the kitchen (after the water drained)
Monday, December 30, 2013
Well, this mission keeps life interesting right up to the finish.. On Sunday afternoon, Bintulu had mild-severe flooding!!
The neighborhood where we live was hit pretty hard, as we are the on the street connected to the huge storm drain. (its like 7 ft deep and about 10 ft across) We assume thats what couldnt handle the onslaught of rain. So it had been steadily raining shortly after we arriced home from church at 12:30, and there was a solid hour of very heavy rain. The four of us were studying on the second floor (luckily we have one) and were kind of waiting out the outrageous rain with studies and some cat naps. But somehow none of went downstairs or looked out a window to see just how much rain was coming down...
around 6pm (raining nonstop since 12pm) our member called and asked if our area was flooded.. haha i thought she was joking but obliged her by looking out the window, to my obvious shock the street was indeed flooded with about 2 feet of water! i ran downstairs to find our ground floor filled with about 8 inches of the dirtiest water ive ever seen. hahaha so the first thing we did was locate our electronics, namely our hard drives, which were luckily kept on a table about a foot tall, so all was good on that front. after securing all possible valuables, we went about collecting all the floating items around the house. it was quite the experience indeed; mostly funny because we were caught sleeping and studying while the house was slowly filling with water... luckily the water level did not continue to rise. about 20 mins after it happened, the water rather quickly drained out of the house and out of the neighborhood. The next 5 hours were spent cleaning the house... we finished up about midnight, and the house was cleaner than it has ever been. I'll be able more clearly explain this in person, but the houses here are more or less designed to get wet everywhere, and cleaning up after the flood was kind of a piece of cake, just time consuming. we simply had to move out the furniture onto the patio, and then spray out the ground floor. which includes the living room, kitchen and a spare room. the entire floor is tiled, so we just sprayed everything down with a hose. pretty fun actually. Had we been watching, we could have saved a lot of books, supplies, and wet shoes. but other than those things, nothing is damaged. it turned out to be a great opportunity to clean the house and get rid of extra garbage. so in recap, we got sneak-flooded. and it was a fun time.
The real tragedies were in the homes of the area where we have many members living. they live in small, wooden houses, and the entire is lower than where we live. Some members were at home and only got about 3 inches inside, and some were not home and got about a foot plus inside. The area in general was pretty intensely flooded according to the members. some homes getting waist high water inside. the elementary school close by seems to have been hit the worst. at one point the current was strong enough to push a car "downstream" and also a very large water tank. the only death we have heard about is a family who was drinking when the flood came lost track of their small child and it has been presumed dead :/ pretty tough. The members in general have high spirits, and dont seem to be too affected. all are surprised though as this area has never had flooding before. at the community center the city setup places to sleep and eat for those in need. pretty traumatic for some people, while at the same time many people, members included, were unaffected. One sweet family of members, who are some of my favorites, were out of town yesterday when the flood hit, and they lost a lot of valuable stuff in their absence. while she did not have much to offer, this wonderful sister, sister Lily, insisted on feeding us a humble meal of rice and canned chicken curry (which was actually quite tasty) she insisted on repaying us for helping her in the aftermath.
Other than THAT....
we had a pretty awesome Christmas week. i guess you kind of know about it because we talked already, but we were brought to another dinner/open house at a member's place thursday night.
not a whole lot of festivity, and New Year's gets pretty muffled by Christmas and Chinese New Year, which is at the end of January. I dont know much about chinese new year except that a lot of fireworks will be lit off, and chinese people give other chinese people money as a traditional gift. i will actually be pretty sorry to miss it, cuz the fireworks can be quite the spectacle.
Im not sure i'll be sending a more interesting email home than this, so soak it up. hahaaa
We had an awesome time caroling this week, and an awesome time going to Kuching for the missionary conference, and an awesome time at our branch christmas party. party party party for us this past week. fantastic time. on wednesday night we had a group of anywhere from 30-40 people go and carol at 18 houses! then thurs we went to the farther out houses and visited 6 families. so much fun.
Friday we went to Kuching for the missionary Christmas conf. it was pretty lengthy, but we heard some good talks about the many different names that our Lord has been given. we helped with a service project, putting together hygiene bags for local children, and then watched the Christmas devotional. the best part of course was getting to see my missionary pals, and also a man, Kelvin, whom i contacted before i was transferred to bintulu, who has since been baptized with his wife. They are super strong, and have plans to go to the salt lake city temple in 2015! (see picture) also got to see some other members i knew from before.
Then on saturday we flew back early in the morning, then went over to the church to help set up for the party. we may or may not have been there from 1 until 10pm.... but it was a blast and pretty much everything came together, even though there was very little planning done haha.
Not a lot of "missionary work" in the usual sense was done. and this upcoming week may also be a bit tough, but we certainly look forward to how much food and fun there will be!
Dad thats really cool about referring her to the missionaries! certainly a unique way to strat the lessons, but it sounds like an opportune time to bring the Gospel into her life.
the youth conference was in kuching, and i believe it was 4 days long. i got the card that kevin scanned for me. excellent. not a whole lot of christmas spirit here unfortunately...
ya takraw was a blast, annd we're gonna play again today. you usually go with your head and legs, but if you have to you can bounce it off your chest. just no arms/hands. pretty fun. since im tall i have a significant advantage on the short net they paly it on. th net is probly only about 4.5 feet tall.
as for e tyler. thats a tough call. i know he would love just kind of seeing minneapolis. but probly a nice burger place for food. or pizza. or maybe you could just throw him in the snow haha. but speaking of that youll definitely want to bring him my nice big coat and probly a hat haha. he will REALLY freeze. he said, "im really looking forward to seeing your family. it'll turnh 7 hours of hell into 7 hours of fun." haha so needless to say he's highly looking forward to it. i take it you'll be bringing the boys along? or will they be back in school already? i know thatd make it more fun for all if they came.
Merry Christmas everyone!
PS mom i just now had a chance to watch that "what shall we give" video. really nice.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
so as far as christmas is concerned. its not a very big deal. its just a sort of major holiday for christians. (there are bigger hoildays held by christians) but a lot of people will throw a tree up, christmas lights arent very popular though. i'll have to explain that in person haha.
but this upcoming week is going to be an awesome one! like last year, as many of the members as we can muster will be caroling to most of the members homes. we'll do it two nights this week, and i know its gonna be a blast! then friday we go to kuching for a missionary christams conference, then saturday is the branch christmas party. party every night! haha then of course next week is christmas week, and we already have many invites to peoples homes on christmas day. cant wait. this is surely the best transfer cycle to be finishing on. couldnt have dreamed a better place and way to finish.
we have been able to meet with our members, but not as many as we would like, but were also to do some good ol tracting. met a few good people, but mostly just waves of the hand indicating they dont want anyhting to do with us hahaha. So this past week was a pretty exciting week for the church in east malaysia. they had youth conference in Kuching, and ALL branches from east malaysia were invited. so as always, the youth who participated had an awesome time.
today we will hopefully be playing a local sport called takraw. its like volleyball with a shorter net, and you dont use your hands/arms. we just saw a group of guys playing near our house and we were watching them and asked if we could play with them. they obliged. so later today we will be doing that. should be a blast! in addition we will be playing badminton as a distrct of elders, and thatll be a blast.
in answer to your question mom.. I think i went on a mission largely out of duty, and also because of something that dad told me: you will be setting the best example you can for your younger brothers by going on a mission. once again out of "duty" to my brothers and family. I cant say i really knew what i was getting into haha.
i stayed on my mission because the joy and happiness i bring to others has has reflected back on me 10 fold. i have learned so much about the gospel, but more so about how people work and what things work and dont work in trying to help them live the gospel.
my mind has been opened to several new cultures, and a very different way of life. I believe every aspect of my being has been greatly affected by my mission. There really can be no other way to so dramatically improve yourself. the thing that I cant really figure out is that i have accomplished all of this while rarely focusing on myself. It is when I truly focus on the needs of people i barely know that i increase the most in love, patience and diligence. This is what must be understood by anyone considering serving a mission, but at the same time can only be understood by those who have served one!
I love you and cant wait to TALK to you about what we'll do when i go home.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
So this past week was pretty tough and slow. we had our two teen investigators pulled off date because we have not been able to contact them for about a month now. its tough cuz i have basically been meeting with them since i came here. but yet the whole time they didnt seem truly interested anyways. Also it was tough to get appointments with people, and Jensen got sick AGAIN. another night of throwing up evrything and anything... poor kid. we cant really decide what it is that keeps making him sick. We still have some potential people that we hope to be able to meet with again this week.
transfers are this week, and i seem to have gotten lucky to be STAYING in bintulu here with jensen. many of the trainers were transferred away from their greenies.. but im just super happy to still be here and to be finishing in this wonderful place.
last week we went to Miri for new missionary training. it was kind of a nice little break after a tough week. just one day bus in and then bus back the next morning. but i got to see my best buddy elder Loke, so it was awesome.
so i have never really explained this, but this time of year is when many fruits are in season, the two big ones being durian, the stinky, spiky fruit; and rambutan, a small, grape-like fruit that appeares to have hair (rambutan essentially means hair). but last year i ate enough durian to like it, and now i have basically been eating it as much as i can! i LOVE it. its really hard to describe the taste, but the texture is most like yogurt. im gonna do my best to try and figure out a way to get one home with me. idk though, it could be tough. but yes im eating a lot of it.
the cave trip to niah was not as cool as the first one, as we did not have nearly enough time to explore everything. nevertheless it was super fun, and a great one-of-the-last-cool experiences to add to my list. we got rained on (the path leading back to the parking lot) so that makes a better story.
the thanksgiving photos were awesome. i always love seeing the current you guys. i would never have thought i would see hayden in an outfit like that! looks sharp man. we had a delicious meal prepared for us by the senior couple. complete with mashed potatoes, a mushroom chicken dish, baked macaroni, candied yams, everything i could want. still cant imagine going out to eat either! after we ate we were given some extra time to relax, and we played some intense jenga haha. it was crazy. we need to get into that when i get home haha.
I CANT WAIT to get back and be playin games with you guys again! family time.
i hope to have more intersesting things to report in next weeks email.
love you all!
Sunday, December 1, 2013
So we have both recovered and were able to have a good week this week. We have met a few new investigators, and had a couple of first lessons with them. This past week has really been one of the firs weeks in a long time where we have able to make and keep appointments with investigators. I think i've had a false sense of security in just working with less-actives. of course we are still doing a lot of that, but weve been able to kind of mix in more investigator work as well. Unfortunately we have not yet been able to make contact again with michael and his family, but other people have surfaced. I really believe its a result of E jensens desires to get out and work and try to meet new people. almost being "naive" when suggesting something, but then me simply taking him at his word, and then it works out. so i guess im just an old, tired elder haha.
Our beloved senior couple, the Vaughans, have finished their mission, and today flew to singapore and then back home. They really were an amazing couple, and the members really loved em. sister vaughan was able to learn malay and they were constantly out visiting members. there is no replacement couple for them and now one couple, the Stevens, are left to take care of the four Bintulu branches. So that will be a big challenge for the members here, but I feel they will be able to step up to the challenge, and begin to take care of themselves.
Our plan as a zone is to go to the Niah caves next p-day. you'll remember i went there last i think july. its the massive caves that are about 1.5 hrs away from bintulu. Im really excited to go, and i know its gonna be a blast.
Its great (and also terrible) to hear about it getting colder in MN. Im sure i'll love it for about 5 minutes.....
im excited to hear more about your high councilor adventures dad. thats a pretty crazy way to start out!
the paln for thanksgiving (which is not celebrated here) is to have a great big meal supplied by the senior couple. There is no turkey to be found, so we will be having chicken for thanksgiving haha. regardless of what it is, im confident it will be awesome.
so speaking of that, i'd like my firs meal to be a woodlands pizza. no joke. but we can talk about that later. perhaps the greatest "skill" i'll take from my mission, is not being a picky eater anymore. im pretty much ike dad now, "no" taste buds and ready to eat anything hahaha. ive eaten so many bitter, sour, and downright nasty things i dont think any food in america will be gross. the BEST part being that food in america is rarely served with bones. while its hard to have a meal here without it being riddled with little bones haha.
thats all for this week folks. tune in next time.
ps i forgot my card reader so no pics this week :D
So this past week jensen and i both fell vicitm to illness...again.. We were both feelin pretty good until friday after lunch. We are pretty sure it was some kind of food poisoning, at least for jensen. I just felt lightheaded and wanted to rest, while jensen dint feel so weak. but throughout the night we was up every little while trying to poop and puke. so we took a full day on Saturday, and also rested up yesterday after church. today we are both feeling like we're over the hump, and i just hope its for real this time. So despite that rough end to the week, we were able to do a little bit of work before.
We met a great new family through a less-active family that we have been working with. The father, Michael, is RC but not very strong. his wife and two kids are not yet baptized into a christian church. He said several times that he was willing to try our church and see if he would like his family to join. We had a nice visit with them, trying to establish what we normally do when we meet with and teach people. They seem genuinely interested, and their teenage children do as well. They live a bit far out as far as biking goes, but I know if their truly interested that we will be able to arrange appointments. I really hope that they work out, and make the determination to come to church. Ive never really taught a family before, and while i know they wouldnt be ready for baptism before i leave, I would love to teach them and help E jensen prepare them for baptism.
Other than that we did not have many other appointments. Some exciting things are happening this week though for the Bandar Jaya branch. This morning the senior couple took a 3 families and a sister to Manila to go to the temple! So they will return friday evening, and I cant wait to be able to talk with them about the big new changes in their lives. this branch actually only has one other endowed member, and he's struggling anyways. So it will be a great blessing of strength for this branch. Unfortunately after that though, the awesome senior couple, the Vaughans, will be finishing their mission next monday the 25th. they will be sorely missed by the missionaries, but mostly by all the members they have helped so much. The worst part is that they do not have a replacement couple... so one couple will be in charge of nurturing the 4 branches of Bintulu.
Ok, one funny, puzzling thing that we came across in a visit with our 1st councilor's family, is a bit of a riddle/mathematical theory. see if you can figure it out. we have not.
a man want to buy a t-shirt for $97, but he has no money. so he borrows 50 from his brother, and 50 from his sister. he buys the t-shirt for 97 and receives in change $3. he gives one dollar to each his brother and his sister, and keeps one for himself. lowering his debt to each to $49. now. when when add up the leftover, $49 + $49 + $1 (debt to brother + debt to sister + what he himself has) we end up with how much money? $99... So the unsolvable question is: Where did that last dollar go?
The theory is that when there is money loaned, 1% is lost. the same principle applies to him who borrows $100, $1000, or $10,000,000. How does this happen??
this was presented to us, and its the first ive heard of it. perhaps someone who receives this email can shed some light..?
So other than that...not much goin on haha
forgive me for the lame email :) (but dont fret, we can talk face to face not too long from now) :D