Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our Project

In our last blog I told you we had our first project approved so now I will tell you more about it.  The project is an "Area Initiative".  It is to meet local needs and is for under $15,000 US.  There are also "Major Initiatives" such as the water projects, wheelchairs, vision, etc.  The major initiatives are usually for many thousands of dollars and involve specialists from SLC and need to have approval from SLC.  Area Initiatives don't need SLC approval but they do need approval from the area presidency in Hong Kong.
Our project involves helping a home for handicapped and abused children in KK.  It is called Bukit (Boo-Kit) Harapan.
They have 50 residents.  They range in abilities from being completely independent (mostly they've been emotionally, physically or sexually abused) to being able to do nothing for themselves.  Mostly they are throw-away kids. There is a staff of about 15.  The staff works 24/7 with no scheduled days off.  They receive no help from the government and get no parental help either.  They rely completely on donations.  We met with the director, Audra, and she told us of some needs they have.  She asked for some educational games and toys, some orthopedic shoes and some hygiene kits.  At first she asked if we would be able to find any used shoes because new ones are very expensive ($300 US per pair).  She wanted to know if we knew of any place in the US where they could get used shoes.  We told her we didn't but we would see if we could get her some new shoes.  
This is a picture of the shoes they need.  Not real stylish but they will help children to walk.  What's more important?  Audra was hesitant to ask for too much.  I think she doesn't want to appear too greedy so we will come back and help her again.  We were able to find a distributor for the toys and we got the pricing on how much it would be to put together the hygiene kits.  We submitted the proposal which came to about $1600 US.  It was approved and so now we start to put it all together.  We went on Saturday to place our order for the toys and the manager agreed to give us a 10% discount -- YIPPEE and the distributor of the shoes agreed to sell them to us for a substantial discount also.  I think we can do it for under budget.  The YSA are going to help us put the kits together and go with us to deliver them and interact a little with the residents.  It really breaks my heart when I visit BH.  There is such a need there and some of the residents have nothing but used everything.  We are so blessed in the US and we are so blessed to be able to help others.  
                                                        The front entrance to BH.  
I am excited to see this project through to its close.  We hope to have it wrapped up by the end of July.  We are always looking out for more projects we can do.  I think next week we are going to visit an orphanage and also a blind school to see if there is any thing we can help them with.
It was also Senior Conference last week.  All the seniors had to fly to Singapore to get their VISA's chopped, so while we are all there we have a conference.  It is also the last time we will see Pres. and Sis. Clark.  They leave on June 30 for home.  We will miss them.  They have done a remarkable job in building the kingdom here in Malaysia.  They have a home in Lincoln City, Oregon and invited us to come see them sometime and go deep sea fishing.  We stayed in Lincoln City about 5 years ago when we took all our family there.
                                                The Read's with Pres. and Sis. Clark. 
While in Singapore we visited Ft. Canning.  It was a British outpost during WWII and told the story of the last day of Singapore's independence before surrendering to the Japanese in Feb. 1945.  It was a sobering place to visit.  Singapore, Malaysia and the surrounding islands really took a beating from the Japanese and the Japanese are still hated here.
We hope everyone is doing well and we really do love and miss everyone. Thanks to everyone who leaves comments on our blog site.  We really enjoy reading them. God bless you all.   E/S Read 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful men who are happy and glad to be father's and who treat their wives and children with respect.  I was so blessed to have a wonderful father.  He worked hard to take care of his family, he taught us the gospel by example, and he was a lot of fun.  I miss him but I know he is happy where he is at, especially now that he can be with his own father who he lost at such a young age.  I am grateful to have a husband who exemplifies fatherhood also.  He shows love and respect to me and his children all the time.  I am grateful for the other fathers in my life -- especially the wonderful fathers of my nine terrific grandchildren.  I am grateful that Mark, John and Neil are great fathers who teach their children through their example and their loving ways.  I am grateful for good brothers and brother-in-law who further exemplify what it means to be a Dad.  I have been surrounded by good men and I am truly grateful.  After being over here and seeing how many fathers put other things above family, I know I am truly blessed.  I was counting the number of priesthood bearers of any age in our branches on Sunday.  In KK1 branch there were about 60 people there and maybe 10 of them were priesthood holders.  In KK2 branch there were about 50 people there with about 8 priesthood.  I wish the priesthood would step up to the plate and realize what blessings they have and support their families and branches more than they do.  Thank goodness for the women of the branches.  They are angels.  They come week after week and bring their little children and have no priesthood to rely on in their homes.  But, each week as I look at these little children I see little girls who are clean and dressed so cute and little boys (all the little boys) who have their hair combed and their faces scrubbed and are all wearing white shirts and ties.  I just hope when they get older they will follow the example of their mothers and remain strong in the church and help to build it here in Malaysia.

This is a picture of Sis. Roslin and her children at a Branch activity.  LtoR:  Larry 6, Henry 10 and Roslin holding Jeanette 20 months.  We taught Sis. Roslin and kids the follow-up lessons after baptism.  She is a delight and I love her kids.  Henry is quite the artist.  I always try to take him some blank paper whenever we go to their home as he loves to draw but they can't afford paper.  I try to take suckers or some treat for Larry and Jeanette also.  Henry had a birthday last week and Roslin asked if I would make him a chocolate cake.  After all the meals she fixed for us each time we went to teach, how could I refuse.  They live in the most humble home you an imagine.  The only furniture is an old table with some chairs.  They sleep on the floor on just thin little mats.  But they are a wonderful family.  Roslin is trying so hard to raise her children right.  Her husband isn't a member but he does let her come.  She also told me she is pregnant again.
 This is President Francis of the KK1 branch -- a great man.  He is a widower.
Me giving an impromptu talk at a YW Camp activity.
The four YW who came to the camp activity:  LtoR  Ebony, Tiffiny, Samantha and Crystel

We are leaving for Singapore on Wednesday to get our VISA's chopped and to have a senior conference.  This will be the last time we see Pres. Clark and Sis. Clark.  They are leaving for home on June 30.  They are from Oregon and have a home in the Lincoln City area where our family spent a wonderful week at the Oregon beach.  We'll have to visit them the next time we go.

If anyone who reads this blog went to my friend Suzi Nicholson's viewing/funeral, would you please email me and tell me about it.  If there is a copy of the program you can scan and send I would really appreciate it.  I'm still having a hard time processing that she is gone.

Has anyone read the book Corrag by Susan Fletcher that I recommended a while ago?  I would also like to know what you thought of it.

Has anyone been reading the BofM?  what have you thought about that book?  Pretty terrific isn't it.

Ben just told me, right now, this very minute, that our first project we developed has been APPROVED.  I am so excited.  I will tell you all about next blog.
Everyone take care and thanks for all your love and support.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Funeral Traditions

This week I thought I would share the traditions and ceremonies associated with a funeral in Malaysia.  The whole process is quite touching.  It is not so different from our services, but there are some special things they do that have special meaning to them.  We had an elderly gentlemen in our branch die on Friday afternoon.  He was 84 years old.  He and his wife have been members of the church for six years.  They were former pastors/ministers in their previous church.  They will always greet you at church with a Halleljuia (sp?) and when they leave they always say Praise the Lord.  They are a wonderful couple.  They live with their daughter and her family who are members.  There are also some other children who are members I think.  He had cancer two years ago and as a result he had a hole in his throat and couldn't speak, but he was still delightful.  They called and told us he had died on Friday afternoon.  It is the custom here that you go right to the funeral home and greet the family there after a death.  When we got there, they were still busy with the embalming process.  Some priesthood brethren from the branch were there and they dressed him in his garments.  There are no temple clothes so he was just buried in a nice suit.  After we had been there for about 30 min.  they brought bro. Anjun out and laid him in a clear see thru box.  (Think the one Snow White was in).  Other people came and visited with the family.  The next day they had a service at 7:00 in the evening at the funeral parlor.
When I walked in I was asked to play the keyboard.  At first the keyboard was way too high.  I couldn't even see the keys, let alone play them.  The keyboard was eye level.  Someone came along and adjusted it for me, they almost let it hit the ground.  So I ended up being the keyboardist for the program.  The branch president spoke and then his daughter Dorcas spoke.  Dorcas is a one-woman missionary force.  She has brought so many people into the church it is truly amazing.  When the service is over, as you leave the room, there is a cash box and a book set up for you to sign and make monetary donations.  Then they hand you a "Thank You" envelope with two pieces of candy and a 20 cent piece in it.  On Monday they had a service at the branch building.  I was supposed to play again, but someone else told me not to worry, they would play.  To "play" on the pianos here, all you need to do is push a button and off you go.  Of course, I play not push buttons but I was happy to let someone branch take over this duty.  This time bro Anjun was in a casket with a small window opening over his face where you could just see his face but not touch him.  Again the branch president spoke and the district president spoke and then we all got in a line and walked past the casket to pay our last respects and to meet the family.  Then we went back to our seats.  Then it was the family's turn to go up to the casket.  It was very touching and very sad and very hard to witness.  They are a very emotional people and there was loud crying and wailing.  Some members draped themselves over the casket and had to bee helped away.  It was particularly hard when they closed the casket.  Then we all went to the cemetery.  Ben had been asked earlier that day if he would dedicate the grave.  We both thought they might want someone who spoke Malay to do it so his little widow could understand.  But Ben dedicated the grave.  The grave site was in a very sad part of the cemetery.  Not one blade of grass.  Just dirt and weeds and litter.  Think boot hill only worse.  They had dug a grave and the coffin was placed on ropes and lowered into the grave.  After Ben's prayer, we all took turns throwing handfuls of dirt on the coffin.  Then they started with shovels to fill in the grave.  The grave had no vault or liner.  Just a hole with the casket.  This was another very hard emotional time for the family and friends.  One lady was on the ground with grief.  I thought maybe she was having a seizure, but she was just extremely overcome.  Bro. Anjun's son really had a hard time also.  He kept crying and screaming "Bapa"  which means father.  Someone had to come and hold him upright.  Later that night we went over to sister Dorcas' home to meet the family and have something to eat.  I hope the family found comfort and peace in the services and know that Bro. Anjun is alive and better off.  The funeral was kind of a mix of Mormon and Malay traditions.

Some of you have been asking to see a picture of the car we drive, well here it is:
Sorry.  The image is on it's side.  Not a bad little car don't you think.  It's small but it really can get us around town fast.  Oh wait
I guess this is more like the car we drive.  Small but adequate.  We got a flat tire on the day of the funeral.  We must have driven over something in the weeds.  Ben is doing much better with the driving now.  I'm not nearly as hoarse from screaming and my knuckles are not so white, gradually getting pinker.  And I'm not sucking so much air out of the car anymore either.  I can almost relax a little, almost.  It is really just a coke can on wheels.  Pray that we never have an accident because you know how sturdy coke cans are.

Well, we wish you all the best and hope you are enjoying the gospel.  We are.  It is wonderful to serve in so many different areas.  We have submitted our first humanitarian project that we have developed ourselves.  Pray for us that all will go well with it and that the brethren in Hong Kong will accept it.  I'll write more about our project at a later time.   Love ya all

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Doctor Report

Hi all -- We just walked in to the apartment from seeing the kidney doctor.  So many of you have expressed concern I just thought I'd update the blog and let you know what the doctor said.  Both the doctor and Ben think the stone has passed.  The doctor did a scan this morning of both kidneys and said things looked good.  If Ben does have more pain, he needs to come back to the doctor/hospital and they will decide what to do from there. But for now, Ben is pain free and we'll keep praying things stay that way.  Thanks for all your prayers and good thoughts.  We know it really helped.  Love to all E/S Read

Sunday, June 3, 2012

When I got up this morning to check our email as I do every morning, the first thing I saw was an email from Kathy telling us about the death of my friend Suzy Nicholson.  She was killed in a tragic car/taxi accident in NYC and her 11 year old grandson was hurt.  The taxi driver was also killed.  Suzy was a wonderful person.  She was the secretary of the Geosciences at WSU so we interacted everyday.  We would go walking every day about 10:30 to get our blood moving again.  She was so great to talk to and share life stories.  I remember when I left WSU she said she wouldn't be able to come to our farewell because she was going to be in NYC then but she said I'll see you when you get back.  I'm truly heartbroken and saddened by her sudden tragic death.  She was a light in the world and did so much good.  I'm having a hard time processing that she is gone.  People as wonderful as Suzy should still be here.

This week we had district leadership conference.  Elder Subandriyo of the 70 came to conduct the training.  He is a wonderful witty spiritual man and the members are so lucky to have him come.  He is native Indonesian so most of the members could relate to him better than some white dude.  Some of the people had to travel 6 to 7 hours by bus to come to the meeting and then turn around Sunday afternoon and travel 6 or 7 hours back.  I'm always humbled by what they are willing to sacrifice for the gospel.  We complain if we have to travel 15 minutes farther than our ward house for meetings.  I'll never complain again.

Last night the Elders, BP and us went to visit a young member man who had a stroke a few years ago.  It left him with a limp and difficulty in getting around.  He hasn't been to church since his stroke so we went to see him and his wife.  We talked about temples.  He said that he wanted his family to go to the temple.  He MUST work on Sat. and Sunday but he wants his wife to start attending and paying their tithing so they can go to the temple in a year or so.  I sure hope and pray he can find another job and that they will make it to the temple.

On Friday President Clark called and wanted to take a trip to the Tip of Borneo.  It is about a 3 hour drive from KK and his plane didn't get into KK until about 1:00.  Well, we made arrangements for a car to take us up to the Tip and we went with President Clark and the two AP's.  We didn't get there until about 5 and the sun goes down at 6 so we didn't have too long to spend there.  I hope we can go back sometime and spend more time, possibly even stay over night.

Looking up the path that leads to the TofB overlook.  It was pouring rain and blowing so hard.
The marker at the TofB.  We look like two drowned rats, which we are.  We were soaked.
See the flag blowing straight out?  See us looking wet?
View of the So. China Sea where it meets the ocean at the TofB.
this beautiful rainbow came out just before it got dark.  I love rainbows.
Well just a little bit of the Ramblin' Read's.  Please let us hear from you.  We enjoy your comments.  Love to you all.