Monday, December 29, 2014

Transferred.... BACK IN MARICÁ!!!!

....The Christmas Eve nosebleed I told you about.

Hey Family!

First of all, in this very moment, I´ve got to be the happiest missionary out of the almost 90,000 elders and sisters serving on the planet. I have three reasons I´d like to share why I´m very happy. 1) I got to talk to my wonderful family last Christmas, 2) Christmas was absolutely wonderful with many wonderful miracles resulting from our work this past week in Abolição, and the last but certainly not least 3) I´M BACK IN MARICÁ!!!!! 

I absolutley went crazy when the assistants announced to everyone at transfers this morning that I´d be serving in Maricá. All the Elders and Sisters that know me know that I LOVED my 7 months that I served there, even though it had some rough moments, I learned how to love the people I was serving and learned how to forget about myself while I was there. My new companion is an American (The first for almost a year), and his name is Elder Faulkner. He´s from Texas, has been serving for almost a year, but he only has 4 months serving in Brazil. From the 3 hours I´ve had knowing him (Since I had never met him before) he seems like a great, humble kid with a real desire to serve. 

Sooooo It was kind of tough to hear I was leaving Abolição. Even though it was a difficult area to get some real progress, we had a few miracles. On Christmas night, we went to visit a less active man named Ary who hadn´t gone to church for almost 15 years. When we arrived there, he wasn´t home, but his daughter and wife (Who had never received the missionaries) showed some interest in getting to know the church. They agreed to visit on sunday, we didn´t think they were absolutely serious, but when we saw them arrive, we were THRILLED. Elder Gonzales and his new companion have a great family to teach and prepare for baptism and eventually the temple.

Seriously, all I have on my mind is is the excitement to revisit the investigators, recent converts, and less actives here in Maricá, those that I studied, prayed, worked, and taught to help understand more about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the importance of keeping our heavenly Father´s commandments. I hope that this excitement, along with more study, prayer, fasting, work, obedience, and faith will help me to prepare this branch get closer and closer to becoming a ward. The other companionship´said that there are already plans to become a ward in february.... WOW. If that´s the case, I´m hoping I can still be here until then to be a part of this wonderful experience. 

Family, miracles happen. Our Father in Heaven looks out for everyone of us, and I´m so happy for the privelege he has given me to learn so much these past year and 5 months. If I stay in Maricá until the end, I certainly won´t complain, I just hope I can gain all the experience and wisdom here that God is preparing for me. I love you all so much, and wish you the very best for this upcoming New Years!

Elder Braun

After their visit at the church and 15 years inactive, Ary and his family

Monday, December 22, 2014

Natal Time is Here

Here´s a random pig I found in a bathtub on the side of the street #OnlyInRio

Hey guyz!

So what another wonderful week for Elder Gonzales and I! Just to answer some of your questions really quick, I´d love to apply for the foresters scholarship... again. Maybe we can talk a little bit more in details later this week.... when I call you guys.... face to face. Haha I love being able to say that. The plan is call you all 3 o'clock Rio time. As far as the google hangout password, I don´t have a clue what my password is. I´m not sure if I even remember my username, but I´ll try a few times on Thursday. If it doesn´t work out, I´ll send a quick email, so be ready to answer my plea for help if I end up needing it. 

Some crazy news for us this week in Abolição: We moved!!! Yeaa we´re finally living in our area, and now we don´t have to walk for an hour every day to walk to and from our area. We received some used furniture from another house in the mission, although our dresser is still dissasembled. We moved completely on wednesday
 and were able to sleep for the first time in our house that night. We quickly discovered that where we live is a very, well, sleepless community at night, with lots of loud music playing in our neighbors houses and many motorcycles flying by at night. We live close to the entranceof a favela, which is show de bola. But I like the house. Big, roomy. Although we locked our selves in the hallway. That´s another thing I´ll have to take the time to explain on Thursday. Oh I love saying that a lot.

This week, unfortunately, the guy we were teaching, Mauricio, who reminds me a lot of dad, decided he didn´t want to investigate the church anymore. We felt that we ought to teach him about the word of wisdom and the law of chastity this past week, and although the word of wisdom wasn´t a huge issue, once we talked about the law of chastity, he started to get really nervous and undecisvie about things. The lesson went fine, we felt the spirit, but his girlfriend later told us that he wants to go a little slower about preparing for baptism. We´re hoping that all goes well in the future.

As we were walking the other day to an appointment, a lady on the other side of the street called us and said she was a member of the church from a different city calle Salvador. She was passing the holidays here in Rio and was happy to see us that way she could attend the nearest sacrament meeting yesterday. She was with some of her neices as well, who aren´t members, that were curious to become more familier with the church. We saw her AGAIN the next day. Yesterday, we were able to see them at church, and as we found our that the bishop knew this family that isn´t members in our area, we became more excited to teach them more about the church. That was a pretty cool miracle for us. Today we´re gonna give a sock-knocking lesson about Christmas for their entire family #Heisthegift

We were sad that some of our investigators that have been going well weren´t at church this past Sunday, BUT one lady we´ve been teaching, Lúcia, was able to attend a ward activity last thursday. She said she loved the environment so much and that she plans to become a member. She wasn´t able to attend church though because she had to go to the doctors office. But when one of her daughters told us about her impresion of the church, we were happy to see the interest that it bought for her daughter to hear our messages.

I love you all so much! I can´t wait to talk to you beautiful people on Thursday. Our Mission President has given us a limit of one hour to talk to our families, so I recommend those in the family be ready at the time scheduled in your time zone. Feliz Natal for everybody!

Elder Braun

Monday, December 15, 2014

Heating up in Abolição

My district

Dear Family,

What another wonderful week here in Rio!! I received 3 packages this week! One was from Grandma Panonne, and there were 2 from the family, one with the gillette razors I asked for, and the other is the Christmas package. Unlike last year, I´m waiting until the 25th to open the presents. It will be this transfer, so I don´t have to worry about having to carry boxes all around Rio if I were to be transferred. If you want, I can open them during the hangout. It´s up to you all at home...

We had a huge mission zone conference this past week. It was the first time in my entire mission that EVERY SINGLE MISSIONARY in Rio was in the same place at the same time. 181 missionaries. That´s a lot of people.
We´ve received a few references from members here of people to teach, which has been a HUGE answer to our prayers. One of them is a teenager who recently went on a campout with the other young men. His name is Alexandre, and he´s a pretty cool guy. We taught him for the first time yesterday, and has already met all of the preists his age. The young men´s president recently came back from his mission ( about a year ago), and he´s been helping us out a ton, planning young mens activities where so that we can teach the missionary lessons. The YM president also served with Taylor Demars in Porto Alegre Sul. #mundopequeno

And Another investigator that has been progressing. And this one´s golden. We´re teaching a guy named Maurício, who reminds me EXACTLY of Dad. What I mean is that he´s a "Flirt to Convert" case that we´re working with. His girlfriend is a longtime member of the church, and while we ate lunch with them over a week ago, we asked him if he´d be interested in learning more about the church and he said he did. If Dad has any ideas, maybe moments that helped him feel the spirit, marking moments in his conversion, I´d love to hear about it. I don´t remember a ton about dad´s conversion, I think I only heard the story 2 ore 3 times like Natalie said.

So yeah. This week was splendid, and Elder Gonzales and I are happy with the results we are starting to have in our area. Abolição is known as a very tough area, with only 4 baptisms in the last 12 months. I´m excited to talk to everyone on Christmas! Have a good week!

Elder Braun

A picture of me shortly after I arrived in Rio and this week. I was surprised how tan I´ve gotten.

Monday, December 8, 2014

More Singing and Christmas

Inline image 1

Dear Family,
I deeply apoligize for the technical issues I had last week with the computer  here  (I´ve made a note to myself to NEVER use computer number 2 in the online café here), but I had some time last monday to write a hand written letter about the past week. That way, when the letter arrives, you all can still have a record of my week, and I don´t have to worry about writting about two weeks today!
I would like to know what time would be best for you all for me to call on Christmas. I´m planning on using Google+ like on Mothers day, and keep in mind that Brasil is 6 hours ahead of Spokane time, 5 hours ahead of utah/idaho time. I´ll need a username and password to be able to access google+, mmkay? 
The 6 elders in our house chipped in to buy Christmas lights for our house! Now we have delightful lights outside our window every night singing us to sleep! I took a Picture to include in this email, they aren´t much (the lights) but it´s the best we could do.

We didn´t get a chance to watch the Christmas devotional here. To be completely honest, I forgot that the church has a christmas devotional. I guess it´s not a thing here in brasil, or Rio, to watch it. How sad :( BUT We are still singing in the cantata or christmas choir, and yesterday, and Area Seventy was able to watch it. It was incredible, and I hear that they´ll do an article about it in an upcoming Liahona. 
As Elder Gonzales and I were arriving in the chapel in Andaraí, where we had the performance yesterday, we got a little lost. We asked a random pedestrian if he could help us find a street where one of our churchs was. He said he lived close by and was willing to walk with us towards the chapel. As we were walking, we talked to him about his Family, his profession, his Faith, and so on. He told us that he has a drinking problem and that his Family is passing many difficulties because of it, both financial and spiritual. As we were walking with him, we invited him to the chriismas performance and to receive a visit from the sisters who served there, and how they would be able to help him. We said a short prayer for him as well, and he thanked us a lot for being na answer to his prayers. Antônio said that yesterday morning, he had prayed that God would do something to help him overcome his addiction. We presented him to the sisters after the performance, and he thanked Elder Gonzales even more. There´s seriously something incredible, a truly magnificente feeling when you know that you were part of God´s work in answering the prayer of someone in need. I found it very interesting how it seemed to be part of God´s plan for Elder Gonzales and I to get lost in the middle of Rio, that way we could offer a humble man help necessary to return back to Christ and feel the wonderful spirit of Christmas this season.
I love this gospel so much. I love the marvelous experiences I have here every day as a missionary. Even through the going isn´t Always smooth, and seems rough more than usual, I know that the Lord uses people simple and small to perform his work. Just like Gordon B. Hinckley said one missionary Conference, "You´re not much, but you´re all that we got, so we´ll have to make the best of it" I know that all of us, IF WE ARE WILLING TO WORK A LITTLE, can bless the lifes of those who haven´t yet received this marvelous message of the restored gospel of Christ.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and my prayers go out to all those at home who are passing through difficult moments. I know that our Father in Heaven loves each and every one of us and that his plan is that our families become and stay eternal. I love you all, and wish you the best!
Elder Braun
And here´s a random chocolate piezinho that a lady in the Ward made for us. Suddenly, I wasn´t aso now I don´t feel completely left out after hearing about thanksgiving last week :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Well, This Sucks

Dear Family,

Christmas is in only 24 days! I'll be using Google+ again so everyone (in my immediate family) can participate in the conversation, but I'll need my old password user name or someone else's to be able to get on and log in. I'll have my Skype available as plan B if I need to use it. The mission has taught me a ton that no matter what I plan, there should always be a backup in case an appointment falls through.

This week was full of pretty cool miracles and fun events. We had the chance to visit the stake that I spent most of my mission in, The Arsenal Stake! Because of the mission choir, we've been performing in a stake center every Saturday and Sunday until the end of the year. As we were in Arsenal, I was able to see many familiar faces from the Alcantara ward and the Marica Branch. I took many pictures and remembered some of the happiest and most difficult moments from my mission while I was serving there. These were easily my favorite two areas that I've passed and over half of my mission was spent in that stake. (9 transfers). I wouldn't mind if I spent my last few transfers over there.

One really cool miracle we had was finding two ladies and starting to teach them, named Joyce and Cyntia. They seemed relatively sad sitting in front of their house, so we resolved to talk to them about the restored Gospel and how much joy and happiness it brings into our lives. I bore my testimony of the healing power of Christ's atonement and they accepted us to r return another day to visit them and teach them more. Joyce was able to come to church yesterday and is preparing now to be baptized on the 12th. Cyntia couldn't come to church because of her work, but she promised to be there this next Sunday.

We had a wonderful and frightening experience as we were trying to contact a referral of an inactive member. We were in a relatively unsafe neighborhood and I quickly realized that as we were waking up a steep hill and saw a few men on motorcycles, all holding a pistols or some type of gun as we turned the corner at the top, a 12 year old kid at the middle of this hill was using a walkie talkie and started following us as we conned up the hill. We let these men know VERY CLEARLY that we were missionaries from the LDS church and that we were looking for a lady who lived close by. They gave us a bit more space, then started asking where we were from. I didn't want to respond, but luckily Elder Gonzales said he was from Bolivia and they started teasing him because of his strong Hispanic accent. They also asked him if there really is a lot of cocaine being grown up there. Hmmmm. But then they let us go and all was good.

So yeah. This Thursday an area seventy, Elder Aidukoitus will be visiting the Rio de Janeiro Mission, and we've got a pretty big and schnazzy conference with him. It should be a very cool and uplifting experience. I'm not sure if I already let you all know, but I sent a Christmas package a couple of weeks ago. I'm hoping it gets there soon.

I love you all so very much! Feliz Natal para todos!

Elder Braun