Saturday, July 4, 2015

More Q&A and Adventure in Melaka

June 29, 2015
Dear Family,
In response to your questions,

1.  Did you travel out of your city for any reason this week?
Yes, I went to Melaka, where I emailed you last week.  On Tuesday, as part of my exchange with Melaka's district leader, Elder Lallemant, I journeyed to Seremban, a city between Melaka and Kuala Lumpur.  It was quite the exchange!  We had a crazy time, riding another empty charter bus for another hour to Seremban Sentral Station.  We haggled the taxi drivers and finally found one who could take us to the home of the referral we were trying to visit.  We found the area of his house, then got out of the taxi and walked.  We thought we were so cool because we were probably walking down paths and roads that no missionaries had ever walked!  Later, we found out that Seremban is actually in another companionship's area and that they go there all the time.  Oh well.  It was still interesting and strange to be in a place that is not far, geographically, but has a very different feeling from where we normally serve. 
We found the house of someone with exactly the same name as the man we were looking for, but who was obviously not him.  After talking with his family for a little while and eating some rambutan right off of his tree, we set out again to find the right man.  We found him in a little house in an overgrown, mosquito infested area, and taught him about the restoration of the gospel.  I don't think he understood everything we said, even though we were doing our best to explain simply and clearly, but I believe he felt that we loved him and that God loved him.  He said a short, tender prayer at the end of our lesson, and sent us on our way again.
By the  time we got back to Seremban Sentral, there were no more buses back to Melaka!  We waited for the 8:00 bus, but at 5 minutes to 8, discovered that it had broken down, so we just had to taxi back to Melaka in the dark.

2.  Tell about a good experience finding someone.
A couple of weeks ago, while I was on exchanges with our branch mission leader, Ben Tay, I contacted a couple of boys on the street, who said they would come to our English Class.  They came to the class for two consecutive Fridays.  This past Friday, we invited one of the boys, Lane, who asked us a few questions about prayer and other Christian churches, to come back to the church the following afternoon so that we could teach him more about the Church.  He agreed, and came to the church for a first lesson on Saturday.  After our lesson, we invited him to attend our Sunday meetings, too.  Yesterday, he arrived early to church and stayed for the duration of the meeting block, for the linger-longer afterward, and for another gospel lesson after that!  He even invited his friend, the other boy we had met on the street that night, to hurry over to the church so that they could take our lesson together!  After the lesson, they committed to pray to Heavenly Father each day, and Lane committed to be baptized when he discovers the Church is true!  I know that miracles really do come from simply opening my mouth to people everywhere! 

3.  What insights have you had in your personal study this week?
Well, as I prepared a talk for yesterday's missionary-work-themed sacrament meeting, I realized that my real motivation for being on a mission and for doing pretty much everything I do is my love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  The words of Elder Holland's 2010 October general conference talk came back to my mind and made me super excited to hold a calling and be a home teacher:

After a joyful reunion with the resurrected Jesus, Peter had an exchange with the Savior that I consider the crucial turning point of the apostolic ministry generally and certainly for Peter personally, moving this great rock of a man to a majestic life of devoted service and leadership. Looking at their battered little boats, their frayed nets, and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said to His senior Apostle, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”10

The Savior responds to that reply but continues to look into the eyes of His disciple and says again, “Peter, do you love me?” Undoubtedly confused a bit by the repetition of the question, the great fisherman answers a second time, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”11

The Savior again gives a brief response, but with relentless scrutiny He asks for the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” By now surely Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable. Perhaps there is in his heart the memory of only a few days earlier when he had been asked another question three times and he had answered equally emphatically—but in the negative. Or perhaps he began to wonder if he misunderstood the Master Teacher’s question. Or perhaps he was searching his heart, seeking honest confirmation of the answer he had given so readily, almost automatically. Whatever his feelings, Peter said for the third time, “Lord, … thou knowest that I love thee.”12

To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”

Then, turning to all the Apostles, He might well have said something like: “Were you as foolhardy as the scribes and Pharisees? As Herod and Pilate? Did you, like they, think that this work could be killed simply by killing me? Did you, like they, think the cross and the nails and the tomb were the end of it all and each could blissfully go back to being whatever you were before? Children, did not my life and my love touch your hearts more deeply than this?”

My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.”13 And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments,” 14 Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back.

5.  Tell about an experience you've had where you've felt the Spirit this week.
Most of the times I feel the Spirit now are when I suddenly have an impression that I need to talk to somebody next to me on the bus or walking on the street.  I feel constrained by the Spirit to stop people and invite them to learn about the Church more and more each day.  When I do this, I know I'm doing something right.

6.  What have you done for P-day recently?
Well, we played an escape room and took a stroll down historic Jonker Walk in Melaka last week.  Today, we went to the Johor Bahru Zoo.  It wasn't the greatest zoo ever, but the entrance fee amounted to about $0.53 USD and I got to see (and hear) lions, tigers, sun bears, flamingos, hornbills, and a lot of monkeys.
7.  What is the strangest thing that has happened to you this week/this month?
See answer to question 1.


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