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