Sunday, August 30, 2015

S&I Inservice Training and Travels

It will be good to be back in Sibu tomorrow. We have been in and out as we've traveled to various cities this week to participate in Seminary and Institute Inservice Training. Sister Bodell talked about inviting just one more student to seminary and institute and challenged the teachers to do so. She also challenged them to challenge their students to do likewise. I showed a video of a talk given by Elder Kim B. Cook of the Church's Quorum of Seventy. He is the new Church Commissioner of Education.  The talk was given at the annual August S&I Broadcast. After the video I had the teachers pair up and share what they learned from the talk. We then shared their thoughts with the class. If you'd like to watch the his talk of the entire broadcast. You can find it at

There was a lot taught in this broadcast! Our traveling training took us to Kuching, Mukah, Sibu Jaya, and Bintulu. We are still in Bintulu as I write this. We have been able to visit with several seminary students in their homes. I had the opportunity to give one young man a Priesthood blessing to help him school. His family are recent converts to the Church.

Transfers were also this week, but we haven't been back in Sibu long enough to meet the new missionaries there. We have met several new ones, however, in our travels this week. There are 21 new missionaries in the mission this week.

Here are some pictures from our travels this week:

Elder G and Elder L in Kuching. Elder G is holding a kuching.
Brother Beliang and family. They have a son on a mission in the Singapore Mission.
Brother Senen and family, a family committed to 100% attendance to seminary.

Some humble homes of the people in East Malaysia:

This housing is pretty typical wherever we go.

While in Kuching, we had dinner from a little stall called the Cat's Pyjamas.
The owner is an atheist who loves to watch General Conference.
We had dinner with the Sliders and the Hammers.
There are several stalls surrounding the open air seating.

Mukah: While in Mukah, we stayed at a "resort" hotel. Sounds good, but we've stayed at places much nicer. The grounds and view were outstanding. 

Some of the flowers of Borneo are beautiful! 
Sunset on the China Sea
The sun setting behind the trees 
Now that's a sunset!
This little critter was in the hotel lobby as we were leaving.
More Seminary Visits

Sister Bodell visiting with student and explaining the young lady can complete the assignments from home.
Her parents won't let her attend seminary at night.
Into the jungle in search for another student to visit.
The path was wet from a recent rain.
Emerging from the jungle this longhouse appeared where we found the student for whom we were looking.
I was able to give the young man a blessing.

After attending a seminary class and church Sunday morning in Bintulu, we returned back to our hotel. It rained and rained and rained.  After the rain stopped, we went out for a little walk around the hotel before it started to rain again. It looks like the forecast calls for rain most of the afternoon, evening, and tomorrow morning. I think we were blessed to get the pictures we did.

We were able to do a little swimming when we first arrived in Bintulu.
The pool area is beautiful. I could have stayed there all afternoon.  
A new birth from a coconut
The Park City Everly Hotel where we stayed in Bintulu
An island jungle across from the hotel
Viewing Point . . . Okay! I couldn't resist taking the picture.
Another shot of the hotel
And another shot of the pool area.
Monday morning we return to Sibu. It's Independence Day for Malaysia August 31. That's when they gained their independence from the British. Both branches we attend have activities planned tomorrow, but we will be traveling. I hope they don't get rained out. I suppose next week's blog might have something to say about that.

Our travels this week have brought us in contact with many wonderful and stalwart members of the Church. It's not easy being a member here. There are cultural differences that need to be overcome, a new church culture to learn. As I've said before, the members here are truly pioneers. Most of them are first generation Mormons. They are learning, as did the early Saints, line upon line, precept upon precept as they learn the Gospel. They have strong testimonies of the Church and are doing their best. I am grateful for them. I am grateful for my ancestors, some of whom were early pioneers. They are all great examples to me. My testimony is strengthened because of all of them. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's living church on the earth today. There are living prophets and apostles who guide us and show us the way back to live with our Father in Heaven and with our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ. I hope that we are able to make it and be together as families and friends.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Zone Meeting, Moving the Elders, Baptisms, Seminary Council

Even though our zone has diminished in physical size, the spirit is still very strong. If all goes well next transfer (next week), we should be up two more Elders. It will be interesting to see what happens.

The Sibu Zone
Elders P, S, Y, E, S, H B, and T
Elder & Sister Bodell, Elder & Sister Mills

Who says you can't have a little fun as a missionary?
I had the opportunity to go on exchanges Wednesday with Elder S. The rest of this week is pretty hectic so he and Elder Y needed some extra help. We got a lot accomplished.

Elder S has been reading the Book of Mormon aloud (and recording) as part of his language study. I've taken those recordings and started a collection to created a CD of Kitab Mormon to give to those investigators and members who can't read. I started this a few missionaries ago. We have a plan to also involve the seminary students here. We have already made a couple of CDs with what we have, and the recipients have been very grateful.

Elder S and I were also able to visit a couple of investigators and teach a lesson. One of the investigators is being baptized this week. More about that later. It was great to share in the teaching, whether in my stilted Malay or translated by Elder S. It was a blessing to be with him. He has a quiet way about him that readily brings the Spirit into homes.

The upcoming baptism is a combined Chinese/Malay speaking service. We ended up with the Chinese Elders joining Elder S and Sister Bodell and me to work up the programs for the baptismal service which is Friday night. That was interesting. We had each program on a separate computer. Elder S made the comment that it reminded him of the old monks translating the Bible. Good point! The only differences are these are young guys, no monk robes, and they've got computers to use.

Can you picture these three in brown cloaks hovering over their computers translating the Bible?
Elders S, E, and S translating the baptismal program into Chinese and Malay.

I feel like the week has gone by really fast, and I'm not quite sure how much we got done. The mission president and his wife were here Wednesday for interviews with the Elders and also Temple and Patriarchal Blessing interviews. It was like a comedy of errors trying to get that organized and people scheduled for interviews. It's not that we did much to help, just overseeing that it could all get done. The Elders managed to pull it off. Those who could be interviewed, were interviewed. The president will have to come back after the Temple Prep class and interview several more so they can, hopefully, go to the Temple in December.

Friday we helped the district move the two Sibu Jaya Elders to their new home. It's quite a nice place and definitely cleaner than the previous. We had six Elders, one and half senior couples, and two youth, Rolyn and Ostine, from Sibu Jaya who helped. Sister Bodell and I completed the house inventory so everyone knows what belongs to the Church and what belongs to the landlord/owner.

In the truck: President Clement, Elders E and Y
Standing: Elders P and S

It's a good thing this is not what it looks like.

Just one, large, heavy wardrobe.
Elder S, Elder P, Rolyn, and Elder S

Elder Y, President Clement, and Elder E
I liked the picture, but the lighting was bad!

We finished and got back to Sibu about 5:30 PM. That gave us time to get home, have some dinner, and get the programs printed for the baptism that night.

The baptismal service was wonderful. There were two Chinese girls baptized and a young Malay woman. President Chua Hut, the Chinese Branch president conducted the meeting in Chinese and Malay. That was amazing! His daughter, Mimi, translated the other talks from Malay to Chinese and from Chinese to Malay. It was an international baptism! There haven't been any Chinese baptisms for quite sometime so it was exciting to have these two young girls baptized. Their mom is already a member. Hopefully it won't be too long before their father joins them.

Elder S, Sister Bibi, her family, and Elder Y

Christy and Cindy,  their family, and Elder S & Elder E

Where's Boyd when I need him? I was sustained and set apart on Sunday as an assistant branch clerk in Branch 1. I will be helping Brother Juan with everything from membership to finance. The first thing I did was print out a list of eligible seminary and institute students. Brother Juan and I went through the list to see who's who. There are several who are married, moved, or for whom there is no information available. We have a lot of contacting to do to bring the lists up to date.

Another first occurred Sunday evening. Something I've been contemplating for awhile is creating a seminary council for the Sibu District. We had our first council meeting this evening. The good news is that the meeting went well; the district president called a president for the council, Rolyn, who accepted the calling. (He will do an excellent job!) The bad news is that we had four of the eight seminary students selected to be on the there. Of the other four, three haven't been called by the district president yet. The other has been called. He said he would be there, but he didn't come.

Purpose of our Seminary Council is to 1. Plan activities, 2. Help activate youth, 3. Help conversion to Gospel of Jesus Christ, 4. Prepare to serve a mission, and 5. Help organize Youth Conference. The time is right to start this council now. It will be a positive influence, not only in the lives of those who are on the council, but also in the lives of all the seminary students in the Sibu District. We are excited to move forward. The council has scheduled their next meeting for next Saturday.

One of the projects that we talked about this evening is having the seminary students record their reading of chapters in the Book of Mormon. We will burn these recordings to CD. We have several members and investigators that can't read. Thin the youth who participate. It will be an amazing service project! 

"But," you ask, "aren't there already recordings of the Book of Mormon?" The answer is yes, but not in Malay! This will be a great help to them. It will also help build stronger testimonies of the Book of Mormon in the youth who participate. It will be an amazing service project! I will keep you apprised of the progress of this project.

Next week will prove interesting. We should be getting two new Elders and a new zone leader. We'll find out on Monday. Sister Bodell and I will also be doing some S&I teacher training during the week while traveling outside of Sibu. There should be a goodly amount to report next week. Until then, remember to read the Book of Mormon each day. You will be surprised by what you learn. It is the Word of God. You will be blessed by reading it! Trust me. I know.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Transfers! FHE! Family History!

This has been a most interesting week for transfers. To start with, it's not even transfer week, but there are about 10 missionaries going home so they can start school soon. There are no new missionaries coming in for another two weeks . . . the normal transfer week.

Elders P (DL) and C (ZL) were two from our zone that went home. This left Elders S (ZL) and Y without companions. Elders S and Y are now companions for two weeks. The other ZL is Elder H in Mukah until he goes home in two weeks. Elder S (Chinese Elder) is now the DL here in Sibu. So we now have one Malay set of missionaries covering two Malay speaking branches for the next two weeks and one Chinese set caring for the Chinese branch. We are hoping that the next transfer will give us at least one more set of Malay speaking Elders. We really need them here.

Monday night we had FHE with members of Branch 1. It was also final good-bye to Elder C. He gave a great lesson on tithing. There were a few members at FHE who needed to hear what was said.

Members of the Branch 1 - Brother Alok's Family and Sister Mina

Brother Alok, Brother Steven, Elder S, and Sister Berbara

Today was Elder S's first district meeting. I really enjoyed his training. We had the usual role playing, and then he got into the training. He had us each draw a picture of one of our favorite scripture stories. After which we shared and had to guess first what story was depicted by our picture and then explain why the story meant something to us and how it relates to the lessons in Preach My Gospel. The discussions were meaningful as we related each story, its meaning, and how it related to lessons in Preach My Gospel. None of us had the same story. The stories included the the Jaredites crossing the ocean in their barges, the prodigal son, Joshua at the battle of Jericho, the three Nephites and their desires to serve, Christ blessing the little children in 3 Nephi, and King Benjamin preaching his final sermon. With a little modification, this would be a great activity for Family Home Evening.

After district meeting, the six of us went to lunch at a little open air place that's been recently discovered by the missionaries. The food is good and inexpensive. The Chinese food there is very good. No American or Western food served there at all.

Elder S enjoying his food. Elder S? I don't know how I caught that expression!

Elder S, Elder Y, Elder S, and Elder E
Elder and Sister Hammer, a senior couple from Kuching who are over Family History, arrived Thursday evening. Elder and Sister Mills picked them up and drove them directly to Sibu Jaya where they presented an introduction to Family History. The Mills drove the Hammers back to our place that night. The Hammers spent the night with us (Friday night, too). Friday evening they ran concurrent presentations in Sibu; one for the Chinese Branch, the other for the two Malay speaking branches. Another presentation was made Saturday afternoon in Malay before the Hammers took off for Mukah for the presentation on this tour. They will be back with us Monday before flying back to Kuching in the afternoon.

The presentations went very well. Over 50 people were introduced to the Family History program. Most of them got registered on so they could get started getting their parents and grandparents information recorded. They were all eager to start. Most of them have smart phones so they downloaded the two apps that the Church has for Family Search. We helped in the registration process.

In getting one sister registered, we discovered that the records had her grandfather still living. This couldn't be because they had had his temple work done. After researching we found that her grandfather had been entered twice. Once with the wrong birth date and still living; the other with the correct information from which the temple work had been done. We're in the process of deleting the "living" records since they are not correct..

We took the Hammers to the Chinese Tiger Temple. If you missed the photos before, here are some fresh ones.

The entrance to the tiger temple

Burning incense

I guess you call these guys TNMT . . . 

No, not teenage ninja mutant turtles. Don't be silly.

More like teenage ninja mutant tigers

This one's relaxing.

Nice kitty, kitty!

This guy looks like he just stubbed his toe!

This just found his prized marble!

Taking his pet cat out for a walk

These are temporary workers quarters. They're usually set up where construction is happening, such as the  buildings in the background. Can you see the rooster in the chicken coop in lower center of the picture?

It's been a pretty busy weekend. Sister Bodell spoke in Sacrament meeting in Branch 1. Yes, in Malay. She did a great job! Everyone was listening (That's a little unusual right there!). Here topic was based on Elder Nelson's conference talk on making the Sabbath a delight. She began her talk with a story (That's unusual here, too.). Her talk was well-received, and we had great attendance today, including some from Monday's Family Home Evening and several investigators.

A little later the Branch 1 president had me come into his office. I now have a calling in Branch 1. I'll keep it under wraps until I'm sustained next Sunday. Things could change between now and then. Unless things change between now and then I will be helping out on the computer.

A quick addition here . . . Our daughter, Amanda, was able to attend Elder Chang's homecoming on Sunday. Here are a few photos she shared with us this.

Our daughter, Amanda, granddaughter, Rylee, and Elder L

What a great group!

Elder Chang was born of goodly parents.

Typical missionary seating!

Definitely a hard habit to break!

It has been such a blessing to work with these young missionaries. They sacrifice so much to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with other people in strange lands with strange languages. They do it so well. They do it because they know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's organized church on the earth. We have a living prophet and apostles just as Christ did in His Church during his time. That church was taken from the earth when the ancient apostles were killed. It had to be restored. That was done through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Along with these wonderful missionaries, I add my testimony that I know that things are true. What a blessing it is to have a living prophet to guide us in these latter-days!