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
E S Read

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Just close your eyes and pray

Salamat Pagi from Borneo.  We hope and pray you are all doing "baguse" (great) as they say here in Borneo.  I thought I would try to impress you with my Bahasa Malay.  Are you impressed?  Well don't be because I know very little Bahasa but I keep trying to learn a word a day.  So far I think I've learned um like 10 words.  I'll keep working though.  The Elders here are very helpful but all the locals want you to speak English so they can learn and practice their English.

We made one trip into the jungle last week.  It wasn't too far out.  It was only about 1 1/2 hrs out of KK.  It was by far the roughest, toughest, bounciest, worst road I have ever been on.  It was like a Disneyland ride.  I just closed my eyes and prayed.  We had to cross this river three times:
The first time we crossed was the deepest.  The driver put a blue tarp clear across the front of the 4WD to keep the water out of the engine.  It was quite deep.  I just closed my eyes and prayed.  Notice the hill and mud we had to go up on the other side.

About another 30 minutes jolting and bumping and grinding along we came to this fine stretch of road:
That is pure mud and ruts.  Our driver tried three times to get up this hill, but the 4WD just kept sliding and slipping.  Again, I just closed my eyes and prayed.  We all had to get out at this point and continue our journey on foot.  Our shoes were soon caked in mud and in some places your foot sank up to your ankle.  Yecchh.  When we got off the road we could see the village of Tiku that we were headed for:
Isn't that a beautiful picture.  It was so pretty when we could actually see the village, our destination.  Before we could go down to the village we had to cross the river again, but this time it was by suspension bridge:
The bridge is actually about 150' up.  It sways and you must be very careful where you put your feet.  As you can see in the picture, the boards are not in the best condition, they are broken and cracked and sometimes not even there.  This time, I just prayed, didn't dare close my eyes.  When we got to Tiku we talked with a villager named Moses and his family
They are such cute children.  Moses and his wife actually have three more children who were away at school for the week.  Such a poor humble home.  We think we can help this village get clean water by giving them new pipes and helping them with the dam they have built in the stream.
Some of the homes in Tiku.  Again, I closed my eyes and prayed for these people and I prayed we could bring them clean water and that someday they would be able to hear from the missionaries about the living water they can have in their life.

The next day after getting back from Tiku we put together the school kits and the hygiene kits for the three Indonesian schools we are helping.  Both branches combined for a joint Fellowship Night and they really dove right in and helped us so much.  There is no way we could have done 300 hygiene and 300 school kits by ourselves.  The members LOVED it.
First we all put on our "Mormon Helping Hands" vests.  These were a big hit.
The members would grab a backpack and head on down the school line where others put the items in the backpack.  Then they headed out the door and across the hall to get the hygiene kits:
After they had the school supplies and hygiene kit in the backpack, they put them in the empty room next door.  I should have taken a picture of that room.  It's amazing how 300 backpacks can fill up a room.
This is one of our little helpers, Evan.  He was so excited to be able to help and everyone made sure he got his backpacks filled.  He was happy to be helping like the big kids.
Some of the branch members who helped l to r:  Pres. Ng (mostly there, by the door), Sis. Audrey, RS Pres. KK1 branch; Sis. May Lin, YW Pres. KK2 branch; Sis. Ervinna, RS Pres. KK2 branch; Sis. Juliza, wife of Pres Harun KK2 branch; Pres. Fausto, 2nd Counselor District Presidency and Mary Ling, wife of the district president and institute teacher KK2 branch.

It was a very successful activity.  We love the branch members for all the support they so willingly give.  They love to serve.  So again, I closed my eyes and prayed for the branches and all the wonderful people in KK.

Thank you all for your comments.  It's good to know someone is reading the blog.  I hope it gives you a little insight into what it is we are actually doing out here.  If you ever have any questions, please let us know.  We will try to answer you. We love staying busy and we love serving in Malaysia.  It truly is the "Greatest Mission on Earth".
E/S Read