Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Alma 22:18

The weeks seem a blur to me. More often than not, Tuesday rolls by without me realizing it. Sunday doesn’t rest either. People say two years is a long time, and it really is. But, it really is hard to fathom that I’ve been out for over a year now.

Anyhow, we’ve had yet another normal week. Well, normal in terms of the fact that we’ve been walking around, teaching people, and being happy missionaries. I guess you could see every week of a mission that way. But, nah, we’ve had a wonderful week. We talked to many wonderful people by the way, we were able to get a record-high twenty-one new investigators for the week, and we’ve had a wonderful time serving the old, learning and growing, struggling to be better.

We were able to meet up with the Filipino family again. They were great and asked some questions about the legitimacy of authority and all that. Sunday was a bummer because we had planned to have quite a few investigators at Church, and ended up only having Pan come. We did have a good English class that night though. We had our usual group there, and had a fun time teaching them. It’s a really fun thing to do, and it’s a wonderful service opportunity too. I really wish that we had more time for service. Serving in the office definitely counts as service though. I love the office. Have I told ya’ll that already. It is such a privilege to work with President Skelton, to draw from his wit and wisdom. It’s wonderful to see the Church run administratively, but still see how much the hand of the Lord is in all of it.

We’re working on rebuilding our teaching pool now from the baptisms that we’ve had the past three months. We spent some time contacting referrals from Salt Lake, which was interesting, because we always end up getting lost, and we can’t find our way back after we find the place! It really is an adventure with all this referral contacting. Missionary work is just pure fun. We call people to set up return appointments, and sometimes they don’t answer, believe it or not. Anyhow, when they call back, it always takes a minute or two to figure out who we’re talking to.

The big bummer that inevitable happens is that we have all these appointments planned, we turn up, and they aren’t there!

On Sunday, we met up with an interesting character named Jim, from China. Apparently he’s met up with a lot of Mormons before. Had some good questions, but some misconceptions that he couldn’t seem to rationalize.

We’ve had a bunch of really sick missionaries.

Unfortunately, one of our senior couples had to go home because the Elder developed cancer. Also, one of our single missionaries has to go home because of some brain problems. Ah, we’re losing too many missionaries and not enough coming in! We need more! It seems that challenges come no matter how faithful you are. The Lord definitely doesn't test us beyond that which we can handle, but he will test us and stretch us till we're malleable enough for Him to truly mold.

I've really been thinking about this past year. About how things have been, how things have changed. I've been seeing my shortcomings more and more, which is rather annoying at times, but I really am trying to change to be better. My temper is really short still, I really think pride plays a big factor. Oh, if I could be more humble. Working so hard for that, but it still seems to slip from my grasp every time I think I'm doing better. I suppose words can't adequately decribe what I'm trying to say. Anyhow... Alma 22:18. Read that and think about it.

Had our spring cleaning today. Well, I think I’m done for today.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Normal Week

So on our last all-day P-day, we played futsal, a indoor soccer game, which really hurt. I am out of shape. Trying to work on a light exercise (can't strain my heart too much), and diet regimen. We'll see how that goes.

We went over to Kai Xin’s place for her birthday last Wednesday. Her Dad’s a chef, and so he cooked a bunch of food for us to eat that was great. Well, it was Chinese food, so I enjoyed it. Through some scheming methods, I got Elder Stone to try some weird dishes. We were able to get to know Kai Xin’s family better, though her parents only speak Mandarin and Cantonese. They were really nice, and we enjoyed being with them. Hopefully, we’ll be able to visit sometime soon and have them be even more comfortable with the Church.

We had dinner at the Petersen’s on Thursday, and had Li Zhen and Joseph both come over. Li Zhen and Joseph are less-active recent converts, and they are pretty hard to get hold of, so it was wonderful to be able to meet up with them. They both agreed to come to Church on Sunday, and they did, so that was wonderful. That Thursday night, we had gone over with Li Zhen to the NUS Conservatory (since she’s a paino major), and heard her play some beautiful music. I’m now absolutely in love with Brahms Fantasias Op. 116. On Friday,we were able to meet up with Velmurugan. He’s doing as well as ever, and was really happy when we saw him, which made our day. Finished up with looking for the lost sheep, which was a relief. I actually do enjoy looking for these people. I’ve been going to places in Singapore that I’ve never been to before. We had an appointment in Boon Lay which we headed to, but they fell through for the second time, which was rather frustrating, but oh well, just takes it as it comes.

Sunday was good. We met up with Pan (not Ban), Pheonix’s wife, and we were able to finish teaching her the Plan of Salvation. Unfortunately, when she challenged her to be baptized, she said no, her reason being that she really didn’t understand it well enough, which I think was great for her to say. Hopefully, we’ll be able to help her along. I can definitely understand her having a culture shock moving here for Myanmar, being a newlywed, and learning about a new religion from two foreigners. She’s really sincere about learning though. She came up to us a few days ago while we were waiting for another investigator at her place and asked us how to pray properly. We were able to meet up with Li Zhen in the evening. We showed her a video of the Five Browns, which she enjoyed, and then got to watch her play the piano again, which was absolutely amazing. We headed over to our English class after that. When we told Li Zhen where we were doing and what we were going to do, she got all excited, so we invited her to come along, and she did! The class went well. We had Velmurugan (who shaved his moustache off and looks really young), Pan, Li Zhen, and a couple of Pheonix/Tun Naing’s friends. We did an evaluation session to gauge their level of English, which was fun, they all seem to be really excited.
Monday and Tuesday were pretty normal, just some finding and a single appointment, though we did find some good people, so we’ll be following up on them. Oh wait, Monday was wonderful because we contacted a great referral from the Philippines. Along the way, we stopped an Indian lady to ask for directions, and she was really helpful. She also agreed to meet us with her family sometime! Anyhow, the referral was really nice. There are four children in the family. Dad’s Singaporean. Unfortunately, the family goes back to the Philippines in a couple of weeks while the Dad will stay here for awhile longer. We should have contacted that family a few weeks ago when we received the referral! Ah! The price of procrastination!

Well, I hope that you all have a good week! I’m turning 21 in less than two months, crazy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

"I Have Overcome the World"

I’ll have to admit that I slacked off on writing my weekly email/blog last week. But, my two excuses are that 1) I was exhausted, and 2) There never seems to be a response to any of the emails or letters I write. I suppose those are rather excusing excuses, but, I have repented, and I’m writing one today that will make up for last week. By the way, who asked me on my blog where last week's one was?

Well, the highlight of last week was Velmurugan’s baptism on Saturday. We had been meeting with him so often, and the only setback was that his boss only let him go to Church once a month. Fortunately, President Skelton approved his baptism even though he only came to Church twice before it. Brother Kumar, our wonderful member, was able to perform the baptism. Brother Kumar has been instrumental in helping Velmurugan to understand all that we’ve been teaching him by helping us to translate what we teach from English to Tamil. We had the Assistants and another set of missionaries there, and we were privileged to sing When I Am Baptized, just as we did at Joe’s baptism. I absolutely love that song. It helps me so much to remember the child-like view that we have to have about life, about the concepts of repentance, and know that our sins really can be washed away, that I really do want to be the “best I can, to live with God again.” After his baptism, Velmurugan bore a wonderful testimony about the challenges he had to overcome which we had no idea about. Through Brother Kumar, he told us that during the time we were teaching him, his work permit in Singapore was about to expire and his company was not going to renew it because of some family problems he had. But, as he met us and learned about the gospel of Jesus Christ, about praying to a loving Heavenly Father and studying the scriptures, he was blessed and his work permit was renewed. What a wonderful tender mercy from the Lord. I was able to confirm him the next day at Church, my first time!

Speaking of tender mercies, I had been reading an article entitled A Quest For Joy, which talked about the joy that we search for and teach as missionaries. I had been having a rather tiring week, with a lot to do, and just being physically and spiritually exhausted. There was so much in that article that gave me a boost, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. A part of it that really stuck out to me helped me to understand the joy that we are supposed to feel as missionaries, that sense of the Lord’s love for us. As the author, Barbara Workman so eloquently stated “Missionaries may not wake up each morning bursting with joy, but they are out the door on time anyway. ‘Hard’ isn’t negative when you are a missionary. Why? Because when your feet hurt and you’re really hungry and the dogs are especially vicious and you are surprised to discover that you are happy anyway, you accept that gift of joy as a blessing from your Heavenly Father, thanking you for doing His work.” She goes on to talk about what joy truly is, and ends with a scripture that I will mention later.

We had our Zone Conference this past week, which was absolutely amazing. Sister Skelton gave a wonderful talk on the restoration of the gospel, about the First Vision, and how those words uttered by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith were the most marvelous words heard since the angel said “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, for he is risen.” President Skelton gave an amazing training on the last days. We went through the books of the Old Testament, the Book of Revelation, and the Doctrine and Covenants, and the prophecies fulfilled, and those yet to be fulfilled. He tied that in with our attitudes during these last days, about our attitudes as missionaries, and whether or not we were in the right mindset, if we really were seeing the plan of salvation as a plan just for the saints, or really for all the children of God. He made some wonderful remarks about the blessings that will come, but more about the calamities and suffering that the Saints and the world will have to endure before Christ’s second coming. It was mesmerizing, to be honest. Elder Judd, Elder Stone and I wrote a song for the conference, dedicated to President and Sister Skelton, entitled Isles of the Sea. Elder Judd came up with most of the lyrics, I added the bridge and the end, I came up with the melody, and Elder Stone came up with the accompaniment. It was a privilege to perform it. I really do enjoy it, and I really saw the hand of the Lord helping and guiding us through it. We only had fifteen or twenty minutes each night for a couple of weeks, but somehow, it all just came together. If you want a copy of the sheet music, just let me know and I’ll send it to you. President Skelton has allowed us to make it the mission song, so that makes me really happy. They enjoyed it too. :)
These are the lyrics to the song, we’re doing a recording of it, so just ask for a copy if you want!

Isles Of The Sea – The Singapore Mission Song
by Elder Shiloh Dean Judd & Elder Ee Chien Chua

1. Amidst the Oceans here we stay,
How long, we do not know.
The waves they break and throw us down,
The force traps us below.
But we fight on and carry through,
Our purpose, it is clear.
We journey through isles of the sea,
To draw our Savior near.

2. The winds blow fierce, a storm is nigh,
A threat’ning cloud appears.
The Savior is our only shield,
And strength despite our fears.
He strengthens us and moves our feet,
Along the seaside isles.
No enemy can stop us now,
Nor rocky ways or trials.

Bridge: It’s the people who we love,
It’s the people whom we serve.
Through the jungles and the streets,
We ride on though.
Lands and people we didn’t know,
Thought we’d never go.
But as we love and as we serve,
That’s all we know.

3. We love the Lord and walk His path,
In all His ways we’ll tread.
We’ll follow Him through raging storms,
When all His friends have fled.
We’ll stand by Him and waver not,
Although the tempest run.
Our mission, we ever know,
We’ll fight until it’s won.

End: The waves will guide us,
The storms will cleanse us,
We’ll be who he wants us to be.
Purified through rain and fire,
By the people whom we love,
Through the isles of the sea.

Unfortunately, Elder Stone fell sick soon after that, so we spent a couple of days letting him to get some rest and to recuperate. On Sunday, we got to take the mission van because Elder Stone was certified and he still wasn’t feeling too well, so we got to take the van for our appointments! We’ve been teaching Phoenix’s wife (Ban)! She’s absolutely wonderful and learning about the gospel. If you don’t already know, Phoenix is one of our wonderful Burmese members who helps us with everything. He went back to Myanmar, got married, and now his wife is here, so it’s wonderful! He is so happy! :) When we went over last night to teach another investigator, Ban came out of her room and asked us how to pray properly. T’was a great feeling.

For the days that Elder Stone was sick, I went on splits with the Assistants. Elder Perrett and I taught Ajay on Friday night, one of the wonderful referrals that we were given by the sisters. We were able to teach him more about the plan of salvation, and to bear our testimony of true and living prophets on this Earth again today. He had some questions and concerns, but we were able to talk to him about it because he is one who is really sincere and seeking to know the truth. We might even be able to play Badminton with him next week! :) Ajay is one of those people who we try to find day after day, those with a sincere desire to learn and to draw closer to God. The next day, I went with Elder Taiamoni and Tun Naing to a couple of appoints who both cancelled when we got there and were waiting for them. It’s so discouraging sometimes, and it didn’t help that I hadn’t had dinner. But, as I said before, there was a scripture quoted in that article mentioned earlier that has given me a new perspective of the absolute love and understanding that the Lord has for us. The Lord showed His love for me when I read that. I felt His love as I read Christ’s words as He told His Saints, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I know that Christ will always help us, In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.