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