Thursday, July 25, 2013

Busy Week In Kuala Lumpur

Dear Family,

I don't even know what happened this past week.  I'm not sure if I've ever been more busy in my life, or if I just went crazy.  It was a very nice week, full of rewarding, as well as humbling, experiences.  I'm not sure where to start.

Well, the Malacca Elders called and needed a baptismal interview done, so we made plans to go to Malacca at 3:00 for a 7:30 appointment, and then just bus back.  Insert Murphy's law.  My companion was positive the buses to Malacca left from this one station called Plaza Rakyat, but when we arrived there, we were told they haven't left from that station for 3 years..... we then took an expensive and long taxi ride to the other side of town to a place called Tasik Bandar Selatan, where they have a very nice bus depot.  We finally left at 5:00, (I got a 2 hour nap ^__^) and then met up wiht the elders there.  At first, the family we were supposed to interview wasn't there, and didn't end up coming back until 8:40.... keep in mind our bus leaves the station at 10:00.  

She came in, and seemed very flustered.  She is a single mom, with 3 kids varying in age.  As we first began to talk with her, we realized that she just wasn't ready.  We didn't want to interview her, but with what time we had, thought we would talk to her.  At first, she seemed very indifferent, and almost as if she had no idea what we were talking about.  There were 4 missionaries there, and all of us were trying to play, guess what her real problem is, or what we thought it was, and what we thought the answer would be.  I got frustrated and sat there as I heard people going through the motions.  After getting no where, I got an impression to thank her for letting us in, for letting us meet her family, and for raising such wonderful children.  It went silent, and then she burst into tears.  She opened up about many things the missionaries had no idea about.  She has many challenges, and her family is what keeps her going.  She admitted she needed to investigate further to find out if this is really what she wants.  We again thanked her, and left her with some scriptures.  
It was such an interesting experience, and after reviewing that story, I realized it didn't do it justice.  Sometimes we get into the routine of things, and think we automatically know the situation, know the answers, and know how to help.  While doing all of this, we miss the most important part: listening.  Whether it is listening to the Spirit, listening to what the other person says, or just closing our own mouth to understand before being understood, we have to first listen if we want to be able to address or hlep a problem.  I am studying a lot about the role of personal revelation in one's life, and realize that most of it comes when we take the time to quiet ourselves, humble ourselves, and take the time to listen to the Spirit.

We barely made it on the bus back, and I sat next to a Melayu kid about our age.  We ended up talking the entire bus ride back to KL.  It was fantastic.  He had such a great story.  He was essentially starting over in KL after a very hard time in Malacca.  He was shocked to hear about what we did, and that we weren't like the movies.... he told us he thought all Americans were like what he saw in the party movies.... >.<  It was really sweet seeing his family wave goodbye at the bus station-- you could really tell he is loved.  It also reminded me of how much worth and investment is in each soul.  Ironically enough, this kids name was Fahmi, which in Arabic means understanding, or Malay, kefahaman.  He told me how he has learn to understand so much more to life from experience.  He told me this great line in Malay, "Pengalaman mendewasakan kita" which translates to experience makes us grow/mature, but sounds 10x nicer in malay.  How true!  He told me I would get a lot of that while in Malaysia... how true, again!

Well, I was so caught up talking with Fahmi that I didn't remember to take my scriptures out of the bus pouch in front of me.  I didn't realize till we got home that I didn't have my quad- the ones I've had since Seminary, with all my notes and annotations!  I was very depressed and felt any attempts to retrieve the scriptures would be of no use.  We decided, the next day, to go back all the way to Tasik Bandar Selatan, and ask if they had seen anything.  We went into customer service, and I told them that I had left a very special book on a bus last night, and that I needed to get it back.  They told me the bus had already left for up north near thailand, and that it had no plans of coming back to Kuala Lumpur. She told me she would try calling the driver, but that I should go grab a drink and wait 15 minutes.  When we came back, she informed us that she had spoken with the driver, who went back to check, and found the scriptures in the pouch where I left them.  He went around and found a friend who was heading back to KL, and asked his friend if he would take this book back to TBS.  I went back the next day, and was able to have my, as they put it, "bible book" back.  What a blessing that was.  As we were walking out of the station, I heard someone yell, ELDERS!  I turned around to see a large African man smiling and running towards us.  It turns out this man was from Ghana, and was moving to Malacca, and didn't know where the church was, or even if there was church here.  He said he had been praying to find out.  It just so happened I had to go retrieve my scriptures at the very same time at the same bus station outside of KL.  God works in mysterious ways!

Alice, our most progressing investigator, is doing so well.  She is so sweet.  There was a child of record baptism at our chapel on saturday from another branch, so we invited her to come see it.  She did, and brought some of her family.  She was so happy the entire time, and we talked about her baptism date.  It just so happened that President and Sister Mains were randomly in KL that day, and decided to drop in.  So Alice was able to meet them, and make her feel at home.  Alice repeatedly talks about how much our church is like a family.  One of the talks at church yesterday was from an expat visitor and he talked about how the church is like a refuge and home wherever you are.  Alice says it felt like home the moment she walked in.  Alice and I also had a long discussion about the interpretation of Lehi's dream.  She is so great!

That same day, I had one of the most horrific experiences of my life.  Alice's sister in law, took us to meet with her nephew.  It was so inhumane how this poor man was living, and how the tenants of his apartment had a total disregard for his well being.  I don't even want to think about the scene we saw!  It made me very grateful for the life I've been given, the hand I was dealt.  I hope Eric would never leave me in a condition as this brother had left his!

Elder Scott and I went to Chilis on our yearmark and bought a nice dinner.  Little did I know one of the expat visitors would take us to Outback steakhouse the next night, otherwise I wouldn't have spent all that money!  We didn't grocery shop last week, too busy, so this week i'm going to get some good food for the celebration.  I'm buying some bratwurst and eggnog :)

My hand hurts from typing all this!  ok bai
Elder Robinson

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Dear Family,

This was a fantastic week.  As stated in the title of this email, this past week was the start of Ramadan!  Everyone is fasting now, which means around 7:30 they all iftar (break the fast) = fantastic food EVERYWHERE.  Bro. Moore did the math, and he figures any LDS person who fasts once a month, and more throughout the year actually fasts more than the number of hours during the month of  Ramadan.  Interesting.  I tried explaining our interpretation of fasting, and that we do it as well, to a man from Libya on the train the other day.  He didn't seem to agree.  Oh well.

Because it is Ramadan, restaurants are a ghost town during the day, so there are lots of sales for food.  :D

Speaking of food (before I talk about real things).  Last monday, our old branch president gave us a call.  He works in the U.S. Embassy, and is getting transferred to Buenos Aires this week, so he invited us over to his condo and told us to take all of his food (which was all imported from America).  It was fantastic.  We ended up boxing a lot of it to give to investigators, and also to some of the other missionaries.  We kept the good stuff (i.e. Lucky Charms, Kashi, marshmallows, cliff bars, pasta).  There was also 6 bags of seaweed....?  I'll have to include pictures.

We had some really cool experiences this past week.  We are working with a tamil woman named Alice.  She has made it known to us that she has been looking for something like this for such a long time, and then, as if an answer to her prayers, we called her on the phone one day.  It is so nice to be working with a local.  We deal a lot with people who are not malaysian citizens (I'll elaborate on that later...).  She was so happy at church yesterday, and told me she just loves the spirit that she feels, and the bonds with the other women in relief society!  
One of the issues we have been facing with her is finding a male member present.  We can't enter into a home or car with a female investigator unless there is a male present.  We have been teaching her at a cafe near her flower stand, but it's hard because we're not supposed to pray out loud (lots of muslims around) in public, and it's a bit noisy.  Well, as an answer to our prayers, we were teaching her when, all of a sudden, the phone rang.  I checked my phone, and saw that it was an 801 number!  I thought it was someone pulling a prank on me!  Turns out it is a man from Herriman, utah, who is working with Franklin Covey, and he was calling not only to ask where the church was, but also that he wanted to help the missionaries after work whenever her could!  He will be here for a few weeks, and we fully intend on using him!  The best part about it is that he is willing to help.  he's already been assigned to give a talk next week >.<  We ate dinner with him at the Moore's home yesterday to fill him in.  Very good day.  
Other strange call.
We have 2 cell phones, one that we carry around everyday, and one that we keep at the house for reporting.  We returned home one day to see several missed calls from a Hong Kong number, and he left a message saying "this is Dr. Bertin, I'm looking for Elder Robinson and Scott." and then hung up.  It was quite strange, and we couldn't call him back.  So yesterday while I was studying before church, we got a call from the same number.  It turns out he is the Asia Area Medical Adviser for the church, on a mission but didn't use his title Elder on the voicemail!  He was on an assignment last week in Kuching, and while in his hotel room, he found an iPod touch in his couch.  He said it was a really fancy one, with lots of stuff on it.  Anyway, it had information about the owner, which said he lived in Kuala Lumpur.  So, this Elder Dr. Bertin is shipping us this iPod from Hong Kong, and gave us the address with the express order to "take this box with a book of mormon to his house and find him!"  haha.  What are the odds of that?  I just got an email of the shipping information, so it should be here soon.  That is the strangest referral I've ever received!  

We had another success the other day.  We have been using an awesome recent convert of 8 months to help us teach Sis. Alice.  It has been so awesome to see Amika fellowship Alice, but I have never taken much time to think of the effects it has on the other side.  We received an SMS from her thanking us for including her in the helping Alice learn about the church.  She informed us that she has been having a hard time recently, and that being a part of helping another learn about the gospel has had a healing effect on her own life.  It's amazing how sharing the gospel not only helps those who are learning about the gospel, but those who are remembering what they had once learned, and experiencing the spirit of the work again.   

I found an Arab restaurant that was probably in the top five most delicious things ever this past week.  

This Friday we'll be traveling down to Melaka.  It should be an interesting experience.  We get to go on exchanges with all of these Elders, so I'm excited.  I love the elders here in KL.  

Ok, I can't think of anything else!  Bai!
Elder Robinson