Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jungle excursions and thoughts on prayer

Hello Everybody!

Where to begin about this week?  Well, maybe I’ll just list off a few cool things that happened:

1.  Last night I was riding my bike down a dark road when I suddenly had to duck my head and swerve to the side to avoid getting hit in the face by a giant “Mothra,” bigger than my hand! It was the kind with big wings colored on one side and brown on the other, and with “tails” on the bottoms of its wings.  I thought it was cool, anyway.

2.  Elder Broadhead and I took an expedition “over the river and through the woods” this week.  There was not a lot of missionary work for us to do there, because not many Chinese people lived in that area of the jungle, but you can see a few pictures of the houses along the river, and in the rainforest.

3.  I got to go on exchanges with Elder Hobbs [whose mission language is Malay].  It was very refreshing to work with the investigators in his area.  One that we visited lived in the more ghetto part of Sibu.  It was an adventure getting to his house, but it felt so good to meet with someone so willing to accept help from us and so willing to come to Christ and repent.  Our last appointment that day required another bike ride out into the jungle.  We met a large family in a humble home.  We sat on the bare concrete floor, our lesson illuminated by only a single fluorescent bulb, but I’ve never met people so ready to learn from the Book of Mormon.  They each had their scriptures and a highlighter waiting for us when we arrived.  Being a Chinese-speaking Elder in Malaysia is like being in a completely different mission from the Malay Elders and Sisters! 

4.  A member who’s rapidly becoming my close friend drew a portrait of me, as is his tradition with all the Sibu missionaries. 

5.  I met with the branch and district Family History consultants to learn how to get started myself, and to help members get started on genealogy.  It’s going to be a process, and virtually none of the members here have means enough to travel to the Philippines or Hong Kong to perform temple ordinances for their ancestors, but there are so many blessings promised us about family history that I believe it’s going to be a worthwhile endeavor.

This week, I read over the letters I received from Mom and Dad while I was at Aaronic Priesthood in Action camp for the last three summers.  I felt so uplifted and comforted as I read these inspired words.  I felt that they were actually written for me in this time of many questions, not just as friendly words as a part of an annual summer activity.  Thank you, Mom and Dad, for expressing your love and confidence in me, as well as sharing with me your own missionary experiences, challenges, and advice.  Thank you always for your outstanding examples to me.  I hope that the Lord can mold me into someone as good as you both are, when I’m a parent and husband.

As I pondered my relationship with my Heavenly Father this week, I evaluated my attitude and the words I use in prayer.  I know I need to pray with real intent and with all the energy of heart.  The picture that always comes to my mind along with these exhortations is that of me praying until my heart just gives out and I drop dead next to my study table.  I don’t feel like that’s the best option, nor is it what the Lord actually wants me to do.  I’m trying to use real intent by stopping whenever I notice myself using vain repetitions.  I just stop and then instead of asking or thanking for things I say every day (even though I feel sincere doing it), I just tell my Father what I’m feeling and how my day went.  I know he already knows, but as I speak with Him about it, I can feel subtle answers to my questions, that come as I ask.  I ask for wisdom and the capacity to act on it in a way that will help me develop a better relationship with my companion, investigators, members, and with Jesus Christ.  I don’t ever feel an immediate boost in strength or wisdom, and I sometimes wonder if I’m just asking for more trials.  I just tell Heavenly Father that I plan to just keep on keeping on, and to try my best to follow the Spirit.  I hope He’ll forgive me when I can’t see clearly and I make a poor choice, but I know He loves me and wants me to succeed.  I take a lot of comfort from this.

I know He loves all of you as well, and He can speak to you as you seek Him in quiet moments.

I love you all so much!

Wow, I never have time to respond to everything you all send me, but please know that I read it all, and I love it all, especially the little details about what happens during the week.
I also really value all the experiences you share with me, and the advice and encouragement you give me on a weekly basis.  It really lifts me up!
Thanks and Love,

Photos:  look out, there are a lot today! 
Elder Broadhead fighting an intense battle in a game of table tennis. 

Elder Broadhead waiting for 40 minutes at a bus stop near our house.

The Sky and Clouds over Sibu.  Pretty cool - at least, I never saw clouds and sky like this at home.   

Late afternoon over the river to the west of the city.  We crossed here to go into the jungle.

A couple pictures of the forest and people living and farming there.

one bridge... 

...and another one.  Which bridge would you choose to cross? 

Elder Broadhead:  "...don't mess with a missionary man..." 

The view of houses along the river from the ferry which took us across.  See if you can zoom in and take a better look at the city. 

Exchanges with Elder Hobbs! 

This is a back street in the more run-down area of town. 

Study room and sweater - the Aircon unit gets this room pretty cold!  Elder Broadhead doesn't seem to mind, but I had to get a study sweater. 

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