Sunday, February 7, 2016

Find Those That Will Receive You - Elder Joshua Avery

Elders Avery and Schwemmer
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,

We got transfer news. It made me sad to hear that I would be leaving Sitiawan, but I am excited for the opportunity to serve in Kuala Lumpur again. I will enjoy the air conditioning and not biking everywhere, for sure. Especially since the bike Elder Hanks gave me broke and the spare I had got ruined when I was hit by a car...actually I wasn't hit, because I heard the guy out of control and moved out of the way. But the bike is ruined.

My new companion will be Elder Schwemmer, and we get along great. I've spent a lot of time with him in the same district and his grandparents live in my home neighborhood, so that's really cool! His granddad died the first day Elder Schwemmer was here in Malaysia, and I think it's cool that I knew him and can talk with Elder Schwemmer about him. He was a really cool old guy!

This week I have been studying the characters of the Book of Mormon. I spent most of the week reading about Aaron, the son of Mosiah. In Alma Chapter 21 Aaron is called to go preach the gospel to to the people of Jerusalem (for those not familiar, this is not the Jerusalem in the Middle East, but a city in the new world that they named the same thing) which consisted of Amalakites and Amulonites (apostate Nephites) and Lamanites. The Amalakites were after the order of Nehor, which justifies priestcrafts and holds the idea that because Jesus paid for our sins we're all therefore saved with no effort on our part. After boldly testifying of the Atonement and the need for repentance, Aaron is rejected and teaches in other cities without much success and is then imprisoned. We all know that later he is freed and plays an essential role in the conversion of Lamoni's father, the king of the Lamanites, but I found something in Alma 25 that I had not noticed before. In verse 6 it says that after trials and afflictions those Lamanites that had rejected Aaron previously remembered his words and were converted in the wilderness. That group of Lamanites is persecuted by the Amulonites, so the Lamanites drive the Amulonites out of their land. As missionaries we don't always see the effect of what we do, and at times we feel that rejection means we were not successful. The story of Aaron teaches us that our words go far beyond the initial contact. We need not let rejection judge our success or ruin our attitude.

We saw many miracles this week. The one I would like to share emphasizes the principle of talking to everyone, even Muslims. Elder Brown and I were biking in a neighborhood to meet with a potential investigator. We were unable to find her house. While in her neighborhood we talked to a lady outside her house. She waved her hands and said she was Muslim, we stayed anyway so that we could try and maybe get a referral. She invited us into her home and we felt impressed to accept the invitation, even though it seemed really odd to go into a home where we could not preach the gospel.

We talked to her and her husband and they gave us some drinks. We explained that we were here as missionaries and were looking for non-Muslim friends to teach (it is against the law to teach Muslims in Malaysia). The lady walked out of the house and ended up pulling in one of her Chinese friends who we were able to share the gospel message with in Chinese. Sadly, that friend was a staunch Buddhist and not interested at all. We asked the Muslim lady who else she knew, so she took us to an Indian family across the street. Sadly, that Indian family also said no. We asked her again who she knew and she took us to a Christian family living kitty-corner from her. Not surprising, the Christian man was the most rude of all our rejectors (funny how that works...).

We elders were beginning to wonder if we had wasted our time, but I remembered it felt like the right thing to talk to the Muslim lady. We began to cycle away when the Muslim lady came up on a moto next to us and said, "follow me!" We followed her and she led us to a Christian Iban family. We were able to teach a short lesson to them and then come back to teach them again yesterday! This week I learned that "find those that will receive you" applies to our Muslim friends too.

We have one progressing investigator named Ms. G**. She is a long lost friend of one of the members that we found in a really miraculous way a couple weeks ago. She came to church and the member who's friend it was bore his testimony of the gospel and told everyone how we were able to find her and teach her and that he knew it was arranged by God. It was so cool. I also learned that bringing members to lessons that end up falling through is okay!

We had a member share yesterday about how he came to teach a lesson with us and 5 minutes in the investigator just got up and left, haha! Then a different time he came out with us and, after seeing us get rejected and threatened to have the police called on us, it made him want to be more involved.

Branch Council went well. It is nice to have more investigators that we can actually talk about in Branch Council. Working with members is definitely the better way to do things.

Thanks for everything! Love you!

Elder Joshua Avery

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

Back in Kuala Lumpur  (February 14, 2016)