Saturday, December 29, 2012

One Week To XMAS Skype!

Hello family!

I'll be skyping you in two days so I'll keep this short.  But here are some updates from week 2 in Baao!  Also I guess we're all really blessed to be emailing each other right now, because right, wasn't the world supposed to end on the 21st or something?

This week was great.  Elder Balanon and I have gotten into a grove.  Good hard work.  But the most excited this is our meals.  He cooks, I do dishes.  I love it.  We didn't really have to worry about that too much though because we got fed almost every meal this week!  Good, tasty Filipino food.  And I got to try some tasty new foods (intestine, dinuguan - basically cooked blood, as well as chicken head) to add to what I've already experienced here.

We had a two hour bus ride the other day.  I guess it was the Philippines' Christmas present to me because they played Taylor Swift the whole way!  I guess I just blurted out my "guilty pleasure" to you all.  

We had the missionary Christmas Conference last week so I got to see a bunch of people that I haven't in quite some time.  The next day was our Branch Christmas party.  We thought after that there would be a bunch of people that went to church in our little group on Sunday, but the holidays proved to be the opposite.  Only 16 of us at church!  Elder and I both blessed and passed the sacrament.  I'm still easing in to the culture shock.

Saturday I had my first baptism!  Justin, just nine years old.  His mom recently started coming back to church and now their little family are some of the strongest members of the Baao Group!  Yay!

That's it.  Can't wait for skype in two days!  Love,

Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures - 

1. I didn't actually make it to the top.  Much too scary for me.

2.  E. Apolinario, he was the first Filipino that I met.  We hung out at the airport in Manila and spent our first two days in the field together.  We saw each other again for the first time at Christmas Conference last week.

3.  I forgot to put on my white tie before the picture!

4.  Justin (9) and his family. 

5.  This is where we go to church.

6.  This is where Elder Balanon and I teach the youth class

First Week in Baao

Two pieces of excited news - Trevor is home from his mission!  We had a good run of two Browns in the Philippines for three solid months!  I'm so proud of him and am ever learning from his example.  Next week I get to skype home, couldn't be more thrilled!

Anyways, I'm about to report on the best week I've ever had on my mission!  So much great joy this week!

Last week I got transferred from Naga out to Baao (as in the "ba" in ball - the "ou" in ouch).  It's like going from New York City to George Town before it was settled.  Way, WAY more small town kinda stuff.  We're pretty close to a big extinct volcano (they're everywhere here, and I'm not actually sure that it's extinct) and as you can see from the picture of the National Highway, it's all quite rural here out in Baao.  We're surrounded by coconut trees and expansive rice fields.  The beauty here is incredible.  I wish my camera could capture the surreal feeling that it gives - almost like it's all just a fake set out of a movie.  Because the population isn't very big, we're not assigned to a ward... we're not assigned to a branch...  Instead, we're assigned to a "group" of about 30 active members.  As a meeting place, we go to a member's small little house with an extended roof to fit some chairs that the "mother branch" (group is part of the Iriga Branch) gave to us.  After the sacrament meeting, the adults stay seated, kids go inside, and the youth just get up and walk into the trees a ways until they find a good spot that they want to have class in - the missionaries are the teachers for that.  No third hour.  Since it's all so small, the missionaries have a lot more involvement.  On Sunday, we went to the Branch sacrament meeting at 8:30 AM until 12:30 (extra hour for a meeting), ate a quick lunch, then went to go to church with the group from 2:00 - 4:00 PM.  There were many opportunities to help out in terms of leadership - I gave a talk in both sacrament meetings, passed the sacrament, and in the Baao Group taught the youth class.  Lots to do as missionaries here!  It was so different going to church in a Group.  Everyone is very close there though, and I already feel a great love for the members here.  

Saturday we went with the district near the top of Mt. Iriga to the Agta Tribe (native Filipinos, imagine an undiscovered Native American village) for a service project.  We taught their kids the story of Christ's birth using a picture book then played games with them/ handed out candy.  It was so pretty up there.  And their little village was amazing.  We had to go up on Friday (my companion is the District Leader) to get permission from the Chieftain to make sure the "Americano" wouldn't get killed... (:  I feel so blessed to have visited those kids and shared with them my love for Christ.

Although population is low, our area is huge.  We walked for an hour and a half to get to our farthest appointment last week!  I'm really looking forward to my stay here.  There is so much potential for the area, and for me.  I know it'll be hard, but my action plan is to become like Christ.  That'll help.  With skype, Christmas, and a baptism, next week is already shaping up to be just as good, or better than this one!  

Thanks for everything, your love and prayers mean a lot to me.  I'll send the service project pictures in another email to keep the email size down (:


Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures -

1. It's like this everywhere I look here!

2.  My new district

3.  New Companion, Elder Balanon

4.  Me!

5.  Sometimes we get to teach outside in places like this.

6.  This is the "Interstate-15" where I live (the National Highway).

Monday, December 10, 2012

First Transfer

Hey Team!

Lots to report on this week.  I'm transferred, I ate balut,  the "Pacman" fell, and we got a temporary companion as we finished our last week strong. 

Saturday we got the text... I'm transferred!  Not sure where I'm going yet, but I do know that I'm supposed to report to the mission office at 7:45 tomorrow morning.. And that's about all they told me.  It's been a good three months though here in Naga City.  I'm not sure I'm ready to leave the SM and only air-conditioned apartment in the mission, but training has been great.  We worked hard, and I learned a lot.  I feel especially blessed to have been able to progress in my Tagalog and be able to work with the members and other missionaries here.  But, the Lord has called me another way, and I will go.

On Wednesday we had exchanges with the Pili Elders.  As usual with exchanges, we met up with Elders Sorensen and De Dios around 8 AM.  The special part about this exchange though, is that Elder Sorensen and I were in the same MTC district!  It really great to be able to work with him after all the times we had in the MTC.  Elder Sorensen came with Elder Vidal to our area.  It was a great day of laughs and hard work, but the point of this story is to get to what happened at night.  We pressured each other into eating balut (you know, the half developed chick still in the egg?)!!  It was NOT good.  At all.  I'd send a video of it but  it too long daw to send over email... and it's REALLY EMBARRASSING!!!! ;) 

Manny Pacquiao lost a big fight the other day (yesterday).  I guess it's a really big deal here in the Philippines.  All the members have been talking about it.  Maybe someday I'll get into boxing...

Last Sunday the AP's came home with Elder Vidal.  There was an emergency transfer in the mission so he came to work with us for our last week.  It's been great to have him and our threesome companionship as really made some progress.  Lots of smiles, laughs and hard work this last week.

That's my report... Thanks for everything!  Enjoy the pictures!

Pictures -

1. Relles

2.  Taking pictures with members before I left (in the middle temporary addition to our companionship, Elder Vidal)

3.  Our always smiling Elders Quorum President

4.  More members

5.  A staged tracting picture


Subject: Last week of training!


Tuesday I took a lot of pictures while on exchanges with Elder Vaki so I hope that means I can keep this short and my mother won't get upset (:

Church was great yesterday, I guess it was just a good day to go to church because just about everyone we've ever taught went!  That was super cool.  Kinda hard to get all the kids to classes and stuff though.  It was fun.  Also the four hymns we sang in sacrament meeting.. Christmas hymns.  Every single one of them.  The Filipino's have already been celebrating for three months and now that it's December, they're really ramping up the Christmas stuff.  Which means...  I get to skype home in just three weeks!! 

Anyways, it really was a great week (:

Thanks for everything! 


Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures -

1. Elder Vaki and I after a long day of work

2.  Elder Vaki and I again (during our long day of work)

3.  Cool contraption to keep me cool

4.  Hello!

5.  In the rice fields

6.  Super pretty, skinny path

7.  Me walking from far away

8.  Giving an Alkat ni Mormon to a monkey

9.  The close up of that

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Philippine Thanksgiving

Howdy team!  

Had a great week this week.  And yes, I actually have some excited things to report on!

I'll start with Thanksgiving - Hah... I forgot that Thanksgiving even happened.  There is absolutely zero recognition for it here in the Philippines.  It wasn't until I got home for the night that I realized.  Whoops.  So I guess you didn't have to worry about me being homesick on my first holiday in Asia!  An awesome family who owns a streetside (and more delicious) version of KFC (minus everything but the chicken) invited us over for dinner on Friday.  They made a MASSIVE meal and also invited the office elders and the sisters who are both close.  It made up for the lack of a Thanksgiving feast.  The most nakaka-homesick part of the whole Thanksgiving was hearing Adelle for an hour while eating at the members'.

I gave another talk in church on Sunday!  Unlike my farewell(s) at home, I actually had a good joke this time (:  "Hello brothers and sisters, sorry for the Tagalog but dae ako tatao magtaram ning Bicol" (I don't know how to speak Bicol, in Bicol!)  That sure got the congregation laughing.  Sacrament talks really are crazy here though.  Because the church is trying to incorporate English into everything, people will get up to the pulpit, address everyone with a big "Hellooooooooo", then start into there topic switching between Tagalog and Bicol whenever they want as they read the scriptures in English.  Somehow I started to learn Bicol.  My Tagalog is basically good enough that I can start to learn it from Tagalog so I don't get twisted up with the languages in my head.  That being said, we were at a family home evening last week and we played a really fun game.  Then all of the kids wanted to play a game and they explained how to play in Bicol... Everyone had more fun than me on that one... (:

I sowed a shirt pocket last week.  Then when I went to grab the one I fixed a few days later, I couldn't find which one it was.  I guess my sowing job was just that great.  Except for my shirt ended up being in the laundry basket... That's why I couldn't tell it apart from the others, it wasn't there!  I really got excited for a second thinking that I could sow all of a sudden.

People always ask me if a wear contacts?  Blue eyes are a rarity here.

Anyways thanks for everything!  Enjoy the pictures!


Elder Shane Scully Brown


1. Cool old church..

3.  Super nice family we're teaching!

4.  Exchanges in the middle of a rice field with Elder Velasco

7.  Missionaries with some of the De Guzman family