hey, you'll have to forgive me for a lack of capitalization throughout this e-mail. we found a new internet cafe which is far less crowded, but also kind of has lousy keyboards, and the shift key on this one is broken. so, i guess you just have to trade, right?
maybe i'll start with the two questions for the newsletter first to get those taken care of (i really like the idea of doing monthly questions!). so, for the first one, christmas so far is actually turning out to be a bigger deal than i thought, but definitely nothing like what you'd see in america. surprisingly to me they were playing christmas music at the mall today and there's a few signs going up on various businesses for scattered christmas sales. businesses run by christians are putting up christmas trees and lights, but for the most part in heavily-muslim-majority-tawau christmas seems like it's just going to be a day off work for most people. even for the christians here i don't think it's quite as big a deal as it is back in america (our branch was planning on having their christmas party on christmas eve! that would be kind of unheard of in america, right? at least for our family christmas eve is at least as big a deal as christmas day!) so, christmas is definitely quiet here, but i think it's going to be nice just to spend the day with the members and our christmas party should be pretty fun too. i don't think i need to mention that we're planning on it being very hot here. good ol' malaysia, right?
as far as the best gift i've received on my mission, it's definitely hard to say. i'd say that *one of* the best though is a love of the book of mormon. it's funny, before my mission i always liked to read the book of mormon, but i never quite had the love for it that i've started to develop here in the field. sometimes i find myself just reading it for pleasure in my spare time. it's truly an amazing book and it changes hearts. i love the book of mormon and i'm super grateful for the chance i have to come out here and share that love with others.
so, this last week in tawau was really nice! definitely hard working with a lot of time spent out knocking, but we had some good success and this feels like a particularly satisfying P-Day after so much good, solid work.
We set a new investigator on baptismal date this last week. her name is ***** and she's a referral from a member here which is absolutely awesome. it's a million times better to baptize a referral. it's so nice to have people with those pre-built support systems and someone they can always go to for help or if they have questions. it's essential to keep people in the church! anyway, ***** is 19 and is good friends with our member's daughter, and she came to us pretty much ready to be baptized, so it's a really big privilege to be able to teach her. her date is set for january 1 (could there be a better way to start the new year)? so things are looking really great with her so far.
I got bit by my first dog this week! there's a missionary landmark, right? don't worry, it was a dog that belonged to somebody and wasn't a very serious bite at all. i was actually shocked it got me at all. dogs here in malaysia have a huge bark, but are absolute cowards. we have one member who's dog actually hid on the side of the house the other day and just peeked around the corner to bark at us. they're absolutely terrified! well, with this dog i just started walking toward it confidently like normal and it started to slink away like they always do, but the little sneaker got up behind me when i wasn't looking and took a snap at my calf. i couldn't believe it! i was too shocked to even do anything but watch the dog run away, looking very satisfied with itself. other than that, things are looking kind of the same.
our investigator **** that i told you about last week broke his phone or something, which we didn't even find out about until the other day, so we haven't had a lot of contact with him, but we're planning on going out to his house in the next day or two.
so, that's kind of the week in tawau! i'm so grateful for the knowledge we have of the restored church and gospel of Jesus Christ. your story was really interesting about the moderator who asked what interest God could have in political campaign. it's always interesting to see what other people's perceptions of God are. this last week we were talking to a man who's wife is a member, but who hasn't come in a long time because she follows him to his church. anyway, we were trying to explain to him why it's important for him and his wife to come to church (proper priesthood authority, true doctrine, that kind of thing). anyway, he finally just said, "we do the same things you do. we pray and you pray. we have talks. we learn about how to become better people. the only difference is that our church is only for 1 hour and yours is for 3, so why do we need to come to your church?" it's a question i've heard a million times, but for some reason when he asked it, it really got me to thinking about how wildly different our whole perspectives about religion are. because he's right! if your church and religion to you are just something you do for one hour on sundays, our church is pretty much the same as his. talks, prayers, singing, the works. but our church is so much more! it's a way of life! it's discipleship! the church blesses you every second of every day, not just for one hour on sundays. it was just interesting to really realize that to him, that's not what church is at all. it's just prayers for an hour. crazy! this world needs the gospel so much!
so, i'm so grateful for the restored gospel and for the chance i have to come and share it with others. i'm grateful we can be a family forever!i love you all so much! have an awesome week and enjoy the snow!