Tuesday, October 28, 2014
So this week my watch got stolen right from inside the church, while we were all playing basketball outside on the court. I had left it on top of my bag. It was a gift from Dad so we looked on the security cameras and found out it was some Malay kids that some of the other elders knew. They went to their house and got it back. Thievery is real out here.
Also, our recent convert Brother Tan got his next batch of garbage money stolen again. So sad. We felt so bad he hadn't eaten for two days and so we brought him some food. He is doing great though. As happy as always!
But don't worry I love the people here they are seriously so humble and amazing but this just seems to be an occurring problem. I am learning fast not to leave my stuff out for even a couple minutes.
So last week I forgot to mention that I was able to confirm Brother Tan as a member of the church and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost. Even though our branch is in English he doesn't speak a lick of English and so I confirmed him in Chinese..it was kind of scary considering I had never done that in English but I guess what better way to start!! Also I translate usually for Sacrament meeting for the people who don't understand enough English to get by.
This week my companion had a pretty decent bike crash and he got a decent concussion from it despite wearing a helmet so he had to go to the hospital. Biking out here is pretty dangerous but we are careful don't worry.
Also we went to the wind caves this week which was insane. I sent some pictures but literally we were amid like a million bats off the main trail squeezing our way through crevices and rock climbing huge walls. It was intense but a lot of fun. There were like a million huge spiders and insects inside though. And I must of hit my head on the ceiling at least a hundred times.
Also, this week Penny one of our investigators will be getting baptized! Super happy for her and the huge change she has made in her life.
So when we had our bikes stolen..that night as we were searching for them we ran into a guy at his house who we asked if he had seen anything suspicious. He said no but feeling compassion for us..let us borrow his bike for a couple days. We were shocked at his kindness but took it for the couple days and then returned it. When we returned it he started asking questions about what we did and eventually we started teaching him. We had a really good lesson with him last week and he is really searching for the truth. He is amazingly prepared to hear the gospel. We have another lesson with him tongiht..We realized that perhaps there was a reason that our bikes got stolen. God sometimes works in mysterious ways. And you can always look and find good in the bad.
I read this talk by our prophet Thomas S. Monson and it really hit home..
"This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now. Rather than dwelling on the past, we should make the most of today, of the here and now, doing all we can to provide pleasant memories for the future." -Thomas S. Monson
Love you all,
“Do … human beings ever realize life while they live it—every, every minute?” -Emily Webb
Monday, October 20, 2014
-So here Chinese people feed you until you want to die and then feed you more. It is impolite not to eat everything they give you and so we have no choice. We go a long time without eating and then we eat these huge meals. Like ridiculous. I sent a picture of one with our investigator Penny.
-I am starting to grow to really like the food out here. Lots of noodles and rice and chicken.
-There was one kid in our apartment this week that got super super sick this week. He went blind for two days because his eyes got infected and it was insane how bad his whole face got warped but he's gotten better now. For a couple days no one wanted to touch anything he touched. We are lucky no one else in the apartment got it. Another missionary in a different apartment might have gotten it as well.
-We got to give an old member's husband blessing in a hospital this week. Well I thought it was a jail. It's nothing like what you would think a hospital is. It is terrible. I felt so bad for all the people in there. Just know we have it well where we live.
So I don't have much time this week but I'd like to share a quick thought. We were able to baptize an old man named Brother Tan this week and confirmed him yesterday. He is 70 plus and is a Kung Fu genius. Still at 70 years old I would not want to get in a fight with him.
Anyways, he has quite the inspiring story. He picks up garbage for a living (cardboard) and sells it.
He has no money. His children took it all and left. They won't talk to him and he can't get a hold of them.
This week we went to visit him and asked him how he was doing when we got there. He said he was doing great because he felt peace from God that day and his body was in good health. Those are the two things that he always says.
We noticed that his cardboard was gone and we asked him about it and he said that he had sold it. For a huge amount of cardboard he had gotten he was paid 26.70 ringgit which is about 9 US dollars. That was all the money he had. He left the money in his car overnight and the man he had been letting sleep at his house was gone the next morning. But so was all 26.70 in his car.
And yet with nothing left he was the happiest person we had met that week. It is a testimony that no matter your circumstances you can have happiness. I still can see him in my mind telling me why that day was good before I even found out his final money had gotten stolen. His 9 dollars that he had worked for weeks to get. He felt peace from God and he had a healthy body.
Please be grateful. Please be happy. God has given us everything.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
-Bikes got stolen on Wednesday. Me and my companion both had gotten new bikes.
-they were locked to each other on the steps of the church porch. a guy came up and grabbed both bikes carried them onto his moto and his friend drove him and the two bikes off.
-Me and Elder Fletcher chased after them. It was intense but it was no avail. They got away.
-We have video of it but it was at night and so we can't get a license plate so its not really any use.
-We know what kind of moto it was and so we've been looking around all week for the same kind of bike but no avail.
-We went to the police but that didn't help anything, apparently a lot of times the police are in on the theft themselves. This isn't america people. They basically gave us a search warrant and sent us on our own investigation so we've been going to rich houses that have camera's and looking at their film but nothing yet.
-this kind of took a blow to our week but we are working on salvaging some old bikes to keep us in the work. Without a bike you can't do anything here it feels like.
-I thought i would give a little culture here that might be interesting.
-Like 4 times a day and once at midnight and once at 5 am every day the muslims have their prayer call which is becoming annoying i am sorry to say. It's loud and wakes me up every morning way too early. It is just this guy on the loudest microphone ever singing in tamel I guess so I don't know what he's saying but it just doesn't sound very good. No offense meant to the religion though of course.
-Another thing that happens here is a lot of people men grow out their finger nails really long. And all the chinese people grow out just their pinky finger nail on their left hand. There is some strange cultural reason why.
-Also the chinese refuse to cut their hair that grows out of their moles. its kind of gross but apparently if they cut it, it ruins their luck. DIdn't quite understand that one haha.
-One blessing this week was of the love out here for white people.
-one of our investigators just gave a smartphone which was sick because I was about to buy one. Chinese elders are allowed to have smartphones to text chinese
-Got to watch conference..some in Chinese and some in English..only understood like half of what was being said in Chinese but still good practice
Our baptism of the old man got moved to next week because of conference this week.
For all who watched conference and any who didn't I would like to end with a little of my favorite talk by President Uctdorf..
It was our beloved Savior’s final night in mortality, the evening before He would offer Himself a ransom for all mankind. As He broke bread with His disciples, He said something that must have filled their hearts with great alarm and deep sadness. “One of you shall betray me,” He told them.
The disciples didn’t question the truth of what He said. Nor did they look around, point to someone else, and ask, “Is it him?”
Instead, “they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?”1
I wonder what each of us would do if we were asked that question by the Savior. Would we look at those around us and say in our hearts, “He’s probably talking about Brother Johnson. I’ve always wondered about him,” or “I’m glad Brother Brown is here. He really needs to hear this message”? Or would we, like those disciples of old, look inward and ask that penetrating question: “Is it I?”
Mankind including myself I feel has this problem more than we would like to admit. Look in yourself first before others. You and I might be missing something.
The Savior said:
“Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? …
“… First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Sending all my love,
Ping Zhang Lao
P.S. Here is the link to that talk and a favorite story from it of mine : https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/lord-is-it-i?lang=eng
Once there was a man who enjoyed taking evening walks around his neighborhood. He particularly looked forward to walking past his neighbor’s house. This neighbor kept his lawn perfectly manicured, flowers always in bloom, the trees healthy and shady. It was obvious that the neighbor made every effort to have a beautiful lawn.
But one day as the man was walking past his neighbor’s house, he noticed in the middle of this beautiful lawn a single, enormous, yellow dandelion weed.
It looked so out of place that it surprised him. Why didn’t his neighbor pull it out? Couldn’t he see it? Didn’t he know that the dandelion could cast seeds that could give root to dozens of additional weeds?
This solitary dandelion bothered him beyond description, and he wanted to do something about it. Should he just pluck it out? Or spray it with weed killer? Perhaps if he went under cover of night, he could remove it secretly.
These thoughts totally occupied his mind as he walked toward his own home. He entered his house without even glancing at his own front yard—which was blanketed with hundreds of yellow dandelions.
Monday, October 6, 2014
-I swear I still can't get over how many dogs there are here..
-We try and run each morning and go to the sisters apartment gym ( they have a bench press) or the basketball court there..
-Kind of ran out of ideas for working out and so last p-day I broke out some of Don's and Gabe's workout routines. I went to the church gym which has no hoop. The court is outside and then I set up maybe 50 chairs and did a huge version of the diamond drill that me and gabe used to do. A bunch of Elders and sisters were there kind of got in a crowd to watch because they had never seen anything like it. Then a few of them stepped in and tried it. But they mostly epically failed because the moves got pretty complicated pretty fast.
-I also did the tennis ball drill which they found really entertaining but didn't dare try. Basically Gabe's drills are one of a kind.
-Chinese is good. We are speaking a lot of chinese with natives everyday which is the best way to learn.
-Funny story though with Mandarin this week. I was introducing my cousin sister Romney to an investigator and meant to tell her that she is my relative (qinqi) but instead said I kissed her (qingqing) . Quite embaressing and a bunch the ward members heard but it happens. There are a lot of similar words you have to be really careful.
-Piano is still getting put to good use. We have the nicest piano ever at the church. A grand Yamaha. Whenever an appointment falls through I will jam for a little while. I have been working on a couple arrangements one of I Need Thee Every Hour but not sure if its gonna be as good as the other ones I made..I am getting to play for the primary who is singing in about a month which should be fun! Kids are the best!
-I hope you all enjoyed conference this week. Honestly, modern scripture. Read it again and again or if you haven't seen it yet. Watch it. We live for conference out here. Better than Christmas they say.
-We actually don't get conference for two more weeks though because of translation issues.
So I will end with a thought. We have a baptism this Saturday of an old man named Brother Chen. He is a fisherman and is 70+ years old. All his family left him and his life funds are in Singapore but his son took his money so he has nothing left. His wife left a long time ago as well. Two of his sons live in Kuching but won't talk to him and pretend to not know him. He picks up garbage paper and sells it for a living. Many days he doesn't have enough money for food and just lives on water. And YET he is one of the happiest most enthusiastic positive 70 year old man I have ever met in my life. So think about yourself what have you got to worry about? honestly?
God gave us everything. Thank him. Think about all the blessings. Don't worry about one little problem. Trust me it could be worse.
17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;
18 And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.
19 And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.
I love you all.
God loves you more.
This is a great story from last conference from President Uctdorf about being grateful..
"There is an old story of a waiter who asked a customer whether he had enjoyed the meal. The guest replied that everything was fine, but it would have been better if they had served more bread. The next day, when the man returned, the waiter doubled the amount of bread, giving him four slices instead of two, but still the man was not happy. The next day, the waiter doubled the bread again, without success.
On the fourth day, the waiter was really determined to make the man happy. And so he took a nine-foot-long (3-m) loaf of bread, cut it in half, and with a smile, served that to the customer. The waiter could scarcely wait for the man’s reaction.
After the meal, the man looked up and said, “Good as always. But I see you’re back to giving only two slices of bread.”"