Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The girls got baptized!

Halo Keluargaku,

The girls got baptized! Hooray! The little brother is set up to be baptized next week and it looks like the mom is going to follow with him as well. We reviewed the baptismal interview questions with them last night and things are looking good to go. So, more huge blessings. It's awesome to see what the good example of some of the daughters did for the rest of the family. Sometimes that's what it takes to get us moving though. So things are going really great with their family and we're really excited about all of their progress. It's a huge blessing for them and a huge blessing for us too!

This week was a little bit exhausting, but I think one of our most productive for a long time! Elder Cazier and I biked, a LOT, and we're definitely feeling it, but I think after a good day of rest we'll be ready to go again. It's funny, when you're in the midst of running around and everything you don't really realize how far you've gone, but getting home at night you definitely start to feel it. Just the other night Elder Cazier and I finished off the night with biking around four miles through hilly Tawau country. It was a great way to end a bike filled week!

Tawau is doing the best it's done in a long time. We're meeting with members everyday and spending less and less time knocking and more and more time working with referrals and looking for more, which I think is exactly the way things should happen in missionary work. Our investigators are looking more solid than ever and it definitely feels like we're spending less time just spinning our tires and more time actually getting somewhere. It feels great! We're seeing the blessings of the Lord everyday and I'm coming to realize more and more what a privilege it is to serve in this awesome little corner of the mission. Tawau is a place I'll remember for the rest of my life, and I'm super grateful for all the time I've been able to spend here.

I'll send a couple of pictures along! The first one is of a coconut Elder Cazier and I discovered and very happily spent some time busting open before our investigators arrived for their baptism on Saturday. I've always heard that it was impossible to break open a coconut without using a machete or something, but now I know better! :D A little bit of needed diversion from a hard-working week.

The next one is a Malaysian lawnmower. What? That's a weed-whacker you say? I guess that's probably what they look like at first, but check out the lawnmower blade on the end of it. Lawnmowers are actually kind of rare to come by here in Malaysia, so instead people just toss metal blades on to the end of their weed eaters and bam! Instant lawnmower. Easy to carry too.

Love you so much!
Elder Blissett

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More success and riding bikes

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, first things first. We're having two baptisms this weekend. Hooray! It was a huge surprise for us, but two of the daughters from the Filipino family we've been teaching told us unexpectedly they wanted to be baptized this weekend, and it looks like the rest of the family is probably going to follow in the coming weeks. Awesome! These investigators have been the most diligent about reading the Book of Mormon of any I think I've ever had and it's really shown through in the depth of their testimony and their commitment to the gospel. So, that's very exciting. The Lord has really blessed this area a lot, and it's amazing to get to see that happen. It's also amazing to see the gospel touch the hearts of people from all backgrounds and from all parts of the world. Old, young, Filipino, Indonesian, Singaporean, it doesn't matter. The Gospel is for everyone, and blesses all of our lives the same.

We started riding our bikes this last week and it's been amazing. I don't think I realized exactly how much I missed riding a bike until we put ours together last week and got to start getting around on them. It is *so* much faster than taking the busses and it's really going to open up a lot of options for us as far as when we can meet our investigators and where we can go finding. We're really excited about it. Plus bikes are just fun. You always feel like you're getting a nice, good exercise when you're on a bike.

It's crazy that halloween is coming up. I don't actually know if we're going to do anything here. Malaysia isn't very big on Halloween, although I've heard of branches having parties for it in different places. So, that will be interesting to see, but Halloween coming up means Christmas is coming up too, which I'm already excited for. Christmas is the best.

Well, other than that things are still just going well here in Tawau. Elder Cazier and I are getting along great. We'll be getting a new Zone Leader soon which should be pretty fun, and we've got some investigators who are looking really great. Elder Whittaker and his companion found a super golden investigator last weekend in Singapore too who asked them when she could get baptized, so it's good to hear that he'll probably be having his first baptism he's present at before too long too.

I love you all so much! Thanks for your love and support. You're the best! The church is true, and the Book of Mormon changes lives. I've seen it first hand, those who will read it with an open heart and pray about it sincerely find out without exception that it's true. We're in the greatest church on Earth. It's such a blessing to know the things we know.

Love you all!

Elder Blissett

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Baptism!

Beautiful beach-side Tawau Chapel

Views from the beach

Old and new shoe comparison

Halo Keluargaku,

We're in KL! Crazy, huh? You're probably starting to feel like we're never in our area based on how many times I've e-mailed you from crazy places now, but it's not as bad as it seems, I promise! We had to come here for another of those big missionary trainings (this time with all of Singapore, West Malaysia, and Sabah only) so we're here for four days getting to see all the other elders again and having some awesome training from President Clark. So far it's been really awesome and I'm super excited to get back into our area and start applying some of this good stuff. We're going to be a lot more effective for sure.

Our Baptism went through! Woohoo! Everything went great and the best part of all was hearing ****'s absolutely amazing testimony. It's so cool to see how far she's come in really only a few weeks of learning from missionaries, but in over a year of good preparation from her awesome mother. Her testimony started out normally enough for a recent convert, but after only a few sentences you could just see something change in her countenance and she couldn't even really speak for about a minute. When she finally could she just expressed so much love for her mom, the Lord, and the elders and told everyone about her commitment to endure to the end and make it to the temple. She said she'd never stop coming to church and learning about Heavenly Father. She said she hoped the Elders would keep coming to visit her so she could keep learning about Heavenly Father. It was absolutely music to this missionary's ears, and made all the time I've spent in Tawau 100% worth it. She's solid and is going all the way to the temple. I couldn't be happier! I'm just sad Elder Whit had to miss it, but Elder Cazier has been great too for the few days we've been together.

Elder Cazier is from Elk Ridge Utah and is pretty darn cool. I think we're going to get along really well.

I'm sending some pictures. Most importantly a picture of Elder Cazier and I plus *** and her family at the baptism, a few pictures of our beautiful beach side church (it's so pretty, the pictures don't really even do it justice), and *drumroll please* my new shoes, or at least my shoes newly delivered from Singapore! Yay! I was pretty blown away how different they looked from my old ones (that's a old shoe vs. new shoe picture of the soles. The old ones are hardly recognizable!) But they're super comfortable and shiny and I'm really grateful to have them. Awesome.

Elder Whit and I never did find the beach! We actually didn't even find anything very touristy and just avoided not coming back with any souvenirs and all. It's funny, you always hear about it, but other than scuba diving there's really not much in Semporna at all. Not even touristy shops or anything. It was kind of crazy, but fun anyway just to "jalan-jalan" (a Malay word for kind of just walking around and hanging out). I'm just glad we didn't get lost.

Other than that, things out here in Malaysia are kind of same-old same-old. We're thinking about busting out the bikes in Tawau and seeing how it goes. The buses all shut down at around 7:30, leaving us abandoned pretty much wherever we happen to be at around 7:30 until we decide to go home which limits our options a lot. So, we're looking into using buses during the day and bikes at night. I think it could work out pretty well.

Well, Kuala Lumpur says hi! Things are going great and we're looking at another baptism in a couple of weeks which is very exciting. We had a member's daughter just move here from Indonesia who was immediately interested in joining the church. Well, things were going great until last week we called to confirm an appointment and she told us that she couldn't meet because she'd moved to a city about four hours away. Malaysians are prone to do that kind of thing at the drop of the hat. So, we were getting ready to pass her to the Elders who lived there only to find out she'd decided to move back again. That's ok by us :D. Honestly though, as long as she gets baptized it's not really important to me who does it!

I got the package with the insoles and the candy and everything. Thank you SO MUCH. You forget how awesome stuff from America is until you're away from it for a while. Those pens you sent me are like a bright, gleaming ray of well manufactured goodness in a country filled with crummy pens. They're awesome, and I really needed some new pens, so thanks a lot!

I love you so much! Thanks so much for all your support and everything. I'm so grateful to be in this family. The church is true and it's the greatest blessing to have the opportunity to spend two years full-time sharing it with others. Malaysia is the best (and Singapore too)!

I love you! Talk to you soon!

Elder Blissett

Friday, October 8, 2010

Good-bye Elder Whit

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, this week is a little exciting, first off because I'm writing from lovely Semporna, Malaysia. No, I didn't get transferred, although Elder Whittaker actually is headed off to Singapore. The companionship is coming to an end to soon, but Heavenly Father always knows best, right? So, to celebrate his leaving we decided to finally take a P-Day out to Semporna which is about an hour and half away from Tawau. This is actually the place with all the amazing diving, but Elder Whit and I just came looking for beaches and souveniers. Unfortunately, now that we're here we're not exactly sure where to go to find the beach, but we'll find it! Don't worry!

Our first baptism is this Saturday! Things are looking really solid, so we're very, very excited. Unfortunately Elder Whit is getting transferred on Thursday so he's actually going to miss his first baptism, which is pretty much the worst part about him getting transferred, but we're going to take a lot of pictures for him and make sure he still eats "baptism ice cream." It's very important to eat ice cream after every baptism! Good luck I've found...

I'm super happy to hear conference was cool. Unfortunately it's actually probably going to be a long time (if ever) before I get to listen to it in English! Before Singapore would send out DVDs in three languages to the branches (English, Malay, and Chinese), but now it sounds like they're only going to send the Malay. So, we'll probably watch that next weekend and I guess I'll just have to test to see how good my Malay has really gotten. I'll try and read the "highlight" talks during e-mail as soon as the text is posted, but it sounds like I'll mostly just be waiting for the Ensign. Ironic to be missing conference as a missionary... :D

I did, however, hear from the members that they're building another temple in the Philipines which is very exciting. Go Asia!

Things are still going well with our investigators. We had one investigator set up to be baptized actually move away this week, which is tough, but she's in a place where there are other missionaries, so hopefully everything works out ok. Our family is still doing well. Thanks so much for your prayers, it makes a big difference to them and to us.

My new companion is named Elder Cazier. His last area was in Sibu, Sarawak, and he's a few months younger than I am in the mission. Other than that I don't really know much about him, but I'm excited to pick him up on Thursday. I'm sure we'll have a great companionship.

I'm happy to hear that Johnny likes to read so much. A sure sign of a brilliant Simmons boy. I'll have to teach him Malay when I get home so he and I can have secret brotherly conversations behind your backs. Babies are supposed to be fast at picking that kind of stuff up, right? and if he's already gotten to "shoe" in English, Malay shouldn't be any problem for him at all. :D

I was thinking it was probably cooling off in Utah. Things are just as hot as ever here in Tawau, although people tell us that the cooler season should be starting soon. The big secret is that the cool season is pretty much the same as every other time of the year, so you can feel free to tell people it's just about to start whenever you want! I think the consensus is that there's actually two cooler seasons throughout the year separated by a few months. Who knows!

Other than that it's been a pretty standard week. I'm sad to see Elder Whit go (my little boy has gotten all grown up and is having his first transfer), but that's just part of missionary life. I think he'll do great in Singapore.

Oh! I remembered what I wanted to ask for for Christmas! I think for the first Christmas ever I'm actually hoping to get clothes! The big thing is just a few more pairs of black socks. I seem to have an amazing ability to lose those! And a couple of those broadcloth white shirts would be awesome, those are the best. Also, if you wouldn't mind looking for a thin, fairly inexpensive wallet that would be the icing on the cake. The duct tape wallet may not be surviving a whole lot longer. Seems like a year of Malaysia just makes about anything start to fall apart. And, if one more thing wouldn't be too much, we just got the new movie list and The Emporers New Groove is on it! I love that movie. Would you mind finding a copy? Thank you so much!

Ok, we're going to go search for a beach. I love you so much, wish us luck! Miracles happen every day here in the mission field. Thank you so much for your prayers and faith. The Lord is watching out for us and things are going great.

Love you!
Elder Blissett