Tuesday, February 17, 2015

 Here are the final pictures of our dear members in our two pot luck farewell dinners that we had.
On Sat. Feb. 14th, we gathered all our JB Branch members together to say goodbye.  This is our wonderful friend and R.S. President, Sis. Amy Kurup and her daughter, Meera and son, Jaden.
I held it together pretty well for the entire evening, until I said goodbye to Sis. Kurup.
 This is our sweet Nigerian friend, Bro. Weaweh in the JB Branch.  We helped Bro. Weaweh, over a year ago, to stay in Malaysia and not get deported back to Nigeria.  His wife stays in Singapore, while he stays in Malaysia.  Sis. Yogis is from India and just had their first son born there, named Gabriel.  She came over just to say goodbye to us.
 Just a few weeks ago, I got to baptize Kai.  He has been very close to us over the past few months and now, it was very difficult trying to say our farewells.  He will be a great asset to the JB Branch.
 The branch bought us a farewell cake, which is a tradition here in Malaysia.  We laughed when we saw that they spelled only part of our name.  They told us that the "en" was hidden under the pink flower.  It was a very kind gesture.
 The most difficult goodbye was to Sam and Bernie.  Sam has been a member since February, 2013 and has now become the E.Q. President.  He is a strong member of the church already and will become a great leader here in JB.  His father was killed in a car accident last March and, since then, has taken me on as his father.  We have been very close over this past year.  We are so proud of Sam and his lovely wife.  They are planning to go to the temple this summer to be sealed and trying to start up a family.  I will greatly miss them.
 This is our sweet, but crazy, Sis. Eunice and her husband, Jimmy.  Sis. Eunice comes over to our apartment every month to be home taught.  She asks us to provide breakfast for her and stays about 3 hours or so.  She is so fun to be around.  They are planning to come to Utah in a year or so and hope to stay with us.  She has been a wonderful Primary President for the branch and a good example to her non-member husband.
 Then, on Sunday evening, we gathered together all our Masai members and had another pot luck farewell.  This one was even more difficult.  Here is Sis. Sani (in pink), with her 3 daughters and a neighbor and close friend, Fauzina.  Patricia is on the end in red and she introduced the church to her family.  Mia, in the middle is very shy and Angela is in yellow.  This family was just baptized when we arrived in Malaysia two years ago.  We sure will miss them greatly.
 We couldn't leave our mission without saying goodbye to Pres. John and his lovely wife, Sis. Alan.  Here are 4 of their 5 daughters.  He was so hoping for a boy last December, but Sis. Alan gave birth to Joyee Juffi.  We promised Sis. Alan our 55 liter oven when we went home, so we dropped it off to here last week for her birthday.  We had to purchase another one for Elder & Sis. Benson, who would take our place.  We will greatly miss Pres. John and his amazing leadership for the Masai Branch.
 We just submitted this good brother to be a new counselor to Pres. John in the Branch Presidency.  Bro. Taha and Sis. Sira are very strong members and have a great family.  Brian is getting very tall, Viani came back from college to say goodbye to us and Esther on the end.  We have seen such wonderful growth in many of our good members in the Masai Branch and will miss these sweet, humble people.
 Here is Sis. Minang and Brother Jimmy, with their son, Petreus.  We were privileged to take this family, along with their son, Leonord, who is currently serving his mission here in the Singapore Mission, to the Manila Temple last December, 2013.  What an amazing experience for all of us.  Sis. Minang cried the hardest when she gave her testimony and spoke to us in her broken English.  It was very touching.
 We were also very blessed to take Pres. Joe with us to the temple with Sis. Minang and Bro. Jimmy.  Pres. Joe serves faithfully in the Branch Presidency and will now become their new E.Q. President soon.  We took a picture with him and his mom, but missed the opportunity to say goodbye to Sis. Venessa and Bro. Mike.  Sis. Venessa was my first baptism here in Malaysia almost 2 years ago.  They are still going strong.
Our final farewell picture is of Sis. Madline and her mother-in-law, Sis. Lungi.  I was also privileged to baptize Sis. Madline back in October of last year.  We had a nice pot luck dinner first, then Linda and I showed a power point slide presentation of all the pictures we had over the past two years and then I bore a brief testimony in Malay.  I got all choked up when I got to the part of how much we love our Savior and how much these people have meant to us.
We have "bertahan sampai akhir" (endured to the end), we have served these wonderful Saints of Malaysia, and have been greatly blessed over these past 2 years.  We have checked out at the mission office, have paid all our outstanding bills and cleaned up all our accounts, received our de-worming pills to take home, and just need a tuberculosis test and one shot when we get home.  We leave our hotel room at 4 am in the morning and then fly for 19 hours from Singapore to Tokyo to Seattle and finally into Salt Lake City at 4 pm tomorrow.  It will be so weird, but we look forward to American food again, and hot clean water, and driving on the other side of the road.  The homecoming, at the airport, will be just like when we all meet again in the celestial kingdom; a great big crying and hugging scene of welcome happiness. Can't wait.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

 On this past P-day, we visited a Chinese Temple and a Hindu Temple.  We took our 4 JB elders with us and had a fun time.  This Chinese Temple is just about a block from our Molek Pine Apartment Complex.  We drive by it often, but have never entered.  With the upcoming Chinese New Year, it is open to the public.  Notice the beautiful stone carved columns.  The red and yellow lanterns are everywhere in the city during the new year festivities.
 On the 2nd floor of the Chinese Temple, sits this very large statue of a Buddha.  This statue was about 12 feet high and quite big across.  The hand painting, on the blue wrap and the pants, was gorgeous.  It had just rained really hard and you could only enter the Chinese Temple with your shoes off.  To take this picture, I had to step into the puddles of rain and got both my socks wet.  It was a joy to put your wet feet back into your shoes.
 At the front entrance of the Chinese Temple was this huge wall of stone sculptures.  Each square was about 4 foot in width and length and had all sorts of various animals carved into them.  This one is carving of a dragon.  The one next to it was a carving of a tiger.  These carvings were on either side of the giant doors to the entrance.
 Here is our newest elder to the JB District, Elder Pierce.  He is standing in front of one of the shrines inside the temple.  There were shrines all over the place.  This one was in the front entrance and then there were more in each corner of the first floor and others on the 2nd floor.  In the top corner of the 2nd floor was a large section of tiny stone figures.  There must have been a few hundred, sitting in their own individual little compartment.  Each compartment was lit up and the elders told us they represented blessings to the people.
 In the center of the 1st floor was this display of dozens of smaller statues.  I don't know if they were available for purchase, but we watched this little old Chinese gentleman cleaning each little statue and keeping the place in perfect order.  He was arranging flowers to place around the temple.  The Chinese Temple was an amazing building.
 After the Chinese Temple, we went to visit a Hindu Temple in Plentong.  Here, Linda and I stood along side of one of the statues.  The entire complex was quite large to walk through and the caretakers explained to us that weddings and worship take place here each week.
 Here is another statue sitting in front of a pool of water.  Behind the statue was all sorts of pictures of children.  We don't know the significance of the pictures, but they were quite beautiful.  On each corner of this small pool was a statue of a crane with water spilling out of its mouth into the pool. 
 This was the best statue of the day.  This monkey faced statue was about 20 to 30 feet high and it was used for marriages.  The caretakers told us that this statue was for the groom to stand in front of and worship.  If he said the correct prayer, he would be granted fertility.  I don't see the connection between fertility and a monkey, but that's what we were told.  When we drive to Pres. John's home, we pass this statue all the time. 
 This statue was at the entrance of the Hindu Temple.  One man is in the center and the two little men on each side are holding up the horses.  Very beautifully painted.  The little box, with the yellow sign in front of the statue is for donations.
I put 5 ringgit in each box.  Above this statue was another one, all in gold.  It was a chariot pulled by 4 golden horses.  The whole thing was life size.  It was gorgeous.
Here is the lovely Hindu goddess, my sweetheart.  I went to a stand, next to the entrance of the Hindu Temple, where they sold these beautiful hand woven lei made out of chrysanthemums and roses.  It only cost 25 ringgit.  Linda put it on for the picture and then never wore it again.  It was quite heavy, but the lady who sold it to us asked Linda if she could have a picture of her in her store.  We enjoyed our fun P-day visiting temples.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

 Our very handsome Presly, standing behind his mom & dad.  Presly is our 2nd missionary that we helped prepare, going to Toronto, Canada mission today (Jan. 25th).  We had a farewell pot luck dinner for him this past Friday and it was quite the surprise to see his non-member parents come out.  They were so proud to take a picture with their son going on a mission.  Many of our Masai Branch members fellowshipped Presly's mom and dad very well.  We are proud of Presly and wish him the best on his mission.
 Now that our time is coming to a close, our members are inviting us out to eat with them for a last time.  We were invited to eat at the Seoul Garden Restaurant, with Jeff Lee and his wife, Cheryl.  Here is their little boy, Hyrum, chewing on a straw.  You can also see the beautiful Muslim ladies, sitting in the booth next to us, eating their lunch.  The place we ate at was quite popular, with every booth filled with people. 
It was a very large "buffet" meal, with a different twist to it.  You get your plates and go to the buffet section and take all the raw meats and vegetables you want.
Then you bring the raw food back to your booth and place the food either into the bowl of fish broth or on the side circular griddle.  There were all kinds of squid, octopus, fishes of all types and a few nice bowls of raw chicken.  We went right for the raw chicken.  You also bring back lettuce and cabbage, mushrooms, tomatoes, lotus root, crab, oysters and clams, and drop them into the broth to cook.  I really liked the fried tofu stuffed with some kind of meat and vegetables.  The only normal part of the meal, was some ice cream that you could scoop up in a bowl and eat.
It was a unique experience.  We went back only once to get more meat to cook, but our hosts went back about 3 or 4 more times.  Jeff Lee brought back noodles and more greens and mushrooms and all sorts of fishes to drop into the soup mix.  We just watched.  It was very kind of Jeff and Cheryl to take us out to eat.  We ate well and really enjoyed ourselves.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

 As surprising as it may sound, I actually was given the opportunity to baptize my 4th person here in Malaysia.  Senior couples usually don't baptize anyone, so this is quite a blessing.  And, to top it off, my second baptism done in Mandarin.  Here is Loh, Ri Kai, with Elder Lundahl-Wolford on the left and Elder Durrant on the right.  Kai has been investigating the church for the past few months and just couldn't make the decision to get baptized.  During a pot luck we had on Jan. 2nd, Kai came up to me and asked if I would baptize him and also asked if I could do it in Mandarin.  What a treat!
As I walk around our apartment complex each morning for exercise, I decided to stop and take pictures of all the beautiful flowers and trees.  This is called a "white spider lily" and they grown everywhere.  We are now coming into our spring time here and the monsoon rains have stopped.  We still have very windy days, but the temperature is rising and the days are very beautiful and very colorful.  There are all sorts of "birds of paradise" flowers in many colors, and lots of trees and bushes covered in orange and fushia colors.  I also managed to find a bush of "Chinese Hibiscus", which is the Malaysian National Flower.  It is always green and lush here, with many different types of palm trees, banana trees growing right on the road side, along with rambutan trees, coconut trees and lots of other fruit bearing trees.  We never knew, until you see them growing, that bananas grow curved up, not curved down.  Amazing fun fact!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

 Linda and I were invited out to a beautiful hotel buffet on Dec. 31st, to celebrate New Years.  It was like going out to Chuck-A-Rama, but with Malay food.  Just next to this amazing melon sculpture, they served marinated octopus.  Not so good!  I don't mind the crispy fried octopus, but the marinated raw stuff was a bit tough to get down.  This sculpture was at the end of the salad bar, with all sorts of salad items on one side and lots of lunch meats and cheeses on the other side.
Here is the picture of the cheeses and lunch meat bar.  Down further was rows and rows of metal covered hot dishes.  It was fun to read all the signs in front of each metal container.  You lifted up the lid and peeked inside to see if you wanted some.  At the very end was a chef, standing there and cutting from a very large turkey.  You would then drizzle hot cranberry sauce on top and for me, it only took 4 additional trips back to the turkey to really get full.  When you think you're all done, you travel around the dessert island and keep eating and eating.  We spent about 3 hours having a great time with Bro. & Sis. Kurup and their family.  Linda never made it to midnight, but I stayed up and then went to bed at 12:15.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

 This sweet little ten year old girl is our 21st baptism for the year 2014.  Our goal was to baptize 20 people from our two branches and we exceeded the goal by one.  We are thrilled with our wonderful elders that have worked so hard to meet the goal.  Her name is Debra Olivia Bettie anak Dutin Pawan.  The great part of this baptism is the one baptizing her.  He is Mike Alyster, who was baptized at the end of 2013 and is doing so well in the gospel.  He is a priest now and working toward being advanced in the Melchizedek Priesthood.  So proud of him!
 On Christmas afternoon, we were invited over to a birthday party.  This is the one year old birthday girl.  She was so cute and excited for everyone to be at her birthday party.  When Iban's have a birthday, everyone in the branch and every relative and neighbor is invited over.  There was a constant flow of people coming over for food and kek (cake).  The funny thing is there is no gift giving, just food and drink and fellowship. 
 This "barbie" kek brought back some really fond memories for us.  My dad was a baker for all his life and he use to make these same barbie cakes for our little girls when they had birthdays.  The only difference was my dad's icing was so delicious.  The icing, here in Malaysia, takes exactly like eating straight butter, or it is the "whipped cream" icing.  My favorite is the "buttercream" icing from the Macey's Food store in Spanish Fork.  Can't wait to have some again.
 After many, many months of practicing, we finally had our JB Branch Primary program on Sunday, Dec. 28th.  It was as good as any put on in America.  We had 5 little girls, all dressed in their white dresses and 5 boys in their white shirts, singing numerous Primary songs and each saying their parts in English.  It was very touching and very well done.  Sis. Eunice, the Primary President, did a great job.  Sis. Bernice, standing next to her is Sam's wife and a member of the Primary Presidency.  Lastly is Sis. Rachel, our 14 year old Primary teacher holding Hyrum.  She ran the music CD's and everyone did such a great job.  It was a beautiful program.

Friday, December 26, 2014

 Our beautiful Christmas ham.  This is a real Christmas miracle, here in Malaysia, to find anything made from a pig.  It is very forbidden in the Muslim culture, but we finally located one.  You can see the cost on the sticker.  A small ham, like this one, cost us $105.28.  It was so worth it.  We fed all 8 of our elders, we took some to the next dinner appointment and gave some away to one of our members who didn't have any food in his house.  We ate at 3 different homes and enjoyed our 2nd Christmas in Malaysia.
 The amazing Christmas Eve miracle was being able to baptize this young lady, standing next to me, in Mandarin.  I worked for about a month trying to memorize and pronounce the baptism prayer and did just fine.  Her name is Chan Yi Rin, and after stating her name, I began the prayer in Mandarin.  All the members, about 30 or so, just gasped and couldn't believe it.  So now, as our mission comes to a close soon, I have been blessed to baptize 2 Malay sisters and 1 Chinese sister, in their native language.
This is Sis. Rosita's Christmas tree.  She went outside and cut down some tree limbs and stuck them in a vase and then decorated them like a Christmas tree.  Whatever works.  The tree leaves were all dead, but she was so proud of her "make shift" Christmas tree.  There are no Christmas trees here, no Christmas lights, no Christmas music, no gift giving, or TV shows or even Christmas songs and programs at church.  You say Merry Christmas to people that we pass and they don't know what to say back.  We are very grateful to celebrate the birth of our Savior during this time of the year and also, very grateful that we don't need all the things that come with Christmas to still worship Him and remember Him every day of our lives.  We have a wonderful family and dear friends that warm our hearts during this beautiful time of the year.