Monday, December 29, 2014

Our awesome Miri "White" Christmas!

The Chinese Winter Festival was last Monday was last week and the Chinese tradition is to cook a glutonose rice. It's like a boiled flour rice thing (don't know how else to describe it..) and it's really good! We tried to boil a big pot full but the water wasn't getting hot enough so we took it off the stove and put it in the oven. That worked but it was too late. The colorful flour mixed together and made a big mush. But the ones that did work were really delicious. I will make it for the family after I get home! Prepare your taste buds now!
                                               (This is what they are supposed to look like) 

Merry Christmas to all! What a great week my companion and I had!  We worked hard and visited many people in order to "Share the Gift" of Christ this year. Christmas day was a miraculous day as we started the day by making some Christmas rounds. I had previously made paper stockings for some of the missionaires in the zone and packed them full of candy and treats. We delivered them before they woke up and gave them a little Christmas surprise. It was a lot of fun for us. Then we opened our presents. Some of the presents I got was some fun little toys, candy, peppermint oreos -  which are so delicious by the way!  and socks (got to have them)!  The coolest thing I got was a large Chinese dragon fan (my secret Santa gift from one of the Sis. missionaries in my zone who had my name- so awesome! ) and a wood sword. So cool!  We later played fruit ninja with them.

But that's not the best part of the day. We have been teaching an investigator for the past couple weeks and all of our teaching has lead up to this day- an awesome  Christmas baptism for this daughter of God. She didn't know it, but she was fulfilling a dream of mine to have a 'White Christmas' with a baptism on Christmas day. It was a miracle and she was confirmed a member of the church yesterday in sacrament meeting. She is the branch's first baptism and confirmation in over a year!  So our members are so happy to have a new member in our branch.

We are looking forward to another baptism next week to start the new year of 2015 strong. We are so excited and he is too. We are hoping to get his wife and daughter to follow soon after.  I am loving my mission here in Miri. I consider it a miracle I was sent here to Miri when I was. There is so much good stuff happening here in our area. However, we are always looking to how we can improve. We are searching for new investigators and people to uplift.

I just want to thank my entire family for all the wonderful Christmas cards and presents I received. I loved them all and I will read and use them often. Also I want to thank the members of Elder Geilman's family who sent him stuff and he shared with me. They were delicious! What a wonderful week we have had and I hope to see more miracles come forth in the next weeks to come. 

Love you all and have a wonderful and prosperous 2015. (The year of the goat/sheep.)

Elder Hanks

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Miri Caroling and adventures at the Zoo!

Dec 21, 2014 
This week has been so much fun as we have been going out and sharing the Christmas Spirit with everyone! We started on Sunday to go out and to carol at our members house and it's no regular caroling like we do in the states. For Malaysian-caroling you need to call and arrange a time in advance in order to go and carol. And then after you sing a song or two you eat and eat!!! So delicious! you then sing another song followed by "We Wish You a Merry Christmas!" And it's off to the next destination! We have done that to many homes this past week and it's so great!

(Thanks Tracy for this great picture!) 

 We even caroled at an investigator's house and he, with his family, loved it. We are looking forward to his baptism which has been moved to January 3rd and another baptism this week on Christmas Day!!! It's going to be the best!! 

Elder Geilman and I taught a great Sunday School lesson about Sharing the Gift and it was so spiritual. The members and investigators loved it and we are hoping to have a great start to the year 2015! I'm loving Miri and the missionaries I get to work with. Miri is just the best! 

Love you all and wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Elder Hanks

Dec. 14, 2014  
As I said in last week's email, we spent our p-day in Singapore and we stayed there until Wednesday for our zone conference. It was a great conference where we talked about working with our stake and ward leaders. We also got to watch the new lds video, "He is the Gift" and the Christmas Devotional by the first presidency. Really good and my companion and I loved being there.

On the first day we were there, as soon as we were done emailing our families, we took a taxi to the Singapore Zoo. It's the world's number 1 zoo for a reason. You are right along the beach to the ocean and the zoo itself feels like you are in a jungle! It's so cool and you often find yourself face to face with a monkey and no fence separating you two. Dead serious. We also got to ride an elephant! it was so cool and they are massive!!!! ours stopped for a little potty break while we were riding it.... so yes, I sat on a pooping elephant. 
One other story I want to say about the zoo was that there was a sea lion show. The hostess needed a volunteer(male) to throw a frisbee to the sea lion. No one would volunteer so I felt bad for the lady, so I volunteered. But I was destined to fail as they had me throw the frisbee from the back of the huge auditorium. Because I failed they had me dance "Gangam Style" in front of 400+ people. They loved it and I'm sure they won't forget missionaries now! ;)

We are working really hard to help 2 of our investigators get ready for there baptisms next week(Christmas week) and we are so excited for them. One of them is the most golden investigators I have ever even heard of!!!! he is so prepared to receive the gospel.

He is a father of 2 girls and has a wife. When we first met him he was drinking and smoking and it was literally killing him. The second or third time we visited him he had yellow-shot eyes suggesting liver complications. We prayed and fasted for him and we had miracles come forth. he quit smoking and drinking before we could tell him to do that and he has brought his family to church ever since he's quit. he is so excited to be baptized and we are going to be teaching him later today! He is my favorite and his faith always just boosts my spirits. 

The year is coming to an end really fast but that doesn't mean that miracles do. We went to a less active members home to carol yesterday and it was so much fun. It's not like America where you just show up on the front door and start singing. In Malaysia, due to everyone having gates you usually have to call or 'set up' a time to come carol at someone's home. You show up and everyone gathers inside to sing some songs and share a message, eat some food, then you leave to the next house. Interesting but still so much fun! 

I am just loving my time here in Miri and I hope to stay here with Elder Geilman one more transfer but we are getting our transfer news today. We will see what happens.

Transfer news just came in and Elder Geilman and I are staying together in Miri until January! We are so excited!!! I'm looking forward to Christmas in Miri!

Love you all and this is Elder Hanks

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A quick email from the city of Singapore!

I'm in Singapore today(Monday and Tues) for zone conference this week!
I'm so excited and it will be full of the spirit I know it!!!!

A miracle I want to share real fast this week was we had our investigator come to church for the 2nd time and it was fast and testimony meeting. After a few people shared their testimony he went up and shared his testimony and it was so powerful!!! He wants to be baptized and we are hoping to add a few before the year is over! Keep praying for us! 

Things are going great and I love my companion. He is the bomb and so awesome!!

Well, I will let you all know more next week but I love this gospel, it's so perfect!!!

Elder Hanks

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Grateful and Great -full (stomach) Week!

Thanksgiving was a wonderful experience this past week. We retired to the Miri Senior couples' home for our dinner. We had so much food and dessert, it was too much & too good!  I just wish my stomach was bigger in order to fit more food into my body. I actually ate so much my stomach hurt as we went to our investigator's home later and even on the way home!  I think I have come to like apple crisp too much! Haha- wouldn't be Thanksgiving any other way! My companion and I had a good laugh about it! 

Our work is going great as we had 5 investigators at church and they loved it. We gave our investigating family a tour of the church before sacrament meeting started and they loved it. Then our other investigator who came, stayed for all the classes and participated quite a bit!  His little girl, who came with him, ran up to him after church and jumped into his arms saying, "Dad! It was so much fun! Can we come back next week?" The father just smiled and said, "Sure, why not?" so we are looking forward to their coming back next week!  Our branch president later reported to us in our missionary coordination meeting that our having 5 investigators in church was the most the branch has had in sacrament meeting in over 2 years!!! I was so surprised, but this helped build up our branch president's confidence in us as missionaries. I am loving Miri right now!

We had a branch FHE and everyone loved it. We are working with many investigators right now. When I first got here we had 0 investigators, but we now have 10!!! It's a great improvement and we are continuing to find more. We are now praying for a wonderful white Christmas with baptisms and many miracles. We are hoping to go caroling and my companion, Elder Geilman and I, plan  to go caroling, retire back to the church, and eat doughnuts and hot milo (a chocolate drink like cocoa) as if it's winter here- just like we would at home & to get in the Christmas spirit!  When we go we are going to wear our scarfs too ! (which you can see in the pictures attached). We taught English class this past week and a student in our class went to K.L. this past week and came back to give us this scarfs. Everybody says I look like a Russion babooska(grandma). They say it's the nose.  

I'm so grateful to be serving a mission at this time, it's just the best and I'm so excited for this upcoming Chirstmas season. Everyone knows December is monsoon season and it really is. it's pouring rain right now and so we are bundling up, like it's going to keep us dry. The mission is the best though and I love serving the Lord. I am so grateful for the hope of Christ.

He gives us so much hope that we can look forward to eternal families, peace, and joy. What more could we look for. That is what I'm most grateful this week, the hope that Christ gives. With hope, we can be happy and joyful. Without hope, joy is a whole 'nother world away. Luckily, Christ brought hope into this world and it's because of His life that we celebrate Christmas. Let us remember Him this Christmas season. Enjoy all the Christmas music, lights, foods, and snow. 

Love you all!!!
Elder Hanks

Nov 23, 2014  email : 

For this upcoming Thanksgiving we have plans to go and eat our Thanksgiving dinner at the senior couple's house with our entire zone. It will be delicious and we are all excited.

We have just seen so many miracles this past week. I want to thank you for all of your prayers and such on our behalf. Because of your prayers and the Spirit of the Lord the branch we are serving here is booming and we have new investigators who are on date and will hopefully be baptized before the end of the year. 

The Miri zone I am serving in now just hit its baptismal goal for the year and we are so happy, but we are not stopping there!  As a district, we are hoping for many baptisms on December 27th!

We had our branch president come with us to teach some investigators who have been struggling to find out if this is the church they want.  Our branch president was there and taught them about the Restoration in like 5 minutes, answered their questions, put them on date, we said a prayer, and we left. I turned to him and asked him how he did that!  He turned back and replied, "I've been with missionaries before." 
We have another investigator who is progressing very well and also wants to be baptized. He's great!!! 

We are having so much fun here in Miri!!! 

Love you all! 
These are pictures of our p-day activity today.

Elder Hanks
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A small Miri Miracle & keep an eye on your bike!

This week has been full of great things and other things that make you go, "Watch out! .."

To start off on a good note, we have a great zone of some of the best missionaries I have ever met and I love them all! We all went out to lunch together last week and they are all the best! They are all working so hard as the end of the year is quickly coming up!!!

We were also excited to have the AP's come with us, so we had Elder Wadsworth came on exchanges with us. He was there as we witnessed a miracle! So exciting! We couldn't believe it! The Lord is truly blessing us and the branch! 

We found a man last week who was very open to the gospel. We thought we would go back to his home that day with the AP, and that's  where the Spirit provided a powerful lesson with him. We  got to his house and he was just so happy we were there. He said he had a dream that we would come to his house that day!  - (we didn't tell him we were coming over, it was just a spur-the-moment thing) and that surprised us. We shared the Restoration with him and he accepted the Book of Mormon and was just so happy. He cried as we said the closing prayer and blessed him and his family. He was just so happy to have met us. He is a new investigator and we are so excited to go back this next week to teach him more. 

Another miracle we have, is that we got an investigator on date for baptism on Christmas day and we are so excited to actually be having a white Christmas this year with a baptism! We are also looking forward to other investigators and working hard to get their baptisms on date as we are starting to get closer to our baptism goal for the year. We are so happy for the work we have been blessed with here so far-  since  I felt like when I first got here there wasn't really any momentum with the Chinese branch, but I am glad that's changed. So we need all of you to keep praying for more miracles here in Miri! 

So for the "watch out" part of my letter...Some elders had their bike wheels stolen the other day so we are now on SUPER HIGH ALERT for anyone trying to steal any parts of our bikes. We are keeping our eyes peeled for suspicious looking people! And one eye on our bikes! Or for someone to ride by on a random bike made up of all of our stolen parts! 

The Christmas music has begun here...... So has my craving for peppermint. Hmmm...

Love you all! 

From Elder Hanks

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Big Miri transfers and record attendance!

Last week was transfers and we had a BIG change take place in our zone with every companionship affected except my companion and I. So with more than half the zone being new faces-  today is going to be a fun experience getting to know everyone as we are heading to the beach for our activity!  

Another new addition in our zone, that I am just super excited about,  is 2 new Chinese speaking sisters serving in our branch now. They are an answer to my many prayers that I have been having lately of how to bless and strengthen this area.  Heavenly Father really watches over us and I know that these two Sisters are going to help us out so much. 

(I asked about his district & zone) So I'm still district leader of the Miri district (which the zone only has one district--anyway) and now we are up to 14 missionaries in our zone. So 12 in the district that I'm over -  we have  2 senior couple missionaries, 6 elders, and 6 sisters.  Sometimes I get to teach and train at our Zone meetings and it has really been a fun calling!  
The mission also has many new Chinese missionaries all over the mission so we are hoping that it will help increase the Chinese members in the whole mission.

Due to the 2 new sisters coming in, Elder Geilman and I had to switch houses (we had the bigger house) with the 4 sisters who were already in Miri (they had a smaller house). So for 2-ish days we did that and that went relatively smooth with no real problems. The house we are now in is a little bit smaller, but that's okay because it's just Elder Geilman and I-  and so with 6 sisters in our older, bigger house- they should be loving life! 

Elder Geilman and I have been working so hard to find people, so the greatest miracle we had this week was on Saturday. We were riding around neighborhoods looking for Chinese houses but not really finding people. Feeling a little discouraged we decided to head back to get ready for our next appointment. On the way out of the neighborhood we passed a Chinese house with a father and 2 girls outside playing. We actually rode passed their house when I felt prompted to go back and talk to him. We talked with the father who said he was Buddhist, but had gone to our church before. We talked for a very long time and he was so happy we came and found him. He says he wants to try and come to church and he is open to us coming and teaching him the gospel. We are so happy and we will be sure to go back and find him. As we were finishing our conversation with him he seemed like he was going to start crying!!! I was so surprised but touched by this man's good heart. 

After eating too much Apple Crisp for dessert! 

We had a record high today in the Miri 3rd branch with 38 in attendance!

 We are working hard to find people and to invite them to church. Thank you for all your prayers and love. You're the best.
We are stretching to make a big difference in the Miri 3rd branch with our great new Chinese sisters and all the potential investigators we are finding and hoping to find. Love you all and I love this work!

Elder Hanks

Monday, November 3, 2014

Our Sabbath stolen bike parts! Ahhh!

The scariest part of the week certainly wasn't halloween - but that our our bikes were stripped!!! We were in church during the afternoon and we locked our bikes to a pole like we always do. We have heard of instances where bikes have been stolen from the church and such, but we never thought it would happen at the church DURING church. After church was over and all the members had left,  leaving my companion and I to lock the church up,  we went outside and I actually unlocked the bikes themselves before my companion started to laugh. I turned to him and said, "What's so funny?" He chuckled, "Our seats are gone!!!" I looked and then I realized, the seats are gone..... We inspected our bikes further to discover that our thieves had also stolen the bearings that hold our tires to our bike frame too!  Fun stuff!  My companion and I walked home singing, "Count your many blessings." Another fun day in the mission! 

We have done  a lot of contacting in our area this past week and it has paid off a little bit. We have found many people to talk to and to share the gospel with. We still don't have any new investigators yet but we are hoping to have some this week. We are shooting for 2 baptisms by the end of the year which will be a miracle to the Miri Chinese branch we are in. We are anxious, faithfully waiting and looking for those who are prepared to hear the message! And I have full faith and confidence we will find them.

Other things that have happened this week, we have visited a lot of members and I am just so grateful that although we may not have hundreds of members, the members' hearts here are big enough to fill a branch of that size. They always give us fruit and such. So awesome! I just wish that I could do more for them and I hope to do that this week! Send some ideas our way too! 

So we don't really celebrate Halloween at all in East Malaysia so I will just have to wait until next year to get a ton of candy instead of fruit- I carved an apple because there are no pumpkins over here! But until then that's all I got this week for us really. We are going to be walking a little bit today - but it won't be that bad, bikes are getting fixed as we speak... as I email! 

Love you all!
Happy Halloween and November! Hey a shout out "Happy Birthday" to my brother Hunter! Happy 18 bro!

Elder Hanks

Monday, October 27, 2014

Just enjoying a little sun bear...!

So last P-day,  after I emailed you all,  my zone went to a crocodile farm where we saw tons of crocs, but my favorite part wasn't the crocs - even though we got to feed them!  My favorite part was holding a young sun bear and playing with it. It was biting me, but it would just nip at you like a little puppy dog, so it didn't hurt and I just wrestled with it a little bit. Fun stuff! 

This week doesn't have as much to report as I usually do. We are still looking for more people to teach and to help come unto Christ. We weren't able to have any lessons this week because of lessons falling through and such. I learned that the Miri branch we are in has a TON of less active  members that we are trying to find and we have actually found quite a few of them. We are tracking down where they are living now and hope to do all we can in helping  them become active again in the church.  We need your prayers for this area! We are still looking for those who are ready to accept the gospel and change their lives for the better but for now- we still  really haven't found anyone. Our faith is still strong though and we are looking forward to any miracles the Lord has ready for us here. I have truly learned how important it is for all of us to become converted to the gospel and  to develop a personal testimony of why we belong to this church! 

We had some training this past week with Pres. Mains and  I got to see my old companion who trained me in Sibu almost a year ago, Elder Earl!  It was great seeing him after so long! 
Sorry, this is a short email this week !  Enjoy the pics! 

Love you all!
Elder Hanks

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Miri Life!

So Miri, East Malaysia! It's a great place and our area is HUGE!!! I was in Sitiawan before it was always a 45 minute ride to the FARTHEST appointment possible. But here it's 30 minutes and we run into  the other missionaries house! It's crazy! But we are so fortunate in we live only 5 minutes away from the church--Sweet! Miri is seems like such a clean city too.

Miri actually has 3 branches, 2 are in Malay and the 3rd (ours) is in English and Chinese -- an interesting mix. Despite having 2 languages, it's the smallest branch of the three with only about 40 active members. There are a lot of less actives in the 3rd Miri branch so we have taken it upon ourselves to go and find them. We have tracked down some of them but there are still some who we don't know where they went. Seems like the people here are always moving so we are determined to go find them! 

For the most part Miri is hard! But I'm loving it! My companion, Elder Geilman, is awesome and he is still training as a new missionary. We live  just the two of us, in a pretty big house; it's not as big as the Sitiawan house, but it's still a good size. The other Elders (4 of them) live together in their house and they refer any Chinese investigators our way since we are  the 2 Chinese Elders in this area. It's great being here, I even translated for a speaker in Sacrament meeting on Sunday. Even though the speaker was a returned missionary who could speak chinese herself, she asked me to do it- Kind of random! haha - Maybe she was testing my Chinese ability! 

One cool experience we had this week looking for less actives was on Friday. We went to an address we found in our area book and we knocked on the gate. A guy that had been sleeping came out and we asked if he was the less active person we were looking for. He said, "No." but he was the older brother and our less active person had moved away. We were like, "Oh, ok...." so we continued to talk to him. He was a great guy but his life didn't seem quite the way he wanted it to be. So we talked about the gospel and how it can make his life better. He stood there and listened and then I asked him, "Would you like to learn how to make your life better?" he said, "Yeah, why not?" He invited us to come back later this week! We were so pumped so that shows  that to find everyone you can, be bold and talk to everyone- even if they aren't  the person you were looking for! 

One other cool experience actually happened  on the same day that I just mentioned when we found that guy. As we left his house we saw big rain clouds coming our way and we talked about maybe going home to wait out the rain or something. At first we were going to go home and then we thought  "Do you know what? Let's just go find these people! " So we continued to go find less actives and any other people- somebody somewhere will talk to us!  It POURED rain so hard and we just rode around trying so hard to find some people to talk to or some less actives. We found 2 or 3 people to talk to, and we finally ended up at a restaurant We ordered some rice (because that's what everyone eats here) and I began to speak Chinese to the workers. There was a guy sitting inside the shop who noticed me speaking Chinese. We got our food when one of the ladies working there said that the guy had paid for our food. We were like "whoo!" and I thanked the man for doing so. He came over later and introduced himself. We talked for like 30 minutes about his religion (a form of Buddhism) and our religion. He really like our religion and thought it was very good. I offered him a Book of Mormon and he said he would read it. Then before he left he said that he was the husband of the lady who owned the restaurant and he told his wife that we could come here anytime that we want, and we could have a free meal. He actually said, "Come here everyday, morning, afternoon, and evening and eat for free." I was like, "Whoo!!! Free rice everyday!" So we are so excited for him - to see if he will read the Book of Mormon. Maybe we just got another investigator AND FREE food! Bonus all around!

It's been a great week!

Love you all and keep you posted on the Lord's work.

Elder Hanks

Monday, September 29, 2014

Blessings are pouring in!

We have been so blessed this week with many of the Lord's miracles He has prepared for us. 

We are trying to perfect our area book this week as our wonderful mission president's wife has asked us to do and what a miracle that has been. We have been able to find 4 former investigators who still have interest to learn from it and our area book has really lost some weight this past week(I'm jealous- haha!). So that has helped us to improve our faith because we really need faith to have more miracles! 

One set back from our fantastic week was we had an investigator and an investigating family drop us on the same day which put a damper on things for a little bit. But my day was saved by a less active and his text to me later that night. He is 17 years old and has been less active for a very long time. He went to youth conference a few weeks ago and ever since then he's changed. He texted me that night and asked if he could come and do missionary work with us the next day. He did and he really enjoyed it so much. He wants to continue doing missionary work and wants to serve a mission later when he is older! Another miracle! He is just so awesome! 

On Friday we had a fireside we have been planning for a while. It was a fireside of 'Hold to the Rod.' Elder Roundy had a great idea from an EFY activity he did once. We blindfolded everyone and took them out into a park later in the evening as it was getting dark. We told everyone they couldn't take off their blindfolds and they couldn't talk(they talked anyways- haha!). Other than that they could do whatever they wanted to do. They wandered around the park aimlessly for about 20 minutes, all the while I stood next to a long railing in the park ringing a very small bike bell. After 20 minutes of ringing the bell occasionally a young women in the branch heard the bell and came over. The 'rod' has a little rise right in front of it and I stood there and watched her slowly walk up the rise and right to the rod. I grabbed her hand and whispered to her, "Hold to the Rod." She did so and continued down to the end where the 'tree of life' was there and someone took her blindfold off for her. Over the next 40 minutes everyone slowly started to make their way to the rod and cling to it. Everyone eventually got to the rod but it was so interesting to watch. Some people would grab onto the rod and go straight to the tree of life. Others would maybe let go or even start to go backwards. It was so interesting to watch and everyone learned from it as we taught a lesson about it afterwards. It was a great activity.

Finally we had a beautiful baptism this past weekend. If you remember back to July when we had a dance activity at the church - we had instructed the members to bring a friend to the activity. One member did and she (the investigator)  had fun, came to church regularly, was taught by us, and baptized this past weekend. It was so beautiful. Elder Roundy performed his first baptism and he did great! I was able to conduct the baptismal service and it was so fun! It was a very spiritual experience for her and she is so strong in the gospel. She now wants her mother and her brother to learn about the gospel too - so we are being prayerful for future baptisms! 

When I first got here to Sitiawan the branch had an average of 21 people to sacrament meeting. I has now DOUBLED! We had 40 people in Sacrament meeting this past week.  We went around one day, all afternoon, with the Young Womens President to visit all the YW explaining Personal Progress because they really don't know much about it. We are starting mutual this week and things are going to happen here! I can feel it! 

My faith really has been strengthened by seeing the fruits of our labors. We are working hard to help many come unto Christ and we feel like we can achieve our goals! 
testing out a translator for Sacrament meeting
playing archery.. 

I love you all and I'm so excited to get another year full of miracles! I'm always praying for you all and wish us luck! 

Elder Hanks

so serious  :) 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Time Flies!

I know I don't want to talk about it too much because it's so sad and such, but it's been a year- just sayin'


This week we went to Singapore for our September Zone Conference and it was all about building our faith so we can achieve our goal of baptisms for the year. We are all so excited about the goal and about achieving it. Elder Roundy and I have set high goals for Sitiawan and we are hoping to finish the process of making it a miracle area.  In order to do this we have been praying for miracles and we have had some this wonderful week. 
more beautiful moon cakes! Delicious! 
my companion, Elder Roundy while we were in Singapore
Improvements in our branch:
We are always looking to improve in our branch and its functions. Two weeks ago we had an American couple move to Sitiawan for work and this past week the sister was called as the Young Women's President in our Branch. She got right to work and is hoping to help all the Young Women do their Personal Progress. We are so excited and so are all the Young Women. They've never really had a chance to do personal progress so they can't wait to get started.
Our District President came to Sitiawan for the first time this year and was able to sit in and give counsel of what Sitiawan needed. It was great to have him because it allows him to see how we can improve and then to give counsel. That was a blessing. 

Wednesday morning we were in Singapore and we also had an appointment with an investigator that night!  It was the only day of the week he was available to meet so that's why we scheduled it for that day. We caught our afternoon flight to Ipoh and bused to Sitiawan. Taxied home, threw our luggage in the apartment,  then jump on our bikes and ride as fast as we could over to the church to arrive right on time for the investigator to walk up to the church. Talk about flying all over the world to spread the gospel! 
We had met this investigator right outside our church. He works right next door and we contacted him like two weeks ago. So he showed up today and we went inside to talk. He is amazing. We sat down and he just started pouring out his questions and concerns. One of the concerns he had was that he was afraid we wouldn't want to meet with him because he is Buddhist. We were like, "No! We'd love to keep meeting with you." He was happy about this and then the Spirit started to work in him as his questions got deeper and more spiritual. After some time he said, looking at us and pondering deeply, "You are special. Just REALLY special." This touched my heart, but then he said, "Why did you talk to me that day outside of the church? No one has ever said 'hi' to me like that before." The Spirit entered my heart and helped us continue to teach and talk to him about the church and his Heavenly Father. We talked for almost 2 hours and even then he still had questions to ask. We are meeting with him tomorrow and are so happy.
Moon Lantern Festival 

Less Actives: 
We had youth conference this past week and a lot of the youth in our branch went. Well we encouraged ALL of the youth, inactive or not,  to go to youth conference and all the ones that went had such a wonderful experience. All of them bore their testimony of the gospel at youth conference and they all came to church on Sunday excited and helping to pack the chapel full of people. We had a great turn out for church and sacrament meeting.

If the work continues to go like this we will have to expand our chapel by the end of the year. (Not literally,  but actually very close to something like that.)

I'm loving my mission so far. I am converted to this gospel and to God. He is my Heavenly Father.

I pray that my mission is just as great and even greater this next year than this past year has been. 

TRANSFERS- Just heard about transfers and I'm staying in Sitiawan for another transfer! Elder Roundy & I are so excited & have high goals to accomplish!

Lovin' Singapore! 

Love you all,

Your Singaporean/Malaysian Elder,

Elder Hanks

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Desire, Faith and Miracles

This week was all about desire and faith.

We have been teaching an investigator for a while and we decided to make a short, last-minute visit to his house to just talk. We interrupted his dinner as it was ending and we felt bad, but we talked to him about what he's been learning. As he was talking, he told us how he felt like he was ready. We were like "ready for what?"   "Baptism."  We were able to put him on date for baptism on the 25th of October and we are so excited for him. He has been investigating for 3 years and it's finally happening! We're so stoked and happy for him! 

Another cool investigator is now a family investigating!  We had met a man a few weeks ago and he became an investigator after we taught him a lesson outside his house. We did a quick stop by to see how he was doing one night and his entire family(wife and daughters) were home with him. We asked if we could share a message and they agreed. We talked about God and how He loves us so much. Also the Book of Mormon and mostly prayer. We invited the man to say a prayer for us and he did. He did so good and his wife and oldest daughter agreed to be taught. We are now teaching a lovely family. 

Other fun stuff, we contacted a bunch of Indonesians in the middle of the Jungle and gave them all Malay Books of Mormon. They loved it. We also started mutual this week and the first activity for mutual was making scripture cases.  I wasn't sure if they were very excited about it but the next minute everyone is asking for help making theirs because they all want one. It was a great success and we hope everyone had a great time.

We had zone meeting in Ipoh this last Tuesday and the topic of the meeting was faith and desire. From this meeting I've realized that these are two very important pieces that go together in harmony and are actually both necessary to each other. Faith is the belief in things that are not seen which are true. I have faith in this work and that it is the true work of God for the Salvation of His children, and I have faith that I can succeed in the work. But I had to reflect this week on my true desire to serve God. In D&C 18:28 it says "If they desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart, they are called to go into all the world to preach my gospel unto every creature." 

I have faith in God that this is His work, but I found that my desire to serve His mission the way He wants me to wasn't that great as I thought it was. It took some great pondering (and humility) to just let go of all my 'ideas' and my 'opinions' on how I should serve a mission and just accept the way the Lord wants it done - through Preach My Gospel. I love that book now more than ever. Make sure you all have one because it's great! I read that thing like the Bible. As I have been studying and adopting Preach My Gospel into my teaching skills I have seen miracles in the work. 

This past Sunday in sacrament meeting we were having a normal sacrament meeting when one of our investigators on date for September 27th came with her mom and aunt(their first time). That was cool and I'll continue that in a moment. As sacrament continued on another old guy and his friend just walked in the chapel and sat down next to me. I had no idea who they were but welcomed them in. I had the blessing of giving a talk on faith and as I looked on the congregation I saw happy smiles from all the non-members present. After sacrament meeting we were running frantically all over the chapel to talk to all these new people. The old guy and his friend, apparently the old guy had been here before a long time ago and felt like bringing his friend, who just came from Sabah(East Malaysia), to church. His friend wants to meet with us and we hope to teach him. Our investigator's aunt was very impressed and liked what our church taught in sacrament meeting so she is considering learning and referred her 3 kids who are working in Singapore to be taught the lessons. Whoo!!! Miracles! I love them! 

I'm sorry I don't have pictures this week because I'm in Singapore and it's such a rush! 

This week in our Zone Conference we have Elder Allen, the Mission Director of the whole church (the top guy over ALL the missionaries) coming to talk to us this week. We are so excited to hear his counsel. I'll let you all know how it goes!

Love you all,
Elder Hanks

Monday, September 8, 2014

Moon Cakes, Festivals and we'll throw in a powerful testimony meeting too!

This week is the week of the Lantern and Moon Cake Festival. People every where are excited and all over the Moon Cake. Elder Roundy and I are addicted! They are these beautiful hand made cakes, that are expensive, but they are so delicious and full of different flavors. I love to get them and once I do I'm scared to eat it, because then I have to wait to get another one or go buy one myself!  They are really popular and just so good! We attended a Lantern Festival at a Buddhist Temple this week with an investigator and saw the fun ways people celebrate the Festival. The celebration continues this week and we are excited to see what comes!

We had planned to have a baptism this Saturday but due to some unfortunate school activities and such we had to move our investigators date back to the 27th of this month. She's okay with it and still really excited, as are we! 

I have finally figured out how to contact Buddhists in an effective way. Whenever you ask a Buddhist what religion are they use a phrase that directly translated means, "Worship God." We took a member (who recently returned from his mission in the Singapore mission) out contacting with us and we ran into such a situation. Before I could say anything the member said, "Oh really? We are too." I was kind of confused because we are not Buddhist, but they member soon followed up by saying, "We also worship God." Brilliant! Ever since then I have used this method for contacting Buddhists and every single one has agreed to let us come back and teach them sometime. 

I have loved just being bold in telling people who we are and what we are doing here in Malaysia. There is a surprisingly positive response and, for the most part, people have been more open to our message about the gospel. It's incredible. And with it being September, the year coming to an end soon, we are working harder than ever to get our faith and desire to serve the Lord on the same, but higher, level than they were before. It's a great feeling to be a missionary.

I am feeling more of the Spirit's guidance in the way we  teach. Several times this week have we gone into a lesson with a plan and I have just felt like we need to discuss something else and the way it goes is just phenomenal!!! The Spirit is so important in this work. Where would we be without it?

Our branch's seminary  finished this past week so Elder Roundy and I are going to start a weekly mutual for the youth to help them stay united and together,  and to bring their friends to the church more often.  It will be fun! 

These past few weeks we have begun to do an early morning class for the members that teaches gospel principles and doctrines. The purpose is to help answer the members questions, teach them to use their scriptures, and to get people to church a little earlier for church to start. 
On Sunday we the topic was how to give a powerful testimony/talk. The reason we felt prompted to do so was because  when some  members would give talks they will take a copy of Gospel Principles up on the stand and read it. So people were very happy that we talked about this principle because it clarified what to do every week on the stand and how they can do it themselves. We invited everyone at the end of the class to bear their testimonies in fast and testimony meeting and we had quite a response!
There wasn't enough time for everyone who wanted to bear their testimony to share it or anymore room for the Spirit to enter our hearts because our hearts would have exploded!!!! Members who were less active bore inspiring testimonies. Recent converts shared their conversion process. Active members about the 5 good points of a testimony. Even investigators bore testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I was going to break into tears, but then I remembered how if Chinese see you cry they will hold it against you forever, so I held the tears in long enough for no one to see. It was the most powerful sacrament meeting I have ever been in on my mission so far. Amazing!

I love you all and also moon cakes!

Elder Hanks