Monday, August 26, 2013

Por Freaking Que'

Minha Família!

What a crazy two weeks it has been! I´M IN BRAZIL!!!! Hahaha I love being able to say that. I truly am so blessed to be here and for haviong the luck of receiving my visa so early. One other elder arrived the same day as us who has been serving in Virginia. He had to wait 5 months before he received his! He even went through the same consolate as me! Crazy stuff, I tell ya. Im sorry to hear about being jobless, mom. You can join me in that department. Some people might say that I do have a job, but I wouldnt say so, because Im having to much fun out here! Also, because brazilian keyboards are stupid, I dont think I will be able to write apostrophes for the next 22 months. It drives me nuts, and if it does the same to you, Im sorry :( I will do my best to find a way to type them when I have more time.

So... to answer a few questions. We did fly from são paulo to Rio in the group of us from the CTM there. I think there was about 8 of us, 6 elders and 2 sisters total. I guess theres around 30 missionaries from our mission who are set apart and either at the mtc in Provo or somewhere else in their reassigned field. Again, estou muito abençoado. I mean, I am super blessed. The mission home is FANTASTIC!!!! There's a beautiful view of the Christ statue outside on President and Sister Limas balcony. Their apartment was way nice and they fed us an awesome lunch with yummy delectable drinks. My trainer is Elder Grow, who is a dude from Hollister, California. He has been serving since January of 2012. and only has 3 transfers left of his mission, or about 4 and a half months. I will be his companion for two of those teransfers for sure, and since President Lima likes to have companions with eachother, he will probably be my companion until he leaves. He has such a california surfer guy personality, and he and I get along really well! He has trained one other missionary before, and he really knows his stuff. I am always fascinated at how well he knows his church doctrine and the powerful spirit he has when teaching.

Our area we are serving is called Alcântara. It takes two buses to get there from Rio, and roughly 3 and a half hours. I think our zone is the farthest east in our mission, but Im not sure on that. Alcântara is... well I´m not sure how to put it, but it is pretty stinking ghetto. According to Elder Grow, it is even less developed compared to most of the mission. Our apartment is small, but sufficient. Most of the lights don´t work, so at night we rely on weird lightbulbs that you plug into the electrical outlet. Or flashlights. Also, our toilet can´t be used less than 30 minutes after another missionary uses it, unless you flush it y dumping a bunch of water in the bowl. It´s tough to explain. I´ll have to do that next week if you´re really curious. Our shower is pretty stinking weird too. We have to plug it into an outlet and the water pipe thing. The electricity heats it up, but because it doesn´t work as well as it should, we can only turn the water up to a trickle or else the water is too cold. Also, I figured out how to type apostropes!!! High five, or as they say here, bate aquí. We also share the apartment with one other companionship in our district. They take the area west of our apartment, and we have the area east. The other two elders are both brazilian, which helps me with portuguese a lot. And our apartment is on the 6TH FLOOR. No elevators. It blows after walking all day.

Okay, what else to say... Our area is pretty big, I think. One of our investigators takes about an hour and a half to walk to, and that´s only about a third of the distance of our area. We do a lot of contacts on the streets with people. In fact, that´s pretty much our only way of finding people to teach. We can´t really go tracting here because most people´s houses are in a smallish community called a loge, with anywhere from 4 to maybe 20 houses all surrounded by a wallish gate thing. The streets here are really narrow and everywhere smells funny. Elder Grow says that after a few weeks, I´ll get used to it. We see dogs everywhere too. It´s actually really kind of sad. Most are digging through garbage to find food or shade. Which reminds me, it´s winter here, right? IT sure don´t feel like it though. The temperature is perfect in the morning, at around 20C, but by midday, its up to 34 at times, with humidity. Another cool thing, I saw weird animals. We saw chickens crossing a highway. HAHAHAHA get it? and a horse just chilling, doing it´s thang. And some goats. I hear there´s monkeys here too. I can´t wait to see them.

There´s really so much to say that I´d like to add, but I only have about 10 minutes left and ought to tell you about the most important part: teaching. I was so afraid to be out in the field teaching real people how to develop real faith and testimonies, but I´ve felt the guidance and comfort of the Holy Ghost guide me a lot in my teaching. People here have a really harsh accent compared to other parts of Brazil, so I feel like I´m learning a totally different language at times, making it a bit tougher to teach and understand people. Elder Grow and I have a couple that is already committed to being baptized, but first needs to be married in order to do so. Leonardo and Alexandra have great faith and we´ve taught them nearly all of the lessons (they were Elder Grow´s and his old companions investigator before he I arrived). Also, there is a woman named Isolda who is pretty devotely catholic. Who here isn´t though? And she has had a hard time being willing to be baptized because she also loves the people in her church. But she knows that what we have taught her is true. We gave her the dateSeptember 8th to prepare to receive and answer and be baptized. I hope she will listen closefully to the Light of Christ through prayer.

Okay I´m about out of time even though I have much more to say. I´m sure you ahve tons of questions, so I´ll try to answer them next week. Tell Natalie good luck with Mr. Akins! Tell him I say hi and miss him. I love this Gospel, I love Missionary work, and I love the joy others receive in our message of the gospel og Jesus Christ and the truthfulness it contains. I love and Miss you all!!!

Much Love,
Elder Braun

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

He Arrived!

 Irmãos Braun,

Comunicamos que o Elder Braun chegou muito bem na Missão Brasil Rio de Janeiro em 20 de agosto de 2013. Seu testemunho e desejo de servir são contagiantes.
Agradecemos por sua ajuda e apoio e oramos por muitas bênçãos neste período sagrado de missão.

Com amor e fé,

Presidente e Sister Lima
"O trabalho missionário é a seiva vital para o crescimento do reino."  Pres. Thomas S. Monson

Oh, You want a translation? Here is the message in English:
Brothers Braun, 
We Signalled that the Elder Braun arrived very well in Mission Brazil Rio de Janeiro in August 20, 2013. His testimony and desire to serve are contagious. Thank you for your help and support and pray for many blessings at this sacred time of mission. With love and faith, President and Sister Lima 
"Missionary work is the lifeblood for the growth of the kingdom." Pres. Thomas S. Monson


Di Familia!

Guess where I am right now!!! I'm in Rio! I arrived here this morning. As I'm writing this it is August 20th and Rio is beautiful. There are trees everywhere. It is really pretty and the mission home has a wonderful view of Cristo Redeemer (the Christ statue) and the bay nearby. P-days will be on Mondays so that should be the next time you hear from me. I'll be able to tell you more about my companion, who I haven't met yet, and all the adventures of being a missionary out of the MTC! I do have a few questions I'd like to ask. First do you know if my checking account has any international fees? I've had to buy a few things with my debit card and would like to know if those are true. Also, I have no idea how postage works here. Is there any way you could find out how I pay for postage from here? That would be great. Also, really random, but the flight Sao Paulo to Rio was only 40 minutes. Crazy huh?

I've got to go, but I love you all and want you to know I'm safe and doing well. I'm so excited to do as my missionary purpose says and invite others to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!

Much love, Com amor,
Elder Braun

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Campinas Brazil Temple

Dear Family,

This week the temple in São Paulo was closed for cleaning, and we have had the opportunity to have the missionaries visit the beautiful Campinas temple.  It is a little further away than our temple in São Paulo.  It is a smaller temple set high on a hill, which is seen from a distance as we enter into the Campinas area.  The missionaries have really enjoyed the visit.  We thought you would like this photo.

We have an amazing group of missionaries here in the CTM at this time.  It is such a blessing for us to be able to serve with them. Thank you for your continued support with emails and letters.  They are much appreciated.


Sister Degn

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Here in the Brazil MTC. CTM. TRC.

OKAY. HERE WE GO. Another crazy week (well, 5 days) for me. Let's see what I can cram into this short time to email! WOOOOO! To answer some questions, as far as differences between the MTC in Sao Paulo and in Provo, schdule wise, It's pretty much the same. We still have teachers and classes and TRC and meals at pretty much the same time, maybe moved a tiny bit, but not much. The food however.... is remarkable here. I think I'm going to love brazilian food! Lots of fresh fruit, juices, meat, rice and beans, and GUARANA. It's a pretty cool and yummy soda that everyone drinks, but you know that. We also can leave the campus on P-days and explore the neighborhood od Casa Verde, where the CTM is. There's a few really cool stores, including one that sells american treats like milk shakes, cookies, cakes, and others. There's also a store run by a member that sells stuff for missionaries like toes, scripture cases, etc. Their ties only cost 8 reais, or less than 4 american dollars! There's a big selection and they look smokin!! There's lots of brazilheiros that I can (try to) talk to and build up my portuguese. They talk really fast at times, but I'm getting better. It's more fun to talk with the Hispanics here since they talk slower, but overall, it's weird having americanos be a minority. but I like it! The people here are so nice.
The language is going really well! I, for the most part, understand all the principles with grammer that there is to learn. Now, it's just a matter  of building up my confidence and speed when speaking and understanding, and building up my vocabulary. Elder Deiffenbach is our new district leader, and he hasn't said a word of english in over a day now. I don't know how long it will take me to be that good, but it tests me to understand more, and that's a great blessing. Our teachers here are also Brazilian, so we can't really ask them for much help with english. Although, Irma Iglesia, one of our teachers, served in Temple square and even served two transfers in Spokane! She spent her time in Colville and Post falls though, so we probably didn't see her when she served two years ago.
The cafeteria here is really small and serves about two or 3 main foods (meat of some weird thing like fried eggs or whatever), a dessert, rolls, lots of salads and fruits, and all the rice and beans you can imagine. We have two investigators that we teach everyday. Instead of teaching once everyother day like in Provo, we teach 2 times now each day. It's great and is good prep for Rio, where I'll be by next Wednesday!!! Maybe as early asMonday..... I don't know. I think I get my travel plans this Saturday, so I'll know then. Last Saturday, we taught TRC, and the group we taught was a priest quroum from here in Sao Paulo!! Elder Deiffenbach and I taught 4 priest aged, brazilheiros. It was SOOOO HARD, but humbling. They weren't afraid to ask us weird questions and they talked really fast.
Okay I need to go! I love the Church and I love being a missionary. I can't wait to be in Rio next week and start teaching! I love you all!
Elder Braun

Monday, August 12, 2013

At the Sao Paulo, Brazil Temple

Dear Family,

We are pleased to be able to send you a picture of your missionary´s recent visit to the São Paulo temple.  This is always a special moment, entering the temple with other missionaries engaged in the Lord´s work.   We know they will treasure this remembrance. 

It is a great honor to serve with each of these fine young people and to watch their growth as they learn more about their sacred calling of a missionary.  We have a great love and respect for each one of them.
Thank you for your support for them.  They love to receive emails and letters from you, and feel of your love.  We know that your family will feel the blessings of their service.


President and Sister Degn

 MIssionaries at the Sao Paolo, Brazil Temple 
There's Elder Braun on the far right!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I Think I'm Lost...

...Because I cannot find anyone who speaks english :)
HAHA Oi Familia!
Another crazy week for me. It's funny how I never seem to run out of crazy stuff to talk about each week. We'll see what I can think of today. I didn't get a letter from you, mama, so I guess I'll have more time to talk about ME and I'll spend less time answering questions and what not. First of all, today isn't really my P-Day here. It will normally be on wednesdays, but since we had a long couple of days with airplane troubles and what-not, they gave us friday to relax and rest that way we'll be ready to study starting tomorrow. Expect my next letter to come on wednesday, and that's when we'll be having P-days.
Okay, so while I was in Provo this past week, I mostly did a lot of prep for going to Brasil, but Elder Deiffenbach andI also had a lot of cool experiences too. Sunday, which was fast sunday, was really cool. Instead of the time we'd normally have for meals, we had a mission confference which was taught by the MTC Presidency and their wives. I said hi to President Nally at dinner the other day, and he said hi back and slapped my on the butt. I'm not kidding at all. True story, so when he becomes a general authority, I'll always remember him because of that. That night, our devotional speaker was Sister Jennie Oaks Baker, Elder Dallin H. Oaks' daughter, and she played a special music devotional where she would speak, and then play a hymn or special music number every few minutes. It was so incredibly awesome, and I love music and the spirit that it brings.
Some cool things that happened while we were waiting for our plane, I saw the Sikahemas!!! I've never met them, but I went up to them and told them how I was a Braun and Barry and Brenda were my Parents and then they recognized me and said how much I look like dad and the boys. Vai even gave me a hug a couple of times. They were really nice and got a picture with me, then Bro. Sikahema gave my companion and I $20 each to buy dinner. Such a nice guy! We had an opportunity to prosilite a bit in SLC too. One man wanted to talk with us for a bit about why we are choosing to serve missions. He was catholic. weere able to bear our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and even challenged him to read one himself. He didn't sound like he was going to, but he was still so nice and willing to hear our message and really appreciated our devotion to our faith.
When we arrived in Sao Paulo, we went through customs and immigration, which was kind of tough since I only know broken portuguese and they spoke really fast. We waited (the group of us 12) in the Airport there for about an hour until our ride picked us up and brought us to the MTC. This country is so stinking beautiful! The whole way there, our group couldn't stop oohing and ahhing at all the incredible buildings, communities, plants, and portuguese everything! Being down here will really help me learn the language, so I'm hoping I can learn as much as I can before I hea east to RIO in less than two weeks. I think there's a total of only 200-300 missionaries here, with I think about 50 being american. There's actually mostly spanish speakers here, instead of Brazilians. Elder Deiffenbach and I are also still companions. I'm so glad that we still are since he's really good at helping me learn and teach, plus we already have built a rhythm with everything.
The community that the CTM is in is called casa verde. Maybe look it up on google or something (question mark. I still haven't figured out these keyboards). It is certainly not as developed compared to back home, but I really like it. People are friendly and there's lots of little street side stores that we can go to and shop at on p-days. Including one that sells bacon chips! Why did Brasil get this before the U.S ? (<---I got it!!!!!) We just have to make sure we don't look like we have lots of money and watch out for cars. People here drive like maniacs. It's kind of funny! Motorcycles drive inbetweens cars, like on the lines dividing lanes, and the streets always have tons of traffic.
I only have 45 minutes for emails now, and I'm out of time, but I love you all and wish you the best at home! Eu amo Brasil!!
Elder Braun

Friday, August 2, 2013


I'm not kidding. My visa is here at the MTC and I leave for the MTC in Sao Paulo on TUESDAY!!!! If you were planning on sending me anything anytime soon, DON'T. I will not be here to receive it. On that note, I'll write about my week tomorrow. I hope everything is going great. I miss you all, I love you all, I'm SO EXCITED to be in Brazil in 5 days. :)
Elder Braun

Bom dia Familia!!
I've said this before, I'll probably say it again, but WHAT A WEEK!!!! I never cease to be amazed at how much can happen in one week at the MTC... Again! It's been so exciting here, as I'm sure you have heard. It sounds like you've had a pretty busy and exciting week as well. So Natalie's in Utah right now? Haha it's funny to think how close she is to me. I bet she's having loads of fun with the cousins. If you get a chance, tell them hi from me and how glad I am to have had a chance to see them one last time before embarking in the service as a missionary. Which reminds me, I received an anticipated release day for when I should finished with my mission. The tentative date is June 23, 1915, which means I'll actually only serve a mission for 23 and a half months, but on the brightside, if we have a family reunion on July 4th in 2015, I'll be home for that!
I'm glad friends and family have had a chance to read my letters. I've really had an amazing experience here at the MTC in Provo and it will be difficult to leave. I feel like I just cram all of the most important events that happen each week into my letters. Tell Heidi congratulatulons for me and that her favorite uncle loves her so much and can't wait to see how much she's grown up in a couple of years! It sounds like it has been an exciting week for Bryan and his family. Let him know I'd love to receive a letter about their lives thus far since I have left. Also, I am still so shocked that I have my visa! WOW I thought no one gets it! Actually though, there have been a lot of sisters and elders recently who are going to Brazil who have been receiving their visas. The Lord needs his missionaries down south! In our district, two sisters got theirs last monday and were on a plane to Brazil by earlyTuesday morning. I'm glad I have more time to prepare myself and pack and what-not. My companion, Elder Deiffenbach, actually received his visa the same day as me and we fly out to Brazil the same day and on the same flight. I'm so glad he'll be with me that way he can help me study during the flight down. If you want more details about the flight plans, I've got a picture I'll send with the times I leave and flight numbers. I fly to Detroit Tuesdayymorning at 11ish and have I think a 3 or 4 hour layover there until we fly to Sao Paulo. I know of 3 other elders in our branch who fly the same days and a few others in other branches as well.
Since I've been a zone leader (which has only been a bout a week), I've had a great privelige to become really close with a lot of the Elders, newly arriving and old-timers, in our branch. With the blessings of having this assignment, however, comes many difficulties and trials. Two elders from the district who arrived last week have left our branch, one because of a developing skin condition that made him have to go home, the other came in knowing portuguese and moved up to the advanced 2 week class, which is good news for him. It's really tough having elders leave our district, though. Many of our learning and teaching experiences are afftected by those who are around us, and having elders leave changing our entire dynamic of our training experience. Another elder ended up going home out of the blue this week, which was really hard for Elder Deiffenbach and I. He was really quiet, but everytime we asked him how his training expereience has been. he always said muito bem (very good) or along the lines of that. I always do my best to let the elders in our branch feel welcome and try to help them with blessings or advice whenever possible.
Oh hey, so one of the Zone Leaders who we replaced was reassigned to the Spokane, Washington mission!!! His name is Elder Landeen and he's such a cool guy. I know of a few others from our branch who were reassigned to Spokane too (Elder Lloyd, Elder Morain... I think that's it), so if you ever see one of them, show them how great Spokane is and feed them well! I told them they need to go to Dick's at some point while in Spokane and have their burgers. I miss those so much. Oh yeah, and the family too, I guess :) I've also been seeing a lot of friends from Spokane too. Elder Zarecor just got here and I've seen Elder Crossen a few times. He seems to be doing well. Before Elder Brown and Elder Ross left (Elder Ross was reassigned to Riverside, CA), us Spokane missionaries were able to get a picture in front of the big map here last Sunday night pointing at our mission locations. It's a great photo and I love it a ton.
This past week, we had a Devotional where our district sang in the choir again. We had a different conductor than usual, and this new guy was really old and boring, which was kind of a bummer. I enjoy the old conductor, Brother Aggatt, because he teaches us the purpose of the song we sing, and we can really feel the spirit through music so much, but singing with this other geezer was fun too. The speaker taught us so much about the reason we as missionaries have and need to use Preach my Gospel. He told us a lot of stories about serving in the Great Lakes Mission from 1954 to 1956. His name was Elder H. Bryan Richards. Isn't that the mission Grandpa served in? And was grandpa serving during that time? Does he recognize the name? I'm just curious and that might be a cool question to ask him while you're in Afton this week.
Teaching this week has been a great building experience for Eler Deiffenbach and I. We have two investigators, Carla, who drinks, smokes, and likes to party. We've been teaching her about how our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us, and how he blesses us when we keep his commandments. She has been tough to teach, since she has a lot of outside influence keeping her from really being able to feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit in her life. Samuel is a married man who's wife is very devoutly Catholic, while he hasn't had much of a religious background. The lesson with him have been going wonderfully! He prays, reads the Book of Mormon, attends church now, and we were able to have him commit to being baptized last wednesday! Teaching in Portuguese is starting tp get more and more comfortable. Our district has been trying to use Fala sua Lingua (Speak your language) where we only speak portuguese at meals and in the classroom to help us get used to only speaking portuguese. It has really helped us, especially myself. It's kind of funny, I have a hard time switching from speaking one language to another. I'm either in English or Portuguese mode, and I can't switch back and forth very easily. Last Thursday night, we were able to go to the TRC, a volunteer place at the MTC where people in the community can show up and we teach them FHE-like lessons. They are usually members of the church who ant to help the missionaries learn the language and teach others. Elder Deiffenbach and I taught a lady who was from RIO!!! It was great talking about where we'll be serving for two years, although her portuguese accent was CRAZY. It turns out that their accent is verrrrrrry different than portuguese we've been learning here. It almost sounded like a whole new language. It was scary, but encouraging.
At this time in 4 days, I will be on a plane leaving Utah!!!! My mind is still going crazy about it. I believe that I can call home from the SLC Airport, so be ready for that Morning!!! Maybe between 7 and 9 Spokane time? I don't know. It won't be long, but send me a dearelder letting me know you can or can't be home for that time or if I need to call a cell phone or whatever. I can't wait to be able to call you guys. I love you all and love my purpose here. I know that Heavenly Father needed me in Provo for 4 weeks and I have loved my experience here! I'm a bit scared out of my pants to be in Brazil, but I'm guided by a Savior who loves me and who is ready for Elder Deiffenbach and I next week. I'll be sure to share my experiences there and will post my MTC address there as well. The Church is true!!
Elder Braun
P.S. I totally forgot to explain "code 33". As a district, we like to make different codes for actions that break the rules of the missionary handbook. For example, page 33 of the book speaks against "Flirting between elders and sisters", so whenever we see anything like that, it's a goofy thing we do where we say code 33. I promise, it's funny.

1. Elder Deiffenbach and I in front of the Carrot Cake... I mean, Provo Temple.
2: Spokane elders pointing at our mission locations