Thank you so much for all the kind words and support you gave me this week! I was really feeling down last week, and it was such a relief to talk to you all last preparation day. I feel much better now, and I really was lifted up by all your help, advice, and prayers in my behalf.
This week was much better than last week. First of all, I'd like to tell you about a lesson we had with our one investigator, who I'll call Stan in this email. Stan is the one who's wife is a recent convert of about 3 months, and who is the most prepared person to receive the gospel on the face of the planet. In our first meeting with him, before we had even mentioned baptism, he said to us, "After I'm baptized, ... (and then something like, "can I attend church in a different branch if I'm traveling there?") He asked us if he could be baptized on the 15th of February, and after giving a lot of thought and consulting with Elder Loke for about zero seconds, we both cried "YES!"
He has been reading scriptures and praying with his wife every day. He studies by watching the Book of Mormon videos on his tablet, then reading the chapters about which he watched. We went to his house this week to talk to him about 1 Nephi 8, Lehi's vision. When we got there, we showed him a picture about the vision, and immediately, he explained to us what each part of the vision represented, and what it meant to him.
We said, a little surprised, "Wow, did you pick that all up just from reading chapter 8 this week?"
He replied, "No, it didn't make sense the first time, but I continued, and found that Nephi explains it pretty clearly a few chapters later."
We gladly abandoned our lesson plan, and addressed a few questions he had about the Isaiah chapters he was currently rereading.
Elder and Sister Schollenberger, who came with us to Stan's house, asked if they could instead, show a picture of the Hong Kong temple and explain a little bit about how temples could bless their marriage.
Stan said, "Oh good, I actually had hoped to learn more about temples. You know, my wife and I talked about it this week, and made plans to go to the Melbourne temple on February 16, 2015. What would you like to say?"
Elder Schollenberger said, after a moment's shock, "Well, that was a good lesson. Can we have cake and go now?"
Perhaps this whole incident isn't exactly clear to you, in the way that I described it, but just know that the Lord led a young, miracle couple of investigators to us, and they are basically just teaching me the finer points of the gospel of Jesus Christ by their example. We can't keep up with them! I'm so glad God has blessed me with this opportunity to see real "kingdom builders" here in JB, and I pray that I will continue to meet a few more in my mission.
I knew, but had never witnessed in such real time, the profound impact that living gospel principles has on the lives of individuals and families, of all ages, and the miraculous changes that can take place in lives as they accept Christ with faith, and press forward with real intent. I hope that all of us will remember the blessing that our family heritage in the gospel is, and that we will treasure it by always living faithfully and being exactly true to what we know. It's something I'm trying to do now, and something I know the Lord can help us with, regardless of whether we're missionaries or members.
A typical, hazy sunset in Johor Bahru.
A little Hawker stand, with the best rice I've ever had: Nasi Lemak ( or as Elder Wang says, Lasilama) which is cooked in coconut milk, and kept in that huge wooden barrel before it's spooned into the little plastic-y paper. I found new meaning in the phrase "paper plate"
The whiteboard after our first branch family home evening, put on by the missionaries. When all our other plans fell through, and only a couple people came, I made up a game about following the prophet, on the spot. This was our "Captain Clueless"- style wilderness, which blindfolded Nephites had to be guided through by the prophet, as the crowd yelled wrong directions at them, trying to get them to run into cacti, rocks, wolves, time-traveling Gadiantons, and other unseen dangers.
Elder Loke, posing beneath the red sun, as we try to find former investigators at their homes.
Brennan: Let me know if you have any questions I can answer in today's emails.
Mom: Do you have an oven?
Brennan: I have a small toaster oven, and the senior couple, the Schollenbergers, who live next door have an oven.
Oops, I don't know if it's a toaster oven, exactly, but I've never seen one like it before. It has one rack in it, and it's portable, so it could be moved from room to room. It would probably work for cooking things, if I knew how to use it, and if it's not broken. I've never tried it before, but other Elders sometimes cook hashbrowns in it. It makes a half-crunchy, half-soggy breakfast. :)
Dad: Reminiscent of jell-o crisps and granola jerky?
Brennan: ooh... no please.
I'm sure those recipes could be easily cooked to completion in the oven I have.
Mom: Just wondering if you want no-bake treat ideas to take to the members -- a way to get in the door and show you care about them. I'll have to think about what to send you, if you have no oven. Fudge is always good, and I'll think about other treats. Look for recipes next week :)
Brennan: Fudge is good, but here, really expensive for the chocolate and condensed milk. Vanilla and almond extract are really cheap. Also, I have no glassware, and no small pots. I have two large skillets and one huge noodles-pot.
Oh, I just realized, I never cook rice. We don't even have any in our house. I've never seen a wok since I practiced frying rice for the family back home.
[If any of you reading this have great no-bake treat ideas, leave a comment and/or send the recipe to him.]