Sunday, July 6, 2014

Week 59

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

Week 58

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

Week 56

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!

Week 55

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

Week 54

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

Week 53

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

Week 52

Well, I already talked to you (for Mother's Day), so I don't know exactly what else I have yet to share. We gave our zone meeting this week. It was better than last one. We spent part of it spending boxes and then putting the things that distract us in them. It was a good way to remind people to focus on their missions. We also watched the video "Because of Him", which is amazing. Because of Christ, every weakness we have can be overcome, every mistake we make can be undone, and every wrong in life can be made right. I've seen it happen in my mission so much, in my life and in the lives of those I work with! One cool miracle: the other elders were contacting, trying to get 100 in one day. On the way, they ran into a member who had set up an appointment with someone he'd met one day, and had prayed the elders would be there since he didn't have their number. It went perfectly, and the man accepted a baptismal invitation. We're trying hard with English class and family history. The Assistants challenged us this morning to double our teaching pool, so that's our new goal. Love you all! -Elder Earl

Week 51

We had a wonderful week, as always. It was a week, however, full of meetings, and not too much proselyting. On Tuesday, we had district meeting, and the Assistants bussed in to do exchanges with us in the late evening. However, we realized that night, that we would have to leave the next day at 5:30ish to get to Singapore at a reasonable hour (we went a day early for Elder Fabiano to get a bump in his knee checked out), so our exchange was pretty short. However, we did get some good possibilities for malls to do family history booths at. Thursday was our first MLC, or Mission Leadership Conference. It is a long meeting that together with Pre-MLC, goes from 3-9:30 with only one short break (30 minutes). Miracle of the week: I stayed awake the whole time! It was a very spiritually uplifting meeting, with the mission president guiding discussions on how to improve the mission. One theme of this month's conference was how we can get investigators progressing. Another particularly inspiring point was "the miracle model", showing how in the Lord's work, we don't need to rely solely on our own skills, but on the Lord, who can and will preform miracles through us. On Friday, we got an x-ray for Elder Fabiano (nothing to fear), and we went back to Johor Bahru just minutes before President Mains and his wife did interviews and a housing check. One on one time with the mission president is always uplifting and valuable. He's an incredible man, with an incredibly busy schedule. It's crazy he knows so much about each missionary. After that, we had more meetings, with English class (about a dozen new students suddenly) and our weekly correlation meeting. The weekend was the same, with weekly planning, and three two hour sessions of district conference. The theme of it all was Hastening the Work of Salvation, and I feel very motivated to work with members. I remember feeling that I had few opportunities to share the gospel back in Utah, but I'm determined to come back and be a great member missionary. I'd encourage you all to heed Elder Ballard's counsel on sharing the gospel, even if it is just once a quarter. This week looks to be less full of meetings and more full of preaching. I'm excited. We also get to do another zone training tomorrow, which is a fun experience. We will be talking about consecrating ourselves and "going the extra mile". There's always a little more that each of us can do to follow our Savior. There's something more that we can offer to him. I know that the Lord is watching out for each of us, and that if we decide we would rather rely on his infinite power and wisdom than our own limited abilities, we will be blessed so much. I hope you all have an amazing week! Love, Elder Earl

Week 50

This week was quite a bit of fun, and the next week also promises to be a good one. First of all, investigators are doing quite well. School is on Sunday here, so there are a few investigators who have to wait until the future when they are graduated or school schedule changes, but the others are doing great. We did two exchanges this week, which was also very awesome. For the first, we went up to Melacca to visit the elders there. Other than the hassle it was to try to bring our bikes up there (I even bought a bike, but in the end, it didn't work out), it was very fun. The bus ride is a perfect time for naps. I got to go on exchanges with one of my former zone leaders and former assistant. It's funny being his zone leader now, but we had a good day together. We did a lot of knocking, and it was fun. I also tried the mission-famous Melaka Ramly burgers. The next exchanges started the next night, with the other elders who live with us. I was with our district leader, Elder Harr. We also did a lot of knocking. It's quite effective to have a Malay speaker and a Chinese speaker when contacting. We visited a very cool member family with their home teachers (yeah, home teaching happens here! It's unreal) and had delicious Western-style food. We are focusing a lot on English class. In fact, tonight, we plan on going to a night market to pass out fliers for it. We also got approved to use Facebook and Whatsapp, recently. So I may be here for a while, since my companion has no smart phone, and that's necessary. The work of salvation is hastening! Other cool things that happened: *A man we contacted pulling out a gun. Fun stuff. (He was probably just getting it out to put it away, since it was in his car. Still a bit scary.) *Elder Fabiano's birthday Recently in my personal study, I've read a lot about what it means to consecrate myself, and that's a real goal of mine is to let go of all cares, dreams, desires, etc. that aren't centered on the work. As missionaries, and as members, we need to constantly evaluate if the things that occupy our time, energy, thoughts, and even feelings are what Christ would have us be focusing on. I feel that was a theme of general conference, too. This upcoming week should be a good one with lots of meetings and exchanges. Love you all!

Week 49

What a week it has been. My time in Johor has been wonderful so far, and I absolutely love the branch and the area. First of all, our great branch. The people here are great. There is a real excitement for missionary work, especially among the branch mission leader and branch missionaries. They help us so much! They are so, so solid. Attendance was also very good this last week, and mostly all the callings are filled. Best of all, third hour attendance was nearly the same as first hour. So wonderful. Another adventure of the week was the 10 roti challenge. My companion has tried it in multiple areas of his mission, but it's pretty much what it sounds like: eat 10 roti canais in one meal (roti canai is flat bread with curry or daal. Simple, cheap, and good). The four of us living together went to try it, and only one came out victorious, with not just 10, but 11. Probably my greatest accomplishment so far. Just kidding. I'll break that record soon. Another very important thing happened recently. You all know of the solar-powered dancing elf named Francisco that used to welcome us home in Sibu. Well, one day, a delivery company truck came by to take our bikes to new areas, and they saw our beautiful elf and stole it. We thought all was lost, until a month ago, when two elders spotted it on their dashboard somewhere else in Sibu. Since I've been in Johor, the elders back in Sibu completed what they called "Operation Jingle Jangle", and I should be getting the elf back next week. Pretty funny. They also stole it back without telling the guys, apparently, so hopefully that's not a sin. We had our first zone meeting this week. We didn't have much time to prepare, but we focused on moving mountains versus the attitude that some missionaries have that their role is simply to "push on the rock". It was a lot of fun, and hopefully next zone meeting will be even better. We have some really solid investigators here. One has read up to Alma 43, and plans on finishing the Book of Mormon soon. Another will be baptized next month. Another two would be baptized if school wasn't on Sunday in this state, and a bunch of new ones are doing great. I'm really excited about it all. We've also implemented new finding methods. English class was started a few months before I got here, and it's awesome. A lot of investigators have been found and fellowshipped through it, and it makes knocking a lot more comfortable. People here really want to learn English. Another focus is family history. In Kuching, they've had family history booths in malls that attract a lot of attention, so we're trying that here. If a mall lets us do it, I'll let you know how it goes. Overall, I really love this city. The people are friendly, the food is good (side story: an expat family that used to live here came back to visit. They've lived in Paris, Hong Kong, all over the world. I asked them where they liked best, and where had the best food. They said here for the first question tentatively, and here for the second one easy. They said much better than even Paris.), the church is growing, and the zone is fun. I'm learning tons, and I love being a missionary! Love, Elder Earl

Week 48

It was a grand week this week full of many adventures. First of all, was the leaving of Sibu. I went around and saw many members to bid them farewell, and it was sad to think each time that it may be my last time seeing them. I got lots of pictures, though. On Tuesday, we had a district meeting that ended in one of the best meals ever, courtesy of Sister Beus, plus a bunch of BR signings (book of remembrance). After packing up my everything, I headed out. My last meal in Sibu was delicious paus, or steamed buns. Yum. Elder Beus took me to the airport, and then I flew to KL, from there, I met up with an elder coming from Sabah, and together we bused down to JB. We got in late, but it was a miracle considering we didn't have phones or addresses and neither of us had ever stayed in JB before. The JB City branch is wonderful! Our missionary coordination meeting was so good. We have many strong members, including several recent converts, and the people are a tight-knit group. I've loved it so far. And though historically, it's been an area of contacting all day every day, we've had an English class with 15 people+, 5 lessons, and a lot of general conference already. It's been really good. The Lord is blessing this area greatly. We are still new at our calling, so we don't know how to do zone trainings and such, but it's a fun process learning. Elder Fabiano is a wonderful, obedient, sincere, elder, and I'm excited to serve with him. I love my mission! By the way, based on conference, I'm excited to hear how all of your study of Preach My Gospel goes. Tee hee. Love, Elder Earl

Week 47

This past week has had some great developments with the work, and two very large and important events. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ to one of our investigators, and she has developed a great understanding. Before, we felt she was being pressured to learn, but she told us she wanted to be baptized, and she has a date for next month. She's really awesome. We also helped fellowship another investigator with a member who hadn't been there before, and she came to church. That was good. However, we spent three full days outside of Sibu due to Zone Conference! So fun. I got to roam a lot of Singapore with an elder who I went to junior high with, since my companion and his companion were both at the dentist. It was a lot of fun, and I went to a pizza buffet. The real fun stuff, though, was all the trainings we received. It's safe to say it was my favorite zone conference so far. President Mains expounded on what it means to be a Preach My Gospel missionary, one of the Assistants spent a while talking about the different opportunities we receive from God. He invited us to ask ourselves if we are taking full advantage of them. We also received a training on finding. This elder suggested we cut the small talk and immediately start testifying. Even in the role plays, we could feel it's a much more powerful approach. My favorite training was the assistants teaching us about how to make a long term vision, then 6-week, weekly, and daily plans and goals to streamline the work and make sure we're helping people come to Christ, not just sharing spiritual thoughts. It was really good, and I think it's a good thing to set personal visions as well that I've done for this upcoming transfer. That brings us to transfer news. I'm going to Johor Bahru, in the JB/Malacca zone. It will be a lot of fun. My new companion is Elder Fabiano, in the same group as three of my past companions. Elder Broadhead will be staying here. I've loved my time in Sibu very much, but I'm excited for the opportunities I'll have in JB. It's the place the Lord wants me! You have a great week, as well! Love, Elder Earl

Week 46

This week has been excellent. One fun, but in the end not too important, thing is that we hit every key indicator exactly on. When we set goals according to the Spirit, we'll have to work hard, but we can for sure make each and every one of them. Another fun adventure of the week was the crossing of the river. I've seen on the map that there are a lot of factories and houses past the river, but until this week we'd never gone. We had a couple free hours, so while on exchanges, we paid to cross on the ferry, then we biked around the jungle out there. We found a great couple out there, and returned again later in the week to teach them. We also biked around, and it really is a jungle out there. That doesn't stop people from having evil dogs that want to eat missionaries, though, unfortunately. :D I got to go to an Iban area yet again this week on exchanges, and my Malay is slowly progressing. I got to pray in Malay in almost every single appointment that day. We also went out to Sibu Jaya to teach out there. Unfortunately, this time we took the bus. It was a long and fun experience, though. I had a lot of good personal studies this week, including one where I read through a series of talks that Elder Uchtdorf gave in consecutive Priesthood sessions between 2008-2009: "A Matter of Degrees", "Lift Where You Stand", and "We are Doing a Great Work, and Cannot Come Down". All very good ones. Instead of saying what I learned personally, I'd encourage all to read through them and be edified. Well, I think I'll have pictures this week. So this email is a bit short. I love you! -Elder Earl

Week 45

Sorry I'm sending this email a bit later than usual. Today we went out into the jungle. We took a boat upstream a couple hours to a city called Song, then a van into the jungle 1/2 an hour until we were at the kampung (the jungle home) of a recent convert from a different branch. It was very fun. We took epic pictures, ate pickled, rotten meat, played with a monkey, etc. Ibans, are, as you have probably gathered, the predominant local tribe. There are dozens of other ones, as well, but especially here in Sibu, the members are Iban. Many of them live here in the Sibu, for work or school, but they all have a home in the jungle which they call kampung. They generally live in a longhouse, which is just a long house with many doors for different families. Interestingly enough, their kampung house is almost always nicer than their house in the city. Little wonder, then, that they love to return to kampung as often as they can. Ibans are always way fun. After a lesson this week, we walked downstairs at the church, and one Iban branch saw us and invited us in to eat and celebrate with them. This happens often. I also got to do a few more baptismal interviews for Ibans this week, plus exchanges once into an Iban area. Due to all this interaction, my Malay is improving steadily. Not yet good, though. However, the people I work with and love the most are the Chinese. This week we were able to meet with one investigator family and introduce the Book of Mormon to the father. When followed up with the next day about his reading, he said he was tired from reading all day long. Miracle! We also met with a few people this week and discussed the temple. What a glorious opportunity the temple is to those who live near it. When I return home, I won't take such a sacred place for granted. I would encourage all who are able to to make the temple a more important part of their lives. In our mission, we have been emphasizing new investigators, and the Lord has placed them in our hand this week. Very cool. Even more should be on the way. In other good news, I had no flat tires this week. It's been a good one, talk to you next week! Love, Elder Earl

Week 44

Before I get your hopes up, probably no pictures this week. Sorry. Anyway, this week was a grand one. We had lots of good stuff happen. One of the themes of the week was meetings. The first one was zone meeting, where it was unveiled that our new mission push is for two new investigators per week per companionship. The zone leaders crunched a lot of numbers showing how important that is, and then we did a fun little exercise where we each jumped as high as we could and stuck a sticky note there. Then, without fail, when we jumped a second time, we outdid the first jump. The moral of the story, then, is raise the bar. Associated with this new push are some more fun meetings our zone has started called progressive branch discussions, and I got to be in a couple of those. On top of these meetings, was baptismal interview, branch activity, and exchanges. But, in spite of all these meetings, we still had some good lessons. In one, we helped a new investigator understand how to pray to know the Book of Mormon is true. She said she felt at peace and happy. Oh, and fun fact: when we teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ here, we often use a cool little illustration in Chinese. The characters for repentance, when you dissect the radicals, literally mean "every day change yourself's heart". Cool, huh? I got to have a fun little day with a Malay-speaking elder and randomly, one of the Assistants to the President, who used to be a zone leader here. It's so fun working with Ibans. Something big on everyone's minds here has been the missing airplane. People are all so confused and interested in the story. Some have even expressed to us that they believe aliens have taken it. Or it's gone to another universe. We had a great activity this Saturday, to honor the birthday of Relief Society. We had seven investigators there! It was Western-food themed, and there was lots of good stuff. Our branch president had asked us what we eat in the US, and we answered honestly, "cold cereal." So, that was our contribution to the potluck: Cookie Crisp and Corn Flakes. Yum. All in all, a good week. Hopefully good stuff is coming. Wo ai nimen! -Elder Earl

Week 43

This week was wonderful! Elder Broadhead and I have contemplated together on what we want to focus on as a companionship a lot this week, and together we've set an area vision (as companionships should always do). Create things spiritually before physically), where we want to focus on only teaching the prepared and progressing. We want to focus on finding more, especially through the branch, and in order to build the branch, we want to focus on home teaching. It should be a fun few weeks. On Saturday, we had a fun day of attending Sports Saturday (a branch 2 thing; we were only there because of some weird exchanges that ended there), where we played a very intense game of keep-away. Then we taught a lesson to a wonderful investigator, followed by English class. I'm no professional English teacher, that's for sure. We then went bowling with the branch! Unfortunately, due to flat tires, we left our bikes at the church, and the naughty children from the other branches then gave us two more flat tires the next morning. :) We had three investigators at Sacrament meeting, including one in Sibu Jaya. It was really good to see them there. We also had church with no air-con or lights yesterday, since the power went out in the building. And then we had the privilege of teaching both second and third hour. We had a good lesson this week with a less active family, where we all shared our favorite scriptures together. One of them shared a scripture I'd read with him just a few weeks earlier, and they came to church this Sunday, including one who hadn't been in years. As far as food is concerned, we've gotten a bit sick of the same restaurants all the time, so we went to a bunch of random cafes this week. They were good, though my companion did get sick. Tee hee. The Beuses, our senior couple, found some new investigators that we watched the Restoration video with this week. It's a very spirit-filled movie, and every time I watch it, the Spirit witnesses just how true this gospel is. Overall, it's been a good week, with a lot more good to come. Wo ai nimen! -Elder Tupai (the name all the Ibans know me as. It means "Elder Squirrel".)

Week 42

We had a grand week, though the work has been slowing down recently. Either way, we are having a lot of fun and doing our best. Elder Hanks got to Sitiawan, and it sounds like he's doing well there. And now I have a new companion, Elder Broadhead. He has translated his name literally into Chinese, so people find it way funny when they see his name "Wide head elder". We're going to have a great transfer together. One cool thing that happened this week was we got to try some more exotic than usual foods. For example, we had dog meat. Mmmmm. Attached is a picture of my first bite. I also got to have chicken head while on exchanges for baptismal interviews. Also not bad. One of our investigators (the one who read to 2 Nephi in two days) showed that she's been reading well from the Book of Mormon, and when asked what her favorite part was, she showed us 2 Nephi 2 and 2 Nephi 12, so her understanding is also wonderful. She just lives far away. Many appointments fell through, or people who committed to come to church didn't come, so that's kind of sad. But we did have some good lessons, nonetheless, especially reading the Book of Mormon with people. One fun thing that's happened this week is that Elder Broadhead and I have decided to be on the lookout for biawaks, large possibly poisonous lizards that roam around, and we found two the day we started looking. One of them propelled itself feet into the air to escape us and ran extremely fast to another gutter. It was slightly scary, but very fun. All together, the week has been wonderful. I'm excited to work with Elder Broadhead and for the future of this area. I love you all!

Week 41

The big news of the week is transfers! So...I'm staying! I get to be in Sibu for 6 months at least. My son, unfortunately, is going. He gets a taste of West Malaysia in Sitiawan, Elder Chong's hometown. But, my new companion will be a good one. His name is Elder Broadhead, and he's a really fun elder. I lived with him in Singapore three weeks, and I'm confident this next transfer will be really good. In other news: Elder Scott (who I've lived with over six months now), is going to Kuching, and Elders Sessions and Wilson are staying (we will be nearly that long together by the end of this transfer). Our zone leaders are the same, and one of them will have been in Sibu since July. Wow. This week saw some really awesome miracles, and a few disappointments. Our investigators are not on track for baptism anymore. None of them. So that's sad. But the good things are more important! 1. Institute was good again, with two investigators there 2. Elder Hanks slammed into a parked truck the other day and shattered its tail light. However, the guy who owned it walked up, and told him it was fine and not to worry about it. We were still on time for our next appointment. 3. We met a Chinese investigator in Sibu Jaya on Thursday, and on Saturday morning, I called her to follow up and in those two days she has read all the way to 2 Nephi. She's cool. 4. We got to teach English. It was fun. 5. Everything is good! I mean, I'm in Sibu. Also, I only had 1 flat tire this week. That's the best of my time here! Haha. Wo ai nimen!

Week 40

This week has been wonderful! We're seeing a lot of fruits of our labors recently, and things are going absolutely splendidly. One of the best things was church yesterday. We had the highest attendance of recent Sibu history (months and months), with seven investigators attending church! It was a really good day, and the talks were also inspiring. Plus we got to teach the elders quorum lesson on the Plan of Salvation, and we had great insights on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Our main investigator is progressing very well. We taught her two lessons this week, and she has a great knowledge and testimony. If she can continue to attend church, she'll be baptized soon! We also got another investigator to accept a baptismal date. She's way awesome, and she says she just wants to develop a little more faith first. We're happy to do that with her! We read from Alma 32, and discussed what we have to do to grow our faith. If we don't consciously nourish it, it will wither away. Institute class at the Beuses is going better and better. We had one investigator walk miles to and from the class, and we had a member tell us how much the Book of Mormon has been a help in his life recently. Our district is still awesome. This week should be way fun. It might be my last, but I hope you know that I really love Sibu. It's been awesome serving here. The faith of the members is inspiring. Someone has to serve in paradise. :D Wo ai ni men!

Week 39

This week has been excellent! Our Upcoming Baptism: We should have a baptism in March! I will most likely be gone, but either way, it's so cool to know that someone I was the main teacher for will be baptized soon! We even went over the interview questions with her, and she has a great testimony. Our Party: Our branch had a party on Friday night, celebrating the days after Chinese New Year, and it was awesome. Many less active members, investigators, and even potential investigators came. There was good food, fun activities, and nice bonding. Unfortunately, I didn't attend, due to a weird baptismal interview situation. But I'm sure it was fun! There was another branch's party the same night, which also looked like tons of fun. Our Helmets: Were stolen. A car circled around the church a couple times suspiciously, and as they drove out of the parking lot, the District President said, "Elders! They have your helmets!". We looked outside, and sure enough, they stole our helmets. We used the CCTV to watch it, but the license plate wasn't clear. Either way, it was fun, and we're glad we still have bikes. Exchanges: I went on exchanges into Elder Scott's area this week! It was really fun. Elder Scott, if you do not know, is the Elder that by the end of this transfer, I will have lived with for over 6 months! He's awesome, experienced, and powerful. I calculated that I have spent more time with him than anyone else except for maybe Elder Hanks since I left. A lot of miracles happen in their area, and I even got to teach (or observe a lesson, I guess) the man that I did the interview for just a couple days later. It was fun. New Investigator: A member had brought a friend to church several weeks back, and she is now a new investigator! The member even bore her testimony of sharing the gospel yesterday in testimony meeting. Way cool. Institute Class: The Beuses started the class officially this week, and six branch members attended, with several more wanting to come next week. Many of them also bore their testimonies about the Book of Mormon and how excited they are for the class yesterday. Chinese New Year: Is ending. We did, on Monday and Tuesday, still get to gorge ourselves and got more money. In total, we made 213, which is a lot of money. Fireworks still go off nightly, but in less abundance. Anyway, the week has been wonderful and next week will be even better! I love being a missionary, and I learn so much every day. Wo ai nimen! -Elder Earl

Week 38

The Week of Chinese New Year! So, this week was awesome. Let's start by talking about the non-Chinese New year related things. 1. While on exchanges, I had an interesting day with Elder Kehl. We got to chop a chicken's head off with a dull knife (it was already dead, but it was still a little sad). Then, right after the closing prayer in another lesson, I looked down to see a scorpion (maybe six inches long with HUGE pincers) walking straight towards me. It was fun. The man of the house cut it into pieces with a huge knife. 2. A ginormous spider came into our house. We ran away like little girls, but later came back and defeated it. 3. Our #1 investigator accepted the commandments we taught her, came to church, and is on track for baptism soon. 4. Another investigator also came to church. Way cool. 5. Church was only 1 hour, and not fast Sunday, all because it's.... Chinese New Year!!!! Sibu is apparently the best place to be in the mission, because it's the most concentrated city of Chinese in the mission. And we are lucky enough to be the Chinese elders. We also had a returned missionary from Taiwan tell us it's way better here than in Taiwan. So we're pleased. Things that happened: 1. The night of the 30th, pretty much New Years Eve, we had two dinner appointments, including one at a fancy hotel. My companion, full from the first appointment, was unable to eat much, so I had pretty much multiple dishes to myself. My eating talent has impressed people, so that's good, I guess?! 2. The fireworks. They've been going a bit for a few weeks, but on the night of the 30th to 31st it became ridiculous. Nearly every house shot 1000s of ringits of fireworks up into the air. Sleeping would be impossible. Fireworks in every direction, firecrackers everywhere, and smoke so thick you couldn't see many houses nearby. And it lasted over an hour. SO cool! 3. The bainian-ing. The tradition is that everyone puts tons of junk food in their front rooms and people just come to eat, talk, and if you aren't married, take a hongbao, a little red envelope with money inside of it. We've made quite a bit of money, eaten till we are stuffed at nearly 20 houses, and visited tons of people. Hard for lessons, but if every day just had food, friends, and fireworks, life would be good! 4. Finding new people to teach. A member led us to a relative who has a great family and great potential. A member led us to a less active we had never even heard of who is willing to meet. An investigator introduced us to a cool family. In fact, it was a miracle that deserves some more explanation. We got there, and he had us pray with him, we gave him a Book of Mormon, and in return, he said if he could move back to Sibu, he'd join our church and come every week. I let him know that the church is also where he lives, Bintulu. Even more cool, there is a random picture of our house from years ago with old missionaries and several members of that family! So strange how it ended up, because this is an investigator simply contacted a couple months ago. Way cool. Other things: 1. Seminary class is going well for Malay-speaking branches. 2. Two potential miracle investigators being passed to us from Malay elders. I love Sibu! Thank you for being the best! Wo ai nimen! Love, Elder Earl

Week 37

Wow, it's crazy to think how fast time has passed! This week has been wonderful. As usual. Three miracles of the week: 1. Our main investigator has been taking off with the Book of Mormon reading, and though just a couple weeks ago she seemed unsure about baptism, she's now progressing well. Church is a hard one in her situation, but she will probably be baptized next transfer! 2. We took a way solid member to an appointment with another investigator, and it turns out they knew each other from high school. Plus they concluded they were distant relatives. The member also bore powerful testimony, and we're excited to see if she, too, will become converted through the power of the Book of Mormon. 3. We've been working with another member's mother for a few weeks, and disappointingly, she told us this week she thinks she's going to stick to the church she's accustomed to. However, she told us she wants her daughter to start going to our church as soon as possible. She specifically cited the love and acceptance of the missionaries and other members as reasons why. When we brought this up in branch council, people thought we were kidding because only a few months ago, the mother was in opposition to the daughter learning. Cool, cool. Another fun experience: 1. Exchanges! They're the best. I went into a Malay elder area, and we went contacting poor areas together to maximize the language abilities we had. They ended up mostly being Chinese, so I got to argue, teach, and testify for hours! We met lots of cool people from lots of backgrounds. One of the funnest parts was him bringing me to a house where some Indians live, and they were from Maharastra! We reminisced a bit, and then introduced the Book of Mormon. It was great. Also way cool was Elder Hanks handling an action-packed day all by himself. He did wonderfully. To think he's not even done training is weird. He's way ahead of where I was 10 weeks into the field for sure. We also had fun playing American football, doing zone meeting, and more. Next week should be even more awesome, as Chinese New Year is supposed to be the coolest thing ever! Love you all! -Elder Earl

Week 36

Hello! We've had quite an enjoyable week these past seven days. Lots of good things and miracles happen every week. To start off with, you'll never guess where I'm writing this from! Transfers were this week, and they got delayed a few hours, but it turns out that........I'm still in Sibu. As expected. In fact, only one person in our 10 elder district got transferred. So that's fun. We did get a new elder in our house, and he's been in KL Zone for most of his 3 transfer mission so far, so that's fun. On Monday, so few people showed up to family home evening, that we just joined a party an Iban branch was holding and got lots of food. It was fun. Malay speaking missionaries have such a different experience than we do. But that's what exchanges are for, I guess. As far as the missionary work is concerned, we've seen some good things. We met with more investigators this week than I ever have in Sibu. And it's looking like that will continue to increase. Unfortunately, our less active work is still a bit stagnant. We'll keep trying to find less actives who are willing to meet. One idea we've been implementing is Book of Mormon reading charts that track the days you read or the chapters you've read. One investigator who took multiple weeks to read one chapter has read one every day since she got hers. We know that if they read and understand, they will get a witness of it's truthfulness. We also had District Conference this week. The mission president and his wife spoke, and they had lots of great words for the members here. It was a bit crazy due to the number of people, and especially children, but it was good. Another great experience was a lesson where an investigator said he'd go home and "study a bit" from the Book of Mormon before he'd make a decision as to whether it is true. That's all we ask, though, that he ask, seek, and knock. We're excited for him to receive a witness. One small disappointment was having a flat tire on Saturday night prevent us from a couple appointments on Sunday. But it allowed us to talk to different people, so maybe the Lord was just guiding us to do His will. I hope you know that I love my mission! It's really been the best time of my life. I'm especially grateful for the recent focus we've had on the Book of Mormon. That Book truly will bring us closer to Christ than anything else can. By reading, understanding, pondering, and living its teachings, we will have happier lives, more full of the Spirit. I'm starting to read it yet again in both English and Chinese alongside my investigators and members, and I encourage you all to do so, as well. President Hinckley once said, “Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will [read the Book of Mormon], … there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God” It's the best book on the earth! The end. Well, I hope you all have a great week. I know I will! Love, Elder Earl

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 35

Yep. My eight month mark is this week. Kind of a pretty unimportant mark, but the next time I celebrate a fraction of my mission, it will be my year mark. I don't remember much of what I said last week, but Kapit was awesome and well worth the crazy day. It's kind of the Borneo I expected Borneo to be. Very scenic and tribal. The preparation day before that, we got to go way out to a huge Buddhist temple. That was awesome. I'll try to send pictures. Anyway, this past week has been a good one. Here is the gist of it: *Singapore- We spent three days for Zone Conference in Singapore. It's, as usual, an awesome place. Our first day there, we saw the aquarium, which is the largest in the world (by water volume). It was really fun, but also very expensive. The next night, after Zone Conference, we saw the laser show at Marina Bay. I may have told you before that Elder Hanks and I watched it his first full day there, but we didn't understand where to watch it from, so all we saw was lasers coming from a building, and lots of people. It was lame. But this last time, we watched it from right next to it, and it's actually a kind of movie projected onto a screen of water they shoot into the air, with fire, music, and lasers. It was very cool. After that, we watched a light/music show at the gardens by the bay. The next day, we went to the coolest airport in the world, and went to the sunflower, orchid, and butterfly gardens contained inside. The airport also has free gaming rooms, movies, and sporting even showings. It's way cool. *Zone Conference- Is the best! I feel bad for missions that only travel a few hours by road to get to their Zone Conferences, because ours is so fun. Elder Wilson, of the Asia Area Presidency, came this time. He emphasized having investigators experiencing true conversion by reading the Book of Mormon. Not just reading a bit every day, but feasting upon it, preferably finishing it before baptism. He also described our area (East Malaysia) of the mission by saying "someone has to serve in paradise". Indeed, I am very blessed to be serving in such an exotic and beautiful land. *New investigators- Referrals from less actives, curious friends who have popped into lessons, and random people contacting the other elders have all given us new people to teach. So it's been fun. We may be to the point soon where we will have to cut those who aren't progressing, which will be sad. But it's awesome to see the Lord providing and preparing people for us to teach. *One especially interesting lesson- one investigator we have who has known elders for several years spent about an hour telling us how we were horrible missionaries. It was very interesting, but we already knew we are weak without the Lord. We know our message is true, and we will continue to share it to the best of our limited ability. The Lord will do the rest. *Miracle- Elder Hanks jumped into an MRT after accidentally getting off at the wrong station and seeing me inside. He jumped right as the doors were closing, and it was miraculous he wasn't crushed. :) Well, that is the week. This next week looks like it will be awesome as well. Wo ai ni men! Love, Elder Andrew Earl

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Week 34

Well, this email is being sent much later than usual, but that is because we just had an excellent preparation day activity in the town of Kapit, a good three-hour boat ride upstream from here closer to the Indonesian border. And I must tell you in advance, there will be no pictures included as I do not have my cord with me right now. :) I don't have a lot of time, since on the way back, I had a flat tire, but here is the week in summary: *KL: We went to KL this week! It was Elder Hanks's New Missionary Training. It was very good. I got to see Elders Cranford and Sutherland, and take night pictures at the Petronas towers. Unfortunately for the Kuching elders, they came late and left early from the 4 hour training in order to make their flights. We had it better, and spent the night there. *Kapit: We left at 4:45am, and pumped four elders to the boat place. People must have been very confused as to what was going on. It was a long boat ride, but while there, we looked around town, visited a long house, and saw a lot of the interior Borneo jungle. It was REALLY cool. The members we visited are really cool. *Floods: This week has had tons of water, that has flooded much of Sibu. It's awesome, because we get pictures, and once we were even in someone's car as we drove through like 2 feet deep water. It was fun. *Miracle #1: We visited the house of one of the members we work closely with, with the purpose of teaching his mother. She was there, along with a crowd of unexpected people, and during the Restoration DVD, we felt like it was a completely un-spiritual environment. However, at the end, she told us that she wanted to join our church. She has seen what a blessing it has been in her child's life, and she says that our members are willing to welcome others more readily. It was awesome! We are very happy to help her in joining our church. *Miracle #2: It was a torrential downpour, and Elder Hanks, who was outside, handed me an umbrella I had to take from him quickly. In order to take it, I had to throw an important piece of paper I had in my hands, and the entire ground was covered in dirt and water. However, the paper landed perfectly on a chair several feet away. Miracle. *Miracle #3: While in KL, our taxi driver asked which airport we were flying out of, which is weird, because KLIA is by far the biggest in KL, but it just so happens that because he asked us, we were able to determine we were going to a different airport. If he hadn't asked us that random question, we would have been very confused. He, a Hindu, also told us of a couple experiences where he felt Jesus Christ had blessed him. We got his information, and hopefully the other elders follow up with him! *Investigator work: is on the rise. We picked up a few this week. There were a couple frustrating lessons, but as a whole, it is a very good thing. *Less active work: is going down. Mostly because they are becoming active, but also because some feel they are too busy to meet. *Switched church times: Now we are at 2pm, which is super late, and makes it hard to have many appointments. Our attendance also went waaay down. But the other two branches had the highest they have had in months. Maybe ever. *I'm a missionary: It's the best! And you can all be missionaries, too. I would encourage you to read the talk from last conference called "Hastening the Lord's Game Plan" and doing those three things. :) That's all for the week! Wo ai ni men! -Elder Earl

Week 33

I need to keep coming up with different email subjects, or it attaches it to the first time I wrote "This week" or "the week" or the like. Anyway... One event that happened this week was Christmas! It was a good one, too. However, the vast majority of Chinese people here are much more excited for Chinese New Year than they were for Christmas. On Christmas day itself, we started with a Secret Santa, where we each gave one non-companion missionary in our house a gift. The person who gave to me, Elder Scott, who I've been living with nearly my entire mission. He sent me on a treasure hunt with six different clues, but I finally reached it and found the gift. For lunch on that day, we had some paos that had been sitting out for a few hours, then we visited five different houses! It was fun, but probably the #2 most biking day of my mission thus far. Unfortunately, it seems like the work kind of imploded this week. So many cancelled appointments. :( It's okay, because next week is going to be awesome! Grand experiences of the week: *Teaching a less active, and then going with the member who came with us to a tiger temple and a long house very briefly. When we got to the longhouse, random Ibans with good English asked if they could get our picture with them. Soon, it pretty much became a line, and we were standing on a wedding podium thing to be used the next day with assorted Ibans who wanted their picture with us. Fun! *Christmas carolling! We had no success, but it was fun spreading some Chrismas cheer. *While waiting for other elders briefly, I started contacting a massage chair seller. It ended up being a really good deal, because I talked about the gospel while sitting in a massage chair. Awesome! *I talked to the first two white people outside the church in Malaysia this week. The first was some Jehovah's Witness missionaries from Finland we found caroling, and then later some expats from Miri who we saw at "Food Fair" this week. *Institute at the Beuses- the senior couple wants to start a weekly activity for YSA, and last night it involved pizza and a spiritual movie. It was the third feast we had at their house this week, so it was extra awesome. *Making a badminton court with our branch president in the church parking lot! It was fun. This upcoming week should be way good! It's new year's soon, and we have badminton, pot-luck, and Singapore on the calendar pretty quick. In personal study, I've studied a lot about prayer recently, and found a lot of good reasons why it's important to pray as often as possible. When we pray, we bring our will into line with God's will, and we're generally pretty righteous and motivated to do good after a conversation with Heavenly Father. If we go too long between prayers, though, that's when we sometimes forget our desire to be better. The moral of the story is, pray always and do not faint! I love you all! Have a very happy New Year! Love, Elder Earl

Week 32

Was awesome! We had some interesting challenges, but we also had some great tender mercies and other experiences. One highlight of the week was going to Christmas Conference in Kuching. It only took one day of the week, but because of the early flights and club music playing all night, it took a large toll on our sleep. While in Kuching, we did some service, heard some talks, slept during some talks (on accident!), acted out the Nativity (we were the worst shepherds ever. We only had one job and we messed it up!), and talked with all of our missionary buddies. I got to be reunited with my MTC buddies, Elders Sutherland and Mitchell. So that was fun. I also got a large package and got to eat some delicious packaging peanuts. The best part about Kuching, however, was the miracle of the week. We decided we were going to talk to as many people as possible, and because of that goal, I started talking to a cool guy in a bookstore, who just happened to be from Sibu. He's Chinese and says he needs some more information before he can make an informed decision on God's existence. Well, we'll be happy to give them that information: the restored and everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ! Other fun things of the week: *Snapping turtles and bears *The power went off late at night, and we went outside to see what was up, and all the neighbors decided to light off tons of fireworks! We're excited for Chinese New Year for sure. *We went to pizza hut in Kuching, and one of the zone leaders and I noticed the best deal was delivery only. We walked outside the store and tried our very best to get them to deliver to us. In the end, we ate at another restaurant. *More biking in a single day than ever before. In pouring rain! Our struggles this week: *Getting stood up. In Chinese they say "fang gezi" which means "unleash pigeons" *Investigators not coming to church Our successes this week: *Less actives becoming active! *Home teaching begins *So many people committing to come to church next year! *Being a missionary is just awesome. Wo ai nimen! Love, Elder Earl

Week 31

This week was a good one. There are a few disappointments every week, it seems, but the miracles, the Spirit, and the good we are doing outweigh it all. The joy of being involved in missionary work is great, and luckily, it isn't limited to the full time missionaries. Everyone has a part in the work of salvation! One funny experience we had this week was early in the week, we had a few Chinese people randomly show up at the church, which was really awesome. We gave them a tour, and they stayed for FHE, which they seemed to really enjoy. However, we later really found out they were sent from another church, who every once in a while sends different people to kind of scout out what our church is doing. It's sad they didn't have genuine interest, but we welcome everyone to come and see, to join in worship, and to learn about the glorious message of Christ with us. Something that we are going to push this week is home teaching. It doesn't currently exist in the branch, but with the elders' quorum president, we decided it could really help our branch out. So more on that next week, hopefully. One of the major events of the week was Saturday's three-branch Christmas party. It was so much fun! It was more people than expected, and we ran out of food, but it was lots of fun. We had Nativity performances, songs, dances, and more. It was really fun, and many less actives and potential investigators came. Yesterday, we had a miracle of active members taking less active members to church. Our attendance was the highest it's been for many months! Next week, I get to teach Sunday school! That will be fun. We'll be in Kuching one day this week for Christmas conference., It will be awesome. Especially being reunited with my other two amigos in my generation. Love, Elder Earl

Week 30

It was once again an awesome week! Though overall we are an inexperienced companionship, we work and pray hard for the Lord's help to make up for our weakness. One awesome miracle of the week happened yesterday. We got home from our church meetings yesterday, and one companionship was still home and told us of all the cool people who had committed to come to their branch, including one very less active member. After they left to church, we got a call from a potential investigator we'd called a few times, but nothing had come of, that said she was at our church. She had apparently come with their less active member, and when she realized they were at the address we had given her, she called us. She enjoyed the meeting, and we have a return appointment! Another cool story of the week started a few days ago, when we had arranged to eat dinner with some other potential investigators. As we waited for them, we contacted two people. The second one was from Canada and really awesome, and we even had dinner with him two nights later. He's really friendly to us, and we hope the Book of Mormon we gave him will help him feel the Spirit and want to learn more. We went to a really awesome member's home this week, and watched "Finding Faith in Christ" with him and his non-member family. His mother thoroughly enjoyed it, and we plan on showing another movie next time: "The Restoration". :) This week we are going to plan and prepare a lot for a Christmas party on Saturday (mom's birthday!!). It should be a fun one, but we missionaries have a part that isn't ready, and I certainly hope I won't be doing too much singing and dancing. One crazy experience was we called a food stand last Monday to get some Ramly burgers ready, and as we went to pick them up, a huge rainstorm came. We literally waded through the rain to get them. And all this while I was on a temporary small, pink/orange, no gears/brakes bicycle. We also got 100% drenched the next day on a bike ride to a way cool less active member's house. Anyway, Sibu is still awesome, and my son is doing well. The senior couple remarked we were the first companionship they'd seen where the trainee talks a significant amount in lessons. So he's awesome. Love, Elder Earl

Week 29

We've had an excellent week! I really love Elder Hanks, he is a great companion. He is succeeding in the language and in missionary work, and he's getting used to the area very quickly. We taught a really awesome guy who came to church and FHE last week, and he expressed his sincere desire to know which church is true and right for him. We're excited for him to find out. We were also able to do a couple different service projects this week, which were really awesome. The people in our branch are very friendly and supportive. For Thanksgiving, we taught two lessons, and then ate some Kampua Mee (I think that's how it's spelled), with a Sibu-missionary favorite fruitbowl. My companion also tried his first durian this week. We visited a couple families last night of less actives members we have never met, with the district president. Together, we think we can really help make a difference in their lives, and the way we want to help them is specifically through family history. It's weird doing the extra hour of studies every morning, but it's fun. We practice teaching the lessons mostly. Transfers are happening this week, and most the natives who speak Chinese are all being switched to Chinese elders. So it's exciting to see that the Chinese people are a real focus now. I've also had a chance to read some conference talks recently, which is good, since I didn't understand much of the last conference. Anyway, I'll send some pictures of the week. I love you all! -Elder Earl

Week 28

This weekly update doesn't have much, because of all the time I spent travelling this week, but we still had time to have awesome experiences and witness some miracles. Firstly, after we figured out about transfer news, we went downtown to run errands, and a group of Iban girls came up to us to request to have a picture taken with them. It was funny. Then we got haircuts, and the person styled my hair into a fohawk. On Tuesday, we had a lesson with the miracle contact from the week before, and he's awesome. He says if he had a way to, he'd drive all of his friends every week to our church. Because he is married into an Iban family, though, he is now the Malay elders' investigator. We had an awesome bowling activity this week. One miracle is that I didn't get last place! Between Thursday and Saturday, however, I was gone in Singapore. President Mains (probably for the first time ever), immediately revealed who was training who, and we had fun for three days in Singapore! My new companion is Elder Hanks, who did, in fact, meet my family in New York at Hill Cumorah. Just another little witness the Lord knows what He is doing. In Singapore, outside of our meetings, we visited Marina Bay (twice), went to Chinatown, and contacted. My trainee is already very good at Chinese and extremely willing to work. So he's awesome. Since we've been back home in Sibu, we've mostly just done weekly planning. But at church, we had yet another person walk into our church randomly. We already have an appointment scheduled for this week. I also gave a talk on Sunday, which I had very little time to prepare for. So it probably wasn't too great. :) We're excited for our new companionship, and with the Lord's help to overcome our lack of language ability and experience, we know we will do great things. I love you all! Love, Elder Earl

Week 27

There isn't as much to report on this week, since I was a Chinese elder for pretty much only two days, due to district leader companion exchanges. But I had lots of fun and interesting experiences. First and foremost, transfers happen this week. We just barely got the news, and Elder Cranford is going to Kuala Lumpur! I'm staying and getting a new companion fresh from the MTC. So that will be fun. I was a Chinese elder for a bit, and got to witness some awesome things. For example, the two who walked into the church building on Sunday also came to FHE, and they're super awesome! And cool people coming to church again for the first time this week! And best of all, one great investigator is making awesome progress. She understands if she gets an answer, it will mean big changes for her life, but she said she's not afraid of that. She also applies scriptures to herself! She's awesome. I was a Malay elder this week, pretty much. So I learned some Malay phrases, and I exchanged with four different Malay elders. I saw monkeys as pets, jungle houses, kampung fish, and more. I ate cool foods, witnessed amazing lessons, and more. I even got to exchange with Elder Scott, who I lived with in Kuala Lumpur. And because I have a way of taking pictures now, the rest of my message will be sent in 1000-word equivalents. I love you all!

Week 26

Our week was super awesome! We got to go to Singapore, which is always a fun place, and Zone Conference helps us learn a ton, but nothing compares with doing the Lord's work in Sibu! Zone Conference was super good. Because of weird situations, we ended up having all of East Malaysia together, and so we had by far the largest of the three zone conferences. It was good to finally be reunited with my MTC buddies, Elders Mitchell and Sutherland. And when we had a few extra hours, we went to the zoo. I rode my first elephant! It was really fun. The Singapore zoo is awesome. The only downside of Singapore was that we left for the airport before 4am, so we've had to get adjusted. As far as the work goes, we have had lots of success with our investigators. One of our super awesome investigators came to church, and made friends with some of our awesome members. We also had two really cool people walk into our church, and they were also fellowshipped well. We've gotten great referrals, and found lots of people through contacting, and we're excited to see who will choose to accept the restored gospel. We met with an investigator with a member this week that is super awesome, and she accepted a baptismal date. We just pray that she'll be able to recognize the Lord's answers to her prayers. Less active work has also been going well. We had many less actives come to church this week, and we helped teach one family about the temple, and now they are preparing to go there sometime in the future. We're really excited for the progress our investigators and members are making, and we pray it will continue. The Lord has blessed us so much! Have an amazing week, everyone! Wo ai nimen! Love, Elder Andrew Earl

Week 25

This week has been an awesome one. I really love Sibu, and I'm extremely happy here. It's crazy to think this transfer is already over half over, but I should be in Sibu for a while. This week, we had a few awesome miracle experiences. Yesterday, we had some less active members we really love come to church, and our attendance was higher than it has been for a while. Our branch members have awesome testimonies. We also had miracles that led us to new investigators. A referral from a couple weeks ago became an investigator this week. We also had another investigator give us a referral, so that's a good sign that he knows how amazing our message is. The lady we found while knocking has accepted a couple follow up visits, and we're really excited for what might happen there. We tried three main finding methods this week. The first was knocking, and we didn't find success there, but we met some interesting people. The second was calling potential investigators, and a few of them even agreed to meet. The third was walking around (in Malay it's called jalan jalan) and talking to people. The first person we even opened our mouths to was willing to meet with us and everything. We also ran into two Indians, who don't speak Malay or Chinese, but I spoke some Hindi with them, and they were so happy and impressed, they wanted to take pictures with us. We gave them copies of the Book of Mormon and suggested we meet again. I'm excited for them. We did exchanges with one of the Assistants (the Chinese elder, Elder Harper), and we got to learn from him. He's an awesome guy, and he helped us a lot. Overall, it was an awesome week. My Chinese is improving, and I'm starting to know the members really well. I'm super happy here, and that's what the gospel can do for everyone. I'm so glad I can share that same message of happiness with Sibu. Have a great week! Love, Elder Earl

Week 24

This week has been super good! Transfers did come on Monday after email time, and, surprise to everyone here, no one left our zone. But we did get six new elders, four who now live with us (one is Elder Scott, who I lived with in KL), and two in Sibu Jaya (which is really small, so it's funny it was split). I guess Sibu just needs the gospel really badly right now! Elder Cranford is now the new district leader here. One fun experience we had this week was eating dinner with the senior couple and some people in the branch. The waitresses were really funny and absolutely loved my companion. So as white people, we got a lot of attention and took many pictures with them, one of which the restaurant people said was going in their magazine. We spent some time this week considering different housing options, since six elders in one house is not optimal (the president compared six elders together to a fraternity house). So we may be moved this time next week. We brought an awesome member to an awesome part-member family's home, and put the mother on baptismal date there this week. She is super awesome and already interacts with other branch members like she's a part. We also got some good contacting time this week, which was really awesome. The first time, we walked around downtown, giving a few copies of the Book of Mormon out and even running into a former investigator from a while ago. The second time, we decided to go knocking, and the very first house that answered had a cool girl let us in. We taught a lesson and got a return appointment. She's actually been taught a few years ago, too. We had a Halloween party on Saturday, that was really fun. Tons of awesome food, and some cool games. We were in charge of the fishing game, where you put candy on the end of the hooks. Today for p-day, the whole zone got together and we played football. It was fun! And I ate my recent favorite meal: a MegaMac. It's like a really big BigMac. And I don't know how many calories are in it. We also had a really awesome weekly planning this week, where we set some goals for our area, and decided how to better plan for upcoming weeks. So hopefully the work can move even faster along! Love, Elder Earl

Week 23

I love working in Sibu, so this week was, of course, amazing! First of all, I'd just like to explain Sibu a bit. It's a city probably like as big as Orem/Provo (or a bit bigger), probably about half Chinese, but also lots of Ibans (the local tribe, generally Christian, that makes up most of the church here) and some Malays. We live in a really big house in a nice area. We bike usually, but we also go with a senior couple who is assigned over two branches here to many appointments. There is an evil bird that lives by us that for whatever reason likes to attack bikers. Good thing we have helmets. Dogs are also a little rude, but definitely manageable. The food is good here, but mostly we go to just one of a few places that missionaries have discovered to be delicious. One interesting thing that I have learned here is the solution to when a missionary's bike is broken. It's called "pumping" and it involves one person sitting on the handlebars and the other person riding as normal. It's fun. This week, we had many cool miracle stories. On Monday, we decided to do what we are supposed to do, which is buy batteries to replace in our carbon monoxide detectors. While we were in line, a random lady started reading our tags aloud, and she was interested in our church. Then on our way out, we ran into a lady who had been helped by Elders Cranford and Sutherland a few weeks before when her motorbike stopped working, but they didn't have time to contact her. We got an appointment with her right then. Later in the week, the miracles kept coming. We contacted a headquarters referral (someone who went on at a local Methodist preacher school. We were told she got out of class at 4:30, so we came back at 4:39, and the building was already locked up. Miraculously, we ran into her on the way out, and we talked with her and her friends about our church and gave them copies of the Book of Mormon. They, too, are willing to meet again. The people here are super awesome. Everyone we meet with seems to be making progress, and it's really exciting. Our investigator work has been a bit slow, but we are going to really do our best to have one new investigator a week. We also want to focus a bit more on giving out copies of the Book of Mormon, since our mission president has invited us to give at least one copy every day. Another fun experience I had this week was doing exchanges with the district leader's companion. I spent a day in Sibu Jaya, which is really small. Almost everyone knows the elders there. We taught lessons to Ibans, and we taught a man in English who had flagged down the missionaries to request a Book of Mormon just a couple days earlier. It was a really good day! We watched the Asia area broadcast for church yesterday, which was also really good. It was my first time at a real church meeting, and I love the branch here. There are many awesome members! I hope all is well with you, and know that I'm having a great time here and working hard. I love you all! -Elder Earl

Week 22

This week was super awesome! I started the week by preparing to leave and a couple appointments. It was sad leaving the area, because I really love KL, but I was also excited for my first transfer. I packed all my bags, had a celebratory dinner with the Zone Leaders at Chilis, of all places, and left. The transfer went smoothly. Sibu so far has been amazing. We focus a lot on less actives and building the branch, but we also have a goal of one new investigator a week that we have to work hard to achieve. The branch here is super cool. I love my companion, and our house is very large. We bike around everywhere, or go with the senior couple around to appointments in their car. The food is good, the areas we've worked in are very nice, and I'm excited. General conference was something we watched this past weekend, but I only watched one session in English, so hopefully later I can catch up. It was a good experience watching conference in Chinese, though. I'm really excited to work in this new area, where I will probably be a while. I love it here, and I am excited to get a lot of work done. Wo ai ni men! -Elder Earl

Week 21

It's been a good one, but we have learned a few lessons about patience. One fun experience we had was having someone throw an egg at us before we started a lesson. It did explode everywhere, but we still taught the lesson (we moved so they wouldn't get us again), and our investigator wants to follow all the commandments. We also spent some time looking for missing members. Unfortunately, we didn't find any. So that was sad. But we got to see some cool areas we've never seen before in the process. We got to take a bus this week to visit a family in our branch that lives in a different state, in a place called Seremban. That was pretty fun. The most exciting part of the week was transfer news, which happened today. I am going to Sibu with an Elder that just trained my MTC companion. Elder Chong is going to be with Elder Broadhead, who I lived with in Singapore. I'm excited that all three of us from the MTC will be in East together! I can't imagine many missionaries have been able to serve in the three separate land masses of the mission so quickly as I will. I hope all goes well this week packing and leaving, and I hope the work in Cheras picks up very soon. Have a good week, everyone! Wo ai ni! -Ge Zhanglao

Week 20

The week was a super good one, and who knows? It could be one of my last in Cheras. This week we were able to contact a lot of people who may or may not have interest. So that's good. Hopefully some of them choose to start investigating the church. One of them I talked to on the LRT told me he was an 18 year old boy in Form 5 not sure if he wants to go to college. He took a Book of Mormon, and afterwards texted me saying he had really lied and he was 25 already in college, and just thought it was funny seeing if I believed him. I got to do my first district leader exchange this week, which was super fun. Elder Chong went to Puchong and loved it. He told me "If you go to Puchong, you will be happy all day every day no matter what!" People there apparently even say "hi" back. :D I stayed behind in Cheras, and we contacted several people who had some interest. One person from the night before even called me and requested to learn more about the Book of Mormon. The KL Elders have an appointment with him to do just that. Two people approached my district leader and talked to him in Chinese randomly (despite the fact he's totally blonde and had an English tag on), and I got to talk to both of them about the gospel. We also ran into a member who has been looking for the church, and she brought a non-member Chinese family member to church this week. At the end of the week, I looked at the training book and the "application in proselyting" for the week is that the new missionary takes the lead in all teaching and planning, and looking back, because we taught in English with Elder Chong and Chinese when I did the exchange (it was kind of weird, so I went out two days with different Malay Elders), I did without even thinking about it! We watched some of the Work of Salvation broadcast in church yesterday, which was cool. Hopefully it inspires the members to give us lots of referrals! ;) Last week for p-day we went to Batu caves, which was cool. This week we are going pretty far out to visit a member family, so yeah. Anyway, have a great week! I love you all! Elder Earl

Week 19

This week has been a good one! Last week on preparation day, we went with a couple cool members around. Both are planning on missions, one is only waiting on a visa. We first ate at a Tamil banana leaf place. It was super good! They gave us lots of food! After, we took some pictures at KLCC, then we went to a Relief Society activity. We ended by eating a great Iranian dinner. It was a good day for food. I had some cool meetings this week as well. The first was a zone meeting, where we learned about a district goal to find all the missing people on the branch lists. That will give us a great thing to keep us busy! We ate at a house of some Americans working here, and it was super nice. The coolest meeting though was I finally had my New Missionary Training! After that, the Mission President and wife came to our house to interview us and do a cleaning check. He has to be one of the most busy people in the world with such a spread-out mission, but they are both so wonderful. One cool thing he said, regarding our area, was "Not all the soil is good, but you need to plow it all." We had a couple cool miracles this week. #1 was we went to find a brother whose record was recently transferred from BYU, but hasn't been to church yet. The first time, no one was home, so we left a card. The next time, the card was still there, so we kind of figured no one was there, but right then, his father pulled up and we were able to talk to him on the phone. Also, yesterday we felt we should go to a mall after church to contact, which we have never done before, but it just so happened a giant Chinese checkers tournament was going on, keeping countless young Chinese people occupied. I have never contacted so many people before, and we were able to plant many seeds. We're excited to do the Lord's work here in Cheras another week! Hopefully we'll be able to find success, but if not, we at least know we are doing what He wants us to. I hope you all have a wonderful week, as well! Love, Elder Earl