T.H.E. Mission

T.H.E. Mission

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19, 2010

Hey Hey hows the family doing today?
Yesterday was a super nice day, it was about 80 or so all day. But today is upper 90's, so its kinda rough. Everything is going great! We've already taught 2 more lessons today from 11 till now and got another guy committed to baptism. He is really excited, we just gotta figure out a few things with him he doesn't know how to read. So we're gonna round up some audio stuff for him but he is solid.....

Thanks for all your prayers. I love ya'll and have never had this much fun in life! It's the best time of my life by far being here changing other peoples lives. Yesterday we taught some guy that just had 2 deaths in his family in one week and it was amazing.

Life has never been this good. Love ya'll thanks for the prayers.

Elder Bown

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chris' Mission Call

Casey's Cousin Chris received his mission call tonight. May 13, 2010. We were so excited to share in the excitement of his call.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Phone Call!

We were so excited to talk to Casey today! That really is the best Mother's Day gift for a missionary mom! We certainly get excited to get a personal word with our missionaries!

Just wanted to let you know Casey sounds great! He is happy to be out in the Mission field and getting to work. He was happy because he got to help a family run cement in their driveway and enjoyed the physical work.

He gave us a mailing address and we looked it up on google earth. It looks like he has a decent apartment. He says he can sit on his porch and see cactus, palm trees and pine trees. If he rides his bike up a berm, he can see the skyscrapers of downtown Houston as well. He seems to be getting involved and loving the chance to get to know the members. He hasn't had much chance to get to know his mission president yet, but I am sure he will. There are 6 Spanish speaking sisters in his zone.

He loves eating with the members, he really appreciates brisket that has been cooked in a smoker all day. Beans and tortillas with every meal - he is learning to love it. Otherwise he is living on cocoa puffs and sugar smacks.

There is a Spanish speaking stake in Houston, there are 4 stakes total there. Casey says there are other Spanish wards and branches as well as a stake. There is even an article on the missionaries working with the Spanish in Houston.

Casey says that they will get to go to the Houston Temple twice each year. It is about 45 minutes away. He is looking forward to getting to hear Elder Holland, who comes to speak in Houston each year.

He said he sweats because of the heat, only in the 80's so far, but lots of humidity. He says it is different heat than here at home, he sweats from everywhere, places he didn't even know would sweat.

His typical day is get up about 6:30 am, exercise or run, then shower and eat breakfast. Then he has an hour of personal study, an hour of companion study, and then an hour of language study before they head out for the day. They have to bike a couple of blocks to get into their area, then spend the day working. They have to be back in by about 9 or 9:30. His P-day will be on Wednesday.

He said that the most exciting thing to happen yet is that they have committed two sisters to baptism and now are starting to teach their mother.

We look forward to talking to him again at Christmas. Thanks for all each of you do to support him. Keep all the missionaries in your prayers, they have a great work to do!


Casey's First Letter from Texas

Olah Olah!

So so so I dunno where to even start from. Its been about the weirdest week of my life, haha, but its been a good sorta weird i suppose. Sorry I forgot to write down our new apt number but ill get a few letters sent out with the address on it asap. Its a lil 2 bedroom apt. We live on the 2nd floor and there are 5 buildings all around us and like 3 mexican families and the rest are all blacks so it keeps things super fun and interesting We sit and watch fights almost every night so its pretty fun. Our neighbor is super cool though, he invites us over to watch the ball games all the time, but my companion doesnt think that's very right. so we are gonna have problems come game 5 or so hahaha. But no its pretty good I guess.

We already had one of the members ask for a blessing so that was a really neat experience but kinda rough in Spanish but we made it through it ok.

My companions name is Elder Evans. He's from Hawaii or however you spell that place. Spanish has slaughtered my spelling in English but what do ya do i guess? Sorry guys. But he knows spanish pretty good, hes been out here about 7 months. idk I guess I'm just gonna have to learn to love him though for everything i can. We've already had a few pretty intense talks he thought it was ok to take a nap every time we came back and ate at the apt. so idk we're still disputing that one though and he rides his bike slower than anybody i think I know, so Im always pushing him along. I just aint a slow paced lazy type a person i guess. . . .Were getting along better now though. I suppose I made it very clear that I had been raised on the farm and don't slack off on the job and we're on the lords work for the next 2 years.

Next Houston, Probably nothing like anybody is imagining it to be. Its one of the greenest places i've ever seen in my life, You can't see in 10 ft past were they have stopped chopping down the forest. Its super weird cuz its tropical as well as forest stuff. A lot of people have like palm trees and stuff in there yards and others have big pine trees and stuff like that. Its super cool to see everything but its still Texas. I've seen some of the biggest trucks I've ever seen in my life. Its pretty sweet and there are a ton of motorbikes to so its pretty sweet.

We're serving in a place called Denver harbor. its a suburb out of Houston but we can see the tops of all the buildings from here if we ride up on like a 15 ft burm thing. We can see the whole city really well, its that flat. . . .Its pretty cool though this place is huge. Our area is pretty good sized to i'd guess we probably bike around 10ish give or take about 4 miles a day. So my legs are feeling better than ever. Our area is mostly all Hispanic with a few blacks though a lot of people are from Mexico, Salvador and Honduras areas.

The Spanish is welll . . . .ah ya its coming slowly. its a bit different here than in the mtc so it'll just be a long slow hard trail. But were gonna make it I hope. We are both new to the area too, so we're white washing the whole are which is really fun but the last elders in the area didn't update anything in the area book. We're starting from like 4 month old records, so its pretty rough but not much we can do about that its super cool though.

Texas is the only state that flies their flag the same height as the US flag. Houston is like the number one area in the US for alligators and for poisonous snakes too, I believe is what they said. Its been about 80 - 85ish everyday.

The first day we got here we went out for a Texas bbq and that was heaven after 2 months in the CCM. I had bbq ribs and brisket so it was amazing and got to listen to Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley on the radio so i fell in love with Texas right then and there haha. Then we went to the mission home and did a buncha orientation type stuff so it was boring but fun to get to know everybody and stuff.

Its been good though thanks for all your support and what not. Its been a crazy week and hopefully stuff seems a bit more normal next week. Church was honestly one of the best meetings i think that i've been to in my life though. It was like a testimony should be the longest one was like 6 mins and they were all actually testimonys not court trials or travel logs so it was really really really neat. We eat with members every sunday and then again on like wednesdays so its pretty cool. The food is amazing usually pretty good mexican food, i love it! It is most delicious.

Ah church starts at 10 30, so I'm not sure, we haven't figured out exaclty where or when we're calling from yet. I'm pretty sure were calling from one of the members houses though im guess between about 2 30 and 5 30 our time just to be safe I'm pretty sure that's when it'll be so I'm really looking forward to that too.

Its been a pretty crazy adjustment but well get used to it. It rained the 2 and 3 day i was here and you last about a min and then your soaked to the bone so I've been here a week now and been wet about 5 outta the 7 days its super hot and humid. I'm pretty sure I've lost a good 10 lbs already.

Life is good though i guess. I'm surviving off of mac and cheese soup and cereal so ya its pretty fun i guess.

Thanks for all your support and encouragment i love all yall.

Love your favorite Texan Mexican
Elder Bown

A neat article Casey told us about.

Casey told us about an interesting article that was published in a local paper. Please follow the link to ON A MISSION

Or just read below:
They've put off college and typical young-adult antics to spend two years without TV , movies, laptops, texting or dating. They've moved hundreds of miles from home to work in a city they've never lived in before, speaking a language they've just learned.

That's life for missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder Aaron Porter, 21, instinctively answers the phone in Spanish, setting up appointments for Bible studies and lessons in doctrine. A clean-cut blond guy sporting the missionary uniform — shirt, tie and backpack — he's one of 150 Spanish-speaking Mormon missionaries in Houston.

They meet people in flea markets and front yards, handing out copies of El Libro de Mormon, sharing their message and trying to avoid the occasional heckler.

“There's people that don't like us. We get doors slammed in our faces, and people try to bug us, but it doesn't even matter,” Porter said. “The people who have a sincere interest in learning make up for it … . I'm happy, looking back, because we have brought them such a wonderful message.”

Locally, the church has 32 Spanish-speaking congregations, and a third of area missionaries speak Spanish, mirroring Houston's Hispanic makeup. The number of Spanish-speaking LDS congregations nationwide has grown by 90 percent in the past decade, up to more than 700.

The church's focus on Hispanics dates to its founding in 1830, explained Jorge Iber in his book Hispanics in the Mormon Zion, when Latter-day Saints were charged with proselytizing to Latinos and other descendants of Native Americans.

The church's sizable missionary program, now up to 52,000 people serving worldwide, is in part responsible for its growth and diversification.

In Houston, Porter begins each day like every other missionary in the world and all those who came before him. They review their missionary handbooks, study for a couple of hours and then head out to meet with interested neighbors until 9 or 10 p.m.

“They get up every day, and they serve,” said the mission's president, Todd Hansen, beaming like a proud father. “I tell people if they could work with these young people, we could restore the faith in the vitality of the future of this country.”

While on mission, they focus on the church and have time for little else. Cell phones are for missionary business only — they can call home twice a year and send e-mail to their parents just once a week.

“At the beginning of my mission I was pretty homesick, but then I lost myself in my work,” said Porter, who will finish his mission service here next month. “It's fun to get to go and play basketball on the weekend, and it's fun to date, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

Most missionaries have families who understand the gig. Maybe they've had older siblings serve, or they've heard stories about their dads' missions decades ago. Porter dreamed of serving since he was a kid and saved three-quarters of the cost of his mission living expenses, nearly $10,000.

Things were a little more difficult for Sister Madison Taets, 21 and a convert to the church . Her Catholic family was initially “really unsupportive” of her mission call, she said.

Since then, her parents have begun to grow more open to her faith and have even started reading the Book of Mormon.

“Both have sent me letters that they were proud of me,” Taets said. “It just shows you that what we do doesn't just bless the families here. It blesses our families back home, too.”

The missionaries tell people that the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring blessings to their lives, offering hope to struggling first-generation families.

“Latinos, in my view, have found a wonderful home in the LDS Church. The Mormons value God, country and family, just as most Latinos do,” said Iber, adding that they also can gain business and social connections through church.

Juan Porcayo, a new convert to the church, sat next to his wife and rocked his newborn son in a baby carrier during an introductory Sunday school class at a Spanish-speaking congregation in Northwest Houston.

The 25-year-old described himself as a sometimes-drunk deadbeat dad, but after joining the church, that's no longer the case.

“I want to be strong for my family, my kids, my wife,” said Porcayo, who quit smoking and drinking to comply with LDS standards. He's also stopped staying out late, he said, and grown to be more patient and more responsible.

After months without work, Porcayo cites his baptism as leading him to a string of job offers for his construction company.

Coming from a Catholic background, like most Hispanic converts, Porcayo asked missionaries about Mormon doctrine and religious figures familiar to him, such as Jesus and the Virgin of Guadalupe.

“There is a very strong Catholic tradition among the Latino population; and that is very, very much of an impediment to leaving the church,” said Iber, an associate academic dean at Texas Tech University and a Latino history scholar. “I am certain that there are many individuals in the Latino community (and not just in the Catholic Church) who oppose evangelization … . Still, I think that this hard attitude is not as prevalent as it was say, in the late '80s or '90s.”

The missionaries studied the Bible with Porcayo, then introduced him to the Book of Mormon.

“You have to pray. You have to ask God. Is he going to tell me, ‘Juan, this is true'?” Porcayo said. The answer, for him, was yes.

The missionaries must explain concepts such as the afterlife and salvation in Spanish, a language they could barely speak before going through classes at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

“You try to approach everybody differently and teach personally to them,” said Elder Tod Workman, another Spanish-speaking missionary. “They're open to listening when they hear something they might not know about.”