Saturday, July 31, 2010

Focusing on Spiritual Growth

Thomas passed the half-way mark at the MTC last week.  He is on track with learning the language and he has decided to concentrate on spiritual growth for the remaining 4 weeks in the MTC.  He is having a lively discussion with his parents and older brother on various religious topics.  One thing on his mind is to start caring more for others than thinking about what is good for himself all the time.
After being closed for about a month for annual maintenance, the Provo Temple reopened last week and Thomas got to go to the temple with his group.  He was excited about the chance to go to the temple weekly for the rest of him time in Provo.
Thomas continues to sent photos home and here are some of the newest ones.
Scripture Study
Wall Push-up in MTC Dorm Hallway

With Sister Missionaries from Malaysia and Hong Kong

Saturday, July 24, 2010

MTC Pictures and Insights

Thomas sent more pictures home.

Men in Black
Practicing squatting
Singing hymns in Malay
Sleeping or praying?

Also, Thomas has been keeping a journal to record his feelings and the insights he has gained.  Here are 3 of the entries he has shared with us.

July 12:  I wrote letters to myself at 6 months, 1 year, 18 months, and 2 years from now.. It is amazing who I want to become.  But it is good to be able to set goals, and I think it will be interesting to look back and see what I wanted to be.. and to have that in the back of my mind.

July 13:  I learned today about a dollar bill analogy that I had heard before but was good to hear again.  An old, wrinkled, muddy and worn bill is still worth 20 dollars, and we are all equal in the sight of God.
July 16:  I like the realization that the highest and most prestigious thing in God's Kingdom is open to ALL men and women whereas the highest and most prestigious things in the world are prestigious because only few people can achieve it.  That is way awesome and hard to wrap your mind around... but it makes a lot of sense.

Monday, July 19, 2010

New photos

Thomas in classroom at MTC

Thomas with Sister Lim (L) and Sister Wong (R)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

District Photos

Thomas sent home two pictures.  Click on the picture to enlarge the image.  One is the official picture of his district (the group of 8 missionaries going to the Singapore Mission together in a few weeks).  They were holding the Singapore national flag in front of the Provo Temple.  The four elders in the back row are, from left, Elder Pendleton, Elder Schone, Elder Gallinger, and Elder Martin.  In the front row are, from left, Thomas, Sister Wong, Sister Lim, and Elder Goering.  The second picture is Thomas jumping with Elders Goering (left) and Pendleton.

Thomas really enjoys getting letters from family and friends.  He wants everyone to know that there is a really good way to send him letters while he is in the MTC.  There is a free service for anyone to send him letters by using the website (  When one sends him a message, the outfit will print it out and deliver it to the MTC on the same day or the next day for Thomas to read.  One has to register and fill in the info for Thomas (select Provo MTC as his current mission location, not the Singapore Mission), including his MTC mail box number (159), "SING" as the assigned mission, and August 26 as the estimated departure date.

The major accomplishment of last week was for Thomas to teach a gospel lesson in Malay without any notes.  His non-training related goal for this week is to do 100 push ups and 50 leg lifts each morning.  He continues to find time playing soccer and and looks forward to seeing friends who will be entering the MTC in the coming weeks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thomas is learning a lot about love, patience, and being organized

In his second set of messages to the family, Thomas included a picture of him and his companion, Elder Martin.

Thomas and Elder Martin taught a lesson to 3 other missionaries a week ago and it was a great experience.  He is now able to teach most of the first gospel lesson and to pray in Malay.  In fact, he knows all the colors and numbers, and can carry on a basic conversation now.  But then, he says, "actually, a one-sided conversation, because I am still working on understanding Malay when people talk fast... I can kind of piece it together if they talk way slow."
In his studies, Thomas was touched by 1 Corinthians 13 in the New Testament of the Bible.  He likes it so much that he wants to put that as his Facebook status.  He says, "I never really understood about loving the people that you don't even know, but we have been trying to learn about love and it has been really good for me.  Something I liked was that the only true love is unconditional love.  And that is way hard.  Like loving people even if they hate you and beat you and stuff."  He concludes that even if one is not able to have unconditional love perfectly in this life, one can still work on it.
The other things Thomas is working on include patience and being more organized.  He says, "I'm doing pretty good with both.  It is good for me to keep them as goals, because I can then feel the emotion of impatience, or see disorganization and then remember that I am working on it.  It is still hard to recognize the disorganized part, but I clean my room every night so it is all good.  I just misplace things for like a day and then find them."
In his message, Thomas bore his testimony (a statement of his beliefs) in Malay, without notes:
Saya tahu bahawa Allah menyayangi kita dan bahawa Yesus Kristus mati untuk saya. Saya tahu bahawa Yesus Kristus mati untuk kita dan melalui korban tebusan-Nya, kita dapat kembali kepada Bapa kita di Syurga.  Saya tahu bahawa Allah menjawab doa-doa kita dan kerana saya berdoa, saya tahu bahawa Kitab Mormon adalah benar dan adalah firman Allah.  saya menyayangi keluarga saya dan saya tahu hal-hal ini adalah benar dalam nama Yesus Kristus...Amin
If you want to know what he says, try using the on-line google Malay to English translator.  It's actually pretty coherent.  It's pretty good for someone who has studied Malay for just 2 weeks.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Typical Day in the Life of Elder Kwok

Just received the first set of messages from Thomas.  He is doing really well at the MTC.  His group (district) consists of 8 missionaries assigned to the Singapore Mission - 6 men (elders) and 2 women (sisters).  They will spend the next 8-10 weeks learning together.  Thomas is paired with his companion, Elder Martin.

Typically, he wakes up at 6:00 AM, says his morning prayers and exercises (he is up to 14 pull-ups and 2 sets of push-ups) before he showers and studies the scriptures.  The first class of the day starts at 7:00 AM (where he learns the gospel lessons).  Breakfast is at 7:45 AM.  According to Thomas, the food there has been "way good".

Then, he goes to class again to learn Malay and more gospel lessons until 11:00 AM.  One thing they have been doing is to "meet thousands of people" by watching You-Tube videos about them.  The goal is to learn to see where different people are in their spiritual journeys and where they may need help.

There is one hour of gym from 11 to noon.  Thomas loves playing volleyball and soccer.  He says, "way fun :)".

After lunch there are classes until 6:15 PM, when they have dinner followed by more classes.  On Tuesday and Saturday evenings, they have "devotionals" where the church leaders from Salt Lake City speak to the missionaries.  They plan for the next day at 9:00 PM and bedtime is at 10:30 PM.

Among the 8 missionaries in his group is a "really smart linguist", a big but "very nice and humble" football player, a "super happy guy", someone who is "really good at learning the language", a girl from Singapore, and a girl who went to USC.  The 2 sister missionaries are "humble and awesome, love everyone and always looking for ways to serve."  The 8 missionaries in the district have all "bonded and are having a lot of fun learning together."

Thomas is having a wonderful experience and he looks forward to receiving letters from friends and relatives.  He promises to write to anyone who sends him letters.  His address:

Elder Thomas Tai-Min Kwok
MTC Mailbox #159
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793