Monday, December 30, 2013

"As the Good Book Says"--Tevye :)

To Friends, Family, and Anyone Else Involved ;)
This past week has certainly been a memorable one :) My first Christmas as a missionary shall not be one easily forgotten! On December 24, as I was on splits with another elder looking for a former investigator's house we were attacked by the winds and rains of what felt like a miniature hurricane. In all actuality we're just in the heart of rainy season here in Malaysia, but sometimes it feels a little like...well, a hurricane. :) ;) We were soaked from head to foot and I got some really nice foot fungus because of it. Yummy ;)
December 25th--what a day! Woke up and got to give my family a call! It was so wonderful to hear their voices again :) Of all the emails and letters that were sent, whether to me personally or to a collective group of missionaries, the best present of all was being able to talk to home again :) Following that we were going to go out and bike....but my back tire decided to be flat. Super kool ;)
This past week has flown by and another one is coming up. Here we go 2014!!! I'll be a missionary for this ENTIRE upcoming year! Totes cray-cray ;) As we all look forward to a new year full of new beginnings and new hopes and dreams, I'd like to share a quick thought or two. In 1 Nephi 10:18, we read that the Lord "is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever". He doesn't change. He's always going to help us. He's always going to help correct and chasten us till we are refined enough for His presence (Sidenote: One of my favorite Chinese idioms (I dunno the characters, so I'll just do the pinyin...sorry about that): zhen jin bu pa huo lian--"True gold doesn't fear the fire's refining). He will never stop being there for us. He will never stop living for us. He will never stop atoning for us till we are as He is.
In conjunction with that, here's something that I found really cool in my Personal Study today. I was in 1 Nephi 11, where Nephi, a young boy who will soon become a prophet and leader for his people, is having an experience, a revelatory vision per se, with the Holy Spirit of God. In it the Spirit shows Nephi an image of the tree of life and of Mary, the mother of Christ, and then asks, "Knowest thou the condescension of God?"
Nephi answers honestly: "I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." In nowadays English: I know that God loves us, but I don't understand everything you've just shown me.
The Spirit then proceeds to show Nephi images of the tree of life, the fountains of living waters, the Savior's birth and ministry, angelic visitations, the Crucifixion, and the apostolic ministry following the Savior's Death and Resurrection. He shows Nephi all of these various images of 'the condescension of God'. What does that even mean? Well, 'condescension' essentially means going from some place high and, of one's own free will, traveling to a lower plane of existence or thought. The condescension of God is the act of the Savior, even Jesus Christ, leaving the celestial courts of our Heavenly Father to come to this earth and atone for us. All of the images that the Spirit showed to Nephi in some way, shape, or form, acknowledged and testified of the condescension of God.
I decided, as I was reading this today, to try and do what Nephi would do in this situation: that is, liken the scriptures unto myself (2 Nephi 6:5). 
How have I seen the condescension of God in my life? Well, He has come down and died for me; He's atoned for my sins. He has healed me from spiritual and emotional weaknesses and trials and afflictions.
In the scriptures it says: "I beheld the Son of God going forth among the children of men" (1 Nephi 11:24). Christ has healed me, He has atoned for me, and He has 'gone forth' with me--He has been my Friend and my Ally in all of my troubles and afflictions. He has become the Best Friend I've needed in the darkest days of my life. He has become the Redeemer who not only commands winds and waves, who not only forgives sins, but who also sits beside me and listens as I pour out the sorrows of my heart. He's the Savior who not only died on a cross, but who sat beside me as I wept over the death of loved ones and consoled me. He it is who, along with those past loved ones, has lifted me up and given me strength to face it all--life, the universe, and everything. I have felt His love, I have sought His grace, I have been comforted by His Spirit, I have experienced the peace He is Prince of.
This New Year, let Him do that for you :) The upcoming weeks bring with them memories of life's hardest trials for me, but I know that "that soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose, [He] will not, [He] cannot desert to his foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, [He]'ll never, no never, no never forsake" :) How has the condescension of God strengthened you this past year? How will it strengthen you this upcoming year? Either way, I wish you all the Happiest of New Years possible!
I love you all! Till next we chat,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

HaoHaoHao/HoHoHo (Depending on Your Dialect:) )

Well folks, another week has come and gone, and here we be on the brink of Christmas! Aiyo! Super fast! It's pretty exciting :) 
This past week we had the chance to go to Kuching for an East Malaysia Christmas Conference; it was wonderful! The Spirit was there, and I felt such a great deal of the Savior's love for me, for my family, and for the people of Malaysia. I've learned a lot about peace this week; it was a personal theme that I studied all throughout the conference. Peace is truly an interesting topic--we know from scriptures that the Savior is the Prince of Peace, and that from Him we gain the longest lasting, the deepest, the most profound, and the happiest peace imaginable. He helps us out through the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. He came to this world for that sole purpose: He was "born to raise the sons of earth" to a higher state of happiness that they have never reached before. It's an exciting and invigorating thought :)
Fun fact: The word 'Kuching' (or, in its proper Malay spelling, kucing) means 'cat' in Malay. Thus, they have lots of cat statues and motifs all throughout the city. The day after Christmas Conference and before we had to board the plane back to Miri we went and did a little sight-seeing. Yes, as you can tell, they like their cat statues :)
This upcoming week is Christmas! It's the most wonderful time of the year! Hooray :) Christmas is by far the best evs :) I got to open a couple presents/letters at the Christmas Conference, and there are a few presents that I'll open up on good ole Christmas Eve; Christmas Day itself will be spent visiting members and less actives and making sure that they're feeling the cheer as well :) I hope that you all have a very merry and bright one, and that you'll have the opportunity to take some time and ponder more about the Savior and the true meaning of Christmas. If you haven't yet, I highly encourage you to take a moment and watch the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional from a few weeks ago--totally worth the watching :)
I love you all, and hope that all your days may be merry and bright, and that all your Christmases will be white :)
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

I'm Dreamin' of A White Christmas :)

To Whom It May Concern (aka friends, family, and poisonous reptiles):
10th week of my son's training completed: Check.
First week as Miri Chinese District Leader: Check.
A successful Chinese Christmas Party held at the Church last night: Double Check.
This past week has gone by super quick! We just be doin' what we do: Battling the forces of Satan all day errday, taking ice cream/butter pao breaks when needed :) Yesterday marked seven months as a missionary and tomorrowmarks five months in the field! Believe it or not, but oh! how the time flies :)
This past week my companion and I have been hard at work meeting with less actives and calling potential investigator records from several years ago, in addition to some good ole fashioned door knocking. We experienced a couple miracles this week. I'd like to share one real quick: We were knocking in a particular area and we came to a house that had a lady home with her three young kids. She'd been contacted by missionaries 7 years before, in a different part of town; we talked with her for a little while. She had no desire to receive a Book of Mormon, but she did say this as we were preparing to go: "I'm very impressed by you guys. Going around at your age to talk about helping people come closer to God. May God bless you."
As we walked away from her house, I couldn't help but feel super successful about that particular door contact. We never placed a Book of Mormon with her, but we left a good impression. We helped her see that we are doing something beneficial; we planted a seed that other missionaries will be able to nourish and eventually reap in coming months and years. It was awesome, and it showed me the power of God's love for His children--He works with us according to our weaknesses and according to our strengths. Sometimes we need to take things a little slower, not because we are less than others, but because if we were to do something any faster, it would be detrimental to ourselves and others. We planted a seed with her, and someday that seed will grow into a tree, according to her weaknesses and strengths, and according to the Lord's timing. It was a very beautiful and simple reminder/lesson to me about God's love for all of us, and how exactly He works with us :)
In other news, last night we had an amazing and super fun party at the church. It was originally meant to be an FHE for our Chinese group, but eventually evolved into a Chinese Christmas Party, with most of the participants being Chinese, and a few being Filipino and Iban. It was a success; we had several songs, a fun game, and LOTS of food. There was even a guest Santa (one of our missionaries) and presents to be given as well. 
For some inexplicable reason, the Chinese group/Relief Society/they're-pretty-much-the-same-thing really and truly believes that I have a good singing voice. For those who know, you can testify that this be not true. However, they insisted that I sing for them; I managed to grab another elder to do a duet of 'Silent Night', as accompanied by his guitar playing. Super fun ;) 
This week I've learned a lot about God's love. It certainly is the stem and source of all life, energy, and light in our daily activities. When we are full of this love (in certain places known as charity), we can do WONDERS! One of the greatest by-products of God's love is His eager willingness to forgive. As we are filled with this love, we too will readily go forth and forgive others. It is a remarkable and beautiful and simple truth: God loves, and so should we. He loves us, not in spite of our weaknesses, but because of them. He loves us and has promised us time and time again that it was HE who not only gave us those weaknesses, but it is also HE who will help us to overcome them--or, rather, to take those weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
During this Christmas season, I've been reminded a lot about that love, and about the greatest expression thereof that God has given us: the gift of His Only Begotten Son, even Jesus Christ, who came to earth to save us from the woes of sin. I hope that, when you all get the time, you'll have the chance to ponder on this and reflect on our Savior and His love for you. Personally. Individually. Inexplicably. Eternally. Uniquely. You :)
Now it's time for me to get off of my soapbox. :) I wish you the greatest of weeks; I'm certainly looking forward to this one--get to fly on an airplane! Yes! Now all I need to do is pretend that, while it's in the night sky, it's a wish, and all will be well :) (for those of you that understand that subtle but wonderful reference, you should award yourselves with ice cream or something).
Love you all! God be with you till we chat again :)
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hello My Peeps!

Another day, another destiny! :) This week has been super awesome, despite the fact that our Relief Society insists on trying to find me a Filipino girlfriend. Oh well :) This week has been full of awesome experiences, particularly in helping me rededicate myself to being a better missionary. I had the opportunity this week to learn more about being bold versus being overbearing. The best place to learn more about this is Alma 38. Shiblon--he's such a stud! He's just a regular, average guy who was called to serve a mission, experienced some hardships on it, and received counsel and advice from his father. It's such a powerful and awesome scripture, and I invite all y'all to give it a read :) I particularly like the phrase "be diligent and temperate in all things". That diligent part is something that I've been working on. Sometimes I get frustrated when appointments fall through, when you spend a goodly portion of your day knocking doors and no one wants to hear about your message, when you feel that you're doing your best and yet can still do so much more. 
I know that feeling. I know it very well. I've experienced it several times. And yet the Lord can take those hard feelings, that bitterness, and make us into something more. He can mold us into the men and women that will best be able to serve Him. He hears the sincere desires of our hearts and the sincere prayers of our mouths, and He makes us more. I know that that's true--He makes us MORE. 
This Gospel is one of becoming. Becoming a better person, becoming happier and stronger and more faithful, becoming self-reliant and loving, becoming more like Christ--it is all about becoming. The greatest part of that--this is something I've come to realize more and more as I've striven to be 'diligent' and 'temperate' in ALL THINGS--is that we cannot do it by ourselves. We need help. We need Him. It's the greatest and most sublime truth this Gospel has to offer, and it's the source of so much peace for me as I ponder on how it can apply to myself, the people we're working with, my family, my friends, and everyone in general. It's awesome :)
I feel like I've been a little random and ramblesome in my thoughts today, but hey--that's me :) Have a wonderful day, my friends! I love you all so very much, and so does the Lord! He's always gonna be with you, even and especially when I can't hang out with all y'all. He is our greatest Friend, our greatest Confidante, our greatest Comforter, and, ultimately, our Savior and Redeemer who will help us through the darkest nights and brightest days :)
God be with you till next we chat,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hello from Miri! :)

Hello all! Another week has flown by here in the good ole Miri :) Not much to really report, other than a fantastic Thanksgiving lunch at Pizza Hut this past Thursday :) Mmmm, Thanksgiving :)
This past week I've come to learn more and more about the fact that the Lord really and truly does work in mysterious ways. He blesses us with the capacity to DO; He blesses us with the ability to LOVE; He motivates us when we are weak and unable. Take last night, for example. It had been a long day; I was a wee bit tired and worn from the day's work. That's not to say that it was a bad day--just a long one. Anywho, I decided that I needed to say a quick prayer; maybe that will help me feel better! I kneel down at my desk chair and begin offering up supplication to Heavenly Father. I testify to you all, brothers and sisters, that the power of prayer is REAL! I felt my burdens lifted, my cares and sorrows wiped away; I could feel the peace that I was longing to find. It was the most amazing and powerful sensation ever, and I treasure that small moment with all of my heart.
The Lord lives. He has a work for each of us to do, and He will always provide the means whereby we can do it. It is amazing and fun to see how He has been busy in the lives of others; I'm so grateful that He's not content leaving me alone, either. He always provides for some improvement or some chastening that I stand in need of, giving me the love and support necessary for me to truly make the change that will see me to better times and brighter days. I love Him so much; I love this Gospel so much; I love this work so much. Every tear, every bead of sweat, every tired muscle, every weary eye, every sore foot, every aching back--they're all worth it in the end. The joy that this work provides far outweighs gold, and is shinier too (in my opinion :) ).
I love you all! May God be with you till we meet again!
Mai Zhanglao :)

A few pics of Elder Mitchell on a jungle adventure.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hullo Hullo Hullo!

To All Who May Be Concerned:
"Another [week], another destiny" as my good friend Jean Valjean would say :) And whew! What a week this has been! Time has flown on the wings of lightning, or whatever my other good friend the poet says. We've seen so many awesome good times and miracles, in addition to a few trials here and there. The "Most Unfortunate Trial" award goes to my experience on the yesterday, when an awesome member gave us some eggs. I put the carton in my backpack and began the bike ride back home. When we got back home, I pulled it out to find all of this eggy goo gushing forth from within. It got all over the inside of my backpack...and all over the Potential Investigator records AND the map of Miri that I'd been keeping in that same pocket...super awesome...but it's just further proof that the Lord enjoys keeping us humble and would have us laugh with and learn from our mistakes rather than growing bitter. :)
In other news: I love being a missionary! It's the best! There are so many ups and downs, but man! The ups more than compensate for the downs! :) At first I had a hard time adjusting to missionary life, but I decided to follow the advice of my good friend Philip Philips (I have a lot of good friends :) ), when he said: "Trouble, it might drag you down; If you get lost, you can always be found. Just know you're not alone: I'm gonna make this place your home." [insert ooo-ing :) ] Being a missionary is so awesome! Sharing the Gospel with God's children is so worth it! If you have even an inkling to serve, DO IT! :) 
In the particular area where I'm serving, there are LOTS of less actives. Thanks to the evidence provided by several small miracles and dropped investigators, my companion and I have come to the conclusion (hopefully based off of revelation) that we are meant to work with the less active members in our area. It has been a wonderful experience! I wish that I had a better name for them other than 'less actives'--even though they haven't attended Church for a while, they are still so precious in the sight of God, just look you or me or anybody else! I hope that any and all missionaries or future missionaries reading this will come to understand the principle that I've learned here: Never underestimate the power of less active work! We have found success in unlikely places; we have found people that weren't even on the records; and we have felt the Spirit guide us in what we should say or do in response to these wonderful people. 
As missionaries we are called to invite others to come unto Christ. Nonmembers, members, less actives, other missionaries--any and all are invited to come and drink of the waters of life freely. He forbids no one from coming unto Him. I have found great joy in working with those who once drank from those waters but who, for whatever reason, strayed to the right or left. The Lord loves His lost sheep! He loves them so much! He wants to encircle EVERYONE in the arms of His everlasting love, whether or not they have willingly or neglectfully wandered. 
I testify that all are precious in the sight of God (D&C 18:10). I testify especially that those who have entered into the waters of baptism, maybe have even passed through the doors of His Holy House, and have found themselves lost in the wilderness, are particularly loved by the Good Shepherd. He leaves behind the ninety and nine in search of the one; my companion and I have had the profound experience of joining with Him in this search. It is wonderful. It is powerful. It is true--this is His work, and I am so thankful that we--all of us--have the opportunity to be in His service.
God be with you till we meet again,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Why Should We Mourn?

Dear friends, family, and poisonous reptiles,
Whew! P-Day is upon us once again, and it sure is nice to take a break and reflect on this past week. SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED! And for that I am grateful. We're entering rainy season here in every day we get a rainstorm. Thankfully they've mostly been at night, so we haven't had to bike through them...mostly...There have been a couple times (take last P-Day, for instance), when we came home with waterlogged shoes and tired eyes, ready for some sleep after biking through rain that surely rivals that of the Flood. :) On the plus side, we get some super impressive lightning storms because of rainy season. It's always inspiring to me to see the flash of lightning off in the midst of Malaysia, sharp forks tearing their way through the sky. It's awe-inspiring, it's heavensent--it always points my heart to God.
This whole week has, in fact.
On Friday me and my companion/son (yep, we call trainees 'sons' here in this mission :) ) journeyed forth to a particular area of Miri. We were hoping to have a correlation meeting with our group leader...but no one was home. We went to a nearby park to formulate some sort of battle plan; turns out that right behind where we were sitting was the house of a friend of someone whose house we'd knocked several days prior. We then went to a less active's house and were able to teach an unexpected lesson to her. Throughout the rest of that day the Lord provided countless little miracles that boosted our faith and helped us to further the less active work here in Miri. It brought to mind the words of Moroni when he pleadingly and happily cries: "God is still a God of miracles!" (See Mormon 9). I know that He is! Despite all of the hardships that do easily attack us, despite the trials we are called to endure, He lives and He is still a God of miracles! And I testify, with all boldness of soul, that the best miracles are the SMALL ones! A piece of free watermelon along the highway; handing a Book of Mormon--a ray of light in a world of darkness--to an interested soul; the taste of ice cream on a hot Malaysian day; a gentle breeze that helps push you along as you're biking.
The Lord is great; and despite--or maybe because--of His greatness, He can be best found in the small and simple things. The small and simple sights and sounds and tastes and feelings. 
I know that this work is true--I know that the Great Jehovah directs it and that He is in every detail thereof. He delegates and micromanages; He assigns and He aids; He perfects and He blesses. He is our Master and our King, our Elder Brother and our Friend. 
I love y'all and wish you the greatest week evs! Remember who you are and what you stand for ;)
God be with you till we meet again, 
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hello Errbody!:)

Dearest friends, family, and poisonous reptiles,
Another day, another destiny! This week has zoomed by super fast! Like speed-of-light fast! Aiya! :) We've been busy with the work here in Miri--this past week we were visited by our mission president, and he gave some great advice as to what direction we should start taking the work here. It's nice to have that sort of direction from him :)
This past week I've had the opportunity to really ponder a lot on the Lord's tender mercies and His boundless grace. It is so amazing to me that the Lord would trust such imperfect tools to carry out His work of salvation. As I stop and reflect on some of my own imperfections and frailties (a list that is far from short), I cannot help but sit back in awe and wonder as to why the Lord would trust someone like me with a work so eternal and vast and great. It shows not only His boundless love for us, but also His boundless capability and desire to constantly and continuously forgive us. It is through giving us tasks, trials, and challenges--sometimes things so hard to bear that we feel we cannot stand--that we grow, become perfected, and become more like Him.
My love for the Savior, my admiration for His mercy and grace, and my testimony of His Divinity continue to grow each and every day. To come closer to Christ--this is the purpose of life, this is the purpose of missionary work, and this is the quest that will keep on keeping on through the eternities. It is an exciting, daunting, and wonderful prospect that lies before us: That our relationship with our Elder Brother and with our Heavenly Father will continue to increase, improve, and intensify as the days, months, years, and, ultimately, the eternities roll on and by. I'm totes excited for it :)
I hope that you all have had a wonderful week--I love hearing from y'all in emails and letters and that sort of stuff. The Lord loves us and works with us in so many awesome and mysterious ways. Look for the miracles in your life--the small ones most especially! It is through the little flecks of gold that we will build a vast wealth of testimony and faith, preparatory to the gold mine that awaits in the Celestial Kingdom :) 
I love you all! God be with you till we email again,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Elder Mitchell experiencing dragonfruit:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hello All! This Be Mai Zhanglao:)

Well, it's been a while since last I sent out an email/blogpost to all y'all. Sorry about that... :/ Anywho, these past few weeks have been busy and fun! I have the great opportunity and privilege to be training--sometimes it's super stressful, but for the most part it's been really fun. Both of our Chinese has been improving, and we've been doing a lot of finding/contacting. We're really hoping that the Chinese group leader will get us a list of all the Chinese members (active, less active, and inactive) soon so that we can start going and visiting them. That'll be fun :)
Lately President Mains has been putting a great deal of emphasis on having faith while we find. Believing that God really is preparing those people whose doors we knock and who we meet on the street. Me and my companion have been working hard to do just that, and it's brought about MIRACLES! Not super big ones--miracles that are just the right size to build our strength and faith in the Savior and His Atonement. Take, for instance, this miracle: Several days ago we were knocking an area that hadn't been tracted for at least 3 or so months, and so we were busy trying to do work there. We ran into a girl from Zimbabwe whose going to the local university--we gave her a pass-along card with our names and number on it, and the very next day she called us, wanting to schedule an appointment with us! She's a Seventh-Day Adventist--apparently they believe that when we die our bodies and spirits remained joined and just sorta hibernate in the ground until the Resurrection. It's an interesting doctrine, and one that prompted me to study more about the spirit world and resurrection and the Atonement for yesterday's Personal Study. It was AWESOME!!! All these little miracles that seemingly come out of nowhere--or rather, from the midst of everything, even God Himself :)
I've learned a lot about the Atonement this past week. Part of having faith in it and its remarkable power is having the confidence that God really does love you and wants you to return to Him. (See 'Faith in Jesus Christ' in Preach My Gospel for more info). I've been able to study more about the power and mercy and grace contained within the Atonement, and I cannot even attempt to describe or deny the feelings that I've received. I know that this Gospel is true, brothers and sisters, and I know that as we fight for the light, we'll receive that same confirmation :) All of the pain and ache that life can give us sometimes is swallowed up and forgotten in the light and joy of this Gospel. For that wonderful truth I am so very thankful! I know that this work is God's, and I know that He is my Heavenly Father. I know that He is yours, as well :) Don't you ever forget it! :)
I love you all and look forward to talking to you soon,
God be with you till we meet again,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hello Hello Hello!

Hiya everyone!
Greetings from beautiful downtown Miri! :) This week has gone by super quick, and how eventful it has been! The first half of the week had some good proselyting time in it, and then me and my compadre journeyed forth from Miri to Singapore. He's going to be finishing someone's training over in Singapore, and I had to go and get my new companion/trainee--aka, my son! :) He's a great guy who just barely got out of high school in good ole Utah--yep, one of those eighteen-year-old, "catch-the-wave" missionaries :) It's pretty exciting. I hope that he's getting settled into Miri well.
This past weekend we were able to watch General Conference!!! So good! It was way awesome, and if you haven't yet watched it, then you need to! It's legit :) I loved every minute of it :)
I love that two of the main focuses of Conference were members+missionaries=success, and that God should be the center of our love and focus. Ultimately, these two focal points testify of the same thing: As we make God the center of our lives, we'll be more than happy to help out the missionaries and other members in bringing souls unto Christ. This is ultimately all of ours' purpose :) It truly is a glorious and happy truth, and I'm so grateful for it :) Through the power of Christ's Atonement, we can come closer to our Heavenly Father, and we can help others do this exact same thing. Pretty great :)
I hope that you're all doing swimmingly, and that life is just grand for ya! I know that the Lord loves you! This is His holy and glorious work: To bring us all back home to be with and like Him! Let's help Him out in any possible way we can! I know that this is true! :)
I love you all! God be with you till we meet/chat again :)
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

That Awkward Moment When...

1. That awkward moment when...It rains like krazy and you can't help but feel like you're living the days of Noah's Flood. Your shoes are full of water, your pants are soaked, and you're sweating to death inside of a hot rain jacket. Fun fun fun :)
2. That awkward moment when...You find out you're training, and you're afraid you're gonna break the poor child's Chinese.
3. That awkward moment when...You run out of milk for your cheap Malaysian cereal and have to forge onward, crunching away and hoping that it's all fake chocolate puffs that you're eating.
4. That awkward moment when...The light in your study room dies the night before, and you're already sitting in half-darkness trying to do Companion Study...and then the stormclouds outside thicken and you're pretty much sitting in the depths of pergatory.
5. That awkward moment when...You name five 'awkward moment when's at the very beginning of your blogpost. Yep, awkward moments. Gotta love 'em :)
So all those awkward moments pretty much sum up the day so far. Hopefully, if all goes well and the weather gets its act together, we'll be able to go to a crocodile farm later today. But I guess we'll see :)
I don't have a whole bunch of time, but I'd like to say this: The Lord lives. He truly does. He's aware of all of our circumstances, even when and especially if we feel inadequate or lost or forgotten. The Lord has numbered the sheep of His fold and He will not leave them desolate! I've felt Heavenly Father's love several times throughout this past week, and it's a constant reminder to me that the Lord lives and that He is anxious for all of His children to hear the good news of the Gospel. Never quit, brothers and sisters; don't doubt, but be believing. As President Monson puts it: "The future is as bright as your faith" :)
Love you all!
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hello Again Errbody from Beautiful Downtown Miri! :)

Whew! This past week has FLOWN by! Today I write to you a wee bit later than usual, because guess what!? This morning we went on a jungle adventure! All of our district (but a set of sisters) came on the greatest adventure evs--we journeyed forth on a bumpy, 45-minute ride on a Malaysian highway (for those of you that know what that means, you're smiling right now; for those of you who've never experienced a Malaysian highway, think roller coaster, but less fancy :) ). We went to a national park deep in the heart of the jungle and hiked around. It was super kool! I felt like I was in the Lord of the Rings, or maybe in a forest that could've been full of dinosaurs :) It was awesome! We roved around these ancient trees and hiked up through the jungle to little waterfalls. Pretty awesome, if I say so meself (which I does :) ).
This past week has been one full of ups and downs, but for the most part has been really good. Me and my companion have been focusing more and more on trying to help out the less actives in our little Chinese group here in Miri (which, in all reality, is pretty much everyone). It's an uphill climb, but we're hoping that progress is slowly but surely being made :) One thing that our mission president is pushing for, and something that we in Miri are also especially pushing for, is COMMITMENT. Not just being baptized, but that whole 'enduring to the end' part that follows it. Not just having a testimony, but actually be CONVERTED to the Gospel. That's something that seems to be the biggest problem here in Miri (well, that, and all the mangy Malaysian mutts that like to have dogfights in front of our house at 3 a.m....yeah, it's about as 'fun' as it sounds). As we've gone about doing work this week, I've been studying to learn more and more about our Heavenly Father, as well as charity. As I've studied these, my eyes have been opened to the love of the Father for His mortal children. He loves certain people SO MUCH to place them in very awful situations--these past two weeks have seen me going to Iban kampungs and places where filth and un-hygiene and everything farthest from Christianity or its practices abide. He loves people SO MUCH to allow them, His beloved haizi, to come to a place where misery is abundant, where you have to wonder where your next meal is coming from, etc. etc. I don't comprehend nor do I pretend to comprehend the works and the mysteries of God--but, like Nephi in the 11th chapter of his first book, I soundly proclaim: "I know that he loveth his children."
I hope that this week you have the greatest days of yo' life! Never forget that the Lord loves you! He is aware of each and every circumstance you are in! Every nice act you do, every nice act that is done to you, every hard or seemingly unbearable oppression you face--He knows, He loves, and He invites us to abide in Him, to wait out the storm and to wait on the Rock of Salvation.
God be with you till we meet again!
Wo feichang ai nimen! :)
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hello Everybody! Just Another Week in Paradise

Another week has come and gone here in the good ole city of Miri. We've had several times of quite torrential rain, which has been super exciting. Also, fun fact: I've started adding some variety to my diet. Yep, this week I dined on quite a bit of...yes, you guessed it, INSTANT NOODLES! Hooray for Ramen! (Or, as we like to call them in the Mitchell family, snake noodles :) ) Pretty much a party. 
We've done a lot of biking this past week, and I'm pretty sure that I'm the buffest redhead that's ever lived. Humble a statement as that is, I have to admit: I check myself out in the mirror daily (okay, more like 5 times a day). My biceps are getting pretty impressive right about now :)
This past week I've been working on patience. It's been fun and a struggle all at the same time. The Lord really does give you plenty of opportunities to test and exercise your patience when you ask for it! I testify of that! :) But as we have patience and as we strive to continually love those around us, He empowers us to soar to greater and higher heights. I'm so thankful for this Gospel and for the many blessings that it can afford us! The happiness and joy that come from giving a Book of Mormon to someone who's never heard of Jesus Christ before are remarkable and wonderful and I love it so much! Being able to help people understand the why and how behind this mortal life is an experience more precious than gold! And it's not just an experience a missionary has to have: It's an experience ANYONE, ANYWHERE can have! All are entitled to this, and I testify of that!
I love you all! Sorry for the briefness of this week's message--next week I'll try to be a little longer (if I'm not too busy looking at my reflection in the nearest shiny object ;) ).
I love you all! God be with you till we meet again!
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pictures of Elder Mitchell in Singapore

Elder Mitchell in Singapore

Pictures of Elder Mitchell

Here are a few pictures of Elder Mitchell while he was still at the MTC.  (Please disregard the dates on the pictures as they are incorrect.)

Yep, that's right, folks. Read the title and weep, either for joy or for sorrow, it's yo' pick. For those of you that haven't yet learned, I've been transferred!!! Usually missionaries who are in the middle of their 12 week trainings don't get transferred, but heck--story of my life ;) I've gone from the lush suburbs, shops, buildings, stores, and general Babylon of Singapore to Miri, a town/city in East Malaysia that's almost a complete opposite of where I've come from (by that, I mean both Singapore and the USA).
I flew out from Singapore on Thursday afternoon and have found my way here to Miri. It's been quite an adventure--I've seen some pretty interesting sights, to say the least. There are these scraggly dogs that walk around EVERYWHERE--most of them probably have some form of cancer or something. They're a sad sight, but they seem to take care of themselves pretty well.
Also: The other day, as I was walking into the bathroom, I was greeted by a chichac/chichawk/I'm-not-really-sure-how-to-spell-it-but-it's-a-little-gecko-type-lizard crawling around the ceiling. That was fun :)
I've been excited to work here in Miri; riding a bike for most of the day has left my hind end incredibly sore, but I also fill very...hmmm, how to put it? I guess fulfilled--I feel like I'm doing more now as a missionary than I ever have before. It's a good feeling--I hope it stays :)
As I've traveled from Singapore to Miri and seen the various climes and atmospheres in which God's children reside, I'm amazed at how alike we all truly are. We all have difficulties and challenges; we all face fear and disappointment; we all have so much alike! It's been amazing to see that, and I hope that the longer I am here the more it will be opened to my eyes that yes, all of God's children truly are HIS. He loves us, He watches over us, He's in the most minute details of our lives. It's so awesome! :)
I wish you all the best of luck in your many endeavors! I love you all and look forward to chatting again next week!
God be with you till we meet again,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hello everyone!
Another week has come and gone! It's crazy to think that time has already flown by so quickly :) This past week we haven't been able to get much missionary work done, as we've been busy moving. Out of Balmoral/the epitome of Babylon into a much nicer and better apartment. It's nice to be out of there now :) 
We had Zone Conference this past week, and that was an awesome and excellent experience. The Spirit was very strong there, and I learned a lot of things that will hopefully help me to become a better missionary :) I really love the Spirit! Whenever the Spirit is present, you are guaranteed to have a good experience. When He is absent...well, you're on your own, which isn't always fun.
I got a letter from home this week, and I wanted to share with you a fun and great experience that I had with it. My dad wrote some words of counsel and advice in this letter, words that I really enjoyed :) Anywho, the morning after I got this letter I was doing some Personal Study, as any missionary does. As I was reading Enos 1:1, I noticed the part where he mentions that he (Enos) learned a lot from his father. It was at that point during my Personal Study that I decided to pull out the letter from home and reread what Dad had sent me. He shared with me the scripture Alma 26:22-31. I'd now like to share with you what I wrote in my Study Journal from the experience I had with that scripture before I go any further:
"Yesterday I got letters from home. Dad...wrote me stuff, and he shared a scripture in it--Alma 26:22-31. This scripture has FILLED me! :) I am eternally indebted to my father on earth and my Father in Heaven! This scripture has filled me with hope, because it describes not only my current situation, but also the potential the future holds! Praise be to the Lord of Hosts, who can strengthen the weak and embolden the weary! :) I have felt His love, my dad's love, and my brother's love--I have the help of MEN and ANGELS, and a firmer hope to do the work of God :) "
Brothers and sisters, tragedy and hard times will strike at the best of us. We decide how these tragedies affect us. At the time that I was doing that Personal Study, I'd been struggling with lots of feelings of inadequacy and failure--the night before we'd had a lesson that really proved how little Chinese I know. But as I read the scriptures and the comforting words from my earthly father, I felt the Spirit of my Heavenly Father testify this simple truth: It will be ALRIGHT. Essentially, He says to each and every one of us: "Let Me take care of it." I've struggled with letting Him take care of it, but I'm working harder on being better about that. 
I testify that Jesus is the Christ, that we are truly blessed to have on earth the fulness of His ordinances, covenants, and Gospel! God is our loving Heavenly Father, and He guides us with a hand as steady and strong as the mountains!
Let Him take care of it--whatever it is, let Him take care of it. Pray for His help, for His strength, then go forth and do all that you can, and after that's been done: Let Him take care of it :)
I love you all!
God be with you till we meet again,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hello again family and compadres!
So, this past week has been pretty crazy. We haven't had the chance to do much missionary work, because of the fact that we're MOVING! We're leaving behind Babylon/Balmoral (isn't Balmoral the koolest name EVER!? :) ) and we're moving to a bigger, better, and much nicer apartment in Singapore. I would say that I'm going to miss the cockroaches, the little lizards that like to do their business all over your deodorant, and the kitchen drains that spit the filth of Hades up all over the floor...but honestly, I'm not really gonna miss it that much. Whatevs. :) 
Besides moving, another highlight of this week has been a BAPTISM! Remember the guy from China that I wrote about last week? Well, he was baptized, and it was awesome. We had a LOT of the members of the ward come and support him, which is always something that's super important. In addition to that, he bore a very powerful testimony that just really helped us missionaries feel comfort in the fact that he GETS IT. He GETS the Gospel, and we've said many, MANY prayers that he will continue to live it :) Mark my words: He's going to be the first Chinese member of the Quorum of the Twelve :)
In other news: I've finished 'Jesus the Christ'. After many months of reading it, I've made it to the end. :)
In additional other news: The rain here in Singapore is still magnificent. Lots of it all at once. Pretty awesome ;)
In further news: I've had the opportunity to try this type of fruit that's called 'dragon-eye'. It's a little round thing that's in a small shell that you peel away. It has a slight taste of durian about it, but is SO MUCH BETTER! I think I'm in love with dragon-eye. It's official ;)
Additionally: This past week I've heard a LOT of stories about so-called 'apostate' missionaries, aka missionaries who did things like watching movies or going swimming, or even worse things that won't be mentioned herein. Point being: It's gotten me thinking a LOT about the need for commitment to this Gospel. When we enter the waters of baptism, we covenant that we'll do EVERYTHING WE CAN to be more like our Savior Jesus Christ. We commit to be our best selves; we commit to do those things that He would do. From the time I was young I'd noticed how there were some people who would come to church on Sundays and partake of the Sacrament, and then do and say things throughout the following week that were NOT in harmony with the Gospel. 
Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect. I sin every day; I have the need to repent EVERY SINGLE DAY, as do we all. But lately I've been trying to RECOMMIT myself--to really dig in my heels, square my shoulders, and say: "Heavenly Father, I'm in it to win it." 
This life is so precious; there's no time to waste. We need to have fun, we need to have good times, but we also need to remember to be examples of Christ at ALL times, in ALL things and places (Mosiah 18:8-10). I know that I myself have a lot of work to do in this area; I've got a lot of ground to cover. But I can just as assuredly testify that the Savior will help those who are eager and willing to serve Him.
All we have to do is put our shoulders to the wheel, push along, and whistle while we work :) The angels will be right behind us, helping our efforts and recording our good deeds. 
Good luck my friends! I hope that this upcoming week will be the BEST EVER! You're all awesome and wonderful and I love and miss all y'all! Stand true and stand strong :)
God be with you all till we meet again!
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Another week has come and gone in the glorious city-state of Singapore :) This one has been full of ups, downs, turn-it-all-arounds, hey Macarena! :) Since last I've been able to experience even more of that lovely, torrential Singapore rain, as well as some other great and fun times. :)
So, on Tuesday we had the opportunity of meeting with an investigator who's been being taught since about April. He is SUCH a cool guy! To describe what he was originally like prior to his investigation of the Church (in the words of one of the other missionaries here in Singapore): "He was a cold-hearted Communist from China." Which is pretty much all the description necessary for him. He was born and raised there, and has moved over here for work purposes.
On this past Fast Sunday we as a companionship fasted with him; the lesson we'd had with him just prior to that fast included a promise from Elder Frey (my trainer) that if he would fast and pray with real intent, he would receive an answer that this Church was true. Tuesday we were a little worried about whether or not he'd prayed and fasted sincerely enough to receive the desired answer. As we met and talked with him, our fears were quieted! It was SO AWESOME! Our discussion ranged from eternal life to the spirit world, finally coming to a halt at baptism. He'd been challenged to be baptized before, and his date was set for sometime in September. But after the Spirit-led lesson we'd just had, that baptismal date got moved up to August 17! Yeah, that's this Saturday, boys and girls! Awesome awesome awesome! :)
Also this week, after watching a clip from 'The District' for training, both me and Elder Frey felt very good and very strongly about beginning some sort of Family History movement among our YSA. In December our ward is going on a temple trip to Taiwan, and we both want our YSA to be prepared with their own family names. Operation Family History has been discussed with the ward mission leader now, and this week we're going to talk with the family history consultant in the 2nd Ward. Once we get the green light, the party is gonna start, and it's gonna be awesome :)
So in D&C 67:10, we read: "And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me [the Lord] and know that I am--not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual."
I've read this verse many times before, and always it's provided some measure of comfort for me. This week I've been working on having patience and hope (see Preach My Gospel, Ch. 6, for more info :) ), and this scripture just resonates with the clarion call of both of these. :) As we strip ourselves from jealousies and fears, as we let go of our pride and humble ourselves, as we turn from self to service--we are allowed to change and become who we're really meant to be. It takes time, though; sometimes, I think, we all forget that we're meant to not only be patient with others, but with ourselves. This is something that I've been learning this week as I've seen some of my personal defects and have learned ways that will hopefully correct them.
Patience is trusting in God's will and His timing (see PMG Ch. 6, folks, it's really good! :) ). I testify that as we are patient and humble ourselves, the Lord will refine and shape us into instruments and tools that can serve Him to the fullest :)
God be with you all till we meet again!
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Well folks, this particular email is a little late...m'bad ;) We went biking this morning on another island close to Singapore known as Pulau Ubin (I think that's how you spell it, but I ain't quite sure. Sorry :) ) Anywho, it was AWESOME! We left early this morning and traveled by MRT and bus to the OCEAN!!! Yeah, it's my first time being to the actual ocean! Hooray!!! We didn't swim in it, but I did get to feel with my hand just how warm the water is--it was fairly impressive. At this time it was drizzling a little bit, the skies completely overcast--just a little bit of Singapore rain. About five minutes later, the rain REALLY poured. Like crazy.
We traveled by a ferry to the island, where we rented bikes and bought little ponchos that looked ridiculous and didn't really keep the rain out that great (yeah, it's still raining like crazy at this point in time). We mountain-biked all over the island, getting soaked, seeing jungle sights, living the dream. Towards the tail end of our adventures we ran across a family of wild pigs! A mom and her four or five rather large piglets (or whatever wild pigs' babies are called). It was very cool--alas, I don't have a picture to give you hard-core evidence of this, so you'll just have to believe me :)
Anywho, that's my excuse for getting the email out late. Ya welcome :)
This week has seemingly flown by! The days all started melting together and stuff--it was cool and eerie all at the same time. We've taught a LOT of lessons in the past week--I've been able to put my MTC skills to the test and recite the First Vision in Chinese a few times (so for you kids still struggling there in Provo, hear this word of encouragement: Learn the First Vision! Super powerful, I promise! :) )
A quick sidenote: We'd just barely taught two lessons and were getting ready to go out and teach a third when Ge Zhanglao comes frantically running to get us. He alerted us to the fact that he'd killed a baby gecko that had randomly been crawling the floors of the church. He was fairly distraught over the incident, but I decided that I'd take some pictures, if only to preserve the memories. ;)
Lately I've taken to reading from that Sunday School book on the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. My love for him and the work that he restored has grown a LOT! It's been awesome to see the majesty and power that Joseph Smith truly had, and I can do nothing but say: It's true. It has to be. Everything makes sense when you put it into a Gospel context. EVERYTHING. Life, death, pain, suffering, happiness, tragedy, natural disasters, success, spiritual experiences--they all fit into the Lord's timing and plan. They all make sense when you look at them through the lenses of the Gospel.
Guys and gals, this Church is true. There are times when clouds of gloominess or sorrow overcast that piercing light of truth, but as I sit here writing this I can feel it burning deep within me. There have been several times while I've been out here in Xinjiapo that I've just wanted to sit down on the side of the road and cry--missionary work and the fact that some people want nothing to do with it can really tax your emotions. But the Lord has always found a way to cheer me up, usually through a conversation with another person. The Lord is watching over each and every one of us, and as determined as we may be to succeed, He is even more so. This is His plan, this is His work, and I know that He'll help any who are willing to enlist in His Almighty service. 
In closing, I'd like to share a quick quote that I love; it's by none other than Joseph Smith himself:
"The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."
I love you all! I really do! May God be with you till next we chat!
Mai Zhanglao :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Well folks,
My first full week in the beautiful land of Singapore! I'm pretty much having the TIME of my LIFE!!! :) So, before we get to anything spiritual, here are some stories that will either make you laugh or shake your head in disgust or something in between.
The other day we went some members of our YSA to a Korean BBQ buffet place. One of our members is going back to China this week before he heads off to either BYU or Australia for school, and this was a sort of going-away party for him. Well, in this particular place there are these grills in the middle of the table where you take your meat and cook it. I didn't know that at first, though. (Sweet, naive little me ;) ). So, as we're getting our meat at the counter, the thought runs through my head: This meat does NOT look cooked. But I decided to be brave and eat it anyway.
Yeah, a few mouthfuls of raw chicken later, I noticed that the YSA kids were throwing the meat onto the grills and cooking it. It was at this rather awkward moment that I began praying like CRAZY--"Please, Heavenly Father, please please please let this meat not make me sick. Help my body to cope with whatever I just put in it!"
Do you remember that scripture from 1 Nephi 16 where Nephi states that the Lord made their raw meat sweet unto them, so that they didn't have to cook it? Yep, I pretty much lived that moment. I have, as of yet, not gotten sick from this adventure, which is really nice; keep your fingers crossed that I don't get worms or something ;) It was one of those really awesome greenie moments that just humbles you and also shows that God has the greatest sense of humor :)
Also at this BBQ place: Some of the YSA girls started drilling me and Ge Zhanglao about our personal lives (aka "Do you have a girlfriend? What's your family like?" etc. etc. etc.) At one point one of them asked, "Ni you mimi ma?" Which means, "Do you have secrets?" (I'm sorry I don't have the time and/or skill to add the right tones to that). I thought she said, "Ni you meimei ma?" Which means "Do you have sisters?"
I responded, "Dui, wo you liang ge mimi." I have two secrets.
Yep, they got a kick out of that. 
Whatevs ;)
So on one of these past days we went contacting at a big mall place known as Bugis. While we were waiting for a bus to take us there (to Bugis), a VERY drunk guy came up to us (there were six of us elders plus one of our YSA guys there at the time) and started talking to us. He was a member of the Church about 14 years ago, but then we went down very forbidden paths that I won't go into describing right now. 
Later that day we were contacting at Bugis, and we were approached by a guy who was on his break from work. As we talked to him about the Book of Mormon, he started smoking. We ended up giving him a copy of the Mo'ermenjing, but that day the Lord really taught me such an amazing and awesome lesson: Love.
It's a little, four-letter word that carries with it the weight of nations, the glories of the heavens, and the potential for so much good! The Lord Jesus Christ went out into the highways and by-ways of the ancient Holy Land, healing the lepers and the blind men, blessing the sick and the afflicted, dining with the publicans and harlots of society. He--the Jehovah of the Old Testament--not only condescended from the heavenly courts above to this globe, but as a more than mortal Man descended into the lowest levels of society to lift people up and help them realize their celestial potential.
This is what we've been called to do--to go to those who appear most undeserving, because they are the ones who need the message of the Gospel most. As I'm falling in love with the YSA, the Chinese ward, and the people of Singapore in general, the Lord is teaching me that He loves ALL of His children, no matter their life circumstances. Although the drunk smelled AWFUL and although he used some pretty colorful language, he was still loved by the God of the Universe. Infinitely loved, celestially loved, loved beyond compare.
This is a principle that I'm still working to perfect, but someday I'll get it down. For now, I'm continuing to be taught by Heavenly Father, and I'm relishing the experience to learn from Him as I try to help His lost sheep come back to the fold.
For now I bid you all a fond zai jian;
God be with you till we meet again! I love you all! :)
Mai Zhanglao :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

HELLO FROM SINGAPORE!!!!!!!! I'm here, I'm here, I'm here :)
Whew! The adventures I've had are gonna BLOW your mind ;) I'm sitting in a large room right now that is dedicated solely to gaming. There are rows and rows of big, black, FANCY computers, and you pay S$3 for 1 hr 1/2 time on the computers. Naturally we missionaries/chuanjiaoshimen can't do gaming, but we can sure do emailing :) Pretty much the next best thing, right? :)
Let me fill you in on what's happened so far; hopefully I won't be talking too fast and forget something ;)
Okee-dokee, so on Tuesday afternoon we departed from the MTC and arrived at the good ole SLC airport. Whilst there we ran into a lady who said her niece was also serving in Singapore (and guess who we happened to run into at a baptism this past Saturday? Yep, her niece :) But more on that later). 
The flight which we took from SLC to LAX was nice and calm; it was my FIRST TIME FLYING, and it was amazing!!! We flew over SLC and Provo--I got to see BYU from above one last time for the next 2. We then journeyed onward; at one part of the flight we came up out of a cloudbank and were soaring above rows and rows and columns and columns of pink and orange and bright red clouds. The music from the 'Romantic Flight' of "How to Train Your Dragon" just kept flying (see what I did there? :) ) through my head at that part :)
Our plane flew over LA, and what a sight that was! The whole city, lit up at night--it was huge! On our way into LA, we saw a big fire on one of the nearby mountains--it was quite impressive. And the city itself--alive and abuzz with light...whew, that was a sight I'll never forget! :)
We arrived in LAX, but alas, we weren't wearing any cardigans. We had plenty of dreams though (for those of you that don't know the song "Party in the USA", you won't understand that last sentence :) ). I saw palm trees for the first time in my life! Me, a little small-town kid from Utah, out adventuring! I'm pretty much Bilbo Baggins! :) 
There were some concerns we had about our baggage at LAX, but those worries were all taken care of. We proceeded to fly from LA to Hong Kong--aka 13 and 1/2 hours over the Pacific Ocean. By the time we got on that plane, I'd been up for 21 hours. For those of you that aren't missionaries, you could possibly be saying to yourselves, "21 hours? Piece of cake." But for those of you that have been in my same shoes, you'll know that 21 hours is pretty much a trip through the seven circles of diyu (that's Chinese for not-heaven :) ). 
I tried to get some sleep on the plane and was mostly successful...kinda. We flew over Japan and Taiwan, and I got to see some fishing boats and little towns in those countries. Flying in to Hong Kong was one of the koolest experiences ever! All these kool clouds and then the shore! The Chinese coastline was SO PRETTY! We flew over the city proper--the towers and immensely high buildings of Hong Kong just BLEW MY MIND. So awesome! The Hong Kong Internat'l is separate from the actual city itself, and it is a huge place! Lots of people, and LOTS of Babylon...but that's okay :)
From Hong Kong we had a four-hour flight to Singapore. One hour away from our destination, our plane hit some pretty hardcore turbulence. Very unnerving and a little scary all at once! I think all three of us missionaries on board were praying our guts out: "Please let us make it!" And we did :) So that's happy :)
It was raining when we got here, so we didn't really get the full effect of the humidity and heat of this climate at the first. It was still quite hot outside, but it was bearable--thanks to the rain :) We spent that first night at the home of a senior couple here in Singapore, after getting to know the mission president and his wife. Fun fun fun :)
On Friday (oh yeah, we arrived at Singapore on Thursday afternoon--we lost our Wednesday!) Anywho, on Friday, we were alerted to our first assignments here in the mission. Su Zhanglao is going to Cibu, and Ge Zhanglao is going to be one of the first Chinese missionaries in Kuala Lumpur! I've been assigned to Singapore, so this good ole city is my 'birthplace' :) My companion, Fei Zhanglao, is pretty awesome. He didn't study any Chinese before coming, but he knows SO MUCH! It's really impressive and very helpful :) Both Su and Ge are going to be staying here in Xinjiapo for a couple weeks, though, so that their work permit stuff can get figured out.
That night we taught 3 lessons! Yeah--second day in the field, three lessons, all in Chinese. Pretty fun :) 
On Saturday we had to get a bunch of doctor's stuff done for work permits--without these work permits we'd have to go on visa runs like crazy. These just allow us a quicker and easier way back into Singapore--in other words, we won't ever have to worry about going to Indonesia for a day (for those of you that know what that means). 
We work closely with the YSA in the Singapore 2nd Ward (the Chinese ward here in Xinjiapo). On both Friday and Saturday nights we went to a Subway really close to our apartment with them to get a bite. Those that I've met are really awesome and really great! Even though I don't really know (or understand) them very well, my love for them is growing. My love for the Chinese language is growing, and I'm coming to understand the truly magnificent importance of this work and of the people that are here :) I'm falling in love with them, and with Singapore :)
On Saturday night we had a baptism! My companion was the one baptizing--the 'baptizee' is named Oscar, and it was really great :) Fun fun fun :)
So, now to the spiritual truth that I learned on Saturday, then I'll stop talking so you all can get back to your lives :)
After the baptism on Saturday, me, my comps (Ge Zhanglao is our additional companion while he's here in Singapore), and the other Mandarin elders in Singapore (we all live in a house/apartment/thingee on Balmoral Road--how kool of a name is Balmoral!?!?! :) ) went to Subway with some of the YSA members that had also attended the baptism. As we walked into the Subway, there were four or five guys all sitting there in a booth laughing raucously and swearing pretty violently. As our Chinese friends started ordering their food, these guys started making fun of them, using very profane and rude language. I did my best to ignore them and offhandedly commented to one of the Chinese girls that was talking with me and my companion, "They're a little weird." (Except I spoke that in Chinese).
She quickly told me, "You can't say that." She also said, "Bu hao", which means 'not good'. I didn't quite understand the rest of everything she said, but I got the message loud and clear. It was very humbling and very profound. Here's what I learned that night: 1) As we walked to the Subway and talked it up with these Chinese YSA kids, I felt a blossoming love for them deep within me. 2) As I offhandedly made that comment and was quickly corrected by the Chinese girl, I felt that as foreign as these profane and unkempt guys were, they were also and forever will be children of the Eternal God. He loves them as much as He loved me.
Turns out: Me and my companions ended up talking with these rough-around-the-edges fellows, and they turned out to be pretty kool. This is another lesson in and of itself, but it's the first two that I really want to emphasize: My love for the Chinese is growing, and the Lord's love for ALL of His children is very real and poignant. I don't understand everything, nor will I pretend to, but lately I've definitely been praying for greater love and charity for these people. They are dear to their Father in Heaven; their souls are precious to the God of the Universe. I and my companions stand in His place here in Singapore and Malaysia, begging and beckoning them to come drink of living waters and eat of manna from heaven. I know that the Lord lives and that He loves His children, of every color, language, race, understanding, economic and social and religious background. I know He desires their happiness, and I know that the Gospel is the only thing that can take what they do have and magnify it into something MORE.
I love you all, and I miss you a great deal; but I also know that this is the place where I need to be! These people need what we have, and I've been praying quite fervently that the Lord will help me be bolder and better in speaking with them. 
For now I bid you a fond farewell; God be with you till we meet again :)
Zai jian for now,
Mai Zhanglao :)