Friday, January 31, 2014

Dear Family,

Things have been getting a bit better, I suppose.  There have been a lot of ups and downs this week.  Sometimes I'm super happy to be here, and others I'm very confused and discouraged.  I'm trying to figure out what to do here still.  I don't know why this is being so difficult for me- I haven't really had this in other areas.

One of the best highlights of the week was going on exchanges.  We had the opportunity to go up to Miri and to Kota Kinabalu, both places where I have served.  It was weird being in Sarawak again, for the first time since I left Miri over a year ago.  I didn't expect anyone really to remember me.  Anyway, we met the Zone Leaders there and had a great training.  It was really insightful to hear their ideas and get their feedback.  Elder Shuetz is from my MTC group, and is one of the ZLs there.  He is so smart and good at solving technical problems.  I really enjoyed being with him and getting advice from him.  We were able to observe the Miri English class at the church- a model that we want to implement throughout the mission.  I ran into the branch president and his family, and to my surprise they remembered who I was.  It felt really nice to know that someone remembered... in a not vain way.  It helps me remember that we did something meaningful there, and that hopefully we did a few things right.  One of the best parts was to hear that a family, who Elder Matheson and I used to visit, had their baptismal interview that same night, and were baptized just yesterday.  I remember going to the house all the time (the grandfather being a less active member) and seeing how the rest of the family just didn't seem to be that interested.  I believe we were the first ones to start their teaching records.  Very nice closure to that story.  People progress in their own time, and we have to play whatever part we can to help them.  

We had a layover in the resort island of Labuan on our way from Miri to Kota Kinabalu.  We were super excited to be there and buy a souvenir (because missionaries don't go there), but it turns out that, due to flight delays, it was only a 40 minute layover and late enough that all the shops in the airport were closed.  Oh well.  

Going back to KK was great.  Although it had only been a week since I left, it felt like I hadn't been there for ages.  It was weird to feel that it wasn't my area any more.  I ended up showing the Zone Leaders around, meeting with all the people that we left behind.  2 cool stories.  We went to visit Joseph and his Sister Lina, and had such a great lesson.  When they opened the door, we saw that they were watching the restoration movie together as a family.  As we taught about the plan of salvation, Joseph stopped and essentially bore his testimony of the Book of Mormon.  We were teaching about the atonement, and read from Alma 7:11-16 ( I think) and he couldn't help but stop us and say how grateful he was that he could have this extra insight and understanding of the Savior.  That was so good for me to see and hear as well.  It was a needed pick me up.  The second story was when we went down the street to visit with some filipino sisters that Elder Johnson and I began teaching.  They were so excited to hear that I was back haha.  We met them, and she had invited several of her close friends to meet with the missionaries.  During the lesson, she testified of the calling of Joseph Smith- which I had never heard her understand even before!  I was so pleased to hear that the work is still going on.

We were biking back late, and there was still one person named Razlan that I wanted to introduce to them (that they hadn't met yet).  We had planned to see him at 8, but he rescheduled for another day, so we just werne't going to see him.  One of the zone leaders there felt prompted that we should go drop by anyways, even though it was close to 10.  We did, and he was glad that we came.  I wasn't able to see him before I left, so that was some good transition.  We hadn't met him in a while due to work, but he told us that he had been reading the whole time.  We were so happy to see that.  

I'm trying to only write/think about the positive/happy things that happened this week...

That's funny to hear that Eric actually has scoliosis.  I guess not really funny, but funny that he's been self diagnosing himself that for years now. 

I read your guys emails, but there isn't usually a whole lot of pressing matters that need to be responded to........

I'm going to KL on tuesday, and then we'll be in Penang for New Years (which I'm really excited about).  
Gong Xi Fa Cai/ Xin Nian Kuai Le!
Elder Robinson

Saturday, January 25, 2014

First Week in Singapore

Dear Family,

Greetings from Singapore.  It has been quite the week, full of ups and downs.  It has been one of the most hard and discouraging weeks of my mission, but also filled with feelings of assurance and strengthening experiences.  

It seems like the moment I landed in Singapore, the adversary played off every weakness/doubt that I thought imaginable.  I've been feeling a bit discouraged, inadequate, and under prepared, and it's been trickier than I thought to work through these.  And then there has been the small, very small, but powerful assurances that this is where I'm supposed to be.  

The moment I landed in Singapore, we had to make preparations for the group of missionaries going back home, and preparations for the incoming group of missionaries from the MTC.  It was very hectic, but here are some highlights.
We had the departing devotional and departing dinner at the Mains' home in Singapore.  It was a cool experience to be in their home (very rare) and to see all of my friends from that group get ready to go home.  My previous companion, Elder Johnson, was in that group, so it was cool to be there with him.  
The next morning, we woke up and headed off to the airport to pick up the new missionaries from Changi Airport.  It was very refreshing to see all the new Elders.  They had such an awesome spirit of excitement about them, it made everyone feel excited to be a missionary.  They were so tired, I couldn't believe it!  I guess I was like that about 17 months ago.  It was great talking to them/escorting them to the Stake Center, and watching them trying to contact people on the train.  The poor guys, they then had a welcome orientation until 6 o clock, and by the time it was 6:00PM, they were zombies.  I had to give several trainings (I was very concerned about when I was supposed to have time to prepare anything, it seemed like we just hit the ground running... and no real time to prepare, I guess I'll have to learn how to fit it in when we have time).  
We then had a training for all the trainers for the new missionaries.  It was really interesting sitting up on the stand for that one, and seeing all the familiar faces getting ready to go out and train.  Elder Mayo was one of them, he just stepped down from ZL and is going to be training in Butterworth (On the coast from Penang).  We did that until about 9, and then had dinner with our roommates at the apartment, then went back to the mission office to prepare for the next days activities, slideshows, etc.  We got home around 12.  AP= long nights and early mornings.
The next day was full of trainings and making sure everything was all perfect for the new missionaries- including making sure they got back to the airport for their flight.  It was nice to eat lunch with them and get to know them.  They're a great bunch of people.

Some other interesting events that have happened:
The Klang elders, the day after they got back from singapre (one is a new missionary), had a guy pull a machete on them and take their wallets, cameras, and passports.  It has been a bit of an ordeal (a late night ordeal >.<) to get copies of the passports to them, file police reports, and contacting the US Embassy in KL.  Thankfully we have some members over there that can help us out.  
A member in KL (puchong Branch) that I got to know a bit through YSA activities and conferences just left to serve a mission in Paris, France.  He spent the night with us in our apartment, it was great to catch up and feel his excitement/desire to serve.  We all woke up at 3 in the morning as he made sure to get into his taxi on time (terrible flight time).   
We are assigned to the Singapore 3rd Ward, which happens to be the Filipino ward.  haha.  It's a lot of fun, and everyone is so friendly and awesome.  We have 2 sister missionaries also assigned to our ward, and they keep things fun.  We spend a lot of time in the office, but it says we're not supposed to be office elders.  I think that's one of the things that i want to change here.... a lot of time working on projects and tasks that aren't that pressing, or not even that necessary most of the time.  Some of the highlights of this week have been visiting the filipino members and hearing their testimonies, and offering our service.  

Singapore has it's perks.  I get my own smart phone, and have my own computer and desk in our office in the mission office.  The mission office is right behind the stake center, and our apartment is in the adjacent building to the stake center, so everything is so conveniently close.  The food is really good.  Really good.  And you end up paying for it.  I ate at a thai restaurant for lunch the other day and had a fantastic green curry, and had indonesian BBQ on friday.  I think we're going to China town for lunch today and to buy stuff for Chinese new years.  I went to the grocery store the other day to buy some shampoo, body wash, and razors, and when I saw the total add up to 40Sing, I went and put all of it back and am just going to wait until tomorrow when I fly to malaysia- I'll just buy it there where it will be half as much!!  Yes, we get to travel around a bit.  On tuesday, we'll be flying to Miri Sarawak for a day or two, and then from there we fly to Labuan, and then to Kota Kinabalu.  We get back in Singapore on Saturday... I think.  We go on exchanges with all the zone leaders once every 6 weeks.  It will be cool because I have served in both Miri, and KK, so i hope to see some familiar faces.  Next week we'll be in Kuala Lumpur for a day or two, and then up in Penang on Chinese New Years to visit the zone leaders there.  I'm not adjusted to the Singapore air con.  I've been afraid I'm going to catch a cold because EVERYWHERE is refrigerated.  Including our really nice apartment.  I think I'm going to have to pull out some personal money and buy a sweatshirt.  

That's all I can think of for now.  Hope everything is good in SLC
happy belated Birthday, Kaitlin.

Elder Robinson  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dear Sister Robinson,
We are the Sr. Couple serving in Kota Kinabalu.  We have been here 6 months and have the privilege of serving with your son. He has only been with us a couple months and now has been called to serve as an Assistant to Pres. Mains. He will leave KK and fly to Singapore to fill his new assignment in 2 days and we will miss him very much.  
Even though we are serving a humanitarian mission here, we see and interact with the 8 Elders in our city almost daily.  Elder Robinson is an exceptional missionary!  He is an exceptional person!  His calm influence, his straight honesty and kind ways win him friends wherever he goes.  He has a gentleness and faith that attracts people who are wandering.  What a blessing he has been in our area.  He will be an awesome leader in this mission and everyone agrees. 
Thank you for sharing him with us half way across the world.  He is willing to play the organ at church on a seconds notice. He also looks for people to sit with who are alone or appear confused or shy.  People feel safe around him.  He serves like the Savior would serve. He is also very thoughtful.  He did a pile of dishes today after our district meeting and lunch.   (Good job, Mom!)
May your family always be blessed by the sacrifice you are making to keep him here and live without him there.  As you know a mission is hard work physically, emotionally and spiritually.  He is a very fine young man with such a bright future.    (pics attached)
Sister Allen
Sr. Couple in KK
Hi Mom and Dad,

President Mains called yesterday afternoon and asked me to be an AP, so tomorrow I'm moving to Singapore.  He gave me permission to email you today and let you know.  I'm excited, but it feels a bit weird to be leaving here after only 6 weeks.

Dear Family,

This past week was really nice.  We went to SIngapore on Wednesday and came back on Friday.  Singapore was, as always, a highlight to see everyone and be with the Mains.  It was a special Zone Conference in that Elder Wilson, the second counselor in the Asia Area Presidency was conducting the annual mission tour at the same time, so he was there too!  As usual, there were two zone conference, one for West malaysia and Singapore, and another for Borneo.  It was such a dynamic conference, with so many good ideas for finding new investigators and working with people who are struggling.  Sister Wilson walked us through 1 Nephi 1, and showed how all the principles of the first lesson (restoration) are present in the chapter.  It's really interesting to try, if you take your Preach My Gospel, and read it, looking for all the subtitles of the first lesson, y ou will find them all.  We actually put this to the test yesterday, but I'll talk about that later.

Elder Wilson pointed out a line from Preach My Gospel that invites missionaries to help get members to read the Book of Mormon with investigators and less actives (<- I don't like that term very much).  He shared a story of how a contractor was flooring his house, and after each day, he would linger around.  The contractor asked why the house felt so different, so nice?   E. WIlson explained that it was a home centered on Christ, and went on to introduce the Book of Mormon.  The contractor said that he hadn't read a book since high school, and that he didn't feel comfortable.  E. WIlson offered him to come to his house once a week and read with him.  After not so long, he was able to read with ease, and had a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  E. Wilson shared how one of the biggest problems we face is people not  understanding the BOok of Mormon, or how it can be used properly.  When a member steps in, there is that immediate support system, and a second witness to what they are reading.  We've tried it several times now, one time combined with reading 1 nephi 1 after teaching the first lesson.  It was really cool to see just how much the atmosphere and understanding changes when all parties understand or begin to understand the Book of Mormon.  E. Wilson extended the invitation to, even when we get home, find those who are struggling, and offer to help them read the Book of Mormon with them.

I think the highlight of being in Singapore was being at MLC.  The Wilson's came to MLC, and gave a fantastic training on leadership.  They are very inspiring, and funny at the same time.  He talked a lot about incentives, and how, even when are goal is the same, a different incentive can bring a completely different outcome.  I've been thinking a lot about the 'incentives' of missionary work.  As in, what are the desires or motivations that make missionaries, including myself, get up in the morning, or be obedient.  I've been casually asking around to see what other people's are as well.  It's been very interesting to me, and eye opening.  There is so much more than the 'final product' in so many things.  It's interesting to remember that charity, or the pure love of Christ, was the pure incentive for the Savior to perform the Atonement for us.  I find it interesting that Mormon and Moroni would exhort us to pray to be filled with this Charity, so that our 'incentive' would lead us to perform the Savior's work.  It also makes one think about if we can even try to do the savior's work without that motivator (charity) and if we try to, what the result will actually be.  It was just the greatest evening.  I wish it could have been longer.  I'm so glad I was able to be there.

Yesterday at church, a youth that we've been working with was asked to bear his testimony.  It was such a great spirit that accompanied his testimony.  He talked about the changes that have so quickly come in his life.  Elder Wilson talked about the importance of bringing members back, and that if our hearts are in the right places, it will be the same feeling we had when we help someone be baptized.  That's part of the missionary work that goes on beyond the 2 year service.

President Mains was also great as ever.  Everyone was so amazed at his humility this past zone conference.  I don't have time to tell the story, but I don't think the zone leaders will be forgetting it soon.

I got the packages!  So much good stuff!  I also got a bunch of letters from the neighbors!  I bought a bunch of post cards at the airport, and am going to write thank you cards to them.  

E. Wirthlin is serving in President Mains hometown.  

My companion goes back to America on Wednesday, so I'll be getting a new companion this week.

ok bai
Elder Robinson
  Dear Family,

It has been a good week so far.  I'm emailing early today because we're going to visit someone in the hospital early today, and it's kinda twisting up the pday schedule.  maybe I'll just start off from last monday.

Last Monday was one of the highlights of the week (and not just because of what we did for fun).  After emailing, we took a bus to one of the local's favorite beaches.  It has a really big beach so we could all play soccer barefoot.  It was so nice to be by the ocean and feel the nice breeze.  We had all the elders in KK there, as well as a bunch of locals playing soccer with us.  After that, we had scheduled an appointment with a man that we had contacted on friday.  Because we had almost no investigators, we decided to spend a lot of time working with part member families and contacting.  We contacted a man named Razlan, shared with him the Kitab Mormon, and invited him to read from it.  We were a bit shocked when we called him on Sunday night and he said that he had read the chapter we gave him, and wanted us to come to his home.  We got there last monday around 7:00pm, and we started off by asking how his day was going.  He told us that his wife had just given birth that morning to a baby boy.  He was so excited to have another child (he has a two year old daughter) in the family.  As he went on, he also told us of how nervous he is, the concerns that he may not be financially well off enough to give his children everything he wants to give them, or that he will not be able to be as good of a father as he would like to be for his children.  We started talking about how the gospel blesses families, and how we are all given challenges so that we can learn to trust in the Lord and overcome them together.  Razlan was very interested in it, and told us that he would like us to come every monday to share more with him.  He was, as he describes himself, pagan until a few years ago, and said that as he investigated, Christianity felt right with him.    Funny side note: he asked us if we knew any good bible names or Book of Mormon names that would be suitable for his new boy.  We each shared our favorite, and then he said "yeah... but I can only use one that starts with an A" (not sure why...) so we tried Alma, Ammon, Abinadi, Aaron- the works.  We called him the other day and he told us he named his baby after us; Alder. haha ^___^

President Mains and the Assistants came up to KK on Saturday for the Christmas Conference.  Last year, it just so happened that our Zone conference schedule lined up with Christmas.  This year, it didn't, so instead of shipping everyone down to singapore, President Mains decided to come visit everybody.  (ps I got my two packages from you).  We got a call from the assistants earlier last week saying that because our Zone has no sisters in it, there was no need for the traveling sisters to come up, so Elder Johnson and I would have to fill in for them and give talks.  The theme was teh scripture from Isaiah 9:6, where it goes through the Savior's titles, and each one of us (president Mains, sister mains, the assistants, and us) took one title and had to give a ten minute talk on it.  My topic was "everlasting father".  We didn't have any time to stop and write a talk, so I stressed out about it all week.  Finally, on friday morning, I was able to jot down some ideas for it.  It went ok.  The conference itself was realy nice though.  We sang a bunch of christmas songs.  Sister Mains is really into music, so she always makes us do a choir esque thing.  haha always fun to try and get elders to go along with her.  

It's really nice here, the members are so fun and strong.  Our district president/ the district, has been working on an open house that will be this saturday.  It's supposed to be an exhibition of the plan of salvation.  It's set up with murals so that people will walk in and go through the whole plan.  Haha, this is bad of me to say, but it reminds me of a haunted house that you walk through, especially because our District President's favorite part is death on earth, and is planning on having someone in a coffin coming out and giving that part of the presentation.  haha.  The members are all really friendly. There are, however, a quite a few 'offended' members here. We visited one the other day, and it wasn't very pleasant.  The person was very kind to us, and warmly welcomed us in, but the bitterness in this persons tone and outlook towards everyone in the church was disturbing.  I've heard  that there are several people who still believe and love the gospel, but want nothing to do with the church members here.  I don't exactly know how you can love and live the gospel, and be kept from going to church because of animosity towards others... lots of interesting lessons learned.

I don't know the schedule for skyping on christmas yet.  I think we'll be doing it at the senior couple shouse.  I'll let you know next week.

elder robinson