Saturday, November 29, 2014

Trips to Kuching and Mukah

Well, this has been a different week for us. We've been to Kuching and Mukah on seminary and institute preschool training. We traveled with President Lai, the Stake President and S&I coordinator for the Singapore Mission. We attended two trainings and one graduation. The good news is that neither of us had to speak at graduation, but we did take part of the training time to cover a couple of preassigned items.

We called Elder and Sister Slider while we were in Kuching. They were in the MTC with us. We were able to spend some time with them, which was nice. They drove us around Kuching. We were able to get our last Twinrix Hepatitis shots while we were there. That was a bit of an adventure in the hospital there having that done. We ended up at the hospital because Elder Slider needed to pick up some information there. Sister Bodell decided that it would be a good time to see if we could get that done. It is done. No more worries there.

We stayed in a beautiful new hotel. I looked at the bathroom when we walked into our room and decided we had died and gone to bathroom heaven. I've never been in a hotel this nice. There was a nice shower in the tub and a separate enclosed shower as well. The toilet came equipped with a bidet. There were also bathrobes! The breakfast was excellent, but it's interesting to know that the people here will eat rice and noodles for every meal, including breakfast. There were some other interesting foods, too, but the omelets were good. They also had pancakes and waffles, but no maple syrup. Maple syrup is not something you see here.

We were able to take some time and walk down to the river and do a little sight-seeing. We thought about taking one of the river trips, but decided not to this time. Good thing, too. During the time we would have been on the river, the clouds opened up and dropped everything. Boy, did it pour rain!
Sister Bodell was mesmerized by this chandelier in the hotel!

This was a view of the river in Kuching, before it started rainging.
The large building in the middle is their state government building.

This is one of the several styles of tour boats. Next time we go to Kuching,
we'd like to do this in the morning, before it rains!

I thought the paint job on this building was well-done

You may have to enlarge this picture, but the root structure at the base of the tree was amazing!
We flew to Kuching early Tuesday morning,  and flew out early Thursday morning. We rested up a bit after getting back to Sibu, then got in the car and drove to Mukah. It was a pleasant drive, except for passing and being passed, but the road wasn't bad. I was expecting something much worse. We were pleasantly surprised when we reached Mukah. It wasn't a totally back water town. The hotel could have been much nicer. It was quite a few steps down from the one in Kuching. Next time we're staying at the newer one.

Mukah is a predominantly Muslim town. There is a mosque located very near the hotel. Fortunately, we were on the opposite side of the building. Otherwise we might not have gotten any sleep. Check out this video. The chanting goes on for hours!

We attended and help teach the seminary preschool training in Mukah. There is one branch so only one seminary teacher. There isn't an institute teacher, but the new senior couple, the Tedrows, volunteered to teach it. The branch in Mukah will have to get a new seminary teacher in the near future. The young man who is teaching will be going on a mission in a few months.

Friday morning we drove back to Sibu and slept! I didn't know traveling could make you so tired! We managed to get going later and work on our Temple Prep lessons and get some errands run. We also had the missionaries do some translating for us for our lesson this week.

Things settled down Saturday. The Chinese Branch had a Thanksgiving dinner. The missionaries and senior couples were all invited. They did present one very large roasted chicken spiced the Chinese way, but it was good. I wouldn't call it a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but it was good.

Time to close now. Time to get ready for church.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just around the corner for the folks at home, and as we have our Thanksgiving dinner today with our zone, I thought I should share some of my grateful thoughts here.

I am grateful that we are able to serve our Father in Heaven here in Sibu on this mission. Living here is a different experience that makes you grateful for the little things at home such at running hot water and canned green beans.

I am grateful for our family and friends who support us in our decision to serve. I am grateful for the health and energy to serve. I am grateful for the other missionaries with whom we serve. Sibu may not a the tourist attraction, but the people are humble, teachable, and hunger to hear the word of God.

I am grateful to a loving Heavenly Father who wants all His children to return to live with Him. I am grateful for the Plan of Salvation. I am grateful for His Son, Jesus Christ, who suffered and gave His life for each of us and was resurrected that we may all rise from the dead. I am beginning to understand the Atonement more fully. I am grateful for the strength that understanding gives me.

I am grateful that I have a testimony that our Father and His Son live. They want us to be happy. I am grateful for the Prophet Joseph Smith and his example. I know that his prayer was answered, and he saw God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. I am grateful that I know that we have a living prophet today, even Thomas S. Monson.

I am grateful that we have the Book of Mormon. It is the word of God. I am grateful that I know how to read and that I can read from it every day.

It is a blessing for us to be serving. I am grateful for the technology we have today. It's so much easier to keep a journal, and to share our adventures with family and friends. We are grateful for your thoughts and prayers.

I share these thoughts in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

The missionaries should start arriving soon for dinner so I will close now and start taking some pictures. I was going to play Sunday's morning Tabernacle Choir Broadcast, but the wi-fi in our building is really "iffy", so that didn't happen. It's too bad, too, because it was a Thanksgiving special.

One of eight chickens prepared for dinner. Only three left over.

This was a real turkey! They're hard to find here and pretty pricey.

And dinner begins!

Turkey, chicken, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, two kinds of yams,  three kinds of pies
and a vegetable relish tray. And, of course, keeping with tradition, candy on the table.

Sister Bodell and Sister Tedrow in front. Not all the Elders had arrived when we started eating.

Elders S, L, J, V, W, & J

Sister Bodell, Elders G, B, S, Elder and Sister Mills

Elders J, W, J, C, Sister and Elder Tedrow, Elders S and W

Everyone ate well!

Everyone ate well and had plenty to eat. No one went away hungry.

Next on the agenda is to get packed and fly out tomorrow morning to Kuching for seminary graduation there. We fly back to Sibu Thursday morning, catch our breath, then take a three-hour drive to Mukah. At this point we will spend the night and come home Friday morning. In the meanwhile, I need to get a Temple Prep lesson ready for Sunday.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pictures, Surprise! You're Speaking at Seminary Graduation, and Off to the Jungle

Okay, I don't remember when any of the following happened, but there are things that were fun, and I don't want to forget.

I'll start with attending FHE with Brother Merang and his family last Saturday evening. (I do remember it was a Saturday night.) The missionaries had given them a laminated card used to plan FHE. This was their first one. The mother conducted and the kids gave the prayers, the scripture, and the lesson. Refreshments included dinner! (Chicken Curry, Chicken Soup, Fried Octopus)

After dinner, we played some games One of the game was called, "Snort!" The "It" person stands in the center of every seated, closes their eyes and spins around. When "It" stops, he/she stops and points. The person who they are pointing snorts. "It" then has to guess who snorted. If correct, they switch places. It was pretty funny.

My turn!

This is one amazing family! Brother Merang has also been called as the new seminary teacher. He will be learning along with his students. We will be working closely with him in our calling as CES missionaries. We are looking forward to it.

Speaking of seminary, seminary graduation was Thursday night. There was a pre-training meeting Wednesday evening. We met with one of the seminary teachers here, and explained the lesson prep sheet that we were given while in the MTC. President Lai, the area Seminary and Institute coordinator was there. He brought the printed program with him for graduation. I picked it up, and my eyes were immediately drawn to the name of the first speaker. The name was Elder Anthony Bodell! Well, that was a shock! I spent the rest of the evening and next morning preparing my talk. The first part was in Malay, then I switched to English, and then back again to bear my testimony. It's a good thing we have missionaries here to translate from English to Malay and Malay to English. We really gave Elder J a workout because he had to translate for all the speakers. Sister Bodell's name was also on the program. She accompanied the congregational singing. My name was on there again for directing the music. Neither of us knew before we read the program that we part of the program. It was a good experience though. Stressful, but still a great opportunity.

Here are some more pictures of the area and our lives here in Sibu.

This little wall unit is installed in our three bathrooms. It is an instant water heater for showering. When I say instant, I mean instant! It's amazing; however, they are only source of running hot water in the house. All of the faucets run cold, and the kitchen sink is especially equipped with a filtering system that has three filters. This is a missionary thing.

I want one of these!

Even though we have a lot of rain here, every once in awhile the sun shine through and blesses us with a rainbow.

This picture was taken from the front doors of the church.

We are on the Youth Conference committee. Youth Conference is in December when the kids are out of school . . . between years, actually. It's like our summer vacation. Anyway, Youth Conference is being held at the YMCA camp. It's quite nice, with decent facilities, not too primitive, but it's definitely in the jungle! We went up to check it out so we knew what we were getting into.

Sister Bodell and Sister Mills at the entrance to the YMCA camp

One of the several streams that runs through the camp

It's really beautiful, but there are a lot of mosquitos! Don't forget to bring the repellant!
(You can click on the picture to enlarge it.)
We've been out running errands and shopping this morning. I had to take a couple of pairs of pants to the tailor to have them taken in. When I get them back I'll need to take a couple more in. While we were at the tailors I ordered a pair of black pants. The two pair will be ready tomorrow; the tailor-made will be ready in about a week. 

We also stopped at a frame shop. We've got a couple of pictures that needed to be framed. I think the total price on the framing is about $13.00 That isn't bad at all. You can't do that at Walmart!

We also had to get some grocery shopping done for Monday's celebration of Thanksgiving on Monday with the missionaries. More on that later. (It's going to be a busy week next week as we fly to Kuching and drive to Mukah for seminary graduations there. More on that later, too.)

I think that's enough for this session. We need to get over to the seamstress' who's making the scares for the youth conference.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mixed-Up Pictures and Thoughts.

It hasn't been a stressful or busy week as the weeks in the past, but there hasn't been a moment to sit down and post anything. I can't remember what, when or details of anything so this will be one mixed up post. I do have pictures and thought to share though.

First, let me share a couple of observations . . .

1. It's interesting to us to note that for whatever reason, our fingernails are growing faster here than at home. I don't know if it's the climate, the altitude, the latitude, age, or a combination of any of those things. It's just something we've noticed since we arrived here.

2. I have pretty much adjusted to driving here. At least I know where I'm going most of the time. I can handle the traffic and even the motos. I now have thoughts of having to readjust to driving when we get back home. Driving here is now pretty much ingrained in me. Although, I still turn the wipers on occasionally when I signal for a turn! That's a little frustrating. One more thing about driving . . . I hope to never complain about Utah or any state drivers. If I do, please remind me about the drivers in Sibu.

Once in awhile we run into something fun to eat. This is a lime-flavored "dream" cycle. They are really good, but you have to eat them fast because they melt quickly! Ice cream here isn't quite the same as home, but close enough. There are a couple of interesting flavors here that we don't remember seeing at home. Would you believe corn and yam flavors? Sister Bodell has had the yam (purple) and quite liked it. We haven't gotten the courage to try the corn flavor yet. Not sure I'll ever be willing to try that. I'll stick with what I know I'll like.

There's very large river here; the Rajang River. It's not the most beautiful river in the world. The water is tan in color. However, I was lucky enough to get a pretty good shot of it at sundown. We got a couple of other nice shots from a different spot.

The Rajang River at sundown

This is park on one of the many tributaries of the Rajang River.

It's some kind of a boat-looking structure.

The bridge over the tributary is beautiful.

This looks like it could be some sort of outdoor theater on the waterfront.

There is a lot more I'd like to share right now, but time is taking its toll so it will all have to wait. It's probably better to post in small chunks anyway. My attention span isn't that long either.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Transfers, Parking, and a Baptism

We haven't had any real adventures since the Chinese Branch Halloween party for which we are grateful, and yet, it's been a busy week.

This week was mission transfers. Several of our missionaries were transferred to various areas within the mission. I don't remember where they all went, but they are all safe. No problems with our missionaries, but there were some immigration issues with other missionaries. I'm not quite sure what happened this time, but I think they've been resolved.

It was a late night last night. E's C, B, S, and W returned from Singapore from a new missionary training. Elder W is a brand new missionary, fresh from the MTC. Elder S is excited to be his trainer. Elder S has only been out about two months, but he's a fantastic missionary!

I had to pick them up last night from the airport at 9:45 P.M., at least, that was the original schedule. Their flight had to be rerouted due to rain. Then that flight was delayed by rain. They weren't that much later, but it took awhile to get all their luggage, load the car, and get them home to their respective apartments. I was home about midnight. Now that's what I call burning the midnight oil.

This evening we're picking the ZLs up from the airport from their trip to Singapore. They've been to a monthly training. We're supposed to take them directly to a couple of baptism interviews, but after talking with DL last night, they may go on exchanges instead. I guess we'll find out when we pick them up.

Well, due to a torrential rainstorm this afternoon, the ZLs flight was delayed about an hour. I did get them picked up. Elder J had changed his clothes so he could do the interviews. I drove them out to the interview. Elder J went with Elder B, while I took Elders S and C back to the ZLs' place so Elder S could change clothes and go out to visit with Elder C. Did you follow that? It's gets a little confusing for me, too.

Back to the rainstorm. Saying it was torrential is a bit of an understatement! I have never seen so much water at one time. We have a cement trench around the house for water to drain. The trench is about a foot deep and eight inches across. The water flows out to the larger drainage ditches in front of the house. Today the trench was filled to overflowing. Sister Bodell was worried that the water might flood the house. We did find that the trench was dammed up drainage end with debris. We were out there with umbrella in one hand and a small shovel in the other trying to get rid of the dam. We were able to bust through most of it which allowed the water to drain faster. The street drainage ditches were almost full of water. There was a lot of water that came down this afternoon. A rain like that at home would be most devastating! After the deluge, the water drained pretty quickly from both the trench around the house and the larger ditches in front.

This is a parking stub. There are no meters to put coins in. We buy a packet of these cards and fill out one each time we park in the downtown parking stalls. We have to rub off the year (tahun), month (bulan), day (hari), hour (jam), and minute (minit) that you park, and put it on the dash sow when the "meter maid" comes along you don't get a ticket. We can purchase a pack of half-hour or hour cards. You can see that the information is also printed in Chinese. We keep a couple of books of both the half-hour and hour cards in the car.

Tomorrow, Saturday, will be another baptism session. I will wait to post this blog until then.

Okay, this week has been crazy, but I can now finish up this post before I start the next one! I think I'm getting behind.

Anyway, here is a picture of those who were baptized on Saturday. It was a very nice service. The Spirit there was wonderful.

The two little guys are amazing! They are so happy! I am glad we got to know them. They have strong testimonies!

I am grateful for my testimony. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. It is, indeed His Church. The Book of Mormon is true. If you haven't read, you need to. If you have read it, you need to read it again.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chinese Halloween . . . American Style

The Chinese Elders asked us if we would help the plan the Halloween Party for the Chinese Branch. Well, we did, and Sister Bodell ran with it. The members of the Chinese Branch that came enjoyed a fun evening. Sister Bodell created the decorations and fixed much of the food. Thank you to Sister Mills and the Chinese Elders who helped finish the decorating of the brownies, deviled eggs, and apples, and the other Elders for hanging the decorations. Music was provided by one the Chinese Elders' father who emailed the music to me which I played on my computer. I should tell you that prior to the members showing up, someone brought some wigs and masks to try on.

Elder S

Elder Mills

Elder J - one of our ZLs

Elder J, Elder Mills, Elder S, and Elder Bodell

Elder B

The menu consisted of chili, corn bread, and more. The Chinese Branch president and his wife provided noodles, sweet/sour pork, watermelon, and the drink.

Lips made from apples, peanut butter, and mini marshmallows

Brownies with spider-web icing

Witches Finger . . . pizza dough wrapped around Poky sticks. Some had sugar cookie dough.
Finger nails are sliced almonds.

Deviled Eggs with black olive spiders
I have to tell you that there is no corn meal to be had in Sibu. Sister Bodell had to "grind" unpopped popcorn to make corn meal. Fortunately we have an attachment to our blender that milled the popcorn to to perfect cornmeal!

We played several games. The Chinese Elders were in charge of those. While they were tying donuts to strings and broom handles, I introduced the group to "This is a Witch; This is a Ghost," more commonly know as "This is a Cat: This is a Dog." They thought it was hilarious. Next was the donut game, the aim of which was to see who could eat the donut the quickest.

The second set of players included the Mills, Sister Bodell, and me. Someone took pictures, but it wasn't me, and I don't have copies at the present time.

A good time was had by all.