What’s Going On…
This week was crazy! We helped members twice harvest their rice in on the plantations. It was a lot of work in the hot sun, but now I can say I appreciate rice. We had to cut each stalk of rice by hand, dry it in the sun, then sift the shafts. At meal times, the members provided live worms. I didn’t eat any because I’ve gotten sick from eating other foreign foods, but all the other Elders gave it a shot. It was quite entertaining to watch, the worms have a strong jaw. If you’re not fast at chomping its head, it bites your mouth. One Elder slurped them down like ice cream, and later in the week ate a “banshee-beetle”. The beetle makes a electrical-crackling noise and flies really fast. To top it off, we found a tarantula outside our house. My companion and I were dropping off some things at the house and he rode right past it. I found the spider on the street and Elder Lundahl-Wolford came riding back. He almost wet himself when he saw it, then rode over it with his bicycle. This week was just full of random bugs.
English Class is going great, the Lee family decided to attend this week. We completed the 12 week course for the curriculum, and so we awarded two of the students certificates for their attendance. We also bumped up our advertising efforts in the city. This week we spent some time creating “sandwich-signs” and brainstormed some ideas. We were dancing and hand-standing with signs and being really creative to make an impression. Hopefully we can keep our attendance increasing with these efforts.
…..And transfers is in. I’m staying in Sibu, being reunited with Elder Pierce. We served together in Tawau a year ago. I’m excited to be with him again. Well, that’s it for this week!
Last week, the members took us Elders in the middle of the jungle to catch fish and huge lizards. We caught a decent amount of fish in random streams. We unfortunately didn’t find any biawaks, which was going to be the highlight of the trip. It still surprises me every time I realize I’m on the other side of the world in a jungle!
I made some changes to the English Class program this week. As we were advertising, we started using clipboards to write down potential student’s numbers. This helped us really improve the professionalism of the program. We also spray painted some signs, which will be used next week. Although none of the people that signed up came to class, we found another guy off the street. He saw the “welcome to English Class” signs outside the church, and was actually interested in the church. In addition, he wants to improve his English writing skills. We challenged him to come to church, and he came. I’m very exited from the potential of English Class, but I’m scared that I will be transferred. Transfers is next week, so I have one more week to do some work!
Elder Lundal-Wolford and I taught the Lee family English this week. We found a great way to give service to them, as the parents want to improve their English. The four children learn quite quickly, and the mom and dad need to keep up with them. We taught them emotions such as “angry, sad, hopeful, and scared” as well as descriptive words. They had a great response to the teaching and want to learn more. We taught the youngest son how to pray in English, and hopefully the parents will pray next.
A member’s daughter was baptized on Saturday, which was combined with the Malay Elder’s baptism. It was odd to mix the two languages, members of the different branches needed to leave to different rooms to understand the meeting. It was a great way for the different cultures of Chinese and Iban to mix and strengthen their unity as members of the church.
The Elders had a Sunday dinner after church yesterday, and I had a opportunity to experiment with cooking. I cooked an Alfredo-pasta with beef with an Italian-herb chicken. Cooking is so much fun! I don’t usually have time to cook, and I came up with this food on the spot! It was quite decent for a first time experiment, and no one complained.
I love my mission, it’s the best! I hope everyone is having opportunities to further the Lord’s work all around the world!
This week, Elder Nielson from the Quorum of the Seventy visited my mission. He is the executive director of the missionary department. We had a small zone conference where we received training from him and his wife. Sister Nielson shared a fantastic message on loving our companions. She first shared how when she was first married, she and Elder Nielson had to make adjustments. As they had children, and their children got married, further adjustments needed to be made. There were times that new members of the family had interests that the rest of the family didn’t have. As they worked over their dissimilarities, they found peace in allowing people to grow where they are. Nobody needs to change to be more like you, we all need to be more like Christ. In my companionship, I have found the most unity and harmony in choosing to ignore annoyances and learn from strengths. As I have done this, my companions have done the same. It culminates in two people learning from each other and not complaining about little petty things. This type of relationship allows all people within it’s influence to feel love and strength.
Elder Nielson trained the missionaries about Grace through the Atonement of Christ. As most people are familiar with the redeeming power of the Atonment, and some are familiar with the enabling power, he explained how it is used in the Gospel. The Gospel helps bad men become good through learning what is right and repenting, resulting in baptism. The Gift of the Holy Ghost helps us to become perfected as we endure to the end, relying on Grace of Christ. As we become more like Christ and endure with patience and humility, the burdens are made light. He also emphasized that trials are essential for our growth. Recalling Elder Bednar, we don’t make any progress in the snow without the load in our truck. But as trials are faced with optimism, the Holy Ghost is able to show us what to do.
Elder Nielson also trained us missionaries on finding people to teach. He shared a story when he was visiting another mission. The church was attempting to purchase land for a church building, but conditions required a real estate lawyer. The church leaders went to the missionaries and asked them to baptize a real estate lawyer. So the Elders worked and prayed hard to find, teach, and baptize a real estate lawyer. And it was done. At one time in the Philippines, the missionaries were asked to baptize people who owned cars. As the church at that time consisted of humble members who could not afford a vehicle, the missionaries were asked to find people with the resources to help the church grow. And it was done. As we identify righteous needs in our lives, ask the Lord for His help, then act, we receive what we asked for. As in the Singapore mission, we are focusing on Priesthood holders in an attempt to establish a Stake.
I am grateful for the rare privilege to hear from Elder Nielson, who works very closely with President Monson and the other church leaders. It is very clear that the Lord is in charge of His church. The Spirit confirmed to me that the Lord is very aware of every situation, and He has everything under control. As we press forward through trials, we are privileged to learn from the best teacher this world has to offer.
So this week, we worked so hard I pooped my pants. In the Singapore Mission, you’re not a real missionary until this happens. Luckily we were close to home, so I got cleaned up. Bucket list…. check. The Elders here are having a BBQ, we’re really excited to eat grilled wings and potatoes. This week was full of great food. We had steamboat, which means we cook our own food. We will put noodles, meats, vegetables, and sauces into a soup bowl in the middle of the table, and we place the contents over rice with broth. We also ate some great pork burgers, which are rare in an Islamic country. I’ve been quite spoiled with food this week.
We currently have one investigating family, which we will be meeting for the third time today. We plan on helping them understand where truth comes from, and how cleverly faked truth looks appealing. They have a Christian background, and they would benefit from understanding prayer, revelation, authority, and the fullness of the Gospel. We are investing a lot of attention into the English class program as well. It’s been quite hard to find new investigators lately, so we hope to find some through English class.
Love you all!
This week has been an exceptional spiritual week. I don’t have many miracles to share, other than my own continuous conversion. We found a Chinese family of six who have allowed us to come back a second time and teach. A couple from the Ukraine has also moved into the branch. Other small improvements have been made to the church, and life is great as always.
The feelings of joy and happiness that come from living the Gospel are impossible to express in words. They must be experienced personally in order to be understood. I have heard many miracles from other missionaries (including those of you still in school), and they always recall my personal experiences. My testimony of a loving God who wants each person to know that they are loved continues to grow. I know that God wants us to feel His love, personally know the teachings of Jesus Christ bring unearthly feelings of happiness, and has been working ever since (and before) this Earth was created to help us achieve our potential. The teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ, which we call the Gospel, are true. By true, I mean to say that they are given by the person who always knows what is best. When the Gospel is applied into ones life, everything changes. I cannot explain the experience, it must be experienced. I love to serve God and His children, it brings forth the greatest feelings of accomplishment and duty.
“Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.”
“He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand.” (D&C 107:99–100.)
The aching pains and sorrows of the world are easily forgotten when I choose to serve God. Sometimes it is a struggle to put His desires above all of mine, but I have never regretted the opportunity to see God’s loving hand in return.
Elder Lundahl-Wolford and I are improving our ability to become master-contacters. We found a family on the side of the road on Sunday afternoon with a flat tire. After we addressed their needs and concerns, we found an opportunity to show them our love and invite them to hear a message. We have met with two other families, and we’re building up our investigator pool. One of our investigators is now progressing towards baptism, and his “fruits” are impressive! He has cut his smoking habit from about 50 cigarettes a day to 20 cigarettes. We are coming closer to other investigators, identifying needs and concerns in their life. It is my testimony that before people can accept the Gospel, they first need to be loved. We are increasing in love towards all people, and especially in love towards the Savior. We are having great success in the Sibu area, leading the mission in baptisms so far. There are still some problems that need to be addressed, but we can see the blessings being showered upon us. I hope for a better life for the people in Sibu.
Chinese New Year is clearing up tonight with a last explosion of fireworks, we had many opportunities to celebrate with the members. Last Tuesday we had a celebration together with the members. They brought a large plate of noodles and vegetables. It was colored blue, orange, red, purple, and some other colors. Together, we mixed them together with chopsticks while saying new years resolutions. I love it! Last preparation day, we went bowling. I have a rivalry with Elder Thompson, he somehow is always a few points above me. My last games were losing 127-135 and 116-118.
I’m having a blast out here loving everyone and witnessing miracles. Happy Chinese New Year!!!
I hope everyone is having a great Valentines day, I’m quite content in my relationship with my companion right now…. no relationship issues. In all honesty, this week was a dump. Chinese New Year hit us really hard, and both Elder Lundahl-Wolford and I have been sick the past three days. I was sick for my birthday, Valentines day, and if it continues, for Elder Lundahl-Wolford’s birthday. But nevertheless, there is optimism in everything. We stayed at home for those three days, and during that time had the chance to read True To The Faith, Our Search For Happiness, Truth Restored, parts of Jesus The Christ, and a few chapters of the Book of Mormon in Chinese. I also had time to find random places in the house to hide to scare people.
I was given the chance for a lot of self reflection and receiving revelation. Over the course of my reading of past successful missionaries, I see great hope for every member’s potential today. I feel that the gospel is somewhat like Thor’s hammer, to use a superhero analogy. It possesses great power, and our unworthiness or unwillingness are the only constraints to uncovering it’s potential. If all members knew what the true potential of the gospel brings, we would never cease to live it. At the time the church was restored, incredible faith was displayed. Only years after the church was organized, the Lord commanded temples to be built, missionaries to be sent across the world, and everyone to be gathered together in Zion. Sometimes doubt and fear stand in our way. I have wondered what made the earliest saints have the faith to stand their ground until death.
“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
I have come to realize that the church is truly founded on revelation. Every member that wants to stand at the last day must have a personal testimony of Christ, taught and testified to them through the Spirit of God. Missionaries everyday teach that God answers prayers, and He does. It is through the testimony of Christ that we are able to withstand all persecution, serve all people within our path, and receive all happiness that is humanly possible.
Happy Valentines Day, or Happy Singles-Awareness Day!!
Chinese New Year in Sibu is crazy!!! Every neighbor buys hundreds of fireworks and firecrackers and lights them off for hours every day! The streets are littered with the waste. No one sleeps, everyone just makes lots of noise so that the rest of the year is “lucky”. I have enjoyed all of the free firework shows, dinner invitations, and free money. We were invited to party with our neighbors, and we sure did have a feast. We’re expecting a few more meal appointments, and hopefully we can find some people to teach.
We are continuing to meet with the mother and daughter we gave service to last week. I visited them again, and we were given another service opportunity. The mother again was not able to participate in the conversation because she was working, but her daughter accepted the invitation to keep the commandments. She is our best investigator, but has a little ways to go. We found out that her family has six members, all of which are eligible to become investigators. I am praying that we are able to teach them all, we are really struggling to get investigators progressing. It’s a tough challenge to get these people to have interest in improving their lives.
As we were contacting in the city area, we ran into two missionaries from the Jesus Is Lord church. We were able to have a conversation about the Godhead, baptisms for the dead, the need for prophets, and modern revelation. After our discussion, I felt extremely inadequate in my use of scriptures. I also learned a great deal of the Spirit. This was not the first time I have run into other missionaries, and they all are able to back up their beliefs with their interpretation of the Bible. The Spirit is the teacher, and it’s quite hard to always remember that. I often find myself looking like those other missionaries proving beliefs through scripture verses, and wishing I could have said more. This week, I felt impressed that others learn a lot more from example than from word. I have been prompted to life more worthily of the Spirit, refining my focus on the Savior, and seek to always do His will. I have found a greater love for Christ when reading through Jesus The Christ (James E. Talmage). Christ is a very diligent, loving, and loyal missionary. I have felt a renewal of spirit by studying his ministry along side his teachings in the Book of Mormon.
I am proud to say that I will be graduating from my teenage years on Saturday. We will probably go celebrate by eating sushi or something. Elder Lundahl-Wolford’s birthday is four days after mine. We will celebrate again by eating some more food. I hope that everyone has a lovely Valentine’s Day.
I don’t know about you, but when I go to another person’s house, I expect to stay on the ground (check the pictures). But then again, I don’t mind being Spiderman for a day. Actually, a less active member brought us to a random furniture store with an upside-down room. I also found a huge french fry at KFC. KFC in Malaysia is huge, chicken is the main food source besides rice. This week, I think I ate at KFC four times. And on the subject of food, I made pasta for Sunday dinner. Creamy Alfredo sauce with oysters.
One of my favorite memories from this week was exchanges with Elder Thompson on Friday. We visited an investigator who works at home. At the time we visited her, she was “too busy” to meet with us. We had already brought a church member with us, so we asked if we could teach her 16 year old daughter. She agreed to listen, and we shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She is currently Buddhist, but she paid very close attention to the principle of faith. Although she did not have much knowledge of who Christ is, she desired to become like the person we described. She committed to baptism, agreed to study about the Atonement, and to repent. After our lesson, we asked the mother if we could be of any help. She noted that her backyard was covered in weeds, but that we would not be willing to help her weed because we were dressed nicely. I am proud to say that we cleaned up everything. She was very impressed in our willingness to sweat through the afternoon after a heavy rain (it’s much hotter after rain). I hope that this small service will help us to share more with her family.
We are continuing to find random people in random back-alley ways and in shops to teach. Some of the are not willing to continue meeting, but we are still hoping we will find some that do. I’m continuing my study of the Book of Mormon (around 2 Nephi 6) and am always finding new revelations. I have lately learned a lot about the Plan of Salvation, particularly the “plan” part. It certainly is the most intricate complex perfect ingenious plan ever made, but it is simple enough for everyone to hear. Every element of the plan is perfectly designed and essential for the plan to work. Agency certainly is an interesting principle, especially why missionaries teach it to non-members. I’ve always wondered “why share about Adam and Eve eating some fruit”. After reading the Book of Mormon, this story is made more clear. I respect the Book of Mormon, it contains true principles. It contains truth.
This week was extremely busy, but we didn’t stay much in our area! Before we flew to Singapore, our branch president had us over for dinner. My companion is the newest in the area, and he was requested to stand on his chair and sing during dinner. Our pre-Zone Conference adventure took us to Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, Marina Bay, and Subway. Basically a very expensively build garden integrated with architecture and technology, a three very expensive buildings with a very expensive boat on top, a lake with a lot of expensive buildings in the background, and Subway with 50+ Elders. Subway requested that we tell them next time, they had no idea what hit them.
Zone conference was fantastic. Some missionaries went to Missionary Leadership Conference before Zone Conference and were saying that someone from another mission knew me. I walked into the chapel, and I found Elder Paskett from the Jakarta Indonesia mission! He was in Singapore for a visa run, just dropping in for the world-wide missionary broadcast. I was way happy to see him there! I also saw Elder Jones (my MTC companion) who I had not seen in over a year! Aside from seeing all the friends, we received great training on how to better teach. Most training emphasized preparing ourselves as vessels for the Spirit to teach. I committed myself to better preparing myself each day to seek guidance. Praying frequently and having my heart centered on the work will be the focus of my efforts.
On our way back to Sibu, we hit up the butterfly garden and other sights in the airport. Oh yea, and tons of Star Wars models. There were other models, but we couldn’t get good pictures of them. The Singapore airport is so expensive and has at least 10 gardens, several koi ponds, butterfly rooms, lots of shopping, expensive food, and free computer access. It sure is a busy place there.
As soon as we got back to Sibu, we had District Conference for two days. The focus was strengthening families. It was a great focus for the people here. Somehow no one in the world can escape from the powers of greed, lust, selfishness, and evil. Even in little shacks along the rivers of Malaysia, evil always finds a way to spread. It’s important to teach others how to ignore these distractions and always desire peace and happiness.