Monday, April 25, 2016

Kota Kinabalu - 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 Avery and Spurrier with friends in Singapore
Dear Family and Friends,

Missionary work seriously is the best thing that anyone could ever do. I wish I could do it full-time for my whole life. Everything else in life is way less significant. I wish that I could help everyone get off their phones, take their earbuds out, and focus on the things that actually matter.

This week I decide to increase my faith by taking more "me" time. That sounds really odd, but we need to take care of our own spirituality if we want to help others. I have been feeling a little drained because I have been spending almost all of my personal study time studying help to other people. Because Elder Spurrier is awesome and we are good at getting ready quick, we are starting to get ready by 8:00 so that we can start studies 20 min earlier. I love it because it gives me more time to read the Book of Mormon for myself. There are a lot of good things to read, but nothing does it for me like the Book of Mormon. It brings a closeness with God that I cannot get anywhere else.

I absolutely love taking the Zone Leaders on exchanges. At first it was pretty intimidating because I felt really inadequate, but now it is feeling more natural and we are seeing a lot of crazy miracles from it.

Earlier in the week Elder Spurrier and I flew to KK (Kota Kinabalu) to work with Elder Leavitt and Elder Loh. This was my first time doing missionary work in East Malaysia. It was a blast and a way spiritually uplifting experience. I know next to zero Malay which makes things difficult when we have to go to Malay speaking areas, but is okay because then I can only talk to people who know English (they are usually the more educated people). In the taxi on the way to the KK elders' apartment I only asked Elder Spurrier to teach me one phrase in Malay, "Kamu mahu dibaptiskan kah?," or in English, "Do you want to be baptized?"

Tallest and smallest in the mission :)
Elder Leavitt had some questions on how to plan effectively and how to daily follow-up with everyone he is working with. He seems to have it figured out now. We spent the whole day working the goldmine by visiting less active members and talking to everyone on the way. Elder Leavitt and I must have invited at least 50 people to be baptized because that is all that I knew how to say, haha! We had a lot of people who said yes to our baptismal invitation. Their number of new investigators for the week was thirteen, which is amazing! They said that they only had two from the exchange and all the rest were just by having a better follow-up. I think they are going to be able to start baptizing a lot moving forward. They both work really hard.

Towards the end of the week we took the Singapore Zone Leaders on an exchange. I got to go with Elder Roundy, and I think we both learned a lot from it. He benefited a lot from his exchange with Elder Cocq and is feeling a lot more comfortable talking with Singaporeans. He is a very experienced elder and knows all the things he needs to do. I think the exchange was just an energy boost for him. He was really happy and he talked to a lot of people. They ended up doubling their PIs (potential investigators) this week and exceeded the standard of excellence for new investigators this week. They will continue to see that success if they continue talking to everyone.

Miracle of the week for Woodlands: This week we were running a little late and decided we had to taxi to our appointment. We got into the taxi and it ended up being a Singaporean Chinese guy who studied over in the UK. He was really smart and was listening to the Piano Guys (one of the few times we didn't have to tell the taxi driver to turn the music off). He is a free thinker but still open to other religions. He was really amazed by what we were doing and is going to let the missionaries in his area share with him and his wife.

This week we had something kind of awkward happen. A ward leader asked us to "slow down a little bit" because he is getting feedback from members that we were pushing them too hard. Because we are trying to get the whole ward moving at a fast pace, we have a handful of members that are right there with us and love it, and then some others who are not excited about it.

I probably had the most awkward lesson of my mission earlier this week. It was a dinner appointment with a member, so I didn't expect it to be anything unusual. But after dinner we shared the Restoration with the family and invited them to share it with their friends. One of the members in the family got really upset with us and said, "That doesn't work in Asian culture! If people want the Gospel, they will see the light of Christ in me and ask me about the Gospel." Thankfully, very few of the members have that kind of perspective.

We know most of the members in the ward now. And for some reason it is always the same members who are excited to teach with us, and they have some of the busiest lives too, haha! It is still a work in progress, but it has improved a lot.

Love you all,
Elder Avery

Be Honest with Yourself (April 18, 2016)

Baptism and Travels  (May 2, 2016)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Be Honest with Yourself - 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 friend from Sitiawan, now in Singapore
Dear Family and Friends,

This week I increased my faith by trying to be more honest. I can't think of anything that gauges how prideful we are more accurately than our level of honesty. There are so many different levels of honesty. It can be things as simple as making things seem better or worse than they are, covering your mistakes, telling only parts of the truth, or a complete and blatant lie. I've noticed that there is no one that I deceive more than myself. Being honest with yourself is the first step to self-improvement. You can't know where you are really at and what you have to work on if you are not honest with yourself. When our motives are not the best, when we justify our sins, or when we turn a blind eye to our weaknesses and shortcomings we need to catch it or we will never change. I have full faith that no matter who we are and where we are in life, God can help us to change and become who we want to be, but the only way to access the Atonement and improve is by being honest with yourself and others.

This week we had many miracles. To keep it simple I will list them briefly:

1) We had a member come to a lesson, but the investigator we were planning on meeting with canceled. After saying a prayer with the member we found someone to teach on the spot.

2) We had a really awesome lesson with an investigator named Sa** who has been really tough in the past.

3) We get to work with Elder Ch**, and things are going great despite his current physical condition.

4) We were only one member present lesson shy of our goal, despite only having three full days of proselyting.

5) We had two of our investigators who are on date come to church.

We are still teaching the members regularly. They seem to be getting really pumped. Not only is it helping the work, but we are getting fed the most I have ever had on the mission. We had multiple members report to us this week that they had given out the Restoration pamphlets we had given them.

We did not get as many referrals as we wanted this week, so we definitely need to work on being more persistent with the members when we are asking for referrals. Overall I am so impressed with the Woodlands Ward. It is so nice to be in a ward :) I will never take being in a ward for granted again!

Love you,
Elder Joshua Avery

In the Woodlands (April 11, 2016)

Kota Kinabalu  (April 25, 2016)

Elder Spurrier

Elders Avery and Lloyd

Sitiawan Crew

Elders Wimmer and Avery

The MerLion and Marina Bay, Singapore

Monday, April 11, 2016

In the Woodlands - 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 Spurrier and Avery - Singapore Mission
Dear Family and Friends,

We are seeing a lot of success in the Woodlands Ward. One of the nice things about serving in a ward is I don't have to worry about the church functioning properly in the area I serve. Church meetings run without me having to worry about anything.

I am increasing my faith by striving to apply the teachings and revelation I received during General Conference. I especially loved Elder Holland's talk about preparing for tomorrow. I think the future has definitely always been one of my biggest fears, because sometimes I question my ability to be the servant God wants me to be. The great news is that God blesses us for trying, God loves us no matter what, and God wants to bless us. Moving forward with faith ultimately comes from faith in both the redemptive and enabling powers of the atonement. The only failure comes from not trying to take our discipleship to a higher level.

This week I went on exchanges with Elder Riddle from the KL (Kuala Lumpur) Zone and Elder Stenquist from the Sibu Zone. I am so impressed with a lot of the missionaries in our mission.

Elder Riddle and I had a great exchange. I feel like he does a great job of talking to everyone and teaching while he finds. While on the exchange with Elder Riddle we had an awesome miracle. We were meeting with a member to teach him the Restoration. Before we went to the lesson, Elder Riddle and I said a prayer that we would be able to find someone we could teach during that appointment with the member. We were meeting the member at one of the MRT stations. When we arrived to the MRT station we had the member say a prayer that we would find someone to attend our lesson with him. When he finished his prayer Elder Riddle and I both felt impressed to talk to the same person. We ended up being able to persuade this person to sit in on our lesson with the member. The guy we found did not seem super interested, but I feel like it was a priceless experience for the member who was with us.

Elder Stenquist and I had a lot of appointments fall through on our exchange, which was alright because we ended up doing a lot of finding because of it. Elder Stenquist said that the things he learned the most on the exchange was asking good questions as we find people, and teaching while we find. I think that he does a great job of talking to everyone and I think he loved being able to contact people who are educated enough to have a good gospel conversation. It felt really good to be around Elder Stenquist. Exchanging with him increased my faith.

We had a lot of member appointments this week and we had multiple new investigators from part member and less active families this week. I think the members are really starting to trust us. We are mainly just sharing very brief Restoration lessons with them and inviting them to invite their friends to listen. It seems to have pretty good success. We will also be meeting the young men in the ward this week. We only have three young men right now and that needs to change! haha. The members here are awesome.

Elder Joshua Avery

Singapore! (April 4, 2016)

Be Honest with Yourself  (April 18, 2016)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Singapore! - 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.

(Elder Avery was transferred this week to Singapore, where he will be serving as an Assistant to President Simmons.) 

It's hard to step into the shoes of such a great missionary!
Dear Family and Friends,
Passing over the Mission Book....aaauugghh!

This week was crazy! Everything is so fast paced. I am definitely in need of the enabling power of the Atonement if I want to go at the pace we would like to go. I miss KL (Kuala Lumpur) and Elder Schwemmer, but I am excited for the new opportunities and experiences ahead. I never thought I would serve in a ward on my mission! My new companion is Elder Spurrier from Cottonwood Heights, and he speaks Malay. However, we will be attending an English ward, wearing English nametags (had to order one for me).

This week I have increased my faith by trusting God more, and looking forward more. It is so easy to let "what ifs?" and "I wish I had..." control you. This is the most inadequate I have ever felt in my entire life, but I have a testimony that this new assignment comes from the Lord. While Elder Spurrier and I were teaching a member about the Restoration I felt the Spirit really strong, and received the witness I have been looking for, confirming that this assignment comes from the Lord. I am so excited to be serving in the Woodlands Ward. We have amazing members. We will be visiting all of the members this transfer and sharing the Restoration (video) with them. I think that will get them fired up! We already have a couple members who seem way excited to do missionary work.

This week we went to go visit a former investigator named Sa**. When Elder Spurrier called her to confirm the appointment she was less than excited to meet, but Elder Spurrier was able to talk her into letting us stop by. When we arrived for the lesson we only had a couple minutes because we had gotten lost earlier in the day. We went into the lesson said a prayer and sang, "I am a Child of God." After we finished singing she broke down crying. She told us she was so happy that we had come and set an appointment for us to come back and teach her whole family. Her parents from Indonesia also live with her. While she was saying the closing prayer in Indonesian (I couldn't understand it), she and her father were crying. It was clear that the Spirit had touched both of their hearts. I was so grateful to God for helping them to feel His love. We didn't say anything important, but the Spirit did. Because Elder Spurrier speaks Indonesian we will be able to teach the parents also.

We have an awesome investigator from Bangladesh who will hopefully be baptized this month. His English is really good and he is already Christian. Every commitment we give him he runs with. He committed to never work a Sunday for the rest of his life. I am so happy for him :)

We also found an awesome new investigator named Br**. He is Malaysian Chinese. He is Christian but has never been baptized. I am excited to see how he progresses.

We called all of the members and asked them what their favorite color is, and tried to set an appointment with them to teach the Restoration. Some of the members seem way excited about it. We will be going over to a FHE (Family Home Evening) with a family tonight. In 3rd hour of church we gave all of the members Restoration pamphlets to give out and committed them to give it out and invite a friend to General Conference. We also had a couple members do some finding with us after lessons. My favorite thing was when we were able to help a prospective missionary place a Book of Mormon with a family after one of our appointments. I can feel the fire growing here in Woodlands!

Love you all!
Elder Avery

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

In the Woodlands  (April 11, 2016)

Our Office
Elders Avery, Riddle and Spurrier - Singapore Mission