Monday, June 30, 2014

Key Indicators

My Dearest Family,

I love so much hearing about the wonderful experiences you´ve all had in DC and other historic church sites. No, I am not jealous at all. Ok, maybe a little. But I´m still happy for you all. Mike sent a touching and nice letter about an experience he had from his mission. Thanks a bunch! I want to write you back, but this dinosaur computer is having enough problems writing this email, and the time we have is short. 

This past week, Pres. Lima (Now known as Elder Lima since he´s an area seventy now) returned to his home in Manaus, and our new Mission President and his wife arrived! Their names are Pres and Sister Cabral. I haven´t met them personally yet, but this friday we will have a zone conference and we´ll be able to meet them. 

With the World cup in full motion, and Brazil in the quarterfinals, everyone´s excited and talking about it. I hear there was overtime in their game against Chile. While we had weekly planning during the game, all of our neighbors were shouting and screaming and cheering and showing feelings of dissapointment, but ended with lots of screaming and fireworks. Good luck topping how much fireworks this week at 4th of july in Wyoming. But even with all this craziness, Elder Inácio and I have had lots of tender mercies and blessings.

This past week, our companionship strived to reach our key indicators.... those of you who have served missions probably know what I´m talking about. Our mission has a standard of excellence that has been something pretty tough for most elders (12 lessons w/memb, 20 new invest., 210 street contacts, ect), but together as a district, we were determined to reach it. Elder Inácio and I taught so many new people, we ran out of book of Mormons and restoration pamphlets! We had 15 investigators that said they would come to church, and we did tons of planning that way eah and every one of them would be there (Calling saturday night, sunday morning, passing by their houses, inviting members to visit them, TUDO), and even though we only had 3 of them at church yesterday, I felt satisfied knowing that we worked our hardest this week so that every child of God would have a chance to hear our messege of the restored gospel of Christ. 

One of these investigators was a man named João, whose wife is a less active member of the church. Our branch President invited her to provide lunch for us every wednesday, and we´ve been able to get to know them really well. We found out that Ana and her daughter used to help the missionaries a looong time ago a ton with references and teaching investigators. We´ve been singing hymns every time we´re at their house and they love it. João wants to be baptized, but they aren´t married, and after reading the Family: a Proclamation to the world with them, they´ve committed to get married! They´re progressing very well, and we couldn´t be happier. We´ve already talked about temples and being sealed for time and all eternity is one of their greatest desires.

Elder Inácio and I also met a lady named salomé who went to church on sunday and seemed to really enjoy it. She´s always had lots of questions about religion, and loved how we had an answer for every single one of them. We´re working really close with her and her kids to receive and recognize an answer from the Holy Ghost that this is the true church of Christ.

I´m still playing the organ in our branch´s sacrament meetings and I´m getting way better! Us 4 elders sang a special musical number, Joseph Smith´s first prayer. It was sooooooooo awesome. We sang the first two verses in English, during the first half of the third verse, three of us hummed the music while Elder Carvalho recounted the words from the first vision, and we sang the rest in Portuguese. Many of the sisters there were crying, and the spirit was super strong. I was able to give another talk in the branch, and I´m happy to see that things are really starting to change in the branch. When I arrived, the attendance was around 25, and we had an attendance of 47 yesterday! 

I love you all and I love this work. I´ve bult up a wonderful trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice that he paid for each and every one of us. I love you all!

Elder Braun

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cha Cha Cha Changes

Hey Family!

YAY for sleepovers in the airport!! I´m sure that was just the greatest night sleep ever! I couldn´t help but think of the one episode of Malcolm in the Middle when Everyone in the community had to sleep in a high school gym because of something their family did. Lots of funny things happened like Malcolm getting grounded on his bunk, Dewey lied to people about his family dieing, etc. Anyway, I´m sure it wasn´t quite as fun as it ought to be, but at least you´re in DC now!

The World Cup is still in full gear as everyone hides in their houses and watch EVERY single game. Especially when Brasil plays. Like today. We worked up until 1 pm today working as normal, and after talking to family and freinds, we´re spending the rest of our p-day at home. It´s actually very easy to keep track of the score even when we don´t have a tv. Everytime you hear everyone in the city screaming and shouting at the same time with fireworks going off, badda bing Brasil scored! It´s crazy. No one is working today, everyone watches the game, even the people that don´t like soccer still root for their country.

I had a funny and scary experience last thursday  when Elder Inácio and I visited a new family that moved into the branch. They live, like, REALLY far away. The bus ride was over an hour long to get to their house, and we left a little after 8 that way we would have time to make it back home before9:30. Unfortunately, it was a holiday, and it was raining, so the buses, well, stopped! No more for the rest of the day. We found this out when it wasalready 9:00 pm. As we sat there, not knowing what to do, we said a prayer and promptly after that prayer, a taxi showed up! I asked the driver how much it would be to get to Maricá, he said it was 45 reais, I accepted the fact that my future wife will have to deal with a cheap, plastic wedding ring because of our to be home and keep mission rules, and we took the taxi. He drove us super fast and we made it home promptly. Que bênção! Anyway, it was a wonderful answer to our prayers, even if it was a little pricey.

This is Pres. and Sister Lima´s last week in Rio, and starting this Friday, Pres. and Sister Cabral will arrive! We had a special zone conference with pres and Sis Lima last friday. They´ve been wonderful leaders, and it will be tough to have them leave. But they can´t stay forever. Happens. I´m excited for what the future of this mission has while Pres and Sis Cabral build the new Rio temple!

We´ve been teaching many new people, and although I was really stressed that none of our many investigators that agreed to come to church came, even those that we passed that morning, we´re determined that we´ll have lots of sucess this week. 

I love you all and I encourage EVERYONE to study the talk that M. Russell Ballard gave last conference titles ´´Follow-Up´´ (that´s the translation in Portuguese of the Title). Have fun watching the World Cup and root for Brazil for me!

Elder Braun

Monday, June 16, 2014

World Cup and Politics

Elder Carvalho, Me, Elder Inácio (My Comp), and Elder Heidenreich. 
Just making miracles in the wonderful land of Maricá.

Hey Family!

No, I didn´t fall in any rivers this week, but as far as I know, there were no infections or diseases contracted from last week. Some members here say I got really lucky and ws really blessed about that, so I´m counting my blessings. The World cup is.... NOW. EVERYONE is watching every game in the world cup, rooting for Brazil and against Argentina. We´re still working like normal, except the days that Brazil plays. On the opening game, last Thursday, we cleaned our house hardcore, we did weekly planning, and we played a ton of Uno in our house. When Brasil plays, everything closes. EVERYTHING. Even the emergency rooms and health centers (not hospitals, thank goodness). And everyone watches the game. You can imagine how tough it would be a missionary, diligently trying to share a brief message about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, when everyone is at home watching the game. Luckily, since we live far away from Rio, we can still work on the days where there´s a game in Rio. Many missionaries don´t have that same priveledge, because there are lots of people on strike, because of the money the government spent on the cup. Lame.

Now that Winter is starting here, I´m not sweating all the time! WOO! It´s still pretty hot, like 30 degrees celcius, but it´s better than melting like a popsicle like we do in the summer. Congratulations to Bryan and Holly for the wonderful news and new baby! Also to dad for the new calling as ordinance worker in the temple. Ever since I´ve started my mission, learned more about temple ordinances, and now that I CAN´T go to the temple whenever I want, I´ve thought a lot about how awesome it would be to have that calling.

This week had many ups and downs, but overall was pretty good. We´ve started teaching a lady named Vanda who recognized the spirit immediately and has been progressing super well! Although she wasn´t able to go to church yesterday (We´re still not sure why, we´re gonna visit her today to find out), so that was tough since we´ll have to remark her planned date for baptism. She works for the PDT in Maricá, which is like a member of the house of representatives for the state of Rio, at least that´s what I understood from what my companion told me. She´s his secretary, and she invited us to say a prayer at their correlation meeting (Two thumbs up for Brasil. No separation between church and state!). There´s no way I´d deny an offer like that! So we got to meet the PDT in Maricá as well as his campaign group, we said a prayer and invited everyone to learn about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ! I mean, if Júlio Carolino joined the church, that´d be cool. I wouldn´t complain. He was really nice and showed a lot of gratitude for our work and we thanked him for caring about this wonderful people of Rio and Maricá. It was a group of about 15-20 people, and I definitely wrote about that in my journal :)

I had an opportunity to meet a family in my first area, Alcãntara, that has been prepared for baptism. As district leader, I did their baptismal interview, and I´ve loved working with them these past few weeks. Their names are Benedito and Elizabeth, and they were baptised last saturday and confirmed yesterday! I´ve loved working with the missionaries there, helping them work with the members and recent converts that I grew so close to while I was serving there.

Another crazy week in the books here in Rio! I´m not sure how the World Cup is doing, all I know is that Brazil won, based on the fireworks, cheering, and horns we heard that day. Plus everyone (including the members) have been talking about it. But like I said last week, It´s the WORLD CUP (or translated from Portuguese, Cup of the World). As representatives of Jesus Christ we should be seperated from the world. I love you all and don´t forget to root for Brasil for me!

Elder Braun

One of the million decorated houses in spirit of the World Cup

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Some Days You Just Fall In a River

Dear Family,

Parabéns for Bryan and Holly!!!! I´m so happy for them and I´m excited to meet my new nephew! When I see him, he´ll probably already be walking, which is crazy to think, since Holly wasn´t even preghant when I left on the mish. Way cool. 

I got a letter this week that contained a wonderful little picture book that you guys made for me. I received it from my zone leaders during stake conference, and all of the elders and members next to me had a look at it too. I loved it and was happy to see all of the wildist adventures you´ve all been doing since last fall. An american elder from my group, Elder Seibers, saw the picture of Bryan with Bill Nye and just about lost it. We then proceeded to sing the Bill Nye theme song and it was a blast.

This week was surely full of... surprises. My new companion is Elder Inácio, a Brazillian Elder from São Paulo. He´s 18 years old, super animated and excited, and has already been a great help here in Maricá. We now have 2 companionships in Maricá, but the other two Elders hadto stay in Rio for a week until we got new beds. We also had a stake conference yesterday which included a broadcast taught by Richard G. Scott (Did you know he speaks Portuguese fluently?) and M. Russel Ballard (Did you know that he is like an awesome apostle?). It was great and they taught a lot about being personally converted in all things and resisting the temptations of Satan in all aspects of your life.

On Wednesday.... ohhhhh Wednesday. What an unforgettable day of my misiion/life. It was Elder Inácios second day in the mission, and we were walking to na appointment we had in a very undeveloped neighborhood in our área. We were a little late, and because I´m dumb, I thought it would be a good idea to take a shortcut. According to the map we have, all was fine taking the road we decided to take, but because it was a little dark and we had rain all of last week, it didn´t work out as planned. We started walking through some tall grass, the road started to dissapear, and what appeared to be a trail of fine grained dirt, was actually a RIVER with sediment on top (At night, I swear, it looked like a trail). So I fell in a river with water that went up to my shoulders. It was not a clean river, may I add. Luckily Elder Inácio stopped before he fell in the river. Needless to say, we weren´t able to make it to our appointment, but our branch pres was able to get us and bring us home. I´m really grateful for that. I had to buy some expensive soap and alcohol to dissinfect my body for two days, since canals and rivers here usually have tons of bactéria and diseases. I haven´t had any side affects, and I´ve still been able to work, so I´ve been blessed in that way. But I did end up torching our cell phone and my brand new watch that I bought that morning. Luckily, my scriptures and other importante materials like my câmera survived as well.

Now that we have two companionships, we have lots of plans to visit every member on our branch list. Our branch pres will visit many of them with us, and we´re working to receive references from EVERYONE. We´re hoping than by doing this, we´ll be able to spread the gospel to everyone in a way that will streaghten the less active members here as well.

We´ve been able to teach many new people this week, and I´ve loved being able to help this wondeful people recognize the fulness of the gospel for the first tme in their life. I´m trying to put myself in their shoes and see for my self how diferente it would be to here for the first time in your life that the true church of Jesus Christ has been restored on this Earth. and what significance that should have in my life, that way I can help others apply the restored principles and ordenances of the gospel in theirs.

I love my Family soooo much! I wish you all the very best this week. The world cup starts this thursday, and I hope you enjoy following the worlds best football teams compete against eachother. Here in Maricá, it´ll be completely madness, and all missionaries in our mission will stay at home all day on the days that Brasil plays, and when there is a game in Rio in the Maracanã stadium.

Lots of Love,
Elder Braun 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Training, Round 3

Elder Heidenreich and I, doing our Stripling Warrior pose

Hey Family!

Since we have transfers this week, lots of crazy stuff has happened, which I´m excited to share with you all. My prayers go out to Grandma and Grandpa. I wish them the best and hope that the visit this week goes well. Sorrry that this letter is showing up a little later than usual. Like last week, I had to travel to Rio on our p-day today, but this time, in stead of getting a new companion, it was because Elder Heidenreich and I went to a training for the trainers this transfer. Wait, what does that mean??? That´s right, I´m training again! I´m pretty excited, now being my 3rd time training in my mission, my hopes are high and I´m priveledged to have the oportunity to once again, welcome one of the Lord´s newest missionaries into this wonderful force of good. I´ll find out who my companion is tomorrow.

Elder Heidenreich, my companion for one week, will also be training and Marica will have two companionships!!!!!! This is WONDERFUL NEWS!!! Now that we have a new branch presidency that´s all geared to work miracles, as well as twice the workers to carry on the workload, we´re sure to have some incredible growth in Maricá! I´ll be here for probably another 3 months while I train my new companion, and I´m very excited. 

This is actually a huge answer to a prayer I had sunday of last week (the 25th) I remember Elder Porfirio and I returned back to our house, but he didn´t want to plan since he knew he would be going home. I was feeling ver y frustrated, a little helpless and didn´t feel completely satisfied with anything going on. I decided to have a true Enos-like prayer and, in a way, wrestle with the Lord. That night, I went into one of our rooms, closed the door, and gratified and pleaded for what the spirit guided me to ask for. One thing I asked was for a miracle to happen the following day. I wasn´t sure why I asked that, but I felt inspired to do so. I begged for a miracle to happen the following day, and that´s when I found out Elder Porfirio was going home. That wasn´t the miracle I was hoping for, but what was impressive was I discovered that Maricá would have two companionships. Although it will require a lot of planning, especially with regard to lunches which was already difficult to arrange with one companionship, I know that this branch is ready for the workload.

With the world cup around the corner, we´ve already been notified that some days will not include us working at all: Each day that Brazil has a match, and each game in Rio in the Maracanã stadium. We´ll be able to have lunch, but after that, we´ll come back home and clean and study and do whatever is necesary so that we can still have the spirit with us. People here get crazy during the world cup, and even more so now that the cup will be in Brazil.

Sorry I don´t have much time since today was super rushed with the trainer training we had in Rio. I still have lots of people to write back, but I´ll do that next week. I love you all, I love this Gospel. There is nothing more rewarding in my life other than that of dedicated service, and there´s no other place I want to be than right HERE!!! 

 Elder Braun

The last sunday that Elder Porfirio was here, we had luch with a member who lives on the BEACH. 
Here´s a cool photo there.