We are back into a "normal" routine again. I'd like to say that we're not trying to figure out what to do next, but we are. Seminary starts this week so we're trying to organize our travels and our responsibilities. We will be traveling to our stewardship areas to help train the seminary teachers. More about that later.
I need to "WOW!" Last Sunday our little choir for District Conference grew from about 12 members to 32! What happened! Bless her heart! Sister Norlia from the second branch bore her testimony about the importance of music in the Church. She also thanked Sister Bodell and I for teaching them the right way to sing the hymns . . . not just the words, but with feeling . . . as we work with the choir. It was an awesome testimony. As the conclusion of testimony meeting, her husband and first counselor in the branch presidency (Bless his heart, too.) did pretty much the same thing. He talked about the Spirit in the choir and invited all to attend. The choir seats were full to overflowing. We had to set up extra chairs. It was a miracle.
Even though our choir has difficulty with parts, they don't have difficulty with the Spirit and they follow really well. There is a sweet, beautiful sound and spirit that is produced when they sing. I wish I could capture and describe it, but I don't have the words to do so. It's something that has to be experienced. The District President heard them singing last week and told me that we should somehow continue the choir, prepare for Christmas, and conduct a conducting class with all of them. He also mentioned that I was establishing my "legacy" with the members here. I'm glad he told me this because I was beginning to wonder if "I had done any good in the world." Maybe I have. I sincerely hope so.
District Conference is on the 24th and 25th of January. We're singing four numbers; three of which will be sung in Indonesian. There isn't a Malay Hymn Book at the present time: I Need Thee Every Hour, How Firm a Foundation, and I Know that My Redeemer Lives. The fourth song will be sung in English, We'll Bring the World His Truth. Having the privilege to direct this choir has been a blessing to me. I am most grateful. Sometime between now and then, I need to get a picture of this beautiful choir.
We've had our usual weekly Skype lessons with our tutor, Micah, and coach, Bryan. They are great young men, and we certainly appreciate their time and patience. We've also had Skype meetings with Brother J, the area supervisor for S&I, and with Elisha, the financial man for the Malaysia area. We got a lot out of our Skype meetings this week. We have now defined our role as CES/S&I Missionaries. It's been a long and arduous journey getting this done. We now know where we're going and what our responsibilities are.
Speaking of responsibilities, I spent several hours on Friday contacting seminary teachers and their local leaders to schedule S&I training. We will be going to Bintulu the end of this month for training, along with trips and training in Kuching, Mukah, and here in Sibu. We're excited to be moving forward with our calling.
Random thoughts: It was so nice to have Chicken Alabam and mashed potatoes last night for dinner. It was like a little bit of heaven, even though chickens here aren't quite the same. They are tough and stringy, even the thighs, when you can find them. You can find every other part of the chicken in the stores, necks (including the heads), feet, gizzards, livers, etc. Thighs usually come attached to the leg. One more thought on chicken here. When you order chicken in a restaurant, it's usually a chicken chop. That means the chicken, usually the breast, has been cooked and sliced (bone and all) and placed on a bed of rice with whatever sauce you've chosen. I know we are looking forward to buying boneless, skinless chicken when we get home.
It's not just chicken, either, that's different. All the meats are butchered differently here. They're sliced differently. they don't taste the same. Ground beef has a different texture. It all takes some getting used to.
Another thought on drivers here: I will never again complain about Utah drivers! These people are just crazy. There is no sense of propriety. I almost got hit again this morning. A car was making a turn in to my lane where I was already occupying space. I'd like to get Chief Flowers and his band of merry men to clean up the driving in the city! (Bob, if you read this, do you think you could work on an exchange system of some kind with the local authorities?)
Communication: Right now I don't even want to talk about communication! There is a barrier in English, a barrier in Chinese, a barrier in Malay, and a barrier in Iban. It doesn't matter if you have translators or both parties are speaking the same language. I'm a little frustrated today about that. SIGH! Fortunately, this too shall pass so why get upset? I don't know. In the words of Elder L, "Just simmer, Elder B! So I will just simmer, or chill, until I blog again.
One more thought: Sister Bodell has discovered a substitute for "Goo-Gone" on Pinterest that actually works. It's a good thing because there is no such product here in East Malaysia. It's one-part baking soda and one-part vegetable oil. She made a paste today that worked well. She used ½ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon oil. She said another drop or two of oil would have been nice. but it works well. This is a good thing because the sticky on price stickers is really sticky. Nothing would take it off until this discovery.