Friday, October 31, 2014

Of Markets, Swans, Cars, and Eating Out

Thankfully there have been no major adventures this week. However, I do have some pictures and videos to share.

Sister Bodell and I went to the open air market on Thursday. It smells a little fishy because there are a lot of people selling fish, but there are lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, and other meats for sale as well.

It is an open air market, but it is covered.

Another view of the many stalls in the market.

Now, if you're a little bit squeamish, you might want to skip these next two videos. It's amazing what they sell here!

Yes, those are live chickens wrapped in newspaper. Your chicken can't get much fresher than this!

Umm, yummy! I have no idea what these are used for, and I don't think I want to know!

On a brighter note, Sibu is really big on swans, but there aren't any real swans around. It's of Chinese influence, but the native people aren't really keen on them. Even though there are many around, the swan statues are of no significance to them.

There are several statues like this around, but this is the biggest and nicest one we've seen.
It's on the river front.
Last night we went to dinner with the Mills and a wonderful Chinese couple, Ng and Richard, and their two children. Richard was one of the first, if not the first to be baptized in Sibu about 18-20 years ago. Obviously, he was only a teenager back then.

This is actually the second time they've taken us out to dinner.
The Chinese food in these restaurants is amazing! It's real. American Chinese food will never cut it, again.

More about cars. Apparently the powers that be didn't start negotiating with the insurance company on time. The car insurance on several cars in the East Malaysia side of the mission expired last night at midnight! That means we've stayed home today. We can either call a taxi, find a member, or walk if we want to go somewhere. We did get an email today saying that we should be able to drive tomorrow. Let's hope so. It hasn't been an issue today because we've spent the day getting things together for the Chinese Branch Halloween party tomorrow night. 

The branch wanted an American party. Sister Bodell has been baking today. She still needs to make chili and corn bread. The decorations and music are ready. The other senior couple is bringing deviled eggs and a movie. It should be a fun party. There are a few games in the works, too. Hopefully I can get some pictures of it to post later, and hopefully, we will have the use of our car to haul all this stuff over to the church.

Hooray! We can drive again! We got word last night! There should be no problem getting the party stuff to the church now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Teaching, Youth Conference Committee Meeting, Locked Out!

Today is the beginning of a new week. Even though Sundays are full, I do enjoy them. They are peaceful!

We started the day with Branch 1's Sacrament meeting. I was sitting in the congregation. Sister Bodell was sitting at the organ and on the stand during the meeting. One of our missionaries was sitting next to me and translating, while another translated for Sister Bodell. Elder S, a ZL and the missionary translating for Sister Bodell got quite the surprise when it was announced that he would be the first speaker! The expression on his face was priceless, but his talk was excellent. He did a great extemporaneous job. I got the feeling that the branch president would be doing more of this, even possibly asking the senior missionary couple to speak. We'd better get prepared.

It was my opportunity and privilege to teach the second half of the lesson I started last week in the Temple Prep class.  Last week's lesson was okay, but this one was better. It seemed to flow better.  I don't know. What I do know is that the Spirit was there. That's what matters the most. Hopefully these people are understanding and learning. The missionaries translate for me.

We have one more meeting this afternoon. That would be Youth Conference council meeting. The plans are moving along nicely. Thanks to the missionaries, I have the parent permission and medical form ready to present tonight. I imagine we'll pin down the program tonight.

The youth committee meeting went very well. I put my two cents worth in when they were asking for suggested activities. I suggested music directing for two reasons . . . 1), Sister Mills had suggested it, but her husband wasn't too thrilled about it; 2) I thought blow darts could be an interesting activity. You should have seen the kids light up when I suggested that! After the voting was done by the committee (The senior couples couldn't vote . . . only there to help organize.) music directing and blow darts are on the agenda. I will be teaching the directing workshop. The kids seemed to be excited about that.

Monday was a quiet day; clean house, print inserts for the new member Books of Remembrance, prepare for the lessons we're giving this week, and oh, yes, climb the fence to the house because we couldn't get the lock unlocked.

As you know, we've got locks all over the place now since our little adventure this week. The lock we put on the driveway gate wouldn't unlock. We tried both our keys and sprayed it with something like WD-40, but to no avail. We attempted from both sides of the gates (after I climbed over . . . didn't take a picture then, but later we reenacted the climb for posterity.)

Up, up, and away!

Not bad for a senior missioanry, eh?

No fence sitting! Keep moving!

About this time our neighbor across the street came out to see what was going on.
We had a nice visit with him. He's very nice!

Alright, I'm inside. Now what?

What to do? There was only one thing left to do . . . PRAY! So I did. I sprayed the lock one more time on every hole there was. It popped open easily. Coincidence, you say? I think not! We have been so very blessed.

I know that God does hear and answer our prayers, even for something as simple as a stuck lock.

Next, the Chinese missionaries stopped over to discuss plans for the Chinese Branch's Halloween Party this week.

Tuesday morning we picked up the ZLs and took them to the church for district meeting. We picked them up because we needed to take them to the bus terminal afterward so they could go to Mukah for a baptismal interview. (It's a three-hour, bumpy ride from here to there.) We'll pick them up tomorrow when they get back.

District meeting was wonderful. Elder C amazes me with his wealth of knowledge and his analogies that he's learned in his young years. Today's training was on finding ways to overcome the "downer" feelings. He compared life to living in the ocean (Babylon). What pulls us down? What can we do to get back up to the top where the warmth of the sun (Son) is? Great discussion. Great illustrations drawn on the white board! Good learning lesson! Elder C is a great teacher.

After district meeting we had snickerdoodles that Sister Bodell had made. There were none left, as usual. Then we went to a small Chinese noodle café. We all had the same thing . . . So ko mien. Yummy! Yes, we ate with chopsticks. They don't bring other utensils to the table except for what resembles a spoon. Here is a of video from lunch today.

In order of appearance we have Elder J, Elder S, Elder B, and Elder S. We have a lot of fun with these guys. I was going to edit the second video, but decided to leave it all in. Elder S took it with my iPhone. This will help remind us of him.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

More Blessings and Burgled!

It's late Wednesday evening as I start this blog. Late nights are becoming a habit this week. I hope this is the last one, though.

This morning we met with Micah, our language tutor via Skype. It was a great lesson, and he is so patient with us. He helped me get ready for my teaching opportunity for later this evening.

Tonight started with a piano lesson with Merang's daughters. Whilst Sister Bodell was teaching piano, I was teaching the two younger daughters a short lesson about Christ's visit to the Nephites, particularly how he blessed the little children. I had a very short script written out in Malay that Micah had helped me clean up. Teaching these two is a blessing for me because it helps me develop my Malay vocabulary. It worked out well.

While we were at Merang's, I got a text from one our ZLs needing a topical ointment. After our meeting we stopped at the Delta Mall to see what we could find before going out to Rantau Panjang to pick up the ZL and one of the APs. They were on exchanges this evening. As we were visiting in the parking lot with Elder S, Elder H, and President Gara and his family, I got a phone call from one of the other Elder in the district. He sounded terrible.

Elder D and his companion had been out teaching a family that is investigating the Church. There was some conversation, mostly in Iban, which Elder D didn't catch, but his companion, Elder J, did. Someone wanted a blessing, but the Spirit wasn't quite right. To make a long story short, Elder D gave the blessing, but almost immediately afterward began to feel strange. He couldn't focus his thoughts; the hair on his arms was standing up; just a general physical and spiritual disorder. He needed a blessing.

I told the the ZL and AP that we needed to go now and quickly. I rather abruptly explained that I would tell them in the car, but we needed to go now. Off we went, with Elder S giving Sister Bodell directions how to get to Elders D's & J's apartment. Elder D looked like he sounded on the phone. He was not in good shape. He asked Elder S to anoint and me to seal and bless. This has been humbling this week. Two blessings and both dealing with evil spirits. After the blessing, Elder D looked and sounded much better. I am grateful for these opportunities, but they're a little scary. I am grateful to know that the Priesthood has power over the evil spirits. I know I was given the word to say as I pronounced a blessing on Elder D, just as I was given the words when I gave Brother Gaadong's wife a blessing. I would not presume to do so without the Holy Ghost guiding me.

Tomorrow is Thursday. I wonder what adventures await us.

Thursday was a fairly quiet day. No major adventures. We did go out to the jungle with the Elders to see Jerry in the evening. He was late because he had to work overtime so it was just a short visit.  It seems, though, that Jerry has had a change of heart. He seemed more receptive and sincere tonight.

Friday started off with some excitement. We were visiting with our granddaughter on FaceTime when we heard a crashing noise downstairs. We didn't go down immediately, not sure why, other than something that said "Not now."

When we finally made it downstairs we discovered that the front sliding glass doors had been jimmied open, the sliding grill door behind them had been lifted off, and several rooms had been ransacked. Cupboard doors, desk drawers, and scriptures cases had been opened. There was stuff from the drawers and cases on the floor. 

Drawers open, stuff strewn on the floor! 
Cupboard doors opened! 
Even my scriptures were opened and tossed!
We discovered, too, that whoever the burglars were, lifted the motorized gate its teeth off its gears so that it could just be slid open. They did leave one calling card . . . they left the rusty wire cutters on the couch. They were used to cut through the bicycle loch that was originally wrapped around the grill doors. It was definitely a moment to remember.

Very rusty wire cutters where we found them!
This bicycle lock was cut through!
We weren't sure whom to call, but we ended up calling the District President. He came over, helped us sort things out, then took us to a hardware store to by stronger padlocks and a chain to wrap around the grill doors.

The bicycle lock replacement chain and new padlock!
We've cut some broom handles to fit inside the sliding grill doors as well. They're not going anywhere unless someone rips them off.

We lost the Apple TV we just bought, a large container (10 gallon, maybe) of propane, and an electric drill that we know of at this point. They didn't take our passports or other important papers. Nor did they take our laptops which were sitting out this morning. I do know why we didn't go downstairs when we heard the noise. We were very blessed, indeed. It could have been much worse, much worse!

Yes, living in Sibu, East Malaysia is definitely an adventure!

On a more positive note, we are going with the Chinese Elders on a visit this afternoon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blessings Await You in Doing What's Right!

Sunday was a very good day,  for the most part. Sister Bodell helped the Primary leaders. She had taught them their responsibilities and how to conduct Primary and Sharing Time. They did a pretty good job. The kids, on the other hand, were unruly. There are a couple that need extra attention. Yes, I'm trying to be positive about that.

It was great blessing to see the Merang family confirmed members of the Church today. They are so strong! It will be great to see the mother baptized next Saturday. It will be great to see them go to the Temple next year. I hope we are able to see that happen.

I had my first opportunity to really teach. I've been asked to teach the Temple Prep class in the 1st Branch. I knew I wouldn't get through the lesson. I did quit about half-way through. There was a lot of material and scriptures to go through, all of which is important. I thought it best not to overwhelm the class or myself. The lesson went well. Elder J translated into Iban and Malayfor me. Most of the members speak Iban and some Malay. I learned a few Malay words today while teaching. The one I need to remember is ayat. That's Malay for verse. Bab is the Malay word for chapter.

While teaching, we got a text from Elder C asking if I could give the Branch 2 president a blessing. President B requested that I give him a blessing. Another humbling experience for me. I was able to finishing teaching, then found Elders C and B. We found President B in his office and were able to give him a blessing of health and comfort. Afterward he told us that his wife is in the hospital. Elders C and B were going to give her a blessing later today, but the Branch President told it wasn't necessary today.

Tonight we attended the District Youth Council Committee meeting. The other senior couple is in charge. I had my assignment's first draft done. It's the Youth Activity Parent Permission and Medical Release form Youth Conference in December. I'm using the Church's form, but I have to redo it in Malay. So I'm building the form, and the Elders are translating for me. I've got the form built. I need to add the words and readjust the form so the words fit the way they should. I've got two weeks to finish it. We had two representatives from each branch at our meeting last night. It went well. I'm glad Elder Mills gets to take charge.

Ah, the blessings of Monday morning! It's P-Day! The washing machine is going. I've repaired a bicycle tire pump, and burning the second of six DVDs of General Conference in Mandarin for the Chinese Elders to give to a less-active member who has no transport to Church on Sundays. I think I mentioned her once before. It's a day to get stuff done, and there's no rush this morning.

Another blessing of Monday morning is that I can play yesterday's Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast from the Internet via our Apple TV to the TV. The live broadcast is live at 11:30 PM our time Sunday night. No way I'm staying up that late. Thank goodness for BYUtv. They rebroadcast it all day Sunday, US time, so we can watch it here Monday morning. Thank goodness for technology!

Monday night Sister Bodell fixed a semi-new dish. We have the Lion House recipe for yam or sweet potato casserole that's perfect for Thanksgiving. We've discovered a purple yam or sweet potato here that is better than the orange ones at home. They have a much better flavor, not as strong. I may have mentioned that earlier. Anyway, Sister Bodell made the casserole tonight with the purple sweet potatoes and apples. It was so good. I had to take a picture of it.

Purple Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole.
It was like eating dessert!
In the evening we went to Brother Gaadong's place for FHE with Elders C&B. I had re-instilled in me the fact that the Elders can give great directions on how to get to Heaven, but getting to someone's house is entirely different. These poor Elders were given directions by another Elder on how to get to Brother G's place. We weren't entirely lost, but we were on the wrong road for a very long time. We were probably traveling in the wilderness for over an hour! The Elders called Bro. G three times on the phone to get directions. He doesn't have an address. We did finally manage to get there and eat dinner with them. They had waited for us. We didn't know were going to have dinner. I was expecting refreshments after FHE, but it was a full meal!

Dinner included chicken curry with potatoes, fried chicken wings, rice, honey dew melon, and oranges. It was all excellent! Bagus! Brother G ask that I bless the food and his family, which I did, mostly in Malay. We were too late to give a lesson, but as we talked there were things that came up that are difficult to explain in a blog. Suffice it to say that Brother G's wife was having some spiritual issues.

She has had a difficult time of late with the passing of her father-in-law and a witch doctor. She asked that I ask the Lord to bless her, her family, and her home. As we knelt in prayer, I was impressed to cast the evil spirits out of their home, and do so by the power of the Priesthood. It was a blessing for me to have that inspiration do so.

It was an interesting evening to say the least. Our FHE turned into a faith promoting experience. We were quite late getting home, but the Spirit of the Lord was there in that home. I'm grateful that were able to go this evening.

I am getting this caught up Tuesday night. I don't want to make this too long to read. Who knows what else will happen this week? I am grateful for the blessings we have received being here in Sibu. It isn't always easy, but we know this is where we need to be at this time.

Just a quick note as I'm finishing this there was the sound of what sounded like gun shots. Not to worry! Only fireworks! This seems to be a frequent occurrence here. I have no idea for the reason why.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Visits, Bugs, Air-Cons, and Baptisms

Where to begin? Monday we went with Elders C and B to visit with Brother Merang's family. He has five daughters and a son. He is out of town during the week so the missionaries need another adult male to accompany them when they visit. This family should be baptized this Saturday. One of the daughters wants to be baptized, but questions her testimony. During our visit, I could sense something was wrong. On the way home I asked Elder C if he had asked her if she'd like a blessing. They hadn't thought about that. The next night the Elders went with a father and son from the branch. It came up that this daughter was really worried about an upcoming test at school. She also receive a blessing from from the father and son that accompanied the Elders that night. When Elder C told me that this morning I wanted should Hallelujah! It just felt so right. We're going out to their place again tonight. Sister Bodell is giving some of the girls piano lessons. So I'll report on that a little later on.

Tuesday we had district meeting in the morning. Elder C did a great job conducting an teaching. There were two important things that came about from this meeting. The first is that we're going to update the branch directories of each branch. This is a good thing, but difficult. Branch 1 has about 400 members with an average attendance of about 40. Hopefully through this process we can help identify and find the less-active members. We can then help teach these people and hopefully bring them back into activity.

The other thing that was of importance was the decision to have a district fast this week, starting this evening (Wednesday), for two reason. Those reasons are to increase in charity, not just love but the pure love of Christ, towards these wonderful people. The other reason was to fast to ask our Heavenly Father to bless and strengthen a specific group of investigators. The fast will be broken tomorrow night as we gather together again as a district.

After our district meeting, Sister Bodell and I accompanied the Chinese Elders on a visit to a young Chinese mother with two children. Cute kids! The Elders asked us to share a scripture with her. I picked Alma 7:11-12. It's about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, how he didn't just suffer for our sins, but also our pains and sicknesses so the He knows how to succor us in our infirmities.

I am grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that he suffered for me individually. I am grateful for His love and patience with me.

I am working a project for this mother. Right now she doesn't have a way to get to church, but she has a very strong testimony. I'm going to download General Conference in Chinese and burn a DVD for her to watch. It may not seem much, but I think it's something she will appreciate.

Two other big events this week so far! We had our house sprayed for bugs and had the air-con units serviced. I had sprayed the outside of the house Monday morning; however, the bug man was servicing the chapel while we were at district meeting so Sister Bodell got hold of him and scheduled an appointment for that afternoon. Bug Free!

This morning we were finally able to make contact with the air-con guy. We had an appointment scheduled for this afternoon, but we got a call about 11:30 asking where we were. We had to stop our shopping and drive home quickly. The good news is that the units have been serviced and are now functioning. The church pays for servicing, but not repairs. We do have one unit that has a bad compressor. The landlord will have to pay for that repair. Nice, fresh, clean air. It makes a difference. We're supposed to have the units serviced several times a year.

Here it is Saturday night, and I have yet to finish this post. The most important thing is that the district fast paid dividends. This evening we witnessed the baptism of Merang and his family, including the daughter that wasn't sure. His wife, however, wasn't feeling well so she will be baptized next Saturday. There was a good crowd there tonight to support this family. They are a wonderful family.

Merang and his family, and Brother Kong who baptized them
They are a stalwart family and will be a great asset to the branch. They have strong testimonies. They started out as Evangelicals, then tried the Roman Catholic church. They have found what they have been looking for in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Elders here have been greatly blessed. There are five more baptisms next week, and several more on date for the next two months. It's been a great experience for us to accompany them to lessons. We don't understand everything that is said, but we do understand the Spirit.

The missionaries sometimes get a little crazy. The ZLs kept bugging us to be of service. We finally relented and let them wash the car (their idea). They did a pretty good job. Too bad it rained that night and we were out in the jungle again.

White shirts, ties, and rolled up pants Great picture!
Tomorrow starts another week and more new adventures. I am teaching the first lesson in the Temple Prep class tomorrow after church in Branch 1. I'm grateful the missionaries will be there to translate for me. More on this subject in the next post.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

#20, General Conference, and Other Stuff

It's been a fairly calm week. We did make it out to the jungle again with Elder C and his companion and had a good discussion with Jerry. We also visited Sister Daung and her family with them. These are some great people. I hope that they will make it to General Conference today at the church.

We also spent some more time with President Gara and his wife, helping them understand their callings and answering questions. Sister Bodell was trying to get a signal on her phone to use the internet, but with much difficulty. President Gara showed her the best place inside to find a signal.

There's a moral here. Can you see what direction her phone is aimed?
That reminds me of a talk given in Conference. Which direction are you facing?
We set up the A/V equipment for the showing of Conference yesterday. We were having issues with the thumb drives connecting properly. We finally got that all squared away. Elder C arrived and showed us a much simpler way. I wish he had been there a little earlier. It was so simple and no stress! We'll be going over to the church this morning about 9:15 to get set up for today's meetings. Today we have the Sunday morning and afternoon sessions as well as the Priesthood session. Sherrie is fixing spaghetti for the Elders to eat after the Priesthood session. We're also bringing sandwich makings for those who would prefer or not filled up on the spaghetti.

The Conference talks have been wonderful, as has the music. We particularly enjoy the Sunday afternoon music since Aaron was singing in the choir. Here's a picture. Can't find him? Here's a hint: He's wearing a pink tie.

Need another hint? Try the second row from the top, second one over, the one who's hair cut resembles mine.

The highlight of the week was the announcement of 20th grandchild, Pierson Atticus. He's a handsome little guy. He and his mother are doing well. We can hardly wait to get home to meet him in person. Thank goodness for technology! Here are some pictures of him.

Gus-Gus with his siblings

It's just great to have a brother!

Perfect in every way!

I hope Lindsey calls him Gus-Gus for a long time to come.
I like it!

We have been blessed with 20 beautiful, healthy grandchildren. We pray that they will grow up strong in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Zone Meeting

We attended our first zone meeting today, Tuesday, October 7. It was held at the chapel and conducted by our Zone Leaders. I sat in awe as I watched and listened to these two young men teach our zone about the importance of having the Spirit when they teach. It was a beautiful experience. And yes, they had the Spirit as they taught. I'm not much of a note taker, but I took two pages of notes today as they taught. I'm including my notes here so I don't forget what I learned and felt. Even though they are for my benefit, you're more than welcome to read through them, although they might not make sense to you.

After our meeting we went to KFC for lunch, then we drove the Sibu Jaya Elders over to the ZLs place. They're going on splits with the ZLs. One of the ZLs needed to go to Sibu Jaya to conduct some baptism interviews. We took the ZL and the other Elder to the bus station this afternoon. They'll be back tomorrow. It has been a great day. We've enjoyed the Spirit of it.

All of us of the Sibu Zone

Here are some of my notes from our Zone Meeting:

Have something effective to do every hour of every day.

Receiving the Spirit . . . 
     1. Be worthy. D&C 121:34-36, Control your thoughts. Remember to remember the Jesus Christ is your Savior.
     2. Know the Scriptures. D&C 11:21, Why is knowledge important? Preach My Gospel, pg 19 quote by Boyd K. Packer,
"True doctrines, understood, changes attitudes and behaviors. The study of  of doctrines of the Gospel will improve behaviors quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."
     Individual/Personal study - It's your appointment with the Lord. Approach with prayer, in proper dress, purpose, write in your study journal your thoughts, impressions, and revelations your receive during your personal study.
     3. Fast and Pray. Alma 17:2-3. Receive the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Teach with power and authority of God.

We want people to feel that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. You just can't say that you are disciple of Jesus Christ.

Preach My Gospel, pg 97 President Hinckley talks about recognizing the promptings of the Spirit. Read it again and again. Also read Moroni 7:13, 16-17.

How can we help investigators/less actives feel and recognize the Spirit?
     1. Teach in a spiritual environment. No distractions.
     2. Teach to their knowledge. Simple. Powerful.
     3. 30-45 minute lessons.
     4. Ask what they're feeling, if they feel the Spirit.

We need to love, show our love, to investigators and less-actives.

If we have the Spirit, those we teach will have it, too. They will feel it.

People change because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

"Pray always . . . lest ye be deceived." Luke 21

Reread Alma 33 and D&C 68:2-4

As I listened and was taught today, I thought how important these concepts are to teach seminary and institute. They apply to any teaching in a Gospel setting. Can you imagine a Gospel Doctrine teacher stopping in the middle of a lesson and asking if the class can feel the Spirit? I love that thought! It's something I will help the seminary and institute teachers understand as we work with them.

I love the Gospel. I love my Heavenly Father. I love my Savior. This is Their work. I'm grateful that we have this opportunity to serve them.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

More about Critters, Eating, General Conference, and Branch 1

I had to start this post this morning (Saturday) while thoughts are fresh in my mind. Last night we had a huge beetle of some sort in the upstairs bathroom. After chasing it around the bathroom, trying not to step on it, and spraying it with bug killer, it finally laid over on its back. With its legs still moving, I managed to get it into a trap and removed it to the outside of the house. It was rather comical to see us hopping about in the bathroom trying to catch the thing!

The gardner was here this morning, trimming the grass and removing dead foliage to a dumping area down the street. After he'd been here awhile, he started pounding on the door. I opened the door, and he yelled, "Snake! Snake!' I was dancing around the driveway! He then showed me where the snake had been, and the direction in which it slithered. He kept saying, "Snake" and gesturing its slithering pattern. It was close to the diameter and length of a broom handle! I never did get a glimpse of it. It slithered off into the neighbor's yard. I hope it stays there!

In the meantime, I also had a call from the DL who got a tire puncture last night while coming home from a discussion. We've got to get that fixed today. Sometime after lunch with the Elders. More about lunch later, after we eat with them.

I also got a call from Elder Mills. He wanted to let us know that they had had their house sprayed for insects. The company sprayed their fence line, around the house, and inside their home. All for 175R. That's about $60. That's not bad. I told Sister Bodell about it and got an emphatic, "Yes! Do it!" She needs to call Sister Mills to get the number. This company is the same that sprays the church. We'll have to get one the missionaries to call and set up an appointment for us.

Good news and bad news: Sister Bodell and I were both prepared for our lessons today, piano and seminary. That's the good news. The bad news was no one showed up for piano lessons or seminary today. They don't like to go out in the rain, and let me tell you, it really poured today for hours! There's always next week, but it will be the broadcast of General Conference in our building. That's another story already, but it will keep until then.

The other good news is that before seminary and piano lessons, the Elders here had invited us to eat out with them at a little outside food court called Chop Sticks. The food was really pretty good, and we didn't get sick. Here's a picture of my roasted chicken, rice, spicy sauce of some kind, cucumbers, and chicken foot soup. Yes, that's a real chicken foot in the soup. You can purchase them in most groceries stores. We also had a fried dough item called roti stuffed with corned beef and served with a curry sauce.

Eating out is always an adventure. We also found a place that serves crepes Asian style. Sister Bodell had one with salami and tuna; mine was chicken and mushroom. They were both very good. We need to go back and try their dessert crepes.

Today was Fast Sunday for us. We will receive flash drives this week with General Conference translated into various languages. The district president is having them delivered to us. We will be responsible for getting thing set up next weekend so the members here can view conference.

We caught some of conference on the Internet today before and after our church meetings. We caught all of the Saturday afternoon session because we wanted to see Aaron sing in the choir. The choir was wonderful and the talks were great. We saw the first half of the first session and part of the Priesthood session. The missionary choir at the Priesthood session was powerful, moving us both to tears. We'll have to download that music to listen to again.

We also went out to President Gara's home this evening to help him. He's a newly called Branch President. He and his family have only been members of the Church for about 10 months. He was called as a counselor in the Branch Presidency after about four months of membership. He and his family have strong testimonies and are planning on going to the temple the end of December. It would be nice if we can go with them.

During our last district meeting, one of the zone leaders asked, challenged us to get involved more with our branch presidencies. This evening's visit with President Gara and his wife helped them a great deal. I was helping President Gara with some ideas about strengthening the branch, and Sister Bodell was discussing ideas with his wife about Primary. They appreciated our help and our ideas.

Sibu is taking off and growing. The missionaries have quite a number of baptisms planned for this month, including a family with six children. It is exciting to see these missionaries in action. I want to package them all up and bring them back to Ivins. They are so awesome, especially for such young kids! We love them all. We wish you could feel of their spirit.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Into the Jungle

First, can you believe that we've actually been on our mission for a month and two days? We entered the MTC on September 1st. Wow! A lot has happened in that short month. It's a good thing we have this blog to help us remember a few things.

Last night we had our first foray into the jungles of Sibu. We accompanied a set of missionaries on two discussions. The first family we visited have been visiting with the missionaries for quite some time. When the first missionaries went, they only taught the father. The recent missionaries have invited the family to attend the discussions. Apparently that has made a difference. They also enjoy the senior couple coming, even though they (we) don't speak much Malay. I was asked to give the opening prayer, which I did . . . the first half in Malay, then I switched back into English. The family was appreciative of my efforts. We were served paos (not sure of the spelling . . . A pao is a white bread roll with a peanut butter filling. We were also served a deep fried bread stick with a garlic flavor. Both are really delicious. This is a good family. I would like to see them come into the church. They were invited to attend conference in a week. The father said they would try to make one of the sessions.

The second house seemed a little further into the jungle, but not a lot. We had our first experience sitting on the floor here. We were offered a watered down drink (The way it's been served everywhere we've been) and biscuits . . . actually they were cookies that were pretty good. Sherrie may use them for a crust for a cheese cake. It's the closest thing she's found that's usable for such. Anyway, there are two young boys in this family that live with their grandmother who are interested in the church. They came to church last Sunday with another family that's investigating the church as well which will be baptized this month. (Our district has at least a dozen baptisms planned in October. I think there may be more. These two young boys are both sharp, very friendly, and very interested. Their father works out of town, but has given his permission for them to be taught. I would imagine that he will do the same should the boys want to be baptized. They made several new friends last Sunday at church. They've been invited to attend conference as well.

Here is a little video of our drive in the jungle. You can hear the voice of one of the missionaries asking if Sister Bodell was recording a video, her response, and his response of, "Hi, Mom."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

More Thoughts about Driving . . .

Before I get into my thoughts about driving here, I should share a couple of events that were pretty nice.  Tuesday night we went with a set of Elders to visit a sister who, by attendance, is less active. It's not through her own fault. She has a very strong testimony, went through the temple about a year ago, has failing eyesight, and her family, also members, won't bring her to church. The missionaries visit her as often as they can and share a scripture and teach the gospel to her. This week her son and a three of her grandchildren were there. There was a very sweet spirit there. The missionaries said the grandkids have never been so quiet. The son, not active, was touched. He was committed to bring his mother to church this Sunday. He said he would if nothing came up. We're praying that he will do this. His mother needs it. He needs it. I'm sure we'll be visiting with family more often.

The other event Tuesday was our district meeting. We were missing a couple of missionaries due to transfers and a trip to Singapore to get a tooth fixed, but it was an amazing meeting. Our DL does well in keeping the meeting to an hour and a half, but this week we went a little over because all the Elders were so involved in developing a vision for the district for the next few months. Quite a vision was developed. One of the outcomes of the vision is to have the senior couples (two of us) work more closely with the branch presidencies in many areas, one of which is to increase attendance.

In the branch council meeting Sunday, that was one of the concerns brought up. Yesterday we met with the District President so he could show us how to set up the AV equipment for the showing of General Conference. He has invited us to attend Branch Presidency training this coming Saturday so we can be more involved in helping the Branch Presidencies meet their goals. He is also concerned about attendance. Coincidence that all this should fall together at once? I think not.

There is much to be done here. We have been called here for a reason. With our combined prayers we will work hard to help in anyway we can. Thank you for remembering us and this wonderful people. We need to strengthen their faith and their testimonies.

There are more adventures in driving other than driving on the other side of the street and the motos that are just plain crazy. Many of the streets here in Sibu are divided with a good sized island that you can't drive across, more like a divided highway. The streets stretch on for blocks before you can make a right turn. You have to drive to the next big intersection and make a U-Turn. The stretches of road between intersections can be 1/4 mile or more.

We have a set of missionaries that live about a two blocks from our place. (We call them the Chiniese Elders because they serve in the Chinese branch.) We had to pick up an Elder there today that was staying with them while his companion was in Singapore getting a tooth fixed. To drive to the Elders' apartment, we have to drive at least 20 blocks, making two U-Turns. It's a good thing, I guess, but the one-way streets or lanes is a little strange. I think about taking pictures of all this stuff, but I'm always driving. Hopefully I can get some sooner than later. 

One more little oddity to me is driving down the street and looking at the car on my right. I get a little freaked out not seeing anyone in what would normally be the driver's seat in America, then I realize where I am. Whew! It still takes some getting used to. We've only been here two weeks so I guess it's still normal.

Don't forget to mention the ditches! I had to leave myself a note so I didn't forget. There are many streets, especially the narrow ones, that have drainage ditches along both sides of the street. Some of them are about four feet wide and four feet deep! I hope I never get to write that I've driven into one! The driveways are barely wide enough to turn into without driving into them. The more wealthy people have covered the ditches with wood or other materials. Some oncoming vehicles pull over a little when they see you coming. Some do not. Some speed down the street. Some slow down. Driving here sometimes feels like a free for all!

On a more humorous note about driving is signaling for a turn. I'm still hitting the windshield wipers 'cause the turn indicator is on the other side of the steering wheel. I guess it's funny, but I'm getting tired of doing it. Somedays are better than others for my blinking abilities. Oh, the things you have to get used to when driving on the other side of the street!

Pictures! I received this picture today from the missionary couple who's in charge of the MTC senior couples. This is a picture of the group of us that were CES or YSA missionaries. We're on the fourth row back on the right end as you face the picture.

A promise given:  “It is going to be alright.  Your affairs are going to be all right.  Your children will be all right and your grandchildren and your home and your holdings.  All have been placed on the altar and they are watched over by more faithful servants than we could have in mortality.”
Elder Boyd K. Packer, 2012 Seminar for New Mission Presidents, LDS Church News July 8, 2012