|Elder Coleman in action on the streets of Sabah|
Well, this week was another good one! Laying the foundation of a good work reminds me of a talk on patience my dad gave me from Elder Neal Maxwell. "Patience helps us to use, rather than to protest, these seeming flat periods of life, becoming filled with quiet wonder over the past and with anticipation for that which may lie ahead, instead of demeaning the particular flatness through which we may be passing at the time. We should savor even the seemingly ordinary times, for life cannot be made up all of kettledrums and crashing cymbals. There must be some flutes and violins. Living cannot be all crescendo; there must be some dynamic contrast."Not everything here is exploding, but good stuff is on the way we feel.
It is great to be working, and the days just go by! We are going out to new areas and finding people to teach, going out with members, visiting others in their homes - all in the effort that we can find and teach and really help those people here in Kota Kinabalu.
Something new in the Sabah Zone that Elder Parker and I are pushing is practicing our teaching skills daily. We have been thinking about this for a long time, and it seems to us that the only way to get really good at anything is to practice. To become a master requires 10,000 hours of practice (see Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell) - and because that's a whole lot more time than we have available out here, we're trying to use our companion study time every day to practice our teaching skills and rely on the Lord to make up for the lack of hours and hours. So, for missionaries, the way to practice is to do role plays - for us to teach the wall or another missionary acting as an investigator. It's been really effective, and here's a cool story.
At District meeting, we focused a lot on how effective missionaries get the other person talking and sharing personal experiences - not as a way to manipulate, but rather so that the missionaries can get a feel for the background of the people and try to really testify from heart to heart. To try and do this, we did a role play at district meeting - and because the Zone Leaders were the ones pushing practicing teaching, we were asked to do it first. :) So we did the role play, and failed! Miserably! We didn't get anything out of Elder Reynolds (acting as "Tommy") and missed many clues. Clearly, our skills in this area were lacking. We discussed what went wrong, what could specifically have been done differently to improve, and then we tried it again. We still didn't reach our full potential, but we definitely saw improvement and developed our ability to listen well and help the investigator speak.
So, later that night (Tuesday) we went and taught a new investigator named G, who rents a room at a member's home. Sister Liza has introduced her to tons of missionaries, but she has never wanted to learn. G randomly came to church the previous week, and then suddenly agreed to meet with us. So we went over, and applied everything we learned that day. We talked to her about her relationship with God, what she believes, what she has experienced in the past, and then what she wants know! Turns out, G used to be very diligent in going to church and praying and reading the Bible, but since moving to KK from Sandakan, she has not been doing any of them - and thanks to a couple of inspired questions, we were able to help her see that perhaps the struggles in her life right now are due to the fact that she has drifted from her relationship with God. We didn't even have to say anything like that! She came to the conclusion on her own and therefore built her own desire to listen and start changing her life by making and keeping commitments. It was so cool, and reinforced my belief that every day we need to practice teaching. She came to church this week and brought ANOTHER new person, so we are excited to see what can happen.
Again. Good potential, but nothing solid just yet.
I think this week, along with learning the importance of asking questions and getting to know people, I learned what true love for the people means. Rather than trying to stuff this message down people's throats (even though it IS the best thing they could ever have), I have been trying to ask about why people have faith, why they go to church, what blessings they have seen from faith in their lives - and what I have seen is that it has been strengthening my own faith AND been making me love these people even more. By getting to know them and their beliefs, I have been able to show them that I really do love them. I guess I'm really just finally applying the old adage "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" and you help them know that by asking questions and really trying to get to know them. If every LDS missionary tried to do that, who knows, the whole image/concept of missionaries just trying to throw our beliefs in others' faces would be completely changed - we could be viewed as true servants of God, rather than messengers from a specific church.
So good stuff is happening. I had another thought this week about why I have been called to Malaysia, a place where our church is struggling to grow and see real progression. I read about Chile in a church magazine where our church now claims something ridiculous like 15% of the population, and I really was thinking about this - why was I sent here? So I decided to pray about it and seek revelation. The Lord, "that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not," once again fulfilled His promise to bestow personal revelation through the Holy Ghost. I HIGHLY recommend this talk if you want to learn more about recognizing and receiving personal revelation:
I learn so much every day from being out here, and the things that often teach me the most are the scriptures - especially the teachings of the Savior found in the four gospels. The Sermon on the Mount just makes me want to be that much better. Try reading it weekly, and for all of you back in Orange County, or somewhere else blessed in terms of worldly things, go read Luke 12. The Savior's teachings there can change your perspective on life and stuff.
Love you all! I know God is there and that He loves us and really cares.
Elder Clay Coleman