Another week

So this week was good. Due to some scheduling conflicts though, I have hardly any time to email today. Not that I ever have much time to email, but this ones gonna be short.

Anyways this week wasn’t nearly as fast paced as last week, but it was still good!

Monday we spent the day in Gaffney with the Gaffney Elders. It was kinda weird going back to my old area but it was fun. We just hung out and played games.

Tuesday we had DDM and I went on exchanges with Elder Br. in Boiling Springs. It was way fun and we had a lot of good stuff happen. Elder B. and Elder E. (who swapped places with me for the day) had a really good lesson with our investigator B., so that was awesome!

Wednesday we exchanged back and then went to do some service for the MTCC. After that we went to Habitat for Humanity and did some more demolition service for them, which was fun. We finished the night by having Book of Mormon class, which went a lot better than last weeks because we actually had people show up.

Not a whole lot happened on Thursday but in the evening we had a dinner appointment with a non member and her member friends, which was awesome. They took us out to a really nice Italian restaurant and it was way good. After that we had an appointment with a recent convert, which went well.

Friday and Saturday were pretty slow, but weren’t bad. We just didn’t have a whole lot happen.

Sunday was really good. Our investigators didn’t come, which we were bummed out about, but they had a pretty good excuse.

They asked us to come over later, because apparently they had some really weird, creepy stuff happening in their house, and it got really bad right when they were getting ready for church. I won’t go into too much detail, but Satan is working hard to scare them away. We blessed the house and had a good discussion with them. We also had a good visit with Brother T., a less active member.

Anyways, that was about all that happened this week. Sorry this email is kinda vague, we keep cramming too much into our P-Days.

I’ll talk more next week! Thanks for everything!

Love,

Elder Jeremiah Brown

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First week in the burg

Well it’s been a crazy week. Kinda stressful week as well. Where do I begin?

Spartanburg is awesome! I am really liking it here and my companion Elder B. is way cool so we are having a blast here. Elder B. is a very good (and healthy) cook, so I am eating better than I have anywhere else on my mission. My body is rediscovering what vegetables are.

Spartanburg 2nd Ward (or at least our part of it) covers the towns of Duncan, Lyman, and Welford. It is very middle class, which is very nice for missionary work, although after serving in Gaffney and Windsor Lake for the last year it seemed very upper class at first. Like literally, our ghetto is the equivalent of the upper class of East Gaffney (the part of Gaffney we covered).

Monday and Tuesday were the bulk of this week’s stress. Trying to cram a week’s worth of work into two days was madness. Lots of time was spent saying goodbyes to people and packing up all of our stuff. We said final goodbyes to Sister B. on Monday evening and then said goodbye to Sister S. and her son J. on Tuesday evening. Many of you probably saw pictures of that on Facebook.

Wednesday was good but rough. We transferred early in the morning and I went straight to Spartanburg rather than going to the Transfer Meeting in Columbia, because Spartanburg is right next to Gaffney. I spent the day running off of 3ish hours of sleep and it was bad. We also happened to have tons of service planned in for most of the day so I got wrecked. We moved literally thousands of canned goods from the community center to a storage unit, and then afterward we went to Habitat for Humanity and did demolition on old furniture for them. It was very fun putting sledge hammers into entertainment centers, but it was very tiring. I slept very well that night.

Thursday we went to the community center again (we normally only go on Wednesdays) because they were critically in need of some help. We moved even more cans, and I definitely wore myself out. After that we went and had an appointment with a less active sister. We answered a lot of questions she had about D&C and then she committed to going to church this week, without us asking at all! From there we went to go see a potential named E. He was really nice and we had a good conversation with him. We are probably going to dinner with him next week, so that should be good. After we visited E., we had some dinner and then went to see a less active part member family. To our surprise, the non member wife started asking us a lot of questions about the Book of Mormon and then we had a really awesome lesson with her and her husband. She basically said everything a missionary dreams an investigator would say, like “Why don’t people try this out. I don’t understand why it’s any different from trying out any other church.” Basically we had a killer lesson with her and good things are going to happen there in the future.
After that we went and had a lesson with a less active family and it went really good. We talked to them a lot about the Book of Mormon and why it completes the Bible. Then, after that, we went and I was introduced to a recent convert family. Their 12 year old son J. is the only active one anymore and he is something else. Imagine untreated ADHD mixed with the wildest imagination you’ve ever heard of, plus teenage hormones. It was a fun visit and a good way to end the day. Anyways, Thursday was way good overall.

Friday was pretty good. We did weekly planning and then went and visited a less active family who’s son we are trying to get back into church. We basically hung out with him for a while and tried to slip in some gospel motivation here and there. Hopefully we will get him to church soon.

Saturday we had to go to Gaffney to get some stuff I had left behind, help wrap up the closing of the apartment, and hit the pharmacy. It was a pretty busy day overall but not a lot happened.

Sunday was really good. Church was awesome and I got to officially meet the ward. They are all way cool. Nothing else too notable happened during the day aside from us having an amazing fast breaking feast and getting in contact with a long lost less active.

Overall, it was a way good week! I am still getting used to the hustle and bustle here, as the work here is much faster paced. I suppose the exponential difference in population has a bit to do with that.

Anyways, I gotta get going. My computer time is about up. Thanks for all you do!

yarg

Elder Jeremiah Brown

Goodbye Gaffrica

Well, it is officially crunch time. My last transfer has begun, and it is going to be a wild one. As the title suggests, I will be leaving Gaffney and going to a new area for my last transfer! I am super stoked and it is going to be fun to see how much I can get done in one transfer.

I will be going to Spartanburg 2nd Ward (which is basically just down the road) with Elder B. who is way cool. I have also heard that the ward is really awesome so I am really looking forward to what is to come.

Elder S. and I will be leaving Gaffney, as they are closing down our area and are having the Gaffney ward run by just one set of missionaries instead of 2. I had been suspecting this for a while now, especially with them taking our car, so it didn’t really come as a surprise when President Innes gave us the news in interviews. Apparently our mission is losing 6 cars, not to mention a car totaled by a very unhappy deer, so they are having to downsize the number of car areas and increase the number of bike areas for elders. Sometimes I wish I was a sister.

Anyways, I am SUPER SUPER SUPER SUPER SUPER x 3 excited for the new opportunities this upcoming transfer will bring. Honestly it’s given me a huge burst of motivation to absolutely annihilate the next month and a half.

As far as other things go, this week was ok. For lack of better words, biking in Gaffney is terrible. I mean, I have no problem biking long distances. In Windsor Lake, Elder N. and I would sometimes bike 50 mile days. But biking on the roads out here in Gaffnanistan is stupidly dangerous, not to mention the street folk here are another level of insane. Lets just say I am glad the whole Gaffney Bike Elders idea is being put to rest.

Monday was interesting. We just chilled in our apartment and played card games for most of the day, and then randomly got hit with the most severe thunderstorm I have experienced on my mission. Come to find out, it was actually a category E2 tornado that touched down 2 or so miles away from our apartment. We would never have even realized this had we not gotten a call from the ZL’s asking if we were alive. Lightning actually struck the apartment and the power surge broke most of the light bulbs in the place. Honestly though, I didn’t think much about the whole tornado thing. We get tornado warnings all the time here, and they never actually happen.

On Tuesday I went on exchanges with Elder E., one of our ZL’s. Brother L., our YM president was driving us to visit a few people and told us about the tornado, and even took us to where it touched down a couple miles away from our place. Shame on me for blowing the whole thing off, because it did some major damage. Like making homes disappear, moving carport garages into trees, playing dominoes with telephone poles, etc.. If I had known that it was going to get so close to us I would have actually been worried.

Anyways, the rest of the week was pretty dull, aside from the weekend. Friday we had interviews with President which were really good. They are starting to bring back the ability to have meals with members and it should be way awesome! Friday was also when we found out about us leaving Gaffney, and I spent the rest of the evening freaking out and being excited.

Saturday we had the ward Trunk ‘o Treat which was way awesome! We were able to get one of our recent converts to bring her non member son and it was way cool! We decorated our trunk and handed out pass along cards and candy, and all in all I think it was a success.

Sunday was good. We had a linger longer after church that we were able to get our recent converts son to as well! It was really cool to see someone who was previously opposed to the church start showing interest!

 

I would like to finish this email by talking about an experience I had this week. In part of my Patriarchal blessing it talks about how I will meet and teach people that no one else will get along with or connect with as well. Though this blessing applies directly to me, I think the concept applies to everyone in one way or another. There are people out in the world that will only be receptive to the gospel because of your involvement.

Throughout my mission this has troubled me thoroughly. Though I have had the chance to bring several people into the church, I really never felt that I played a huge role in their conversion. I personally think they would have joined the church with or without me. As I am coming up on the end of my mission, this really started to bug me. It wasn’t until Saturday that I was told by our recent convert that the only reason why her son now showed interest in the church was because of me. Apparently, for reasons unknown to me (I have hardly done anything for this guy), her son was very impressed and drawn to me. No other missionaries had ever gotten him to participate in church activities and show interest in the church. I was the first to do it, and I didn’t even do anything! Literally all I did was invite him. Now that he has started doing stuff with the church, he has made a lot of member friends and wants to keep coming back, regardless of whether or not I am there. This whole experience made me realize that just because I won’t be teaching this man all of the lessons and baptizing him into the church, doesn’t mean I didn’t play a big role in his conversion. Every one of us has someone out there who needs us, and we need to find them. Though we aren’t the converter (the Spirit is of course), we will play irreplaceable roles in other’s lives.

Anyways, thanks again for all that all of you do! I will look forward to talking more next week about the new changes headed my way!

HAGS

Elder Jeremiah Brown

 

I cannot escape the bike

I don’t have too much to share with you this week, but I would like to share this experience I had that really changed the way I look at things.

I have been struggling over the past couple weeks with morale, which was hasn’t been a huge problem for me since I came out here, but as I get closer to going home it has gotten kinda bad at times. Monday was probably the worst yet, and then to make things worse we had our car taken away, leaving us slightly handicapped. All of these things happening at once were more than I thought I could handle, and I pretty much broke down into depression. To add onto my stress, we got asked by two people to immediately go give blessings to people with critical health during the middle of our P-Day activities. I didn’t think I could take it anymore. I am ashamed to say that in these people’s moments of need, I selfishly complained to myself about how it wasn’t fair that I was having to deal with other people’s problems when I was struggling to deal with my own. Nonetheless, my companion and I ended our P-Day early and went to go give these people a blessing.

It was a very old lady and her daughter that we were asked to go give a blessing to. The mother was in very bad condition, was not mentally functioning and wasn’t going to live for much longer. They were basically making her comfortable before she passed away. The daughter was what really moved me. As a child, she had been abused in every horrible way imaginable by her father, and her mother knowingly allowed it to happen. She grew up thinking that this abuse was the way parents showed love to their children, and was addicted to drugs and alcohol at a very young age. As a result of this lifestyle, she became slightly mentally handicapped. It wasn’t until at the age of 11, she became pregnant with her father’s child and was taken from the home by the government, and put into the foster care of a member of our church for a few years. Eventually she forgave her mother for all the things she had allowed happen to her, and moved back in. Because she was mentally handicapped, she spent most of life sitting inside being sustained by her mother. She was so overweight that she had to use a wheelchair, and had her voice box removed

Aside from her mother, the only other friend she had was this member who had asked us to go give her a blessing, and at this point the member was not very involved with her life. Now she was losing the only person that had taken care of her for the last 40 years, and really the only person she had a genuine relationship with in her life. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, trying to tell this lady who -mind you- was losing her only caretaker, and was in horrible health, that everything would be ok in the end. I was appalled at myself for feeling so sorry for myself, and for focusing on how bad I had things currently, when in reality they were nothing compared to her trials.

It really made me appreciate the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I cannot comprehend how he suffered for all of our sins and pain, when an individual person’s pain is greater than I can imagine having myself. As soon as I realized this, I decided to give up my sense of self pity, and really wanted to help this lady. In that moment all of my personal pain went away. I walked out of the hospital, after having what some people may consider a very shocking and depressing experience, and I felt happy. My problems certainly weren’t gone, and neither were the poor lady’s we had just given a blessing to, but through the service of others, I had forgotten myself. The Gospel of Jesus Christ works in amazing ways. While it may have been us administering the blessing, we were blessed in turn.

Anyways, aside from that this week was really slow and we spent a good chunk of the week figuring out logistics and arguing with the AP’s over what we were going to do with the area because it is most definitely not a bike area. Finally they decided to temporarily rearrange the boundaries and made us into the Gaffney bike elders, covering the small abandoned inner city of Gaffney. I won’t give you my personal opinion of this change, but lets just say I want the AP’s to try biking here before they make other people do it.

On Thursday we did some of the nastiest service I have done for this less active family. They moved into this house that was sold as is, and the previous owners literally just threw their garbage out the kitchen window into their backyard in a pile. We had to clean up some of the most horrifying things. I will attach some pictures.

We haven’t done much biking yet, due to my bike not currently functioning. So yeah.

Anyways, that was about all that happened this week. I will talk more next week!

lurvs

Elder Jeremiah Brown

Me in front of trash

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Me at Brother M.’s warehouse last week.

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The Gaffney District trying to take a cool picture and failing miserably.

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Yes that is a fluorescent light bulb cross with a sign saying “Jesus Saves” above it.

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My apologies

Hey guys,

So this is going to be my only email today, weekly and all (sorry family). I am not doing too well, just getting over a cold, and I have pretty much no time to type this out today.
Things this week weren’t too bad, and we had some fun times and even met a few new people, though nothing really noteworthy. I can pretty much sum this week up by saying that we did a lot of backwoods stomping and met and saw a lot of crazy people, guns, etc.
Today we found out we will be losing a car in the ward, which means we have to bike every other day. I just can’t seem to escape biking in horrible places.
We did service for Brother M. on Wednesday at his warehouse. He owns a huge old abandoned warehouse that he’s fixing up, and we helped him organize a HUGE amount of lightbulbs. That was a ton of fun.
Other than that, nothing too notable happened this week.
I gotta get going soon. Thanks for all the emails and all! I promise a good email next week!
Love,
Elder Jeremiah Brown

Disease

So this email is gonna be short and lame. I am feeling terrible and it hasn’t been that spectacular of a week. Basically my companion and I are diseased and feeling terrible, and I am just not feeling it right now. On second thought actually, I am feeling it right now. And by feeling it, I mean feeling endless rivers of liquid death coarse through my intestines as I type this. Also, please forgive any choppiness in this email, as I am having to frequently leave the computer and cast out demons in the bathroom. Sorry for the detail, just be glad you aren’t me.

Basically this week consisted of us getting smartphones, facebook, and yeah basically that’s it. Ok, so I guess it is a big deal, but I never was a huge fan of facebook in the first place and I thought I was taking a two year break when I came out here. Having Facebook is officially the weirdest thing. When I got on for the first time in almost 2 years, I was kinda expecting the world to have changed. I think being cut off for so long makes missionaries form wild ideas about how much the world has changed and how cool it will be to get back into it, but, as you can imagine, I was kinda dissapointed. Basically everyone just got older and had babies and stuff. The world didn’t change that much. It made me less excited to go home than I had been previously. I mean, I love it out here, but it is natural to sometimes be excited about things back home. Getting on Facebook took a lot of that away. But yeah, it’s fun stuff, and it’s really useful for getting information on less actives and investigators.

Having smartphones is way nice though. We are spoiled to say the least.

The last few days have been a complete blur of sickness. Elder S. came down with a really bad cold (ironically right after he got the flu shot) and I came down with who knows what. We’ve been off and on resting and going out and working. We’re kinda pathetic honestly. Two diseased guys in nice clothes going from trailer to trailer trying to talk to people.

Anyways, hopefully we start to feel better soon. I don’t think I can handle it much longer.

Again, I apologize for the content and quality of this email.

Well, I gotta go! I will talk more next week.

gatos,

Elder Jeremiah Brown

p.s. Never swallow jalapenos whole.

And another email

This week went by way fast and I don’t even know what to say about it. It was good I guess. Nothing crazy happened.

Monday we went to Spartanburg for P-Day and went to Guitar center and Barnes and Noble and basically spent the day playing around in those two stores because you can basically live in them.
Tuesday we had DDM and it went good. We talked about having the Spirit in all aspects of missionary work. After DDM we went and visited a ton of random less actives and former investigators, with little result. Lots of grumpy people. Ward coord got rescheduled to today and we had it at Brother M.’s house in the evening. We ate pizza and had lots of peppers. Brother M. is a spice nut and just chomps on cayennes and jalapenos like they’re carrots. I always leave there with my insides burning because when you have a bunch of guys around hot peppers, dares always ensue. After that we went to Sister B.’s and had a lesson with her. She just got her temple recommend back for the first time in 5 years, so we are way happy for her!
Wednesday we did service for one of our investigators, E., and it went pretty well. We cleaned out his gutters and then I climbed into a tree and cut a few limbs off for him. I now have respect for tree-cutters because not only was it a bit unnerving being up high, it is super exhausting. After that we cleaned up and went to Book of Mormon class, which was interesting as always. That pretty much ended the night, although Brother M. took us out for milkshakes afterward. (From a response to my asking about Book of Mormon classes here’s more info.:  We basically read from the Book of Mormon and discuss it as well as go over the lessons in the Book of Mormon Institute manual, which is awesome by the way. Usually it’s less actives that come to the class but every now and then we get investigators).
Thursday we did a TON of driving and visited a TON of people in the wastelands (which are beautiful by the way) of our area. We found this one less active who hadn’t been to church in over 25 years and had a great discussion with him. He had joined the church because of a girl he was dating, and when that didn’t work out he stopped coming. He told us that he had been thinking about going back to church lately, and decided that he would start coming back now. So basically, without any effort at all, we got this guy to commit to come back to church in 2 weeks. It was pretty awesome.
Friday we did service at the soup kitchen in the morning and then from there we went to visit Brother M. to do some yard work for him. After we had finished with this, we went and visited Sister S., a recent convert who went through the temple last month. She had just gotten out of the hospital and wasn’t doing the greatest, but was happy to meet with us and we had a great discussion with her. We also gave her a blessing, which was good for her because she hadn’t had very many and didn’t understand how they worked.
Saturday we had CONFERENCE!!! It was awesome. All the talks were amazing and I got a TON out of it. Probably one of my favorite conferences yet. During our down time during the day I practiced the piano for Zone Conference on Tuesday. People just assume I can play anything they ask because I can “play the piano.”
To all the piano playing future missionaries out there: LEARN ALL THE HYMNS BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL THINK YOU MAGICALLY KNOW ALL OF THEM EVEN THOUGH YOU CAN ONLY PLAY CHOOSE THE RIGHT BECAUSE IT’S THE EASIEST HYMN IN THE HYMN BOOK.
Anyway I’m done with that rant.
Sunday was awesome as well. General conference continued to be awesome. We went to the B.’s, a family in our ward, for the final session of General Conference and we had delicious crepes. The final session was very good and it was shocking to hear about Elder Hales passing away, but very cool to hear about Elder Nelson being in tune enough with the spirit to dash away from conference and be present while Elder Hales passed.
That was about all that happened this week. Next week should be very interesting. On Tuesday we will be getting smartphones and Facebook. I am trying to decide whether or not I like the idea of using Facebook. Regardless, expect some turmoil from me on there. Basically I will be going on there and cleaning up all of the junk, unfriending those random people you kinda met once, and unfollowing (not unfriending) EVERYONE. Don’t be offended, it’s what the church has us do, and it is just temporary while I am a missionary. Plus, I didn’t care to use facebook back home so it shouldn’t affect too much.
There were a lot of really cool themes this conference! One in particular I noticed was the importance of the Book of Mormon. Probably my favorite quote from all of conference was by Elder Nelson, who said, “I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day.” 
It’s crazy how simple of a promise that is, but it is awesome! Literally we are promised by an apostle that if we just read the Book of Mormon every day, we will be better every day! How blessed we are to have prophets and apostles today who can promise us blessings when we do the simple things the Lord asks us to do.
Anyways, I don’t have much else to say. Thank you all for the support and prayers you send my way!
stay hydrated,
Elder Jeremiah Brown
Pics
1. The old post office in Kings Creek (an old town in our area where missionaries were mobbed and killed, and then in turn it never developed past a small stop on the side of the road)
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2. The now abandoned childhood home of former MIT President James Killian, in Kings Creek.
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3. Me in front of the town’s shop built in the 1800’s, and abandoned for years in Kings Creek.
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Moral of the story is don’t kill the missionaries.