Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dear Family, Sorry I'm emailing later than usual. We have had an insane day. We woke up this morning at 5:00AM and rode around the entire Penang island. We figured out just a few minutes ago that it was almost 90kilometers. It was so much fun, but the hills were killer. We probably won't be able to walk for a few days. We saw the Tokong Ular (snake temple), beautiful isolated beaches, jungle, spice farms, durian orchards, giant cliffs, batik shops, and melayu kampungs. It was awesome, and we felt so good doing it (except for the hills... which makes me a bit nervous for KK....hehe). It's shame you guys can't come up here, it's such a beautiful place! I sent you an email that I received from Malaysia Airlines saying that our flight from KL to Brunei has been rescheduled for an hour or two later. Haha I can't believe you skyped with the Moores, good for you. Yes, I would love to eat dinner at their house! They're some of my fav people in the mission, and they always cook the best food. I recently read a quote that read some people make a week out of a year, and some can make a year out of a week. I'm trying to apply that principle for this upcoming week. We fly out to Singapore on Wednesday for Zone conference until friday (I can't believe they're flying us out, only to fly us back down there a few days later!). Elder Mayo and Sister Lewis (in Penang) are singing a number in ZC and I'm accompanying them on the piano... feels like old times in the MTC when Elder Mayo and I performed at devotional there. It really feels like full circle serving with Elder Mayo again- he's a hoot. As far as what clothes to bring for me, maybe just a hoodie/sweatshirt would be nice, just in case. I'vve been meaning to buy one my entire mission.... and here we are.... you know that BYU under armour one I had? that would be fine. I bought a sim card the other day for Malaysia and can roam in Singapore. Here's the number +60109473312. Do you have what'sapp? that may be a good way to contact ont he 3rd. I'm not sure how that works. Elder Mayo, Elder Crum, and I may want to go to the airport anyway to say goodbye to the other elders that will be leaving early that morning anyway. But we may just end up somewhere else that night. Not sure yet. If you don't hear from me otherwise, just meet me at Tang Plaza @ orchard at 9:30AM for a light breakfast. have you talked to Sis. Sophie at all? I would like to go out to dinner with all the Klang members as well. I got a phone call the other day from another expat family in KL and they want to feed us too. I haven't had any time to figure out what we're actually going to do when you come. When I get a moment, we'll think about it. ENOUGH TALKING ABOUT THAT I just read Eric's email- sounds like he's having a blast. He wrote a novel. I guess I kind of did too today. Yesterday at church, we had an all star line up. We had President LeBlanc, the district president, President Lai, the Singapore Stake President, and Elder Woo, from the area 70. It was interesting having them in the little Butterworth branch. I was so grateful for how much they raised the spirituality of the meeting. Preparation and dedication really invite the spirit, and you could tell that everyone noticed- especially our investigators. I was happy to see that President Lai remembered me and was concerned with how I was doing. I love the Singapoer members- they mean business. It's so funny, but so good. I taught the gospel doctrine class from 2 Samuel 11-12, and was quite intimidated having them all there, but felt very satisfied when Elder Woo came up and thanked me for teaching by the spirit. In priesthood, he trained us on teaching and brought up sunday school several times. It;s nice, once in a while, to be ercognized for trying to help others have spiritually uplifting experiences at church. ok, hopefully I can email you next week! Sorry for the delay bai elder robinson

Friday, June 13, 2014

One month left!

Dear Family, I can't believe how fast the time is flying. This week was a good week, I can't think of what to write though.... so this is going to be scattered. Yesterday, after church, I got a really good SMS from Elder Plaizier down in Singapore that said, "you know it's a good day when Sheila gets baptized and RG and the Miller family come to church" It made me so happy to see that the people that I put time/energy into are doing well. Very happy for all of them, and hope they're doing ok. It's interesting how, on a mission, you get these little reminders that help you see that you're doing the right thing, and that your work is meaningful to someone. I hope you get to meet some of the Filipinos when we are in Singapore, they're such good people. I had an interesting insight the other day. I met a man, who when I asked what religion he followed, he said that he was an atheist, and only believed in himself. that last statement, the part about believing only in oneself stuck with me and bugged me all week. He had a nice car, nice house, studied/worked in America, had a nice family, good values, and a very kind personality. I thought about how he must be a hard worker, and must have done a lot of good work. Yet, at the end of the day, we can only trace our own efforts back so far. What I mean is that it seems like every good thing we ever accomplish on this earth all stems from a good idea, inspiration, motivation, some type of spark in our mind that comes out of our control. You know, when your sitting there, trying to think of something, and it feels as if you're waiting, hoping that something 'pops' into your mind? I think that 'pop' is one of the surest signs that there is a God out there. We take these good ideas, these inspirations, and run with them and accomplish great things. Even our most fundamental faculties, talents, and abilities are gifts that have come outside our control. It seems like a very dishonest form of plagiarism to try and take full credit for the good we can do in this world. I read Mosiah 4, and really liked how it talked about, "are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend on the same being, even God?" Ever since I've been thinking about this, I've been noticing every time one of these good ideas, or thoughts come into my mind- outside of my control. I've been trying to make a note of it, and give acknowledgement to God for giving me this direction, or even just the opportunity to fan that little ember into something bigger. Just an interesting thought, you should try taking note and acknowledging them... i've noticed it increases the amount we receive. Our branch president told us we all had to bear our testimony yesterday, so I shared the experience of meeting that man and this idea of giving credit for our inspiration we receive from God. Our branch president misunderstood what I had said, and thought that I meant we shouldn't teach wealthy people, so he spent the entire 3rd hour, which was combined, in teaching the missionaries the proper way to approach people who have nice things. At first, I was so annoyed, adn we all tried to explain what I meant, and then we just went with it. His intentions were good, it's just funny that he spent an hour lesson on a language misunderstanding. that's all I've got. See you soon Elder Robinson


Dear Family, I'm glad to hear that Eric's farewell was a success. It seems like just yesterday we were worrying about all that stuff for me. I'm sure he did a great job on his talk- he'll get lots of practice on his mission.... I wish I could have been there. This is one of the few times on my mission I have felt a little homesick. I've thought about calling President Mains and asking him if I can call home before Wednesday just for a few minutes. Still not sure though. This past week was very nice. On preparation day, we went out to Penang and toured an old Baba Nonya Mansion (Peranakan) which is what they call the strait chinese here (the chinese mixed malays, who got rich and built big mansions and developed their own culture). We also had some delicious, but very expensive, northern indian food. I'm trying to think of the good stories to tell. On Saturday, we had a branch activity at our condo. A BBQ on the top floor Sky Garden, planned by our Branch President. He told us that if we didn't bring a lot of investigators, he would personally throw us off the 30th floor. Naturally, the stress of the week was inviting investigators to come. We had a lot of cool experiences throughout the week of meeting new people on the streets. Cool Story: The elders before me had previously found a Tamil man named Surian, who, when I first met, was sure that he was mentally insane. I was confused as to why they were meeting with him. They had helped him drastically reduce his smoking problem, which led to his wife and kids moving back in with him. After that, nothing much. We had previously met his sister (who he stays with), but just on the street, and she told us she wasn't interested. Well, on Saturday, we went to their house to invite to the BBQ/tell him that we were going to stop visiting with him until he was more ready to make the gospel a part of his life. WHen we arrived, he wasn't there, but his Sister and her adult kids welcomed us into the home. We sat down, had something to drink, and began talking. The conversation quickly went to Surian, and it became evident that this family was extremely worried about him. It came to our attention that he has a lot of other challenges in his life. The Gospel naturally made its way into the conversation, and soon enough, we found ourselves making promises, that if they, as a family, were to learn and apply this message, they could see miracles in their lives and in the lives of those around them. This staunch Hindu family sat quiet, and then asked if we really thought this message could help their family. It was a uplifting experience to bear testimony of why we travel so far, for so long, to share this message. They scheduled an appointment for the next day [yesterday] to meet all together with Surian. Elder Moala and I were shocked that this family, Surian's wife, sisters, etc, who were previously so uninterested in why we were coming by, could have had such a change. [side note: they surprised us by coming to the BBQ, talking for hours with our solid indian family, and having a great time]. We went to their home yesterday, and had one of the most memorable lessons of my mission. We all sat around together, and you could just tell that there was a real love that was the motivation for bringing everyone there. We started off asking them what type of people they wanted to become. We taught about who God is, and explained who Jesus Christ was. They were all on the edges of their seats, and it was only then that I realized this was all new information to them. We pulled out a few copies of the Book of Mormon and read Alma 7:10-16 with them, explaining along the way. We even explained the analogy of the debtor and debts. I don't know how to articulate how it went! In one of the latter verses in that section, it talks about the covenant we make with God. We directly asked them if they would be willing to prepare to promise to God, to be what he wants us to be. They all humbly said that they wanted to. They all wanted to change, and to help each other change. We finished off by teaching them how to pray. It was powerful to testify of why we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. As I was describing what type of things we include in a prayer, I mentioned that we can ask God questions. I was immediately interrupted by Surian's wife asking me, "does God actually answer them?" asked in a really sincere way. It made me so happy to know that she was thinking, that she was absorbing this new invitation, and really trying to find out for herself. We answered with an emphatic YES. We made the expectations very clear, and they know where this is all heading. At the end of the lesson, Vali said, "if Jesus can help my family, I will surely do something great for Him". It was interesting to teach a family who prayed to so many diverse Gods, to pray to the one that we know and love. Although this was the first time they had heard all of these doctrines, it was clear that they were familiar with that loving God. It's also clear that everyone struggles in this world. The "diverse sins" are what separate us from eachother and from God, and it's the Doctrine of Christ, that unifies us and brings us together. There are millions of ways to mess up,.to feel sad, but there's just one way to come back. We had several families come to the BBQ, and it was a success. Just like ward parties back at home, enough food to feed twice as many people as come.... except it was all curry. I'm going to miss that. I'm going to a Indian wedding luncheon at noon, which I'm super excited about [already hungry], and then going to the top of Penang hill. With regards to KK, we can probably do that. Check with them and see what they think. We may need to make reservations quick!. bai, Elder Robinson

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Dear Family,

As you probably gathered from the subject line, transfer news came.  I am moving to Butterworth!  It's the mainland across the strait from penang.  I'm very excited.  My new companion is a big polynesian Elder Moala from Portland, Oregon.  He is my "great-grandson" in the mission, in that Elder stahle trained elder ebeling, who trained elder moala.  It's going to be really nice up there.  ALSO, ELDER MAYO IS ALSO IN BUTTERWORTH.  So it's going to be a fun last few weeks.

This past week was so busy, and we have a busy schedule until the moment I get on the plane to Butterworth.  We were in KL, Kuching, then KL again.  When we touched down again in Singapore on Saturday, we went straight from the airport to the beach where we had ward missionary activity.  We each paired up with a priesthood holder, and the sisters with sisters, and went contacting trying to share copies of the Book of Mormon.  It helped the members a lot, and showed to them how much more effective referrals are.  That being said, it was interesting that we easily could feel, with everyone that we spoke to, that they could use the Gospel in their life.  Cool Story: My 'companion' was speaking in tagalog to a filipina, so I looked around... and saw a YSA age melayu guy squatting in the sand, and looking off into the ocean.  I felt like I should talk to him, because the expression on his face didn't look too happy. I squatted next to him, and asked how he was doing.  He said fine, I asked where he worked, he asked what I was doing here.  i responded by saying we came here to find people who have hard times, or are struggling, and help them find strength through God's help.  He gave me a funny look, and said, "how did you know I was struggling?"  I thought he was offended, so I asked him to repeat the question.  He said, "you said that you find people who are going through hard times, and you help them.  How did you know that I was going through a hard time?"  I was a bit taken aback, and told him that to an extent, we all go through hard times and face struggles, and that God leads us to help eachother overcome them.  It opened the way for a nice conversation.  His father had passed away, and was facing a lot of family problems.  At first he said he could only talk for a few minutes, but then when I asked if he needed to go back to work, he said, "mmm, i can't wait longer" and ended up staying for 20 minutes.  He was muslim, but we gave him a card anyway (legal in singapore).  Everyone can use some help.  He was very thankful we talked to him.

KL was awesome because right as New Missionary Training was beginning, the KL Women Conference was ending, so I saw all the sisters in KL.  It was a lot of fun to see everyone again.  I talked with sister moore and she offered to host us!  I said we didn't need a place to stay, but we should definitely meet up with them- they're really awesome.  Plus, she asked for your contact info, so you may be getting an email from her.  She hiked Mount Kinabalu no problem, and recommended the ovenight hike

I'll tell you the rest of the stories later.

Elder RObinson


Dear Family,

It's been a crazy week so far, but a lot of fun.  It seemed like we were super busy with stuff right until the moment I left Singapore.  

On Monday, after I emailed you, we had an interesting experience.  We exited our office, and ran into the old mission president, President Clark.  He was visiting Singapore on business, and thought he'd drop by.  He was really intent on taking the assistants out, but we kind of had a lot to do that day, so we politely said we couldn't.  Well, as we're doing some chores at the house about an hour later, we get a call from an unknown number... and it was President Clark.  He asked if I liked to run, of course I said yes, and he told me to get my running shoes ready to go on a trail run.  I spur of the moment decided to go- I think my comp was annoyed... i don't think he likes to run much.  So, we went on a 10k jog through MacRitchie Reservoir- it was so nice.  It feels like you're running in the middle of the jungle, alongside a beautiful lake.  The entire run, President Clark 'game talked' me about finishing my mission strong, and being a strong person when I get back.  Interesting experience, I'm glad I went.  Afterwards, we taxied over to Choa Chu Kang to visit with some Filipino members.  It was so nice, they are such good people.  

Tuesday was pretty normal, Reporting with President Mains, and then we had an English class Meeting with Sister Mains, the Singapore Zone Leaders, and us.  I wanted to get a program going throughout the whole mission, and we had been workign on a pilot program in Singapore.  The Singapore Zone Leaders are so dependable.  Hopefully that takes off.  Right after that meeting, the Mains took Elder Plaizier and I out for a nice going away dinner.  We went downtown to a place called the Chijmes.  It is an old cathedral and they have renovated the side abbeys and stuff into fancy restaurants.  haha felt a bit out of place, but it was really nice, and the food was very good.  It was nice to chat with the Mains for a minute and have some good food.  They said some nice things.  I'm going to miss spending time with them.  We left right after that to teach a less active member we have been trying to meet for the entire time I was there.  I ran into him on the trian my first week in Singapore, and then on my last day, I met him in his home!  

Wednesday was spent packing, spending lots of time on the phone with Malaysia Airlines, eating lots of Kaya Toast, and going to the baptism of a child of record for the 3rd Ward.  It was great to see all the filipinos one last time!  SIs. SHeila is going to be baptized next week.  So proud of her!  She gave me a recipe before I left, and we cooked it for dinner yesterday- yum!

I woke up on thursday feeling quite sick.  I spent all day traveling (had a long layover in Kuala Lumpur).  I didn't have my Singapore smartphone any more, so I didn't have anyhting to do except read.  

Butterworth has been so much fun.  I've really missed the basics of missionary life.  I'm glad President Mains let me finish outside of Singapore. You never know how good somehting is until you don't have it!  I love waking up, doing full studies, doing planning, contacting, teaching... it's very nice.  My companion is hilarious.  Giant polynesian, nicest guy on the planet, and super outgoing.  He has only been in the mission for 3 months, so my goal is to get him ready to be the best.  I'm grateful to be with him- he's so positive.

It's also great to be with Elder Mayo again, he is probably the funniest person I've ever met.  He;s sitting here next to me emailing, and after this we're going to Penang for pday.

The work here is going well.  I can't believe how friendly everyone is.  The other day we were let into the homes of some really wealthy chinese people, which is really rare!  Plus, we invited a young chinese guy to church the other day while meeting him on the street, and he came!  It's great.  It was a little disturbing to have only 13 people for the first half of sacrament meeting.... 

I read the email you sent, and make sure Eric has his own sheets.  I don't know why they told me to send mine home.  You come into the field, ask for sheets, and an Elder goes to an old, musty closet/cupboard and says, "I guess you can try these" as he pats the dust off it.  It's gross.  I bought my own sheets here.

ok bai
Elder Robinson

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Racing around Maylasia

Dear Family,

It's been yet another crazy hectic week with little sleep.  

Last Monday it was quite rainy, so we just decided to roam around downtown a bit, took some cool pictures and saw some of the touristy places (not sure how long we're going to stay in Sing since I've already seen it so much).  After that, we met up with the chinese Elders and ate all you can eat Dim Sum at a nice place at Dhoby Ghaut.  

After reporting with President Mains on Tuesday, we literally sprinted to the airport.  We made both our flights, thankfully, and landed in Miri.  It was a great time to be with all of the Elders there.  I followed Elder Bodhaine and Elder Tan, two of my favs in the mission.  Elder Bodhaine is into cooking, so we literally didn't eat any meals out while I was there... (I cannot remember the last time we didn't eat out... except for sundays... I'm going to be sad when I come home and we can't eat out for every meal D: )  We had a couple of interesting experiences.  This is the 3rd time I've gone on exchanges with the ZLs in Miri, and each time we've visited the same member (who in my opinion never showed any progress or action to come back)  When I heard we were going to see them again, I kind of rolled my eyes.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she has been coming back to church, and as we spoke with her, she had actually had been reading the Book of Mormon and that she could recount what she was reading.  impressive.  I guess everyone really can change after all, and I'm glad the zone leaders saw something in her that I was missing.  We had another experience where a man let us into his home... and we could tell something was fishy... because he was too friendly, smiling too big.... long story short, we find out he's a pastor from another church (he waited 30 min before telling us that) and then started warning us against reading the book of Mormon.  We finally said we had to leave, and that we respected his opinion, and then he asked if we could have a closing prayer.  we all agreed that'd be fine, so he started praying.  Mid prayer he put his hands on the other two elders heads ( I didn't see it, my eyes were closed) but I heard him say their names and he shouted that the evil spirit from the book of mormon would go "OUT!!", I was so annoyed at this point, then I felt a hand on my head and immediately slapped it off.  I asked him to not touch me, and then he tried to touch my head again, so I continued to dodge/smack his hand.  He gave up, and closed the prayer.  He told me afterwards that I didn't need to worry, that I wasn't bad, it was just the evil spirit inside of me... We got out of there quickly.  It's one thing to pray for each other, but I was really disappointed that he would try to do something disrespectful like that as a preacher.  Other than that, we had a good time in Miri.

The senior couple dropped us off at the airport, and we flew to Labuan.  Labuan is a little island off the coast of east malaysia, where our layover was only supposed to be 45 minutes.  When we landed, we heard there was something wrong with the plane, so our flight was pushed back atleast another 4 hours.  They gave us spending money and told us to come back to the airport later... so we went out and explored the town/island a little bit before catching our flight back over.  It seemed like the whole island was completely muslim- I didn't see any chinese.  THey were just starting the Labuan International Sea Challenge, so there was a lot going on for that.  I hired a taxi to drive us around to all the spots, and he kind of ripped us off, but he took us to all the cool places and I don't htink we would have been able to see all we did any other way.  We finally got on our flight from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu.

When we arrived in KK, we went straight to the Zone Leaders house, where we were told to grab some bikes and meet them at Keramat.  I was super excited to see people from my old area, so although it was getting late, we hopped on our bikes and rode as fast as we could over there.  I got to see a 17 year old we worked with/bring back to activation.  He is doing so well.  It was fun to surprise his family, and to see how they were doing.  The senior couple tells me he is doing so well, and that he wants to learn everything.  He's a smart one, too.  He was recently in Klang with his mom, and showed me a picture of him with the Elders there.  I was shocked that he went to church there!  He said, "I told you I wasn't going to miss church anymore"  soooo cool.  I hear all the members there took care of him.  We then went upstairs and saw another family.  This family just sent off their first missionary, who was the branch mission leader when I was in KK.  I was able to show his family pictures of him from Singapore when he was set apart.  Great to see people again.

I forgot how beautiful KK is.  I'm so excited for you to see it.  After that night, we did our training with the ZLs, and then I followed another companionship way far away to their place in 1Borneo, supposedly the biggest mall in the whole island.  I rode forever on a bad bike... haha.  Good experience.  The senior couple, The Allens, said to tell them when we're coming again so they can make/buy treats.  She thanked me for sharing the V chocolates with them!  We'll have to bring them some.   On our way back to the Town the next day, an elder riding in front of me fell of his bike on the coastal highway right as we were going to the airport... we made our flight, and he's ok.  We had a long layover in KL, where we ran into a senior couple serving in Sri Lanka.  ONe of the missionaries in our mission was from the branch they're serving in.  It was good to see how excited this couple was, and energetic, about the growth of the church in Asia.  We landed in Singapore around 1:00AM, and it was SO busy... I don't understand. 

Sunday was really good.  Sheila came back from the Philippines and came to church yesterady.  I'm glad she did, and the sunday school lesson was on the Word of Wisdom... which, of course, we hadn't taught yet.  It went well, and I'm excited to see how she progresses.  

While writing this email, I've been on hold with Malaysia Airlines, listening to strange malaysian elevator music.  President Mains changed up the schedule a bit with New Missionary Training in two weeks, so now we're trying to figure our how we're going to do our exchanges.  We still have to go to JB, Kuching, Penang, and KL... I honestly have no idea how it's going to work..... oh well.  I'm really hungry writing this letter.  And clearly I have run out of things to say.

OK bai
Elder Robinson

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Another round of exchanges

Dear Family,

This week we started another round of exchanges.  My desire to email is decreasing the longer I'm out here...

Last Preparation Day we went to the Dinosaur exhibit at the Marina Bay Sands museum.  It was a rip off.  Should have just waited to go to Thanksgiving Point...  But it's always fun to walk around the downtown parts of Singapore and see how, I guess you'll see how when you come here!  What's the budget for hotels....?  Because there are some waay cool places to stay in some of the cities we're visiting...

We started our first round of exchanges this past week, and had a really good time doing it!  We flew on Tuesday Morning to Sibu, Sarawak, and met up with the Zone Leaders there.  The one who replaced Elder Crum in Sibu is Elder Misa, who was trained by Elder Stahle.  We did our training with them, and got a lot of good ideas on how to work with some of the challenges the mission is facing.  For most of the exchange, it was Elder Plaizier's turn to follow the Zone Leaders while I went with another companionship (Elder Wilson and Elder Hobbs).  We had some great lessons, and were able to learn a lot about the importance of follow up.  I'm trying to think of funny things that happened..... oh, I accidentally threw their house keys on their roof, so that was interesting getting them down.

I'm trying to do the mission a favor by trying to save money on these exchanges.  The way my previous companion showed me how to schedule flights was costing a lot of money because when you pick multi-city trips, it doesn't give you the best deal.  So, it takes a little more time to search but we end up saving hundreds of dollars.  "Thinking smarter not harder"- Elder Stahle.  So, when I saw how much it cost to go from Sibu to Bintulu, I figured we probably could bus it and still be ok.

so, we bought bus tickets from Sibu to Bintulu, because I thought it would be cool to drive through the jungle.  Jungle looks the same during the first 10 minutes as it does for the rest of the 4 hours... so I was pretty bored.  The roads were too bumpy to read well.  Overall, good experience, and we only spent 50RM on tickets.  (after that experience, I decided we're not renting a car and driving between cities... not enough time).

Bintulu was one of the coolest exchanges we've had.  I followed the Zone Leaders (Elder Adams and Elder Wayment, both are in my MTC group).  It's interesting when we go on exchanges, because everyone expects you to be coming into the area with a solution, or crazy new ideas to fix a problem... which is kind of hard because we know so little about the full situation... second thought, that's usually a good thing.  When we arrived in Bintulu, the ZLs told us the district had planned an easter activity at the church.  When we got there, there really wasn't anything planned other than come to the church and bring food, so the members pushed it onto the missionaries.  So, as I was sitting in the congregation, I heard my name announced as one of the speakers talking about easter...
That night, we were talking about how the area was going, and they told me about the difficulties they're having getting members involved/motivated, and how the areas they've been working in aren't working.  We all decided we would make the exchange an experiment and try something completely new.  They had heard about a new development off of the map, that might be an interesting place to go check out, so we made the plan to do so.  They only had 2 bikes, but one has pegs on the back wheel, so since I was the biggest, I rode one while Elder Adams stood on the pegs and held onto my shoulders.  We rode to the river, took a ferry to the other side, and began riding in the middle of no where.  We rode for so long.  Long story short, we (after taking tons of wrong turns, snakes, bathroom runs, etc) ended up at this new housing development, where missionaries had never gone before.  Everyone had cars, and we were told that it was almost all christian.  It gave us all a boost of energy/motivation/excitement.  I just spoke with them today and they're very hopeful and excited for this new phase of the work.

I'm consistently impressed with how the Lord always provides while we're on exchanges.  Each time we go, I get nervous/stressed thinking how on earth are we supposed to help here?  Yet, the most "random" things happen, and miracles start popping up.  i think the Lord uses that to help us and them.

Ok I'm thoroughly done with writing.

I got the package!  Unfortunately, I'm on a running bet with the Chinese Elders that we won't eat sugar until Elder Black goes home (May 8).  It's the worst.  Saving it all for then!
Elder Robinson

New Transfer

Dear Family,

This week has been really nice- a lot of good times, and a lot of good change.  We stayed in Singapore all week ( I think this might be the longest streak in Singapore yet).  Last Monday, because Elder Toney was being transferred out, President and Sister Mains took us out to eat.  We went to a nice steak house and got expensive steak- it was really good, but I think Sis. Mains summed it up by saying "well, it's not American...." haha.  Tuesday-Friday were taken up with the New Missionaries coming in from the various MTC.  We had 2 Australians coming from Manila to Terminal 1 at the same time as when Elder Plaizier was to be arriving from KL in Terminal 2.  We thought we planned it out well, and timed everything perfectly, but we had no sign of any of them.  We started doing the usual checks, calling the mission office, calling the airlines, then calling immigration custody, but nothing haha.  It also doesn't help that missionaries traveling don't have cell phones... -___-  Anyway, turns out that Elder Plaizier missed his flight in KL and had to catch the next one, and that the australian elders' flight was delayed.  Everything worked out.

I felt very bad for Elder Plaizier because we were so busy running around that I didn't get to fully clue him in on the trainings we were expected to give.  It hit me while we were on the stand, 3 minutes before we were expected to give it... haha. He did really well, and understood why we didn't have time to practice it more.  The new missionaries seemed good.

One of the highlights of the week the departing dinner/devotional for a group of missionaries leaving the mission.  These were the elders who came right before us, and the sisters who came right after us, so I knew most of them quite well.  I served with two , Elder Gualtier in KK and KL, and with Sis. Guzman in KL/Singapore, the most, and was sad to see them go.  It was a fun evening and a lot of funny stories were told.

Another really cool thing happened last week.  Our Branch Mission Leader in KK came to Singapore to be set apart before heading to Manila MTC.  He was so excited to go, and so ready too.  He hardly speaks any english, so I think Singapore was a bit overwhelming for him... I hear the Manila MTC is super strict about English only.... so we're praying for him.  He told me that his two younger siblings are also in the process of applying for a mission.  They're going to be such great support for KK when they get back.

General Conference was very insightful.  I most enjoyed Elder Bednar's talk, Elder Hallstrom's, Elder Scott's, and Elder Eyring's.  Lots of reminders for members to be actively involved in the gathering of Israel.  I loved Elder Ballards invitation from last conference to pray for an opportunity to share the gospel with someone around you, and now to invite someone once a quarter. You can feel how the church is headed in that direction in the mission field.... 80,000 missionaries going home with the mentality of being the member that the prophets are reminding us to be.  I think member missionary work is going to change dramatically as this next generation of missionaries come home.
The best part about conference was an experience we had.  The night before, we praying to know who we should focus on (from the 3rd Ward) to get to sessions of General Conference.  Mid prayer, I had a name come to mind.
** background story**
in January, I was riding a train when I accidentally stepped on a man's foot.  I apologized, and he quickly continued talking to 3 young white people.  I noticed that he was a Filipino, so I waited for another opportunity to talk to him.  The 3 white people alighted, so I then asked him if they were his students.  He responded by saying they were his colleagues, and that they were working at a Chinese INternational school near Newton Circus.  I asked him if he had ever heard of our church, because it's very near Newton Circus, and he responded, "yes, I'm a return missionary".  His stop came up right after that, and I hurriedly asked for his phone number.  He hesitatingly gave it to me, and alighted.  Well, for the past 2 months, every so often I've called and invited him to activities, to follow ot lessons, to come to stake conference, etc... but all the calls went the same way: he asks who it is, tells me how busy he is, and then says he'll call me back. ***  so when I had his name come to mind, I can't say I was too sure about it.  We called him, and he surprisingly said, ok what time?  I was blown away when he actually came to one of the sessions.  Afterwards, we talked for a bit and he opened up a lot.  He told us more of his story, which is very interesting, and then how long it had been since he had been in a church.  He felt embarrassed that he didn't recognize the apostles or their names.  He mentioned some other personal things, and both Elder Plaizier and I felt really touched by him.  He pulled me aside on his way out and thanked me for being patient, and for continuing to call him.  I hope we can continue to meet him again.  It was so great to see the spirit working within him as he listened to the prophet's messages.

The Lord also prepared a way for Sheila to attend conference.  She had previously told us that she would be unable to attend due to a team building training at her work all weekend, but all of a sudden, it was rescheduled.  She was so impressed by the emphasis on family, values, and discipleship.

Things have been a little calmer here, but that's all about to change tomorrow when we start traveling again.  President Mains created a new zone, so we now have 10 zone leader companionships to visit in 6 weeks..... we'll see how....

k bai!
Elder Robinson

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Longest Week of My Life

Dear Family,

As stated by the subject of this email, this past week was the busiest of the mission I think... and the sad part is we stayed in Singapore the whole week!

This week was zone conference, so every missionary in the mission made their way to one of the sessions in Singapore this past week.  We had the Semenanjung(West Malaysia) and Sabah session on Tuesday, the Sarawak session on thursday, and the Singapore/Johor Bahru session on friday.  We had Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday, and on every night we had pre zone activities (family history) and post zone conference activities.  We were at the church for 14 hour days all last week.  Missionaries love Zone Conference.  One of the reasons is because there is tons of pizza... unfortunately, after a week of eating pizza, I never want to see/smell/taste it again.  haha.  

The Conferences ran really smoothly- I can't complain.  There were a lot of highlights.  Even though we heard the same things 3x, I still picked up new things each time.  The best part was seeing all the missionaries again, and being able to spend time with them.  

We helped the Family History senior couple with the Pre Zone Conference activity, which was all about family history and those little booklets the church is distributing.  I found it very interesting.  I have been looking at at our family, and notice that there isn't much, other than names and dates.  You can go in and add stories and photographs.  The only things I saw were "legacy disputes" from Dad haha.  

By the time friday came around we were so tired... and then we got an offer from the costa rican ambassador member (who likes to treat the APs) to dinner at the American Club.  It was very nice.  and the funny thing was that we ran into several members there.  

Saturday was mostly spent planning for this next transfers' Zone Leader trainings, and making graphs/charts of all the numbers.  In the evening, we met sis. Sheila with a member Bro. Vince.  There is a mall called lucky plaza, where filippinos go to send money back, and they have a fast food restaurant called Jolibees (which is supposed to be the biggest in Philippines).  haha.  It was packed with Filippinos, and the menu has fried chicken, spaghetti, rice, and hamburgers.  The food was ok.  The lesson was great, and we were able to find a quiet room in the back to share it.  She then came to church the next day and had a great time.

We spent most of yesterday dealing with transfer news.  We sent all the flight plans to our travel agent just a few minutes ago.  My companion is being transferred to Melaka (they need his help there) and my new companion is Elder Plaizier, who was currently serving in Kuala Lumpur Branch, Zone Leader (he took my spot in KL when I left).  He is probably the nicest guy in the whole mission, so many people saw it coming.  

that's exciting that you purchased the flight plans already.  We'll have to figure out how we're going to do the rest of the flying within malaysia...  

don't have much time to email because we're meeting our zone at a trampoline house in a little bit.

elder robinson

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sego Larvae for dinner...

Dear Family,

Thank you for resolving the school issue.  I thought that had previously been worked out- my companion told me he talked to President and that I was already taken care of.... -________-

This was the longest week of the mission I think.  It was so hectic.  It was fantastic though.  Too much to write.  I have a bunch of pictures.

On Monday we went downtown and visited the Singapore National Museum- it was def in the top 5 Pday activities I've done on my mission.  I've been determined on going for a long time, and a bunch missionaries were following us... so I dragged them all there.  There were free audio visual guides, and I recommended that all the ELders/Sisters get them... only a few listened... The entire museum revolved around the electronic guides, so we had a trail of whining elders for several hours.  I was content though.  Hopefully they got some culture out of it.  We live in the coolest place.  Singapore has such a cool history and background, honestly the coolest place.

The following morning we flew to Kuala Lumpur with the Mains to give a New Missionary Training.  It went really well, and I felt very uplifted afterwards.  We were able to have lunch with the Mains and chat for a long time, which was nice- something we rarely get.  Immediately after the training ended (6:00PM) we had to race over to the airport.  Whenever we go on exchanges, we end up running a courier service for all the mail/parcels that come into Singapore, so we were trying to run through trainstations with giant heavy bags... bad idea.  Our flight ended up being delayed (go figure).  We didn't land in Kota Kinabalu until 12:00, and didn't make it to the Zone Leaders house until around 12:45- they were already all asleep.  When the alarm went off at 7:00, the elders told me we only had 10 minutes before we needed to leave for a funeral, so I frantically put myself together... The senior couple (Allens) picked us up, and we went to a members house (the member told us to be there by 8, without telling us the funeral didn't start until 10:00....)  This member is hilarious, and had prepared breakfast for us.  It was kind of bland Bubur (rice porridge) so I asked if she had some sambal (malaysian spicy sauce they use in everything).  She handed me some homemade kind, which I took a small spoonful of... she freaked out and said, "too much too much!  You won't be able to handle it!"  I pulled a Dad and thought I knew better.... I instantly began sweating and was hot the rest of the day.  She kept bringing strange food out of the kitchen, one was Sego Worm... an east malaysian delicacy.... I'll attach the picture.  They're giant larvae... you're supposed to eat them alive, but I had to kill mine first before I put it into my mouth...  The funeral was interesting.  It was a cowboy themed funeral...? of a member's father.  They sang several spirituals set to the tune of home on the range and amazing grace... hehe.... Nice service... very hot.  
I spent the day with two younger Elders, and had a great time.  They're so diligent and it showed in all the success they're having.  It was fun to teach people, and help the missionaries see the importance of strong commitments.  I was so tired throughout all the day though, I felt bad!  The next day we trained the Zone Leaders and spent some time checking houses.  Around 5:00PM we headed to the KK airport, and found that the taxi driver remembered who I was.  He was a nice muslim man that we used to use when I served there.  Our flight was delayed... so we spent some time reading in the airport for a while.  We flew from KK to KL, and on the flight I sat next to a man named Muhammed Arif Hakimi... we started talking and he then went on to give me a lesson in writing Jawi (classic written malay using Arab characters)  I got pretty good at writing my name!  We almost missed our flight from KL to Penang, so we were those guys running through the airport.... We landed on Penang Island around 11:00PM, where a member picked us up and drove us to the Zone Leaders house.  Elder Ung stayed in the same room with me in the MTC, he's great.  They were so hospitable.  THey made us brownies and pancakes for breakfast the following day!  It was Elder Toney's turn to follow the Zone Leaders, so early that morning I took a taxi to Georgetown to catch a ferry to meet the other elders.  On my way to the fairy, I passed a sign saying "Khoo Kongsi House: 400m" (I recently saw a picture saying it was a must see/UNESCO world heritage site) so without thinking I told the taxi to turn.  The driver left the meter running while I sprinted through this awesome Chinese Clan house and tried to take as many pictures as I could.  Supposedly it compares with the Imperial Palace in China.  Penang is the coolest place.  I want to finish my mission there.  I love the people and the whole area... so cool!  I then took the ferry across the strait to meet up with Elder Mayo, who is serving in Butterworth. He is so funny and a great example.  He works so well with the members and makes everyone around him happy.  He's also amazing at singing (I forgot that, until I heard him again!)  It was fun to ride bikes around with him, teach some great people.  I learned a lot.  It's a great experience to go with other missionaries from our MTC group and see how they've changed, and also to see what skills/experiences they've picked up along the way.  We ended up pillow talking late... great to catch up!  The following morning, I took the ferry back to Penang Island where a member picked me up and drove me to where my comp and the ZLs were eating lunch.  Supposedly Penang was voted the top place for food in the world... I believe it.  We went to the world famous Cendol place, ate Penang Laksa, and then went to Fatty Loh's, which is supposed to be the best chicken rice in malaysia (i agree).  Afterwards, we had our Zone Leader Training which went really well.  It's interesting to see how different all the Zone Leaders are, and how each one of them have such good ideas on so many different things.  I realized that our job is less of coming up with new ideas, but rather piecing together the mission's and working with President to make them happen.  We flew back to Singapore on Saturday late afternoon, and had to race over to a members home for a dinner appointment.  Such a nice family- they had wanted to introduce us to their housemates, but they left last minute, so we ended up sharing the message with them and having fillippino food with them.

Yesterday was a nice Sunday.  SHeila couldn't come to the 12:00 service, so we went to the 9:00 Toa Payoh Ward sacrament meeting... for some reason, a bunch of 3rd Ward members were there, so it worked out perfectly!  Sheila is doing well, and is excited towards her baptism preparation.  She is having a lot of problems with her son, and it's taking a toll on her.  Miraculously enough, there was a fireside for parenting/family at the Singapore Stake Center put on by the Eyres (member family, been on the Today SHow, Oprah, GMA, NYTimes best sellers) for working with families.  She came to that, sat with the filippino members, and had a good time.  It was incredibly well done.  We had to leave early to make it to another appointment, which was also very nice.  

I feel like I gave more of an itinerary for what last week was as opposed to anything spiritual/what I gained from it all.  I'm so tired.  And this week is Zone Conference, so we have all the missionaries from the whole mission coming into Singapore in 3 different groups spread throughout the week.  I don't think we'll be getting much of a pday today.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dear Family,

There is no stopping it seems like!  We had another very busy week that was a lot of fun.

Last Monday night, we took our investigator Sheila to a members house to have a family home evening- it went so well!  You could tell that she was exhausted from work, but she opened right up over dinner and really connected well with Bro Donny and Sis. Gretchen.  Yesterday at church was really special because Sheila came (her first non-stake conference time in Singapore) and was fellowshipped so well.  I don't know what it is about Filipinos.  I'm almost 100% that the work is going so well in the Philippines because they are so quick to love one another and reach out to others.  Before church started, we told a couple members that we were expecting Sheila to come, and when she arrived, there were sisters sitting by her, talking to her, hugging her, brothers helping explain things, teachers getting to know her.  She had a big smile the entire time.  After church, we had a lesson with her where we invited her to be baptized.  She was so happy we had brought it up because she had been thinking about it ever since she got back from her vacation in Macau.  The members we had follow to the appointment were so supportive of her and her son, and offered to help and provided encouragement.  We received an sms from her late last night saying she had just read 2 Nephi 31.  We're so excited for her.  Her 18 year old son too.  This could be the first assistant baptism in years!  

Well we weren't in Singapore for much of this week.  We left Tuesday afternoon for Kuala Lumpur.  We had a neat experience sitting by an English business man who was living in KL, who had been to slc.  He said it was kind of a sketchy city?  I had to clarify and make sure we were talking about the same place... KL was a blast!  When we landed, the Zone Leaders couldn't meet up with us, so we grabbed a nice dinner at one of our favorites.  I ended up getting chicken tandoori, garlic na'an, a curry set, limeade, and 30 chicken satays (i shared on that last one....).  It was so good, and not expensive.  I'm already kind of bored emailing, so I'm just going to include the highlights.  A recent convert of mine, deborah, was having a recent convert lesson with the ZLs at McDonald's.  She bought us so much food (between 4 people: 6 bic macs, 6 large fries, 6 sundaes, 6 cokes).  I don't know what she expected us to do with that!  It was really nice to see her again, and to see that she was doing so well.  She is planning on moving back to Bali, and has already located the branch there all on her own.  One of the ZLs is my old comp, Elder Rasmussen, who helped me kind of work through what I wanted to major in.  He's a great guy.  
On Thursday morning we flew over to East Malaysia, Miri.  We had New Missionary Training there for all the new missionaries in East Malaysia.  Their group is so full of energy and potential- so cool.  One of the trainers, Elder Coleman, knows a ton of my friends from BYU, so it was really fun to spend some time reminiscing with him.  I followed the Zone Leaders (Elder Bodhaine and Elder Tan) for the time there, which was a great time.  Elder Bodhaine is great friend, and the funny thing is that he is now living in the same house that we were trained in.  It was funny throw back to once again be in the same house as him.  I know Elder Tan's family pretty well from KL, he's a great missionary.  We had some great lessons there.  While the Zone Leaders were doing their weekly planning, I took one of the new missionaries and went to a couple of the families that I used to teach while I was in Miri.  I was pleasantly surprised that they hadn't forgotten who I was, even though I was only there for a few months.  They fed us some interesting Iban food, I'll attach a picture.  I love being with all the missionaries.  We have such a fun group in the mission!  

We flew back to Singapore late on Saturday night, and didn't get much done other than laundry.  I can't recall if I mentioned this last time, but our washing machine was broken for 10 days (fixed right after we flew to KL on tuesday), so we were getting so desperate for clean clothes.  It has been such an ordeal.  So much anxiety over laundry.  

This upcoming week is also going to be quite busy.  On Tuesday, we fly to Kuala Lumpur for the West Malaysia new missionary training, and then at 8:45 that same night, we fly to Kota Kinabalu to do exchanges for a few days, then on Thursday, we fly back over to Penang to finish off the week there.  We'll be back for church on Sunday.  Somehow we'll have to figure our where to teach Sheila in all of this!  It's getting to the point where we know and recognize the stewards/stewardess for Malaysia Airlines... and they recognize us haha.  Exciting news from Penang this last week, one of the Elders in this mission is from Penang (Elder Tan) and he was able to fly back to Penang on thursday to baptize his Dad.  President Mains was also there, and said how touching it was.  I just spoke with the ZLs this morning who said that there were atleast 60+ people there.  The Penang branch could really use this.  

President Mains also showed me a picture of Elder Wirthlin over at his house in Pennsylvania!  haha Whit...  I also heard that Mariel is engaged?  How interesting!  I'm waiting for her to send some details!

I'll send another email with the classes I'd like to take.

Elder Robinson

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Flying around on Malaysian Air

Dear Family,

I"m trying to think of what to even write about...

We had a busy week last week.  We had an early flight on Tuesday to Bintulu, Sarawak, spent a few days there, and then flew to Sibu, Sarawak, and spent a few days there.  We got home late afternoon on Saturday.  It was a very nice trip to Sarawak, and we got a lot done, as well as saw/followed a lot of missionaries.  

In Bintulu, after we did a training with the Zone Leaders, I followed a companionship in the neighboring part of the town.  Elder Misa'alefua (who Elder Stahle trained) and Elder Jahali (who is an Iban from Kuching).  It was very insightful to follow the two of them.  Elder Misa was originally called as an English Elder, but the moment he reached KL, he was determined to pick up Bahasa.  Miraculously, President Mains changed his mission language from English to Malay a few transfers ago.  I had heard that he was having a very hard time picking it up, esp since he had no formal training.  Elder Jahali is a native speaker, so their companionship has definitely helped both of them (learn english/malay).  It's so cool to see Malaysian missionaries (missionaries from Malaysia).  You can only imagine what type of impact Elder Jahali will have on the Kuching District when he gets back.  Just last week I delivered a mission call to a young woman in Bintulu who was called to serve in this mission.  Most of the members are either 1st or 2nd generation in the cities.  I spoke with an older couple in Bintulu (or atleast tried to, they mostly spoke Iban, but I tried to pull us much malay out of them as possible) about their youth.  These people come from small villages in the jungle, killing and eating just about anything, no real christian background, etc.  It's kind of mind blowing to see how their assimilating into the modern world; for  better and for worse.  

After that, we flew to Sibu, Sarawak where I followed Elder Crum and Elder Baranov.  They're both fantastic, and I'd say some of the best missionaries in the mission.  Lots of great ideas coupled with a lot of great effort.  It's interesting that I've never served in the same zone even as Elder Crum or Elder Mayo, so I don't really know much about how they teach, or how they approach missionary work (other than what I saw at MLC and Zone Conferences).  It was a great experience to be in his companionship for a day and learn from him.  In two weeks I'll get to follow Elder Mayo in Butterworth.  Sibu is really nice.  They have a bunch of families they've been working with kind of out on the outskirts of town, that are so great.  It was fun to see them again.  Elder Crum has propagated a nick name for me in the mission (elder smokey.. long story) so all of the members there referred to me as Elder "Asap" (smoke).  

The Elders who stay with us in Singapore are also really good.  Elder Cash is a punk from Olympus, but I have a good time with him.  The other day he did something so ridiculous and I responded "OK ERIC!" without even thinking!  haha, I'm trying to remember what he did.  He, like Eric, finds a sick enjoyment out of bothering me.  Elder Wang is from mainland China, is hilarious, and is teaching me how to make spicy food.  I made some Sze Chuan noodles last night (with his help) which was delicious, but is proving incredibly painful.  O.o

This week we'll be flying to KL tomorrow, and then flying to Miri on thursday.  We had originally scheduled ourselves to be in Penang at the end of the week, but President surprised us a bit by telling us that he needed us to be in Miri... thankfully Malaysia Airlines have been easy to work with over the phone... lots of funny airport stories to tell later

OH.  President needs you to email him details regarding you coming to pick me up.  Church protocol. 

ok bai
Elder Robinson

Friday, March 14, 2014

running out of clever labels....

Dear Family,

Running out of clever names to label the emails.... 

This was a good week for us.  We spent the first half of the week in Kuching, Sarawak.  It was fun to see all the Elders over there.  I followed the Zone leaders for the few days we were there, and I learned a lot from them.  One of the Elders, Elder Wayment, is especially good with numbers and technical things.  We worked together, using whatever we remembered from calculus, to work with some numbers to present to President Mains during the MLC regarding some of the "key indicators", specifically new investigators found per week.  Essentially it was that, based of the trends from the last 6 months, we need to increase the number of new investigators by a large amount to create a pool large enough to account for the past ratio of new investigators/baptism.  The next tricky part is to think of a course of action that would cause the Elders, in the short and long term, to place a higher emphasis on finding more people, opening their mouths more, etc.  Elder Wayment was able to bring it up during MLC on Thursday, and we all discussed it.  It went over well, and the new understanding is that each companionship needs to trying to achieve 2 investigators a week.  That probably doesn't mean much to you guys, but I thought it was interesting.  

This past MLC was one of the best ones- and I think that's because there was so much open discussion and true 'counseling together'.  It was great to see friends again.  Elder Bodhaine was made a Zone Leader this past transfer (oddly enough, in the zone/house we started our mission in!) and came to MLC.  He's a lot of fun to have around.  It was fun to have Elder Crum around as well- in fact, the next day, we got our pictures taken in front of an intersection downtown.  Haha, nearby to Raffles place, there is a place where Anson Road becomes Robinson Road (Elder Crum's first name is Anson ^__^).  

We received a referral from the Hong Kong Mission office for a filipino sister who was visiting friends in Macau, and attended church with them.  We contacted her, and she was so willing to meet.  We saw her on Friday, and she told us about her family, especially about her son who struggles with some mental issues.  She was so impressed by what she saw in Macau that she agreed to come to church the following Sunday.  

This Sunday was the Singapore Stake Conference, with President Gong of the Asia Area Presidency presiding.  It was a great series of meetings.  I've met Elder Gong on several occasions, all in KL (He was the one that we helped with the passports).  I thought there was a lot of great parts of it, but these are some of my highlights:
  • Elder Gong had the Stake Patriarch, Brother Chan, come to the stand with a microphone and answer a few questions.  Bro. Chan was called while his wife was dying, and the week he was to give his first 3 blessings, he had a dream where his wife passed away.  right before the blessings were to be given, his wife died.  The family requesting all the blessings told him they could wait until after the mourning, but Bro. Chan responded, "We shouldn't keep the young people waiting for their blessings" and gave them all their blessings, his first time ever.  I'm thankful for his eternal perspective and desire to help people receive blessings now!
  • Elder Gong quoted a General Authority (not sure who), who said we aren't our brother's keeper like a zookeeper, or an innkeeper, but rather we are our brother's brother, and our sister's sister.
  • President Lai, the Singapore Stake President spoke of how a stake is a defense and a refuge against the storm, and how we morally prepare to hold our ground.
  • Sis. Gong quoted someone saying that one point of humility is worth 50 IQ points.
  • Elder Woo, the Area 70 told us about the immediate blessings that come from obedience.  I loved his talk because of how Singaporean it was.  It seemed like all his analogies were based off finances, the factory he runs, time management.  ^___^
  • Elder Gong called someone from the congregation up... some random white guy... who happened to be Elder Gong's Zone Leader while they were serving together in Taiwan!  He shared how his parents prayed everyday of his mission that he would learn to love the Chinese people.  This brother shared how he is still receiving that blessing today.  (he ended up marrying a chinese girl).  But he now serves in the Mandarin ward in Singapore.
This upcoming week we are flying out on Tuesday to Bintulu, then straight to Sibu.  Will be back in Singapore by Saturday to meet Sheila and her son (the filipino referral... who enjoyed stake conference).  I see you heard about the Malaysia Airlines flight- we were a bit shaken up considering we fly malaysia airlines 3-5 times a week!   We were told that two passengers that boarded the plane in KL had fake passports?  We'll pray that doesn't happen again.

ok, have a good time in germany.
Elder Robinson
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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Busiest Week of My Mission

Dear Family,

This was the busiest week of my mission I think.  I hope I don't have to do another one like this!!  I'll start off on Monday.

We decided to go to some gardens called the Haw Par Villa Gardens.  Do you know what Tiger Balm is?  I think it's just fancy chapstick/vaseline, but apparently it combats stuffy noses, upset stomachs, headaches, and flatulence.   It's all over the place here, and these gardens were made in the 1920's by the two founders of tiger balm (Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par) Anyway, it was cool, but also really twisted and creepy at some parts.  Lots of traditional Buddhist elements, including a cave illustrating (in gross detail) the 10 courts of Hell and their associated punishments.  Later that night, we were on our way somewhere on a train and I saw a white couple trying to sneak pictures of us.  I was flustered about something, so I just ignored it, but then we ended up next to them, and the man leans up to us and asks how Singapore's institute program is.  Turns out they're life long members from Zurich, Switzerland who are visiting their 2 sons who are bankers in Singapore.  We talked for a while and we mentioned that we were busy that week with AP exchanges.  He told us an interesting story I'd never heard of.  This man's AP was Mitt Romney in france, and supposedly while he was there, there was a terrible car accident that ended up killing the mission president's wife.  Elder Romney became the acting mission president for 3 months.  This guy had such good things to say about him.  He told us a lot of good tips for making sure we're the type of mission leaders that people will remember for good.

and then the rest of the week started....

We had an early meeting with President on Tuesday morning, which went really well, then we headed straight for the airport.  We went to Bintulu, where I followed the Zone Leaders there (Elder Adams- from my MTC group, and Elder Jacobs).  We had a really good time.  It took us quite a bit of time to get there, but eventually we did.  We had a lot of discussions throughout the whole day, and I learned just how "out of the loop" I am.  They stories of disobedience going on that I had no idea were happening, and it was kind of disturbing how all of it was sliding right past us.  Another disturbing realization was something that happened a long time ago.  We visited several members in the Bintulu area in attempts to give me an idea of what their work looks like, and we visited a sister who had been baptized for several years, but had no idea of what was going on.  She barely spoke Malay (only Iban), had no idea who Jesus Christ was, and couldn't read.  There were hundred of people baptized in the 5 years before, and it's alarming to see how many are less active.  President Mains has always pushed/stressed the importance of teaching lasting conversion, and really helping people to make the decision for themselves, and for the right reason.  I really appreciate the Elders who go the extra mile to help prepare people well.  
Later that night we went to a house of a strong member who heard I was in town, and wanted to make us dinner.  We went to their wooden house on top of a river, and sat down to eat to the nice meal she had prepared.  I was just about ready to eat, and the sister and her husband ask me to grab a hymn book.  I reach to where the books were, and grabbed a couple.  She then said... just one.  She then informed me that it's a tradition in her house that the guest always sings a solo before eating... -______-  So I ended up singing "Keluarga dapat kekal selamnya" (families can be together forever).  I was embarrassed, but the other missionaries said they've all done it too!

Early the next morning we woke up extra early to catch our flight to Kuching en route to Singapore.  We met all the Zone Leaders from Sarawak at the Kuching Airport on their way to MLC with us in Singapore.  It was great to see them all and to catch up!  We landed in Singapore, quickly took a taxi to Carls Jr. ate lunch, and then headed back to the Stake Center for MLC.  This MLC was a really different experience than the others.  It was interesting to look out at the ZLs and think that one of them will be the next assistant, and that all the other missionaries they work with will be the next zls and so forth.  I remember a quote given by a general authority that says, "Brothers and Sisters, the cemeteries are filled with leaders who thought they were indispensable" It adds a new perspective to think that a huge part of what we do is to prepare those we lead to eventually take our place and continue the work.
President Mains introduced to us his 2014 Singapore Mission Plan.  It was so clear and to the point.  He did something he hasn't done in the past by making a baptismal goal for the year: 545.  It's over 200 more than last year, but definitely possible.  It's exciting to see how much direction this can and is giving missionaries.  I think it helps a lot to see the end goal when making plans for each day.  That same night we stayed up late making last minute flight changes because of a scheduling conflict with the Sibu zone leaders.  

So that night we went to bed at 12:00, and woke up at 4:00 to make our flight to Sibu.  Sibu was so much fun.  This was Elder Toney's last area before he became assistant, and this is where Elder Crum is serving as a ZL.  It was so great to see him in action- he's such a good leader.  We all had a good time, and it was good for me to follow some of the other companionships around and see how they're doing.  We woke up extra early one morning and played a game of basketball and had a ton of fun.  The people they have taught and baptized recently are so awesome and strong.  They stood in such contrast to the previous people that I saw.. the ones that couldn't tell our church from any other... >.<  I followed Elder Scott (comp from KL) one night on this little back seat he made on his bike.  I wish I could spend more time on details, but I don'tthink you would get them.  Sibu was settled by Chinese methodists, so it's really interesting to feel the difference in a real christian town in malaysia.  

Because it's so difficult to get flights to/from sibu, we ended up getting back in Singapore halfway through church.  There was a guy visitng from Finland named Jaakko Rewell, who knew the carpenters.  
I have been so tired this week, but it felt soooo nice to be home.  I slept in my bed 2 nights last week.  this morning we woke up at 6 and ran 3k then did sprints, cleared up the noggin.  OK that's all I have, I'll write another email in a second regarding housing.  Also, is that endorsement thing already for President to check it?
Elder Robinson

Late Reply

Dear Family,

Sorry for the late reply- yesterday/today have been SO LONG.  we woke up yesterday, exercise/gotready, then went to the office and reported for 2.5 hours.  We had a shipment of missionaries coming in, and we thought we were uber prepared for it, but then the airlines threw a curve ball at us and sent the missionaries coming in from the Philippines to one terminal, and the missionaries from provo to another.  Unfortunately, neither terminal was one that we normally go to, so Elder Toney and I, the Sister Training Leaders, the Mains, and the Senior couples, were running around all over Changi airport to find the missionaries.  We were all a little flustered... to say the least.  Fortunately, everyone made it alright.  We then took all the new missionaries to the stake center via MRT (the subway).  It was great to be with them and catch some of their energy.  We spent the rest of the afternoon doing trainings with them, getting to know them better, and filling them in on the info about our mission.  The poor elders were soo tired.  We sent them off to the Pasir Panjang house, and then brought the trainers in and trained them for the rest of the evening

**************** I started this email around 1:30, but was interrupted by the following*********
I've been on and off the phone for the past 2 hours with airport personnel and officers trying to get an Elder out of holding and allowed back into the country.  They were being super stubborn, and were telling me that we had to buy him a flight to back to KL right now, without letting us talk to him, telling us the reason why he wasn't allowed into Singapore.  The Mains are currently on a plane to Hong Kong now, and won't land for another couple hours- so there wasn't anyone really to go to.   I had to use Mom's "tone" a couple of times on the phone just to get some morsels of useful information out of them.  They were extremely polite on the phone.  At the end of all of it, we had to pay for another expensive ticket back to KL.  Unfortunately, we're not sure what's going to happen in the future with him.  There were a lot of little things that made this mess.  oh well.  

****back to where I was..******

We had a really good morning as well.  We had our second half of the New Missionary Orientation, which went really smoothly.  I'm so grateful for things that run as they're supposed to.  I also count it a blessing when Heavenly Father helps bring every needful thing to our remembrance in our preparations for events like these.  I gave a short talk on the importance of the daily schedule.  It was good for me to think back at all the help that a solid daily schedule can bring.  Especially when it seems like there are 56472983 things in missionary work that we can't control, our daily discipline in the morning is something we can, and something that sets the tone for the day.  There is an interesting quote from Elder Holland that says something like, "you tell me how your morning went, and I will tell you how your day will go, how your week will go, how your mission will go, and how your life will go" or something to that effect.

President Mains is on his way to the semiannual Mission President's Seminar in Hong Kong.  Elder Holland will be presiding.  Elder Holland was the apostle who set apart President and Sister Mains.  They were both a little nervous and excited to go to Hong Kong.

I can't remember what we did last week...

oh, we were in KL last tuesday for New Missionary Training (for missionaries who are 6 weeks out in the field).  It was really good to be with all of them, and to hear President Mains' training on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I then went back and did some personal study of 2nd Nephi 31, which talks about just that.  I like the relationship it gives between repentance and baptism.  The soul that honestly repents will desire the finishing power that baptism, or a renewal of the covenant, takes in the cleansing power of the Atonement.  It was great to be with the missionaries that I welcomed in just 6 weeks ago- esp. with the Elders that are currently serving in Klang.  We all went to Chili's and had a good meal.  The next morning- bright and early- we took a taxi back to the airport (which is about an hour outside of town) and we rode with one of my old investigators, who is on date to be baptized next week.  It was good to see him again, and to hear he's doing well.  He told me a bunch of good stories.  It was interesting how the gospel light effected the way he looked at life in general, and the tone/reflection of his comments.  

Last week we had transfers.  It kept us busy most of the end of the week.  I'm really excited for this next transfer.  Our housemate here was made Zone Leader, and so was Elder Bodhaine, so I'm really excited to see what they do/go on exchanges with them.  One of the new people staying with us now is an Elder Wang, who is from China.  I'm so excited to justify learning chinese with him- I already told him he's only allowed to speak to me in chinese.  Due to sudden transfer changes and other things that needed to get done, I had to reschedule my embassy visit to this Thursday.  By next monday, it will have been 10 in Singapore since we had to fly somewhere!  Then back to flying.  I'm excited to see everyone again.

We were able to spend a lot of time with the members of the 3rd ward (filipino) this week.  The members are very solid, and come from a lot of interesting backgrounds.  I'm glad we've had time to be with them more, and serve them more.

That's all I have for now.  I thought you guys were going to write longer emails for today.  I'm excited to hear where Eric goes.  Each morning, I go to the senior couples office and ask if there are any incoming Robinsons... (just in case)  My guess is Taiwan or australia chinese speaking.

Elder Robinson