Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving in the 'Bang‏

You all are probably currently preparing yourself to stuff your faces full of food to celebrate the Pilgrims coming to America. That's America for ya ;) Grandpa, eat an extra pumpkin pie for me! A whole one. So to start off, I want to say what I'm thankful for. Flushing toilets, cereal, and small spiders. But on a more serious note, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission and to see how the gospel changes people, especially how it's changed me. And I am extremely grateful for each and every one of you. For all of your emails and letters (thanks Grandpa Brown and the wonderful Brown family for the letters!), your encouraging words, your prayers, your support, and your love. Leaving everything behind for a whole new world makes you realize just how blessed you are and I am very, very blessed. And to show my gratitude, here is a very Filipino recipe called Oreo Balls that we make almost every single day.

Oreo Balls
2 sleeves of Oreos
1 regular sized can of sweetened condensed milk
Crushed Graham Crackers
Mix them all together, put it in the fridge until it sets up, make into little balls and roll in crushed grahams, nuts, sprinkles or dip 'em in chocolate, whatever you want!
You are welcome.

Updates for the week, I ate snails. Bet that makes ya really hungry for Thanksgiving! They actually weren't too bad, kinda like mushrooms. Also, one of our investigators told us he just wanted to go to the Terrestial Kingdom because it sounded kinda hard to get to the Celestial. I wasn't quite sure what to say to that... And I met another Sione. His name is Elder Vimihi and he's from Tonga and I swear him and Sione are the same person. Speaking of Sione, haven't heard from him for awhile... (It worked last time, thought I'd give it a try ;)) He is also from the Tacloban mission. We got 15 new missionaries and there are a few in my zone. They are all amazing and I love them for serving! And finally, Mission Tour was Monday. That's where the area 70 president and his wife, President Brent Nielson and Sister Marcia Nielson, come and speak and then he picks a few people to interview. I was the lucky one! And I'd woken up at 4am to get there so I was super coherent. But let me just say, the love of the General Authorities is just so evident in their eyes. They truly are disciples of Christ, you just know when you look at them. And I really hope that one day people will see that in me too.

As for investigators, last week I mentioned Joel and Arianne needing prayers. If you prayed, thank you! We went to them later that night and they just looked so burdened down. They told us that Arianne's mother, who is super Catholic and in whose house they live in, wouldn't allow Ari to get baptized. Of course, the choice was theirs but being baptized meant risking being kicked out of the house and having to uproot their little family and move to Cavite, another mission. All 4 of us, Sister Meti and I and Joel and Arianne, fasted and prayed that they would be able to get baptized. And although it was postponed for a week, they're getting baptized! They know that it's right and Joel just wants to have the Priesthood in his home and Arianne doesn't want to add any more time to the year they have to wait to be sealed in the temple. So they are getting baptized. The thing is, it's secret. And I'm a little worried about it. But we talked about the consequences and they have the faith that everything will be fine so I trust that it will. They are just the cutest little things ever! I love them!  Noli is also getting baptized a week late but he is so ready. He is just so much happier and has so much more direction in his life now. And he has the sweetest, most sincere testimony.

This is for all of you returned missionaries. I'm feeling a little stuck lately, like I have to teach Lesson 1 the same way every time because that's just how we do it. But I know that isn't how it should be. So how can we mix it up a little?

Thought of the week is from Mission Tour. There is holiness in everyday life. But sometimes it isn't apparent. We have to look for it. For example, walking into a messy room with toys and clothes all over could be a cause of stress, or it could be a scene of holiness. The mess means Heavenly Father has trusted you with his precious children. The toys mean someone loves those kids enough to buy them toys. The clothes mean someone cares if those kids are warm. It really is holy. So my goal this week is to find holiness in the Philippines because sometimes, it seems to be a very unholy place. Challenge to you, find holiness in your life. 

Have a great week, eat some turkey for me, and shop til ya drop!

XOXO, Sister Brown

Cabuyao zone on the way to mission tour

Mission Tour..not sure who was manning the camera but no one is ready..guess you need candid shots too?
Sister Brown and President Brent H. Nielsen

Yeah...those snails are the ones you find in your garden!

Tastes like chicken! ;)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pigeon Infestation‏

Shalee's fans...she says they chant Sister Brown, Sister Brown as they follow her around! So cute!

Well we have a pigeon infestation. There are 5 pigeons who have made our little back porch their home. And one of them may have exploded. Right over where we hang our clothes to dry. We love pigeons. And can I just say, Halloween candy tastes 1 million times better than regular candy! I got to open my 2nd giant package this week and it was full of Halloween candy which has now been consumed by the 4 Canlubang sisters. Thanks mom! And the Christmas tree is seriously the most adorable thing I have ever seen! Maraming salamat po para sa lahat ng pagkain! We love it. With all of  our chubby little hearts ;) 

Tender mercies and little miracles. That is what this week was. Just little things, but I just know Heavenly Father watches out for his missionaries, and all of His children really. One of them included another little boy walking up and giving me a flower and all of the little kids on the street following me out of the neighborhood every day. I just love them! And second of all, somehow we got 17 new investigators this week! The average is 7 and that's usually a struggle. One day we went tracting in Ceris 3 expecting no one to let us in because it's a really hard area, but somehow we found all the people that had been taught before by the Elders. We even found a man who had a Book of Mormon and said he used it as a reference when he attended his Catholic church! Plus we just taught a lot of really hard lessons this week. We had to drop one of our investigators that I've been teaching since the very beginning because she just wasn't progressing, we had to teach the Law of Chastity to an investigator who lives with her boyfriend but isn't married, and we had to teach about the Sabbath Day and ask one of our investigators to talk to his boss about working on Sundays. I was super nervous but one by one they accepted the lessons and no one threw anything at us so it's all good! 

And you may already know, but the Tacloban missionaries are all safe and accounted for and the mission has been closed. So we now have 15 new missionaries from Tacloban! Thank you for your continued prayers for the people and the missionaries in the areas that were affected by the typhoon. They really need them.

On another note, Joel and Arianne were MIA this week. We are really worried about them because they are of course having obstacles placed in their way left and right. Their baptism is supposed to be in 2 weeks but Arianne's mom all of a sudden doesn't want them to be baptized and they live with her so they can't really go against her will unless they are willing to move. So prayers for them this week would be greatly appreciated!

And here is the optimism quote I talked about last week:
"There is so much to be happy about in this world. And  when we fail to see the world around us for the wonder and joy that it has to offer and when we refuse to see the hope and the light everywhere around us, we are not seeing the world as it truly is. We are not seeing the world as Heavenly Father sees it."

How true is that? The world is a good place and if we look, there is ALWAYS something to be happy about! But we also have agency, and we can choose not to see it or not to focus on it. And I'll be honest, sometimes I do that. I have little pity parties for myself and I refuse to see the good in the world. Yes, there are trials. We all have them. And some days it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But there is a light. We just have to look for it. That's what I did this week and there's so much sunshine I need a bigger sunshine notebook! So that's my challenge to you this week. Look for your own Sunshine Moments. Look for the good in the world. And I promise you'll see God's hand in your life and the life of those around you. 

Love you all and thanks for your love and support! Have a fabulous week!

XOXO, Sister Brown
Christmas in November

Salamat Po Grandma!

Cutest idea ever!

I might have cried opening this...

Biggest box ever!

Full cupboards!

Arianne's b-day

Fav little fam!

As good as the sunset gets in the 'Bang

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Kumakain mga Langgam‏

Riding in the Tricycle

Kumain ako mga langgam para almusal, masarap sila! Meaning I ate ants for breakfast. You might think I'm joking. But I'm dead serious.  I poured a bowl of cereal this morning and a bunch of tiny little ants started running around my bowl. So what did I do? I poured some milk and dug in! Extra protein, di ba? Cereal is a precious resource here and I wasn't about to let the ants win! Haha it's more fun in the Philippines. Which reminds me, I experienced the Filipino bluntness yesterday when one of the members told me "You used to be skinny when you got here, but now you're mahaba." Uh... thanks? And as for bagyo Yolanda, we survived. The whole mission had to stay in Friday because of it, but here's the thing. In the 'Bang, we live in a bubble. While the rest of the Philippines was getting ripped apart, Canlubang was experiencing some light rain and a nice breeze. So no worries. We're fine. The missions in the Visayas are pretty torn up though so keep them in your prayers please.

Speaking of work, it was a slow week. Everyone was busy so we mostly taught members and OYM'd so we've got some promising prospects for this week! Joel and Arianne even gave us a referral! They are seriously the greatest and I'll be honest, sometimes I'm afraid they're too good to be true and this will be the lesson they tell us not to come back. But Heavenly Father really does prepare people and I've gotta leave it in His hands. 

Since I had some extra time Friday, I had time to read a talk. It was by Jeffrey R. Wilkes and it was about how we can be optimistic in a pessimistic world. I loved it! There was a great quote but unfortunately I left it at the apartment so next week. 

Instead, I'm gonna give you all some tips. As a missionary, nothing really makes you happier than letters or emails from home on a bad day. But I know that a lot of people think "I don't know what to say. I'm not inspirational. They don't want to know about my life." But I think I speak for all missionaries when I say that we do! We don't care what you write about, tell us what you had for breakfast! A letter is a letter and it's just nice to be reminded you aren't forgotten when you're so far from home. But if the breakfast idea doesn't cut it, here are some other ideas. Share a missionary moment you had, no matter how simple it may have been, you're favorite scripture, quote, or story, tell a funny story or a joke (we need some laughs too), share what's happening on the home front, especially if the missionary is in another country, or just write about your life. Seriously, just write a missionary. You don't even have to know them. And I'm not begging for letters. You do pretty well (but I could always use more... :D) But maybe write my companion. Her email is And her address is the same as mine. 

Have a great week mga kaibigan ko! Mahal kita palagi!

XOXO, Sister Brown

Hope this wasn't the day they were supposed to stay in? :/ 

American dinner...fried chicken, mashed potatoes and corn

Sister Smart and Sister Meti enjoying their meal
We LOVE lemon soda!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Another one bites the dust! Or the mud... there's not much dust‏!

Cabuyao Zone

Ang ulo ko ay kiti-kati. Or something like that. It means my head is itchy. (She's had a cold all week!) Today was zone P-day and we hiked to the hot mud springs in Makiling rain forest. Sounds pretty legit, di ba? It was. But it was also exhausting so I hope this letter makes sense. We had curfew at 6 pm 3 days this week because it was Halloween, All Saint's Day, and elections and people like to get crazy. So what did we do with our 2 extra hours? We had a Halloween party in the 'Bang! Which consisted of us making tacos and putting on mustaches (thanks mom!) and taking lots of pictures. Then we made cookies 3 at a time in our little toaster oven. All while wearing a malong, which is like a laba-laba, Filipino style. It doesn't get much better than that. We also did some more tracting this week. Man I love tracting! It's kinda bad though because I can no longer take it seriously. There was one guy who put in his best effort to teach us about Jehovah and invite us to his church. It was honestly like he didn't hear a word I said and when we walked away I burst into laughter. I couldn't help it, it was funny. There will definitely be more tracting to come!

So we didn't get to teach a whole lot this week because of curfew and also because everyone goes back to their home  province for All Saints' Day so no one was home, but Joel and Arianne are doing great! They just get it, it just makes sense. And this week they asked us if we had a church in Cavite. Why you might ask? Because they actually have a house there. They've been living here for a couple of years with a relative and are planning on moving back this next year. So do you think it was an accident that they were here when they were. Cause I sure don't! They continue to share stories with us about how the Book of Mormon is strengthening them as a family and individually too. They are so much happier, they have so much more light. And they had light before. But now it radiates. I just love them!

President Peterson and Sister Peterson came to our apartment to practice teach this week. They are just the most amazing people! Practice teaching with the mission president is when you realize you are being a missionary all wrong. So let me share with all you future missionaries (which is all of you because everyone should be a missionary!) the real purpose of missionaries. Sometimes, especially as sisters, we get all caught up in telling people how the Book of Mormon and the gospel can change their life and they can feel closer to God and they can just feel good. That's true and that's important and that's definitely a part of it. But what is the purpose of the Book of Mormon? I'll tell you. It's the evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. It's to convince people of Christ. It's to help people  know that this church is the only true church on the face of the earth. And telling them to read it because they'll feel good just isn't why we're here. We are here to help people know that this church is true and that the ONLY way they can know that is to read the Book of Mormon. Who would've thought the purpose of being a missionary would be to help people know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true? It was a good reminder.

And here is my favorite thing. President Peterson told me this awhile back and he told us Canlubang sisters again. Just think about this. Why is it that Heavenly Father didn't just have the pioneers stop in Nebraska? There was no one there, it was good land. But instead they had to go across the plains and over the Rocky Mountains, into the barren desert we call Utah. Fewer people would have died, the journey would have been easier, so why? Why does God make us go through trials, especially ones that seem above our ability to bear? Well I want you to think about it yourself. But this is what I came up with. He knows what you can become. He knows how strong you really are. And He knows the things you are going to face in the future. So He prepares you. I firmly believe that the struggles I went through in my life that seemed unfair or unnecessary prepared me to deal with the things I've had to deal with as a missionary. And I know that every trial any of you have ever been through has made you stronger, has helped you become closer to the person you are meant to become. God doesn't give us trials just for fun, he does it because He really truly loves us.

Have a fabulous week and enjoy your snow storm! 

XOXO, Sister Brown

Canlubang Sisters

Tree huggers

Sister Kerr and I

Our ward in the 'Bang

Four months already (hate to say but I'm jealous of Sister Meti's 15 months!)

14 Fast Sundays left! :)

Our Malongs

We ate a whole plate of cookies, what of it?

Mexican in the Pinas

I mustache you a question?