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!

Elder Blissett