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 :)