June 22, 2011
“Ahhh hmmhrmah, eh” is the way I answer the phone and respond to pointless questions when I know that an answer is meaningless but the person wants a response anyway. You know what I mean, right? One of the missionaries in our apartment is the king of that type of question. He’ll say something like, “Hockey is cool,” as we watch Miracle and will then look at you until you say something back. Which is why I say, “Ah.” Try it. It’s loads of fun.
So this week was sweet! On Thursday the senior sisters took Elder Forsyth and me to see the less-actives’ houses so we would know where they live. They thought it would take all day but because no one was home we couldn’t make any visits and we were finished by 5:00 p.m. However, because they were planning to spend the rest of the evening with us, they took us to dinner at an Indian restaurant and then we took the both of them to two of our appointments afterwards. It was pretty fun; almost like a missionary double-date. Seriously, we really had a good time. Sister Lowe and Sister Clark even made us a list of Chinese members with addresses and other helpful information. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen senior missionaries do for us.
Also, we met an investigator by the name of Grandma Bong (or Phang or Feng, depending on how the name is written – last names in different dialects drive me crazy). So we went over to her house and she shocked us. She has been investigating the Church for more than eight months and was not happy with the reading assignments the elders were giving her so she asked President Chan bring for a Book of Mormon Study Manual. Every night she reads a chapter, does the chapter assignment and then reviews what she learned with the missionaries to make sure she understands it. She’s golden – except for one very important fact – she won’t be baptized. Why? Because she feels like baptism has negative effects on one’s spirituality based on seeing other baptized members go inactive so quickly and then stop living their covenants. I guess you can’t blame her for her careful observations. However, I could not just sit there and listen to someone play down baptism as if it’s just another way to show faith. Baptism is an extremely sacred and symbolic covenant with the Lord. I suppose I’m getting a little more bold. For too long I have sat and listened to members’ incorrect opinions about gospel principles without saying anything. I’ve decided I can’t do that anymore. Left unchecked, that’s how people go astray because they continue living with misperceptions about key principles of the restored gospel. So I’ve taken it upon myself in those situations to correct quickly, but with love. That’s a hard balance to achieve, and I hope I’m doing it correctly. Anyway, we’re going to start working with her more often. I think the previous elders kind of let members make excuses and stuff. I do not. Ever. Not with this elder.
On Friday we went to see some less-actives but none let us in. None. Zero out of eight different houses.
On Saturday we spent two full hours making phone calls to less-active members with only a little success.
On Sunday, two of those less-active people we called actually showed up! Our branch president was ecstatic. He told Elder Forsyth and me at least 10 times how great it was that they were here. He said that he calls them every week and they never showed up. One of them was a funny story actually. I called a guy by the name of Lim Su Kai and said, “You need to come to church.” He replied, “No, I don’t want.” To understand what happened next you must know that there is a grammar principle in Chinese where by adding the sound “ba” you actually turn a suggestion into a command. It’s very impolite to use unless you have a distinction or seniority over the person to whom you are saying it. So after he said “Don’t want” I said, “Come to church, ba.” He said, “Okay” and then actually showed up on Sunday. It was great.
The other guy who showed up has been going through some tough times so he ended up meeting with President Chan for about an hour. It was really good that he came.
Before church on Sunday we went to pick up a 10-year member and he flat out refused to go to church. I was ticked. A kid half my age wouldn’t listen to a thing I said. I’ve come to realize that the culture here gives children way too much deference. It’s a big problem. Parents give a four-year old as much say as their 40-year old. Not okay. It’s just poor parenting.
But the rest was good. Monday we got the chance to meet the first baptized family in all of Miri. The first Relief Society president and the first branch president. Unfortunately, both of them are now inactive, but their sons and a nephew were all really cool guys and promised to come to church next Sunday.
On Tuesday, which I guess was yesterday, we met three more members. Sister Soon is extremely needy. She calls us frequently and asks us to come over. I finally had to tell her that we can come just once a week, and then only if she has referrals for us. It worked! She introduced us to her son who said we can teach his whole family and then told us about these two Americans she knows. I’m not sure if if they’re real or not, but we’ll see.
Other than that Elder Forsyth and I made a goal to take at least one cool picture a day of to better record our missions.
The gospel is real; the Church is true; and I love serving the Lord in Malaysia!