Tuesday, January 14, 2014

First news from Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru Survivor of 3 days!  I've only been here a few days, so I don't know much about the place, but it's pretty different from Singapore.  The first and obvious difference is in the cleanliness.  Singapore was really really clean, and JB, just across the river, is a different world.  It's probably a lot more like the rest of the world, but it's been a while since I was there.  Walking down the streets of JB is a whole different experience - different sights, sounds (or lack thereof) and smells, some not so dissimilar to the dairy farms of Cache Valley.  That's one thing I actually don't miss too much about home, but it was something familiar.  Singapore seemed to have so many people and buildings all crammed into a small space.  JB is a lot more open.  there's a little room between houses, and there are grassy places amidst the buildings.

My new companion, Elder Loke, is a big, strong, friendly, and hilarious missionary, native to Kuala Lumpur.  He's only a couple hours' drive from home!  Even though there are a lot of things that I think might be disappointing or challenging about the mission for him, he maintains a great attitude, a friendly demeanor, and demonstrates great discipline as well as charity.  I love working with him!

It is hard, transferring from an area and from people I had come to love, to a new, completely foreign place where people have warned me I will have to watch my every step and I will have to struggle for success.  At first, I was disappointed to be transferred from Singapore, but my excitement is growing to get to work in this vastly different branch of the church.  At church, the attendance was a whopping 28, including the 4 missionaries.  I gave them an opportunity to apply "enduring to the end" with a 30-minute talk I prepared on 13-hours notice.  During the Church service, which switches from Chinese to English intermittently, because the people here speak a mixture of simple English and Chinese, Elder Loke noticed a face peeping in through the window at our meeting.  We went out to the Foyer to find a small Chinese-Malaysian man who was curious about the Church.  He had been walking down the street and somehow decided to come into the Church, which, from his perspective is just another door in a shop lot, with no Logo or sign.  We were able to give him a copy of the Book of Mormon, and set up another time to meet with him!  I'm not sure what fruits to expect from our encounter with him, but it was a testimony to me that God hears and answers prayers.

To explain a little, I had heard that we hardly ever get to teach Chinese-speakers here, either because their Mandarin is not very good, they can't read, they speak a dialect, or they only understand English or Malay.  I had begun a fast, asking for help to find Heavenly Father's prepared children and Mandarin-speakers.  I think that my meeting with this man was an answer from Heavenly Father which gave me a lot of comfort and support.

Another miracle that I witnessed yesterday was seen in a lesson I had with a brand new investigator.  He and his wife are from KL [Kuala Lumpur], of Chinese heritage, but they have recently moved to  Johor and have been married for about a year.  His wife is a recent convert of three months, and he says he'd like to become one as well.  He is the most perfect example of humility and real intent I think I've ever seen in my mission.  He is willing to read the Book of Mormon with his wife, to pray, to ask real, important questions and seek answers, to come to church against opposition, and to be baptized in a month!  After my first visit with investigators, things often change, but I have great hopes for him!  He even explained (before we even taught him anything) that he wants to become good, informal friends with the missionaries, have us over to his house many times, and that he wants to learn everything we can teach him.  I am so grateful for the opportunity God placed in my path to meet with someone so accepting of the gospel.  I feel strongly that this experience was an answer to my sincere prayer, and one that has truly strengthened my faith and confidence in teaching.

One more thing that has strengthened my confidence in a way that I can't fully explain, is beginning a serious study of the Book of Mormon.  Larry Y. Wilson and his wife came to tour the Singapore Mission this week.  At our zone conference, they both spoke powerfully of the converting power the Book of Mormon has.  I know this is true, and I think I've always known it, but I had become distracted by my many other study-worthy materials as I prepared for lessons and activities.  I have been made more confident and my faith has been strengthened, as well as my teaching ability as I have laid aside my other "good" sources and gone back to the "best"  study source.  I think the reason it strengthened my faith is because it was an act of trust.  I really liked reading my conference talks and MTC books and other missionary tools, but  by relying on the Lord to fulfill his promise, through {Elder? President?} Wilson, that studying the Book of Mormon and reading from it with investigators will be the most powerful source of conversion for missionaries, members, and investigators, I found that real and unseen blessings have come flooding back into my life and teaching.  I've been able to see it in only 5 days! I'm amazed and re-converted.  I know the Book of Mormon, when read as a family, and understood through the witness of the Holy Ghost, brings temporal and Spiritual blessings to the family as well as individuals.  I wish that my love of the Book of Mormon, and my anxiousness to read it every day could infect every one of you.  I hope you can, while the year is still new, commit, recommit, or continue to improve, your personal and family study of the Book of Mormon along with me.  This is not a new opportunity or a new possibility, but as I have begun to read with new, hungry eyes, it has brought so much brand new life and vigor and confidence to my every day and I wish the same for you!


(later email) 
I can't upload any pictures.  It's too slow here. I'll try next week.

Instead, I can tell you a little about "Singlish"- something that I've picked up to an extent, and is a defining Characteristic of my mission, but of which you may not be aware.  It was hilarious the first few times I talked to people in "English" but then I realized that's just really how everyone talks here.

Basically, talk over anybody who's talking.  Whenever you want to say yes, in any form, just say "can." If no, say a drawn out and dramatic "cannot!"  Put "Lah!" in varying durations and emphasis at the end of every sentence in which you want any emotion.  Change all "th" sounds to a "d" or "t" sound, interchangeably. The one that took me longest to figure out:  Replace all consonants, (except for the "st" as in first, and the "n" as in "can") that occur after the last vowel of a word with a hard glottal stop.
"soup" becomes "sou' "
"apartment" becomes "apa'me' "
"bus stop" becomes "busto' "
The last one is really quite strange to me: say "really quite" instead of any other intensifier such as really, very, super, extra, highly, etc.
These are the beginners guidelines to speaking "fluent" *ha* Singlish.  I'm really quite positive that by applying dese suggestions, you all can become expe' quickly.
Love and goo' lu',

1 comment:

  1. Surely "really quite" is a hold-over from the days of British rule, eh? what?