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