Saturday, July 27, 2013

Abacaxi and Eternal Life

Hello Everyone!

Como vao? It's been another busy week here at the MTC, and I'll try my best to let y'all know all of the exciting adventures I've had! Katie sent me a letter about what happened to Jansen yesterday. I didn't know him super well, but I've talked to him before and we have a lot of mutual friends. It's really sad to hear about such tragic events happening to wonderful people like him. During times like these is when I feel closer with my friends and Family and it allows me to recognize all of the blessings I have in my own life. Don't take your mortal life for granted. Make the most of your time here and love as much as you can. Our life doesn't end here on Earth and we have so much to look forward to thanks to the knowledge we have of our Heavely Father's plan of Salvation! Especially now that I have a knowledge of it in two different languages :)
Soooo, Sister Nowels told me that her mother said that mom is the new Girls Camp Director? Is this true, Mom? Does it mean you're not Young Women's 2nd Counselor anymore? Just wondering. Oh, if you're wondering why the title of this email is "Abacaxi and Eternal Life", it's because I like food, and both of those things are related to food in the cafeteria. The cereal dispenser for Life cereal says "Eternal Life", which I found to be way more funny than it probably really is. Also, Pineapple in Portuguese is abacaxi, and as a district, we think it's really fun to say. So yeah. No worries, everybody, I'm still a weirdo and find ridiculous things to be funny. Good luck with remodeling the cabinets at home! In a way, I wish I could be there to help out, but I'm happy here too. When I get back, I'm expecting that tons of remodeling will have taken place. Fingers crossed for an indoor swimming pool and perhaps an underground basketball court would be cool, just to write down some ideas. I played four-square for the first time in gym time yesterday. It's a thing here, and it's really fun. I'll also keep Grandpa in my prayers. It was really tough saying goodbye to him at the Family Reunion and I hope he can get better soon.
Want to hear some BIG news? After serving as District Leader, My branch president descided to call me as the new Zone Leader (along with my companion) since the current ones will receive their reassignment today and leave next week! I'm so nervous, but so Excited!! There's a lot more responsibility associated with it, and it will push me even further than I already have been, but I know that my Father in Heaven wants me there for a reason. As Zone Leader, instead of just making sure everyone in my district is progressing and doing well, I'll be looking over the entire branch. 8 DISTRICTS. Thats almost 100 missionaries total. Elder Deiffenbach and I will be working alongside the Branch president a lot more, there will be more meetings, and I'll need to work on learning the names of eveyone in our branch. The task seems really daunting, but I'm eager to do all that I can at welcoming to missionaries each week and letting them know how great the MTC is! I'm so glad I ended up in Provo instead of the MTC in Sao Paulo. I've had far too many good experiences here and I don't think there's anyway I'd be able to be as happy there as I am here, even if that MTC is in Brazil.
Along with that, one sister in our district recieved her visa last Saturday and left our District to the Brazil MTC on Tuesday. Sister Twitchell had a wonderful knowledge of the Restored Gospel and was a wondeful member of our District, and she'll be greatly missed. Portuguese is... well, it's coming along :) A little over two weeks ago, I knew barely anything and right now, Elder Deiffenbach and I have already taught at least 10 lessons! We try to speak it whenever possible, including outside of class. I'm starting to learn about more complicated rules with Portuguese grammer, like how to conjugate all of their types of subjunctive forms. It's quite ridiculous, but I'm being patient and getting better. Elder Deiffenbach is a great teacher. He has already read the entire Book of Mormon in English and The Doctrine and Covenants in Portuguese since we got here! Like I said last week, I have an awesome companion. I just wish he'd talk more. He's pretty quiet and doesn't speak his mind much. The opposite of me, I guess :)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICHAEL (in 2 days) Would the family please sing him this song for me? (In the tune of "Happy Birthday to You"):
Parabens para voce
Esta data querida
Muitas Felicidades
Muitos anos da vida!
Our investigator Suzie ended up becoming our new Portuguese Teacher! It was so weird abd surprising walking into our class and seeing the person we've been trying to teach the gospel start teaching us how to teach! Her name is Irma Pike and she has been able to give us feedback about how to teach with the spirit more, more effective Portuguese, and so much more. Elder Deiffenbach and I are teaching two new investigators now. One is a girl named Carla who drinks, smokes, and parties and we've been emphasizing the need to keep God's Commandiments andthe blessings we receive from doing so. Also, we are teaching a man named Samuel who has never been very religious and is accepting our lessons really well. Everytime we've taught him, the Spirit has been so strong. I love it!
Some other fun things this week: I found a hole in the wall of our residence which had a special gift from a missionary in there.... A tie!!! We call it a narnia hole haha. I took a picture of it for you to see. Also, If anyone wants to send me stuff, I love ties. Like, A LOT. It's pretty much the only thing that elders can wear differently each day and I wish I had brought more with me. Our district sang in the MTC Choir again for the devotional on Tuesday. Again, it was an awesome experience. We sang a really cool arrangment of Praise To The Man. The devotionals here are so awesome and teach us so much about how obedience can help us as missionaries and that by encouraging ourselves to work as much as we can, we'll be so blessed with the spirit throughout our mission and our entire lives.
I miss you all and am grateful for your prayers. I love being a missionary and am loving being an ambassador of our Lord. There's a reason the biggest words on our name tag (other than "Elder Braun") is Jesus Christ. It's because our message is centered around him and we can know the fulness of his gospel when we have faith in him and his ministry. I wish everyone the best!
Elder Braun
This is the Narnia Hole with the tie I found in it.

This was the last picture we got with Sister Twitchell before she left to Brazil. 
It also has our new teacher, Irma Pike.
I finally was able to get a picture with Elder Ensign. 
He was cleaning my building for service today while I was having P-Day. 
It was funny having him clean up the messes us Portuguese missionaries make.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Ola Familia!
This has been one crazy week and I'll do my best to cram all that has happened in the short time that I have to write you. It sounds like you all have had a ton of fun this week! Camping with the beehives, mom? You sure have a lot of courage... Haha. I miss those awesome boating activities, so I'm glad y'all had fun. How did the Pioneer Trek go? I remember the one I went on was pretty easy and not too difficult. I'm curious to know if that was the case this year as well. Also, how has the summer been only having one child at home. I'd imagine it's pretty quiet and uneventful, but I may be kind of wrong. Also, thank you so very VERY much for the letters and care packages!! Currently, Valerie and Natalie are doing really well in making my days and giving me hope as I've been here. Nothing feels better when coming back to my residence after a tough day than opening up a box of goodies and reading your thoughtful letters. Keep them coming! Also, because I don't have much time and can't email you, expect a nice letter in snail mail soon! I love the chocolate bacon too. Mama, you know me too well. Also, if you want to send letters that I can get the very day you send them, and for free, is a great way to do that. I highly recommend it.
First off, to answer some questions you have, I am at the main MTC. I still don't know exactly how the other campuses work. Where they learn, eat, so on. I'm clueless about it. My companion is absolutely incredible. His name is Elder Deiffenbach (dee-fin-back... it took me over 24 hours to remember his name and be able to pronounce it right). He already has learned so much portuguese and has been a great teacher for me. He has a great love for this wonderful gospel, he has so much faith, and does a wonderful job at heling me, serving me, and overall being a great friend. I couldn't have asked for anyone better. Really. 
Our district is also very wonderful. There are 6 elders, all assigned to Rio like me, and 6 sisters who are all assigned to Fortaleza, including..... SISTER NOWELS!!! It's fun telling people that we are from the same stake. We blow peoples minds. It's fun having her in the same district to talk about life in Spokane. Also, I have been assigned as district leader too!!! It's crazy. I never would have expected myself to have such an important assignment so early in my mission. Pretty much, my job is to interview each of the senior companions each week (only elders), collect mail twice a day, encourage my district to stay on task during language study, personal study, etc., organize district meeting once a week, and attend lots of meetings everysunday. There's a lot of responsibility involved with the assignment, and at times it adds a bit more stress for me, but it has allowed me to rely more on my Heavenly Father's help and I have been very blessed so much from the assignment.
Want to hear something CRAY CRAY? Only one day after being here at the MTC, my district learned how to pray in Portuguese and by our second day, we learned how to bear our Testimony and gave our first lesson to an investigator.... ALSO IN PORTUGUESE. :D Eu sou que meu Pai Celestial vive!!!! E Ele me ama tambem!! (I don't know how to type accent marks which is driving me crazy) Overall, I have a wonderful testimony of the gift of tongues. I currently know more about how to speak and understand Portuguese in 9 days than I did in Spanish from high after learning it for 2 years. I can understand my teach, Irmao Workman, very well. On our first day in class, he spoke nothing but Portuguese. You can imagine how freaked out us newbies were. Those first few days were very tough adjusting to always studying, learning, and teaching. However, as I've relied more on my Heavenly Father's help and guidance, and have followed the promptings of the Spirit, the work here has become very enjoyable and managable. Elder Deiffenbach and I have already taught 5 lessons to our investigator named Suzie, and have been able to commit her to baptism! It's always a heartfelt experience when you can feel the Spirit so strongly enough during a lesson to have your pesquisador commit to something so important.
The food here is very yummy. The first week, my body wasn't a fan of it, but I'm starting to adabt to it. In the words of Elder Kenney, I had the nuncas, followed with some hardcore sempres. I don't think I've gotten fatter though. My companion and I like to go running with our gym time and I've been doing the p90x ab workout (since I memorized it from doing it so much back at home). Sometimes after I eat a meal, though, I feel like death and want to crawl on the floor and act like a slug. I can be gluttonous (spelling?) at times. But You and Dad know that :)
As far as preparation goes, I feel like my preparation before arriving was pretty good. It's important, especially for foreign language elders) that you have a great knowledg and testimony of the restored gospel before arriving at the MTC. So much of what we do here relies on missionaries believing what they will be teaching. Our time here is not to learn it and develop a testimony for the first time. I'm grateful for all that you have taught me and encouraged me to learn while I was home. I've ran into EVERYONE here! I saw all of my old roommates from BYU, including Elder Hanohano, Elder Wagner, and Elder Carter. Elder Hanohano was hosting the day that I arrived, and I was able to get a picture with Elder Wagner and Elder Carter the night before Elder Wagner left to Peru. Elder Ross lives like 3 doors away from me, and has the same gym times and lunch times as me so I see hime around 5-6 times daily. I've also ran into some other good friends such as Elder Ensign, Elder Brown, and a few others. They are everywhere here!
Sunday night, we had an awesome devotional taught by a guy who used to be the mission President in Spokane!!! I can't remember what his last name was, I wrote it down but I don't have my notebook with me right now :( We also went to the Mariott center on Tuesday and I got my entire district to sing in the MTC choir there!! DL points right there. It was such a wonderful experience to feel spirit so strongly through music. President Hinckley's son spoke there and gave a lot of wonderful advice for us missionaries. They took a picture there too and are postiong it in deseret news or something. I'm in the very top of the elders choir section, but good luck finding me.
Well, my time is almost up, and I still have so much more to say!!!! Thank you for keeping me in your prayers. I look forward to hear back from you. I love you so much and miss you every day. If at some point, I could get a framed picture of the family or a cool photo book, that would make me jump up and down a roll on my tummy with felizidade e animade (happiness and excitement). Be safe and have fun!
Elder Braun
P.S. The photos included are of my district, and the elders all in fromt of the map, and one with Elders Wagner and Carter. I'll get more ready to send!

Monday, July 15, 2013

I've finished my first day.

Ola Familia!

I decided I'd send a quick and short letter briefly letting you guys know I've finished my first day. And it was CRAZY! I've learned so much today, including Portuguese, teaching, MTC stuff and everything in between! My P-days will be on Fridays, but won't start until next week (I think the 19th?) So if you're wondering why it takes so long to receive an email, that's why. Everything's great. My companion is awesome, my district is wonderful. So far, I've had nothing but good experiences. I'm pressed on time so I can't write much more, but always remember Heavenly Father's love for you in all that you do! Remain faithful and strong during times of trial.

Tons of love, I miss you all, but I'm having the time of my life! : )

Elder Steven Braun

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dear Elder Braun,

Dear Elder Braun, You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro mission. You should report to the Brazil Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, July 10, 2013. You will preach the gospel in the Portuguese language.

I'm so excited to serve the Lord!!! Never been happier!!!