Thursday, October 29, 2009

Minggu Akhir

Halo Keluarga Saya

We're there! It's the very, very last P-Day! We're so close, and you can definitely feel the excitement in the air. Class is becoming a little less hard study and a little more chatting with the teachers about what things are going to be like when we get over there. We're all guessing where each other's first areas will be (I guessed a city in East Malaysia called "Kucing." [The c makes a ch sound.] "Kucing means "cat, so it's got that going for it, and it's also supposed to be a pretty great area to serve). Tomorrow is culture day, which we've been looking forward to since basically the day we got here. So lots of exciting things going on.

I've started to get a little irrationally nervous about getting into the country though! There's all kinds of visa problems going on here at the MTC. We actually have about 140 Brazillian missionaries here at the MTC(missionaries *headed to* Brazil, not actual Brazillians. We also just call them the Brazillians, or the Mongols, or the Indos. They're not actually from those countries. Just clarifying! :D). I guess Brazil just changed their visa requirements so none of them were able to go to the Sao Paolo MTC, and it's starting to look like they're going to be here for more than 9 weeks. They actually had to hire 10 new Brazillian portuguese teachers to teach them all. They didn't have any before.

I don't think there's really anything to be worried about though. We should get in just fine.

Elder Perry came and spoke this Tuesday. He talked about effective teaching, and it was definitely very awesome. Such a good farewell from the MTC.

OK! Quick Indonesian cultural tidbit. Indonesians (and I assume Malaysians) eat rice for pretty much every single meal, including breakfast. Brother Ross told us there's a phrase that goes something like "Jika anda tidak sudah makan nasi, anda tidak makan" which means,"If you haven't eaten rice, you haven't eaten." (Interestingly enough, I guess they think the only thing westerners eat is bread, cheese, and milk. Who knows where they would have gotten that idea!) Anyway, we were singing "Because I Have Been Given Much" a couple of days ago and I've really been working on translating songs as we were singing them. So we got to the part of song where it says "my glowing fire, my loaf of bread, my roof's safe shelter overhead." When I realized that instead of saying, "my loaf of bread" in Indonesian, they just sing "my rice" instead. Perfect! Good to know at least some of the hymns are adjusted for culture. (Other notable changes in songs include the title of "Put your shoulder to the wheel," which is just called "the world needs people who help" and "Did you think to pray?" which is called "Before you left your house.")

Anyway! I've got to run, but I'll talk to you on Tuesday! I can't wait!

I love you so much! I'm doing great, and I know everything's going to go just great with traveling.

Dengan banyak kasih,
Elder Blissett (Kevin)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ada Dua Minggu Lagi! (There are two weeks left!)‏

Halo Keluarga Saya!

How are you all doing? How are things going back in good ol' Salt Lake City? I'm sure you already heard, but I actually had a little connection back there this week. We had a chance to host this week which means that we got to be the missionaries who help brand new elders and sisters at the curb to get their luggage to their rooms and get their books and their name tags and everything. It was very, very awesome. We've been looking forward to it for a really long time and were starting to wonder if they were ever going to ask us to do it. It finally happened though! Not only is hosting a really wonderful break from going to class all day, but it's also kind of a sign of seniority around here. Everyone knows that once you're hosting you're the elders who kind of know their way around, know which foods to avoid at the cafeteria and know all the best games to play at gym. It's actually a lot like being a senior in high school. So anyway, just getting the opportunity to host is a nice acknowledgement that we've been here a really long time. As a bonus though, I totally randomly had the chance to host Elder Sperry! I didn't even remember he was coming in this week, but as I was sitting at my station, I noticed the Sperrys dropping him off at the spot just right next to mine, so I just switched with the elders who were already there and got to be the very first person he met at the MTC. Very cool. He didn't even say a ton about home, but it was just nice knowing that he had just come from there. Almost like finding a relic from life before the MTC. Anyway, last I saw him he was doing really great, and I hope Sister Sperry told you I looked like I was doing great as well!

The other big news is that we've kind of sort of received travel plans! Last week ( I think it was Thursday, but I can't entirely remember), Elder Christiansen (from the other district going to Singapore) received travel plans in his mailbox... for Kansas City, MI! So, there was definitely a big moment of panic where he wasn't sure if he'd been reassigned or if his travel arrangements were all messed up or what. So he and his companions rushed to the travel office to try and get things worked out. I guess they told him it was just some kind of huge mistake and said something like, "well, as long as you're here, why don't we just go ahead and give you your real plans." So he got them a week early, and it says there are 10 people in his traveling group, which means I'm pretty much guaranteed to be doing the same thing he is. I should know for sure later today, but, here's almost definitely what the travel plans look like! On Nov. 3rd we leave the Salt Lake Airport at 4:50 PM to arrive at LAX at 5:52 PM. So, I'm probably going to end up calling sometime around then. I guess we have pretty much as long as we want, we just have to find a payphone and make the call whenever we can. Anyway, you can pretty much plan on sometime after 6 PM (LA time) on Nov. 3rd. Sooo, we have a five hour layover (heavens! I don't know what we're going to do), then we leave for Taipei, Taiwan at about 11 PM. We'll arrive there about 5:30 in the morning, and I may actually be able to call again from there. I'm not sure though! I think it's like a 14 hour time difference, so if I'm not mistaken, that would be at like 7PM here? Anyway, we'll work that out and I'll tell you what the plan is for sure next week. So we have 2 hours in Taipei, then we fly out for Singapore and arrive there at 12:05 PM on the 5th of November. You'll notice that looks like 48 hours of flying, but we cross the dateline and lose a day there. So! I don't know if I'll be able to call from Singapore. When we get there it will be like... 2 in the morning here, but maybe we'll be able to call a little later! Who knows!

Phew! So that's one piece of big news. The other is that Elder Lang and I had the chance to teach our first non-member on Saturday! It went really really really well. It's such a different experience to be teaching people who have real legitimate questions about the gospel, and I was so much more aware of the Spirit as we taught. She was from Jawa (or Java, I'm not sure how they spell it here) in Indonesia.

Plans for sacrificing Lucu are well underway. We haven't determined exactly how we want to do it, but it should be somewhere in the next few days here. Out teachers couldn't be happier. I'm not too torn up about it either.

Umm... So! I learned some more kind of funny Indonesian factoids! I'm really starting to feel like I'm getting a grasp of the language, and even though after listening to our investigator, I'm pretty much 100% positive I'll have no idea what people are saying to me, I'm pretty confident that I can at least get what I would like to say to people across. We taught one of the other companionships in our district yesterday, and one of the other elders (who was pretending to be an investigator) and I had like 1/2 hour conversation about the word of wisdom pretty much entirely in Indonesian. Maybe not totally effective teaching, but it sure felt cool to be able to do. I've really come to learn exactly how real the gift of tongues is. It's like all of the effort I put in is magnified many, many times by the Spirit. Very cool.

Anyway! Indonesian has no word for "comfort" in the sense that we mean when we say that the Spirit can comfort your heart during times of trial. So the best equivalent they have for the title "Comforter," is penghibur which actually means "entertainer!" It's the same word that someone would use to describe Michael Jackson's job. I guess people understand what you mean though! Very funny! Also (and I'll have to tell you very quickly), we learned the word "Budak" means "child" in Indonesian, but "slave" in Malay. Who would have guessed?

Anyway! I have to run! It's been so good to write home though, and I can't wait to give you a call. I'm doing really really well. Feeling better than I've ever felt in my life! The church is true! It's God's true church on the Earth!

I love you all so much!

Dengan Kasih,Elder Blissett (Kevin)

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Halo Kelaurga Saya,

So! I put the word of the day in my subject line, 'sakit,' which unfortunately means 'sick.' I've come down with kind of a nasty cold/cough/virus something in the last few days, so, no good there. This is the second time I've gotten kind of sick here so far. Some people just have all the luck, huh? Anyway, I figure this just means my immune system is gearing up for swine flu, so, good news right! Unfortunately, I may be sleeping during the time I normally write letters home to everyone, so, if you wrote me and don't get a letter back this week, sorry! I'll do my best! (P.S. Did you know that you're supposed to change your toothbrush once a month to prevent disease? I'd never heard that before, but the doctor gave me a slip of paper when I went in with that advice. I think that's what I'll blame for all of this...)

Other than that, the week has actually gone pretty well! I feel like I'm learning so much every week and growing faster than I ever have before. I've really been working on learning to rely on the Lord and the change it's brought to the way I approach my teaching is pretty awesome. I just feel like I'm doing the right thing almost all the time now. Awesome, huh? A mission is definitely a one of a kind experience.

We've finally gotten to week six. We're finally those guys that people say just have a little bit of time left! How great is that? I can't tell you how ready I feel to just hop on the plane and head out to Singapore/Malaysia. I've gained a lot of appreciation for the MTC, but it just kind of feels like the step before the real thing, you know? Our teaching has really progressed and we may actually teach real investigators this Saturday, which is very, very stressful, but also pretty awesome. We've gotten to the point in our practice teaching now where we're extending baptismal commitments, but I don't think I'll be giving that a shot this weekend! Who knows though, right? :)

Anyway, I'm still loving the work and I'm actually picking up some other skills along the way. We've got about fifteen minutes kind of to ourselves every night and I've been learning to juggle. I can actually do it now, which, although maybe a little frivolous, is a great stress reliever after having class all day.

We marked a few hours every day in our class for SYL/BBK (Speak Your Language/Berbicara Bahasa Kamu), where we have to speak entirely in Indonesian. Anyone who speaks English has a penalty like singing this funny Indonesian song called "the happy song." It's even got some ridiculous actions, so although it's truly embarrassing for those performing, it's awfully fun to watch.

Oh! I forgot to give you guys the latest Lucu update. I know you're all sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for it. So, the other day Lucu started to leak a lot so we decided to fill him with playdo as well as his gel so he didn't look so flat. Brother Leo stole him though and he actually exploded in his bag (that's what he gets)! Anyway, we were able to recover him, and he was looking ok. He'd developed this huge playdo-gel scab over his hole so he wasn't really leaking that much. Well, the other day I was trying to hang up my jacket and accidently knocked him off his roost. I reflexively tried to catch him, but unfortunately just smashed him against my leg, where he exploded an realeased the foulest, rottenest substance I think I've ever had the displeasure of being around, all over my leg. It was very, very nasty and I've now firmly committed to being the first one to sacrifice him at the end of our MTC stay. Nasty creature. :)

Well, not a whole lot of news this week! Can't wait until I can tell you all about travel plans next week! Thanks again so much for writing and sending stuff and everything. I really, really appreciate it!

Dengan Kasih dan Hormat,
Elder Blissett (Kevin)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Onward, Every Onward

Halo Keluarga Saya!

Things are going really well here! I feel like such a veteran. We're finally the people who really know their way around the MTC. We've picked up all the tricks of the trade and everything. Really awesome. And everyone says that the last couple of weeks move even faster than these are now, so hopefully the next thing I know I'll be in Singapore!

So! Lots of exciting news this week! First and foremost though, I've got to tell you about our surprise visitor. We were just sitting in class one morning doing our personal study when this guy with an "MTC coordinator" nametag burst in and said, "OK elders and sisters, are you ready, do you need to do anything else except for clean up? Really, you need to clean up a little bit." We all sat there staring a little blankly while he started taking some of our pictures off the wall and continued, "So you know who this guy is, right?" Again, more blank staring. Finally, one of the sisters mustered up the courage to say "Umm... We have no idea what you're talking about." Turns out the Minister of Religion of Indonesia, Mr. ("Bapak" in Indonesian) Pasaribu was in Provo for a conference at BYU and was going to come visit our class. Immediately we started panicking and rushed to get everything cleaned, finish up our personal study and spend like 45 minutes prepping some questions and answers and everything. It all turned out really well though! He spoke hardly any English, spoke really clear Indonesian so we were able to understand a lot of what he said to us and even got a chance to take a couple of pictures. It was very awesome, but very, very stressful. It turns out that he's the guy who has to sign all of the Indonesian missionaries passports for them to even get into the country, so it was really important that we didn't goof anything. It went really well though! Everything turned out just fine!

So! I guess that's the really exciting news! We've started to speak a lot more Indonesian in class now. We have whole periods that are designated SYL (Speak Your Language) where we can only speak Indonesian. And we're giving talks so that we'll have something prepared when we get into the field. I guess brand new missionaries are a favorite target for speaking in church. I already gave mine though and it went really well. I'm really starting to feel like I can express myself pretty well at a basic level. And we've finished all the major grammer so it's just vocab from here on out!

Unfortunately, as a side effect of my Indonesian training I've pretty much lost all of my ability to speak Spanish. I think about half the missinoaries here are Spanish speaking and they'll often stop us on the sidewalks to practice contacting in their language. I can almost always undestand what they're saying, but as soon as I start to try and respond Inodonesian just pours out. That's a good sign though I guess!

Hey, fun Indonesian fact! Have you ever seen the old Disney Swiss Family Robinson movie? I don't think I have, but apparently the pirates speak Indonesian! So, next time you're watching it keep an eye out!

Oh! Conference! Wasn't it spectacular? I don't think I've ever loved it so much. Just tons and tons of stuff felt so applicable to me, and hey, compared to sitting in class all day it was actually kind of a vacation! Definitely awesome. I think my favorite talk was undoubtedly Elder Holland's. I couldn't believe the kind of power he came out with. I've never heard a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon in my entire life. It was cool to be able to see in him where I'd like my testimony to be someday. Definitely a lofty goal to achieve though!

Ah! Our class suffered a major betrayal this week when we found out that Brother Leo stole Lucu away from us. He disappeared a few days ago after several very suspicious notes about "lucu exterminators" and "false idols" were left in our room while we were away at Gym or Lunch. We were all pretty convinced it was the other class who took him. But it turns out, just yesterday Brother Ross told us it was Brother Leo. We've all missed him dearly, and are definitely excited to know who to confront to get him back.

Umm... not a whole lot of new cultural information this week. We learned a little while ago how to play Rock, Paper, Scissors though! They play by making a fist with their hand and then sticking out either their thumb, pointer finger or pinky to pick either gajah (elephant), orang (person), or semut (ant). The elephant steps on the person, the person steps on the ant, and the ant crawls in the elephants ear and eats its brain. So a little different, but funny that they even have the game at all! Brother Ross said pretty much every culture has some equivalent.

We've played softball in gym for the last few days, and, surprise surprise, I've actually grown to like it a lot! I've certainly come a long way since those days so many years ago of standing out in left field with my glove on my head, trying to take a nap and hating every second of it. I guess there's some truth to the idea that you'll start to love something if you'll just try it first. I've also become a big volleyball fan! Crazy, huh? I dunno though. Good times to be had and none of us are that good so it's always pretty even.

Umm... Turns out my malaria medicine, Doxycyclene, is also sometimes prescribed for acne. Have I mentioned that already? I guess I'm just pretty excited to see if there's really clearer skin in the Singapore mission!

Well! It's been super good to talk to you all again! I can't wait to here how everything's going! I love you all so much and pray for you every night!

Saya mengasihi semua kamu!

Dengan kasih dan hormat,
Elder Blissett (Kevin)

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Halo keluarga saya yang kukasihi!

How are you all doing? It sounds like things are going really great! I can't believe how grown up little Johnny looks. That picture you sent me of John feeding him is probably the most adorable thing I've seen. He just looks sooo excited. Definitely the Johnny I remember. Thanks so much for the picture. I hung it up on my little board and I laugh everytime I see it!

Things are going really well here at the MTC. I'm getting over my cold which is definitely a welcome relief. Stuffy noses are just a pain! Unfortunately though, it looks like the MTC is kind of going into lockdown mode for swine flu. We had an informational meeting with one of the doctors here to talk about swine flu prevention, and he told us that they've already had 4 confirmed cases. There are signs all over the place now warning people not to shake hands or hug or anything! Very weird for missionaries. Don't worry though, I'm still applying all the good disease prevention techniques you raised me with!

Saturday is our halfway point! I can't believe it! We will have been here for a month as of tomorrow which, I've got to say, is very very exciting. Don't get me wrong, I love the MTC, but I think Singapore/Malaysia is going to blow me away. Plus it's starting to get a little cold here. I can't wait to step off the plane into that wonderful tropical heat.

Indonesian is still going really well! This last Saturday at the TRC we taught lesson two. Turns out we only had two volunteers show up to be investigators though, so we had four missionaries teach each investigator. I think maybe it was a little overwhelming for everyone. Can you imagine if we taught every investigator with four missionaries? Talk about applying pressure. We did really well though. Things are defintely coming along faster than I ever dreamed they might. I talked to some elders speaking cambodian the other day, and they told us that after being here for six weeks, they'll be teaching the first lesson for the first time. I think we nailed the right southeast asian language!

Hey, Mom, you wondered last week why the church doesn't just print the Book of Mormon in Malay with all the words 'Allah' replaced with the english 'God.' I don't know exactly. In fact, in Malay there's a word, 'Tuhan,' which means 'Lord' that gets used all the time in the scriptures. They could definitely just replace all the 'Allah's with 'Tuhan' without changing much meaning at all. I guess they just want all or nothing though. Which is good I guess! Brother Leo said he thought that by the time we left they'd have worked out with the government to get Malay materials, so we can hope, right?

Speaking of Malay, the language is coming along well, but it's definitely very different from English. You just have to learn to express your ideas in a way you'd never think to do in English. I mean, Malay has over 6 or 7 different words that basically all mean "to say," but with slightly different meanings, and no word at all for "excited." What kind of language doesn't have a word for excited? Who knows! I do love it though, such a different experience! Another kind of funny thing Malay does is cram a bunch of words together to make like these monster words. Everything already seems to take twice as many syllables to say, but then they'll bust a word like "mempertanggungjawabkan" (which means "to take responsibility for") out and you start to think maybe your teachers are just playing a joke on you.

Hey, speaking of Malaysia, I heard there was a big earthquake in West Malaysia? Is everything over there still ok? Is that even true?

Ah! The big news this week is that I had kind of my first success and first rejection as a missionary! I don't know if I've told you about the Refferal Center (RC), but we go there every week to spend an hour calling people who request free materials from the church (like Bibles or movies. Lots and lots of free Bibles for people in the South. I think like... over half our calls are for them) to make sure they received them ok. Anyway, our "supervisor" type sister has been really urging us lately to invite people to watch conference this weekend. Soo I mentioned it to this lady who started to sound really interested. She even stayed on hold for a little while while I got her Bishops number for her to call and find out where to watch it. So very cool! It sounds like I sent a sister to conference. Hooray!

My first rejection was actually kind of fun as well. I called this lady and introduced myself with,

"Hi, my name is Kevin, and I'm from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints"

"The Mormons?"

"Yes Ma'm!"

"I thought I told you people not to call me again!"

"Uh, Yes Ma'm!!" *rushing to hang up the phone as fast as possible*

So that totally counts as a door slammed in the face, right? I think so.

The MTC is such a... well... let's be honest... kind of funny place. We always sing three prelude hymns before firesides (which I actually really love), and this last week our final hymn was "If You Could Hie to Kolob." Immediately when it was announced there was such a collective gasp of excitement that the Brother announcing it actually commented on it. Where else in the world do teenagers get so excited about singing a hymn? It's really a great place.

Anyway! Things are going really well! I'm getting along great with my companion and everything is coming so fast. I really feel like I'm growing more than I ever have in my life. I know I'm out here doing the right thing, and that this work is going to bless the lives of many, many people in Malaysia. I love you all so much. Thanks so much for all your letters and support!

Saya mengasihi semua kamu!

Dengan Kasih,
Elder Blissett