|Sunset in Tawau (view from the church building)|
I know, I know, I should have written last week! Sorry Mom :) But this last week was crazy! So... Transfers got bumped up a little last week because of Mission President Training in Hong Kong - usually, we find out our transfers on Monday, and everyone moves on Thursday! But, because President Mains had to be leaving on Tuesday, we found out the news on Saturday, and Tuesday was moving day.
So on Saturday, we found out the crazy news. The Zone Leaders called and the four missionaries in Tawau all huddled up around the phone on speaker phone and just listened anxiously. Picture that hahaha. So, Elder Chong is staying here in Tawau and was going to get Elder Sutherland from Kuching (which has since happened, and he's a great guy). The Zone Leaders didn't say anything about the Malay elders, so Elder LaFontaine goes, "Is there a change with the Malay Elders?!" Elder Johnson was messing with us a little bit so he laughingly says, "Yes! Elder LaFontaine is going to Kuching, Kota Samarahan." He then gave details about that, and FINALLY he gets to me! "Elder Coleman is training in Tawau!" Woooooooo! I was so stoked! Literally the night before I had been praying that all the new missionaries and the missionaries moving would be feeling okay with their transfers and stuff, and I had a feeling I was going to be training - and then it happened. Pretty cool.
Saying goodbye to Elder LaFontaine was sad but also exciting. We had a great companionship, and I really appreciated the perspectives on missionary work and life I gained from him. I love that guy, and I'm grateful to have served with him!!
So, the reason why I couldn't email much last week was that on Monday, I had to fly to Singapore to pick up my new missionary! Pretty funny because my area is nearly 1,000 miles away from my mission home and office. Hahaha. So all day Monday I had to fly to Singapore, and then I got to the mission home about 3:30. By the time I changed and stuff we barely had any time to email before we had to go back for the Train the Trainers meeting with President and Sister Mains and the APs. Very cool - Elder Robinson (one of the APs) knows all the kids two years older than me who live in our neighborhood! He even slept over at the Brennan's house one time with some college friends! So it was fun to talk with him and talk about mutual friends.
So! Last Tuesday I found out my new companion. Elder Yang! He's Mong (native race from Thailand, raised in America), about 5' 4", hilarious, and a stud. I've got the chillest trainee ever. He already has pretty good language skills, and is way willing and just wants to do the work. He's from San Francisco, CA and is super legit! We make an interesting companionship and every one here thinks he's Chinese haha but whatever. In Malaysia, if you are any Asian race other than Malaysian, they think you're Chinese. Pretty funny. It's a good time. He speaks somewhat like some of my African American friends back home, so that's legit. I have this thing about absorbing a little bit of the habits of people I'm around a lot - so this is going to be funny.
Whenever a new missionary comes into the field, he gets a trainer, who shows him the ropes and gets him on his feet. That's my goal with Elder Yang! To teach him how to be a missionary on his own, and then to work with him just like any other companion. Gotta be friends and equals in a companionship, right? Anyways, so I'm stoked to be with him. I've been blessed with the Gift of Tongues so much, it's ridiculous. I can understand basically everything anyone says to me now, unless they are using unusually specific language - eg. when a swarm of bees attacked a kid this week, and someone tried to explain what happened, I understood everything but the word for bee. (Which is penyengat, by the way :) ) So I've been extremely blessed. Advice for any prospective missionaries learning a new language: Be diligent in language study, and in every prayer ask for the Gift of Tongues. Then watch the blessings come.
This week was pretty great. We went all over, visiting members and less-actives and introduced Elder Yang to them. They all called him pandai / skilled at something, in this case Malay / because he can already tahan / survive! We had lots of spiritual experiences studying together and teaching together, but one of the coolest experiences happened yesterday. It was fast Sunday, and we were heading over to Sister Lita's house. She's a Filipina lady who has a soft spot in my heart. She calls God her "My Precious Heavenly Father." Man! Gets me every time! We were planning on teaching her a lesson about prayer, when all of a sudden, while on my bike, the Spirit put a thought and feeling in my heart "You need to teach about fasting." I thought a prayer in my heart "Just making sure, fasting, and NOT prayer?" and sure enough, the thought came stronger and said "Yes, Fasting." I then was like "Okay! Can!" So I yelled back to Elder Yang "We're teaching about fasting today!" We then planned to read Isaiah 58 together which talks a lot about the blessings and importance of fasting. Turns out Sister Lita has been having a ton of problems with stuff, I won't go into details, but she said: "Elder, this lesson is exactly what I needed." Both my companion and I bore testimony of fasting, and the Spirit was so strong. Then, though the Spirit was prompting me to challenge her anyways, Sister Lita said "Elder, I'm going to fast every week so that the Lord can bless me." It was epic and way spiritual. Just so awesome to literally watch myself being the vehicle to teach Heavenly Father's children exactly what they need to hear. Instruments in the hands of the Lord!
Well, training. It's amazing. I'm already starting to feel an attachment to Elder Yang like my own son - hence why trainers are nicknamed "fathers" and trainees "sons." You can trace your family line like that! It's pretty great. I've been thinking about just how much I'm going to love my own kids in the future and it's unreal! I just can't wait to learn as much as I can from this experience and Elder Yang.
So if anyone knows Elder Jimmy Jacobs, I've got some funny info about him. He's right now serving his mission in the Philippines Cebu Mission, and just recently got transferred to a place called Negros. Well, turns out that's basically the closest part of his mission to my mission. I'm serving in Tawau right now - which is one of the closest areas to HIS mission from mine! Right now, we are less far apart in Tawau and Negros than the distance between Provo and Coto de Caza. Pretty legit huh?! So stoked about that. Google "distance between Tawau Malaysia and Negros Philippines" and you'll see hahaha. So awesome!
Love you all! This work is true! Can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for me and Elder Yang! I would invite your prayers back at home to help us to find some new people to teach - it's what we're going to be focusing on this week, and I know your prayers will help.
Elder Clay Coleman