Monday, December 29, 2014

Transferred.... BACK IN MARICÁ!!!!

....The Christmas Eve nosebleed I told you about.

Hey Family!

First of all, in this very moment, I´ve got to be the happiest missionary out of the almost 90,000 elders and sisters serving on the planet. I have three reasons I´d like to share why I´m very happy. 1) I got to talk to my wonderful family last Christmas, 2) Christmas was absolutely wonderful with many wonderful miracles resulting from our work this past week in Abolição, and the last but certainly not least 3) I´M BACK IN MARICÁ!!!!! 

I absolutley went crazy when the assistants announced to everyone at transfers this morning that I´d be serving in Maricá. All the Elders and Sisters that know me know that I LOVED my 7 months that I served there, even though it had some rough moments, I learned how to love the people I was serving and learned how to forget about myself while I was there. My new companion is an American (The first for almost a year), and his name is Elder Faulkner. He´s from Texas, has been serving for almost a year, but he only has 4 months serving in Brazil. From the 3 hours I´ve had knowing him (Since I had never met him before) he seems like a great, humble kid with a real desire to serve. 

Sooooo It was kind of tough to hear I was leaving Abolição. Even though it was a difficult area to get some real progress, we had a few miracles. On Christmas night, we went to visit a less active man named Ary who hadn´t gone to church for almost 15 years. When we arrived there, he wasn´t home, but his daughter and wife (Who had never received the missionaries) showed some interest in getting to know the church. They agreed to visit on sunday, we didn´t think they were absolutely serious, but when we saw them arrive, we were THRILLED. Elder Gonzales and his new companion have a great family to teach and prepare for baptism and eventually the temple.

Seriously, all I have on my mind is is the excitement to revisit the investigators, recent converts, and less actives here in Maricá, those that I studied, prayed, worked, and taught to help understand more about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the importance of keeping our heavenly Father´s commandments. I hope that this excitement, along with more study, prayer, fasting, work, obedience, and faith will help me to prepare this branch get closer and closer to becoming a ward. The other companionship´said that there are already plans to become a ward in february.... WOW. If that´s the case, I´m hoping I can still be here until then to be a part of this wonderful experience. 

Family, miracles happen. Our Father in Heaven looks out for everyone of us, and I´m so happy for the privelege he has given me to learn so much these past year and 5 months. If I stay in Maricá until the end, I certainly won´t complain, I just hope I can gain all the experience and wisdom here that God is preparing for me. I love you all so much, and wish you the very best for this upcoming New Years!

Elder Braun

After their visit at the church and 15 years inactive, Ary and his family

Monday, December 22, 2014

Natal Time is Here

Here´s a random pig I found in a bathtub on the side of the street #OnlyInRio

Hey guyz!

So what another wonderful week for Elder Gonzales and I! Just to answer some of your questions really quick, I´d love to apply for the foresters scholarship... again. Maybe we can talk a little bit more in details later this week.... when I call you guys.... face to face. Haha I love being able to say that. The plan is call you all 3 o'clock Rio time. As far as the google hangout password, I don´t have a clue what my password is. I´m not sure if I even remember my username, but I´ll try a few times on Thursday. If it doesn´t work out, I´ll send a quick email, so be ready to answer my plea for help if I end up needing it. 

Some crazy news for us this week in Abolição: We moved!!! Yeaa we´re finally living in our area, and now we don´t have to walk for an hour every day to walk to and from our area. We received some used furniture from another house in the mission, although our dresser is still dissasembled. We moved completely on wednesday
 and were able to sleep for the first time in our house that night. We quickly discovered that where we live is a very, well, sleepless community at night, with lots of loud music playing in our neighbors houses and many motorcycles flying by at night. We live close to the entranceof a favela, which is show de bola. But I like the house. Big, roomy. Although we locked our selves in the hallway. That´s another thing I´ll have to take the time to explain on Thursday. Oh I love saying that a lot.

This week, unfortunately, the guy we were teaching, Mauricio, who reminds me a lot of dad, decided he didn´t want to investigate the church anymore. We felt that we ought to teach him about the word of wisdom and the law of chastity this past week, and although the word of wisdom wasn´t a huge issue, once we talked about the law of chastity, he started to get really nervous and undecisvie about things. The lesson went fine, we felt the spirit, but his girlfriend later told us that he wants to go a little slower about preparing for baptism. We´re hoping that all goes well in the future.

As we were walking the other day to an appointment, a lady on the other side of the street called us and said she was a member of the church from a different city calle Salvador. She was passing the holidays here in Rio and was happy to see us that way she could attend the nearest sacrament meeting yesterday. She was with some of her neices as well, who aren´t members, that were curious to become more familier with the church. We saw her AGAIN the next day. Yesterday, we were able to see them at church, and as we found our that the bishop knew this family that isn´t members in our area, we became more excited to teach them more about the church. That was a pretty cool miracle for us. Today we´re gonna give a sock-knocking lesson about Christmas for their entire family #Heisthegift

We were sad that some of our investigators that have been going well weren´t at church this past Sunday, BUT one lady we´ve been teaching, Lúcia, was able to attend a ward activity last thursday. She said she loved the environment so much and that she plans to become a member. She wasn´t able to attend church though because she had to go to the doctors office. But when one of her daughters told us about her impresion of the church, we were happy to see the interest that it bought for her daughter to hear our messages.

I love you all so much! I can´t wait to talk to you beautiful people on Thursday. Our Mission President has given us a limit of one hour to talk to our families, so I recommend those in the family be ready at the time scheduled in your time zone. Feliz Natal for everybody!

Elder Braun

Monday, December 15, 2014

Heating up in Abolição

My district

Dear Family,

What another wonderful week here in Rio!! I received 3 packages this week! One was from Grandma Panonne, and there were 2 from the family, one with the gillette razors I asked for, and the other is the Christmas package. Unlike last year, I´m waiting until the 25th to open the presents. It will be this transfer, so I don´t have to worry about having to carry boxes all around Rio if I were to be transferred. If you want, I can open them during the hangout. It´s up to you all at home...

We had a huge mission zone conference this past week. It was the first time in my entire mission that EVERY SINGLE MISSIONARY in Rio was in the same place at the same time. 181 missionaries. That´s a lot of people.
We´ve received a few references from members here of people to teach, which has been a HUGE answer to our prayers. One of them is a teenager who recently went on a campout with the other young men. His name is Alexandre, and he´s a pretty cool guy. We taught him for the first time yesterday, and has already met all of the preists his age. The young men´s president recently came back from his mission ( about a year ago), and he´s been helping us out a ton, planning young mens activities where so that we can teach the missionary lessons. The YM president also served with Taylor Demars in Porto Alegre Sul. #mundopequeno

And Another investigator that has been progressing. And this one´s golden. We´re teaching a guy named Maurício, who reminds me EXACTLY of Dad. What I mean is that he´s a "Flirt to Convert" case that we´re working with. His girlfriend is a longtime member of the church, and while we ate lunch with them over a week ago, we asked him if he´d be interested in learning more about the church and he said he did. If Dad has any ideas, maybe moments that helped him feel the spirit, marking moments in his conversion, I´d love to hear about it. I don´t remember a ton about dad´s conversion, I think I only heard the story 2 ore 3 times like Natalie said.

So yeah. This week was splendid, and Elder Gonzales and I are happy with the results we are starting to have in our area. Abolição is known as a very tough area, with only 4 baptisms in the last 12 months. I´m excited to talk to everyone on Christmas! Have a good week!

Elder Braun

A picture of me shortly after I arrived in Rio and this week. I was surprised how tan I´ve gotten.

Monday, December 8, 2014

More Singing and Christmas

Inline image 1

Dear Family,
I deeply apoligize for the technical issues I had last week with the computer  here  (I´ve made a note to myself to NEVER use computer number 2 in the online café here), but I had some time last monday to write a hand written letter about the past week. That way, when the letter arrives, you all can still have a record of my week, and I don´t have to worry about writting about two weeks today!
I would like to know what time would be best for you all for me to call on Christmas. I´m planning on using Google+ like on Mothers day, and keep in mind that Brasil is 6 hours ahead of Spokane time, 5 hours ahead of utah/idaho time. I´ll need a username and password to be able to access google+, mmkay? 
The 6 elders in our house chipped in to buy Christmas lights for our house! Now we have delightful lights outside our window every night singing us to sleep! I took a Picture to include in this email, they aren´t much (the lights) but it´s the best we could do.

We didn´t get a chance to watch the Christmas devotional here. To be completely honest, I forgot that the church has a christmas devotional. I guess it´s not a thing here in brasil, or Rio, to watch it. How sad :( BUT We are still singing in the cantata or christmas choir, and yesterday, and Area Seventy was able to watch it. It was incredible, and I hear that they´ll do an article about it in an upcoming Liahona. 
As Elder Gonzales and I were arriving in the chapel in Andaraí, where we had the performance yesterday, we got a little lost. We asked a random pedestrian if he could help us find a street where one of our churchs was. He said he lived close by and was willing to walk with us towards the chapel. As we were walking, we talked to him about his Family, his profession, his Faith, and so on. He told us that he has a drinking problem and that his Family is passing many difficulties because of it, both financial and spiritual. As we were walking with him, we invited him to the chriismas performance and to receive a visit from the sisters who served there, and how they would be able to help him. We said a short prayer for him as well, and he thanked us a lot for being na answer to his prayers. Antônio said that yesterday morning, he had prayed that God would do something to help him overcome his addiction. We presented him to the sisters after the performance, and he thanked Elder Gonzales even more. There´s seriously something incredible, a truly magnificente feeling when you know that you were part of God´s work in answering the prayer of someone in need. I found it very interesting how it seemed to be part of God´s plan for Elder Gonzales and I to get lost in the middle of Rio, that way we could offer a humble man help necessary to return back to Christ and feel the wonderful spirit of Christmas this season.
I love this gospel so much. I love the marvelous experiences I have here every day as a missionary. Even through the going isn´t Always smooth, and seems rough more than usual, I know that the Lord uses people simple and small to perform his work. Just like Gordon B. Hinckley said one missionary Conference, "You´re not much, but you´re all that we got, so we´ll have to make the best of it" I know that all of us, IF WE ARE WILLING TO WORK A LITTLE, can bless the lifes of those who haven´t yet received this marvelous message of the restored gospel of Christ.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and my prayers go out to all those at home who are passing through difficult moments. I know that our Father in Heaven loves each and every one of us and that his plan is that our families become and stay eternal. I love you all, and wish you the best!
Elder Braun
And here´s a random chocolate piezinho that a lady in the Ward made for us. Suddenly, I wasn´t aso now I don´t feel completely left out after hearing about thanksgiving last week :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Well, This Sucks

Dear Family,

Christmas is in only 24 days! I'll be using Google+ again so everyone (in my immediate family) can participate in the conversation, but I'll need my old password user name or someone else's to be able to get on and log in. I'll have my Skype available as plan B if I need to use it. The mission has taught me a ton that no matter what I plan, there should always be a backup in case an appointment falls through.

This week was full of pretty cool miracles and fun events. We had the chance to visit the stake that I spent most of my mission in, The Arsenal Stake! Because of the mission choir, we've been performing in a stake center every Saturday and Sunday until the end of the year. As we were in Arsenal, I was able to see many familiar faces from the Alcantara ward and the Marica Branch. I took many pictures and remembered some of the happiest and most difficult moments from my mission while I was serving there. These were easily my favorite two areas that I've passed and over half of my mission was spent in that stake. (9 transfers). I wouldn't mind if I spent my last few transfers over there.

One really cool miracle we had was finding two ladies and starting to teach them, named Joyce and Cyntia. They seemed relatively sad sitting in front of their house, so we resolved to talk to them about the restored Gospel and how much joy and happiness it brings into our lives. I bore my testimony of the healing power of Christ's atonement and they accepted us to r return another day to visit them and teach them more. Joyce was able to come to church yesterday and is preparing now to be baptized on the 12th. Cyntia couldn't come to church because of her work, but she promised to be there this next Sunday.

We had a wonderful and frightening experience as we were trying to contact a referral of an inactive member. We were in a relatively unsafe neighborhood and I quickly realized that as we were waking up a steep hill and saw a few men on motorcycles, all holding a pistols or some type of gun as we turned the corner at the top, a 12 year old kid at the middle of this hill was using a walkie talkie and started following us as we conned up the hill. We let these men know VERY CLEARLY that we were missionaries from the LDS church and that we were looking for a lady who lived close by. They gave us a bit more space, then started asking where we were from. I didn't want to respond, but luckily Elder Gonzales said he was from Bolivia and they started teasing him because of his strong Hispanic accent. They also asked him if there really is a lot of cocaine being grown up there. Hmmmm. But then they let us go and all was good.

So yeah. This Thursday an area seventy, Elder Aidukoitus will be visiting the Rio de Janeiro Mission, and we've got a pretty big and schnazzy conference with him. It should be a very cool and uplifting experience. I'm not sure if I already let you all know, but I sent a Christmas package a couple of weeks ago. I'm hoping it gets there soon.

I love you all so very much! Feliz Natal para todos!

Elder Braun

Monday, November 24, 2014

Baptism in Abolição!


My first week in Abolição was certainly a great one. Full of work and sweat, and happiness, and singing, and more work. Before I forget, I sent home about two months ago an sd card with ALL of my photos since the beginning of my mission until september of this year. Did you guys every get that sd card. If not, at least I have a backup. Just let me know if it still hasn´t gotten there.

My first week in Abolição with Elder Gonzales was full of cool little milagres. Just to explain the area a bit, It´s not the safest area in the mission. You don´t have to worry too much, Mom. We´re smart and we don´t do anything dumb that would encourage men bigger than me to steal my pants and whatnot. BUT There´s a big favela called O Complexo do Alemão (The German Complex), which is a pretty big and dangerous area. It´s also a good portion of of area. One half of this favela is in Abolição, and the other half is in one of my past areas, Ramos. So now I can say, I´ve served in the entire Complexo do Alemão! I think they made a movie about this favela, too, called Alemão. Anyway, as you can see in the picture I included in the email, there´s lots of morros (hills) with communities and stuff. We also have to walk for an hour just to arrive in our area. We´re living with missionaries from a different ward, and even though we have a house all settled for us in this area, we´re just waiting on the secretaries from the mission office to buy some furniture for the house. and this has been the case for over a transfer #frustration #walkmyfaceoff

BUT We had a baptism! A lady named Maria da Luz, who Elder Gonzales started teaching last transfer, accepted our invite to be baptized last saturday. She is a very humble lady, who has a big heart. It was a beautiful and simple baptismal meeting and we´re as excited as ever to continue finding people to get to know the Lord´s true church. 

We had a SICK service project on saturday morning. We helped build a house! Funny how mom asked me about that last week, and a member asked us for some help putting in concrete on the roof of this guys house he was building. Normally, our president wouldn't let us do labor like that, but since there were men who aren´t members of the church there, we were able to help out! We did some serious MANual labor, including filling buckets with rocks, carrying them up the stairs, mixing sand with cement mix with the rocks and water, refilling the buckets with this new mix, carrying it up to the roof, and putting it in the mold-things. All in the hot sun. I loved it! It was my first experience in building a house, and we got some good referrals of people to teach.

We also had the Christmas/Book of Mormon mission choir performance yesterday. We´ll be passing each of the stake centers this transfer to sing. The spirit was way strong, and many people´s hearts were touched by the Christmas message that the Book of Mormon offers us. This Saturday, we´ll pass the stake that I passed over a year serving in, the Arsenal Stake!

I love you all so much and am so happy to be where I am serving the Lord in Abolição, Save a slice of pie for me, okay? 

Elder Braun

Monday, November 17, 2014

Transferred! Again! Abolicao!

Bangu has no view of Cristo Redentor, so I made one of Brauno Redentor


Well, I had another crazy week, and some crazy newsas well. We had transfers today, and as the titleof the email says, I got transferred! I have left Bangu and was transferred to an area a little bit closer to the center of Rio in the same stake as another ward I served in (Ramos). Now, I´m in the Abolição ward! Abolição means abolition in portuguese, so I´ve decided that I´ll devote my time strive to free those who are imprissioned, or "enslavened", by sin and temptations from Satan. I´m excited . My companion is Elder Gonzalez, a swell and light-hearted Bolivian, with an ever so swell hispanic accent (He´s from Santa Cruz, Bolivia). Although my time was short in Bangu, I learned a lot there, and gained lots of experience through both the ups and downs that I hope I can bring with me through the rest of my mission and life.

Let´s answer those questions!
My shoes aren´t a huge worry for now. I´m pretty sure I can make it to the end of my mission without having to buy a new pair. I have one pair that I use for normal proselyting, one on Sundays, and one for Zone Conferences. The Proselyting pair has been trucking along since I bought them last January here, and although the sole is starting to get thin, I´ve got my other Sunday pair that should last until the end

How are the pants holding up?
They´re big. Especially around the waist, the length is fine. None of them have torn (Except for a pocket in one of them, so pants aren´t a big worry for me. Although, all of my black pants have gotten a little faded from washing them which makes them not match perfectly. To me is really doesn´t seem like a problem, but I can see why a mom would worry about that.

How often do I wear my suit coat?
Just on Sundays at church and special events (Zone Conference, Mission Tour, The Mission Choir that we´ll have starting this week.)

What kinds of Service projects have I done?
Hmmm I´ve painted a member´s wall once, helped put tiles on a members wall, rearrange furniture, help people move, and the every now and then carrying someheavy object for an elderly lady. We have lots of rules about what kinds of service projects we can and can´t do. We can´t serve for more than an hour, and we need to avoid projects that would require us to work for various days. For that reason, I haven´t been able to participate in quite as many as I would have liked.

Do I play the organ or piano in the ward?
Well, for two weeks in Bangu, I was playing a normal piano, like the one in our house. Now that I got transferred,  I´m back to subtly singing during sacrament meeting. We´ll see if this ward needs someone to help out.

Any advice for young men/young women getting prepared to serve a mission?
As far as prep goes before the mission, one of the biggest regrets I have is not having left with the missionaries at home as I could have. I still remember those few times I left with Elders at home, and they helped me understand what kind of work I´d do in the field, but I definitley could have done more visits with them. I wish I could go back in time and gain more experience by helping them. I hope I can make up for it by helping the missionaries in the home ward much more after returning home.

This reminds me, the bishop in Bangu showed me a book written by a former area seventy and professor at Harvard, Clayton Christensen. The book was called "The Power of the Everyday Missionary". from the parts that I read, I want to EXHORT everyone at home who feels scared or nervous to do missionary work (Which I think is everyone) to buy a copy. Online. I don´t know how, just do it. 

I hope this week will be full of wonderful news about my new area and companion. I´m super dooper excited to be here, fulfilling my dream in serving the Lord in this wonderful army of representatives of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love you all, and let Grandma Pannone know that one of her packages got to me! (It had peanut butter, post-it notes, peanut brittle, and much more! Thank you Grandma!)

Elder Braun

Monday, November 10, 2014

Yay for Tough Weeks

Hey Family!
Well, as always. thanks a ton for the great email and for not forgetting about me. This week, we had tons of cool events for me to share with you all. I think I´ve got the package set to send home to y'all. I´m not finding anything distinctly from Rio since I´m not super close to the downtown, but I hope you like what I´ve put together in the package.  
Since the pianist in the ward here left on his mission, The Bangu ward was left without a pianist, so they asked if one of us (Elders) knew how to play the piano, and they picked me to play. So I´m back to playing the hymns in Sacrament meeting! Dang ever since I was a kid, practicing the piano, I never realized how much what I was studying would be needed in my mission, but I´m super grateful for having used that time growing up to help out those here in Rio hear the beautiful hymns in the true church of Jesus Christ.
Speaking of music, 4 Zones in this mission (The four closest to Rio) put together a speacial musical performance for the Helping hands convention last saturday. We sang a beautiful arrangement of ´´Sou um Filho de Deus" and "Chamados a Servir" (I´m a Child of God and Called to Serve). We also sang an arrangement of Praise to the MAn that was way bomb-diggity. I saw some members who I had served with in Ramos. And we passed the Maracanã as we came back to our areas. Yes, I took pictures.
We were walking down the street one day this week, and we heard a guy singing O Elders de Isreal (To be quite honest, I don´t remember what this hymn is called in English. I think is Elders from Isreal? Maybe? #brainfart), and we went and talked to the guy. He was in a small pizza shop, and he told us that he´s an inactive member from the church, that he served a mission in São Paulo 20 years ago (His wife as well), and that he recently moved here in Bangu. SOOOO we talked to him some more, and he and his wife are excited to come back to church again! Their names are Cesar and Duce. And the best part? You won´t even believe, so I got photo evidence: Cesar looks just like Pat Finley. Yes, the Pat Finley from the Movie Heavyweights. Just a little more tan and with a goofy moustache. 
We had found some people from the men we reactivated last week, some really interested in learning more, but they weren´t able to come to church yesterday and we´ll continue to work with them so that they can be blessed with this great gospel. The Ward had a family baptized (by the other missionaries serving here) and the only members there were the bishop (who showed up 30 minutes late) and a young married couple that had taught them once. Can you imagine how these new members must of felt to have such few people supporting them on their special day to be baptized? I made a goal to attend EVERY convert baptism that happens for the rest of my life in every ward that I happen to be living in. For the REST OF MY LIFE. Why? Because these people deserve our love and support for the decision they´ve made to be baptized in the church of Jesus Christ of LAtter-Day Saints. I hope all of you at home can do the same, and even better, help the missionaries find those who can be blessed by the message they share.
I love you all and am so magnificently grateful for your love and support.
Elder Braun

  Maracanã (With the Christ Statue in the upper corner)
Me and Pat Fin... I mean Cesar

Monday, November 3, 2014

Answers and Reativocao

45 degree celcius hast day

Hey Family!

No one has said anything that they want me to buy to send home for christmas... Sooooo this is the last week I´m giving you all one last chance to let me know if there´s anything you´d like me to send home. 

What does your apartment look like?
It´s kind of a house and an apartment mix, since it´s in a yardish thing called a vila with about 2-3 other houses. There´s an old guy who sells pizzas underneath us for 6 reais (a little less than 3 bucks). and they´re quite fantastic. Our house has a cool balcony on top where we dry our clothes and excercise in the morning. Since there´s 6 missionaries in the same house, it´s a litttle crammed. Elder Silva and I don´t actually have a bed. We just have a mattress that we put on the ground at night to sleep, and suring the day we put up against the wall. Here´s a google street view of our house (Above the gate... We live on the second floor)

What can you hear from your window?
It´s a relatively calm neighborhood where we live, so there´s isn´t much sound. But at night, especially on the weekends we have some nieghbors who have no shame to play their music until late at night. Last saturday, they were playing just Justin Beiber Songs for over an hour straight. Not okay. 

How does it smell?
....Normal. I guess. Bangu is pretty normal. No weird smells like some of my past areas (cough* Alcântara)

Tell me about the streets where you walk.... Or do you tak public transport?
The streets here are also normal. Just a little bit skinnier than in the states. Take a look at the street view to see what they´re like We only take buses/vans when we have to go to a conference or we have an appointment with someone that lives far away. Usually we just walk though. There´s also the train closeby that we use when we have to go to Rio.

Have you put your hand on your companions shoulder and thanked him for being your companion?
I actually have :)

So this next Saturday, four zones (including mine) will we singing at a Helping Hands service activity for the church. I hear it will be broadcasted on the local news and that the area president of Brazil will be there. So I guess that´s cool. We´re also putting together a Book of Mormon Christmas choral that will be performed in many public locations and stake centers throughout the Rio area. I´m excited to be a part of that and help others feel the spirit of Christmas through the wonderful means of music.

This week, we were able to help 3 MEN return back to church, along with a young man and a lady in the relief society. We focused a lot on reactivation, and by that, we´re hoping to help strengthen this Ward with more priesthood holders and future missionaries.

Osair is one of the first members here in Bangu! He was baptized when Bangu was a branch, over 30 years ago. He helped many of the current members meet the church, and having been inactive for over 10 years, many of those members were very happy to hear we had been helping him. Even more happy to see him back at church yesterday.

Benton is a 26 year old guy who was baptized in a city called João Pessoa in the north of Brazil, but he left the church after 3 months. We found him doing street contacts. Kindof. There´s a house next to the chapel that we had always wanted to visit, and this week (Friday, the day we were fasting) we decided to knock the door. Benton answered, and said he was a Mormon. We instantly were surprised (since he literally lives 1 minute walking distance from the chapel) and talked to him about the Book of Mormon and his baptism. He changed a lot and improved his life when he first was baptized (Stopped smoking, stopped drinking afelt more love for Chrost in his life) And when he left the church and everything went back to the way it was, his life instantly got worse. He couldn´t figure out why until he saw us and accepted the invite to come back to church. He says he´s surely gonna stay now. 

We also visited with the Young Mens president a young man who had been less active for several months, João Vitor. We talked to him a bit about commandments and how they bless us if we´re obedient. He said he´s always wanted to serve a mission, but he got less excited when his parents split up. His dad was grateful for our visit, and even though we didn´t know he is also a member of the church with much time not participating, he wanted to be a better example for his son and he returned to church too! YEAH

We´re hoping to make use of these lost sheep who have returned to the Shepards fold so that we can help find many others to come unto Christ to receive the saving ordinances required to live in his presence forever, as well as their family´s.

I love this gospel so much. I felt many of my prayers were ansered this week, and I felt the strength of those sent from y'all at home. Thank you so much. I love you all and wish the very best for you!

Elder Braun

We had a service project helping an elderly lady in the ward rearrange her furniture and clean up a bit. She gave me this wonderful necklace as a token of thanks. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

The black guy in front is our ward mission leader. Yesterday was his farewell Sunday, since he leaves to serve in London this week, so he took a picture with a bunch of us in the ward. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

To the Resue

Hey Family!

I was delighted to receive an email from Mike! Bonus points for him. I had another week full of learning opportunities, and even though the success here in Bangu is still a little slow for us, we´ve been blessed with a few tender mercies that I´m excited to share with you all.

First of all, I´ve forgotten how much money I have in my checking account. Could you send in next weeks email where I´m at? I´m wanting ideas for stuff I can send home for christmas, since it´s aleady almost November. Let me know if there´s something the family would like. I woul like peanut butter, a new belt, and gatorade. At least that´s what I´m craving at this very moment.

So, We were visiting a reference from other Elders on Friday, and we happened to find a lady who became a member of the church in São Paulo and has been passing through many difficulites in her marriage recently. She felt really sad for leaving the church, where she always had a supporting family to help her out, and after teaching her a bit about the atonement of Christ, she promissed to come back. Her 9 year old son also said he wasnted to get baptized.... so I mean we can´t complain. The lady, Denise, lives in the other duplas area, though, but I´m happy for the Lord putting her and her son in our path to remind her of this great Gospel!

We also had a quick meeting with one of the counselors in the bishopric when he mentioned a man who lived on the other side of his street who has been inactive for over 10 years. We decided to pass by his house, and he shared with us many incredible experiences he´s had in the church. His wife recently passed away, and he has been feeling really sad because of that. We taught Osair the Doctrine of Christ with a bit about the Plan of Salvation, and after saying the prayer to end our message, he promised to be at church this sunday. After 10 years not coming to church, we´re thrilled to help him come back to true church of Christ.

We had many cool experiences finding less-actives this week, and those two are just a taste of them. I hope all of you at home can include in your prayers a desire to help those who had accepted to Follow Christ in their life, but for whatever reason, left that pathway. I know that we can make a difference by sharing our testimony to all of our Father in Heaven´s children in the spirit of prayer (D&C 84:61)

I love you all, and love this glorious work!

Elder Braun

Monday, October 20, 2014

Understanding the Atonement

Hey Guyz,

As always, I´m so grateful to hear from you all and the wonderful adventures that take place back at home. Ever since I´ve heard about it, I´ve been dying to see the new "Meet the Mormons" movie that recently came out. Jealous.

I´m planning on putting together a Christmas package for you guys. What do you want? Is there anything brazillian that you´ve always wanted or that you want me to include in the package. I´ll try to have it sent by next week. Brazillian postage is so unpredictable :(

So this week.... was tough. One of the toughest I´ve had my entire mission. Since we´re opening this area, we arrived with a teaching group of 0 people. Starting from the ground up, and at the start of this week, I did a fast that way we could find people to come to church this past sunday. I´ve never worked so hard than this past week. My companion, is a bit special. He has social problems and doesn´t have a very good memory, so I´ve learned a lot of humility being with him, but I´ve taken on about all of the responsibility on my shoulders. Planning, most of the teaching, just about everything. And it hs been overwelming. Unfortuntely, even though we had 5 investigators who said they´d be at church, we had none. Even after passing by their houses on saturday to confirm their visit, calling sunday morning, and even passing by some of their houses. I felt like a failure during all of the church meetings and have been really self-critical.

I´m been feeling really lonely lately, and negative against myself. I´ve been praying a lot, begging for help, but it just seemed like nothing was working out in the end. But as I entered my email today, I read a super touching email that Marlon sent me (The man we were teaching in Maricá whose wife was reactivated). He thanked me for teaching him and shared breifly the difference the gospel made in his life. He included pictures from his baptism last saturday (The 11th of October, the Saturday after I left Maricá). Words can´t describe the joy and happiness I felt hearing his brief testimony and seeing the pictures from his baptism.

Even though our life is full of dissapointments and trials, we can always have certainty that our Father in Heaven is watching over us and cares for us. Even though I haven´t found his elects in Bangu yet, I felt comfort knowing that the work I did in Maricá helped the branch grow there a lot. I´ve truly learned how to understand the Lord´s atonement in my life, and I wanted all people to have this same knowledge. As a representative of Christ, I know it´s necessary for me to pass moments of rejection, humiliation, suffering, even lonliness, for if I never passed through moments like these, a tiny price of what was payed during our Savior´s atoning sacrifice, I´d never have a true testimony of the Atonement.

Please continue to include me in your prayers as I faithfully seek to do good for this people in Bangu. It´s been a tough (and hot) 2 weeks, and I need all the help I can get. I love you all and am happy to have your wonderful support!

Elder Braun
Some sick graffiti in the heart of our area.

We had a churrasco.

This is the email I received from Marlon, who was baptized last saturday in Maricá. I hope you enjoy the pictures! It brought tears to my eyes to see this wonderful family prepare to be sealed for eternity, starting off by following the example of Jesus Christ, being baptized. The Branch President baptized him. I love you all! 

Elder Braun,

Olá meu amigo! fiquei muito triste mesmo com a troca de missionarios. Mesmo com pouco tempo considero você como uma pessoa muito importante na minha vida! Nesta ultima semana realmente eu senti o espirito santo tocar minha vida, vejo a iluminaçao que isso trouxe para mim e minha familia. Espero que o Pai Celestial esteja com voce e pode ter certeza de que a sua missao já é vitoriosa! 

Thank's for all my brother!


Talvez demorou alguns dias para mandar as fotos para vocês, mas aqui são as fotos que prometi. Não sei se Elders Inácio e Floriano falaram, mas eu foi para Bangu! Estou muito animado por você e seu batismo este Sábado. Estou triste que eu não vou conseguir assistir a reunião, mas eu vou estar lá em espírito. Qualquer coisa que você quer compartilhar/falar para mim, pode usar este e-mail. Manda um abraço para a família toda para mim! Amo muito vocês.

Elder Braun

Monday, October 13, 2014

Clowns on The Train


Well, It´s been another crazy week as always. Getting to know a new area as well as the members here with a companion that is getting to know the area with me isn´t always the easiest task in the world, but I´m learning to recognize all of the tender mercies that God places in my life each day. I hope all goes swell in Star Valley for Grandma and Grandpa. I´ll include a special place for them in my daily prayers. Let grandpa know that I love him and wish the very best for him in his situation.

It has been very tough to not be in Maricá anymore. If I had the opportunity to do so, I would totally choose living there after my mission. My love for the culture and the people and everything there is immense. Change is tough, so I´m doing my best to just accept it. Here in Bangu, just like everyone says, is HOT. Like, HAWT. It
already hit 44 degrees celcius, and it´s still the beginning of fall. I have to drink something like 2 gallons of water just to survive here. It´s cray. And since we didn´t have a teaching group, at all, when we got here, we´ve spent pretty much all day walking, trying to visit ex-investigators, walking, doing street contacts, walking, visiting members and inviting them to help ud do missionary work (That´s the hard part), more walking, knocking doors, and to top it all off, walking some more in this good ol Rio sun.

But it really hasn´t been completely a miserable experience. I´ve been studying even more the atonement of Jesus Christ to help me realize that in whatever hard situation or diffitulty we pass through, we can always rely in the power of the Lord´s atoning sacrifice to help us push on through and come out stronger, wiser, and more prepared for life´s challenges in the days to come. This week, we tried to visit a lady who we found the the area book that was baptized, but wash´t confirmed (yeah.... ), and we met her sister and neighbor. We took the
chance to share a message briefly with them about the restoration, and it was incredible how Mayara and Natália understood the doctrine. We invited them to read the Book of Mormon and prepare for baptism, and they accepted! We´re hoping to help them continue to feel the same spirit that that they felt during that brief, but powerful visit.

We also met a lady who´s passing through trials and is being prepared in the Lord´s hands to receive our message. Marcia, whose nephew was baptized about 6 months ago, has had some emotional turmoil since her
son died recently and she´s having trouble gaining the custody of her grandson who has been abused at his mother´s house. We´ve taught her about the Book of Mormon and how it can be a guide and answer for all
of life´s difficulties. she felt peace hearing our message, and we hope she can have that same feeling as we visit her and her nephew more.

We will have a special musical number sung by 4 zones in the mission for Christmas. As we were returning home from the practice, on the train, a goofy old guy with a yellow wig, big glasses, a guitar, and a Brazil flag used as a cape entered the train and proceeded to play a bunch of music. Both Brazillian and American music. It was probably one of the most inspiring and delightful moments in my life. I didn´t take any pictures, but I´m happy to say I filmed almost the entire thing on my camara. I´ll have to show you guys when I get home since I have no way to send videos through email.

I love alllllll of you! This Gospel is soo true I can practically taste it. No matter how much Satan wants to tempt me in whatever form he does, there´s no way I can deny the powerful force of our Lord´s atoning sacrifice in my own life, and the ability that his gospel has to cure lives and families.

Elder Braun

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Pedros baptism with members and missionaries from the Maricá branch present. 
Me and my old companion, Elder Inácio.

Hey Family!

Alright, I apoligize for the 2 day delay in sending this email. These past two days were... well, crazy. It´s a miracle that president let us send this short email on Wednesday. Pretty much, we had transfers on Monday and I got TRANSFERRED. I was actually pretty devastated to hear that I was leaving Maricá. I´ll explain why a little bit later. Anyway, I got transferred to an area called Bangu which means I´m back in Rio. Bangu is known as the hottest place in Rio, and with summer just around the corner, I´m ready to sweat all my weight away. Again :) Bangu is pretty close to the other area I passed in Rio, Ramos, but it´s in a different stake. I´ll also be white-washing this area, which means that the two elders that were here before got transferred and me and my companion were put here to do work. There haven´t been baptisms here for a long time, and the attendance had been dropping, so we´ve got lots of work to do that way this ward can become stronger, and more children of God can receive this wonderful message we share.

My companions name is Elder Silva. He´s pretty new in the mission (3 months), and I´m excited to work with him. He´s from Recife in Brazil. He´s got a really big heart and love for this gospel, and although his knowledge isn´t super big of the doctrine we teach, we´re excited to get some work done here!

Sooooo General conference was awesome! I was able to watch it in my first chapel that I served, Alcantara! The Maricá branch also had a baptism during conference! The other dupla baptized a man named Pedro, and he´s a very humble, but incredible man. During conference, I was impressed about how many general authorities talked about the importance of supporting and following the prophet. I feel like with all the problems the world is passing, both spiritual and physical, we need the guidance of a servant of God more than ever to help us overcome all of these trials that we as members of the church of Jesus Christ pass through. I did listen to elder Godoy´s talk in Portuguese, which was pretty fun. The rest, I watched with the rest of the American elders in our zone in English.

Maricá seriously was super hard to leave behind. I´ve said this many times before, but I really really love the people there. Both members of the church and non-members. Being back in Rio these past 2 days has been very tough on me, but I know that it´s all in the Lord´s hands. I hope I can just forget about myself and get to work. But our last week in Marica was FULL of miracles.

Remember Marlon and Juliana? Out of nowhere, Marlon wanted us to have lunch with him and his family. After we ate and we asked to leave a message with them, I asked Marlon what he felt he needed to do to follow the example of Jesus Christ more in his life. He said that he felt he needed to be a better example for his kiddos and be baptized, and we were like, "Hey that´s a good idea, buddy" So we taught him a bit more and he´s getting baptized this Saturday! I won´t be able to attend the baptism... But at least I had time to say goodbye to them Sunday and thank them for the wonderful experiences I´ve had teaching them. They said they have to be the first family I visit after I come back to Brazil after my mission. Without a doubt that´ll be true.

We were also able to bring Carla to general conference, and she LOVED IT. She heard Elder Bednar´s talk, the one directed for people investigating the church, and she loved it, felt like it was exactly for her. I´m not sure how the Elders visit with her was yesterday, but I´m very positive she´ll be baptized in the near future. 

So yeah, Every thing that´s great and incredible has to come to an end, like an ice cream cake of vacation, even when it´s not what you want. I´m just so incredible grateful to my Father in Heaven for giving me the wonderful priveledge I had to serve in Maricá. That branch went from an attendance of 25ish (some weeks were under 20) to a steady attendance of a little under 60. Members started to get super excited to do missionary work. And we were starting to get in a rhythm to have baptisms weekly within both duplas. 

I love you all so much and this incredible privelge I have to serve the Lord and preach the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to all parts of Rio de Janeiro. Thank you so much for your support. I´ll be praying for BYU to end the season strong :)

Elder Braun

ME and my new companion, Elder Silva.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dirty Laundry

Hey Family,

I´ll start out the email with the cleaning questiona you asked:

Where do you do Laundry?
We have a washing machine in our house, but since like no one uses dryers, we have clothe lines where we hang our clothes to dry. I thought it would be annoying at first, but since it´s crazy hot here, our clothes are usually all dry in as quick as a couple of hours, so it ain´t to bad.
How frequently do I do my laundry?
For me, it´s when I run out of shirts/garments/socks/pants to wear. Usually one batch of whitesevery weekand a batch of blacks/darks every1-2 weeks.
Apartment clean checks or cleanliness?
I´ve actually never had a cleanliness check. I´ve served my whole mission (practically) dpresident´s wife just hasn´t had time to go that far. But one thing I know for sure is when your house isn´t clean, the spirit´s not there. Just like the churchs we serve, our house should be a house of order. Plus, when you get transferred to a new area, there´s nothing more annoying then arriving in a house or apartment that´s a mess. Do yourself a favor and keep things tidy whenever possible.
Cleaning tips before you go on a mission?
Learn to clean dishes by hand. And to clean clothes by hand. I´ve had days without power and had to resort to cleaning by hand. We clean all our dishes by hand. No dishwasher. Also, ironing is a necessity as a missionary. Be the type of missionary where your companion thinks "wow, my comp is great. he always cleans his dishes" rather than " Wow, I always have to clean my comps dishes. He is so sloppy"

Alright, I hope those comments have helped. This computer is very annoying right now, but I´ll do my best. This week was awesome!! We had a great attendance again in the branch of 57. We also had a great zone conference on Wednesday where our mission president spoke a lot about talking to EVERYONE about the gospel. I also saw my first trainee (son, as we call it), so I got a picture with my two 'kids', Elder Inácio and Elder Acevedo. They grow up so fast... 

I received the box yáll sent with socks and a water bottle. Those were two things I actually needed a lot. So thanks! My holed socks have been thrown out and with summer around the corner, I´ll be using that water bottle until it´s judgment day. I have been needing some razor blades for my shaver. They´re the Gillette fusion proglide. If you could send some refills in the next package, that´d be swell, motha. As well as that gatorade powder you sent last time. I loved that stuff to death.

Also, I´ve been wanting to show my investigators and members here a picture from my baptism for a long time now, so if you could in the next email you sned me include a picture (or 2 if there´s more) from my baptism, that would just be all that and a bag of chips. I´d be eternally grateful.

This past week, we´ve been refocusing on teaching juliana and Marlon again (remember them?) Since we reactivated Juliana, she´s been called as a counselor in the YW presidency, is having family home evening weekly, and she even led the music in sacrament meeting yesterday. And Marlon has come to church 3 weeks in a row now, and has become really excited about baptism. Elder Inácio and I see him as a future bishop, you know, when Maricá becomes a ward. At the rate it´s been growing here, we should be able to by the land to build a chapel by the end of the year.

I´m super excited for General Conference! I love being able to hear the words of the Prophet and his apostles. I´ll get to go back to the first chapel I stepped foot in during my mission, in Alcântara, my first area! That´s also where I watched my first two conferences in my mission. I´ll probs be watching it in English with the other Americans serving in the stake.

I love each and every one of you and will be thinking of you while we hear the words of the living prophet! I hear it's a cool thing to send tweets related to conference
now, so maybe I´ll try to write stuff down I learn that I would have tweeted if I were home to include in my letter next week. Until next Monday!

Elder Braun.