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