Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Conch Shell

I've always thought yellowstone would be fun to check out.  I'm sure I'll have a chance sometime in the future.

The Key West Branch gave me a Conch shell with my name engraved in it.  I also took my old beat up belt buckle and spray painted it Key West style with the landmark US-1 mile 0.

Anyway.  Life is good.  As president Uchtdorf would say, I'm still in the middle of my mission.

Elder Fine

Monday, July 2, 2012

Speed Angels

Hello Everyone!

The tropical storm went north of us, so we just got some wind and rain :) yay!  While a hurricane may be a good experience to look back on, I am definitely not going to pray for one.  I have enough opportunities to serve people without being locked in a high school gym, AND I can actively proselyte. We went to the best beach in the keys on saturday (branch activity, approved) at Bahia Honda state park.  It was voted best beach in America in the 80's.  It was super beautiful.  Only problem was all we could do was stand under the pavilion and sweat in our white shirts and ties, and since we didn't have investigators there, we just made our appearance, ate some food, and left.  I'll come back with snorkeling gear when the Ft. Lauderdale temple gets dedicated next year.

My new companion is Elder Scott from Central, AZ.  That's #3 from the greatest state in the union.  Elder Almada in Mexico from Phoenix, Elder Hatch from Flagstaff, and now Elder Scott.  He's a great missionary, and not just because he's from Arizona.

Mazdas are good cars.  Lauren might have to teach me how to drive it since I think I forgot.  We got pulled over today for running a stop sign on our bicycles.  They just wrote down our info, made us stand there for a while and then gave us back our ID's, thanked us for wearing helmets, and let us go.  It made us late, but I guess I can see the need for it in Key West.  There are lots of bikes, and lots of bike accidents.  I've never been pulled over in a car.  Twice on a bike (once at BYU for riding on campus during the class change) and once on foot for knocking doors, but never in a car.

Go Conchs!

Elder Fine

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Conch Republic

Dear Mountain Dwellers of the West,

News for this week is that I will be finishing my mission in the Conch Republic.  Elder Hall is transferring.  You may think it is a cool thing to say that your missionary is in the Florida Keys, but I want to take some time to explain why exactly that is so cool.  Yes, it's beautiful, but missionaries in the past never wanted to be here.  It was the worst place in south florida for missionary work.  they taught 4 lessons a week, and it was just hot and miserable.  In the Ft. Lauderdale mission, numbers get published, everyone sees them, and everyone looks at Key West.  Why?  Because it's key west!  It's a fascinating place.  For a long time, it was the area that Elders got banished to, exiled.  Sure, it would be nice to visit for a day, but please don't make me spend a transfer there!  Then Elder Brough got put there.  The reason this is important is that Elder Brough was transferred from the Orlando mission.  He had no idea the reputation that Key West had, and he decided "this is going to be my favorite area."  And he brought it up.  Then I came down with him and we brought it up even more.  Then I became the first Elder in forever to train a missionary in the Keys.  That says a lot for an area, to be a training area.  I was blessed with the hardest working fire-filled trainee in the world, and now Key West is among the top finding areas in the top finding mission in the United States and Canada.  And everyone is watching.  "Elder Fine" I was told last night on the phone "you're a legend."  Have faith, my friends.  I wanted to share that because, over my entire mission, I have looked up to legendary missionaries.  I also wanted to gloat a little bit that I have been honored to be among them and that I get to finish my mission in paradise, and I feel to say as Isaac Newton that "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."  This is God's work.  It goes on.

Elder Fine

P.S. look up the history of "the conch republic"  It's kind of a funny story.  also search mormon.org for "the man your man could smell like"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Exercising Faith

Last week was super hot.  This week has been way nicer because the wind has picked up and we've had a breeze going.  Also, I find it ironic that the okc thunder came to Miami this week, since it has been pretty thunderous in Miami and the surrounding regions.  I don't know if you've ever been in a rainstorm so bad that you had to pull off of the road because it was raining so hard you couldn't see the other side of the windshield wipers.  It's kind of neat if you're in a car.  The ones that catch you on your bike aren't as pleasant, and they stop and start without much warning. Anyway, we happened to catch a few seconds of the game last night.  I don't know who won, but of course I'm cheering tfor the Heat!

Dad, you asked about trials and overcoming them.  I would say that something I've learned well, especially in Key West, is the principle of "fake it 'til you make it."  Feeling down?  fake like you're happy until you get over it.  Discouraged?  keep working until you get your excitement back.  Disagree with the direction from the leaders?  Obey it until you understand.  Having trouble living the rules?  Live them until it's easy for you.  Jesus Christ taught the same principle when he said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it is of God, or whether I speak of myself"  Don't have a testimony?  Live the gospel until you get one.  Want to know if the word of wisdom is really a commandment?  Live it.  Because in reality, you're not faking it at all, you are exercisig faith in a principle and acting on it, knowing that after the trial of your faith, you will receive the blessing.  Just Go and Do and you'll get through it.  Be Happy.  It really gets on satan's nerves.

My ankle is good, I played basketball last week and I'll play again today.  It's still a different color than the other foot just from the healing bruises, It's not
quite where it was, but it's a lot better.  Just a little sore now and then or if I trip over something.  going down stairs is still a lopsided task
even though it's getting better.  Level ground and going up stairs are just fine though.

You're awesome,

Elder Fine

Monday, June 11, 2012

Time to Work

Hello there!

I will be wearing a suit and tie for my talk, although I might want to get a guayavera before I go home.  traditional cuban business dress...basically a short sleeved button down shirt with a certain style of decoration on the front...they're cool.

Wow, life sounds rather busy.  What else is new?  Scout camp is a wonderful place.  I definitely hope I have another chance to go during my lifelong career as a member of the church.

It is kind of bothersome now that I have two months left everyone acts like my mission is already over.  Not so.  I plan to baptize several more people before I go home.  I also really hope I get to stay in Key West for that time...moving would be lame.

Carry On,

Elder Fine


Hey y'all!

My week was good. We have a lot of investigators who are sooo close to being baptized but satan just keeps gettting in the way.  He's annoying like that.  Any time that people try to do right and come closer to the savior, there is always an increase in opposition pulling them back.  This week has also built my testimony that this is the Lord's work and not mine.  People are being prepared long before we ever meet them.

Next week the stake is having youth conference in Key West, which should be really fun for the youth.  My ankle is doing better.  I still can't really run and jump, which makes morning workouts super boring.  I have a testimony of exercise now.  Not being able to exercise, having way too much ibuprofen in my system, along with being injured and just the stresses of mission life brought me way down for a little bit there...I'm glad that's over.  Happy missionaries are successful missionaries.  Anyway, I am grateful to be able to get my heart rate up because if it stays down too long you feel super gross and you don't feel like a missonary even if your numbers are great (which they are).

Well, I have to take a survey now.  It's important for the sake of church statistics, which I also have a testimony of.


Elder Fine

The Dumb Shall Speak

Hi Family!

We got our own senior couple all to ourselves now.  The McCormicks from washington state just got here on saturday and they are wonderful.  They've already been a great help and will be a permanent part of the marathon branch.

I've been sick this last week as well.  It is harder to feel the spirit when you're not at 100% health-wise, even if you aren't doing anything particularly wrong.  So that's been this week's struggle.  It was needful though.  I hadn't been giving my companion enough opportunity to speak up and teach, so God struck me dumb to prevent me from speaking
too much.  Seriously my voice was way messed up.  It's still not completely back but I can talk now.

Well, I'm going to go watch my companion play basketball for a bit.  Have a great week!

Elder Fine

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Training Day

Happy April Fools Day to you as well,

I didn't have any jokes either, but I did love conference.  We made mission history this month with 106 baptisms.  It took a lot of fasting, prayer, diligence, obedience, and opposition, but we did it, and we'll do it again.

Transfers are tomorrow.  I am staying in Key West and I will be training a new missionary.  I don't know if I told you this, but Key West used to be an area that missionaries dreaded being sent to.  In the last few months, mostly due to Elder Brough's awesomeness, it has become one of the most successful areas of the mission.  I love it here.  It's not a normal town.  It's very different, but it's great.  I'm very excited to train.  I was nervous but then I watched general conference.  This is going to be my favorite transfer.  I learned that I should say that at the beginning of every transfer.

My favorite talks were probably Elder Hallstrom, uniting the gospel with the church, and President Uchtdorf "stop it."

Many of the problems in the church and in the world could be easily and simply solved if people would apply the principles in those two talks.

Pictures:  The end of the road.  The Key West Cemetary "dead end" and me hiding from my companion
Here I go!

Life is great.


Elder Fine

Rap Lyrics or Authentic American Poetry

thank you
you da best
here some pitchurs
of Key West
The Romero Family, from Mexico D.F. were baptized and confirmed yesterday.  They are awesome.  Edgar is 15 and will one day be a great missionary.

A Key Buck in Big Pine Key.

The Sunset.

That fish hangs on our wall directly above my study desk.  The member who owns our trailer is a fisherman by trade.  We're going fishing today with an investigator who in wholly converted to the church and actually teaches friends and strangers about it, but doesn't quite understand why he needs to be baptized in THIS church.  His wife got baptized last month.  His name is Mark.  I love him and his family.  He's the one that we caught shrimp with a couple weeks ago.  We'll probably use shrimp to catch fish today.

I love being a missionary.  I don't think I've said that enough.  I love it. I love it. I love it.

School stuff.  I think I'd rather work in the morning and have my classes in the afternoon.

The Church is True!  I haven't told you a lot of the persecution stories, but believe me, men revile and persecute us and speak all manner of evil against us.  Yesterday, a man on a bicycle came up to us and asked, 

"How many wives did William Smith have?"
     "I don't know who William Smith is."
"Whatever, the founder of your church, how many wives did he have?"

Knowing where this was headed I was about to say, "Go find out what his name was and then come back and find us when you know who you're talking about."  but my companion just told him.  So I ended up testifying for a bit while the "Ivy league educated man" attempted to destroy my "bogus religion."  His friend, who was uncomfortable with how rude his associate was being, pulled him away and convinced him to "let the young gentlemen enjoy their afternoon."  We then went across the street and contacted some people of a certain faith which forbids interreligious prayer.  They were friendly enough, but did tell us we were wrong and we should come to their church.  While we were talking to them, a young man drove by in his car and shouted "Hail Satan!" at us.

We then went to visit a man who has been investigating the church for 33 years.

He told us.  "I have known a lot of missionaries, and whenever I look into your eyes, I can see God."

I have a testimony of this work.  It is God's work.  This is his church.

I love you.

Elder Fine


Greetings from Key West!

Things are great in the Florida Keys.  It's really a small town feel in most of the islands, and even in Key West to a degree, which is kind of weird, because I thought islands would be different.  Spring Break...yes...there are lots of people here for spring break.  They stay on the west side of the island though where all the beaches and downtown shops and evil worldly things to do are.  It's super nice right now...the highest recorded temperature here is 95!  We're doing great things and we'll hopefully be baptizing many people in the coming weeks.  One is a family from Mexico City, which still has a special place in my heart as the land of my initial assignment :)

Mack Wilberg is amazing...Diane, if you get a chance, tell him your missionary brother thanks him for being one of the most influential missionaries ever.  I've talked to many people who have never talked to a member of the church, but they have heard and been touched by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and they have been more open to the gospel because of the spirit they felt through music.  One of the most faithful members of the church that I have met on my mission was first introduced to the church because he heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I'm a huge Wilberg fan.

Life is good.  Much Love!

Elder Fine

Collision Course With Life

Apartment, eh?  That's weird.  I know real life continues after the mission, but it's still just strange to think about.  Of all the things I think will stick with me after my mission, the use of time is probably among the highest.  I'm definitely a lot better at it now.  I need to get a job, too.  I'll worry about that when I get there though.  For now, if Lauren could just say hi to "the coolest guys in her ward" for me, that would be great!

We're teaching a Polish family and we heard about a terrible train collision in Poland.  Very sad.  His name is stanley and his kids are patrick and nicole and they're both super-athletes.  Patrick is 12 and a soccer star that plays on a team with kids 2 years older than him and Nicole can run a half marathon at a good pace and she's 10.  He always makes us delicious polish food.  Potato cakes, apple cakes, next time we're going to have crab cakes.  Apparently they eat a lot of cakes in Poland.  Fineya (cool)

I loved the letters I got from the ward!  Since I don't have the time or the means to reply to everyone individually, I'd like to just say thanks to all.  The Church is True.  Thank you for your support and prayers.

Much love,

Elder Fine

Fun Memories

Guess what I had for dinner last night? Shrimp.  Guess where I got them?  from the water.  Guess how much? 2 pounds of them.  Guess how fast?  in about 15 minutes.   We went to see a recent convert and her husband who is really close to getting baptized and they were just leaving.  They told us to follow them around the corner and we did.  they handed us some nets and flashlights and we walked down to the side of the water and found that it was loaded with shrimp.  half an hour later we were back at their house eating fresh shrimp.  We went to church in the Key Marathon "twig" yesterday.  The branch president claims it's too small to be called a branch.  We've been visiting a lot of less actives and having some good experiences there.  on one island, Big Pine Key, there is a species of deer called Key Deer.  They are endangered and are only found on that island.  As you can see in the pictures, they're quite small and very tame.  They walked up to us and let us pet them...I think people feed them sometimes, even though that's illegal.  Also, we found a purple flower on Key Haven (annexed onto stock island where we live) that's probably the coolest flower I've ever seen.  And a white one too.  And the giant moth was from back in Miami but I don't think I sent that picture yet.  So that's the wildlife for this week.  There's a family here from Mexico City that's going to get baptized in a couple of weeks.  they're super cool.  I love this area, it's just so fun.  Elder Brough is awesome.  Super hardworking and obedient and he pretends he's a superhero a lot and it makes things fun.  I'm going to try to get a Conch Republic flag from walgreens or something.  Key west seceded from the union in the 1800's some time and they have their own flag that they still proudly fly.  Conch is a sea snail...It's very tasty, but I don't think it's legal to fish for here so you have to get it imported.  People who are native to Key West call themselves "conchs" (that's pronounced konks, not konches)  Overall, things are just great, and I'm just happy to be here on my tropical island.  Key West has the best fishing in the world so we might be catching snappers later.  Funny looking little fish, but I guess people eat them.  Gots to be going, see you later!

Elder Fine

The Personal Touch


Hello family!

I just realized that Jamison probably has short hair...I wonder what
he looks like.  That's awesome that Willie and Jordan are back
too...Are they both still in our ward?

I'm going fishing today :) we decided to go to black creek, which
empties out into the ocean at that place where we took Christmas card

I know the word creek in Arizona usually means something that is
either dry, or has just enough water in it to be able to jump across
or easily wade through without getting too wet.  This one is probably
a good 20-30 feet deep in some places.

Ethan, I know I wasn't on time with your birthday letter like I was
with Diane.  Relax, it's coming.  Maybe I'll catch a fish today and
mail it to you ;)

Mom, I have a terrible confession to make....I actually had no idea
what you studied in school.  I had wondered about it, but I never
really thought I had a good reason to ask and by the time I realized
that I didn't know, I felt silly for not knowing so I kept my mouth

I've learned a good deal about the atonement this week, which is
always good to understand more deeply.  I've found that the better I
understand something, the more simply I can explain it.

Not much else is new.  Elder Gavarett from the Seventy is coming to
visit in a couple weeks.  The mission is great.  Take care.

Elder Fine

Criminal Nonintent

Good Morning Arizona!

My week was great!  I got the cops called on me for knocking on a
door.  They came and told us to stop.  For some reason they thought it
was necessary to bring 3 cars, all with their lights on, to stop the
mormons from their heinous criminal activity.  Usually, the police
don't really take us that seriously.  They know who we are and they
know we're not going to hurt anyone and they have better things to do
with their time...but apparently these guys didn't have anything
better to do and hadn't gotten their daily "unnecessarily be a jerk to
someone" points yet.  We were very respectful and honest, and gave the
sergeant our ID's and told him where we were staying and everything.
He told me to sit on the front of the police car, which I didn't do
because I thought it was a ridiculous request and it looked like it
had just been waxed.  Instead I just stood there and confidently
listened to him with the knowledge that he could do absolutely nothing
to me and keep his job.  So while they were being tough and lecturing
us about scaring people in residential neighborhoods, all I could
think was "Have I done anything illegal? No? Okay then leave me alone
I have work to do." But I decided to keep my mouth shut.  We started
walking back the other way, talked to a guy that was walking, he
invited us over, and we followed him back to the same street that we
had been stopped on.  It made me feel like I was doing my job right.
We went back the next day and apologized to the lady that we had
apparently scared.  If she had simply been willing to look through the
window at us so that we could have talked to her instead of shouting
through the door that we wanted to give her blessings from Jesus, the
entire episode would have been avoided...Anyway, that's my story for
this week.

I was up in Plantation on Friday on exchanges with the Assistants.
They've cleared the ground for the Fort Lauderdale temple.  It's very

Happy Birthday Ethan!  I don't think I have anything quite as cool to
send you that I found on the street...unless you like lost keys that
have been run over and bent a few times?  I'll see what I can do

Please give Seth Barton a vicarious high five for me.  He's a good
man.  Time to ride my bike to publix because we're out of miles on the
truck and it's the end of the month :)


Elder Fine

The Mormon Moment

Hello :)

Today is Monday, January 23, 2012.  It's 11:00, sunny and 74 degrees
here in beautiful Miami, Florida.  Last week I learned a ton.  You
know when you think you know a lot about the gospel and someone points
something out to you, some simple phrase, and it makes you realize
that you've been approaching it the wrong way for 21 years?  Yeah, it
was kind of like that.  Brother Tracy Watson, former mission president
of the Mesa, Arizona mission and director of proselyting over the
entire world, and Brother Donaldson, former mission president over San
Diego, California while they were filming the Preach My Gospel
training dvds, from the missionary department came here on Friday and
held a leadership training.  I talked to brother watson afterwards and
he told me that former President Evans of the Mountain View stake was
a new mission president.

"really," I said "where?"

"oh that's right he hasn't been announced yet...oops...well keep your
eye on the church news, Elder."

We learned a lot of amazing things, many of which I will be writing
down in "The Book of Brandon"  It's a six page book of personal
scripture found in between Revelation and First Nephi in my
scriptures.  One of the most significant truths that was taught was
this simple statement by Elder Bednar.

"Those outside the church cannot access the atonement."

But wait!  There are plenty of good people outside the church who have
faith and go through changes and feel forgiven.  Are you telling me
they can't access the atonement?

Yes.  And this is why...In order to access the atonement and be
cleansed from and purified of your sins, you must make a covenant
through an ordinance by the priesthood.  Before that, you may feel the
influence of the atonement, you may feel the holy ghost, but you may
never have full access to those powers, and you will not be able to be
completely forgiven of any sin.

The way I see it, to receive forgiveness for a sin you must repent of
it.  Complete forgiveness requires complete repentance.  Without an
ordinance one may feel sorrow, confess, and even forsake a sin.  But
he cannot even attempt to make restitution to God, and that is where
Baptism and Confirmation come in, to sanctify the person and fit them
for the Celestial Kingdom.

The point is, if missionaries understand this, they'll be able to
place the proper importance and motivation for baptism.  Rather than
membership in a club, it becomes the gate to God's kingdom.  And they
are baptized for the remission of sins.

Well, that's all I have time for.  There's a lot of mitt romney fans
here and they often let us in just because they want to know what mitt
romney believes.  It's kind of fun.


Elder Fine

Using Time Wisely

So, here's some photos...one is a big iguana, the other is me standing in the Jungle...it's very interesting because i'm in the middle of the city but there are certain plots of land that just haven't been touched, and unlike the empty land in Arizona, it is impossible to walk through unless you have a machete or maybe a bulldozer.  We found a little opening that had been cut in this jungle for about 4 feet so I stood in it.

Dear Everyone,

This week was good.  Friday we have a leadership training with Brother Watson.  He was the mission president in Mesa a few years ago and wrote a good portion of Preach My Gospel, especially Chapter 8 "use time wisely" which is one of my favorites, not because I'm any good at it, but because I recognize the importance of it and the weight it bears on every other aspect of basically anything.  That's awesome that Tate and Brooke will be serving missions at the same time.  If he just left and she's putting in her papers now, they should get home around the same time, which will be fun.  I don't have much else to talk about this week.  Have a great week!

Elder Fine


Email is on Tuesday this week because we have transfers tomorrow.  I'll be staying here with Elder Hatch, but every other companionship in the zone will be changing.  It's gonna be great.  In the last 6 months, weekly baptisms in the mission have doubled, and we're still pushing for 100 in a month.  That's easy for some missions (Salt Lake), but we've never done it.

Diane! Sixteen! Preposterous!  I'm sure Diane will have plenty of dates to go on, and hanging out is pretty great in High School, it's the 20-30-year-olds that President Monson reproved, rebuked, and reprimanded in last April's conference for not dating.

I don't have dreams very often, but this week I had 4, and I was home from my mission in all of them, still wearing the tag though, which was weird...I think the whole 18 months thing is messing with my mind.

How's the Gilbert Temple coming along?  We drive past the Ft. Lauderdale temple construction site every time we go to the mission office/home/chapel and right now it is a field with cows and a few piles of different colored (yellow, brown, dark brown) dirt.  It's great because it is right next to the intersection of two major highways and everyone who lives and moves in South Florida will be able to see it.

I finally finished the book of Jeremiah.  Reading the entire standard works was a good decision, but it has proven to be a lengthy process since there is so much more that I need and want to study and so little time to do it.

I love you,

the Church is True!

Elder Fine

A Cold Front in the Tropics

Coldest day I've seen in Florida.

56 degrees and windy!  Time to break out the sweater.  Eric Evans and Terry Cox got baptized last week and confirmed on Sunday.  Let's see...new years was fun...we stayed up until 10:30 and slept in until 6:25 and had Cheez-its and IBC cream soda.  Yup.  Party.  Haven't caught any fish yet...largely because I haven't really gone fishing...but the family that owns the bait & tackle shop right next to our house is super cool...never would have gotten to know them if I hadn't gotten that fishing pole for Christmas.  They have a couple giant snapper turtles and a fresh water eel that they caught and some enormous alligator skulls.  We found out that South Florida's oldest and largest alligator farm is only a few miles south of us so we'll see if we can go one of these p-days.  I wonder how much the teeth cost...we'll see...I'm not too worried about the drivers' license since I'm not exactly planning on buying alcohol, but it might be nice to have the picture updated though.

Yes, mother, I am familiar with "safety for the soul."  In fact, I carry it around with me and have a significant portion of it memorized.  It's often used and quoted in missionary trainings.

Until next week,