Monday, June 30, 2014

There & back again in time to Party...!

June 29, 2014
This week was our Zone Conference held in Singapore, so we had a great vacation trip to Singapore to go and listen to our President speak to us on repentance. But before we left to Singapore we had planned on having a youth activity on Saturday for all of the youth to invite their friends to the church for a non-pressured activity- just to come to the church. We planned a little bit with the members about this activity and then we came up with the idea for a dance. We felt bad though because we had to leave for Singapore and then come back- leaving the members to do most of the work until we got back from Zone Conference!

(picture from Sis. Liew- the amazing missionary mom that takes such great care of our missionaries over there!) 
The Zone Conference itself was really great and I was able to run into so many great missionaries that I cannot possibly attach all of the pictures I got with them! This is also a sad conference because many great 'legendary' missionaries are leaving this transfer for home; it's crazy! We are losing a lot this transfer and then again in the next transfer as well. I don't know what we are going to do, but as for me and transfer news: I'm staying in sweet little Sitiawan for another transfer with my great companion Elder Kong. It'll be a great next transfer because of some things that are recently happening in our area. 
But finishing talking about the Zone Conference: things in the mission have been going pretty slow, but our President exhorted us to repent and get back on course in order to fulfill our mission's goal for 2014: 545 Baptisms. Right now we are at 147... We have work to do. 

Now I'm really excited about the area of Sitiawan - especially because of our activity we held on Saturday, the dance. The members and us worked really hard to prepare and decorate the church for the dance and it looked really good. We told all of the youth in our branch to invite at least one friend to the dance and for the most part they did.A few didn't bring any friends while others brought more than one to the activity so it worked out great!  It was super fun as we had a spiritual lesson to start off, food right after to eat, than the dancing started with some members and us missionaries doing an pre-practiced dance. 
We have been trying to get a members oldest daughter, trying to get her talking with us and investigating the church. We knew that she liked Korean stuff and dancing so we invited her to the activity to teach us a dance. We practiced it in the afternoon and performed it at the activity that night. It was a great activity and a success for us missionaries!
We had set up a photo booth with props and costumes the youth could put on and wear, we then told them we would take their picture and later would deliver them to those who wants it. We got four contacts
and one of them even came to church the next day!!! So we got one new investigator this past week and hoping for two more this next week and they are looking like investigators with real potential!!! 

I'm excited for this next transfer that we have. This is going to be an interesting one because Elder Kong is returning home at the end of this transfer so I may be here a REALLY long time (to stay & train someone new in this area), but that's okay, it's sweet here.

This morning we went hiking up Sitiawan's tallest mountain and that was pretty hard, but really good to have that kind of exercise. I haven't worked out really well these past 6 weeks so I'm hoping to get into shape soon this transfer. Don't know how-  but I need to lose some weight! 

The best part of the week was the dance, definitely, super fun. One last thing I have to say about the dance-  is that my companion can sure look like Psy from Gangam Style when he wears ray bans--just saying!

(posted this one before- reposting to see Elder Kong & his  Psy likeness) 
Love you all

Elder Hanks

Monday, June 23, 2014

a beach activity in Penang & making some progress

I just want to first share that there was a big hole dug in our Jehovah's Witness testimony of his church. We were continuing where we left off from last week when he shared a scripture in the Bible about baptism. As I thought about it, we had never talked with him about baptism before and more importantly the gift of the Holy Ghost. We read in Acts where the apostles are bestowing the gift of the holy ghost and we asked him his thoughts about it. He went on saying like, "Yes that's what they did." So I asked him, "If you are the true church, do you follow the Apostles example in receiving and giving the Gift of the Holy Ghost?" This is where he choked, I think he literally choked or something because he hesitated and with a sad tone said, "No, we don't." I think that was hard for him to say that but I think it helped him realize that there is something in laying on of hand in giving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Next time we visit him we want to follow up on that.

My companion is loving visiting him as much as I am. Every single time we visit him he brings up all of these doctrines that contradict, my companion and I will study them, and then share what we learned. It has helped my companion and I really grow closer together. So if there are any missionaries out there who struggle with their companion to get along, I recommend finding the nearest Jehovah's witness and teach him; your companion and you will grow closer together by the minute. 

We had Zone Meeting in Penang this past week and we had our zone activity on the beach. It was beautiful and the water was really warm, don't worry, we just stood in it. We all had a really fun soccer game on the sand and it was really fun, the only problem with that is the sand is like shards of glass that stick to the wet ball. So after we all finished-sweaty and tired-we checked our aching feet to see them all scarred up and bruised; we hurt, but a lot of fun.

Yesterday in church we brought our neighbor who is an investigator to church, but she is really shy and wasn't sure if she wanted to go. We kept inviting her to come and she finally agreed. When we were about to leave she said that she was only going to stay for the first two hours and leave before the third hour started.  So we were like, "Okay!" Sacrament was good and she enjoyed it ,even  asking a few questions. In second hour-Sunday School-I was assigned to teach the lesson. I had prepared a lesson in advance to teach the youth on  how to use their scriptures to find answers-  a  good old scripture hunt. I had previously placed envelopes with clues using scriptures to tell them where to look to find the key to open a box at the front of the class. They read all over to look all over the room to finally find the key. I think they had fun and it was a good class!

We are planning on having a youth activity this saturday to get the youth to bring their friends to the church and meet us.  I came up with the idea of a little photo booth thing where we will take their picture and they can use props and costumes to be all crazy and such. Then we will, another day, print them for all the youth.

I am excited for this last week, but also sad because it may be my last week here in Sitiawan. Next week is transfers and I have no idea what will happen! Not sure I am ready to leave this area but I'll go where I am supposed to.  This week I'm also going to Singapore for Zone Conference, good food and lots of it! 
Michael Jackson watching me jam on air guitar! 

I'll let you all know next week where I'll be!
Elder Hanks

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I'm an uncle, now back to those monkeys.....

This week my thoughts have mainly been focused on New York where my older sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Remie. She is absolutely the cutest(yep, cutest) little girl ever and I'm so excited to be an uncle. It's a weird experience but I'm so excited and this has really boosted my spirits this week.

This week has been kind of hard as the work is continuously getting harder. On Friday we had a full-packed day, many appointments with great investigators and less actives to meet with. As the day progressed, every single appointment, at the last minute, cancelled on us leaving us with an empty day to do nothing but go to the Seminary class later that night. It was sad to see our full-day turn into an empty-day. So I've been feeling a little low recently but I received word today about my new baby niece, and I am feeling a new drive to get back to my area and make a difference. 

This week we are traveling for our zone meeting in Penang, a LONG distance travel by bus and boat. so I want to get back and make a difference. 

So this week I took my companion to meet our Jehovah's witness friend and a note to remember is that my companion is a fighter at heart. As our investigator shared his doctrine that didn't really make sense, I could feel my companion getting more and more tense. I am pretty much used to Jehovah's witness by now and have learned for a fact that the doctrine they believe is not only false but actually sometimes contradicts itself.  so as they talked it really felt like there was going to be a fight going down. I tried to get us to leave but neither my companion nor the investigator wanted our discussion to end. I finally got us out the house and back home.

I just want to give out a Happy Father's Day to my awesome Father who is now a Grandfather and a Father's Day to my brother-in-law who is a new Father. 

So this past week we had a follow up appointment with the monkeys on Pangkor Island and we had a great member present as you can tell. It was a beautiful, hot day and we biked up and down all these mountains. And yes, I am doing the Titanic; but don't worry, no icebergs in Malaysia--not that I've ever heard of.

Hope to have a hard-working week and full of fun with Zone meeting today and tomorrow.

Love you all.
Especially you Remie,
Elder Hanks

Things are a bit slow in this neck of the woods.....

Things this week have been very very slow and with members from far places coming here for vacation and investigators leaving for vacation it's a struggle to get things going. I love the area of Sitiawan very much and the members here are so awesome & amazing. We had a fun week together even though investigator work has been going very slow this past week.

A member, E......, came back this week for vacation and held a youth activity at the church in which all the youth came and had a fun activity from 3:30 to 10:00! We had food and games where all the youth really enjoyed themselves and enjoyed the food. We played games that to me were hilarious and I could not stop laughing at how funny they were. When I get back we are playing the games we played.

It has been a struggle to find people and get good lessons in when we can. My companion got sick one night and we had to cancel some good appointments, but good thing he felt better the next day to go teach. I have been working hard in finding investigators and this week I tried looking through the area book for former investigators names. Of six or so names I found, three have agreed to meet with us and we met with one last week and he is just a great find. I hope to see him progress soon.
not that much to report this week.
Hopefully there will be more to tell you next week!
Elder Hanks

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Celebrating Dumpling day!

This was my first full week of being District Leader in my district area of Sitiawan, it's fun to watch over the two elders in my district and make sure they(we) are being obedient. I would say we are,  and we try and work hard as much as we can. 
This past week for the most part has been event-less which is really sad to think about. I hope that every week would have something new and exciting to talk about. 
We had exchanges this past week with our zone leaders who traveled for four hours to get to our house and go on splits with us. It was great to have them here because of the high number of lessons we had this past week, unfortunately we have been struggling to find new investigators to teach and that's been hard to think about how we have so much to improve on and to do. I was thinking about how we can get new investigators and I knew that the youth here are very interested in these type of things. So I had the idea to hold a monthly activity for all the youth to come to the church and have a lesson, food, and activity afterwards. I talked to some of the members and youth in our branch about this and they all seemed on board. So we are excited to start this sort of activity monthly. 

It's holiday break for the school here right now so there is a lot of time to meet with some of the members and investigators, but at the same time many others are not available because they are out of town for holiday. So it's hard and yet easy to meet with people lately and it's fun to have an Iban companion to go and find Ibans to teach, although often they only speak Malay. 
Today is a fun little holiday called Dumpling Day, it's a little festival where they take things such as meat, beans, peanuts & other stuff, squish rice on it and wrap it in a leaf. You can buy them, take them home, boil or steam them, open up the leaf, then eat. They are soooo goood. I'm going to miss them, but for now I'm going to fully enjoy them! 

I've been reading a lot lately in Alma, the war chapters and there is so much I'm getting from these chapters. I would have to say that on my mission I have learned that Moroni is my Book of Mormon hero. He is just so great in being so boss in fighting, but he doesn't even want to fight in the first place and time and time again he tries all he can to AVOID the battle that others seem anxious and yearning for. 
Anyway, just another hot week here in Sitiawan!

Elder Hanks