Monday, April 14, 2014

Greetings from Borneo!

Dear Family and Everybody,

Sibu is more Jungle-y than Johor is, but it's not too dissimilar, from what I can tell.  At least, it didn't feel like moving into a completely foreign world, like it did going from Provo to Singapore or Singapore to JB.  Sibu is right on the edge of the Jungle, however, so I have yet to see the "wild" side of the city.  If I cross the river that runs along the west side of Sibu, I'll be in the rain forest.  I'll let you know what it's like as soon as I go there, probably this week sometime.

I took a taxi from Johor Bahru to Singapore, across the border and through the immigration checkpoint.  I went to the Singapore Changi Airport (voted best airport in the world) the next day, which was a fun adventure.  Sadly, Singapore's longest slide was closed for the day and I couldn't find the butterfly garden, so I have no cool pictures from that day.  I flew from Singapore to Kuching, the "capital" of East Malaysia, then on to Sibu.  That's when things started to turn into a real adventure story.  During my 1.5-hour layover in Kuching, I saw huge dark clouds begin to gather on the eastern horizon, then move across the whole sky.  I boarded a small plane (the kind with propellers on the wings) in the pouring rain, and flew through a lightning storm into the depths of Borneo!  I felt like Indiana Jones, Tintin, or some other action-hero-explorer!

Once in Sibu, I got settled into the new house, which is kind of old, but definitely livable.  It's two stories tall, and accommodates six Elders currently.  Elder Hobbs is in my house!  We were in AP Biology together only a year ago, and now we're living in East Malaysia as missionaries together.  Cool!  My companion is Elder Broadhead, who's really funny and great at talking to people, especially kids.  He is my "brother," because he was also trained by my "father," Elder Black!  Elder Broadhead goes home in 3 months, so this won't be an especially long-term companionship, but it may be the longest I've had yet.

I'm very far away from the mission office now, so I will only receive posted mail once every 3 months, when I fly back to Singapore for Zone Conferences.  I feel a little bit isolated here, but I think it's mostly because I haven't been here very long and I'm not fully adjusted.  I have already had a couple of bike rides in the dark and through the rain, and I still don't know very many of the members or investigators here.  Only a handful came to General Conference.  That reminds me, one thing that I'm definitely ready to adjust to is the chapel here.  It's gorgeous!  It is actually a building of itself, with a steeple, a chapel, a cultural hall, beautiful tile and chairs, air conditioning and many classrooms on both floors!  There are actually three branches that meet there, apparently, including two Malay/Iban-speaking branches and one Chinese-speaking branch.  Wow!  I hope that the church is thriving here as much as my first impression tells me!


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