Monday, March 31, 2014

Laughter is the best medicine

Hi Everyone!
In response to "How are you?" from Mom, I say "Good, good."   In response to "No, really, how are you?"  I say, "It hurts right here (pointing at the general area of myself) but I don't know how to make it better." I've had a lot of practice smiling, lately.  Lots of things about missionary work are hard, but it's amazing what a simple smile will do to brighten my day.  I hope that by being cheerful always, I will find more people who will speak to me and be receptive to the message of the restoration.  I know that it's hard for the love and light of Christ to shine through us when we frown or disengage ourselves.  I hope I can be a more pure, conductive vessel of the love of our Lord to other people.

One thing that keeps me smiling is thinking about Rosie.  She's also got a lot of hard things in her life, like her friends abandoning her because she comes to our church now, and taking care of a house, kids, and a business alone, but she has amazing strength and sense.  I'm so glad the Lord prepared her so that she can endure these trials and still have a strong desire to learn the gospel, leading up to her baptism.  At our next meeting with her, I hope we can help her choose a baptism date for sometime in April!  She says the things she learns, the Spirit she feels, and even the faces she sees at church seem somehow familiar and comforting her.  I know the Holy Ghost is testifying to her of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and of what she learns at church, and I'm immensely grateful that I've been a part and able to witness her strengthening conversion!

Oh, Elder Fabiano and I have been titled Master Finders of the zone, so we won an all-expenses-paid trip to zone conference, inclusive of our own 30-minute presentation which we'll give all the other missionaries about how to become master finders.  Yikes!  More info next week on how that went.

For now, know that I love you all and I'm glad that Heavenly Father is watching over you, just as he's watching over me.  I can feel it, and I hope you can, too!

Tons of Love,

P.S.  I just found out that two of my former investigators in Singapore were baptized yesterday!!  I'm so happy for them, and I'll take a little time today to send them short messages of congratulations!  Thanks for your prayers on behalf of my investigators as well as me!


Dad:  Congratulations!  Is this one of those successful mission stories that ends with "and then I got transferred"?

Brennan:  Well, most of the stories of my investigators end with...  "We were teaching him, he showed so much promise, he accepted a baptismal date, he was keeping commitments, and then... He moved to China."  One of those two actually traveled from his home town in China to Hong Kong to be baptized.  That's how I know that he was dedicated!

Photo explanations:
Elders Harr & McCarthy nearly died of laughter when "O Holy Night" played from my Christmas list.  I had to take a picture, but this one doesn't capture all the tears that were shed and all the uncontrollable rolling around on the couch and nearly eating the pillow that ensued.  I'm glad there are still ways like this to relieve stress after a long day. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Johor Journal" -- my news for the week

Hello Everybody!

Thank you so much for the uplifting and encouraging emails you sent me last week.  I'm always so glad to have time to email, because hearing from you really is a source of strength to me, and helps me remember that there are sane people out there somewhere. :)

Well, this last week started off just the same as the week before had ended.  We had blank pages in our planners, and nothing to fill them with except contacting.  We spent all day Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday looking for people.  I'm surprised the security people in the malls downtown haven't caught on yet.  The malls have seen too much of missionaries lately.  We contact at malls a lot because those are the places with the most available people during our daytime hours.  Occasionally, we'll also walk down the sidewalks outside of long shop lots, trying to contact shop owners or their customers, but neither of those options seemed to work very well for us this week.  Oh, and each of those days, it poured buckets outside.  The English Elders (McCarthy and Harr) were soaked every day on their bikes.  Elder Fabiano and I stood at the bus stops, where the little covering overhead ensured that our hair was not wet, but from our nametags down we were almost swimming.

Anyway, the demoralizing part of the week over, Thursday (Mom's Birthday!) rolled around, and we finally had a meeting with an investigator, who we'll call Rosie.  She invited us and the branch president to her apartment, where we discussed the book of Mormon with her.  She can only read Indonesian, so we brought her our last Indonesian copy, and she began reading it.  She had come to English class several times already, and she said that when she took the short tour of the church she felt very comfortable and she wanted to come back to Church for a Sunday meeting! That was last week, March 16.  This Thursday, when she met with us, she confided that she's had to withstand a lot of anti-church sentiment from her close friends, but that she still believes there is something good in the Church and that she wants to find out from us instead of believe her friends' outside opinions.  When she came to Church again yesterday, she said she felt very peaceful, and that she wants us to meet tomorrow to teach her young son with her!  She is doing very well under a lot of peer pressure, and I'm so proud of her!  I feel very fortunate to have met Rosie and I know that she is prepared to hear the message of the restoration.  She is so willing to learn, and she has already invited her friends to church and English class.  She came to the relief society anniversary party where she made new friends on Saturday, and if she meets with us today as planned, then it will have been 5 consecutive days.  That's how people really progress!

I have been able to see the Holy Ghost at work in Rosie's life this week, even to the point that she said she wants to stop drinking tea!  She just SMS-ed (texted) us out of the blue and said she wants to quit!  I know the gospel has real converting power, and that when we begin to exercise a particle of faith, the Holy Ghost can connect with the deep-rooted desire to be good and loving within us and testify that Christ's Church is restored in full!

"... And I cannot write a hundredth-part of the dealings of Johor Bahru missionary experiences this week, but what I have written sufficeth me."

Until next week, lots of Love,

My rabbit-meat burger.  Wow.

Elder Fabiano, out of the rain, calling potentials on our dinner break, at the Ramley Burger stand, a Chinese temple in the background, with a Soursop bought for us unexpectedly by a nice Singaporean couple we contacted.

Elder Harr and Elder McCarthy in a very long line for buying groceries.

Elders Harr, Fabiano, and McCarthy, practicing the Mauri Hakka.  Hhuaagh!  Elder McCarthy is from New Zealand, so he is teaching us the words and actions in traditional Mauri!