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: