Sunday, August 26, 2012

Buduk Bui Part 2

The purpose of going to Buduk Bui was to check on how the water project in that village and the two other villages had progressed.  There had been a closing ceremony on the project about 8 months ago but then it was learned that the project was not quite finished.  Some pipes still needed to be laid and some more connections made.  We went to check to make sure everything was finished as agreed.  It was.  So instead of holding another closing ceremony we had a "Turning-It-Over-To-You" ceremony.  Here are some pictures:
This is the big banner they had made up.  The ceremony was held inside their church building.
Some of the dancers in their native costumes.  Aren't they beautiful? And all handmade.  The dance told the story of planting and gathering the rice.
They gave us these hats they had also made.  They are really nice hats.  The man with us is Leo.  We stayed at his house.  Speaking of our accommodations, I thought you would like to see our bedroom:
They were very kind to us while we were there.  They had two mats sacked for us to sleep on instead of the usual only one.  It really wasn't bad at all.  And now for
THE BATHROOM. . .Yes that is the toilet on the left.  It is horrible and gross.  I tried to hold it for four days, but that wasn't working so then I just tried to hold it as long as I could.  When we got back, I quickly ran to our bathroom and hugged the toilet.  Everyone run now and hug your toilet. I was never so glad to see a toilet in my life.  You showered (??) by taking water out of the big red bucket on the right with a smaller scoop and then dumping it over you and getting wet, then soaping up, then dumping more water over you to rinse.  Brrr  it was cold.  The floor needless to say gets very slick so you must be careful.  You brush your teeth by spitting into the little hole on the floor that you can see to the right of the toilet.  Everyone needs to thank Heavenly Father tonight for the tender mercy and blessing of toilets and showers.

We took a hike up to see the micro Hydro Pump that was installed to bring electricity to the village.  It is quite a simple thing to see but it is responsible for all the electricity they get in the village.
Hiking through the jungle to get to the micro hydro turbine.
More hiking in the jungle.  Now I truly know what they mean when they say "it's a jungle out there".
This little green turbine is responsible for all the electricity for the village.  (That's Leo with us again) It does a remarkable job and is very eco-friendly.  The only problem is, if it rains really hard, debris will get caught in the line before it reaches the micro-hydro and plug it up.  Then someone has to hike up to the area and clear the debris.  But they are so grateful to have the electricity they don't mind the hike.  Say your prayers and thank your Heavenly Father for the gift of electricity.  While they have electricity now, they still must be careful how they use it.  If too many try to use too many appliances all at once, the power fades in and out. They are only supposed to use the electricity for their lights and the TV's (they all have Astro satelite dishes). Maybe in the future they will be able to get more turbines and increase their capacity.  But their power bill is remarkable, they pay Rm5 per month, which in US is about $1.75 a month regardless of how much electricity they use.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Buduk Bui Part 1

What an amazing trip we just had.  We have just come from the most beautiful spot I think I have ever had the opportunity to see.  I didn't think villages like this one, and the others near it, ever truly existed.  I thought they were just found on picture post cards or in National Geographic.  It will take more than one post to share all the great things we saw, we did, we ate, we learned.  The pictures we took don't really do it justice, but remember, we are not professional photographers.  Merely to old missionaries having the time of our lives.  I still have a hard time believing the Lord has sent me here and I am seeing and doing the things I am.  I never would have believed it in a hundred million years, and now here I am.  How did a poor city girl from Ogden Utah end up in the beautiful little village of Buduk Bui?  (Pronunciation:  BooDuck Boo ee) (now abbreviated BB).
We left KK last Tuesday morning for the city of Miri in the state of Sarawak, very close to the border with Brunei.  We met with the other senior missionaries there.  They had a possible project for us to look at and some people they wanted us to meet.  The next morning we were off to BB.  We were a little bit hesitant about our plane, it was an 18 seater and they weighed everything before you got in the plane, including each person.  You can just imagine how much I loved that.
A view of the plane and a view from inside the plane.  Usually you could see the pilots through the little curtain in front.  You could be a back seat pilot I guess if you wanted to.  We made a quick stop at the metropolitan airport of Lawas:
The control tower is a 2 story building just to the left of the "terminal".  Both ends of the runway sit on a big horseshoe bend in the river, consequently the river is on both ends of the runway.  The had a "Kantine" in this terminal, but it was closed due to Ramadan.

Our next stop was at Ba'Kalalan.  There were rice paddies at both ends of this run way with workers in the paddies planting away.  The plane only comes to Ba'Kalalan on Mon., Wed., and Sat. mornings so everyone comes out to watch the plane land, all 20 of them and 40 dogs.
This is their method for unloading/loading luggage from the plane and transporting it to and from the, I don't know what to call it.  It's not a terminal, just a building I guess.
 This is the fire department in case there should be a crash landing.  The motorbike has a hitch on the back that can hook on to the two fire extinguishers on the left in case of a fire.  There was also a crew of four all dressed in firemen's uniforms standing by to watch the landing and taking off.
We were met at the airport by Martin who owns one of the few trucks in town.  He loaded all our luggage and all of us in the truck and off we went.  I need to mention that we were accompanied on this trip by Patrick and Ann Panai and their daughter Phyllida.  Patrick is a member of the Rotary Club which was the partner of LDS Charities on this water project.  Patrick was also born and raised in one of the villages which received a water project.  His village was next to BB.
Ben getting into the back of the pick up for the trip to BB.  The man without a head in the middle is Patrick.  The other man is Patrick's cousin and the man in blue is Martin the driver.  We headed off for BB down a pretend road.  We had to keep checking to make sure everyone was still in the back and hadn't summer- saulted out of the truck.  The road was pretty bad.  So many ruts, rocks and ravines a person could get lost for days.  It was only about a twenty minute drive from Ba'Kelalan to BB.  Thank Goodness!
Some locals right outside the village of BB.  I didn't think this really existed.  I thought it was staged for the NG photographers, but it is true and it is so neat to actually see.
This is one view of BB.  There are green rice paddies, green meadows, green mountains, and green trees.  There are ducks, chickens, water buffalo, cats, dogs, birds, pigs, little kids, big kids, old men, old ladies, young men and young ladies, fathers, mothers, grandmas and grandpas.  They do not have a road in the town.  The only road is above the village.  There is a nice walking trail down the middle of town and you can see everyone in the village on the trail at one time or another.  There are about 25 homes in BB.  They are mostly like the one you can see on the left in the picture with the red roof.  They are really quite large.  The home we stayed in had seven, yes 7, bedrooms.  All of the bedrooms are very large.  And the kitchen -- it was huge.  You could hold a Cowles Family Thanksgiving in the kitchen and everyone could sit at one big long table.  While the houses may be large, they are very sparsely furnished and  the construction would never ever pass inspection in the U.S.  But they are cozy and just what is needed in this area.  BB is up in the mountains so the air is cooler at night.  You just open the windows and let the cool mountain breeze blow through.  No need for air conditioning anywhere here.  It was just so pleasant.

I will post more a little later and tell you more about the project(s) LDS Charities did in this area.  You will be very proud of what the church has accomplished in helping these people.  Stay tuned for more news from BB.  In the meantime, our love to all.  Keep the emails and blogs coming.  We love to hear from you.  E/S Read

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Some of you have been curious as to what our apartment looks like so this week I thought I would share some pictures of our home away from home with you.  All in all our apartment is really quite large and adequate.  This one floor we have is bigger than the one floor of our home in Roy.  We enjoy it here.  It is convenient to the church and other areas we frequent.  We are slowly learning our way around KK and are not so scared to venture out on our own.  The traffic is still terrible.  When we went to Bukit Harapan to deliver our humanitarian items, a trip which would normally take 15 min., we went at 5:30 which is getting off work time and it took us over an hour.  YIPES  I thought I was going to scream.  Well, anyway, here are some apartment pictures.
This is my favorite wall in the whole apartment.  It is in the living room and it is fun to just look up and see the kids and grandkids anytime.  What?  You can't see any handprints for the Diamond kids?  Neither can I.  Kathy keeps saying they are coming, but it's been almost 6 months.  Give Kathy a bad time.
This is the dining area and the door going into the kitchen.  I have two clocks on the wall to the left.  One tells Utah time and one tells KK time.
The living room.  The sofas and couches and chairs are not very comfy.  Too soft and you sink down in them to far, but they work.  We never use the TV.
Kitchen, small but adequate.  I have even washed my dishes for this picture.  The kettle to heat the water is on the right, you can see the red button.  Only source of hot water in the kitchen.
The laundry room.  The drying rack comes out into the front room on laundry day to hang the clothes on.  Most people here just hand them out their windows on special lines.  I don't our apartment allows that.  The washer will only hold one set of sheets and then it is full.  Again, small but adequate for our use.
The spare bedroom.  When you come for a visit, this is where you'll stay.  Be sure and sign up waayy in advance as we are getting booked.
Ben's bathroom.  It's blue.
My bathroom.  It's orange.  That's how we tell them apart and don't barge in on each other.
Our office.  Ben sits on the left in the black chair and I sit on the right in the blue chair.  That's how we tell our chairs apart.  Ben has a nicer computer than mine.  Mine is small, but you guessed it, adequate.
Well, I don't know what happened here.  But this is our bedroom.  And it is not small.  It is actually quite large.  To the right of the bed is a vanity and there is also a closet.  The bed is king sized so we kinda get lost.  Sometimes I don't see Ben all night.  Of course I have my eyes closed and I'm not really looking for him either.  But it is a nice room.  It is orange in color.  You can't book this room when you.  Sorry.  Only the best guest room in the house for you.  Well, that is a little tour of our home.  We really like it.  we have found it is bigger than most of the other senior apartments in the mission and at a lower cost even.  If you go to Hong Kong you pay twice as much rent for only about 1/4 of the space.  We are so blessed to be in KK.

On Tuesday we are leaving to go to the "interior".  You know what that means. . . the jungle.  We have to make a trip in to close on one of the water projects and we will be looking around the jungle to find other possible water sites.  The plane that will take us into the jungle only goes in twice a week.  So we have to wait for it to come back and pick us up later.  We will get back to KK on Monday, the 20th.  I'm excited and scared and nervous.  Be sure to check back later to see if we survived.

You know how they say that married couples start looking more and more like each other as time goes by.  Well, I'm afraid I'm going to have Ben's hairline by the time I get home.  My hair has really started falling out for some reason.  It is really scary.  Anyone have any suggestions?  I'm really just trying to help Ben feel better about his hairline, but it is really got me concerned.

Keep the comments and emails coming.  I know I say that every week, but we really really enjoy hearing from everyone.  We love and miss you all so much.  E/S Read

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Beautiful Children

On Monday night we closed on our project for the children at Bukit Harapan.  We took the YSA with us and we had a wonderful night.  It was so fun to see the YSA interacting with those special children.  The children at BH were so happy to have them come.
This is a picture of some of the items we took to BH.  We had them all stored in our spare bedroom.  You can see some of the toys and the boxes of Hygiene kits we had.
This is a picture of little Mei Lin who is about 9 years old.  She has terrible feet and it hurts her to walk and run and play, but she always, always has a smile and is so glad to see you when you come.
After she was fitted with her shoes she could jump for the first time and not have pain and not land funny.  She is a doll!
The children of BH with their educational toys.
The YSA passing out the hygiene kits.
Our group who delivered everything and got to meet the kids and play with the kids at BH.  (Natalie, see David Lieu second from left back row.  He says to tell you "HI".)
Some of the children of BH with Elder Read.  We don't think we will ever forget this night and all the joy these children had.  They have so very very little in life and are so thrilled with whatever you can offer them rather it be toys, or shoes or just a big hug and a kiss on the head.  They have truly made a change in our lives -- a change for the better.  We love them!

On Wednesday we went to visit a school about two hours away in a town called Keningau.  There is a big wood mill there that employees mostly Indonesians.  It's not good to be an Indonesian or Phillipino in Malaysia.  They are treated very poorly and make very little money.  A good paying job for an Indonesian at the wood mill will pay Rm500 per month, about $175 US.  The government of Malaysia will not educate the little children who are here, whether legally or illegally, with their parents.  We met a lady named Kathryn who has undertaken the project of setting up schools in the mill towns and palm oil plantations to give these Indonesian children a chance for an education.  She is doing a wonderful service and hopefully we will be able to partner with her and provide school supplies, hygiene kits, games, etc. for these special children.
In the kindergarten class.  Kathryn is the lady on the right.  She is from New Zealand and has spent 30+ years of her life in education.
Some of the children and their teachers.  I taught them to sign "I LOVE YOU".  They are such darling little innocent children.  They just need a chance to have an education.  They can do so much and go so far if they are just given that chance.  Sadly, so many children take an education for granted and don't fully appreciate it.  We think we have a good chance of getting this project approved as the area authority seventy, Elder Subandriyo, is from Indonesia.  We had a skype meeting with him after we got back from meeting the children and he seemed excited about it.  In fact, he even told us an Indonesian song we could learn to sing and gave us a you tube address where we could go to down load the song with the words and music.  Pray that this project will be approved too.

On Saturday the branches had an "Adopt a Highway" project.  We cleaned the highway running in front of our church.  Service projects are kind of a foreign idea over here so we are trying to teach them to give service to their community and each other.  Saturday evening they came over to our condo complex and had a swimming party.  It was fun for all.  We will do the same highway clean up in another three months.

I am also back in the piano teaching business. Right now I have about 5 students.  They are all at least 14 years old and they all seem to want to learn.  I was able to get them some free keyboards through the Harman Family grant so that will help them to be able to practice, which has been the biggest obstacle in their learning to play.  They can't afford pianos of their own and it is very hard for them to get to the church to practice, so the Harman keyboards are so welcome!  We'll see how many of them actually stick with the program.  If they don't complete the program and do everything it says on the contract I had them sign, then they can't keep the keyboard.

We are enjoying our time here in Malaysia.  It is a beautiful part of the world, one we knew nothing about.  But we are finding that there are wonderful people wherever you go!  We love you all   -   keep the emails and comments coming.
E/S Read