Monday, April 21, 2014

Merry Easter!

Dear Family,

Merry Easter, everyone!  Personally, I've never been more easter than here in Sibu.  Okay, when you stop rolling on the floor in hysterics at my punny joke (or when the cricket's stop chirping) I'll tell you a little more about my Sojourn in Sarawak.

It's been...different.  I like the small-town country feeling that I get in this place.  Actually, Sibu is a pretty populated area, I guess, but it's definitely not as urban as Johor Bahru.  So, for the Malay-speaking Elders, missionary work is taking off!  The Sibu Zone now leads the mission in baptisms and new investigators!  It's still kind of hard to get things off the ground for us as Chinese Elders, though.  It's a process, and it still takes a lot of calling and some boring hours of menial work, but I have faith that the Lord is preparing someone that we can meet and make real progress with.

Well, now for what I learned this week:  Following the Spirit every day is HARD!  I try as hard as I can to see through the nets of confusion and doubt Satan is always throwing at me, trying to bind me down.  I'm also learning how answers to prayers come - very subtly, for me at least.  There were many times each day where I had a choice or a judgment to make, about what was Heavenly Father's truth and what was the opinions of the world.  Sometimes, I wasn't sure if I'd made the right choice, and I'm still not entirely convinced.  There were times when I didn't know if what I was doing actually was right or if I had been wasting my efforts at the expense of others' opinions of me.  It's been a struggle, and I've had to stand alone at some times, in order to keep doing what I felt was right.  I was looking very hard for a confirmation that I am still doing what's right in God's sight and that my efforts are accepted of Him.  I found my answers in scriptures this week.  I can't describe exactly how the feeling came, and it still was not strong, but it was a stillness and an assurance in quiet moments as I read verses of scripture which promise Heaven's help and rewards to the faithful. 

As lately I read Preach My Gospel, I've been wondering, "How strong is my faith?  Do I really have faith, or is it some other feeling or conviction that I've associated with the word 'faith' for most of my life?"  I especially like the line in PMG that says, “When you have vaith in Jesus Christ, you trust the Lord enough to follow His commandments – even when you do not completely understand the reasons for them.”

I also read under "Hope:" “Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you.  It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance.  It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good.  Hope helps you conquer discouragement.”

And because I'm trying to develop charity most of all, under that heading I drew special strength from this passage:  “When you are filled with charity, you obey God’s commandments and do all you can to serve others and help them receive the restored gospel. . . . .  You will avoid judging others, criticizing them, or saying negative things about them.  You will try to understand them and their points of view.  You will be patient with them and try to help them when they are struggling or discouraged.  Charity, like faith, leads to action.  You will develop charity as you look for opportunities to serve others and give of yourself.”

I'm really grateful to hear what you all have been studying out of "Preach My Gospel" as well.  I know that it is inspired counsel, and that we will be protected, blessed, and strengthened to meet our challenges when we follow it.  Coupled with the counsel I find inside that manual, I also draw a lot of patience to face my daily trials from asking myself this question:  "What does God want me to learn from this challenge?"  I find it so much easier to step back and keep an eternal perspective when I ask this question to myself and my Heavenly Father.  I feel an assurance that He is over all things and loves me, and will always stand by me.  I hope that we will all remember to keep an eternal perspective – to know that all trials are for our benefit and learning.
As Sister Wilson, (wife of Larry Y. Wilson) said at my 2nd zone conference, speaking about the Lord as a silversmith and refining his silver in a fiery furnace:  "When it hurts, when you feel you can't go on, don't shortchange the process."

Man...  I can't seem to find anywhere to end this, so I'll just say I love you all so much!  It's always great to email you - thanks for always staying up late to talk!


Here is my plane with the jungle and the storm in the background.

Here are some real skulls hanging from the ceiling of some headhunters' longhouse that I visited one day.

Missionaries fixing bikes.  It's a daily thing.

My planner - almost destroyed in the heavy rain.

I'm stuck to the tape on the wall, just like this chichak [house gecko]

Sibu's city center with park for playing soccer at Zone Activity.

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