Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Funeral and Some Meetings 9 9 13

Hello, good morning!

I can't keep up with the days!  It's just going so fast!  And here I am, loving it all.  Had a great week this week.  I've really just been happy.  it remids me of that one hymn, "I'm walking on sunshine, whooooaaahhh!  And don't it feel GOOD?!"

We were having companionship sutdy the other day.  We got a text so I started to type out this long, lengthy reply.  Once I sent it, I noticed E. Alldredge had begin to hum.  I listened to hear what he was humming.  my guess was right - "I'm coming home" by Christ Duaghtry...  Haha, sure is great to be with a companion who is going home!  On that note though, he really ius focused on the word and we're doing great.  Adding to our joy was Sunday when a certain brother came to church.  He walked an hour and a half with a hernia to come to church after years of inactivity.  Hopefully his family will follow next (:

Also, Sunday was just a great day in general.  We had all these great lessons planned, but it all got changed around last second.  We got to the district center building at 1PM for a one hour meeting with branch missionaries.  More than an hour later, we finally started! (loving the Filipino time)  After going significatnyl over time (something which would be anticipated when you start 15 minutes after it wsa supposed to end), we got to join a meeting with the district presidency and all the branch presidents.  There, we talked about missionary work.  I loved to hear about the progress here.  Secretly, deep inside I just get excited to go home and be a great, supportive member to the missionaries (probably easier to say while I'm actually here) when we talk about coordination.  Anyways, I just felt a strongly witness of the Spirit that this hastenging of the work thing is real!  How wonderful it is to be able to participate!  After this, we were over-eager to get to leave and teach at last, but again, something came up.

We were invited (strongly encouraged) by all these presidents to go attend a funeral service.  It was for an inactive brother whole name I had never before heard.  I knew none of the family, nor anything really about them.  Just that we were invited to come along.  A member was the concluding speaker.  As he talked about the ressurection and Plan of Salvation, I found myself tearing up along with all the other moms and grandmas.  Maybe they were crying over their lost loved one.  but maybe it was really because of the same, powerful confirmation of the Spirit I was feeling.  I just love that the whole Plan of Salvation is true.  And the actaully know what it is!  I had to teach Sunday School in church (of course they just gave me a big time to prepare the lesson when they gave me the manual and the news I'd be teaching right when sacrament ends) about sacrifice.  I guess when we know the Plan, the eternal scheme of things, all of a sudden, all those big sacrifices don't seems so "big".  And that's what I tried to help everyone to see.

The whole thing just makes sense.  It's simple.  And I sure love to share it!  Yet another week has sped passed.  Holding on tight is yours truly,

Elder Brown

Pictures - 

1.  Family Home Evening

2-6.  Some views. 

September, Merry Christmas and Max Moncur 9 2 13

Hello Family!

It's September!  Being the first "ber" month of the year, Christmas has officially started in the Philippines.  This was made sure as we started off our sacrament meeting yesterday with the stirring "Angels We Have Heard On High" (that's the one where we sing "Gloooooorrrrriiiiiiiaaaaaaa" several times in a million different pitches - classic).  So on top of shouting that lovely song, I had the opportunity to yell my lungs out at this old guy last night.  He was... pretty darn old.  He was also convinced that even though he practically lost his hearing that if we really, truly howl our hearts hearts out, he's hear us.  Took me about five tries of good screaming  at him for him to stop speaking some sort of weird broken English because he finally realized we speak Tagalog...  He said we could come visit him again.  And on that note, it's been a good week.

Probably the biggest, most exciting part of the week was seeing some one from home.  So shout out to Elder Max Moncur!  He got here on Wednesday last week (8/28/13) and since he is in my zone, we got to pull some strings and go to his district meeting on Friday!  (see pictures). We went to lunch together after too (:  It was great to see him and catch up.  It wasn't until though he pointed it out that I realized how amazing it was to actually see him.  Here I am, been in some crazy group of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for the past year, being totally immersed in a foreign culture and language so much so that I really do feel like I've become one of these people., and now, just when I'm thinking my past life was just a dream, in comes someone that I used to see at home and actually associate with!  Represent Santa Margarita Stake!  Yes, I concede we did move to a different stake just before I left, but... What a small world!  Hah, not sure if I'll ever be able to call him anything Elder rather than just Max.

And you know, it's really going great right now.  I had my foot saved the other day.  I had ingrown toenails that I thought I'd have to get surgery for, turns out my mission president's wife just made me get a pedicure.  But that's not the same foot saving story I'm about to share (though it is certainly something for another day).  I was sitting on a triccy (those motorcycles with a side car thing attached) on the motorcycle part facing sideways.  We were going down the road and I had me feet resting out pretty far.  then, out of nowhere, I quickly felt to "Pull my feet in!"  A moment later, "Whooooooooooshh!" - another triccy came down the road and would have definitely swiped my feet had I not moved them.  Phew!  Anyways, that's small.  But it still shows me how protected and guided we really are here.

So despite being constantly tired, there's ever more for us to do.  We got a call a few days ago.  There are going to be 14 new missionaries in our zone next transfer!  That's a lot!  We had another journey with the supply couple missionaries to find things for new apartments and what not.  It may be that the two-person party in our mansion home gets shut down.  they want two more elders here!  Even though our fancy washing machine will be more crowded, it's certainly still better than doing wash like in other areas.  For some reason, I'm thinking that washing clothes in a dirty river, no matter how much soap you use, then leaving them on the sandy bank to dry is just not going to result the most effective cleaning.  Not sure.  But I'm thankful as ever for that machine!

And so the work continues.  I continue!  Great new families and a bunch of letters [ thanks! (: ] have added even more to this week.  Love it!

Love, Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures - 

1.  Max and I after district meeting!

2.  A tindahan.  Basically one of the hundreds of little shop things that line every little street, in every little neighborhood.

3.  Some different kinds of bananas I eat.  The big one costs 50 pesos per kilo and the small only costs 3 pesos per kilo.  (up to you to do those conversions)

4.  This cloud looking think was what I was pretty sure was going to turn into some crazy tornado.  Nothing happen...

Transfers, Waterfalls and Eternal Bliss 8 26 13

Below is Shane's email… he LOVES real letters : )

Elder Shane Scully Brown
Philippines Legazpi Mission
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
P.O. Box #225
Legazpi City Post Office
Legazpi City, Albay
4500 Philippines

Hello Family!

Team!  What a great week I've had!  We went to some more waterfalls this morning, just beautiful!  (Alldredge almost fell from the top...  That and falling through the church roof last week have basically left me with now trust in this guy...). I try to find interesting thoughts/pictures to send home each week and guess what, you'll hopefully get some good ones in the next few weeks because E. Alldredge and I are not getting transferred.Why does us not being transferred mean more interesting things and better pictures?  Because this is Alldredge's LAST transfer!  He goes home in 6 weeks!!  We've after today now got five Pdays to visit all the cool places in the area.  Should be fun.

On Friday we were planning out this week and we had to get out new planners for this transfer.  We were surprised when we realized that this is his last planner of the mission! (we get a new one every transfer - 6 weeks).  I'm pretty sure that at this point I'm thinking more about going home than he is, but that's besides the point.  It's just fun with him about being done for me to look back and see how far I've actually come.  I can't help sometimes but to laugh at myself for things I used to do.  It's been great though in Naga Mission   Or now, Legaspi Mission   Hah, it's been two months now of Legaspi Mission and I'm only just starting to finally give up the old Naga Mission theme song and begin to memorize the new one here.  It's a great time to be a missionary, lots happening   We had district conference this weekend   Even though the entire district (all of the branches) was about the size (if not smaller) of a normal ward at home, there are some great pans for this to be a stake someday.  Also, we've been meeting with the District President talking about our little group becoming it's own branch! (:

So Saturday, because of the district conference  we help with some home teaching in our area.  Guess who our home teaching companions were - the District President and the Mission President!  So great.  We taught a family who's husband served as a branch president for a number of years but now they're all inactive.  We spoke very frankly about the promises of God.  That they are certain, when we hold up our end of the bargain.  Even though this family is sealed in the temple, that it is still based on their worthiness.  If they give up now then their sealing cannot last!  So I asked the parents you know how it would feel to have even just one family member missing.  Even just one... It's be a horrible feeling.  And then I realized - would I not be just as sad if this family didn't make it as if mine own didn't?  I would be devastated if just one of my family couldn't pass into exaltation.  And so why would I not feel the exact some way if these, my brothers and sisters failed to qualify.  I would.  Having now realized that, and with a deepened love, I strive to more fully rely on the Spirit to do all I can.  To help this family, and all others, to make certain the promises of God, because of their faith and obedience.

It's the most rewarding work.  It gives me the most rewarding feeling.  I try and try and try to express this over emails.  I use different words, scriptures, etc.  This week I stumbled upon something I really view as treasure - Alma 37:44-47.  Pretty much, if we will simply look to Christ (it is simple) and give our all, we will be led on a straight course to Eternal Bliss.  Eternal bliss.  Bliss, joy, happiness and peace that never ends!  I want that.  I want all to have that.  It's just the best! (:

Love, Elder Shane Brown

Pictures -

1-2.  Some friends

3-5.  One of my favorite families!  ...We're wearing "elephant" costumes (:  

6-16.  Waterfalls!  The last one is where Alldredge slipped from the rock on the right then slid uncontrollably down and miraculously lasted on that platform thing..

"Social" 8 19 13

Hello Family!

We had a zone activity this morning so I'm a little late here.  We went to the Mayon Rest House which is this little touristy thing on the volcano (which was at alert level 3 today).  It was all really well planned out, except for when it got super rainy and windy!  Luckily it wasn't raining at the top, just super foggy so the pictures aren't full of the amazing views we were hoping for!

Well this was quite the exciting week!  New things, last week of the transfer and many spiritual experiences.  First of all, remember how my apartment was already super cool with it's size and water heater?  A set of couple missionaries recently went home so on Tuesday we got a call from the Supply Elder, "Elders!  Remember those couple missionaries?  Yeah well we need to store all of their furniture somewhere and we think your apartment would be perfect.  Could we come drop some things off today?" "Yes!"  Later, I heard a car pulling up, ran out and it was the supply truck, then, around came the corner a huge full on moving truck.  "Wow," I thought, "what a coincidence that there's a moving truck at the same time the supply elder is dropping off a few small pieces of furniture."  Well guess what, that big moving truck was for us!  An old hymn instantly popped into my head, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" (:  In short, we were given couches, a double door refrigerator, a washing machine(!), an oven(!), two air conditioning units we can't use and this is the best part - a microwave!  What?!  Yes! -a MICROWAVE!  Boy were we eager to use that thing after years of only remembering them in dreams.  We had lest out meals after a zone conference from a catering restaraunt, extras just came back to us since we ordered it all so we put it into the ref, later we microwaved it!  To emphasize my point, never take couches, a big fridge, washing machine, oven and especially a microwave for granted!  Our apartment is now as they say here, "Social".

Anyways, at that same conference, we learned that backpacks aren't allowed anymore here (apparently that was a missionary rule and we just didn't know it here?) so we bought some "business style" side bags and are hitting the streets looking what we think to be quite classy, or in other words, "social".  Also, I realized there that this is the last week of the transfer.  How fast!  There's no way I'll get transferred which is good, the kids are finally into the habit of screaming "Elder Brown!!!" from far away running up and yelling/laughing the whole time just to get a good "App 'ere" (up here - high five) every time we are in the neighborhood.

Had two really wonderful experiences this week.  The first was writing our recommendations for the transfer planning.  I felt so guided as we talked about each missionary and if they'll be transferred, moved around, etc.  The second was a baptismal interview.  This was actually the first interview I've gotten to do.  The brother I interviews never really learned Tagalog so he just speaks the local language of his town..  Despite that, through his broken Tagalog and my brokel Bikol, I was able to feel a huge witness of the Spirit that he was ready for baptism.  Great experience.

The week was full of awesome things.  Saying still and will always remain true for this Elder, "It's an exciting time to be a missionary!"

Sige yan lang.  Kita kits!  Love, Shane

1-4.  Mayon rest house! (slightly we got rained out)

5.  The apartment before we got all the new stuff

6-10.  New apartment things!

10-22. Rocamonte!  We thought it was ruins.  Turns out, this place was a big touristy thing in the 60's that totally crashed...

23.  Hang out 

And Yet Another Week Rolls By! Baptism Richard 8 12 13

TAO PO!  Hello Fam!

So this week was, yet again, amazing!  Yesterday a huge storm came by but didn't pass directly over our area so we didn't get killed (phew!).  It did however become a Signal #3 (100+mph winds) on Catanduanes - the island we were on just a few days ago!  Good thing we made it back before it hit, especially since we had a baptism on Saturday! (Richard, 16, whole family is members)

Well, life goes on here.  It rains pretty much each afternoon, and certainly every night.  Not so sweltering hot anymore (:  People still do crazy things.  People still ride bikes next to semi-trucks on the same narrow little two lane main roads.  People still prop up ladders against electricity lines to fix the common outages.  Hah, I still try and come up with something interesting to email every week.  It's all pretty much the same, great stuff that I love.  Even church.  Remember I'm in a group (smaller than branch) with no chapel (under an awning only) just like I had for the 6 months I was in Baao for.  I got up to the podium (no microphone) to speak yesterday (they actually gave me a day's notice for my talk rather than the usual waiting until sacrament starts, finally!) and looked out over the crowd.  There were 43 of us! (:  Do you realize how many people that is?!  I love each one of them.  And I love sharing my personal experiences and testimony with them - even when I have to shout the whole time because the loudness of the wind and rain.

I guess what's different is that I'm in a new area (granted, I've been here for four weeks now), with a new assignment, serving with and to new people.  I live right next to great Mt. Mayon - the most perfectly shaped volcano in the world, and most active one in the Philippines.  I love next to the largest geothermal power plant in the entire world, 2nd only to Yellowstone.  I don't know.  I only know that I'm happy doing it!  I love, love, love this work.  Although, I can't exactly put on a bathing suit and run around in the rain everyday, I can at least put on a white shirt and tie, get soaking wet and share the Gospel!  Good trade-off (:

That's it.  I'm smiling always.  Can't keep it off my face (:  Hope your week has been just as joyful as mine. 

Love Shane!

Pictures - 

1-2.  My back pack was breaking.  Another Elder sewed up one broken part.. I winged it and did my best to try and fix another rip... Guess which one was my job... (Yep, the horrible one with the string coming out all over the place!)

3.  Coming home from Catanduanes on Wednesday, great Mt. Mayon in the background!

4.  Richard's baptism

"Uhhh.. Yes, I'd love to join!" Possibly the BEST WEEK EVER!!

Hello Family!

...Wow!  Where to start?  I mean really... this week was the best!  Whole week was great, but wow, the weekend (especially Saturday) was the best!  Phew!  I'm just sitting trying to figure out how to express this to you in an interesting way over the net.  Here's a big list I guess of what we did, hope you are just delighted to read it.  If not, know that at least I'm delighted to write it! (:

So Tuesday we're on a tricycle coming home from work to eat lunch and we got a text from the AP's (Assistants to the President), "Text your zone about a potential long term brown out!..."  So hah, get this: the province that we live in, Albay, basically didn't have enough money to pay for the government run electric company so they were going to kill all power in the entire province for at least a week to be able to pay their supplier of electricity (long story).  Hah, that was awesome since we bought a food for the next two weeks and put it all in our refrigerator (which would also suffer from the power outage)...

So under the candle light on Tuesday we got prepared for out meeting with President on Wednesday.  Basically, the best part of the meeting was when President came up to us with an invitation, "Elders, would you like to come with me to Catanduanes this weekend?"  Okay, remember now that Catanduanes is the island in our zone.  We had a plan to leave for here this Monday morning, but President invited us to come with him on Saturday to attend meetings with him for the District Conference (like Stake Conference) here.  Uhh... Yes President, we'd love to join!

The days go by then come Saturday, we were out the door at 6AM to meet President Guanzon at the pier for out big trip.  Turns out, it was just him!  He didn't bring his wife, the AP's or anyone.  And so it was just me, my companion and President for our island journey.  After a 3 hour boat ride we arrived in Catanduanes and went straight to President's hotel to drop off his luggage.  He walks up to the counter and then turns back to us, "Elders, would you like to stay with me tonight?"  Uhh... Yes President, we'd love to join!  Dropped everything off, ate lunch with the missionaries here then President had meetings and my comp. and I went in search of apartments (lots of new areas opening here).  We got back to the hotel around six to drop off somethings and President had gotten there just before us... "Elders, would you like to join me for dinner?"  Uhh... Yes President, we'd love to join! (:

And so we talked and really got to get to know our Mission President.  I've learned so much and have just really loved the time together.  We were so excited every time we'd get invited somewhere, but the best was Saturday night when we were finishing the day at our small little hotel room.  This time, we were the ones doing the inviting... "President, would you like to join us in closing the day?"  "Uhh... Yes Elder, I'd love to join."  You know, as missionaries, we have daily planning at the end of every day to close the work and plan for the morrow.  We talk about this.  We talk about where we could improve.  We talk about what we did well.  We talk about the missionaries in out zone.  We talk about each other.  It was just so special to have our Mission President there with us.  Well, thinking practically, the specialness of this maybe doesn't quite make snse to someone who hasn't served a full-time mission.  But to those who do get it, do you understand what a wonderful experience this weekend on a paradise island with my Mission President has been?  The best.

So this morning President went home and we visited some waterfalls (beautiful!) and went to a super nice beach (started pouring rain!).  We're here 'till Wednesday to work with other missionaries and other stuff.  If my story wasn't as exciting for you, I'll share this:  Remember vans shoes?  Remember how they can cost $40?  I got a brand new pair, straight from the "Vans [knock-off] Factory" for just $5!  What a steal.  They're definitely [NOT!] genuine (:

Love you!

P.S.  August 1st was the official first day I could say I won't be here in a year... PABABA NA AKO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pictures -

There are some big file ones... I'll send them in another email (imagine me giving you a reassuring thumbs up)