Monday, July 28, 2014

Getting things going again!

Hi Family!
First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Lauren!!  I hope all your wishes came true!  (Also, I hope that where you are, it's still your birthday.  I dunno, I might have missed it by a couple of hours.  Over here, your birthday is in the past already.
Also, Hola!! to Noelle.  She's still in Ecuador, right?  Maybe I'll send an email to her in a few minutes.  I hope everything went well, and I can't wait to read any news you have about it!
Let me just tell you a whole bunch of stuff about this week, okay?

Well, we are still loving our new house in our new location, closer to downtown.  It means that we get to go into town more often, but we don't get to see the other missionaries all the time anymore.  Also, we have to figure out new places to email, cut hair, fix bikes, etc.  Right now, I'm in an old, dim, smoky room, with a bunch of Iban kids walking around trying to read my messages and snatch my computer as soon as I get off, and trying to type a letter with a broken space bar.

However smoky it is in here, though, it's better than outside these days.  It's about time for people to begin planting rice, so there is a lot of jungle being burned right now, and the air is hazy and thick everywhere.  On top of that, today is Hari Raya, a Muslim celebration of the end of Ramadan, so there are people crazy-driving everywhere.  I can't tell if what I'm breathing in is exhaust, fire smoke, or evaporated curry!  Actually the curry is really good - we went with a member to visit Malay people's houses today, and ate the food that they had placed out for visitors of all faiths, as a Hari Raya tradition.  It was a neat, once-in-a-mission experience that I failed to photograph adequately because my camera ran out of batteries early in the day.  I still don't know all that much about Hari Raya, so consult Wikipedia for more information.
This week, we considered starting a bug collection, considering how many giant moths we found.  I'll send you pictures of those in a minute. 

We also had a great week as far as working with members went.  We were able to visit the homes of several less active members, and meet one or two active member families, who fed us delicious dinners.  We will continue working to fulfill the plans and goals we have made for this area, including helping more less-active members attend church regularly.  This week, however, will probably be filled not with trips to unknown less-actives' homes, but with meetings with more active members, trying to encourage them fill out their family history packets.  Elder Durrant and I are planning to make food for the members who bring completed "My Family" booklets to the next family home evening, where they can enter their names into Family Search.

I'm confident that the food, at least, will be good, because I've learned this week that Elder Durrant is very good in the kitchen.  I've been an enjoyer of his scones, casserole, fritter, and rolls.  In an attempt to contribute something scrumptious, I tried making the onion butter pasta sauce.  I have learned that buying tomato puree, because the market doesn't have whole or cut tomatoes, is not the best option for pasta sauces, at least the way that we eat them.  I've also been experimenting with Shelly Snacks, which, aside from one charred edge, turned out pretty nicely.  Yum!!
Well, I'm glad to hear all the news that you send me, and I can't wait to hear more about Lauren's birthday, Ecuador, and all that happens at home!
I love you all, and I pray for you every day!  Send all my love to Grandparents, too!

Bug collection:  


Monday, July 21, 2014

Worn out and happy

Dear Noelle,
How are you?  Nervous? Excited?  I would be, too, if I was going to Ecuador in two days!  I hope you don't leave all of your packing to the last minute, and don't take scissors in your personal bag on accident, and you have an awersome time!

Dear All of You,
This week has been great!  I've never been so worn out!  I feel like nothing has actually been accomplished toward saving souls, but I know that our house is almost ready for us to live in it like missionaries should, and that we have definitely not had time to do all the things we were invited to do.  Oy.  There has been a lot of busy-work going on, and "preaching the gospel" filling in the cracks.  All in all, I'm very happy to be working with Elder Durrant.  We sing a lot more than I did previously, and we just have a lot of fun together, whether it be making scones for breakfast and pasta for lunch and hand-mashed potatoes for dinner, or riding our bikes all over the city in 100 degrees of humidity, or having whistling wars while we sweep up a lot of dead stuff from under our sink, it's been great!

It's really disappointing when the only things I can possibly think to tell you about are our car ride to buy a new microwave (I got to sleep for about 10 minutes), or moving boxes until I can actually see the surface of furniture in my house, or feeling good after I talked to every member I could at church, trying to arrange appointments even though I was exhausted.
Wendy is still learning from us every weeknight that she has available.  She really wants to know where she can find truth and peace in her life.  Since she's the only investigator we have now, I'm always very happy to go to her lessons.  Even though they are sometimes a little chaotic, because she meets us at a member-friend's house, I feel like these meetings are possibly the only things that I do during a week to fulfill my purpose.  There's not really much to tell about these lessons, either, except that we have to fight a lot of distractions, and we are working very slowly through the pamphlets that accompany the lessons.  We stop occasionally to answer questions like, "So why do you baptize by immersion if Jesus wasn't baptized like that?"  After we read a verse of scripture that she didn't know was in her Bible, she may put in something like, "What?  Who lied me?"  I can see her learning more and more as she begins to pray and read little by little.  It's encouraging to know that at least one person here wants to know more about Jesus Christ and what they should do now to prepare to live with Him again.

Thanks for all of your news from home, about grandparents and great-grandparents, about Girls camp, individual accomplishments, a trip to Ecuador, and other informational odds and ends.  It's just what a missionary needs to keep him sane!  Even though I have no way to adequately express all of my responses to the wonderful stuff you send to me, I love it, and I hope you know that I love YOU!  Thank you all for being who you are - for being dedicated and determined to do what's right, even when things are hard or you are tired or people complain against you.  The world needs more people like that.  (Workers of righteousness, not whiners.)
Lots of Love,

Elder Durrant steals my camera and takes pictures of me eating a gooey rice-stick out of a charred banana leaf at night.

After touch-rugby (which I'm surprisingly good at.  Who knew?)

Also, my new favorate "translation"

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New take on Sibu

14 July 2014
Dear Family,

So much has happened this week!  Actually, I'm glad that stuff happened.  That's what I'm excited about.  Where to begin...?

Although I miss Elder Broadhead, being with Elder Durrant is great! He's excited to get to work in Sibu and his Chinese is .  He sings well, so we've spent a lot of time singing together recently.  He's from Idaho, and he came out just before I did, so I met him once or twice in the MTC.

We've been moving into our new house all week.  We finally moved the wardrobes in this Thursday, so now we're living at our new location.  The chairs, couches and beds are all new, as well as most of the kitchen utensils but the thing I'm most excited about is my desk.  We have big, luxurious office desks that afford plenty of room for studying.  Yaay!  I've moved a lot of dusty, gross-filled boxes this week because the previous occupants left us years and years of old files and receipts.

I don't know that there's actually a lot more to tell, but I feel like so much is happening and changing, because we haven't had much open time at all.  Even if going to get a new microwave or vacuuming a chair is all that I'm doing, I'm glad to have work to do!  I'm learning a lot more about the area, too.  We now live a lot closer to Bandar (downtown area) than before, so we go exploring to find new side street cafes and knick-knack shops at lunchtime.  I've already been lost many more times in the past week than ever before, but it's been fun finding our way home and realizing shortcuts in hidden places.

We've been filling our evening time with meetings with Wendy, known in previous emails as "girl" or "____."  She really wants to know more about our Church, and especially about her relationship with God and Jesus Christ. We've met several times in the last week, but things are moving along slowly. Personally, I've found it refreshing to plan a lesson around a single principle like "God is our loving Heavenly Father," and then have Wendy ask questions about what that means for her.  I've never seen a stronger desire - a hungering and thirsting for truth - in anyone else in Sibu.  It's great to feel like I'm fulfilling my purpose in part, and to know that someone else is finding answers to her soul's questions!  I love doing missionary work!

I don't know what else to include, but here are a few moments that made this week great:
1. I dropped a can of tomatoes, carried in a bag on my handlebars, into the middle of an intersection.  I turned around just in time to see a nice, shiny clean white car run it over, splattering the juice everywhere.
2. Learning how to play touch-rugby last P-Day.  (I keep cheating because I'm in ultimate frisbee mode, where you can run forward so they can pass to you.  oops.)
3.  Sleeping in a bed for the first time in my mission, other than the time I got put up in Kuching's Four Points.
4.  Giving my favorite old sofa away to Iban members of another branch.

I hope you've all been enjoying the moments that make up your days and weeks.  (Moments are the molecules that make up eternity. - Elder Uchtdorf?)  I know that what we do with the time God has given us here on the earth is important, and will have eternal consequences for better or worse, depending on how we use our agency.  I'm so grateful that I have this time of learning and this calling to be a missionary in Malaysia!

I love you all so much!!