Monday, March 28, 2016

Our Little Piece of Vinyard - 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

Patronus Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Dear Family and Friends,

I would have rather taught more than one lesson this week, but I know that we did our part in talking to everyone, working with the branch, and following up with our investigators everyday. The worst part is when we teach people who feel the Spirit when we meet them and are super interested, commit to an appointment, and then they decide they are no longer interested for a totally invalid reason after we leave. Yesterday we were reading Jacob 5 before church. I couldn't help but feel the same way when the master of the vineyard says in sorrow, "what more could I have done for my vineyard?" I consider Puchong to be a choice spot of land in the vineyard. I know that it is capable of producing fruit because the English elders are thriving.

I am going to increase my faith by only worrying about what I can control. In missionary work we can't control the culture, climate, traffic, transportation, rules, language, and choices people make. We can however choose our attitude, how we adapt, how we feel, what we say, our level of obedience, and our commitment to Christ. All the worry in the world over things we can't control will never do anything. I know that by submitting to the will of God, by being patient and long-suffering with what we can't control, God will strengthen us to have a positive and optimistic attitude.

This week we went to visit a less active family. Near the family's house we saw a lady and her daughter come out of their car and try to scurry into the house before we could say anything...they were too slow, haha! We introduced ourselves to the mom, who tried to shew us away. We were persistent and kept at it. We knew there had to be an underlying concern. She finally said, "You're Jehovah's Witnesses, aren't you!?"  "Nope," we replied. "Are you sure?" she asked (haha!). "Yes!" we answered. We told her we were from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She let us in and introduced her to her husband Jo**. We started by asking about their religious background. They had to be some of the longest wind people I have ever met, haha! They just went off and told us their whole life story and we could not get a word in. Normally I would have just butted in, but we felt like we were just supposed to listen politely until they ran out of things to say. That was quite a struggle for me. God was helping me a lot with that. When they finished talking, they said that although they were not very interested in church that they were praying to help their 16 year old son J** to find a church, and that they feel we are an answer to their prayer. Jo** told us, "Even though you two haven't said anything this whole time, you have brought a really good feeling into our home." He then turned the time to us. We only had two minutes left, so after an opening prayer we shared a scripture from The Book of Mormon that met their needs and then asked the father to say a prayer. In his prayer he thanked God that we came and helped him and his family to have a very light feeling. Jo** came to church yesterday and we look forward to meeting them again this week.

We have launched the new branch initiative and we have a new branch mission leader. We have a sign up list for members to come do missionary work with us. We have a couple people signed up this week, so if we can't get any lessons for that time slot, we will have them drive us to visit some of the 100 less active members in the branch. That will help a lot because public transportation here is very poor.

Thanks for everything! Gotta go!

Elder Avery

Vision (March 21, 2016)

Singapore!  (April 4, 2016)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Vision - 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,

It was another great week in Malaysia. We prayed asking for lawyers and low and behold we get on the bus and sat next to two Chinese law students. You get what you go for in life.

Elder Schwemmer did really great this week. We play tennis every morning. I'm still not any good at it. His main concern seems to be the language, but I think he is doing great! It's hard and just takes time.

Earlier this week I was feeling stressed and a little overwhelmed because the work is going slower than I feel it could.Then during one of my personal studies I flipped through the hymn book and read through the hymn, "I Believe in Christ." The last verse really spoke to me where it says, "I believe in Christ, so come what may..." I really felt much better after reading and pondering that. If we believe in Christ and are obedient it really doesn't matter what is ahead because it will all be for our good and will work out in the end.

I strengthened my faith this week by working on a zone vision with Elder Riddle, and working on a branch mission vision with the other elders in the branch. Our branch vision is to reach 120 attendance at sacrament meeting and maintaining over 100 attendance for 3 consecutive months. To achieve this we will be focusing on 3 areas: 1) home and visiting teaching, especially to part member and less active families 2) a new referral sheet that will be on a table outside the chapel 3) a teaching sign-up list that will allow members to sign up for a time to teach with us during the week. We will try to schedule a lesson for that time, but if we can't schedule a lesson for that time or the investigator cancels, we will go home teaching with the member or go visit a less active that we haven't met. Every time a member does their home teaching, gives a referral, or signs up to teach with us, they get to put a marble in a jar. When we fill the jar as a branch, there will be a big branch party. We are looking to launch it this week. Hopefully the branch will use it. We will have to follow-up on it like crazy if it is going to work.

Yesterday after church, Elder Schwemmer and I went contacting. It was raining and we were getting soaked, but we were behind on our finding goals and were determined to find prepared people. We ended up finding a lot of prepared people. One of them was the owner of a nice coffee shop near the church. We have seen a lot of success in contacting as we have been inviting people to quit smoking if they're smoking while we talk to them. Even a lot of hardhearted Chinese man will listen to us when we explain how Christ can give them the strength to quit and take control of their lives, and of course baptism sounds appealing to someone like them who wishes they could have a "do over." After good success in contacting we got a call from a potential investigator who we ended up wanting to meet right then. We ended up being able to perfectly hit our goals as well as our new investigator goal, and we surpassed our goal for baptismal invitations.

The branch is very willing to help. We are hoping our branch vision will be able to help. All in all things are in a good direction. I feel like I am starting to get a "feel" for the branch and the area now. I think we will really be able to hit hard going into next transfer.

Thanks for everything!
Elder Avery

MLC in Kuching, East Malaysia (March 14, 2016)

Our Little Piece of the Vineyard  (March 28, 2016)

Elder Schwemmer

I have mission supplies!

Ballet with pigeons :)

Monday, March 14, 2016

MLC in Kuching, East Malaysia - 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.

First Chapel I've seen in Malaysia (Kuching)
Dear Family and Friends,

This week was so awesome! Being trained by Elder Brent H. Neilson was definitely the highlight. He is the head of the missionary department for the whole world. I am so glad I took good notes. I feel like I will have things to refer back to for years to come. I'd say the best part of his whole visit though was the prayer Elder Neilson offered at the end of the MLC (Missionary Leadership Training) in Kuching. The Spirit was so powerful, I couldn't help but be overcome with emotion. I want to be able to pray with that level of faith, love, and real intent. I think that like most things in the gospel, praying in that manner falls in the category of things that cannot be taught, but can be learned.

One of my favorite things that Elder Neilson shared with us was about using the "Gold Mine"or less-active members to find. We are increasing our faith by acting in all diligence with this counsel. Yesterday we printed off the branch list and went through it with our branch president. We have enough less-active members to where we will never have to wonder what we want to do. We are coordinating our efforts with the YSA (Young Single Adults) who recently made a YSA reactivation plan. I feel that will be especially effective because many of the people on that list are in the 15 - 25 year old target group. Included on that list are children of record and many part member families. We have been asked by our branch president to make a branch mission plan/vision. I think that will help us to follow Proverbs 29:18. I think that if we tackle this tactfully and pull together with the branch we will begin to see some epic success here in the Puchong Branch.

We are also increasing our faith by looking for a lawyer. We asked the branch presidency what they feel they need in the branch and they say a lawyer. I guess they have men of many professions in the KL (Kuala Lumpur) district but no lawyer...not sure how to find one but we will.

As Elder Schwemmer and I were thinking of how we could more effectively find educated kingdom building investigators, we thought about the University down the street from our apartment. We decided to go to the University to see if we could talk to someone from some sort of Religious Studies department and organize something where we could share. Sadly, we went to the University to find the front door locked with a bunch of chains and a padlock through the door handles...that explains a lot. But it was Saturday, so what can you expect? We will try again later this week.

We had a miracle this week as Elder Riddle and I were trying to make it back home after our late night flight from Kuching (MLC was in Kuching, and that was my first time in East Malaysia). Our flight didn't land until nearly midnight and by then we were beat and wanted to get home. I had personally never made the trip to the airport and back, so I was not sure of the best way to get to and from there. The Sister Training Leaders suggested the bus. We went to buy bus tickets but the next bus was not till 12:30. Elder Riddle and I both felt that although a taxi would be really expensive, it would be the better option. So we went and got a taxi. While we were doing that, we remembered that the bus goes to KL central and, because it was so late, there would be no trains. I'm sure that we could have found a taxi or something from KL Central to where we needed to go, but I was thankful that God was able to guide us to make the best decision.

This week was awesome! Full of instruction and revelation. Thanks for all that you do. Hope you all have an awesome week!

Here's a link about our conference:

Elder Avery

Working Hard in Malaysia (March 7, 2016)

Vision  (March 21, 2016)
Elder Riddle
P-day Fun!

The Patronus Towers, Kuala Lumpur

At the chapel in Kuching

Monday, March 7, 2016

Working Hard in Malaysia - 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.

Elders Schwemmer and Avery in Singapore
Dear Family and Friends,

I have increased my faith this week by working hard to achieve our goals. Yesterday was Fast Sunday and by evening we were very hungry. As much as I wanted to go home and eat, I knew we were still four potentials short of our goal. We said a prayer and I was committed not to go home until we had found our four people. After many rejections we were able to receive 3 referrals from 3 different people and find someone who was interested. I felt really good after that. Sometimes it is easy to be satisfied with being just a little shy of your goal, but you feel 10x better if you work diligently till the final hour and achieve it.

This past week I went on an exchange with Elder Berry from West Virginia. He is an awesome missionary. I think Singapore was a refiner's fire for him. I am very impressed with the work he is doing there. He said that he was struggling with the invitation that Elder Riddle and I gave the zone to invite one person to be baptized a day. We said a prayer and ended up being able to invite multiple people to be baptized and we found a lot of people who showed real interest. He is an awesome missionary and leader to his district. I think that Elder Hansen is teaching him a lot too.

Elder Scwemmer and I have a new investigator named M** T** who is awesome and I think will progress a lot. I was unable to be there for this past lesson but, Elder Schwemmer said that she has read up to chapter 10 in the Book of Mormon after 1 week. That is awesome. Those who read and pray come to church. And those who do all three of those things get baptized.

Our member work has slowed down a little bit. That is mainly our fault. We have not been visiting members like we should. That really is the key. If they see and hear from the elders they help the elders, but if they don't see or hear from them the elders are on their own. We have some repentance to do. I think that this upcoming Zone Conference with Elder Neilson will be insightful, and I hope I can learn more about how to work more effectively with the branch.

Thanks for everything,
Elder Avery

Sweetened and Condensed...Like Milk (February 29, 2016)

MLC in Kuching, East Malaysia  (March 14, 2016)