Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bug, FHE, Fish Lips, and More . . .

Well, I'm not sure this week will be more picturesque than last week, but there are more pictures this week.

With the downsizing of the missionary force, it has become necessary to close missionary apartments. This may or may not be a bad thing, but sometimes the landlords can be a bit of hassle. We're in the process of closing an apartment now. The landlady/owner is not easy to deal with. One, she only speaks Chinese, and two, she's not at all accommodating. I won't go into any details on that.

What I wanted to show you was a large beetle that was on the landing at the apartment one day when we were there. My foot is large so you can see the bug is huge! This is one of many different kinds of insects here.

It's almost big enough for dinner!
Monday night we attended FHE at Brother Merang's home, along with Elders P and Y, Brother Kong, his wife, and his son, David, Brother Gaadong and his family, and Sister Julie and her family. The missionaries taught the lesson and afterward we had dinner. Lots of food, fun, and family . . .

This is one of the best spreads we've been privileged to enjoy!

Brother Gaadong

Elder Y "kissing up" to a fish before he eats it.
I've been hoping to get a photo of more than three on a moto. Success! Sister Julie and her family came to FHE on their moto. Her oldest daughter is the driver. This happens all over Sibu.

A very happy family of recent converts.

This month is Ramadan, the month of fasting for the Muslim faith. Faithful Muslims fast from sun up to sundown everyday during the month. The main holiday is called Hari Raya. This is pretty much the last day of the celebration. There are decorations all over, much like Christmas. This is just one of the many that we saw.

We recently attended a Branch function where there was a lot of food. Nothing unusual. Sister Bodell got into it, though. By the time we went through the line there were not eating utensils. Sister Bodell made do like many of the others.

Eating with "personal" eating utensils
We have to chuckle sometimes during our weekly district meetings. Elder P, our DL, works role-playing into each meeting for the missionaries to improve their teaching skills. I had to laugh this week as Elders P and Y role-played with their "investigators."

Elders Y and P role-playing with their "investigators"
It seems like its been a busy week. Next week looks like it will be busy, too. The missionaries have several baptisms coming up in August. We need to prepare Books of Remembrance for each of them. Right now we're looking at 10 baptisms. We also help prepare the program for the service as well. There are seven baptisms this next weekend. I know next weekend will be busy!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Transfers and a Road Trip

This week has been a bit of a let down compared to last week. There was so much to report last week with our trip to KL and our outstanding District Conference. This week started with a big let down. It was hard, even though we knew it was coming.

Transfers! They can be such hard time! The missionary force is downsizing. The influx from the age change has died down so there are now fewer missionaries coming into the field. We're down another set of Elders in Sibu and another in Sibu Jaya. This week we had to say good-bye to Elders Chang, Horsburgh, Mix, Clark, and Oldham. We wish them well in their new areas, but they will be missed. The branches had a party Tuesday evening to say good-bye to them. They each had to share their testimonies. Afterward there was a dinner provided by the members.

Wednesday was the big moving day. We made three trips to the airport to either drop off or pick up new Elders. Our new Elders are Elders Eggertsen and Stenquist.

Thursday we drove to Miri with a Toyota Altius (sedan) and returned Friday with a Toyota Innova (van). It's a long, six-hour drive one way. We had an Altius before we got our Innova. My legs prefer the Innova. When we arrived at the hotel in Miri I could barely walk! It was not fun! I had to walk around the car several times to loosen up my right knee while Sister Bodell was checking us into the hotel. Yes, the gas mileage is much better than the Innova, but my knees prefer the Innova.

We didn't get to see much in Miri while we were there. It was just up and back. We did get to a store call Ta Kiong. It's much larger than the one we have here in Sibu (No surprise there!) Sister Bodell was able to stock up on some much wanted supplies. Ta Kiong is known for its imported foods. It's nice to have a little taste of home now and then.

We were both tired when we returned Friday evening. We thought we'd be ready to go for Saturday, but our energy didn't return until Sunday morning. We both felt much better and had more energy. Life is good, and we are back to normal.

I'm sorry there are no pictures to post this week. It's just been one of those busy weeks such that that hasn't happened. Maybe next week will be more picturesque.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Kuala Lumpur and District Conference

We left zone meeting early on Tuesday to catch our flight to Kuala Lumpur (KL). The reason for this trip was for a root canal on Wednesday. How fun can this be? The trip was very worthwhile.

We stayed with another the senior couple, the Hadleys, in their beautiful 25th floor apartment. The Hadleys are Public Affairs missionaries. They are involved with many different public affairs events throughout the mission. This week was no exception. We were privileged to attend a David Glen Hatch concert Tuesday evening, after having dinner with the Hadleys and our President and Sister Simmons, the new mission president and his wife (Wonderful people!).

The concert included Dr. Hatch and five of his protégés. What talent they all have, especially when some of them have only been playing for four years! I didn't take any video of the concert. I wish I had. It was fantastic! The next night we attended a fireside with Dr. Hatch and his protéges. This was held in the KL chapel. The fireside was just as exciting as the concert. It was definitely more spiritual as the piano numbers were intertwined with spiritual thoughts. A truly memorable evening.

This is the KL Chapel. Someone told us that it was once the Spanish Embassy
offices in KL. That would explain the architecture.

This cute little family wanted to have their picture taken with us. They are members of the Church who were there for the concert.

The daughter in the middle on the front row just had to have a photo of us with the family.

I need to back up and talk about the root canal for a brief moment. I was really quite nervous about having this done, but it all went smoothly and there was no pain whatsoever. I was truly blessed. I had the root canal done on Wednesday, the day of the fireside. I was picturing myself lying in a bed with pain killers. Neither! Plenty of energy and no pain!

This is Dr. Mong and staff. I told him I'd like to take him back to Utah with us.
No pain whatsoever! He did an excellent job!

Right next door to the dentist's office was a wonderful little restaurant called SOULed OUT. They make the best kiwi smoothie! That's what I had for lunch following the root canal.

We'll go here again if we ever make it back to KL.
Here are some more sights from our brief stay in KL . . .

Floral offerings for the Chinese gods. There was an entire block where these were made and sold.
The block smelled heavenly!

A fabric shop where saris are made to order. Sister Bodell did have one made.
You may have to wait until we get home to see it.

The National Textile Museum

Sister Bodell with a group of mostly women in traditional costumes

Elder Bodell with men and women in traditional costume

Petaling Street - an open air street market

Kuala Lumpur Skyline with colored fountains

The Twin Towers (Petronis) Towers of KL

The Pink Mosque

The dome inside the Pink Mosque

Sister Bodell and Sister Hadley inside the Pink Mosque

Women had to be covered modestly to enter the mosque, hence the robes.
Putra means "son".)

Governmental Building

The same governmental building and the Pink Mosque

Preview of light and water show

Clip from light and water show with music

As you can see, there is lots to see and do in KL. It is the capital of Malaysia. There a lot more photos on my computer. What do I do with all of them?

The weekend was something we will never forget! We had District Conference with a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, Elder Wong, Area Seventy, Elder Kuan, and our new mission president and his wife, President and Sister Simmons.We had the privilege of driving them to and from their hotel for conference sessions and visiting a couple of member families with Elder Wong and President and Sister Simmons.

Elder Wong is a delight to be with! He radiates the Spirit of God and has a tremendous sense of humor as well. He is a master teacher as demonstrated in District Conference. Just to be in his presence was special.

While we were visiting President Gara and his family, Elder Wong, prompted by the Spirit, promised President Gara that if he would remain faithful to the Gospel and keep the covenants he makes in the Temple that his family would never be in want. This was quite a promise as President Gara is out of work at this time. Truly inspired! The Spirit was wonderful!

Augustine, Hendry Moss, Willington, Brayun, Olivia
Monica, Sister Mina, Sister Simmons, Elder Bodell, Sister Bodell
Elder Wong, President Gara, President Chua (District President), President Simmons
There were two sessions of District Conference on Saturday. The 4:00 PM session was for Branch Councils. The second at 7:00 PM was the usual adult session. I directed a combined Sibu Branch 2 and Sibu Jaya Branch choir. Elder Wong was very pleased with the choir, as was President Chua. After the Saturday evening session, as we were heading back to the hotel, Elder Wong offered to get ice cream if we could find a place. It was 9:30. Most places were closed, but we found the McDonald's soft serve ice cream at the Wisma Sayan Mall still open.

President and Sister Simmons, Sister and Elder Bodell, Elder Wong, Elder Kuan

The usual general session of conference was held Sunday morning at 10:00 AM. I directed the Branch 2 choir in three numbers. Here is a brief clip of our prelude number. Sister Simmons graciously offered to video our warm up.

After the Sunday session, Elders Wong and Kuan had to catch a plane and President Simmons had interviews to conduct. After everything settled down, President and Sister Simmons, Elder and Sister Mills, and the APs joined us at our house for a home cooked meal prepared by Sister Bodell. President Simmons and the APs worked on transfers for the coming week . . . always heart-wrenching for us. This week is no exception, but that's next week's blog. I will wait until then to report on transfers.

Sister Bodell, Sister Simmons, Sister Mills
Elder Bodell, President Simmons, Elder Mills

I am grateful for this weekend. It has been spiritually rewarding. I am grateful that I have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it is taught in its fulness in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that we have a living prophet to guide us today. I know he receives revelation from Christ to lead His Church. This weekend has strengthened my testimony.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Surprise Request, Working with the Young Elders, "S" Day, A Beautiful Baptism

Does this look familiar? 

Dengan kuasa daripada Yesus Kristus, aku membaptis kamu dalam nama Bapa, dan Putera, dan Roh Kudus. Amin. 

Wednesday was a very good night. We went with a set of missionaries to a family that is going to be baptized this Saturday. We've been able to go several times to this family while the Elders teach. The lessons are all in Malay so we don't understand everything that is said, but we do feel the Spirit and sometimes we bare our testimonies in Malay. Tonight the husband and wife requested that Bapa (Malay for Father) baptize them. That would be me! I need to learn how to say the baptismal prayer in Malay by Saturday afternoon. Yes, the beginning of this blog is the baptismal prayer in Malay.

After visiting with this family, we went with another set of Elders to visit a member family. A son is going back to school tomorrow in Kuching. His mother wanted him to have a blessing before he went. I had the privilege of being able to give that blessing. I knew it wasn't me giving the blessing. My speaking voice is different than the one I heard give the blessing. I was very blessed this evening to feel the Spirit and receive direction.

Thursday afternoon we went with another set of Elders to a discussion with one of their investigators. The lesson was on the Plan of Salvation. We were able to bare our testimonies once again about the love our Father in Heaven has for His children. It is indeed a blessing to serve a mission as a senior couple. I wish more of our friends would make the decision to go on missions. They don't know what they're missing!

My experiment in gardening did not do well, but if you leave well enough alone things can change. We have volunteer tomato plants coming up. I wonder how they will do in the heat and humidity here. We also had a "little" surprise in the backyard. We don't make it out there regularly, but this week we needed to empty some old water storage bottles. Some missionaries were helping us with this. While emptying the bottles, I discovered this little pineapple growing. It was actually drooping and looked really ripe so I picked it. It's only about four inches tall, but it looks good. We haven't had time to cut into.

We didn't know we had a pineapple plant in the backyard.

This week culminated with two awesome events. The first was "S" Day for the seminary students from Sibu and Sibu Jaya. The event was produced by the young missionaries of the Sibu District, under the direction of our District Leader, Elder P. These young men portrayed several stories from the Book of Mormon. They involved the youth as well, having them portray characters in the stories. The stories included Nephi and his brothers obtaining the Brass Plates from Laban, Nephi building the ship to sail to their new world, the Prophet Abinadi, King Benjamin, The sons of Mosiah (including Ammon guarding King Lamoni's sheep and his "disarming" personality), and the coming of Christ to America. The youth really got into the stories and the activities that went along with it.

Here are just a few photos from the day:

The Sibu District on"S" Day
Back Row: Elder C, Elder H
Middle Row: Elder P, Elder J, Elder M, Elder S, Elder C
Front Row: Elder O, Elder C, Elder W, Elder C, Elder B

Ammon defending King Lamoni's flock

The Nephites (the Youth) "warring" with the Lamanites (the Missionaries)
The Nephites won!

Christ appearing to the people in the Book of Mormon

A perfect ending to the day was the baptism of Brother Gorka, Sister Bintang (Star), and two of their children. I had the privilege to baptize Brother Gorka and Sister Star. It was a beautiful service. They each bore their testimony after they were baptized. Such a beautiful Spirit was there. Tears flowed freely, especially when Jacky bore his testimony. He's 29 and has had diabetes since he was 16. This disease has cause many physical ailments including blindness and kidney failure, but that hasn't stopped him from learning and appreciating the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He also wants to learn how to play the piano. Sister Bodell has accepted the challenge to teach him.

Sunday the family was confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had the privilege of confirming Brother Gorka. I am grateful for the Priesthood and the opportunity to use it to serve others. I know the Priesthood is the power and authority to act in behalf of our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know the Priesthood has been restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I am grateful that I can trace my Priesthood Line of Authority back to Jesus Christ. I am grateful that I know the Church is true.

Elder Bodell, Lorain, Sister Star, Brother Gorka, Jacky, Elder M, Elder C

This was a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend! Being here in Sibu has helped us appreciate the United States much more. Even though there are problems in the US, it could be a lot worse. So, happy Fourth of July to all of you! We appreciate what it means, and appreciate those who have fought for those ideals since our independence from England. May God bless America!

Happy Fourth of July!