Monday, March 31, 2014

Keepin' On In Kuching

Yo yo yo my homies,
This past week has been another great one. We've had some really good lessons; the unity between me and my companion is growing and our teaching is getting better each and every lesson. Some of our lessons this week were SUPER AWESOME :) We met with a former investigator on Saturday night, and she committed to coming to Church the next day. We set the expectation of staying for at least one hour of Church...and she stayed for ALL 3 HOURS! And then for a few minutes afterwards, during which time she was busy being fellowshipped by our awesome members. I tell ya what, it brought a smile to this heart of mine :)
This upcoming week we have Zone Conference--Singapore here we come! It's been quite some time since I've been to Singapore; I'm super stoked to go and see friends and hopefully some Chinese YSA peeps as well. Speaking of Chinese: The best way to soften a Chinese person's heart is to tell them that you're from China and then wink at them. It also helps when you're a skinny, white, redheaded kid, but that's not a must. I encourage you to give it a shot the next time you run into yige huaren :)
I've had the chance to learn a lot about charity and love this past week. It's been a good study, and has definitely helped increase my love and respect for the Savior. The fact that He was able to love and serve others without (in certain cases) an inkling of reciprocation is so astounding to me! I personally enjoy it when I get positive feedback from someone that I've been trying to befriend; and it sure does hurt a lot when you get the cold shoulder from someone you've been working so hard to help. But the Savior managed/manages to take all of this and CONTINUE loving that person. No matter what. He suffered for the righteous and the wicked, the whole and the sickly. The gifts of the Atonement are extended to all people. That's certainly a comfort to those of us who are far from perfect (aka yours truly :) ).
Well, folks, remember who you are and what you stand for :) The Lord has a plan for all of us; I don't want to pretend like I understand it, 'cuz I certainly do NOT. I do know, however, that the Lord intends for all of us to experience a fulness of joy, and that joy can only come from having a fulness of the Gospel. Keep on keepin' on, folks!
Love you all,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Keep On Keepin' On :)

Fun fact: There were ten random Koreans that showed up to Sacrament meeting yesterday. They're studying English in Malaysia (which is something that I don't quite understand, personally, since Malaysian English is...well, Malaysian English. 'Nuff said :) ). Either way, though, they're super awesome, and we're going to be teaching them English on Wednesday nights. They taught me how to say 'promise' in Korean, so I'm content :)
Another fun fact: Lu ho bo? Lu ay hiao fujianhua bo? Yep, that's right--I be picking up some Hokkien! Otherwise known as Fujianhua, Hokkien is one of the prominent dialects spoken here in Kuching. We've ran into several people in the farther reaches of the city (aka Chinese kampungs) that don't speak: 1) English; B) Malay; III) Iban; or Quatro) Mandarin. Suoyi ne? I'm trying to pick up some Hokkien so I can converse with them. At least enough to tell them that I'm from China (fun fact: Best way to win a Chinese heart is to be a redhead and tell them you're from China :) ), and that no, I don't speak Hokkien; do you spreckon ze Mandarin ma? :)
Third fun fact: I'm really trying to revamp my Language Study this week. I've been working on a killer language study plan that will increase my vocab and that will help me start learning how to read and write (simplified, of course). I feel like the biggest barriers to my Chinese right now are a lack of vocab and the fact that I can't use the actual Chinese writing system in teaching situations. There's SO MUCH meaning behind so many characters--I really have a desire to unlock the potential they have while teaching. It's gonna be a party. In other words: This week is going to involve a crackdown on language study, ranging from increased vocab to studying characters to learnin' me some Hokkien.
This past weekend was the grand opening of our FAMILY HISTORY BOOTH :) We set it up in a mall and talked with people about family history. We handed out dozens, if not hundreds, of flyers and pass-along cards, and took down the names of those people interested in learning more. It was a really cool experience, and we're excited to continue using this tool in our proselyting.  Hopefully it will help push the work forward here in Kuching :)
Last night we met with a really solid family in our branch for dinner.  One of the members started sharing a lot of really personal details about his life. I'm not going to get into them here, but suffice it to say he'd made some mistakes. As he was telling the story to us in Malay and as it was being translated into  English for us non-Bahasa speakers, I couldn't help but feel the Savior's love for him and the fact that the Atonement had changed this man's life for forever. That's the way the Lord works. He gives us second chance after second chance, and He always will as long as we accept said chances. I've had a chance to really stop and think about what the Atonement means to me and to my family. I am so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and for His willingness to condescend to earth to bring us all back up to live in celestial courts on high.
I hope and pray that you all have a wonderful day and week! 
Keep on keepin' on :)
Mai  Zhanglao :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Turnin' Hearts Like Bosses

Here we be again-another P-Day, another destiny :)
This past week has been BUSY! I'm amazed at the enthusiasm that the Lord has for missionary work. Often times I think of it just as us missionaries and members being excited to go share the Gospel with people, but I sometimes forget that the Lord is even more anxious for others' salvation than we are.
I feel that excitement here in Kuching. Things are just falling into place too well to call it a coincidence. Most things in life are like that, really, but I never really recognized or appreciated that until I became a missionary. Things really have been put into some great perspective here :)
In other news: Family history! Boom! It's certainly one of the greatest tools in a missionary's arsenal. Working with the family history senior couple, we're working on developing a family history pamphlet/brochure that we can start passing out to people. In addition to that, we're going to be able to set up a booth that will also broadcast information about family history to the world. Everyone has a family, and most everyone loves their families. Yesterday, we decided to go do a little bit of contacting. We knocked on one door, and the Buddhist who answered was at first hesitant and even against talking with us...but then we whipped out the family history card and the Spirit took care of the rest. Although he didn't show much interest in the Church at all, he was interested in the site and (as far as we know) will be looking into it in the near future. Moments like that: 1) Restore my faith in humanity; and B) Help me appreciate the power of family history. The Spirit of Elijah really can penetrate even the hardest of hearts and can soften anyone to the truthfulness of the Gospel. 
Today for Personal Study I had the opportunity to study a LOT about the Savior. More than usual, I mean. Today's focus, without any prior preparation by yours truly, consisted of Luke 2, Mosiah 4 (the beginning few verses), and a chapter from Jesus the Christ. It was awesome to reminisce on the Redeemer of mankind. He loves each and every one of us--I know that that is a fact. I have felt that love guiding and helping me through life. I'm so grateful for His sacrifice and for the Atonement that He performed. I am grateful that even though I am far from perfect, I can one day rest with Him and with my family forever. 
Keep on keepin' on.
Love you all,
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, March 10, 2014

Times, They Are A-Hastenin'

Guten tag! Bonjour! Nimen hao! :)
I hope that you all are having just a terrific and marvelous day today. And a marvelous past week, as a matter of fact. I know I sure have. 
This past week has been one full of excitement. Like I mentioned last week, I feel like Kuching is just full of this pent-up, "hastening the work" energy that is on the verge of 'coming forth'. Yesterday we had a Branch Council Meeting that was AMAZING! It was our new branch president's first time running it, and he did such an amazing job. The work truly is hastening.
For example:
This past week, as me and my companion were doing some good ole Weekly Planning, we spent a good portion of time thinking of new ways that we can use to find and teach people. The ever-recurring idea was that of family history. Fun fact: Most people, even if they want nothing to do with the Church, have an interest in their families, past and present. 
We've started using the 'family history' approach with people as we knock on doors and meet them on the streets. We've also started creating a family history pamphlet that explains more about family history and stuff like that. Consultants now man the family history center almost every Sunday, and things are in the works to start using family history in mall contacting. All in all, the Spirit of Elijah is starting to sweep my mind and heart, and hopefully the hearts of all the other inhabitants of Cat City. 
One of my new all-time favorite quotes is from Elder Russell M. Nelson: The Spirit of Elijah is "a manifestation of the Holy Spirit bearing witness of the divine nature of the family" (well, something along those lines...that's not an exact quotation. Sorry 'bout that ;) ).
I know that that's true. The Lord's desire is for all of us to be bound together with our families, sealed in an unbroken chain that soars through the eternities. The work of redeeming our dead is just as important as bringing new investigators into the Church, or as reactivating an inactive member, or any of those things. Joseph Smith once said (this also isn't an exact quotation) that we cannot be saved without our dead, nor they without us. I testify that the Plan of Salvation is REAL--Maybe that statement seems a little vague, or a little blunt, but to each his own. I know that the Lord has a plan for each of us, and I know that we can one day be with our families and loved ones forever. I've learned so MUCH about the Plan of Salvation as a missionary; I thought that I used to understand it pretty well, but my eyes truly have been opened to some of its gravity and reality. Obviously I can't understand nor comprehend it all, but I can say that my faith in the principle of eternal families is stronger than ever before. The Spirit of Elijah surely does put a fire in our hearts and brings us closer to our loved ones, bridging that gap, that veil, that stands between us and them.
I love you all, and hope that you have a remarkably grand and marvelous week! Remember who you are and what you stand for! Zhen jin bu pa hou lian! :)
Zai jian,
Mai Zhanglao :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Of Mountains and Members/Missionaries

To All My Homeboys (and -girls),
This one's title is exceptionally applicable because: Kuching has MOUNTAINS! They're a lot different than the ones back home in Utah, but they're mountains nonetheless! I've missed mountains a lot, and it's certainly nice to have something that accentuates and breaks up the neverending jungle scenery. :)
Well, last Tuesday I bid farewell to kith and kin in Miri and, after a taxi ride to the airport that normally takes 45 minutes but took only 20 that day (in bad traffic, no less :) ), I was bound for Kuching! After touching down and getting my bike box and luggage off of the conveyor belt, I was officially in the City of Cats! 
And what an adventure it's been! :)
We had two baptisms this past Saturday night--one was of an investigator, and the other was of a member's son. The poor 8-year-old kid kept letting his feet pop up, so he ended up being dunked four times. On the final time there were people in the congregation that started clapping. :) We did our best to discourage that. :)
There's an excitement here in Kuching that I haven't really felt as a missionary before. There are three new missionaries in the branch I'm assigned to (I'm one of those three); we have a new branch president; there are several good prospects for investigators for me and my companion--the work of the Lord appears to be hastening here in Kuching! I'm very anxious to help out with the effort :)
I don't have much to say beyond that, other than a reiteration of what I've said before: The work of salvation isn't just something that members do, nor is it something that missionaries should be doing by themselves. It's a team effort. We're all on the Lord's side, and we've got to work together, in unity, in oneness of heart and mind, in the spirit of Zion, if we are truly to help the Lord "cut short his work in its time". We have to be willing to work together in order to get the job done. Members and missionaries--I believe the old adage attributed to Benjamin Franklin can be applied quite nicely here: "We must all hang together, or we shall hang separately."
I love you all! I love this work! I am happiest as I go out and serve others, as I testify about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and as I seek to bring others unto Christ. I have no doubt that the Lord can and will bless YOU--yes, YOU--with that same joy and peace and happiness. The Lord lives; I love Him and am honored to be in His service. His is the glory; mine is the privilege to serve under Him. He loves all of us, despite imperfections and frailties. He strengthens us through His grace, even the enabling power of the Atonement. He awaits for our arrival in the celestial courts above, ready to enfold us in the arms of His love. Trust in Him. Trust in His promises. Pray your hardest, work your hardest, be your bestest, and the Lord will take care of the rest :)
Till we chat again,
Mai Zhanglao/ 麦长老