Thursday, June 11, 2015

Still in JB

Dear Family,
Once again, I don't have much time, (this time, I'm trying to prepare some stuff for tomorrow's zone meeting), but I'm really happy to receive your letters this week!  I'll do what I can to fill you in on some of the more eventful events of my week.
Last Monday, about 2 minutes after my email time was up, the transfer news arrived.  Elder Lundahl-Wolford and Elder Pierce, my housemates, were transferred to Kuching and Miri, respectively.  They were a bit upset, because their area was closed and no new missionaries came in to replace them.  I was very surprised, because now Elder Hanks and I are responsible for their area in addition to ours.  This means that we have a lot more investigators and members to meet and we'll never have an empty hour again.  However, we already hardly had a free hour in our own area, and now we have a huge distance to travel and cover.  Our area, being bigger than Singapore, is the biggest proselyting area in the mission now.  I'll try to find a picture of the map we made to try to keep on top of things, to let you see.  I expect to learn a lot about managing time wisely and working with members this transfer!
Aside from transfers on Monday and packing drama from the other two Elders on Tuesday, the most memorable event of my week was meeting with a potential investigator whom I'll call Larry.  Larry approached Elders on the MRT in Singapore, desperately trying to communicate with them in Chinese.  They couldn't understand what he was trying to say, and they discovered that he lived in JB, so they passed him to us.  Elder Pierce and Elder Lundahl-Wolford met with him, taught him a bit about the Book of Mormon.  In the first lesson, he ate up everything they said, and even accepted a baptism date!  He excitedly called us back after they had transferred, and asked when we could meet next.  On the afternoon that he called us, Elder Hanks and I were in Masai, which is very far away from the city center where he wanted to meet us.  We told him there was no way we would be able to get there in time to make it worth it for him, but he insisted that he would wait for us as long as we needed.  We ended up taking an hour long bus ride back to the city center to teach him the gospel as he had requested.  When we met him there, he met us happily and took us to meet his father who had accompanied him there.  We asked if his father wanted to learn about the church, too.  He said "Yes, he does!"  I was thrilled!  The mall in which we met them was too noisy to try to teach a lesson, so I was pleased to hear them offer to take us "to the other side" (which usually means "across the street," in Chinese), to Larry's computer kedai.  We got in the car with Larry and his father, but we didn't end up just going across the street.  After about 5 minutes of driving, I began to ask, "Where are we going?" repeatedly.  Larry wouldn't give us a straight answer anymore, so I began to panic a bit.  He also mentioned that he wanted to learn about the church, but he didn't want to talk about it at the moment.  If I had been in the car alone with Larry, who was an "interesting" guy in the first place, I would have been on red alert at this time, but I trusted his dad, who seemed to be a calm, respectable person.  Eventually, after a lot more questions on our part, mostly about what in the world they wanted to do with us, we arrived at "their shop":  Amway.
Well, they took us in, straight to a table at the back and handed us the papers to sign, but we just told them that we cannot join Amway because we are missionaries and our purpose here is to bring others unto Jesus Christ.  They didn't get it at all, and they were more devastated than I've seen any potential investigator when we just got up and left after a while.  I learned a valuable lesson about setting expectations from this little incident.  I also got to feel exactly what a potential investigator feels like, especially when what I want is not what the missionary wants.

One miracle I experienced this week was meeting a former investigator who'd lost contact with the missionaries months ago. Ray, a humble Filipino man, talked to us on the phone this week and agreed to meet us on Sunday at a member's home. As we talked to him we learned that he had received a copy of the Book of Mormon last year, which he's been reading for a little while now. He's been asking God in prayer what the right way to go is, and which of all the Christian churches is true. As we shared Joseph Smith's sacred experience that followed his asking the same question of Heavenly Father, Ray asked, "Is there any proof that this actually happened?" I was so happy to testify to him that the Book of Mormon is the proof that he was looking for. He said that he was anxious to find out for himself that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that Heavenly Father anciently spoke to prophets in places other than Jerusalem, and whether all that we shared with him is true! I'm so grateful for miracles that Heavenly Father works in the lives of His beloved children in order to prepare them to receive the fullness of the restored gospel. This miracle came at such a perfect time for me, as I was beginning to question, again, whether or not prepared people really were searching the gospel. Heavenly Father really does hear and answer my prayers, in addition to the prayers of my investigators (or soon-to-be-investigators!)
I've got to go, but I love you all and I hope you have a great day and a fabulous week!

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