Sunday, November 29, 2015

Road Trip Continued, Thanksgiving, Branch Parties at the YMCA, Sunday

Well, it's about 9:00 Thanksgiving evening. We are both beat. It's been a long with the continuation of our S&I graduations and inservice. We finished up this morning out in Sibu Jaya with the seminary and institute teachers there, but I should back up a little bit first.

Before leaving Kuching on Monday, Sister Bodell wanted to see if she could find a turkey to bring back for  Thanksgiving dinner for the missionaries. We went to one place (Cold Storage) Monday morning and found out that the government had banned the import of turkeys into the country. Not sure why. However, the fellow that told us this said there might be a chance at another particular store. Sure enough she found her turkey. Apparently this store is affiliated with a store in Singapore, and what is shipped from that store to Malaysia is okay. We flew back to Sibu with a frozen, 5.4 kg turkey in my carry-on bag!

After arriving home we spent a couple of hours getting some needed laundry done for the rest of the week before making the two-hour drive to Mukah. We met up with President Lai, our boss, and President Boney, the Mukah branch president and Elder D and Elder M, the Elders in Mukah. We made our S&I presentation to President Boney and answered many of his questions and helped him understand his responsibilities.

Tuesday morning we attended district meeting with Elders D and M. Usually it's just the two of them so they were happy to have us there. Elder D gave a wonderful training. I took a picture of the white board after the training so I would remember it. I accidentally deleted it. Bummed! Later that afternoon we were able to meet with a family in Mukah and discuss seminary and institute with the youth and young adults in the family. They were very receptive to our being there. We were able to got to dinner with them that evening.

Sister Alice and her bevy of beautiful daughters, her son, and his fiancé
We drove back to Sibu Wednesday morning with President Lai. That evening we met with two families in Sibu Jaya to encourage their children to attend seminary. We got home about 9:00 and started Thanksgiving dinner preparations. We finally went to bed around 11:30 PM.

Sister Bodell got up early this morning and continued her preparations. I helped until it was time to pick up President Lai and return to Sibu Jaya to meet with the seminary and institute teachers there. That meeting went from 10:00 AM to almost noon. We returned to Sibu with the four missionaries from Sibu Jaya. I dropped them off at the home of Elder and Sister Mills and then dropped President Lai off at his hotel.

After getting home about 1:00 PM, I helped Sister Bodell finish up her preparation for dinner. We had to make a run to the store to find some cranberry sauce and a few other things. The dinner went off without a hitch. We started on time (4:00 PM) and ended on time (6:00 PM). With the help of the Mills, we fed 16 missionaries including the senior couples and two others. The dinner included the traditional turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole provide by the Mills, gravy, broccoli, cauliflower, lemon carrots, apple and yam casserole, raspberry/strawberry Jell-o, rolls (provided by Elder S), and apple, pumpkin, lemon cream, and blueberry cream pies, and ice cream (provided by Dylan). No one went away hungry. The Elders cleaned up and Elders A and S washed the dishes. Unfortunately, I was so tired that I didn't take many pictures. I had Elder Mills take one of me slicing the turkey, and I got one of Es A and S washing the dishes.

What do you call the person who carves the turkey on Thanksgiving?
That's an old joke that only some of my keyboarding students would understand
and maybe those to whom I've told that story. 
Elders A and S washing the dishes. Thank you so much!
I was not looking forward to that.
We got home about 6:30 PM, unloaded the car, and collapsed. We watched a movie and then I finished washing the dishes that we brought home and wrote on my blog. It's now time to go to bed. I will finish this later. G'night.

Friday was a good catch up day. It was also a good day to relax. We had to get some shopping done for Youth Conference and other stuff. In between I managed to get two naps, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. I didn't realize how tired I was. They both felt good.

There was a Branch One activity at the YMCA on Saturday. There was also a Branch Two youth activity at the YMCA as well. We were able to bounce back and forth. The chicken was pretty good. We also had fruit from one of the trees. It tasted a little like peaches, but it was much more tart! Here are a few photos and movies from the morning.

In the jungle at the YMCA
The gazebos at the YMCA
(Sorry, I couldn't resist the black and white shot.)
Preparing the grill
Main Course #1 - Ayam Wings
(Yes, ayam is Malay for chicken.)
Main Course #2 - Ikan
(Yes, ikan is Malay for fish.)
Packing the bamboo with ayam.

Sister Bodell and friends
If you look carefully you can see the fire behind the bamboo.
The chicken is cooking in the bamboo.
Elder Bodell and friends
Some of the members from Branch One
The trees have beautiful orange flowers at the top. 
It's striking to see the flowers at the top of the trees.
One last shot of the river that runs through the YMCA.
The youth had a good time playing in it.
Scene 1: Swimming in the river
Scene 2: Picking fruit from a tree
Scene 3: Throwing fruit from the top of the tree
Scene 4: Ping Pong Ball Battle

The youth and youth leaders of Branch Two
Love these people!
One last night at the Fruit Bowl for Dalin. He leaves Monday morning.
Dalin, Elders A, T, C, S, and Jackson
I was thinking Sunday might be a pretty normal Sunday. It started when I attended Branch Two branch council meeting. No one was in President Balley's office except his family. I love this family.

President Balley and his family
Dalin is leaving on a jet plane Monday morning. He'll be doing some traveling before returning home, but we won't be seeing him for awhile.

Jackson, Elder T, Elder A, Elder and Sister Bodell, Dalin 
Brother Gaadong, Jackson, Kelvinson, Ray, Allen, Dali, Perry, Brother Merang
What a Priesthood gathering!
Well, we've got Sister Julie and her family, Brother Gaadong and his family,
Brother Merang and his family, Elder and Sister Bodell,
Elder T, Elder A, Jackson, and Dalin.
We have been so blessed to have these people in our lives. What a blessing it is to be serving a mission here. I wish more senior couples would make the decision to serve, especially requesting the Singapore Mission. They are needed! 

It has not only a blessing for us, but we've been able to share our talents with them and help them to grow and develop their own talents. I am already starting to have withdrawal, and we still have three months left.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Service, Transfers, FHE, Seminary Road Trip, Christmas in the Air

You may recall that I had the opportunity to speak last Sunday. The topic was service in the Church. It turns out that our granddaughter, Lydia, gave a talk in Primary last week as well. Her topic? Service. Coincidence? I don't think so. This is not the first time this has happened. Her mother sent a copy. I shared it with our missionaries here, and I'd like to share it with you. I loved it!

Missionaries do service every day as they promise to serve the Lord for a year and a half or two years. My grandparents are serving a mission in the Singapore Mission. They live in Malaysia. Their part is to teach the people who have been baptized already how to do their church callings and also teach about seminary and institute. But they also help the younger missionaries a lot. Helping people is doing service.
They drive missionaries places, help teach lessons, help with baptisms, help set up video calling for special holidays. They help the primary with their primary program, or help give talks in Sacrament Meeting.
The young missionaries go over to wash cars for my grandparents. It isn't very cold over there. It is already Monday for them. Just this morning my grandparents said that after the cars were clean, the young missionaries wanted to serve some more so they asked them if they'd like to wash some windows.
Serving others makes us happy. I hope we can all find happiness in helping others. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday morning I picked up the missionaries who were coming over to wash the cars. The first thing Elder T said to me when he got in was, "Elder Bodell, I am slightly angry with you this morning." 

I thought, "What now?", but said "And why is that?"

"Every time we try and serve you and get caught up, you do something like picking us up to take us to your place to wash the cars. We just can't get caught up with our service for you!"

Of course we laughed, but as I thought about it I realized that it is the same thing with our Father in Heaven. The more we serve him, the more we are blessed. We are forever in His debt. We will never "catch up." Oh, how He loves us! I am so grateful to Him and to my Savior for everything they have done and continue to do for me.

I am grateful for the Gospel and to have living Prophets and Apostles to guide us and show us the way. They are prophets and apostles just like those in Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Not everything they said was popular, but that didn't change what the Lord's teachings. Amos 3:7 and Isaiah 55:8-9 are good examples to remember. Not everything the Prophets and Apostles say now is always popular, but that doesn't mean it's not from the Lord. I know President Monson speaks for Him.

Transfers were also announced on Monday. We will be losing Elder O, Elder J, and Elder P. We're a little bummed about it, but that's the way of it in the mission field. We lose and we gain, but the friendships will last forever.

Tuesday was pretty busy. I did some driving to get bike parts and bike boxes. We also had district meeting. Elder S, Sister Bodell, and I created a Jeopardy game with questions from the Book of Mormon, Preach My Gospel, General Conference, Teaching Skills, and Fun Facts. It was a lot of fun. The Elders seemed to enjoy it.

This is a picture of the Sibu District as of Tuesday. There will be three new faces tomorrow to replace the three that leave.

Back Row: Elders T, J, S, and S
Front Row: Elder P, Elder & Sister Bodell, Elder O 
Can you believe this is the same group?
We went to really nice place for lunch after district meeting to which we probably won't return. The food was delicious, but it didn't sit well with Sister Bodell nor me. It was not a fun afternoon.

Later that night we had dinner with the Chinese Elders at President Chua Huat's. His wife fixed a wonderful meal which sat much better with us than lunch did. After dinner we all went to the church for FHE with a few other members of the Chinese Branch. Sister Bodell gave a wonderful lesson on the Light of Christ, after which we played a couple of rounds of Jenga.

President Chua Huat carefully removing a piece. 
Charise carefully placing her piece on top
Wednesday was transport day; getting the Elders to the airport as well as picking up their replacements from the airport. Our little district now includes Elder A, and Elder C. There is a new greenie coming, but he's not here yet. He'll arrive tomorrow, but we won't be here. We start a road trip for Seminary and Institute graduations and inservices. Most of that report will come next week.

When is a handshake more than just a handshake? Good ol' Elder T! He gave me a very nice compliment last Sunday. I told him that he had to write it down so I could share in his words and not mine. He gave me his text today. To me it is very humbling analogy, but I still wanted to share. We love the Elders here. 

Shaking Elder Bodell's hand is like . . . well . . . 2 Nephi 1:15—
But behold, [Elder Bodell's hand] hath redeemed my soul from hell;
I have [held] his glory, and [my hand] is encircled about eternally,
in [the hand of Elder Bodell's] love.
Seminary Road Trip

We began our annual seminary graduation and inservice road trip this week. Our first start was Bintulu, then on to Kuching. Thursday evening while we were in Bintulu, I was informed that I was going to be a speaker at the Kuching seminary graduation on Saturday night. So, in addition to preparing for inservice, I needed to prepare some remarks for the graduation program. The first chance I had to even think about it was driving home from Bintulu Saturday morning. I received  inspiration and pulled it together in between the Kuching inservice and the graduation program. I think it went very well.

 Here are a couple of pictures of the students and teachers from Bintulu and Kuching.

The entrance to the Sungai Plan chapel in Bintulu
The chapel is in a shop lot in Sungai Plan.
The chapel interior
The seminary and institute student in the Bintulu District
The same group, but less serious
The students, teachers, and leaders in Kuching 
On a less serious note
Google made this animated version of pictures from pictures of the Kuching group.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Malaysia. Christmas decorations are popping up all over, but it's okay because they obviously don't celebrate Thanksgiving here.

Nine reindeer and Santa in a . . . 
 . . . boat? 
Yes, a boat. There's no use for a sleigh in Malaysia!
On Sunday we attended two Sacrament meetings in Kuching. One was Malay. The other was the Kuching International Branch – Mostly Chinese. It was the first time since we've been on our mission that we've heard the Sacrament prayers in English, actually the whole meeting was in English. It was wonderful to understand the entire meeting!

Next week we've got a little more S&I business to take care of and Thanksgiving. Not sure how that's all going to work out. I'm sure we'll find out. This has been a great week, but tiring. The Church is still, and always will be true.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ponderizing, Cleaning, Teaching, Eating, Building, Baptizing, Sunday

Here it is, Sunday morning already, and I haven't started my weekly blog. I feel badly when this happens because I usually forget something that I would like to share. I will try and do better between now and then.


I start this week with the scripture that I am ponderizing. (I have to say that my scripture ponderizing always takes more than a week. That's why there isn't a new one each week.) This scripture was share with last week when we were visiting Sister Doo and her family. We had a lovely visit. Sister Bodell gave the girls piano lessons while I visited with them about reading the scriptures everyday. Anyway, the scripture Sister Doo shared was Hebrews 13:1-2

Let brotherly love continue.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Have you ever stopped to think about that? She has entertained many angels in her home. She loves the missionary angels that brought her the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel has brought such a positive influence into their home and their family. She loves the member angels that are now best friends with her. Sister Doo, Brother Merang, and their family are amazing. We hope to be able to go to the Temple with them before we go home. 


Monday morning several of the missionaries came over to wash our cars again. After the cars they wanted to serve some more so we asked them if they'd like to wash some windows. We have been greatly blessed by the young Elders here. We love and appreciate them so much. 

Elders T, J, and S

Last Sunday Sister Bodell gave a lesson on the Good Samaritan in both Branch 1 and Branch 2. She told the story while the kids acted out the scenes. (Yes, there was some acting out as well.) The costumes were originally used for the Book of Mormon youth activity earlier this year.

Branch 1 Primary dressed to learn about the Good Samaritan

After lunch photo taken at the Noodle House on Tuesday. The Noodle House is a favorite of the missionaries, us included. The food is good and reasonably priced.

Someone got the memo for today's tie.
Elders T, P, and O

Sister Bodell conducted another Branch 2 Relief Society activity. This week the sisters requested "gingerbread" houses. We were fortunate to find some graham crackers this week. They are a rarity here in Sibu. We also found some other goodies with which to decorate. They don't have candy like we do back home, but we found some reasonable substitutes with which that the sisters were very happy.


The Branch 1 Elders had a nice baptismal service Saturday evening. Kayong anak Mensan and his wife,  Magdlyne anak Dida, were baptized. There was a goodly number of people in attendence. There was lots of support for this couple. They will be a great asset to the branch here.

Sister Magdlyne, Brother Kayong, and their family
The girls will probably be baptized next month

I attended Branch 2 branch council meeting at 9:30 AM as I usually do and asked their help and support to find ways to increase seminary attendance this coming year, along with a couple of other items. After I finished my business, the branch president announced that he hadn't asked anyone to speak today in Sacrament meeting. He then announced that the first speaker today would be Elder Bodell. He would be followed by Elder Thompson, one of the full-time missionaries. I'm sure we were both a little overcome with anxiety, but we graciously accepted. I asked to be excused so I could collect some thoughts on the topic he gave me, Service in the Church. I didn't have a lot of time since Sacrament meeting started at 11:00 AM.

Needless to say, I prayed hard for the Spirit to guide my thoughts so I would say something that was worthwhile and motivating. I was not let down. The Spirit guided my thoughts, and I was able to use a few, well-chosen scriptures and speak coherently.  Brother Jackson, a returned missionary, translated for me, but I did read the scriptures in Malay. The congregation seemed to understand what I was saying. President Balley and Brother Gaadong thanked me and told me that what I said was great. That made me feel good. Brother Gaadong told me that he would like me to speak every Sunday!

Choir practice was amazing as usual. Today Sister Doo directed most of it by herself. I only helped when we sang Silent Night in German and in English. I will definitely have to make a recording of this. It was beautiful to hear this song sung in Malay, German, and English. You can't imagine the Spirit that was there. It was very touching.

Sunday evening ended with a long noodle gathering at the home of one of the Chinese members. The Chinese have a tradition that when a baby is born, the family hosts a long noodle gathering at their home. They don't have baby showers here. Long noodles are served in soup, symbolizing long life to those eating. There was chicken and vegetables served with the noodles. Hard boiled eggs are also served symbolizing the love you have for the baby. It was a delicious, simple meal. This is a nice tradition, but it could get crazy. The family serves this meal several times to different groups of people . . . extended family, friends, and in tonight's case, the members of the Branch. We were honored to be included.

What a beautiful spread!
Sister Yong, Charise, Elders S and J
Albert (1st Counselor in the Chinese Branch Presidency) and Jayle
Sorry. I don't know the older gentleman's name.
Sister Chua and her husband, President Chua
President Chua is the Sibu District President
President Chua Huat, Chinese Branch President and Brother Seow

President Chua Huat's Girls
His wife Christene, daughters Charity, Marise, and Charise

The happy parents
Okay, I can't close without leaving you with one more picture of our little sweetheart Charity. Her mother fixed her hair with clip on ponytails. Such a cutey!

This week has been a real blessing for us. I have felt the hand of God in all we've done, especially with the assignment I had to speak in Sacrament meeting. I love the Lord. I know He is mindful of each one of us. He knows each of us by name. I know He lives and loves each of us. We just need to come to Him, and get to know Him better.