Sunday, November 17, 2013

COUNTING 11 17 13 Miracles!!


I usually through out the week collect several experience which I can write about to you on Pday.  This week, there were so many, but one thing that I cannot get over is COUNTING.

So, as you know, I’ve been the happiest missionary there ever was.  After the storm last week (my area is all fine here!), I realized how lucky I am to be here.  Here on my mission.  Here in my area.  Here at this time with the companions I’ve had.  Not just the time and place though, but everything that has gotten me here: my training, my previous areas, my granted hopes to be moved to the Legaspi Mission when the Naga Mission split, all the people I’ve met and taught, etc, etc, etc.  I guess, to put it simply, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Alright, let’s just back to where I am presently: Just finished the favorite transfer of my mission.  You’ve heard of that church movie “17 Miracles”?  Basically about the early sainted coming to Salt Lake and 17 of the miracles that happened to the people on their journeys.  So I decided to count the miracles I’ve seen in just the last transfer.  As I tallied, my pen could hardly keep up with how much I was reading.  Meaning to say, I’ve witnessed more miracles that I can express to you in a simple, rushed email!  These miracles include true conversion, being led to others, others being lead to us, families coming back to church, being perfectly guided in giving Priesthood blessings, having everything we planned fall through just to have a more perfect way be opened to us, etc, etc, etc.  Remember last transfer when I was so excited that one Sunday about 51 people coming to church?  Okay, ready for this Sunday’s number? … 64!  11 of whom were investigators!  Does anyone realize that this 64 is double what it was when I first arrived in this area?  I hope I never get transferred, I love it so much here!

So to say it again, this week I’m been COUNTING.  Counting miracles – the miracles I see now, and the ones that got me here.  One more time… I’m the happiest missionary there ever was (:
Love, Elder Shane Brown!

P.S. “There is nothing so wonderful—nothing—as tasting the joy and success of missionary labors.”
-Elder LeGrand Richards

Pictures - When you're companion is going home, you get a lot!  Enjoy -

Super Typhoon Yolanda - International name "Haiyan" ...I'M SAFE! 11 11 13


First of all, I'm safe!  I'm sure most of you heard about Super Typhoon Yolanda - International name "Haiyan".  That's the topic for this week.  Read my transcribed selected journal entries:

Wednesday, Nov. 6 - "Good morning, please inform all of the missionaries in your zone that there will be a super typhoon tomorrow afternoon to Friday morning...  be prayerful, alert, and be wise.  We have a "curfew" tomorrow 4PM in the afternoon all missionaries must be in their apartment.  If earlier than 4PM you feel that it is not safe to be outside go in your apartment.  Thank you."  "President Guanzon has instructed us to relay this... All missionaries should prepare food and water, candles and to load up their cell phones enough for 3 days.  All missionaries whose residences are near mountains and shorelines are to move inland with other missionary apartments.  Everyone should be home and remain indoors nutil after the typhoon..."  So those were the texts that came from the office today...

Thursday, Nov 7 - "If you have any money on your cards, please withdraw now.  ATMs will be expected to shut down for 1 week during the typhoon." ...this was another storm text.  So much hype....  No storm yet.  Apparently it'll landfall in Samar around 9AM.
We went forth with the zone training this morning.  The whole time, all the church leaders were having an emergency meeting then bought supplies for the next few days (two sacs of rice, huge boxes of canned tuna, etc.)

Friday, Nov 9 - -Storm update- Last night around 2:45AM, I woke up to E. Williams about to open the door to go outside (our room is on the roof).  As soon as he turned handle, the door swung open!  I was getting soaked there in my bed because water was getting through my windows - the wind was insane.  We went downstairs and there was water all the way down the stairs that had come from under the door!
This morning was normal when we woke up then halfway through personal studay it all of a sudden got crazy again.  Our bedroom door flung open on it's own!  We spent 45 minutes making baracades and mopping.  We have no water pressure and lights flash as electricity cuts on and off.  12:36PM - Lost power.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand that was my first real bagyo (storm) experience!  It's always rainy here, but of course, this one was different.  Life is pretty much back to normal here.  My mission is the one right about Tacloban Mission (where Tyler Kesler is) so though we were hit hard, it wasn't as bad as their mission.  Some of their missionaries have not been contacted yet.

Well I'm safe.  Thanks for all the concern.  It's needed elsewhere now though.  There's no reason to worry me here.  We were safe.  If Moses can part the Red Sea, I can survive a storm in a 3-story concrete apartment.  Love you!

Elder Shane Brown

Pictures - The net is super slow right now.. I'll send the rest in another email...

1-5. Storm stuff.  Preparations, clogging our door, etc.

6-10.  Other stuff.  Views, exchanges (again!) with Max Moncur which were awesome!

No Power? No Problem. 10 28 13

Wow, where to start?  Pretty much three things describe this week:  No power, elections and the busiest week of teaching of my whole mission.  Awesome!
No power.  Hah, okey well you know how power likes to randomly go out here?  Tuesday we heard a blasting noise and all of a sudden lossed power.  Went onto the roof - everyone had electricity but us!  ..this was not a normal brown out...  After accepting that something went wrong, we decided to wait and see if it would come back as usual.  Wednesday morning... still waiting... thought - What's gong to happen to the 2 1/2 kilos of hot dogs in the freezer? - took those to the sisters' apartment then went to the electric company.  Thursday - still no power.  No ref (fridge), electric fan, etc.  ... Go back and complain again at the power company.  Friday morning, none.  Call them.  Finally on Friday afternoon they came to fix it.  A truck load of guys pulled up and they hopped out, set up a ladder, scaled up our house and a few minutes later it was fixed... We had no power for four days, just for a four minute repair job... It was fine though.  Once our emergency light starting dying on Wednesday, I got to take some more candle-lit showers for the first time in since my second area.
Okay so elections.  I kinda mentioned this last week, right?  Well elections are today.  Some how we teach tons of people that are in the running.  And of course, they all want us Whites praying they'll win.  Hah just everyone... "Brother, pray for me brad."  We had this guy come up to us and give us this huge stack of hand outs for his campaign to "give to our friends".  Having kindly explaining we're not allowed to do that, I give him in return the bunch of pass-along cards I had stuffed in my shirt pocket.  Anyways, we worked extra hard at finding new investigators this week.  Why?  Hah, we're pretty sure everyone won't be as b nice to us once the elections are over and they're not trying to make themselves look better by talking to the two Amerikanos.  My next point:
We were so busy this week!  We taught so much.  We got a bunch of lessons one day so we decided we go for the standards of excellence for our mission, it was fun.  It was nice being really busy, but in our actual area.  Usually we're busy because we're going to other areas and doing random things for other missionaries (interviews, etc.).  What made me more excited though was that one less-active family is still coming back strong.  The baptism of their kids really seems  it'll be able to happen (:
That's it.  Great week.  Members helped a lot.  I'm praying I'll stay 9 months in this area - I love it here!
Love, Elder Shane Brown


Great Week and Happy Birthday to my Mother(s)! 10 21 13

My family!  Marahay na aga sa indong gabos!

First of all... Happy birthday to my mother!!! Also to my second mother, Shauna Elliott!  October 23rd is the day to spoil them!  I'm pretty sure my mom is turning 29 (AGAIN) so that's how many candles will go on the cake (:

This week was exciting.  Tuesday morning, we were having our studies when Williams stops and just says, "Are you shaking?"  A pause.  I think about it... I'm not shaking, but hala(!) the whole building is!!!..... EARTHQUAKE!  As I'm sure you can picture, I made a dash to the front door just in time to get out of our apartment before the whole thing collapsed!!!  -that last bit is just a joke.  However, I freaked out!  Though it turned out to be okay...  (I refused to go inside for a few minutes for fear of aftershock).  Joking aside, I'm pretty sure the earthwuake was quite destructive more to the South of the Philippines. (Cebu?)

It's elections next week for all the baranggay's (communities).  This simply means that people strap massive speakers to anything with wheels and a motor then drive around all day blasting the same voiced over song onver and over and over again in support of their candidate.  ...This would never fly in America.

I've finished and am of course again starting the Book of Mormon.  Somethings which have really stuck out to me are all of the verses I remember sharing with specific people.  I'll get to a verse or story, and can totally picture myself in a lesson I taught a year ago.  Really makes me appreciate every moment I've had here, and will still have.  And we've certainly been making the most of it!  I can't think of a time where I've felt the Spirit more than I do now!  The whole promise of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is true.  To give you an idea of what comes with this gift from constant worthiness, I quote Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." (this was the topic of my talk yesterday).

That pretty much describes it.  So simple true and wonderful.  Thanks for your support (letters!).  Love you! 

Elder Shane Brown

Pictures - 

3-4. Coming home from a funeral service.  This was supposed to be a bridge but they never finished it (hence, the trees)

General Conference, an especially special time. 10 14 13

Hello Family!

What a week!  What a weekend!  Maybe the week first, then I suppose I'll get to the weekend... First off, my new companion!  Elder Williams from Orem, Utah.  He was the finance elder When I first got to the field so we've known each other for a while.  Two notable things here: 1. Another American! (we're the only American companionship in the mission except for people in training). 2. Another companion who goes home this transfer!  My companion from just a week ago is now at home with his family.  In six weeks, it will be the same with Elder Williams.  In 9 months, it'll be the same with Elder Brown! What else... Apparently, khaki pants have been approved for quite some time now.  Guess I just have to find some suitable foot apparel then I'll buy myself some khakis!  Also, a new elder in my zone fresh from the MTC saw me at district meeting and knew who I was.  How?  He has been reading my mission blog (these emails copied and pasted) before he got to the MTC.  Good to know at least someone actually reads these things! ;)

The weekEND.  This was the start.  The start of...well, general conference!  So what, again, is conference like in the Philippines?  First off, it's a week late because of the time difference.  The whole district (or stake) watches it at the district (or stake) center.  Attendance is low, very low, for the Saturday sessions.  The chapel is swarmed Sunday morning, but calmed down again in the afternoon.  It's a bit different than being in the comfort of my home, enjoying the soft, warm and tender comfort of... my mom's cinnamon rolls?  Yes.  A big difference compared to home traditions is Priesthood session.  This conference, Priesthood was my favorite.

The Priesthood Session was shown both Saturday morning AND evening.  All the other elders went to the morning session so we expected numbers to be low for the afternoon session.  Wouldn't be like at home with hundreds of fathers and sons sitting together.  Rather, we walked into the chapel five minutes before the start and it was... just us.  My and my companion to watch Priesthood together.  What a great experience.  Wouldn't be like at home, running off with friends during the songs.  Luckily, the entire District Center was not completely lonely with it's two Elders.  But a young-ish couple from our group eventually showed up a bit after the start.  Our Branch President came as well even later.  Whoops - getting ahead of myself in the story!  As soon as the session started, I felt a wave of the Spirit come over me, just like it felt when an apostle spoke to us at the MTC.  Wouldn't be like at home where I'd be too focused on sneaking a text or playing Fruit Ninja.  We arrived to the congregational hymn which required all five of us to stand and sing.  This, you'd imagine, was not like it's be at home with the army of Priesthood packed into the church.  but, I still sang "with gusto"! (:  President Uchtdorf gave my favorite talk of the conference ( and soon it was over.  Surely, no one would be skipping the closing hymn just to beat the traffic leaving the church.  Upon ending, it was time to eat.  No, this wouldn't be the classy dinner with Dad, Grandpa and the uncles.  Instead, it's be a nice, modest meal with my great missionary companion.  Arriving home would normally mean off to friends' houses.  For a change, it was straight to planning the next day, writing in journal, etc.  Yes, you could say this conference was different (not sure why I never talked about the last conferences here like this).  You could also say it was the most meaningful and impactful of all.  There is so much revelation I received.  So much to share.  So much to do.  But so little time to email it all! (:

Love, missionary work (work of salvation - with investigators AND lost members), and marriage seemed to be major themes along with enduring to the end.  It's great!  I love conference!  Looking forward to one more in the Philippines six months from now!  Hope you all enjoyed conference as much as I did!

Love you!

Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures - 

1.  Everyone's luggage at our house from transfer day  

EXTRAORDINARY - as in, the best 10 7 13

Hello Family!
To describe this week in a couple of words: ...busy, sudden, happy, exciting, random, crazy, loaded, exchanges, tired, food, home, sleep, fun, exhausted, eat, laugh, bless, smile, whoops, uh-oh, haha, tired, sleep...BEST! --> This week was the best!  I'm going to try so hard to keep this short.  Just triast that every single sentance could have been it's own fuill-length report.
Coming into this week, it was supposed to be a nive, smooth last week for E. Alldredge.  Then it turned into this: MOnday, Pday. Tues, MLC (Leadership Council). Wed, exchanges in Tiwi. Thurs, exchanges in Santo Domingo.  Fri, zone training. Sat, baptism!  Sun, last day of E. Alldredge/ best day of church.  Much more between the lines.

I'll try to break this down a little.  Starting with the unfun things:  Lost two pens two days in a row and ate throat.  Yes... I ate throat.  It wasn't too bad, but still... throat.  Highlights: Exchanges with Max Moncur!  The classic drinking mango juice out of a plastic bag at a town fiesta was made even better with someone from home (I got to work with him all day, see pictures).  Also, remember that super progressing less-active family? (Bondad).  WEll now they've got their friends coming to church and their kids will be baptized!  Then best for last, right?  The baptism on Saturday.  The baptism, the baptism, the baptism.  This was so great.  Better start a new paragraph.

So the baptism was actually for the sisters.  A family.  They met President Guanzon (mission president) at a district conference then requested that President would be the one to baptize them.  He said yes.  This of course meant that now we had to do all we could for the week (when we actually had time to work in our area, only 2 1/2 days!) to get an investigator there!  Remember that guy named Noel?  Maybe I didn't mention him.  Anyways, we had the most spiritual lesson ever with him weeks ago then never got back to hom because he was always busy :(  Nonetheless, we decided to visit him at work (selling bananas) and invite him to the baptism.  he came.  It was the best.  Then he came to church with his daughter the next day.  Why though that the baptism the best?  During the actualy ordinance, he lookds at me and asked if we have  a picture of a baptism then says, "I need to show my family this.  We're getting baptized."  Then during the testimonies after, a baptized girl was vrying and Noel leans in and whispers, "I know why she's crying.  She's feeling the Spirit.  That's what I felt when you first taught me."  Then the young baptized son mentioned not drinking coffee and we were worried because Noel doesn't know the Word of Wisdom (we've only taught him once) but Noel says to us,"Okay, that's it, I'm not drinking coffee anymore."  It was better that anything you could imagine, or I could describe.
For Alldredge's last week of the mission, not only did we hear a thick Filipino accent of "God be with you 'till we meet again" over and over, but we also reached our companionship goal when we started three months ago: 50 people at church.  Yesterday... 51! (:  I was going to include a quote but I couldn't find it.  It was something about incredible, everlasting joy and happiness,  I'm sure you get the point (:  I can't say more!  Love you!
Elder Shane Brown
P.S.  I'm in Legaspi right now with two temporary companions and I'll get my new companion tomorrow.  Also, we watch general conference this coming weekend so I'll mention those things next week.

Swarm of Progress 9 30 13

Hello Family!
Well, another week has zoomed by!  Lots of great things happening here though.  Some stories:
Okay, two things you should remember: 1. It rains here randomly always.  2. We love to stand on the back of jeeps and hang on to the rail on the roof to have our upper bdies lying through the wind.  Now, this:  We were coming home one night on the back of a jeep (as descibed) when it felt like it was just starting to drizzle.  I looked up at the sky - no clouds.  Not abnormal though to somehow have rain with no clouds.  Anyways, as it was "drizzling", a bug hit the corner of my mouth.  Then in started to "rain" harder.  All of a sudden, bugs where everywhere!  It wasn't raining - we were just driving through a massive swarm of bugs!  Just pelting them!  ...YUKS!  This gross story was not a highlight, thought I felt it might as well be shared in attempts to spice this up a little..
You'd think there couldn't be anything better than that... But! there is.  Remember that one dad who walked like an hour and a half with a crazy bad hernia just to get to church a few weeks ago?  Well guess what, he and his family are totally active now!  The mom and dad gave talks in church yesterday!  We were teaching them the other day and the mom was like, "You know, up until the Sunday I came back to chuch (3 weeks ago), I was a total active minister in the            church."  She went on of course to describe how she was truly touched this time and will never leave the church again.  Moreoever, she's trying to figure out now how she can share our messge with her father and siblings.  She and the whole family have felt a strong witness of the Spirit that this is truw.  This kind of echoes what the Lord said in Ether 4:11 about people who believe, "...him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record."  So this family has felt the Spirit, knows what it is, and now seeks ways to bear record of it.  Needless to say, they are a great strength to our little group!  ...PROGRESS.
Last piece of surprising news - it's October tomorrow!  How fast the time!  I'm doing great.  My companion goes home next week.  Weird.  Whelp, love you!

Elder Brown

CATS, Rats & More. 9 23 13

Another classic update from Shane… how does he come up with such good stuff?

Family!  First of all, Happy belates 22nd Birthday to the best kuya ever, Trevor Brown! (Sept. 21)

What a week!  As in, what a week talaga!  So next week we had the plan to go to Catanduanes (the island in our zone with a district - 10 missionaries - on it).  Well, on Monday evening we got a text saying that E. Alldredge has an appointment for some Visa stuff next week that he couldn't reschedule and thus the thrilling thought came simultaneously to our minds, "We're going to Cats tomorrow!!!"  We texted everyone our new plans and on Tuesday morning we were of for Cats (Catanduanes).

It was great to be back on Catanduanes (see pictures).  It was fantastic to get the 2632 viruses removed from my USB (literally), but pretty much the most important thing we did was find apartments for the new missionaries coming in next transfer.  We set up a new contract everyday we were there.  I secretly loved getting called "Mr. Brown" over and over again (despite my equally repeated corrections to "Elder Brown").  The whole time there really was a pleasure.  We not only got to go to caves and waterfalls, but we got to visit all the different missionary apartments and work a little bit with the missionaries in their own areas.  But even with that, by Friday, I was ready for our vacation, I mean trip, to end.  It's funny how badly I just wanted to go back to the normal schedule of studying in the morning then working for a few hours, lunch + study and work until night.  You really come to love it after a while.

Okay, I'm saving the best for last.  Also, this is the last thing that happened having to do with the island venture - the way home.  The several hours boat ride home.  Hah, here it goes:  First, it was windy.  So, so windy.  A result, they said, from the super typhoon traveling just north of the Philippines.  If you can imagine poor Elder Brown locked in a boat getting tossed around by the sea, it wasn't fun.  Nor was in fun when I sat in fright of the the large, standing A/C unit threatening numerous times to tumble over me.  What really made this picture for me though was when I was finally drifting off to sleep until I heard some rustling on the ground then a good shriek from Alldredge - "RAT!" Boy! - if I wasn't freaked out earlier, I was really on edge now with this little (massive!) guy sitting behind the air con for the entire rest of the way home!  And when I say "on edge", I mean I was as far from the edge of my seat as possible for the duration of the ride.  ...You'd understand it more had you been there...

Life continues here in this beautiful part of the Philippines.  Although we had almost no time to work in our area this week, we still had 45 people come to church in our once little group! (:  That's a record!  We want to try and get 50 before Alldredge leaves in two weeks.  We are truely being blessed here.  I feel it.  And I sure see the fruits of it.

I wish I could share with you all my experiences.  The perfect excuse though is just as true as ever - I couldn't put it into words.  Thanks for everything, and have a holly, jolly Christmas (Christmas music is in full-force here)!

Love, Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures - 

1. On the boat.  "Jack, Jack!  I'm flying Jack!"

2.  Deeper into the cave!

3.  On a bridge

4-16.  More Catanduanes adventures

A Biker and My First Interview With a General Authority 9-16-13

Hello Family!

What a wonderful week it has been!  I feel like enough significant things happened that I could have sent home a lengthy and story-filled report each day! Also, I'm tired.  So, so tired.  And that's how it goes (:  Exciting week though.  not only did we have a bike rider crash into us, but we had a mission tour!

I'll start with the crash.  So we were on a tricycle going out to our area and I was on the motor bike part facing sideways, my comp was in the side car bit.  I was fading to sleep (unbelievably I'm tied!) when I was jolted by a combined scream then, "SMASH!"  Followed by screeching metal!  I looked in front of the trike - a bike was skidding under the trike with a guy sliding down the asphalt being torn on by the road as the driver desperately squeezed with all his might the horribly out-dated brakes.  "Angelo!", was my first thought. (a member who we were going to work with).  My comp jumped out, trike still moving, thinking we were going to roll or something.  Long story short, all the old ladies (me included) we completely speechless once we finally were able to come to a stop.  Luckily though, even though this guy's (not Angelo pala) bike was utterly ruined, he was able to get up and move over to the side of the street.  Then, after my comp hopped back in, the trike driver just kept on driving as if that was something completely normal.  I wasn't tired after that!  Apparently though,, the biker tried to pass us after drafting for a while then when he passed us, his foot slipped causing him to fall right in front us us then "BOOM", we came ramming into him. news is equally exciting, but for different reasons:

Once a year, a General Authority from the Philippines Area Presidency comes to each mission to hold a "Mission Tour".  They basically stay here for a few days and meet with the missionaries.  This year, Elder Nielson of the Seventy, the President of the Church in all the Philippines, came to visit.  On two of the three days he was here, he help two all day meetings with the missionaries.  One for half of the mission, the other for the other half.  We were told to read a certain talk in preparation and also that 4 missionaries would be randomly selected (regardless of gender, time in mission, etc.) to be interviewed by President Nielson after the conference.  Of course, along with every other missionary, I was sure I'd not be picked to be interviews.  Well as we ate a snack upon closing the conference, I found out that I was wrong!  I was one to be interviewed!  And so, I had my first, and maybe last interview with a General Authority of the Church.  I'd talk more about it, but... I couldn't even begin to put this wonderful experience into words.

Thus, after an amazing interview with the Philippines Area President along with hitting a biker on the street, my week was much more than the ordinary (extraordinary?).  To add to that, we had an investigator tell us all of these superstitious stories which I just find to be fascinating.  Also tons of people came to church and within the next four weeks we'll know if this group is going to become a branch!  Plus many more stories for another day.

What I feel here must be a bit like the Nephites of old did when Christ was praying for them, "And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard.... and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls... (3 Nephi 17:17).  That describes my week.  Hope it's fitting for yours as well!

Love, Elder Shane Scully Brown

Pictures - 

1.  A bridge over a river.

2.  Me with Max Moncur and another elder who looks just like Jordan Rex!  Way to go RSM! (:

3.  Me with President Nielson and his wife.

4.  Meeting

5.  Elder and Sister Wilcox are in charge of all of our supplies.