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.

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