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