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!