Sunday, February 24, 2013

And On It Goes

Ben never reads this blog so I'm going to start off by asking for your help.  On March 9 Ben will celebrate his 70th birthday.  What a milestone.  I can't believe he is going to be 70.  And I'm only 39.  He certainly robbed the cradle didn't he.  Anyway, I was hoping that everyone who reads the blog would send him a birthday greeting on his birthday.  Just a short little line to wish him a nice birthday, etc.  You can send it to and just put Happy Birthday Ben in the subject line.  I know he would enjoy hearing from as many as possible.  SSHH.  Keep it a secret.  Remember the time difference.  When it is the 9th here in KK it is still the 8th in the USA so please allow for the time difference.  Thanks.

Well it is still Chinese New Year here in KK.  Although I am told this is the last day/night.  Even as I type, fireworks are going off all over the city.  Quite a sight to see from our 14th floor, but there have been fireworks every night since Feb. 10.  On Tuesday night, Pres. Ng, from the KK1 branch, hosted a CNY dinner.  He has a very small apartment so it was pretty crowded.  Not everyone could fit inside so some had to sit outside in the hallway.

 He and his wife prepared all the food.

What a great meal they had prepared.  They had mee (the fried noodles in the bowl on the right), eggs, different types of chicken, vegetables, sausages, and of course rice.  This is what the spread looked like before the crowd hit.  This is how they had decorated their dining area:
After we all ate, Pres. Ng went to the apartment parking lot and lit fireworks.  The kids and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was a great evening.  Thanks Pres. Ng.

After a new convert is baptized, Ben and I give them some "follow-up" lessons.  There is a series of 6 lessons which kind of review again what they have learned.  It gives them a chance to ask any questions and it gives us the opportunity of meeting and teaching them.  It is a wonderful part of our mission.  An opportunity we really enjoy. We just finished teaching Jecko.  He is married to Cherianne who has been a member since she was a little girl.  Jecko joined the church before marrying Cherianne.  We finished our last lesson with them on Friday night.  We always bring in a meal for our last lesson together.  Nine times out of ten they all want KFC.  Jecko and Cherianne were no exception:
Elder Parker and Elder Putnam who served as translators for the lessons, Cherrianne holding baby, Jecko and Elder Read.  They are a wonderful family.  Their goal is to go the temple and be sealed as a family in the next year.  Jecko was also sustained as the 1st counselor in the Elders Quorum today.  He was hoping that he would get a calling soon. We feel he will do a good job.

Their baby daughter.  I think her name his Cherianne too.  She is about 4 months old and such a cute little thing and a real good baby.  

The Relief Societies in the KK branches are getting ready for the RS Birthday in March.  Saturday, yesterday, they had an activity of making a gift for each sister in the branches.  They made a decorative pin for your clothing.  They made them in all kinds of colors and styles.  I helped make a few, but I had to leave early to give piano lessons in the chapel, so I wasn't really much help.

The finished products:

Yesterday when we opened our door to leave for awhile, this is what we saw on our door as a door decoration:
Creeepppyyy!  His antennae must have been at least two feet across.  They grow their bugs plenty big here. We didn't invite him in and he was gone when we came back later.

Yesterday we had to take the elders shopping for appliances.  They needed a new refrigerator, a new vacuum and a new clothes washer.  The landlord refused to replace the refrigerator and the clothes washer, so the mission ended up having to buy it for them, or in other words, E/S Read bought everything for them until the mission can pay us back.  I didn't realize how much we would be relied on to be a bank.  The mission is very good to reimburse us without delay so we do ok. We ordered the fridge, washer and vacuum from the company at about noon and the company had everything delivered and set up and working by 3:00.    Without charge. What good service.  I think RC Willey could learn something from these guys.

Have a great day everyone.  I guess it is now Sunday morning where most of you are and it is Sunday evening here and Sunday is about gone.  Keep sending us emails.  We check everyday.  We love you all.  E/S Read

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Good Day All -- We are hoping you are enjoying your February and had a great Valentine's day.  We want to thank the Roy 30th Ward for sending us the Valentine from the ward.  It was so great to read all your comments.  It was so fun and we enjoyed it so much.  Thanks also to Mom, Summer, Whitney and Kathy for your mailed valentines and all the others who sent on-line valentines.  They're not too big on Valentine's day here but they do celebrate a little.  They are still doing the Chinese New Year:
A pole in the middle of a round-about that was really decorated with a lot of very pretty red lanterns.
If you look close, that is two people dressed as a lion doing the lion dance on top of those green poles.  It is amazing they can both dance together on those poles.  It was pretty amazing.  Such coordination!!
This is little Christine.  She had her own lion costume and was doing a lion dance for us.  Her mother invited us over for a Chinese New Year luncheon and Christine had to show us her costume.  She is so cute and she is so good with English.  Her mother, Lisa, is Philipina and her dad is Chinese.  Lisa says she doesn't speak Chinese and her husband doesn't speak Malay so I'm not sure how they ever manage to communicate with each other.

It was Elder Glad's last day in KK on Wednesday and it was also Elder Parker's birthday so we all got together for a luncheon.  Elder Parker found a restaurant in KK that serves --- MEXICAN FOOD!  Well, they specialize in burritos, but hey that's Mexican isn't it?  They are called the Chiwawa Cafe.  They make a kinda sorta Cafe Rio type burrito /salad.  You can choose the size of tortilla you want, small 6" up to a big 24". I chose the little 6" one which was plenty big enough for me, but the others all chose larger.  You could choose the type of meat you wanted, the type of rice, the type of beans, and the vegetables you wanted.  It was actually pretty good.  But hey, I haven't tasted true Mexican in so long that if they served Arabian Camel and called it a burrito, I would probably believe it and eat it.  Oh BYW, the latest new food I have tried is Chicken Butt.  Did you know chickens have really tiny butts so you have to eat a few butts to make a dent in your appetite, no ifs, ands or butts about it (groan --- sorry --- couldn't resist).  I really only ate a half a butt.

Here we are eating at the Chiwawa cafe.  The owner, Kyle,  is an orang putih (white guy) from Chicago.  We asked how did a white guy from Chicago come to own a cafe in KK.  He smiled and said "My wife" and pointed to a cute Malaysian gal who was helping.  This is all the seating they had -- all outside and we took every seat.  Kyle was excited to have all of us come and he even gave Elder Parker his meal free because it was his birthday.  And the Chiwawa Cafe on Thursday nights has a burrito eating contest where you can be the winner if you an eat a 4# burrito and 2 shots of tequilla the fastest.  Wouldn't want to have the winner for a companion.
This is Jen Simon.  She has been waiting for her mission call for a very very long time.  Everytime she would send in her papers, HK would send them back and say she needed to do one more thing, one more thing.  We finally got everything in and it took about 6 weeks for her to get her call.  This is Jen with her call.  She opened it and she is going to the SINGAPORE mission.  Yep!  Right here.  She was excited and the other missionaries, especially the sisters, were beyond thrilled.  They each hope they will get to be her trainer.  She goes to the missionary training center in the Philipines on June 7 and then will enter the mission field on June 20.  She kept telling me all day today, Sis. Read, I am so excited.  I can't believe it.  Sis. Read, I am so excited I can't believe it.  Sis. Read I think I am having a happy dream.  Sis. Read can it be really true?  I just love Jen.  She has already followed the full time missionaries for about a year now so she is very familiar with missionary work.  She will be one fantastic missionary.  She will make #7 missionary for the two KK branches.

These are some photos of the YSA's District Valentine Party.  Only one other person came from outside of KK, but the YSA had a great time.  There were about 50 in total.  It was supposed to be a dance, and they did do some dancing, but they mostly played some games and of course ate.  I made 12 dozen cookies.  Quite a few, more than enough don't you think.  But hey, these are YSA's and they do like cookies, so there were no left overs.  The top two pictures are the limbo.  The bottom is a game called "Honey"/"Darling".  It was funny.  Would take too long to try to explain but I'm sure you will want to play it at your next family reunion.

We had a tragedy in our branches this week.  A few weeks ago I told you about the birth of the two little twin girls, one named Evy and one named Dora.  They were born premature and were oh so tiny.  On Wednesday the twins got to come home from the hospital.  On Friday morning at about 3 am little Evy had trouble breathing so her daddy rushed her to the hospital, but she had died.  She was still so tiny.  She looked just like a little porcelain doll when we visited the funeral home.  They had a service for her today after Church.  It was the first time her mother, Senley, had been to the funeral home to see Evy.  It was so hard to watch that poor little mother.  She is having such a hard time.  Evy's daddy has had to carry most of the load and I feel bad for him.  Such a good family.  Last June they had saved their money and were able to take all their family to the Manilla temple for the first time and they were all sealed together as a family.  What a blessing that is now to this precious family.  I had a hard time too.  Everyone kept saying "Don't cry Sis. Read.  It will be ok."  "Don't cry Sis. Read" but I just couldn't help it.  I don't handle the deaths of little children well.  Pray for Bro. Gary and Sis. Senley and their children.  I think they are going to need lots of prayers to help them through this tragedy in their life.

Have a great week everyone.  We love you all and miss you all and think of you all and pray for you all every day.  Please send more emails.  E/S Read

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Gong Xi Fa Cai --  Happy Chinese New Year everyone!!  Well we have definitely learned what the biggest holiday and celebration of the year is here in Malaysia.  It is for sure Chinese New Year!  WOW what a party they throw.  We went to downtown KK on Tuesday night for a Chinese cultural/talent show they were having there.  There is a well known street here in KK called Gaya Street.  Similar to what 25th street would now be in Ogden.  Gaya Street was all blocked off and thousands and thousands of Chinese Laterns were hung everywhere
It looked so festive.  And of course, there were lots and lots of street vendors selling everything you could imagine, phones, clothes, food, cheap trinkets, etc.  But it was a lot of fun to browse through and visit.
The stage show they had featured mostly the local children who attend the Chinese Schools.  The show lasted for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours.
The boy in the middle was hilarious.  The only boy with all these girls.  A few of the numbers were done to traditional Chinese music but many were done to Western/US music.  This number was done to one of Michael Jackson's songs.  Don't ask me which one.  I never was much of a Michael Jackson fan.
I really liked this number.  The girls were all so graceful and elegant, especially in the way they held their fingers and hands.  It was beautiful.  Traditional Thai dance I think.
This girl and boy did a remarkable presentation.  He played the cello and she played the viola.  They were outstanding.
The main reason we went to the show was to see one of our newest members performing.  She is 11 years old and has so much talent and so much charisma and so much vibrancy about her.  She is so amazing for someone who is just 11.  She is the only one in her family who joined the church but she comes every week and participates in everything.
This is Kelly performing with her school mates.  She is in the middle, 7th from the left.
This is Kelly performing a solo number later in the program.  She owned the stage.
Kelly came down to see us between acts.  She is such a doll.  We just need to make sure to keep her coming and keep her involved.  She has a wonderful testimony and isn't afraid to share it.

A big part of the Chinese New Year is the lion dance.  These lions were outside of the stage area and every now and then the drums would beat and the lions would get up and start their dancing.  It was very fun to watch them.  But I think it must get really hot under those costumes.
Here is a close up of some of the lion costumes.  They are really elaborate and beautiful.  They have many lion dances almost everyday for a week at many different locations.  We hope to see one maybe tomorrow on our P day.

Of course, any respectable Chinese New Year will have tons and tons of fireworks.  For people who don't seem to have much, they seem to have a lot of fireworks.  They started Sat. night/Sunday morning at midnight.  The whole sky was lit with fireworks going off all over the whole city and area.  And they love fire crackers.  Strings and strings of firecrackers.  Some strings were so long they would last for a minute or longer.  That's a lot of fire crackers.  And they are the big loud ones, not woosey little quiet ones.  BIG LOUD ONES!!  There was still a lot of smoke in the air this morning from all the fireworks last night.  I don't know if there will be more fireworks tonight.  But I know we'll definitely hear them and see them if there are more.  Many of the businesses will be closed for about 4 days.  If you want anything done you are usually told "Not til after New Year".  They don't even publish the daily paper for 4 days.

Chinese New Year is so big here that we only had one Sacrament meeting for both branches today.  No other meetings, just Sacrament and both branches were at the same meeting.  There was a really good attendance though.  Everyone was going home after to cook and meet with their families later in the day.  Sounds like a lot of fun.

The Chinese also have a tradition for the new year called Amp Pau (not sure of the spelling).  The Chinese have the amp pau red envelopes in which they place money.  Then they give the red envelope to someone who is not married.  It must be given to someone who is not married and if you receive one you must accept it or you will insult the giver.  Some of the envelopes contain quite a bit of money.  Makes you almost want to be single for a day or two, especially if you know some rich Chinese.

Tomorrow the transfers will come out.  I really really hate transfers.  I know, I've mentioned it before but it never gets easier.  This is a picture of the KK missionaries in the KK district today after Sacrament:
Back row l to r:  Elder Glad (he probably will be leaving.  He has been here the longest); Elder Scheutz, Elder Griffin, Elder Read, Elder Tadius, Elder Parker and Elder Song.
Front row l to r:  Sis. Christianson, Sis. Cabella, Sis. Read, Sis. Nielson and Sis. Parker.
Elder Tadius and Elder Song are native Malays.  Elder Tadius also has a wonderful conversion story I will tell you when I get back if you remind me.  So this is our wonderful group of elders and sisters whom we have grown to love so much and we hate to lose any of them.  I tell them all they must keep in touch and let us know when they are in the Roy area or when they get married.  I tell them I will even give them a present if they will invite us to their wedding reception.  I figure they might remember to invite us if I promise them a present.

So as they say in Chinese "Gong Xi Fa Cai" or in Malay "Selamat Tahun Baru Cine" or in English "Happy Chinese New Year"  everyone.  It is the year of the snake and I hope it will bring good luck and prosperity to all of you.  We love and miss you all.  Send us an email!  E/S Read

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Greetings to All from lovely Borneo.  This week we had visitors!!!  Elder and Sister Nielson are serving in Kuching.  They are the missionaries in charge of the Seminaries and Institutes for the mission as well as MLS missionaries.  They will be going home in April and they wanted to see Mount Kinabalu before they leave for home.  They asked if they could come and spend three days with us and we were delighted to have them come.  It is always great to see some new faces across the breakfast table from you.  Don't get me wrong, Ben has a wonderful, gentle, handsome face that I really enjoy looking at but sometimes new faces can bring a new perspective to breakfast cereal and toast.

On Wednesday we took a boat ride out to the island Mamutik to do a little snorkeling.  The Nielson's are big water and swimming fans.  Ben and I not so much.  But we had never been to the island and wanted to check it out anyway.
Riding along with the wind and sea water and fish blowing through our hair.  It was a beautiful day to go to the island beach. (ltor:  Sis. Nielson, Elder Nielson, boat pilot, scary lady)

Pictures of the beautiful beaches, water and island.
Elder and Sis. Nielsen preparing to go snorkeling.  They said they saw some pretty fish and some awesome coral.  Elder and Sis. Read enjoyed the beach and just hangin' out.  The ride back to shore was a whole lot faster and a whole lot wetter and a whole lot bumpier.
We got soaking wet.  The boat driver just kept saying "Sorry.  Sorry" as he went lickety split and bounced us over the sides of the boat. (JK) I bet you can't guess which side of the boat we sat on.  We had a lot of fun on the island.

The next day we went with them to Mount Kinabalu.  We always enjoy going to the mountain.  For one thing, it is always so much cooler up there.  Every time we have gone to Kinabalu it has rained.  It rained again on Thursday when we made the visit.

 On the way up we stopped at a little village that was having a farmers market.  All the people from the nearby villages get together once a week and hold a market where they sell everything you can think of.  We were particularly impressed with this fish seller:

You know right where the fish sellers are -- just follow your nose.  Look at all those different kinds of fish.  These were all dried, but there were some sellers offering fresh fish.

Again we went to the botanical gardens.  You can see some beautiful, amazing flowers there.  Some are only native to Borneo.
This was Andrew, our guide.  He lived and grew up in one of the villages close by.  He and his family had a very poor existence but he said they never went hungry.  They didn't have much at all materially, but he said they never realized they were poor.  They were happy with what they had.  He was such a pleasant young man.  He has studied at the University and is still trying to get his degree.
 This is a laughing orchid.  When you touch the petal in the middle, it kind of moves up and down like it is laughing.
 This is a pitcher plant.  I think they are native to Borneo.  The pitcher part of the plant can get quite large and small animals like mice have been known to get caught down in the pitcher and drown.
 This is a fire works tree.  It kinda looks like fireworks, don't you think?  Come on use your imagination.
This plant isn't very big but if you look close you can see all the tiny little hairs that cover the leaves and the stems.  It was quite interesting.
If you look really really close at this picture you can see a cicada.  It has amazing camofalgue. Andrew saw it on the tree and picked it up.  I have never heard such a loud scream come from such a tiny little bug.  It scared me to death.  I wasn't expecting such a loud noise.  When he put him back on the tree, the cicada immediately changed colors and became just like a part of the tree.  WoW.  It was so fun to see.

We took a side trip on the way home to Poring Hot Springs.  At the Kinabalu Botanical Gardens we learned that Poring means bamboo.  I just thought it meant rain coming down in buckets.  Learn something new everyday.

Because it was raining so hard, we couldn't do the canopy walk or see the butterflies.  All we could do was  soak our tired feet in the hot water.  AHH.  It felt so good.  Just as we were taking the picture a lady came up and got in the picture between me and Sis. Nielson.  Don't know who she is.  She just said she wanted to be in the picture.  Can't really see her too good though.
Mount Kinabalu is a beautiful, rugged, steep mountain.  We met some hikers who were just coming down from a two day climb to the top.  They looked beat, tired, exhausted and ready to curl up and die.  They had been up since 2 am in order to hike to the top to see the sunrise on the mountain.  The last few K's are straight up.  They said it was hard to come down.  They had been hiking for 12 straight hours.

We really enjoyed our time with the Nielson's.  It is always great to have visitors.  Anytime any of you would care to drop by, our door is always open. 

We love you all and miss you all.  Send emails.   Love E/S Rea