Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Last e-mail!!!

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, this is it, the last e-mail! Isn't that crazy? It sure feels wild how fast the time has flown. It's totally unreal to me at this point that I'm even going home though. It still just feels like a regular P-Day. I think it probably won't hit me until I get on the plane. Anyway, it's definitely sad to leave. I think I'll probably end up missing Malaysia and the awesome people here for the rest of my life, but I'm excited to see everyone again and move on with the next phase of my life too. It's just kind of how things go, right? And I'm definitely grateful that just because I get released as a missionary doesn't mean that my missionary work is done! It's one of the great privileges of our lives to get to share the gospel with other people. The Lord always blesses us far more than our investment of time or energy ever warrants. I'm grateful for facebook too! Even going home doesn't mean that I'll have to lose contact with the people back here.

Well, as far as the work, I think we finally found the miracle investigator that we've been looking for for so long. We met this awesome kid from Sabah the other day and had our first sit down lesson with him. He's really great, accepted everything and actually asked us three times to take him to church on Sunday. he's staying with another guy who is really interested in learning too. Both have already kept their commitment to read from the Book of Mormon and it's looking like things are going to work out just great. It's awesome to see one more time how the Lord does his own work. We definitely didn't do anything to warrant getting such an awesome investigator, but sometimes Heavenly Father just gives you a referral and things work out just the way that they should.

In the ongoing chronicles of trying to get all the exotic foods I can before I go home, last week I had stingray! It was actually really delicious, not at all a fishy taste and a great meal. So I think that was the end of my food adventures down here as I don't know any places here in JB where I can finish off my exotic food wish list. I only had two items remaining, "biawak" and "ular sawa" (you can look those up in google translator if you really want to know what they are :D), but I guess I'll just have to save those for another adventure.

We're going up to KL for one more meeting tomorrow, and then it will be off to Singapore on Monday for exit interviews and our final dinner with President Clark. Tuesday morning we get on the plane and we're off to America (I can't believe you knew about my flight plans two months ago! I'm glad you didn't mention it to me at that point actually :D).

In the end, I already miss Malaysia, but I've had an awesome mission (more than I ever earned). I'm so grateful that I've been able to be part of the Lord's work in building up the kingdom in some small way out here. It's been the greatest privilege of my life to be a full-time missionary! I love this gospel and I've loved sharing it with other people. Thanks so much for all of your support back home. I couldn't have made it without all of you!

I love you all so much! See you in a week!

Love you!
Elder Blissett

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ulat

Halo Keluargaku,

I have my flight plans! Wild, huh? The rest of the elders actually got theirs a while ago, so I started to worry if something was wrong when I didn't get mine until just last week. But now it's officially confirmed. I'll be arriving home in Salt Lake City at 2:40 PM on Tuesday, August 16. Not too far away, huh? In fact, this is the second to last e-mail I'll be sending home from the mission field. I'll be leaving Singapore early Tuesday morning and flying to Tokyo, then from Tokyo I go to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles head up to Salt Lake. It's wild that things are all winding down, but I've had a great time out here and we have definitely stayed very busy getting everyone oriented in the new area before I head back.

I finally completed one of my biggest crazy mission food goals. This last week we met up with one of the members of the branch and ate "ulat." Do you remember that part in the Lion King when Timon and Pumba eat those big grubs from the tree stumps. Yup, these are something like that. I think in English they are called something like "sego worms," but to describe them they're basically these big fat white grub looking things with this soft rubbery skin. They contract their whole bodies to move, and look thoroughly disgusting! We totally ate them! I found out not to long ago that you can buy them at an Iban outdoor market here in JB and we finally managed to do it this last week. An Iban member taught us how to cook them (which basically just involved frying them up with some onions) and we all enjoyed a nice snack at his house. The biggest surprise of all? They actaully taste good! Really! You pick them up by their little head/jaw parts and bite off the head. Their skin has a really rubbery texture and, as our member always tells us, the inside has a liquid that is "like milk!" So, that was a lot of fun, and no one ended up getting at all sick. A win/win, right? :D (I have pictures, but didn't bring my cable to send them, so I'll just have to show you when I get home).

We're having a lot of fun getting the area together and ready for my departure. We're working with lots of good potentials and the work shows some great signs for the future.I love it so much here. It will be hard to leave, but I'm looking forward to everything ahead too!

I love you all so much! I'll see you at 2:40 on August 16!

Love you!
Elder Blissett

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Companions...Again!

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, in the ongoing chronicles of "Elder Blissett Can't Manage to Hang on to a Companion," I'm getting *two* new companions this week! That's right, this last Saturday we found out that not only was my companion Elder Christensen getting transferred, but actually everyone in my district except for me is moving out, one back to America, and two to Sarawak. Crazy, huh? I'm actually really excited though. The new elders in the house should be really fun and it will be a great way to finish off. I guess they're giving the newly split branches a fresh start with a whole new set of elders. The transfer was actually sparked by the huge influx of elders we're getting today though (19 new missionaries! that breaks the previous record of 16 for the largest group to come in at once), and so we'll also have the joy of having two brand new elders in the house and two elders who have been out just a little over a year to train them. It should be a blast in short. So I'll be in a threesome. My new companion Elder Gallinger is kind of the designated trainer for the new guy we'll be with, and Elder Goering (one of my favorite elders) is coming down here to train too. So, kind of a complicated transfer, but it basically means that everything down here is different now and kind of my new job is to get everyone oriented and off to a good start before I head back!

So, that was definitely the biggest news of the week. We're heading into Singapore today to pick up the new guys. There will be so many elders headed into Singapore that they actually won't have room for everyone to sleep though, so the rumor is that they're going to put us up at a nice hotel near to the church. So it should be a lot of fun. A good chance to see everyone that I haven't seen for a while and some nice classic training to go along with it.

Well, I can tell that the e-mail up to now must be pretty confusing to read, but I've actually just found out about all of this in the last couple of days and haven't really sorted everything out yet either. It's alright though, we're just going to figure it out as we go along and have a good time doing it! :D

As far as the work goes, we actually had a pretty good week last week and have found a lot of good potentials that I'm excited to start working with. It's kind of crazy right now with all the changes going on, but I think we'll be able to get some good people on baptismal date before I leave, so I'm really looking forward to that. There's nothing better than being involved in the work of the Lord.

It's going to be a whirlwind last couple of weeks, but that's really good. It means I'll stay busy. There's a lot left to do here!

In the end I'm working hard, I'm loving my mission and I can't wait to help these new elders get a good start too.

I love you all so much! I'm so glad to hear that everything is going well at home. Thanks for all your support

I love you!
Elder Blissett

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Progress in Malaysia

Halo Keluargaku,

It is kind of getting down to the home stretch, huh? It's funny, there's actually still one more group leaving about three weeks before us, so it still feels like it's so far away, we're not even oldest in the mission yet! I definitely am excited to do a lot of fun things back at home though and to see everyone again. It will be hard to leave Malaysia, kind of a bittersweet experience. Good things ahead and good things behind, right? For now though we're still working hard and this last week we've been able to see some special success.

The biggest news though is that this last week Elder Christensen and I officially became the first elders to serve in the newly formed Masai branch. Woohoo! What a cool experience, huh? The branch officially split last week and we're really excited about working with the new branch presidency. Both members of the presidency (there's not a second counselor yet) are from Sarawak. The president has been a member for about two years and the first counselor is actually one of Elder Lang's recent converts. He's been a member for about six months. That's one of the coolest things about serving here in Malaysia I think. Everyone is a convert, and most people are pretty recent converts. In our newly formed Masai branch the average membership length can't be much over two or three years. We have a couple of members here who have been members for about 15 years (longer than the branch has been around), but for the most part everyone is pretty new. The church is still new out here. Actually the first member ever baptized in Malaysia is in the KL branch. He was baptized sometime in the 70s. It's crazy to see now what he pioneered here in Malaysia. I'm sure he's happy!

We've been in Malaysia during a really cool and historic time, and under a great mission president. Elder Lang is down here in JB on exchanges, and he just pointed out to us the other day that when our group got to the mission field the mission had just formed their 20th branch. Now there are close to 30, with growth still looking really good. It's been really awesome to be a part of seeing the church develop in a relatively obscure place in the world. The new missionaries coming in next week though have a pretty awesome two years ahead of them too though. We have 19 new missionaries coming in next week, which constitutes about a quarter of the mission. Apparently only three non-zone leader companionships in the whole mission will not be training, everyone else is getting a "son" or "daughter" this week. Crazy! It will be a wild time to be in the mission for sure. I think the average age of the mission after we leave will have to be under 1 year.

Well, we took a blow this last week in that our investigators on date moved back to kampung in Sarawak. It wasn't an entirely unexpected move, but it was still a little disappointing. They actually live near a church in Sarawak so we're hoping the transition there is smooth and they still end up being baptized. Oh well, the work goes on and we're working with some people here now that we're really excited about. It's good to know that I'm just responsible for doing my best and everything else takes care of itself.

Anyway, that's kind of the news for the week. I love you all so much though. Still sprinting to the finish. :D

See you soon!

Love you!
Elder Blissett

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grateful for the Scriptures of the Restoration

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, we've had kind of a quiet week out here too! The Stake President was at church this last week interviewing people for callings in the new branch, so we're expecting the split to happen anywhere in the next couple of weeks, even though they won't have the new building done until next month. It's a really exciting time to be serving here in JB. People aren't always flocking to hear the gospel quite like you'd hope, but it's always fun and always good to be in the Lord's service.

Our investigators on date are still doing well. We might have to push them back a week or two, but for the most part everything is looking good. The biggest problem is that now they don't have a phone of any kind, so the only way we can get in touch with them is to go directly to their house, which is actually kind of far away. Oh well, we'll figure out a way to work through it.

We got a great referral from a branch member this last week. This branch member is one of the very best, she's seriously responsible for about half the people in the branch now. Anyway, things are looking really solid with him although he wasn't able to make it to church this last week because of a headache. It's so awesome to be able to get some help from the branch members. It makes a *huge* difference. So if any of you out there have any friends you think might be interested don't be shy to ask them if they'd like to meet with the missionaries. We need help, we can't do it all on our own! :D

Well I feel bad not really having any more news to report except that I'm falling in love with the scriptures of the restoration again. I've been reading the Pearl of Great Price this last week and it's unbelievable to see what even the brief 50 or so pages of the book of Moses and Abraham restore about our understanding of so many doctrines that are so debated in the world today! All kinds of information is there from the Pre-Existence to the origins of man to the antiquity of the gospel and even issues like the role of grace versus works. And the Pearl of Great Price is only just a small piece of what we've received from the restoration. Additional scripture is definitely one of the great blessings of being a member of this church. Plus it's a lot of fun!

Anyway, I love you all so much. Sorry I don't have more news to report. We're still working hard and seeing a lot of good things happen. I'm doing my best to sprint to the finish!

I love you all so much! See you soon!

Love you!

Elder Blissett

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Branch Splitting

Halo Keluargaku,

Well it looks like the family reunion was a lot of fun. I'm sad that I couldn't be there too, but I think we've had a pretty good week here too and that kind of seems to make up for it! Things have just been going a little bit better this week, we're catching some of the breaks we've been looking for. Missionary work is like that, up and down all the time.

Well, we've had a good start to the week, but things are still looking a little bit the same as they did last week. Our investigators on date are still looking really good to be baptized near the end of the month. They're working through everything really well and seem to have a real desire to be baptized. It's cool to see that and I'm excited to see how everything turns out for them.

Hey, I almost forgot the biggest news of the week! *drumroll* Our branch is splitting! Woohoo! That's actually great news, and we just found out last week totally unexpectedly that the branch will be splitting in the next couple of weeks. It's a great sign of the growth of the church here, and the best part of all is that the new location they want to put the newly created Masai branch in is a *lot* closer to the members and investigators who will be attending there. Anyway, it should be Elder Christensen and me serving in the Masai branch, so we're very excited. (Just a note, it's pronounced Ma-sigh, Ma like your Mama, and sigh like I sighed because I was sad). The branch actually applied to be split for the first time about a year ago. Anyway, since that time they tried a few different ways to split the branch, but they couldn't get the required First Presidency authorization for any of the split plans. Well, attendance has been going down so we though it was still going to be quite some time before the split. It turns out though that the split was actually approved about 4 months ago, but because of a mix up with some secretaries we never heard about it. Well, it's all worked out now and we should have a new branch in a matter of weeks. Very exciting and a big surprise.

Well, other than that, things are kind of just the same-old same-old. But I'm still loving it. Being a missionary is the best!

I love you all so much. Thanks so much for everything! Have a great week and I'll see you soon!

Elder Blissett

Life Pattern

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, things are going pretty well out here in the field. Our investigators who accepted a baptismal date are still doing well, although we had to move the date back to work out some details, but now they're still looking really strong to be baptized towards the end of July. In other good news the other elders here in JB are having a baptism this weekend putting an end to what has been kind of a small drought of baptisms in the area. So we're all really excited about that.

We had a small miracle yesterday. It was one of those everyday miracles out here in the mission field. We'd spent hours and hours out knocking and not really finding anything. A really tough day with a lot of rejection. Well, it was getting to the last few minutes we had to knock before we would turn back and go to do a baptismal interview for the other elders. Well, of course it would be right at the end of the day when a small miracle occurs and two of the last four houses we knocked turned into fairly interested new investigators. Just more on the theme of how Heavenly Father organizes the circumstances of our lives, I really feel like sometimes Heavenly Father organizes things so that you don't really find any new investigators until the last moment, just before you're about to turn around and go home. He pushes until you've given just about everything, and then the blessings come. That seems to be an interesting life pattern, and one that I've seen over and over again in my mission.

Well, other than that, things are moving along just the same. We're getting out and working hard and finding people and seeing people progress towards baptism. That's the life of a missionary, huh? :D Sometimes it's hard, rarely it's easy, but it's always 100% worth it. Something I wouldn't trade for the world.

I love you all so much. I'll definitely be keeping the family in my prayers. I'm so grateful for our family of faith!

Love you!
Elder Blissett

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hari Gawai

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, this last week actually was a good one. We had a great conference in KL, I got to get to work with Elder Christiansen, and we're shaping up to having a good week this week. The zone leaders are down here on exchanges today and tomorrow too, which is always a lot of fun and very helpful.

Well, as far as news go, I think this week was pretty standard. We had a good time buying Elder Christiansen and new bike, I think this week we knocked into more drunken Ibans than I've met my entire mission, but other than that it was pretty normal. It's still the season for Hari Gawai and I guess that might be the reason for all the drunken Ibans. The actually holiday is only for a day or two, but the celebrations extend for about a month. We heard a concert going on in between some shops the other day so we went over to see what was going on. Well, lo and behold there was an open court filled with about a dozen Ibans doing the poco-poco (pronounced "pocho pocho." It's the traditional Iban line dance. Who knew that anybody had a traditional line dance? Anyway, you should try and find videos of it on youtube.) One of the organizers of the event almost immediately ran up to us and invited us to sit down and take pictures and everything, so we asked him what was going on. He explained that they were doing traditional dances to celebrate their Hari Gawai. I asked him, "Wasn't that over a week ago" to which he unabashedly replied something like "Yes, but we're still celebrating." Someone mentioned the other day that if you have enough "Last" Gawai parties you can get parties stretched out for a pretty long time. I kind of like the month long holidays though! It's a little bit like the Christmas Season in America.

Well, this week we've just been finding some more potential investigators. Unfortunately it looks like our Chinese family is not doing super well. The wife has told us a couple of times that she's having a really hard time accepting the Book of Mormon. We kind of halfway think that she was antied, but she's still friendly so we're not really sure. Anyway, her husband is still in Indonesia so we're just hoping he's having a lot better experience than her. We're still hopeful though!
It's been nice to work another week in JB. I think you really just come to love whatever you put a lot of work into, it seems almost inevitable. That's a great thing for missionary work though because you really come to love every area. It doesn't really matter where you serve, but just how you do it!

Well, things are going well. We're still working like crazy and seeing the Lord's hand in the work. We're just looking for a miracle in finding somebody who has all three of the necessary attributes of an investigator: Interest, Transportation, and work off on Sunday. It's a rare combination out here!

I love you all so much though. I'm having a great time out here and enjoying my mission more than ever. The work is still the same joyful stuff. I grow more grateful for the church and the Book of Mormon and especially the Savior with every passing day. Being a missionary is the best, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything I could have been doing back at home!

I love you all. Thanks for everything!

Love,
Elder Blissett

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Elder Bednar in KL







"I'm Not Home..."

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, this week was another pretty standard week out here in JB. No visits from general authorities or other famous people but lots of knocking and teaching. So it was standard, but pretty good!

One of the highlights was a lesson we had with a Chinese family early in the week. I think I told you about meeting them before. They're the family I told you had been praying for some comfort just before we knocked on their door. Anyway, they're still doing great and we had an awesome lesson about the Book of Mormon with them, the senior couple serving here and one of the branch missionaries. They're a family that's really sincerely searching for the truth (which I've found can be a really hard thing to find) and who are really committed to following whatever answers they receive, so I'm confident that they'll be getting the right answer soon. Unfortunately the husband has to go to Indonesia for business for about a month later this week, but we're still hopeful that everything is going to work out fine.

We've had some weird weather lately. Just the other day we had a day that was super overcast and very hot, but that never rained. It was really strange. Usually if you walk out of the house and it's a really hot day (which really just means it's a few degrees Celsius hotter, I think the temperature here just varies between 29 and 32 degrees, but it always feels a lot hotter!) you can almost be positive that it will rain that day. It's actually pretty predictable. So it was weird the other day to have a full day that was hot and cloudy without rain. The clouds were actually nice though, it's always better to have the clouds than the sun. The sun can be really brutal out here.

We had a fun contacting experience contacting and Indian man at his home just before he left for his job as a bus driver in Singapore. Well, we asked him if we could come back the next day and he told us a little bit reluctantly that that would be ok. So, the next day we start the fairly long bike ride in the hot sun to go out and go see him. Well, you can imagine our relief when we saw that his bus was still parked in front of his house, meaning that he hadn't left for work yet. Anyway, we walked up to the door and rang it, waited for a couple of seconds and saw just a flash of somebody walking out the front door and hearing a short of muffled gasp/shout. Well, that was strange we thought, but we figured he'd be coming back out in just a second after he grabbed the keys. Well, we waited there for a few minutes in the beating sun and... nothing happened. He didn't come back. After waiting a couple more minutes we retreated to some shade at his neighbors house and gave him a call.

"Oh hello friend, we're at your house right now and it's very hot. Do you think we can come in?"

"Oh uh, actually I'm not home right now. Ya, I'm visiting my relative"

It was at this point I realized that I was not only hearing his voice on the phone, but could actually hear him speaking inside the house. Well, after a short conversation (wherein he asked us to go visit him at his "relative's" house that was actually some distance away!), we just went on our merry way. Sometimes things don't quite work out the way you hoped they would, but at least it was funny!

Well, other than that, things are pretty much going the way they've been going here. We're still having a blast and doing our best to teach Heavenly Father's other children.

Anyway, I'm still loving it here! We're working hard and I'll be finishing up strong for sure!

I love you all so much. Thanks for everything!

Love you!
Elder Blissett

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Elder Bednar's Visit

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, Elder Bednar's visit was absolutely awesome! You were right, he came here right after organizing the first Stake in Indonesia, which in and of itself would be really awesome, but the talk that he gave us was absolutely awesome too!

The meeting was with Elder Bednar, Elder Pratt (of our area presidency), President Clark and all of their wives as well as all of the missionaries from West Malaysia, Singapore and Sabah. So all and all I'd say that there was about 100 people there, which made the meeting feel pretty small and intimate. It was awesome to see how Elder Bednar taught. He's a master at the art for sure! The whole session though basically just revolved around Elder Bednar asking us questions, and then us asking him questions! He taught us all about the pattern of teaching people by the Spirit and using questions inspired by the Holy Ghost by demonstrating it by example right there in the meeting. It was awesome! Other highlights included an apostolic promise that someday in the future we'll be able to look at the church in Malaysia and see that we were "laying the foundation of a great work" and that in the future the church is going to be a *lot* bigger here. He gave some great marriage advice, saying that we should "look for a woman who will reverence her womanhood" and who understands her role in the plan of salvation, and also taught us all about how to end a mission right. And all of that on top of teaching us what he actually came to teach us about teaching by the Spirit and helping people be agents for themselves in learning. It was a spiritual feast for sure!

So that was *awesome*, but this last week we had not only that, but also a great experience with meeting a Chinese family as we were out door contacting who is absolutely awesome. Again, it was one of those times that we were really surprised to be immediately invited into the house to share our message even though it looked like they were just about to head out. Well, we shared our message and I'm not sure entirely how much of it they understood, but at the end of the lesson they told us that they'd be praying as a family not more than five minutes before we came about a health struggle their father is going through and they really felt like we'd be sent there at just that moment as an answer to their prayers and as a comfort. It was awesome, and the best part is that they came to church this last Sunday. So, we're going to keep working with them for sure. Apparently the husband is going to Indonesia for about a month this week though, so that we'll be a struggle, but we definitely have a great start on good things happening with this family.

So in short, it's been an awesome week! We've received a lot of blessings from the Lord and I think that this is only the beginning for this area. Missionary work is more fun than ever. I was comforted to hear Elder Bednar tell us at the conference that we should basically be more lost about how to do missionary work on our last day in the field than we were on the first day (emphasizing that we just can't do this work on our own), which was a big comfort because sometimes that's a lot how I feel. But it's a blast, and I'm loving it!

I'm so grateful to be a member of this church. I know that it's true now more than ever. It was so powerful to get to hear Sister Bednar bear her personal testimony that her husband really was who he claimed to be. You know that she knows him better than anyone, and it was so cool to see how powerful her witness was. I love the church and I love the chance I have to come and share it with everyone else!

Thanks so much for your support. I'm so glad to hear that everything is going so well at home! I love you all so much!

Love you!

Elder Blissett

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sifting

Halo Keluargaku,

This week has been pretty good out here in good ol' JB. We're really looking forward to Elder Bednar's visit next week and just working hard in the mean time to spread the gospel. We had another pretty cool experience the other day randomly knocking into an 18 year old Iban girl who happens to be pretty good friends with one of the young men in the branch, so we're expecting to see her at church on Sunday with a few other possibilities. So the long and short of it is that things are gradually getting better as far as the work here goes, and that's very reassuring to see.

Today we're planning on going to an Indian place nearby the mall where we're e-mailing today. It's actually the second time that I've been there, but it's super delicious. You can order there what they call "banana leaf," which means that they serve you your rice and curry and things on a banana leaf, which, you know, would be kind of fun, but is made a million times better that the rice and curry are all you can eat and you only pay extra for the meats that you order. It's Indian food paradise! If there's only one material thing I'll miss here in Malaysia it will definitely be the foods. It's so delicious and so cheap. If I remember right there's actually a couple of Indian places in Salt Lake that aren't bad, but they're so expensive! Additionally I know that eating with your hands is pretty looked down upon in America and I'm not sure I even know how to eat curry with regular silverware. In my mind chicken was designed to be eaten with the fingers.

Elder Browne and I are still getting along pretty well. It's interesting to see how we both develop from week to week. Being around someone 24 hours a day definitely has an effect on you, and it's always kind of cool to see how your personalities kind of affect each other. We're working hard though and striving to be obedient and according to President Clark, that's the secret for happiness in a companionship, so that's turning out to be pretty true for us.

Welp, other than that, it's kind of the same old same old. This week we're still working with some of those potentials I told you about last week, but we haven't gotten any of them to church yet, so we'll see who finally makes it! Missionary work is a process of sifting as much as anything, so we're out on the lookout and expecting to hit gold soon!

I love you all so much. I'm so grateful for the chance I have to be serving out here.

Love you!
Elder Blissett

Little Miracles

Halo Keluargaku,

It was really awesome to talk to you guys too! It was definitely cool to see Johnny especially. I can't believe how big he's gotten and how much he can say now too. What a goof! But definitely calling home was one of the highlights of the week.I remember I wanted to tell you about a few of the cool experiences we had last week.

This last week Elder Browne and I have been doing a *lot* of knocking. Anyone who knows missionaries knows that that isn't normally a missionary's favorite thing to do, but actually this week I've really enjoyed the chance to just get out and work and see some things happen. So that was kind of a miracle in itself, but the best part is that scattered throughout our marathon of knocking we kept having these cool little experiences that kept us going. One example was the house we walked up to and were immediately invited to go in. That's a very unsettling experience to have someone just invite you to come in, but we were pretty excited about it. Well, it turns out that an really nice Iban family is staying there, but the craziest thing is that the day we were walking by the mother of the wife in the family just happened to be visiting for a week from Kuching. The really crazy part is that this mother has been having the missionaries over in Kuching for what sounds like a couple of months and absolutely loves them, so of course she was super excited to invite us in and have us visit her daughter in JB. What a little miracle! We ended up having a great contact and now we're really excited to start to teach this family.

Another example is the house we knocked on where again we were immediately invited to come in. In this family the husband has just started going to a Christian church for about three weeks. Before this he kind of followed Iban traditional worship, so he was pretty new to the experience of coming to church. Anyway, his problem was that of all the many churches that were out there, he just wasn't sure which one of them were true. He said he'd asked priests about it before and they had pretty much told him that all the churches were true and he could follow any one that he liked, but that answer wasn't really satisfying to him. Anyway, about halfway through the contact he looks again at the name of the church on the card and says something like, "You know, I've never known which church was true, but I think maybe it's this one, because this one is The Church of Jesus Christ. I think the one that is Jesus Christ's church is the right one." We thought so too!

Another experience happened when we went contacting in a relatively new place that we just found out is in our area. Well, we start knocking on houses and find a row that's a lot of Hindus. Hindus are really nice, but often they're not the most receptive so we weren't super excited about it. Well, imagine our surprise when three houses in a row come out to talk to us and agree to return appointments. We'll see how it all turns out, but we were really grateful to even have gotten that far.

So, I guess the lessons that I've learned are that the Lord really is in this work and watching out for us, that hard work really can bring forth the blessings of Heaven, and that even the most monotonous parts of missionary work can be fun too! So it's been an awesome week!

I'm loving it here more than ever. JB is a super awesome area, and we're really excited for the chance we have to work here.I love you all so much! I'm so grateful for this experience that I'm having out here.

Love you!
Elder Blissett

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Work Is Like Magic

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, it's been a good first week filled with lots of work here in JB. JB is a really fun branch. There are a lot of good members here and for the first time on my mission I'm finally living with 3 other elders which is a lot of fun! Elder Browne and I kind of picked up the area in a bit of a slump (we call it a tidal wave here, there will be a lot of stuff going on, and then you'll drop or baptize all the investigators in your pool and be left with nothing for a few weeks after that. We do our best to avoid them), but we've actually had a lot of fun working on getting things started. It's actually been pretty satisfying. One of the lessons I've learned on my mission is that work is like magic, if you have a problem you just work on it for long enough and the problem goes away. Well, we've definitely been doing a lot of that this week!

JB is interesting for a number of reasons. One is that it has one of the largest populations of Ibans outside of Sarawak in all of Malaysia, and the reports are true, they are a little bit different to teach and contact, so it's been a lot of fun trying to learn how to do that effectively. Another reason is that it's directly across a small stretch of ocean from Singapore, but has still managed to be a distinctly Malaysian city. It actually seems like there are more Malay speakers here than almost any of the other West Malaysian areas, which is crazy since it's across from probably the largest English speaking country in all of South-East Asia. You're definitely in a totally different country as soon as you cross over the bridge, there's no middle ground.

Elder Browne is really good. We've had a good time working hard together and getting to know each other. His Malay is great and his teaching skills are really sharp so it doesn't even feel like being companions with a relatively new Elder. That's a lot of fun! We're doing well.

Well, other than that, there's not a lot new going on! Just another day in the vineyard, right? But I'm loving my mission so much. I'm so grateful for the chance I've had to serve. I know more than ever that this really is the Lord's church restored to the Earth and I couldn't be happier to be a member of it. Being a missionary is far and away the greatest experience I've ever had in my life. Nothing else compares to it. I love this work and I love the church.I love you guys too!

Can't wait to talk to you!

Love you,
Elder Blissett

Johor Bahru

Halo Keluargaku,

*Drumroll please*

Well, you've guessed it, I got transferred from the lovely city of KL to... Johor Bahru, a lovely little city on the very southernmost tip of continental Asia, right across from Singapore. Luckily I'm still in West Malaysia so I'll still get to meet with Elder Bednar when he comes, but I also have the excitement of moving into what will more than likely be my last area. It's crazy to know exactly how long you'll be in a place, but I'm really excited to get to work and finish things up.

Well, I've actually only been here in JB for a day, so I don't really know a whole lot about it except that it's a fairly large city with a pretty large population of immigrants who commute across the bridge to Singapore everyday for work. Luckily that also means there's a pretty large Iban community here which should be a lot of fun. I'm living in a house with four elders which is a first on my mission and an experience that I thought I wasn't actually going to have. So that's really exciting. Four elders is a blast.

It was pretty sad to leave KL. It's funny, KL actually turned out to be a very close tie with Tawau for my favorite area, and in many ways I actually liked it even more. Also disappointing is that Elder Lang and I were getting along great! I tell you what, we would have had a really awesome companionship if we'd gotten to stay together a little longer. I'm really glad we had the chance to have a "do-over" companionship though and I think that was a pretty fun way to end my stay in KL. The investigators we had there are in really good hands, Elder Lang is one of the best missionaries in the mission. Interestingly enough, I'm now actually serving in the area that Elder Lang was serving in before he came to KL, so I've acquired the responsibility of taking care of his people too! It's funny how that worked out.

I'm serving with Elder Browne, who I haven't really gotten to know very well yet (I just arrived last night), but who I'm really excited to work with. He's actually only been in the field for about two months, so it will be kind of fun to help get him set up for the rest of his mission. Anyway, I think we're both really looking forward to the companionship. The other guys in our house are pretty cool, so I think we've got a lot of fun times ahead of us.

It sounds like Easter back at home was pretty fun. I can't believe Emma figured out how to die eggs with silk ties. How did she even think of that? Johnny is getting tougher and tougher to recognize everyday too! I can't believe how much he's grown up. I can only just see little traces of the baby Johnny face I used to know when I look at him now. That's pretty exciting!

Well, not a whole lot to report. Just that I'm excited to be in a new area and I'm ready to get to work! I'll tell you how the adventure is going soon!

I love you all so much. It's been such a blast to be out here on a mission and serving the Lord, but I couldn't be doing it without your support. Thanks so much for your prayers and support!

Love you all so much!
Elder Blissett

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

100% True

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, it's been another great week down here in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Yesterday we had a Mission Leadership training and the day before we had a Zone Leader Council, so now we've finally gotten all the companionship issues and the trainings and the travel and everything out of the way and we can finally just focus on doing missionary work in our area (at least for a little bit :D). We're very blessed to have had some good things happen here though regardless of how little time we've been able to spend actually doing regular work in our area, so thanks for your prayers. It makes a difference!

Well, I think some of the most exciting news I have to report is that we confirmed that Elder Bednar will be holding a missionary meeting with us when he comes next month. Exciting, huh? He'll be here on May 23 and he'll be holding a meeting with all the missionaries in West Malaysia and Singapore, so there's some real advantages to being in KL right now. It would definitely be cool to get to meet with two apostles on my mission, so we'll just have to cross our fingers that I'm still around when he gets here!

Our investigators are doing well. We just put one of our Pakistani investigators named *** on date for next month, so that's really exciting. It's funny, almost all the Pakistanis here are Muslim, but somehow we've actually managed to find a few of the Christian ones as we've gone about, so that's a lot of fun. *** actually contacted us. His brother is a member of the church in Pakistan (His brother actually served a mission there), and so when he decided to change his life he just gave us a call. Really exciting.

Unfortunately our friend from Myanmar's father is sick again. I guess he had to be readmitted to the hospital this week. If I remember right, they said he had myloma in his brain? I don't really know what that is, but apparently it needs to be treated with Chemotherapy. We'll keep on praying for them and hope that you will too! Our investigator is holding up really well though. It's awesome to see how well she takes care of her father.

So, the work moves on. Elder Lang and I are actually getting along really well. We've got some good plans to help out the zone and we'll hopefully be able to be an influence for some real good out here. It's awesome to be a misisonary and have your whole responsibility helping other people. It's been the best experience of my life so far, and I think there's still a lot of awesome experiences ahead of me. The gospel is 100% true, and it's such a blessing to be able to spend two years sharing that full-time with others.

I feel so grateful to be in a church with living apostles and prophets. It was awesome to hear what they said at conference (isn't it funny how every conference kind of feels like the best one you've ever heard?). I can't wait to dive into it and make some changes. They mark the path to real happiness!

I love you so much. Thanks for your support that allows me to come out here and do this awesome job. It's the best, and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

I love you!

Elder Blissett

Pakistani Investigators

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, Elder Lang and I have had a week of hard work! It feels like we were doing more knocking this week with some less than encouraging results than I've done for a long time, but our spirits are actaully still pretty high. Elder Lang is a lot of fun and it wasn't really very burdensome at all to get out there and put on some miles. It's funny, I've thought for a while that knocking is a little bit like magic. Your teaching pool will be running low, you go out and knock for a few hours, and then all of a sudden you have people to teach! Sometimes you just have to get out there and put on the grind. :D

There's actually a lot of good things that happened too though. One of the highlights is that our Pakistani investigator is doing awesome! We've been teaching a lot of the commandmants this week that we really anticipated having trouble with, things that would require a big lifestyle change, but he's taken it all like a champ! He already identifies the church as his church pretty strongly and he's looking really solid for baptism on May 15th. He's even quitting smoking. He went from smoking 20 sticks a day about a week ago to just one every two days when we last checked. He's doing awesome. He says he doesn't really think that he was ever really addicted to smoking, that he just did it as a style thing. Looks like that might be the case!

Some of the best news though is that one of his friends is also progressing really well, is promising to bring more family members to church this week, and he wants to introduce us to another one of his friends this week! I really believe that one of the best indicators of conversion is when people start to share what they've learned with others, and *** is doing a great job of that. So we should be seeing a lot of good things come out of all of this in the near future. Blessings for sure.

Other than that, we went on exchanges with some of the other elders here in KL on Monday, gave a training to everyone in KL city on Tuesday, and are planning to go on exchanges again on Thursday. President Clark talked to us about doing exchanges more often, so we're taking that advice to heart. It keeps us really busy, but it's pretty fun and productive too, so we're excited to do it.

Elder Lang and I are planning to go to the Orang Asli museum today. Orang Asli (or "original people") are kind of like the real original native people here in Malaysia, but now they've mostly disappeared. There's just a few scattered "kampung" (villages) here and there now, so I'm really interested to see if I can learn what happened to them all. Should be a lot of fun!

Well, that's pretty much the news from KL. We're getting a lot of rain lately. It's funny, you always know if it's going to rain in KL if the afternoon is really, really hot. I don't really know what the connection there is, but we've been having a lot of hot afternoons and rainy storms. I guess it's just the season (although I've come to believe that there aren't really any distinct seasons here!).

I love you all so much. It's always so good to read a letter from home. Hope everything is going great and I'll talk to you soon! (Like in three weeks :D)

Love you!

Elder Blissett

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A New (Old) Companion

Well, this week was kind of crazy, but to make a long story short, I'm getting another new companion. Kind of... Elder Gott is stuck in Singapore now with some visa issues, and so now they're going to send Elder Lang to be my new companion in KL. I don't know if you'll remember or not, but Elder Lang was actually my companion in the MTC, so it's kind of fun to have a companionship part 2. I'm really excited to get to work with him, it's gonna be awesome. So, being on exchanges waiting to get a companion has meant that in the last week I was only actually able to spend about 2 hours in my area. I couldn't even go to church in my own branch since I was on exchanges in Melaka. Definitely a crazy part of my mission. I have some great news though. We've definitely seen the power of prayer and the priesthood in our area this last week. You'll remember ***'s father who was so sick in the hospital last week, couldn't talk, couldn't walk, couldn't do anything. Well, today he's going back home apparently completely recovered. I haven't met him yet, but one of our investigators called to say that he's back to normal, walking and talking and the whole works. What a miracle! It's funny, the blessing that we gave him kind of suggested that he would get better so that he'd be able to return to his duties as a father, but I have to admit, I think my faith was a little bit weak to see such a miraculous result. It's really awesome. Thanks so much for your prayers too, I know that that's made a big difference. Well, hopefully we'll be watching conference this weekend, but I heard that it's delayed in at least some parts of Malaysia because the DVDs haven't arrived yet. Hopefully they get to KL, I'm really excited to hear what everyone has to say. It's true, Conference is a little bit like Christmas on your mission. Other than that, there's not a lot going on! All the elders in the zone are doing well. We played a few hours of badminton today (which surprisingly enough is like the national sport of Malaysia) and had a lot of fun. Turns out badminton is one of my favorite sports, so who would have guessed, huh? Thanks again so much for all your prayers. We'll need them for the next couple of weeks building the area back up with a new companionship, but I think things are going to go really well. I love you all! I'll talk to you soon! Love you! Elder Blissett

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pictures from KL

KL can be such a pretty city.

View from apartment

A picture in an area called Central Market. It's a place where a lot of people go to buy souvenirs and things. The big kite looking thing at the top is called a wau (pronounced 'wow'), and is a traditional kind of kite that the Malays make here. The real ones are like six feet tall and very cool.

A picture of one of the strangest things I've tasted here in Malaysia. It's called Cinceluk (I'm not sure how to spell it, but it's pronounced 'cheen-che-loke'). It's a shrimp based sauce kind of thing they eat with rice here, but it's got one of the strangest flavors I've ever tasted. It's super salty, super sour, and very spicy all at once. Interesting combination!

A bathroom I was privileged to use the other day. Yes, that's right, the bathroom is a wall. :D

A New Companion

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, our baptisms both went through and now we have two more Nigerian brothers here to strengthen the branch. It was really cool so see that, and we're super privileged to have them. It's pretty fun to be part of the International Mission, building the church all over the world right here in KL.

I have some more exciting news to report. I have a new companion! It's always a little bittersweet to change, but I'm really excited to be serving now with Elder Gottfredson from San Antonio, Texas. He's a really likable, easy going guy and a hard worker, so I think we're going to get along great! Elder Peterson is off in Tawau now, which is kind of fun. I sent him with a lot of greetings for the members there. So, things are always changing! Elder Gottfredson and I are going to hang a Texas flag in the apartment, so at least in that small way the change has been positive. :D

Well, this week was filled with doing lots of kind of time consuming, but very important things. We managed to get our second Nigerian *** baptized this week by making the long trek out to his house to finish teaching him, which he was very excited about. ***, our other Nigerian brother, actually got really sick on the Sunday of his baptism and we were really worried he wasn't going to make it. After explaining to us that he was sick though, he told us he was probably going to be late, but that he was definitely going to be there, and he was. What a trooper! It was awesome to see him exercise his faith like that and not push things back even when it would have been understandable. I know that faith is going to lead to a lot of blessings for him in the future, and already has blessed him here.

Next week Elder Gottfredson has to go into Singapore for three days to get his special professional visitors pass renewed, so I think I'll be spending some time down in Johor Bahru which should be fun. We have to go down for exchanges anyway once a month, so we might as well kill two birds with one stone, right?

Well, there's not a lot else to say, other than that things are going great. I'm loving the gospel more and more everyday and I truly know that the church is true. I'm loving serving as a missionary. This is the Lord's work, and it's blessed me more than almost anything else in my entire life.

I love you all so much!

Talk to you soon!

Love,
Elder Blissett

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Message to Elder Hall

Hey Cameron, apa khabar?

Saya belum pasti apa ibu saya akan buat dengan pesanan ini, tapi mudah-mudahan dia boleh sampaikannya kepada kamu. Kamu ada sudah di KL? Saya dengar nanti you mahu datang, tapi lama tak ada apa-apa khabar. Ada dua orang yang pernah misionaris yang sekarang ada di sini di KL, jadi mungkin salah satu mereka bantu kami, saya tak berapa pasti.

Oklah, kita bincang nanti.

Elder Blissett

e-mail address: kevin.blissett@myldsmail.net

Upcoming Baptisms

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, we did finally hear about the tsunami on Sunday at church. It was really unbelievable to see the pictures of what's going on there in Japan. It's hard to believe that something like this could happen even in a developed nation like Japan. It's a huge blessing to hear that all the missionaries are accounted for though. I hope to hear soon that the members are safe, and we're definitely praying for the people in Japan. It feels a lot closer to home being over here in Asia!

Well, for the last two days Elder Peterson and I have been out of our area doing exchanges with the other elders here in KL. It's always tough to be away from your own investigators and area, but it's been really cool to see what the other elders are doing and try and find ways that we can help them. The elders here in the zone are really awesome, and we're very blessed to have a really motivated and faithful crew doing the work here in this part of the vineyard. So I've definitely learned a lot the last couple of days and I feel like I've gotten to know the elders in the zone a lot better, which is very important too!

As for the rest of the week, it's always hard to even remember what happened! One of the things that has really surprised me about missionary work is how fast everything changes. It really feels like week to week you're working with an entirely different group of people. Even the investigators you work with for a long time seem to change so much it's hard to keep tabs on what they're all doing. But, for a minor update, it seems like our very spiritually sensitive Myanmar investigator is doing very well, although she's going to have some trouble coming to church for a while since her boss is out of town and she can't take a day off until he gets back. Can you believe that? Not a single day off. It actually seems to be a pretty regular schedule for a lot of people here to get two "off-days" a month. They're actually really lucky if they're working at a company that allows them to take those off-days on Sundays, since those are some of the biggest business days here in Malaysia. So that's always a challenge to deal with, but we pray and do the best we can and often something will work out.

We're planning to have two baptisms this Sunday! One is ***, our Nigerian investigator who bore his testimony the first time he ever came to church. He's really done awesome, and has made a lot of progress really quickly. He didn't really have any major concerns and he's looking very solid for baptism, so we're really excited about that. Our other potential is a man named ***, who is really excited to be baptized, but lives really far from the church, making it a little difficult for us to find good times and places to meet him. So if we can work it out, we're going to finish his teaching this week and get him baptized on Sunday, if not, it should be another week.

So Heavenly Father is still blessing us with lots of really awesome people to work with. It's been cool to see the sentence in Preach My Gospel fulfilled where it says that the Lord will put people in our path and put us in the paths of others who are prepared to hear the message of the gospel. I've definitely learned that that's true for myself.

Well, other than that, it's been a pretty standard week. I'm so grateful to be serving a mission. I know that the Lord has called me here and I know that this is his work. It's one of the greatest blessings of my life to get to be a part of it!

I love you all so much!
Elder Blissett

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A new investigator from Myanmar

Halo Keluargaku,

That's so fun to hear that the family managed to get back to a little bit of our Louisiana roots and have a king cake! I'm pretty sure that I've never had one, but I have definitely heard people talk about them over the years and have always kind of wondered what that was all about. I was especially interested in hearing about all the Christian themes in a King Cake. I had no idea that Christian motivated traditions were part of Mardi Gras at all, but I guess I was just underinformed!

The story about Johnny and his tricycle was pretty funny too. It really does seem like little kids are just born with inclinations to love certain things (like playing with guns)! It seems like the culture doesn't really even make a difference. One of the fun things coming here and seeing so many different kinds of people from all over the world has been to realize that little kids are pretty much exactly the same no matter where you go. I don't know how it works, but it always feels like you're not far from home if there's a little kid around.

It's fun to hear about all the lessons and things that you hear in church too. It's cool to realize that the things going on back at home in church are actually pretty much the same things that are happening here too, it's just that here it seems like all those things are happening in three languages!

This week in KL has been really nice. We just finished up a Zone Conference yesterday and a Zone Leader Council the day before that, so I think I've had my fill of meetings for the next month or two, but I learned a lot and I'm definitely grateful everytime we get to hear from the Mission President and the APs. President Clark is really a special Mission President and we're super blessed to have him. He gave us awesome trainings the last couple of days on Prayer, Conducting Meetings, Leadership Skills, and all kinds of other missionary skills that have given us plenty of information to digest for the next month. The Holy Ghost is always very strongly present and it's always interesting to see how He points out to us the parts of every little lesson that are the most significant to us personally. I feel like everytime we go into a Zone Conference we all hear the same words, but come out with completely different messages. It's really exciting to see that.

We're teaching a few people that we're really excited about, but one of the most notable is a 27 year old girl from Myanmar named ***. She's turned out to be one of the most naturally spiritually sensitive people that I've taught on my entire mission. The first time we met her we were actually teaching another investigator when she just came into the room and sat down. Interestingly, although I was a little bit inclined to set her to the side and focus on the investigator we came there to teach, Elder Peterson really felt like we needed to focus on her. So, we started to teach her, and it wasn't long before I got the same feeling as Elder Peterson that we were there to teach her that night. It was awesome, she was so focused and so open to hearing everything we said. She really listened carefully and seemed immediately interested. Well, the next time we went to her house and taught her there and had another awesome experience with her, only this time it was made even better since we took the first investigator we'd been teaching (***) along to help. *** did awesome, and we left the lesson with two investigators that had strengthened each other's faith although they were both just learning the gospel for the first time. The next time we came back to teach *** she told us that since she'd had a hard time understanding us the first time we met with her, she'd (on her own) asked Heavenly Father to bless her so that she'd be able to understand our English better, and it totally worked! She told us the other night how when we're there with her she can feel a really strong, peaceful, nice feeling that goes away with us when we leave. When we asked her to pray and ask whether or not Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, she did it, but told us she didn't really feel like she'd received an answer. "It's ok though," she said, "I just believe that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. I just believe that it's true." I think she's well on her way to finding her answer.

So, she's doing awesome, and the investigator we always bring with us to teach her has basically become a missionary herself before she's even been baptized. She's an awesome teacher and is sharing the gospel with all kinds of people at her work. It's really exciting to see and is an absolutely huge blessing.

We're teaching two Nigerian men right now as well (I think I mentioned one before who bore his testimony at the first sacrament meeting he'd ever been to, the one who came with us to hand out food to the poor). They're both doing awesome, have accepted dates to be baptized, and are looking really solid right now, so we're enjoying a huge wave of blessings.

It's awesome to see how Heavenly Father has this whole experience planned out. I know that he's watching out for all of us and gives us exactly what we need when we need it. Sometimes that means a lot of blessings, and sometimes it means a lot of adversity, but I think that even the adversity can be a blessing if we treat it that way. It's funny though, lately I've just been feeling like I've entered the "reward" stage of my mission. We're just getting so much more than we deserve, and I know that Heavenly Father is behind it.

So I know that the church is true. Serving this mission has been the greatest opportunity of my entire life, and I think the blessings are just begining. I love you all so much, and I'm so grateful that we have an eternal family. Thanks so much for all your support. I love you guys!

Love,
Elder Blissett

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An Iban Baptism Experience

Halo Keluargaku,

Welp, we finished off the week last week with an awesome Iban baptism! Woohoo! It was really sweet to see *** get baptized, and it was kind of fun for me to to get to experience that kind of a Sarawak style baptism without ever even having to go there! The opening and closing prayers were given by our Recent Converts (***'s sister and brother-in-law), we had talks from one of the Iban members of the branch and from one of the returned missionaries from this mission. ***, who is the wife of another of the returned missionaries from this mission (the sisters were teaching her) was baptized first, then our recent convert. And almost all of it done in the awesome Iban language. Lots of fun!

So, the next day we had church, but instead of being at its normal time at 10 they moved it to 3 this week so that it wouldn't overlap with some protests that were taking place here in KL on Saturday and Sunday. It's funny, I think back at home 3 o'clock church would be far from my favorite, but here I actually thought it was pretty fun. We even got to go to a member's house before church for lunch, which is something I've never done before! Anyway, both the recently baptized people from Saturday showed up and were confirmed on time which is always a relief. So now there's officially two more members of the KL branch.

Monday and Tuesday we spent doing exchanges in Johor Bahru, which is a city at the very southern tip of Malaysia, right across the ocean from Singapore (There's actually 2 bridges from JB to Singapore). It was fun to see the missionaries there and definitely helpful to see how things work there everyday. We're actually a little wiped today since we had to take a bus back from JB at 11:30 last night and didn't get into our apartment until 4. Normally I never have trouble sleeping on cars or buses, but I was really not as successful last night as I usually am. But, we made it back! I'm glad I have a full P-day to recover before we jump back into the normal work. :D

Welp, the sisters from my group went in to Singapore yesterday to have their release dinner, which means that today is officially my 18 month mark. I don't think anything more needs to be said about that!

Well, I think that's about it for the week in KL. We've got a few potentials looking really good for baptism in the next couple of weeks, so hopefully we'll have more good news to report soon!

I love you so much! Have a great week!

Love you!
Elder Blissett

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Trip Down To Melacca

Halo Keluargaku,

Welp, we've had a pretty average week here in KL, which is good, even average here is super fun! Unfortunately our baptism didn't go through this Sunday because we had a scheduling conflict that prevented us from doing the baptismal interview when we needed to, but the interview is done now so this Saturday or Sunday ***will be getting baptized. Hooray!

On Monday we took a day trip down to Melacca to do some training and exchanges with the elders down there. It's always fun to get to travel a little bit and see what some of the other areas are like and how the elders are doing. Melacca is a particularly interesting place since it's about the most historical place in all of Malaysia. There's all kinds of old churches and Portuguese forts and things there. The whole city is filled with museums and is a super popular place for tourists. It was really fun though. The Elders there are doing really well and I even managed to touch a chuch from the 1600s that we passed by. Lots of fun!

Last night we went to all of our appointments with a couple of members here, one from the Philipines and one American who is actually returned from this mission about 2 years ago. It's always fun to go around with members, and the American is actually working here in Malaysia for a while, and has had lots of time to get his Malay *really* good, so it was fun to learn some things from him too. He speaks Iban as well, so we took him to meet our recent convert Iban family that night. *That* is a crazy sounding language. If you picture in your head what kind of language people living in the jungle would speak, you'll have a pretty good idea what Iban sounds like. It's actually close enough to Malay that I can understand most of what people are saying, but it still has that appeal of being something that just seems so foreign.

We've been working on meeting more of the members lately and trying to get the referral work moving here, and so far we've been pretty successful. Things are definitely still in the infant stages (I think it's been a long time since missionaries have worked very much with the members here), but we're seeing some very encouraging things and starting to get more referrals. Hopefully in the coming weeks we'll be able to see more fruits from that.

Well, other than that, things are going pretty much the same. I passed up the half-way point in the new Indonesian Book of Mormon this last week. Oh, here's something kind of exciting though, this is the last P-day for the sister missionaries who came in with my MTC group. They'll be flying to Singapore on Tuesday and heading back to America the next day I think. It's crazy to see them go! It kind of snuck up on me to be honest. It's weird to see people that you've got such a connection with in the mission finish up.

Well, I know that the church is true. These last couple of weeks we've been able to see the power of the Book of Mormon and the Spirit really start to change the heart of one of our investigators. She's always been kind of interested, but these last couple of weeks as she's really started to seriously read the Book of Mormon, it's been really cool to watch her heart soften and open up. She's developing a real love for the Book of Mormon and it actually has wrought a very obvious change in her demeanor. So that's been really cool to see. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and I'm so grateful that we have it.

I love you all so much! Thanks so much for your prayers for us and for our investigators. It really does bring blessings into our lives.

Love you!

Elder Blissett

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Missionaries

Halo Keluargaku,

Yes! I did get the cookies! Thank you *so* much! I couldn't believe when Brother Doxey walked up to me on Sunday and said, "Hey, I just talked to your mom." How exciting! He even passed on a hug from you, so I appreciated that too :D. The cookies were awesome. We shared them with the sisters last night while eating some nice curry from a recent convert. It turns out cookies make an excellent desert after a nice plate of curry. Who would have guessed?

So thank you so much, and thank Sister Paulsen too! The CD she sent is really awesome. I have to confess, a lot of my favorite Mormon Tabernacle Choir songs are the songs where just the men sing, so I was really excited to get a whole CD of that. Awesome!

I started watching some of those Mormon Messages. They're awesome! It's funny, I like them so much, but I actually haven't even seen most of them I'm discovering. It's so convenient to have on a DVD, and I think we're actually even going to try and use them with some investigators. We were going to show one during a training we gave yesterday, but unfortunately we couldn't find a DVD player. Oh well...

So, this last week was pretty awesome. We actually spent three days of it in Singapore, which is never the best for our area, but we did get a lot of awesome training, and we got to meet all the new missionaries coming into our Zone! That's right, new missionaries! We just got a new batch in from Provo and Elder Peterson and I were very pleased to see that about half of them were coming into our zone. That means the KL zone, which was already the biggest in the mission, is now a monster zone of around 20 missionaries! I don't know about other missions, but that's pretty unheard of here (it's about a fourth of all the missionaries in the mission), so we're really excited. Just so you can keep an eye out on missionary mom, the new missoinaries in our zone are Sister Chang, Elder Bryant, Elder Christensen, and Elder Browne. They're all awesome, and we're very excited to have them.

New missionaries actually leads me to our next bit of exciting news, which is that President just received the official word last week that our complement of missionaries is being upgraded from 82 to 100. Woohoo! 100 missionaries! Rumors were flying like crazy about the new areas that they'll open up, but apparently we're supposed to be up to 100 by August, so we'll know soon enough! It'll be interesting to see whether they actually make it to 100 by then considering that we have 26 missionaries going home within three weeks of each other at that same time, but we'll see! I guess the final break down will be 16 native Malaysian missionaries, 14 sisters, 10 mandarin speaking missionaries, and 60 Malay speaking missionaries. Very, very exciting!

So, lots of exciting Singapore mission news. We're moving up in the world, and it's awesome to see the Kingdom of God developing here so rapidly. This is a very, very exciting time to be in this mission.

Not that I'm counting, but as of today I have six months left in the mission field (not that I'm counting :D)! Don't worry, I'm still very focused and working very hard. I love it here a lot!

Anyway, I think that's the bulk of the exciting news this week, except that on Sunday we have another baptism coming up! She's actually another Iban, and the younger sister of one of the recent converts we just barely baptized, so we're super excited. It's so much easier when people have family in the church. That support is so key to keeping our recent converts active and doing well. This last Sunday we helped the Branch President translate to have an interview with our other Iban recent converts *** and ***, but we were pleasantly surprised to see that they spoke a lot more English than we thought, and didn't even really need us! Anyway, they're lined up to get callings, and *** will be sustained to receive the Aaronic priesthood on Sunday! Yippee! I was so proud of them to hear how well they did in the interview. They're awesome.

I love you all so much! Thanks so much again for the cookies! Glad to hear that everything is going well at home (John's new calling is so exciting! There's so much potential to do good in the Elder's Quorom Presidency. That's really awesome, he's going to do a great job). Give Johnny a big hug for me!

Love you so much!

Elder Blissett

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Unconventional Sunday

Halo Keluargaku,

That's so cool that you got to meet Elder Stewart's mom! Isn't it funny the kinds of connections you end up having with other people? That's one of the things that has been the most fun about being on my mission, building up relationships with people all the way on the other side of the world, and while you're at it, building up relationships with a bunch of people back home. So I'm sure there will be lots of adventures meeting up with everyone again when I get back.

Well, this week was pretty exciting! The week was just looking pretty normal until we went to church on Sunday. We were on our way to pick up an investigator and bring him to church when we happened to meet a member on the bus. You can imagine our surprise when she asked us something like,

"So Elders, are we still having regular meetings today at church?"
"Well, uh, yes, that's what we always do."
"Oh, I had just heard that this week sacrament meeting was going to be at 12"
"No, I think it's at the normal time, who told you that?"
"The Branch President."

Well, at this point I'm going to have to update you a little bit on our Branch President. He's an American guy and probably one of the biggest people you've ever seen (6' 7" or something, and he used to be in the Army, so he's no small fry). He's super nice and a really awesome Branch President, but the week just previous to this one he gave a fifth Sunday combined lesson that was entitled, "The Foolish Traditions of Our Fathers," that went through and explored whether or not some of the things we did in the church were just tradition or whether they had saving value (Wearing white shirts and ties to church, taking the sacrament with our right hands, the sacrament cloths). It was a way intense lesson, but it was really good.

Anyway, after that lesson and then hearing that church started at 12 I was feeling a little nervous. A quick call to the Branch President confirmed that yes, sacrament meeting was at 12 (instead of 10), and that we would be "doing something a little bit different" before that.

Uh Oh.

Anyway, we went to go get our investigator (a really awesome Nigerian guy named ****), and brought him to church not entirely knowing what was about to happen. Well, when we arrived the Branch President showed us a brief video, and then told us that for the first 2 hours of church that day, we were going to go and give away food to the homeless scattered all over KL, and then come back at 11:45 in time for our fast and testimony meeting.

I have to admit, at first I was pretty skeptical (especially with investigators at church!), but you know what, it turned out to be one of the coolest church meetings I've ever attended! So we all just split up into cars, were assigned to different areas, and we gave out bags of food to any homeless people we could find. It was awesome! I think our branch must have moved close to 100 bags of food in only an hour and a half. The best part was still coming though.

So, we went back to sacrament meeting and the Spirit was really strong. It was awesome being able to practice "pure religion" on a Sunday and then come back to a sacrament meeting. The meeting was awesome, but the best part was when our investigator **** stood up to be the very last person to bear his testimony at fast and testimony meeting. Now, you know that I was saying a very fervent prayer in my heart that **** would give a good testimony (you never really know what to expect with investigators attending their first time at church), and I was super grateful to see my prayers answered. **** told all about how when we knocked on his door a few days before, he hadn't been to church for more than a year, and he really felt that Heavenly Father sent us there to bring him back. He told us that he normally wouldn't have been home or wouldn't have answered the door, but how this time he did. He told us about how his mission in life since he was young was to seek out the poor and needy and do anything he could to help them, and how that very Sunday he'd gotten to spend an hour and a half at church fulfilling that mission. It was AWESOME. I know that Heavenly Father really did lead us to ****'s door to help him receive the restored gospel. That's not the end of it though.

On Sunday we had another Nigerian man just show up at church, telling us that he'd been learning about the church in Nigeria and that he'd finally decided he wanted to be baptized. Awesome! So we taught him yesterday and he should be getting baptized by the end of the month. We asked him why he decided to follow this church, wondering why he looked so hard to find it here in KL (it wasn't really easy). He told us that when he was back in Nigeria, there was a family across the street from him that just lived in love an harmony. He said the husband knew how to treat his wife, and he saw the peace that they had and that he wanted that in his own life. He told us that he'd also been there at the dedication of the Aba (sp?), Nigeria temple, and he talked about it like it was the most beautiful building he'd ever seen. He's awesome!

So, lots of blessings here in the KL branch. The greatest blessing for me though is just getting to be a part of it and seeing people make decisions to change their lives and do better. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ really can change our lives. That's the whole point really. It's been awesome to see it here in KL, and to see first hand that it works for everyone, in any culture, in any language. The Gospel is universal.So, we're very, very blessed here.

Well, that's kind of the week in KL. The work is moving forward. We're seeing miracles happen everyday. The gospel is absolutely true and, HEY, I forgot to tell you that we finally got the new translation of the Indonesian Book of Mormon. I actually took a bunch of pictures to show you what it is like, but it's basically just like the English one, only bigger and thicker :D. It's awesome though, so much nicer and a million times easier to understand (the Malay speaking people here actually understand it! It's amazing!). So, that's very, very exciting for us. I guess the Indonesian scriptures are online now too, and we've heard a pretty solid rumor that a General Authority is going to be coming here in the next couple of weeks to officially organize the committee to translate the Book of Mormon into Malay. Hooray! The committee has already been picked I guess, they're just waiting for him to come and give the go ahead. I guess it's on a fast-track translation process, so we should be looking for a Book of Mormon in Malay in about two years I guess! What a blessing!

I love you all so much! I'm so grateful to be serving a mission! Thanks for all your support!

Love you!
Elder Blissett

Friday, February 4, 2011

The National Zoo and a Baptism

Halo Keluargaku,

This week was a great week! For starters, we just got back from the National Zoo, and let me tell you, it was a blast (if not a little bit hot)! So, so far here in KL we've been going out and having adventures on P-Day, which has been really nice actually. So, for the next few weeks we're looking at doing the National Museum and this thing called something like the Shah Alam Jungle Walk, which is this huge rope bridge kind of thing you can cross to walk in the tree tops of the jungle. Sounds like fun!

Buuut the best news by far is that **** was baptized this last week! Woohoo! And it was a close call too! On Friday we went to the church to start to fill up the font for a child who was being baptized the next day only to find out that, surprise, surprise, the ceiling above the font had collapsed into the font because of a broken pipe, water had filled the font completely, and the relief society room was soaked with about a centimeter of standing water throughout. What a mess! Well, anyway, we figured out how to get the water off as quickly as we could, cleaned up a little and then left it to some Malaysian contractors to take care of the rest. We were definitely nervous, but they actually did a great job and the baptism the next day went great aaand on Sunday **** was baptized as well. Man, he's doing awesome. We actually went by his house the next day and walked in on him having kind of a get together with his work buddies. We were really nervous to see that there were some people drinking and smoking since **** just barely overcame a Word of Wisdom problem, but we were really proud to see that he hadn't had anything. Awesome!

So, for a flashback to the Zoo, it was really fun, but the very best part was to see that a lot of the animals there were really pretty local. There were even some things we saw there that I'd seen in the wild (Including the mudskipper fish)! It brought a special pride though everytime we saw Malaysian hornbills, or sunbears, or elephants, or any of that kind of thing though knowing that they were from our own backyard. It was kind of fun to see that even if an animal wasn't from Malaysia, I still had a pretty good idea where the country they were from was. It's crazy that we just don't ever learn anything about Asia, but it's true, I think before I got here I couldn't have found Myanmar or Cambodia on a map. So, super fun!

As kind of a side note, last night I stayed with some of the other elders here in KL since Elder Peterson and I both had to go places to do baptismal interviews, and we ended up getting to spend some time talking with the Senior Couple there who is the Senior Couple in charge of family history here in Malaysia (what an intimidating job)! Anyway, that reminded me that I'd heard family search has had a lot of changes lately, so I just checked it out and it's really cool now! I guess the genealogies for a lot of the members of the church are already on the website because of church records, and they automatically sign up all the missionaries with family search accounts, so I've just gotten to browse our family history a little bit! It's pretty cool. Anyway, if you get a chance, you should check it out! It's funny, it actually says that a lot of Gandmama's brother's work is "In Progress," but not yet complete. Do you know anything about that? Gandmama's sealing to her parents actually says it's just reserved, but not yet complete too. Strange...

Welp, other than that, we're having kind of a same-old same-old week here in KL. We're teaching another member of the family of the three Ibans that we just baptized, and she's really excited, so we should be seeing a lot of progress with her in the next few weeks. Thanks so much for all of your prayers for our investigators, it makes a huge difference and we can really see the Lord's hand blessing them.

It's so awesome to hear from you all! I love you all so much! Talk to you soon!

Love,
Elder Blissett

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pictures from Batu Caves













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Cultural Adventures

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, this week is a week for pictures for sure, so assuming everything goes ok, you'll be able to see the big adventure that this week has turned out to be as well as read about it! Cross your fingers, right?

So, it all started with Thaipusam, which involved a whole lot less needle-hooky kind of things like we expected, and a lot more looking at Hindu temples and observing priests and that kind of thing. But it turned out to be a lot of fun! Batu caves is really kind of a beautiful place. It's a big Hindu temple complex located not to far at all from the city (you can actually see it from tall buildings), but the most famous temple is the one in a cave 200 and something steps up the side of a mountain. It was super fun to see everyone there getting all in the festival spirit. So I guess Thaipusam is all about doing penance, and there were a few people there already even though it was actually the day before Thaipusam was meant to start. Anyway, the most popular activity of the day was carrying these jars on your head all the way up the 200 and something steps of Batu Caves, which may not seem that difficult until you actually tried to do it. Some people were really struggling! One of the coolest parts of Hindu art and style and stuff in my mind though is that the Indians always use bright colors, and these people didn't disappoint with their awesome, yellow clothing. So, the whole area was filled with lots of sound and colors and excitement and turned out to be a whole lot of fun. So, that was the first adventure of the week!

The second was actually Indian related too, as we got invited to attend the Indian wedding of the family member of one of our ward member's. So that was a pretty fun cultural experience too. I've actually been to one Tamil wedding before, and I wasn't at all disappointed to see that this one was pretty much the same as that. So, when you go to a Tamil wedding, the very first thing you look forward to is eating a whole lot of delicious curry, but what people don't usually tell you is that before you can eat any curry there's a huge, long ceremony they have to go through to actually get the bride and groom married. The most notable feature is that there's always this umm... very Indian musical accompaniment to the whole thing with only two musicians, a drummer guy who is going absolutely crazy for well over an hour (and usually drenched head to foot in sweat too!), and a guy who plays this Indian trumpet looking thing, which I'm not exactly sure how to describe except as sounding very nasally. You'd actually know it if you heard it. If you ever watch a cartoon where they depict a snake charmer, they're always playing this funny trumpet thing. That's the kind of trumpet that we're talking about! Anyway, the night was super fun and really cool to see how they do their marriages (which I didn't really understand any of, there's a whole lot of the priest picking up something and waving it in front of the brides face, then picking up something else and waving it in the bride's face, then someone else picking something up and waving it in the bride's face. There's a part where the groom ties a necklace onto the bride and they're actually officially married. The best part though was when the parents of the bride and groom sat in chairs facing each other and negotiated what I think was the dowry. All I know is that it involved an incredibly thick wallet!). The best part of the whole night though was when we were invited with the other white people (another couple from the branch and a random German couple. I don't exactly know where they came from) to come sit at one of the tables of honor right at the very front of the whole wedding. Can you talk about being stared at? But it was super fun. We had a really good view of everything.

So, the last adventure for the week was yesterday, when one of our Nigerian recent converts took us to go eat African food with him. There's an unusually large number of Nigerian and other African students here, and they're always super fun to be around. Super friendly, very, very hopeful, cool, cool people. So, anyway, he mentioned the other day that cow head would be one of the dishes on the menu. Well, it turns out that cow head isn't quite as exciting as it sounds. It's all divided into its parts and things (doesn't even resemble a head!) and tastes almost exactly like roast beef, but it was a fun adventure anyway! I guess in Africa, they don't eat rice like they do here in Asia (with every single meal). Instead they eat this stuff called suji, which is pretty hard to describe except to say that it's a big, white, lump of dough. Really, really soft, with a texture almost like soft play-dough. Anyway, the way you eat African food is you take a piece of the suji and you roll it into a ball, then you take the ball and dip it into whatever kind of sauce you're eating (in our case, "melon seed," which I guess is just a melon seed ground up really find with some kind almost curry-like substance to go with it). So, it was fun, and actually not too bad at all!*phew*.

So that's the cultural experiences for the week, except to mention that this week we met a man from Botswana and another from Somalia. So, my map marked with all the countries I've met people from is keeping updated. I counted just the other day and was pleased to find that I'm up above thirty countries now! Crazy, huh? Just one reason the Singapore mission really is the greatest mission in the entire world!

*** was interviewed and is looking really solid for baptism next Sunday! Woohoo! It's so awesome to see their family get completed. When it comes right down to it, the ultimate goal of missionary work is to get families sealed in the temple and faithful to their covenants, so it's awesome to see them take this exciting step.I know that the Lord is in this work. I know that this is Jesus Christ's church and that it's led by living Apostles and Prophets today just like it was before. I've never been happier than on a mission, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity (and adventure) it's been to get to serve!

I love you all so much! Talk to you next week!

Love,
Elder Blissett

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Turning 21

Halo Keluargaku,

Well, we've got some exciting plans for today! I don't know if you've heard (I'm sure the news over there in America is just rattling about it), but tomorrow begins the huge Hindu festival of Thaipusum! Hooray! What's that, you haven't heard of Thaipusum before? Weell, I don't know if you'll remember it, but I actually mentioned it last year in Ipoh. Thaipusum is this big Indian festival where in order to implore special blessings from the gods, every year lots of Indian people stick hooks in their back and carry shrines on their shoulders and that kinds of thing. And, wouldn't you guess it, here in KL we live pretty close to the largest Hindu shrine in all of Malaysia called "Batu Caves." So, we're going to head up there a little later and see if we can't get some fun, Malaysian cultural exposure. There's lots of monkeys up there too, so that should be lots of fun! I'll try and send some pictures back next week.

Well, we had a really good week, but the best news of all though is that *** has quit smoking cold turkey this last week! Woohoo! So far he's been about four days off and it looks like he's going to make it. We're really proud of him and we've really seen the Lord's hand in the last little while to help him out. Kind of serendipitously, this last week *everybody* in KL got sick. Seriously, it was crazy. Everyone seemed to be coming down with this cold all over the place. Anyway, **** and his family ended up getting sick as well, and as luck would have it this sickness or something else has made it where cigarette smoke smells really, really bad to him. He says he doesn't even like to be in the same room as it. So, this sickness kind of came on right when we were having our last lesson with him when he finally stopped saying, "Ok, I'll try to quit smoking," and said for the first time, "Saya AKAN berhenti merokok" (I WILL stop smoking). So, it's awesome, he's doing great and looking to get baptized near the end of the month. Thanks so much for your prayers for him, I've been able to see what a huge difference it makes for him. Thanks for your prayers for me too. It's funny, this last week there's been a few times when I've gotten some special help that I really feel like was the result of prayers on my behalf. So thanks so much, it makes all the difference to a missionary to have someone praying for him.

I loved your observation about how when people struggle with addictions and problems in their life, that's exactly the time that they need to come to church instead of being too embarrassed to come. That's a major problem in this mission and we talk about it a lot. I loved that bishop's comment that there was nothing better than the smell of cigarette smoke in sacrament meeting because it meant someone was still working to make things right. That's dead on! It's been interesting to see how my perspectives on church, prayer, and scripture study have developed since I've been out here, but those three things are the number 1 treatment for almost every spiritual ailment. If we'd all just do those three things I don't know if there's very much that we couldn't accomplish. It makes all the difference in the world.

Welp, that's kind of the news from KL. We had some transfers in our Zone this week, so we're looking at getting some new people come in which should be fun. We're planning on making a day-trip down to Johor Baru (a city right across the border from Singapore), to do some training with the elders down there next week. Should be fun!

Anyway, I love you all so much! My birthday was awesome by the way. People didn't even really know about it, but we randomly ended up getting dinner with a Chinese family on Saturday night, and our Pakistani recent convert's family made us delicious Pakistani food on Sunday. Another member randomly decided to give us a weeks worth of groceries (which was a perfect birthday present), and one of the sister's recent converts who I've kind of bonded with even bought me a birthday present! His name is ***, pronounced **, and he's from Vietnam, but is one of the coolest guys that I've met on my mission. He's pretty close to my age, but what's most interesting is that he speaks very, very little English and only very simple Malay. So, there's a major language barrier, but he comes to church every single week, even though he lives well over an hour away and doesn't understand much of anything that's said for all three hours of church. He's an awesome recent. When the Sisters were teaching him they managed to get him a Vietnamese copy of the Book of Mormon and I guess that was pretty much the end of the story. He reads like crazy and loves it. I guess in Vietnam he was in one of those families without any kind of religious tradition at all. It's so interesting to see though that sometimes when people like that finally come into contact with the truth they just absorb it. *** is awesome and a super great example of the kind of faith some of these people in Malaysia have to sacrifice to travel every week to come to a church where they can't even understand the language being spoken, but can feel the Spirit every bit as well.

So, I love you! Glad to hear everything is still going great back in good ol' SLC!

Love you so much!

Elder Blissett