Monday, June 1, 2015

.....Última Carta

Hey guysss,

So I guess the time has come to write the last email of the mission. I´m not gonna lie, it´s super strange, sometimes it starts sinking in at random moments, but I don´t think I´ve completely felt it yet. I guess that´s a good thing that way I stay focused up until the last day. Thanks for sending the photos of everyone at the funeral to me. It gives me a chance to see how much everyone has changed, and dang have they changed a lot. I saw tons of babies and I´m not even sure whose is whose. Either way, I can´t wait to see everybody when I get home!

This week was really hard, but for really good reasons. Before I get there, we had a surprise emergency transfer last Friday. As we were finishing up our weekly planning, we got a call from the assistant saying that we had to go to the mission office as soon as possible, and that Elder Neuman and I would be in a triple companionship. They probably did this because I´ll be going to the mission office tomorrow night, where I´ll stay until I get my flight on Friday. So, that way our area doesn´t just stop until the end of the transfer, President sent Elder Weight, an American from New Jersey to serve with us, show him around the area a bit, and continue teaching our investigators. He´s a very cool guy, I´ve liked the pást couple days we have serving together, he´s very experienced as well (Goes home in July with Elder Neuman).

It was a very happy, and sad sunday for me yesterday. Well, more gratifying I guess. Having to say good bye to some of my converts, reactivated members, as well as other members was tough. Nothing makes me happier than hearing their gratitude for the work and sacrifice they saw us do. The Bishop invited me to bear my testimony one more time in the ward, and although I´ve never been one to cry, it was tough not to get a little emotional for having to leave this wonderful ward. Seeing people like Luciano, Rose and Rayane, our investigator Souza and many others cry as I left the church yesterday was really tender and spiritual for me. I´m so happy that technology makes communication between countries so much easier.

I´ve learned a lot about the importance of members and missionaries working together united to strengthen our Heavenly Father´s kingdom and bring souls to Christ. It´s not my work, it´s not even the mission´s work, it´s what the Lord expects of us as his followers. I hope that even after I finish my full-time mission, I can still continue to be a missionary no matter where I end up in life.

Let everyone back at home know that I love them so much and that I can´t wait to hug you all this Saturday!

One Last Time, Love,
Elder Braun

Monday, May 25, 2015

Edgars Baptism and the Power of the Book of Mormon

Dearest Family,

Well I have to say, the news that I received in mom´s letter was certainly not was I was expecting. I remember very clearly the last day I saw Grandpa when we left the family Reunion of 2013, giving him one last hug and not having certainty whatsoever if I´d have the chance to hug him again after I came home. I remember that it wasn´t until after saying goodbye to him that I started crying a bit as well, as I did just right now while reading the email mom sent. I´m so grateful that his exit was peaceful, calm, and with his loved ones around him singing his favorite songs. I can´t think of any better way for his passing to happen. I know he´s in a better place now, and that he´ll always be my grandpa. I´m also happy to know that Justin has grandpa´s sweet presence with him as we anxiously wait for the coming of our Savior here on Earth.

I´m also very happy to say that this week went VERY well for Elder Neuman and I. We had many miracles, both spiritual and physical. Edgar had the priveledge to be baptized, and his service was very special. His baptism is a perfect example of how important it is for us as members of the church to sacrifice a little so that others can enjoy the blessings of the restored gospel. Ever since Edgar´s adopted siblings Juliana, Geovanna, and Jean moved to our area almost two years ago, the bishop has given them a ride to church every sunday. Keep in mind that this family lives very far away, probably about 25 to 30 minuts from the bishops house by car, and another 20 minutes to the church building. By doing this weekly act of service, these kids have been able to be a better influence to their parents than their parents have been for them, and in doing so, has given Edgar the chance to come to church weekly for the past 3 months. I hope that I´ll have many opportunities like that after my mission to help others enjoy the many blessings of this church.

We had a very interesting, slightly freightening, but nonetheless interesting experience on saturday. As we were walking to the church at about 7 at night to get some materials for Edgar´s baptism, we we walking on the sidewalk of a busy, yet dimly lit street. As Elder Neuman and I were walking, two strange men walking in the opposite direction suddenly asked us to stop and not go any further. At first I kept walking a bit trying to ignore them, but when I noticed that both had a bag and each of the men had one of their hands in the bag they were holding, my nerves went up a bit, because they could have had a gun or knife. They told us to give them our cell phones, and I told them that we were missionaries and didn´t any cell phone to give them. One of them asked us where we were from, and Elder Neuman, way smarter than me, said "We´re from the church, we´re misionaries". When they saw the Book of Mormon that we were both holding in our hands, they looked at each other and decided to keep walking, as did we without looking back. What was awesome about this experience was the fact that these men completely gave up the moment they saw we were holding the Book of Mormon in our hands. I´m certain that if we hadn´t been holding it at that moment, they would have haggled (is that a word?) a bit more than they did.

We´ve been teaching Janaina and Ricardo´s family some more, as well as their 3 kids, and everyone but Ricardo came to church on Sunday! Because of their very different religious backgrounds, their progress might be a bit slower than most people, but Janaina and her kids seemed to like church, especially Nathan, their 10 year old son. He wants the primary songs on cd so that he can learn them.

Since this sunday is my last sunday on the mission, the Primary presidency asked me to prepare a sharing time lesson about baptism, confirmation, and my mission experience. I´m pretty happy to be able to teach the kiddos more about these important principles in my life, and to be able to teach while 3 of my converts are present makes it even more gratifying.

I love this gospel and love the peace it brings to me. Knowing that my family will be forever is a knowledge without price.

Elder Braun

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mission Counsel and Home Stretch

Hey Family,

It sure sounds like Bryan and Holly are taking over the primary in Dayton. Way to go! Last week on Mother´s Day, the Primary President in the Bento Ribeiro Ward asked me to play the piano for a special musical number that the primary kids sang. It was pretty cool, and I´m just been so grateful for the opportunities I´ve had on my mission to improve and magnify my talents playing the piano. I´m still not perfect, but I´ve loved being able to serve in that way. I´m usually playing in Sacrament meeting since the normal player has a stake calling and isin the ward maybe once a month.

Well, the time is flying by too fast, and The Lord truly is testing me with MANY opportunities to work these last few weeks. Elder Neuman and I have had many miracles and through planning and hard work and diligence, I´m hoping to end my last few weeks with many reactivations and baptisms. After over 5 years without coming to church, we were able to help out Suelane come back! I think I talked about her family a couple of weeks ago. This upcoming Sunday, we´re expecting her husband Marcio to be at church as well. I´ve learned to love that family a lot, and although they´ve been away from the fold for a while, I´m happy to play a part in helping their family return.

Last tuesday, we had mission counsel with all the zone leaders and district leaders in the mission. I had the oportunity to see some familiar faces, including Elder Evans, one of my past comps who´ll be coming home with me. The mission was able to have 108 baptisms in the month of April, the most in a long time, and since there´s 5 weeks in May, we´re working hard as an entire mission to teach more effectively, more boldly, and spiritually that way we can bring more souls to Christ.

We have been teaching Edgar and had been preparing him for Baptism last saturday, but his mom wanted to give him one more week that way she could invite other members of his family to be present. Edgar has been progressing really well, and we found out he has a sister, Alice, who has become interested in the church as well!

Also, we visited Souza a few times this week and he has become more and more humbled by the teachings in the book of mormon. He has a huge love for his wife who is very sick and going in and out of the hospital, but always feels comfort in reading the Book of Mormon and receiving Elder Neuman and I. We challenged him for baptism on the 23rd, this saturday, and he accepted. What´s great is that his birthday is on the 24th, and when we told him he´d receive the gift of the Holy Ghost on that day, he started to cry and was really emotional.

We´re also teaching a lady named Adriana who has been progressing really well. She was a reference from a less-active lady who since we´ve started teaching Adriana, is now coming back to church! Adriana came to church yesterday and loved it! She already considers herself a member of the church, and we´re preparing her for the 30th for baptism. We´re hoping it all works out!

So here I am, in the home stretch with less than 3 weeks to go and MAKING THE MOST OF IT! I love my mission, each and every minute of it, and I´m so happy of the person I´ve become. I love you all and wish you the best this week!

Elder Braun

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!


I loved being able to talk to everyone yesterday! I don´t have much more news to share since what I told you all yesterday, but here we go!

Elder Neuman and I are still teaching Edgar, a nine year old boy who has been coming to church and said he wanted to get baptized last week! His mom, who isn´t a member of the church, although has nothing against it, wants Edgar to prepare a little bit more before being baptized. We had originally marked for him to be baptized this saturday, but depending on his mom, we might have to reschedule.

Paulo has been progressing really well, too. Although he still hasn´t comitted to baptism, he has been supporting his wife, Lucimar, more and more as he has learned more about the church. Now, he´s always there with her, and is even attending Temple Prep, learning more about temples and eternal families. He had always been saying when we taught him that the Catholic church and Mormons were alike in many ways, and now he´s having the opportunity to see the differences which makes us more happy to see his interest increase.

Souza has also been pretty good. He loves Elder Neuman and I so much, since he has worked as the Brazillian consolate for the US, and he´s a fan of 'Merica. He has been reading the Book of Mormon a lot lately and has received an answer about it´s truthfulness. His wife has been having lots of health problems, though, but he hasn´t let his faith become weak.

The members in Bento Ribeiro have been showing lots of gratitude for the work we´ve been doing, and many have invited us over to have family home evening, and even inviting their non-member friends! It´s so wonderful when their desire to share the gospel grows by seeing our example, and them not having to be compelled to do what we ask them to do. It reminds me of Chapter 32 of Alma, and how we must be humbled to excercise our faith, rather than compelled or forced to. I just love the person I have become and hope that I can make these last few weeks count.

I love you all so much!!!!!! Thansk for the wonderful support I have received serving this people that I have learned to love so much. You are all my heroes, and I hope all of your wildest dreams come true.

Elder Braun

Monday, May 4, 2015

Última Transferência!

Hey Family!

Well, this week was stinkin awesome. We had tons of miracles and blessings, and to top it all off, Elder Neuman and I are staying together another transfer! That´s right, Elder Neuman and I will keep working in Bento Ribeiro together, and by the look of it, I´ll stay in Bento Ribeiro until the last day of the mission. I´m really happy about that because of the progress we´ve been having, and Elder Neuman and I seem to work really well together.
Mother's day is this week! And by the look of it, I´ll be using Google Plus again that way all those back at home can, in different locations, participate. I think I´ll try to call between 2 and 3 here in Brasil, which will be between 10 and 11 in Spokane, that way you can all make it to church afterwords. I have an hour to talk to yall, I´m still not really sure what to talk about since I´ll be home in about a month (electronic high-five).

This past week, We had some funny experiences we received a list of inactive members to visit in our area that the church found and asked for the missionaries to visit. One of them lived in a community that is called a "favela", maybe I´ve talked about them in the past. Usually they´re on the slopes of hills where a bunch of brick houses are built, and they´re protected by the drug lords. As we were walking up the street and steep slope, we saw a few guys holding guns, and another guy with a bag full of ammunition. They asked us if we were gringos, I told him that we were missionaries from the church going to visit a less-active man from our church... They let us pass, but boy was it weird continuing up the hill, knowing that there were men with guns behind my back.

Yesterday at church, I bore my testimony, since it was my last fast sunday in the mission. It was a very spiritual sacrament meeting for me, since the new ward mission leader (still not knowing if I´d still be serving in the ward with transfers the following day) thanked me during his testimony for the work that I´ve been doing in that ward. A young man and young woman in the ward also bore their testimonies and said that hearing mine about my mission and the difference it has made in my life made them truly decide to serve one as well. Also, a 9 year old boy named Edgar (who I didn´t know hasn´t been baptized) who has been coming to church every week said he wants to get baptized! There are 3 other members who the bishop brings to church every week since their parents aren´t members, and Edgar lives with them. Bishop has been bringing him every week for a while, and these next couple of weeks, we´re gonna teach him and get him ready for the 16th of May to be baptized.

I mean, It was cool, I was happy to be there. I´m happy, and I like being here.

I hope everyone has a good week! I´ll pray that you get better, mom. Just remember that I love you all a ton and can´t wait to talk to everybody this Sunday!

Elder Braun

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sheep Searching

Hey Guysz,

As always, it was another wonderful week for Elder Neuman and I! We´ve got one more week in this transfer to work together. Next week, we´ll have transfers again, and it´ll be my last one before I get transferred to Spokane.... whoaaa. I´d be surprised if Elder Neuman and I end up staying together, which makes me pretty sad because we get along super well, and we´ve been able to make a big difference in this ward that was having very little succes with respect to Missionary work before I got here.

Question: On one of those balloons you sent me (you know, the ones with the messages written on them), one said "A=L+SE". I know it´s been a while since I´ve done math, and it happens to be my favorite subject, but I couldn´t figure what it means! Help me out? Also, on a completely unrelated subject, I was wondering how much money I have in my checking account. If you could let me know by next week, that, too, would be fantastic!
GOOD NEWS! We have a new ward mission leader! I think the bishop was getting pretty overwelmed with all the responsibilities he had in the ward. Other than his duties as bishop, he took over as the young mens president and in charge of the ward missionary effort. He has definitely got to be the most dedicated bishop I´ve worked with in all the wards I´ve served in during my mission, but we´re happy with the new brother who has been called. He lives on the house on top of ours... literally! so having a meeting with him requires nothing more than us yelling "AIRTON!!!!". We´ve been given a list of 20 names from the area presidency of inactive members whose location had been lost, but now they´re found. Together, Elder Neuman and I with Airton, we´re sheep searching, bringing that one lost sheep to join us in our fold of 99. (Interesting how our attendance at church was 99).

The very first family I taught when I arrived in Bento Ribeiro was a slightly elderly couple, Roberto and Eulalia. After teaching them many times without them being able to come to church, we decided to leave them in our area book. A few weeks, months passed, and they stopped us in the street and wanted to know why it had been so long since we visited them. We were honest with them, and said we didn´t feel they were progressing any more, but they said they´d do better. Yesterday, with the help of a member, we were able to bring them to church! They also offered to make us lunch on our p-day today! We´re so happy that they didn´t give up on searching the truth, and we´re hoping that we can help them prepare for marriage, that way they can take the next step closer to a life headed towards salvation.

We also found another family this week that is SHOW. Their names are Suelane and Marcio, and they're inactive, together with their 3 daughters. All three of their daughters are married now, to men outside the church, and when we visited them they received us super well. We taught them about enduring to the end, and they felt sad for not having endured after their baptism. One of the daughters' husbands, Thiago, said that he had much desire to visit the church as well! Unfortunately, although we´re not sure why, they didn´t come yesterday, but we´ll definitely follow-up this week to see what happened. They seemed really happy when they said that they´re needing help painting their house and we offered to help them. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks, we´ll be painting their house!

I also gave a talk yesterday in Sacrament meeting about enduring to the end with respect to Missionary work. I used the example running a marathon. After trying and trying to do missionary work as a member, at times it feels as if we´ve hit a wall, and there´s nothing more we can do. Jeff, Bryan, and Mike can probably relate with this metaphorical "wall" you hit during a race. But nothing beats the pride and joy of crossing the finish line, knowing you surpassed that wall and kept on trying. The same will be for us on the day of our ressurrection. How great shall be our joy in heaven when we see the fruits of our missionary work and seed sowing, and constant perserverance in sharing the gospel with everyone, even though it feels like at times we´ve hit a wall.

I love you all so much! I hate how fast the time seems to be passing, and I´m doing my best to end my mission shining. I know that when we pray and fast with faith, Heavenly Father will bless us with opportunities to share our Lord´s Gospel with those who are being prepared in his hands to receive it.

Elder Braun

Monday, April 20, 2015

Vinte e Um

What´s up, Family,

Thank you so much everyone for the birthday messages this past week! I love you all, I love your support. Valerie mentioned to me that now that I´m 21, I can drink legally, but I couldn´t help but mention that in Brazil, the drinking age is 18, so I guess for about 21 months, I´ve already been legal :) Haha I loved the balloon messages that you sent in the last package as well. They have filled our house and made our home nice and colorful.

I have to say, having a birthday on the mission is always super strange. It feels just like any other day of work, but luckily, I have a pretty cool companion. Elder Neuman gave me a tie I had been eyeballing for weeks, and took over for me in the english class, which took a lot of weight off my shoulder. He´s such a good guy, he really tries to do whatever possible to make me have a good day and be less stressed out with some of the responsibilities I have as a leader. On my birthday, we had a family night at Rose and Rayane´s house, we shared a cool message with them about the Gospel, they made me fried fish and a cake as well. It was way cool, and another family in the ward also made me cake and dinner yesterday, and gave us an awesome referral of a friend who wants to find out more about the church! Now that´s a good present every missionary loves to receive!

I had a division with an old companion of mine this week, Elder Heidenreich. It was pretty cool talking about Maricá with him while working together in Bento Ribeiro. We had a few good lessons, and it was cool to take a fly down memory lane.

This week, we weren´t able to get all the miracles we were hoping for. It looks like the investigators we were preparing for baptism will need some more preparation and faith, but we´re earnestly praying that we may continue helping them all become closer to Christ and that we may be instruments in the Lord´s hands to help them all. I guess every week can´t go exactly how you plan like last week was for us.

However, we were able to visit, after a while being able to, Souza, an elderly man/artist who used to live in the United States who LOVES US. I think he might be more interested in our visits because of the fact that we´re from the United States, but he has become more and more receptive as time has passed. Yesterday, he was able to attend church with us, and it turns out there´s a member of the ward that he knows! Souza has a wife who is passing through many health problems, and he loves her so much. It´s absolutely precious how much he loves her, even after over 50 years being married. When we told him that God´s plan was that family could be eternal, his heart really opened up and he started to cry. It was a spiritual confirmation for me of the truthfulness of the Restoration of this great Gospel. I can´t imagine a loving Heavenly Father who wouldn´t want our familes to be together forever.

Did you know that I love this work? Well, I do. I´m gonna make these next 6 weeks count, and I´m loving the man I´m becoming. Mother´s day next month! Invite yo kids, invite yo grandkids, cuz I be hanging out wit erybody in da famly. I love you all so much!

Elder Braun 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rayane and Tiago's Baptism

Well hey there,

I have to be embarassingly honest with everyone: I kindof forgot that it´s my birthday this week :) But, luckily, to help me remember, I loved the many birthday emails that many of you sent to me this week! I would love to be able to write you all back, Holly, Valerie, Natalie, but I just don´t have enough time and my fingers can only type so fast. Just know that Elder Braun sends his gratitude. Also, I received the Easter/Birthday box from Mom last Thursday, and because I couldn´t wait, I opened it all! Haha I loved the package, loved it so much, mmhmm. Especially the tie that was in it. My comp, Elder Neuman has the exact same tie #twinners. And the easter candy was splendid as well. Easter traditions in Brazil aren´t a whole lot different from in the states. Unlike back at home, there´s no easter egg hunt for the kids here, but the easter bunny leaves a giant chocolate egg. Usually it´s like a kinder egg or something with a toy inside. It´s fun to hear what the kiddos here told us the easter bunny left them.

Hey, so I realized that I´m gonna be home in less than 2 months now (holy heck what?), and some things to remind you, Mom, that I´ll need to get taken care of is a trip to the DOL to get my license renewed as well as a visit with the eye doctor since I´m down to my last pairs of contacts. 

So yeah, like the title of the email says, Rayane and Tiago were baptized on Saturday! It was such a special baptismal meeting. I´m so grateful to my Father in Heaven for the inspiration we had to visit Tiagos parents, Manoel and Maria, and challenge them to return back into full activity in the church. We´re so happy to see them at church every week, and for being able to help their son Tiago become a member of this great church.

Also, Rayane and her Grandma, Rose, have been such wonderful miracles for us ever since we found them in our Area book shortly after I arrived here. I must be honest, leaving Maricá after only 2 and a half weeks back there to come to this area made me super dissapointed and discouraged, but This family were some of the first people we taught that started to progress, and to see them all as wonderfully progressing members makes me super grateful for the success that my Father in Heaven has blessed me with here. Rayane said she wants to be a missionary like us when she turns 19 in 2 and a half years, and she´s set a goal with Rose to read the entire Book of Mormon before the end of the year. They´ve been giving us many references of people to teach who have been showing interest in the church, and who they have brought to church by themselves. 

Elder Neuman and I had an incredibly special experience with another family who we´ve recently started working with. Lucimar is a member of the church who recently married a man named Paulo, who has been devoutly Catholic his whole life. Ever since their wedding 4 weeks ago, he´s been with her at church every week, but hasn´t showed much desire to leave the Catholic church and be baptized. Last Monday, Elder Neuman and I were heading to visit an investigators house, and we happened to pass in front of Paulo and Lucimar´s house. I didn´t know why, but I felt the impression to briefly visit them, even though we hadn´t planned to do so. When we walked in, we asked to say a prayer, and afterwards, Lucimar started to cry and told us about how she has been having many leg pains and been needing a health blessing for a few days. We offered her a blessing and let her know that the spirit sent us to help her at that time of need, and in Gospel Principles yesterday, we learned about the Priesthood and how great it is to have a worthy priesthood holder in our families to be able to bless us when we need it. She shared with the class this experience we had, and Paulo showed a great desire to receive the preisthood that way he can exercise it when his family needs. This week, we´re hoping to bring him closer towards following Christ´s example through baptism.

I´m really grateful for all of your prayers from back at home. I can feel them motivating me to be more diligent and more obedient that way I can truly finish my mission shining and with honor. I love you all so much, and can´t wait to see you all soon!

Elder Braun

Me, Bishop Bira, Rayane, and Elder Neuman

Manoel and Maria´s family for Tiago´s Baptism

The supportive members of the Bento Ribeiro ward

Monday, April 6, 2015

Resfriado for Conference!

Hey Guys!

First off, no Mom, I haven´t received any birthday/Easter package yet. I did, however, receive a birthday card from Grandma Pannone this week. I loved it! and I´m super excited to have her home for the short time that I´ll be with the family.

I love Conference! I was lucky enough to have been able to attend all sessions of conference (including a re-broadcast of Priesthood 8:00 sunday morning at the chapel), and I was truly touched by the presence of the Holy Ghost during this conference. I loved both talks by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, M. Russell Ballard, and without a doubt, Jeffery R. Hollands talk on the Ressurection and Atonement of Jesus Christ. I can´t wait to study these talks in the future and aplly them these last two months of my mission that way I can continue strengthening my testimony of Christ. I was able to watch the sessions in English as well. Usually, all the american elders/sisters in the same zone watch the english transmission together. Since Elder Neuman and I are the only americans in our zone, it was just us two watching, but we had the presence of other Brazillians who understand and wanted to watch in English with us.

Unfortunately, I´ve been attacked with a nasty cold for over 4 weeks now, with a nasty cough. Last tuesday, while at luch at a member´s house, I was having breathing problems after a sort of "cough-attack", and with Sister Cabral´s permission, I ended up going to a doctor´s office to see if it´s anything serious like pnemonia. I took x-rays and he said there was nothing serious, but that it must just be allergies with the change in temperature and season. They gave me some medicine, which has kept the cold symptoms controlled, but still not non-existent.

In our English class, Elder Neuman and I decided we´d teach our students how to pray in English, something a little more spiritual than we had been accostumed to do in our english class, but DANG it was way better than we expected. At the beginning and end of each class, elder Neuman and I pray in english to start and end class. We wanted to give them a chance to do so as well. It gave us a chance to teach both English, and the principle that we have a loving Father in Heaven who has invited us to pray when we would like to thank him or ask for help or guidance. They seemed to love it, and we invited them all to attend conference later that day in the chapel. Everyone but one student ended up coming to conference! (Keep in mind that all but Luciano, the young man who was baptized last week, aren´t members of the church). English classes WORK!! Preaching the gospel through service brings miracles.

Rayane is still progressing very well! She has plans to stop working at Mcdonalds next friday, and with Saturday night and all of Sunday free, we´re preparing her for baptism this saturday, the 11th! Rose is super happy with the decidion Rayane has made to become a member of the church, and we´re always thanking ur Father in Heaven for having found them in the Area Book a couple of months ago.

Shortly after we arrived in Bento Ribeiro, I asked bishop for less-active families that we could visit and help. He gave us an address of a family who had recently moved from Brasilia and still hadn´t been coming to church. We visited Manoel, Maria, and their 4 kids, and since that visit in February, they´ve been to church every week, and we´re helping their son Tiago prepare for baptism this saturday!

I´ve lost track of time, and I truly feel myself "getting lost in the work" with all the planning and teaching we´ve been doing recently. Hopefully, I´ll be able to have this same satisfaction I´m been having up until the last day of my mission. I love you all back at home, I can feel your prayers blessing me while Serving our ressurected Savior and preaching his gospel to all people.

Elder Braun

Monday, March 30, 2015

Baptisms From the English Class!

Hey Family,

I´m super happy to hear that Grandma and Grandpa will be living Utah once I´m back at Provo. Hopefuly, I´ll be able to frequetly visit them and let them know how important they are to me and that I love them very much. Jeff sent me his usual 3-month update on his life, that I receive every two transfers. It´s so odd to think that the one I received today was the last one for my mission from him. The time just keeps flying by. I only have about 2 months left, but I´m not letting that slow me down!

This week was WONDERFUL for Elder Neuman and I. We met some great people to start teaching, and other to help prepare for baptism. Let´s talk about Luciano... He was baptized on saturday! We got a little stressed out when the bishop in the ward said that there would be a young womens activity the same night that might conflict with the baptism, but in the end, we ended up sort of combining the two, so that all the young women could attend the baptism. I think Luciano was okay with that :) His sister and Mom were able to attend the baptism, as well as his friend. We´ve already started teaching them all, and all but his mom has been able to attend sacrament meeting because she works on sundays. We´re excited to help their entire family learn more, and our hopes and desires are that their entire family can accept our message of our savior´s restored gospel.

The 25th was Elder Neumans birthday, so we had a family night at Rose´s house, the lady who was baptized a month ago. She brought MANY friends and neighbors and family members (at least 10 non-members), and we gave a breif message about the atonement. They seemed to really enjoy it, and everyone (who hadn´t already had a chance) accepted to learn more about our message another day! It was a great birthday present from the Lord. Rose brought her brother Rosivaldo to church, and he really really liked it. We´re hoping to mark a date for him to prepare for baptism in the upcoming future. Rayane has been progressing alot too, and said she´ll be able to attend conference with us. She has made a decision to stop working at mcdonalds a little early and her last day will be on... the 18th of April! Wow, another great birthday present, right? So, since she´ll also have a sunday off on the 12th, she´s accepted to prepare for baptism on the 11th. We´re so happy to see so many people that we´ve met desire to follow Christ´s example, entering in baptismal waters that way they may be purified of their sins by one holding God´s Authority. 

This ward had only 4 baptisms for all of 2014, and we´re really happy for being able to acelerate the missionary workforce here in Bento Ribeiro. I love the person I´m becoming and for all of the wonderful opportunities I´ve had to gain a stronger testimony of our Savior´s atoning sacrifice. Take a look at the new video the church has made for Easter called "Because he Lives"; It´s a great opportunity to share the gospel and help other have an opportunity to receive the missionaries message! I love you all!

Elder Braun

Monday, March 23, 2015

Penúltima Transferência

Hey Family!

Guess what!?!? We Had transfers today! And I´ll be staying with Elder Neuman in Bento Ribeiro for at least one more transfer. After this transfer, I´ll have one more before I´m scheduled to finish up the mission. I know. Crazy Sauce to the max. I´m happy to hear that the mission prep class is growing now that there are more teenagers in the stake getting mission calls. I have two pieces of advice that I feel would give any young man or woman a good head start for their mission before putting on the nametag. There are many things you can do to better prepare yourself for the mission, but my top two would be:

1) Read the entire Book of Mormon and receive a personal testimony of its truthfulness
-I´m really happy I took seminary and Book of Mormon at college to atain a small and simple testimony before the mission, that way it could grow a bit more while serving, but there are many young men that I know and have served with that simply didn´t do that before starting to serve. It impeded their progress, slows them down while they´re in the field, and it could have been easily avoided if they had just payed attention in sunday school and done personal scripture study while at home. We can´t convert people beyond our own level of conversion, and certainly, our testimony will have more power when we can share with our investigators/contacts how we personally came to know of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon

2) Take an opportunity to go on splits or visits with the missionaries in your ward/stake
-This one, on the other hand, I didn´t take enough advantage of before the mission. I remember leaving maybe two times with the elders back at home, and because I hadn´t done that more, I was surprised at how different missionary work from what I imagined. Young men and women who ocassional do visits with the missionaries will start to pick up on teaching strategies/scriptures/questions that will better prepare them for the field. I trained a brazillian Elder who frequently before entering the MTC left with the elders in his homeward. Because of that experience and his preparation, I liked to tell other missionaries and members that I wasn´t training Elder Inácio, but that he arrived pre-trained. 

There´s many more things I can say as well about Preach my Gospel, learning how to study, language stuff, but I´d say those two are key to showing up on the mission ready to teach and testify.

Elder Neuman and I are doing super well in Bento Ribeiro. We´re excited for our special sacrament meeting this sunday. Things are going great with Luciano, we were able to get permission from President to teach him and prepare him for baptism this Saturday! He´s the guy from our English class, and he´s been bringing his friend, Ana Luisa, who has also become super interested in the church. Ana Luisa speaks English, like, fluently and we´ll start teaching her this week. Unfortunately, she has the same problem that Rayane has, where she works every sunday except for one each month.

Speaking of Rayane, she said she´s still looking for another job, but won´t leave McDonalds until the 25th of April. Luckily, I´ll still be here by then, so hopefully we´ll be able to have her baptism next month. She´s doing well, we´ve been visiting her and Rose once or twice weekly, especially in preparation for General Conference. OHGOSH #ldsconf #ILoveConf #likesomuch

I also had a family night with a family who I met in Maricá. Their names are Altamiro and Claudia, and they have a beach house in Ponta Negra, a town close to MAricá. They´re members of the church, but have been les active for a few years. When I was with Elder Inácio, we were visiting them a bit, but they said they were staying more time at their house in... Bento Ribeiro! I remembered them and we visited them and invited them to the 'Sunday that no one can miss'! They loved our message, gave us some hamburgers (...what? True Story). and they said they´ll be at church this sunday!

So yeah. Another great week, and I´m looking forward to what this transfer has instore for Elder Neuman and I. We have some good potential progressing investigators along with those who we´re focusing on right now. Sorry that I still can´t send photos to yall, I think you´ll just have to wait until Mother´s Day to see my sun-burned-yet-still-incredibly-handsome face.

Love you all!
Elder Braun

Monday, March 16, 2015

Another Great Week in BR (Brazil, Bento Ribeiro, etc)

Hey Family!

That buddy system video that Natalie sent me this week was incredible... Magnificent, even. Too bad this lame Internet Cafe doesn´t have a way to download and save on my sd card. Then I´d be able to watch that video on my camera whenever I want to. I was talking to my comp about what classes I ought to take during summer term, and those were the ones that I could come up with that were available. So a couple weeks ago, I signed up for econ, bowling, and new testament. I think I could sign up for at least one more, but I´ll probably wait until I get home to take care of that.

Elder Neuman and I have been having some cool miracles and progress here in Bento Ribeiro. We had our biggest attendance in Sacrament meeting yesterday since we arrived here: 86! We´re working alongside with the bishop, planning a special sacrament meeting on the 29th called "O Domingo que Ninguem Pode Faltar" or in english " The sunday that noone can miss". We were able to schedule one of the counselors from the mission to prepare a talk, as well as special musical numbers and talks. We´re inviting all members, less-actives, and investigators to participate, and we´re hoping that we´ll bring many members back to church through this activity.

We´ve also started having a weekly Ward Family Home Evening activity every thusday night at the church. A lot of members were very hesitent or doubtful, and said that noone would go, but the three times that we´ve done it, we´ve had at least 25 people each time. It´s a simple activity where both members and non-members can bring their families to have a family night at the church building. Usually one family is in charge each time and prepares a lesson, game (Although us missionaries have planned this each time), and a snack/dessert. This week, we´re gonna set up volleyball for the activity afterwords. We´re liking the results that we´re getting, and we´re getting some good referalls from members too.

After Bruna was baptized last week, her family has been way more excited to do missionary work. Her Cousin, Priscila, was married about 3 weeks ago and we´re teaching her husband, Eric. He´s from an African country called Togo and his native language is french, so we got him a french Book of Mormon! He loved it, and now he´s progressing well.

We were able to reactivate a great family this week as well. Their names are Maria Lourdes and Oriovaldo. It´s been over a year since they´ve been to church, and after visiting them along with their home teachers, them and their 3 grandkids were back to renew their baptismal covenents again!

I love you all so much. I love this city. I love the ward that I´m serving in, and most of all, I love my Savior.

Elder Braun

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bruna's Baptism

Here´s a picture from the baptism! From left to right, back row: Elder Neuman, Bishop Ubiratan (He baptized Bruna), Bruna, Priscila (her cousin), Thiago (her cousin), Erica (Thiago´s girlfriend), Me. Back Row: Adriana (Bruna´s Mom), and Aparecida (Bruna´s Aunt).

Hey Family!

Let me just say, hearing the news about Grandma Pannone visiting made my week. I´m so happy to get to get to see here once I´m home. Parabéns Jeff for the great marathon time, all on your birthday, too. I´m hoping I can get at least one marathon in after a year bring home. Jeff´s a great motivation for me to not get fat and gain all the weight I´ve lost here in Brazil.

Elder Neuman and I have seen a lot of miracles happen in Bento Ribeiro since we arrived here. What used to be known as one of the "buracos da missão" (mission holes) has started to progress really well. Members seem more and more willing to give us referrals, visit less-actives with us, and support our efforts to seek souls to bring unto Christ. The attendance has gone up quite a bit, and we´re getting on a good rhythm to be able to baptize weekly in this ward. 

Last Saturday, Bruna was baptized, and it was a super, super special day. Remember how I said her mom has been i drug recovery for some time now? Well, Bruna´s aunt surprised her and arranged for Bruna´s mom to show up shortly before the service happened. It was a very special day for both of them, and with this wonderful event happening in their family, Bruna´s cousin, Priscila, has come back to church and we´re teaching her husband, Eric. Eric is from an African country called Togo, and he´s got just the most delightful accent when he talks. Since he doesn´t speak Portuguese super well, we maaged a french copy of the Book of Mormon to give to him. He´s already been to church 2 times, and he seems to really enjoy what he´s learned about our Lord´s Gospel being restored again.

Rayane is still trying her best to find a new job that doesn´t require her to work on Sundays. If you could include her in your prayers back at home, that´d be splendid. Their dog died this past week, and she was pretty down and blue because of it.

There´s a family the I met when I was serving in Maricá named Altamiro and Claudia. They bought a beach house in Maricá last year and went to church a few times, but it turns out they live in where?.... Bento Ribeiro! I had a family home evening at their house once st their house in Maricá, and now we´re helping them come back to church here in Bento Ribeiro.

I´m loving this work so much. Although it has it´s fair share of stress and responsibilities, I´m so grateful for the plethora of blessings I´m receiving while serving this great people in Rio.

Elder Braun

Monday, March 2, 2015

Area Book = Baptisms!

Me, Rayane, Rose, Luciane, Ruan, and Elder Neuman at Rose´s Baptism

Hey Family and Friends and Other people who happen to be reading this,

Thanks so much mom for the application work for the scholorship and BYU admission. Any news on whether I was accepted at BYU for Summer term? I would assume yes if you were able to plan housing during summer. I´ll try not to worry about it too much, it sounds you´ve got everything in perfect shape.Tell Jeff good luck for me in the Marathon in Louisiana!

Elder Neuman and I are so happy to share some great news and miracles we´ve been having recently. The Lord has truly blessed us in Bento Ribeiro, and even though our progress was a bit slow when we first arrived here, we´re starting to see fruits from our work, planning, studying, and prayers. Last saturday, Rose was baptized! It wasabout 5 weeks ago that we found her name in our area book and decided to go back to see if she´d like to receive the missionaries again. She said that her and her granddaughter were learning a lot and loved having the Elders over, but all of the sudden, they stopped coming. When we arrived, she was happen lots of back pains, problems sleeping,and slight depression, but as she read the Book of Mormon with her granddaughter, Rayane, she started feeling that what she was reading really contained the Word of God, and as she started attending church and keeping the commandments, all of those problems started dissapearing. She had a wonderful baptism and Confirmation, and we´re excited for Rayane´s baptism in the soon to come future (she hasn´t been able to go to church much because she works every day at Mcdonalds in Copacabana and only has one sunday off per month). I will not leave this area until we´re able to help her get a new job or get sundays off so that she can be baptized while I´m here.

With Rose´s baptism, we were also able to meet her daughter and grandson (Luciane and Ruan) who also loved the baptismal service and are willing to learn more. They don´t live in our area, so we passed their reference to other missionaries. We´re expecting many fruits from our work with Rose and her family.

After church was over we had a rather SPLENDID surprise. An 11 year old girl named Bruna who we´ve taught a few times already decided, after receiving our invite many times, that she wants to become a member of the church! She accepted our challenge to prepare for thissaturday, the 7th, to be baptized. Bruna´s mom has been sheltered because of her addiction with drugs, and lives with her aunt, who´s a member of the Primary Presidency in Bento Ribeiro. I see this girl as a future sister missionary, and now that she has accepted our invite to follow Jesus´ example, she can become closer to that happening. WOOHOO

Our English class is still going wonderfully as well. The three teenagers who came to church last week came again yesterday, so now we know that instead of just being curious about the church, they are actually interested in learning about it. I really REALLY wanted to be able to teach them, since they live closer to the church than any other investigator that we have, but since they BARELY live in Abolição (Whose chapel is mother stinckin far away), we passed their address to the missionaries in that area. We had a lesson about food and how to describe food and how to order food items at a restaurant in english. They seemed to really like it, and hopefully, we´ll continue having new people in our class each week with more students becoming interested in investigating the churc has well.

So yeah. This was a wonderful week for us. So great, that Elder Neuman and I decided to walk a lot more on our P-day to find a different internet cafe that way we could send photos from our week to yáll. I love this Gospel, I love the blessings that our Father in Heaven has been giving us these past few weeks, and I know that in all of my mission, now is my time to shine and work the most. 

Elder Braun
"Atençao, Homens Trabalhando"
Another picture in front of the chapel

Monday, February 23, 2015

5K Races and Rescuing Activity

Hey Guyzzzz,

We had a spectacular week of lots of work and many gratifying results. I had my ecclesiastical endorsement interview with Pres. Cabral today in the afternoon, so that should be all settled now. Let Marlon know that I´m super excited to be able to skype Marlon after the mission! He´ll probably help me out as well with my english since it´s becoming rubbish. I mean, right now, I just used an english word from the UK to describe how bad it is. Pathetic.

Valerie sent some awesome tips to help my English class this week. Most of our students are relatively advanced since most schools in Brazil teach English starting out young. On Saturday, we had a class about how to ask a question to someone and how to organize our questions. We then did an activity where everyone was given a partner and they had to interview them (in English) to get to know them, then, everyone presented their partner to the rest of the class (again, in English). Everyone seemed to like it, we had one new student participate, and three of the students even accepted an invite to come to church yesterday! They seemed to really enjoy their visit, too! Unfortunately, they live in the other stake´s boundaries, but at least we´ll be able to send the referral to the other elders. It´s even an area that I´ve already served in (Abolição). I´m thinking about maybe getting a few english copies of book of mormons for them to study in between classes. We´ll see.

Sunday morning, as Elder Neuman and I were picking up investigators to bring to church, we were walking through the city center of Madureira on our way to the chapel, and as we werepassing through there, a 5k race was going on in the streets. I unfortunately didn´t have my camera to take some pictures, but boy did it make me miss being able to participate. I may not be up for that marathon race my first weekend at home, but if there´s a 5k somewhere closeby, I´d be so happy if I could sign up. Dang I miss running.

Saturday, we had an amazing rescue activity in Bento Ribeiro, where 6 missionary companionships from the stake (including us) came to our ward to visit as many less actives as possible. Our objective was to 1st, confirm that all of the listed members still live where our members roster says, 2nd, Help the less actives return in church activity, and, 3rd, talk with their neighbors to invite them to receive the missionaries and attend church meetings. We had wonderful results with many less active members coming back to church, and our sunday attendance was 84 as opposed to 52 that we had the week before. Not too, shabby, and now Elder Neuman and I have tons of people to follow up on and help to stay active.

We´re also still having great progress with our investigators Rose and Rayane, who were both able to be at church yesterday. We´re expecting to have Rose´s baptism this saturday, and Rayane just has problems with working on sunday before she can be baptized, since she only has one sunday of every month. We had a powerful lesson about sanctifying the sabbath day, and she said she would act in faith, asking to have all sundays off from her boss, and if they don´t let her, she´d try to find another job. Faith brings blessings, people. Faith brings MIRACLES!

So we´re happy, thirsty and hungry to work, and expecting many great miracles in Bento Ribeiro these next couple of weeks. I love you all, I love the Lord whom I serve, and seek to serve him with all my heart, might, mind,and strength every day!

Elder Braun

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's Carnaval!

Well hi there, beautiful people,

Well, I forgot to mention last week, but Carnival started last Friday here in Rio. And what does that mean? People are given a free pass to do tons of crazy stuff they´d totally never do. Also, like everything is closed and no one is working, so lots of people are traveling and not home. What does that mean for us? It means that we´re depending on lots of prayer to stay safe and successful. Since we´re a lot closer to Rio than other areas I´ve served in, where there´s some of the biggest Samba Schools (The clubs that provide the, um.... entertainment for carnival), we´ve been advised to return home by 6. I know some areas where the elders/sisters can only leave to have lunch, then they have to go straight back home, and they follow this routine until Carnival is over. Lame.

But we won´t let SATAN get into our way to have some success in Bento Ribeiro! This week, we´ve been teaching Rose and Raiane some more. They´ve been progressing really well! We just have to try and help them have the faith to be willing to follow Christ, being baptized and willing to endure to the end.

We also found a wonderful family this week named Moises and Jane who we found in our area book. We asked the member who had been fellowshipping them what their situation was. He said the missionarys in the past were transferred and the new ones who replaced them never continued teaching this family. So, we visited them and they were more than willing to continue learning more. As we bore our testimony yesterday to them about how our families can be eternal, they became emotional and even accepted to prepare for baptism on the 7th of March. Interesting how their son, a recent convert, has his birthday on the same day :)

Because of Carnival and many members traveling, we had three wards combine to have the same sacrament meeting in the same chapel. Funny how all three pianists from the three wards are traveling, so they had me play in sacrament meeting. I can´t believe how many times Heavenly Father has given me the opportunity to use the talent I gained throughout my youth during my mission. I´m so grateful that I was able to learn to play the piano, for it has truly been a blessing for many wards (I think this is the 3rd on my mission) that I´ve served in.

Since we had transfers last week, and the American Elder who was leading our free English course was transferred, I´ve taken responsibility as the main tutor now. It´s kind of frieghtening since we don´t have an actual organized curriculum, but I´m loving the opportunity to serve some more in many different ways. If anyone back at home has ideas to teach english as a second language in a fun way, let me know! Thanks!

I love you all so much! I feel like the time is flying by so much, it´s not even giving me a chance to breathe. I´m working hard and trying my best to not waste time, for I know that now is the time for me to shine as I seek to finish strong. 

I love the Lord who I serve with all my heart.
Elder Braun

Monday, February 9, 2015

Transfers...and a Day in the Hospital

Hey there, YALL (my Texan companion taught me that word),

WELL, I´m happy to hear that Elder Squi... I mean Dallin is back at home doing great. Is he planning on heading to BYU anytime soon or will he stay at home for now? As far as the scholorship info goes, I got the letters this week with the applications. I think what I´ll do for the Foresters scholorship is write an essay, try and write down the information necessary and send an email next week with that stuff. If you could remind me in your next letter, that would be great. The Byu Management schlorship said that it´s only applicable for missionaries who return between 3/15/2014 and 3/15/2015, so I may be wrong, but it looks like I´ll have to wait until next year to be able to receive, am I right?

So yeah. I´m happy to hear that the family´s doing great. Happy Birthday, Bryan! 28 spankings for him. The day before his birthday (last friday), my comp and I woke up with really bad stomach aches. We tried muscleing through weekly planning despite the uneasiness, andddddd, we ended up blowing chunks (like a minute between eachother). Unfortunately, we didn´t feel better, and Sister Cabral reccommended that we go to the hospital to make sure it wasn´t an intestinal infection. What a great bus ride that was...  LUCKILY, it wasn´t a serious infection, it was just a case of food poisoning. The night before, we ate some crepe-like-things with ground beef and salad. I guess it was "fishy".
Elder Neuman had a bit more serious case, but the day after, Saturday, we were able to work kind of normally, despite still being weary and tired and weak. Yesterday, we were back up to 100% and we´re good to go strong this transfer becauseeeeeee.... We´re staying together through transfers! Elder Neuman and I will stay together in Bento Ribeiro this transfer!

That makes me pretty happy because we´ve been having some good success, especially with less-actives. One lady, Isabela, recently came back to church and is preparing to go to the temple. As we´ve been helping her, we were also able to bring two of her neices back to church (Maria Eduarda and Victória), and with all of them coming back to church, we´ve received some good referalls of people to teach. Isabela has already taught a coworker named Rosineide practically all of the Preach my Gospel messages, and tonight we´ll have a family home evening. Hopefully we can get Rosineide to commit to come to church this week and prepare to live the commandments of God! Yeah! #thegospelrules

We´ve also been teaching a member´s neighbor who missionaries had taught a year ago, but stopped visiting her all of the sudden. Her name is Rose, and after her visit at church last week, she became a ton interested in learning, and even commited to prepare for baptism. One thing that worries us is that she left her old church because she felt she wasn´t ready when her pastor baptized her. We´re hoping that now that she´ll be taught the full and true gospel, that she´ll be able to recognize the importance of baptism by God´s authority and enduring to the end regardless of the difficultie we pass through. Pray for me that everything works out!

I love you all, I´m ready to shine these last 4 months, and I thank my Father in Heaven every day for blessing me with this time to serve him and preach our Saviors gospel.

Elder Braun

Monday, February 2, 2015

New York in Bento Rebeiro

Hey Family!

So yeah, another great, but tough week, for us in Bento Ribeiro. We had some awesome miracles that I´m excited to share with everyone. Here we go!

First off, sorry about the Foresters scholarship  info. I completely forgot about that, so I´ll try to get that done asap and send that home soon. Be sure to let Dallin know that he´s awesome. Give him a big handshake for me.

We had a really cool experience last sunday (before yesterday) where a less active lady invited us to a family home evening and invited some friends. We met a really cool family who accepted our message very well, and even offered to buy us new shoes! So when we had lunch at this same members house on saturday, this same family bought us new shoes! Their names area Edgar and Cristina. We had lunch with them, taught them a bout the plan of salvation and we also invited them to read the Book of Mormon. Our Mission President and the assistants have been telling us that we shouldn't be afraid to invite those we teach for baptism, and that we should never wait until after the second lesson. So, remembering that counsel, we invited them, and unfortunately, they didn´t seem to take the invitation very well. They asked why they´d have to be baptized again in our church, and we explained authority of God, but long story short, they said they will probably stay in their church and that they don´t have time to visit ours... It was a really tough experience because I was really learning how to love this family, so much that I wanted them to receive the same joy that this restored gospel has brought to me in my life. Unfortunately, it may have not been the right time for them, and I´m hoping they at least follow our invite and read the Book of Mormon, following James´counsel and asking God and not Man of it´s true.

As I was doing a division with our zone leader, another american missionary, we saw a house with a big ól M'erica flag in front. So naturally, we knocked that door and an elderly man with a big ball cap that said U$A answered the door. His name was Souza, and he used to live in the states for 3 years, fell in love with the red white and blue, and took us into his house to show us an exhibit he made of NEW YORK CITY. With the twin towers and everything. Man I wish I could send photos from this computer, because it was super cool. We shared with Souza a quick message about the restoration, and he said he´d attend our english class and church yesterday. He didn´t go, so we´ll have to follow up and find out why...

We also had a cool integration night, or a ward family home evening, and we were able to bring one of our investigators, Mateus, a 19 year old who stopped us on the street, saying he wanted to get to know our church. He seemed to like the activity.

We´ve been working a lot, there´s tons of planning on our part to make sure all of our progressing investigators continue investigating, and with the big area we have, it´s a lot of stress for us. I love you all at home, and if you could include me in your prayers, I´d be that happiest Elder in the World!

Elder Braun

Monday, January 26, 2015

Activity in "White Water"

Hey Family!

Thanks so much for the college information, Mom. I sent a copy of the ecclesiastical information to Pres. Cabral so that in my next interview with him (which might be this week) he can take care of that. Living at the Elms sounds fantastic. As for right now, I don´t have any roommate preference, since I have no idea who will be there during summer term, so you can stick me with whoever´s there.

What a shame to hear the news anout the Stinky Sneaker. I´m rather convinced that because the judges chose CV almost every year while I was there, they´re feeling pity for U-High now and letting them win now.

I´m really sorry again that I´m not able to send pictures from this computer in this internet cafe. Feel good knowing that I haven´t stopped taking pictures of my wondeful experiences in Rio. I´m glad you´re enjoying the conversations with Marlon, too, as well as Juliana! Elder Falkner called me last night and said that his companion (The one whose place I took in Bento Ribeiro) ended up going home, and that at least until the end of this transfer, Elder Falkner is serving in a different area. Poor guy. 3 different companions in one transfer, and it´s only been 4 weeks. So Maricá only has one companionship for now. I hope everything is going fine there for the mean time.

As for me and Elder Neuman in Bento Ribeiro, we´ve been working REALLY hard, and what has been bugging me is that we haven´t exactly gotten the results that I feel we deserve, BUT, I won´t let that discourage me. We´ve been getting to know the members, and especially, the less-actives this week that way we can get to know a bit more about the history of this ward and how to help them get back to having a higher attendance. We were able to have one lady come back to church after 10 years being inactive, named Ellen. She´s way cool, and she has an 11 year old daughter, Julia, that we´re hoping to get to know the church as well that way they can both be active and strong in the gospel and prepare Julia for Baptism in the near future.

We had an activity with the other elders and sisters in our zone in the Agua Branca ward (White Water). That happens to be the ward where one of my former comps is serving... Elder Inácio! It was way cool to see him again, he was an excellent missionary, and we learned so much together (I mean, you don´t really have a choice when you´re with the same comp for over 4 MONTHS). Anyway, we helped the bishopric visit about ALL of the less actives in the ward and we talked with everyone in the street on Saturday and helped the missionaries there find more people to teach. Elder Neuman and I went to one house where everyone had been drinking, but we still taught them about the restoration, they accepted to have the other elders come back another day, and they made us smoothies.

We spent a lot of time in our area trying to find new people to teach, knocking doors, asking referrals from everyone, and overall talking with everyone we run into. We, unfortunately, weren´t able to have anyone come to church this week, but we had some investigators promise to come next Sunday. Pray for me that everything works out for us! I love you all and I love the Lord who I serve!

Elder Braun

Monday, January 19, 2015


Hey Family!

So yeah, you heard right from Elder Falkner. There was an emergency transfer this week. I´ll give you the download what happened. Nothing serious at all.

I woke up Thursday morning, just a normal morning as a missionary like any other. Did my excercises, took a shower, got all dressed, and 5 minutes after my personal study started, I received a phone call from President Cabral. He asked me if I would go and do what the Lord commanded me to do, I said yes. He asked if I was ready to take on a challenge, I said (a little more skeptically this time) yes. He told me that I had to pack my bags immediately because the Lord needed me in a new area, in a zone that has been struggling a lot.

I´m serving in the Bento Ribeiro ward, which is is the same stake as the area I went to after I left Maricá the first time (Bangu). My new companion is another elder from Texas, Elder Neuman. Just like Elder Falkner, he served in the states for about a year in the Vancouver Washington mission, and flew down to Rio shortly after receiving his visa.

As for why I got transferred, Elder Neuman´s old companion was getting really stressed in this area (Bento Ribeiro) for not having many results and the attendance dropping, and I´ve been sent here since he couldn´t handle it anymore. I took his place as district leader here, and since my new comp has only a couple of weeks here, we´re practically white washing the area. The other elder will love Maricá, which has got to be the most-growing area in this mission, and he´ll be able to get the results and success that every hard-working missionary deserves to have.

I´ll admit, it was really REALLY difficult for me to receive this assignment on such short notice, especially because I know the reputation that this area and zone has, but I´m not discouraged and I´m excited to strengthen God´s Kingdom in Bento Ribeiro!

So yeah, Bento Ribeiro is an area right between the two areas I passed after the first time I left Maricá (Bangu and Abolição). There are LOTS of people who live here, plenty of people to teach, and close to where the church is, theres so many stinking stores, I could buy practically anything. Our house is small, but not too bad, especially since it´s just me and my companion who live here.

I only have about two full working days in Bento Ribeiro, and we´ve already had some cool, faith-building experiences. We were knocking doors the other day, and there was one where the lady opened it and said " Come on in elders!" We looked at eachother all confused and said "wait wait wait, are you a member of the church?" and she said " Yeah! I´m the Stake presidents wife!". So, we got to know the stake president a bit, we talked about the needs of the stake, especially the Bento Ribeiro Ward, and we were able to get a LOT of information that we needed to be able to work well here, especially siince we don´t have a Ward Mission Leader here. He gave us a reference of a family that hasn´t been coming to church that they had fellowshipped and helped to be baptized, Lindomar and Leia. and they were very happy to see us, received us very well, and they commited to return to church next sunday. #Yey

We´re mostly focused right now on contacting and visiting incomplete families and helping them by sharing the message of the restoration and preparing the non-members in the family get to know the church and prepare for baptism. Because our area is GINORMOUS, we´ve had to walk a lot, and here ain´t cold, dawg.

Thank you so much for the scholorship info, mom, and for keeping me on the downlow about fall housing. I´m so happy that you enjoyed your conversation with Marlon on Saturday as well. When I received the reassignment on Thursday, he passed by our house really quick and said goodbye with his wife, Juliana, and their kids. Let them know that I miss them a ton! I love this church, I love this gospel, and I love the blessings that sacrifice has brought to me in my life in strengthening my testimony of the restored gospel.

Elder Braun

This Lan house doesn´t allow me to send any photos... soooo sorry :(