Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Oh. My. Word.  It has been quite the week.  I don't even know where to start.  It is Monday morning around 11:00 here.  We're at some gaming cafe closer to town writing emails with the zone leaders and our roommates.

I guess I'll just start from the beginning.

Yeah, President Mains didn't tell us where we were going until 11:00 on thursday, and once he told us, we literally jumped into a taxi and headed towards the airport.  We flew Malaysia air to Kuching, where we had to get out and go through immigration.  As missionaries, we were given special instructions to get through immigration (one of the few things we did in Singapore was to role play with the Mission President, making sure we said all the right things, only used one word answers, and try not to get deported)  Needless to say I was nervous the entire time, but it wasn't too scary.  Apparently immigration officers in Sarawak aren't as crazy as in the West.  We then boarded a plane and headed towards Miri.  My companion's name is Elder Matheson.  He is from Ogden, Utah.  He is quiet.  He has been in Miri for 3 months now.  He is nice, spiritual, and for the most part very obedient (I say for the most part, because there is a story later)

we took a taxi to where we live.  It is in a suburb far from the city.  The house looked so nice on the outside!  Oh, by the way, Elder Bodhaine is also in Miri with me, and lives in the same house.  We opened the doors, and I was horrified.  THe entire living room was trashed.  THe entire house was trashed.  Garbage was everywhere.  BUGS were everywhere, eating everything.  THe kitchen smelled like throwup, and there were dirty dishes everywhere.  The big bedroom floor was literally covered in junk.  THe missionaries before us completely trashed the place, and it looked as if hoarders had lived there for 10 years.  My desk was covered in someone else's junk, all the drawers full.  The whole house smelled.  There were bugs in every room.  My companion, who has lived here for 3 months, in THIS HOUSE, didn't see a problem.  In fact, our zone leaders were  some of the people who lived here too, so there is still some serious resentment on our part.  Me, Elder Bodhaine, and Elder Putnam, spent hours trying to clean it.  It's still not done.  We had over 10 garbage bags full of trash.  Each day we try and tackle more rooms.  I don't know why my companion won't help, he says he just doesn't think it's a problem.  

I tried to be very positive....  Usually the trainers tell the new guys to get money out at the airport, since there aren't any places to get Malaysian Ringgits (the currency here), no one told me that.  So I had no money.  I assumed we would go out and get the supplies I needed to LIVE before we started, but my companion said those activities were only for Pday.  I had no sheets, soap, shampoo, money, food, etc.  I didn't know where the store was so I couldn't run away.... He said I could find food in the cupboards.  THey have a form of top ramen here called "mi sedap", and I found some of those, so that's all I had for food.  I was afraid to use any of the utensils, plates, bowls, etc in the kitchen because it all smelled like garbage.  I was really sad, and hungry.  Elder BOdhaine and Putnam went and got stuff, and elder bodhaine gave me 100 ringgit so if we were by a store, I could get some food.  Elder Bodhaine also gave me a waterbottle to drink from.  We can only drink water from the filter, but since I didn't have a bottle/cup, it was difficult.  Later in the week, we rode past a mini mart and we stopped so I could buy a bag of oatmeal, a small jar of jam, and a bar of soap.  I've only eaten ramen and Oatmeal since I've been here.  Edler Bodhaine and Putnam are new too, so they didn't know where to get more food.  I'm very hungry.  THankfully Pday is here, and we're going to the store.

The first night I was here, we had an appointment with members and investigators.  My companion asked if I had a bike.... I said no, I just got here today.  One of the members had one I could borrow. it was rusty, couldn't change gears, and small enough that my knees were in my chest.  I did atleast have a helmet.  That bike ride felt like eternity.  We rode and rode and rode.  we are very far from the city.  THe demographics here change so fast.  It is mostly Chinese people here.  Some of the houses we rode past were huge, with fancy cars in front.  In less than ten minutes, we were out of the chinese neighborhoods, and in the jungle parts.  The roads were surrounded on both sides with walls of thick green.  I remember looking up at the sky, and seeing the moon, and for some reason the moon looked like that annoying smile eric gives me when he knows I'm in discomfort.  We were riding and there was a tree, probably three stories high, on fire.  I didn't think this place could get any stranger.  of course, this was our turn.  We went to some huts, or as they call them "kampong houses"  We went inside and there was a little family.  At this moment, everything changed.  It was only one room, and a family of 6 lived there.  They were so small, everyone.  THey were so happy to see us.  EVeryone had big smiles, and the mom (rosia) went out and cut sugar cane from the front of the house for us to chew on.  I was so hungry that it tasted amazing.  We sang a hymn, and shared a message.  It felt really nice.  We talked a bit, and then went on our way.  The bike ride back was very nice, and there was a breeze.  

THe members here are all tribal.  THe chinese pretty much run the show in Miri, and they're the ones with houses.  Most of the members are Iban, Pedayu, or ... one that starts with an M...  Malay is their second language, after their tribal one.  They only use Malay when they are speaking to us!  The cool thing is that I can kind of understand them... when they talk to us... and I can give small, simple responses.  THey look at me and say "SUDAH PANDAI?!"  which means somehting like, "You can already speak Malay?!"

The next day I met the senior couples here.  THe Martins, and the Hoddards.  The Martins are from Australia, and the Hoddards are from Canada.  They all have such thick accents, that sometimes I think they're trying their Malay!  They told me we had to go get a bike.  So they took me to a bike store, and assumed I had money to pay for it.  I charged it to the VIsa, I hope there was money on it.  I don't know how much will be left either.  They told me I should pay 1500 ringgit for a bike.  I payed around 1300.  No one told us we would have to drop big money on our first day to buy a bike!!!  THankfully, they took credit cards.  Oh, and if you didn't figure out, we had to pay for it out of pocket.  THe bike is nice, so we bought spray paint, duct tape, and dirt from outside to make it Malay proof.  If they see a nice bike, they'll steal it, so we had to disguise them.  Can you put more money on my card?  And let me know how much is on there?

We went to another Investigators house the other day named Pana.  My companion told me to be careful at his house... I didn't understand.  We went to a kompong neighborhood, and rode through it a ways.  When we got there, I was shocked.  He had built a wooden house/hut on stilts, over the river.  THere was a bridge, probably 15 meters, from the shore to his house.  the bridge was made of extremely old 2x4s, fence posts, loose linoleum, etc.  It took me like 5 minutes to walk across it because I was so scared.  WHen we got inside his house, there were holes in the floor that went straight to the river.  Everytime I swatted a bug, I was afraid I would move too much and fall through....  Other than that, he was a very nice man, and had a young wife.  THe people are so sweet, and so humble because of their circumstances.  They really don't have anything extra to spare.  

We had church yesterday, and there is a branch building here.  APparently it came from the Chinese tithe payers here... supposedly.  It is sad because the Chinese won't talk to the others.  THere is a serious 'class' system here.  The chinese only associate with other chinese and white people, and then the Malay's with themselves, and the other tribes kind of just fare for themselves.  THe chinese and the Malay branches meet separately.  

The leaders in our branch are very kind.  I already played piano in church yesterday, and Sister Martin had me help her with a class on how to conduct music on friday of last week.  It was nice that, for the most part, church was the same.  Pretty much nothing is the same here.  It has been hard.  I wish I could have come in here with everything ready for me, but it wasn't.  I had to try and clean/fix the house, learn the language, go to all the lessons, and just adjust myself to a new place.  It is kind of scary that we won't be in America for 2 years.  THe circumstances haven't been too good so far, but I can tell they are going to change.  

The church has only been on Sarawak for about 10 years.  They are still working on building a foundation here.  The big emphasis is on getting families to the temple.  Missionaries in the past have come and baptized a ton of people, but they fall away.  We heard legends about an elder ( who actually volunteered at the mtc for us), who baptized hundreds, but now they're almost all inactive.  We're trying to focus on building membership, and establishing roots in the gospel, not in missionary personalities.....

I am very excited, because today i found out that ELDER MAYO IS COMING TO MIRI FOR THE DAY!!!!  He is in Bintulu, and also needs a bike.  He is coming up with his companion and spending the night at our house.  I am so happy.  I really miss Mayo and Crum, they made it enjoyable!!  If only Crum was in our Zone, I would see him more!  He is in Butterworth, which is way far north in west malaysia.  I included a picture of Me, crum, and mayo from singapore.  

I also included a pic of mayo, me, and the MTC presidency after we performed. 

I haven't taken many pictures of miri yet.  I will for the next email.  I've been stressed with a lot of other things, so it just 'hasn't been a priority'  tehehehe.  that was for eric, if he caught that.  

It's really poor where we are, so there aren't many restaurants, and the members can only give us crackers.  

I look forward to hearing back from everyone!  I guess Eric has been too busy to write??

 Previous ItemNext Item
Connected to Microsoft Exchange

hallo hallo Maaaam,
I'm currently at the airport in Singapore awaiting my flight to MIRI!!!!  This is my first area, and my new companion is elder Matheson, he is from Weber Utah. 
We spent the night in Singapore and I absolutely love it.  I want to move here when I get back.  I got to practice so much CHinese on the subway, and the food was so good.  We spent the night in a nice hotel overlooking the city, and got to have breakfast on the roof. 
I'm going to miri where supposedly there isn't any english spoken, which is nice so I'll be able to learn the language better.  There is a city there, but apparently we aren't really in teh city part but in the more "rugged" parts of teh area........ whatever that means.
Everything is soo nice here in Singapore.  And clean.  The disgusting thing is that I've enjoyed the heat/humidity.  I thought I would hate that the most, but it's really fine.  I already miss elder mayo and crum.  We want to room together.  Kk got to go

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mom & Dad,
I don't have a whole lot to say this week.  We are all just very excited to be going, and all very nervous/scared.  Our teachers have been telling us lots of stories about the country, but I see 3 different Malaysias from the three different teachers..... and they served in the same areas.... so I guess it all depends on how you see it.... or how you exaggerate it.   haha.  It has been kind of hard to focus this week because we are all so anxious. 
Make sure you keep me updated on Whit's call, I'm afraid he'll forget to dear elder me before it is too late!  Also, did you get the email last week about all the stuff I need?  If I don't get it before Saturday, I probably can't get it...  And yes, we get to call whenever we're at the airports, so apparently in SLC, LAX,  and Hong Kong.  Our flight leaves on monday night at 8:10 PM, and I think we get to the airport around 5.  We have a layover in Los Angeles from 9:10-11:50 PM (pacific time), and we are in Hong Kong from 5:40AM-8:05AM (Hong Kong time).  Are you guys going to send me some calling cards??  We don't get mail on the weekends.  And I don't know if any one has been reading these things, but starting next week you can't dear elder to the MTC.  All of our teachers say the mission presidents there let you email your friends (after family) because mail can take so long.  So give out the email to who ever wants it.  Oh, and you had a question about what email to send it to?  Send it to this one robinsond@myldsmail.net  The name of the email means "trip" in Malay.
There were lots of funny stories, but I cannot remember them.  Oh, it turns out that ABC dessert (that stuff Dad always tried to find, and talked about at every asian restaurant we went to) actually is a thing, and is very popular in Singapore.  Another funny story is that we were trying to teach our 'investigator' this week about the Word of Wisdom, and while I was trying to tell him that we do not drink alcohol.... I couldn't remember the word, and I was 75% sure it was akal.... which is actually brains... the real way to say it is arak.... So we told him that we don't drink brains, and that he shouldn't either.  He was ok with this, but was very confused why we would need to specify that we don't drink brains.  I have a bad feeling that this will only foreshadow my teaching in a new language once we get there... >.<
Oh, so apparently how this all works (traveling) is that we go to Singapore as our MTC district, and the mission president picks us up from the Airport.  We stay in the Mission Home in Singapore (which is supposed to be really nice) for a couple nights while we get to know the Mission and the President.  After that, we get back on planes, boats, or buses to our assignments throughout Malaysia (or stay in Singapore).  Our teachers tell us stories about the rickety (sp?) planes they've got on..... but they say to fly across Malaysia is only $40!  Apparently it is often cheaper to fly there than to take the bus. 
I'm very happy to be leaving the MTC.  I can see why they have it though.  It is a good transition from regular life, to complete missionary life.  I think it's good they don't let us leave the MTC, or play music, etc.  because we wouldn't be able to make the transition into missionary life as smoothly.  I'm glad that I've had the chance to really think about why I'm here, and that I was able to do it in a controlled environment now as opposed to when things get crazy later.  The MTC Presidency is awesome, and the first counselor was recently called to be the new President starting in January.  He is really good.  His name is Lon Nally.  The talks are always very good, and the devotionals have often times been what I needed at the exact right time.  He will probably be the mission president when Eric comes in. 
what else....
Oh!  Sister White sent me a copy of a talk about the opportunity to serve as missionaries.  I think a lot of missionaries here forget that.  A lot of the talks make it seem like a mission is primarily a sacrifice, when really it is a perfect opportunity for us to do our duty and part.  The adversary does everything he can to try and diminish our personal worth, and tries to make us confused and useless.  Knowing that there is so much more in store if we trust the Lord makes every doubt seem insignificant.  At the end of the day, we really have to humble ourselves, and give our broken heart completely to the work.  I know that right now I am uneasy about heading out, and quite nervous and scared.  I think that is part of the experience, and that as I forget about myself, and help others, then I will find my place.  No matter how good the MTC is, it cannot offer that opportunity.  So because of this, I'm sooooooooo ready to get out of here. 
SO respond to this with lots of dear elders!  Because I don't know if you guys are sending me the stuff yet........ hopefully it comes soon!  Oh, and I have no idea what I'm going to be doing on the airplane ride over there...... we're not supposed to watch any movies or TV shows....... so lots of reading, I guess?  And let Eric know that I will not be pursuing our usual plan to handle long plane rides....
I'm also sad that I will be leaving my friends that I have made in the district.  I will especially miss Elder Mayo and Elder Crum.  They are hilarious, and so much fun to be around.  I love all the other Elders and Sisters too though.  The cool thing about our MTC stay is that all the teachers for it served in our mission (minus the Indos) and all of us will be going to the same mission, so there is a high chance we might be companions.  If not companions, I hear we all get together for mission conferences and stuff.  I'm excited for that.
Elder Gee left yesterday, so Elder COok (joe) and I went and took pictures with him.  He was very excited to go.  He'll do fine.  I hope the French know how to handle him... actually I hope they give him a good/rough time!  Hahaha.  If you have any questions about the pictures I sent home, include it soon so I can respond.  But remember, the next time I'll be on the computer I will be thousands of miles away.  So send dear elders until then! 
We also went to the temple for the last time (for 2 years) so that was a good experience.  I can see why they are so sacred.  I haven't even gone to Singapore yet and I really reallly really want the Church to build a temple there.  THey're thinking about it.  It would be like the Hong Kong temple. 
Ok, I g2g bai.
kali seterusnya saya akan berada di Singapura atau Malaysia! 
sampai nanti
E. Robinson

Apa Khabar Keluarga saya?
Hope all of your weeks were nice.  This week was very nice, and again, we were able to go to the temple today and feel the spirit and learn/grow.  I've been getting letters from friends, and I wrote Mariel back, now I'm waiting for her!  How is whit doing?  Has he heard any news from the mission office??  I also got a haircut today so my hair is nice and short ^____^
This week we had 4 teachers!  2 Indonesian teachers and 2 Malay teachers, so we get lots of one on one practice, even if the Indonesian teachers can't understand all of our Malay.  We have brother pulver, bro. horman, bro. Miller, and Sis. Collins.  I think they're all great, and can't believe they're in their 20's.  what else.....  Oh Annalyn sent me some goodies and cool pictures!  It's nice to get packages once in a while, since my companions get them everyday it seems like... Oh, and don't send me all the pictures, just the cool ones from teh FB album, Eric will know what those are.
Dad:  I shared the kidnapping story with the rest of my district and they all loved it.  At first I was wondering why you shared it, but the end message was cool.  Also, don't try to flatter yourself!!!! Mom, Dad wrote about how tough he was and how he was in a lot of fights.  I can imagine people beating him up. ^__^
I hear Braeden is thinking about a mission, have him write me.  There is a lot of good insight here as a missionary that might help him make a more informed decision.  I also hear that Kjersti is close to getting her call too.
I conquered laundry today with no casualties.  This always means that it is going to be a good p-day.
I have some funny stories
1.  Cigku Pulver told us about one of his investigators who was baptized.  His name was Limbi, and he especially liked the lessons about the three degrees of glory.  One day after his baptism, he went up to the missionaries and pointed at a mosque (which have stars and moons on the top) and said, "well atleast they know where they're going!"  THis story probably isn't appropriate, or the right attitude, but I thought dad would get a kick out of it.  THe rules with muslims are very strict there.  It is against the law for us to approach them.  If any Muslims listen to us, they are subject to severe punishments by law.  So literally all of our pamphletes clearly state that they are for NON-MUSLIM use.  THis means that we are banned from teaching about 60% of the population.  Missionaries were just barely granted permission to wear name tags there.  Brunei is currently closed to all missionaries, but rumor has it that it may open up.  Elder Bodhaine thinks he is going to baptize the Sultan and make it big.  By definition, a Malay is a muslim.  The whole culture is dominated by islamic practices and beliefs.  One of our teachers studies arabic after his mission because so many of our words are direct borrows, (i.e. bersyukur = to be grateful (Bahasa Melayu), syukran = thanks (Arabic))  The rest of the language is mixed from teh local tribes, like the Iban and.... well I can't remember the other ones.... 
2.  One of teh elders brought a remote controlled electronic whoopee cushion to class (not a good idea, but hilarious at the moment) and stuck it under one of the sisters chairs.  the whole class had her convinced that she had a REALLY bad stomach ache, so she took a bunch of tums and went to the restroom.  Priceless.
3.  Today while I was getting some hard boiled eggs for breakfast, one of the elders going to Fiji (he is poly and plays volleyball with us, and our room is by theirs) was in front of me, and got 16 eggs.  His companion, in all honesty, asks "are you not feeling ok today? "  he responds, "Nah, just not that hungry"  I thought this was hilarious.  He is pure muscle, and plays rugby.  I would cry like a little school girl if he ever came at me haha. 
The title of this email is Karunia.  In Bahasa Melayu, the word for a gift is hadiah.  These are the type of gifts you get on your birthday, from your family in a package, or something at a cheap museum shop.  The cool thing about Malay is that they have a special word (Pretty sure adopted from Muslim tradition) for gifts of a divine nature.  A Karunia is a divine/spiritual gift from Allah.  After thinking about the hadiah's i wish I had coming every day, I took some time to think about the many karunia I have been so blessed with.  We shared with an investigator about the gifts of the spirit, found in Moroni 10:9-something...  As you read it, you can easily pick out which ones you have, and which ones you don't.  Yet, the promise is that everybody has the opportunity to recieve ALL of these karunia.  As I have been trying to try harder, study with a stronger desire, and really tune into the Karunia Roh Kudus (gift of the Holy Ghost), I have felt a desire to share this with those we teach.  As members of the church, we have such a blessing to seek after these gifts, and as members, we should take every chance we have to help others realize them too.  I wish I had learned this before my mission.  Since I know now, much of my personal study is devoted to seeking these gifts and applying them to helping teach by the spirit. 
We are now past the half way mark in our MTC stay.  The Malagasy elders just left, and now the building seems empty.  I am sangat excited to get out there.  I am going to miss the good old utah though.  You guys should send me pics from the ranches and other places here.  still waiting on teh fam pics.....
these 30 minutes fly by. 
saya tidak boleh tunggu bagi email seterusnya! 
dengan sayang,
Elder Robinson

Hello Mom and Family,
Another week has flown by.  I cannot believe I have already been here for two weeks.  The days seem to go by so slowly, and then all of a sudden, it's P-day again!  I'm very thankful for P Days and Sundays, where our schedules are a little more relaxed....
I got Eric's letter in the mail.  That was strange.  I hope he is still liking the MTC.  Please continue to send Dear Elders, it makes the experience here much better to know that people on the outside are thinking about you.  I also need Kaitlin and Daniel's email addresses so I don't have to waste postage on them because they are technically family.
Yes, Please send me some cookies!  Preferrably raising filled.  And if you could, include some more ties.  Not all of them, just some more of the nicer ones so I have more options to wear. 
That is interesting to hear about Brother Richards, although I also thought he went to Hong Kong, because I remember him telling me that he spoke Cantonese.... but for all we know the mission extended to that part of the world!
The more time we spend learning about Singapore and Malaysia, the more excited I am to go!  Our teacher comes in everyday talking about how good the food is, so I'm ready for that (the MTC food is anything but exciting).  The people seem so interesting to me, and I love the random Asian customs that we practice.  For example, whenever we teach our investigators here we always bow, take our shoes off, and sit perfectly cross legged on the floor.  We always have to explain to them that we berlutut (kneel) when we are praying.  We also learned that in parts of Malaysia, everybody gets works off when it rains too hard, so it will be easy to schedule appointments ^___^. 
We've had a great line up for devotionals here.  I know back home, whenever the Stake President announces a fireside everybody begins formulating their excuses, but here it is the highlight of the week.  We had a great one about the pioneers, and sang " Come, come ye saints" as an entire MTC, which was a really powerful experience.  One of my new favorite songs, because even well all seems to be dismal, and our life may seem dark, all is well, for our Heavenly Father has greater things in store for us. 
One lesson that really touched me this week was when our teacher asked, "How many times have you heard someone say in a prayer, 'please bless the missionaries in the field' ?"  I had heard that plenty of times in my life, but it always seemed like just one more plug in to our standard prayers.  But now that I am a part of the work, that I am a full time missionary, I realize what a mukjizat (miracle) it really is.  I think of how daunting a work is before us.  We have to learn a new language, go to a remote part of the world, and invite people to come unto Christ who have never been a part of Christianity.  Knowing that everyday, many faithful saints are praying for our success and our safety, I feel comforted and strengthened, and I am once again reassured that All is well, and that we can fulfill the commandments that God has given unto us.  I hope everybody continues to pray for all the missionaries, and specifically for me, that I will be able to do what must be done.
Another concept that really struck me was time.  One of our most precious gifts from our Bapa Syurgawi (Heavenly Father) is the time we have been given.  It is up to us to determine how we will allocate this time.  It is interesting to see at the MTC here, how even when people know the exact time before they will be thrown into the real world (the field), they still don't give it all their effort, saying they'll try harder next time, or just focus on getting through the day.  I know that Heavenly Father will expect everything we have.  It is not until we are fully stretched that we will begin to learn and grow.  Even within the strict rules here, it is easy to get 'comfortable' with the routine, so that you can 'get by'.  I hope I never fall into this category, for there is simply too much to be learned for any time to be wasted. 
I'm not feeling homesick anymore, which is good.  I still miss you guys, but I am beginning to realize that the next two  years are not about me.  I read in Matthew when the Savior tells the people that whoever will save himself, will lose himself, but he that loses himself for the God's work, will find himself.  Along the lines of that.  I realized that now is the time for me to forget about myself.  To forget about any worldy concerns that will detract from my focus.  The mission is a great opportunity for this, and I am beginning to see that in our lives there is no time for worrying about ourselves.  Once we know, we are enlisted into the work.  We have to go out and help others reach their potential now.  We were blessed with the opportunity to go to the temple today and open our perspective about our next two years.
I have to write Dad an email now, since he's in Peru and can't read this one apparently, so I have leave early. 
Saya seluru termasuk kamu di doa saya.  Saya berdoa bahawa Allah akan bantu kamu dan memberkati kamu dengan Roh-Kudus.  Jumpa Lagi!
dengan sayang,
Elder Robinson