Sunday, June 22, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Father's Day, Everyone!

Not much really happened here, for Father's Day, so I hope a lot more fun and pie are being had where you all are.  Dad, and Grandpa, and Uncles, thank you all for being such great examples to me and being great husbands and fathers!!  I hope you all have some time to relax and to enjoy whatever festivities are happening at the family gathering.  (Although, I don't know if it's possible to do both at the same time...)
It's great to hear from Grandma and Shelley over email, but once again, I don't really know what to say when you can read my words almost instantly.  Send me some pictures of the party!  I'll send you a couple of pictures from my week, and explain a little of what's been going on in Sibu.
Well, we haven't moved out to the new house yet.  I think there are still people living there, so we'll probably move in two weeks.  Next week is zone conference in Singapore, so three or four days will be filled up with taxis and airplanes and layovers and finding a hotel and giving and hearing talks.  I'm always re-energized by zone conferences, so I'm looking forward to this one very much.  Because we will be leaving on Monday, I don't know when I will have time to email you.  It probably won't get to you on your normal Sunday night time.  If not, I'll let you know next time what I learn and feel at zone conference.

We met a couple of times this week with our new investigator girl, (     ) and her brother (Ethan).  They are both pretty playful, and they don't focus during our lessons.  It's funny because they ask to have lessons with us, but they aren't willing to pray or give honest answers to questions.   I don't know how much I can expect from them.  After all, they're pretty young, and they haven't always had a great environment at home, so it may hurt to be honest and accept new things from new people.  However, they love the plan of salvation diagram I created in Singapore, and they loved the spirit and physical bodies that Mom sent.  Thank you!!  They help immensely in teaching with clarity.  It's hard for them to read the old Chinese in the Book of Mormon, so it's going to take a lot of work and patience to help them progress, but we'll keep trying!
An Elder that served in Sibu formerly came to visit the saints here in Malaysia with his wife.  Elder David Hunsaker, who lives in Salt Lake City stopped in for our Sunday meetings, and all the members were very happy to see him!  He did so much good work and helped several people accept the gospel while he served here.  I hope I can do the same.  I don't know if I'll have a similar opportunity to return in a few years to see the growth of the Church in Sibu, but I know that the Lord's work will progress as the gospel is spread here.  I'm glad to be a part of it, even if just a small, and often confused part.  I know that the Lord is helping me to overcome certain weaknesses as I continue to serve Him in the best ways that I can find, and I pray that He will continue to do the same for all of you, too!
I love you all so much!!  Thank you for all the kind words that I can read over email, as well as the prayers and thoughts that I can feel from you, half the world away.

Dad: When you say "giving" and hearing talks, do you mean that you have been asked to speak?  I assume not.
Brennan: All the missionaries get a topic and are told to prepare a 7-10 minute talk before zone conference.  Some are called up on the spot to speak when we meet in Singapore.  That happened to me at Christmas Conference.  At that time, I had completely missed the topic, and I didn't even know that Elders and Sisters were called up to speak.  I remember hearing my name through the dark fog that separated me from the world of the awake.  I opened my eyes when Elder Harper nudged me and said, "Get up there. We're waiting." 
I said "*wgehuat?" 
He said, "President Mains just announced that you'll be giving a talk.  Good luck"
As I scooted down the pew past him on my way up the pulpit I asked, "What's my topic?"
I ended up saying a few very repetitive things and talking about how we all have the Light of Christ, and when we cleave unto light that we receive, we will receive more and more light.  Someone called me on the phone which I was using to frantically look up a scripture as I spoke, so I had to silence it.  That was pretty embarrassing.

Tip of the week:  Don't drink the orange juice.

Maybe it came from green oranges like Elder Broadhead's?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

Various stuff and cool pictures

Dear All,
Brace yourselves:  We have a NEW INVESTIGATOR!!!   This week, we had a couple of lessons with a young girl that we met at the other Elders' lesson with their recent convert.  She speaks a little Malay and Iban, but is fluent in Chinese, so she understood Elder Broadhead and me much more clearly when we taught her.  She likes to joke around with us a lot, but when we sat down with her in a lesson situation, she asked us many questions of her soul, mostly about the Godhead and the plan of salvation.  We were able to answer several of her questions, and will meet her again this week to see if she did her homework (reading the Plan of Salvation pamphlet) and help her find more answers.  I hope she will feel how good the truth is in her heart, and that she will want to keep meeting with us and learning about the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Pray for us and for her!

In other news ... I'll just tell you a bunch of stuff that happened this week:

I called Elder Fletcher, who challenged me to a push-up competition in August.  I'm already sore from practicing.  (I can call other missionaries in the mission, as long as it's not during proselyting hours.  The only restricted phone calls are to places outside the mission, or to people of the opposite sex not in my area.  Elder Fletcher and I just reminisced a little.  He's in Singapore, my "birthplace," and I'm in Sarawak, where he began.)

I bought my first souvenir: A beaded tie at a beads shop downtown.

Elder Christensen, my District Leader came on exchanges with me, and we actually went out and knocked on people's doors.  And I mean their doors!  (this is significant because there were not iron gates fencing off these peoples' yards and doors, so it must have been in a pretty safe little community - this is the first time I've ever knocked a door directly.)
We ate at a fancy restaurant downtown with a kind member couple.  I had a Sarawak specialty: some kind of ferns that are hand-picked from the jungle.  yum!

Last P-Day our favorite member friend took us to a Chinese temple to take pictures and learn a little more about the culture.

I taught English class to several Iban speakers on the spot.  I only knew how to say a few sentences, so I'm glad that another pair of Malay Elders came to help me out.

I learned that New Zealanders are from Hagoth.  See "Temple View Area Conference Report, Feb. 1976"

I got your letter!  Thank you so much for sending me those emails from friends.  I can relate to almost everything I read about missionary work from them: the good times, the low times, and the new experiences, but not eating cheesesteaks.  I also really loved Elder Eyring's talk.  What he said about that drive or that force inside me that lifts me up and inspires me to be the very best I can, put into words what I could not.  His words about the future family and knowing if I'm forgiven and worthy really resonated with me, simultaneously chastising me, inspiring me, and comforting me.  Thank you always for what you send, what you say, and how you pray for me.  I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers, always.  I'm still learning that it won't be in exactly the way or at the time that I want, but I know that His way is better than my way, and all that He does is for my good and learning because He loves me, and all of us, so much!

I love all of you, too, more than I can say!


Visit to Chinese temple

These are for Noelle:  I'm not used to taking pictures of flowers, but tell me how I did.

How do I eat a mango?

I wish you could have seen all the colors - there  were so many more I couldn't capture, some excellent blues.

Exchanges with Elder Christensen

A common street sign, probably inspired by something in a Mario Kart game.

And these:  

Monday, June 2, 2014

A couple of highlights

Hi Family!
Well, this week was pretty much the same as last week.  I don't feel any progress is being made in our area.  At least, our numbers don't show any progress, and nothing spectacular has happened, but I do feel a little closer to one or two people I have met here than I was last week.  I hope that is worthwhile progress.  I know it's not all about the numbers, but our goals this week have hit an all-time low, (only one field shows something other than a zero) and it reflects quite accurately what has been going on in our missionary work lately.
A couple of high points of my week:  I played the trumpet at our branch dumpling night activity.  Sister Beus accompanied me on the piano as I played what was a solo voice arrangement of "Be Still, My Soul," which I transposed by hand into the right key for trumpet.  It was a lot of fun, and a great relief to some building stress.  All the branch members were made to sit through it, as well as my "Called to Serve" and another member playing a beautiful piano piece.  I say "made to sit through it," because they all came, watched a few people play a game, then were told to stay in their seats and not eat until the music was finished.  It was a little odd, kind of like a recital nobody knew they were going to hear, but I think the activity was still a success.
One more highlight: I had an interview with President Mains, who gave me some good advice, like extending only commitments that I'm already living, and some direction in doing so: read deeply from the Book of Mormon every day for personal study.  It was a good reminder to me that the scriptures have real power, and that even when we can't see the effect they have on us immediately, we can't afford to go without the direction and comfort the Lord can give us through the words of the prophets.  I'd been reading the words of the modern prophets as I browsed conference talks, lately, but I'd been a little lethargic about getting into the Book of Mormon as deeply as I should.  While the words of Elder Nelson, Elder Perry, President Monson, and others who spoke at this last general conference are a bit easier for me to understand, I know that answers to my questions have come in a subtle and powerful way which I cannot describe, from reading the Book of Mormon with real intent.

President also gave me encouragement that was very welcome in a time of personal confusion and discouragement.
It's strange that I can honestly say that I'm still loving the mission, despite current disappointing circumstances I cannot control.  I'm so grateful for your prayers, thoughts, and the love you send through your letters!  Know that I love all of you, too, very much!