Saturday, October 10, 2015

Well Done!

My brother Max

My sister Hailey

The moment we see him

Sporting a new JB suit! 

Had to buy some badminton rackets

my sister Hailey

my sister Amanda

My grandma & grandpa B

My niece Remie with her announcement shirt! 

My Bro. Joseph Merrill from the Hill Cumorah Pageant and Sis. Lauren Alfrey who served in Singapore too!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Here it is.. the best 2 years and coming home

Here it is, the time where my final opportunity to bear my testimony to you while wearing this badge of honor has come. I cannot believe the time that has  transpired here in the vineyard of the Lord. I love this work. I love him. He is real and his gospel, found in this church,  is true.  

This past week on Monday for P-day we played basketball with an investigator who has turned out to be an amazing investigator that surprised both Elder Lloyd and I. Here's his story.
Hopefully you remember my sharing the contacting story of walking down the street talking to a young man going to play basketball when we started walking different directions. Before we were too far from each other the distinct impression came to me to share with him our purpose. I followed the prompting and did so. The young man was open to learning and we exchanged phone numbers. 

It wouldn't be until 2 months later that we could finally meet with him. He was Christian already for 2 years, but hadn't a great knowledge or understanding of Christ's teachings. We shared with him the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. Over the past several weeks whenever we see him he will share with us what he has read in the Book of Mormon that he has really liked and also what he has felt. It wasn't long before he shared with us during a lesson that he experienced a peaceful, warm feeling while praying about the Book of Mormon. He felt like it was an answer to his prayer. We were so happy and grateful. 
This past week we met with him and when he sat down with us he began asking us about the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Revelations 22:19-20, etc. He had actually tried to share the Book of Mormon with a friend and his friend's rejection of the Book of Mormon included things such as "There cannot be anymore 'new scriptures' or anything other than the Bible." So when our investigator came to us he was really confused. We took time to listen to him and answer his questions the best we could. What we really tried to help him understand was why some people oppose us, but what we need to do is focus on what God is telling us because this investigator  told us that God had already  talked to him once before. He agreed and we had a great lesson with him. The part that touched me the most about this young man was near the end of our lesson, he said, "You know, I'm grateful I came here tonight to ask you. I thought I could just not come, but I'm glad I did. Because you guys are not like my friends who get mad and show their temper when I try and ask them questions about the Bible and the Book of Mormon. You guys listen to me and try to answer my questions. Thank you." I was so touched by this young man's desire to just come closer to God. I love him so much and hope to continue to stay in contact with him after the mission.

The Branch here in JB has been so good to me. It was hard to say good-bye to them this week, although there was not many tears shed this week. -  think it's just because I knew that it was coming so I've been preparing myself for so long. But the members here were just so kind to me and I love them. I hope they know that they have changed my life forever; and that goes for every member of the church and investigator of the church I've met on my mission. There is no way I can fully express my gratitude for you or this gospel. I think the fact that God has given us both his Beloved Son and his full gospel is significant, as they both help us understand what we can do to show love for each other. 

I know that this gospel is true. It has always been true. The only thing that has changed on my mission is that I am now true to the gospel. It is my prayer that I will never lose my testimony that I gained on my mission. There is so much I can do after my mission to continue to build my testimony. I know it won't be easy, but just as I am grateful for all your prayers on my behalf I also am grateful for any future prayers. Everyone who has been involved in the slightest bit, I would like to express my gratitude to you. Your effort in showing me love has not been in vain- it is not wasted. Just as Jesus Christ's atonement is not wasted by our being obedient to his commandments and taking time - and a ourselves, to consecrate to the Lord. I promise to continue to consecrate myself to the Lord. 

From this mission I have learned some powerful things, but some of the most powerful things that I have learned on my mission can be summed up from an email my dad sent. He said, 

-Faith is the power
-Love is the motive
-The Spirit is the key
-The Restoration is the message
-Obedience is the price
-The members are the means
-Christ is the reason
-Baptism is the way
-Joy is the reward
(from Jack R. Christensen, Talk on CD, Answering the Call to Serve)
This  really is the the center doctrines of my mission. 

This is Christ's true church. It will stand forever and I would like to invite all to come unto Him. He is mighty to save and whatever needs or scars you have, they can be swallowed up in Christ and healed by his atonement. I know this is true as I have been a witness of his enabling power. This is my testimony to you all.Christ Lives. 

"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he has also become my salvation." - 2 Nephi 22:2

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Elder Hanks
The End  ....
The begining!

The end....

Monday, September 28, 2015

My last full week, so this is what a reunion feels like

This has been a wonderful week of many blessings. I am feeling a great sense of fulfilling my purpose and it's centered on boldness. I have been thinking about this topic for the past few weeks and have tried to apply its teachings more in my work as a missionary and what I have discovered from my studying and pondering is that being bold does not mean using direct or harsh words; which is something I feel many people think it means. What I have come to understand of the word "Bold" is to act exactly according to what the Spirit tells you to do. That helped me feel that in my lessons, when I feel the Spirit prompt me to say or do something, to seek for the soft promptings of the Spirit while we are teaching. By doing so the lessons we have been teaching have been wonderful experiences that I know have strengthened my testimony. I do know that the restoration of the gospel is true and the plan of salvation is one of the plain and precious truths that was brought back through the Prophet, Joseph Smith.

Sitiawan & JB Members!
Elder Lloyd and I were pleasantly surprised with a visit from some of our old friends from the Sitiawan branch! One of them is my recent convert and she looks so happy! I was so happy seeing her! I knew the boy and his mom were coming down to JB to see us, but he didn't tell me my recent convert was coming. So when we were walking down the street to the church and I saw all 3 of them standing there I began to feel what I think I'll feel more of when I'm approaching the SLC escalator. I was so nervous, but so happy! The boy, he's awesome, is going on a mission to Houston, Texas next year and I was so happy for him. It was basically my favorite day of the week this week. We went to a recent convert's house- the mom and her daughter are both converts, and the daughter had decided to go on a mission too so it was a house full of future missionaries! It was so awesome! It was hard saying good-bye one more time to them though. It was just a testimony and reminder that I can never forget the people I have come to know here. They are too precious and dear to me. No matter what, I cannot and will not forget the beautiful people here.

Rained so hard, we dried off at a member's hair salon! 
I love being a missionary. The work here is just continuously growing and I don't know when it will stop. We keep finding people and teaching them. They are progressing and one of the greatest investigators we have now is a 19 year-old who just is in love with the Book of Mormon. Whenever we see him he'll just pull his Book of Mormon out and show us what he's read. It's so cool! We love him and we'll be playing bball with him later today. I love JB and later this week I'll go to Singapore for my last MLC. I can't wait to be edified by the Spirit.

I'm expired as a "preacher" OH NO! 
This is the last full week I have as a full-time missionary. My goals are high and my determination is set. I am very anxious to share my testimony with everyone I see and to leave knowing that I've done my very best. Looking back on what I have already done I feel I can say so, but there is still 10 days to decide whether or not it was worth it. These last days I know will play a huge role in my post-mission life. I promise to make a difference and be sure to expect many great things in my next email. I love you all and am grateful for everything you have done to support me. The Lord is supporting us all in His work and His work will continue forth forever. This gospel is true. It is true.

Elder Hanks

the scenery 

and the bad air...! must be a fire somewhere...(Indonesia !)

We think we are badminton professionals! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

It was like a spiritual party week!

Happy Birthday E. Lloyd!
This week has been great! We got to celebrate Elder Lloyd's birthday and he's now 20! What a great stud he is now; not that he already wasn't... I guess it would be appropriate to express my gratitude for my companion. He's such a hard worker and he never stops. he is humble, but only wants to make others happy and of course he does that by sharing the gospel. I love him a ton and I wouldn't want any other missionary as my companion right now.

There was a great Young Women's conference put on by the senior couple and it was an amazing success!!!  (Check it out here:  It started on Friday night where the young women slept over in the church, and then all the next day Saturday. They had devotionals and testimony meetings and workshops. it was an all-out great conference. The part that we got to help with was the BBQ on Saturday. We had the goal of getting a fire going in the grill in less that an hour and a half. Sounds easy right? Well, it's not in super humid climate. We had to run to a nearby park and pick up any kind of sticks we could find. I'm glad I was an eagle scout because we got that thing burning nicely and the chicken was so good! I felt like a pro-griller with my chicken and glove. it was so fun. The young women soon showed up with their parents and we had a great dinner that ended with them singing the youth theme song for this year, "Embark." it was a great ending to the day and Elder Lloyd's birthday. Did I get him anything? Yes! Because he is such a stud of an athlete I got him some protein. He couldn't stop laughing. It was awesome!

Zone Meeting was also this last week and we had a great activity of playing actual golf on Monday and then the meeting wasn't until the next day. Regarding golf, although it's been 2 years since I've hit a ball, I gotta say I think I still got quite a swing. Maybe I can play a round or two with my awesome dad in a few weeks! Looking forward to it! The zone members really enjoyed it and I hope they enjoyed the meeting more than just the activity. We talked about being bold in finding and teaching by sharing a scripture as our zone theme for the next few weeks, "Thresh the Nations" -D&C 35:13-14 #ByTheSpirit It is clear to me that we cannot do anything in this work without the Spirit. He is the Comforter and we need the Comforter because the work we do is often uncomfortable. It's my testimony that as long as you are striving to have the Spirit with you you will be happy.  

Golfing for our Zone activity
Many miracles were found this week with investigators coming to church and our finding 5 new investigators which is awesome!! We are loving this are and this may turn out to be the best area I've ever been in. I did say "may.." though. one great experience I had was watching "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" with our recent convert who got baptized last week. He felt the Spirit so strong and I did too. 

One other short experience was we were teaching the second lesson for a new investigator this week when I asked him how his reading was of the Book of Mormon. He said that he did just as we said, to read it and pray about it. He told us that when he did he felt a great warmth in his heart and since he's loved reading the Book of Mormon. I was so excited to help him understand the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It was a great lesson.

I love this work. it's so true. I've discovered the importance of every day and the uniqueness each day has. With only a few of them left -- as my great companion would say, "Let's go!!!" 

I love this work, it's so true. 

Love you all,
Elder Hanks

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Baptism!

From the subject of this email you will know that yes! We had an amazing baptism this past week. I have just come to love this guy. He is amazing! I'm sorry I don't have much time at all today,  because today is the zone activity. We have the entire zone here. But things are great. Sorry it's so short!  

Our miracle this week I would have to say came from the exchange I had with Elder Perritt. What happened was we had a lesson planned for that night with our investigator who just got baptized. I was really excited for it as it would be his last investigating lesson and I wanted a member to be there to help testify that what he was doing was right. I called some members,  and in the end our 'last hope' for a member present fell through. I didn't know what to do,  so I basically accepted the reality of having just an other lesson. However, God is a God of miracles. On our walk back from the area we had just spent time contacting in,  we walked past a little food stand where we heard someone call out, "ELDER!" We looked over and saw sitting there, two Singaporeans,  a member and her husband. They had just randomly decided to come to JB that day for dinner, but they thought it was weird they ended up at this little stand for dinner. They didn't think it was anything until they saw us, then they were happy to be there!  I actually knew them fairly well as they have been to the JB branch before. They invited us to eat with them, but I didn't want to interrupt their dinner and we had a lesson soon, but they kept insisting. The idea then came to my mind: I made the deal with them that if we eat with them,  they then had to come help teach a lesson with us. Deal!

 The dinner was nice, but the lesson was the most amazing thing I experienced that day. The love of God for our investigator was so strong and having those miracle members there to help testify was just what that lesson needed. It was a real faith-building experience. 
This is my brother Hunter, who is in the MTC learning Chinese
from a former Singapore missionary! - Sam Mitchell!  Small world! 

I love the work of the Lord. It's really HIS work.
Love, Elder Hanks

Monday, September 7, 2015

Southern most point of the Asian Continent

Sept 6 2015

I don't have a ton of time to write today, but here are the fun things of the week so far. 

On Tuesday we got to help a member who is a little less active move houses. It was so fun because Elder Lloyd and I went with the other elders from Masai; Elder Leavitt and Elder Tessors, and we had so much fun. Our brother, who's an awesome Indian brother - was so grateful for our helping him and we loved it. It's great to finally have a service project and that's sometimes what we just pray for. We want to do more service but rarely do we get it so we were so happy! 
A miracle I want to write about goes like this.
Back in July Elder Lloyd and I were on our way home when we saw this kid wearing basketball clothes going to play some ball. We walked with him a little bit, but only got a minute to talk before he turned about began to enter an apartment complex, so we pretty much gave up when I felt the immediate and strong prompting say, "You tell him your purpose now!" I called out, "WAIT!" He turned a little startled, but I ran over to him and said, "Look, I know you are about to go play basketball so sorry for interrupting you, but I just feel like I need to tell you that we are representatives of Jesus Christ and our purpose is to teach other people how they can be closer to him. Can we share with you our message sometime?" He looked at me and said, "Okay." We got his number that day and never was able to get a set date set up; that is until yesterday. We were scheduled to meet with him at 5:00 pm at the church. Just to confirm the appointment I called him in the early afternoon and he confirmed for the appointment, but he said something else that surprised me. He said, "Actually, I recently saw a movie about you." I said, "What?" "Yeah," he went on, "it's called 'Freetown'." I asked, "Freetown? I've never seen that." He replied, "Yeah, it's about you guys. In it there are two guys wearing white shirts and ties with a black tag that has their name on it. Your name has 'Elder' right?" I was shocked, "Uh, yeah. See you at 5:00?" "Yeah, see you then." 
I told Elder Lloyd and he was a little worried, as I was that the movie was some sort of bad film, but if you do your research a little it's actually a really good movie. I think it was that film that helped bring the Spirit when we taught him and asked, "Would you like to hear the special message those two elders were teaching in that movie?" We taught him the Restoration and it was a powerful experience. 

The work is so awesome!!! I love it! I love Elder Lloyd! He's amazing! It's his birthday soon so if anyone has any ideas what to get their companion let me know!

Elder Hanks

Aug 31 2015
Today is Malaysia's Independence Day so the branch organized an activity to travel together to a national park located on the very farthest tip of the Asian continent. It was way fun and we had a great turn out! There were many fun little stories that happened including my doing a handstand and my shoe fell off and almost fell into the ocean. Elder Avery getting chased by a very crazy monkey, and eating a delicious lunch. 

With Pres. & Sis. Simmons
In other news our mission president came to visit our branches here in JB and we had awesome interviews with him. I learned so much from them about other meanings of pride that I have never thought of and what it really means to worship our Savior as the people do in Lehi's vision of the tree of Life.

What I really learned about pride that I liked is this: When we think of pride the saying, "I think I am better than...." comes to mind. Pride is a feeling that we have when we put ourselves above others and the scriptures say that pride is a great evil that is capable of bringing down even nations. But in some cases the phrase, "I'm not good enough for..." is also a way of having pride, especially when this sentence may be finished in, "...the atonement of Jesus Christ." or " pray to Heavenly Father." because when we say this we are actually saying, "I think I know better than Heavenly Father." It is He that has told us that we are ALL forgiven through the atonement of Jesus Christ and we can always pray to Him no matter our history. We do not know more than God, and that is why He gives us His word through His prophets, the scriptures, and His son. It's just because He loves us.
our awesome branch activity! 

Furthest point south on the Asian Continent

A cool miracle that I had this past week was like this. On Saturday Elder Lloyd and I had an appointment fall through and had some free time. We rode our bikes around looking for finding opportunities when we saw a younger man walking. We rode up and said, "Hi!" he looked a little confused but was friendly. We introduced ourselves and bottom line, he showed interest to learn about Jesus Christ and said we could meet up sometime. On Sunday, the next day, I called him and asked if we could meet later that night. He said he would ask his mom and get back to me. Around 7:15pm we were getting ready to teach one more lesson when he called me. He told me that he was sorry. He asked his mom and his mom told him some bad things about us and wouldn't let him meet with us that night and he should just focus on his studies. I just listened and then asked him what his mom said. He hesitated, but then shared that his mom told him that we did not believe in Christ, that we worship some other god. I listened again for a minute and then said along these lines, I'm sure Heavenly Father was helping me, "I understand and I know that your mom loves you so much, that is why she would talk to you about this. She wants what is best for you, but there is one thing that you should know; we believe in Jesus Christ. We love him and know that he is our Savior. He died for us and gave everything for us. We study his words and want to be close to him. ...." there was more said, but I forgot mostly what was said after that. After I finished speaking I heard a, "Oh! Well, there must have been some misunderstanding. When is your church open?" I invited him to English class this Friday and church on Sunday; he said he would come. 

Chinese yo- yo

I know that simply sharing a testimony with someone can change their lives. Share your testimony with others, it will change their life forever. And for forever you will talk about that day you decided to share with those who heard.

Love you all!

Elder Hanks