Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Week #10: Ipoh, West Malaysia September 13, 2016 - September 19, 2016

I've made it to Singapore! I traveled in a group of 9 elders, and I was a lone sister. After 18 long hours on a plane, we landed in Singapore, and I got motion sickness. It was a great
Sister Vranes with the Mission President,
President Stephens, and Sister Stephens
way to start off the mission in the field. Not. The first place we ate in Singapore was as native as you can get...Burger King! In Singapore, we met up with a sister who is from Malaysia going to the Salt Lake City mission (Bountiful is also included). She's just waiting for her visa to the U.S., so until then, she's serving in East Malaysia. Her name is Sister Latchamanan (I think that is how you spell it). I also saw Sister Emma Toone in Singapore! I went to high school with her. She was previously in Ipoh, and was just tranferred to Singapore. It was great to see a familiar face my first day! The next day, we found out our new companions and left to our new areas. There was a Sister Peterson and Sister Montague who are Malay speaking and Mandarin speaking, respectively. We met them our first day in Singapore, and they had switched tags to try to keep us guessing who were our companions. Sister Toone told me about Sister Montague and what she looked like, so the surprise for me was ruined. It was funny to see Sister Latchamanan's reaction though. 
Sister Vranes and her companion Sister Montague

My first area is obviously Ipoh, which is in West Malaysia. My companion is Sister Montague from Arizona. She's pretty awesome. They decorate the covers of their planners, to "waterproof" them, and she made an awesome one with a baby. There's a whole new language they speak here, and especially between the missionaries. They talk about babies and mamas (newbies and trainers), and people dying (or people who have just finished their mission). I was so confused. The culture here is so different, but I love the people! There are mostly Malaysians (Muslims), Chinese, and Indians. They are all so kind and friendly. I expected to be speaking Mandarin, but the area I am in is mostly English, so all of the lessons are in English. My companion and I still use Mandarin whenever we are together. 

Carrying lanterns for Autumn Moon Festival
In Ipoh, there are only 6 missionaries--2 elders and 4 sisters. The sisters all live together. The members here are awesome! They get super involved in helping out with the missionaries, and they sure don't let us starve. My first day here, we were able to go to a
member's house and celebrate the Moon Festival. This was my first legit moon festival, and it was fantastic! We ate moon cakes, had authentic Chinese food, and carried lanterns down the street.

So far, we've got 2 investigators. When we invited one of our investigators to relief society, she gave us a referral in front of our faces by asking her co-worker to come with her family. They both came, had their two daughters, and two 3-5 year old sons. We painted water colors and it was super fun! On my first day contacting, we were able to get 5 new potential investigators. Here, the average is 3, or so. It's very hard around here. 

Celebrating the Autumn Moon Festival
Sunday, I met the members and they are all awesome. They are mostly Indian and Chinese. Their conversion stories are amazing! They are also hilarious! I was given the opportunity to introduce myself and bear my testimony. Half of the members can't pronounce my name, they think I speak funny, ask if I'm Korean because of my face, and they almost die when they find out I am vegetarian. They feed us so much, and keep telling me I'll only last a month out here until I change my ways. Anyway, as for a spiritual thought, keep sharing your testimonies. It helps a ton. Also, I know that God answers prayers. If you have a sincere heart, He will listen and He will bless you. He has answered so many while I've been out here. I've seen His blessings in keeping us safe, especially while biking, and while trying to find people to do His work. God hears your prayers as well, and He wants to bless you.

This mission is quite unique in so many ways. We've got 3 areas in West  Malaysia, 3 areas in East Malaysia, and Singapore. There are 3 languages the missionaries speak, and we're flying all the time, at least every 90 days. We wake up at 7 instead of 6:30, and go to bed at 11, instead of 10:30. For safety, we still go back to our condos by 9:30. It's pretty hard to trying to proselyte, and numbers aren't very high. It's also difficult to get baptisms, and then to have them stay in the church. The ward is so small, there is only one in Ipoh, so it's a branch. There are 70 or so members who solidly come every week. There are a lot of Muslims around here, and we can't proselyte to them if they are from Malaysia, only if they are from Singapore. In Malaysia we bike, in Singapore they take public transport. So I am going to have awesome thighs when I get back :) There's a lot of other things I am still learning about this mission. It's very hot, humid, and tiring, but I love the work out here! I love you all! Take care!
Ipoh, Malaysia

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