Sunday, April 26, 2015

Transfers, Touring, Teaching, and Pictures

This has been one of those roller coaster weeks with emotions. Yes, it was transfer week. They just don't get any easier. We just get too attached to these young Elders. They are special, and some of them just worm their way into out hearts.

This week Elders H and S finished their missions and returned to their homes and families in the United States. Elders L and W were transferred. We lost half our district! We only got two new replacements. We were downsized one companionship. We will probably lose another companionship at the next transfer, too. It's too bad because the missionaries here are really working hard and are starting to have an abundance of investigators.

Monday, P-Day, we were able to visit a couple of interesting places with some of the young Elders before they moved on. The first was a Chinese tiger temple. There is a fellow in the Chinese Branch that knows about these difference Chinese temples. We would never have known about this one. Truly unique!

Did you notice that the entrance is shaped like the mouth of a tiger?

What's a Chinese temple without incense burning?

The entry to the temple

No lions or bears, just tigers

This one appears to be relaxing.

That could be Dad in the back wondering about his son.

This one isn't lounging, maybe prowling?

A warrior tiger

Nice kitty, kitty.

Sister Bodell and Elder L emerging from the temple

The outside body of the tiger temple
After our excursion of the tiger temple, we drove down the road to a long house. To those who might not know what a long house is, it is a long house. There are several homes built together in the same building, most often they are family. This one is really quite nice with a covered hallway. There is a porch on the outside where families can also gather or hang their clothes out to dry. The Iban tribe used to be cannibals. One of the most intriguing items in this long house is a net full of skulls. It's hanging from a light, almost like a chandelier.

A very lonnng hallway in a very lonnng house.
We just kept walking and walking
The wooden floor on which we walked. You can't see it too well in the picture,
but the ground is about 20 feet down from the floor.
These pictures are all over in Sarawak. They are
the Prime Minister, the Monarch, and the Sultana, the Monarch's wife.
Weren't you just waiting for this picture?
Maybe just a little bizarre?
The lonnng walk back to the car.
Sister Bodell and I were able to go with the Elders M and C to Sister Star's home again. This time they taught the lesson on the restoration of the Church. It was pretty impressive, even though we didn't understand a lot since it was in Malay, but we did understand the Spirit. I asked Elder M if I could share the story of how they came upon this family. He said I could. He typed it for me so this is the story in his own words.

     We only have a few main locations in our area, Rantau Panjang and Sentosa. One random day, Elder Hays and I decided we would try and bike past Sentosa to see if there was anywhere else we could possibly start some more work and find more people. 

     We had already passed Sentosa when we realized there wasn’t a lot of housing area, but we found more of the thick Sarawak jungle on both sides of the road. We had a feeling we should keep on biking. We biked about 20-30 mins past Sentosa when we hit a bridge and a turn off. We took the turn off to a place called Sungai Salim.

     We were amazed with the number of long houses in the area. We kept passing one after another. We weren’t sure who to talk to until a very energetic man came up to us. We talked to him for about 10 mins until a car approached us and stopped. We started talking to the woman that was in the car, and she agreed to show us her house and have us come back another time and share a message with her. Her name is Star.

     When we finally followed up with Star, she agreed to drive 45 minutes and meet us at the church in Sibu. We brought a member along and had a great lesson with her. She explained to us that she had a son named Jackie who had a failing kidney. She then explained that he was blind because of that problem. She asked if we would come to her house a few days later to give a blessing to him. We agreed. We gave her a tour of the church, and then separated.

     The following Sunday, she came to church in the morning. That was a miracle for us! At church, she met some of her relatives and friends that were members. That night, we had the senior couple, Elder and Sister Bodell, take us in their car to her house.  Brother Dagang and Sister Lucy, the relatives who she had met that day, also followed. All of Star’s family (including her husband) gathered together and we gave Jackie a priesthood blessing. Star then insisted that we eat her mass amount of food and her boiling hot Milo. Before we left their house, we scheduled another appointment.

     Elder and Sister Bodell, the following Thursday, were good enough to take my new companion, Elder Coloma and I out there again to meet with Star’s family. Before starting the lesson, a friend named Leah decided to join in the lesson along with Star, Jackie, and Erika. We shared with them the message of the Restoration. At first, the lesson was rough and the family was unfocused, but it changed. About half way through, both Elder Coloma and I listened to the spirit and shared the rest of our message. At the end, we both felt an impression to put the family on date for baptism for the 23rd of May. We did so and all four of them accepted without hesitation. 

     The cool part of this experience was hearing Star’s testimony and thoughts about us sharing our message with her. She was driving back home that first day we met her, and she saw us by the side of the road. She explained that she knew we were messengers from God and a light shined within us. She felt impressed to stop and talk to us. After we left, she took a minute and prayed for another meeting to happen with us because she had felt something.

     At that time, she had been looking for a Christian church that would help give her a  blessing to her ill son and also give her peace in her life from the situation with that. She didn’t feel right about the many churches she already investigated but she felt right about the comforting message we had for her. 

     I was in shock at the miracles and love that God gives to all his children. This experience strengthened my testimony of the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that God lives and through Jesus Christ, we can all return to Them. It’s through the great message that I share as a missionary that can do that for people.

It is such a joy and blessing to work with the young Elders. They are amazing. Their level of spirituality, their attention to the Spirit, to go who knows where or why and be blessed is truly a blessing to behold

More pictures of other activities during the week:

Alexson and Elder S.
Elder S went home this week, but before he did, he gave Alexson his bicycle on four conditions.
1. He would always lock it up and keep it safe.
2. He would use it to ride to church.
3. He would "follow" the Elders and help them.
4. He would continue his reading learning with Elder and Sister Bodell
Elder L, Alexson, and Elder S
Alexson's family - Family pictures had to be separate because Alexson had to go to work.
President Gara's family, Brother Alok and his wife, and the missionaries.
All the missionaries are gone except Elder Mix who is still here.
Elder J went to Bintulu, Elder D went to Kuching, Elder L went to JB.
Elders H and S are now back home.
Brother Gaadong and his family with Elder and Sister Bodell and Elder L
Sister and Elder Bodell with Elder W before he was transferred to Kuching
Can you see the bananas on the tree to the right?
These trees are growing in a garden planted by a local resident.
Happy 65th Birthday, Elder Mills!
Yes, Sister Bodell made and decorated the cake.
We had dinner at the Maple Leaf.
So, this week we said good-bye to Elders H and S who completed their missions in style and returned home. We also said good-bye to Elders L and W who were transferred to other areas. We said "Hello, and good to meet you," to Elders H and C. They will be a great addition to the district. We also welcomed back Elder V.

Elder P (District Leader), Cassidy, and Elder H, our new Elder from Down Under
Here are a couple of short videos of what happens when the youth and missionaries get going after seminary:

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

The Hokey Pokey -
Where everyone had a good time!

That is pretty much it for this week, except to say that it looks like we found a house for the Elders. It's big enough for the six Malay Elders and will be perfect when the next two leave the area. The house is in a good location, and the owner is willing to upgrade a few items that will be of great help. The house has been approved by Sister Mains, the mission president's wife, so we are moving forward.

It has been a good week, except for the transfers, but that the way of it. We have been blessed with good health and safe travel. I know our Father in Heaven has blessed us. There was more than once that we could have been in an accident. I am grateful for the prayers of family and friends. I know those prayers have been answered.

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