Sunday, March 29, 2015

Chinese Temple, Speaking in Church, District Meeting

I'm off to a good start. It's only Tuesday evening, and I'm writing a few things down before I forget. I did get my talk written and translated for Sunday. Tomorrow morning I can go over it with our language tutor and rip the Malay to shreds. It's not a big deal because I mostly used Google Translate to translate it. Google isn't the best, but I was in a hurry.

The translation wasn't so bad after all, but there were still quite a few adjustments to be made. Malay is an interesting language. There are so many ways to say the same thing. The missionaries frequently have discussions on the way to say things. It's no wonder I get so confused. I should report here that the talk went pretty well, but it seems like it was the longest 15 minutes in my life. It was only four pages with a font size of 16. I was a little nervous and wanting to be done. I remember reading and thinking, "Why am I only on page two? I still have two pages more!" I did make it through. I was told by several members that my Malay was pretty good. Well, I'm glad it's over. I shouldn't have to do that again for awhile.

Monday morning we took a District field trip to a Chinese Buddhist temple. It was really interesting. Something that made it interesting to me was that it was so peaceful. There was plenty to see, but no English interpretations. We did take our shoes off whenever we entered one of the buildings.

The field trip adventure began at the church. There were only two cars, three older adults, and ten young Elders. Let's see. How do we divide them everyone into two cars? Well, let's see. In our car we had Sister Bodell, the driver, me with Elder C on my lap, and Elders M, H, J, D, and L in the back seat. Everyone else was in the other car.

Our traveling companions to the Chinese temple after we unloaded all of us from the car.

This was the back seat on the way home.
It was more comfortable for us in the front than it was for them in the back.
Elders H, M, D, L, and C

Here are some pictures of the Chinese temple grounds. There were three or four different buildings that we could go in.

We have no idea who all these little statues represent

Notice the flower on the ceiling

The architecture is fascinating!

A small gazebo over a pond

This is a ceiling. I wish you could see this in three dimension!

Goddes of Protection

Goddess of Tranquility

Goddess of Fertility

Notice all the Chinese writing on this bell

Love the dragons!

Speaking of dragons, this reminded me of the little dragon in Disney's Mulan.

Buddha himself!

More dragons at the entrance of one the buildings

Intricate carvings in stone. There were many plaques like this one.

Twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac

Eight of the Chinese zodiac signs

Lunch at Chop Sticks after our field trip
Chop Sticks is frequented by the Elders for two reasons . . .
The food is good and the price is right!

Elder P conducted his first District meeting on Tuesday. I was impressed. The previous week at Zone meeting I did a training on asking questions. I asked the three DLs if they would follow up this week to see how my teaching went. Elder P had us break into pairs, but not with our own companions. We then reviewed what I taught last week by practicing on each other. Several of the young missionaries had used this several times during the past week with their investigators and had great success in engaging their investigators more in the lesson. That was gratifying to hear.

I don't want to make this too long this week, but I do need to say that all the missionaries in our district have had a good week. There are many new investigators to teach. There was a baptism Saturday evening. Both a seminary and institute class were taught. This was the first institute class since before we got here. We've been trying, but there's always been something in the way. The class went well.

Also, there was a branch presidency training meeting for the three branch presidencies here and Sibu Jaya. It was exciting to see all three members of the District Presidency there, as well as the Branch One president and his two counselors, the Branch Two president and his only counselor, and the Branch Three president and his only counselor there as well. It was a great night! It's been a good week for everyone.

There were a couple of flat tires with the same companionship this week. One of the Elders called to tell us his companion had a flat tire and wondering if we could help. A few days later, the companion called to tell us that that the other Elder had a flat tire. It was amusing that they didn't call to tell us that they had a flat tire, but that their companion had the flat tire. I asked about that. The response was they were too embarrassed to ask for themselves. They are a funny lot sometimes.

President Gara had a problem this week at work. A 30 Kg piece of metal fell from above him and hit him on the head. Fortunately he was bent over so it glanced off, but he still had to have six stitches. It could have been much worse. I know he was being watched over. It was a flat piece of metal. If it had come down at an angle it could have been deadly. He was able to walk out on his own. Because his head had to be shaved, he was telling everyone that we were now twins. (We now have similar hair styles.)

Elder Bodell and President Gara

It was also Elder J's birthday this week. We had a surprise party for him in the guise of a housing meeting.

Elder J making his wish.

And yes, Sister Bodell made the cake.
That's Elder P eyeing the cake.

It's been another great week. We love working with the members and the young missionaries and serving where we can. The Church is true. Jesus Christ leads us and guides us through His Prophets, Apostles, and other Church leaders. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, He restored the Church back to the earth. We are looking forward to hearing the leaders speak to us in the upcoming General Conference.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Zone Meeting, 44, Self-Reliance, Brother Steven's Birthday

This has been a wonderful week. It started out with the usual P-Day, but it got much better after getting ourselves prepared for the rest of the week.
Zone Meeting on Tuesday was engaging, to say the least. The ZLs started out by playing ping pong and demonstrating how and why it's important to engage and help others understand the Gospel. It was a pretty simple, but effective analogy. After the discussion, we broke for intermission with cookies, brownies, carrot cake, veggies, oranges, etc. supplied by the Senior Couples. After the break we continued the training.

The ZLs had asked Sister Bodell and I to present ideas on how to make our lessons more engaging. I taught a lesson on using the four types of questions used in our S&I training and why using questions is important for keeping our investigators/students engaged in our lessons. The four types of questions are:
A. Questions that invite searching for information
B. Questions that lead to analyzing for understanding
C. Questions that invite feelings and testimony
D. Questions that encourage application

Sister Bodell talked showed a picture of a tree with deep roots and explained why the roots are important. The missionaries seemed genuinely interested in what we had to teach. There were good discussions and lots of note taking. I gave them all an assignment to write four questions about a scripture or concept they teach. I asked the DLs to follow up next week in their district meetings. That will tell me how effective I was in my training.

After our meeting, a picture was taken of the zone.  Then we all went to McDonald's for lunch. I'm sure the staff was amazed to see all 20 of come in. That's quite a group!

Our zone at its best
Back Row: Elders G, P, D, O, S, S, M, W
Middle Row: Elders J, G, H, W, C, ?, T
Front Row: Elder & Sister Tedrow, Sister & Elder Mills, Sister & Elder Bodell
Maybe not at our best, but we do like to have fun, too!
This is a great group of young men. We do enjoy working with them.

Later we took EC and EP to look at a couple of houses that are for rent. The missionary housing situation here is a mess. We're doing our best to find suitable housing in the right areas for the Elders. There are so many requirements from the mission home that it's difficult to find something that meets the needs and requirements of the mission home. This has been a little frustrating, but with patience and faith, we will find the right homes for the Elders.

Happy Anniversary to us! Wednesday was our 44th wedding anniversary! Where has the time gone? Our little family has grown from the two of us to five children, five children-in-law, and 20 grandchildren. Can you imagine this couple with 20 grandchildren?

Our wedding picture taken a year later . . .
The wedding day pictures didn't turn out so we had this taken on our 1st anniversary.
Us, today . . .
This is our mission picture.
Our family today!
We had an appointment on Wednesday with Alexson. EL and ES took us to his place last week. He's Institute age, but he can't come because of his work schedule. When we were there, the Elders discovered that his younger sister has never been baptized so they are going to teach her. We are going to help teach Alexson how to read and write. He's never had the opportunity to attend school. It's sad, but he really wants to learn so this will be a blessing for us and for him.

We also went to visit a less-active sister, Sister Chee Bee with the Elders. She has some health issues which keep her from coming to Church. She hasn't lost her testimony. We gave her a blessing while we were there. She is a very sweet sister. I wish there was more we could do for a lot of the members here.

Later in the evening Sister Bodell and I went someplace new for our anniversary dinner. It's called Le Café. It was really quite nice. Sister Bodell had Fish and Chips; I had lamb with Barbecue Sauce; and we split a Caesar Salad. Sister Bodell also had a delicious Peach Ice. It's like a slush. It was pretty good. We came home for dessert. Sister Bodell had tapioca pudding with strawberry topping. I had a root beer float made with A&W root beer.

When we were with Elder L & Elder S earlier, they asked us what we had planned for tonight. I casually mentioned that we were going out for dinner for our 44th anniversary. They spread the word amongst the other Elders. We've received texts, phone calls, and two pet puppies from them. Elders C and P stopped by in the evening with the puppies and a balloon.

Elder P, Sister Bodell, Elder Bodell, Elder C
Look carefully or click on the picture to enlarge it.
Sister Bodell is holding the puppies in her hand!

The rest of the week has been pretty uneventful. Although, on Saturday, President Bobby and Elder & Sister Pryzbyla were here from Kuching. They presented a training on the Church's self-reliance program. There were several members of our three branches as well as Sibu Jaya in attendance. This is a great program and greatly needed in this area. I hope it's able to take hold and flourish here. It's doing well in Kuching, but Kuching is different than Sibu. The members there are more schooled. It's going to take some hard work to make the program work here. We will do what we can do to help.

I took the Pryzbylas and President Bobby to the airport before church in the morning. This is going to be a week of preparation. President Gara of Branch 1 asked me to speak in Sacrament meeting next week. The topic is first from the Self-Reliance program . . . Exercising Faith in Jesus Christ. So, step one: Exercise my faith in Jesus Christ. Step two: Write the talk. Step three: Translate into Malay. Step four: Have missionaries and language tutor make corrections. Step five: Berlatih membaca! (practice reading). Step six: Give talk in church. I have asked one of the sons of President Gara memorize and present the Fourth Article of Faith as part of my talk.

Sunday was Brother Steven's birthday. Brother Steven is the second counselor in the Branch 1 Branch Presidency. We went out to Rantau Panjang to help him celebrate. Sister Bodell made a birthday cake for him. Look carefully at his picture. Does he remind you of anyone?

Gotta love the knife he found to cut the cake!

Look at that face! We know we've seen it before!
Brother Steven reminds of someone we know. He has a similar personality, too.
Brother Steven is now 25 years old and is the 2nd Counselor in the Branch Presidency
Many of the branch members are always up for a FHE activity. This was no exception. They always begin with a song, prayer, and scripture thought. Many of these people are brand new to the Church, but they are firm and steadfast.

Four of the steadfast families of Branch 1

Brother Steven and his family

President Gara and his family. President Gara is Branch 1 President

Our beloved ZLs, Elders M and H.
 They took the family picture for me and about a dozen selfies as well.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Delayed Flight, S&I Visits and Training, Branch 2 Choir

It’s Friday afternoon . . . the first chance I’ve really had to write a few thoughts for the week. We’re sitting in the airport in Sibu, waiting for a flight to Kuching. Our flight was scheduled for 11:40 this morning, but due to technical difficulties in Kuching, we have been delayed until 3:50 this afternoon. That’s still another two hours from now!

Rewind to the beginning of the week:

Monday: P-Day . . . It’s transfer week. We’re only losing one Elder this week. Our DL, Elder T, has been transferred to KK. P-Day for us was pretty much the same, however, Sister Bodell did make chili and cornbread for the Elders for dinner. They were very much appreciative of that. 

Tuesday: Elder T conducted his last training at District meeting. Today. As usual, he did an excellent job. He will be missed. After the meeting, Sister Bodell supplied a Chex mix for a treat. After the treat we all went to McDonald’s for lunch. I have to say the McDonald’s is starting to grow on me. It’s ever so much better than the KFCs here. (There is also a Pizza Hut here that isn’t too bad.) Before going to McDonald’s, Elder H asked that I give him a blessing. He’s starting to stress a little. He goes home the next transfer in six weeks.

SPECIAL BULLETIN: This just in. The flight has been delayed until 6:30! (We’re supposed to be at a meeting in Kuching at 7:30. We’re going to have call and change that to 8:00PM.)

Wednesday: Today is a blur in my mind. We didn’t have anything pressing today.

Thursday: We picked up Juswan Tandiman this morning at the airport around 10:00. Brother Tandiman is the Asia area supervisor/director for Seminary and Institute. He gets to come to Sibu about once every three years. He picked our brains about the program, how it’s working here, and what kind of help we need. It’s been a productive day.

We also were able to take Brother Tandiman to the homes of a couple of less-active seminary/institute students. This proved to be productive also. We had the missionaries with us. They made a new contact at one home that they might be able to start teaching. We invited the less-active students to particitpate in the S&I program. They said they would like to. The biggest problem is transportation.

Friday: We started the day by picking Brother Tandiman up from his hotel at 9:30 AM. We then drove out to the home of Elders J & D. They were on the same flight as the rest of us to Kuching. They were going for New Missionary Training which started at 4:00 PM.

Hmmm! What can I say? Their meeting was pushed back to 5:00 PM. They thought they might make it, but it doesn’t look like they will. They’re still at the airport. They decided to stay while we came back to our house to wait it out here in the comfort of home instead of the airport.

So, here we sit and sleep while waiting to drive back to the airport. We were going to try for visits while in Kuching, but that isn’t going to happen on this trip.

Time marches on! Our flight was delayed until 6:25 PM. The missionaries that were going with us didn't fly with us. There was no way they could make their New Missionary training. We arrived in Kuching about 7:05 PM and barely made it to our meeting at 7:30 PM.

I'm glad we made it to our meeting. It was very productive. However, we were unable to make any visits. We left the next morning to come home.

Saturday was a little sketchy. We got home about 11:30. The ZLs came over about 1:00 to discuss what they'd like us to do for zone meeting next Tuesday. They've asked me to do a 10-minute presentation/training on engaging teaching. My mind is already thinking what and how to present this lesson and make it engaging.

Saturday night we had one of those we visited earlier in the week show up for Institute. That's one more than usual. Unfortunately, we didn't have an instructor so I quickly threw a lesson together in case we had anyone else come. No one did so I didn't teach, but Sister Bodell and I made a quick visit to the teacher's home to see what we could do to help. We had some good news for her. There are S&I funds that will reimburse her for travel to and from seminary. She is without her own mode of transportation. This will be a great boon for her. She's been a little down about institute because the first two weeks we tried, nobody came. It seems that we have motivated two or three to start coming because of our personal visits to their homes. We will be doing more of that with the missionaries.

Transport is a major issue here. Not just for seminary and institute, but Sunday meetings and activities. There are some with motos, but even fewer with cars. I feel so badly when I not only see this, but also their humble abodes. Many sacrifice so much just to come to church on Sunday.

Seminary had a fairly good turnout this week. I think it was close to 12. It's growing. We may be able to get a couple more. The institute teacher can put a few in the taxi with her. That's another plus.

Saturday evening was the weekly adventure to the Fruit Bowl. I think I said that it was an open-air affair surrounded by a variety of little stalls selling all sorts of food. The missionaries call it the Fruit Bowl because of the fruit bowls served there.

Sister Bodell's fruit bowl. It contains watermelon, other fruit, coconut, & frozen milk,
I'm not into watermelon so I wandered a little and found some chicken that looked good in the picture. What you see isn't always what you get. I ended up with a plate of that little piece that hangs off the end of the back of a chicken. For want of another word, it's referred to as chicken butt. It wasn't bad; the sauce served with it made it taste pretty good. The sauce is similar to the oil/vinegar spicy sauce served at Iggy's. The good news is that I didn't get sick.

I don't know if I can adequately explain Sunday. As you know, we've been teaching a music directing class. All but one of the attendees are members of Branch 2. Today, three of the sisters in the class directed the singing in Sacrament meeting. No, not at the same time, Silly! Each directed a separate hymn. They have learned so much. They looked at the congregation as they directed and sang, each looked happy to be there; and each did a great job directing with their hand. Perfect students. A fourth sister, Sister Norliah, spoke in church about music and it's importance in our meetings and in our lives. She had done something similar before, but this time she taught the congregation things she had learned about the hymns from coming to our directing class. It was beautiful and very spiritual. Her husband also spoke after her, adding his testimony. He also commented that he had sung in several choirs for District Conference, but didn't really feel anything until the last one in January where he was taught to feel the Spirit when he sings. 

After today's meeting I felt like I could come back home. I had accomplished something in this branch that was wonderful. It made me feel good. I don't want to sound like I'm tooting my horn here. I may feel a little like Ammon did on his way home with his brothers after teaching the Lamanites for all those years. His brother Aaron chastised him for boasting. His reply was not that he was boasting in himself, but what they had accomplished with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. That's how I feel. The Holy Ghost has directed me and touched the hearts of these faithful people. They have feel the Spirit as they sing the hymns of the Church with feeling. I wish I had the words to convey how and what I feel and what has been accomplished. The next step is to teach them how to direct a choir.

The Beautiful Beginning Members of the Sibu Branch 2 Choir
Tonight at our combined music directing class and choir practice we started to learn a new hymn to sing in Sacrament meeting. The cool thing was that that they were able to sing in four parts. Right now they have to listen and repeat, listen and repeat, but we made it through the first verse of Come, O Thou King of Kings in Indonesian. They did a great job! 

Why Indo? There is not a Malay hymn book, and Indonesian is very close. The hymn is unfamiliar to them, but they learned fast.

During the music directing part of the class, each member directed a hymn they like. Their assignment was to practice directing a hymn at home during the week and direct it tonight while everyone else sang. They have the same assignment for the coming week, but they have to pick a different hymn. 

Sharing the hymns and teaching them how to direct music has been a manifestation of the blessing I was given when set apart as a missionary. I am grateful I have this opportunity to teach. I love the hymns of the Church. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love my Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know they live. Jesus Christ is our Savior. I am grateful for His Atonement, His infinite love, and His infinite patience. How blessed we are to have an understanding of the great Plan of Happiness.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Little Humor, Mission Tour, My Birthday

I am starting off with a little humor. Unlike the young missionaries, Senior Couples can sometimes relax and watch a movie; however, you have to be careful what you purchase. DVDs are really cheap here, and there are many stores that sell them really, really cheaply . . . usually three for RM15. That translates into three for $5.00. Not bad, eh? You have to be really careful when you buy one, however. It can be a risky proposition. We wanted to see Night at the Museum - Secret Tomb the other night. Here's a clip from the DVD we bought.

Did you notice the people coming in with their popcorn? I don't think that's part of the original movie. Someone was in the back of the theater copying the movie. Did you notice the language? It sounds vaguely like Italian to me. It's definitely not English! We'll have to try again.

Well, this week we were back in Kuching for the Mission Tour. We arrived Tuesday evening with the Tedrows and stayed at the Imperial Hotel. That's hotel with the heavenly bathrooms. We took a taxi ot the church from the hotel. The taxi driver spoke very little English, but he knew exactly where the church is. After the meetings on Wednesday, the Hammers took us to the airport and we flew home with the Tedrows and the 14 Elders from our zone. Most of us met up at the Fruit Bowl later for dinner.

Elder Funk from the Second Quorum of Seventy was there to teach us how to be more effective missionaries. We were also taught by his wife and Elder and Sister Mains. The District President of the Kuching District also shared his testimony and how the missionaries taught him and his family. Here are my notes from the meeting:

Mission Tour - March 4, 2015

Sister Funk
     Introduction of the Funks, family, mission, call to 2nd Quorum of the Seventy
Elder Funk

Using Time Wisely PMG chapter 8

35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. - Mark 1:35

Begin your day early, with prayer, as the Savior did.

PMG pg 137, chapter 8, 3rd paragraph - quote from call letter about effective use of time.

Planning, PMG 146, chapter 8
     Goal, vision, raise the bar. You can do more with the Lord's help and effort on your part.
     List goals in planner.
     Planning - pg 147, PMG, headings 2-10, Set goals and make plans!
Pres. Mains
Plan of Salvation/Happiness/Redemption

Alma 31: Alma bringing the apostate Zoramites back to the Church. Verse 5 tells how the many of the Zoramites returned back to the Church.

Moroni 6

Do everything with the end in mind.
Pres. Sulai 
Sister Funk

Pg 89, 2nd paragraph, PMG

God loves you and all His children. He is anxious to support you in your practical and specific challenges. You have been promised inspiration to know what to do and have been given the power to do it (see D&C 43:15–16). He will help you as you try to recognize and understand the Spirit through diligent scripture study. He will guide you to people who will receive the message of the Restoration. He will give you power to deliver the message and to testify of Christ and His gospel. He will shower His blessings upon you through the gift of the Holy Ghost. He asks that you remain worthy of this gift and that you ask, seek, and knock (see D&C 4:7; Matthew 7:7–8).

How Do I Recognize and Understand the Spirit? Answer these five questions from the passage above:

Must do?
Elder Funk

2 Nephi 32:1-5, 33:1

Missionary responsibility to teach clearly for understanding.
Alma 32: Plant the seed in the heart, etc.


Role playing of teaching First Vision
Role plays are not role plays, they are preparations to teach the Gospel.

It was spiritually uplifting meeting. We all came away wanting to do better in our callings.

While we were in Kuching, we received an email from President Lai, our "boss" when it comes to seminary and institute. His "boss", Juswan Tandiman, will be coming to Sibu next week to spend the day with us and meet with President Chua, our District President, and other local leaders to see what he can do to help with the S&I program here in Sibu. He'll be here Thursday; Friday we will accompany him back to Kuching for a similar meeting with President Sulai. We'd like to talk Brother Tandiman into having an S&I training in his home. He lives in Jakarta, Indonesia. I don't think that will happen since it's outside our mission boundaries, but what a trip that would be!

This just in! Tonight is the last night of the Chinese New Year! The firecrackers  and fireworks have begun. It has been quiet the last few days. It's getting later . . . almost 8:30 P.M. I've been out walking through the war zone. It seems to be quieting down a bit, but it may get going later tonight. It's beautiful, but noisy, and to think it's all illegal!

It did quiet down. It was all over before midnight. We got a pretty decent sleep tonight.

Elder Pryzbyla sent us a picture from our experience at the Gardens by the Bay. I thought you might like to see us in a less formal attire.

The Tedrows, the Bodells, the Hammers, the Prysbylas, and the Sliders
For those of you who may have missed it, Saturday was my birthday. I am starting to feel the effects of age. It's a good thing we have the young Elders around to keep us young. President and Sister Mains call all the missionaries on their birthdays. Seniors are no exception. That was a fun phone call. We texted or FaceTimed with all the kids to celebrate. 

Sister Bodell surprised me by having the missionaries come over in the afternoon. She had fixed some fruit and dip, chips and dip (including a 7-layer Mexican dip), and a Black Forest Cake. It was wonderful, and the missionaries appreciated all of it, of course. 

The missionaries sang Happy Birthday to me twice. They started when they arrived, but I stopped them the first time through so I could get my camera out to record it. Our ZLs were a little late in coming due to traveling from Mukah, but they arrived in time for the cake when they had to sing again. Here it is:

Not only did they sing Happy Birthday to me, but before they left, they also sang a special song just for me. They know how much I love the hymns so they sang one of my favorites, I Need Thee Every Hour. This was an added surprise. It was too big of a file to add here so I posted it to YouTube. Here is the link if you'd like to hear this: You have to love these guys. I am grateful to be associated with them. 

Our District Elders, Our "Sons"
Back Row: Elder D, Elder M, Elder T, Elder L, Elder S, Elder W, Elder G
Front Row: Elder J, Elder B, Elder C, Elder H

I woke early Sunday morning (4:45 AM) to the broadcasted call to prayer for the Muslim community and couldn't go back to sleep. I don't usually here it anymore. Here I am, adding more and more to my blog. I will definitely need a nap this afternoon.

Since I was awake, I decided to check my email. I was overwhelmed with the number of birthday greetings that awaited me. Thanks to all those that sent them. I got a special greeting from several grandchildren who were gathered for Jaxon's baptism. This is great! In case you're wondering, they're singing in Chinese, thanks to our granddaughter, Codera.

Seminary went well Saturday evening. Brother Merang is amazing. He has grown so much since joining the Church. I know he loves the Lord. He has a strong testimony of the Gospel. He and his family are the Best!

The Elders have started a tradition of going to the Fruit Bowl on Saturday evenings after all is said and done. We went with them again last night. I tried something new that was delicious . . . chicken satay . . . kind of like a shish kabob; smaller, but very tasty and not super spicy. I would definitely do that again.

Another Sunday has come and gone. President Balley (Branch 2) asked that I attend PEC and Branch Council Meeting from now on. It's a juggling act because it's at the same time as Branch 1 Sacrament meeting. I'll get it figured out eventually. Branch 2 has some very active and supportive members. All of those attending the music directing class are from Branch 2.

We "finished" the directing class this evening. Those who came tonight want to continue to come so they can practice. There were 12 there tonight. We will continue to practice as long as they want to do so. Hopefully we can teach them how to direct a branch choir as well. They will be the birth of the Branch 2 Choir. This has been a lot of fun.

Transfers are this week. It's hard to tell if any of the Elders will be transferred this week. We will find out tomorrow, but that will be next week's blog.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Singapore: Zone/Senior Conference, Sight-Seeing, and a Devotional with Elder Ballard

Happy Six Months! As I work on this week's blog I would like to point out that March 1, 2015 was the 6th month mark of our mission. It's really hard to believe we've been away from our family and home that long. I know our Father in Heaven is blessing our children and our grandchildren. I catch glimpses of those blessings every once in awhile when we FaceTime or receive emails. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that blesses all of us so abundantly.

This has been a great week. We've been blessed with instruction from our mission president, President Mains, and several others. We've also been able to do some sight-seeing this week, but more of that later.

Right now Sister Bodell and I are sitting in the chapel of the Singapore Stake Center, the same building our zone/senior conferences were held. We are waiting for a fireside to begin. There are three speakers, one Apostle, Elder Ballard, Elder Rasband, the senior president of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric, Bishop Stevenson. This is exciting to be in the presence of an Apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ. That is a rare enough occasion living in Southern Utah, even more rare in Malaysia. It's exciting to see the members of the stake here; Malaysians, Chinese, Whites, and various accents. You can feel, though, the Church is the same wherever you go. That is such a blessing. I will report on this fireside later.

This is the chapel in Singapore. This is where Zone/Seniors Conference was held, as well
as the Devotional with Elder Ballard. I can imagine that someday, when the time is right,
that it could easily be converted into a temple.

A note or two about Zone/Senior Conference. The theme for Zone Conference was Faith. The theme for Seniors Conference was Serving with the Heart. President Mains asked all the missionaries to fast this next Fast Sunday for increased faith. President Mains has great faith. It is a privilege for us to receive of his faith as he teaches and directs the Singapore Mission.

We were able to do more sight-seeing while in Singapore. Here are some pictures from our excursions. There are so many from which to choose, but I choose not to more neither you nor me so this is just a sampling.

Sister Bodell and the Singapore skyline by night
In the Gardens by the Bay were these Lego creations.
More Lego flowers
A giant tree from the grove. That's Sister Bodell and Elder Pryzbyla.
You can see that the trees are huge!
A good view of the "giant" grove of trees
This is a famous sight in Singapore. It's called the Merlion.
On the left is the tallest hotel in Singapore. The building in the forefront is the opera house.
Gardens by the Bay
The two large structures are giant green houses and terrariums.
You can also see the "giant" grove of trees where Sister Bodell and Elder Pryzbyla were
standing in the earlier picture.
Elder and Sister Tedrow, Elder and Sister Hammer, Elder and Sister Bodell, and Elder and Sister Pryzbyla
Carvings inside the glass buildings

Inside one of the glass domes
 All decked out for the Chinese New Year
That gives you a tastes of the Gardens by the Bay. It's beautiful, and there is so much to see. We plan on going again.

I need to say a word about the devotional so I don't forget. Actually, I'm posting my notes from the meeting so I don't forget. There was a wonderful Spirit there.

Devotional with Elder Ballard notes:
Bishop Gary Stevenson, Presiding Bishop of the Church talked about the restoration, specifically the 90 day period in which the Book of Mormon was translated and events that transpired during that 90 days:
John the Baptist
Peter, James, John
Three witnesses
Eight witnesses
All one year prior to organization of the Church

Chapter 5 PMG, BofM Keystone of our Religion

When you want to talk with God, pray. When you want God to speak to you, read the Scriptures. Elder Hales

Concluded with testimony. 
Elder Rasband's (Senior President of the Presidency of the Seventy) wife: We can stand and declare that Jesus is the Christ. He understands our weaknesses, pains, sins. He understands each of us. 

Elder Rasband introduced Elder Ballard, his ancestry. direct descendent of Hyrum Smith, then the roll of Apostles of the Church
• Ephesians 4:11-14
Preeminent roll of apostle to testify of Christ
• Ephesians 2:19-20 We are fellow citizens, built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone

• D&C 107:23-
• The Church is led by living prophets and apostles today. The leaders of the Church are no strangers to the voice of Jesus Christ. 
Elder Ballard's daughter spoke about power and faith of prayer - burning of spirit with in our body. 

Elder Ballard's wife bore her testimony and talked of love.

Elder Ballard talked about Ammon, the great missionary, recounting his and his brothers' experiences in preaching the gospel to the Lamanites. (Alma 26), comparing to the responsibility of the missionaries today.

• Carry the message of the restoration of the Gospel and the message of Jesus Christ to the world. 

• The glorious Plan of Salvation/Happiness - we know more about this plan than any other group of people on the earth. 

If your testimony is faltering, read the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. Remember you are a son or daughter of God. We are brothers and sisters. 

• Partake of the sacrament in remembrance of Him. Do it in reverence. 

• Ask the Lord for forgiveness. 

• 3 Nephi 27. Behold I have given unto you the Gospel because my Father sent me.
  Because of the Atonement, we can all be forgiven. 

Challenge: During the next 90 days, pray that I may find someone with whom I can share the Gospel, and/or to have a spiritual experience. 

• 3 Nephi 11 - understand the voice of God ... This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased, in whom I have glorified my name. Hear ye Him. 

• Importance of baptism taught 13 times is in 3 Nephi 11.

I am grateful we had the opportunity to be there for this devotional. It gave us food for thought and motivation to improve ourselves.

We spent from Monday to Saturday in Singapore. We returned late Saturday night to Sibu. Had a good sleep and got up early Sunday morning.

Brother Steven, the second counselor in the Branch 1 Branch Presidency celebrated his baptismal birthday today. It was a year ago that he and his wife were baptized. It was a wonderful celebration with speakers, testimonies, hymn singing, and food. Sister Bodell had gotten up early to make a cake for the dinner. Brother Steven was very appreciative. He had tears in eyes. He is a stalwart young man, maybe only 23 or thereabouts.

The picture is Brother Steven, his wife, and their son
I do have to say something about the menu. It was typical and spicy. There was chicken curry, some sort of fishy, anchovy something which I shied away from, but I couldn't say no to President Gara when he offered me Punggung Ayam, or as we call it, chicken butt. It's that tiny little piece on the back of the chicken. It wasn't too bad!

It has been a good day. President Balley of Branch 2 asked me to give a blessing of peace to a sister in his branch. I also participated in three other blessings today. President Gara (Branch 1) and his daughter, Monica, and son, Augustine. President Gara has been given several extra responsibilities at work (promotion) and now serving as chairman of the school board where his children attend school. He's been experiencing headaches and dizziness. President Chua, the District President, is taking him to the doctor tomorrow. His daughter has had a constant sore throat and school concerns. His son is having school concerns as well.

This afternoon I took the ZLs to Rantau Panjang. When I dropped them off, I had the distinct impression to tell them to make sure they had prayer before starting out. I also had the distinct impression to promise them they would be blessed with someone to teach. When I saw them later, they told me they had found a man who had previously been studying the Church but had been in Kuching the past several months. He told them he wanted to be baptized! He was at the celebration tonight. He is a friend of President Gara's. What a blessing to feel the Spirit the way I did today.

In between all this goodness, Sherrie and I conducted a music conducting class. We've done this for a couple of weeks. This has been a lot of fun. We will continue until they don't need us anymore.

We're almost back to a normal routine this coming week. However, we are flying to Kuching on Tuesday for a missionary training by Elder Funk. I'll report on that next time. Until then, remember we love all of you. The Church is TRUE! One more thing I should add here is that I bore my testimony in both branches this morning in Fast & Testimony meeting. Yes, I did it in Malay, but I had it written out. I'll leave you with my testimony now. This is my "cheat" sheet.

Good morning, Brothers and Sisters.
Selamat pagi, Brother dan Sister.
I would like to share some thoughts and my testimony with you this morning. 
Saya mahu kongsi beberapa fikiran dan kesaksian saya dengan kamu pagi ini.
I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget.
Saya menulis sehingga saya tidak akan lupa.
Six months ago today, Sister Bodell and I began our mission at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.
Enam bulan lalu hari ini, Sister Bodell dan saya mula misi kami di Pusat Missionary di Provo, Utah.
Our testimonies have been strengthened by serving our Father in Heaven here in Sibu. 
Kesaksian kami telah diperkautkan oleh pelayanan kepada Bapa kita di Syurga di sini di Sibu.
The Gospel is the same wherever you go in the world.
Injil ini sama di mana mana kamu pergi di dunia ini.
One of my favorite scriptures is found in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 76, verses 22-24.
Salah satu tulisan suci kegamaran saya terjumpa dalam Ajaran dan Perjanjian, bahagian tujuh puluh enam, ayat dua puluh dua sampai dua puluh empat.
Read A&P 76, 22-24. (Click on link)

I share my testimony with you. I, too, know that Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior and Redeemer.
Saya kongsi kesaksian saya dengan kamu. Saya, juga, tahu bahawa Yesus Kristus hidup. Dia Juruselamat dan Penebus kita.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His Church. He leads us and guides us through a living prophet.
Gereja Yesus Kristus Orang Suci Zaman Akhir adalah Gereja-Nya. Dia meminpin dan bimbing kami oleh nabi yang hidup.
I know that Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet of God.
Saya tahu bahawa Thomas S. Monson nabi benar Tuhan.
I know that the Church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son in the grove of trees. 
Saya tahu bahawa Gereja dipulihkan oleh Nabi Joseph Smith. Saya tahu Joseph Smith lihat Bapa dan Anak di dalam dusun pokok.
I know Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. I know it is the Word of God.
Saya tahu Joseph Smith menterjemahkan Kitab Mormon. Saya tahu ia Firman Tuhan.
I am grateful for your love and support and for the strength you give me as I watch you serve in the Church.
Saya bersyukur bagi kasih sayang dan sokongan kamu, dan bagi kekuatan kamu memberi saya apa bila saya melihat kamu melayani dalam gereja.
You have our love and admiration. May our Father in Heaven continue to bless and strengthen you
Kami beri kasih sayang dan kekaguman kami. Kami harap Bapa di Syurga akan terus memberkati dan memperkuatkan kamu.
This is my prayer and testimony. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Ini doa ku dan kesaksian ku. Dalam nama Juruselamat, Yesus Kristus. Amin.