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