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)