Monday, September 30, 2013

Just another week in the Pines‏

First Sunday together! Sister Meti and Sister Burt our new comps. 
Maligayang kaarawan! I have survived an entire transfer in the Pines. We went running this morning to celebrate. Unfortunately, being in another country has not increased my love of running. At all. It rained all week though, so that's a blessing. And I got a bunch of letters everyone wrote like a month ago so that was cool too. I must say the Brown family (my Uncle and Aunt and their cute kids) wins for most loyal letter writers and my darling little sister wins for writing my favorite letters. Believe it or not, she's a pretty funny girl ;) Thanks for the smiles Kayla! Probably my favorite moment of the week was Tuesday night. We got transfer calls and guess what!!!! I did not get transferred. You thought I did, huh? However Sister Banzali and my companion did. So we made smores in our little toaster oven as a parting party and it was awesome!

So that means I got a new Nanay (we call our trainers nanay which means mom). Her name is Sister Meti. She is from Hydrabad, India. She's 24 and she never, ever, ever wants to leave the mission. Her only goal is to serve the Lord, enjoy every day of the mission, and make sure I'm happy 24/7. She's amazing! I loved cute little Sister Calla but this change is seriously the biggest blessing. Sister Meti was baptized in 2009 and had to beg her parents to let her go on a mission. She came here with no language training, they just sent her out to the field with a green vocab book. So she learned Minion on her own! Now if that isn't worth something, I don't know what is. She loves the work, she loves the Lord, and she is exactly what I need to whip me into shape.

Our investigators, Randoni and Mawin Babor had their baptismal interview this week and they passed! Wahoo!! So this Saturday we're having a baptismal service. Mawin was really nervous she would have to bear her testimony next Sunday so she wanted to practice on us. She is seriously the most adorable thing! And they are both so excited to be baptized! I just love them!

As for an inspirational thought, Sister Meti and I were talking and she told me how she loved the mission because there were just so many little blessings. She loved when people said hello on the street or members offered us a meryenda (snack) or people were kind because that was Heavenly Father showing her that He was there and He loved her. I could really do a lot better at recognizing those little things, the little assurances that He's there and that He really does love me. This week in my personal prayers I decided I would ask for nothing (which was super hard because I need a lot of help). So for the past 7 days every night and every morning I have said a prayer of gratitude. And let me tell you, there are A LOT of things to be grateful for! So this week I'm giving you a challenge. You can choose to do it for a week, 3 days, or just 1 day. But in your prayers don't ask for anything. Just thank Heavenly Father for all of the blessings, big and small, that He's given to you and I promise you will feel His love for you and your day will be just a little bit happier. 

Thank you again for all of your emails, letters, prayers, and love and support! You seriously are the greatest people on the planet. Mahal kita!

XOXO, Sister Brown

(Note:  She sent all of the pictures from the last 2 weeks so there are a few of them and the good news is she put captions on most of them so I don't have to make up stuff anymore!) :)


Pedi cab

Sister Calla and I

Bored on the bus!

My batch at zone conference

Zone Conference

Rain, rain go away...2nd broken umbrella

Yellow Cab, actual American pizza...Yumm!

Sis Banzali (Anyone else think this looks like a fire waiting to happen?) :/

Smores! :)

Babor family

Kyle and Nanay Vicky

The Pataueg fam

Jennilyn and me BFF's

(Shalee even towers over Santa in the their own little handshake going on??)

Buted fam

Nanay Vallesa and her grandkids

Sis Meti and I at the mission home :)

Sis Meti ate ALL of those rambutans...

Monday, September 23, 2013


(Sad note: she forgot her card reader this time so no new pictures...she said it was ashame because she had some really good ones! :(  So maybe next week??)

Kamusta po pamilya? I'm great, I've just been wading through the rivers of Bagyo Odette (typhoon). Okay, they really are more like puddles. But it's been raining all week and it's a chilly 75 degrees here. Everyone pull out your winter coats! But really, they're pulling out their winter coats. Mystery of the week, if you pour a bucket of water down the toilet in America will it overflow? Cause that's what we do here and it works, so someone try it and let me know! We're dying to know if it works. Happenings here in the Pines, one of our investigator's sons asked  me if I was "buntis." That means pregnant. So I guess I really should lay off the donuts haha :) On a happier note, I GOT MY FIRST OYM!!! That stands for Open Your Mouth. We are supposed to share a short message and ask if we can come teach them sometime or invite them to church and we're supposed to do it 10 times a day as a companionship. Well we usually get like 2 a day because I couldn't do it on my own and Sister Calla is really quiet.  But I practiced and practiced and I finally just did it and we got 10 OYM's! Mission accomplished! Am I done now?

I also had my first zone conference this week. That's where 3 zones get together and President and the AP's share some things with us and all the departing missionaries bear their testimonies. It's weird to think that this is going to end, that people actually go home and missions don't really last forever. I met Sister Carmichael who is from Roy and is leaving on Wednesday. I'm jealous that she gets to see good old Roy and all the fabulous people there! Hearing the testimonies of those missionaries was comforting. Not one of them stood up and said their missions were the most fun thing they'd ever done, few even said that they'd loved it. But they all said that they hadn't had a testimony before and they didn't understand the atonement and now they did. And I just want that. I NEED to understand the atonement. And if that's all I get out of this mission (which I'm pretty sure it won't be) that would be enough. That would be worth it. I got to talk to Elder Milligan and Sister Smith at zone con too and that was of course super comforting. I miss them and having their advice and Sister Smith's hugs right there all the time.

Favorite investigator moment of the week, we went to teach Nanay Vallesa, one of our less active members. She is  68 and she has  5 grandkids she cares for because her daughter isn't able to right now. Usually the kids are pretty crazy and it's kind of frustrating to teach with them touching all your things and asking you a million questions and yelling and throwing kittens that you can't touch at you. But  this week we decided to sing with them. We started with "I Am a Child of God" and it was amazing. As we sat there singing, these crazy little kids were all calm and I was reminded that we really are all children of God and that those kids are probably the closest any of us will get to God. We are always admonished to "become as a little child." I know I could work on that.

This is probably the shortest letter I've ever written but I need to respond to a lot of people so thanks again for all of your prayers and support. I feel them everyday. Keep on doing what you're doing and have a grand week!

XOXO, Sister Brown

Monday, September 16, 2013

There's always a light at the end of the tunnel :)‏

Reunited and it feels so good...seeing these girls again is just what she needed! :)

Everyone be cool, it's just a normal day. Except that I've been in the Philippines for a month. So it's not. And I have a confession. I wore my Crocs. I broke down and wore the world's ugliest shoe brand (sorry if you like Crocs). And man, are they comfy! Also, I have found my Achilles heel in the Pines. Bakeries. On every corner. There's this one by our house that has 1 peso donuts. That's like 2 cents! So yeah, when I get home just look for the Pillsbury Dough Boy in a dress.

First of all, I must apologize. My last few letters haven't exactly been uplifting so I'm really sorry about that. But all I can say is wow, I have the greatest family, ward, and friends. I basically have a book of encouraging letters and emails and I can't even begin to tell you how much they helped! I probably won't have time to respond to all of them today so thank you, with all of my heart. But this week was much better. Since it was our 1 month mark, all of my batch got to go to San Pablo on Thursday for check up. And good news! All of District D is still alive! I can't even explain how happy I was to see my Elders and my MTC companions again! I was just so happy and it was comforting to see that same look in their eyes, that they were struggling too, but pushing forward anyways. If Heavenly Father doesn't mind, I'd love to have Sister Smith and Sister Kerr back. They are seriously angels in my life. I also got to talk to President since I've been struggling and I've been dealing with a little bit of anxiety. He told me that he knew exactly what it was like since he'd served here and then he continued to relate my experience here. Only it was his story. And even though everyone else has told me that it wasn't just me feeling this way, I didn't believe it. I was sure what I was going through was worse. Well good news. I'm not that special. Even President Peterson told me that he went into the bathroom and cried every single night for the first 2 months of his mission, resolving to call the President the next day and tell him he was going home. But he never did for some reason. And I know it will get better. To deal with all the stress of the mission, I started writing down little things that make me happy each day in a notebook. I call it my Sunshine Book :)

Investigator wise, my favorites of the week (I don't know if we're supposed to have favorites, but I do) are the Babors. They are a less active family with 4 kids. Mawin and Randoni are 11 and 10 and not yet baptized. We teach them 2 or 3 times a week. They are just so adorable! And they are so excited about being baptized and Mawin, she knows all the answers already. I really don't even care that we're mainly teaching children because it's so much more fun! Kyle was sick all week so we weren't able to teach him much. And then there's Giselle. She's 12 and also from a less active family that just moved in with their grandfather. He is crazy. The first time we taught her he interrogated us about which book we were teaching from and which verses specifically. We told him the Bible, James 1:5. He then proceeded to hide behind the entertainment center, spying on us through the shelves. Until we got to Joseph Smith. At which point he jumped out demanding we show him where in the Bible Joseph Smith was mentioned and insisted we were trying to confuse his grandchildren and that we were never to enter his house again. He was like 80. I may or may not have walked out laughing... That might not have been an appropriate response. Good story though, right?

Let me describe a more typical teaching appointment. So we take off our shoes and go into a house, about as big as our living room at home. We sit on benches or couches with hardly any padding left, and that's if they have couches. Sometimes we just sit on the floor. The floors are usually just concrete, sometimes with old linoleum to make it look a little nicer. The people we're teaching face the one fan they have towards us. And we teach. It's always noisy. There's karaoke and people selling things and kids and cats and dogs everywhere. And a lot of times it rains. Like really rains. And the sound of the ocean falling out of the sky on a tin roof is sometimes a struggle. So we yell our lessons sometimes. And the whole time, I'm watching the lizards on the ceiling, hoping they won't fall on my head. And then I try to listen and distinguish the language of the minions. And they'll say a word I understand so I'll smile and shake my head vigorously because I understood! Then I realize I understood because they said it in English... Haha :) It's challenging to say the least. But somehow, it works. Somehow there's still a spirit there that can touch hearts and change lives. God is pretty amazing.

Spiritual thought of the week, I really owe you one of these. At zone meeting on Wednesday, our ZL shared a scripture, D&C 97:8. It says "...All among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice, yea, every sacrifice which I the Lord shall command, they are accepted of me." And he drew this really awful picture of a person all cracked up like humpty dumpty. The point was, sometimes we feel inadequate. We have weaknesses. We feel that the things God wants us to do are impossible. Maybe you feel this way as a parent, in your calling, as a friend, or for me, as a missionary. But remember this. Heavenly Father knew you were broken. He knew you would struggle, He knew you had weaknesses and shortcomings. But he called you anyway. And He didn't call you to fail. He didn't just put you in charge of a child, a Relief Society, a Ward, or a mission area and tell you good luck. He is going to fill the cracks, He's going to make you stronger.

Time and time again this week, I heard about grace. I've never really understood grace and I still don't, but I think I'm starting to. My mission president gave me a talk, "In the Strength of the Lord," by Elder Bednar. Did you know there are 2 parts of the atonement? I didn't. There's the redeeming part that everyone knows about, and then there's the enabling part. I wish I could explain it all, but just read it. This enabling power is exactly what I need. It says "The enabling power of the atonement strengthens us to do and be good and serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity." Christ not only died for us, He lives for us now. He lives in us, to strengthen us. In Mosiah 24:14-15, Alma prays not that his burdens will be taken from him, but that he will be strengthened to be able to endure them. There are countless examples of Book of Mormon prophets drawing strength from this enabling power. So this is what I'm doing. When I feel inadequate or anxious or homesick, I kneel down and pray. And I tell Heavenly Father that I'm feeling weak and I just need to be strong enough to get through this moment, through this day, through whatever it is. And you know what? He strengthens me. I feel peace. I feel like I can do impossible things. Because through Christ, I can.

Well my dears, I love you and I really can't tell you how grateful I am for your support and encouragement and examples to me and for making me who I am today.

Mahal kita!

XOXO, Sister Brown

Wish I had a clue what this was all about?? Looks like a fun time though!
Crocks...ugliest shoe in the world??

Always seems to be paired up with her rivals! ;)
Wear your favorite T-shirt day?  Really wish she'd send me captions w/ these!! :/
Cool little house in the Pines... 
Now that is a BIG snail!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A day in the life...

2 month mark! :)
Kamusta pamilya at kaibigan?! Love and miss your faces. So random Filipino fact, they LOVE karaoke! So much they turn it up so you can hear them 2 blocks away. The unfortunate news is, they aren't all that great. But whatever makes you happy, right? The weather this week was just like good old Utah! On Tuesday it was hotter than Hades, summertime weather in the Pines. Then Wednesday it was what we call "cold" in the Philippines, winter weather, like 65 degrees. Also, the fame continues as I have been asked to take pictures with random people all week and told that I look like Barbie, Taylor Swift, and "some artist." The girls here are all amazed with my sock buns. They all want me to teach them how to do it. Maybe I could teach them how and relate it to the gospel and everyone would get baptized! Haha :) 

So the roller coaster was pretty much underground this week unfortunately. But just know that Heavenly Father knows us and is always watching out for us. On my deepest, darkest day this week I was sitting on the Jeepney (these really cool buses we take everywhere) and this adorable little boy kept waving at me. Then he got up and came over and gave me a kiss right on the cheek! I got my first kiss in quite some time on my mission, not many people can say that haha :) Then he climbed up on the seat next to me and held my hand until he got off. His name was James, he was 4, and he was my blessing that day. 

As far as investigators, we have 5. 4 of those 5 are under the age of 14... But they will be completed families which is one of our goals here in San Pablo Mission. One of those investigators is Kyle. He's 10 and I think I told you about him last week. He is just so adorable! And he was a blessing too because when we taught him the other day, he said the closing prayer and he prayed for me, for me to have strength. And I was so thankful because I really needed it. 

Since not much happened this week, I thought I would tell you all what I do everyday. So here is a day in the life of Sister Brown:
  • Wake up, usually sweating, at 6:00 am to the rosary being broadcast throughout the city
  • "Work out" at 6:30 (I usually lay on the ground to do some sit-ups and that's as far as I get)
  • Shower in some ice cold water which feels wonderful because it's already like 90 degrees
  • Eat breakfast, usually oatmeal or something involving Spam haha :)
  • Personal study for an hour, Companionship study for 2 hours, and then Minion, I mean language, study for an hour
  • Lunch always consists of rice. Always.
  • We head out through the streets where I am constantly tempted to pet all of the kittens and puppies running through the streets, but that is bawal
  • We're usually followed by a parade of small children who I am also not allowed to touch.
  • We take a Tricycle, a little cart attached to a motorcycle, or a Jeepney wherever we're going, sometimes involving driving through the jungle
  • We teach the nicest people in houses that are maybe 3 rooms. And by 3 rooms I mean their whole house is as big as my bedroom at home
  • They always offer us soda and crackers
  • We head home at 8:00, curfew for sisters
  • Plan for an hour
  • Eat dinner and write in journals and talk about all the times we got punted that day or all the successes we had and just enjoy life
  • Bedtime at 10:30! My alarm clock usually informs me it is 90 degrees in our room when I go to sleep. 
And then we do it all over again! Except Mondays are P-days, Wednesdays are District Meetings, and Sundays we have church. It's a pretty crazy adjustment, but I'm getting used to it and even starting to love it. Sorry this letter isn't really super inspirational, next week! I did read a really good scripture, Mosiah 5:12. It talks about how Christ's name should be written on our hearts. I have his name literally over my heart but I want it to be there forever, even after my 18 months are up. 

Have a fun and safe week my darlings! I love you and appreciate your emails and letters and all you have ever done for me to make me who I am! Never forget that you are loved.

Mahal kita! 

XOXO, Sister Brown

(Note:  So it ends up Shalee DID create a different account which I now can access so here are a bunch of pictures from the last couple weeks.  She doesn't send me any captions so bare with me as I guess what the pictures are?? hehe)

Going to guess that this is the blood soup she tried??
More tasty treats!
Yay for Dairy Queen...she's gonna survive!
New District

Cute family...
How sweet are they?

Sis. Smart and Sis. Brown out on the town
Sis. Banzali  and Sis. Calla
No clue what this is all about...maybe she is admiring his motorcycle...or scared to venture into the jungle?
More ice cream....yummy!

Beautiful flowers!!

Cute kitties everywhere

So What??? hehe


Family after Shalee was set apart...