Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cloud with a silver lining

We came out of the hospital one afternoon and saw this cloud.  With trials of life, there is hope. Trials are part of our earthly experience but our Father in Heaven knows us and loves us.  During hardships there are tender mercies from our Father in Heaven.  There are rays of hope and life does not end at death.


This is Sylvester and his parents Sylvester has cancer.  We have been visiting him for over a month.  The general hospital in Kuching serves all of Sarawak (state).  This cancer ward has about 40 beds.  The parents have come from their village (about 8-9 hours away) and stay with Sylvester.  They sleep on the floor beside his bed.  The mother is blind and the father is lame with a foot infection that has left an open sore that has not healed.  We bring food to the parents to ease the expense of their stay.  Elder Boyter has taken the father to get supplies for his son when the hospital ran out.  Sylvester has colon cancer.  While Sylvester was there the hospital moved him to a private room off of the ward.  The room is about 7 feet by 8 feet, more like a closet. Language is difficult.  The mother only speaks Iban.  Fortunately Sylvester speakers a little English.  Before the nurse kicked us out we found out from Sylvester that he had a lung problem.  We surmised that he probably had pneumonia.  Later after the nurses put on the door a sign saying "No visitors" in English.  We found out he had bacterial pneumonia.  We continued to bring food sharing the responsibilities with another senior couple.  Sylvester has gotten over his pneumonia and has finished a round of chemo.  Today he will be flying home.  Sylvester is 27 years old.  The doctors have told Sylvester that he has lots of problems.  He is a sweet sensitive young man.  My heart breaks for him and his parents.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Chinese Cementary

Very interesting and beautiful monuments to their ancestors.

To Market to Market

Any one for "Carry Out"  Here are chickens ready for purchase.  Very ingenious!   Even a handle for easy carry.

Young Single Adults Family Home Evening

The young single adults are amazing in this district.  There is such leadership depth and potential.  But the few are carrying the load of the many.  Many of these young people have 3-4 callings (major callings) besides work and school.  Our hope is to get more youth active, get them involved in callings and get them trained to be leaders.  They are wonderful!

We had a Family Home Evening at our apartment.  There was over 25 young single adults here.  We have been told there are over 70 more in the district.  Transportation is difficult for many.  We are going after them and see how we can help them come out.  Elder Boyter gave a beautiful lesson on Becoming Spiritual Self Reliant.  I provide the food and the youth had a great time.

Father Day at the Beach

While we were with the Samarahan Branch at the beach we had a wonderful BBQ and many of their traditional dishes.  Then a father's day cake was produced.  It was great fun.  They gathered many of the men and had them cut it.  One of the brothers in charged took a slice of the cake and had Elder Boyter take a bite from the cutting tool like a bride and groom does at a wedding.  Then had each of the men take a bite from the same piece of cake.  Elder Boyter was glad he had the first bite.

Before the meal and cake cutting the branch leadership called everyone together for a testimony meeting.  We had many less active members there.  It was very touching.  A very nice combination of fun, spiritual and good food.  The next day at church many of them came out.  We just need to keep them coming.  The mission is now spending half their time reactivating the less active and the other half of their time teaching converts.

Samarahan Branch Beach Party

On Father's Day weekend the Samarahan Branch had a beach party.  We met at the shop lot where the branch holds its meetings.  They chartered a bus to haul everyone.  Many of the branch members do not have the funds or vehicles, so this provided a way for all to come.  Here are some of the youth with Elder Giblett.  The elders were great.  It was very hot and humid and they only waded in the ocean.

It took over 2 hours to drive to the beach.  We took our own car because we had visits scheduled with missionaries in another branch for the early evening.   The bus driver drove very fast through traffic and we were trying to follow it.  The bright lemon color of the bus helped us keep track of it.  It was fun.  Everyone on the bus would wave out the window at us.  The bus would crawl up the hills then make up time the rest of the time.  Our little Proton would catch up on the hills and then race to keep up the rest of the time.  As soon as the bus stopped everyone ran to the beach and played in the water to cool off.  The men started cooking their amazing BBQ dishes.

This little girl with her grandmother was so cute.  She would jump in the water, squeal when the waves came in and then sit down in the surf.  Then she was back up repeating the process never going very far from her beloved grandmother.

We walked up the beach.  Elder Boyter found a hat in our apartment to protect his bald head.  It is not as flattering as his cowboy hat.  Malaysia is a very beautiful country but there is garbage everywhere.  It is sad to see the littering, garbage and how run down everything is.  But we had a wonderful day with the Samarahan Branch.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Heritage House Traditional Dyak Dining Room

Here we are at the Heritage House waiting for our meal.  The owner was kind enough to show the group around the Heritage House and share it's history.  There were artifacts and new items from the different tribes.  He also opened up the back of the shop where there were different kinds of weaving going on.  The weavers were gone for the day but the looms were there with the different fabrics on them.

The man  in the middle is  Odgerel Ochirja.  He is from Mongolia and knows Bonnie and Dale Romrell.  He is the first Stake President in Mongolia.  The Romrells went to Mongolia on one of their missions.  There is mutual respect between the Romrells and Odgerel .  He was great.  He was very large with his hand gestures.  He was decisive in his opinions and spoke his mind.  When he left he gave Elder Boyter a big hug and Elder Boyter felt like he was hugged by a bear.  Odgerel told us about the hard winters in Mongolia.  It is very cold and they burn raw coal which makes the winter air very hard to breathe.  Many senior couples struggles health wise with the winters.  He told us we have it easy in Malaysia, which we could not argue with.  

Seminary and Institute of Religion Convention

The last week of May we had the Seminary and Institute of Religion Convention in Kuching.  These men are from Taiwan, Pakistan, Thailand, Mongolia, Singapore, India, Cambodia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Elder and Sister Wilson from the Area Presidency (Second Counselor)
Elder Boyter and I were put in charge of logistics.  Being new in the area this was a concern but we worked through it and gained more knowledge of the area,  We found a wonderful caterer for our noon  meals and different restaurants for our evening meals.  The first evening we went to Howdy Grill and had BBQ ribs and a choice of pork, beef, lamb and chicken steaks.  They were all starving from traveling and were so happy with the meal that we returned on Friday for a repeat.  Wednesday we went to the Heritage House/Sarakraf for a delicious meal with fish lip soup, pineapple prawns, mongolia chicken, etc ending with a ruby sego dessert.  The dessert was light and wonderful.  Thursday night we went to a traditional Iban restaurant, the.Dyak.  The Wilsons were with us that night,  I did not care for the food as much but it gave them all a flavor of the traditional food.  The fish had a wonderful flavor but came out with the head on  Sister Wilson had to turn the head away from her.  She couldn't stand it staring at her.  

It was a wonderful convention.  We sat in the back and soaked it all in.

Sister Molly, Sister Lucia and Laura sang for us on Thursday.  Liahona came and supported her older sisters and her mother.  Sister Biby's daughter played the piano.  With school being out and the beginning of Gawai it was very difficult to find musical numbers,  I sat next to Sister Molly in church one time and realized she had a beautiful voice.  I called her up a few weeks before and she accepted the invitation to sing with her daughters.  The music was beautiful.  I appreciate their willingness to sing, Lucia's wedding reception was just the Saturday before.  Amazing!!!


On Friday morning at 8:45am the elder and sister missionaries sang for us.  Sister Nielson is playing the piano.  Some of the elders had to ride their bikes an hour to make it in time.  I fed them breakfast after they sang to say thank you.  Left to right:  Elders - Berger, Peterson, Tice, Crosland, Giblett, Trotter, Pushnam, Hirshi, Dailey, Hun and Sisters: Bishop, Balentyne, Noorda

Gawai Dayak Festival

Gawai Dayak Festival is a harvest festival celebrated by the state's indigenous people, particularly the Ibans and Bidayuhs.  Gawai means a ritual or festival where as Dayak is a collective name for the native ethnic groups of Sarawak:  the Iban, also known as Sea Dayak and the Bidayuh people, also known as Land Dayak.  Thus, Gawai Dayak literally means "Dayak Festival".  Dayak would visit their friends and relatives on these days. Starts May 31st and continues into June. (Information taken from Wikipedia)

The sister missionaries were invited to seven meals on one day.  Our invites were more spread out.  We were invited to four the first day and then more later on.

On Sunday we went to Brother Lebanon and Sister Molly's home.  Sister Molly is an excellent cook and prepared many wonderful traditional dishes.  Including chicken and rice cooked in bamboo, pork intentness and stomach, chicken feet, huge prawns.
Later their daughters (Lucia and Laura) and a friend danced the traditional Bidayuh dance.  After they danced they got me and Elder Tice to join them in doing the dance.  Brother Lebanon then committed me to learn the dance and do it a year from now at the next Gawai celebration.  (Only if I get a costume too)  Sister Moulder has a sewing machine.  I will find time on my Preparation Day to sew myself a Bidayuh dress.

Sister Gwen Huff

Sister (Gwen) Huff is serving in the Singapore Mission with us.  She is serving in West Malaysia so we ran into each other at Zone Conference (Missionary Meetings) in Singapore.  It was great to get caught up on what we have been doing and where our children are.

We knew Sister Huff in Corvallis.  She served as my Relief Society President (women organization) in 2nd Ward (congregation).  Her husband, Sam, served as Executive Secretary to the Stake Presidency that Elder Boyter served in.  Wonderful couple,  Sam died of cancer a few years ago.  We helped her sell her home.  She then returned to her parents home where she took care of her mother until she passed away.  

After trying to buy a home twice with no success she re-evaluated her options and felt impressed to serve a mission.  She loves it.

Baptism at the River

Kristy requested that she be baptized in the river by her home where she grew up.  Her family were not members and are of the Iban tribe.  It was approved to go to her village for the baptism. We had a program first where talks were given on baptism and why baptism by immersion is needed.  Then we went down to the river where Kristy and the branch president's 8 year old daughter were baptized.  Earlier the river was explored to find a place where the river was deep enough for the baptism.  We finished the program with talks about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The Matang Branch/congregation  came and had a pot luck afterwards.  One of the members did BBQ chicken with his own BBQ sauce made out of plums.  Delicious!!

Elder Trotter, Kristy, and Elder Berger

Before the baptism I found a rope that made it very tempting to swing out into the river, but I refrained and stayed dry.  In the background the place for the baptism was finalized by the elders.

These rice containers are leaves that grow in this cup shape.  They put rice and water in each leaf and steam it.  You peal off the leaf and eat the rice.  Very good and so much fun.  Those who live in the jungle will drink the dew from these cup leaves in the morning.  The jungle is amazing!

Zone Meetings in Singapore

We have spent the last few days in Singapore at Zone Conference.  We flew in on Monday and came back to Kuching on Thursday. This is a view from our hotel early Thursday morning.
Sister Mains has nicknamed Singapore the City of Cranes. There is building going on all over the city.  It is a beautiful city.  Very clean.  I loved using the MRT (subway).  Very efficient, very clean, very cheap, and very safe.  The laws are very strict.  You are warn before getting off the plane that if you sell/distribute illegal drugs it is the death penalty.

The assistants (Elder Parker (US) and Elder Meister (Australia) gave a great presentation on getting along as companionships.  They were both at the Mission Training Center at the same time and did not like each other.  National pride caused contention as well as personality conflicts.  At the end of their missions they are again companions.  Almost two years later they talked about how they overcame their differences.  To show their solidarity now, they wore ties from the other person's country.  Elder Meister wore the American tie and Elder Parker wore the Australian tie.

One of the suggestions was to Conduct Companion Inventory. This is taken from Preach My Gospel on page 150.  I thought this would be great for married couples too.

"At the end of your weekly planning session, share with your companion appropriate goals and ask for his or her help to accomplish them.  Discuss the strength of your relationship with your companion.  Discuss any challenges that may be keeping your companionship from working in unity or from being obedient.  Resolve conflicts.  Share with your companion what you think his or her strengths are.  Ask for suggestions on how you can improve.  If needed, set goals that will improve your relationship.  Conclude with prayer."

If every couple would do this, so many conflicts would be resolved quickly and effectively.  

Elder Boyter and I sang with a group on Wednesday morning.  Elder Boyter joined a quartet of young elders and sang for us on Tuesday morning.  Proud of my man.