Sunday, December 30, 2012

12/30/12

It was so wonderful being able to see you all! What a treat to know that we will be together for all eternity as we are faithful in keeping and continuing to make more covenants with our Father in Heaven! I really want to let you all know that Celeste is progressing towards parenthood!!! What?! Celeste, I am so happy for you! Congratulations, and I expect twin boys upon my arrival home, with lots of energy that want to spend time with "Uncle Bucky" =D Joshua, I found your name!! It's "约书" I would make it bigger, but my toolbar is hiding from me ;D

Daddy:  I agree, the time flew by! The next thing I knew, I was looking at the screen thinking that someone had changed the time... Sneaky sneaky people these days! Do you think if President Mains lets us Skype on Mother's Day as well you would like to do that, or the phone?  Something really sad happened this week.  The family that we have been spending most of our time with, called us (the mother) and began to tell me that she was tired of waiting for her son to be baptized, of making him come to church, of just not seeing results (please note: it has been a constant struggle to help these dear people understand that baptism isn't just something that we do, that God doesn't change, and that I will be held accountable for the people I help to be baptized if they aren't properly prepared! As well, their son did not pass his first interview, and there are some things he needed to work out his parents did not understand or know about.  I took that hard.  These people had a testimony of the gospel.  I love them so much! I ave spent more than half a year with them, loving and trying my best to teach them to their understanding, only to realize how much they don't understand.  I am grateful that God has been tender in showing me my weaknesses, in helping me to understand these people
s rate of acceptance, and being able to now understand the areas I need to improve in.  Thank you for sharing your testimony with me, and especially for the prayer you offered as we all Skyped.  It touched me.  I have always been pretty happy, but this week I had ups, downs, and all-arounds. You all helping me be so happy, then seeing this beautiful family stop learning, just tore my hearts to pieces.  I am grateful for the testimony you shared, that our efforts are not wasted, and that we will never see the end results of the seeds we planted.  If you could all pray for me this week to be better at folloeing up on the commitiments I extend, I feel that I will become a better and more understandable teacher.  I love you Dad!

Rebekah: That is a wonderful resoluion! Is there anything that I can do to help you gain your testimony?  Well, no, there isn't, but I do invite you to read the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes every day.  It will be hard, you wont understand it all.  You will feel tired, or stressed out, but I promise you as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you will be able to clear you thoughts, find peace, and find your testimony as you read this sacred and divine Scripture.  There is a divine power within the Book of Mormon, that will creep into your life, and strengthen your resolve to keep the commandments of god, to be peaceful and loving, and to withstand temptation.  I love you Rebekah!! My resolve for this year is to: 1) Be HAPPY! 2) Read the BOM in Chinese Characters (I just finished in Pinyin, and I am in 1Nephi chapter 17 now in Characters) 3) develop Charity 4)  Look on others as the Savior looks on them =D

Richard: Well, everyone seems to accept the idea of a "great spirit" or greater being.  I would tackle that situation, by asking that person if they loved their family, (or anyone if they say no) and then I would begin to explain to them how we are a part of God's family.  I would try to teach as many truths as I could about God, to give the Spirit opportunity to testify of what I spoke, and then I would bear testimony myself, and invite that person to discover for themself that there is a God, that He loves them, and that He has a purpose for them, through reading the BOM.  It was wonderful seeing you! You should start on all the medical parts of the mission papers-- blood, etc.  I just remember being frustrated by how long it was all taking.

Corina: Rebekah sure is sweet! I am glad you were able to go on a hike! How sore are you? :D Do you have any resolutions? I sure loved hearing you all sing Silent Night.  It pended up my heart, and just helped me feel so happy, to see the wonderful treasure that I had!! I bet Mom and Dad can't wait for grandbabbies (Celeste.... hint wink ;D)!!! Thanks for helping the family out! Corina, you keep on helping everyone out, and God will keep on helping you out!

Celeste: Thanks for your scripture! I will try to live up to your expectations of me as your little brother, who used to bug and annoy you, and now is hopefully only irritating sometimes... ;D  Don't worry, about me not being there for the wedding, I was able to share with one of our investigators that you were getting married, and that I wouldn't be able to go just as she couldn't see her son sealed this month in the temple.  I think it helped her a little bit :D  Will you pray for me? I want you to know that I love you! I hope you are becomin your best self as well! Don't let anything hold you back, no matter how innocent it may seem, I LOVE YOU!

Joshua! I love you too!!! You are my favorite Christmas present! I like the Mr. Happy card that you sent me! I think that you are super duper awesome!!!! =D

Mandy: I love you! I am sorry you were sad at church.  I think Mommy will giv you a big EJB'Lovin' for me! =D

Mommy:  I loved seeing you as well! I share with everyone how incredible you are! I loved hearing you sing, The dinner was incredible! Mashed potatoes and Chicken! They asked what we usually had back home for Christmas dinner... I didn't remember= burritos? ;D  Thank you so much for all your  letters, and your wonderful attention.  Thanks for following the counsel of Proverbs 22:6.  The scriptures say that happy is the man that has his quiver full (of children) and I think that applies to you as well, but I think that if you have happy kids who choose the right it is easier to be happy.  I hope that I can always help you to be happy! Heavenly Father loves you Mommy! HE knos you are doing "swell" and that I love you.  I hope you can feel my love from across the oceans.  You keep the family on track Mommy!!! =D  I love you!

You can just post this email on the blog, I am tired of writing separately, plus, everyone can just know that I love you all! =D

Elder Jacob Emmanuel Black

Sunday, December 23, 2012

12/23/12

I sure am glad that I almost got this email last time! How are you all doing? It doesn't feel like Christmas at all here.... I can't lie, I opened the Christmas presents the minute I got them =D  Now that I have told you that, I need to say thank you!!!!! I loved them! The Nativity scene is so special!!! I wont go through all of the presets, but I do appreciate that you are all willing to take the time to send such an expensive gift to me! I am so grateful for the sacrifice of time that must have taken! That package was full of so much love! It's weird to think that it is Christmas Eve here in Malaysia! I will only answer this email, but I will try to include what I remember from this weeks as well!

Merry Christmas! I love you all! :D

Sunday, December 16, 2012

12/16/12

This week was bery nice! I was able to eat a quarter of a Durian from the Ng family, and we were able to meet their friend 3 times between last week and today! We are getting better at contacting, which I think is coming from learning more about the culture here.  A lot of people are scared to see to white men with white shirts and ties knocking on their doors.... We usually get rejected, but it sure does make the day when we get a smile! I encourage everyon who ends up reading this to smile at people and live the Golden Rule (which I am discussing with a wise man right now :D)! The rainy season has begun, it was foggy this morning as we took a taxi to the bus station, which was neat! We have one investigator who has been learning for ages, who is starting to read the Book of Mormon! What a gift! It shows that God does answer prayers.  The hardest part of being a Missionary, is helping people understand that the only thing we really want them to do is read The Book of Mormon and pray about it.  And that everything else that they do will just come naturally as they read that divine book, and folllow the counsel which is clearly outlined within it.  I read a beautiful talk found at http://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/11/the-book-of-mormon-keystone-of-our-religion?lang=eng&query="the+book+of+mormon" that really blessed me with an understanding of why I feel so much better the days I truly study the Book of Mormon! I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God! That it will bless our lives and our families, and that it is true.  I love you all!!!  :D
Love,
Elder Black!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

12/09/12

I went to Singapore on Wednesday, and I GOT YOUR PACKAGE! You will have to give my thanks for all the recipies to everyone who helped so much! Especially Brother and Sister Russell! I sure can't wait to try them all out! I get to go shopping today, maybe I can find those ingredients :D!  Transfers happened today, I get to stay in Sitiawan =D There is Zone Conference in Singapore next week, and I can't wait for it! I love being uplifted by President and Sister Mains! They are so definitely inspired!  It is the Christmas Season now! Sadly, in Malaysia, that means that the temperatures stay the exact same! Plus a little bit of rain, just to ensure that we never acheive the meaning of the word "dry" =D Elder Broadhead and I were able to meet two new investigators this week! I am so excited to work with them! This is going to be a great week coming up! The Malay speaking Elders who have been serving here are taken out, so there will now e just Elder Broadhead, I, and the Lord to establish His Kingdom here in Sitiawan.  I sure do love you all!
Love,
Elder Jacob Black =D

Monday, December 3, 2012

12/3/12

This past week was incredible.  We were able to meet a lot of people this week, and were able to testify of the things we know to be true.  Something that I have been realizing more and more this past week, is the sacredness of the Book of Mormon.  I read the October 2011 Liahona, and was amazed at the testimonies that were included there.  For some reason, I never realized all of the promises attached to the Book of Mormon, and I encourage everyone to read that issue of the Ensign.  The other talk I read was called "The Fourth Missionary" I can't recall the name of the person who gave it, but it was one of the most life changing talks I've read! I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the opportunity I now have to live with my family for all eternity!  I know that Joseph Smith opened this Dispensation of the Gospel.  That no other church in the world has the Priesthood Authority of God.  This I know to be true. I rejoice in the privilege and opportunity I have to hold this great responsibility! May we all learn to love and appreciate one another, and the tender mercies that God displays in our lives each day! :D

I love YOU! =D
Elder Black

Sunday, November 25, 2012

11/25/12

Malaysian news:

Well, my sister finally decided to grace the requests of a one "Jacob Hoeffling" and take pity upon his pleas for her hand in marriage.  Of course, and only naturally, I demand and request a background report on him.  As I am not there to ask the "IMPORTANT QUESTIONS" such as:  "If you were alone in a room with a zebra, what would be the first question you asked it?"  closely followed by: Crunchy or Creamy Peanut butter?  However, as I hear more and more, if he is deemed "passable/acceptable/by some miracle is worthy of the presence of my sister"  Then I would suggest to everyone who knows them to exhort them to engage in this matrimonial extravaganza on the 22nd of February, being a date which is beloved by all who "KNOW"  ;D Anyway, I am excited for my sister.  I hope everything works ot and that Mom doesn't get too stressed out.  This week was exciting/happy/sad and everything in between. :D  We were able to have some great lessons, the people are actally talking to us instead of slamming doors in our faces, the weather is nicer-- with lukewarm rain now :D  Elder Broadhead's language skills are progressing, his cousin is heading on a mission to Sacramento, California! Elder Savage is in touch with me, and he is heading out in JUNE! What an amazing opportunity! I hope he can make it to the wedding on the "22nd of February" ;D I love you all! I just finished up True to the Faith and Our Heritage.... this past week.  They were helpful to me in understanding the doctines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ more clearly,  Why we don't gamble, the doctrine behind that, the reason for many of the commandments.  I love you! :D 

Love, Elder Black =D 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

11/11/12

Dear Family, (This can be Malaysian News as Well)

This week has been a wonderful learning curve for me.  Mostly that I can't do anything without the Lord's help.  My love and diligence in prayer has increased by 5 points! :D

I am also becoming a firm believer in my ability to choose my own happiness.  I often times have the opportunity to cry about life, or laugh at it.  Elder Broadhead is a wonderful help in this, his humor is different, and it makes me laugh all the time!   I am so grateful for the Lord's help in learning how to help Him! It's quite entertaining if I think about it.  I am on the Mission to serve the Lord, and in return, He serves me by showing me how to serve Him.  I love the words of King Benjamin in Mosiah Chapter 2, about how we are always unprofitable servants, and the Lord will always immediately bless us for our obedience!   I am learning to love the commandments of the Lord, His mercy to me, and the importance of obedience in finding happiness. If there is any commandment you are currently struggling on, whether it be pray always, or truly observe the Sabbath Day, I urge you to trust in the Lord's blessings.  The Lord is wise and will not ever ask you to do anything unless there is a blessing attached to it.  There are also sometimes sad consequences attached to disobedience.  Such as families deteriorating.  I want to live with you all for eternity.  I want to be able to attend the temple with all of you as you reach the appropriate ages. I want you to know, that the Plan of Happiness is most certainly created by God, for US! His Children!! He called us to earth in this family to help strengthen, Love, and Protect each other.  I am not perfect, and apologize for not always magnifying my calling as a son and brother- older and younger- I hope that you all have desires still to live with me for eternity.  I was reading Mosiah Chapter 2 today for Personal Study.  As I read my thoughts were turned to families, homes, and temples.  I do not have my scriptures with me at the moment, so my remembrance will be imperfect, but, It is of great importance that King Benjamin taught FROM THE TEMPLE, that he gathered his people (family) together and taught them from the Temple (like God teaching us), but also, that the people were organized according to their families! Not only that, but as they faced the temple IN their tents (Now, when reading 1 Nephi I often replace tent with TEMPLE) The home is where the heart is- the temple should be where we place our hearts, not on wealth, not on knowledge, but on the temple.  Then, if our home is the only place which can ever be as  holy as the temple... well, I urge Mom and Dad, and you all as a family to study these verses, and make them your life motto.  I know I have not been good at placing family first in the past, but I have promised myself to change! I love you all so very much, I think about you! Love Elder Black :D

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Now a trainer -- from Jacob's 11/4/2012 email

Well... I am training officially now.  My "son's" name is Elder Broadhead.  He is from Riverton Utah.  He likes to hunt, and is a huge fan of soccer!

Malaysian News: 

Transfers were very big in the Chinese Speaking portion of the mission.  I now have a new companion, Elder Broadhead, and we are staying in Sitiawan! I will most likely be here for another 3 months, although nothing is definite, and we shall see what the Lord has in store :D

I was in Singapore last week from Tuesday (leaving Monday night) until Saturday Morning around 6:50 am, I am still tired from traveling, but I had a wonderful experience.  My Chinese improved quite a bit, listening and speaking to Mainland Chinese students who are studying in Singapore.  They are very kind, and have wonderful manners.  I also have been able to improve my contacting skills due to the thousands of people one meets in Singapore each day!

Elder Broadhead is wonderful! We are both not that great at Chinese, so the next while will be a wonderful learning experience!  We are looking for a family to prepare and receive the ordinance of Baptism in December.  We get along well, and are learning about each other a lot.  We are focusing on doing everything according to the light and knowledge we have received from Preach My Gospel, and The Missionary Handbook.  We are learning a lot, making mistakes, and having a wonderful time.  Our studies are my favorite part of the day, and then watching the people who we taught keep the commitments that we extend to them, and grow closer to Jesus Christ is incredible!

I love seeking and receiving revelation each day! I wish to bear my testimony that the mission field is the Lord's Vineyard, and He knows how to prune it, who to use to fertilize it, who to use to reap the benefits of the labor, and the laws of the harvest.  I know that the Lord trusts me to trust Him, and I am excited for this opportunity to develop our relationship.

Love, Elder Jacob Emmanuel Black :D

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jacob's 10/28 2012 email

Malaysian News:

This week a lot happened.  We had a wonderful activity with ward members, and quite a few potential investigators that we were able to contact.  A less-active family went as well which was wonderful! It's an incredible experience to watch the members, and realize how much this small branch in Malaysia is doing to fellowship, invite, uplift and inspire each other!!

I offer a simple invitation to anyone preparing to serve a mission to prepare for a mission.  Become the missionary you want to be.  Invite your friends to activities, church, and to hear more out of your love for them.  If they say no, you are still friends! Don't think that a simple invitation  will end your friendship with someone.

We went to Pinang (sp?) for a District Conference with almost all of West Malaysia.  It was a wonderful uplifting experience, and I learned a lot! Especially about living after the manner of happiness, which seems to be centered around sealing families together forever in the temple.

Elder Jensen is leaving me and Sitiawan today to go back to America.  I will be getting a new companion at some point?  Hopefully I find out what is happening with transfers.  I still haven't heard from my District Leader Elder Reeves.  That will probably be the news for next week.  It is peculiar to me that I have been with Elder Jensen for 4 months already.  How time flies.  I will miss him.  We were able to meet with one of our investigators (who had gone dark on the radar) finally, he was off in KL for a few weeks, and is finishing up his course papers.  Elder Jensen had a nifty bike crash, but I wont say much about that.  I love you all!  :D

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Malaysian News from Jacob's 10/21 Email

This week, I was grateful for the opportunity to attend Zone Conference! What a spiritually uplifting experience! I learned a lot, especially about gratitude, and what I need to do to show the Lord I am humble, and want His Divine assistance.

Elder Jensen is going back to America on the 29th (well, taking a bus to Singapore, he leaves on Thursday or so) and I'm not sure what will happen with transfers.  This Mission is interesting to me.  I have been serving for nearly four months, and only had 2 companions, but I have learned so much from each of them.  I hope they read this and know that I still think about them!

Well, the biggest miracle of this week, was the Sunday Miracle! Everyone (well, not everyone, but a Lot of people) came to Church! There must have been 35 people there! It was so neat and exciting to see them all! 

I love you all! :D

Sunday, October 14, 2012

From Jacob's 10/14/2012 Email

There is a lot to respond to and not that much time! I am flying heading into Singapore today for Zone Conference, but I will be back in Sitiawan shortly. General Conference was amazing, I can't wait to see the Priesthood Session!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

This Week Was Fantastic! From Jacob's 10/7/2012 Email

This week was fantastic! I will just talk about what I heard happened at General Conference! 18 and 19 years old now?! That's a tremendous change the Lord is making. It makes me wonder about the many big changes that will occur because of this blessing!

I just met an incredible man from Nigeria. He met with us, about 2 times this week and came to church! He said that he believes the Book of Mormon is true, but he still has not read and prayed, to ask God if it is true! :( It is nice that he trusts us, but anyone can lie to him, and it is hard to convince people here that they need to believe things for themselves and not because someone tells them something.

I have been noticing a lot of different cultural traits, and I am also realizing how similar people are no matter what language they speak. I heard a spoiler alert from General Conference! The Lord has moved the age up for those who are desirous to serve Him! What a unique and incredible experience! How many of the people that I love is that effecting? It is interesting to note that the Lord's servant's have been analyzing the situation, and making sure the logistics of it would work. I hope they will be surprised and pleased by the response of those who desire to serve God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. I hope if you are thinking about the new change or turning in papers now, that you write me about it! That's something I would love to know! How many lives are changing?

It is interesting how many people are curious about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who will not take the time to read the Book of Mormon. It is also sad the amount of people who read the Book of Mormon without "real intent" meaning- even if God told them the Book of Mormon was true, they would not change their lives and partake of His Love, Peace, and Comfort.

Thought for the week: There is no free lunch (Chinese proverb). We can't be happy without service, We can't get rich without work, We can't accept love without loving. God is not so mysterious as we draw closer to Him through prayer, and remember that His great motivator is Love, and that His power comes from the Priesthood. I personally know and have received a witness that no other church on earth has the priesthood authority and power of the Lord. I invite anyone who is doubtful of this proclamation to pray for themselves. Study for yourself, and ponder the feelings you receive. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was established to allow us to return to our Heavenly Father, by making bad men good, and good men better. The Gospel benefits and enriches everyone.

I love you all! I'm learning more everyday!

Love, Elder Black

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Malaysian News from Jacob's 9/30/2012 Email

Short this week, but oh so sweet! After fasting, praying, stressing, and at least 3 years, one of our investigators has decided that she wants to go to the temple, and has asked us how "the baptism thing works" :D That made my week. It was the happiest moment of my life so far.

I just want to say thank you to all the prayers, support, and just thoughts, from my family, neighbors, and friends!

I love you all so much! Elder Black :D

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Weekly Report, from Jacob's 9/23/2012 Email

This week we helped integrate the new Elders into their new surroundings. It was quite fun actually! They are tidy which is nice. It is hard to write down what has happened in a week when it all seems so long ago. This week included a trip to Ipoh for Passport reasons, which naturally included pampering by Sister Chis, who is every Missionaries adoptive mother. :D

Well, Miracles first:

1) This one is kind of strange, but let it be known that the Atonement of Jesus Christ works in strange and marvelous ways, including allowing you to delay bodily functions.

2) We were able to meet with Mercy*, who had some wonderful questions, and was a lot more comfortable talking with us. The first time we meet she seemed aloof, but was completely changed this last time.

3) An inactive member named Andy* showed up out of the blue to sacrament meeting. He is 17 years old, and said that he just felt like coming to church! We were able to get his number and will be working with him and William Tell* :D

4) At FHE we were able to see 3 non-members show up! They all enjoyed themselves, and were able to build relationships with the members, it was wonderful :D

5) Everything worked out at the immigration office! :D

6) Another inactive member agreed to meet with us, and actually let us into his house for the first time! His family are not members, and are very nice!

7) Sister Thumbelina* is going to be able to come to Sacrament next week!!! :D Other than that, it rained, and it rained, and it rained rained rained rained. (How The Grinch Stole Christmas-- read in Daddy Blacks best Grinch reading voice)!

Well, thought of the week:

The Atonement is not just used to make bad men good, but good men better. Elder Bednar has a wonderful talk on this (I am sorry that is so vague, but I can't recall what the talk is called). I have been thinking of Elder Bednar's talk in connection with the scripture Ether 12:27. We are all given weaknesses, may they be patience, pride, or procrastination. Yet, as we recognize our faults, good men can change, and become better. Procrastinators are able, through the enabling power of Christ, to become efficient organized, and prompt. Change through the Atonement is one of the gifts of Christ. He truly did take upon him our pains, AFFLICTIONS (including self inflicted afflictions...), and infirmities. We often times should not ask God to change our circumstances, but rather to strengthen us to be able to endure, learn from and triumph over the challenges we face.

There are defining points in every stage of ones life. In every decision we make now, our future is determined. Step by step, line upon line, precept upon precept, men become who they want to be. It is never to late to change, it is never to late to return.

As a special witness of Jesus Christ: I would like to share my own testimony of my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. There are few times where I will ever have this opportunity to serve with Him in His vineyard, to reap with Him the rewards of saving souls. My Savior not only has allowed me a remission of sins, but has provided the sacrament as the means for me to retain this remission of sins. As I continually change my self, my thoughts, words, actions, and desires, I become more the son of God that I am. I know that my God is a living God. A loving God. In the name of the Almighty Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all! Continue in my love =D

Elder Black

*All names have been changed for the insanity of the writer of this news.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

From Jacob's 9/16/2012 Email

Well, TRANSFERS happened this week, I finished being trained on Sunday, BUT! Never fear, for I am here (in Sitiawan) until Elder Jensen departs to America (Sometime in October) at which point I will "most likely" remain in Sitiawan to help the next Elder transfer in. So, theoretically I will be in Sitiawan until the end of January :D

Elder Alexius went home last week (he was from Sabah) and Elder Parker was transferred to KK (Malay speakers "heaven"). Elder Tyler and Elder Gibblet are replacing them. The entire mission has changed. There are 26 Malay speaking Missionaries who will come in on the 19th of September (the biggest number in the Singapore Mission's history), so nearly everyone in the mission is now training, the Zone's split from 9 Zones into 6 "Super Zones" Elder Jensen is no longer the District Leader (for which he is greatly relieved) due to most of the converts being interviewed need to be interviewed in Malay, and District's becoming larger as well. We are now a district with Ipoh (which is the home of the famous Sister Chris (Kris?) who endows the missionaries with food at every opportunity!) :D

There are a lot of exciting things happening. Well, this week was interesting... Elder Jensen had a terrible feeling about one man we met, and we basically ran away from the appointment.

Whatever talents you have, I would suggest you develop them...

We fasted yesterday for Yellow Rainbow*. She is the mother of a part-member family, and they love her so much. We arrived at her house, and her friends were all over, so we had to change our beautifully created 40 minute lesson plan into a short and powerful 10 minute plan. It was nice though, as she was able to teach her friends how to pray, and her daughter who dislikes the missionaries was there and snuck in to listen :D

I inherited a TON of food from Elder Parker as he left to KK, so now I am going to gain a bit of weight... well, more weight.

Pedro's* father is progressing! He is beginning to realize that Heavenly Father really does answer his prayers. He is beginning to realize why God gives us commandments, and how he can relate to God as a father. He is beginning to have spiritual experiences, and his testimony in the priesthood power of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing.

It is so easy to love people that you are serving. I can't believe how quickly the weeks fly by, how long the days are, and how many people you can care for! It rained about 5 days out of the seven this week :D

我非常爱我的家庭!!! 白长老

Much love, Elder Black

*All names have been changed for the insanity of the writer of this news.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"The Talk," from Jacob's 9/9/2012 Email

Well, this week... a lot happened. Probably the highlight, was a lesson we had with our investigator Big Tree* (taking poetic license here with the names). She is doing everything she can with her husband to have a child, and has been running from doctor to doctor for a while now. Either Elder Jensen or I looked too confused, or asked a question or... just had that blank look of... are you speaking Chinese?? Because the next thing I know, Big Tree has pulled out her iPad, and is translating words for us such as: 'Test tube Baby' (if you get the chance, listening to a recorded voice saying this will make your day. Hopefully)" and... other words. Then with hand motions, and...words we were given "The Talk" of how children are made, and all the elements necessary to produce a child. Mind you, this all started as we were talking about families... As we left (in a profound silence), and were riding our bikes to our next appointment, Elder Jensen turned to me and said, "wo keyi jiag yingwen man?" (May I speak English?) Then: ...We were just given "The Talk" in Chinese. That was when we were both able to laugh... a lot. The Mission is a great experience.
Oh! Frozen mango's taste good if anyone was interested in my (informed an do I dare say "expert") opinion on that matter.

AHA! Jien Wen's mission call was switched from Malay speaking to Chinese speaking! I may be able to become companions with him! This mission is extremely funny. There are around 80-100 missionaries (depending on coming and goings etc), and Elder Jensen my companion has never met one of the Chinese Elders here. There are going to be 6 Chinese speaking Missionaries leaving within the next 1-2 months, and there will be 6 coming in within the same time period. So the Chinese speaking Elders will be up to an impressive 12 total!

Serving in Malaysia these past 2 months has been an incredible experience. I have changed a lot, and am working on welcoming change as much as I can! :D

The investigators we are meeting with are gradually progressing. It is a very slow process to build a testimony of Jesus Christ in one who does not know that much about Him. It is disappointing when we are told that they are not interested, but it is worth it when we see people's testimonies begin to build. One thing that I have learned is that the most important thing I can do is ask the Lord for help. If I remember to do that, decisions are clearer and the work is fulfilling :D

Love, the elusive Elder Black :D

*All names have been changed for the insanity of the writer of this news.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Week of Eternity, from Jacob's 9/2/2012 Email

The Week of Eternity: This week flew by so quickly, but looking back on it, it seems to have stretched a span of months, not merely days!

Monday was fairly wonderful for a Preparation Day, We played some card games, and went to McDonalds. I was able to relax for about 2-3 hours! Then we went and caught a bus to KL (a huge town that is very much bigger than Mesa), for Special Missionary Training. It was a training for all of the new missionaries. We talked about the training program we were on, and it was very exciting to meet with all the Elders and Sisters I had known in the MTC! Elder Harper and I were able to talk a lot, and Elder Snyder, who I keep forgetting is from Mesa, has my type of humor. A lot of the time seemed to be devoted to having us develop a testimony of obedience and self-reliance. It also built my testimony that this is the mission for me. I feel very much connected to Sister Mains, and President Mains was able to discuss some questions I had with him. I really enjoyed that experience.

Something that seems interesting to me, is the amount of people who are not true to themselves because of social pressure. I know one person who was told by God that this church is true, but lacks the faith to act on this confirmation. There are also a lot of people who are willing to talk about how to make the world better, and others better, but when it comes to improving their own lives, they balk. They do not believe that God can help them. They think that God is for everyone... except for them. There are also people who have exemplary lives, who just seem to know how to make others feel good about themselves without trying.

Jian Wen (a member of the Church here in Sitiawan) reported Friday morning (1 am) rather than November 1st! He is going to the Manilla MTC, and will be there for about 3 weeks! His family were very touched by his leaving, and bore their testimonies about him and the good work he will do in the service of God yesterday for Fast and Testimony meeting.

There was one young man who came with us for 5 hours! It was funny because all of our plans fell through, and the back-ups were almost entirely exhausted! He had a good time, and he really liked teaching English class with us :D It was an exciting experience for him!

I love you!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

From Jacob's 8/26/2012 Email

I don't know if I mentioned before, but there is a lot of traveling done in this mission, I have seen my mission president twice in the 2 months I have been here, but tonight around 5pm we leave for KL to receive training tomorrow. The training is for new missionaries, I am interested if the missionaries from East Malaysia will be flying over or not. It would be nice to meet up with Elders Guaghltier (sorry I think I spelled his name a mess) and Snyder again :D Elder Harper is serving in JB I think, and I will almost definitely get to meet him as well!

This week... one of the nicest things I heard said by someone who I shall refer to as "Auntie" was that her pastor told them that the Mormons are evil terrible people, and that they should not listen to them, give them the time of day, and above all else, not to read the Book of Mormon. She told us that she felt that we were serving Christ, and if she sent her son halfway around the world she would want to know that there was someone taking care of him.

A nice quote that Brother Winnheim shared with me (an American who visited from Utah) was "I am only one, but I am one, I cannot do everything, but that which I can do I should do." (by...someone- I forget :o) I firmly believe this. It is not enough to justify ourselves based on what other people do. At the end of the day we know whether we have chosen the higher path, whether we have improved ourselves in the eyes of God, or whether we are turning from Him to the cares of the world which moth and dust can corrupt.

So many people here and everywhere seem to be taking the easy path. The easy path is not the path that leads to true happiness. If one never struggles one will never grow, and in the struggle and the triumph the joy of life and the purpose of life are found.

Pedro* is still preparing for baptism, his parents after witnessing the power of the Priesthood are becoming more and more interested in this church. They came to church last Sunday. It is interesting how many people here are told that our church is evil, and more interesting how many people will take others word for that, and come to conclusions based on erroneous accusations.

Some things I have added to my understanding since serving the Lord these last 2 months, are 1) that God is infinitely more powerful than the Adversary. That His power is literally transcendent over any of its mockers. 2) That I really am not able to do the things the Lord has asked me to do on my own, and that only through His mercy and grace am I able to speak to this people every day in their language, according to their understanding, and help them add to the truths they already cherish.

I love you all! Thanks for you support :D Elder Black (White Elder)

*All names have been changed for the insanity of the writer of this news.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Exciting Life of Elder Black, from Jacob's 8/19/201 Email

I tried some new sting ray curry at a place called 4 square (it is a better, more original name than most- the supermarket is called (get ready).... "THE STORE"!!!!) My P-day was switched to Monday, so nothing that exciting happened.

OH! Parties were happening! We were able to have a lot of members invite their friends (well, actually one member who invited 3 members), and one of them said she would meet with us! That was super exciting!

We had a VERY empty chapel yesterday due to the large amounts of members who are gone to Youth Conference! They are going to have a blast, I am excited for them! I was able to give my first talk on Sunday, that was exciting! It wasn't that hard of a topic- Missionary Work, and I have progressed enough in the language that I can express myself bluntly (not quite effectively or eloquently by far!). There was also 3 Americans visiting (Jesse(sp?) Winnhin(sp?) and his parents who are visiting his mission-- he ended when I came in. I spoke in both Mandarin and English, alternating about every sentence, or thought.

Well, I really like one of the members who understands English perfectly (kind of) and who gives very honest feedback on the language, So I can ask him how to say a phrase and he will tell me. That is nice.

I meet a lot of people who have amazing spiritual experiences and yet refuse to act on them. It is sad, and I hope I will learn more and more how to connect with them on a level which will help them feel more comfortable asking questions.

Something I learned years ago, and am constantly relearning, is that people really don't care what you know. They care that you care. I notice a change within myself, when I am listening to a person and caring about them, rather than just listening to the words they speak. It takes a lot of effort, but I am learning so much about people, how they interact with others, and why they do and say different things.

Well, I would like to bear my testimony that I know that God is our Heavenly Father and that He loves us perfectly. He is waiting for us to ask if He exists. To pray to Him. Love you all!

Elder Black

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From Jacob's 8/14 Email

There is a lot... if I can remember it all? Maybe most importantly (to me, sorry :o) is that P-day is being switched from Wednesday's to Mondays. I am not certain if that is good or not, but I will trust it's inspired. It also means that I get to relax(ish) in 5 days rather than 7.

I was able to taste Durian for the first time on Friday!!! There were 3 of them, and I didn't take any pictures because I was famished, and wanted to eat something. Well, it was not anything like I expected, and I had been praying that I would be able to enjoy it. Well I really liked it! There is part of it which tastes very good (opinionated I know) and another part that tastes almost bitter and was not quite as good. But out of the three Durians that I tried, the 2nd was the best and the 3rd wasn't so good (very bitter).

Elder Harper got here last week!!! In case I forgot to mention him last week...

Foods: I was able to try Routi Telur which is Routi... with an egg inside, and you dip it in curry. It's very tasty actually! I was also able to taste Curry Mee which is Curry and noodles- by the way, there are different kinds of curry- the spicy death inviting ones and the tasty splendid sort. Then a plethora in between. It's also interesting to order the same thing at every place because it all tastes different!

Chinese people continue to be surprised to learn how long I have been learning- 4 months only?! :D It is interesting to see how the gift of tongues work among the different people I have met.

 Let me see... AH! Rain/Weather/Climate: It is moving into the rainy season, I was able to literally pour water out of my shoes 2 weeks ago- I think I have a picture? But I wont be sending pictures for a while.

I am actually becoming a parent in a very strange sense. We have an investigator (I shall call him Alfredo for fun) Alfredo who has moved away from his parents, and is struggling with an assortment of problems. He lives about 25 feet away from us, and it's... interesting sometimes. HOWEVER, I am in the process of watching him completely change his life! This young man, who may never have spoken a kind word to his parents (who may be the nicest people who ever lived-- excluding my own mother (and father I suppose...)) said "Thank you" to his father yesterday!! Music has an extremely strong effect on him --- both ways- Good music has a positive influence, while violent, pornographic or suggestive and hateful music influence him negatively. Well, we have begun holding Family Home Evening with him and his parents, and are returning again tonight. We are trying to help him build a testimony of the Book of Mormon which is frustrating, because he knows that it is true, having prayed and asked God if it is true, but he wishes to receive physical evidence, or scientific evidence, and does not understand why he needs to read it. Well, he has about 6 or 7 major problems and we are working on discerning which doctrinal points will bless him the most.

We were able to contact an "on-hold" investigator yesterday who invited us over for a barbeque. I think that that is what I would call "contacting with style" :D She has a sister and a brother, and her father is very much Buddhist. The mother seems to like us, but then again I might not be a very good judge of people.

I had a list of things to write about written down, but I forgot it somewhere... =D

OH! I went to Zone Conference this week.  We had all been asked to prepare a talk, not knowing who would be speaking.  I was the one asked to speak. That was a good experience, Elder Jensen my trainer told me that he has never been asked to speak and this was his last Zone Conference. I was able to talk with other missionaries including two from the same group (or who were "born" at the same time as I in Singapore) as I, who were able to tell me there stories- Sister Haslett was randomly in KL and Sister Noorda had been through 4 companions! I am glad that I have been in Sitiawan with the same companion for so long! I will hopefully be stationed here for a total of 8 months, and companions usually change about every 4 months or so. They don't change very often due to the nature of the mission- it being large, and costly to travel.

Well, quick insight: if everyone tried to understand each other a lot more would get done in this world.

A great book that I enjoy written by M. Russell Ballard "Our Search for Happiness" describes the LDS religion very simply and doctrinally pure for those trying to understand who Mormons are and why they are the way they are. I think it's a great book :D

Well, love life!!
Elder Black

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Malaysian News from Jacob's 8/7 Email



Lot's of miracles this week! I don't know where to start... It seems like we are being overwhelmed with Miracles!

My companion Elder Jensen told me that a year ago Sitiawan was the joke of the mission. After 4 months of him and Elder Fanning, it began to have more success! I am grateful for all of the missionaries who planted seeds over the last five years this area has been opened, and that Elder Jensen and I are now able to reap the rewards of their labor.

 We are working closely with ward members, who are amazing in the amount of help they give us! We have some Young Men who call us up to ask if they can come and teach with us! There is one young man waiting for his mission call which we will hopefully have by Saturday! He will be the second missionary to leave from Sitiawan! We are trying to prepare one man for the Melchizedek Priesthood! It seems that younger people are more receptive to our message, and that their parents often times are the ones to tell us "No."

Well, more miracles: "Pedro" has been doing splendidly! We had a lesson planned for him, about love and charity, but as we started, Elder Jensen turned it over to me, I blanked on the entire lesson plan, and then started by talking about something very related but just... different than what we planned. I don't think we did anything we had planned, but we achieved our goal, of bringing him to the understanding of the love Christ has for all men, and that he too can have that love for everyone.

We were able to talk with "This other wonderful man" and he was so incredible! He is developing a love for the Book of Mormon, and that is what we use to teach him. He is opposed to churches in general, but yesterday asked us about church, and what happens. We gave him a very brief rundown and then he asked more questions! Lehi's dream was a bit difficult for him... but it's still difficult for me :D

Oh! We had an appointment fall through randomly, and our back up we had already gone to (long story), so I suggested another investigator who is never home, Elder Jensen said... sure? So we went over, and some teenagers drove up next to us on their motos (motor scooters) and started talking to us, well we ran into them three more times on the way, so we just started to talk to them and we will teach one of them English and the other one is going to allow us to meet with him! I was feeling happy :D

I tried a fruit which looks like a jackfruit and smells like durian. The fruit also looks like a jackfruit, so I tried that and it had a very strong after taste, but I think I liked it! Elder Jensen said that durian is "worse" I think he just means "more flavorful!

Love you all :D

Very Intersting Week in Malaysia!

 I get to learn how to play badminton today!

Let me see, we were able to begin teaching someone who loves to hear about Jesus.  His name is unimportant at this time, but he is 12 years old.  His family is Buddhist, he was so happy about our message that he brought his two cousins over to listen to it ages 19ish and 21ish.  They were a little weirded out, but that's fine!

Well, we did have an incredible member set up a finding opportunity at KFC here- she had a friend who was interested, and she told her that we could go to KFC and eat lunch.  Well we got there, and there were two members, and then because students over here have tuition, and their tuition was upstairs above KFC, a ton of people began walking upstairs and we were able to introduce ourselves to about 4-6 people! It was quite enjoyable, and-- funny experience: one of them walked in and proclaimed Wah! Hen xui! (Wow! How handsome!) and Elder Jensen and I played it off, but then everyone else started cracking up and immediately informed her that we speak Chinese (at which point she crumpled to the floor in embarrassment).  She recovered pretty quickly though.  I think we made a lot of friends that day! Apparently thick eyebrows are a thing here, and blue eyes, so between Elder Jensen and I we have it covered.  We can also pretend not to hear anything we don't want to hear! It's marvelous, really.

Well, besides that entertaining experience, we were able to go and meet an old investigator and her family.  The mother is quite cute.  She told us that there is a random kid (daughter's boyfriend?) who is hiding at her house because he recently chopped someone's head off, and that her daughter is a prostitute, she is just...funny :D anyway, we watched 'Finding Faith in Christ' with her, and her little brother.  Her little brother, after watching it, immediately asked us to give him a blessing for his cold! So we did.  His sister then gave us her phone number, and set up an appointment to come back on Tuesday night.

Well, Tuesday night we found out a lot more about the family, the little brother thinks it is really neat that I wrestled in high school, and no one here has ever heard of pole vaulting, so that's hard to explain.  Ultimate Frisbee exists here!!!! I will be looking into that next week, this week I will learn what badminton is all about.

One of our investigator's is preparing for baptism this week, he is doing so well! He has given up a lot of addictions in his life, and it's incredible to see the Atonement working in his life.  The other 2 that we had scheduled for baptism this month were shut down by their father, so we have their aunt taking them to church, and in 8 years they will be able to make their own choices.  Their father is a pretty hard man.

That is one of the things that I am learning from being here.  Seeing the way parents treat their children has opened my eyes to what I really want for my family.  I never want my children to be afraid to come inside the home, because I am there.  It is a sad world we live in, and many people do wrong things for what they think are good reasons.  I think that one of the saddest things is to watch someone's agency removed.

I got invited to China!! One of our investigators from China asked if I ever wanted to go to China, I said... Of course I do! So she said that she will help me out! I'm excited! Elder Jensen said that in Singapore you get this a lot!

One of the coolest people, Jian Ming, told me that he thinks my Chinese is developing very well :D so that was a happy comment! It is almost hard to speak English here! Well... correct English.

I still have not tasted durian yet!! I was able to get a whiff of it yesterday though, it smelled... like durian! I never thought I would get used to sweating constantly, but I rather enjoy it :D Well, I am getting a little bit better at spicy food.  I tried some ginger rice and fish the other day.  That was very good!! In case anyone is wondering, their is peanut butter here, and peanut butter with ice cream, or on a pancake with ice cream on top is an excellent source of nutrition, and your taste buds will love you and treat you better!

Love Elder Black :D

Monday, July 30, 2012

Questions Answered!

Side Note -- Elder Black's spelling and grammar are progressively deteriorating. He says the English there is not English at all, and may come back sounding like a 1st grader. Let us hope not!


Daily Routine:
Well, we wake up at 6:59 here, and then I ask for the Lord's help, and greet Him.  Then I go and work out, varies on what I do, but I like push ups, sit ups, and I try to rotate throughout the week.  My favorite workout is when I stretch!  :D Then I go and shower, shave, brush the teeth, and apply the D.O. After that... (dress... then) I feast.  Usually PB&J and oatmeal. After breakfast I go and begin my Personal study. I try to memorize one scripture, read the Bible, BOM, and the Doctrine and Covenants.  Companionship Study comes next we know ;) which is really a great part of the Day! It is very nice to sit down and talk about all of our investigators! Then I have Language study for an hour.  At this point I usually read from the Book of Mormon out loud for 30 minutes (the Pinyin) and then I study grammar, or something I am trying to memorize, or additional vocabulary words.  After LST (Language Study Time) I... FEAST!

FOOD!
So let me talk about meals here in Sitiawan, let me just explain to you in glorious detail just what you are all missing out on. First of all, Chinese food (real Chinese food) is outstanding. Right up there with Mexican food. At the beginning of my time in the MTC, or whenever this actually happened, I told myself that I was going to love everything about my mission. The people the food, the weather, the language, everything!! So I got here and found out Chinese people like mushrooms, BUT! they taste so good! Anywho, back to everything else I was telling about the food stuffs :D the noodles here are so good! you find shrimp, octupi, and weird mussels and other things in them! I am never quite sure what I am eating, and by the end of the day I try to have eaten something new! Then spiciness.... I am practicing, building myself up for the native sauces etc. I am getting a bit better at Wasabi. Knowing what to expect helps out on that! I like sushi okay now! I am also a huge fan of boiled lettuce. Okay.... ah yes, Indian food, can't really go wrong (Anisha- saw some tirimishu for an obscene price!) I am psyching myself up to try Durian. It is this fruit that smells like garbage and gasoline, and tastes the same BUT with a peanut butter after taste. I hear its an acquired taste, so I am going to eat it as often as I can and in two years I will definitely be converted! Everything here is not sweet. I am fine with that, but it will take me a while to get used to eating a fruit that everyone says is very sweet and find it to be rather bland :D

Elder Jensen:
Well, after lunch I get trained by ... (GUESS!) My Trainer! Let me tell you about him. He is from.... (GUESS!!!) Utah! His name is Elder Jensen. He is the youngest of 11 children, and all of them have served missions. His sister was in the MTC at the same time as him, and they reported on the same date, speaking Mandarin together. She went to Taiwan. Well, he loves drama and psychology, so we have a lot to talk about. I admire him a lot, and he continually pushes me out of my comfort zone, (which I didn't think was possible, but it is :D) I know have enlarged my comfort zone extremely! I am ready to try anything anyone says tastes good, I will smile at everyone, I am working on talking to everyone, but getting a lot better! I am just afraid to talk because of silly reasons, like: do they speak Mandarin, Cantones, Hakku(sp?) or Bahasa Melayu? Perhaps English? I have been learning words in all sorts of languages. I hear at least 5 languages a day easily. I see about 3-4 written languages every day.


Sitiawan:
Oh, quickly (maybe ;D) the scenery/climate etc. BEAUTIFUL! Imagine paradise, then place a random city that is pretty developed in the middle of it, and that is Sitiawan. Out of one side of the apartment we dwell in, I can see a flourishing jungle. On the other side, there is run down buildings, nicer buildings etc. Throughout the day I will pass through Jungles, and also nice neighborhoods. The weather is very exciting! It has only rained about 4 times (for an Arizonan that's a lot), but we are waiting for the "rainy season" so... I am excited? I hear your feet hit the water as you pedal!!!


Names/Culture:
BUT! Names in different languages are about 10...not 20 times harder to remember. Also trying to remember Chinese family names (So their surnames are all the same, but then added to that, you have the first character of their name, which is the same for all the boys, and another character for the girls, and then you just add on any other "random (their is probably a system I missed...)" character on the end, and you have a name! So Cun Wei Jun is Cun Wei Jian's sister.... it's so awesome :D Then Indian, Iban and Malaysian names are nearly more impossible-- Alabashazaraki! So... I just kinda.... make up names? :D Then people correct me. Also, The funnest thing in the world to do is to "be that dumb American." I know enough of the culture (oh by the way, I accidentally flipped off the entire country (hyperbole) but quick hint- if you leave the country learn how to flip people off so you don't accidentally do it!) that I get most of their body language now, but then I can ignore it! It''s great fun! So I thought things could get awkward in America... I was wrong. Awkward is defined here :D I can't really explain that statement so I wont try to... :D

Missionary Work:
What else... oh yes, so after training, we begin our missionary work! Its usually around 2pm. Ah missionary work! Right now, we just made a quarterly goal, so we have 3 months planned out. We are working with three very nice young men trying to prepare them for baptism. (I probably wont use names just as a safety precaution if I talk about anything sensitive etc.) They are so very hard to teach because of their attention spans, but- well, I can relate :D so we are working slower with them, and working out problems as they arise! Ah yes, as some of ye fellow yeomen may remember, I am not quite the best at remembering names.... *GOAL!) Well, we usually have appointments here, I have been tracting about 10 times only since getting here, but a large majority of them are with members and less actives. The reason for this is that there are not enough who understand how the gospel has helped their lives. A lot of what we are doing is strengthening the members here, and building relationships with the 30 members of our branch. A very high baptism goal for a month here would be 1 in a month. Well, I have made a lot of friends, and friends who don't know that i have made them my friend (yet) :D It's going great! I have been having one of the best times of my life (if not the best) Including the MTC, definitely the best-- call out to Elder Savage, I love you! Well, after about 3 appointments we go and FEAST yet again. Then we have 3 or four more appointments usually, come back and plan for the next day! We meet an investigator from mainland china who is so sweet! she just told us she cant meet with us anymore though, I will try to be better at updating you all on the investigators and friends I am making over here. The language is improving, I am learning the culture which is helping a lot with that, Elder Jensen and I frequently SYL (Speak our language)

Tell everyone I love them!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Experiences


Took about 25 hours of traveling to get here, I had some nice facial hair by the time I arrived, as I did not want to try to carry on a razor, not knowing exactly how strict international airlines are.  but upon arriving, everyone told me that my companion (Elder Jensen) was the happiest missionary they have here! I couldn't wait to meet him (sorry if my Englis goes downhill from here, I find it necessary to talk in extremely simple english in order to communicate with those who profess to speak english.  President Clark took us to a restaurant- 
I think he sent you some pictures, but let it be known, that the food here is what I call "spicy."  I am getting a little bit more used to it, and I have rice and noodles every day.  I found some oatmeal a missionary left at our house, and have been eating that the past several days.  It seems like no one here eats breakfast lunch or dinner, just snacks throughout the day! but... large snacks.  There appetites are aslo smaller than most Americans  :D let me see... Then after eating at the resturaunt, we went to the fruit market, which was incredible, in that I had never heard of most of the fruit there.  I got to try a fruit which I do remember the name of - Jackfruit, it tasted strange to me, but ah well, it was also good... like  a mango, and jicima, and pineapple mix, with a strong apple taste.  Also the apples here are sublime.

 After the fruit market, we went contacting.  It was very fun! We found a few people who were interested the more in listening about the message that Christ would have them hear. 

Elder Jensen: very happy, he has terrible english :D a lot of the time, people here say "Can" to mean: good, can, will... just about anything?) or "lah" to emphasize something-- "yes-lah!" it's different.  The accent is crazy, because it's different depending on who you talk to.  Taiwanese, Mainland Chinese, Mix and match etc.  I have been able to experience a lot of sucess along with Elder Jensen, as we contact people, and mostly just talk to lots of people! I had some seafood curry by the way, which was really good! I also found my camera, but I forgot the charger cord back in Singapore along with letter writting materials and addresses- in about three months I should be able to get them,... I hope :D

Well, I have been assigned to West Malaysia, in the city of Sitiawan! It's very fun, small, yet so many people! So many different kinds of people! even without a name tag, I would stand out in any crowd by being white!  The traffic was terrfying at first, but I am a little bit closer to putting my finger on the pulse.  I still wave to the wrong side of the car (what I think is the driver's spot, is usually the passenger's...) and it's weird to see people driving on the wrong side of the road. 

The members here are amazing.  There are not that many, but there are enough new ones to keep us VERY busy! We have been kept so busy lately! Dinner kind of gets in the way.  To celebrate the 4th of July we will go to McDonalds, a hamburger? weird.  It might not even burn my tongue off! I am slowly conditioning myself to progressively spicier foods, in the hopes that as long as I am burning my tongue off, the less spicier foods will eventually taste really yummy!

Oh yes, 10 hour bus ride (only 9 actually...) to Sitiawan just helped me to realize how much traveling I had been through, and I have had no trouble sleeping!!! I love doing hard things.... after I do them :D

Stay strong, read the scriptures- they will tell you all things what you should do (I think someone important said something like that ;)  Love you much!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Safe Arrival!


Wow! 

25ish hours of traveling, and about 20 of them in an airplane! 

My body still feels like it's moving! :D 


I got to go tracting when I got here, and eat at an Indian restaurant.
 The food was very spicy! 

 Then I got to try some fruits! there were a couple of eyeball textured things- I also ate about 3-4 mushrooms on the flight!
 My body doesn't know what is happening to me. 



I will just send the pictures- they'll tell some better stories anyways! I also added a picture of the two AP's (Assistants to the President; the one's with short sleeve shirts).  It was raining when I got here!!







Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Address- Excitement Mounting

                                       New address:  [Please leave off "Elder"]

                               Jacob Black
                               Singapore Mission
                               253 Bukit Timah Road, 5th floor
                               Singapore 259690
                               Singapore
                                       
                         Takes 1 month to receive mail!

 Well... I have been having a blast!  
It would have made America's Funniest Home Vidoes when we all got our Travel Plans! So many missionaries so excited!!!
I get to travel with 5 other missionaries to Singapore, we are traveling to the LA airport, then Hong Kong and then over to Singapore.  I will get there (Singapore time) around 11:45am 06/27/2012

So I completely miss the 26th of July in my life... but I get an extra day-- I get to live one day twice when I come home... weird! 



Also, My district was asked by President Baker (our District President) to be ushers this Sunday for the MTC Devotional! All the New Mission Presidents get here this weekend, and I get to meet mine! I was able to shake President Brown's hand today, and he said my name, it was a unique experience.  

Elder Yow (from Singapore) left on Monday.  He was only in our district for four days, but I can't wait to meet his father and family!  

Field training was yesterday, and we had a pretty wonderful time there, until Elder Savage had a vicious nose bleed, and we scurried out.  


I met an Elder from Malaysia, and he can speak 5 languages! I also heard some stories from the Malay speaking missionaries about having companions who can't speak the same language as you, etc.  It was exciting to hear! 

   I can't wait to be there, where the Lord wants me, and to serve  as hard as I can!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Three More Weeks!


 There are only 3 weeks of MTC joy left?!
                   I can't believe it! 

MTC Highlights:

Let me think... Uhm... Nothing was that different from last week!
Elders will be Elders...


Saturday at TRC, I was able to teach a wonderful Asian man from Taiwan with Elder Savage.  He said that he has been studying English for about 2 months!  He was very incredible.  Then we were able to teach "Bai Jieme" our names are the same, and all of the Asians really love that my name means "White" :  D


Sunday was an incredible day though, not only was it a birthday celebration, but it was Fast Sunday! It was so incredibly spiritual! We were able to listen to a talk about the Miracle Healings of Christ by a Doctor- his name is in my study journal, I just can't remember it.  He was a Senior Missionary though, and he has been serving for 7.5 years! What a man.  I was then able to listen to a talk by Elder Uchtdorf! I love him so much! He really helped me understand the importance of honoring my name.  A scripture/theme that came up on Sunday was that of honoring our names, and by honoring our names, our parents, and the Lord.

Some goals I made when entering the MTC:
  
Read through the Book of Mormon once from cover to cover
Read Preach My Gospel
Read Jesus the Christ


To be quite honest, I will probably have to finish Jesus the Christ on the flight to Singapore, but I am more than half way done with it.  The Book of Mormon, I am at Mosiah 18, and it's starting to read a little faster! Preach My Gospel is coming along, but slower than the rest.  There are just too many scriptures to read in it!
I have decided that I really love King Benjamin's address :  D
Not sure what else to say!
Love you all!  :  D
Elder Black

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Time is Flying By!


Wow, time is flying by so quickly here!

It is the funnest time I have ever had! I wish I could slow down and enjoy it even more, or perhaps not have the need to sleep, that I might accomplish all that I feel inclined to.  The food is still incredible, my body does not know what to do with it (actually, it's going straight for the thighs!) :D
I have officially gained 9-10lbs! : D

MTC Highlights:

Lots of great things have happened.... Oh, the Temple was quite amazing today! I enjoy going there, more so than anything else here.

I found a shirt in a free bin, I am steadily gaining more clothes, I believe most of them will be going back into the free bin before I am off to Singapore.  The MTC is having a shortage of stamps! you can only buy 2 currently (at a time, but I am not quite sure if that means I should be revisiting the bookstore once a day for a week...).
I heard a very profound talk on Sunday about the necessity of immediate repentance.  If we do not repent of something immediately, then we will be forced to concede on all the other battles (not quite, but this is a brief summary); exact obedience to the laws (commandments, covenants, etc) you are responsible for will lead us to ever increasing joy (though not perhaps through ever increasing circumstances--- interesting no?) Also, the stress of not being a "missionary" but becoming a "Preach My Gospel Missionary."

Tonight I might be priveleged to hear from a member of the 70, or Quorum of the 12! This is thrilling. I love Tuesday's (Preperation-days)

Oh, to answer a question I forgot to answer earlier: Preperation day= A time to relax, relieve stress, prepare for the upcoming days (write letters, do laundry, go shopping etc.)

 

Updates

I will probably be leaving the MTC around the 25th of July.

Sightings

I saw AJ Jackson today, and was able to take some pictures with him!

missionary challenge:

I would like to invite (challenge if that makes you feel better) you (yes, you, the one reading this) to invite a friend to listen to the missionaries in your home today!
One of my friends was able to relate a neat missionary experience with me! I hope that I will hear back from you on this invitation.

Much love,

Elder Black

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Random Tidbits


First off before I forget: I was able to sit not 30 feet away from L. Tom Perry a week ago tonight!

I met an Elder who arrived yesterday (Yao) who is from Singapore! He speaks English fluently, and is a bit rusty in his Mandarin, but I am going to pump him for information. =D I was going to do so last night,  but due to him being shoved in some random residence hall, I was unable to. 

I was able to listen to Elder Bednar's MTC Christmas Devotional talk, the Character of Christ. 


He told us that by the time we have reached his age (60ish?) we should have read the Book of Mormon 400-500 times.  That comes down (my calculations w/o a calculator) to roughly 30-40 days to read the Book of Mormon with a specific question in mind, (oh he said to start with a new, cheap Book of Mormon for each read through) and then to write a 1/2 page answer to your question, put the question and Book of Mormon on a shelf for future reference, and to start over again.  What a powerful man to listen to.  He talked about always turning outward- to others.  Not inward to self gratifications/selfishness.




                                    I was able to hear a talk on temples.  How amazing.
that's all for now,
Ban Ma

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

P-dayand discussions



Today I woke up, worked out, showered, ate, came here. I will clean, do laundry (write letters), go to the temple, work on a lesson for Leo (our investigator, we just taught him the plan of salvation lesson, but I don't think he understands the vocabulary, so we are going to have a faith check discussion). Then I will eat dinner, go to Tall Lab (basically Rosetta Stone). Then I will listen to (hopefully a member of the 12) someone speak, and have a district meeting afterward. Because of the temple and Devotional, P-days are usually, if not the, most spiritually charged days of the week! :D




 The language is coming on  a lot better.  Elder Savage and I were able to give the whole first lesson (I am using the term "whole" very relatively) without notes in about 30-35 minutes.  Pretty soon, we are going to be going 40 minutes a discussion!

Love you all,
Ban Ma








Tuesday, May 15, 2012

LOVING THE MTC/LANGUAGE CLARIFICATION

LOVING THE MTC




















Wow guys! This is one of the funnest times I have ever had...
EVER!




 Let me see.... This week: D. Todd Christofferson was able to talk to us on Tuesday.  It was an incredible talk, but the best part about it was the last 10 seconds, and the musical numbers.  There is nothing that brings the Spirit into my heart quite like music. 

I was also able to hear a talk by Elder David Bednar.  It was about becoming a missionary.  I think I have a lot of work to do.  Has anyone read the definition of Prayer in the Bible Dictionary? It sure blessed my life.  I also am in love with Preach My Gospel.  A tidbit about Elder Savage.  In the end, his goal in life is to become a trophy husband. Why? I'm not sure, but I AM pretty sure that that is the best answer to that question I have ever heard!


On Tuesday our whole district took down a giant bin of cereal. (Literally destroyed it).  I had ten bowls of Frosted Flakes. I will never eat Frosted Flakes again.  The generation of Mandarin speaking missionaries that just left (today) had never been able to do that.  However, after hearing about our amazing district accomplishment, the Branch President told us that such a thing was not... wise.  Oh well.

We also had a chip party today! :D It was very fun.  I enjoy P-days!

We moved classrooms from 18M to 7M.  This isn't quite an upgrade- more like moving from Jerusalem into the Wilderness. 

Let me see... oh yes, today is Tie-exchange day, where we trade ties with each other although we trade back at the end of the day. Saturday is gold tie day, Friday was green, Thursday was... what was it? Ah yes, purple (I wore that awesome tie Natalie Lewis gave me)! :D

I'm not quite sure what else to write... Oh yes, be played softball, and enjoyed that immensley. My favorite is still sand volleyball. I will probably venture forth into the realms of basketball tomorrow, although I hear that is where everyone gets injured? I like sand volleyball because I can dive.... anywhere, without getting kicked off the field. The MTC staff is strict about that.

LANGUAGE  CLARIFICATION

 Heard a little about Singapore from an RM in the TRC (Training resource center).  There are approximately 80 missionaries in the Mission.  10 of them will be speaking Mandarin.  I think I confused some people in an earlier email.  The zones in the MTC are according to the language you are speaking (as are districts).  Everyone in my district is learning Mandarin, but they are going to Taiwan rather than Singapore, France, Canada, California, New York, or any other country which speaks Mandarin. 

RANDOM TIDBITS

I am spending about 30 minutes a day now with our progressing investigators! I've nearly memorized the food schedule.  When the rest of our zone left this morning, they had a ton of things they could not take with them, which we inherited.  Such as: An exorbiant amount of a Gospel pictures! Also, About 74 glass bottles... a bunny which is very cute (not real...) and a small tiny Christmas tree.  I can only write letters on p-day nowadays, so I'm sorry if they are late getting back to you all. 







Ban Ma








MTC HIGHLIGHTS

1--The firesides and devotionals on Sundays and Tuesdays.

2-Seeing my cousin Mathew Cole!  It was awesome!  We saw eachother twice.  Once outside the lunch room, but I had not my camera with me.

3-The food in general.  I have had:  Shepherd pie, chimichanga's,
taco salad, nachos,orange chicken, pizza, chickencordon bleu, mashed potatoesand steak, grilled chicken...hamburgers, cheeseburgers, guacamoleburgers, curly fries, icecream...biscuits and gravy, yogurt and cold cereal, sausage and eggs, bacon and eggs...

4-My companion:  Very spiritual.  Great example.  Diligent in obedience.  Shows his love.  His name is Dominic Jose savage.  He loves football. 

5-letters I recieve from those I love.

6-My district and roommates. 

7-Defeating "the older generation" (group leaving before us ( in our zone) which speaks mandarin chinese) in  kickball!:  D

8-P-day, no stress.

9-Volleyball!  Huge stress relief!  The weather is so wonderful!  (think about those 3 days of spring we have in AZ ) We can dive and sprint and be loud!   : D

10-Learning Chinese!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The MTC is Crazy

 

 The MTC is crazy.  The days are weeks and the weeks are days.  Time flies bye and memories of days merge together.  It is hard.  I have been continually tired from day 1.  I love it so much though.  I worked it out once, I am working for probably (16-5) 11 hours a day for at least 6 days a week, and a few on Sunday.  My mind is constantly being stretched.  My mentality tested.



I appreciate the letters I have received! 







I don't quite know what to tell everyone.

Well... the MTC is like boot camp.  It shows my flaws in ways I would never have imagined possible.  I have come to rely on the Lord in every situation I face, or to realize that I should have.

I have accomplished nothing without Him!














The Elders are a riot.  Elder Hellburg (looks like Peeta?) is one of the funniest, and most prone to hilarious quotes of anyone I have ever known (possibly).

A bit about Chinese stuff: 

The class is amazing.  I feel like for every Chinese word I learn, that I wish I knew 20 more words to go along with it.  Chinese is a very logical language.  Everything makes sense... you just can't express yourself in the same ways you can in English.




I have 2 class periods a day.  Each are 6 hours long.  I teach an investigator every day.  All in Chinese.  Right now the lessons are only about 25minutes long.  We are working toward 45minutes.  It is hard to put the words you know in sentance structures that make sense to Chinese.  My first investigator moved away, and I have been assigned 2 more.  Liu and Jiang.  They are both incredible people from what I know so far, but Jiang made a rookie mistake- she gave us her phone number thinking we would not call her... we did.  We hope that she has felt the love we have for her.  We meet with Liu tomorrow.  He is looking for something to make his life more wholesome.  We hope we can express ourselves in a way to connect with him.


Elder Savage is very impressive... He was humiliated in class the other day by a Sister throwing a tennis ball "at" him.  sadly to say, the area which the ball bestowed itself upon was unprepared for reception.  Elder Savage and I need to go on a long walk after that. 




I get to wash my clothes today, and attend the Temple! I love the sweet peaceful feelings of the Temple, though I miss the Mesa Temple. 

I love you all. I miss you all.