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 :(

Monday, January 12, 2015

Elephant Rock!

From left to right: Elder Amorin, Elder Falkner, Marcos, Me, and Elder Davis
Hey Guys!

I love Maricá! This email is being sent a bit late because we had a chance to go sightseeing a bit in our beautiful area this morning and afternoon. I´ll be sure to include some photos of some of the places we saw, Me, Elde Falkner, Elder Amorim, Elder Davis, Marlon, and one of the youngmen in the branch, Marcos. We visited two different places. First, we went on a hike to a place called the Pedra do Elefante (Elephant rock), which was a bout a 2hour hike there and back with an incline increase of 420 meters. Unfortunately (what we didn´t know) to get to the summit, we would of had to rock climb a steep, rocky slope. We decided it would be best to keep mission rules and not go all the way, but Marlon was willing to bring our cameras and take pictures for us of the view while we waited for him.

We also visited a beach town called Ponta Negra and we visited a light house close to the shore. We found a little trail that led to some hidden rocks near the shore line (Luckily, there was no one there!) And we took some cool pictures there, as well.

I´ve kept in touch with one (or two) of my old roommates about rooming together at BYU after the mission. Jamison´s mom said that she get in touch with you, mom, about arranging that for when we get home. I sent Jamison your email and phone number that he´ll send to his mom. 

I´m so happy that you´ll get the chance to help Marlon with English and his Pathway course! He´s such an awesome guy, I´m so happy I had the chance to get to help him and his family receive and commit to living this restored gospel, and it makes me smile my face off to hear that my family back at home is willing to help him out too. There´s no reason to be nervous, he´s a great guy and speaks english VERY WELL. Sometimes when I need to know a word in Portuguese, I tell him in English and he translates it for me. Anyway, I´m excited for you all to meet him!

I´m back to playing the piano in Sacrament meeting! Me and my pimped out, old-style two-row organ. I just love being a part of this branch in Maricá. This past Sunday, I was pleased to attend Marlon´s first lesson given in Elder´s Quroum (how do you spell that?), and he also gave a sweet talk in Sacrament meeting. I´ve said it many times before and I´ll say it again: I love that family so much.

We´ve started teaching a lady named Vera who we found knocking doors close to the church building. She instantly recognized what we taught her to be true, and loved church! She was wishing that church meetings were more often than just on sundays so that she could participate more. We also helped an elderly man return back to church (One who I had been helping just before I was transferred out of MAricá) named Severino. With him coming back to church, he´s brought his 11 year old grandaughter, Ingrid, who has already made great friends with some of the girls in the branch. She came up to us after church and said "I want to do everything possible to become part of this church"... Tell me, what missionary doesn´t love to hear those words?

So yeah. This week was great. This transfer´s going great. I´m seriously loving every moment, and I´m doing my best to finish up my mission strong and with no regrets. I love you all and wish you the very best this cold week back at home while I soak up this glorious, hot Rio sun!

Elder Braun
A distant view of the Elephant rock

Monday, January 5, 2015

Feliz Ano Novo!

Elder Falkner and I and a splendid view of the beautiful Maricá

Querida Família,

So, like I said last week, I´m back in MARICÁ! I´m so happy to be here, I´m sure Elder Falkner has gotten sick of how many times I said that this past week. I keep telling him sorry a lot too, because at luches and on sunday, all the members were really excited to seee me and talk to me and he felt like he didn´t have much of an opportunity to talk to them at all. But that should be back to normal this week

I had a chance to visit some dear families that I love so much, including Juliana and Marlon. While I was with Elder Inácio, we helped Juliana get reactivated and met Marlon, her husband, too. He was abaptized the week after I left there. Since I left, Marlon has already received the Melchizedec Preisthood, has a calling as the 1st counselor in the Elder´s Quorum, and already has plans, together with Juliana, to receive their patriarchal blessing. Juliana is now the branch´s Relief society president, and they have plans to be sealed in the Campinas temple in November this year. They´re both working as hard as ever to help the branch grow, and it filled my heart with so much joy to see and hear them bear their testimonies yesterday about the difference that the church has made in their lives these past 5 months since Elder Inácio and I started visiting them.

I was also able to visit Juliana´s parents, Ana (member) and João (investigator) who we also reactivated and started helping prepare for marriage. Ana has given up smoking, is firm and strong in the church, and they have already entered in the marriage process. I should still be here by the time the wedding occurs, and João has already accepted to prepare for baptism, all that stands in the way is for them to be married.

AND I was very happy to see Ana Karen, whose mom (Patricia) was reactivated, she got baptized, as well as Sonia, Patrícia´s mom, who also was baptized while I was there. They aren´t in my proselyting area, but to see them strong and active makes me super happy :)

Along with these wonderful people, I´ve visited many others who returned to church while I was serving here who are still active and having callings now in the branch. During my first transfer in MAricá, we averaged an attendance of about 20-25. Yesterday, there were 67 people at church, and a few weks ago when they had branch conference, 98 people attended the church meetings. President Saul, the branch president, says that there are plans for Maricá to become a ward next month.

I would just like to bear my strong testimony that the field in Maricá was, has been, and still is white ready for the harvest, and that when we strive to love those we serve, the Lord will bless us with a wonderful feeling of gratitude and joy. Following the example of Jesus Christ and seflessly loving those whom I serve has given me so much joy, and I can´t wait to continue working alongside this group of wonderful people in Maricá. I love you all and love the plethora of opportuinities I have to continue helping this oh-so-special branch become a ward in the very near future.

With much love and gratitude,
Elder Braun