Monday, June 22, 2015

Our Miracle Week with some crickets along the way!

This has been a great week of success and finding new investigators. Elder Baer and I at the beginning of the week discussed our efforts in finding new investigators and we both came to the conclusion that we needed to find 3 new investigators. This goal was confirmed to me as from the Lord when we received the same commitment idea from the assistants; to find 3 investigators this week. The Lord was with us in all our efforts to find these 3 investigators. On Monday we were hoping to meet with the first of the 3 new investigators for the week but were discouraged when this potential wouldn't answer our calls to confirm a time with us. Thinking on what to do I had a prompting to call another potential we had made contact with the week before. I called him and asked him if we could make an appointment with him for the next day. In return he replied, "Actually, can you just come tonight?" We ended up going to see this investigator and shared with him the Restoration of the gospel and invited him to read the Book of Mormon. It was a miracle to see the Lord move his hand in our work and help us have a great start to finding people at the very start of our week. 

This sort of miracle did not happen only once this week though!  On Wednesday's exchange with Elder Perritt (one of the assistants), we were on our way - with a member,  to teach a referral she wanted us to meet with, one that Elder Liddle called us with, that the Ipoh elders had passed on to us. 

Once I received the phone number I called this potential to set up a time later in the week. This sweet Indian woman - instead of settling for a time later in the week just asked for us to come over that very night!  We did and there we shared the message of the Restoration of the gospel and the spirit was felt so strong - although I wasn't sure if they understood everything we shared with them! haha language barriers you know!  
I know the Spirit touched their hearts as we knelt in prayer with this family and the sister-  whom I had initially contacted,  offered the closing prayer and expressed her feelings for a greater love for our Heavenly Father, a second chance to love Him, and that she had felt the Spirit touch her heart. It was a great lesson and they invited us back the next day! 

The next day when we went back at the appointed time there was our new investigator ready and waiting for us WITH her mother, brother-in-law, and sister also waiting! Because they are all Indian,  I was somewhat afraid that with the lesson in English they wouldn't understand everything. It was a great thing that our member came with us again because once he shared the message of Joseph Smith's first vision they had questions and wanted to know more. We gave them all a copy of the Book of Mormon in Malay and invited them to read it to know if it was true. We have a return appointment in two weeks as they are going out of town until then. But we look forward to seeing them again! 

Our zone surpassed its goal in finding new investigators this week; Elder Baer and I found 6! And Elder Baer and I also achieved all of our goals! I am pretty stoked about that!  

Happy Father's Day as well. It was a great Father's Day as all the Father's in the branch sung a musical number, "Ye Elders of Israel" and it brought a great spirit. After church many members accompanied us to visit an older man in the branch who has some health problems. It was so cool to sit with him and just be with him-  it felt like being around a  family and I was so happy to be with so many faithful saints. 

Last story. For those who read my previous experience with a guy from Amway should pay attention to this similar experience we had this week.

 ooooohhhh nooooooo, - not another Amway! 
I had called a potential and asked him to meet -  which he agreed to meet us. A few days before the appointment he called us to confirm the appointment-  which I found surprising because it's usually us who has to call to remind them. Then again, the morning of the appointment he called us again to confirm. In this conversation I asked him where he would like to meet so we could talk. he responded, "We can meet outside a restaurant." I thought that was a weird place to meet, but he quickly added, "It's near your church so I can bring you to it." So we agreed. 
The time for the appointment came and a member decided to take us to the place where we were to meet this guy. As we were pulling up to the appointed parking lot we saw this guy sitting in his car dressed up in a nice white shirt and tie waiting in his car. I thought that was very weird because people never wear that type of clothing unless it's for church(which is our job) or for business...... haha! Shoulda known better! 

We got out of our member's car and approached this guys car. We knocked on the window and he rolled his window down. He greeted us and immediately motioned to get in his car! haha -  Elder Baer and I looked at each other like, "Oh no... not again." With experience now we asked the guy-  "Where do you want to take us?" "To eat." "Where are we going to eat?" "At a restaurant." "What restaurant?" "My restaurant." "Where is your restaurant?" When he said where his restaurant was Elder Baer knew that it was super far. Elder Baer kindly asked, "You want to go to this restaurant so we can talk about Jesus Christ right?" The man responded, "I have Christian friends who are meeting us there." (Well, that didn't answer the question.) So we asked again for straight forward this time, "Would you like to learn about Jesus Christ?" "Actually, I want to take you guys to my restaurant so I can talk to you guys about my business. Everybody needs to eat and my business can help with that."
We both looked at each other and knew what to say. We kindly declined the man's offer. Said that if he would ever like to learn about Jesus Christ to give us a call, then we walked back to the member's car, got in and went to eat somewhere else. 

Anyways, we are loving the work here in JB. Now with so many investigators we are teaching we are hoping to help them all be baptized soon. Wish us luck! 

Elder Hanks

For fun this week a member brought some crickets he somehow got from Thailand and I got to try one. I don't like it. The flavor is actually really good, it's just that you are eating a bug and the texture(CRUNCH) is really weird and it feels weird. This is my reaction. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

3 weeks of emails.... if I were you I'd just look at the pictures!

June 14 2015
Events of this past week was the JB zone meeting we held. Elder Baer and I did the preparations for it and came up with 3 commitments we felt would help our zone; 1. Teach short and powerful lessons. 2. Follow up with investigators daily. 3. Find 2 new investigators every week. Zone meeting was a great spiritual experience where we talked openly about things we need and hopes for the mission. We also played a game where we spray each other in the face, that was hilarious. 
I have seen great miracles from doing these commitments and it brings a great sense of satisfaction that only comes when you are fulfilling your purpose as a missionary. It feels really good to have that. A goal Elder Baer and I have is to try and find more investigators this week. It's something that we really need. 

I also need to practice talking to more people and getting out of my comfort zone by being more humble. That may sound weird to you, but it's a truth that I feel I need to apply to my service as a missionary. I have never really had a problem with socializing with people, in fact I enjoy it, but the times when I decided to not talk to someone or help someone is when I find myself a little bit too high on the pride scale. This is a goal that I wish to improve on in praying more to the Lord to help me be humble enough to see His ever-preparing hand in our area of His vineyard.

 Miracle this week was on Saturday. We had to travel to Melaka which is 3 hours away to conduct some baptismal interviews for some people who were going to be baptized there. We left first thing in the morning, got there late morning, did the interviews in the afternoon and traveled back home arriving in the evening just before we had to go home. As we were walking through our apartment complex to our building we saw a former investigator we knew from a while back just sitting on the playground's swing. He was just sitting by himself and we both felt we should talk to him. After talking for a minute and talking about the up's and down's of life I asked him, "Are you on one of life's downs right now?" he looked at us and admitted he was. He went on talking about how hard life was right now and he was just taking a minute to ponder when we walked up(coincidence?) He mentioned how that was a little weird but that it must have also been arranged by our Heavenly Father. We shared with him the message of Jesus Christ's atonement and its power. We then asked him if he would like to continue to learn more about how his gospel can change his life and he said that would be great. What a cool miracle of being in the right place at the right time.

Anyways, I'm loving the mission still. I know it's what I say every week but it has helped be become a better person who doesn't want to do sin and do all that's right. I want to be a good person for the rest of my life and always strive to follow Jesus Christ's example and eventually have an eternal family. That's what I have come to know is what I want in my life. I saw this little baby of a member yesterday in Church named Adam, cute little fella. He was just sitting there with his dad playing with him. He would giggle and smile at his dad. When I saw that I felt so happy and I wanted to have that. So that's something that I have come to feel and want this past week. 

(One day there was crazy traffic because of some floods. We were taking the bus, but because of traffic it was taking FOREVER. So we just got off the bus and started walking through traffic. It was pretty fun!) 
Elder Hanks

JUNE 7th 2015 

Well, as you all know, I am staying here in Johor Bahru with Elder Baer, but our zone has gone through some big changes. Here's what happened...
First off our zone consisted of 12 elders in the zone with 3 districts of 4 elders each. Transfers came in and took a big chunk of elders out leaving us with only 8 elders now and 2 districts; one of the districts only has 1 companionship and the other has 3. So we are now the smallest zone in the mission and possibly EVER! In our district before there were 4 Chinese speaking elders and we split JB equally in order to cover the masive city. the other two elders got taken out of JB and Elder Baer and I are now dealing with all of the their investigators that they were teaching, their recent converts, and their less actives on top of the people we were teaching. So technically we are doing the work of two companionships right now, but here is the biggest catch of all. If you have not yet google mapped Johor Bahru you should do so. The city of Johor Bahru is enormous! We made a map of our 'new' area and the map is bigger than Elder Baer and I. We have so far to go to find people and our farthest less active lives an hour car drive away! So we are having fun getting things underneath our feet. 

I had a chance to play investigator this past week. Since the other elders' area became our we now had to teach a certain investigator they had only contacted but not yet began teaching. One day while we were out on the east side of the city we get a call from this guy who tells us that he is waiting for us at a big mall in the more west side of the city. We were surprised because neither of us made an appointment with us, but he really wanted to meet with us. We agreed a little bit reluctantly because it was a great distance. 
An hour later we got off the city bus and wandered in the mall until we found this guy. He was really excited to see us and greeted us warmly. Before we could find a place to sit and talk he said, "Hey, my dad is outside waiting for us. He wants to meet you guys." I thought, "Okay..." so we went outside where his dad was standing next to his car waiting for us... yeah waiting... We said hi and he said he wanted to take us to a restaurant so we could talk in a better environment. We thought, "Okay." He drove us out of the mall and we started driving quite a distance. Elder Baer and I looked at each other and we were both confused where we were going so we asked them, "What is the name of the place we are going?" "They looked back at us and said, "Amway." (Have you ever heard of that before?) I heard that before but I couldn't remember quite what it was. We drove for like 30 minutes when we finally pulled up to this Amway store. I walked in a little wary of our real intentions on being there, to teach the gospel or buy Amway. We sat down and he wanted us to wait for a friend. Now, we did not want to be there(me especially) and we had another appointment later that night back near our apartment and they have just driven us even farther from where we wanted to be. I told the potential investigator, "We do not have that much time." He said, "yeah I know, but just wait for my friend to come." While we were waiting I asked this guy why he wanted us to teach him about church. He kept looking around and didn't really answer us straight at first. Then I asked him directly why, he replied, "So I can meet more of your church people and sell them Amway." At that word I said, "Well, thank you for your time but we have to go. When you are interested in learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ call us, but we are not interesting in buying and selling Amway." He looked shocked, but we just went as we found a taxi and got back to our appointment. 

 We got to the appointment we were supposed to be at and we knocked on the gate. We asked for the woman I had previously made an appointment with, but she was not there. Instead was a young man who was somehow related to her; maybe her worker or something. We were let in and sat down with this younger man. We talked with him for a while when we learned more about him. He is a Christian, chinese boy who was first really happy to have us as friends because we were white people who could speak Mandarin, and second because he had some real questions and love for Jesus Christ. We shared with him the Restoration of the gospel and he asked us to come back next week. We are hoping to go back on Tuesday and share with him the plan of Salvation. We are so excited! 
I am loving JB and I'm really excited because all of JB is under my area and I am planning on hitting it hard with the gospel. Elder Baer is so fun and I love him with all my heart. It's sad that this is his last transfer, but he is not thinking about it at all.
There is this week's letter. 
Things are going awesome! 
Elder Hanks

JUNE 1st 2015
I would like to apologize in advance, the computer today is having problems so I may only get one picture in this email and it won't be that long either. Sorry...
This week we had a great YSA activity of capture the flag. It was organized by our mission leader who is so awesome! I love his guts and he is always trying to help us in the work. The activity was a blast and it was capture the flag. I got to share a message about Captain Moroni and the title of Liberty. We had to wear our missionary clothes to the activity so that was pretty hot, but the activity was so fun! We are having another activity this month at the beach so that will be a blast with the district.

In other news, it's transfer news today so we don't yet know what's happening, but I'm confident I am staying here in JB. I'm not going anywhere. I'm looking forward to a new transfer and I'm determined to kill it!!!!! 
I was also very sad to hear about Elder L. Tom Perry's passing. It was sad news to all of us here in JB and we are praying for his family. But the great thing about the restored gospel is that it will continue to go forward and we will always remember the difference he made. 
Transfers came in. I'm staying and absorbing another area into ours. Crazy area now!