Saturday, December 28, 2013

Week 70--December 16-22, 2013

We didn't have an appointment until noon so we spent some time Monday morning wandering on our own around the streets of Sibu close to our hotel. Later while Tom went with Elder Moulder to buy a printer for the center, Garnalee went shopping with Sister Moulder, Sister Marteeny, and Sister Beus. One of the stores we visited was a notions store.

 Button, button anyone need a button. Stored in boxes on a stand.
 all kinds of ribbon stacked on top of cabinets and displayed on metal rods.
This was  cal;led the Ghetto where many of the members in Sibu lived. If there was a heavy rain, the gutters would fill up and the streets would flood. Sometimes the water would get right up to the door of their home.
 After shopping we visited an Iban longhouse. The man that was the elder of the house was very gracious in allowing us to visit. This is the common room where the family members would gather. The size of the longhouse is determined by the number of "doors." This longhouse has 15 doors which means 15 related families live together. They help care for each other and accomplish the tasks that need to be done. When we visited it was laundry day and all the wash was hanging outside drying.
 The Iban were formerly head hunters. They have long since given up that practice, but you can still see evidence of those by-gone days. This chandelier made from the skulls hung in the common room.


 We could see into one of the living areas and it appears everyone has a flat screen TV. The little we could see it looked very nice but small as most of their time is spent in the common area. We visited with an older gentleman who had been a teacher. It is common to offer guests a drink. One of the women brought out a new bottle of rum that he opened and offered us a drink. Of course we thanked him profusely but we turned it down explaining that we don't drink alcohol.
The floorboards of the common room are separated to allow for the circulation of air to help cool the area.

A beautiful picture of the little girl with her Mom(?).

When we looked out the backdoor we saw many other longhouses. As the family grows the longhouse is added onto to accommodate the new family as long as there is room for the addition. There was a very nice rice field that was worked by the families of this longhouse. 

We had an early morning flight on Tuesday to Bintulu, Malaysia.
 This area is called Sunggai Plan where many of the members live. It was built to house the workers for Petronas Liquefied Natural Gas Plant. There are two rented buildings in Bintulu with four branches.
The members gather and enjoy dinner before the fireside we spoke at. There were more than 75 members in attendance who were encouraged to gather the stories of their family members and record them.
The branch president and youth consultants from the Sunggai Plan Branch. We meet with Sister Doria, the newly called Family History Center Director, for training. 

We left that evening for Miri. We met with Sister Alice and did some training. We weren't able to hold a fireside here.

 Garnalee and Tom standing on the beach with the South China Sea in the background.

This is the seahorse lighthouse at Miri.  

It appears that the symbol for Miri is the seahorse as we saw them everywhere. 

After breakfast, Tom said let's go see if we can find the South China Sea and the beach. We walked through a construction zone that appears to be new apartments or condominiums. We walked for about two miles before we arrived at the beach where we took our pictures and found the lighthouse. Of course we had to walk back the two miles. We were drenched by the time we got back to the hotel and had to shower again.  

We flew from Miri back to Kuching for Moulders to attend the Christmas Conference for their mission. We decided to go see the Sarawak Cultural Village. We learned about each of the tribes that make up the state of Sarawak in Malaysia and bought indigenous snacks at each of the tribal sites.  

 This Christmas tree was made from  wooden ornaments used by Dayaks on special occasions. The man on the right is making one of the ornaments. These were also used to start fires.
 Tom grinding grain.
 Tom in the wedding chamber which was contained in many of the houses of the tribal people.
 Tom is watching the Malay man demonstrate how to wind a top with a rope. Tom is ready to throw the top. The top needs to stay on the piece of wood to spin.

 Tom climbing the log ladder to the wedding chamber in a different house. It was fun to learn how to climb this ladder. We learned to put our toes on each step rather than the whole foot on the step. We had to climb these log ladders in several of the houses.

 :Loading the six foot long blow pipe with the dart. Anciently the dart would have had a poison tip.
Garnalee walking the monkey bridge made entirely of bamboo.

After visiting the houses of the each tribal houses we were entertained at a show demonstrating dances for each of the cultures.

 The horn bill is the national bird of Malaysia.
 Along the river cruise we passed the Parliament building.
 The boat we were in for the river cruise.

Along the river the houses are built on stilts. It was a fun day exploring Kuching.

After our day of exploring we attended the end of the Christmas Conference with the East Malaysia missionaries. We enjoyed watching the First Presidency Christmas Devotional with them. We then went to dinner with the senior missionary couples. 

Saturday is travel day to Kota Kinabulu. At the airport we bought seven keks. They are called 1000 layer keks because they are made of multiple flavored layers. They are very moist and delicious. We shared the keks with the Hong Kong senior missionaries.

When we got to the airport, we discovered our plane was delayed and instead of leaving at 2 PM we were scheduled to depart at 6 PM. We were able to get two seats on a 3 PM flight in hopes of us making to Kota Kinabulu for the 7 PM fireside. 

We didn't make it but were able to give our fireside presentation during combined meetings at both the branches on Sunday. It worked out better that way. We also spoke in one of Sacrament meetings. 

After the meetings we went back to our hotel for a late lunch/early dinner. Then we worked on a review of our trip with the Moulders. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Week 69--December 9-15, 2013

Our weekly devotional was by a young newly married employee. He started his talk with the following thought, "A lucky woman is one that is married to an archaeologist, because the older she gets the more interesting she is." It is a good thing Tom and Garnalee are both archaeologists.

Today was the Jacksons' Farewell Luncheon. We had a baked potato bar with each sister providing some kind of topping Potatoes are Sister Jackson's favorite food and root beer floats for Elder Jackson. Tom wrote the words to their farewell song. He used the tune of "Did You Think to Pray." It went very well. Hauling all of the stuff for the luncheon from our apartment in our shopping cart was difficult to do but it was worth the extra effort.

We are next to go home so it will be interesting to see who writes our song. Tom approached Sister Lasson about taking over the song writing and she accepted.

Tom has decided to knit himself a sweater so he purchased yarn that he found to be a lot more expensive than yarn he has purchased at Walmart. He paid $184 US for the yarn.

Wednesday was Sister Jackson's birthday so we decided to do a surprise birthday party for her. We decorated with streamers, balloons, and all had party hats to wear. We purchased little cupcakes that are baked in ceramic pots for Sister Jackson and had coconut tarts and donuts for everyone else.

 Elder Watkins and Elder Wilson join in the fun.
Danise, Anna, Catherine, Jennifer, Sister Watkins, and Sister Lasson are ready to party.

Sister Jackson enjoying the cupcakes. She offered us a taste which Garnalee accepted and exclaimed, "They were wonderful! I will have to buy one for myself." A lot of the pastry items in Hong Kong are not as good as at home.

Friday is flight day to Kuching, Malaysia. We spent the morning doing laundry and packing. The airlines in Asia know how to treat their passengers. We had a 4 1/2 hour flight from Hong Kong to Kota Kinabalu with a meal being served and then a one hour flight from Kota Kinabalu to Kuching with another meal being served. Elder Moulder met us at the airport and took us the Sheraton Four Points Hotel. We had a wonderful bed to sleep in.The first time in many months.

Saturday we met with Sister Maureen at the Kuching Family History Center.

We then flew to Sibu, Malaysia. We attended the Christmas party for four of the branches. They had a wonderful program of singing, dancing, and a performance of the Nativity. The program was followed by a dinner. Many of the foods were very different and not to our liking. So we ate lightly. When we returned to the hotel Elder Moulder mentioned that they had really good banana splits. So we indulged. They were yummy.

View of the Rajang River in Sibu from our hotel room.

Boat used to transport people and goods on the Rajang River.

On Sunday we attended and spoke in two Sacrament meetings on family history. There is a new tool coming from the Family History Department that is a booklet called "My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together." We feel this well be a real asset in the Asia Area where many of the members don't have computers and the internet is very unreliable. In the afternoon we met with President Chau. He is a very dedicated district president and is desirous for his district to be involved in family history and to be more faithful and stronger in their testimonies. We encouraged him to call a new center director who can help the work of family history

move forward.

After the meetings we went to the home of Elder and Sister Beus, from Othello, Washington, for dinner. They treated us to a wonderful meal.

Going from left to right in the picture are Sister and Elder Marteeny from Malad, Idaho; Elder and Sister Moulder; Sister and Elder Beus; and Tom.
German Chocolate Cake and Ice Cream for dessert.

 Each of the cities in East Malaysia are known for a different symbol that they have around the city. Sibu is known of the swan which reminded the Chinese of home when they settled in Sibu.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Week 68--December 2-8, 2013

We had a fun time in Family Home Evening this playing games with the other senior missionary couples. In one game we each had to put a plate on our head  and follow directions to draw a Christmas picture. We were given points for correctly placing the items described. If you haven't done this it is quite a challenge.
In another game we were each an animal. We clapped our hands in a rhythm and would say the name of an animal. The person who was that animal would have to say their animal name and then the name of another animal to pass it on. This had to be done while keeping the hands going to the rhythm that established. It really boggled the mind.
After the activity we had ice cream sundaes.

We have been asked to write an article for the Liahona magazine based on the Asia Area 2014 Initiatives  in Family History. We will have to get started on that this week.

Lunch with the Area Presidency and Elder Wong

Part of the fireside attendees
Steve Rockwood, Elder  Wilson, President Chun, Elder  Brimhall
We spent Thursday and Friday with Dennis Brimhall, managing director of Family Search; Steve Rockwood, International Director for Family Search; Hashick Hong, Multi-Area Asia Family History Manger; and Steve Tsai, Asia Area Family History Manger. We met with the Hong Kong Temple President and recorder. They shared with us that the patrons provide 90% of the names that are done in the Hong Kong Temple. We had lunch from Crystal Jade with the Area Presidency. We had a wonderful member fireside followed by a meeting for all members who have a family history responsibility. We were afraid there wouldn't be very many at the meetings but there around 160. The message that was delivered was on stories and how stories can turn our hearts to our ancestors. The members were introduced to putting stories and photos on Family Search. Family Search is a great place to store information that will never be lost or destroyed through time.

Friday we had a very productive three hour training with all of the Family History missionaries in the Asia area. Again the message was on how to use stories to help the members turn their hearts. There are only 2% of the membership of the Church doing family history work. The inspiration is that through the sharing of stories and the gathering of living memory that the other 98% will have their hearts turned and will have a desire to do family history. The new "My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together" booklet was introduced to the missionaries and ideas on using it with the members. The idea is that in areas where people don't have computers or don't want to use computers they can still gather the stories in paper form. Then the family history consultant can put the stories on Family Search.

On the ferry heading to TST to Din Tai Fung for dinner.

Front row L to R: Steve Tsai, Garnalee, Tom, Steve Rockwood, Elder Dennis Brimhall
Back row L to R: Hashick Hong and Danny Chin
At the Peak: Dennis Brimhall, Hashick Hong, Steve Rockwood
At the Peak: Steve Tsai and Steve Rockwood.

After visiting the Peak we attended Sacrament meeting in Victoria 2 (the Everyday Branch).

Saturday we went to Disneyland Hong Kong. Mickey was there to great you as you enter the park. We had fun on the rides and enjoying the fireworks. Not near as big as Disneyland in the US but it was a fun day.
Tarzan's Tree House
A beautiful December day in Hong Kong.
Scrabble tiles used to let you know where the toilets are located.
 One of the floats from the parade.
Little girls throughout the park were dressed as Snow White. They all were so adorable.