Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas -- It came and went

We enjoyed our first and only Borneo Christmas.  We are so used to having family around, that we were a little sad, but not for too long.  This is a picture of our tree I forgot to put in with the last blog:
Not a mighty fir or pine, but a nice green plastic.  I found it in the top of the closet and it was already pre-decorated so I didn't have to spend a lot of time on it.  One big drawback -- it had no lights.  What's a tree without lights?  But we still enjoyed this little bit of Christmas.  In all the homes we visited during the Christmas season, and we probably went to about 15-20 homes, very very few of them had a tree at all.  Maybe only 3 or 4 had trees and they were all very small.  None of the trees or homes had gifts around them.  They might have had a Christmas picture of some sort, but that was about all.  We surely are spoiled when it comes to Christmas in the US.  Over here, they do seem to understand the meaning of Christmas and enjoy the great gift that was given to them by their heavenly father.  It was a good wake-up call for me.

On Christmas eve Sis. Karen, a recent convert, invited us over to her apartment for her grandson's 9th birthday.  She said it would start at 7, but in true Malay time, it started at 8:15.  She had lots of food but the highlight of the meal was this:
Yep, a whole roasted pig was brought in.  It was a real porker.  Everyone just kinda stabbed away at it and took pieces to eat.  I thought they would have so much left over, but they didn't.  The whole pig was gone by the time the night was over, so I heard.  We left about 8:45 so we could ready for Christmas morning with the missionaries.

This missionaries came over around 10 am to start skyping with their families.  When you have 10 missionaries who all want to skype and a limited window of time due to the time difference, it can make for an interesting morning.  Here we are all ready for brunch:
Front row l to r:  Sis.Nielsen, Sis. Cabella, Sis. Christiansen.  Middle row:  Elder Parker, Jo Greenwell, Sis. Read, Elder Read.  Back row:  Elder Taddeus, Elder Scheutz, Elder Gottfredsen, Elder Griffin and Elder Glad.  Sis. Parker, Sis. Nielsen's companion was taking the picture.  Jo Greenwell is a member from Perth, Australia.  She owns a condo in the same apartment complex as the elders and sisters.  She is in her late 70's or early 80's, a widow, and comes to KK every Christmas to spend the holidays here.  She was going to be all alone Christmas day, so I invited her to come and spend the day with us.  She has 5 children of her own in Australia, but comes here every year by herself.
Enjoying the Christmas morning brunch. Two of the missionaries were skyping when this picture was taken.

The KK2 branch had Christmas party on Christmas day at 2 in the afternoon.  I'd never heard of a church party on Christmas day before, but off we all went, elders, sisters and Sis. Jo.
All the missionaries had to sing a couple of Christmas songs.  Everyone was supposed to come dressed in red shirts or blouses or dresses.
Of course, what's a Christmas party without Santa.  That is Elder Taddeus playing the part.  Who knew Santa traveled the night in a white shirt and tie?  He made a great Santa and all the little kids loved him.  We played games, sang, had a drawing for prizes and, of course, ate.  It turned out to be a really nice party and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Christmas was a great day for us.  And we hope it was the same for you and yours.  Be sure and tell everyone in your families how much you love them and how grateful you are for them and that you can spend Christmas with them.  Remember, Christmas isn't about the presents, but about the gift.  Love to All  E/S Read

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Christmas will finally be here in just two more days, Malaysian time or three more days if you live in the states.  We'll let you all know how Christmas is so you won't have to get up early and wonder. One of the advantages of being almost a day ahead of you in the states.  We know the future before you do.

We had a wonderful conference in Singapore.  Singapore is decorated a whole lot for Christmas.  It can really get you in the Christmas spirit if it weren't for the fact that you are wiping sweat off your face every two minutes and the air is so think with humidity a frog would strangle.  Other than that, you would think you were right back home in the cold and snow.  While at the conference we were able to meet Elder Wiberg from Roy!!!  His grandparents are Dean and Beverly Wiberg whom some of you might remember.
Elder Wiberg is just fresh off the plane.  He is a member of our niece Michelle Rich's ward and had warned, oops, advised us off his coming.  It was so good to see a Royite.  Welcome to the Singapore mission Elder Wiberg.

We were in charge of a senior service project for the senior missionaries while we were there.  We made some fleece lap blankets.  Do you know how hard it is to find fleece in Malaysia?  They look at you like "why in the world would you want anything made of fleece here".  Couldn't find any in Malaysia but was able to find some in Singapore, on sale even for 1/2 price (I think they wanted to get rid of fleece) and then they gave me an extra 15% off of that price to take it off their hands.  Good deal for us.
This is Elder and Sister Yeates from Virginia holding up some of the finished blankets.    Here we are delivering them to the rest home which was right next door to out church:
LtoR:  Elder and Sister Read, Elder and Sister Yeates, Elder and Sister Hodder (from Canada eh), Sister Crookston (don't know what happened to Elder Crookston), Elder and Sister Lee, Sister Howell (don't know what happened to Elder Howell, must be with Elder Crookston) and Elder and Sister Marteeny from Malad Idaho.
Some of the residents of the rest home.  Don't they look just thrilled to see us.  They had been waiting for us to come for over an hour.  Communication in time broke down between English and Singaporean.

We also put together some goodie kits for the children in the cancer unit of the big hospital there:
Most of the Elders took on this task as they didn't think they could tie knots in the blankets.

We had two parties to attend last night, Saturday.  The first one was for Cheshire Homes, a home for the physically and mentally challenged.  LDS Charities supplies wheelchairs for several of their homes throughout Malaysia.
This is a shot of the Cheshire Homes buildings and grounds.  They had invited a lot of people, I guess the families of the residents and others.  There were a lot of children running around and they had a whole lot of food, games and fun.  In the bottom shot, you can see some of the goodies they gave everyone:  a real cool santa hat with a flashing light, a glow stick with three different colors and you could change the lights from flashing, to blinking to running.  Kind of a neat little glow stick I thought.  The girl next to me wasn't as excited about her glow stick as I was about mine.

We had to leave this party early to go to the KK1 Branch Christmas party.  They had a program before eating:
The Relief Society singing their Christmas number.  And then the Elders' Quorum put on a skit about the first Christmas and sang:
Sorry.  Don't know why it came out on its side.  The skit was hilarious.  I couldn't decide if it was too sacreligious or not, but it was funny and everyone got a big kick out of it.

Everyone brought goodies to share.  This is what we took:
A big plate of cookies and candies, a big bowl of caramel corn and some bags of rice.  The rice was given to us by the good village people of Budok Bui, about 30# of it.  We decided to share cause there's no way we are going to eat 30# of rice.  Besides, it's the kind of rice you use for porridge and I don't make rice porridge.
The lady in the middle is Sis. Josie.  She makes the most amazing cakes.  In fact, that is her business and livelihood.  She made this cake for the party.  It is a smaller version of her most famous Chocolate cake.  The bigger version has 48 eggs in it.  This one only had 30.  It is soooo goooood.  On the left is Sis. Cabella and on the right is Sis. Dorcas.

Well we want to wish everyone a
     Very Merry Christmas.  We miss you all so very much especially at this time of year.  We are quite homesick right now.  Drop us a line if you get the chance.  Love you all  E/S Read

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Transfers and Singapore

Wednesday was transfer day.  I Totally Do Not Like Transfer Day.  You get so attached to the Elders/Sisters and you think of them just like your own kids.  You just get to love them and then they have to leave and go to another area.  On Wednesday we lost one elder and one sister -- Elder Petersen and Sister Wilson. One new sister came in on Wednesday afternoon, Sis. Christianson.  We did get to meet her, but we had to fly out Thursday morning and leave for Singapore so we haven't had a chance to meet our new sisters and elders.  We have three new sisters, including Sis. Christianson, and one new Elder, Elder Griffin.  Now we have six elders and 4 sisters serving here in KK.  It has really grown in the last few months.  When we first came to KK we had only 4 elders.  It is exciting to have these young elders and sisters here.  They have such enthusiasm and they work so hard.
This is a picture of our YSA/FHE group.  Elder Petersen is 2nd from the left and Sister Wilson is right beside him.  I'm sure going to miss them.

We made it to Singapore on Thursday afternoon after another flight delay of an hour and a half while they changed a flat tire on the plane. The last three or four times we have flown, we have had flight delays.  The longest was a 9 hour delay.  Airports are no fun to sit around in for 9 hours.
 This is the home where we are staying.  It is actually a house behind a great bigger house that the Church bought and converted into a meeting house/chapel.  They kept the same basic design of the big nice home.  The picture I of took of the big home didn't turn out.  I'll have to try again tomorrow.  This smaller house behind the big house is where the original Chinese owner kept his concubines.  There are 6 nice bedrooms and each bedroom has its own bathroom too.  When new missionaries first arrive in Singapore they stay here for 1 or 2 nights and get some training before going on to their individual areas.  When the missionaries leave for home they come back here and spend the night here before leaving for home.
The day we arrived in Singapore it rained a great deal.  I have seen it rain harder, but this was a steady, big rain.  It flooded the lawns and courts.  The rains here are real frog stranglers.  They get more rain in one hour than Utah will get in one year.  It is really amazing.  The home we are staying at was at one time actually beach front property.  Now the beach is several blocks away.  Singapore just keeps hauling in dirt and reclaiming "beach front" property.

We are going to be having a district conference in Singapore on Tuesday and then the Senior conference will be on Wednesday.  Pres. and Sis. Mains have asked us and the Howells, the senior humanitarian couple serving west Malaysia, to be in charge of a service project for the senior conference.  We are going to do some blankets for new born babies whose mother's have nothing to wrap them in when they go home from the hospital.  We are also making some lap blankets for a rest home that is nearby.  There is also a children's cancer hospital here in Singapore and we are also putting together a goodie bag for them for Christmas.  I hope the projects will go well.  Things are very expensive here in Singapore.  We brought over two suitcases full of project supplies from KK to try and save some money on the project.

 Today in church the ward we attended listened to the First Presidency's Christmas Broadcast.  It helped me realize that it doesn't matter where you are for Christmas, it matters where your heart is for Christmas.  I realized I need to keep my heart focused on the true meaning of Christmas and be grateful for the gift that was given to the entire world, to all mankind that marvelous night so many years ago.  We hope you have a great Christmas season.

E/S Read

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mushrooms and Modesty

On Thursday we were finally able to meet with the director of the Sabah Blind Society.  We have been trying to get together for the past three months and one thing or another always happens that we or they can't make and keep appointments.  But on Thursday we were finally able to get together.  We went with the director, Angeline, to visit the Wallace Training Center for the Blind in a town which is about an hour drive from KK.  At this training center they are working with the blind to teach them some skills to help them become more self reliant and able to contribute to their own upkeep and make a livelihood for themselves.  Here at the Wallace Training Center some of the residents are learning basket weaving, which is becoming a lost art.  They are still weaving with reeds and rattan, but that is getting to be harder to find and very costly.  They do amazing work.  There were two gentlemen when we were there who were busy making some beautiful baskets.
They make baskets of all sizes and shapes.  I watched them for quite a while and was in awe at the work they do.  They are real craftsmen.  They sell the baskets at the Sabah Blind Society office or at various other outlets.  I think they are all very reasonably priced too.  I bought a medium sized basket that can be used to cover food on a table.  It was only Rm15 or in US $5.

They also grow mushrooms here.  Now I thought I would go into a dark and danky room and see mushrooms growing out of the floor.  This is the mushroom building:
The outside walls are made of a grass like material.  Here is the inside:
There are rows of shelves inside the building.  The shelves are about four rows high and there are about 10 sets of shelves in the building.  The mushrooms actually grow out of the round plastic tubes you can see sitting on the shelves.  There were about 6000 tubes in the room.  The tubes contain a special soil mixture.  One end of the tube has a nozzle-like device on it and the mushroom grows out of that end.  The floor of the hut  must be kept moist for the mushrooms to grow.  The blind people keep the floor wet and they pick the mushrooms as they ripen and poke out through the end of the tube.  It is a pretty simple operation.  The blind are able to sell the mushrooms to markets and restaurants.  They can't keep up with the demand.  They need another mushroom hut and some improvements to the existing mushroom hut.  Hopefully, that is where LDSC comes in.  We are going to write up a project that we hope will be accepted in Hong Kong to help them obtain the materials to build a new mushroom hut and also to improve the shelving in the basket room.  Keep your fingers crossed and say your prayers that it will be accepted.

Saturday night the new YW's presidency in the KK1 branch held their Young Women in Excellence Night.
Crystel received her YW medallion:
Pres. Fausto presenting Crystel with her medallion.  The blurred lady in the back is the new YW president, Sis. Annie.  I am so proud of Crystel.  She has been a member of the church for not quite a year and has already earned her medallion.  When we were teaching her the follow-up after baptism lessons, I challenged her to get her medallion, and she did.  She is also one of my piano students.  She is a great young lady.  She is so humble.
The room was decorated really nice with balloons and table decorations.  They had really gone to a lot of work to make it look festive for the girls and their parents.  Unfortunately, only three mothers came out to support their daughters.  One father came, and he isn't even a member.  Of course none of the girls have fathers who are members.  Thank goodness for wonderful mothers.
One of the purposes of the activity was to encourage "modest dress".  So the girls put on a fashion show where they wore clothing that would be appropriate for church and clothing that would be appropriate for a birthday party.  These are the girls wearing their party dresses.  L to R:  Sandra, Tiffiny, Ivory, Chelsea and Crystel.  They are all beautiful girls, inside and out.  I love them all.  Of course, I Love the YW program.
The YW presidency gave each girl a present, a small picture frame.  And they gave each girl's mother a picture frame too.  And they gave the outgoing former presidency a picture frame.
And then for some reason they gave me a frame too.  Thanks ladies for a wonderful night.  L to R:  Sis. Annie, current YW president, Sis. Lillian, former YW president, some old lady, and then Sis. Rose current counselor in YW's presidency.  Oh, by the way, Sis. Annie is the mother of the Eds:  Eder, Edre, Edde and Edni.  They are the greatest YM you could ever hope to meet, so handsome and smart.  Three have served missions and the 4th Ed will be leaving in another few months.

We are leaving on Thursday to go to Singapore for a week. We are having another senior conference and getting our VISA chopped.  Pres. and Sis. Mains also asked us, along with the other humanitarian couple in west Malaysia, to be in charge of a service project for the seniors to do while at the conference.  It is proving to be pretty hard to put together a service project for Singapore when you live in KK.  We will definitely need the Lord's help to pull this one off.  Wish us luck -- better yet pray for us.

Hope everything is going well for all of you and that you are in the holiday spirit.  I just can't seem to get there completely this year.  I think it is hard because it is always 88-90 degrees outside and not a snowflake in sight.  And we are really missing everyone so much more right now at this time of year.  It is a time for families, so enjoy yours.  Love Ya All   E/S Read

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Graduation and Baptism

Greetings to All from wonderful Borneo.  It is now officially the Christmas season here in Borneo.  Believe it or not, they do celebrate Christmas here.  It is even an official holiday with time off of work and everything.  There is a big tree in the downtown area and Christmas sales are going on in all the department stores.  I was surprised.  I found some Christmas decorations left over from previous senior couples and decided to put them up to make the apartment look festive.  I found one small - 2 1/2 ft- tree, a Happy Christmas decoration for the door, 3 poinsettias, 6 ea of red, green and gold balls, about 10' for pine garland and four big bows.  I worked really hard for the better part of 5 minutes and got the whole place decorated.  It doesn't look too bad, but nothing like the 2 days I would spend at home decorating for the holidays.  It will have to do.  I have found some CD's "Oldies for Christmas" and boy they are old.  Some of the artists even I don't recognize.  But, the songs do also add to the Christmas feeling.  It is hard to feel too Christmasy when it is 90 degrees outside and not one snowflake in sight.  It will be a different Christmas, I'm sure but I'm also sure we will make great memories and come to love our Borneo Christmas.

This week was seminary and Institute graduation for the KK branches.  Bro. and Sis. Nielsen are the senior couple in charge of the S&I program.  They have been traveling all over east Malaysia to have the graduations in each of the branches.  There last one was today and they will be glad to be home.  Our S&I branches put on a little skit as part of the program.  They acted out the story of Queen Esther.  It was darn cute.  We only had about 4 seminary certificates given out and about 8 to 10 Institute certificates.  We did have one student who earned is Institute Diploma.  That is terrific.

This is a picture of the S&I students in their costumes.  They are singing a song at the end of their skit called "Perfect Faith".  I was really proud of them.  They did a great job.
These are the graduates with their certificates, front row l to r:  Crystel Chin, Viviana Chua, Tiffiny Teo, Betty Mojindal, Minna Justin and Jennifer Justin.  Back row l to r: Jackolyn Chua (no relation to Viviana and Ching), Ching Chua (Viviana's older sister), Stenley Chua (brother of Ching and Viviana) and David Liew.  There were a couple of others who were unable to attend the presentation.
The group:  front row l to r:  Pres. Lai, Elder and Sister Nielsen, Sis. Maylin Chua (seminary teacher), Sis. Mary Ling (institute teacher), Pres. Ling, Elder and Sis. Read.  Back row l to r: Crystel Chin, Viviana Chua, Tiffiney Teo, Stenley Chua, David Liew, Jackolyn Chua, Ching Chua, Betty Mojindal, Minna Justing and Jennifer Justin.

It was sad that only a few parents came.  These kids are really remarkable and have the initiative to do these extra things on their own.  I learn a lot from them.  This is the future of the church in Malaysia and they are all excellent young men and women.

We also had a baptism on Saturday night.  Lexlee turned 8 years old, although he isn't much bigger than a US 6 year old.

His mother is Sis. Alice and she has two other young sons, about 5 and 3.  She is so much fun to be around. She is teaching these young sons to be wonderful young men.  Their father is not a member, but he does allow them to come to church and to be baptized.  He even allowed Sis. Alice to attend the temple in July and take out her own endowments.

After the baptism we had food of course.  This is Lexlee with his birthday cake and his brother Eric with Sis. Alice in the background.  Happy Birthday Lexlee.

On Saturday Elder Joshua Subandriyo, area authority 70, came to KK to train on teaching the new curriculum for youth.  We picked him up at the airport and then he came back to our apartment for a late lunch.  We had also invited the district presidency to come to lunch.  I told them they would have to eat American food as I don't know how to cook Malay style.  They were all good sports and pretended to like it.  I didn't know I had cooked the wrong type of rice.  Who knew rice came in different "types".  I thought there was your basic long or short grain white or brown rice, but not so.  If you want steamed riced, there is a rice for that; if you want fried rice there is a rice for that; if you want rice pudding, there is a rice for that; and if you want rice porridge there is a rice for that.  Seems like I had cooked the rice used for porridge.  It was a stickier rice and not at all fluffy.  I thought it tasted ok but then I'm not a rice connisour (sp).  After they pointed out that I had used the wrong rice, they choked it down as best they could and were very nice about it.  I had also made a fruit salad using a lot of the local fresh fruits.  When I passed the salad around, they said they would eat it later as you didn't eat your fruit with the main course.  Who knew?  Obviously, not me.  I had made a nice cake for dessert, but it was "too sweet" for after a meal.  Some ate it, some didn't.  I took what cake was left over to Lexlee's baptism to go along with the meal they had there.  Some must of thought it wasn't too sweet, because every last crumb was gone in less then five minutes time.

Elder Subandriyo is such a wonderful man.  We enjoy being with him so much.  He is down to earth and not afraid to laugh and be silly sometimes with the members.  They all look forward to his visits.  It is easy to see why he is a GA.

Hope everything is going well for everyone.  We love to hear from you.  Please drop us a line if you get a chance.  It is how we keep up with everything going on in the terrestrial world.  Love to All   E/S Read

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful for so much

My Niece Natalie came to spend a week with us.  It was so great to have someone from "home" (even though she now lives in Australia for 2 years) come clear over here to see us.  She is always so happy and brings such joy with her it did our hearts good to have her come. While Natalie was here we visited some great sites.  Unfortunately, our camera battery died right after we left the school closing I showed in our last blog.  Natalie did take some great pictures for us and she will be sending them to us and then I can share the memories of Sandakan.  Sandakan was great.  We visited the Oran Utan park, the probiscus monkey park, the crocodile farm, the Sandakan war memorial and the Agnes Keith house.  It was so much fun to have Natalie visit.  She is such an inspiration to me and I love her to pieces.

On the day she left, we visited Mari-Mari, a cultural village here in Borneo.  Think Polynesian Cultural center only much much smaller.
This is Natalie tasting some of the honey at one of the villages in Mari-Mari.  The bees that make this honey are very tiny but the honey is very yummy.  It must take them forever to make a thimble full.
Here I am trying my lips at the blow pipe.  No poison dart on the end though.  Not that it would have mattered much.  It's harder than it looks to blow that dart out the end of the big long pipe.  This was in the head hunter village.  A true head hunter would hit you with the poison dart and then cut off your head and take it to the father of your beloved to prove that he could take care of a bride.  Too bad the custom fell out of favor.  It might be fun to have a head hanging by your family photo "The one that got away".
One of the villages had a kind of in-door trampoline made out of wood.  It kind of hurt your feet to jump on it.  Here are Nat and I jumping on the tramp.  The object is to get the trampoline bouncing really good and then jump up really high and try to reach a prize that is hanging from the roof.  We didn't even come close, but the guys in the native dress could really jump high and get the prize.


It was Thanksgiving week here in Borneo, but not too many Borneoans realized it.  We did and had a great Thanksgiving Day.  I was able to find a Norbest turkey from Moroni, Utah and potatoes from Idaho.  Not too bad for way over here.  We invited the elders, sisters and a newly returned missionary, David Liew (who served in Virginia) over to our apartment for a Thanksgiving feast.  And feast they did.  It is so great and so much fun to watch the elders enjoy the food like they did.  You would think they hadn't had a Thanksgiving dinner in oh 1 year.
The Thanksgiving table all set and waiting for the feast to begin.
The group ready to start eating as soon as we get through taking pictures.
Get closer to the table, it's almost almost time to start eating.  Just 30 more pictures to take.
The group after eating.  We are all so full we can hardly move.  Front row l to r: David Liew, Elder Petersen, Elder Gottfriedson, Elder Taddeus, Elder Schuetz.  Back row, l to r:  Sis. Cabella, Sis. Wilson, Elder Honey, Sis. whats-her-name, Elder Glad and Elder Parker.  They all had to get back to missionary work at 6 pm but they made sure they took lots of left overs home with them.  When I was making the rolls, I thought, I have made too much dough.  I am going to have so many rolls, I will have to freeze them.  Silly me.  By the time everyone cleared out, I had managed to save just 2 rolls for Ben and I out of 5 dozen.  It was a wonderful wonderful Thanksgiving and we will certainly always remember our Thanksgiving in Malaysia.  It was great to reflect on all the extraordinary blessings we have each day in our life.  We are so thankful for good families, good children, good grandchildren and good friends.  We love you all. E/S Read

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Closing

Another closing of another project.  I just love closing projects and seeing the happiness they bring to so many.  The project we closed last week was the Indonesian School Children Project.  The Indonesian children are not allowed to attend Malaysian schools if they don't have the proper documentation, which 99.9% of them don't have.  Kathryn Rivai has started schools for these children to give them at least a chance for an education.  They are educated in the Indonesian curriculum so when they go back to Indonesia they will be able to work there and continue their educations.

They first school we visited was the school at the JAVA lumber mill site in the town of Keningau, about 2 hrs. away.  There are over 120 Indonesian children in this school.  They had a real tragedy about two months ago.  They live in apartment type homes with many families in many apartments in a single building.  The building is made out of very old wood and is certainly not safe.  One family was frying some food with oil and started an oil fire which quickly spread and burned down the whole apartment complex.  Five hundred families lost EVERYTHING.  What a traumatic experience.  I felt so bad for all of them.  The JAVA mill who owns the housing, had all the other families whose homes were not destroyed take in one or two other families.  There can now be as many as 15-20 people in one small two bedroom (?) unit.  So tragic.  Kathryn went up to visit the school and housing the day after the fire and said that the children were mostly worried that they wouldn't be able to attend school.  Since the school wasn't harmed, school continued as usual.

Here are pictures from the JAVA school closing:

                                                So happy with his new backpack.
Some of the children of the JAVA School.  The blonde lady sitting by Ben is Kathryn Rivai, the director of the schools.  She is an amazing woman.  Also in the picture are some members of our branch who went with us.  Far left, same row as Kathryn and us is Sis. Alisia.  The man in the white shirt to Kathryn's right and behind the two little boys is Pres. Sebastian.  He is the branch president in KK2 and also the taxi driver.  We also had Melvin, the KK1 mission leader and David Liew KK2 Elders Quorum president go with us.

The next day we headed over to the town of Beaufort, about 1 1/2 hours away.
This is the welcome sign they made for us.  May be hard to read but it says:  Welcome Mr. Ben and Mrs. Margareth.  We thank a lot for your attention.  Beaufort, November 7th 2012.
They sang one of the 11 patriotic Indonesian songs they are required to learn.  The little girl on the left was the leader and she knew how to lead music.  
I just love the expression on this boy's face.  It says it all.  And the girl behind him too.  You just have no idea how thrilled and excited they were to get their new backpacks, school supplies and hygiene kits.  It was like Christmas, except they don't celebrate Christmas because they are Muslim.
Our group:  l to r David Liew, Elder's Quorum President KK2, Bro. Melvin, Branch missionary leader, a teacher at the school, Sis. Alisia in the RS Presidency KK1, Sis. Caroline from KK1, me and another teacher.

Our next closing was on Nov. 12th in the Village of Telupid.  We had to fly to Sandakan to get to this school.  It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive out of Sandakan.  The Sandakan branch president and his wife, Elder and Sis. Lee (who are also full time senior missionaries) a member from their branch named Jeffrey and the counselor in the district presidency went with us.
Their teacher and their motto.  The teacher is Indonesian also.
The children prepared several dance numbers and songs for us.  They had really worked hard to have a good program.  When we presented their backpacks to them, they each handed us a thank you card they had made.  So sweet.
The group.  My niece Natalie was able to come and spend a week with us and go to this closing with us.  It was so much fun to have her with us.  She is on the back row left in the blue shirt.  Thanks Natalie for coming with us.  I will blog more about our trip with Natalie later. 

I hope we will be able to visit these schools again some time and see how they are progressing.  They all have wonderful, dedicated teachers and Kathryn Rivai who cares so much about them.  The children in the schools range from the age of 4 on up to 18 or 19.  It is usually the first time the older children have been allowed to go to school, so they are in learning the basics with the younger ones.  We kept telling the older boys especially to stay in school and get an education.  So many times they are pulled out of school by their families and made to work on the plantations for the money.  It is so sad.  They want to learn.  Some of the older ones will even come in the evenings and meet with the teachers to try and learn then.

We had a great week.  I hope yours was wonderful too.  I will blog about our visit with Natalie next.  I HAD SO MUCH FUN WITH HER.  God bless you all.  Keep sending us emails and updates.   LOVE YA ALL
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