Monday, March 31, 2014

True to The Faith

Elder Braun and Elder Evans

Hey Errybody!!

What a grest week Elder Evans and I had! Maricá is still beautiful and although our area is GI-FLIPPING-NORMOUS, we´re still having little miracles every day that keeps us busy and faithful. Our apartment is pretty big, with two bedrooms (in one we sleep, the other has our suitcases and closet), a spacious kitchen. and a big room where we study and dry our clothes. There´s also a balcony that over looks the highway that heads to the city´s beaches, which stays plenty busy at night. At times it´s pretty loud at night, but we´re usually to tired for it to be a big deal. The house smells... fine. Ha

It was a normal transfer, although I was pretty surprised that I left Ramos after only being there for one transfer. Elder Evans has the same time that I have on the mission, like we entered the mtc on the same day, but he was in a different zone there, so we never met eachother. He didn´t get his Visa until November last year, and he served in Houston for 3 months, so he only has 4 months in Brasil. He speaks pretty well, though. Probably better than I did at 4 months in the mission. We´ll see if I get my birthday package before my birthday this week, since we´ll have zone meeting. If it isn´t here by then, I probably won´t receive it until next month. Maybe I deserve that since I opened the Christmas package early . But if I get my birthday package this week, I´ll wait until the 18th to open it.

So I´m playing the piano in sacrament meeting!!!! Let Sister Reese know about that. It´s crazy, since it´s like an organ with two different groups of piano keys, and I never learned how to play organ, but I´m getting the hang of it. It´s old and doesn't work perfectly, but the branch asked me if I could play, I said 'kindof', and I guess in Portuguese, kindof means YES. So cool beans. They haven´t had a piano player there in years, so even though I made a few mistakes here or there, they all thanked me a lot for my talents. Those 8 years of piano lessons were totally worth it.

This week, we focused a lot of contacting references of people who were baptized in the church, fell away, and the church was able to find them again. It started out pretty tough finishing these references, since there were many that lived in areas that were 2-3 bus rides away from the church house, and many were addresses that didn´t exist. 

HOWEVER, we found some awesome people this week too. There´s a lady named Rosemary and her son Fernando who were super firm members when they lived in Rio, but they moved to a community in our area called Saquarema 4 years ago. She tried to find the church building closest to her, but without a computer or members who lived closeby. she was never able to fin it. When we knocked on her door, she greeted us saying, ´´ELDERS! I´ve been praying that one day you would find me!´´ She still reads the Book of Mormon, and she was able to visit the church in Maricá yesterday. 2 bus rides is nothing for those who love this gospel.

Also, we met a man named Márcio and his wife and daughter Simone and Isabel... Dang were we so happy to meet them. Such a wonderful family. The moment that Elder Evans and I met them, they treated us like we were family, like we were already their best friends, and I already love them to death. Márcio was baptized in Alcãntara, yep my first area, 20 years ago, but because of members and the distance required to travel there, he found himself becoming less active after about a year. He now has a pretty big role in a different church, but said that since God sent us to his front door step, God must have sent Elder Evans and I for a purpose for him and his family. Márcio was baptized before he met his wife simone, and their 17 years old daughter Isabel instantly accepted the Restauration and are reading the Book of Mormon. They even told us that the day we met them, Márcio´s mom, Rosimar who we are also teaching, was praying that God would bless their family, and they interpreted our visit to be that exact answer!! Haha God works in mysterious, yet wonderful ways.

Anyway, we´re finding wonderful families every day and working super hard to help them accept this restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. I´m loving every second of it! I love you all and the support I receive from you.

Elder Braun

1) Elder Evans and I being bosses with our most powerful tools.
2) The piano/organ we use in the church house.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Eu Sou Marican

This picture is with Karch's old companion who was a member in Ramos. 
He was formerly known as  Elder Silva Santos. 

Elder Evans and the church´s hot tub.... No I´m kidding. It´s the baptismal font.
There´s a business called B Braun on the highway entering our area.... So that´s Remarkable. 


I love reading the weekly letters I receive every week. I´m sad to hear about the japanese dude who hit that shiny new car. I guess when you don´t have a teenage son at home to give our cars beauty marks, you gotta hire a japanese immigrant to do it for you.

Such another crazy week in the mission and I´m so happy for everything I  learn every week! I´m certainly serving in a whole new world here in Maricá. Seriously. I joke with Elder Evans all the time saying that I feel like I´m serving in a whole new mission in this area. There´s a lot less buildings, streets, and a ton more fields, trees, and....water! There´s a bunch of lakes and the coast close to where we live and work. Don´t worry though. We aren´t passing much time there. Everything in this area is also more expensive, especially bus rides. I had to go to Rio this past week to get my visa updated and paid a whopping 20+ bucks to get there and back. If I was still in Ramos, it would have been a tad bit more than 2 bucks, so I´m getting used to that here.

Also, serving in this branch is certainly a learning experience for me. The Maricá branch started having missionaries in October last year after being closed for 3ish years. So we´re doing our best to help the members work with the us to do missionary work. Luckily, the church is still true :) With an attendance of 26 yesterday, we´ve got tons to do to work towards building a chapel here. We´re determined. Elder Evans and I teach super well together and we get along super well, too. So I´m having a blast here. Church is also in a rented house. The baptismal font is a little pool in the backyard, and each bedroom is a classroom or meeting room for the different groups in the church. It´s a different world, but I´m loving it. I´m sure you´ll have questions that I´m willing to answer about it.

We were able to visit Jaqueline and Alexandre last saturday!!! Oh that was sooo fun seeing them with Aguinalda and Rogerio, the coolest family I´ve met in Rio. We were able to teach them about eternal families and they said they´re get back to working on the wedding process next week (They started back when I was in Alcântara, but they became a bit disanimated, and since it was tough for us to keep up with them in Alcântara, they stopped) But now that we´re here closish to them, we´ll be able to help them and keep up with they´re progress waaaaaay better. They live in a super rural area and we have to take two buses to get to their house, though, plus we don´t have any other investigators close to them. 

We had a baptismal date marked for a teenage girl, MArcela, that we have been teaching for this saturday, but she wasn´t able to go to church yesterday. However, there´s a Haitian guy named Volson who has been to church 3 times already and we´re working with him tons to progress towards baptism. He loves the church and has already said that he knows it´s the place for him. So we got started running and we´re hoping to keep it that way. 

I love you all at home and I´m proud to say that I´m loving this new area, Maricá! I was just starting to get used to the city in Rio, but here in the country, it´s more comfortable and relaxed, which I like. I feel more safe, which should be a sigh of relief for you, mamma. But when you´re doing the Lord´s work, there is nothing to worry about. Tchau, everyone!

Elder Braun

Monday, March 17, 2014



Soooooo.... Sup

Haha before I forget, I received Valeries Christmas Package at the beginning of January. I sent her a letter thanking her for it. I think I sent it to where she was living in California, so if she didn´t receive it... dang. Hopefully she´ll get it somehow. As far as the Plan of Salvation and package from Mike, they´re still traveling to me!!! As well as the birthday package.

I don´t want to delay this crazy news, but I´m getting Transferred!!!! I´m super surprised, like a ton, because usually the trainers and newbies stick together for two transfers, but Pres Lima decided that he needs me in MARICÁ!!!! Dang I´m soooooooo FREAKING EXCITED to go to Maricá. MAricá is a branch (first time serving in a branch!) and is fixed beautifully with a marvelous coastline. I´ve visited there one time already, and there´s lots of trees and it´s beautiful there. Maricá is in the same district as Alcântara, and the family we were working with (Jacqueline and Alexandre, the same lady that looks like HAnnah Jensen) Lives there!!!!! CARACA I´m so excited to get back to working with them. My new companion will be Elder Evans, seriously the coolest guy I´ve met since I got here in the mission. He´s from the same group as me, but served in Houston for 3 months waiting for a visa, and we´ve already done a division and we get along super well. He´s from Kansas and lived in the building next to me at BYU! I´ll have more to say once we start serving together tomorrow. I´m pretty sad to have to say goodbye to Elder Acevedo. He´s super great and was a great companion. We got along really well (Better than any other companion I´ve had) and we worked well together.

So It´s kind of tough to talk about our investigators here in Ramos knowing that I´ll be leaving tomorrow, but there is one lady in particular that I can´t go without talking about her. Helena went back to church for the first time in a long time and she loved it! She lives super long and travels more than an hour to arrive at the church. Sacrifices to attend church... Inspiring. We´re also working on reactivating a family named Fátima and Adimir. They were baptized 2 years ago, but shortly left the church because Ademir started visiting a different one that is closer to their house. Fátima only wanted to go if her husband was with her... so yeah. We built quite a trust with them and are helping them prepare to become faithful members of the church and prepare to be sealed in the temple.

There was some super tragic and sad news for Elder Acevedo and I. A lady that we were teaching, Regina, passed away last week. Dang we felt so sad to hear about it. She had been having problems for a long time with pains resulting from years and years of smoking. We started teaching her, ashe started to change, but our Father in Heaven decided it was her time to return to his presence. She was super receptive and willing to be baptised, but her and the guy we were teaching, Jorge, were living together and had to be married first. So yeah, don´t smoke.

Craziness this week, I love you all so much and am so excited for all of the craziness and changes that are in store for me this next transfer. Rio: Mission of miracles. I´ll miss having a view of the Christ astatue on every corner, but all is well.

Elder Braun

 This computer won´t read my sd card, so hopefully next week I´ll be able to send some fancy fotos.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Post Carnaval and Gondolas

Elder França, Elder Xavier, Me, and Elder Acevedo in the Teleférico.... Gondola.

Yeah... That's where I bring Salvation. Complexo do Alemao.

After a huge rain, Elder Acevedo took a picture of me while I was talking with other Elders on the phone. Instead of raining cats and dogs, it rains horses and elephants here.

Hey Family,

Put yo hands up for another crazy week! Lots of work, training experiences, and progression in my mission this past week. Elder Acevedo and I were able to attend a training last week for him. Every 4 weeks there´s a big meeting with President Lima and all of the other Elders in Elder Acevedos group. Twas awesome. At times I wonder why I was chosen to train a newbie and be district leader with such little experience in the mission, but we are working hard and having no regrets.

Thanks a ton Jeff for the letter he sent me. I´ll write a brief message to him thanking for the news. Happy to hear that Betsy is doing great. Really 15 more years? Daaaaaaaaang. Stick in a nice stereo system and Betsy will be set! Haha

Last P day we rode a gondola with the other companionship´in our ward and a member in the ward named Edson. It was pretty awesome, especially because the gondola rides above one of the biggest favelas in all of Brazil, which. naturally, is a big part of our area. It´s called the Complexo do Alemão, which translates to German Complex. Not sure why, there ain´t no germans here, but it´s cool. Photos will be included in this e-mail, for shizzle. 

Elder Acevedo and I decided to try and work more with reactivating members this week, and we found a lady, who lives seriously in the other side of the galaxy, but she´s super cool. Her name is Helena and to arrive at her house, we have to either take two buses or only one and walk another 40 minutes to arrive at her house. She has moved a lot these past few years and didn´t which ward she was living in, and at times was visiting a chapel that was closer to her. (Imagine our family going to the Evergreen building instead of the Foothills). Her son João Vitor is super quiet and is 12 years old, and also has a difficult relationship with Helena. Ever since we met them, he´s
opened up a lot and we´ve been working with them a lot to strengthen the relationship they have in their family through the teachings in the scriptures. It´ll be a slow preocess to prepare João Vitor for baptism, but we have lots of faith that everything will work out with patience and hard work (and long bus rides).

Hey I found a place that sells Brazil soccer jerseys for 20 reais a piece (about 8 dollars). If you could add 100 bucks or so in my account, with a bit more for shipping, I´m willing to hook yáll up with jerseys before the world cup starts in June. That way everyone at home can root for the best country in the world :) Also, if you could let me know how much money is in my checking acount, that would be greatly appreciated. I don´t have anyway to find out for myself. Thanks!

I love you all and love this Gospel! Lots of saudades of everyone at home and I´m grateful for the prayers. Sempre. Until next week, homeboys.

Elder Braun

This is a photographical representation why missionaries in Brazil do NOT have cars or bikes.

Monday, March 3, 2014

It's Carnaval!

 We visited a place called Igreja da Penha last P-day
The moving crew after the work was done. Captain America rulz. Represent. ´MERICA!

Wooooo hey guysz,

Dang the jealousy I had seeing Bryan with Bill Nye made me cry. Mr. Hollenbeck used to show videos of that guy a ton when I was in his class. Very cool. Gostei. Well it´s been a pretty cool and crazy week. A little stressful because of some of the responsabilities that come with being District Leader, but hey, in the words of Coldplay ´´Nobody said it was easy´´. Anyway, I´m so happy to hear about all of the cool mission calls that you sent me. I told Elder Acevedo that Landon Toth was going to Lima Peru, and he wants to know which Lima Peru mission
(Elder Acevedo lives in the Lima Central mission). Elder Carter sent me an email about the war in Ukraine. He says he´s safe in Dnepropetrovsk, but he says it´s pretty cray cray.

NOOOOOO not Betsy! I felt sad to hear about the truck, but dang was I surprised you guys wanted to pay the big bucks to keep him alive. I understand you didn´t have the money necessary to buy a new one having bought that other shiny fancy schmancy piece of metal that shares the garage with Betsy. Oh well.

Let Bro. Van Matre know that I ate lunch with one of Karch´s companions. Karch´s companion Elder Souza Silva lives in our ward and we had lunch with him . Him and his wife are super awesome and a cute young couple. Next time I get a chance, I´ll take a picture with them so you can show Bro. Van Matre. Other random news, I weighed myself last week for the first time in over a month.... 66 kilos... around 146 pounds, which means I´ve lost about 20 pounds since I started my mission. If you send me powdered sports drinks again, don´t feel the need to send the zero-cal. I needs to get fats.

So Carnaval is this week! In reality, it hasn´t affected our area at allllll. Carnaval is still pretty annoying because, like seriously, EVERY investigator is traveling, has lots of family in town, or spending lots of time away from home because of it. And the only people in the streets are drunk old men. Elder Acevedo and I still managed to keep busy, knocking doors and visiting members less-actives. AOcassionally we see someone wearing crazy clothes, but nothing extraordinary. I was expecting crazier news too :/

Oh yeah, we moved last week too. All of the members that have heard about it called us crazy because now we live even further away from everything, and in an area that is more dangerous, but it´s been pretty chill since we moved. I´ll include a picture in front of our new house.

Here´s some cool news and a nice little miracle for us in Ramos: Elder Acevedo and I showed up at church, and there was a lady there we had never met who lives in Texas! She lives in Austin, I told her I was born in Longview, we had a good laugh. Anyway, she said that she´s visiting her mother here, and invited her to church (Her name is Alexandra, her mom, Vera, isn´t a member of the church). Vera was raised in the catholic church, but she loved church yesterday! She invited us to visit her while Alexandra is still here in Ramos, and hopefully all will go well! Alexandra joined the church in the States, and has always wanted her mom to hear the missionaries messages. so yeah. Cool story.

Guess what? I love you all and am always smiling when I think about the wonderful support I get from everyone at home. Sorry if at times as a missionary, I don´t show it super well, because I donpt have much time at all to send emails. One hour every week, which includes the letter I write to president Lima. Oh well. What a great Gospel this is that our Savior has given to us!

Lots of love,
Elder Braun

PS. I included a photo of Bruno´s baptism that Elder Leite sent me. Dang was I super happy to hear about that. I was super sad to not have been able to attend, but I am still so happy for the decision him and Ranna have made to accept the restored gospel of Christ aand prepare to be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity.

Bruno´s Baptism in Alcântara on February 22nd.