Mission changes and other madness

So this week was crazy, but it was crazy awesome! We had a ton of changes and meetings this week, which made for a ton of fun.

On Monday we had a normal P-Day. Like usual we did sports with the West Columbia Zone and all that good stuff.

Tuesday we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I went to the ZL’s area with Elder DeG., which was a lot of fun. It was kinda cool going on exchanges with him because he was my ZL in Greenville Zone as well. We had a lot of adventures navigating through vast trailer parks after dark and I spent a lot of time trying to understand Spanish.

Elder DeG. and I also spent a lot of time picking up trash on the side of the road as a service project. I have come to realize that if people would just obey the Word of Wisdom we would not have nearly as much litter, because pretty much all we pick up is cigarette cartons and empty beer bottles.

That was pretty much most of our exchange.

On Wednesday we exchanged back and then went to a Worldwide Mission Broadcast that the Church put out. In the broadcast they had a couple pretty big announcements. The first one was that the mission schedule would be changing. That wasn’t too big of a surprise because we had already been expecting that. We now do planning in the morning instead of night, and we don’t do companionship study in the morning anymore. Along with this change, we basically have the ability to change our schedule to our needs. After 9 we don’t have to worry about planning anymore, we simply get ready for bed and write in our journals, etc. The other really cool schedule change is that P-Day’s now start at 8, so we get an extra 2 hours added to our day! It is super nice and gives us a lot more time to get stuff done.

The other big change came by surprise. Not even our mission president knew about this one beforehand. We now only report 4 key indicators to our leaders each week. Which is a huge scale down from the 9 that we used to have to record each week.

Anyway, these changes were pretty cool. After the broadcast we did some service for PAALS, the animal training place, and then we spent the rest of the evening driving to Charleston to sleep over with the Charleston Elders. Elder Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy was scheduled to tour the mission on Thursday so we decided to drive down at night instead of waking up at 5 to get there on time from Columbia.

The mission tour with Elder Clayton was really cool! Elder Clayton is a really awesome guy, and you can definitely tell that he has been set apart as a general authority. He had a very strong testimony about him and you just felt happy being around him. Halfway through the meeting when we were about to break for lunch, he asked for a prayer on the food and President Turner just randomly volunteered me out of nowhere. I was pretty surprised when Elder Clayton grabbed me by the arm and started talking to the mission with me up there, and then let me say the prayer. Some random missionary took a picture of me up there and you can definitely tell that I was scared. (Scroll to the bottom of this post to see it). Anyway, overall it was an awesome meeting. We learned a ton and I am super glad that I got to meet him.

Friday was pretty slow. We had a bunch of planning to do and then when we did get out it was not for very long.

Saturday was good. We helped the Ch. family move to their new place in Elgin. They had a back shed that their daughter used to live in before they kicked her out for using drugs. We helped them clean it out, and man that place was filthy. I don’t even know how to describe how disgusting it was, but it just looked like someone sat there and did nothing but drugs for months and months without cleaning.

After we helped the Ch.’s with moving, we visited the L. family. They are a less active family that really should not be less active. They are super nice, but their reasons for not coming to church is that the “sound system is bad,” and “people won’t take their screaming babies out.” I tried to explain to them that the reason why we come to Sacrament meeting is for the Sacrament, but I don’t think my point got across.

Sunday was fine but it was a little slow. We didn’t have too much success talking to people and our usual Sunday appointment with the W.’s fell through.

That was the week. I don’t really understand why people actually like reading these emails. Maybe it’s just mom.

Elder Clayton talked about something really interesting at the mission conference. He said that if we are discouraged, we are being self-centered. That really hit me hard, because I find myself getting discouraged all of the time out here and I really never looked at it as myself being self centered. It is good to remember that being discouraged and negative is what Satan wants you to be. He wants you to not only be unhappy but also be self centered. Anyway, just a thought.

Whelp, that was mah week. Tune in next week for the same update puked out in different colors and patterns.

MUCH LUVS

Elder Jeremiah Brown

Some info. he sent in answer to questions:
The ward I am in is pretty small. The members are pretty helpful. We rarely get meals, simply because of the member meals policy. We are pretty used to that now though.

Elder Brown with Elder Clayton

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Another week

Monday

So today was a lot of fun. We had a sports day with the Columbia and West Columbia Zones and played some basketball and jungleball (a dodgeball like game with just one ball and no boundaries). I was again reminded how terrible I am at basketball. Like literally the harder I try the worse I am. I’m 90% sure my great great great grandpa offended a witch doctor or something and then they cursed his posterity to be bad at basketball, but, for some reason the curse only affected one of his great great great grandchildren.

Before we played sports and stuff we went to this Chinese place called Egg Roll Chen. It was ok, but we had heard from other missionaries that it was AMAZING and we were kinda let down.

After our P-Day activities, we went to go contact this Bible referral we got for a man named Joseph Smith.

Yep, that’s not a typo.

We literally got a referral for Joseph Smith. We were really hoping that he was going to be really interested and want to join the church, but he ended up being this old guy who wasn’t too interested and pretty much just wanted his Bible. We will probably go by again, and who knows, maybe his heart will soften and I will be able to check baptizing Joseph Smith off of my bucket list.

Tuesday

Today was my first DDM here in Windsor Lake. I think it went pretty well. I just talked about ways we can find new investigators pretty much. After DDM, Elder LeC. from Sandhills area (never thought I would be with Sandhills again) and I went on exchanges here in Windsor Lake.

Elder LeC. is a great guy. He’s doing this weird diet thing where he only drinks this odd mixture of lemonade, Cayenne pepper, and maple syrup, for 10 days straight. He doesn’t eat or drink anything else besides water. Apparently he said its not that hard and you don’t feel weak. It clears all of the toxins trapped in your body and you lose around 2 pounds a day. It sounds miserable to me but hey people will do whatever to be healthy.

Anyway, we had a pretty fun exchange. We biked all over the place and I finally got the chance to explore the area more. We found a lot of cool places and I wish I had brought my camera because some of the places were beautiful.

Elder LeC. and I had an interesting experience at a less actives house. We showed up to the trailer and a lady walked outside and started talking to us. We asked her if the people we were looking for lived there, and she said that they had moved, but that she was their mom. Apparently she used to be a member before she had her name removed. Her family all converted a while back and then in the space of just a bit over a year most of them had their names removed. We asked why and she just said that it wasn’t what they were used to and they wanted to go back to being baptists. It was kinda an odd conversation. I asked her to do me a favor and take one of our Book of Mormons and just read a bit from it and ask yourself if this was something that improved your life. She refused and said that she didn’t want to try because it would only lead her to sadness. So I asked if she would just take it and put it on her bookshelf, and not even bother reading it, and she still refused. I told her that I was not trying to get her to join the church again, or even come to church again, but that I was offering her a Book of Mormon simply because I want everyone to have the same blessings and happiness it has given me, and by rejecting it she would be rejecting happiness. You could tell that she was feeling the Spirit, but she still refused. So, we wished her the best of luck and went on our way.

Anyhow, the rest of the exchange went smoothly. We went by a few peoples houses but nothing too notable happened.

Wednesday

Today we did a lot of service. Every week or so missionaries in Columbia volunteer for an organization named SBP. They help rebuild homes that were damaged during the flood. So we spent a large chunk of our day putting up drywall, sanding, and painting. It was actually a lot of fun.

After we did service we went to Ward Coordination and met with our WML Brother S. He is an awesome guy. He does things a lot differently than we did in Greenville, but he’s still awesome.

Thursday

Today I spent the morning helping the ZL’s make English class flyers. I don’t know why people always come to me for their tech problems.

After that we did service for PAALS, the dog training place. I had the lucky opportunity to clean out the bus, which is what they transport all of the dogs in. Man that thing was filthy. It took almost 3 hours to vacuum and mop the thing repeatedly until it was cleaner.

I don’t remember exactly what we did after that so clearly it wasn’t too crazy.

Friday

Today we had weekly planning in the morning and then we went and helped Sister DeC. (the family that moved in from Sac town) move a washer and dryer into their apartment. After that we went and visited a bunch of people. We went by the Ch.’s, our most progressing investigators. They told us that they would be moving to Elgin, so we are going to be losing them. I think that this is what God wants for them, because literally everything is lining up perfect for them. The place they are moving into is bigger, cheaper, and has more land. Russell Ch. wasn’t sure they were going to make it financially this month, but his boss just happened to give him an extra weeks pay and a raise just because he respected him and his hard work lately. There have been a lot of miracles that have led up to them moving, so I think that maybe the Elgin ward or maybe the Elgin elders will be better for them.

That was most of the day.

Saturday

So today was pretty slow. It rained a TON and it wasn’t safe to go out for a few parts of the day. We got soaked. We went by a lot of people and didn’t have too much success. The only crazy thing that happened was when we went by W. J., our recent convert, and he told us to come by another day because they had just had a death in the family. His brother-in-law had been randomly shot and killed just down the road the night before. It was a good reminder that this area has a lot of bad parts in it. Gotta love the ghetto. Aside from that though, it was just one of those days that just kinda blends in with the rest of the week.

Sunday

Today was awesome! We had a great sacrament meeting and then afterward we went home and I took a lunchtime nap.

After that we did a lot of work in the areabook, had dinner, and then in the evening we went out with Brother Se., a member of the ward and visited a few people. It poured rain the entire night and didn’t make going up to random peoples houses very fun. We got to visit with the Ch.’s again and Brother Se. was a great match for them. They got along super well and even though they are moving away from this ward, it was definitely good for them to meet someone besides us from the church.

We had a great lesson with them and you could definitely feel the spirit there. That pretty much made the day because it really cheered us up. After that we went home, and I made calls until we went to bed.
Anyhow, this week was a little hard but it was really good overall and it ended on a good note. Plus starting this upcoming week we will be having longer P-Days! So I can’t be unhappy knowing that is coming up!

Well I gotta go. Hope you guys have a great week!

With a heart two sizes too small,

Love,

Elder Jeremiah Brown

Another week in Windsor Lake

So this week was pretty good. Nothing too crazy happened. It was
actually pretty slow but I guess not every week can be crazy awesome.

So on Monday we spent P Day with the Hopkins Elders, which means I got
to hang out with Elder H. (comp. from Blythewood)! That was super fun because I haven’t
gotten to see him in a long time and he is probably my best friend in
the mission.

Tuesday we visited a bunch of people and didn’t have too much success.
We biked a ton and honestly nothing too noteworthy happened.

Wednesday we probably biked 20+ miles. We went all over the place and
got to talk to a few people, but nothing too significant happened. I
probably found close to 25 pennies on the road. After we biked around
the world, we went to Ward Coordination and had a good meeting there.

Thursday we do a weekly service project at PAALS, which is an Animal
Assisted Living training center. We get to play with the puppies and
help maintain the facility there. It is a lot of fun because basically
as service we get to play with dogs. After nothing too significant
happened until about 9 we got a call from an unknown number. I
immediately recognized the number because it was a 916 area code. It
was a member from Foothills ward in Sacramento asking for help moving
into this ward! Unfortunately we were not able to help him but it was
cool talking to someone from back home.

Friday was ZTM which was good. Afterward we went to Zaxby’s with the
ZL’s and then went home and changed into service clothes for a service
project we were going to help the ZL’s with. They are Spanish elders
and we were going to help them clean up one of their less active
members back yards, an man it was filthy. There was trash everywhere
and a pile of dead crabs which smelled worse than almost anything I
have smelled in a long time. It took pretty much the entire rest of
the day to clean the yard up and then we headed home for the night.

Saturday

Today we also biked a TON. We really didn’t get to talk to very many
people but we worked hard I guess. Nothing else too significant
happened.

Sunday we had sacrament meeting which was good. Afterward we went to
visit a recent convert here and taught him about the priesthood. The
rest of our evening was spent planning and preparing for the rest of
the week.

So as I typed this out the more I realized actually how dull this week
was. That’s ok though, I had a good attitude about it I think.

Hopefully next week will be more exciting. Until then,

Cheers

Elder Jeremiah Brown

Back to Blythewood

Ok so unlike the title says, I have not gone back to Blythewood. It just sounded cool and I am right across the street so I figured I would make that the title of my email.

So I am now District Leader over the Windsor Lake District, which is basically Blythewood 2.0. That’s ok though, because I really like this ward! I think that I will have a lot of fun here. My new comp is Elder C., from somewhere in Utah Valley. He has been out as long as I have so we were in the MTC at the same time. He’s pretty cool and we have fun together.

I am pretty sad to leave Greenville though. I really enjoyed my time there and I was not expecting to leave this transfer.

Anyway, a lot of crazy stuff happened this week. Probably the biggest thing was the mission being visited by Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder L. Whitney Clayton, and Elder McArthur of the Seventy. That was a really awesome meeting. We all got to gather as a mission and hear words and council from these men. Let me say that just being around these guys makes you feel great inside. There is definitely something special about them. It was especially cool to meet Elder Stevenson. He is an amazing man and I was amazed by just how real he is as a person.

It was also really cool to see all of the missionaries from around the mission. There were a lot of familiar faces that I have not gotten to see in a long time.

Wednesday was transfer meeting, so I got to see a lot of people there as well. For some reason I just already knew that I was going to Windsor Lake before I even got there. I just felt like that was where I was going next. I asked one of the AP’s if I was going to Windsor Lake and he said yes and asked how I found out. I just told him that I felt like I was going to be going there next and I guess I was right.

So Windsor Lake is a bike area. Yay. I am so happy about that.

It has been VERY cold lately, and biking in this does not make things any better. This morning it was like 17 degrees outside and man the humidity makes it terrible.

Anyway, that’s all I have to talk about today. I am not very focused right now so I apologize for the shortness and vagueness of this email. I will talk to you all next week!

LUVS

Elder Jeremiah Brown

 

Mission Conference:  Elder Brown is on the back row, tenth missionary from the right.

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Goodbye Greenville

What a week it has been. I could not have foreseen the events that took place.

So as you can tell in the email heading, I am leaving Greenville. I was really not expecting to be leaving this transfer. I mean, I have been here for 6 months now, but I was pretty sure I was going to be here 9 months or so. I guess that would have been too good to be true.

The crazy part is that Elder B. will be leaving as well, so we will be getting whitewashed. I was very surprised to find that out because Elder B. just got here 5 weeks ago and now he is getting the boot as well. I asked the AP why we were getting whitewashed and he just said it was the way things worked out this transfer.

I am a little disappointed, but I guess this is what needs to happen.

Anyway, as a result of this you will be getting a really short email because I have very little time. We have to prep the area for the next missionaries, pack, and say goodbyes before Wednesday morning, which takes a TON more time that it would seem. Especially because we still don’t have a car. More on that later.

So first off, G. and R. were baptized on Saturday! It went really smoothly and I still can’t believe it went so well. Probably the smoothest baptism I have ever heard of happening. Brother S. baptized them, and I confirmed them on Sunday.

Let me just say that confirming people is kinda scary. I don’t have trouble talking in front of large groups of people, but doing sacred ordinances in front of large groups of people is a whole other thing.

So we were supposed to get the car back on Tuesday, but knowing my luck with bureaucracy we still do not have our car back. The part that gets my blood boiling is that there is literally a working car sitting in the shop, but we are still on bikes.

The car has been fixed since Tuesday afternoon, but they are having insurance issues and won’t let the ZL’s take their car back until after they pay. So basically the Zone Leaders are driving our car while their car sits, fully functioning, in the shop and we have to bike around our obnoxiously large and mountainous area.

I cannot put my hatred for administrative, bureaucratic, baboonish nonsense into words in the English language because such words do not exist and should probably not be spoken.

15 years with Geico can save you 15% or more on car insurance. It can also save you 100% on car insurance by giving you a bike. Love you too Geico Gecko.

So we have done a lot of biking this week. On Tuesday we ended up coming in early because we were both sick and we hardly had the energy to bike at all. I almost blacked out going up one of the hills we were biking.

We met a couple cool people biking. I suppose that is probably the reason why we have been put on bikes; to find people who we would otherwise not find in a car. And so I try to remain positive about it, however, it still does not change my strong dislike for bureaucracy.

On Wednesday we did some service for this old man that had just moved in. We helped him unpack a lot of his stuff and I learned what adult diaper packages look like. I will now keep my eye out whilst going through people’s stuff.

On Friday we did some service for Habitat for Humanity, which was fun. After that we went to First Wok, a Chinese food place, because they give free food to the missionaries. It was there that I learned that Chow Mein in real Chinese places is actually not noodles, it is vegetables.

Saturday was good obviously because it was the baptism. It went really smoothly and afterward we stayed home for the rest of the night because all the missionaries have to stay in for New Years Eve for safety. That was when we got the crazy call that we were leaving.

Sunday was great. We had the confirmation of Gloria and Ramón and then we said our goodbyes to the ward. I will definitely miss this ward. We spent the rest of the evening writing notes for the next missionaries who will be coming here.
Overall it was a great week. I am very sad that I am leaving here but it will be nice to get some change. I’m sure I will have a lot to talk about next week. Sorry if I was vague in this email.

Anyway, I gotta dash.

With love and sunshine,

Elder Jeremiah Brown