VISITING MEMBER'S HOME WITH DISTRICT PRES.
SISTER DAVIS CUTTING BROTHER BRANDON'S HAIR
We are seeing more and more of the members of the church here in Kota Kinabalu. They welcome us in their homes and it is so interesting and fun for us to get acquainted with them. We usually have someone with us who can translate our English and their Malay so we can communicate. That works. Many of them are new members, just baptized. We are so happy with their dedication to the church and their willingness to do new things. Going to church and activities is just a start for them. They want to do the things that will help their testimonies grow like praying and reading the scriptures.
It is their harvest festival or Kaamatan here in Sabah right now. Last year we were in Sarawak and their harvest festival is Hari Gawai. Both seem to involve a lot of rice wine drinking. There are a lot of cultural events going on here right now and many of our church members have gone home to their kampung to visit family (the old people) and friends. We hope they remember that the word of wisdom is for during kaamatan, too.
Yesterday we went for a drive. Boy, we haven't done something like that for a long time because gas prices were so high at home and we haven't had a car here until recently. We took a road up into the mountains in a direction that is new for us. Here they like to build their mountain roads right on the ridges. It gives us fantastic views but there isn't much room for a road. All their rural roads are very narrow and without a shoulder. And to make it even tricker to drive there is often a 3 to 5 foot deep cement drain along the side of the road within 2 to 3 feet of where we are driving. It allows no room for error. If the road is not on the ridge it is cut into the side of the hill with a bank on one side and steep drop-off on the other side. They do have guard rails but for some reason they are down the bank. Perhaps that is so any car that goes flying off the road will not damage the guard rail but rather go sailing right over it out into free space. :)
So we drove up in the mountains and came out in a broad valley and to the small town of Tambunan. It is an agricultural area where they grow rice in the water-filled paddies that we have seen in other areas. They also grow many vegetables that do well in the cooler climates of that elevation. It must have been a good day for weddings because we met at least 4 different wedding processions in the short time we were there. The bride and groom ride in a car that is decorated with lots of flowers and ribbons making it look like a very decorated package and that car follows a lorry which has in the back at least 8 men---4 on each side---playing drums or gongs. These are followed by many other cars that have a little flower nosegay on the door handle or antennae. They slowly drive through town. We noticed that there were few Muslims in that community and many Catholic churches.
Up on top of the mountain we stopped at a Rafflesia Preserve. The rafflesia (raff-lee-see-a with the accent on 'lee') is the world's largest flower and can grow to over 42 inches across and weigh over 22 pounds. It is a parasite without leaves or stem using only its roots to get nutrients from its host. It is either male or female and depends on a particular fly for pollination. It attracts that fly with its odor of rotten meat. Not too pleasant. And it is unusual to see it in bloom. We didn't see (or smell) any.
No travel for last two weeks so not a lot of pictures to post. However we have been totally engaged in our most favorite part of the mission and that is working with the members. We are teaching Temple Prep, Mission Prep, Family Relations and leadership training. We meet each week with the Branch and District Presidency, and PEC. We meet individually and regularly with the different ward leaders. We visit the members almost every evening. We are also coordinating and coaching 3 different elders getting ready to leave on their missions and two young men going to BYUH. So we are very busy and love it that way.
In meeting with the new EQ Pres we discovered he has been a member less than one year. He is so overwhelmed with his responsibilities. He thought he needed to be at the church every night. He was suppose to do PPI's but didn't know what the word meant. He was to interview elders most of whom are older than he and have been members of the church much longer. After reassuring him that it was he that the Lord wanted and that who the Lord calls , he qualifies he felt so much better and is so happy.
We are trying to get together with a single mother with about 6 kids who has made sure each of her kids are baptized but will not join the church herself even though she has a testimony. She would have to change her job which is working in a bar and drinking with the customers and well... you can guess the rest. She works at 9 pm until early morning and all the kids are by themselves every night. SHe doesn't think she can make it on the salary that a normal job would pay. We are so anxious to help her use her faith and realized she is not providing for her kids in the most important way.
SISTER JENNIFER ON THE LEFT WITH HER MOM
AND TWO LITTLE SISTERS
SQUATTER'S HOMES NEAR USThis family live in a squatter's home made out of plywood like a club house we would build when kids. It provides some very basic shelter, less than most of our garages. The two girls take a bus to church every Sunday and again on Friday for seminary.
On one of our visits we discovered this nice fellow with one of LDSC wheel chairs...see the logo? It is so neat to see our donations in use.
Since the branch has started using home teaching and ppi's the attendance at church has been higher than it has been ever! For the first time in a very very long time they are holding regular PEC and Branch Council and Branch Presidency meetings and actually talking about the members, the new members first. The result is that the new members are getting the attention they need and they are continuing to come and hold callings and having friends. Their goal is to have 150 in attendance and they are averaging 129 up form 103. Last month they had 18 families home taught. Fist time anyone has been home taught. They say they didn't know what to do if they went. So we role played out a visit by home teachers and visiting teachers. Now some of them are home teaching weekly.
One family we visited was challenged to have their entire family come and come early so that the dad could officiate in the sacrament. They were there the very next Sunday and he passed the sacrament for the first time. They have been members for 3 months.
THIS IS THE CHUAH FAMILY WHO
JUST WENT TO THE TEMPLE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DECEMBER
JUST WENT TO THE TEMPLE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DECEMBER
We head out to the jungle Thursday and Friday about 2 1/2 hours each way on a 4x4 road to see two schools for our next water project. We couldn't go last fall as there had just been a murder and the police didn't want us out there. They especially do not want white couples to have problems in their country and you can guess why. We go back over the end of the month to have a closing ceremony of all the water projects for Humana schools. It will be quite an event as it will be combined with the sports day.
WE ARE STILL IN THE JUNGLE