Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy New Year, Transfers, Happy Birthday, Traffic Signals, and My Testimony

Another year has come and gone! That's so hard to believe! The end of our mission is rapidly approaching as well. We have just two months left, and those months are going to keep us busy. The month of January has Zone Conference, District Conference, and a trip to the Manila Temple with a family. February will be clean, clean, clean! But enough of that. I'd better share a little about this week.

Transfers are always hard–some harder than others. This week Elder S was transferred to JB. We will miss him. He is always cheerful and positive. His trainings at district meeting were pertinent. JB is blessed to have him. He had been here five transfers so it was time for him to move on. We're happy that he has the opportunity to do so.

Elder S with Elder and Sister Bodell
It was Sister Bodell's birthday this week. We celebrated by going to lunch at a Korean restaurant that we hadn't ever been to call Maya. It was good, a little spicy, but still a good choice. We had lunch prepared at the table. It was quite a feast.

Welcome to the Maya Restaurant!
Start with fresh ingredients.
Keep covered unless stirring.
The finished product topped with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.
  The process . . . It was a good birthday meal!

The young Elders also prepared a little thank you for Sister Bodell for her birthday. They presented her with this lei. Each triangle had a thank you from each individual Elder.

A special thank you from the Elders
Later that evening we attended the Chinese Branch Family Home Evening. The Elders had the activity, but gave it to us. We played a couple of games: a string game where they had to separate from each other without undoing or removing the string and the Pass the Scissors game. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The refreshments were the highlight of the evening with a cake for Sister Bodell's birthday.

Aha! Someone figured it out!
Happy Birthday, Sister Bodell!
Make a wish!
Wednesday evening we took a little drive around town to look at some of the Christmas decorations. It's the first time we've been able to get out at night to look. It was a pleasant evening, and the lights were great. Here is our last look at a Sibu Christmas.

The Ta 'Ann Building 

This, and the following pictures were taken at the Gerbang Pintu Sibu.

Really nice Christmas decorations for a Muslim country, although, Sibu and Sarawak are mostly Christian. While we were walking a young man and his wife walked past and wished me a Merry Christmas. They were very pleasant and genuine and Muslim. The Muslim people that we've encountered have been very friendly, cheerful people, not like what we're reading about in the newspapers or seeing on TV.

We went to Brother Merang's and Sister Doo's place for a visit on New Year's Eve. Brother Gaadong and Sister Norlia and family were there, too. It's so nice to see these two families become such good friends, including the children. Both of these families are special to us. Sister Doo fixed us dinner, but everyone else had to wait until the New Year for their dinner. That's one of the traditions here. After we left they set off their fireworks.

And so the new year begins. The fireworks and firecrackers will continue now until the Chinese New Year in February, getting more and more frequent. Last year it was like living in a war zone. I'll try to capture more of the stars bursting in air as they happen.

It's been awhile since I've said anything about driving here in Sibu. I wanted to capture the traffic signals. Their not just in Sibu, but all over East Malaysia. Most of the traffic signals countdown so you'll know when the light is going to change. Sometimes it's like starting a race. Frequently there are drivers who jump the gun. There is also a countdown light letting you know the light will be turning red. There are always drivers accelerating to make it through before the light turns red.

Traffic Light Countdown

This week we also burned a couple of Primary Songs CDs for the two Malay branches. The CDs included all the accompaniments for the Primary songs in the Indonesian Primary Childrens Songbook. We fixed it so it's the same as the English CD with page numbers and titles, but all in Indo so they can find the songs quickly. We also made a CD with just the songs for the 2016 Primary program. The branches are good to go with music now when we leave. There is still no sign of replacements for us.

We received our wedding invitation for a Chinese wedding coming up next week. Both Sister Bodell and I are on the program. I'll talk about that next week, after the wedding.

Outside of invitation 
Inside of invitation

Did I mention that we're working with a combined choir from three branches for District Conference in January? We had a beautiful practice Sunday afternoon. I will definitely need to record their voices. I know it won't do justice to the Spirit which they bring.

I told these wonderful people that I hated them. They looked at me rather strangely, then I told them I hate them because I love them so much and they make me cry. They had a good laugh with that. They are such fun people. I have a good time with them.

I also bore my testimony today in Branch 2. I am so grateful that we have this opportunity to serve here. Yes, there are ups and downs when people here don't fulfill their callings the way they should, but then I realized they're still new to the gospel, still new to so many things. They don't always understand what happens or doesn't happen when they don't show up. You have to love them.

The Gospel is true! I know the Savior lives and we are helping to prepare the people here to live with Him again. I know the Joseph Smith is the Prophet of the Restoration of the the Gospel. Through him Christ restored the Church as it was when He established the Church. We have living prophets and apostles that lead the Church today. Through them, the Savior guides His Church. I am grateful for that knowledge. I am grateful for the Plan of Salvation. I know that if we live our lives the way we should, and repent as necessary, we can live with Him and our Father in Heaven again.

I know the Book of Mormon is true. I've finished reading it again. I don't know how many times I've read it. I know it's true. I've enjoyed it each time and my testimony has been strengthened each time I've read it.

My goal this year is to read the Old Testament. It's the seminary course of study this year. Even though we won't be affiliated with the seminary program for much longer, I wanted to challenge myself to read it with the youth. I plan on keeping contact with several of them. I want to be able to share my reading experiences with them.

May you all feel the Spirit as you read the scriptures daily.

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