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.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Knocking on Wood

Hey Fam,

I had a pretty awesome week. Sorry about the tough news for Natalie. Let her know that I didn´t go to homecoming either my junior year. But that was more my own fault for being lazy. There´s always next year. Maybe. If she wants, I can send an email to Trevor Brown to tell him to get his act together. Although she´s selling her chores to other people to do. Looks like laziness may run in the family.

This week was pretty awesome. I put the title knocking on wood, because we knocked a lot of wood. What I mean by that is we knocked a lot of doors. And what that actually means is we clapped our hands in front of a lot of houses (It´s rude to knock on someones door here. People clap instead) Maybe the title of this email would be better called ´´clapping our hands", but I´ll leave it as it is.

We knocked lots of doors becuase we redivided our area last week, and most of our investigators went to the othr elders. We found some really cool people though, including an oldish lady named Nazaré, her daughter, Marcia, and grandson, Iago. Iago is a little special, I think it´s a relatively serious case of bipolarity, and they have been praying for him. They had received the elders about 10 months ago, but the never were visited again. They were happy to see the elders again, and Nazaré and Iago came to church and loved it. If all goes smoothly, we´ll try to help them get ready for baptism on the 4th, during conference. YAY BAPTISM

We´ve been finding lots of less actives, as well. There are lots of families to complete here in MAricá, and we´re hoping with the support of the Elders quorum and Relief Society, we´ll get some people reactivated and families completed, off and ready to go to the temple. YAY ETERNAL FAMILIES.

We also had the highest attendance this week in the branch ever since I got here, 59 people! I´m like super happy to see members coming every week now, instead of just every now and then. Seeing as the attendance was about 25 each week when I first got here, I´m ecstatic about the growth. The branch president said if it comtinues to grow at this rate, by the end of the year, the church will let us buy a land to build a new chapel here. YAY CHAPEL.

I´m excited for General Conference.

Have a wonderful week! Don´t let Valerie eat all the chocolate chips in the states! I don´t think they have chocolate chips here, and I miss them. I love you all, this gospel is like very true and has been a huge blessing to me, as well as many others whose lifes I´ve seen changed.

Elder Braun

Monday, September 15, 2014

Small World with Baptisms!

 Sonia´s Baptism (Sidney, Sonia, Me, Elder Inácio)


This week was full of building experiences and opportunities. As district leader, Í´m in charge of 4 companionships (including mine) and I had a few chances to go on splits to help out some of them. I can officially say I´ve been in or done a division in every single area in this zone/stake. I´ve beeen in the same stake for practically my entire mission (except one transfer) so I guess it´s not that surprising. 

The temperature is starting to pick up, I got pretty burned last Friday, and I´m back to constantly drinking water and trying to stay hydrated. Yay Rio weather!

Because of some trouble the other dupla in our branch was having with money, losing time taking the bus every day, and working far away from the chapel, we decided to redivide our area, so that they can work coser to the church and not have to take the bus every day. It was a tough decision for Elder Inácio and I to make since all of our recent converts (who haven´t been afraid to give plenty of good references) will be in their area. They´ve been struggling to have some success, so it should work out well for both duplas in the end.

So it´s a small world, did ya know? We were having lunch with an old sister in the branch, Maris do Carmo, and she wanted me to confirm what city in Washington I was from since she said her niece´s son who lives in Utah married a girl from there. I said I was from Spokane, and she said ´´Wow, she´s from there too´´. Surprised, I asked what her name was, and she said Darby, but I didn´t remember anyone with that name at first. Maria do Carmo showed some photos from the wedding on Facebook to us, and it happened to be a girl from the stake that you probably know, mom. Darby Novakavich. She married a dude who is the son of this lady´s niece that I had lunch with last Friday. Cool, huh? I thought it was.

Sonia was baptized on Saturday! Her baptism was super special. Her Brother who lives in Rio came to perform the baptism for her, which was super emotional for him. His name is sidney, and he´s been a member for about 50 years, served a mission, was even bishop, but no one in his family ever joined the church... Until last saturday! It reminded me a lot of dad. Never give up on little opportunities you may have to share the restored gospel with those in your family who haven´t accepted it. You never know just when they´re ready to hear the missionary´s message. Even though Sidney lives about 2-3 hours away from where Sonia lives, and he didn´t even send us a reference, we still found her and she was ready as ever to accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, being baptized and confirmed in his true church . She also already has a calling as the relief society service coordenator.

We´ve been working hard, and have so much more to do to help this branch grow. Now that we´ve passed a lot of our investigators to the other elders, we´re gonna knock lots of doors, so lots of contacts, re visit every reference we´ve ever received. It´ll be a blast. I love you all, I love hearing from you and all our your wild activities. I´ve included a few other photos you can choose to use for the christmas card with the orange tie.

I love you!

Elder Braun

Legit Coconut that we hunted and ate.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Working With MemBROS

Hey Family,

First of all, a really cool thing about portuguese that I just realized is that the word for members is membros. I think its cool, because some missionaries like to just do their own thing, but we´ve got to work together with the members of the ward/branch to have real success and growth. They should be our bros, and for that reason, membros is a cool word.

Also, I received the box you sent that had an orange tie that you wanted me to use to take pictures for the family photo. There was also some pig candy, which was like really sweet bacon jerky, that also had tons of pepper. Brazillians hate spicy food, so my comp didn´t like it at all, but I thought it was awesome. More for me :)
Alright, enough with that nonsense. 

This week was really cool, although a little tough, with some big downs, but I learned a lot. Staying with the same companion for 3 transfers is really cool because Elder Inácio and I know how to teach really well together now, but at the same time, it´s tough being with the same person 24/7 all day, all night. But hey, it´s good prep for when I get married one day, and I´m sure it´ll be a lot easier to handle an eternity with a babe wife if I can handle 4-5 months with a Brazillian dude.

Do you guys remember Jaqueline and Alexandre? A family that lives in MAricá  that I was teaching while I was in Alcãntara because there weren´t missionaries here? Well, after we divided the area, I wasn´t able to visit them anymore, and the new elders thought they lived too far away. I kept saying "go visit them, go visit them!" and finally after about 3 months, the other elders met them and they came to church yesterday! Also, a really special family from alcantara, Jaqueline´s parents, came to the branch in Maricá. I love them so much, and I couldn´t resist taking a picture with them after the meeting. They're really excited to prepare for baptism, and have really become excited to start receiving the lessons again. I´ll put a picture in the email to show them.... again.

We have a baptism planned for this Saturday for Sônia, Ana Karen´s grandma. She´s pretty dang sweet and has known the church for a long time. She´s always wanted to be a part of it, but... missionaries never invited her, and her brother who´s a bishop in Rio never invited the missionaries to teach her. Soooooo, we´re happy that God didn´t give up on her and still gave her a chance to receive the restored gospel in her life. She was smoking and drinking coffee a lot when we met her, and she´s already had the strength and desire to stop in preparation for her baptism and salvation.

We had a really cool family home evening yesterday with some members (and investigators) and we gave everyone a doctrinal question to study (For example: Why do we not drink coffee or alcoholic beverages as members of the church? or If I was baptized in another church, why would I have to be baptized in the LDS church to become a member?), and next week, at another family home evening, we´re gonna try to bring more investigators and the members will share they answers through the study they do this week. Pretty cool, eh? Anyway, we´re starting to get some gears turning with the members, which is AWESOME.

I love you all! Never forget the wonderful privelege that all of you at home have to do missionary work, and to help those fine young men at home with fancy name tags who are trying to bless your wards where you serve. Don´t let them teach their investigators without your help! I know this church is true, and there´s no other service more gratifying than missionary service.

Elder Braun

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Love This Work

Hey Family,
I´m not sure I´ll have much time to write this letter. Our LAN house that we usually go to is without internet, so 
we´re at one that´s a lot more dumpy and slow. Oh well. But this week was seriously awesome.

Congrats to Jeff for the great marathon finish! Sorry that everybody´s got school starting soon. It´s kinda weird to think that close to or by the end of the school year, I´ll have already finished my mission. Dang, where does that time go?

Hey, Remember Jessica? Our convert baptism from 3 weeks ago? She already received a calling as a young women´s counselor and She gave a talk in church yesterday! It was like her 5th or 6th time at church and she already gave a talk! We were surprised that our branch president did that so soon, but her talk was way strong. Lots of members were brought to tears as she shared her testimony of the church, the book of mormon, and showed gratitude for missionary work. I was losing it, the spirit was so strong. I love this work, I know that I was called to be in this branch for as long as I´ve been here because I know the Lord has prepared his children to hear my testimony, and I know that true joy and happiness only comes from living and sharing the gospel with others.

I´ve gotten a pretty nasty cold, which has been a bit tough physically, and verbally. People haven´t been understanding me as well because together with the slight american accent, I have the nasally side effects of a cold. By the time we get home I feel practically dead, but I know that by diligence and hard work, I´ll get better and feel more in rhythm.

This past week we were really focusing on finding new investigators, and we reached our goal to have 20 new investigators. Some are going well, others have already cut us or won´t let us mark a return visit yet, but we worked hard this week, and that makes me happy.

I love you all! Keep up the good work and good luck at school for everybody!
Elder Braun