Happy Birthday Mom! I actually think you'll be getting this e-mail on your birthday, which is absolutely perfect! I love you so much and I'm so grateful for the awesome mother that you've been to me. I could never have made it this far without you, and I'm so grateful that we've gotten to go through this life together and to be sealed for eternity. Hope you had a great day, and I'm putting a handwritten letter in the mail for you today!
Hey! I'm actually really excited about the questions for the newsletter, if only because it gives me a chance to mention that I finally fulfilled a strange secret ambition to eat dog (I'm not sure why that's always been an ambition. It's just always seemed like an exotic asian thing to do to me). Yes, it's true, we went to go visit one of our investigators way out in Kampung Tator, and, lucky us, his neighbor had just delivered a nice bowl of freshly cooked dog. I only ate one piece (not really knowing where the dog came from and thinking about the all to numerous strays that roam around here in Tawau). It wasn't half bad though. Incredibly spicy (so spicy that it gave my companion hiccups for a few minutes. They like the food spicy in Sulawesi where our investigator comes from), and pretty tough, but a pretty nice experience overall. I'd say a close second was the time I had fish head curry in Ipoh (the first time I ever ate an eyeball)!
The things to be grateful for are kind of too many to count. I've become so grateful for the Gospel and the Book of Mormon, grateful for the Savior and His atoning sacrifice, *really* grateful to live in America, grateful for our family, and grateful for our inspired mission president. But one of the things I've been really grateful for is to have been so blessed to know how to live my day to day life because of the gospel. For example, just last night we talked to a member who has been incredibly frustrated because of a lot of crazy circumstances that have prevented her from going on a mission, and she was contemplating taking a job at camp which would force her out of activity in the church to kind of get away from everything. So, we talked to her, but immediately the thought came that I should fast for her too, so that's what I'm doing. Without the gospel I never would have known about the avenue of extra power that can come with fasting and never would have had access to that blessing! I know that when I'm upset I can read from the Book of Mormon and feel better. When I'm confused or have a problem to work out, I can pray. On Sunday I know what I'm supposed to do. If I have a weakness, I know where to go to find help in solving it. Whatever problem or event or anything that comes up in life, I know what to do about it. The gospel gives us all of those answers, and that for me is a big part of what makes it such a huge blessing in our lives. (Feel free to cut up any of the above to make it fit in the newsletter! :D)
Happy Halloween! Unsurprisingly, Halloween isn't a holiday here in Malaysia, but the branch did decide to have an impromtu party on Monday night that went great! We had a ton of people come, which was really cool considering they decided to have the party about 24 hours before it actually occured. That's one thing I love about Malaysia. If you want to have a party, you just have a party! No need for advance notice! People here are so laid back, which can be frustrating at times, but really makes them pretty lovable ultimately.
Our baptisms are still looking good for this weekend. It's so awesome to see this family start to come together. They'll be such a strength to each other and to the branch here. You couldn't hope for anything better than seeing families come into the church.
Well, other than that, things have still been going great here in Tawau. I'm loving it here and I'm so grateful and excited to get to serve two years as a full time missionary. There's no greater privelage than that. I love you all so much. Thanks for all of your support! Hope you had a great birthday Mom (Selamat Hari Jadi! or "Happy Happening Day!" You know, like the day you "happened." That's the closest translation I can think of for the Malay word for birthday.)