Monday, August 31, 2015

Don't Look a Monkey in the Eyes! - Elder Joshua Avery

Written by Elder Joshua Avery, serving in the Singapore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

Dear family and friends,

This e-mail is getting out later than usual because we missionaries went with the branch to Kukup for Malaysian Independence Day. That was really fun. We went to the most southern point of mainland Asia. Cool!

We also went to a national park and I was sad that I didn't see any monkeys in there, but when we came out we saw a couple. All of them scattered when we got close to them, except one. We all started taking pictures of him and then he started hissing, showing his teeth, and leaped out towards us a couple times. We kept observing him, and all of us were fascinated that he was not scared of us at all. Elder Pearce (my companion) told me, "Don't look him in the eyes or he will get mad." So of course, I tried it :)

That monkey went SAVAGE! He jumped out at us and our group all dispersed, but he was determined to teach ME a lesson. He was chasing me and I was screaming,  picturing myself having to get shots in my stomach for the next couple weeks! He got really close to me, so I went to kick him in the face and was probably only two inches from his face, but there was a ledge that I didn't see behind me which tripped me. After I fell, the monkey must have felt like the alpha and left me there...shaking and regretting I hadn't listened to Elder Pearce. That monkey completely manhandled me and answered my prayers for humility!

Kukup was pretty, but also dirty. We did have some good seafood. The squid was the best I have had so far.

This week went really well. We found two new investigators. One of them is named Ce**, and she is super in tune with the Spirit! We think she will progress quickly :)

We also got a text from a less active member named T**. That was very surprising! We met with him and the lesson started off kind of rocky. He told us that Jesus came to get rid of rules and that's why he didn't like the Sadducees. I said, "Jesus said, 'If your eye offend you pluck it out, and if thine hand offend thee cut it off.'" Does that sound like he was getting rid of rules?

We then explained that this whole "all you need is love to be saved" thing that a lot of Christianity is adopting has issues because Jesus also said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Yikes! He then started telling us about a lot of different people who perform miracles around the world. He said "some heal people! You can't claim to be the only ones who can do that."

The "savage monkey"
Remembering the talk "The Only True and Living Church" by President Packer, explained to him that we don't claim to be the only church that can heal people. Many other churches practice faith healing (which is different than priesthood healing). We do claim to be the only true and living church. The gospel is like a piano with many keys. Some churches repeatedly and obsessively play the note of faith healing or the gift of tongues or whatever else it is, but it is nonetheless incomplete. It would be enriched and complete by the fullness of the gospel.

After addressing that concern, he just sort of opened up to us. He explained that he left the church a long time ago and that he is still sad. He has been struggling with suicidal thoughts and struggling to find purpose in living. He said he texted us because the visits with us are the only social interaction he gets with anyone anymore. We told him how much we care for him and that we would love for him to come back to church. He said that he is waiting for God to tell him what to do. We told him that the first step requires faith. When he left the meeting with him, we were unsure if he would come. But to our amazement he was there on Sunday! He only stayed for the first two hours, but I was so proud of him. That was the first time he had come back to church in 10 years.

Yesterday Elder Pearce and I were on fire, and we found some people with a lot of great potential! The Spirit is amazing and is the only way we are successful.

Love you all,
Elder Avery

Christ's Church (August 24, 2015)

Surfing Cow  (September 7, 2015)

Elder Joshua Avery, Singapore Mission

Elder Josh Avery at Cape Piai, the southern point of mainland Asia

The best squid I've had so far

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Trying Not to Get in the Way of Christ's Light - Sister Heather Adams

Written by Sister Heather Adams, training at the Provo Missionary Training Center for her service in the Mexico Culiacan Mission. Because of her Spanish proficiency, Sister Adams will only be in the MTC for two weeks.

Mis hermanas at the Provo Temple
At the Mexican Consulate

Hello everyone!

This week was great. It went by really fast though! I can't believe that I only have two more full days here at the MTC.... wow. Here I come, Mexico!

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!!!! Thanks for all you do for me. I love you and miss you! I sent a letter a couple days before your birthday to the whole family, so I am hoping it got there in time to wish you a happy birthday!

So this week my companions and I went to the Mexican Consulate! It was crazy to be out in the real world again.... I passed by Ventana, UVU, our freeway exit, and also Dad's office! It was so great! Also, when we got there we met a very nice returned sister missionary who took a picture for us and sent it to our family members. Blessings are everywhere :) Mis hermanas y yo have found out that our moms are all now in touch (I wouldn't have expected anything less ;) ). It's so great to have such great family and support! I am really going to miss these girls. They are going to do wonderfully in the mission field - they are already so obedient and sensitive to the Spirit! :)

We started teaching our TRC..... which honestly I don't know what that even stands for because I forgot when they told us. But basically it's a person from the "outside" (haha, I keep talking like we are in a different world here.... we kind of are I guess! We like to call it the "Garden of Eden" of the mission. Everything is great and soon we will get a pretty big reality check! haha) who comes to be taught by the missionaries. We don't know if they are members or not, but I have learned that that doesn't matter. Missionaries can be of aid to anyone - members included. Our investigator, Iv**, was a chatterbox for sure! Again, while we were preparing for our first lesson with her, we could sense things about her personality and what she is like. We knew there was a lot of light and passion for life in her, and sure enough, we are right!

The Spirit amazes me every day. We are promised that if we really, truly listen to our investigators instead of thinking what we need to say next, we will be blessed to say something inspired in the very moment. That's what happened with Iv**. She was going on about how she doesn't have TV at her house, and then I felt inspired to ask her something and all of the sudden all of her attention was turned to the lesson. She was learning so much, and we didn't have to "prove" anything to her! I could see her being enlightened by the Spirit. She understood so much! It was incredible. Now I see why we have so many missionary rules. It's because we can't afford to offend the Spirit and not have His help!

Seriously, the Spirit is the most key thing to missionary work. Yesterday the district and I watched some Mormon messages. One of them was the story about the man named Chris who lost his family to a drunk driver. He reacted tremendously well, and showed so much compassion for the young man who did all of this. One of the things he said was that he didn't want everyone to think he was so forgiving because of something he did. He said something along the lines of "this is just Christ's light, and I just try to not get in the way of it."

That is totally what we are doing here as missionaries. I could never help a complete stranger change their life if it weren't for the Savior, our Heavenly Father, and their messenger, the Holy Ghost.

I have really come to love my District and Zone. I am going to miss them, but it is important that we continue looking forward! Elder Corbridge of the Seventy spoke to us last Sunday and told us that we can't drive looking in the rear view mirror - as in, we can't go our whole missions looking backward. There is so much to look forward to!

So Monday morning I will head over to the travel office at 5:00 a.m. to start on my way to the airport.... WHAT?! Is this real life?! Oh, and also, I am the travel leader of my enormous group of 2. ;) Elder Carter I believe is the other one in my group. So hopefully things go smoothly!

One of the things that I realized last night is that all of the things that have happened in our lives build us into exactly who we are today, and exactly who we are is who we need to be here in the mission. (Just like you always say, Dad!) I have been able to share what I have learned with people in my District and Branch that maybe someone else couldn't have been able to relate to. I love that that's the way this work is! One day, I was thinking "why don't we just have perfectly worded videos to show everyone?" Well, that's because even though our words aren't perfect, we are human!

One thing that I am remembering more often in missionary work is that we are not trying to introduce something new into someone's life, we are trying to remind them of what they once knew. Every single person who came here to Earth knew our Father in Heaven. They are not strangers to the Spirit.

This work truly does bring so much joy, and I have barely even started! I can't wait. I will be excited to talk to you all when I get to Mexico.

I love you all!
Our MTC District

Hermana Adams

We Are Called Because We Have More Faith Than Intelligence (August 24, 2015)

Mis hermanas

I found my neighbor!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Christ's Church - Elder Joshua Avery

Written by Elder Joshua Avery, serving in the Singapore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

Dear family and friends,

This week was awesome. Monday I got a haircut, and I am always so impressed with how well the barbers here do! And for so cheap :) After the haircuts we went to the night market and talked to some people. Da** and Ji** (the members who own the barbershop) came with us. We got some yummy stuff at the night market and I tried stinky tofu for the first time. It wasn't bad, but it tastes like fried garbage...still trying to figure out why people consider it a delicacy. Not bad, but not my first choice. At least the sambal and vegetables with it are good :) After the night market we met a Christian man from Nepal named D**. He was nice and agreed to meet with us again. Yay!

Tuesday we met with D** again. We taught about the restoration of the gospel (thankfully his English is good) and showed him the Book of Mormon, but we forgot to bring a Hindi copy for him (rookie mistake! :/ ) He told us about some men who claimed to be prophets from India and Korea who also have books of "scripture," which made him skeptical. He kept saying, "Jesus Christ is the only way," so we shared Mosiah 3:17 and told him we agree completely, and the Book of Mormon teaches the same thing.

We asked him who's name was under the tittle. He said "Jesus Christ." We flipped the cover over and asked, "Who's church does it say this is?" He answered, "Jesus Christ's". We explained that the purpose of the book is to bring us closer to Christ and to help us follow Him. Nowhere does it tell us to follow Joseph Smith or that we are saved by any other name than Christ. We told him that Joseph Smith never wanted anyone to think it was his church or to follow him, but he labored to build Christ's church and to help people follow Christ. That helped D** a lot :)

Wednesday we visited Su** and she is still doing well. Yay!

Friday we met with D**, and this time we gave him a hindi Book of Mormon. During my language study, I learned Hindi numbers so that I could open up to scriptures for him during our lesson. We reviewed with him the role of the Book of Mormon. He didn't want to read and pray about it because of other churches who run around speaking in tongues saying they have the Spirit, and he doesn't want this to give him "false spirits." I think that is understandable, and it is also proof of the apostasy and need for the book! Finally, we went a little bold and shared some verses from 2 Nephi 29. He is still hesitant and can't believe we claim to be the only true church, but he is willing to meet again. Cool!

Yesterday we called a potential investigator to confirm our appointment with him for later that day. A woman answered the phone and said that the young man we was in the hospital. We got the information of where he was and headed over. We got to his bed and found a bunch of nurses around an unconscious, young Indian man, close to our age. He was on a ventilator, but stable. The family was no longer there, so we left our card and said to call if we can do anything.

This morning I had to go to the doctor, and was surprised by the lack of cleanliness. It was gross...and it made me feel bad for all of the people here who don't have the option of better medical care.

We just got transfer news and we are all staying!!! Yay :)

Love you all,
Elder Avery

Forgiveness and Banana Cream Pie (August 17, 2015)

Don't Look a Monkey in the Eyes!  (August 31, 2015)

Latter-day Saints Keep Trying - Sister Maren Madsen

Written by Sister Maren Madsen, serving in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Hola Familia!

This week was good, heck a lot better than the last. It's really funny to see how Hermana Reed feels about some of the investigators and how similar it was to when I first got here. It used to seem so simple to me too (back in my first transfer), just as it does to her now. But taking over the area has taught me how complex each investigator is.

One of the advantages is as soon as I was the one accountable for those in this area and their progression, I could feel a much deeper love for them. I loved them before, but now it's something so much deeper than just wanting them to go to church. Now it's all about making them happy in every aspect of their lives (which really the only way for that is through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ).

This morning in my studies I was looking for some information for Noche De Hogar (Family Home Evening) tonight and I came across this talk from the last General Conference. I loved it! Just thought I'd share. It's called Latter-Day Saints Keep Trying. One quote I liked from it was, "President Thomas S. Monson has taught, 'One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final.' Even if we’ve been a conscious, deliberate sinner or have repeatedly faced failure and disappointment, the moment we decide to try again, the Atonement of Christ can help us. And we need to remember that it is not the Holy Ghost that tells us we’re so far gone that we might as well give up."

He then goes on the say, "Some years ago a wonderful young man named Curtis was called to serve a mission. He was the kind of missionary every mission president prays for. He was focused and worked hard. At one point he was assigned a missionary companion who was immature, socially awkward, and not particularly enthusiastic about getting the work done."

"One day, while they were riding their bicycles, Curtis looked back and saw that his companion had inexplicably gotten off his bike and was walking. Silently, Curtis expressed his frustration to God; what a chore it was to be saddled with a companion he had to drag around in order to accomplish anything. Moments later, Curtis had a profound impression, as if God were saying to him, 'You know, Curtis, compared to me, the two of you aren’t all that different.' Curtis learned that he needed to be patient with an imperfect companion who nonetheless was trying in his own way."

"My invitation to all of us is to evaluate our lives, repent, and keep on trying. If we don’t try, we’re just latter-day sinners; if we don’t persevere, we’re latter-day quitters; and if we don’t allow others to try, we’re just latter-day hypocrites. As we try, persevere, and help others to do the same, we are true Latter-day Saints. As we change, we will find that God indeed cares a lot more about who we are and about who we are becoming than about who we once were."

"I am deeply grateful for the Savior, for His infinite Atonement, and for latter-day prophets who encourage us to be Latter-day Saints, and to keep on trying. I witness of the Savior’s living reality in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

It was such a good talk and it applied really well to what I have been learning this week. I especially liked the end when I talked about being latter-day sinner, but if we just keep trying, that makes us saints.

Love you family!!
Hermana Madsen

Reflection  (August 17, 2015)

The Blessings of Sweating Like a Horse  (August 31, 2015)

Memphis Tennessee Temple, Hermanas Madsen and Reed
Sister Madsen, funny as ever :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Forgiveness and Banana Cream Pie - Elder Joshua Avery

Written by Elder Joshua Avery, serving in the Singapore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

Banana cream pie!!
Monday the other elders went on an exchange to Melaka, so Elder Pearce and I were kicking it with Elder and Sister Benson. They are awesome, and Sister Benson taught us how to make banana cream pie! Which is so fantastic :) Sadly, somewhere during the day I lost my camera (no worries, Mom, it is found now).

Tuesday we met with the N** family. They are just wonderful. The daughter is our age and has been less active with the church for a little while. This time we did a family home evening and it seemed like they had a good time. We talked about the temple and the daughter seemed interested. Hopefully things continue to go well with them.

Wednesday we visited with Sister Su**. She is recent convert who is originally from India. When we talked to her, we could tell something was different. As we continued, we found out that one of the members has been calling her multiple times, asking a lot from her, and being very rude. We told Sister Su** to not answer the phone anymore. She said, "I don't, I hate her!" We then opened the scriptures to the sermon on the mount and explained that we need to love everyone, even our enemies. To that she said, "Well, Jesus can love her, but I don't!"

We knew we couldn't convince her to forgive this member, but we also knew that we wouldn't be able to share the lesson we'd planned until her concerns were resolved. I felt like we should open to 3 Nephi 17 where Christ blesses the children, and we just read only. The Spirit came and a peaceful feeling was back. When we finished reading she said, "I know I need to forgive her. It's the right thing to do." We hadn't talked to her about forgiving that lady as we read. All we did was read something unrelated to her concern, but we knew it would invite the Spirit. And only the Spirit could help her to forgive.

Friday a bunch of people came to English class, including two women from China! That's always so exciting. People from China are just so prepared. I hope this English class continues to bring miracles. So far it has been fantastic!

Saturday we got the news that because Johor Bahru is in a "drought," the city is shutting the water off for two days then turning it on for one day, for the next month. So all of us missionaries went shopping and will have plenty of water. I put drought in parenthesis because we get plenty of water, but they lack the ability to purify it. They were supposed to shut the water off yesterday, but so far we still have it.

Sunday was awesome. I woke up at 3 a.m. and went to my study room to "experience the wedding." I don't know if that was the right time, and I didn't make it for too long before I needed sleep, but I was there with you all in spirit ;) Please tell Hannah and Kolby "congratulations" and that I love them so much! Church was good, and the work is going good as usual.

When Elder Ballard came to Singapore he shared a story about one of the missionaries who served with him while he was mission president. The man came to Elder Ballard and told him, "President, I think I'm losing my testimony." The former missionary then explained he had been reading some anti-Mormon literature and that he had some questions. Elder Ballard told him that he would answer every single questions the next week (he felt confident with all the resources he has, he could find the answers for the guy). Then Elder Ballard said, "But you will have to answer this question and do what I say this week!" He then asked the returned missionary, "When was the last time you read from the Book of Mormon?" The man admitted it had been a while. Elder Ballard then committed him to read from The Book of Mormon every day till they next met. The next week, Elder Ballard asked the man if he had done as he asked. Then the guy told him, "I don't need the answer to those questions anymore...I know the book is true." Then Elder Ballard said, "Well I worked hard to get you those answers, and I'm going to give them to you!" (hahaha!) He then proceeded to answer everyone of the questions.

After relating this experience to us, Elder Ballard spoke directly to us missionaries and said, "I don't care what garbage you read on the internet or wherever! As long as you spend an equal investment of time reading from the Book of Mormon!"

Love you all!

Elder Avery

The Week in a Nutty Shell (August 10, 2015)

Christ's Church  (August 24, 2015)

Teaching in Malaysia

Reflection - Sister Maren Madsen

Written by Sister Maren Madsen, serving in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Me, my new companion Hermana Reed from Montana and sweet Mr. Hall
I am so happy the hear that the wedding went so well. I'm glad that I have so many pictures to see. I love getting pictures from home. Yeah, sounds super stressful at home! I'll be praying for you guys to get everything done.

This week was... Okay. It was stressful for me too. Taking over the area is a lot of responsibility. I have noticed that I am constantly worried about who (of the investigators) I am forgetting, how many miles we have driven, did we do all we can in every lesson, did we teach enough lessons, and how can I be the most effective. Yeah, missionary work, I love it!

This was a week of self reflection. I feel as though I have just completed a mile stone, but it was one that I didn't want to come to the end of. I'm sorry this letter is going to be short (I know that there is something I am supposed to learn. I just gotta figure it out).

Yesterday we were teaching this couple and it was hard to get them to accept the fact that their church wasn't founded through Jesus Christ. I feel so bad for them. I just wish I knew all the doctrine to help them understand. I am once again understanding the importance of self study. Thanks for everything! I love you so much!

Te amo!

Hermana Madsen

Miracles and Transfer Calls (August 10, 2015)

Latter-day Saints Keep Trying  (August 24, 2015)

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Week in a Nutty Shell - Elder Joshua Avery

Written by Elder Joshua Avery, serving in the Singapore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

This week was awesome and I loved zone conference. I definitely feel recharged and excited to go and work with increased faith and diligence. This week I have been talking to more people. I think maybe sometimes I get into the habit of looking for the "perfect" contacting situation. I would like to become better at making normal and ordinary situations "finding situations." It takes greater courage and faith. The faith and courage required rarely comes before you talk to people. You just need to do it and your faith and courage will increase. It's all a process and at times I am frustrated by my progress, my faults, and weaknesses, but it is all for the best :)

Yesterday our evening plans fell through. It was a bummer, but Elder Pearce and I were determined to find someone. On our way out to follow up with some potential investigators downtown we yelled to the elders, "If we don't come back tonight don't panic!" Of course that gave them a little worry. They asked us what we meant by that and I responded, "We are not coming back until we find a family with a car who has work off on Sundays."

Elder Pearce and I then said a prayer and specifically asked God that we would be led to a family with a car and who doesn't have to work on Sundays, or that they would be led to us. We followed up with the people we were planning on, but they were not showing too much promise. As we continued down the street we knocked on any houses that we felt impressed to knock on. I saw a woman outside playing with a little boy. I thought she might be Malay, so I continued walking but I looked back and saw a dog in the yard, so we knew they were not Malay. We talked to her and had a very simple and easy contact. We shared with her Alma 13:22 invited her to read the Book of Mormon and we are meeting with her this Sunday. I know God answers prayers. Often He does not answer them in the way I previously described, but He will always answer.

We also have a girl named Ma** who we found a while ago, and who keeps coming to activities and invites her friends to church. Now we just need to get her to church! haha!

Things are progressing and I love it here. I love the people I meet and I look forward to knowing them better.

Elder Avery

Winter Olympics in China 2022 (August 3, 2015)

Forgiveness and Banana Cream Pie  (August 17, 2015)

Miracles and Transfer Calls - Sister Maren Madsen

Written by Sister Maren Madsen, serving in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

So we have had the strangest week. It's so cool to see how the Lord works in his own time. To start off the week, we went to a Noche De Hogar (Family Home Evening) at one of the families' houses in our ward. They fed us twice! I felt bad because both my companions were so full of food to the point that they were in pain! Something must be wrong with me because I was just fine, I think I even had thirds... Man, this Mexican food just goes right through me! What a blessing, the more rice the better :) Then Tuesday morning during studies we got a call from the AP's (Assistants to the President)..... (Getting a call from them is always scary!) and sure enough the news was horrible. Hermana Hudson was extended the call to follow up train. So that meant that for sure our trio was going to be split up... Yeah que triste. But all we could do was wait to hear from transfer calls on Monday (this morning) what was going to happen.

So Wednesday we had Zone Meeting and it was just as inspiring as usual. The Spanish Sister Training Leaders drove over from Russelville, Arkansas to "blitz" our area for a couple days... And yes, once again there were 7 sisters in our apartment. But is was super fun. Also very inspired! The first "exchange" was Hermana Lewis, Hermana Hudson, and I. We went to Sa** and Ma** house. The lesson started out the way they usually do as Sa** tells us stories and we listen. But we started getting into deeper stuff and the mood started to change. Then all of a sudden Hermana Lewis started whipping out these scriptures and using the "ignorance is bliss exchange freebie" and started asking Sa** deeper questions to get a feel for her testimony. It was cool to see how much I could learn from just one lesson with other missionaries. But we all started to address Sa**'s concerns and Hermana Hudson felt like she should invite her to baptism. (With Sa** it has always felt like we are forcing her to do it, and I just thought she was going to be an eternigator) but she started to tell us that she does want to get baptized and she knows she wanted to do it before we got transferred... Which was Wednesday the 12th.

It was very cool because Hermana Lewis asked her if she wanted to pray about this Saturday as the date for her to be baptized. She wanted to also know if she would be ready by this Saturday to be ready for this commitment. So we all knelt in prayer and asked specifically for those things. And after we said the prayer we kinda sat in silence. I continued to ask in prayer if Sa** could please feel something to help her know. The next thing we heard came from Sa**'s mouth... WOW.... And we both started to cry! She gave us three hugs and told us that she felt it all over body and she said she heard, "mark your calendar," so she was baptized on Saturday. It all happened so fast that I'm not even sure it has hit me yet. It was super cool because ten minutes after we said the prayer we started to plan and the first thing she did was turn to me ask me to say the talk, that was the only thing she knew she wanted! Man, I just like Sa** so much! I am so happy for her! And the best thing is that she is a member now and she has entered into that gate and now all she has to do is endure to the end. I told her that maybe she could go on a mission one day and find someone like her! Then she could understand our joy. Now we told her that we have to approve of the boy she marries. We keep trying to get her to talk to returned missionaries from the mission!

I see more and more how missions are like life prep! We are here to learn how to be member missionaries when we get home, how to develop charity for others (even those who don't want it), learn how to handle rejection, understand agency, to learn how to have effective study and grow to love and cherish that sacred time we do get to search the doctrine. We get to learn how to budget our money, and live by the Spirit. We have our companions to help us understand what marriage might be like, and we have our investigators (our children) to develop teaching tactics, and understand the different personalities and different learning styles. And last but not least, to strengthen our testimonies stronger than we ever thought possible. The only way I could do that is to be here on a mission. It makes me sad to see when it isn't taken advantage of. Some missionaries who come out here tend to leave learning many new things and yeah, even changing a little bit, but unfortunately slip back into the same person they were before...maybe just with a memory of being a missionary. It's easy to see the different types out here, and it makes me so sad to see those who maybe didn't put their whole heart into it. Thinking about all that makes me reflect on who I am as a missionary. Am I one of those who looks and acts like a devoted disciple of Christ, who proudly wears that mantel and takes the acceptance of my call seriously? Well, I know what to strive for, because I know that exact obedience brings forth miracles. I finally feel like I am getting to that point of losing myself in the work! And it feels great!

So this morning we found out that both my companion will be going to the other side, so that means I will be taking over the area.... I am super nervous but I know the Lord will stretch me as far as it takes for sculpting... Sad to see my companions go... My Spanish is ever so slowly developing, but it seems like it will never stop being a struggle though. I feel like I can understand most people if I concentrate really hard. So if something distracts me I have no idea what is going on. But I still can see the progress. Also, we really don't speak too much Spanish in the house because we live with two ASL (American Sign Language) sisters, so it's hard to talk when they don't know what's going on. It's sad, but poco a poco. Love you, Mom!

Love, Hermana Madsen

Holy cow, Kolby and Hannah are going to be married the next time I email.... Santa vaca! And Sabrina will almost be in college! What in the world! Well, send me pictures and enjoy the family!

Doctrinal Slaps to the Face  (August 3, 2015)

Reflection  (August 17, 2015)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Doctrinal Slaps to the Face - Sister Maren Madsen

 Written by Sister Maren Madsen, serving in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

This week we went by so slow but extremely fast because it was jam packed! I forgot what time was like before my mission, and I realized how much time I wasted at home and also I am less sympathetic for people when they say that they don't have time. I understand that there are things to do and priorities, but even in missionary work, it's about making time count, and finding time for the most important things. Being a missionary is hard work, just because I am constantly nagged by my conscious if what I am doing is what the Lord wants me to do and if I am using my time wisely. And yet, I love every minute of it.

One of the many things I learned this week was how important prayer is (I know that it is important to pray, but I never understood why until I started recognizing my prayers as repetitive). I realized that I was viewing it more as a chore. But then I started to think that, "well ya know, if God is going to bless his children how he likes any way, why do I need to pray for every single one individually?" (thank goodness for True to the Faith). I got a doctrinal slap in the face! I was reading one morning during personal study and I decided to read about prayer, and it says in the first few paragraphs, "As you make a habit of approaching God in prayer, you will come to know Him and draw ever nearer to Him. Your desires will become more like His. You will be able to secure for yourself and for others blessings that He is ready to give you if you will but ask in faith" (and of course it goes on to offer more doctrinal slaps to the face).

So as I read that I thought about one of our investigators S** (the one that reminds me of Sabrina), and how she has been struggling to even know if God exists. So I shared that with her and now when I pray, I find it easier to be more focused and charitable as I think of the way if felt to sit ten feet away from Elder Bednar in Mexico in the CCM. Because that was one of the most real, intense feelings I have ever had. If I can channel that while I pray, I am able to have more sincere prayers.

Speaking of S**, the most amazing experience happened with her yesterday (Probably top five on my mission so far). We were in church and (S** has told us that she has never felt the Spirit in her life, or at least never recognized feeling the Spirit), and we were watching a video with the voice of Jefferey R. Holland narration. and it was a powerful video! I remember feeling the Spirit so strongly. But I could hear S** sniffling a little bit right next to me, and I was so happy!!! After the video was over, she turned to me and said, "that video made me cry" and to which I responded "because that is the Spirit........Can you still feel that?" And she started to cry even more as she choked out a "yes." So I told her that she should write down exactly how she was feeling so she would never forget it. It was just an amazing, tender mercy for me because I was able to experience that with her. I love the Holy Ghost so much!! What a merciful gift it is!? Just after we had that experience, I could see a difference in her. I am never going to forget that. How AMAZING this gospel is and how much it is going to change her life. I wish I could have written down how I felt the first time I recognized the spirit.

I know who my shepherd is, and I know what he did. Now all I have to do is follow those steps that he made. I love how much joy missionary work brings to the lives of others, S**, who need comfort in their lives.

Love you,  Mom!! Thanks for everything.

P.S. Transfers are coming up next week and we are all super nervous about it because we don't want to be split up. They can't split up the Bean Family!! Also, that was Hermana Ponce's trainer in that picture. Have Fun! (Also I was praying that whoever bought the house would know that it was theirs... cool answer to my prayer... God is so real, and I can't say it enough. All we need to do is follow Him). Te quiero, Mama.

Ain't Nobody Got Time to Build Sidewalks (July 27, 2015)

Miracles and Transfer Calls  (August 10, 2015)

Winter Olympics in China 2022 - Elder Joshua Avery

Written by Elder Joshua Avery, serving in the Singapore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

WOOOO! Winter Olympics in China in 2022!! That will be so cool :)

I really like the elders in my house. Hopefully I don't talk their ears off too much. The Bensons drove us to Singapore for Zone Conference. They are awesome. I love senior couples so much. They are so needed! We need to get more to leave their cats and come on missions! :)

Earlier this week we were hunting down a less active member. We were wandering around for quite some time and never found the place, but I have no doubt we were guided there. On the way, we met M**. She is a Malaysian Chinese girl studying medicine. She ran up to us and asked if we teach English. We said yes, so she came to English class Friday.

Then on Sunday two ladies and a kid came to church. We asked them who they were and they said they were M**'s friends! The two ladies are sisters. One has a daughter who speaks English, but the mom doesn't speak English well. They drove one hour to bring the daughter to church so that "she will learn right from wrong," (there is a language barrier between them and the child so they brought her here). So that was cool. M** says she will come to church next week, and her friends say they will come again also.

Friday the other elders had a baptism. The power was out at the church and all the buildings around it for some unknown reason. So we had a bunch of candles and stuff. I can only imagine that it looked really weird to the visitors who came, HAHA!

Last night The Bensons and Elder Pearce and I went to do a FHE (Family Home Evening) at a part member family's home. It was sooo awesome! Elder Benson played guitar and we sang songs. The father (who is not a member) called out the hymn number when we suggested we sing. We are not sure what his interest level is, but I am hoping we can teach him more than just on FHE soon :)

That's all for now folks. Love ya!

Elder Avery

The pics are pretty self-explanatory, but the last one is what my cell phone texts look like. I sure never thought I'd be texting in Chinese on a daily basis!

Make Me Look Shuai! (July 27, 2015)

The Week in a Nutty Shell  (August 9, 2015)

Elders Parritt and Avery - Singapore Mission
Elder and Sister Benson

Elders Hanks and Avery

My Cell Phone!!