Monday, December 29, 2014

Irons and Feasts--CHRISTMAS 2014

Well, it's come and gone, but Christmas 2014 was the best!!!!!!!! On Christmas Eve we had two baptisms that went super well. Louisa and Erin--they've both been learning for over a year, but they've finally made the decision to make covenants with their Father in Heaven. The services went super awesome. It was great to be able to see how happy they were, how nervous they were, and how much they've changed in the time that I've known them! :) 
We had SO MUCH FOOD on Christmas Day. First round=All of the American Christmas candy that packages from home brought. Second round=Feast at the Schollenbergers. Totes delicious :) Third round=Christmas Party at Brian Che's, where the elders were requested to sing. We'd sung "Silent Night" the night before at the baptism, first two verses Chinese, third verse English, and at the Christmas Party at Brian Che's we performed it again. I'm so grateful for the chance that we have at Christmas to be with awesome friends and family! Christmas is the best :)
A couple weeks ago, as I was ironing a shirt/pondering Christmas, I got a nice little realization. So the iron I was using is one of those kinds that has a little area for water. If you fill it up with water, the iron works 100 times better. The steam helps speed up the ironing process and makes the shirt look so much nicer and cleaner and less wrinkled. It also helps to magnify the heat. Without the water, the ironing job isn't much good at all.
The same is true in life. We all know that we're going to have trials and hard times--the almost unbearable heat of Life's Iron. But when we add the Water of Life--even Jesus Christ--our trials take on a very different nature. They still exist, to be sure, but they're different. They're not there just to make us miserable or destroy us--they're there to refine us and iron us out. With that Water present, the heat seems to be magnified, but the resulting steam enables us to smoothed out. It enables those trials to flow by quicker. It allows us to see that there is actually a reason for Life's Iron. It's not just something to heat things up--it's something that's meant to make us better.
Thanks to Christ, we have purpose in life and we find purpose in trials. Do I like trials? Not one bit. But do I know why I have them? Or rather, do I know why I need to have them? Yes. I know that they're there to help me be better. Thanks to Christ, they're not permanent. They're not fatal. They're refiner's fires, the irons of life that mend and make us. Thanks to Christmas, we have Christ, and thanks to Christ, we have everything else :)
I love you all so much and hope that you had a magnificently great and grand Christmas! Keep on keeping on! Happy New Year! :)
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, December 15, 2014

God is Not Dead, Nor Doth He Sleep

Another Zone Conference week has come and gone. This past week has been so good spiritually, but man, it sure has done a number on my physical self. I've been combatting a return of foot fungus as well as a nasty little head-cold, but ne'er you fret! The work of God continues to roll forth!
At Zone Conference this past week we learned about how to work better with members-we are on the SAME team, after all--and then we also learned about the love of God, as exemplified in Christmas. If you haven't yet, I highly encourage you to take some time and watch #SharetheGift that the Church just barely came out with a week or two ago. So good! It gives me the chills every time that I watch it :) 
As I've reflected on the birth of my Savior this past week, I've been able to really think about His love for me and for all of humanity. He really just wants us to come back and live with Him again. He's always offering us the opportunity to make covenants and promises with Him. What's the point of these? To bind us closer to Him, to inspire us to aspire to celestial heights, and to help enable us to become more and more like Him each and every day :) He lives--He was born in mean estate, He lived a simple but humble life, He died on a cruel cross, but now, RIGHT NOW, He lives again! The bonds of death have been snapped; the chains that would encircle the world have been severed! As the words of one of my all-time favorite Christmas hymns says, "God is NOT DEAD, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with PEACE on earth, GOOD WILL to men." ("I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day", Hymn No. 214, emphasis added). 
How have you seen Him active in your own life? How have you felt His hand touching, leading, guiding, and influencing you? He's so real, and He's so amazing! The fact that He loves us enough to have been born, lived, and died for us is remarkable in and of itself; but now He lives for us again! He's not going to stop loving us, and He will always been working with us, until that perfect day when we are like Him. I know that's true :)
For now I bid you a wonderful rest of the day and week! I love y'all lots!
Mai Zhanglao
p.s. We went to Zone Conference this week. Look what I found....The caption for the second pic is "'Nuff Said" :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Where is the Love? What's the Matter with the World, Mama?:):)

Hello Errbody!
These past few weeks have gone by quick! Thanksgiving was wonderful, and Christmas is coming! HOORAY FOR CHRISTMAS! It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year :) And when we're filled with the Spirit of Christmas, we're living the most wonderful life :) So today I want to quickly share a quick thought with you from yesterday.
We met with a recent convert and her family yesterday at the church to talk about the Importance of the Family. It was the perfect lesson for her--she has a husband that's super controlling, and that essentially is very restrictive of what she and her kids can do. She let off some steam with us, and made mention multiple times how she doesn't love him and how she doesn't want to be anywhere near him. It was sad, but really enlightening. We left her with the commitment to fast and pray and seek for opportunities to develop charity for her husband. Hopefully she'll take our challenge to heart and rely upon the power of the Atonement to be able to love her husband the way that Christ loves him.
This encounter brought tears to my eyes--the point behind families is to be happy and find joy in this life. It's helped me see what type of man and future husband I'd like to be, as well as help me appreciate all the more my own father for the wonderful example he's given to me and for the love that he's shown to us kids and our mom. I know that families truly can be forever, if we will put in the work and effort, the tears and the love, that the Lord asks of us. Everything will work out in the end, as we hold on to each other and on to the Lord. :) I'm so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whose simple teachings and sayings truly are the pathway and guidelines for this life. If we'll simply learn to love and to forgive, to have faith and to repent, to remain true in hard times--these things will surely carry us out of life's hard times and help us truly magnify the sunshine days that God has planned for us. Sure, it's super hard, but it's also worth it. Courage, then, and on, on to the victory! :)
I love you all! Keep on keeping on! :)
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, November 24, 2014


So, turns out that the world's greatest hashtag is the one that you see in the subject line :) It was pioneered for our mission by some of our mission leaders, and I really like it a lot. So there :)
This past week has zoomed by! It feels unreal that we find ourselves at the beginning of another week! This is the last P-Day of November 2014! There will never be another one! Where did November go!? Aiyo!
We got to go on exchanges this past week to the Masai area. One of my kampung homeboys, Elder Capener, is serving there, and we got to reminisce old times and talk about all of those peeps we know and love back home. It was incredible to see the faith, diligence, and hard work that the Masai elders are putting into their areas of labor. It truly is faith that precedes the miracle, and they've got LOTS of faith.
With that in mind, I'd like to share a scripture from my Personal Study yesterday morning. It's essentially a promise that Jesus Christ is giving to all those who commit themselves to working alongside Him. It's a promise to those who are willing to DO EVERYTHING THEY CAN to hasten the work of salvation:
"And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.
"Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.
"Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance.
"And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward" (3 Nephi 21:26-29).
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ stand in the MIDST of us! They're at the helm of this work, right in the thick of it. They pull and tug and turn on the little threads of our lives, weaving a great tapestry of life that connects all of the spirit children of the Most High. This is Their work--They can do it by Themselves if They want, but instead we all have been enlisted to help prepare the world for the return of the Messiah! Isn't it an amazing and wonderful and awesome thought all at once? As we DO EVERYTHING WE CAN to push that work forward, we will begin to see the little signatures, the miraculous traces of Divine Interference that enable the work of salvation to move at all. I know that They live and that They love us; we are children of our Heavenly Father, and we are recipients of the Atoning love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Love ya lots! Keep on keeping on :)
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, November 10, 2014

Choose the CPR

Hello to errbody! :)
This past week has been awesome. A little hectic with transfers and getting missionaries from here to there, but all in all a super awesome time :) We also had MLC this week, so we got to receive instruction and counsel from President Mains again. It was awesome! One of the things that he emphasized during MLC was the importance of establishing that focus on God. How do we establish that focus?
Simply put, CPR. When a person is drowning and is full of water, they need CPR in order to save their lives. Similarly, spiritual CPR keeps us afloat and helps us to build faith and repent (the two basic building blocks of the Gospel of Jesus Christ). So, what is spiritual CPR, then? Church, Prayer, and Reading Scriptures (CPR...get it? :) ). Anywho, these three simple things are so simple and so small, but they are SO CRUCIAL! Daily prayer and scripture study allows us to keep open the channels of communication between us and our Father in Heaven. We plead to, implore, and thank Him through prayer; He responds to, guides, counsels, chastens, and blesses us as we open up the words of ancient and modern prophets.
And Church attendance? What's so important about that? At Church we renew the covenants we've made by partaking of the Sacrament. We take part in remembering the single greatest event of all time--even the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Weekly immersing ourself in this experience is SO PIVOTAL! 
These three things are so simple, and so often overlooked. But if everyone understood the potential of CPR, the work of salvation would hasten tenfold faster than it currently is. By living these simple things, we build our faith in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. We are prompted to repent of our mistakes and continue holding true to the covenants we've made by keeping the commandments we've been given. We would be on a sure and steady course to the celestial kingdom; the gates of hell could not overpower us, despite the winds and trials and turbulations that life surely will bring. Our testimonies will burn bright, and we will come to know and understand the purpose of life and the relationship that we have the potential to have with our Savior and our Father.
I invite all y'all to do everything you can this week to daily pray and study the scriptures, and to attend church, partake of the Sacrament, and learn the Gospel next week at Church. God will not leave us helpless :)
I love you all! Have a marvelous day! :)
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cleaning Gutters

Hello errbody!
This past week has seen some BAPTISMS! It was super awesome, and they are so good! As I've been thinking about them, and what an incredible journey they have in store for them, I can't help but think of an adventure that I had on Friday. We had some amazingly torrential rain, and there was part of the street that was swamped with water. The reason? There was a gutter that was clogged. Me, my companion, and a random guy from Bangladesh went to work cleaning it out. It was a little gross, but fun at the same time. By the time we were done, the street was drained and looked a lot better.
The point of the Church is to help each other clean our spiritual gutters. Sometimes we are in  the midst of torrential rain. Sometimes we're drowning in the trials and challenges that we have to face. But as helping hands are extended, on behalf of and in the name of the Savior, we come to understand that the Lord really is aware of each of our needs, and He continues to lead and guide and direct us. We are meant to help each other. We're meant to lift each other, all in the direction of our Savior, Jesus Christ. (For further info, see Moroni 6 :) ).
I love you all, and hope that you have an incredible week!
Keep on keepin' on!
Elder Mitchel

p.s.  My name is Mitchell, not Mitchel.  Now I look like a fool......

Monday, October 27, 2014

Melaka and So Much More!

To all y'all homeboys and homegirls out there in da hood,
Before I forget (like I have for the past couple of weeks): Our mission leaders would like us to announce that anyone interested in sending packages to missionaries of the Singapore Mission need to try and have the packages reach Singapore around 1 December, so that things can be organized in time for our Zone Conference in December and so that we can get the Christmas stuff :) That being said, you're not expected to send packages lah! But I've now gotten that announcement off my chest, so we can press forward :)
Life this past week has been great! We went to Melaka on exchanges, and it was AWESOME! Let's just say that it's quite a happenin' town. We were there for Deepavalli, the Indian New Year celebration, so we got to see a lot of great fireworks :) 
In other news: We've got baptisms this upcoming Saturday! Get excited! :)
Currently our zone is focusing on becoming CHRIST-CENTERED. As we been better about being BOLD in our invitations to others, as we've born Christ-centered testimony, and as we've done our best to really and truly follow up with the various people that we meet, I've sensed a change in our missionaries and in the work in the zone. As a whole things are starting to look up. I know that the same is true for whenever we strive to focus our lives on the Savior. This Gospel is true, and as we live its pure and simple doctrines, we WILL find peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
Love y'all lots and bunches!
Keep on keepin' on.
Elder Mitchell

p.s. The pics are from either Jonker Street in Melaka or from the taxi that we rode in from JB to the bus station. Apparently they don't like it when people kiss in their taxis. Too too much :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hastening the Work is THE BEST! :)

Greetings, loved ones! This past week was awesome! We had a BAPTISM! Sister Jess is so great, and the baptism all went well. A couple of days before the baptism we test-filled the font, and turns out that the patches over the paint ripped. There are stairs to our font, and they got filled up with water. So there's currently water inside, and there's been this imminent threat of having the whole thing bust open, but thankfully the Lord didn't let that happen.
We had three baptisms in our branch; it was quite a turn-out from the branch, too. Go team! :)
Anywho, when I got changed into the white clothes for the baptism I realized a couple of things: 1) I haven't worn those white pants since before the MTC; B) I haven't worn that shirt since Singapore, over a year ago; and III) I've gained weight on my mission. When I left the MTC I was roughly 125 to 130 lbs...I'm currently 148. You could call me a roly-poly, you could call me a chub, you could call me whatever, and it would probably be accurate. Trying to get into the baptismal clothes was a little bit of a tight squeeze. 
Anywho, the baptism all went really well. Sister Jess was confirmed yesterday at the beginning of church, and she's now beginning the greatest journey of her life :) This Gospel really is meant to refine and change us and help us to become MORE. Specifically, MORE like our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Lately I've been studying charity; I was reading through a book that Dad had sent with me that is written by James E. Talmage. During one part of the book, he essentially says that the two great commandments--"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"--are saying the same thing: "Thou shalt LOVE." When we do so, we'll be fulfilling any and every requirement and commandment, because we would never want to harm another person or lose the trust of our Lord. I'm still trying to work on charity, and it's an uphill climb, but it's so worth it :)
I love you all, and hope that you have a wonderful week! 
Keep on keeping on! :)
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, October 13, 2014

Conference and Upcoming Covenants

Well, folks, it's been so long since last we've chatted! [As we like to say here in Singapore/Malaysia: Long time already (lah)! :) ] Anywho, this past weekend we've had the opportunity to watch General Conference! What an amazing experience! It was SO GOOD, and there's so much to be learned from it :) I especially loved Elder Lynn Robbins's talk--it was awesome :) 
In preparation for General Conference, we'd met with a less active member who was angry with everyone in the Church. He'd ceased being active almost ten years ago--prior to that he was the biggest help that the elders had in doing missionary work. He's a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, and he's a really nice guy. His heart, though, is cankered with anger, hate, and hurt, all of which, he claims, stem from the rudeness and pride of the members. He complained that our Church isn't focused on Jesus Christ, and that the people didn't live the laws that He has set. As he went about making all of these accusations, he started condemning himself without realizing it.
As I sat in General Conference, listening to all of the many talks that testify about Jesus Christ, it was reaffirmed to me that we come to Church NOT for the other people. They sure are nice, and they certainly can help build our testimonies--but the greatest reason we should be going to Church or being active in the Gospel is for GOD. It's for JESUS CHRIST. It's all for Him. It's improving our relationship with Him, and helping others do the same. This Church is true--sometimes it's people aren't. This Church is the vehicle that brings us as close to Christ as we can get in this life, through sacred covenants and ordinances. 
With that in mind, WE HAVE A BAPTISM ON SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!! Her name is Sister Jess, and she's so awesome! She pretty much fell into our laps, and now she's about to make her first covenant with God. She's really cool, and I know that the Lord has prepared her and her heart for this. She's going to help the Church so much here in JB, and it's going to be awesome :) I'll be sure to send pics of the baptism next week.
Well, for now, I must needs be going. I love y'all, and I know that this Church is true. My testimony means so much to me, and I hope the same goes for you too. We don't get baptized or join the Church or come to Sacrament for people alone--we come for Christ. We come WITH Christ. And by so doing, we come unto Christ. He's the center of it all. He's the heart of our message, our Gospel, and our lives.
Till we meet again,
Elder Mitchell

Monday, September 29, 2014

YOEOO (You Only Eat Ostrich Once) :)

Well, this past week has been one full of work and wonder. Last Monday brought with it the announcement that that my companion was off to Bintulu to open up the Chinese work there and train a greenie all at the same time. My new companion=Elder Lee, from Singapore, who's super awesome! More about our adventures in a minute. Monday night brought with it the English elders' investigator taking the four of us to an amazingly fancy Japanese restaurant, where we had a meal whose price was approximately $200-250 USD. Yeah...just a wee bit expensive, but it was magnificent. We dined like kings. It was my first time trying ostrich too--I'm a fan of ostrich meat. Maybe I'll get an ostrich farm when I grow up.....actually, probably not. That's a little morbid a thought.
Moving on: Elder Lee was delayed getting here to good ole JB thanks to an insane amount of rain and the craziness of Singapore traffic. Woot woot. But make it he did, and from then till now we've been busy meeting with investigators and giving them baptismal dates and hastening the work here in the JB Chinese area. It's been so AWESOME to see these people that we love so much deciding to make that first covenant of baptism. It's been so AWESOME to see the way that the Lord has been preparing them throughout their lives for this moment. This work is so amazing, and, despite the various darts of the adversary (be they in the forms of depression or frustration or lack of work or hardness of work or whatever-have-you), it will press forward. It will move on. No one can stop it. "The work of God cannot be frustrated" (D&C 3--I'm paraphrasing ;) ). 
Holding fast to the work of God, as we continue to obey His commandments, we are promised an increase in our faith, an increase in our hope, an increase in our love. The Lord is faithful, and He will not leave us helpless. I know that that is true :)
I love you all so very much, and hope that you have an amazing week! 
Keep on keepin' on :)
Elder Mitchell/Mai ZhanglaoInline image 1
p.s. The pics are of the wonderfully grand time we had at Japanese bbq, as well as that one photo that epicly and honestly defines the relationship of Elder Mitchell and Elder Earl. Cheers :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Investigators are the BEST!

To start things off right: I got in a crash last night. Super fun. I wasn't paying attention to the road in front of me and smacked into an impressively large pothole. I flipped forward and ending up skidding a couple of feet. The bike was on top of me, my face was kissing the ground, and my arms were on fire. Despite the initial shock and pain, it's nothing more than a bad case of roadrash, though I hope y'all like the pics from it. It totally messed with my tag, and so now it looks like I've been doing missionary work in Jurassic Park. Cheers :)
On to the good stuff: We went to Zone Conference this past week, and I had the chance to do exchanges with the assistants. That meant that I not only got to see the people from West Malaysia and Singapore, but I also got to see the East Malaysian missionaries! I've missed them and Kuching and East Malaysia in general so much! I received glad tidings of great joy from them as well: One of my investigators back in Kuching had been progressing really well, but about halfway through my time there he disappeared and wouldn't answer calls or smses. He randomly called the Chinese missionaries there now, and started meeting with them again. He's getting baptized in a couple of weeks! It's so exciting! I almost started crying when I heard about him--I love that guy so much, and it hurt so much when he disappeared off the radar. But the Lord knows His children so much better than we do, and He herded him back to the right place. I love God so very much, and I know that this is His work.
One more quick story about investigators: We met with a potential investigator this past week who's come to Church multiple times but we haven't made an investigator yet because it's been extremely difficult getting an appointment with her. Anywho, we finally got to meet with her, and she'd been talking to members beforehand. At one of our church functions about three or four weeks ago, the member had said that we don't drink tea or coffee. Our investigator decided to try it--she said that she had to have a cup of coffee every morning or around 10:30 her head would start hurting a lot. She prayed and told God that if the Word of Wisdom is true she needed to keep it.
She hasn't drunk a cup of coffee since.
This IS the Lord's work, and He is able to hasten it. This IS His glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of each and every one of us. I love Him and I know that this is His work.
Elder Mitchell

Monday, September 15, 2014

Good Morning, West Malaysia!

Hello Friends, Family, and Poisonous Reptiles:
This past week has been a good one. We've had the chance to be in our area for most of this past week...but we also had sick elders for most of that time as well, so that put a little bit of a cramp in our style. Whatevs. In other news, we got to go to a big Chinese wedding this past Saturday and eat to our hearts' desires! It was fun, and I've discovered a new tradition that I'm hoping to bring back to America (I've already got a couple up my sleeves that I won't tell you about yet, since that would spoil the surprise :) )--Anywho, there comes a time during the normal Chinese wedding when the bride, groom, and their immediate family go to each table and everyone raises their glasses for a toast. They then shout a word in Cantonese as loud and long as they possibly can--a sanctioned shouting match. Super great stuff :) Following that they say another word, and then drain their glasses. It's pretty much the greatest. It will be inaugurated at my wedding and will then proceed to every other Mitchell wedding to follow thereafter. So there :)
I've had a chance to read some more from the war chapters this past week. They really are full of so many great and wonderful spiritual insights! They help me to understand that even when we're in the midst of turmoil and trial (like the Nephites in the middle of a cataclysmic war), we can still rely on the peace the Gospel brings. Jesus Christ truly is the Prince of Peace, and He stands with open arms to welcome us, to embrace us, to enable us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. It's so wonderful! He's so wonderful! The Gospel we preach is true! :)
I hope that you have a marvelous day and week.
Love ya lots,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Liang Zhi Laohu Pao de Kuai

Hiya Folks!
This past week has included adventures to the beautiful city of Melaka as we went on exchanges with the elders there. It was super kool! I sure do like Melaka, and hope that I'll get to visit it a few more times whilst I'm posted here in JB. In addition to that, we had the mission president come and do interviews with us this past week--it's always such an uplifting and good experience when I have a reporting session with him. I sure do love our mission president, and I have a firm testimony of righteous priesthood men called of God to be our leaders. He sure is one.
This week is going to have a lot of adventures in store as well--we get to go on exchanges with the assistants, as well as with some Bahasa elders in JB, and then there's MLC on top of all that. Suffice it to say, the Chinese elders aren't going to be in their own area for a long amount of time this week, but hopefully this is the only such stacked week that we'll have for a long time. 
In other news, I had the chance to study from Alma 47 this past week. It was so COOL! Essentially, it tells the story of Amalickiah taking over the Lamanite kingdom. There are three 'tragedies' located within the chapter: The tragedy of Lehonti; the tragedy of the king's servants; and the tragedy of the queen. Lehonti and his army of rebels are "fixed in their minds with a determined resolution" to never falter from their principles...and then Amalickiah convinces them to 'come down'. And then they compound the problem by following Amalickiah's counsel, ultimately resulting in Lehonti's assassination and the assimilation of his army into Amalickiah's forces.
Amalickiah brings his triumphant army back to the capitol, and his servants go out to greet the Lamanite king and bring these 'glad tidings'--in other words, stabbing the king to death. Instead of standing to fight for him, the king's servants flee and are pursued by the Lamanite armies. 
The queen hears about all of these goings-on and INVITES Amalickiah into her quarters. He flat-out lies to her and manages to convince her to become the wife of a scumball--and there ya have it, Amalickiah's officially the king of the jungle.
As I mentioned earlier, there are three tragedies in this story, but one of them has a happy ending. The servants of the murdered king manage to make it to the land of the Nephites and live with the peaceful Ammonites--eventually these servants will help the Nephite armies in their eventual war with the Lamanites.
In all three tragedies, people made mistakes--they faltered from things that they knew to be right. Lehonti left the saftefy of the high ground. The servants fled from their duty. The queen invited the bad guy into her living quarters. What can be learned from all of these things?
1. We have to STAND for what we know to be right! We can't come down from our strongholds! We can't go around fleeing from what we know is right--to stand and defend those that we love and care about. We can't go inviting wickedness into our living quarters/lives.
2. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. We're all going to mess up every now and then. But instead of being like Lehonti and the queen--who continued to associate with Amalickiah/Satan after they'd been defeated once--we should look to the example of the servants, who fled to the safety of the righteous. We'll all make mistakes, but there is always going to be healing out there, in the outstretched arms of our Captain and King, Jesus Christ.
In essence, we have to build ourselves on that Everlasting Rock, even our Savior and Redeemer (see Helaman 5:12). We have to stand for our standards, we have to defend what we know to be right, we have to be willing to reject wickedness--but if and when we do make mistakes, we have to ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS remember that it's never too late! Although we may have come down from our mountain for a moment, we can't forget that the ultimate victory, in the end of days, isn't going to be with Satan. It will be with our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, Both of whom are willing to forgive our sins and empower us to rise above the natural man. Stand for what is right, and when we falter, we must stand back up, relying upon the arms of Him who is mighty to save.
I love you all, and hope you have a fantastic week!
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, August 25, 2014

There is Power, Power, Wonder-Working Power

Well, folks, it has been a couple weeks since the last great and grand update, so here be another one. :) JB is going great--it's certainly the most sketch of my areas, but that's okee-dokee. Today, I wanted to share a quick thought with you from my Personal Study yesterday: I was reading Alma 43, right at the beginning of the war chapters (my favorite part of the Book of Mormon! :) ). As I was reading, I noticed something cool in Alma 43:38. It mentions that every now and then a Nephite soldier would fall due to the "loss of blood". They were shielded and protected, but every once in a while during this great war that was raging they would fall because they'd lost too much blood.
I racked my brains, trying to figure out a good way to apply the scripture to me personally. This chapter has so many great parallels to the spiritual war that we find ourselves in at this time. The thought leapt to my mind of Exodus12:13--"And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." 
What can kill us spiritually? What can separate us from the presence of God? A loss of blood--but whose blood? This is just the ramblings of a redhead, but it brought me comfort as I thought about it. The precious blood of our Savior and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, was shed for each and every one of us. It was commemorated by the ancient Israelites as they smeared lamb's blood over the lintels and doorposts of Goshen; it is remembered by modern-day descendants of Abraham as we partake of the Sacrament and renew our covenants with God. The ATONEMENT--the heart and core of the message of the Gospel. When we suffer from a "loss of blood"--in other words, when we are without the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ in our lives, when we literally have a loss of His blood to atone for our unrepented sins--then we become spiritually wounded. Then we face the terrible possibility of separation from our Father and from our Elder Brother.
But the marvelous Plan of Salvation has been laid, from before the foundations of the world, to ensure that if and when we sin, that atoning blood will wash us clean. It is our choice--we must exhibit faith (in other words, an abiding belief and action to back up that belief) and repent of our wrongdoings, and then, in the words of Amulek, "immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto [us]" (Alma 34:31; emphasis added). 
I invite and encourage each of us to remember to always apply that atoning blood in our lives. Let us not take the Atonement for granted. Let it not only heal us, but let it ENABLE us to become more and more like its Author, even our Captain, and King--Jesus Christ, the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Savior and Redeemer of the New.
I love you all and hope that you have a marvelous week! Keep on keeping on!
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, August 11, 2014

Into the West (Malaysia, That Is)

To all friends, family, poisonous reptiles:
Well, this here be the last dispatch from Kuching. I got the call this morning--I'm off to West Malaysia! Johor Bahru, to be precise :) I'm really excited for it, but I'm sad to say good-bye to all of the people that I love so much here in Kuching. The past six months have FLOWN by! I can't believe how fast it's been! I could stay here for the rest of my mission and not feel bad about it; but the Lord would like me to go elsewhere for now. I'm so excited to see what JB's got in store.
This past week the Lord taught me a really cool lesson that I'd like to share with you:
One Wednesday afternoon, as me and Elder Chong are biking along, I notice that there's something shining on my tire. We pull over, and it's a thumbtack in my tire! Nice, silver, and stuck quite fast. We tried to take it out, but the protesting squeak as air started to rush out of the tire prompted us to just leave it where it was. With the tack still in the tire, we pedaled our way to an appointment about 30 minutes away. The tire held air till there, and for another 30 minutes afterwards before it started to leak again. The tack was what was holding the air in the tire; if we'd taken it out, we would've had a flat tire on our hands.
As I sat later, pondering on that experience, I got the distinct impression that God was trying to teach me something with it. Here's the answer that I feel I was supposed to receive: Although that occurence was a miracle (it really was! :) ), I was meant to learn that good will always be good, and bad will always be bad. One of my favorite scriptures in Moroni 7:13, and its principle was demonstrated with this experience. Although the thumbtack was nice, shiny, and acted as a really pretty bike tire ornament for a while, it was still a THUMBTACK. Its identity never changed. Although God blessed that bike with the miracle of keeping from going flat for a little while, the tack was still the cause of a flat tire. The tack was still something detrimental to the bike.
No matter how appealing sin may look, no matter what "upfront benefits" it promises, no matter how attractive or nice evil's appearance may be--it will always be just that, evil. Wicked. Bad. On the flip side, no matter how dull or dim or unattractive or boring or strange good may be, no matter how old it is, no matter who it's coming from--good will always be just that, good. Happiness. Righteousness. Clarity of conscience. Peace of mind.
I know that we have a Savior--even Jesus Christ, the Son of God--who is the Fountain of all righteousness, the Author of all good things. I know that He lives and that He loves us, and that He is our greatest Ally, our best Friend, our Elder Brother, our Captain, our King.
I love you all, and hope you have a magnificent week! Catch ya later from the wilds of JB! :)
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, July 28, 2014

Selamat Hari Rayah!

Today marks the first day of Hari Rayah--in other words, the month of Ramadan (the month of fasting in the Islamic religion) has come to an end, and everyone's going to be throwing parties like crazy. Selamat Hari Rayah! (For those of you Bahasa speakers, I apologize if I spelled it wrong).
Well, folks, this week's been good. And crazy. And fast. And everything. Earlier this past week we had a lesson very similar to Ammon's first lesson with King Lamoni. If you recall, King Lamoni was quite impressed with the strapping young Nephite missionary before him, and so he offered Ammon his daughters as wives. 
Yeah, so we went to this house. The guy there was really nice, but he mentioned something about his daughters entertaining us and then he disappeared. We had a nice, rather awkward conversation with his daughter as we were waiting for him to return. We waited for a long time, and stretched out the conversation to an uncomfortable length. Finally we asked if we could talk to her dad, and she went to go get him...but instead came back with her younger sister. Fun stuff. We were much quicker to the draw on Round 2--this girl, who was only 14, was asked within the first five minutes of our conversation to go get her dad, because we'd like to talk to him. He finally showed up and we told him we'd be back another day.
Just another awkward experience in the lives of the Kuching Chinese elders.
In other news, I've had a chance to study more and more about the Christlike attribute of patience. I've realized that it's something that I really lack, and that it's something I really need. As I've been studying more and more about it, I've come to realize that the Lord is SO patient with all of us. All of our faults, all of our weaknesses, all of our misguided desires--He's so loving and so patient with us. Why? Because He loves us. He died for us. He gave everything for us, and He isn't going to let that sacrifice go to waste. He's going to wait on us and be patient with us as long as the laws of justice and mercy allow; He's going to be our friend in the good and the bad times. I'm truly grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ, and for the fact that He truly is so patient with me.
I love you all so very much, and hope that you have a tremendously great and grand week! Keep on keepin' on lah! :)
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, July 21, 2014

Hashtagging Our Way to Fame and Glory

Friends, family, and associates,
To be quite honest with y'all, there's not really any good reason why this particular post is named the way it is. Frankly, I reckon I was just looking for an excuse to use "hashtag" as a verb. There ya go :)
Today's not going to be a super long or in-depth letter, but there is one quick experience I'd like to share. Lately me and my companion have striven to be in the right place at the right time. Yesterday, after a small planning session, we were on our way to a dinner appointment. There was a lady walking along the side of the road up ahead of us; I thought that we should go talk to her. As we were about to pull over to start talking to her, she approached us and starting talking to us. We had a great conversation--she was a very brilliant woman with a very firm belief in Christ. She shared with us about the recent deaths of her parents and two siblings. I didn't really know what to say, but I could feel how strongly she believed in Jesus Christ, and I could feel His love for her. In very simple and brief words, I explained that I too had lost a sibling and that I knew that God has a plan for all of us. I don't know what that plan is, nor do I know why sometimes it has to have such hard and hurtful things inside of it, but I do know that there is a plan, and that no matter what church we're a member of, Christ died for all of us. She was tearing up as she talked about her family, and I started getting a little choked-up when I shared my bit. There was a special spirit there, and I'm so glad that the Lord gave us the opportunity to have that experience.
That's something that I've really started coming to understand this past week: The fact that no matter who we are, or what church or religion we affiliate with, or where we're from, or who our family is, Jesus Christ died for us. He died for me. He died for YOU, whoever you might be or wherever you might be from. Whether or not someone has accepted the fulness of the Gospel, or partaken of the ordinances of salvation, or read the Book of Mormon--He loves them all. He loves us all. I know that that's true :)
Have a wonderful week, errbody! Keep on keepin' on! I love you all and hope that you are able to feel of our Savior's love this upcoming week :)
Doubt not, but be believing,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Some Things I Learned from a Buddhist Monk

To All Who May Be Concerned:
At long last the drought has ended and I'm writing another blogpost. I suppose some of you might be disappointed at this point, but oh well. You can skim read, if you so choose :)
The past few weeks have been great and grand. We just had transfers this past week, and there have been some new faces here in Kuching, as well as some old ones leaving. Change has never been my strong suit, but it's really great to have a new burst of missionary excitement here. It certainly helps keep the work moving forward :)
So last Thursday night (or maybe it was Friday night? Time kind of blurs these days :) ), we were at an Indian restaurant. (Fun fact/Sidenote: My mission has helped me develop a great love for most types of Indian food. I'm a big roti fan myself, and you can never go wrong with some good ole murtabak ayam :) ). As we were finishing up in there, a large party of Buddhists entered the room. In their midst were two legit monks--dressed up in authentic garb, fresh from Nepal/Tibet. I had the chance to talk to one of them. He taught me a couple of things about MEDITATION.
It's something that I've never really thought about before, but since he shared what he did with me, it's been on my mind a lot lately. Essentially (if I understood him correctly), meditation is focusing on one object and letting go of all external cares and worries. It's about finding inner peace and happiness despite the surroundings beyond you. He also stated something quite profound, "Meditation is acting with awareness." 
Acting with awareness; focusing on one object and letting go of all other worries and cares; finding inner peace and happiness--all of this sounds something similar to the Gospel quest we've all commenced at baptism. Although I do not agree with every single teaching the monk proposed, I believe that he has found a pearl of great price, and I hope to be able to use what light he has to increase my own testimony and connection with the Savior. Using our agency righteously (aka acting with awareness), we are able to focus our desires and our lives on one object (aka Jesus Christ and His infinite Atonement), finding the inner peace and happiness we need.
This past week I've had a chance to see what happens when people are acting with such awareness, when they are doing all they can to build their testimonies and their connections with heaven. I've also been able to see what happens when people act without thinking at all. It is tragic, but it can be learned from as well. The Lord would have us grow from our sorrows. The Lord would have us learn from those lessons in life that aren't always the happiest or the brightest. The Lord would not leave us alone in them, either--if we aren't afraid to keep holding onto Him, even and especially when He's all we've got to hold onto, then He certainly won't be afraid to hold on even tighter.
I dunno if this makes any sense, but I do have a burning testimony that the Lord loves each and every one of us. The adversary of agency, even the fallen son of the morning, is a very real being, and his power is great, but every time I'm reminded of him and all the rotten things he has caused in this world, I'm reminded of an example my dad gave to me when I was younger and still struggling to find my own personal testimony: "Light and darkness cannot coexist. If you turn on a lightswitch, the darkness in the room must flee. It can't stay. They can't coexist. You just have to turn on the light."
I sure do love Buddhist monks, and if I wasn't already converted to the fulness of the Gospel, I might consider studying in greater depth all of their teachings. For now, though, I'm going to focus on becoming better at meditating--at acting with awareness, focusing on things that matter most, and finding that inner peace and happiness that God would have all of us possess (see 2 Nephi 2:25).
I love you all, and hope you have a marvelous day and week! Keep on keepin' on! :)
Mai Zhanglao

Service project with a machete

Monday, June 9, 2014

Name's Mitchell. Elder Mitchell.

Well, fun fact: Malaysia experiences LOTS of rain. Like bucketloads of it. Sometimes it's ridiculous. Take this week, for instance. Kuching has experienced rain that should only be experienced during rainy season--which is still months away, mind you. And even then, this particular type of rain should be reserved only for the darkest of nights, when missionaries don't have to ride through the middle of them.
But I digress. Suffice it to say, I've got some wonderful stories to tell the grandkids in sixty-odd years about this past week. We literally biked through puddles several feet deep, in the middle of what must have been a mini-hurricane. At one point, when you could think that this situation could get no worse, a car drove by and splattered our water-soaked bodies with a nice slash of brown. Malaysia boleh.
Maybe I'm being a little overdramatic, but whatevs. There's nothing wrong with a good story :)
This week has seen its ups and downs. One of my favorite ups was during Sacrament Meeting yesterday. As the hymn was being sung, the sacrament being blessed, and then being passed, I reflected on the past week, on the the various follies and mistakes and weaknesses that are mine. As I did so, I just felt a peace that seemed to confirm that things are going to be okay. I felt an assurance that the Lord is not some bully with a large stick, hovering over you, just waiting for you to make a mistake so that He can smack you for it. No--I got the distinct impression that I really don't understand just how deeply the Lord loves us, just how much He is willing and ready to forgive us. I just felt a peace that, after all of that ridiculous rain this past week, I really needed to feel. I know that the Lord is there for us. He is anxious to bless us. He loves us immeasurably. Isn't that just the greatest news ever!? We have to go out and share it! We have to sing it from the housetops and tell the whole world about it! We can't keep quiet--we have to share this good news that we have! It is, after all, the only news that really matters these days. :)
I hope that y'all have a wonderful week! I love you very much, and I hope you know that the Lord loves you even more! Keep on keepin' on :)
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, May 26, 2014

I've Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

To paraphrase our branch president yesterday during Sacrament Meeting: The Gospel has many principles...just like a Korean drama has lots of different episodes.
So this past week has been a good one. We had transfers, and I am now with Elder Chong, a native from over in West Malaysia! I've spoken more Chinese in the past five days with him than I have with any of my other companions in the field, maybe even the mission. Who knows? In the words of a great song: "One way or another, I'm gonna [speak it], I'm gonna [speak it, speak it, speak it]." (That was probably a little Babylon-esque. M'bad :) ).
I've had a chance to contemplate the principle of repentance this week a LOT. This morning, as I was doing so, an analogy kind of clicked in my mind. My brain functions in such a way that I understand things best when they're put into real-life situation examples. For instance: Many people (myself included) sometimes have the false assumption that repentance--or rather, the Atonement--is like a dishwasher. You just throw in a dirty dish and hope for the best, essentially. In actuality, it's more like handwashing dishes. The Atonement is very personal and thorough. The Lord takes the plate of our lives into His hands, and, using the power of the Atonement, scrubs and rinses and washes and scrubs some more, wearing away the weaknesses, the faults, the sins, the trivialities that impede us from entering His presence. He does it individually--you certainly can't wash more than one dish at a time if you're doing it by hand (trust me, I've tried). He does it with a purpose--He will have a clean dish, not something that's half-washed. He knows our potential, and He will not rest until we have reached it. Thank heavens that we will never reach that potential in this life! Thank heavens that we are being cleansed by that Atonement and by our Master each and every day! Thank heavens that we have a Father in Heaven who loved us so much that He, desiring to make us as He is, sent His Only Begotten Son to pay the price, to wash us clean, even through the blood of the Lamb. 
I love y'all very much, and hope that the Lord will watch over you this upcoming week. 
Keep on keepin' on,
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fwd: Concerning Hobbits (or Redheads)

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
In a flat in Malaysia there lived a missionary.
Same diff. That being said, this past week has been a great one. We got to journey forth and do some great contacting. In addition to that, we stopped by the home of one of the people that visited the family history booth last week. We gave him a pedigree chart and, as we were explaining, he stopped us and said, "Wait a second. Don't you guys usually talk about God with people?"
Well, sir, as a matter of fact, we do :) He also said something along the lines of: "I'm a kind-of Christian. But one thing that I don't really understand is why there are so many different Christian churches."
In response to that, me and my companion looked at each other, grinned, and said, "We can teach you about that."
We shared a little bit about the apostasy with him, and then scheduled a time for him to come to the family history center to input the information he's collecting about his fam. He actually kept the appointment and came to the center! Unfortunately, he figured out really quickly how to work the website, so he kind of fled the scene after about 15 minutes. 
However, the Lord is kind, and impressed us during our first meeting to leave with this guy a Restoration pamphlet. We'll probably have to call him back about it and see how he likes it :) The Lord works in great ways :)
Today I'd like to testify about the power of prayer. It doesn't really have anything to do with the above story, but whatevs :) The other day I had a lot on my mind. Life, investigators, friends, family members, my own inadequacies, my relationship with God--it all kind of hit me at once during a Personal Study. I put down my scriptures; I was having a hard time feeling the Spirit throughout it all, with everything on my mind. I quietly left the study room and went to our bedroom, where I closed the door and spent a good ten to fifteen minutes pouring out my soul to my God. I testify that the power of prayer is REAL. Notice that I say POWER, not quick, five-second, no-thought-whatsoever of prayer. Power--putting your whole heart and soul into it, reaching sincerely heavenward in supplication of something, anything.
I testify that Heaven reaches back. I testify that God leaves us not comfortless. I testify that He knows our hearts, our fears, our worries, our stresses; and it is in spite of, or maybe because of, all these things that He immeasurably loves us and says, "Let Me take care of it." Or, maybe instead of that phrase, He says something more along the lines of, "Let Me take care of you."
I felt a peace that morning that can't be described. I felt a hope for the future, a faith for the present, and a love of God and all men that cannot be denied. Men may rail and slander the Gospel as much as they want, but they cannot deny the fruits thereof. They cannot deny the peace this Gospel brings. They cannot deny it.
In closing, I wish you all a very Merry May :) Guess what?! I hit my year mark this past Thursday! One whole year in the field! Go team! :)
Love you all,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hello To All Y'all

This week has been another great one. We got to do another family history booth from Thursday May 8 (my sister's birthday! She's officially able to date...or so she thinks. As I told her and the other sister last night during Skype, they will NEVER be old enough to date--not with THIS GUY as their older brother :) )--anywho, from May 8 to May 10. It was really cool, and the Lord provided the way for several really prepared people to stop by! It was awesome! The Lord truly does hear and answer our sincere prayers,and is anxious to use us as tools in His hastening of the work of salvation.
Like I just mentioned, I got to Skype home with family last night. It was so wonderful! I haven't seen them in nearly a year (almost to the day, in fact!). As I reflected on getting to talk with them again in the past couple of hours, I've realized how grateful I am for my relationship with them. I've also realized that there is really only one relationship in our lives that doesn't ever need to change. For missionaries, we're gone from our families for two years--they change, we change, there will always be that awkward few weeks in trying to readjust to regular life once we get home. For our friends and acquaintances, there will be times when we don't see eye-to-eye, times when we can't even stand each other. All of these relationships are amazingly important, and are some of the only things that we are able to take with us into eternity. But the one relationship that doesn't need to change--or rather, that DOES need to change, but only for the better--is our relationship with God. Even if our families are half a way world away, we can still remain close to God. Even if we're struggling in the depths of sin, despair, trials, or sorrow, we can still remain close to God. In sunshine and in shadow, the Lord is our constant friend. That truth kinda hit me like a ton of bricks earlier this morning. 
I'm so grateful for the chance we have each and every day to strive to come closer to our Savior. I'm grateful for the relationship I do have with Him, and for the fact that I can improve it in the upcoming year (yeah, I nearly forgot to mention: This Thursday=Elder Mitchell's YEAR MARK! May 15 lah! :) Crazy how fast time flies by!).
I love you all and hope that this day and week bring nothing but blessings to you. God be with you till we chat again,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fwd: Happy Star Wars Day (Yesterday)!

Well, folks, this past week has been a good one. Don't have much time to talk this fine day, but I just want all y'all to know that:
1. I got my camera to work. Ya welcome for the pics :)
B. Read the 27th chapter of "Jesus The Christ" sometime. Super good :)
III. I know that this Church is true. I've had the opportunity to see the lives of people that have been blessed by the Restored Gospel, versus those who have not yet partaken of the fruit. There is a notable difference. This Gospel reassures us of a loving and real Heavenly Father, anxiously engaged in our lives and deeds. This Gospel reminds us of the Plan of Salvation our Father presented to us eons ago, guaranteeing that that thing known as death is not an insurmountable wall, but rather a checkpoint on the road home to our Father in Heaven. This Gospel compels us to become better, to stretch farther, to reach higher, to love deeper, to give greater, to see brighter, to feel happier. I'm so grateful for all the many blessings that we have been given, and for the many more that are promised to us, according to our faithfulness. 
I love you all, and hope that you have a wonderful week and day and life!
Mai Zhanglao

p.s. Here come the pics! Get yourselves ready for some fun!
1--Photo 0069: You can take the gangster out of the hood, but you can't take the hood out of the gangster
2--Photo 0156: Jungle in the back, garbage in the front, random orang putih/white guy in the middle=Your Average Malaysian Day
3--Photo 0158: We were cleaning the baptismal font. And we found this random little dude. Poor frog.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Come, Come, Ye Saints

Well, my friends, this week has been a good one. We got to go do some contacting in a rarely-visited place known as Tabuan Jaya, and have gotten 8 new names and numbers from our efforts. Hopefully those will result in new investigators this upcoming week.
Quick Spiritual Thought: The Lord really does expect us to do our best and leave the rest up to Him. We have to do EVERYTHING we can, and then pray that it is an acceptable offering to the Lord. Through the enabling power of His Atonement, I testify that we can truly do anything. The Lord is marvelous. Yesterday in Church one of our relief society sisters said something that I really liked (pardon me for not putting tone marks on here, I'm too lazy): "Tianfu de quanbing duome lihai!" In English (roughly): How awesome is Heavenly Father's authority! And how true that statement is! I know that He lives and longs for us to have a relationship with Him, one that will outlast this mortal sphere and that will extend into the eternities. I'm so grateful for the sealing power of the Priesthood, and for the eternal nature of the family. I know that this Church is true, and I know that the Lord is at our head.
In conclusion, I've been a little bad about sending out pics to errbody, so I'm trying to repent. Here are some that will hopefully brighten your day :)

[The pictures Elder Sam tried to send would not upload.  He's going to try again next week.  Sorry:) ]

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Happy [Easter], Harry!"--Hermione Granger

Fun fact: Hermione actually said "Happy Christmas, Harry!", but since right now isn't quite that time of year I had to revise the statement :) But, you could say that this is THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR, since without Easter, we wouldn't have Christmas. Boom. :)
This past week has been awesome. I've had a chance to really reflect on the power of the Savior in our lives. For instance: This past weekend we had the chance to set up another one of the family history booths. It was in a much slower mall than last time's experience, but that's okay. We were able to have our booth there for two days; on the morning of the second day, during my Personal Study, I had a chance to reflect on the Atonement as I finished reading the Gospel of John. I then took a moment to look at one of my little photo albums (I've got three or four of them) that contained pictures of my family in it. 
The Atonement is that enabling power that binds families together for time and for all eternity. The sacrifice of our Savior is the salvation for siblings, spouses, parents, children, ancestors, and descendants. Easter is a time for remembering these things. Over here in Kuching, people seem to be more focused on celebrating Good Friday--they'll go to church for the one and only time of the year, maybe drink some communion wine, sing a few hymns in Latin, and then go along their merry way. One of the senior sisters here mentioned something that really brought to my mind the place that Good Friday has in our beliefs and where emphasis truly should be placed. She said something to the effect of: "Mormons do celebrate Good Friday. We celebrate it every Sunday when we partake of the Sacrament."
How true that is! Easter, my friends, is a time to keep in remembrance the sacred sacrifice of the Son of God. But Easter is also a time of holy rejoicing, of celestial joy, of comfort and peace. At Easter our focus should be less on the cross and more on the empty tomb; less on the garments that were gambled for, and more on the clean white clothes neatly folded within Joseph of Arimathea's sepulcher. HE LIVES, and while He lives, we can do nothing but sing and shout with the armies of heaven! HE LIVES, and because He lives, we can be with our loved ones, our family members, our departed kindred, for the eternities. HE LIVES, and since He lives, we can be cleansed from any weakness or wickedness that besets us. HE LIVES! It surely is the most joyous of messages in this world; the good news, the glad tidings of great joy, the grand amen to all of His marvelous works of creation. 
I took one of my little photo albums with me to the booth this past weekend. When they asked why family history was important, and why should we be doing it, I told them: "Hold on one second--here's my family history. Take a look and see." As they flipped through the pictures and commented on how pretty my sisters are, I couldn't help but feel that the Spirit was softening their hearts in some degree. Everything we talk and teach and preach about can be referred back to Christ, especially our families. Because of Him, I can live with my family forever. Because of Him, I'm not lost in a state of despair. Because of Him, I can see and be with my brother again--and that, my friends, will be the sweetest gift that He can give me. God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son, and because of that, we never have to walk alone. We never have to be afraid. As we like to say in Chinese: Buyao pa, zhiyao xin :)
Hope that you've all had a tremendous Easter!
Elder Mitchell :)