Monday, September 28, 2015

Where God Wants Us To Be - 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,

I am so happy here in Johor Bahru. We elders get along great. They always make my day better. This week I went on exchanges with Elder Lloyd. Holy cow, he is an awesome missionary! I learned so much from him that day. One skill in particular that I noticed is that he has is the ability to make everyone feel a little brighter and valued. I have been neglecting that aspect of the work. Sometimes I just kinda get in a groove and don't take the time that I should to lift people up and make them smile, even if they are not interested in the gospel.

Elder Pearce and I have been talking to everyone and have been finding a lot of potential investigators, but not all of them have been very solid. After a week of getting many phone numbers, but few that showed much potential, Elder Pearce and I began to feel even greater urgency towards the end of the week. Yesterday we were invited by a pastor to teach his Myanmar congregation from a different faith. Elder Pearce and I were super excited for that opportunity! The appointment was not until 6 o'clock, but because we wanted to be punctual and be sure that we could find the place, we went to the neighborhood by his place a couple hours before our appointment to contact. We ended up finding a couple people of interest, then proceeded to the appointment. We got a little turned around and found ourselves in an industrial area (a place we avoid because there is never anyone to talk to there). As we walked we saw a Chinese man a little ways off standing by his car. I made up my mind that when we got to where he was we would talk to him.

When we got closer, I went to speak and was caught off guard when he spoke first. He smiled and said, "Hey! You are from Salt Lake!" Yeah, we were way surprised by that. He then told us that he had studied Economics at the University of Utah. His name is D**. He is a local and he was in the area because he is starting a factory there that makes the yellow and white road paint. As we got to know him, he was very receptive to us. He said, "All of my friends are Mormons. I never joined, but I used to go to church in Utah all of the time. They don't have your church here." We excitedly told him we have two chapels in Johor (one of which is within 10 minutes by car). We got his information and number and are meeting with him soon. We are not sure if he wants to meet with us out of interest to investigate for the church, but I am sure as we begin to meet with him he will feel the Spirit and his desire to learn will increase. The lesson with the preacher ended up falling through, but it led us to meet D**. It's all part of the plan and being where God wants us to be.

This Sunday was missionary week in our branch. I was asked to speak on anything I wanted. I endedPreach My Gospel, Chapter 13, and explaining the roles of both missionaries and members in missionary work, and how we can be a more effective team. Hopefully someone felt something, haha. We are stilling working with the members on a branch mission plan, but only the branch mission leader seems interested in it. We will keep working on it. Hope your week goes swell.
up sharing and expounding on parts from

Elder Avery

The Lord Qualifies Us for His Work (September 21, 2015)

Moving Again  (October 5, 2015)
Gotta love an elephant tie!! :)

Arkansas - 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. 

.......guess who I got paired up with??

Hermana Hudson!! (A veces little bean) hahaha! What a miracle, right? I got to see just about all the hermanas from the mission, which was very crazy! Being on the other side you only get to know about 1/3 of the missionaries. As soon as I got off the transfer van I was walking into the mission office for our transfer meeting and I was greeted by two giant hugs form Hermana Ponce and Hudson! It was surreal... I kept on looking at them like I was in a dream or something! I'd imagine that's what it's like going home from a mission, but intensified. I was sitting with the bean family and none of us were sure what was going to happen because this is big brother here, Expect the Unexpected!

But for Mo** 2, Hermana Hudson and her companion Hermana Madsen got called and it was actually a little embarrassing because we were both a little too excited and there may have been some screaming... Haha, it was funny! So I am now serving in Mo**, Arkansas, (so you can Google map that now:) it is just about the furthest south the mission goes.

It's really different here! We serve in a branch (more like a twig) with two other elders. It's in English but we are working on getting more Spanish peeps to church. Yesterday we actually had an investigator come who only spoke Spanish and so Hudson and I took turns translating... If you could call it that. I was surprised at how much I could translate, but I also have light-years to go! The Twig consists of a good handful of about fifty very faithful members. But fifty seems way too high of a number. But these members are awesome! One thing I learned this week was how different it is teaching in English! People just have such a different approach and different doubts. The English pool is harder to have them understand the need for this gospel because it's just common knowledge of the things of God, so anything we teach is just a different way to explain what their pastor tells them. I've gotten lots of head nods during gospel discussions than, "really?!" But also I learned that I don't know squat about the Bible. So that is what I fill my personal study time with. And I love it! The more I start to connect things the better my understanding of the scriptures becomes. It's a cool experience.

So, awkward story of the week :)

We were teaching Li** (SP) and she is due in October for her second baby and her sister Su** just had a baby last month. She was watching Su**'s baby while we were teaching her. She was saying that the baby is crying a lot and Su** didn't leave him any food. Then she said that he just wants "Chi-chi's" and me trying the learn Spanish and understand everything that she is saying I asked what Chi chi meant...... I wish I hadn't. She gave me kind of a weird look and pointed at her chest... Yeah I got pretty embarrassed and Hudson had a good laugh!

Yesterday at church Br** got confirmed. He is a 10 year old and is one of the best kids I have ever met. He just soaks up the gospel like a sponge. His family situation is crazy but he really is the light and example in the family. Also he remembers everything we say! So I get kinda nervous sometimes to teach him because if I am not all studied up and have firm doctrine to back up what I say, he is going to remember it. Haha, he is so great though!

Well I love y'all and hope that this week is good for each of ya.

Signing off from Arkansas,

Hermana Madsen

Graceland (September 21, 2015)

Southern Peeps  (October 5, 2015)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Graceland - 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.

Yeah, we still ride bikes on bike week and when we don't have a car during the winter we will either be on our bikes or walking. That'll be interesting... It has cooled down, but it is still pretty hot. There was one day when it was nicer to be outside than it was inside. But that was just once. But the weather is starting to get better. But it makes me nervous for next year because I am told that this year has been pretty cool... I'm going to come back as a ginger for sure... My hair.. Haha

So,  yesterday the Assistants to the President (APs) called and Hermana Reed is training. Then this morning we got another call saying that she was going to be training here and I am leaving to the Arkansas side... How sad! It's especially sad because our companionship just started getting more into a friendship than just a companionship. But I guess I am needed somewhere else. I am really going to miss this area and the people. There are so many great people being taught and I have been able to see how an increase of patience can make the everything change.

We found this family who we have taught before but I guess now they are ready because it was one of those lessons where neither of us wanted to leave, but unfortunately we aren't allowed to just stay and teach for hours on end. Plus, we had an appointment with our less active member. Awe Ju**! He is so awesome! We helped him set up an LDS Singles account, yeah, that was fun! :)

One thing that I have grown to love about obedience is the secret little fruits that blossom from every little commandment or mission rule I obey. If I go to bed at 10:30, then I am not tired the next day. If I start studies right at 8, then I have time sufficient to learn everything I need to for the day before I go out and try to teach someone else. If I keep meal times to only an hour or less, then I am physically fed and spiritually ready for the next task ahead and I don't have to feel like a slacker missionary wasting my time in places where I am not the most effective. Not only are the obvious blessings present but obedience shapes my whole experience here. When I decide that no matter how good an idea I may think I have, being humble enough to forget myself and submit to God's will is always the better option. Because making that silent declaration of, "you are the pastor and I am the sheep" will always lead to the path of the most joy.

As a missionary and a member of His church, obedience is our eternal struggle. Even when we don't know what’s best for ourselves sometimes He does, and forever will. Now, I know that we can't all just be obedient drones and only worry about being in the form of discipleship rather than in the spirit of it. I know lots of missionaries who are consistently so worried about making sure they are staying inside the lines that they forget that there is a game going on. And really it just drives them crazy and they are just never happy. The trick I think is to find the deeper meaning to every commandment we have. That way, when the reason is understood more that the action, we are not being obedient, we are changing. And changing into a celestial being is the only way to truly be happy. And that's what we all want, right?

Well, next week I will be in Arkansas and it will be a whole different experience. But I am excited to get started.

Love you so much! (I'm working on the Spanish video)

Hermana Madsen

I won't know until Wednesday. But it will most likely be either South Little Rock or Monticello.

I Put Jesus on the Counch Next to Me  (September 14, 2015)

Arkansas  (September 28, 2015)

Wall outside Graceland

The Lord Qualifies Us for His Work - 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,

I thought this week I would start by sharing how my companion strengthens my faith. Elder Pearce and I are different in many ways. I consider him an introvert and myself an extrovert. I am more of a feeling person and he is more of a reasoning person. Yet I don't know if I have had a better relationship with any of my other companions because we are both focused on the Lord and putting Him first. Although there are many things we disagree on, in the end we submit our wills to the Lord and nothing else really matters after that. I am amazed as I watch him do things that I know are out of his comfort zone. He does them because He loves the Lord. It inspires me to want to do the same.

Friday we had exchanges and I served with a Malay speaking elder named Elder Leavitt from Nevada. He has been out in the field for only 3 weeks. I was amazed by his level of prepardness and his abilities so early in his mission. We went to go visit an investigator who is scheduled for baptism in October named V**. She is Indonesian Chinese, but her Chinese is pretty poor and her Indonesian (which is very similar to Malay) is pretty good. Elder Pearce and I tried teaching her The Gospel of Jesus Christ last week with little success because of the language barrier. When Elder Leavitt and I went to teach V**, I explained the situation and that he would have to teach most of the lesson in the language he had only been learning for a total of 9 weeks. He did a great job, and even though I couldn't understand much, while Elder Leavitt was teaching her about baptism I could physically see in V**'s face that she was feeling the Spirit. I stopped and asked her how she was feeling and she explained to Elder Leavitt that she had a very nice warm feeling. Elder Leavitt continued to explain about the Holy Ghost and it's role in our conversion. I was so amazed by that experience. Regardless of our language abilities, experience, or anything really, God will qualify us for His work so long as we remain worthy.

Afterwards we taught T**. It was a another roller coaster lesson with him. After the lesson he left the church, but came back a couple minutes later slightly embarrassed because he had left his car lights on and needed a jump. Elder Hadley came to the rescue AGAIN and after a couple attempts his car was all good to go. After we gave him the jump T** told us that he was worried that his car is not being driven enough and that he would like to drive us a couple times a week as we go do missionary work. Miracle! And then he came to church on Sunday. Although the lesson was all over the place, we stayed firm and did our best to speak as moved by the Spirit. We didn't see the effects in the lesson (or any of the ones before) but the change in him over the past four weeks is amazing. 

Last Night Elder Pearce and I were in a neighborhood close to downtown contacting. We walked passed a house that had a woman washing her clothes outside. I felt like we should go back and talk to her. When we went back to talk to her, she immediately recognized us (we had contacted her the previous week, but had forgotten her face). She promptly invited us in and then invited her pastor over. When her pastor came he told us, "I can have you come teach to a large congregation of people from my country (Myanmar) and I will translate." We told him we would love to take him up on that offer, but that we first wanted to share our message with him because we are unique from other Christian denominations. We shared whole Restoration without too much opposition. When we talked about Joseph Smith being called as a prophet and that we believe in prophets and apostles today, he raised a couple objections. My personal favorite was, "If the Book of Mormon came from an ancient language, then when Joseph Smith translated it some of the meaning must have been lost." He kinda wanted to eat his words after that, and in the end he said that he believed that if he read the Book of Mormon and prayed with faith, God could reveal the truthfulness of it unto him. We meet with him again this week.

Branch council was more productive this week. We discussed a ward mission plan and the importance of fellow shipping our own members. All the auxiliary leaders then committed to try and visit one member a week. We are also finding a couple new members showing interest in helping us go out and teach. Our branch is awesome and I feel like as they get along with one another better, they will really begin to thrive. Thanks for everything!
The amazing and undaunted Elder Leavitt

Elder Avery

Birthday Week (September 14, 2015)

Where God Wants Us To Be (September 28, 2015)

Playing golf on P-day
Moon Cake for the mid-autumn festival
Zone Activity

Monday, September 14, 2015

I Put Jesus On The Couch Next To Me - 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.

We went on exchanges this week with the STLs (Sister Training Leaders) and it was much needed. I'll send a picture. But we were testifying to N** about how he can find his answers to his problems because he is struggling a lot lately. Then I decided, what the heck, I'm gonna do it with him. So I realized that I had been doing this all along, but now that I have the serape time of "hey, this is how imma get my answer," my studies are so much more exciting (not that they weren't exciting before, but just even more so now).

Yesterday was hard. We dropped two of our investigators and I was just tearing up throughout the whole thing. While we were asking them if they wanted to continue being taught, it kinda got a little contentions. By that point I had just kind of tuned everything out and tried my hardest to think, what would Jesus do? If he were sitting next to me on this couch, how would he address the situation. Hermanas Reed and Simon were just kinda going back and forth and I "put Jesus on the couch next to me " and thought about Judgment Day. How He is their Advocate. And how people are going to ignore him and did ignore him. How the sorrow and plea that I was feeling then was coming straight from Him. He was bearing that with me. I know that.

There were so many points of doctrine that I could have corrected them on, but I kept on feeling like no matter what I had to say, no matter how powerfully true it was, they were not humble enough to hear the answer, nor would they accept it because they are so set in their own beliefs. Simply put, they are just not ready. That was difficult to sit through. So I showed them the "Because of Him" video and bore my testimony and we left. They told us to come back and get some water or hot chocolate in the winter. They are so sweet, and letting them go off and continue being confused is almost inhumane. My heart really just hurts for them. One day though... Tengo fe.

I know that Christ's gospel where we can find the most happiness in this life. I know that we do have living prophet and that he is guided by God. What a blessing the fullness of the gospel is! I never want to take advantage of it. And that's why I am always telling y'all to read your scriptures and find your answers. Develop that knowledge. Because if we aren't moving forward even just a little bit every day, then we are moving backward. I love the knowledge I have gained, and just like President Wakolo said, "The more I learn, the less I realize I know."

I love you family! Never forget how short this life is. We only got one and we might as well use our time wisely while we have this time. I hear the spirit world is lots of work. I love y'all and hope this week is great.

Preserverar haste el fin!

Les quiero!

Hermana Madsen

The Lord Knows What's Up (September 7, 2015)

Graceland  (September 21, 2015)

Birthday Week - 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.

For the first time in almost a year, Elders Wimmer and Avery
Dear Family and Friends,

This week was my birthday :) It was far better than I expected, and I am so blessed to serve with such amazing elders. They organized a breakfast for me, cooked by the Bensons (awesome senior couple), and made cake and did a lot of other things.

I took some time on my birthday to do some serious reflection on how my life is different. My family, friends, and I are all so different now, but I know it is in a positive way. I feel our missions have caused us to gain a greater understanding of who we are, which is causing a change in our hearts and behaviors. I was thinking about how I can continue this change of heart and retain the positive changes I have made. I found the answer to my question as I was reading Mosiah Chapter 5. After King Benjamin taught his people how to repent and retain a remission of sins in chapter 4, he then goes on to explain how they can retain the conversion they experienced in verse 2 of chapter 5. Ultimately, it is through remembering and keeping covenants that we retain that conversion. I hope I can learn and understand more about my covenants and be more faithful to them.

Elder Pearce and I met a lady named Ma** last transfer, on a day that was going less than we hoped for. Her only interest was in English class, and I admit that although I saw it as a tender mercy that she was interested in English, I was also a little disappointed (because the gospel is way better than learning a language). This week she came to us and asked if we could help her know what to say in her prayers. We were surprised because she is a professed atheist. She told us that she wanted to learn because she "loves the feeling she has when we pray at the beginning and close of English class." I know that feeling is from the Spirit. I am so grateful that the Spirit spoke to her in a way that we could not. We are meeting with her again this week!

We also got in contact with a PI named J**. He is an Indian man who is struggling seriously with debt. Every hour he gets multiple phone calls from people demanding money. His financial problems have created strains in his relationship with his wife and kids. He is at a real low in his life and is looking for anything to hold onto. I don't know if he would be willing to listen to us if he was in any other situation. I pray he will be humble enough to put his life in the Lord's hands because I know nothing else can save him.

We are doing our best to help the members here. They are doing pretty good at their home teaching and a handful often find time to help us teach.We had a lot higher attendance at sacrament meeting this week. T** came again this week. I am so impressed by how the branch has reached out to new people at church and is making them feel welcome. Now we just need to find out what friends they know who are prepared for the gospel :)

I got your packages and pictures and letters. They were great. I felt so spoiled! Love you all! :)


Elder Joshua Jared Avery

P.S. Elder Wimmer and his companion came down for a Zone Conference. It's so awesome to finally see him after almost a year. I'd have never thought one of my favorite friends from school would actually be serving in my mission! He's a hard working, obedient, great missionary :)

Surfing Cow (September 7, 2015)

The Lord Qualifies Us for His Work  (September 21, 2015)

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Lord Knows What's Up - 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.

I asked Maren if she has eaten roadkill or anything interesting:
I ate chicharĂ²n! It would have tasted good if I didn't know what it was.... Pig fat.... Blech! I put it all in my napkin when she turned around... I couldn't get myself to finish it.

Also I have eaten fish twice.. Which is huge for me. Ma** sure knows how to make it. You have to have her cook it for you some time.

So this week was good. We had a zone meeting and I came out of it feeling spiritually energized, as usual! It's so cool how necessary this work is. We have been listening to a CD in the car from a devotional about the spirit world, and how the only reason righteous people die on this earth is because they are needed to preach in the spirit world....where there are a heck a lot more people to teach! So this is like prep time. It was cool all the things I was able to learn from that.

I have also this week seen the importance of exact obedience (once again!). I have seen how, because I hold myself to higher standard and live by that standard, the Lord is blessing us with people to teach. I can see how much richer my life is because I am living and seeing God's will unfold before my eyes. And I am growing and progressing! It makes me nervous that I only get such a short time to be out here.... I have already been out five months tomorrow.... What in the world?? On one hand that it so unfair because I am still pretty much the new kid, but on the other hand I feel like I have packed a couple years worth of stuff in five months. Que en el Mundo??

This week I decided I was done being frustrated with my companion. I decided that even though we are not super similar, I am never going to change her and why should I get impatient with that... She is her own person. I have been repeating the words of that talk in my mind that I sent a couple weeks back about the missionary who was frustrated with his companion and he discovered that even though it didn't seem fair to him, that Heavenly Father probably wants to get frustrated with us sometimes too. I am constantly asking for help, and I have been guilty of dragging my feet when I think that my idea is better than His, or even constantly praying for the answer when I have already gotten it. So why the heck should I feel like I don't need to experience that myself? We are all human... We all are still growing and progressing and changing (for good or bad). It was kind of an "aha" moment, and I decided that anytime I had something negative to think, I would think about one annoying thing I do to God and instantly I stopped being annoyed. It really worked. And I have seen so many blessings come from that.

We had two "ready to be taught" families fall into our laps because I wasn't being grumpy and we were working better together. The Lord knows what's up, and I just gotta be humble enough to do it. Man, how many times have a I said that since I've been out here? This mission truly is a once in a lifetime experience. It is seriously the best thing I have ever been apart of in my life. (Family is eternal, so that's different) :)

Les quiero mucho! Cuidense!

Hermana Madsen

Happy birthday to Josh this week! And Grandparents day on Sunday! 

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

I Put Jesus On The Couch Next To Me (September 14, 2015)

Surfing Cow - 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. The numbers are starting to increase a lot, but I didn't feel one less bit successful before. Going through periods of little numerical success has been a big builder of testimony and faith. I wouldn't trade those teaching moments for anything. I am starting to understand more fully that I am a child of God and that I am His servant. I feel more purpose and there is still so much to learn, do, and become!

This week we found four new investigators. When we set the goal last week I was a little hesitant, but I knew that even though it was hard we had the names, commitment, and faith to get it done. One of our new investigators is a member referral named P**. We received a text from a member named T** who recently moved to Kota Tinggi (about 1 hour bus ride away). He told us he had been there 9 months but couldn't find out where the church was. He says he has four friends who want to learn there in Kota Tinggi. We met his first friend P** on Friday. We taught him about the restoration of the gospel and he accepted an invitation to be baptized in November. It is going to be a challenge for them to come to church, but they are very faithful and I feel like P** will progress well.

Our members have been doing a great job of fellow-shipping T* who came to church again this week. We are hoping he decides to stay because we are always in desperate need of priesthood holders, and he is miserable and without direction. We are still struggling to get members to lessons. Most of our investigators like to meet in the afternoon, but our members work at that time.

Love You All!

Elder Avery

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

Birthday Week  (September 14, 2015)

Out working with Elder Pearce
Funny pic at a place where we ate

I always know what time it is at home :)
At the end of a long day....haha!