Sunday, June 26, 2016

Goodbye, Elder Spurrier - Elder Joshua Avery

By Elder Joshua Avery, serving in the Singapore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

This week Elder Avery sent a voice recording and several photos. The following is transcribed from the voice recording:  

Alrighty, here is my week in a nutshell. Monday was crazy because Elder Spurrier was getting ready to go home, but that didn't stop us from teaching lessons and taking care of the things that needed to get done. We'd set up an appointment with a lady named Ha** for Monday, and that was crazy because it was Elder Spurrier's last P-day so he had to do all his packing and stuff. We were way stressed that it wasn't going to work out. But we went and taught her the lesson, and it was amazing. We shared the First Vision and asked her if she thought it was true, and she got pretty emotional and said that the day we'd called her (because she'd been found by Elders a long time ago, but every time we tried to set an appointment it just didn't work out with her schedule) .... so, she said that the day we called to set up an appointment with her, she had been praying. She was asking God for help because things were really hard. So right after that we called her and asked how she was doing. She's researched the church and seen both good and bad things online. But she said that before she even met us, she had felt like it was true, and that God and led her to it. So that was really cool because it was one of Elder Spurrier's last lessons - the day before his last day. It was really cool to have that experience on Monday.

Tuesday was Elder Spurrier's last day, and the day that my new, amazing companion, Elder Harker, flew in from Sibu. We taught some lessons with some people. Then at 2 o'clock - Elder Harker is such a hard working missionary, he didn't even go back to the apartment. He just met us where we were teaching the lesson, and he hauled around his luggage while we went around teaching people. He went straight to work.

While we were on the train on Tuesday, before we met Elder Harker at the appointment at 2 o'clock, Elder Spurrier ended up being able to get in touch with a recent convert from Indonesia who's in Singapore, and she referred one of her friends from Myanmar, named P***. We met P** with Elder Harker, and it was Elder Spurrier's last official lesson before he was released. It was a really intense lesson. Everyone was crying. Her language is Echin, one of the languages from Myanmar, and I'm not very good at pronouncing it. But during the lesson she was like, "Woah, every time you talk my heart just goes like this - BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!" And we were like, "Yes, it does!" (he chuckles)  It was the Spirit, and she was able to recognize that. She ended up coming to church on Sunday, and we taught her last night. She's doing really well, preparing for baptism on August 27th.

Wednesday was cah-ray-zee! We had all the new missionaries coming in, so Elder Harker and I went to do that and had some other meetings. It was really stressful for me because I didn't realize how much I leaned on Elder Spurrier for what to do and how to do it. And now he's gone! So Elder Harker and I are having trial by fire right now (he chuckles). But we ended up making it work, and we have a really amazing group of missionaries who just came in. Most of them are American. We did have one Australian. They did really well. All the Elders - I don't know about the Sisters - gave out their Book of Mormons on the train before they made it to the church. Some of them even gave out two! They seemed really excited and good to go.

Thursday we had a little bit of training for the new missionaries, and they got to see where they were going. And we had a couple other meetings.

Friday we taught Ra**, Pr**'s daughter. They will be baptized in three weeks. She's doing really well - just really prepared.

Then Saturday we had a miracle. Brother Bi* has been having a really hard time with his work schedule, but we were able to meet with him Saturday evening. It was a last minute thing. He was like, "Hey, Elders, meet me at this time and this place." We were like, "Okay, can!" And he was really happy to meet with us. He's been sad because he hasn't been able to go to church.

Sunday we were able to meet the Spurriers. Now I understand why Elder Spurrier is amazing. He has amazing parents.

We got to teach Sister P*. And we also got to teach Sister Pr* with Elder Spurrier last night, and Sister Pr* is doing really well. The last thing she is working on is getting a testimony of prophets - if God really does speak through prophets, and if Thomas S. Monson is a prophet. And last night in the lesson she told us she believes this is true. She got kind of emotional and said, "Oh no, keep talking Elders. I'm going to start crying." I think the Holy Ghost gave her the answer. She seems prepared for baptism. And we also got to meet her husband, which is a big step because her husband doesn't really like religion. So it was cool we got to meet him.

That was out week. And now today, Monday, is going to be another great day of missionary work. We have a lesson with Sister Ha**, and Elder Harker is going to get some of his hairs cut. So yah, bye bye.

Elder Spurrier's Last Week (June 19, 2016)

Elder Harker

Elders Avery and Harker

Elder Harker and something yummy

Elders Spurrier, Avery and Harker

Elders Avery and Spurrier - Singapore Mission

Farewell to a great missionary!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

First Week in the Provo MTC - Elder Brigham Rush

Written by Elder Brigham Rush, in the Provo Missionary Training Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is assigned to the Nicaragua Managua North Mission, speaking Spanish.

Hello everyone!

I know this email might seem a bit early, but my P days are actually Saturday so I get to do my emails now! Alright let me go over all the things that happened here at the MTC so far. I arrived on Wednesday and was immediately sent off to a Spanish language class and that is where I received my companion, Elder Mower. We had to speak Spanish the whole time. That whole day they were just blasting us with information the whole day and it was super overwhelming, and it seemed like the first day lasted forever. But me and Elder Mower get along great, he is a super cool guy. He played football for Carbon High School and is going to SUU after his mission to be a long snapper. Having a companion is weird, you are literally with them every single minute of the day, and the only break we get is the last hour of the day from 9:30 to 10:30 in our residence hall. During that time we just have to be on the same floor as each other, but we always have to know where each other are. I'm glad I got Elder Mower as my companion though. The first couple days were kinda weird, but we're used to it now and we get along great.

The 2nd day seemed way faster than the first day, even though it was actually twice as long. We had a ton of Spanish instruction time and they give us a ton of tasks to do in our study time so we are constantly working on something the entire day. Our classroom is set up with 11 Elders,which is called my district. I spend most of my time with these Elders, and they're all super cool guys. In my district is me, Elders Mower, Wright, Ward, Bassett, Lund, Harrop, Olson, Jones, Dean (district leader), and Slade. I've gotten to know all these guys pretty well already, and I already know I'm going to be super sad when I leave them. 6 of us are going to Nicaragua, 4 are going to Argentina, and Elder Jones is the only Elder going to Bolivia. Our teacher Brother Myers is an awesome guy, but he never speaks in English. He is a great teacher though. We are all learning so much every day, both about Spanish and the Gospel. You can really feel the spirit so strong here all the time, it is amazing. We've had so many spiritual experiences already. One great example is every morning we have to wake up at 6:30, and every morning I get right up and I'm not even tired. This may not seem like a lot, but that's kind of huge for me because I am the worst with sleeping in and I've never been a morning person. I know that's our heavenly father helping all of us have enough energy for the day to get our work done. Sorry I'm getting off on these huge tangents, but the 3rd day was Awesome.

On the 3rd day (Friday) me and Elder Mower had to teach our first lesson completely in Spanish to an investigator names Santiago Gomez. He didn't know how to speak any English at all, and it was very hard for us. But we really felt the spirit the entire lesson, and that helped a ton. That was the very start of our day. After that a new teacher came in and gave us a ton of tasks, like learning 250 new words and 60 new phrases and memorizing a bunch of scriptures in Spanish and stuff like that. We have a ton of things we have to read too. Me and Elder Mower are constantly praying as a companionship to help us get through the lessons. We got exercise time that day too, so it really helped the day go by fast.

The food here is great. Every meal this week is catered though, because the cafeteria is being occupied by 175 new mission presidents being trained this week. All of the apostles have been here at some point this week too, just the other day we saw Elder Oaks walk past our classroom. Needless to say this week has been super hectic, but I have loved it so much. The Elders who have been here for a couple weeks seem so experienced, they are like veterans. We district always talks about how we can't wait until we are like them and we aren't the new kids anymore. And so today is P day and we get to do our laundry and now we are emailing. I have some pictures but I'll send those in another email. That's all for now! I just want to leave you all with a brief testimony that I know the church is true and I promise it can make you all experience true happiness! I'll be on my email until about 11 am today so if you get a chance, try to email me before then and I'll be able to read them. :)

Oh one more thing! Dear (or something like that, I cant remember) is this super cool thing where you can send in a letter and they will print it off at the MTC and give it to me that day! I got one from Lacie on Friday and it made my whole day, it was super cool. I guess that's all for real this time. Adios!

- Elder Rush

MTC Week 2 (July 2, 2016)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Elder Spurrier's Last Week - Elder Joshua Avery

By Elder Joshua Avery, serving in the Singapore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

This week Elder Avery sent a voice recording and several photos. The following is transcribed from the voice recording:

Alrighty, so this week was absolutely amazing. Elder Spurrier is dying tomorrow night (he is finishing his mission), so these are his final hours. In not too long, we will be having our last supper together, then I will be the one who finishes him off.

We are way excited for this upcoming transfer. We have lots of super amazing people who are going to be baptized. Sister R**, if you remember, she is the one from China, is getting baptized this Sunday. And since Elder Spurrier will no longer be a missionary, he will get to do the baptism while his parents are here. He is way excited for that, and I'm super excited too. When went to share with her the other night, and she finished the Book of Mormon once, and now she is all the way through to Mosiah again. Maybe she will finish the Book of Mormon twice before her baptism! I've never had an investigator who finished the Book of Mormon once before their baptism, and now I might see someone finish it twice before her baptism! So that's pretty cool. She reads a lot.

We taught a lot of lessons this week. Was it 34 lessons? (In the background Elder Spurrier yells, "Yeah! Wooooo! Baptizing Singapore!). Haha! Yeah, so 34 lessons this week. Sorry, there's a dead man in the office trying to talk to me. (In the background Elder Spurrier yells, "No such thing as dead!"). He's in denial still.

So this week we had a lot of fun. We ended up teaching a lot of potentials also, people we ended up finding. We taught 9 of the people we found, but we only ended up accepting a couple of them as new investigators. The others didn't seem like they were in a frame of mind to progress.

We were able to meet with Sister Gr** on Tuesday. She is a new convert, and went to work in China. But after two weeks she came back because things didn't work out with her employer. She was working 16 hours a day, every day of the week, and she wasn't allowed to go to church, so she quit and moved back. She found out that they'd hired like 6 teachers, and all but 2 ended up quitting before her.

Sister Li**, who is a less active member we've been working, kind of disappeared for a little bit and we were worried about her. But we were teaching one of our investigators the other day, and she just popped up out of nowhere while we were teaching. We were like, "Woah, Li**, hello!" And she was like, "Sorry, I've been busy." So we were able to find her and teach her. And while we were on the way to her house, we met her friend D**, who is (of another faith), and she accepted the invitation to learn the Gospel. Elder Spurrier and Elder Harker, a Zone Leader from Sibu, taught D** about the Plan of Salvation, and afterward she was like, "Woah!" It blew her mind. I guess in (her faith) they don't teach the Plan of Salvation. But that's why we're here - to teach it to them, and bring them more happiness.

Then, that same day, Sister Ri* passed her baptism interview. She was amazing, super prepared - the most prepared person I've ever seen for baptism.

There's a recent convert from Indonesia and, one of my friends from before the mission, Zack, who served in the Indonesia Mission, was in her ward or branch - I can't remember which. She now lives in Singapore, and she helps us teach a lot. So we taught two of her friends who she referred this week. And she is doing really well. We bring her to do missionary work, and get her to stop people and tell them they are a child of God. She gets so scared, but it's great. On the train, she hands out pamphlets and stuff. So when she goes back to Indonesia, she's going to be a changed person and baptize all of Indonesia.

We also ended up teaching a kid named Da**. We met him on the train with his mom. I'm going to be honest, I didn't think he was going to be too interested. But we met with him and he brought two of his friends. They are 15 and 16 years old, and their parents are okay with them learning, which is so nice. And all of them are on this search for God. They're all Christian and say, "Yah, I feel weighed down by the burden of my sins. I don't feel close to God like I used to." So we are like, "Woah, okay!" We're going to continue teaching them.

One of the highlights of the week, for sure, was on Saturday when we ended up teaching a ton of lessons all in a row. We had quite a few hours of teaching a lesson every hours, which is always way fun. One of the lessons was with a new family. The wife is from Thailand, and the husband is a local Singaporean. It's a family of seven, which is HUGE. You never find families that size in Singapore. So we are going to be teaching them, and will keep you updated on them. Elder Spurrier has always wanted to baptize a family, so my future companion and I will take good care of them so Elder Spurrier can check that off his bucket list. It's his "dying wish."

Did I miss anything, Elder Spurrier? (In the background Elder Spurrier says, "Life is good. Church was sweet." Good words from a soon to be "dead man."

Okay, I love you all. Bye-bye.

Fruit and Labor  (June 12, 2016)

Goodbye, Elder Spurrier  (June 26, 2016)

Elder Joshua Avery

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fruit and Labor - 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 been increasing my faith by studying obedience. I realized one of my character weaknesses is that I have a habit of putting sacrifice before obedience. It is always a temptation for me. Settling for sacrifice instead of obedience is settling for terrestrial blessings rather than celestial blessings. Elder Spurrier reminded me the other day that the only person you can save is yourself (obviously you can't save yourself, you need Jesus Christ but you get what I'm saying). Other people we try to help have agency and sometimes reject us, but our agency is under our control and at the end of the day if you bring no one else to the Celestial Kingdom you better bring yourself.

Miracle of the week:
While I was in Butterworth on exchanges this week, we were talking to everyone while we were biking to our appointments. While we were on one of the main roads, I was waving to the cars as they were going past me. One of the cars pulled over. When I started talking to the man in the car he said, "Hey! I know you! I talked to you in Puchong!" It blew my mind. Here I was in little old Butterworth and someone I talked to months ago in Kuala Lumpur remembered me! That was the second week in a row that I met someone I had talked to months before. I don't remember these people (partly because I talk to hundreds of people a week, and partly because I am not good with names and faces) until they remind me. They still remember me and what I shared with them. I have had a couple times that I was a little sad on my mission because I knew I was working really hard, being obedient, and talking to everyone, but wasn't seeing the success I was expecting. God has been showing me a lot that those efforts did not go to waste. That man in Butterworth said he will give the Butterworth elders a shot. So we will see :)

Our members are really doing great. One of our recent converts is from Bangladesh. His name is Bi**. Yesterday he told us that his employer is going against his contract and told Bi** that he has to work 14+ hr days with no days off. Bi** had tried asking for work off on Sunday, but his boss said that if he asked for Sunday off he would send him home. Last night we were teaching him with the fellowshippers we have assigned him. It was a pretty emotional lesson. Bi** was crying for a lot of it because church is the best thing about his life right now. The fellowshippers that we assigned ended up being exactly what he needed.  One of them is an American who has friends who deal with cases like this for foreign workers, and the other one is a Filipino returned missionary. Another one of Bi**'s fears was that his family isn't learning about the gospel, but the Filipino returned missionary was companions with the first missionary from Bangladesh. The members and Branch President there do all of the missionary work there because there are no missionaries there, so he is going to send Bi**'s parent's address to his former companion! That is the power of member missionary work! We would have been powerless in that situation, but the members gave Bi** what he needed.

Elder Avery

Three Baptisms  (June 5, 2016)

Photos of an Amazing Week  (June 19, 2016)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Three Baptisms - 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 was an awesome one! There were three baptisms this past weekend. One was one of our investigators named Ra** (she was a member referral), one was an 8 year old named A* (his Mom was recently reactivated), and number 3 was An** (Li**'s daughter in Ipoh).

The start of this week was a little crazy. We had missionaries coming into Singapore for a short training and we had MLC (Mission Leadership Council) on Thursday. We knew this week would have a couple bumps, so Elder Spurrier and I skipped most of our P-Day to teach some lessons. It was way worth it :) Woodlands is on fire!

Sister P** and her two daughters came to church this week. She has been a new person since her daughters have started investigating too. She is keeping all of her commitments. Her daughters R** and Ra** both liked church. Haha, I laughed because Sister P** had them fast (we haven't taught any of them about it). Her girls are doing a good job of reading the Book of Mormon. The three of them are getting baptized next month :)

Sister R** is amazing! She has read almost all of the Book of Mormon in about 10 days! When we taught her last night she was in Mormon. It's crazy to think how much her life and her husband's life have changed. All we did was go to visit Brother A*, a less active member, and discovered he has an amazing family too! He seems way happy. Last night he made us dinner when we went to teach his wife. She is by far the fastest progressing investigator I have ever taught in my mission. She said the other day, "What do you still have to teach me? The Book of Mormon answered all of my concerns." She is doing great! She gets baptized in three weeks.

I have increased my faith by taking more time to pray for specific concerns I know that other people have. It is one of the easiest acts of service ever. All you have to do is identify a blessing from God that someone needs, and you pray for it. I have definitely been getting more out of my prayers by putting more effort into that. That, with fast Sunday, has been giving me a good spiritual boost.

We had a way cool finding miracle this week. We were on the train traveling to an appointment and talked to a kid from Thailand who studies here. He said he had seen me before, and he pulled up a picture on his phone of me and one of the Zone Leaders from over a month ago! I guess we had contacted his friend over a month ago and his friend sent him a picture of us. He was interested, and we were able to meet with him the next day.

The members seem to be way fired up! We had seven investigators at church, and nothing gets

members excited like seeing investigators at church :) We have a good variety of participation from across the ward. It is way exciting! I am so excited I will still be here for a while longer. I have a lot of people I love a lot here.

And I love you all!

Elder Joshua Avery

Fire in the Woodlands (May 29, 2016)

Fruit and Labor  (June 12, 2016)