Sunday, September 27, 2015

Temple Trip, Weaving, Mid-Autumn/Mooncake Festival, FHE, & RS Baking

Are you bored yet? We're definitely not! There is always something happening each week. Some days are slower than others, but there is always something going on. This week is no exception.

Since we have so many new Elders in our district, Siew Yong, a member of the Chinese Branch offered his services to take the Elders to the Tiger Temple and a long house. This was our third trip to the temple so I didn't take a lot of pictures, but I do have one with the missionaries. Please excuse the informal dress wear. We were told the night before that we would all be wearing P-Day clothes because the Elders were going to play basketball afterward. They changed their minds Monday morning, but forgot to inform us.

Elders S, T, S, Y, O, Sister Bodell, Elder Bodell, Elder E
There is some apartment construction going on behind the temple. The workers live in makeshift dwellings while working on a project like this. When the project is done, they pack up their belongings and move on to another project. The Malaysian equivalent of migrant workers.

Nice looking apartments except for the workers' quarters in the foreground.
This has shot has some sort of fruit tree on the right. You can see the elongated fruit hanging from the top.
One of the residents of the long house weaving a new mat, such as the one on which she is sitting. 
An older lady working on a new mat. 
What's a trip to this long house without another, maybe better shot of the skulls?
I know I've talked about how poor many of the people are here. We were stopped at a light and saw this couple "fishing" in one of the many ditches/canals along side of the road. This is a very common occurrence here.

District meeting was on Tuesday. We were taught by Elder Y because our DL, Elder S and his companion, Elder E, had an appointment elsewhere. They did join us later for lunch at a fun place call Jack Pork, an usual place here in Sibu because the main dishes all contain some form of pork. The food was delicious. I know we'll be going back. I don't know how the young Elders find these places. We've been here a year, and this is the first we'd heard about it.

Lunch at Jack Pork. This reminded me of a very famous painting.
I thought about posing everyone to make it more authentic, but thought better of it.
Tuesday night was also the usual FHE with the Chinese Branch. This was a special evening. There were twice as many people there than usual however. After the lesson, instead of a game, we celebrated the Mid-Autumn/Mooncake Festival. This was done by writing wishes on small hot-air balloons and sending them into the sky. All of the district was able to attend and participate. Mooncakes? Don't ask. Some people love 'em. Some don't.

What blessing do I want?

Albert had to be very careful unfolding the tissue balloons.
Sister Bodell had to mend one. They are very fragile!

Is your blessing here?

So, we have to hold it just right to fill it with hot air . . . 

 . . . supplied by a very flat, but efficient candle.

Up, up, and away!

Elders, O, E, Suew Yong, Elders Y, J, and S

This activity reminded me a lot of the hot air balloon scene from Frozen, except there weren't as many balloons.

Friday night we went to FHE at President Gara's in Rantau Panjang. His and Brother Alok's families were there. The reason it's on Friday night is because two of his children are away at school during the week.

President Gara had a well-planned Keluarga Malam. I was very impressed with how smoothly it went. It was as good as any FHE I've seen in Utah. Opening song, opening prayer, lesson by Brother Alok and Sister Mina who shared scriptures. President Gara asked me to share my thoughts on the purpose of FHE and why it's important. (Thank goodness for Elder S who translated for me!) When I finished, President Gara said that he agreed with everything I had said.

President Gara had prepared two games for after the lesson. He had gone to the trouble of writing on little blocks, about the size of dominoes, short statements or activities pertaining to FHE. Each of us drew one from a box and had to read it or act out what it said. It was well-done. After this game we played again about faith. It was actually Jenga, and the one who knocked the tower over was without faith. We got down to where it was quite difficult. President Gara looked at me and said, "You first, then the Elders, then me." I looked at him and said, "You first, then the Elders, then me." He agreed. It was a little dicey for awhile as he took a block out; followed by Elder E. I'm thinking I may have made a mistake. Then Elder S took his final turn . . . . Fortunately for me, he didn't make it. Whew! Everyone had a good time with this game. My only regret is that I didn't get any pictures.

We finished with a closing song, closing prayer, and refreshments which turned out to be dinner which was delicious.

There is one more little anecdote that occurred this evening. The missionaries had ridden their bikes out to Rantau Panjang. We took them home with us. I had to put the bike rack on the car so we could pack up their bikes before leaving. I was having a little issue with adjusting the height of the bike hanger bar. The teeth wouldn't come apart so I could adjust it while it was on the car. I had to take it back off the car and work with it on the ground. I finally managed to shake the teeth apart so I could make the adjustments. President Gara called me MacGyver! You may recall awhile back we had a dead batter and he got us started. When asked where he learned how to fix things he told us from watching MacGyver.

Sister Bodell conducted a cooking class on Saturday for Branch 2. They wanted to learn how to make baked mac and cheese and pizza. The baked mac and cheese was modeled after the Cracker Barrel recipe for mac and cheese.

Sister Norlia, Sister Lydia, Sister Bodell, Sister Doo, Sister Sabie

Sister Doo said it was sedap.

Sister Sabie liked it, too.

Sister Lydia loved it.

Sister Norlia enjoyed it as well.

Barbercue Chicken Pizza

Cheese Pizza

Seminary and Institute we held Saturday night. We had time change for this week so I was a little worried about everyone showing up. They all showed up with a couple of extras, too. It was exciting to see that, especially since there were two investigators that came.

We have some extra seminary students who come who are technically too young to attend, but it's good for them to learn. A couple of them, including a daughter of the teacher, get a little talkative so I took a few minutes before the seminary lesson and gave a brief lesson on respect, what it is and why it's important for all the students and the teacher to show respect to each other by being attentive and not chatting away frivolously or playing on their handphones. The seminary teacher said they were pretty good this evening. I must remember to go back in and thank them next week for showing respect.

Sunday the Branch 2 Choir sang in Sacrament meeting. There are about 25 members, including missionaries, who sing in the choir. I think there were about five members left in the congregation when the choir got up to sing. It was kind of funny, but sad that there are not more more active members in the branch.

Sunday evening we with a set of young missionaries to present a recent convert discussion to Sister Rurin and her children. Her husband is off-shore for about three months working away from home. It was a good discussion and good food. (We had lots of good food today as we had the Elders over for dinner earlier.)

I am late getting this blog posted so I will quit now and get that done, and then start next week's blog.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

100 Posts, Zone Meeting, and Primary

100! This is my 100th post on this blog! I know that's more than one a week, but at the beginning there was always so much to share and remember.

There is sunshine in my heart today, as well as outside. A lot of the haze that has been hanging around has dissipated. We can actually see the sky again. This week the clouds were seeded, and we received some badly needed rain to help wash the air. It really helped. If you missed last week's blog, go back and look at the pictures I took directly of the sun. You'll see just how bad the haze was. It should be better from now on. President Chua told Sister Bodell that the winds change direction on the 20th of September. This will blow the remaining gunk away.

This has been an uneventful week. Not much going on, except for zone meeting on Tuesday. Elders S and R (the ZLs) did an excellent job discussing personal revelation and what we can do receive it. They also discussed ways to explain revelation to the investigators. It was a meaningful, well-received zone meeting.

Back Row: Sister & Elder Bodell, Elders T, Y, S, E, & B
Middle Row: Elders J, T, D, & P
Front Row: Elders S, O, and R
Elder & Sister Mills were in Hong Kong attending the Temple with a group from Branch 3.

What to do with a group like this?
Elders R and P referred to us as Mom and Dad. It's been awhile since any Elders have called us that.
It makes us feel good when we know we're loved by the Elders.

It was also Elder S's birthday this week so Sister Bodell prepared a cake which was served at our zone meeting.

Happy Birthday, Elder S!

We went with Elders S and O out to Sister Bintang's this week. Sister Bodell gave Jackie a piano lesson and the Elders taught a discussion. I helped install printer software on their laptop. We had an extra printer that we needed to dispose of.

Jacky, Sister Bodell, Elder Bodell, and Loren
(Installing software on a PC is a new adventure. It's so much simpler on a MAC!)
Sister Bodell is breathing easier today. Not just because of the cleaner air, but because Branch 1 had their Primary program today. The Primary did a really good job singing the songs, and the kids with speaking parts spoke clearly so they could be understood. The paparazzi was as prevalent as last week in Branch 2, but I still would liked to have gotten my camera out so that we could it share when we get home. There was a really good spirit in the meeting today.

The kids in Primary here are just like the ones at home. Some of them can get out of control, but when it comes to the program, they settle down and do their parts the way they should.

It doesn't matter where you go. We are all children of a loving Father in Heaven who wants us all to succeed and return to live with Him. I am grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the love He has for us to take upon Him our sins and sufferings. I recently read the book, The Infinite Atonement by Ted R. Callister. This book has really helped me understand the Atonement much better and how it affects me personally. I love my Savior and my Father in Heaven.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pterodactyl & Cicak Hunting, the Haze, Seminary Council, and Primary

This has been a great week. We've been able to get acquainted with the new Elders in our district. They are fresh from the MTC, and they are fantastic. They are doing so well and so willing to learn and participate. We are fortunate to have them serving here.

Tuesday was our usual district meeting. Elder S has been doing an outstanding job with his training. He also has a great sense of humor. Last week when he wrote the schedule for district meeting on the board he included Pterodactyl Hunting as a joke. This week outline included Talent Display by Elder Bodell. I asked him if that was similar to last week's Pterodactyl Hunting to which he responded, "Yes." That made me feel better.

As we proceeded through the agenda, we got to Announcements. I announced that as we were getting ready to leave for district meeting that morning, I discovered a live cicak (pronounced chee-chalk) in the car. (A cicak is a small Malaysian lizard.) I announced that the missionaries who rid the car of the cicak would be treated to breakfast at our house. The young Elders all got excited about this. The district leader added a cicak removal activity to the agenda.

The cicak was spotted several times darting around in the car, but, alas, it was never caught. It may have jumped out. It may still be in the car. Someday we may find it all shriveled up. The good news is that we had all the missionaries over the next day for lunch. They seem to enjoy homemade pizza and ice cream!

Elders T, O, Y, E, and S. The other Elder S was in Singapore attending MLC.

Apparently there is a lot of burning going on throughout Malaysia and Indonesia right now . . . preparing the land for new planting. This is taking a toll on the air quality. There hasn't been a lot of rain to wash the gunk from the air. We are looking forward to the rainy season. Hope it starts soon!

In the morning, looking to east outside our bedroom window. Yes, that's the sun!

Another shot of the sun, but later in the day facing west.
And that, my friend, is called haze. The only filter used on these pictures was the haze.  Yuck!

The good news is that it rained pretty good Friday morning, but the haze will come back. However, we were informed that the winds change September 20th, and the monsoon season starts. That's good news. At least the air might be easier to breathe!

Boyd, wherever you are right now, you would be proud of me. I attended two two-hour training sessions (two different branches) on how to use MLS and LCR Thursday night. I'm not sure exactly what was said, since it was all in Malay, but I did get a little out of the sessions. I may be able to help. Being an assistant branch clerk will be interesting. I did discover a way I could log on without moving my records. Tithing Settlement is coming quickly!

Saturday was our weekly seminary council meeting. We took the kids from Sibu out to Sibu Jaya this time. Rolyn conducted a great meeting and much was accomplished. Roseline had kept great notes so the agenda was up to date. These kids are amazing. I am so proud of each of them.

Ray, Rolyn, Jayle, Floshiallia, Charise, Roseline
The Chinese Elders came over Saturday morning. Elder E needed Sister Bodell's help with a sewing project. It seems that he had a ripped seam on a pair of pants. They also needed Sister Bodell's help in making some cookies for one of their investigators. The cookies were made, but the pants are still waiting for some time to get them stitched up. Sister Bodell is also working repairing a skirt for a sister missionary in Kuching who somehow managed to get her skirt mixed up with her bicycle chain. It was pretty mangled, and the sister missionary was going to toss it. However, Sister Bodell talked her into letting her take it to see what she could do to fix it. It's not finished yet. I'll have to take a picture when she's done. Saturday was also marked the year mark of our arrival to Sibu. It had been quite the year, and I know there is a lot more to come during the next six months before we return home.

Yes, missionaries can be domesticated, even when they've never made cookies in their lives.
The Branch 2 Primary program was Sunday morning. They did a great job! Even though there were only 10 of them, the singing was awesome! You could really feel the Spirit as they sang and gave their speaking parts. I was really touched when they sang I Am a Child of God. They sang it in English because that's what the kids requested. I wish I had recorded it, but those of us who know better, know we shouldn't record or photograph during Sacrament meeting. However, those who don't know better were using their smart phones to record the program. There were at least three of them being used.

Sunday afternoon we had choir practice with Branch 2. We're going to sing next week. We've also started learning some Christmas music. The District President would like a choir to sing during the Christmas holidays in one of the malls here. The other churches do it so he would like a nice Mormon  choir to sing as well.

That pretty much sums up the week.

I am grateful for the testimony I have of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that our Savior restored the Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I am know that we have living prophets and apostles today. I am looking forward to watching General Conference in just a few weeks to hear their counsel and guidance. I am grateful for that opportunity.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Independence Day, New Missionaries, and Happy Anniversary!

Before I start this week, there's a picture that I didn't have from last week that I need to post to remind me of the wonderful people here.

It is always a pleasure to visit and present inservice trainings in other areas. The members welcome us with open arms. Every city is like visiting family. We have made wonderful friends here.

After our S&I training in Bintulu, we went to dinner with the teachers and others.
L to R: Brother Gilani, Brother Junis, his daughter, President Jalil, Sister Dara,
Sister Magi, Elder W, Brother Azim, Sister Roebecca, President Lai, Elder H, Sister Bodell
Bidding the Park City Everly Hotel (see last week) adieu, we headed back for Sibu. We made one stop at the YMCA to pick up Elders S and O from the Branch 1 Independence Day activity. 

The YMCA is where we had youth conference last December. If you missed the pictures of the YMCA from last December, you'll need to check them out. It's surrounded by jungle!

Here are a few pictures from the activity.

Sister Berbara and Petersen

Brother Steven

Is this a great place for a barbecue or not?
Chicken on the barbie, Iban style

Elder O, Elder S, and President Gara (Gotta love his shirt!)
Visiting family is wonderful, but it's always nice to get back to your own home and relax. It's nice not living out of a suitcase, too.

Tuesday night is becoming a habit of attending the Chinese Branch FHE. More family! This week was no exception. The lesson was good. The game was a lot of fun! It was called The Seven Second Challenge. We had two teams; one at a time we would draw an slip of paper from a bag with challenge that we had to complete in seven seconds or less. The challenges included things like name five automobile brands, name five things missionaries can't do, read a complete sentence from a book, and so on. It became pretty challenging

The branch president's daughter is a real cutey. Her name is Charity, and Charity never faileth to provide humor or entertainment. Tonight was no exception. Can you read her name tag? It belongs to Sister Bodell. She put it on and paraded around the room. She is really a cutie!

Charity never faileth . . . 

Tuesday evening we went with Elders S and O to visit Sister Bintang and Brother Gorka and family. The Elders reviewed the recent convert lessons on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sister Bodell gave Jacky and Loren each a piano lesson while we were there, too. As usual, Sister Bintang prepared a lovely meal. I don't think we've ever had the same thing twice when we've been there.

There are no better people than these folks!

This week commemorates our one-year anniversary as well as Elder S's one-year anniversary. This called for a little celebration. It's been awhile since we've been to Anson's for dinner. Good food, food friends.

Anson's is a favorite missionary dining experience!

Elders E, S, O, S, T, Y and Sister Bodell
Where did this week disappear? It's Sunday evening already. Today has been pretty amazing! The Branch 2 choir is still going strong. Two weeks from today the choir will sing in Sacrament meeting A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief in Indo, in parts, with a narration in the middle. They have such a beautiful spirit. We started Christmas today in choir practice. We started learning the parts for the chorus of Angels We have Heard on High. This is going to take some work, but I have faith they can do it. We finish choir practice each week by me selecting a couple of people to pick their favorite hymn and having them conduct the choir. I'm trying to teach them how to conduct a choir so when we leave they can continue to have a choir.

This evening we had our second seminary council meeting. We had five of the eight kids there. A couple still need to be called. Two weeks ago we asked one of the young men to be the president of the council. It's our intent, again, to be shadow leaders to help them learn how to conduct, plan, and prepare. The president came this evening with a printed agenda and conducted the meeting very professionally. We were so impressed. Here's a 17 year old that has never done anything like this before. Totally impressive. He told us two weeks ago that he was very nervous about accepting this assignment, but knew that the Holy Ghost would help him as he prayed and prepared. He was so right! His faith is astounding. He is planning on turning his missionary papers in December and wants to be on his way by March 28, his 18th birthday. He will be an amazing missionary!

We are "house" shopping for a house for a set of Elders. We found a nice one, but it's pretty large. However, it has been approved by the mission president's wife. We are going to look at one more on Monday, but it's pretty far out. It would be quite the bike ride everyday. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

That pretty much sums up the week. We are impressed with the new Elders in Sibu, both fresh from the MTC in Provo. Both are energetic and want to learn and work hard. They both have firm testimonies of the Gospel. We love them already! We look forward to working with them!