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.