Thursday, August 22, 2013

Week 14

Sorry I'm sending this later than usual, but we just got back from Singapore today, so this is the first time I've really had time. We were going to do it in Singapore, but the internet places there rarely have Chinese character capabilities, which my companion needs.

Anyway, last week, we got appointments set up with some people from Myanmar who had been dropped before on the phone, so that was nice. Unfortunately we were unable to teach them this week.

The next day, we went to district meeting which was far away, but it was great, especially since the Howells, the couple who's place we did it at, are super cool. And they made us food!

One interesting thing is that some buildings here have floors 3A and 13A, etc. to replace 4 and 14 since 4 sounds like death in Chinese.

There are a bunch of missionaries here who have been out even less than I have already. They are from the English speaking generation.

I got my first taste of door knocking, which is a bit scary and unproductive, but it was fun. We called a bunch of people from potential investigator sheets that go back way long ago, and some of them even said they'd come to church! One interesting thing was that my companion and I both read the same passage of scriptures, studying different things. I guess it was important for our companionship!

I think I should tell you a bit more about Elder Chong, because he's great. He's from Sitiawan (or however you spell it), and he's been out nearly a year. Before his mission, he was a baker, so he's the go-to guy for great meals. I'm a lucky elder. He's very humble and hardworking, and I love being his companion!

On Wednesday, we read the analogy about fishermen in Preach my Gospel, where you can go out fishing but really only have your net out a couple hours, or you can go out and have it out the whole time. I really liked that one. We went across town to get Chinese Book of Mormons, but unfortunately there were only two, so hopefully we can find more soon. We taught a cool member, who's just amazing. That night, we ran into someone interested that we couldn't teach, but he was a really cool guy and it was fun to talk to him.

Thursday, we did some weekly planning, but then had to leave to teach a couple lessons deep into our area with the sisters. The first one didn't happen, but the second one was at a member's house, and it went great. Elder Chong gave her a baptismal date and she's ready to be baptized. Afterwards, they fed us pizza. One had hot sauce instead of tomato sauce and little anchovie things on it. It was pretty good. We agreed to fast together, too. We also visited an investigator of the sisters who is super cool from India, and we got a bit of food there. There's also ice cream flavored soda here which is really interesting.

Friday, we mostly just passed out Book of Mormons, since our one appointment fell through. We passed them to some really cool Nigerians. Later that night, we had some great steamed buns from a street vendor, and he says he'll come to church sometime.

Saturday was also good. In training, we watch the District a lot, so we watched a ton. And then we got naan for cheap for lunch, which was delicious. We knocked doors again, which just hasn't worked out for us yet. We then had two lessons planned, but weird things happened and we only taught one, but we met the other investigator who seems super cool. Ice Milo is also a really good drink, by the way.

On Sunday, we had combined church with the KL branch because of electricity problems at our building, and I met lots of cool people. It was really fun, and they had food after, but we were fasting with our investigator. We were led by that super awesome member from above to places with lots of Chinese people, and I got a few Book of Mormons out, but the areas weren't really in our area. We stopped at a touristy place and it started raining really hard. IT was cool. We unfortunately waited somewhere for an investigator for a long time, and he was also waiting there, but we didn't know each other, so that didn't happen. We got home and had delicious chicken nuggets and a sweet corn twinkie like thing.

Zone conference was all super fun! Our taxi driver filled up gas while the car was running and the car stalled on the highway, but we made it to the airport and then to Singapore no problem. The Chinese Elders are in the process of moving, and some transfers have happened there, but it was good to see my former companions, as well as Elder Sheranian. We watched the Work of Salvation broadcast, and I am in it a tiny bit. On the real day of Zone conference, Tuesday, we learned from the Assistants, the mission president, and his wife, and it was all great. Our mission is getting many new people in the next few months. Also, the Malay Book of Mormon recently came out, so we got pictures with that. Everyone is super excited about it. We had good pizza and then ice cream for dinner. The ice cream place has a challenge that one day I want to attempt. We had a good zone meeting, I ate some weird octopus and prawn ball things, and then we went home. This morning, we got up and came back to KL! So that's the last week plus.

Love, GE ZL

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 13

This week was another good one. On Tuesday, we had a great lesson with an investigator that we had challenged to fast with us, where in the end, he agreed to move his baptismal date up a few weeks. He is super great.

I talked with the assistants about my travel to KL, and they instructed me to find a bus and take it to KL on Thursday. I was kind of scared, since those descriptions weren't too descriptive.

One funny thing that happened was my companion asked me to draft a text to remind everyone to come to a baptismal service on Wednesday, and I accidentally used the wrong characters, so instead of writing "Hello, everybody" I wrote "Hit with a fist". The next day, we taught two lessons on the Word of Wisdom, and then we filled the font, etc, for the baptismal service. It was the other companionship's baptism, but my companion, Elder Frey, baptized. Kind of weird, but before we got here he was in their companionship, so it makes sense. Anyway, that was a good one. Her parents flew in from China to come, which was extra cool. And luckily, after the baptism I ran into the KL Zone leaders who were in for a meeting, and they were also travelling to KL the next day. We agreed to meet the next morning, so I was very relieved.

The next day, I left and met them a few stations away, and we walked and took taxis all over Singapore looking for a bus, but it turns out we were leaving during Hari Raya, the end of Ramadan, so lots of people were travelling, and there were no tickets anywhere. Instead, we decided to take a taxi to the border. Once across (many hours later), we had a really good lunch, met up with a Chinese man from Singapore who wanted people to travel with, and took a bus to KL.

There was a Beyond 5 (pretty much a Utahn boy band) concert that we were going to go to, but we missed it by a while. We got to the house about 9:30, but I met up with companion before that and we even ran into an investigator. The Assistants also slept at our place that night, as well as another elder. Our new place is pretty nice, and has tons of locks (the Zone leaders describe it as a fortress). It's not too big, but it has a gym, and we have a great view of the Petronas towers.

Anyway, for the past few days, we've mostly just followed the sisters who are assigned to the same branch as us (apparently there haven't been elders here for years). Transportation has been expensive, because the place was closed where the other missionaries buy a pass for the holiday, and we've had to buy tokens every time. But we got the passes this morning, so everything is good.

The first day, we went with them to an appointment and then got the area book and discussed the people they are handing off to us. The next day, we went to two appointments. The first was with a young Chinese man, and he is very prepared. They had taught him some of the Plan of Salvation the time before, but we cleared that up in Chinese with him and Elder Chong told a story of how he had to tell his boss that he wouldn't work on Sundays, even if he had to quit. He quit, and got an even better job. Then, Elder Chong got him a baptismal date by simply asking "So when do you want to have your baptism?". He's really a great guy and I'm excited for him. Next we went to visit two people that aren't our investigators, but they are super great, and they fed us, which I feel bad about, since they weren't expecting four missionaries.

Sunday was also a good one. We followed the sisters to church. I love our branch. Our branch president is very willing to help. There are many Indians, many Malaysians, a few Americans, and a bunch of Chinese people. We have a senior couple in our branch, that is also really nice. There are several soon-to-leave missionaries here. I went to Sunday School in Malay, but my companion translated a lot of it. After, we went to a baptism of an 8 year old in our branch, but at the other chapel (near our place, actually. We live far from our area). There are so many cool people here.

Other things we've done this week has been: call a bunch of people, we have a few appointments set up for this week, grocery shopping, and weekly planning. Overall, I really love KL, but transportation is a bit slower, so sometimes I don't feel as productive. I'm so blessed to be companions with Elder Chong, so my Chinese can progress. Things have been crazy with studies, but I think my Chinese is definitely improving. KL food is all really good, and there are many cool buildings here, like the beautiful mosques, and of course, the Petronas towers. I also got to call in our weekly report to the district leader yesterday for the first time. Overall, I'm excited to be here, I could potentially be here a long time. Hopefully this week we can really start to get the work moving.

Anyway, have a great week!

Love, Ge Zhanglao

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Week 12

This week has been another amazing one, and I don't know if KL can possibly be as cool as Singapore! First, we went to Marina Bay after email last week. It's the iconic place in Singapore, and we got some good pictures and got to spend time with a really cool recent convert before he left back to China. The Merlion was my favorite part of that. 

We went to FHE after with the YSA, which was fun as usual. They are all super cool. The next day we did things for our work permits, that went by smoothly, and we even made it back for district meeting, where departing missionaries shared the advice that they wish they had known earlier, including one of the APs. A bunch of them left this week, but something like 8 English speakers came this week, as well. I am no longer the least experienced missionary here! :)

We taught three investigators, none of which I've met before, and that was fun. One of them said I need to call him and he will cook for me.

The next day was also great. I went to Little India for the first time and got to eat a bunch of Indian food. A lot of the Chinese people aren't fans of Indian cuisine, so I got to eat nearly two meals, since one of the members who went with us didn't like hers.

We got another elder who was in Singapore for a couple days, and he was super cool. He stayed with us that night, so there were 7 mattresses in our one room, which is kind of odd since in our same building there is another English companionship of elders by themselves in an apartment.

Anyway, Elder Mitchell and I went out contacting for a bit by ourselves, which was fun. One very cool thing that happened is as we left the building, we saw two people coming in, which we didn't think much of. We said a prayer, and as soon as we opened our eyes, they were walking out of it past us, and we talked to them. It turns out they weren't members and were just seeing what our church was about, so that was good.

We got back and did a basketball activity with YSA and people they invited, which was actually very effective. A bunch of nonmembers came and we talked to them. And then I saw someone I knew from BYU, Damon Petersen (hopefully that's the right spelling).

Someone brought durian that night, and I finally had my first taste. I had tried many times to get things like durian juice or Durian McFlurries, but I was told my first try had to be fresh. It definitely smells not so great, I smell it all over the place. It tasted and had the texture of an enchilada, I think. I wasn't a fan.

Anyway, the next day was also a good one. We did weekly planning, which takes a very long time. I thought we accomplished a lot, though. One tradition before weekly planning is to go to a nearby pizza place first, and we ran into our Stake President there. As he left, he said "Enjoy your free meal!". It turns out he payed for all of us! What a kind man! He's super great. There were 8 missionaries, and this place isn't that cheap.

Our next day was probably the best of the week because we taught 4 lessons, which all went well. The first investigator seemed a bit uninterested when he was first met with, but in this lesson he was very interested in family history work, and then accepted things that are a bit weird for some people like the Word of Wisdom and Baptisms for the Dead immediately, no question. He also firmly believes he will get an answer to his prayers soon. The next one we watched the Joseph Smith video with, and by the end, she was practically bearing testimony to us about it. Our third lesson helped a recent convert be willing to start attending church again. Our last one was with a guy that apparently has made tons of progress, and I really like him. He agreed to start fasting.

The next day we had some very interesting lessons, but the most memorable part of the day was in between lessons. I went back down the hallway to adjust the AC when suddenly I heard a "crack" below my feet. The hallway was dark, and I couldn't really see what it was, but it looked like a toy lizard. As I was coming back, I looked more closely at it. And my worst fears were confirmed. It wasn't a toy. But it was a lizard. And it was dead. In the end, it turns out I may not have killed it, but I still feel really bad about killing a lizard. When we left the building, the Filipinos came to play there weekly game of full court basketball outside, but after seeing what Elder Frey had done to the basketball hoop, they all left, so then both of us felt badly, and it was all okay.

That night we went to a dinner appointment with some super cool people in the ward. We ate wonderful dumplings and macaroons, and I learned how to play real Mah Jong (or however you spell it).

Yesterday was also pretty dang good, though we did forget to tell two referrals who were willing to come to church what time it was at. They came to break the fast with us, though, which had some pretty dang good food.

Today was the best P-day so far, we went to Pulau Ubin, an island just off the main one, and there we mountain biked. There were four of us there, since the other two decided since it was pouring rain they didn't want to, but though we were soaked before we even got there, it wasn't crowded at all, and it was super, super fun. We walked through Mangrove Forests and saw plenty of wild boars, and had lots of good biking. And I ate another durian, which I am now a part-fan of.

I will also be leaving to KL this week!