Monday, January 27, 2014

Families Can Be Together Forever

Jorge and Neuza´s Baptism. 

Dear Mom and Family,

This was an awesome week for Elder Leite and I! Lots of miracles and progress for us, but I´ll get there. First of all, I thought I´d let you know that I received mail this week  (since we had interviews with President Lima) and I received packages from the family, Valerie, and Grandma and Grandpa Sorensen!!! It was seriously like Christmas all over again, especially since the packages from grandma had presents all wrapped up in presents. Goodness, I loved them so much. My gratitude is full and I and so happy to have such wonderful family at hope supporting me on while I´m dilligently trying my best to preach this wonderful gospel that my family at home helped me to learn and love as a child and youth.

On wednesday last week, we had a really cool activity in a different area of our zone. After our interviews with president and lunch, we hit the streets , all the elders in my zone and we invited everyone in this area, Apolo, to visit the chapel there. It´s a brand new chapel and the first sacrament meeting held was yesterday, so it was a super pretty chapel. We apent about 5 hours doing contacts, teaching short lessons, and inviting everyone to visit the chapel for an open house that night. One lady who Elder Leite and I contacted, named Eliane, showed up at 7 while Elder Leite was busy helping another Elder bring a different person to church. I did a quick division with an American guy, Elder Evans, who´s been in the field for a little over 2 months, and gave Eliane a tour of the chapel. The spirit was so incredible. She recently went through a divorce and has been feeling super lonely
and sad. She works close to the new chapel and has been wanting to visit it for weeks, and she started to cry shortly after entering it. Elder Evans and I taught her a bit  about the gospel, and she even accepted an invitation to be baptized next month! I was so happy for her and the Missionaries in Apolo will be working with her to work
towards that.

But there was a ton that happened in Alcãntara too this week! Jorge and Neuza were baptized this week! Elder Leite and I first met them about 3 weeks ago when Neuza´s cousin invited her to go to church with her husband, Jorge. They loved it and loved every lesson we taught them afterwords. Seriously, a great family who was receptive since the first minute we saw them. The Spirit was strong in every lesson we taught them, which goes to show that our Father in Heaven has people in every  part of the world who are ready to receive the gospel. As
missionaries, it´s our job to find them.

Bruno and Ranna are on their way towards being ready to be baptized!  Ranna has already received an answer to her  prayers and knows the church is true and has even invited her mother to attend the batismal service. Bruno loves everything about the church: It´s teachings, the strength and brotherhood that the members have, the importance of our families.... everything. But he´s a pretty smart guy, earns money super well for brazils standards (he has 4 cars, including a ferrari), but he´s waiting for a concrete answer that the book of mormon is true. They´re  both so awesome and would make wonderful members. ELder Leite and I always joke that Bruno will probably be the next bishop in this ward. They keep the commandments and really want to be sealed for time and all eternity, so Elder Leite and I will work with them SUPER hard this week to help them be
prepared for. Pray for us!

So yeah, this week has been awesome. One more week of this transfer, and I have no clue what will happen. I´m happy to hear that all is going well at home, that the mission prep class is going well, and I love hearing about the mission calls for everyone in the stake. I love you all and love my time here as a missionary!

Elder Braun

A cool photo of the heavens being opened or something like that.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Full Speed Ahead

 A service project we did for a recent convert family in the Trindade Ward. We put a bunch of holes in the wall, as you can see behind us.
 Me and some delicious Godam juice... Please forgive me Mom. I couldn´t resist.
Elder Leite and I with a one-meter-long Lagarto... Again mother,
please forgive me for not being able to resist.
Sup Family,

Way to go mom and dad for the first week as the Stake Mission Prep teachers!! I looooove hearing about where all the youth get their calls to serve, so please let me know each time someone receives a call. Even if I might not know them, it´s still fun to hear wonderful news like that. I think Kade was a guy who dated Krista, so I saw him
a lot. There´s a great scripture in D&C 42:5-7 about missionary work. You could seriously teach an entire lesson on the priciples taught in those three verses, but I thought it might be a good source of inspiration for you. As far as those packages go, they haven´t gotten to me yet (the ones from Grandma Sorensen and the 5x7). The next time I get mail will be February 2nd.

Katie told me about her mission call to Fort Worth! I freaked out! Crazy how my two best friends, her and Dallin, are serving in missions that border one another, in the state that I was born!!!! crazy, I tell you. I´ve never had a chance to revisit my birthland, but my friends are doing it for me.

As the title of this letter implies, There has been a lot going on in Alcãntara this week, and many miracles are happening for us. Unfortunately, that hasn´t really been the case in our whole zone, since there are 3 elders who have gotten super sick and hospitalized, one with appendicitus, and the other two with some sort of digestive
infection. Every transfer since I arrived in Alcãntara. someone in the zone has gotten appendicitus. Who will it be next transfer? I´ve been blessed with really good health since I got here, with only one week of... well, issues. But for right now, I feel good, the weather this week wasn´t too bad

Back to the progression in our area... yesterday, two of the families that we´ve been teaching were able to attend church (Bruno & Ranna and Jorge & Nilsa) Jorge and Nilsa are all set and ready to be baptized. It was so cool yesterday when we were teaching the commandments to them yesterday afternoon. We asked Jorge if he believes he will have to strength to stop drinking coffee, and he said how being baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ is something that no one is making him do, but it´s his own decision. He knows that it´she true church because he found out for himself through keeping our commitments. He also said how he has already felt God answer his prayers because he was able to find a job this week to prove that our Father in Heaven is blessing him. It´s little experiences like that that every missionary loves to have that brings tears to their eyes.

Bruno and Ranna are marked to be baptized and this time, the date is pretty dang solid. Ranna said when she left church last week, she felt and overwelming sense of peace and assurance. Dang you can´t imagine how happy that made Elder Leite and I feel. She´s been investigsting the church since she was a kid and her cousins got baptized (15 years ago). Bruno and Ranna have already had multiple companionships teach them the lessons, and they´ve been to church many times (in a different ward), but that was the first time they truly felt that they knew the church was true and that this gospel was restored by a living prophet.

So yeah, there´s always something special about helping a family learn that through temple work and keeping Gods Commandments, families can be together forever. We couldn´t be more grateful to our father in heaven. I love my wonderful family supporting me from home and can feel the blessings sent from you all!!!

Elde Braun

PS Photos this week!!!! I bought a new adapter, so here´s some
pictures from the past month.

Monday, January 13, 2014

6 Months!

Mama and Fam,

Woot woot friday marked 6 months of my mission, so that was a  cool milestone for me. Unlike the video I saw of Mike and other Elders in his mission doing a bonfire and burning a tie, I did not have any way to do that. Oh well :) This week was full of wonderful surprises and blessings that I´m so eager to share with you all! So turn up that
heat in the house (OR take a little heat from Rio, if that´s possible), grab some popcorn, and let´s go.

First off, we had a zone training last week and was finally able to get some mail since the beginning of December, which included a letter from Valerie, The christmas letter and book you sent me, a Christmas letter from the Kenneys, as well as a package that was sent in October with the second calender you sent me!! I always love getting mail and hearing from my fanclub back at home, so needless to say, I was super grateful to feel everyone´s love!! Thank you sooooo much. I still have no idea why that package took 3 months to arrive while the christmas package got here in less than one, but I´m not complaining.

There´s a missionary named Elder Fontes who was our Zone leader, but he had some sort of stroke during a zone conference we had last transfer. I didn´t want to say much about him these past few weeks because I didn´t want you all to worry too much. He was rushed to the hospital and although it seemed like he would be pretty seriously and permanently injured because of it, his physical and mental capabilities have been returning and he should be able to return back to doing missionary work soon. If you all at home could pray for him, that would be appreciated from all of us missionaries and his family.

Yesterday, I had a chance to speak in our ward´s sacrament meeting! I was the closing speaker and was left with 25 minutes to give my talk, but it turned out super well. I spoke about the importance of exercising faith and testimony with regard to sharing the gospel. I got a lot of good feedback from the members about the talk, too. Some of them said they would have never imagined me being able to do a talk in church in such short time 4 months ago when I arrived in Alcãntara, so I felt the love from the members which made me feel magical.

Unfortunately, our baptismal date for the 11th fell through with Bruno and Ranna. We´re still working really hard wioth them to prepare towards baptism, but we ran into a few speed bumps because they aren´t at home very often which makes it tough to teach them frequently. BUT a member invited to church her cousin, Nilsa, and her husband Jorge. They LOVED what they felt at church, and we taught them the Restoration shortly after. They accepted the 25th of januray to be baptized, so if all goes well, Elder Leite and I will be able to baptize two families this transfer, and help them progress and prepare towards being sealed in the temple in the future. The happiness and Joy we are experiencing is pretty dang amazing :)

Stay awesome family!!!! I´m still sweating the weight away, the new shoes are bought are doing great, and the true restored gospel of Christ will always still be true!

Elder Braun

PS On P-Days, we´re allowed to do activities as a district, and I was wondering if in the next package you send me (There´s no big rush) if you could add a frisbee so that I can play ultimate frisbee with Brazillians? I left mine at home, and the only ones that stores have here are cheap, wimpy frisbees. Thanks!!!!!

PSS I´ll look for an adapter this week so I can send photos since the one I have is still broken.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Two Oh One Four

Hey guys,

Sounds like new years at home was a ginormously spectacular, grand ol time. New years here in Alcãntara was pretty cool as well. Everyone in Rio usually goes to a beach to ring in the new year, and there´s usually a cool fireworks show, but clearly, we didn´t do that. We live on the 6th floor of our apartment building and had a pretty good view of all the fireworks in both our area and the area of the other two elders (Called Trindade). Although fireworks here aren´t as fancy and colorful like in the states, and they mostly sound like gunshots and bombs and stuff, it was still pretty cool.

As far as those packages go, I haven´t received anything since the Christmas packages, but this Wednesday we have zone training, which is when I should receive mail and boxes. I´m glad to know you received the SD Card!!! There´s not really a huge rush, but when you get a chance, I´d like it if you returned it back to me that way I can send the next one home.

This week had some pretty good progression in Alcãntara, with a great big increase in our group of people to teach. In the past couple weeks, we had been teaching the same people without finding anyone new, but this week has definitely changed a bit. Two families that we´ve been teaching (Bruno & Ranna and Fernando & Grace) were both able to make it to church yesterday for the first time! Bruno and Ranna have actually been to church many times in the past, but not since we´ve been teaching them. Ranna has many relatives who are members of the church, and they already know just about everything there is to know about the organization of everything. We´re working really hard with them to have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and understand WHY God would call Joseph Smith to restore the true Gospel of Christ in this dispensation. Since their legally married (Miracle!), we had marked the 11th of January for their baptism date (this Saturday), and we´re praying super super hard that they´ll be ready. They are already living the commandments, so hopefully all will go well this week for them.

The Temperature on Friday broke some sort of record in Rio for how hot it was. Some members told us that it got up to 49 degrees celcius, but to me it just felt like I was taking a bath in the core of the flipping sun. That was a pretty tough day, especially since everyone and their dog decided to go to the beach, so no one was available to
teach. I have never sweated so much in my life, but woohoo the weight keeps on dropping. Lots of people have made make-shift showers in the streets, so lots of people go out in their bathing suits and... well,
take showers to cool off from the weather. Last night, it was so hot that all four of us moved our beds to the balcony of our apartment and slept outside intead of in our stuffy rooms.

The teaching has been improving, We´re starting to get a lot more references from members and other missionaries, so we´re keeping busy. I love you all and the wonderful support I receive from you all back at home. Unfortunately, my SD Card adapter stopped working, so until I find a new one, I am unable to send home anyphotos through email :( Just look at the ones you have now and imagine a slightly tanner
(maybe a little burnt), skinnier version of me. Tchau, minha amada família!!!

Elder Braun