Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Labor Day!

Dear Family,

I can’t believe another week has gone by already!  I’m never going to figure out how time can pass so quickly when it can feel ever so slow at the same time.  My week was made up of a few exciting events, spaced unevenly amidst many hours of blank white slots in the planner.  Area Book work [reviewing notes from past missionaries about past investigators] is kind of like putting together a really big puzzle, but lots of pieces are missing, and the others are scattered haphazardly throughout the 3 books of considerable voluminosity.  Because it’s kind of boring, I won’t give you the specifics, but you should know that some good things came of those long hours:  a few potentials for new investigators this week, and I learned the word “voluminosity.” 

Well, while I wasn’t sitting at a desk, calling people, or cleaning up the Area Book(s), I was riding my bike through pouring rain.  This week, Sibu was hit by the coolest lightning storm I’ve ever seen, and definitely the coolest one I’ve ever pedaled a 21-speed through.  I was kind of afraid to stop and get pictures of it, but I’m confident that I could have captured some incredible shots of lightning stretching like a skeletal hand across the horizon, and the forest canopy silhouetted black against an electrically-illuminated night sky.  Instead, I splashed back home as fast as I could.

On the 1st of May, Malaysia celebrated Labor Day.  Our branch had a breakfast BBQ at a beautiful park.  This park is built right up the side of the tallest hill in Sibu.  There aren’t that many hills here, so it was cool to be able to see across the entire countryside after only a short climb.  We picked up trash at the park, played water balloon toss using towels, and took many pictures of the beautiful landscape.  I hope you can see the pictures I included of the bridge and all the stairs:  they reminded me of Kung Fu Panda.

This week, I also got an unusual amount of time at the piano.  I was able to play much more these last few days, and it felt so refreshing.  It felt like a part of me that has lain dormant and un-exercised for a while, and being able to play the piano for a long time last P-day seemed to somehow answer my questions about who I really am.  It is just one of those things I can’t put into words.

As for the events of my week, that’s about all I’ve got for you.  I hope the pictures can be worth at least a few words and help you see a little be through my eyes.

Something I’ve been asking myself this week is, “What does it mean to be meek?  Am I meek?  How do I know?”  I found some great answers in Elder Ulisses Soares’ talk, “Be Meek and Lowly of Heart,” given in October 2013.  I learned that “meekness is the quality of those who are God-fearing, righteous. Humble, teachable, and patient under suffering.  Those who possess this attribute are willing to follow Jesus Christ, and their temperament is calm, docile, tolerant, and submissive.”  These are qualities that I’ve always valued, but I struggled to know if these values were skewed, because they don’t seem to be important to many people I’ve seen.  I’ve wondered if the Lord is testing my meekness, or at least giving me the opportunity to learn about meekness, by giving me the challenges I face now.  As I become meek, Elder Soares promises that I will be able to leave my weaknesses behind, reject the evil influences in my life, control my anger, and develop the attributes of my Savior.  I don’t feel like I’ve ever had anger issues, but there is more to meekness than just that.  I hope that the Lord will help me to develop more meekness and lowliness of heart as I continue to serve.  It may require challenging times in order to learn, but my hope is that I’ll become a more refined tool in the Lord’s hands as I let Him teach me in times of trial.

Well, let me know what you all learned from the Lord this week – I’m anxious to hear it!

Love and prayers,

P.S. As I was riding home from church, someone in a car pulled a careless move and cut across two lanes to turn left suddenly.  A man on a moto braked as hard as he could, but was too late to avoid the car.  He hit the back of the car and rolled off of his bike out into the middle of the road.  I dropped my bike and ran over to see if he was alright.  He got up quickly and looked around, a little stunned.  I helped him gather the things that had fallen from his pockets as he hit the asphalt.  He was actually in pretty good shape, but just shaken up a little.  His motorbike will need a little straightening out, but he's alright.  I asked him a few questions:  "Are you okay?  Where are you going?  How far away do you live?  (Sir or Madam, are you in need of medical resistance?)"  He was just on his way home.  He seemed totally fine, but just really angry at the driver that had already fled the scene.  He resumed his course quickly, and rode away before I knew what to do.  I was happy that I could offer a little service, or at least be there for him, in case there had been a more serious emergency.  I hope it gives him a favorable impression of missionaries.

P.P.S. I love getting mail from all the kids, even if I don't have a lot of time to respond to everyone.  I still have to read all the stuff you sent me this week.  I kind of got a slow start today.  I love showing the other Elders  the EE&ER installments.  Most of them have loved seeing them, and they all say Noelle should publish a book or a missionary calendar!  Lately, I show them to people at my house, and nobody seems to understand.  In chinese, there's an idiom, 对牛弹琴 "Dui Niu Tan Qin" which means, (literally) "playing the lute to a cow," or, "your audience doesn't appreciate your talent."
I still laugh!

Missionaries in traffic.  When you zoom in, can you tell who's having a good time and who's not?

Our chapel at sunset

Elder Hobbs with a gift from a member:  A home-taxidermy-ed pufferfish.  Wow.

The beautiful park at Bukit Aup.  We had our branch Labor Day activity here.

So . . . many . . . stairs.

It wasn't actually as bad as in Kung Fu Panda, but I thought, "hey, maybe lots of stairs up steep hills is a real thing in Asia."

Well, I thought it was kind of a fun thing to see.

This is something we don't have back home.  (You can read the sign, right?)

 Baloon toss

Eating "Fruitbowl" makes up for everything that disappointed earlier in the day! Elder Broadhead and Elder Parker.

This is a sunny and cloudy day outside our gate.

Seeing through my eyes after a ride in the rain

"One Black Beetle"

Mom:  Where did you take this?  in your apartment?   Was it alive? Or a specimen somewhere?

Brennan: other Elders found it dead in their driveway. [See, it was real, and big.]
I found a crazy-looking caterpillar that I was too rushed to take a picture of.  It looked hard and black with orange thorns all over it.  it had an orange head with black antlers like those on a young deer!  Google it if you have time.

Mom:  Did it look like this?  A Malayan Eggfly.

Brennan:  Yes. Wow.  I left before I knew where it went.  I hope it didn't crawl into our house somewhere...

Mom: Don't worry -- here is what the female Malayan Eggfly caterpillarturns into -- wings up and wings down

Brennan:  Oh.  cool!  Something so terrifying can turn into something so pretty.

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