire to make some changes
in the life. I was worried I´s have to pack up my bags and say tchau
to them, but luckily that won´t happen to me. I´ll still be in an
apartment with 3 other brazillians. Without a doubt, my portuguese
will be even stronger (qué bênção!) Also, my companion from the MTC
(Elder Deiffenbach) is in my district finishing up the training of
another brazillian Elder. Way to go, Deiff, way to go. I´m pretty
proud of him for having progressed so much these past few months.

A few exciting things that happened this week include:
-We had a zone conference in Rio last thursday with 4 other zones in
our mission. We learned a lot about how we can help our investigators
who get baptized stay firm as members and how we can help them learn
how they can always develop a stronger testimony, even when us
misionaries leave the area. President shared a story about his
conversion (when he was 17) and how 12 other investigators were
planned to get baptized the same day as him, but President Lima was
the only one of those investigators who was able to get baptized. One
of those missionaries who baptized him, Currently living in Utah and
is 50ish years old, has kept in contact with Presdient ever since his
baptism, has visited him a few times here in Brazil and the US with
his wife, and never imagined that his one baptism that was able to
happen that day would one day become a mission president. Pretty dang
cool and inspiring for me. I was able to see Elder Grow there for the
last time before he heads home this week.
-After the conference, I had a division with an american elder (Elder
Evans) who started his mission the same day as me, but we were in
different zones at the MTC. He was serving in the States for 3 months
before he got his visa, so he only has 4 weeks in Brazil. We had a lot
of fun in Alcãntara that day, we taught a few pretty good lessons, and
he said he really enjoyed having a break from his trainer for a day. I
can´t imagine how difficult it would be to have a that short 6 week
training at the MTC, stop learning or speaking Portuguese for 3
months, and then have a Brazillian companion 24/7.
-There´s a young married couple named Ranna and Bruno that we´ve been
working with a lot this past week. Brunos cousin is a member in the
ward next to us, and they´ve been investigating the church since the
beginning of the year. The Elders from that other ward were teaching
them, but the stopped a while ago since they live in our area and we
never received a reference about them. They´re wayyyyyy cool and would
make stinking great members of the church. Bruno has 4 cars too.... I
don´t know how to help yáll at home comprehend how much of a miracle
that is here in Brasil. NO ONE has cars here in Alcãntara, and they
have 4.... One of which is a 95 Ferrari. He drove us home in it after
our lesson. I didn´t complain about that :)

I love you all!!!! The Spirit of Christmas is so strong here, the sun
won´t stop getting hotter because of it! WOOOO

Elder Braun

Monday, December 9, 2013


My Wonderful Family,

Woo another week in the books. You can go ahead and accept those
friend requests that people sent me. I don´t have a problem with it.
Except the one from that lisa person... okay I´m kidding :) I am super
duper excited to talk to you all in 16 days! I´m still not completely
sure whether I´ll be in Alcãntara or a different area since we have
transfers next week, so I won´t give you a skype address until the
week of Christmas. How is your skype username spelled?  
I´m almost positive some problem will happen, since I haven´t used like 
any technology since vietnam, but I´ll try my best to resolve anything 
that could occur.

So, I received not one, not two, but 3 packages this
week!!!!!!!!!!:)!!!!!! Two from the fam and one from Grandma Pannone
with presents from her, The Atkinsons, and Uncle Tom and Aunt Pam. One
of those packages from the fam was sent way back in September? Either
way I was so happy to receive them, and I vowed not to open them until
Christmas!!!!.... But then I realized that I  might get transferred to
a new area on the 18th, and along with my lugguage and Backpack, I
figured that dragging along two more boxes would be a little bit
frustrating, especially since we travel by bus from area to area......
So I caved :( BUT Elder Leite recorded me opening the presents from
you all and I sent my SD Card with All of my photos and Videos taken
since the MTC, so Christmas should be a little bit more fun for yáll
at home. I really really loved everything you sent me and it made me
feel like I was at home with the family... minus the super sweaty and
slightly miserable heat, but you´ll just have to see the video once
the SD Card gets there.

Last Monday, as a district, we went to an area called Maricá, where
our district leader is serving, and we had lots of fun there. We ate
at an investigators house there, we were able to share with them a
great lesson (with 8 missionaries) and after we visited the coast. The
weather was a little bit chilly and pretty cloudy, so luckily, there
was no one else there too. We took some cool photos there that I´ll
have to add. An emergency transfer happened this week, which added
another companionship in our district, and now Elder Deiffenbach (my
companion from the MTC) Is in my district!

One thing I´ve really enjoyed this transfer is living with 3 other
brazillians, At times it´s kindof difficult not being able to speak
any english throughout the entire day (I only have a chance to think
in english when I write in my journel, or write this letter), but it
has really helped me to learn and understand Portuguese better. The
three elders in our apartment (Elder Leite, Elder Pinheiro, and Elder
F. Silva) have a total of 10 years combined as members of the church.
They were all baptized as teenagers, and I thought it was kindof crazy
how I´m the youngest of them all, but been a member of the church for
longer than all 3 of them combined. It´s really special being with
Elders who didn´t have the foundation as a child, but decided to join
the church because they found out it was true for themselves.

We´ve been teaching more Families, doing more contacts, and by the
look of it, the work here is starting to progress even more! After the
baptisms that Elder Leite and I had a few weeks ago, we were having a
hard time finding new investigators to teach, but we´re doing a lot
better now and keeping busy.

I love you all!!! I was so happy to hear from you not only from the
email, but the wonderful gifts that were sent in the Christmas

Elder Braun

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mission Tour and...

Hey family!

I always love to hear from yáll what´s happening at home. Natalie sent
me a good email keeping me updated on her life, and I also received
letters from Dad and Grandma Pannone this week. Thank you all so much
for thinking about me and always being willing to help me out with
words of motivation and comfort.

It soundslike Thanksgiving at home was pretty... well, quiet at home.
I actually completely forgot about thanksgiving and didn´t realize
that it had passed until Friday. Some stores here have ´´Black Friday´´ 
sales, so when Elder Leite asked me what Black Friday meant
when he saw it on an advertisement on Friday, it hit me that last week
was Thanksgiving. Pretty crazy how different it is to be a missionary
in a different country with different holidays and weather throughout
the year, but I´m still loving Brazil!

Last Friday, Our zone and 4 other zones went to the center of Rio for
a conference with one of the area Seventies in Brazil. He announced a
few changes that will take place for all missionaries in Brazil (And
maybe the rest of the world? I´m not sure...) Some small things,
nothing super serious. We´re not getting ipads or iphones or Facebook
anytime soon. He announced that missionaries are no longer allowed to
use backpacks and have to buy shoulder bags. The mission sells some
with a cool little logo on it, so I´ll probably do that. Which reminds
me, Could you let me know in my next email how much money I have in my
Bank account? I figured that I had to pay a fee to use atms here. 5
dollars though? Ouch. Elder Gavarret, the Area Seventy, also gave us a
pretty good devotional. Annnnnnd... I was able to see Elder Grow and
Elder Hamilton!! It was the first time I´ve seen Elder Hamiltopn since
he got here in Brazil, so it was way cool to catch up on what´s
happened since we both entered the MTC. Picture will be added to this

I received a call from the mission office last week that I received a
Package this week!!!!! HOWEVER, I still don´t understand this at all,
but sometimes, The post office here keeps the package and charges the
receiver of the package a tax to be able to receive it. So while I was
in Rio, I paid one of the secretaries 118 reais (around 50 american
dollars) so that he could pay the tax required to get the package.
Elder Grow said that that has happened to him once before, but it´s
completely random when a tax is charged. Dang.

Most of this week was spent helping out the investigators we baptized
last week and helping them prepare to be confirrmed and receive the
gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday. Every week, on the missiona website,
they past a few stories that happened the week before that were cool
and stuff. They´re called ´´Milagres da Semana´´ or miracles of the
week. Elder Leite and I made it on that page, so we felt pretty

I´m learning so much every week as I strive my best to devote all of
my forces and efforts in advancing the work of the Lord. I certainly
still have so much to learn, whether it be my ability to speak and
understand the language, or my capacity to teach our investigators
according to the direction of the Holy Spirit. I love you all!

Elder Braun

PS The names you asked about, Bob William Fernandes is my companion
Elder Leite (a member of his family must be using his facebook), and
both Gabriell and Marilla are members in the Ward. I don´t recognize
the other names though.

PSS Let me know what Skype account you´ll be using. We´re skyping in 23 days!!!

My buddy Faynner and I in front of a random car.

Elder Hamilton and I in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro

Monday, November 25, 2013

The "Waters" of Baptism

Baptism of Josué, Leda Maria, and Nanci (from left to right)

Hey Family!

What a great and rewarding week for Elder Leite and I. Miracles have
been happening in Alcãntara and we couldn´t be more grateful. Sorry
about the whole being alone thing without any of your kids for
thanksgiving. (Minus Noodle Poodle, of course). Is Thanksgiving even
this week? Haha being in an apartment with only Brazillians makes me
forget about stuff like that so that I don´t act all trunky and think
of home. I´ll save that only for when I´m at this LAN house writing my

Well, as the title implies, this week was blessed with some marvelous
baptisms in Alcãntara! After Elder Grow left, Elder Leite and I
started working full speed and contacted many references that we
received from the cemetery activity we did at the beginning of the
month. While many people didn´t show a whole lot of interest or gave
us wrong addresses, there were a few really good ones. We´ve been
teaching a lady  named Nanci and two of her grandkids (Josué-9 years
old and Evellyn-14 years old). Yesterday, we were able to baptize
Nanci and Josué! Evellyn really wants to, but her Dad wants  to go to
church with her a few times and receive our lessons before he will
allow her to be baptized. Although we were a little bit frustrated
about it, Elder Leite and I decided we´d try to make lemonade out of
lemons, you know? Sadly, she wasn´t able to attend the baptizm of her
cousin and grandma. I´m still not really sure why :(

ALSO we had lots of help from the members last week bringing
nonmembers to church, which has made Elder Leite and I pretty busy.
One lady named Leda Maria was seriously golden. She accepted
everything we taught and accepted our invitation to be baptized...
before we even invited her. SOOOO she was able to make that sacred
covenent yesterday as well. One thing that made yesterday pretty
stressful, though, was that our Ward Mission Leader didn´t go to
church. He didn´t tell anyone in the ward counsel about the baptisms
we had  prepared, and therefore. no one knew in the ward knew about it
 (except members we had visited and told them and whatever). SOOO We
planned the entire baptisimal service in like an hour... during
sacrament meeting, but it went well. Some members  really helped us
out and relieved us from some of the stress we were having.

Yesterday was really awesome. It was also the primary program for the
Alcãntara ward, so all of the little kiddos sang primary songs, shared
their testimonies, and taught gospel principles. Exactly the same way
it would have been don in the states.... but in portuguese. I was
asked to share a brief experience too with missionary work before my
mission during the program, and I´m pretty sure I was the only one who
had a chance to speak that wasn´t a member of the primary. what what!

There´s another American in our zone named Elder Evans who arrived
last week. He´s being trained by a Brazillian and has been having a
hard time adjusting to the language, teaching style, and overall
Brazil since he got here. He started his mission the same day as me,
but he was serving in Texas for two transfers waiting on his visa. I´ve
been trying to help  him feel a lot more comfortable in Brazil,
because  I remember how tough it was for me to adjust, and I had an
American who trained me. Being able to show that kind of support has
made me pretty excited to eventually be a trainer and to be able to
serve my companions in that same sort of way.

So yeah. WOOOOO!!! Thank you all so much for the love and prayers that
have been heading my way! The Lord really blesses his missionaries,
and I´ve been motivated to be obedient in every way, that way I can be
worthy of the blessings he has prepared for me. There´s still so much
more time left for me t o grow as a missionary, and I´m loving my time
here! But most of all, I love my Family and Friends supporting me all
thoughout my time here.

Elder Braun

PS I quoted ´´Waters´´ because this past week, I´ve been pretty dang
sick, and, well, I think you can  probably read between the lines. I haven´t
had solid poops for about a week, and I´ve  lost weight even more
rapidly. Woooooooo. Hopefully it´s nothing too serious. There´s no
Pepto Bismol here to save me :(

ME and a pato.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oops, I blinked.

CRAZY Week, thats for sure.

Hi family and friends,

Thanks a ton Jeff for the email and update with what´s what in your
life. Mom didn´t send an email this week, so it was nice to hear from
someone this week! Go BYU!

In my planner, I titled this transfer ´´A Transfer of Progress´´, and
golly jee that´s exactly what it has been in only one week. I´m
progressing sooooo much in portuguese since I´ve been with Elder
Leite, especially since I´ve had to take control in what we teach our
investigators that Elder Grow and I had. I´ve been doing most of our
planning too since he isn´t familiar with the area and where each of
the communities are in Alcãntara. It´s been pretty stressful, but the
blessings have been FLOWING. WOOO.

Tuesday last week, Every missionary in the Rio mission went to a big
bus station in Rio for transfers and meeting our new companions. I was
able to see a few people who I knew, Like my companion in the MTC,
Elder Deiffenbach and a few others. It was cool to finally talk to
other missionaries outside of my zone and district. I dropped off
Elder Grow with a Peruvian missionary and now I´m with Elder Leite! We
took a family photo (Since Elder Grow trained both of us).

This has probably been the first week in my mission where I
legitimately felt like I got ´´lost in the work´´. Elder Leite and I
have been teaching, contacting, and overall working nonstop that
there´s no time to take a break for açai or anything. We only have 9
months together of in-field experience, but we´ve been able to help
prepare tons of people for baptism and work a lot with the members
too. We were able to contact one lady named Nancy from the cemetary
activity we did two weeks ago and we´ve been teaching her and two of
her grandkids. They were all able to go to church, and she said she
wants to be baptized next week! She has accepting everything we taught
her, even the word of wisdom. Everyone in Brazil drinks coffee,
especially Nancy, but she said she´s willing to try and stop since she
believes that Joseph Smith was a Prophet. We´re really looking forward
to what´s in store for Nancy, Evelynn. and Josua this next week and
their entire lives as they learn to accept more and more the Gospel of
Jesus Christ.

This past Sunday, we had a total of 8 investigators at church! The
members have really started the get involved in missionary work, which
has kept Elder Leite and I super busy. A member named Alcineira
invited her neighbor Maria to church, and she LOVED IT! We visited
here after church and had a chance to teach her the Restauration,
which seriously couldn´t have gone any better. Maria was telling us
that she was feeling lost in the world and was praying for something
to help her feel purpose in life. She lives alone, nd is about 60
years old, and her husband passed away 10 years ago. Shortly after she
started praying, Alcineira invited her to church and she said that it
was exactly what she needed. She accepted an invitation to be
baptized.... before we even invited her, so naturally, we´re super
thrilled for her desire to learn. We´ll be working with her a lot
this week to prepare her for baptism.

Few random pensamentos… On Tuesday, it rained more than I had even
seen during my mission, with most of the streets being full of water.
When Elder Leite and I took a bus to return home that night, it was
too dark to see outside the windows.

I love you all! Blessings have been sent to Alcãntara and work is
"egg-splode-ding"! Keep the states fresh while I´m here!

Love, Elder Braun

PS. Tell Natalie to check her email if she hasn´t the past couple of
weeks. obrigado

Dad and his two, different raced, sons

Sunset over Alcãntara. Que linda?