Monday, January 27, 2014

American football and my first exchange!

Last Monday we went to a field downtown where we brought America to Malaysia with some good old fashioned football. The field was kinda muddy, but it was so fun to get in a good work out and hit someone- not really hit someone but you know what I mean! We had a small crowd watch us and at one point some guys on motorcycles were doing crazy wheelies down the street next to us- one guy even had a passenger on the back doing wheelies! It was talent!

My companion has been called as District Leader, so that means we need to do exchanges. So Elder Earl went to another area with a Malay Elder, while I stayed in my area with his companion. I was so nervous because Elder Hobbs speaks Malay & no Chinese! That meant that the teaching would be on me - speaking all the Chinese, or Elder Hobbs could teach in Malay or English & then I would translate!

The first memorable appointment was with an investigator we had been working with for a while. We had them on date a while ago but they wasn't ready. As we met with them this time, we hoped to play the Restoration DVD for them & increase their knowledge of the Restoration, but they didn't have a DVD player. So we start reading out of the Book of Mormon. We read in 1 Nephi 10 where it mentions baptism and we discussed it a little bit. Then we finished reading the chapter and the investigator brings up baptism again and starts discussing that they couldn't get baptized because of their bad back. I then simply told them that they could be baptized bending forward. The investigator lit up! They said "What?!" They stand up and starts bending over saying "Like this? Like this?" And I keep saying "Yes, Yes!" They looked so excited. Their daughter is is a member and came home so the investigator shared with their daughter the new discovery about baptism! We now have this investigator on date to be baptized on the 15th of Feb!

We leave there & go to a members house who only spoke Chinese to teach another investigator. I know that the Spirit was there because for 1 1/2 hours we talked about so many different topics like prophets, priesthood keys and callings, why we wear white clothes for baptism, ect ... Elder Hobbs said some things & when the member translated for him, the investigating family said "Whoa! He is smart!" They loved Elder Hobbs!

Our next appointment was with another investigator who is struggling with keeping commitments. Other missionaries have tried to get this investigator to pray, so this was our intent too. This investigator spoke a little Malay so Elder Hobbs was able to help! We discussed prayer & asked if they would pray. No. We then thought, let's one of us say a simple prayer & the investigator would then say a simple prayer right after us. So Elder Hobbs told the investigator our idea & they said "Can!"  I prayed a simple prayer & the investigator prayed so beautifully - even though it was only 4 sentences long - It was soooo great!

Our last appointment was with an investigator who could speak English. We we were both able to visit with this person & they wanted us to go to their Methodist bible study class. Of course, their leader would not let us participate in the discussion. So we asked what they would be studying. They said "Romans 13, about the Authority of Jesus Christ." I just started to laugh inside & thought "There is no way this is just a coincidence."So we start to talk about the Restoration & how we have the Authority of Jesus Christ in our church just like Christ had when He was on the earth. We didn't have enough time to share it all before this guy starts smoking & becomes so distracting. The investigator had to leave but wants to continue the message next time! This person has so much faith & the gospel would be so good for them!

It's been a great week !
With Chinese New Year this week a lot of people won't be able to meet with us because of the serious preparations that take place. So many people have invited us over for Chinese New Year, I don't think we will have time to visit everyone who has invited us- we better make good use of our time! I'm going to get fat this week I know it! It's the year of the Horse. We have been told that during the 15 days of New Year, everyone's house is like an open house and you can just go and visit anybody you want!

Have a Happy & Prosperous Chinese New Year!
Elder Hanks

Looks like Chinese New Year  food has already started for Elder Hanks!
With a cereal bowl that big, no wonder he's gaining weight!  (I really don't know what this is- oatmeal, rice?)

Look, no hands- or this is the way we ride our bikes, ride our bikes, ride our bikes....
 (Elder Hanks on the far left)
Hope they can navigate the round about like this! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

All about joy & patience with a pig leg thrown in there!

So last week I told you about an investigator who had told us his feelings towards us & how he believed that we lacked joy and patience. As I look back on the experience, it makes me smile however, because the man spoke the truth. Looking back on the lesson, I did lack patience & joy that day. So I took it upon myself to study this week all that I could about joy and patience. And I have to say that I really like the results so far!

We have been trying to get members, less active & investigators to read from the Book of Mormon daily because of how important it is to read and to follow the counsel from Elder Wilson & our training to get people to read & feel the Spirit of the Book. So an idea that come to us as we were brainstorming was to do a Book of Mormon reading chart & give it out to everyone. We printed a few off & began handing them out. So far, everyone who has received a copy of the Book of Mormon has been consistent in reading it daily! Sweet! We now have hope to grab on to this surge in reading & spread it though out the branch to strengthen testimonies of those who already have one & to strengthen testimonies of those trying to gain one.

The past couple of weeks, we have been traveling a lot & have not been to our regular lunch spot for a while. So when we had to to return, the people that work at our lunch restaurant were so happy to see us that they brought out a dish that was pretty good & said it was on the house! They wanted to make sure that we would keep coming back though, so the manager walked up to us & said that if we came back the next day he would cook us up a dish for FREE! What? Free food?! Why not? So the next day when we came back the waiter brings out 2 dished. One is a yam cake with vegetables & it tastes pretty weird. But the second dish was a PIG LEG- with the hoof still on it & everything! It was weird at first to try to pick at it thinking "Is there any meat on this thing?" but then when you found the meat it was pretty good. I was very grateful that we were able to have such a fun experience & the restaurant won my business!

So a funny experience I have to share includes some embarrassment on my part!  So the word for cry or tears sounds like  "ku - chi" and the word for pants sounds like  "ku -zi" , which to my ear is very similar. So we are at a members house & I am having a runny nose & watery eyes & a member asked me, in English if I was ok, so I said I was, but the member whose house we were at didn't understand English, so in Chinese I tried to say "If you see me crying, just know that I'm not, and that I am ok." Well instead of that it came out "If you see me wearing pants, just know that I'm not and I'm good." Hahaha!  We all had a good laugh, embarrassing as it was- good stuff!

Well, love you all, Happy Chinese New Year!
Elder Hanks
This is our church building with fireworks set off by some teenagers warming up for Chinese New Year!

Yam Cake & Pig Legs! Free Lunch! 

Walking the streets of Sibu  (Hanks on the left, Earl on the right)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Birthday and Zone conference week !

First of all, THANKS to everyone for all the birthday wishes! I even got a lot of cake from many different people here- the great Senior couples serving here, the branch and even a potential investigator! They were all great & so far I love being 19!

So our church attendance has started to go up here but is still not where would would like ti to be! We are working hard & are happy that another less active family is now active again. We also have an older couple who have starting coming to church & they have a lot to share during lessons- which is great!  Now we want to help their daughters get active too! A small miracle this week is that we found out that a new investigator lives right next door to one of the older couples daughters- so we can visit two investigators almost in one visit! haha! It will be great!

So we went to visit an investigator that likes the Elders to come & visit & teach his kids. I haven't really had a lot of experience yet with this investigator but we had just planned on reading out of the Book of Mormon for this visit. We were a little unprepared because of our traveling this week, that is no excuse, so we show up & the kids are all distracted & we really tried to pull a lesson together but it just wasn't flowing or working! So the investigator starts telling us how we lack patience, faith & most of all happiness! WOW ! I was stunned!  I told the investigator that I know I'm not perfect, and impatient and everything else (haha - and they agreed!) but that we knew someone who was & we pulled out a picture of Christ & I shared my testimony the best I could, we prayed & left. We felt pretty beaten up! Thinking back on it, I am grateful for this experience. It has given me a different outlook on how I can become a better person & missionary! We are determined to return next week & show this man, this wonderful man, what kind of missionaries we really are & that we really are happy!

Here's some pictures from our last weeks visit to Kuala Lumpur, East Malaysia and Singapore. We had an awesome Zone Conference with Elder Larry Wilson of the Seventy, who is in the Area Presidency for our mission. We stayed in Singapore for 3 days & I loved Singapore! I think one of my funnest things while I was there was when we were at the aquarium, & I knew my camera was waterproof, so I stuck it right in the water of the 'petting' pool & go some super cool pictures of some fish faces! It's a weird feeling to just stick your nice camera in the water & I also got some funny looks from people!

We all should be glad the country is watching out for robbers!
(Ammon is taking this picture- not in it, that's his companion is on the right) 

In Singapore at the biggest aquarium in the world,- hello Mr Stingray! 

Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur West Malaysia
holding up the Marina Bay Sand Towers!  There's an infinity pool on the top of that hotel!
(internet image so you could see the pool!) 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Years, Petronas Towers and a speed boat ride

Jan 5, 2013

A new year brings some new beginnings! - Good & Bad !

First the bad things of the new year: Church time changes! Ahhhhh! In the previous weeks, our church attendance slowly began to increase over time & we were really happy with where our branch was heading! Then the new year changed our church time to 2:00pm. Yesterday we had a record low in sacrament meeting since I've been here in Sibu. We have our work cut our for us to help these members and less actives come back to church & make church a priority in their lives. Many feel it is too hard to come to church because their culture here is to work on Sundays.

On to the good things of the new year !
We held a New Years party on the 31st of December & my companion & I were in charge of a funny skit-
The only thing I have to say about this is that the 15 minutes we were up on the stage doing crazy things, I began to realize that American humor & Chinese humor is totally different!  It felt like we were up there for the looooongest time doing the weirdest things but they didn't think it was as funny as we did! We even tried a synchronized swimming routine! Yes - a synchronized swimming routine with weird leg formations & fake, plastered smiles on our faces! haha ! oh well, now it seems more embarrassing than funny - maybe we'll figure out Chinese humor for the next party!
(games at the New Years Eve Party)

The good part of the party was that some less active people came and brought some of their friends! Hopefully with the help of the branch we can start teaching & helping them as investigators! Win win situation!

We went to KL (Kuala Lumpur, West Malaysia) from some training. It was a great training & being able to go the Petronas towers, some of the tallest towers in the world was so fun!
Petronas Towers
 The best part about my day today, (jan 6th Pday) was that we went to the small town of Kapit here in East Malaysia. Kapit is a small town where the only way to get there is to go to Sibu, and then take a 2 1/2 hour speed boat trip up the river. So we woke up at 4:00 THIS MORNING! to get to the 5:30 boat ride !
It was a great sight to see 14 missionaries all pile into this long speed boat. By the time we got to the town we only had a few hours to be there because we had to catch the 2:30 boat back.
We had made plans to meet with a member who was living there. They found us & we took a 20 minute van ride to get to this members long house.
A long house ir pretty much a very, very, very, very, very, very long house that has a whole bunch of little houses built into it.
We were able to visit with the member couple, they are so strong in their faith! They only spoke Malay so I didn't know what was being said, but I could feel that these members had such strong faith, if any other member had the type of faith these people had, there would be no such thing as less active members! And keep in mind, they have only been living in Kapit a few years & the church does not even have a branch here yet or anywhere near it! And yet, they have such a strong testimony of the gospel. They really inspired me to work hard & to do my best in my area. If I work hard enough to establish a faithful area in Sibu- maybe we can be sent up to Kapit to spread the gospel there!

I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ!
Happy late New Year and love you all!
Elder Hanks

PS - today (jan 7th) was Elder Hanks birthday! Hope he had a great day & a "thanks" shout out to Br. & Sis. Beus (a missionary couple in Sibu) for taking a cake over to him!