I've said it before and I'll say it again, it was awesome to get to see and talk to everybody. Whitney has matured a lot, and Seth can talk! It was fun. It didn't feel like I haven't talked to yall in 7 months. This Christmas was killer. I loved it. Hopefully I'll be there next year with at least my fiance (don't know if that's spelled correctly)... just kidding Mom. Kinda.
So there was some wild stuff that went down this week. I can't really tell you all the details, but it had to do with 5 men from Bangladesh who all really wanted to be baptized before they went back. Their story is that they've had the Book of Mormon for about 10 years now and finally are here to be baptized. Yeah, we've done some research about one of them and it's pretty fishy. In fact it reeks... I'll tell you all about it in a few months.
Right now I'm sitting in KL on an exchange. I lived in the apartment here for the first 6 days of my mission. Since that time, I've only been back to that apartment once, and that was when I got transferred from Klang to Sibu last October. Being there brings back a lot of feelings and memories. I'd forgotten how it felt to be a brand new missionary, but being back in that same environment now has brought some of those sensations back.
I don't miss that first month or so. The combination of culture shock, not knowing anyone around you (including your companion), and being completely lost halfway around the world is not a very pleasant thing to experience for the first little bit. I got over it fairly quickly, but for some it is really difficult. As my mission is getting closer to the end, I'm realizing that it's going to be much of the same sensations when I go home, just in reverse. I don't especially like change.
Highlights of the week:
1. Our mission has a goal to have 1000 baptisms a year. We shoot for 20 baptisms a week throughout the mission, but of course some weeks are better than others. For the first 8 months of this year, I don't know what happened but the mission was taking a beating and there were many weeks that were below 10. However, since President Clark has been here (especially in the last 3 months) things have lit back on fire. We averaged more than 100 baptisms per month for the last 3 months and this last week was the biggest highlight because we had 52 baptisms in the mission! That is crazy! Things are really rolling now, but the challenge is to keep things rolling.
2. We're going to be going around giving a training in the next month to try and keep everybody fired up and working their hardest while doing it effectively.
On Wednesday night we'll be going up to Penang to do exchanges there, and then we'll be back in Singapore for almost a week before Elder Kent D. Watson of the Seventy comes on his tour of the mission. That will last for about a week, and then Elder Stone and I will be going around the mission again giving a training which will be about 2 weeks. Directly following that is Elder Nelson's mission tour, so we're going to be pretty swamped for the next 3 months or so.
Dad asked about my language study. I've never been very good at studying it. The way I learned Malay was 80% just trying to speak it and if I didn't understand a word, I would write it down and figure it out later. Grammar books and language learning books never really did it for me, so my "language study" time in the mornings wasn't ever very effective. I feel like that is the better way to learn it anyway.
There are very few things that bother me more about missionary work than missionaries who focus too much on what words they are using and trying to have perfect grammar instead of the message they're sharing and how sincere they are. The language of the spirit is far more important than anything else you can use, and some missionaries get too distracted by other things, like trying to use deep profound language that is completely unnecessary. Simplicity is many times much more powerful. Maybe I just say that because I don't know very many big words (even in English), but that's how I feel.
Did I mention that I'm uber-excited for this trip Dad? It is going to blow your mind! I'm happy that you've got something to record it on now. It will be sweet! I hope that I'll have time to work all of it out though... no worries, I'll get it done.
Anywho, yall are the bomb. Thanks for all of the support and prayers.
I love you all,