Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sooo long Elder Lee.....Hello Elder Kong....

Last week we received transfer news informing us that my companion, Elder Lee, would be leaving to East Malaysia & going to the area of Tauau. His dream of going to East Malaysia has been fulfilled and I'm so happy for him !  Because he had to go on a visa run to Singapore on Monday, we didn't get back home until Tuesday night, giving Elder Lee ONE day to pack and for us to get things set up for his leave and my new companion's arrival. We were in over our heads as we had to ride all over the place with a member to get stuff done. 
Somehow, in some way we were able to get everything packed and set up for Elder Lee to go. We continued to call people and tell them about Elder Lee's transfer and we heard a lot of, "What!!! Why so fast! When are you leaving?...TOMORROW!?" Basically, a lot of slightly upset members and investigators at the late notice of Elder Lee's departure. The last thing we did on Elder Lee's last day in the mission is pretty (disobedient) shhhh!  We visited the seminary class as it was ending to talk to some of the members before Elder Lee left. As we were all leaving the church many members asked if we were having a party. I was thinking to myself, "What? no. we don't have any food at our place and we only have an hour." But Elder Lee with enthusiasm and excitement said, "Yes we are!" The next thing I know our house is full of members and kids all here to say good-bye to Elder Lee for the last time. 
Our neighbors also wanted to say good-bye and had planned their own little party for Elder Lee. So Elder Lee and I played a game of tag between these two parties. It was ridiculous and I was so relieved when the neighbors just came over to merge the parties; so much easier. Now our house is full of people and they wouldn't leave. They stayed for so long(12:30! Shhh again! ...) and I still had to take apart Elder Lee's bike so it could be shipped and clean the house. Basically I stayed up until 3:30 getting ready for his leave and woke up at 6:00 to send him to the airport....I was so happy to sit on the bus to sleep to pick up my new companion.
I love Elder Lee a lot and I'm so glad he was my companion. I learned a lot from him and I pray that he will enjoy his last area in East Malaysia before he goes home. 
Elder Kong, my new companion. He is a great elder! He is 23 years-old and only has 3 months left to serve. This is probably his last area. He has actually been to Sitiawan before on his mission because he did exchanges here when he was the Ipoh Zone Leader a long time ago. So he remembered a lot and we got right to work in our area. I am hoping to learn a lot from him because he has had so much experience in the mission. He is a big guy and his hobby before the mission was Body building. he was actually part of bodybuilding competitions and such. I couldn't tell because he has changed, of course, but he loves kickboxing and boxing. I'm a little worried to make him angry but if all goes well there should be no reason for me to knock him out!  Just Kidding!  But he is a really cool elder and knows what he is doing. He is very cautious and worried about being safe all the time. It's kind of amusing because Sitiawan is pretty safe and every where we go, when he sees other peoples' bikes unlocked, he comments that they didn't lock their bikes and such. It's really kind of funny. 
I can't wait to work with him in our area! 
That's all for this week. 
Love you all and enjoy these sweet pics in an awesome garden!
Elder Hanks

Monday, May 19, 2014

Transfers! but I'm staying...!

This week with the end of the transfers coming on things have just been going slow and both my companion and I feel a winding down. So it's really good that transfers are every six weeks. No matter what transfers brings-  things get 'refreshed' to give us a new drive. 

Elder Lee has been here for a long 6 months and is hoping to finally serve in East Malaysia so I'm hoping his dream comes true. But he has been feeling sick this past week with headaches and drowsiness-. With it being the last week of transfers and a lot of rumors/feeling of Elder Lee leaving Sitiawan, Elder Lee and I made a short little bucket list to do before he leaves. It includes eating at our favorite western restaurant, bowling(which I got a highscore of 138 with a turkey, Whoo!!), eating some good indian roti canai, and going to Pangkor Island one more time. 

We visitied Pangkor Island one more time with our recent convert before this transfer, but we went to find and teach her friend who is living there. Fortunately we found her friend and taught her, but unfortunately we didn't see any monkeys this time to teach! haha - I need to check up on their Book of Mormon reading!  Teaching her friend was an interesting experience because we started out in Mandarin Chinese, a language I understand, but soon our member, Elder Lee, and the investigator all switched into Hokin, a Chinese Dialect, a language I don't know. So I just sat there for the rest of the lesson having absolutely no idea what was being said!  Then everyone closed their eyes and the investigator began to practice praying. So apparently we taught her how to pray, who Jesus Christ is, and how Heavenly Father loves us as His children. Good times! 

Now, the Jehovah Witness we've been talking to -  we had a very humorous lesson with him this past week. As we sat down he instantly began to talk about a 'problem' our church has--tithing. Of course as he spoke about his 'concerns' I knew that he really didn't care about tithing but just tried to find flaws in our religion. Elder Lee kept asking questions that were good questions but we found were easy for our investigator to answer. I just sat there and listened for a while. We somehow ended up reading from Ephesians and keeping somewhat on topic-  I began to talk about how much I love Paul's words in this book and turned to Ephesians 4 to talk about the foundation of Christ's Church--prophets and apostles! haha ! We read this and expressed how we NEED prophets and apostles as Paul so clearly states and our investigator agreed with what I was saying until I think he figured out where I was going so he became a little defensive to the topic.
 My talking about prophets and apostles and the obvious necessity for them really showed him that they are necessary in Christ's true church and I think he knew it. But because "his heart was not open"(quote from him) he just wouldn't accept it and he went on a rant a little bit on how our church doesn't make sense and he began sharing the 'deep doctrine' of his church and how it makes sense. 
As he shared what he did,  so many question marks were appearing over my head as he spoke. Finally he said, "Do you believe you can live for eternity in flesh and blood?" I figured he meant with a physical body so I said, "Yes I do." Already excited he sat up confident and said, "My friend let me share with you a scripture that will absolutely shock you. Shock you." We turned to 1 Corinthians 15:50 which speaks about how we can't dwell in flesh in bone in heaven or something like that. But I kept reading in verse 51-53 where it spoke of transfiguration!!!! I asked him, "What does that 'change in a twinkling of an eye' mean?" He of course avoided the question and then shared with us the most ridiculous, contrary piece of doctrine, I have ever heard. He said, after Jesus Christ was resurrected he had a "Spirit body. A body not of flesh and bone." I was just blown away!!!!!!! Say what!!!!!!!!! We had already been there for a very very long time so , we made a very kind move to leave with my thinking, "We are not coming back probably." When our investigator said, "Same time next week?" What!!!!! So we are visiting him next week too.... Oh boy...!

I taught all the lessons on Sunday in sunday school and priesthood and both turned out  really good. Sunday morning she asked us to teach and winging it about testimonies - we were able to have a really good lesson.  

So we just received transfer news for this transfer!  My fantastic companion, Elder Lee, is leaving to go to East Malaysia and I am going to miss him soooo much. I'm so excited for him to go to East Malaysia! We have had a really fun time together and I'm going to miss the fun times with Elder Lee. I am also now District Leader, of Sitiawan's two elders!  My new companion, Elder Kong, will be coming this Thursday and he is a fun elder. My first area I served in, Sibu, is Elder Kong's hometown and Elder Kong is said to be a very fun elder. So I am looking forward to that!  This is going to be a crazy week! 

Love you all!
Elder Hanks
I think I see some monkeys over there! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

A full week of highlights!

This past week, as I anxiously awaited the opportunity to skype with my family, has brought forth many blessings and miracles. One of which is our first baptism in my mission language. (the first person I was able to baptize, I read it in Malay)   Sister A____ is a long-time investigator of about 2 to 3 years always loving the doctrines and teachings of the church but not being able to overcome her addiction to coffee. At the baptism of our first convert, M___, A___ attended and loved the spirit that was present. After the services we sat down with A___ and talked with her saying, "Your next." etc. She agreed with us on that and we pulled out a piece of paper to write an official 'contract' to mark the beginning of her quitting coffee at the start of the month of April with hopes of baptism in May. Through much prayer and blessings, A___ was able to walk into the waters of baptism and take upon herself the name of Christ despite many factors that would prevent her to do otherwise such as family disapproval, tensions with friends, misunderstandings in the Branch, and her being the first in her family. But her faith is strong and to listen to her testimony after her baptism was the best part of the entire service. 

With Mother's Day coming up we didn't know what to do to celebrate for the mother's in our branch so we set out to first provide a little treat; cookies! Our neighbor heard of our idea and took it upon herself to do it(She's the best ever!) and then put the cookies in little baggies. On Mother's Day, Sunday, all the mother's loved the little baggies and thought they were, "so cute!" Success on the mother's day treats! 

I know the people and families of Malaysia can be so blessed by the gospel and the blessings it brings for families, now and for eternity. The gospel brings an added element of love into a family that everyone, even some families here in Malaysia, and every where can be blessed with if they are just  willing to embrace it. 

Skyping with my family is of course the highlight of my week. To see them and talk to them about the mission and their lives is so wonderful that I'm smiling and crying all over again. Families really are forever and there is no doubt about it. there is just no way that we could go through so much joy and pain with our families if they really weren't eternal. I love my family so much! they are the best family in the world for me! 

This transfer is coming to an end next week and rumors have it that my wonderful companion, Elder Lee, will be leaving Sitiawan. It's super sad for me to think about that because I really do love him, he is such a great guy. We have had a lot of fun and I hope that it can continue if the Lord allows it. We have been working hard in Sitiawan and have seen the fruits of our labors. All I can do is be grateful and hopeful. 

Love you all and Happy Mother's day to you mothers out there!
Elder Hanks

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

There's power in them there Book of Mormons!

We have had great things happen this past week such as finding new investigators but we are realizing that a lot of members are needing help with just coming to church and feeding their spiritual beings. 
We were able to meet with a lot of investigators and had a few come to church so that's awesome! One of our investigators we put on date for May 10th, this upcoming Saturday, and we visited her to confirm and clarify any last details and such. When all was ready to go, our investigator, sweet Sister A_____ chose me to baptize her this Saturday. What a treat that will be to have my first Chinese baptism this week. I don't know why she chose me, because she has been investigating the church for almost 3 years and has finally quit coffee and came to the realization to be baptized this past month or so. The fact that she chose me, the one elder who has known her the least, means a lot to me.  She is a great, choice, special woman. She is like my Chinese mom here! She is always feeding us and is so happy and smiling all the time! 

We also had a great new investigator come to church but we had set up an appointment to meet last  Saturday at our church. He had told us that he would bring his Bible to our appointment and we could read together. Once he arrived he pulled out this brand new Bible that he just bought that was a special English/Chinese combination that he was really proud of. He just wanted to read with us, so thinking quickly, I suggested we read John 10. :) We read that and explained about the other sheep and the Good Shepherd. We told him of the Book of Mormon and he got really interested in it. When we offered to give him a Chinese copy he was so shocked we wanted to give him one without him paying, he didn't want it. He wanted a Chinese/English combination like his Bible he just bought. I had never seen the Church produce such a book, then I remembered my own copy of the missionary "learning" Book of Mormon which is a Chinese/Pinyin/English combination. I couldn't give away my own because I can't read chinese yet! haha -  But that's when we remembered that  for some reason we had an extra one back home. In church the next day, when he showed up, we gave him that copy of the Book of Mormon and he really liked it. Awesome! The Lord truly has His hand in this work! 

So, as many of you know, we have been working with a Jehovah's Witness and trying to teach him a little bit. He invited us to his home again this past week and before hand, Elder Lee and I decided that we are just going to focus on the Book of Mormon and nothing else.  Whenever he would ask a question we would direct back to the Book of Mormon and its truthfulness. During our appointment, he tried to share some things from his church's website about our church but as we continued to talk and Elder Lee and I focused on the Book of Mormon- things were actually going pretty good. We offered to share a scripture and read together from 3 Nephi 11. We read that all together and he actually really seemed to like it; except for the part about Jesus Christ being the God of Israel because the Bible neither supports or argues that point. But reading that chapter with him really helped him to know that the Book of Mormon is a really good book and more importantly a testimony of Jesus Christ. He invited us back over this week so whoo! we'll see how that goes. We are again going to keep our focus on the Book of Mormon.

eating a Jack fruit
The Book of Mormon has so much power inside it and is able to change the hearts of anyone. We have been working with for a while with a  member's mother, who is an investigator.  She has been struggling to take the church seriously because she feels like she cannot repent of her sins and be baptized. We talked about repentance for a while when we decided to read one quick little scripture in Moroni 6:8. Something remarkable happened as we shared this with her. She is usually joking around with some of the things we say and isn't really focused, always laughing. But as soon as she read this for us,  she went quiet and the spirit entered the room. I just bore testimony of the power of the atonement and her ability to repent. It was a really good lesson. That is what is so cool about the Book of Mormon and it's truthfulness.

Our Church attendance is an interesting one with many regular members not coming and some less actives and investigators coming. It's really frustrating because if we could just get everyone to continue to come every week we would have a great branch full of members and investigators loving and supporting one another and it would be wonderful! So we have both member and investigator work cut out for us this week but things are looking good! Mother's Day is coming up so I'm so excited to talk to my family next week!!!! This work is so amazing!
my mom sent me a link to a newspaper article about my brother playing high school soccer.
Love technology! Way to go Hunter! (he's the one in the brown jersey) 

Elder Hanks