I Know

Hello Everyone,

This is the last email that I’ll write as a missionary.

I’ve learned a lot on my mission and am very grateful for it.  I could talk about all the things I’ve learned and how I’ve learned them, but it would probably be better to just say what spiritual knowledge I know now as a result of my service.

I know that the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, is real and communicates with people.  I know that through Him we can receive guidance and messages from God, through the feelings and thoughts He gives us.  Similarly, I know that the absence of the Holy Ghost is one of the first warning signs that what we are hearing, seeing, etc…is bad or not true.  We will be directed and protected according to how much we pay attention to the ever-present influence of God in our lives.

I know that there is spiritual power in the scriptures, the words of God recorded by prophets and peoples throughout the ages.  The words we read from the scriptures will give us spiritual strength and peace as we study them and heed their message.

I know that there is power in love, which motivates and inspires people to do what they would not do otherwise.  It is also the most important and most powerful source of joy.

I know that, as a missionary, I was given the linguistic power I needed to teach.  The spiritual gift of tongues (of speaking in foreign languages) is real.  Through the power of God, and the influence of the Holy Ghost, anyone can do whatever God requires.

I know that the heavens are not closed.  Through prayer we may communicate with God (and have him speak to us!).  I have seen people who found the concept of open and personalized conversation with God very difficult to understand or accept.  I wish more people would understand the beautiful simplicity of prayer.  I know that I can talk to my Father in Heaven, and to do so, all I need is to address Him and close in the name of His Son, acknowledging that my prayer is only possible because of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice…that sacrifice by which all mankind may repent and be brought to live with God again.

I know that true happiness comes by living according to the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by His prophet in our times, Joseph Smith.  I have lived it, loved it, and I highly recommend it.

All the best,

Varstnicul Brown


The Final Week

Hello Everyone,

Well, this week is weird, because it’s the last full week of my mission.  But we’ll deal with farewell stuff later, because I’m neither prepared nor feel like doing it right now.

This week was marked by sickness and malady, not for me, but for those around me.  My companion got food poisoning and some sort of weird gastro-thing.  One of the assistants to the president got food poisoning and a worm.  They both had the same symptoms, but the ultrasound found no worm in my companion.  I also felt a little queasy the first day of when this all went down, but it passed for me.  Guess it’ll be hard to trust my favorite furniture store’s meatballs again, as we all had them that day (it might have also been our water, not really certain).

Anyway, after medicine, everyone’s back on their feet again and out and about, but this wasn’t the most productive week (although I did get to spend time with the other assistant to the president, which made me happy since we have the same last name).

We had a Zone Conference on Friday, my last one.  Its main theme was the importance of daily habits.  Probably one of the most practical themes ever, if you think about it; developing and maintaining good daily habits is key to improvement and growth in any stage of life.  Hooray for super-applicable subjects!

This next week ought to be furiously busy, as we make up for lost time and prepare for transfers.  So if you get a chance to go on a mission, do it, because (among other things) it can do wonders for your work ethic (which I really needed).


Elder Brown

Another Busy Week at the Office

Hello Everyone,

Some of the things we did this week included sending packages for a senior Sister in the office, processing visas, and figuring out a car situation (getting hit was finally not the person driving the Church vehicle’s fault, which actually made it more confusing and complicated, because it was so unprecedented that we didn’t really know how to handle it).

This weekend the Panduri branch had two baptisms!  It was very exciting for the branch.  Many callings were also given out on Sunday, which was wonderful to see.

We just picked-up Elder C and his companions from the train station.  He’s going home with the Russian speaking missionary transfers (Wednesday morning).  I’ll have to get some pictures, we were MTC companions.

Life is very busy, but I suppose that’s a good thing.


Varstnicul Brown

Encore: The Beautiful Romanian Countryside

Hello Everyone,

This week we did some service for a member from the Panduri branch.  We cleared out some of her garden, moved wood, and picked strawberries.  Afterwards she served us a Romanian meal, throughout which cats and kittens were attempting to get to the food on the table.  I really wish I had my camera on me for that.  I also really liked her dogs.  But even ignoring my pet withdrawal, there’s no place like the Romanian countryside (easily the coolest part of serving here).  In order to really appreciate Romania, you need to get out of the cities; the countrysides are what it’s all about, all so beautiful in their own way.

We almost got to Skype with someone in Germany (they were ready and we were ready, but they tried to let us know by email rather than by appearing on Skype).  We did set-up a Skype between some Sister missionaries and an investigator in Germany, which I hear went well.  We’ll be teaching a family in France on Wednesday, if all goes according to plan.

My companion and I got haircuts today, and later today I’m planning on getting some clothes to wear for after my mission.

That’s all for this week,

Elder Brown

Real Change

Hello Everyone,

This week was a good because we were much better at planning, and I was better at getting up.  Small things done regularly have a large impact, and I hope that this improvement will build momentum and that my last month will be one of the best.  Yes, that’s right, today is my one-month-left mark!  Whoa!

It looks like we’ll be getting many more opportunities to teach Skype lessons to Romanians in foreign countries in the near future, so I should be able to report on that soon.

Right now the mission is on an 84-day “mountains to climb” program, wherein many things are listed for us to accomplish each day in order to reach new heights as a mission.  The successful end of the program will result in the entire mission meeting in Brasov for some sort of hike?  I’ll be gone by then, but the good news is that following the program improves daily life, and I was in Brasov for ten and a half months already.  It’s a good reminder that all of us need to improve daily, whether missionaries or not.  We need to add small improvements that we repeat and sustain until they become a part of us, a part of life.  To see real improvement and lasting change, we need to be regular in our behavior.

Wishing every one a happy week,

Elder Brown

Meet the Mormons Romanian Movie Premiere

Hello Everyone,

This weekend was Bucuresti District Conference, as well as the Meet the Mormons movie premiere.

The conference was good.  I saw a member from Iasi at Panduri with a bunch of other YSA (young single adults) from around the country.  We got to pick-up and drop-off the visiting Area Seventy at the airport.  He was really nice and noticeably happy.  He also delivered his talks on Sunday in his native Spanish, which I thought was pretty cool.  The conference focused on branch councils and the value of women, as well as the importance of everyone having a calling.

As for Saturday night at the movies, it was really cool.  The mission president emailed today, “320 in attendance and 70-100 non-member friends”.  There were maybe a few empty seats, but the theater was full.  It was a really cool movie too, and I’m so glad that it made it into Romanian.

Some reorganization of the District leadership also happened at the conference.  Notably, one of my friends from Iasi is taking on a major District leadership responsibility, and a few more Iasi members were announced as being advanced to the Melchizedek priesthood.  The cool thing about serving in Romania is that it’s easy to know a relatively good amount of the active membership in the country, and it’s great to see their progression.

I hope everyone can work to magnify their callings this week, they’re important.  Isn’t it cool that the Lord has given each of us a specific responsibility?


Elder Brown

The Last Transfer

Hello Everyone,

This will be the last full transfer week I’ll be witnessing on my mission.  There was decent amount of work that went into transfers, though not as much from my part this time.  Relatively, it hasn’t been very difficult at all so far, being that there are only two missionaries incoming.  I couldn’t be happier with those chosen to train the two new missionaries, both being my prior companions.  Elder C and his companion came down this morning and, along with the trainers, are staying the night in our apartment.  Literally all of my favorite companions are staying over tonight, so I’m decently happy.

This past weekend, Elder L’s companion had go to Alexandria so the missionary there would have a companion until transfers.  So I’ve been doing a good amount of stuff with Elder L, which is always fun.  We went to Mihai Bravu so he could conduct a baptismal interview for an investigator who was baptized this weekend.  We also went to Panduri, and I was happily surprised how I remembered how to get there (I still try to avoid driving here if possible).  We ate out at a few places, and visited an elderly couple where the husband is paralyzed (but comes to church every week).  The area where the couple live is called “Sebastian”, and I must say that the neighborhood “Parcul Sebastian” was very lively and had a really cool fountain in its center.  The couple was also fun, and it was just so good to get some substantial Romanian conversation again (teaching in Romanian is the best).

I’ve begun trying to memorize a scripture with my daily personal study from the “favorite scripture” list in the inside cover of my study journal (ones I generated from doing Preach My Gospel attribute studies).  In order to make them stick, you have to repeat them throughout the day, which will have a large impact as I get it to be a regular habit.  I would assume that things are more powerful if you have them in your mind throughout the day and at hand at all times.

My new companion is already here, just in from a seven-and-a-half month stay in Brasov (I guess that’s a decent amount of time to be there).  Lucky for me he loves driving, and drove quite a bit for a job before his mission.  I might just get out of driving almost completely for the rest of my mission.

Wishing everyone a good week,

Varstnicul Brown

Choose to Be Happy

Hello Everyone,

This week’s highlight was spending Saturday through Sunday afternoon in Alexandria, one of the two smallest areas in the mission.  It was actually bigger than I had thought.  Anyway, it’s around an hour and a half drive from Bucuresti.  We had to be there to be a threesome with another missionary for the weekend.  It’s a rather nice small town, and the missionaries have really friendly neighbors in the bloc next door.

I’m a bit tired right now.  Today we had two visits to the visa office, submitting paperwork for four missionaries.  You get to cut the line if you set up online appointments as we do, but there was only one window open today, so it was a bit of a challenge.  We also meet with a telephone company representative for a problem I’ve been working on all week (they didn’t issue our monthly recharge, causing some chaos), and it took some time to get them to understand.  Nonetheless, we got some ice cream today and feeling tired is kind of good in a way.

I’ve always taken special care not to include negativity in my entries.  Looking at today’s events, although they could be viewed as a negative experience, if I choose, I could think about their positive outcomes and how important they were.  Surely, our attitude is largely under our control.  Something I have thought about often, and personally seen as a continuing theme on my mission, is the message “choose to be happy”.

Hoping we can all apply this principle a little better in the coming week,

Elder Brown