Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Brother Tatay Aguino Miracle in White 3 25


Elder Simmons and I's first full week together!  And after just thgis short time, we've had a great work together.  We experienced quite a few cool things this week, despite it being 92 degrees in our apartment at night.  So besides the constant buzz of our electric fans, we've also had a bit of excitement in the air with what we've accomplished this week.

To get us started, Simmons' Tagalog is really picking up.  After trying to only speak in Tagalog while out of the apartment, he was able to narrow his major mistakes down to just one this week:  Quick Tagalog lesson - puso means heart, and pusa means cat.  I think you can see where this is going...  Hah so we were teaching this family how to pray and instead of telling them the important this is that the prayer comes from the heart, Simmons confidently told them that prayer should come from the CAT!  Whoops.  Other than some improvement in the language, we were able to reel in plenty of new investigators through sharing an Easter message.  Basically, no one here will deny an Easter message about Christ.  We have a few different approaches, but my favorite is sharing Matthew 28: 1-6 where the angel announces the Christ is riden then after some discussion we move to D&C 76:22 where Joseph Smith plus Sidney Rigdon proclaim "That He lives!"  It's a great way to have people trust us and be a little more open as we read together from the Bible, but then we also get to slip a little modern revelation in to set up more for next time.  It's pretty cool, and probably all we'll be doing this coming week seeing as it's "Holy Week" here.

We had countless amazing experiences this week.  We really felt the spirit as we found new people who completely opened up their lives to us and as we were asked to give blessings.  I could talk (type) your faces off, so I'll just share one.  Basically, there is this old guy (about 50....ancient!), Tatay Aquino.  He has a sickness where his whole body hurts and sometimes (last year it happened for the first time just once) the pain is so bad that he can only lay down.  Well last week, the really seriously bit began to return to him.  He was completely bed ridden, and couldn't even open his eyes when we found him.  We gave him a blessing of healing.  Next day, the Branch President comes to see him, which was good because his family all of a sudden had to leave.  The Branch President left so it was only Tatay Aquino laying down in excruciating pain.  As he suffered there, all he could do was pray (I was about crying at this point in his story).  Then he felt the presence of someone in the room.  He was able to just barely squint his eyes open enough to see someone in pure white sitting on his bedside chair.  He kept praying for relief, not being able to speak, and slowly, he began to feel his pain leaving.  Before he knew it, the person in white got up and left.  Within moments, Tatay received all his strength and could get up to walk around (first thing he noticed was that all the doors to the house were still locked and closed...).  Now, I can't say who was sitting there at Tatay's bedside adorned it white, but I do know that I saw a miracle.  A loving father who was crippled to his bed, was now up and walking. Since then, he has been able to afford his medicine and is now making his way to a complete recovery.

My heart is really being touched here.  Also, we were given Welch's Grap Jelly (!!!!!!!!) from a family with a sibling in America.  That was about on par with everything else (:

That's it.  Love ya!

Elder Brown

Pictures -

1.  Me standing in a field.

2.  Same field, closer picture.

3.  Kinda bright but I figured I'd send it anyways ah

4.  Our group leader's kids

5.  Standing for a picture

6.  Again, standing there to have my picture taking.

7.  Me and Elder Simmons at this very moment that I'm typing this in the internet shop.

Training Elder Simmons March 18th


This week has been AWESOME!  Most of it has basically just been characterized by how much I love training my new comp.... Elder Simmons from Layton, Utah!  But here's what led up to that:

Tuesday morning my old companion, Elder Balanon, and I went to the transfer point where he would be taken to his new area.  From there, Elders Alldredge and La'Ulu (the Polynesian in some of my pictures) came back with me to Baao since they are also training as well.  We worked in Baao, then on Wednesday, we got up early in the morning and went to Naga!  Naga, if you remember, is not only where the Mission Home and SM (supermall) are, but also that was my first/previous area!  We spent the day taking in the luxories of the mall, shopping, and even seeing a few people I used to teach (a lot are baptized now!).  We also saw at SM my old comp, Elder Balanon.  He is assigned in my old area, and guess what, his companion is my trainer!  Hah my trainer, Elder Fronk, has now been in the same area for six months.  Wednesday evening, we reported to the Mission Home for some training.  President Bliesner did a workshop and we got to have a taste of what I used to enjoy... air conditioning!  And on top of that, a hot shower, with a real shower head!  How exciting.

Thursday morning, we had more workshops until lunch.  But at 8:00 AM all of the new kids arrived.  We were given a few minutes to welcome them and I met a kid from Orange County!  I thought that maybe we'd become companions but nope.  After lunch, the trainers and trainees were all brought into the same room where the new companionships were to be announced.  We all were pretty anxious.  I was assigned with Elder Simmons, we had one more hour long wirkshop, then we were off in the vans to our areas.  We got back to our apartment in Baao around 3:30, discussed our plans for half hour then were off to work!

Basically, since then, we're been doing great!  I'll admit, it was a little stressful when I gave him a turn to teach (like I normally would with any companion) then realized that he didn't understand a single thing our investigator said.  Hah the language sure has made for some great adventures (:  Elder Simmons is awesome though.  He has a great desire to learn and must have just been nervous the first few days because on Sunday he gave two great talks (in the Group + Branch) for "Missionary Sunday" (every 3rd Sunday).  It's interesting - you take a kid fresh from the MTC, turned 19 only a few weeks ago, can hardly understand anyone, and put him in front of a bunch of people, and even in his broken Tagalog, he will give the most heartfelt testimony you ever heard.  Although we didn't quite understand his staggered words, there was an undeniable spirit in the air radiating from him and put tears in several of the congregation (including myself).

In short, training is the best thing.  In just three and a half days together, we've found more people to teach than I did in months with my last companion (and I thought we were pretty decent!).  Sometimes I get in autopilot mode and assume he knows everything.  Hah, I forget that this really is a new world for Elder Simmons, but I've been there too.  I loved it then, and I love it more now.  I'm happy (:

Hope everyone is doing as well as I!

Love, Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures -

1.  Getting taught to cook a Filipino meal

2-4.  Fun.  (we didn't actually teach like that)

5.  This crazy lady we used to teach in my first area

6-7. Some of the trainers at trainers training (breakfast at a nice restaurant in Naga)

Teaching Area Authorities! March 11th

Hey team!

In the mission field, companions are portrayed as members of a family.  Your trainer (1st comp, three months) becomes your father.  If he has trained anyone else, they become your brother.  And so it goes with uncles, grandfathers, etc.  Once you yourself train, your trainee becomes your kid.  Well, transfer announcements came on Saturday and on Thursday I'll be picking at the mission home picking up a brand new kid, fresh from the MTC.  So I guess, in a not so literal sense, I'm pregnant.

It should be quite the humbling experience being with someone who has only had six weeks to somewhat learn Tagalog.  As for me though, I have two excited bits of language news: First, my Rinconada (the local language here) is getting pretty decent.  We had some ancient lady at a Family Home Evening last week who is so old that she never learned Tagalog.  All she speaks is Rinconada.  The last few weeks I've been writing all the Rinconada words I want to learn in a notebook, then when the time came with the old lady, I was actually able to have a nice little (and very broken) conversation.  Second update:  We were at zone training and my comp and I were assigned to practice teaching something to one of the couple missionaries.  They don't speak Tagalog so we were confided to English.  Turns out, English is really great to teach in!  Made me excited to work with the missionaries when I get home (only 16 months wow!).

Had an on edge moment when we got a text from Sister Bliesner (Mission President's wife).  We had District Conference this weekend (like Stake Conference but for Branches, not Wards) and on saturday was a training meeting for all of the leaders.  Sister Bliesner kindly told us that the stinking Area Presidency (the three men who oversee the church in the entire Philippines) gave Elder Balanon and I a "special invitation" to go teach a twenty minute workshop to all of the leaders in the area.  Considering our special guests who would be there (including our mission president), we devoted ourselves to make a great workshop.  As it turns out, it went quite well.  LUCKILY, they let us teach in Tagalog so everyone would understand.  But what made that great for us, is that only one member of the Area Presidency understands Tagalog.  That made it a whole lot less stressful.  It was a great discussion and they gave us candy and a flower after.

Well, I couldn't say more (I could) about how great me week has been.  I've been going about with a big smile and a happy heart.  It was Elder Balanon and I's last week together and we had some awesome work and a wonderful time doing it.  later tonight, we're going to Balanon's last FHE here, Tuesday is transfer day, Wednesday I go to the mission home, Thursday I pick up my new companion, Friday and Saturday will go by wuick, Sunday we'll go to church twice and give two talks, then on Monday.... I'll tell you all how it went!

Love ya!

Elder Shane Scully Brown

Also it's my parents anniversary on the 26th! (right?)

Pictures - The view place was where we went for our zone activity last week.  The house destroying was a service project.  (A fun one!).  Also the first two pictures aren't there because the files were too big.  Oh well.  Also some pictures just don't want to load.  At least you can read the description of what you would have seen!

1. A bunch of Baao Group after District Conference

2.  Elder La'Ulu and I

3.  Cool view

4.  Being funky

5.  View

6.  Sitting down

7.  Service project

A Brown Never Turns Back March 4th

Hello Team!

We had a Zone Activity today so I'm somewhat pressed for time.  I'll throw some good pictures on so you can at least see how I'm doing.

In short, we ate quid, met a German, had an early birthday (not really), enjoyed another fiesta, and came up with a fun joke.  A good week.  The joke: When teens say hi to us, I speak English and Balanon (my comp!) pretends to be my translator then I reveal myself after a while.  As in, I speak Tagalog.  It's actually a good finding activity, sometimes it works.  Also I learned a few things this week -

Turns out, my father's ridiculous inherited saying, "A brown never turns back" is doctrinal.  Normally, the law fell through when we would pass Cafe Rio on the way to Utah (we were actually in Utah at that point) and my mom would make us turn around.  But in all seriousness, it's a great motto.  This is what Christ said about it, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back [or turning back on commitment], is not fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62).  Guess we all shouldn't turn back pala.  Good call Dad.  One more thing - Remember when Jesus commanded us to be perfect?  Did he just say that then leave it to us to figure out what we need to do?  Nope.  He gave us the Sermon on the Mount, a description of an exalted man (God).  Remember the Beatitudes?  Guess what, they are "the constitution for a perfect life." (Harold B Lee).  Let's all review Matthew 5-7 and see what the heck I'm talking about.

Okay that's it.  Have a good week and enjoy the pictures!

Pictures - 

1. My Birthday cake!  Just kidding, for a member that.  Also, Shane is a girl's name here.

2.  Eating and celebrating

3.  District picture

4.  A really cool picture because my backpack was stuffed

5.  Beautiful sunset

6.  Still dark sunrise on a hike

7.  Beautiful sunrise

8.  Helping the Sisters move

9.  After a successful move

10.  Cute

11.  Fun face.  But notice the shirt.... AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization), I did that!

12.  This family feeds us lunch every Saturday (:

13.  Walking

That's a lot now... I'll send more next week for the Zone Activity