Monday, March 23, 2015

Crocodiles and conversion

Dear Family, 
Hi everyone, sorry I'm on at a different time today.  We had quite an adventure, driving all over Johor State with the Bensons this morning, visiting waterfalls, palm oil plantations, and Crocodile World, the largest crocodile farm in West Malaysia.  I've also left my card reader at home, so I can't send you any pictures of our P-Day.  If you can imagine driving hundreds of kilometers through millions of palm trees and watching thousands of unmoving crocodiles, then you have a pretty good grasp of what happened.

This week, my faith in the converting power of the gospel increased.  One of our investigators speaks mainly Korean, and English as her second language, so we weren't very sure how much she was understanding of all that we taught.  I was beginning to doubt that she would actually progress toward baptism by her scheduled date because of the language barrier.  However, I prayed that the Spirit would teach her more deeply than we would be able to with our words alone.  After each of her lessons this week, as we asked her questions to review the material we'd taught and to check for her understanding, she said "I believe in Jesus Christ!  When I come [to lessons and church] and read the Book of Mormon, I feel peaceful inside."  I know that because of her real intent she is learning from the Spirit, and that she is becoming converted to Jesus Christ.  It has been amazing to witness, and it has strengthened my faith as I've simply taken a step back and been willing to believe that the Lord will do His work.
Tons of love,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Grateful for the Restoration

Hi Family!

I'll share with you a bit of my letter to President Mains, again:

I witnessed this week what is, to me, the most faith-building miracle of my mission.  After planning for and conducting our zone meeting this week, Elder Mitchell and I had found no new investigators.  On Saturday night, I prayed that the Lord would help us to cross paths with people who would become new investigators on Sunday.  This prayer was special, somehow, because even though I knew that our chances of finding two new investigators in just one evening were minimal, I realized that God's will was still that we go and do as He commanded - to find two new investigators per week.  I knew that all things were possible with God, but I didn't know how this miracle would happen.  However, as we left the house in the evening after church, I felt a calm assurance that God would do his work if I remained focused.  We felt to go to the church, not far from our house.  Shortly after we arrived there we talked to a potential investigator who was contacted several weeks previous.  He told us that he was on his way to the church, so we decided to wait for him there and practice how we would teach him.  He soon arrived at the church, and to our great excitement, he had brought a friend, whom we had also contacted before!  As we taught them the message of the restoration, we felt the Spirit directing the discussion and helping them to realize that it was very important.  They both agreed to meet again, and thus became the new investigators that God had prepared for us!  I know that the counsel to find two new investigators per week is inspired of the Lord, and is His will for us.  He will help us (and has helped us!) to find his prepared children as long as we believe in his promises enough to seek them out earnestly and prayerfully.

This week, I also increased my faith by praying for the fulfillment of my righteous desires, then working with more focus toward achieving those desires.  I also pondered on what the message of the restoration of the gospel brings into my life.  As I considered all the blessings that have come into my life, and what the doctrines that I know really mean to me, I discovered that I truly wanted to share these truths with people and that God truly desires that His children know them.  I have really felt a new faith and sense of purpose as I have simply taught the restoration to investigators and to people we meet on the street.

I have also encouraged the members of  the Church here to become more involved in missionary work with us by inviting them to consider the blessings the restoration has brought into their lives, then think of a friend who needs the same blessings.  At a group lesson earlier this week, we encouraged our recent converts to pray and search for a friend to invite to our upcoming branch activity, and to share testimony with.

After conducting our zone meeting this week (which I don't have time to tell you about), I'm just brimming with testimony of and gratitude for the restoration.  I'll just tell you how I feel right now about the restoration of the gospel in this dispensation:  I know that the living Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only path that will take us back to live with our Heavenly Father in the Celelstial Kingdom as an eternal family.  I know that the Doctrine of Christ is true, but that it was lost from the earth for many centuries.  I'm so grateful that it was finally brought back to us by our loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, through the prophet Joseph Smith.  I believe that all the good things I love most about my life have been influenced by this all-important restoration of truth.  I'm so grateful that I was brought up in a family that knows our origin, our purpose, and founded an earthly home on principles of this restored gospel that point us always to our future heavenly home!  I love you all so much for your dedication to living according to the truth that we know concerning our Father's plan for us.  I'm grateful that I grew up reading the Book of Mormon and praying with you every day.  I'm so glad that we have wholesome, uplifting activities as a family often (at least every Monday night), and that the decisions we make together have been blessed by inspiration through personal and family prayer.  Finally, I'm grateful to know, as I teach people here who question their purpose and search for God in their lives, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has our Savior at it's head, and is guided by revelation given to prophets, and that this, God's kingdom on the earth today will never fail or disappear.  I know, with something deeper in me than words can reach, that the Book of Mormon is 100% true and is the word of God for us today.  The glorious light of the restored gospel has broken forth after ages of darkness, and is ours today.  Never let go of it, and never give up on God. He'll never give up on you!



Our service project: we combined with the Masai Elders to clean up trash at the residence of members in their area.

I feel ya, cat.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Miracles and Mission Tour

Dear Family,
This week, I have strengthened my faith as I have striven to share, from my heart, testimony of the blessings that the gospel has brought into my life.  As I reflected on experiences that have built my faith in the past, my faith was strengthened once again, and as I shared these experiences with investigators the Holy Ghost was able to testify through me, which increased not only their faith in the principles I taught, but mine as well.

The biggest miracle I witnessed this week was seeing 8 investigators at church!  Several of our investigators had never come to church before - they found it difficult to make a change so they could come - but I witnessed a real change of heart in several people this week, and saw them choose to come to church for the first time.  I can see faith building in our investigators, as well as the fruit of that faith, repentance and church attendance!

This Wednesday, we flew to KL for Mission Tour.  It was awesome!  (In case I forgot to mention it last week, we don't tour the mission, a visiting general authority does.  Elder Randy Funk, from the Asia Area Presidency, and Sister Funk toured the mission, giving trainings to the missionaries, this time.)  No matter how much I study the Restoration or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or listen to mission leaders train about it, I always learn something new!  This time, I learned just how important it is to teach the Doctrine of Christ by the Spirit.  The trainings given by President Mains and by Elder Funk worked together with the Spirit in my heart to help me realize (again) that I'm not the real teacher of the gospel, but that the Holy Ghost is.  After the Mission tour, I began to focus less on "talking and teaching," and more on heartfelt testimony.  Too often, I fall into the rut of thinking, "Ok, what can I put in this lesson?"  These past few days, I've tried to think, "Why is this principle truly important to me?  Why is ___ (investigator)___ going to love learning and living this part of the gospel?"  It has helped significantly, to humble me, and to invite the Spirit to be the teacher in our lessons.  In addition, when I focus on why I love the doctrine and what it really means to me, it's like I'm learning it all over again.   (Thanks for the suggestion in one of your recent emails, Mom!!)

I'll share with you another really spiritual experience I had this past week.  One week ago, we were visited by a member from another place in the mission.  She and her husband took me to meet her family members who stay here in JB.  As I met her sister, she explained her religious background: she'd learned about Jesus when she was little, but had strayed a long way from Christianity in her life, until a couple of years ago.  She told us several things that were evidence of her having been prepared by the Lord.  As she talked, her mother came in and sat with us.  After just a moment, she began telling her daughter to stop talking so that I'd have time to share something.  She looked at me and said, "I know that the Lord is inside you."  At that time, the only thing I felt inside me was surprise!  People don't normally say that about me.  I was reminded of Alma 18:34-36:

34 Ammon said unto him: I am a man; and man in the beginning was created after the image of God, and I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people, that they may be brought to a knowledge of that which is just and true;
35 And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.
36 Now when Ammon had said these words, he began at the creation of the world, and also the creation of Adam, and told him all the things concerning the fall of man, and rehearsed and laid before him the records and the holy scriptures of the people. . . .

I'm so glad that she was receptive to the Spirit, and wanted to listen to a message from God.  Not long after the opening prayer, I asked the sister a question, because I felt prompted by the Spirit.  I can't remember what the question was, and I don't remember her entire answer, but as soon as the words were out of my mouth, she burst into tears.  In the few words that she sobbed back to us, she mentioned that she knows God loves her and that He's answered her prayers many times.  I'm so grateful that I listened both to her and to the Spirit closely enough to follow a prompting.  I know that she felt the Holy Ghost testifying to her of the truth that we taught and of God's real love for her.  She has been prepared for the restored gospel, and I know that she will see many more blessings, and an even bigger outpouring of joy and love if she continues to open her heart.

The gospel is so true, and it's the only way to live!  I'm not perfect, and I'm realizing that little fact more and more each day, but it brings me comfort to know that I'm trying my best to do as the Savior wants me to do.  I know that what Elder Scott says is true:

“Study the word of God in the scriptures and the words of the living prophets.  We talk to God through prayer.  He most often communicates back to us through His written word. To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures and ponder them.  Make them an integral part of everyday life.
If you want your children to recognize, understand, and act on the promptings of the Spirit, you must study the scriptures with them.
Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures.  Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media.  You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!”

I love you all so much!  Thank you for your prayers and your good examples to me!!
for now, 见!


Really really hot, muggy weather calls for tissues and SOY MILK!  Thank you members!

Back from KL, at the Johor Airport at night.  (another one of these pictures.) 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Your photo-log of the week begins... now!

Dear Family,

All I can say is "Wow."  So much happened this week.  I definitely don't have enough time to tell you everything, or even all the cool parts.  Instead, I'll send you a few selections of my email to President Mains, again, and I'll give you a photo-log of my week, explaining the good parts with captions, ok?

To increase my faith this week, I have studied the Book of Mormon zealously.  I know that faith is strengthened by reading the word of God, because I've tried it.  As I looked especially for the Doctrine of Christ when I read, I felt my testimony of our Savior's love grow stronger than ever before.  I also thought of ways I can apply practically my faith every day, like opening my mouth to everyone, making time for the most important things in personal and companion study, and remembering which way I face.

I've seen so many miracles this week, but I'll share two with you.  First, our three Korean investigators all accepted baptismal dates together!  We'd been concerned that they didn't understand the gospel message very well, because of a language barrier, but with the help of an amazing young woman in our branch, who was able to help us gauge their understanding, and after having a lesson in which the Spirit could be felt very strongly, they told us that they understand what baptism means, and they want it in their lives!
The second miracle is that a brand new investigator came to church, only a couple of days after we had the first lesson with her.  She sacrificed her usually busy morning time, and brought her wiggly 1 year old son to all three hours.  At the end, she said she felt something good that she hasn't felt in a very long time, and she told us she wants to be baptized soon!  Her husband, although unable to make it to church because of work, supports her in learning the gospel from us, and is very interested, himself.  
Both of these miracles strengthened my faith that the Lord has prepared people for the gospel message, and that all who desire, with real intent, to know if it is true, will be answered with a witness from the Holy Ghost.

This Saturday, we had the special privilege of baptizing Brother T, who's been learning from us for many weeks now.  We invited members to become more involved in missionary work by getting them involved in his conversion process and his baptism service.  We helped arrange for members to pick him up and take him home, (because he didn't have a car that day), to confirm him, to sit by him, to congratulate him, and to continue teaching and fellowshipping him with us.  I can see that doing missionary work without the member missionaries is almost pointless.  The people of the Church, whether full-time missionaries or not, have to support each other.  It's actually something we covenanted to do at baptism, and what better time than at the baptism of a new convert than to be reminded of that important truth.  I'm so grateful for the fabulous members of the Church that live here in JB, and for how willing they are to make sacrifices to help us, the full-time missionaries, with our many requests.  We are working together to hasten the work of the Lord!

Things are getting pretty busy here in the Chinese areas of Johor Bahru.  Because Chinese New Year is still going on, we haven't been meeting with very many Chinese people, but we've been seeing a lot of Indians, Filipinos, and even Koreans.  We've been doing a lot of teaching in English lately, but all of the potential investigators contacted in the past several weeks will soon be available, or back in JB, again soon.

This week, President Mains invited all the missionaries of the Singapore Mission to re-read the Book of Mormon, looking for the Doctrine of Christ (The Gospel of Jesus Christ), including faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  As I did, I discovered just how plainly Jesus teaches his doctrine, especially in 3 Nephi 11.  When I kept reading and tried to look a little deeper than before, I also discovered that Jesus teaches His Doctrine in the Lord's Prayer (3 Nephi 13:9-13). I don't know what you think, but if you ask me, it's REALLY COOL!  I just love how plain and precious the truths contained in the Book of Mormon are.  I also know that when we live according to what we know, we will be blessed with so much more than we sacrifice, whether we recognize it or not.  (It's always hard when I don't recognize blessings Heavenly Father gives me, or when I have to wait a long time before I receive them, but it will always be worth it!)

I love you all, and thank you for all the support and help you give to me each week through your emails, as well as each day through your prayers!  I can't thank you enough, or adequately express how much I love you all!

Marina Bay and the cityscape of Singapore.  Cool!

(Somebody needs a haircut.)

I thought of Noelle when I got these ones with the lilies.  "I tink I am ready to go pro."


Pretty convincing, right?

Who knew they were real??

"DaVinci" Exhibit at the Singapore ArtScience Museum.  Leonardo DaVinci was brilliant.  I didn't understand very much of it, because he was really good at math and he wrote his notes in Latin, and backwards.

I wasn't allowed to take pictures of the original manuscripts, sadly, but just know that they were pretty cool.  If you like art and science.

 Glass sculptures of viruses.  These are actually scale replicas of real viruses, as accurate as microscopes can see and as modern glassblowing techniques allow.  The round-er one is hand-foot-and-mouth.  Didn't somebody back at home get sick with this once?

It's art.

A giant, ancient, metal drum.  They didn't let me play it. :(

A suit of armor used by some Chinese in fighting against the British, I think.

An Ibex horn, imported from Israel, which the keeper of this Christian bookstore let my play.

Brother T's baptism