April 14, 2011
Selamat pagi! (Malay for “good morning” as it will be morning when you read this. I’m e-mailing really late because Elder Jenkins has been sick, but somehow mustered the strength to get up so we could e-mail home today. Sister Clark says it’s a bug that has been going around so I’ll probably end up getting it too. Hooray for knowing you’re going to be sick before you are! Hip hip, blegh!
Not too much had happened this week, but I did make a new plan for missionary work here in Kuching. After talking with literally every Mandarin speaking here, I have discovered that it is just too early to start a Chinese group. And since it isn’t quite possible yet, I’ve come to us as Eliases for the Chinese here. “Elias” is a title given to one who is a forerunner like John the Baptist was for Jesus. And what does that mean for the work? It’s simple really. We’re going to focus more on getting the five less-active families (where the Melchizedek Priesthood is in the home) active again. We’re also going to focus on finding people that can actually lead instead of anyone who just has potential.
All of this came in response to the change in baptismal goal that President Clark gave us. At the start of the year it was 1,200 baptisms, but after some reflection and thought President Clark dropped it too 800, which is less than what we achieved last year with 1,021 baptisms. His idea is that we focus on keeping those already baptized active because last year, even though we had a lot of baptisms and retention was fairly high, too many of them became less active after one year. With over one thousand baptisms last year, sacrament meeting attendance actually went down. So, with the focus on increasing attendance, we set a goal to prepare this area for a branch instead of starting one. If we are successful, I believe Kuching can be ready for a Mandarin branch in six months. All of this came after a lot of study, pondering and prayer. This is hard work!
Now that that’s all out there let’s review my week. Last week was uneventful except for the fact that Res, the Chinese-speaking Bidayuh, dropped us. (“Bidayuh” is the collective name for several indigenous groups found in southern Sarawak.) She said she wasn’t ready to change religions yet and didn’t want to meet with us anymore. A lot of Chinese are either Buddhist or Methodist, and meeting with either type calls the fury of that group upon them; Buddhists for breaking tradition and Methodists for being “deceived” by the evil Mormons. It makes things a bit difficult, but the guy we found two weeks ago — Mr. Kho — is still good to go. He doesn’t want to come to Church because it’s in Malay but this week is General Conference and it will be broadcast by video in Mandarin so maybe he will come and watch. By the way, I am stoked to hear conference! It’s crazy to think that this will the second General Conference since I’ve been out. Do you guys feel like I’ve out that long? I definitely don’t.
Tuesday was a good day. We went contacting at some flats that Elder Porter showed us without success, but then we used what’s called “Faith Finding” and it went really well. Faith Finding takes some preparation. You have to know where you’re going, when you’re going and how long you’ll be there. Then you pray and ask for success within that time frame and then exercise faith that during that time you will find someone. We went to these flats, planning on being there from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., and then to head over to an appointment with Mr. Kho. At 5:00 p.m. we just happened to run into Elders Porter and Tippets across the street. Turns out they just made contact with an elderly Chinese man and he invited them back. But since they don’t speak Chinese they said they would tell us that night and we would see him the next day. It worked out that we were able to see him 20 minutes later! He’s a good guy, named Michael. He takes care of two of his grand kids because their parents live in Singapore and haven’t even seen their kids in like five years. How sad is that? He is a stud for taking care of them. He has raised them only speaking to them in very broken English so that’s their native language. It made teaching them very difficult — switching between Singlish and Chinese like that. It still went pretty well. Sadly, I don’t think his wife likes us. We’ll see.
Yesterday we went to WaterFront and I got a blow gun. It’s shorter than most but it will get a dart traveling fast enough to stick half an inch into a tree. Not too shabby for 15 ringgit!
I’ve written a song about the rain. I changed the words to the Primary song, “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man.”
The rain came down,
And the missionaries gave up.
There’s the new motto. I’ve come to fear rain as much as Ibans do. It’s sad really, but I hate rain!
Keep writing me. I love all you guys!
Also can, Elder Moody