Sunday, July 6, 2014
This week has been phenomenal. It's been amazing. And hopefully it's only the beginning of great things here in Johor. The main event of the week was going to Singapore for Zone Conference. It was an interesting experience getting there, but once there, we had a wonderful MLC, where we discussed quickly the needs of the mission, and then an activity. The next day was the meat of zone conference. One of the assistants, who was my district leader in Sibu for a time, Elder Plaizier, gave one of the most powerful talks I've ever witnessed. Seriously, he'll probably be a general authority someday. The day was full of other inspiring trainings, talks, and testimonies, including the final testimonies of two of my previous companions and some of my favorite elders in the mission. That night, we had another fun little highlight. Because the originally planned activity fell through, we had a rap battle between the four zones of West Malaysia and Sabah. We had 20ish minutes to come up with it and then we performed. After fighting to go last, our zone did ours and won an easy first place. Our rap was, admittedly, mostly slamming the other zones, and it included the Iban dance. So proud of us. I'll forward the picture later of our zone, who also came dressed in matching ties. So then, after a low attendance English class, Saturday rolled around, and we had taught almost no lessons all week. Feeling inspired though, we worked to get appointments, and we hit all of our goals! It was awesome. We have a bunch of new people to meet and old people to meet, and church attendance is on the rise. Across the zone, excitement is high, and each district is preparing their own member missionary plan under our direction. We're excited to see the work hasten. Transfers are this week, and it seems like Elder Fabiano and I will be staying together. Most likely, at least, since the news hasn't quite arrived. I love this work! I'm working on focusing 100% on just building the kingdom. There are a lot of worthwhile things that can distract us, even within missionary work, but I know that as we simplify our lives and focus on that which is most important, we'll be happier, and we will know that we are doing what the Lord wants. Love, Elder Earl
This week, we've been able to witness a lot of miracles. Though some do happen in our own area, we have also had the privilege of seeing miracles in the areas of the other missionaries in our zone. One great miracle happened in Melaka. We were on exchanges there, and we stopped briefly at the house of an investigator who recently committed to baptism. he told us of his kids getting in a car accident, and how they were protected. He said something like, "God has given me so much, so I need to give back. I'm coming to church this week." His entire family may be getting baptized soon. Another miracle happened in Masai, where I also spent a day this week. My surviving of a day of torturous hills was one miracle, but even cooler was what happened. We met with two investigator families, and in an area that has been "dead' for months, both committed to baptism. In one lesson, a member shared a powerful testimony of the gospel blessing her family, and I turned to see the mother of the family shedding tears. So wonderful! The Spirit was very strong. In our branch, there are also great things happening. The English elders had their first ever investigator attend sacrament meeting. His family also all committed to baptism. We also started teaching a new family, who eventually desires to join our church. The church is true, and we live in a day of miracles. One miracle that we are praying for is that our mission's baptismal goal will come to pass. Specifically in our zone, we are definitely behind where we "should" be, but with all these little miracles, it seems like we will achieve the goal. I know that God will provide us with miracles every day if we look for them. 1 Nephi 1:20 talks about those "tender mercies". I encourage you all to look out for what tender mercies, what miracles, God pours upon you this week. As you count your blessings, you'll receive even more. Love, Elder Earl
This week was an excellent one. Nothing really major happened, however. We only did one exchange, and it was with the elders who live with us. We got to be in our area for most of the time! The first big hurdle we got over was our zone meeting. They can be quite stressful to prepare for, and so I'm glad it's over. One highlight of the meeting was hearing from two of my favorite elders in the mission, Elder Toney and Elder Crum, who presented us with the wisdom they have gained on their missions. It was their last zone meeting. Interestingly enough, they were my zone leaders when I first arrived in Sibu and two of the most influential people in my entire mission. We also spent a significant portion of our zone meeting on working with members. The members need to understand that finding is primarily their duty, not the missionaries'! I remember back in Utah, thinking that I was somehow exempt from that particular duty, perhaps because most my friends were LDS. However, that's just one of Satan's tools. None of us are exempt from the commandments of the Lord. We all can do something in this Work of Salvation. Another fun aspect of this week has been I've been on my bike a lot. One day, when I exchanged with Elder McCarthy, we rode around 3-4 hours around JB, notorious for the mission's largest hills. It was a lot of fun, but I did drink several liters of beverages throughout the day to replace the buckets of sweat I lost. We also had a fun kite-flying activity this week as a branch. No wind was there, so we had to run really fast. It was a great way for the branch to bond, and many brought friends and family. Good times. The next few weeks have a lot of fun in store for them. We have two exchanges outside of our area, zone conference, and transfers, all within the next two and a half weeks. It should be fun. I hope you all know that I love being a missionary! And the best part is, you can all be missionaries to! Pray to know what opportunities you have to be missionaries, whether it be working for the deceased, serving others, or actually inviting friends, I know you can do it! Love, Elder Earl
This last Monday, we got a little surprise in reporting: the assistants were coming on exchanges with us, the next day! So most of Tuesday and Wednesday was spent shuffling them around. It was good, though. They gave us a little training which was very inspiring, and we got to eat a dish called Nasi Lamak, which is a Johor specialty. So good. On Thursday, we got to go to Singapore for MLC. The Mission President spent a good portion of the meeting training us on the doctrine of repentance, which he asked us to preach to our members, investigators, and missionaries. If we aren't willing and wanting to repent and change ourselves, how can we bring others along the same path? I think one of the most important things we can do is to pray and ask Heavenly Father what we need to improve. Often, we have little mistakes we need to take care of, sins of commission. But even more common, perhaps, are the times where we could have done better, our sins of omission. Asking God what we lack yet is so imperative! Also, this week, we got some new people at English class, we ate some delicious steamboat, and we had a fun lesson with one of our investigators. Tomorrow we get to offer our third zone training together. We hope all will go well. It should be exciting. I love you all! Have a good week!
This week's email will start out with a maybe more clear explanation of the area and missionaries I serve with. There are three branches in this zone: Masai, JB, and Melaka. Masai and JB are in the JB District, and Melaka is in the KL District. Masai is the other side of JB, where a bunch of Ibans from Sarawak live, and Melaka is a few hours north. It's a very touristy city. I live with the other elders in the JB branch. My companion, Elder Fabiano is from Florida. He is part Italian, part Samoan, and more. He's cool, and goes home soon. Elder Smith and Elder McCarthy are the English elders. Elder Smith is from Utah Valley, and Elder McCarthy is from New Zealand. As part of our duty as zone leaders, we get to visit all the districts every few weeks. And so this week, we spent a day in Melaka. It was really nice, in part because the bus ride provides an excellent napping opportunity, and in part because Melaka and the elders there are very cool. In Melaka, I got to bike more than I have since Sarawak. And for a good 30 minutes of that biking, we were going up and down the touristy part of Melaka, past churches, shops, museums, and all kinds of cultural places. Probably the best bike ride I've had on my mission. As far as our area is concerned, we are over all Chinese people in the JB area. This week, we had some good lessons and good contacts. We're excited for the future. Our branch is extremely strong! I love the members and the missionaries I work with. Another theme of the week is that I somehow ended up eating roti or naan like 10 times. And I broke my record of 11 roti canais. It is now 12. I thoroughly enjoy the food here. English class this week wasn't the best, unfortunately. Hoping we can get it going better in future weeks. I love you all! -Elder Earl
Since every week is the best week. Well, we've had a lot of fun, this week. It was transfers, so we said goodbye to Elder Harr. He went to Tawau. And we welcomed Elder Smith, an English elder who has served in Singapore for 6 months. He will be with Elder McCarthy, who just got out of training. A big focus in our companionship recently has been member work. It really is the way to go, but there are (of course) obstacles. We've been pushing for referrals this week in addition to the normal stuff (knocking doors, street contacting, and now, facebook finding). I'll let you know if that bears any fruit. Other than that, we are doing the normal stuff. Finding and teaching. We have English class, as usual. We have a new investigator. Yup. Facebook has been interesting. Don't know how useful it is yet. Whatsapp has been very helpful. One thing I've been studying recently has been about the importance of acting, and not being acted upon. As we decide beforehand what we will do with our time, what goals we want to achieve, and what things we will and will not do, we can achieve so much more than if we just kind of float by our lives. The moral of the story is act. Set goals. Be amazing! Love you all! -Elder Earl
This week was amazing. Like every week. First things first. Transfer news came out. And...Elder Fabiano and I are staying together. I will likely be with him until the end of his mission. We're excited to continue to work hard together every day. Another exciting thing that we found about, and it sounds like you will be emailed about as well, is Facebook. My immediate family can friend me. But we can't communicate at all. So there is that. This week, I finished "The Power of Everyday Missionaries", which is an amazing book for every member to have. We are trying to apply its principles, especially with members. One thing that I found in my study this morning was in 2 Nephi 5, where Nephi tells us he lived after the manner of happiness. I found a few quotes about happiness, and my conclusion is that the Lord not only desires our happiness, but in some ways, he commands it. We as missionaries, who bring a message of eternal joy, especially need to be happy, but everyone can gain a lot by simply choosing to be happy. Well, that's been our week. Plus some fun exchanges in an Iban area (that day I had nasi lemak, which is delicious, plus some oysters and clams from Ibans. Probably the best Iban meal I've ever had). Love you! -Elder Earl