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Californian Couple Look Back on Two Years of Missionary Service in Australia

                

Marilyn and Leo Brown have spent the last two years serving as public affairs missionaries with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Based in Melbourne, they have supported the faith's public affairs efforts in Australia and New Caledonia over that time.

They head back to the USA in early August and will be greeted by family and friends in their home-town of San Diego.

While in Australia, keeping abreast of the news has led them to read a lot of newspapers, and countless online articles.

Immersing themselves in politics, social trends and current events has meant that they have been invaluable advisors to Elder Robert Dudfield, director of public affairs in Australia and Papua New Guinea, and an Area Seventy (ecclesiastical leader) in the Church.

"The Browns are highly perceptive, smart and excellent at analysing what's going on across the country," Elder Dudfield said.

"Their insights and analyses have helped me and others to identify the best things we can do to help the Church to be better understood across society, and also to get involved in initiatives that can strengthen families and communities, and defend religious and other core freedoms for all."

The Browns have also written many wonderful news and feature articles for Mormon Newsroom Australia over the last two years.

"Many of their articles" Elder Dudfield says, "have been about the Church's humanitarian and other community efforts in various places, including 'Mormon Helping Hands' volunteer activities to help people bounce back after floods, fires and other disasters."

Other articles have shone a light on the efforts of individuals and congregations to assist the homeless and other vulnerable members of society.

They have also profiled a number of Latter-day Saints who are making their mark in ballet, theatre and other pursuits.

Elder and Sister Brown—as they are called as senior Latter-day Saint missionaries—have worked closely with members of the Church's state and stake (similar to a diocese) public affairs councils, particularly in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and New Caledonia.

As these local public affairs councils plan and carry out various efforts—such as Mormon Helping Hands events, community dinners, and hosting dignitaries at Church meetings—the Browns have provided counsel and other support.

           

   

When the Book of Mormon musical opened in Melbourne earlier this year, the couple provided support to Elder Dudfield and others to respond to news media inquiries as well as launch a communications initiative to invite members of the public to "Discover what's inside the Book of Mormon."

"One of the miracles of our church," according to Elder Dudfield, "are the senior missionary couples who say good-bye to children and grandchildren for 18 months to two years and then go serve in various parts of the world at their own expense and with no pay."

"They dig wells and install pipes and water tanks in remote locations. They organise donations of wheelchairs. They do dental and medical work, including training local professionals. And much more."

"In our case, with this wonderful couple, they help us reach out to news media, government and leaders from other faiths and many others, in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding."

Elder Dudfield added, "As we foster better understanding among different religions and other groups, friendships are forged, and we can do more collectively to help more individuals, families and communities. Motivated by our love of God and our fellow men and women, it's hard work, but very fulfilling."

  

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