Dear Family and Friends,
Our mission continues to change in many details, when we arrived we were for the most part CES missionaries and could spend at least 70% of our time on our primary calling, spending the balance of the time assisting missionaries with transport, and the most enjoyable thing, teaching the gospel to families in their homes! During the past 6 months 2 of the couples from Bintulu have returned home leaving only 2 of us here to take care of 3 very new branches in the church and this with our CES calling that allows us to visit 10 branches in 7 cities in all parts of East Malaysia. Now we assist 2 branches in Bintulu, which means we are financial clerk, membership clerk, and executive secretary, for 2 branches. Sister Hintze has 15 piano students that she teaches each week and each of them requires transportation to the church for their lesson, in most cases the drive is around 30 minutes each way. The greatness of this is that there are now teenage young women and a few young men that play the hymns for all church meetings in the branch! She has also trained them to lead the music so while one plays, another leads the music and this has made such a great difference in the spirit of the meetings. Their only option before was to use the CDs for the hymns. We also teach a Book of Mormon Institute class in 2 of the branches, teach an English class each week for 2 branches and then do all the Seminary and Institute attendance and training in the 10 branches. Oh yes we also began branch choir practice last night, we were so happy that this was the first practice and there were 8 who came to choir practice! Sister Hintze plays piano and I get the chance to lead the choir, a joy I also had on my first mission to Denmark! There is always a daily missionary transport, usually to pick up a broke down bicycle and get it to the shop! These Malaysian bikes are made for 120 lb small people and our missionaries are 220 pounders that like to ride ruff so bikes are continually refusing the treatment.
We visit each Seminary and Institute at least every 6-8 weeks, this requires a full week of travel when we visit the Sabah branches on the north shore of the island. We usually spend one evening training teachers, then have an activity with the youth, they are great square dancers, and can do the cha cha, waltz, Macarena with the best of em! We still get an occasional opportunity to teach the gospel in the homes of these wonderful people. We have been working in the home of one family for almost our entire mission. This family had serious problems with evil spirits in their home. Jacqueline their 14-year-old daughter had missed school for over 6 months last year and could not get thru any night without a horrifying experience with evil spirits in her room. She is now a wonderful bright member of the Church, baptized last October, now one of Sister Hintzes most promising students and plays at least one hymn in Sacrament meeting each week. When we visited their home in March with our daughter that visited us, we noticed how attentive their 110-year-old grandfather was as we visited. We both had the distinct impression that he has been preserved to hear the gospel, but hear is something he does not do well! We encouraged the missionaries to make another effort to work with him. Last Sunday, he attended Church for the first time. I had the opportunity of driving him home after Sacrament Meeting, he was so cute, one of the missionaries actually brought a winter type coat and he was wearing it during church. At 110 years old, he has never had much experience with air conditioning and the chapel was very cold for him. He a very small skinny man could not weigh more than 60-65 pounds. When I arrived at his house and got him up the stairs to enter his “hut” he paused and gave me the greatest hug!! It was a hug like my father would give, and as I reflected on this I realized he is more the age of my grandfather than my father!! At Jacqueline’s piano lesson on Monday afternoon, she said all he can talk about is how wonderful he felt at church on Sunday!!! We are looking forward to his baptism in a few weeks!!
Thanks to you wonderful ward members for helping us take care of our family while we are gone! We had no idea how difficult it would be to be separated from them so long! You have welcomed both our daughter and their families into the ward and made their children so welcome. It was such a great pleasure to see our ward YW at my house a few weeks ago as we talked to our family via skype so we could actually see you too!!
The Church needs couple missionaries so bad now! The numbers have fallen so drastically the past year, we do not know when or if the missing couples in our mission will be replaced and the need is so great. We wish we could talk about 10 families from there to move here for a couple years. Getting the Church started in a new location is not easy, just as it was not easy in our grandparent’s time! OK turn in you mission paper today!!
We know the Lord directs his Church and are so blessed to be able to serve in this beautiful place! We will be on the road for the next 2 weeks, traveling to almost every city! Home only 2 days of the next 14.
Warmest love and thanks to all of you
Elder and Sister Hintze
My dad wrote this for me to read to his ward. But it's a good update to post here too.