Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"A Crazy Week"

Well Well Well...

This week has been extremely crazy! On Thursday morning, we headed in to the office to helps the Elders and Sisters who were on their visa runs to load up with supplies, which took a pretty long time! They sat around for awhile after loading up, so we just spent some time talking to them. After they all left, we finally settled down and were going to start on our studies when Elder Palmer came out to our desks, and asked Elder Palfreyman and I to go down to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS, equivalent to the IRS), to pay some stamp/tax fee for an apartment the mission is renting. So, we headed down there, got a ticket stub to wait in line, and waited. As we sat there, I turned to Elder Palfreyman and asked him "When you signed up for your mission, did you ever think you'd be doing anything like this, paying taxes for the Church." With a very bemused look on his face, he replied, "No, I really don't think I ever considered it at all." It was very fun, but something way random to do! Thus is the life of an office elder! We had so much to do in the office that day. The Zone Leaders called us at two in the afternoon and told us that we had two visa runners! We had to order more name cards, and we had an appointment to go to, so I took Elder Barlow with me to order the name cards. When we got there, I called Elder Palmer a few times as I bargained down the price of the name cards. We still had to pay a pretty substantial amount though, and I drew out some of my own funds. Again I asked myself, "Did I sign up for this?" But, it was hilarious. I love the office because of how random it is. I really enjoy what I get to do here! After that, we spent the night finding, which was very successful!

On Friday, we had studies and lunch with a member, did more work at the office, then took Elder Barlow out with me for a couple appointment that we had. We jumped on the bus, and realized after about twenty minutes, that we were on the wrong bus. By this time, we were very far from the appointment, and we were going to be pretty late, so we got off the bus, ran through some apartment blocks, ran across a road. climbed a fence (that I got stuck on), ran across another road, jumped in a cab and rushed over. The cab driver was confused and took us to the wrong place, and still charged us the full amount, with a thirty cent discount. Argh! We rushed up the escalator to where we were meeting this investigator and the sisters, who were passing us this investigator, only to find that he was still not there! The poor sisters were waiting there for awhile! We waited around for awhile, gave this man named Efwur a couple of calls, and found out that he was still pretty far away, so we called told him that we'd meet him at another stop, because we had another appointment there, and he agreed. Got to that stop, waited for another ten minutes, gave him a call, and found out that he was at the train stop that we were originally supposed to meet! Asked him why he was there, and he said that we were supposed to meet there! Anyhow, we told him to come to the train stop that we were at, that was only one stop, or three minutes away. Fifteen minutes later, we gave him a call, and he was still at the same stop! It was very frustrating, and I showed it, so he said he would be with us soon. As we were waiting, our next appointment turned up, so we just went along with that instead.

A little background: This lady named Joyce had called the office a few times before, and was trying to look for a member who had been featured in the newspaper because of his mission call as an employment specialist. They had put the mission office number as a reference, and so she called us. The member was out of town, so we told her he'd call her back, but she called a few times, till she finally said, "Missionary Chua (what she calls me), I have a problem. I want to find a friend." I was so confused, and, what she went on to explain was that she was in her early sixties and had never married, and now, she wanted to find someone to be her companion, as she had been lonely since her mother passed away. Couldn't really help her out with that, but I figured that we could teach her about the Plan of Salvation and activity in the Church, so we agreed to meet up with her. We went to a MacDonald's, where she was nice to buy us a drink, then sat down and asked us if we knew any men in their early sixties who were single. She again explained her plight, then looked right at me and asked "I'm attractive right." I know that this might sound rather unsympathetic, but at that point, I almost burst out laughing, and Elder Barlow was just weirded out. We tried all different angles of the gospel, but she said that she already went to another Church. She said, "Actually, there is a man at my Church that fits that description, but he is a blur collar worker, and I am a professional, so that won't work." By this point, Elder Barlow was pretty frustrated, so he said that he knew a man that was like she described (which he did), but then sarcastically added, "Oh wait, he's a blue collar worker." We told her that we weren't a matchmaking agency, and suggested going online, but she didn't want that. All she wanted was a husband, and there was no one at our Church who met our criteria, so she told us a number of times not to forget her if we found anyone, then walked away.

After that appointment, we called Efwur, and found out that he was finally there. Took awhile to find him, but we eventually found him. The first thing he said was "I have been waiting here for a long time...", and that's when I snapped and told him that we had waited for him for an hour an a half, so he apologized. Turned out that all he wanted was to "learn from the sister missionaries," a.k.a. marry them, so we passed him back to them. Didn't have too much time left, but we had to find some inactive members, so we skipped dinner, and walked to these random flats. Found out that one of them was still living at the address we went to, but his Grandmother refused to give us any contact number, so we started looking for the next person, but, it was getting late, so we started heading back to the train station, but we couldn't find the right bus. We kept running for these random buses that took us back to the apartment that we had been.. ..three times! It was a tiring day!

On Saturday, we had our planning session, then headed to NUS for an appointment with a man I contacted a few days before. Our member was late so we pushed the appointment back till we could wait no longer, then went off for the appointment without the poor member. It was good that he didn't go. When we got there, we found the man, Ming Hui, who said he had brought a friend. Guess what? That friend was a pastor from California! I had a feeling earlier that something like this was going to happen, but I didn't expect his pastor. We started off with a prayer, then started explaining our side. As soon as we got to the prophets, he said that he wasn't going to attack Joseph Smith's moral character, then went on to call him a liar, their, loose man, and all sorts of other demeaning and derogatory adjectives, and called The Book of Mormon, "that book", pointing to it vigorously and insulting it too. The worst part was when he called us servants of the devil, leading people to hell with us. So, the appointment didn't end up being too fun, to say the least.

Brother Dewitt, the Father of one of the missionaries who used to serve here, had to come here for surgery, so we had visited with him and his wife, and gave him a blessing. After the crazy pastor appointment, we visited with them with them, and had a wonderful meeting with them, with some great spiritual experiences shared. I really had my testimony strengthened about Heavenly Father's love for His children. We were able to meet up with them again last night, after a couple of calls from them about referrals that they had for us. Brother DeWitt is a missionary machine! We had three meals with them, which was very nice of them.

Well, after that appointment with them on Saturday, I misread the time, and we started taking a cab to our next appointment with Velmurugan, only to find out that we were an hour early. So, we got off the cab and took a bus back. When we got there, we waited with Han, our member for a while, got a hold of Velmurugan, and found out that he couldn't make it!
On Sunday, we had Church and studies and a good dinner appointment. But, in between all that, we had an appointment with one of our investigators, who had a problem with drinking, smoking, and gambling. The week before, when we met him, he was pretty drunk, and made us eat Otah, these spicy fish paste sticks wrapped in Banana leaf. This past week he was better though, and over the past two days, he seems to have been improving. We've been teaching him about the strength that can come through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and about the Restoration of proper priesthood authority. I think it worked out pretty well.
Monday was very very busy. We had a lot to do, what with missionaries leaving and a whole bunch of paper work and supply inventory-ing. We stayed in the office till almost eight. I took Elder McEntire, who just left for home today, out with me to hand out some old Chinese copies of The Book of Mormon. Met some nice people, but some very rude people too. It was interesting. Bumped into some old high school friends. That reminds me, I bumped into an old middle school friend last week, and another high school friend yesterday. Anyhow, we managed to give out more than a dozen copies, so that was good. It was weird, "pushing" these books, along with a few we had that had the old translation of the Church's name called the "doomsday generation" instead of Latter-day Saints.
Elder Wright was assigned to and gave a great district training on teaching for new investigators. As I mentioned earlier, had dinner with the Dewitt's, then went over to Sister Angelina's, where we helped her resolve some concerns about who could and when people could go to a temple, along with why we don't have a temple in Singapore yet.
All in all, it was just a very fulfilling, but crazy and tiring week! Hopefully the rest of this week will be a little slower! Would love to get some mail! :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Preaching The Restored Gospel"

Sister Jacelyn, Sister Germaine, Sister Angelina, Brother Yong, Me, and Elder Palfreyman

Well... This week was definitely one of some ups and downs... but...

Angelina was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday! Her husband, Brother Yong, got to baptize her. It was wonderful. The other two sisters in the photo are two wonderful ward missionaries who did an amazing job fellowshipping Sister Angelina, and who taught along with us, and who also bore porwerful testimonies. The Bishop mentioned that it was the first baptism of the year. I think he thinks that we were a little slow getting into it. The thing is that what members don't realize is that missionaries are there to teach. We do a lot of finding, but the members themselves are supposed to do missionary work, because member referrals produce the highest number of baptisms! But, they are very diligent at accompanying us to appointments, and I love them for that. They really are stalwart members.

We had a pretty slow week, mainly because I sick, so we stayed in in the evenings for a few days.We did have a lesson with a man from Laos, since we randomly ordered three copies of The Book of Mormon in Laotian. I guess you could say that the rest of the week was pretty uneventful except for the baptism, but baptisms make up for everything else! It's also been nice to get back into contacting these past couple of days, because I've been able to talk/teach some really nice people, including a Filipina who was baptized when she was ten but, hasn't been active for about twenty or more years. She was really friendly though, and asked about the Joseph Smith story, so I recounted it to her. She also remembered the missionaries who baptized her family, and the hymn, Count Your Blessings! Randomly cool!
When we went to Sister Angelina's place for a recent convert lesson yesterday, she fed us some red bean soup, and was very excited to tell us something. We thought that she was going to give us a referral, but it turned out to be something different. Apparently, about an hour before, she had been feeding her Mom (who has dementia), at a Subway. When she turned away to break a cookie, her Mom walked off! So, we ended up going Mom-searching with her. Thankfully, her Mom managed to find her way home, so that was great, but rather random.

Met up with Joe late last week, and had a good appointment with him. He went to Melaka for a school trip over the weekend, and now we can't get a hold of him! He is supposed to have his baptismal interview this week, so we are rather worried. Just hope that he is safe and well! Raja also disappeared after going to Indonesia for a couple of weeks! Can't have our investigators leaving the country anymore.
The Lord was wonderfully merciful to me this week. As I said earlier, I'd been rather sick and was pretty down. As I sat down on Sunday to eat a snack, I started reading the articles on self-reliance by President Marion G. Romney and Elder M. Russell Ballard in this months Ensign. It was as if my mind was opened up, and all that I read just made sense. The Spirit was so strong and spoke to me about the beauty of that concept, about the need for physical, but especially for spiritual self-reliance. Later on, while we were on a bus to an appointment, I started having these impressions about member missionary work that kept on coming! Elder Palfreyman and I had been discussing a couple of days earlier what we could do to involve and energize the members, and we were drawing a blank. One wonderful thought that came to me was that it really can be and is hard to talk to our friends and family about the gospel, and we, more often than not, have to go out of our ways to do that. But then, bthe thought came to me that it was very out of the way for the Savior to have to come down to this Earth and serve himself as a sacrifice for us. It got me to thinking about the Atonement in a different than I had always looked at it, and the thoughts that came to my mind literally overhelmed me. The events and feeling of that day really confirmed to me that I really do have a Heavenlt Father who loves me and cares for me. His tender mercies really are wonderful.

While we were waiting for Joe at NUS last week, there was an Islamic Awareness week going on, so I was looking at some of the exhibits, then read a bit from a Koran at a table there, and ended up being taught/proselyted by a Muslim guy there. They gave us each a beautiful copy of the Koran, and some books on Islam! It was very interesting, and surprising to see the similarities between Mormons and Muslims. Actually reading a book about that now. It's unfortunate how ignorant some people are, and show it through their words. Pity. It's also been discouraging to read on the Church website that HBO is going to air an episode on Big Love about temples. It shows you how unfeeling and callous people are: I mean, how far will people go just to make a buck? It is very sad to see that, our sacred rites being desecrated. To counter that, we've just ordered fifty DVDs about the temple called From Heaven to Earth, where many prominent scholars talk about the beauty of temples, and what it really represents. You can watch it on, or I hope that it will all work out somehow. But, I know that the Lord will protect His Saints, for "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing." As the Church put it in a statement they issued, "If the Church allowed critics and opponents to choose the ground on which its battles are fought, it would risk being distracted from the focus and mission it has pursued successfully for nearly 180 years. Instead, the Church itself will determine its own course as it continues to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world." I am humbled to be a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What a privilege it is to represent my Heavenly Father and His Son.
The work goes on! Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Roaring Of A Lion"


We’ve had a pretty decent week, nothing too exciting. Well, Joe’s baptism date has been moved up a week, so that’s great! We’re starting to work towards the expectation of having a baptism every two weeks! Angelina will be baptized this Saturday at 4 p.m. We’re way excited about it because we’re starting to see the fruits of our labor, starting with her. We were able to put Hazel on a baptism date, so we are definitely starting to have a line of baptisms building up.

We had our Zone Conference and Stake Conference this past week, and that definitely helped us have a spiritually uplifting weekend. President Skelton and the Assistants trained us on being better teachers, about seeing what really makes the difference in teaching, and how teaching by the Spirit really does make the difference. Instead of just thinking of Sunday School answers as to how we can teach by the Spirit, President got us to think a little more about it, to really study and prepare in phases. The Assistants talked to us about how essential finding by the Spirit is, to be guided to the places that we should go to, and the people whom we should talk to. When I first got to the mission, the Assistants had given a training about "N.E.I.W.", how No Effort Is Wasted. This time, they added on a “C” to it. So, we should now be "N.E.I.W.C." missionaries! No effort is wasted, along with extending a commitment, always! That way, we have a higher chance of getting more new investigators.

On Saturday, we had a good lesson with a man named K.D. Unfortunately, he only speaks Mandarin, and it really was a struggle for me to teach him, even with a member there to help. So, we had to pass him to the Mandarin Elders. We were supposed to meet up with some Laotians but they never turned up!

Bishop Keith B. McMullin, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, presided over the Stake Conference on Sunday. President Lai, the Stake President, gave a powerful speech to the members about the progress on having a temple in Singapore. He stated that we had the numbers, but, he went on to say that the members were not pure in heart yet, that they did not yet possess the charity that is needed to have a temple in Singapore. He went on to say that it is only when the members learn to forgive, will they then truly have charity. He also talked about how abuse has no place in the home of a Latter-day Saint, and admonished anyone who might be behaving in that way. He warned that they had to repent. It was a wonderful talk. Elder Richards found Joseph Smith’s description of Paul, as he had seen in the vision, and it really does describe him! The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “He is about five feet high; very dark hair; dark complexion; dark skin; large Roman nose; sharp face; small black eyes, penetrating as eternity; round shoulders; a whining voice, except when elevated, and then it almost resembled the roaring of a lion.” That really does describe President Lai! Also, Toa Payoh Ward now has a new Bishop, Bishop Yow. Toa Payoh Ward was the ward that I served in for seven months before I transferred to the office.

Anyhow, we had a relatively quiet week overall I guess, but it was good. We’ll just have to see what the rest of the week brings!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Cometh of Faith"

Angelina passed her baptismal interview! Her baptism is scheduled for Saturday next week, 14th March, 2009. We initially had a scare last Friday, before her interview, when she expressed doubts about being baptized, due to some personal concerns. But, we were able to comfort her as we talked to her about a loving Heavenly Father who knows her problems, and who will help her through all things. We talked to her about Heavenly Father's will, and how it's not always what we want. But, if we have faith and trust in Him, if we especially obey His commandments, He will bless in ways that we never thought were possible. It has been three months of hard work, but the fruits of our labor paid off, and there is nothing sweeter than that, knowing that one more person in the world knows that Heavenly Father loves them, that He has restored His church to this Earth, and that He has a marvelous plan for them. The changes that we've seen in her are amazing. She has gone from fearing to hopeful, distressed to excited, doubting to believing. It is amazing to see the Spirit working in the hearts of Heavenly Father's children. It really is a blessing.

Other than that, we had a pretty crazy week! We shattered most of the records that we sent for our key indicators. Part of the reason why is because we had for new missionaries come in this past week. Two of them went into their areas, but we kept the other two with us for awhile because their luggage had been misplaced, and we couldn't really send them out to the jungles of Malaysia until they had their clothes and such. Elder Palfreyman took Elder Ng-Woon out while I took Elder Raja. Taking new missionaries out is always great because they are so excited to do the work. Elder Raja was fearless, just talking to everyone and anyone. That was a great motivator to me, so I followed suit. Together, we ended up teaching thirty six lessons and getting seven new investigators in a matter of a few hours! Elder Raja reminded me about what we really should be doing as a missionary, and we ended the week strong with over a hundred lessons and eighteen new investigators. We're really getting on track on having a baptismal service every two weeks so that's wonderful.

Velmurugan is continuing to progress. He has some problems coming to Church on Sunday because of work, but we're confident that through prayers, something will work out. Joe has come for two straight Sundays now, and really seems to be doing well. He'll probably be baptized two weeks after Angelina, so we can't wait for that to happen! Setting that vision has been wonderful. To have a goal is definitely important. I'm learning that as I've set up my study schedule, and also my diet and exercise schedule. The problem is more often than not, I'm not motivated to keep up with it, so I'm trying to work on that. It is so east to be frustrated with yourself. For some reason, I've been annoying myself with my handwriting, my lack of exercise, and lack of control when eating, so I'm trying to learn to be patient with myself. We all have our weaknesses, I've learned, so that's been an eye opener. :P There are certain changes that we must and we want to make, but the only true motivator is the Lord. Changes come as we try to improve ourselves, and so, we need to put our trust in the Lord who will help us to become strong.

This week has been especially busy, because the Palmers were out of town, and we had to fill in for them. We've had our hands full since Monday, but it has been very fun, with more things to do. I've had to enter in the baptisms for the week into the system, process reports for President Skelton to send off to the area headquarters, return emails and fix travel schedules, and to continue to manage office duties such as supplies. Sometimes it gets a little boring sitting in the office when there's not too much to do, so it has been a week of accomplishments, especially when we managed to do some things that we weren't too sure how to. Almost made some mistakes of consequence, but managed to avoid them, so that was good. In the process, I manged to fall sick once again, so that hasn't been too fun. Overall, we have had an amazing week, one of my best as a missionary.

Of course, we continue to have our disappointments and set backs, people cancel appointments, people are rude to us, we have disagreements among friends and family. But, all that comes to naught as we come to understand the Atonement of the Savior, about His teachings and His love, that all should be forgiven, we can come to develop a sense of inner peace. That's a very vague term, but it's something that you have to find for yourself. I'm taking the steps towards that, but I'm still far from it. But, there is hope, that "cometh of faith" (Ether 12:4) and that's all that really matters.