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?

Monday, November 11, 2013


Dear family,

I look forward to the package coming my way! I sent one to yáll in Spokane, I think on Wednesday, so we´ll have to see which country has faster shipping.

Lots of fun adventures here, and perhaps if you were able to understand the title, transfers are this week! There´s a few big changes for me as a result, including a NEW COMPANION. That´s right, as of tomorrow, I won´t be companions with Elder Grow anymore. It´s pretty mixed felings for me. He had a ton of experience as a missionary and it was super nice haviing an american companion, but it´s time for a lot more..... well, Brazil. My new companion´s name is Elder Leite (which translates to Milk. Braun Milk. Brown Milk. Haha), and I´m super excited to have him as my companion. He was in my district my first transfer and I even had a chance to have a division with him. He was the first missionary I had a division with in my mission, and he is a super nice guy. I think he started his mission in April, so we both don´t have a ton of time total. Another super cool  fact about him: He was the other missionary that Elder Grow trained! There´s kind of a weird tradition where missionaries call their trainer their dad, and since Elder Leite and I have the same dad, we´re brothers! I´ll be staying in Alcântara, so they haven´t seen the last of me! Elder Grow is going to a place called Caxias, much closer to the center of Rio.

To answer your questions (Mom), I´m not sure the exact number of members (baptized) in our ward (and it is a ward, not a branch) but we usually have a little over 100 members show up each week. Not too much compared to back at home, but enough. Taking showers is still super ghetto here (plugging our showerinto an electrical outlet) but as the weather has gotten hot, I´ve learned to forget about it. Cold showers might be the best thing ever after a hot day of lots of walking and teaching. Our neighborhood isn´t too bad, I think. We live in an  apartment complex on the top floor, so I´m never worried about getting robbed or anything. our apartment is next to the center of Alcãntara, so sometimes it gets a little loud at night, especially on the weekends, but I´ve gotten used to it. I´m usually to tired to notice. 

This week was Elder Grows birthday, so Me and the two other missionaries in our apartment made him a dessert called parfait. It´s pretty much like a layered pudding cake. Pictures will be included. We also went to the house of a recently baptised family (one week before I arrived) and they had a nice little party thingy for him. I think I´ve talked about them a bit. Aguinalda and Rogerio. They´re the best. One goofy little thingy that has been happening recently... My socks are all getting close to having holes in them, or they already do. Cadaca I should have expected it with all the walking we do, so I´ll be planning on trying to find some more soon.

This week, Elder Grow and I were working on contacting people and references from the activity we had in the cemetery last week. We also received references to contact from and calls that people had made to the church headquarters (pass-along cards and what-not). We were able to teach a lot of new people, and families, so hopefully we´ll be able to have more progressing investigators for Elder Leite and I. It has been pretty tough lately being able to teach our current investigators. A big problem that we have is that we´ll mark a date to teach them ,and when we stop by. nobody´s home. We have a cell phone that we can use, but each companionship is given a few amount of credits each mont which we have to use to confirm lunch appointments with members, call investigators, and so on. We only get 25ish calls, so we can´t call people as much as we´d like.

I finally was able to recieve mail since last month, and got wonderful letters from Valerie, Bryan Holly and Heidi, and The Beehives from the Sullivan Ward. Those letters were truly all that and a bag of chips, and just what I needed to lift up my spirits and keep on working, even if success hasn´t been coming as much as we would like. I´ll plan on writing lettersnext Monday (since today has been pretty busy) for all yáll.

Memories are being made and prayers are definitely being answered. I love this mission. I love this Gospel. And I love you all!

Much love,
Elder Braun

Here´s another picture of Rogerio, Elder Grow, Me, 
and an awesome young convert member of the ward, Feyness

Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm a Tio Again!

Dear Family and others,

WOOOO I´m so excited to be a Tio (uncle) again! Tell Bryan and Holly Congratulations for me! It´s so weird to think that by the time I return home from my mission, their baby will be over a year old and probably able to walk and stuff. Que legal! Halloween sure sounded great at home! I spent halloween here doing a division with a Brazillian elder in my district who likes to sing lots of Brazillian music and talks super fast. I can´t imagine kids going trick or treating here in the middle of the night. When we were telling a family here about that tradition, they called us crazy. ´Merica!

I´m glad you asked what kind of stuff I could really use, because I´ve kept track of a few things that would be nice to receive. You know, stuff that good ol´ Alcãntara doesn´t sell:
-Eyedrops (like eye wettening drops)
-Powerade (the powder stuff would probably be more reasonable to send)
-Glasses cleaner 
-American Candy (Brazillian candy here is pretty lame, and I could really go for some sour patch kids)

Nothing else really comes to mind, but those are a few necessary ones. Writing that stuff down reminded me that I´ve been using my glasses recently! Since it has been super hot on some days, my eyes have gotten a lot more irritated and dry. One day, they were bugging me so much that they were all red and people kept telling me about it, but after I switched to glasses, everything has been better. Well, kindof. I still don´t like wearing glasses very much, but it´s better than having the eyes of Satan staring down our investigators while teaching the Restoration.

Miracles are certainly happening for Elder Grow and I. The biggest one, was that Presodent Lima gave us and the other companionship in our apartment permission to leave our area last Monday to visit Niteroí! It´s a city that´s on the east side of the mission (next to our zone), which has a good view of the bay in Rio, as well as Pão de Açucar and Christ the Redeemer statue! Photos will definitely be included in this email. 

Saturday was a holiday for Brazil and a bunch of other Hispanic contries called Day of the Dead. Many people spend that day visiting loved ones and relatives in cemeteries, so as a whole mission, all the Elders and Sisters in our mission went to different cemeteries to teach people about the Plan of Salvation while many members gave out pass-along-cards. It was a super spiritual experience being able to visit people and bear my testimony of our Father in Heaven´s glorious plan of happiness. I know with all my heart that life doesn´t end with our mortal death, and that this time we have here on Earth is our time to prepare to return in the presence of our Father in Heaven. It was wonderful to see the Spirit touch the hearts of those we visited and I can´t wait to return to their homes to finish teaching them the Fulness of the Gospel of Christ.

Guess what! I´ve been doing a good job at writing EVERY SINGLE DAY in my journal. Since day 1, July 10th, that way I have something to remember the good times and hard times of my mission. Even though I was terrible doing it before my mission, I´m trying my best to make time every night to write a little, even though most nights I feel like I have nothing exciting to write.

As the snow starts to fall in Spokane, the thought of an existence of cool weather in the world is beginning to disappear for me down south. I love you all! Your prayers have not been left unnoticed, and I´m truly grateful for your love for me while I´m here.

Elder Braun

We ran into a famous actress from some Brazillian soap opera, so here´s a little taste of Brazillian heaven 
for yáll. I think she looked like a Female Michael Jackson, but hey, at leadt she´s famous.
 Me, Elder Grow, Elder Pinheiro, and Elder D. Silva at Niteroí
Our zone at the Cemetery activity