Sunday, January 31, 2016

Parable of Lehi's Family - 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 I have had my faith increase through my Book of Mormon study. I compared the story of Lehi and his family traveling through the wilderness to our work as missionaries. We have Lehi and his wife (the mission president and his wife) who receive revelation for their family and leads them. Nephi (I liken him to those in leadership positions) receives commands from Lehi, and then Nephi rallies his brothers to carry it out. Laman and Lemuel (missionaries who lack the faith to try to carry out the tasks given them by the mission president) murmur and miss home the whole journey. and think success is not possible for them. Sam (missionaries not in a leadership position but who are just as faithful and diligent as Nephi) supports his brother Nephi who has been chosen to be a leader. Sam often has to endure the same opposition and mocking from others that Nephi does. I think, depending on the day, we can feel like a Nephi and Sam, or a Laman and Lemuel. As we study their attributes we can learn how to avoid the temptation to murmur and more faithfully support our priesthood leaders.

We have been challenged by the Assistants (to the mission president) to always talk to the first person out the door, even if it is the same person everyday.   The other day as we got on our bikes we saw one of our neighbors, who is a grumpy old man, outside of his house. They have not been very kind to us. I don't think they have said more than two or three words to us ever. I did not want to talk to them and considered not doing it, but I felt that I should. When we stopped our bikes we realized that our old grumpy neighbor had fallen out of his wheel chair! He was on his knees on the pavement and was in a lot of pain. His little Indonesian maid was trying to help him, but was having no success. Elder Brown and I were able to lift him into his wheel chair and head on our way. He probably still doesn't like us, but I feel that I did what the Savior would have done. I know that listening to our leaders will bless us in ways we don't expect.

We were able to get a less-active member and his returned-missionary daughter to come help us teach a lesson. We wanted to get some less-active lessons this week, but I feel that them coming to teach with us is just as good or better. We also walked to a lesson with a member who doesn't have a car, and on the way he referred two of his nieces who we were able to teach Saturday and they came to all 3 hours of church Sunday.

Before the teaching visit Saturday we had a little bit of extra time so we went finding with the member and everyone we talked to was...interesting. First we talked to some ladies who ended up being prostitutes from Vietnam with poor Chinese, and then we met a young tattooed Chinese man who was wearing one of those beauty face mask things. He thought he was really tough. He ended up getting really ticked off and yelling in our faces and was going to call the police.

After all that, we got some coconut with the member and he said, "that guy was really hot-headed. Is missionary work always this hard?" We told him that it's only like this sometimes, but there are also really good times and that it's not just hard in Sitiawan, but all around the world.

We didn't reach our home teaching goal last month but it was definitely a good start. We are getting home teaching visits set up for this week so that we can start the month off strong. I feel like the members are becoming more qualified in a lot of ways and I have seen a lot of growth in them.

Thanks for everything!
Elder Avery

The Storms of Life Always End (January 24, 2016)

Find Those That Will Receive You  (February 7, 2016)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Storms of Life Always End - Elder Joshua Avery

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

(The week of January 17 was traveling to Singapore and back for a Conference, so no email but lots of pictures.)

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was a different one for sure. We encountered many, many set backs, but I know that it is for my good and part of the process to becoming more like my Heavenly Father. I would say I have increased my faith by enduring the trials of this week with faith. Similar trials probably would have caused me to complain (well, more than I did), and wish I was home or sleeping...but this week it didn't bug me. I felt a heavy load but it was not crushing, when a load of the same size would have been paralyzing in the past. Today I feel calm and peaceful. I know that the storms of life will always end.

Elder Perrit and I got into Ipoh a lot later than anticipated for our exchange. We immediately hopped on our bikes to go proselyting. We found people who we could teach and pray with on the way to our first appointment. The appointment was in one of the more sketchy Indian places in Ipoh. I was following Elder Perritt as we were quickly biking to the appointment (we were running late), when in an intersection my tire popped. We were still a considerable distance from the appointment so we ran with our bikes to the appointment. The lesson went okay despite us having to trim it down due to our tardiness, and the recent convert we were visiting let us lock the bikes at his house. We ended up being able to meet many people within walking distance of the house. One of them invited us into their home and we were able to share a brief Restoration lesson. A member picked us up that night so that we could get home without walking all the way back, and a different member was able to help us get the tire fixed the next day. By us exercising our faith, despite being able to see how we could make the situation a good one, God blessed us.

Another lemons turned into lemonade experience was at church yesterday. Sometime during last week I ended up getting sick. Saturday night I didn't get much sleep because I was up with a fever and chills. When I got to church the brothers in our branch were excited (for lack of a better word) for the opportunity to give a blessing. We had taught them a week or two ago how to do so, and they were anxious to use their new skill. I was very happy that they were able to give their first blessing. It is one more way they can use their priesthood to bless their families.

We made a visit to a less-active member who is leaving on a mission soon, but he was not home. We were able to talk to his mom and hopefully give her some guidance and direction on what steps they need to take in his mission preparation. She wants us to work with her son for a little bit everyday. I also feel that is needed.

Elders Avery and Perritt
We also have a member who recently got an older cheap car. He was so excited and said now he and his sons can take us teaching more easily. We also are helping our branch president who is having leg problems preventing him from walking, standing, or sitting for extended periods of time. He is definitely a man in need of a helping hand. So we will be helping him this week to supervise some maintenance that has to happen in the chapel.

Thanks for everything!
Elder Avery

So Much Going On! (January 10, 2016)

Parable of Lehi's Family (January 31, 2016)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

So Much Going On! - Elder Joshua Avery

Visiting the monkeys for P-day
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,

There is always so much to say and too little time. Congrats to Hannah and Kolby! A GIRL! We were all wrong, haha!

This week was awesome. It was a trial of faith but through it we saw some great miracles. This week I have been increasing my faith by going on another 40 day fast (not from food and water). I made a list of things I do that limit my spiritual sensitivity and I am giving them up for these next 40 days and hopefully the rest of my life or mission at least. I fasted yesterday so that I would have inspiration as to what things I should put on my list. I officially started today, but I am confident the list will grow.

The start of this week was slow. The school year started for the kids here so things felt kind of dead. We were struggling to find people. Some parts of the city were a ghost town. No one wanted to meet because they all think they are to busy because of school. On Wednesday we went to a neighborhood that we felt prompted to go to. We locked up our bikes and began to walk around committed to talk to everyone we saw. That turned out to be quite the challenge because there was literally no one. I kept praying that we would at least find some sign of life. It got really hot and Elder Brown was getting sunburned pretty bad. We found a shady spot and rested for a bit and then made our way back to our bikes. On the way back Elder Brown ended up talking to a lady outside her house who is the mother of a former investigator. We had to drop him because he wouldn't talk to his parents about him learning and we didn't want to have secret meetings with him. She has some interest so we will have to meet with her soon so her son can learn too.

Thursday we met with an Indian man who has a lot of faith and volunteers his time and service at a church and helps a lot of people. He confided with us that he has not prayed in months because his head feels cloudy and he has been having some depression. We gave him a blessing. And afterwards his whole family wanted one. He gave a prayer at the end of the lesson.

Saturday was full of miracles. The lesson with the Indian man had been our only lesson the whole week and our finding was not going well. The previous night a member told Elder Brown that he wanted us to help him out the following morning. Well we were in for a surprise! We get a call from the member right after our breakfast and morning exercise saying "I'm here!," so we jumped in the car and he took us to breakfast and a bunch of other places. Then he told us that the truck was late so he took us home and we showered and started our studies. 40 min later we get a call saying, "We are here". I opened the door to see a truck the size of a moving truck in front of our house filled with stuff. "Yikes!" I thought. Well, we helped him unload some stuff onto our porch. He says he needs us to keep it till the begining of next month. Then he took us somewhere else to unload the rest of the stuff ranging from big air tanks and welding equipment and saws and wires and who knows what, haha! Well after that we had no time for further studies.

We have been trying to improve our work with members this week by helping them do their home teaching. So after our service Saturday morning we took a family home teaching. We taught them how to do it and it was a wonderful experience. We were also able to go home teaching with a less-active member and his dad. We are hoping to get the first 100% home teaching Sitiawan has ever seen. Everyone we have gone home teaching with has said they have never done it before.

After a day of home teaching and unloading a truck we cleaned the church and by then it was dinner time. We scarfed down some dinner and went to two lessons that we were able to nail down during dinner. The second lesson had me a little frustrated because the lady couldn't understand me...We drove to the next house and the guy told us he would be like 20-30 minutes late. Well that had me a little bummed. I was sitting in the car sad thinking, "We have almost no lessons, that lady couldn't understand me, and we have no new investigators or any idea where they will come from."

After letting God know how I felt, I opened the car door. The member in the car said, "where are you going?" "To find people," I replied. Because the house we were at was in the middle of nowhere he said, "where?" I pointed down a dark road that looked like it led to more nowhere. We walked a little bit down it when  a group of dogs were on the road barking. The member wanted to go back but we insisted on going and scared the dogs away. We looked at the houses but I didn't feel like we should knock any of them so we kept going until we found one that felt right. We knocked it and as soon as we did our phone rang. Elder Brown answered the phone and it was a potential investigator we had been wanting to meet who said she could meet later that night. While that was going on the member and I were talking to the lady who answered the door. She came out and half way to the gate, and then she and the member started yelling things like "hey! no way! It's you!" I was puzzled and then they explained they are old friends that haven't seen one another in years. She let us in and we shared about the Book of Mormon for two minutes and set a return appointment for the next day. When we met the potential who called us during all that, she brought a friend who wanted to learn too.

The next day when we met the lady we had knocked the door of and she had read part of the Book of Mormon. During the lesson the member explained to her how we found her and that God had sent us to her. In the car on the way home he said that he had tried to visit her before but never knew where her house was. I know that God lives and guides us by His Holy Spirit and that we receive no witness till after the trial of our faith. I believe God was willing to give us those miracles because we acted on faith.

Well that's all for now folks!

Love you,
Elder Avery

New Year (January 3, 2016)

The Storms of Life Always End  (January 24, 2016)

For REAL?!!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year - 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. 

My guess is that Hannah and Kolby's baby is a BOY!
Dear Family and Friends!

This week I have chosen to increase my faith by trying to repent and change. All of us have things that we need to fix and improve on. Whether it is just being off by a couple minutes to the missionary daily schedule or being too casual in language. Repentance is still a hard thing for me because change is painful and at times very slow, but this morning as I was reading the conference Ensign I learned some important principles about repentance. 1. God will always give us more than we put in. (we give Him 10% for tithing and He gives us a blessing beyond our ability to receive). 2. God is always going to strengthen us as we strive to change and repent, especially if it is a particularly difficult or uncomfortable change, and 3. We only fail if we lose the faith to keep trying. Because of my lack of knowledge and my pride I'm not sure of all of the things I need to repent of at the moment, but the more I am willing to change the more will be revealed.

This past week we were leaving the mall where we had visited a member and handed out English Class flyers. As we were making our exit we passed a Chinese lady. I kept biking but when I turned around I saw Elder Brown talking to her. I flipped around to go assist him. The lady didn't seem to have much interest, but she introduced us to her son. He asked us a lot of great questions and told us that he has been really interested in Christianity lately and wants to know more. We gave him a call the other day to follow up and he said that we are welcome any time. This is just one of the many times that God has put prepared people in our path in an unexpected way. Too often we shrug off promptings because they don't make sense, but if God didn't prompt you to talk to someone because they were prepared it likely means they know someone who is prepared. If not, you get to participate in the preparation process.

We biked out to see Mr.Z** earlier this week. One of the young men was even willing to bike all the way out there to help us. We got there a little earlier so we talked to a couple people in the area and ended up sharing the Book of Mormon with a grandma that is now investigating. Mr. Z** came to church again which was so awesome.

I called K** on Saturday to remind him of church. When I called he said "Hey thanks for helping clean my mom is sleeping so much better now! We are fasting tomorrow right?" He also came to church again. During 2nd hour one of the sisters asked him, "When are you getting baptized?" He looked at us with an expression on his face that seemed to ask, "Can I still?" Later yesterday we taught him and he is now on date for the last week of February. Smoking seems to be the only major obstacle to his baptism.

On our preparation day we organized an activity with the youth. We all went to the church and watched Ephraim's Rescue. We invited all of the youth to invite their friends. One of the youth invited a friend who later this past week became a new investigator. Another youth says he wants us to organize a similar activity so he can invite his friends.

Biking in the night....!!
 Today we are going with the youth to see monkeys. We already have at least one member bringing a friend and possibly one more. Nearly every baptism in 2014 in Sitiawan  was a member referral. I am starting to more fully understand why President Hinkley, when talking about missionary work, called this "the better way." Imagine how different the growth of the church would be if every member prayed for their own missionary opportunities as much as they prayed for the missionaries. We have had a lot of help with a lot of the members and I think we are gaining their trust. This past week we helped a young woman and her non-member mom take down Christmas decorations. This next week we are helping another member to pick the fruit from her tree, and we are also helping some of the young woman who promised to get their personal progress before one of the ex-pat members gets back to finish it up. Branch council was brief and to the point yesterday. I like it that way. Seems like things are going in a good direction.

Love you all!
Elder Avery

My Last Christmas in Malaysia (December 27, 2015)

So Much Going On!  (January 10, 2016)

Rain drops are huge!