Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Howdy Team!

Another fast week!  I'll start though with my hectic day on Sunday (yesterday).  First of all, because we're a Group, every other week we go over to our "Mother Branch" to coordinate with the Branch Presidency.  Anyways, as we were walking up o the church, I heard an Americano voice say good morning to us so I said hello and knew it was a guy that some other Elders told me they met a while ago.  We then continued on our way (the church is on the same street).  We were in the middle of our coordination meeting when a lady poked her head in and whispered to the Elder siting next to the door (assigned in the Branch) that there was an Americano outside and she needed help with English... Uhh.. She must not have seen me..... I was soon summoned though and met a guy from RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA!!  His wife is Filipino-American so they moved here with their family of three kids three years ago.  We talked for a bit until the meeting ended.  Then this nice Americano gave us a ride home plus a few referrals for people to teach.  The Elders where he lives will be going to him next week!

Anyways, we got home, had a rushed lunch then went to church at our Group.  Almost no one was there!  15 in total (including us), but there were only three other semi-active priesthood holders there!  Luckily one of them was the old Branch President (Pres. Botor) so he had most everything set up and ready.  When no one else showed up, it was time to start a half hour late.  Before that though...  Pres. Botor handed me the manual for the adults' class and said, "I hope you can teach."  Then, since the youth were supposed to speak (and none where there!), he looked at us and said, "Elders, looks like we're speakers today." (Third week in a row).  When we needed to choose what we would sing, he handed me a hymnbook and said, "Elder Brown, you are the chorister."  In short, we basically were in charge of the whole Sunday Service with about a four minute warning, including of course blessing/passing/conducting.  It actually turned out pretty well though and I didn't really get any complaints on my ill-prepared (or in other words, not prepared) lesson.  The whole deal was a good experience, but it means we really have some work to do.  basically, some serious hardships are hitting the Baao Group.  After instruction, we are almost focusing solely on strengthening the members here, becoming the 1st/2nd counselors.

Okay, other news from the week:

-We worked on Family History on Thursday with couple missionaries from Idaho.  They were laughing at my retarding English.  The Americano I met yesterday at first thought I was German "because of my accent." Not sure where he got that from...  I guess that's what I get for having zero contact with English other than the Standard Works, journal writing, and weekly emails.

-Saturday we got a text of mission news: Starting July 1st, the Philippines Naga Mission (my mission, duh) will be splitting to add the Philippines Legaspi Mission.  If I stay in the area I'm in now, I'll be moved under the Philippines Legaspi Mission.  but that's a whiles away, I'll keep you posted there.

-I'm reading the Four Standard Works along with the BYU Student Manuals right now.  I finished the Old Testament yesterday, here are my thoughts I recorded in my journal: I can't believe I've already finished the Old Testament.  I feel as if I could talk forever about what I felt as I both read AND pondered the messages inside.  Everytime I prayed for understanding, I felt the Holy Ghost in me clearing my mind and bringing things to light, connecting ideas I never would have thought of alone.  The overwhelming feeling I had while reading is that God loves me.  So, so much.  He wants the best for me and it's through His commandments that I will achieve that.  I can't let myself be the only benefactor either though.  I need to always have family scripture study so my children can grow up in the same knowledge, "and not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6).  More than anything, I can say without doubt, my testimoney, my understanding, my love and devotion have deepened in Jesus Christ and His Gospel.  "I am convinced that each of us, at some time in our lives, must discover the scriptures for ourselves - and not just discover them once, but rediscover them again and again." -President Kimball.  It was inspiring, I can't say more.

-Lastly, I have some great news.  Along with my Old testament rading, I have been having so many spiritual experiences.  It brings such inexpressible happiness to me.  That all really hit a high point on Wednesday.  We were just walking down the road at night and I was thinking about how short my time is here, and what I have enjoyed/ will miss.  All of a sudden, I impulsively threw my hands in the air and shouted aloud (in Tagalog), "I DON'T WANT TO GO HOME!!!!!!!!"  Sorry Mom, but it's true.

Whelp, that's it for this week.  Until next time, love ya!

Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures - 

1.  So, SO pretty here!

 2.  Destroying a wall, a fun service project (:
 3.  I <3 IRIGA... Iriga is the city where we Pday

4.  This is an example of the five-star buses we ride on

 7.  Being funky.  We found a place that would take those pictures for 50 cents

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fiesta, FAT dinner, Have You Prayed about BoM?

Howdy Team!

As I sit here, I'm just amazed that it's Pday again.  The last few weeks have felt like quick Pdays in a row.  And of course, I'm still  at the point where I feel like I gave my farewell talk just two weeks ago, but all other memories of home feel like a dream.  To keep it short - time is accelerating again.

Today by the way has been quite the adventure.  We woke up extra early, played basketball at the church, then did our first cultural event here!  It's Fiesta in Iriga (the big city we go to for Pday) so there is a huge parade going on.  After basketball, we went and watched all of the floats go by and took some fun pictures.  

Anyways, to add to the speed of weeks, we had more exchanges this week.  One with Elder LaUlu (Wed-Thurs) and another with E. Shepardson (Fri-Sat).  On each, I worked in my area with the names missionary.  E. LaUlu s a humongous Samoan from Australia.  We had a great time riding on top of jeeps and singing on the roof of our apartment after work.  E. Sheps and I were coming from the city so before we left, we spent a bit of extra personal money on the most gourmet meal I've had in the Philippines.  In total, we only spent about 16 American Dollars, but here, that's 650 Pesos!  Needless to say, we splurged and were fatly rewarded with luxury (this was at the only high class restaurant in the near 2 hours).

We teach a lot of less-active members here.  One thing we do for those who are really progressing is switch off sharing messages from the Liahona (you know, the church magazine.  Basically the Ensign) with them.  Example, I will teach a message, then they will, then my comp, another family member, so on and so forth.  This week, the rotation fell on me.  As I was preparing my lesson, I felt impressed to share an article about the question, "Have we really prayed about the Book of Mormon and the experience of Joseph Smith?"  Basically about a member who was converted three years ago but never really asked God through prayer if what the missionaries were teaching her was true, she just felt good about our message.  I couldn't at all figure out how I could relate the story back to the mother we would be focusing on.  I continued to flip through the pages, but I kept getting drawn back to that one article.  When it was time for the actual lesson to come around, I stuck with what felt right, only trusting that it was prompted to me and we would be helped to know what to say.  As the lesson progressed, it turns out, this long time member had never truly prayed about the BoM and the experience of Joseph Smith (you know, the one about him seeing our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ).  It was perfect.  A good lesson and a happy ending later helped her to come to church yesterday with her family (:

Before I close, I feel I need to clarify a few things.  First of all (all of my list of 2), I mentioned showers a few weeks ago and a comment from my mother made me realize I've never explained this: Showers are not showers here.  Instead, we have a big barrel (those large trash cans) placed right under a pipe coming out of the wall.  We turn on the water and as it pours out, we use a ladle to scoop the water and wash.  Number 2, everything I've ever mentioned about the beauty here is true.  Except for I don't think I've ever brought up that what beauty I've been able to express, has been accompanied by big, wonderful rainbows almost everyday.  It's wonderful.

Just like mine, I hope your week was wonderful too!

Love, Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures - 

1.  Watching the Parade

2.  Looking at the floats

3.  Getting some rest after a long morning

4.  Hanging out on the roof with Elder LaUlu

5.  Some of the gang at zone training

Sunday, February 10, 2013



Exciting update:  We had hot water yesterday!  Yep.  In the afternoon it got so extremely hot, that it heated up our water!  I got so excited that I almost took a shower until I realized that I was already quite warm without the hot water.  Needless to say, we're seen some high temperatures these last few days.  My poor electric fan gets zero rest from the time I walk in the door, all through the night, until we leave again.  And although I turn it off at departure, there isn't much of a "cool-down" period.

Sensing my plight in the heat as we were walking down the road, a nice man called out to us, his "brethren", to have a drink with him and his pals.  Upon kindly refusing, he wasn't going to give up insisting, "Friends... Just one shot, my friends."  As always, an entertaining experience.  Because we were walking at midafternoon, school was just getting out as we rounded a corner to come into view of the elementary school.  (Not sure if I've explained this before, but nearly every Filipino called us white missionaries, "Joe."  On the street, on the bus, everywhere.)  All of a sudden, a kid climbs on top of a fence and sees me, then turning back to his friends, begins to yell at the top of his voice, "JOE!  JOE IS COMING!!  QUICK!"  At that moment, dozens of kids burst through the fence gate and start running at me for a big high five.  "AAAAAAPP EEEEEER JOE!  AAAP EEER!"  That was quite the rush.

Tuesday we went to a missionary fireside for our Mother Branch.  Elder Balanon and I were speakers along with the two missionaries assigned in the actual Branch.  They put it together for us to speak on whatever we wanted, so long as it would benefit the kid in the Branch who reported to the MTC two days later.  As I was sitting on the bench, waiting my turn to speak, my prepared talk in hand, I began to feel what I had prepared was not what I needed to talk about that night.  When I stood up at the podium, I knew with a surety that I wouldn't be speaking on what I had originally planned.  I felt constrained to speak about families.  I'm sure glad that's what the Spirit picked for me because if there's any field in which I feel confident, it's that of families and what they can become through the Gospel.  I was able to share a few experiences and the whole thing went surprisingly well.  I really am so grateful for God's plan for us as families.  Saturday we went to our busiest area where there was a funeral of a member a few hours earlier.  After greeting the family and friends there, we were asked to share a few thoughts on where their grandpa's spirit is now, along with our purpose for coming to Earth.  Following that, and for the rest of the afternoon, we taught the Plan of Salvation more times than I can count!  It was a very unique and wonderful experience, we even had a few extra people at church on Sunday.  

I love God's plan for me and my mission.  I love His plan for those I meet and teach here.  Most of all, I love His plan that He has set for families.  The plan that He made for me, those I teach, and everyone else in the world to grow and progress in a family.  His work is our salvation, and it'll take place in the basic social unit we were born into.  It's the Plan of Salvation, or as I prefer, the Plan of Happiness - and I will rejoice in it forever.

May we all help that Plan to be realized throughout the world!  Until next week, love you!

Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures - (I forgot to take pictures this week, here's some old things I never sent)

1.  Scenery

2.  Happy!

3.  Eating Coconut (may have sent this once before)

4.  A few kids from my MTC district, reunited at Christmas Conference.


Hey family!

How are things at home?  I'm diong great (:  As noted in the email subject.. I bought a new pet this week!  On Tuesday we were about to walk into a family's house when our Group Leader (Jeff) comes running up asking me if I wanted to eat some classy food.  We had already been planning to eat dog, so I figured something a little more gounrmet would be better.  he led us down to a nearby river and basking on the shore was my new pet.  For just seven American Dollars, I bought myself a bayawak (iguana)!  Brother Jeff happily took it home to wait until Friday when we would eat (:  Turns out, it was actually pretty delicious - though I'm not sure it's something I'd do again (the preparation was a bit tedious).  That was the most happening thing of the week.

A few other highlights:  We had exchanges with the Iriga 2 Elders on Friday.  Friday also happened to be the same day that they were moving apartments!  After eating the bayawak around 12:30 with Brother Jeff and his family, we got to Iriga around 2 for the big move.  Pres. Riparip (2nd counselor in the Branch there, also the only member who owns a car) came in his jeep to help.  After lowering the beds and book shelves down from the 2nd story, we were able to get everything done in just three trips (minus the refrigerator).  As I was admittedly a bit impressed at how much we fit on the jeep, President Riparip saw this as an opportunity to overuse his favorite phrase for me, "Only in the Philippines Elder, only in the Philippines!" ...it was a good time.  That afternoon, E. Alcoseba came to work with me in Baao while his companion and E. Balanon stayed in Iriga.  Hah when it was time to go to bed, I opened the door (as usual) so it wouldn't get too hot, then E. Elcoseba freaked out, "Don't you know about 'asuwangs' Elder?!"  He tried to explain this eveil creature to me, but after looking it up in the dictionary and reading the first two words, "In folklore..." I couldn't help but to chuckle to myself.  In the end, however, I consented to leave the door closed to avoid "harassment from a mythical creature." ....I didn't notice a difference in my sleep.

Though I've gotten used to people's reaction when they see me, a White, I guess they haven't.  We were riding on the back of a jeep (serve same function as buses) one night and it pulled over to let some people clamber out.  As the last person approached, I could see a few bags in hand... This poor lady...  Out of nowhere she just fell right out! The reason why was made apparent when she said as we drove away, "I was just surprised to see an Americano standing there on the back on the jeep."  Hah I sure had a good laugh along with all of the other guys on back.  Whoops!  (She was okay)

Anyways, the whole week was a fairly consistent high note.  Not only did we teach more lessons than we ever have, but that was accompanied by a surreal ambiance in the air.  While bright and sunny almost each day, there was a light drizzle - only noticeable by the sparkles in the air, and the refreshing feeling on my face, as a blissful spring morning.

No complaints this week (or ever).  Hope everyone else is doing just as great too!

Love,  Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures -

1.  Step one, Catch.

2.  Step Two....

3.  Brother Jeff working on Step 3

4.  Eat na!

5.  Loading the jeep

6.  Another load

7.  A typical CR (bathroom)