Monday, August 24, 2015

Time to finish strong!

It's been a really fun week this past week with some fun activities. Real fast, last week we went out to KSL mall to meet up with a member who took us to a night market - one of the biggest ones I have ever seen. As we continued to walk along we came to a car selling stinky tofu. It smelled terrible and of course the member bought us some... it was disgusting. It tasted like trash. 
Other activities we did included yoga (early this morning), exchanges with Elder Avery - which was awesome, badminton (Elder Lloyd broke his racquet..) and climbing on the roof of our apartment.

We have had many small miracles this past week so here I go...
On Friday we went to get my bicycle tire replaced when while at the store a man who was there for the same reason,  heard me speaking Chinese to the worker there. He asked about where I learned Chinese and a great, classic contact began. When he heard that we were Christian missionaries, he said he wasn't super interested, but his daughter would be. So he referred his daughter to us and we were thrilled! He told us she would like to learn more about Christians. I called her but she was busy at the time so are following up with her today. Immediately after, as we were riding to our next appointment a man pulled up next to us at a traffic light and shouted to us, "Where are you going? Want to come get a cup of coffee or tea with me?" Please, the two things we DON'T drink. We kindly declined but asked him if he was free another day we could meet with him. He said, "yeah!" but the light turned green. He drove ahead and pulled over to give us his number. He introduced himself as a Christian and said that when we are free he would like us to meet with him again. It was an awesome miracle Heavenly Father putting prepared people in our path.

This week we found 3 new investigators who are really good ones!  One of them we met a few weeks ago and he said that he would be interested in meeting. We finally got an appointment made with him on Thursday, but we didn't know if we should go. The reason being,  he called us later to confirm with us the appointment and that never happens unless they want you to join their company or help them with money. So we were somewhat apprehensive on going, but w

felt we should go so we called him and told him we were on our way. We arrived at the destination and found a place to sit with him. This man, although looked a little rough around the edges, turned out to be one of the nicest, most sincere guys I have ever met. As soon as we sat down he said, "I know that you can't help me with my financial problems and things like that, but I would hope that you can help me just feel better. That a lot of my stresses can be taken away. I am very stressed and would like more peace in my life." My jaw dropped. We shared with him the Book of Mormon and shared with him a great scripture that helped him feel really good. He felt so good that he is meeting with us this Tuesday and wants to learn more. It was so cool! 

I also went on exchanges with Elder Avery this week and it was so fun. We spent most of our time looking for people in his area and I had forgotten how fun it was to just meet people on the street like that. At one point we knocked on someone's gate and before the person came out Elder Avery said, "I brought a hymn book if we want to sing a hymn for them." As we saw this little old lady come out she waved to us and said, "Hold on! (In Chinese)" She opened her gated doorway and her son who speaks English came out and called, "Yes? Anything?" We told him we were Christians that wanted to share a message with him and his family. He didn't seem to interested at first, 
  but then...haha! we told him, "We were hoping we could sing you guys a song!" He paused, looked down, then said, "Okay! Come on in!" We went into his home, the older lady was his mom, and we sat down with them and looked at all their beautiful pictures of Jesus Christ they had in their home when our eyes caught on one picture. It was a painting of Jesus Christ holding a lamb that is on the front of "The Restoration" pamphlet. I knew it was done by a LDS artist and before we sang for them shared a little bit about what we teach. We shared the Book of Mormon and the man said he is very open to learn. It was a cool contact! I really had fun with Elder Avery who is a very upbeat and happy elder. He's probably the funniest elder I have met in the mission. Serious. 
Well, these are the last 6 weeks. They are going to be the best next 6 weeks. Coming home yesterday I said to Elder Lloyd, "You know, I feel like I haven't quite done enough." This feeling I had was a big motivation that I am going to take into this last transfer to help me push to the very end. I am going to take today to get back into the blocks to start off running faster than I have ever done before. We have a few investigators on date and it's our goal to get them progressing in this next week. Hope to be able to send you a white picture in these next few weeks. 

Love you all and I am so happy that I get these next 6 weeks to be with Elder Avery, Elder Pearce, and especially Elder Lloyd. I tell him all the time he is the companion that I have always prayed for. But don't worry, I have loved every single one of my companions. They have all changed me. Here we go! Work! Work! Work! There's nothing better!

From Elder Hanks

Saturday, August 22, 2015

From the slums of "trunky" to awesome time in Melaka

We had a great week which included our going to Melaka for exchanges with the missionaries there. Melaka is a 3 hour bus ride so it's pretty far, but we enjoyed a fun P-day with them and we had great exchanges with them. I love the missionaries who are serving there, who is Elder Ebeling and Elder Lallemant. They are awesome!

We had some great miracles and I got out of a little slump I was having that some people may call "being trunky." But I broke it and just in time too - as we had some great miracles happen this week! 

On Friday we had an appointment with a potential investigator Elder Allen and I had met on exchanges. We tried to get another male person with us so we could go into her home and teach her, but we couldn't find one, so we just went in faith that all would be okay. We knocked on her door, but she wasn't there so we stood there for a minute and made a move to leave, but just then she was walking up the stairs... awkward. We were honest in telling her our situation and she was very understanding of our rules and agreed to talk downstairs in an open area. We decided we only had a few minutes to talk and so we wanted to get right down to the point. We shared with her the Book of Mormon. When she saw "Mormon" she said, "Oh, you are the Mormons? I haven't heard that great of things about you." We talked and I just felt that I should share a brief history of the Book of Mormon and my testimony. After I did you could just feel the Spirit around us and in our hearts; I was just praying that she was feeling it too. In the end said she could accept a copy and read it and said we could come back in 2 weeks. It was a great experience. 

Also on Friday we got a notice on our building informing us that Johor Bahru was short on water and that we might get our water turned off for certain periods of time and that it could last up to a month in order to save water - so we were to be wise with our water use. Which is so crazy because it rains buckets here alot. So we went out and bought these big tubs and stored water in them for showering and other purposes. When Sunday, the first day of having no water, came around,  we woke up and one of us dared to check the tap to see if we really didn't have water. He turned it on... and water came out! So far we have still had the pleasure of water, but we are keeping our storage until this month passes. The fun things of living in Malayisa. Makes you grateful for plenty of water & basic necessities! 
yummy peach cobbler... I think.....
It was a great week and church this week was so great. The Spirit was so strong that I was having a really hard time singing because the Spirit was so strong! haha! We even had a random former investigator come to church and she said she wants to learn again and she'll be coming to church for the next little bit of time, until she can get her feet under her. But we are happy that she is back! 

Things are great here in Johor Bahru! I love the mission! here are 2 quotes from Elder Lloyd and I this week:

"The first bite is easier to give than the last." - Elder Lloyd
"You can't decide who looks at you, but you can determine what they see." -Elder Hanks

Monday, August 10, 2015

My Last Zone Conference!!

My last Zone Conference,
Pres. fist Zone Conference!
This past week we went to Singapore for zone conference and what an amazing experience it was. It was our mission president's first and my last, but despite whose it was and whatever-  there was a lot gained from it. I was able to share my testimony with the other missionaries and I had a tender moment  as I shared my feelings of my wonderful younger brother,  who just started his mission. I loved thinking about the fact that there are 2 Elder Hanks's in the world from the same family. What a blessing! 
So for P-day last week we had a badminton tournament in Singapore with all of the missionaries! It was great and  I was happy that Elder Lloyd and I  were able to tie for first in the tournament. There are a lot of really good missionaries here!  When I get home I am looking for the closest badminton tournament I can find in UT! 

There were a lot of miracles this past week so let's get to it:
While in Singapore we were able to find a lot of people to share the gospel with. I am sad that I do not get to follow up with them personally (because I'm going back to JB) , but sharing the gospel with them was the greatest feeling ever. One experience happened on Wednesday morning -  We were in Singapore's famous Botanic Garden studying under a pagoda when an older man asked if he could exercise. We said yes and he did his fun kung fu exercise thing. Once he was done,  he interrupted Elder Lloyd asking if he could take a picture of his name tag. This started a conversation which lasted for a while and ended with him taking a picture with each of us, exchanging phone numbers, and saying he had friends he would like us to meet. What a prepared son of God. I hope he will sincerely seek for the truth from the elders that are in Singapore.

I cannot remember if I mentioned this before, but we have an investigator that was on date to be baptized at the beginning of this month, but he was under age and his parents said no. We were sad to hear about it, but were excited when the opportunity came to go to his house and just meet his parents. We went with a cake the senior couple had made as a 'peace offering' and we excited to meet his mom. ( this was saturday night by the way). While there on Saturday, before we left, she motioned us to the back where her computer was. "I want to show you something." She said. We walked back not knowing what to expect, but were so excited when we looked at her computer screen to see a photo of her 3 kids with a birthday cake and 2 other missionaries with them!!!!!!! This picture was taken like 7 years ago and we had no idea!! We talked a little bit more about how she knew the other elders and we left on a high note!  The next day we went back and talked more and was so happy to hear that she wasn't opposed to her son being baptized anymore, but she just wanted him to understand more about what he's getting into and to be faithful and true to what he is joining. We were thrilled-  But we were even more excited when we heard her say that she too would like to learn and have a religion for herself and for her family!!!!! WHAT!!!!! She says she is really busy right now, but agreed to allow us to start coming over to teach her son in her home,  so she can listen to the lessons as well. We are super happy at the mercy of the Lord.

I was blessed this past week to be with one of my previous companions, Elder Lee (now Brother Lee) came over for a visit and actually helped us teach a lesson. It was a powerful lesson and it brought me back to some of the good old days of our teaching together in Sitiawan. He still has the missionary spirit about him. it was great seeing him. 
Things are going really well here in JB. I am loving it and we have quite a good amount of work in progress and to do. Couldn't ask for more!

Elders Pearce, Avery, Ebeling?, Lallemant, Hanks, Lloyd

Elders Lloyd, Pearce, Avery, Hanks

Elder Hanks

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Baptism in the dark!

Aug 2 2015 

Greetings from Singapore! It's my last zone conference in the mission and I am going to enjoy it with my awesome companion Elder Lloyd. I love him so much and he is awesome!  But we have had a great week with many miracles to share, so let's get down to it then...
Let's put the weekend in Chronological order to make it more fun:
Friday we had an appointment in the afternoon out in the east Masai area. We were needing to take a bus to the area so we walked to the bus stop and waited for the bus to come. As we were,  it was raining and then it began to rain harder and harder. Lightning was striking every 30 seconds and the rain came down harder than I have ever seen it come down. The bus came and I waved my arm out to stop the bus, but the driver just ignored us and drove on! There was a bus following right after that one, also going to our destination - but that driver ignored us too! We began to consider whether or not Heavenly Father was trying to tell us not to go to Masai today, but we said a prayer and right when we finished a bus pulled up! We got on and headed over. Once in Masai we saw that the rain storm had not yet reached there, so when the bus stopped next to a store I asked Elder Lloyd, "Do you think I should buy an umbrella?" He said, "Nah, we don't really need one. Unless you want one, then we can go buy one." I decided not to buy one. hahaha...we'll regret that later! We walked one minute towards the house when the rain storm caught up to us - and I'm guessing that on it's way over,  it was in a bad mood because the storm was worse in Masai than it was when we left the previous area! It was coming down in buckets so we took shelter under in an Indian temple. There I made a few calls while we waited for it to subside, but it never did. Finally we had to head back to our area in order to make it to another appointment and get ready for a baptism happening later that day. 
As we left the roof of the temple we huddled under Elder Lloyd's small umbrella, but I soon discovered it was worthless for two of us to be under that rag, so I screwed that and instead just resorted to jumping in the rivers of the roadside puddles. It was great. 
I was soaking wet when we got home and we had to change before teaching another investigator. We taught it outside our apartment complex in the lobby because the church  had no electricity..... yep... no power! We thought it would come back on by the time the baptism started at 7, but it did not.... and as people showed up we just had to pull chairs out of the chapel and pack them in the front lobby where the front door was giving us  light. But then as 7:00 came around and it got darker with more people coming we had to light candles and there was no place to sit!  We were a little worried about the candles because there was a lot of new people there for the baptism who were relatives,  and we didn't want to think we were a weird church with the whole candle ceremony or anything... haha! but it was great! There was a lot of people that came that really enjoyed the baptism and actually shared that they felt really good during the service! The baptism itself was great as Elder Lloyd baptized our 11 year-old investigator -  we all thought it was a memorable baptism because it was the first one in our newly made font and it was in the dark!!! What a memorable baptism.
Saturday: Due to our not visiting our investigator on Friday we took our branch president back with us on Saturday to visit her. It was a great visit and as we were leaving we thought of a less active member that lived on the same street that we thought we might just visit. We did and he was home. We had a great visit with him and he promised to come to church! It was a miracle because if we had ended up teaching her yesterday we would not have had any reason to go back to that area and we would have never been able to visit this less active member. We were so excited but I wasn't sure if he was going to come; he had made such promises before. Also on Saturday I got a little sick, but that didn't stop us from going out although I had an early night crash which was very nice. 
Sunday: The less active we visited on Saturday, came to church and we had a lot of people there. It was great and our less active member was fellowshipped really well. We hope he'll come back next week. One scary thing for me was that the branch pianist didn't come on Sunday... so I had to play! I was so nervous, but I did well enough. It's my goal now to be able to play all the hymns in the hymn book after my mission! 
If I were to answer the question, "What's one thing you did before the mission you are grateful for?" I would say piano. It has been a HUGE blessing on my mission and I have been able to use this gift to bless many people's lives. I just want to give a shoutout to my parents and say thanks for putting up with all my 'pouts' about the piano and encouraging me to continue to play. I hope to make sure it doesn't go to waste. 
Well, that was my week. It's been a great one. I'm in Singapore so I don't have too much time today, but I am sharing my last testimony. I'll record it and send it sometime. 
Love you all, Elder Hanks