Sunday, March 31, 2013

Enjoying Easter in East Malaysia

HAPPY EASTER to everyone.  What a joyous time of year.  I just love Spring.  It holds such a promise of good things to come and cold wintry things going adios.  Not that we have had such a cold and wet and freezing winter here in Malaysia.  We scarcely even knew winter had made an appearance.

It was another sad day for me on Thursday.  It was transfer day again and we lost two sisters and four elders.  However, we did get another elder transferred in to KK so we lost a total of five of our missionaries with only one replacement.  We are now down to two sisters and four elders.  I am sure going to miss them. They become just like your own children.
Our last district meeting all together.  Front row l to r:  Elder Scheutz, Elder Griffin, Elder Tadius and Elder Song.  Middle: Elder Read, Sis. Read, Elder Parker and Elder Putnam.  Back Row:  Elder Kong (only here for a week), Sis. Caballa, Sis. Christiansen, Sis. Nielsen and Sis. Parker. Aren't they a good looking group and they are so dedicated and hard working.  I truly love them all.  The five we lost are E. Scheutz, Elder Griffen, E. Song, Sis. Caballa and Sis. Christiansen.  These young elders and sisters touch our lives in so many ways.  They will never know how much we learn from them and their examples of Christlike service.

I will miss seeing all their shoes piled in the entry way.  Most of them have need of work on the souls or a good polishing and cleaning.  You can learn a lot about a missionary by looking at their shoes.

On Thursday morning before they all flew off for their new assignments, we got together for another final -- a final breakfast.  It was supposed to be a breakfast at 7 am, but then it got moved to 7:30 and then it got moved to 9 and then it got moved to 10.  Finally we all got together at 11 for a brunch.  We ate at this fun spot called "Bombers".  It is run by an American guy and he serves real American Hamburgers made with real beef.  And the hamburgers are huge.  Elder Read and I and most of the others got  breakfast food -- they also make killer French Toast -- but Elder Tadius got the hamburger.  It was huge.  Did I mention how big it was.  But Elder Tadius wasn't to be intimidated by a hamburger and he quickly put it in its place -- actually in his place, his stomach.  Then it was time for final hugs from me (appropriate hugs!) and tears and good byes.  I made them all promise to invite me to their weddings and to keep us up to date on their lives.
                                                         The KK District at Bombers

It was also District Conference this weekend.  About 20 people came over from Sandakan on the bus for a six hour bus drive and about 20 people came from Tawau on the bus for an eight hour bus drive.  It was also Pres. Mains' birthday on Saturday, the 30th (same as Gracie's).  The expert cake maker in our branch made Pres. Mains a cake with only about 3 hours notice.  As always, it was delicious.
                  Pres. and Sis. Mains with Josie the cake maker and her signature chocolate cake.

We invited Elder and Sis. Crookston from Sandakan and Elder and Sis. Atkinson from Tawau to join us for Easter Day dinner.  Pres. and Sis. Mains couldn't make it as they had to catch a plane right after the Sunday meeting.  We had a traditional Easter dinner of ham, funeral potatoes, corn, orange jello fluff salad, hot rolls and strawberry shortcake.  It was so good to have a real American Easter Dinner.  We bought the ham in Singapore, I froze it in the refrigerator at Singapore and then carried it home to KK in my purse.
Around the table, Elder and Sis. Atkinson, Sis. and Elder and Crookston and some strange strange lady.

HAPPY EASTER TO ALL.  Be so grateful for the special gift that was given to everyone, free of charge and the eternal blessings it holds.   Love to All   E/S Read

Sunday, March 24, 2013


What a crazy wonderful week we have had.  

Every Tuesday we have district meeting at our apartment.  They have it here for one reason.  Bet you can't guess what it is.  If you guessed FOOD you would be correct.  We love having the elders and sisters here.  We discuss new investigators, problems they may be having, announcements, and then one of them gives about a 30 minutes lesson out of "Preach My Gospel".  The lessons they give are just amazing.  I learn so much from the insight and knowledge these young missionaries have about the gospel.  After the business end of the meeting we get down to the eating.  This week we had tacos and spanish rice.  We also celebrated Elder Read, Elder Schuetz and Elder Putnam's birthdays.  Elder Read and Elder Schuetz both have a birthday on the ninth.  Because Elder Read's favorite dessert is banana cream pie and because I love him the most and because I am the cook, we had banana cream pie and also coconut cream pie.  And we couldn't forget the candle!  This is what it looks like after lunch:

They don't stay this way for long though.  They are really hard working so they deserve a few minutes rest before starting their long walks and bus rides for the day.

On Thursday and Friday it was "Mission Tour 2013".  Elder and Sister Gong, he is a GA 70, Pres. and Sis. Mains, the AP's and all the missionaries in the KK district participated in instruction and firesides with Elder Gong.  Quite an amazing man.  Easy to see why he is a GA.  Sis. Mains had asked that I provide a meal for everyone -- about 12 people -- on Thursday night about 6:30 before the fireside at 7:30..  It is quite tricky to do as our building has no way to cook, prepare or warm food.  (Don't get me started on this.)  During the day we had to make two trips to the airport, to pick up Elder and Sis. Atkinson and later Elder and Sis. Crookston.  Well, back to the food, I made poppy seed chicken in a slow cooker (kinda like a crock pot without the crock), rice in the rice cooker, steamed carrots which were kept warm in a crock pot and pizza factory breadsticks which Sis. Mains requested (thanks Natalie for the great rcipe). Cake with fresh strawberries was for dessert.  We had to make three different trips to the church to get all the food and people there.  But mission accomplished.
 This is Elder Read, Elder Atkinson, Elder Gong, Elder Crookston and Sis Crookston.
This is Sis. Mains, Sis. Gong and Sis. Mary Ling who is the district president's wife.

After dinner we all met in the chapel with the youth in the area age 16 and older.  We had such a good turn out of youth.  I really think they all enjoyed it judging from their reactions and smiles.  The next morning we were back at the church for the missionary training portion.  It went from 8:30 to 1:00 pm.  Sis. Mains had asked that I provide a snack break for everyone.  We had apples, oranges, bananas, water, carmelitas and peanut butter bars.  However, Elder Gong would say they could take a 5 minute stretch break but it wasn't time yet for snacks.  He gave them about 3 breaks.  The missionaries were so disappointed they couldn't eat the snacks because most of them had not had any breakfast.  It wasn't snack time until 1:00.  They were starving.  I just told them to think of it as fast day.  After the meeting was over, the Gong's, Mains' and APs had to rush to catch a flight.  Sis. Mains had asked that I prepare 6 sack lunches to tide them over until they arrived at the next stop later that afternoon/evening.  We really had a lot of fun suppering them, snacking them and sacking them.  I don't know how in the world they keep up the busy busy schedules they have.  They must get so confused when they wake up each morning and wonder what city they are in and what they are supposed to do in that city.  

Then it was time to take everyone back to the airport and pick up another senior couple who was coming to spend Friday night and Saturday with us.  We took Crookston's to the airport to catch their plane then hurried over to the other terminal to pick up the Beard's.  We were a little late getting the Beard's but not too bad.
The Beard's are finished with their mission and will be returning to Darwin, Australia this evening.  

On Friday night we had a wonderful baptism.  a WHOLE FAMILY.  It is the first time since we have been out that we have had a WHOLE FAMILY baptized.  This is Bro. Sidin, his wife Angela, daughter Warnilla and son Haimie.  When the sisters first met bro. Sidin he came to the door in his boxers, no shirt and with a beer in his hand.  The sisters found out he was Christian but he didn't know much about Jesus Christ, his Savior.  They talked with him and left a BofM for him to read.  He said he didn't like to read.  Sis. Parker said how can you know about your savior if you don't read.  He took the book and read it and his wife and children read it too.  The next week he said he would bring his children to church but he wouldn't stay himself.  The sisters arranged for a member about his age to meet him in the parking lot when he dropped the children off and talk with him.  The member and bro. Sidin are both from the same tribe.  They hit it off famously and the next week bro. Sidin came with his entire family and stayed the whole time and they have been coming every week since.  
Sorry.  Just lay on your side to see it.  This is Bro. Sidin and his family, the baptizees,  and the baptizers.  It was such a special baptism and Bro. Sidin bore such a strong wonderful testimony.  What a change can come into a man's heart.  

We have really enjoyed our busy busy week.  It is much better to have a whole lot to do and drop into bed exhausted than to not have enough to do and watch the clock go round, although it might be nice to have one of those days every now and then.  

Don't forget we love you all.  Send us your news.  You must have something you could share with us.  God Bless you all.   E/S Read

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's Conference Time

Greetings Saudara and Saudari -  we have had a very interesting and fun week.  Senior Conference is one of our favorite mission activities.  They occur every three months.  We have to have them every three months in order to get our VISA's chopped for another 90 days.  All the senior missionaries in the Singapore mission meet for 1 1/2 days of instruction and FUN.  We flew into Singapore on Monday.  On Tuesday we had a conference with all the missionaries in the KK, KL and Ipoh districts.  It was fun to see old friends and former young missionaries who served in KK again:
 This is Sis. Wilson.  She is the trained opera singer and stayed with us in our apartment with her companion for about 3 weeks til they could get in their own apartment.  She will be leaving in May and will be attending BYU for a masters in Opera Performance.  What a voice!
A fellow Royal -- Elder Wyberg from Roy.  Michelle and Wendell will definitely recognize him.  Tell his mother he is doing great and looking so fine.
 Pizza for lunch.  Box after box after box of pizza.  All gone in about 15 minutes.  We really enjoyed the pizza though too.  Very very close to American pizza.  When cleaning up, I saw this sign in the kitchen:

I just laughed and laughed as I imagined someone standing out there with their big bag of garbage and swinging it around and around their head and then letting it fly at the big bin.  Some things suffer in translation.
Sorry for the angle.  This is the Singapore Stake Center where we hold our meetings.  It has four floors and two chapels.  When the church first bought this building for a stake center, it was just a one story "needing lots of work" building.  Now it is big and lovely.  The Singapore Stake has 28 missionaries serving.  WOW!  Good for them.

For the evening fun a group of us went to Arab Street.  It is such a quaint street.  The architecture is all old Arabian.  At the end of the street is this beautiful mosque:
Last time in Singapore we ate on this street and had Arabian food.  This time we ate on this street again, (well we didn't actually eat ON the street.  We did show some American class and actually ate in a restaurant on this street).  This time we chose a Turkish restaurant and the food was really wonderful.
Down the left side:  Elder and Sis. Boyd (people are always stopping her in airports and asking if she is Elizabeth Taylor.  Does look like her I think); Elder Beard and Sis. Kelsey.  Right side:  Elder and Sis. Read, Sis. and Elder Crookston, Sis. Beard and Sis. Huff.

The next morning we went with E/S Crookston to Sentosa Island.  Sentosa Island is a big playground/disney type area.  They have many different activities to do over there including a miniature Universal Studios.  We took these tram cars over to the island:

Riding the tram car with E/S Crookston

A view of Singapore from the tram car.  Singapore is such an amazing city and this is just a part of the skyline and the harbor area.
This is the Merlion, the symbol of Singapore.  Of course we had to go into the Merlion.  It is about 14 stories tall and you can see forever up on top.  That's me in the white shirt in the back with Sis. Crookston in front in the blue shirt.
 Here we are on the top of the Merlion's head with the Singapore harbor in the background.
Now we are in the Merlion's mouth.  There are actually 38 teeth inside this mouth, but I didn't know that til I was out and I didn't want to hike back up to count lion teeth.  I'll just take their word for it.
This is a scary dragon.  See his red eyes behind us, see how frightened and terrified I am.  I got over it and had a great time on Sentosa Island.  We look forward to our next trip to Singapore in June.

We have a busy week coming up.  On Tuesday we will have district meeting with all our elders and sisters.  On Thursday and Friday Elder Hong with the 70 will be coming.  Sis. Mains has asked that I feed 12 people on Thursday night and the prepare a snack break for everyone (about 35 people) on Friday and pack 6 sack lunches for Pres and Sis Mains, Elder and Sis Hong and the AP's to take with them when they leave the meeting Friday at 1.  We're going shopping tomorrow to buy everything we will need.  It's a good thing I like cooking and it is the one thing I can do semi-right on this mission.

We  of course love and miss you all. God bless you all.  Please send us emails.  E/S Read

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Wonderful Week

Selamat malam saudara and saudari -- We are still hanging out in Borneo, Sabah, Kota Kinabalu.  I don't know if you have read anything in the news about what is going on over here in Sabah, but rest assured, we are ok.  There seems to be some big trouble between the Sultan of Sulu from the Phillipines and the government of Malaysia.  It hasn't affected us here in KK and the government does seem to have the situation under control so hopefully they will have everything wrapped up and taken care of in the next few days/weeks.  You can probably read more about what is happening if you go to a national news site like MSNBC and then click on the the World link and then Asia.  I think there will be more information there.

On Wednesday we were able to go with the Sister Missionaries to teach a wonderful family.  Bro. Sidin (Se dean) and his wife and two children are investigators and they have a baptismal date coming up in the next couple of weeks.  They are such a special family.  Here is a picture of the sisters teaching the family:
The mother, Angela, was unable to be at this lesson as she was working.  The sisters showed the video about the life of the Savior.  It really touched their hearts and you could feel the spirit in their home.  We are so happy they asked us to be a part of this lesson.  We really enjoy going with the elders/sisters.  They are so amazing to watch as they teach.  I learn so much from these young people.
LtoR:  Bro. Sidin, Sis. Jacklyn (member fellowshipper), Hinie, Marda and Sis. Nielson.

Sis. Jacky and her brother Jeff are converts of about a year and they are from the Phillipines.  They have introduced the church to many of their friends.  On Thursday it was Jeff's 25th birthday and they invited us to come over for a party with other friends and members.  Of course, you can't have a Phillipine party without this:
The Pig of the Day!  They took a big meat cleaver and started hacking away at the poor pig.  They really like to eat the skin. I have no desire to try the skin but Ben did this time.  I don't think he will try it again.  He says it is very tough and hard to eat.  Being cooked with the skin on does keep the meat inside very moist though.
This is Sis. Jacky and her mother.  Her mother and father just arrived on Feb. 27.  They live in Watsonville, CA.  Jacky thinks her mother may stay here in KK with her as she is having some issues with memory.  Jacky and Jeff's goal is to get to the US.  They seem to be having a hard time getting there.

We had a "Fellowship Night" for KK2 on Saturday.  They usually have a lesson and then play a game.  They are a lot of fun and the members really seem to enjoy them.  This is Sis. Faralia giving the lesson (sorry it is blurry)
She is a doll!  She is a YSA and one of my piano students.  She must have done a good job with her lesson as everyone was participating and enjoying it.  Elder Read and I just smiled when it seemed to be appropriate and nodded our heads when that seemed appropriate too.  In other words, we didn't understand what she was saying.  After the lesson we played a circle game in which everyone, young and old, white or brown could participate.
The person in the middle tries to get an empty chair when the others in the circle have to change places with someone else when the person in the middle says something like "everyone wearing blue has to change places."  It really was a lot of fun, but again, we needed an interpreter to sit by us and tell us what was being said.  I ended up in the middle a few times due to translation problems.  One time I said "Everyone with brown eyes, trade places."  I thought that was a good one.  But do you know, Malaysians think their eyes are black, not brown.  No one moved.  Not fair.  They're brown eyes I swear.

Saturday was Elder Read's and Elder Scheutz' birthday.  We also had an investigator getting baptized after the fellowship night and his name was Jackson and it was his birthday too.  So I brought two cakes to fellowship night for the birthday boys:
                                                         Elder Read and Bro. Jackson
Elder Read is holding the blueberry cheesecake and Bro. Jackson is holding the chocolate cake.  The members Do Love Cake!!  I cut both cakes in very small pieces but they were completely gone in less than 5 minutes.  I had Sis. Josie make the cakes.  She is the famous cake baker in the branches.  The chocolate cake is usually 4 times bigger and calls for thirty eggs.  I asked her to just make a smaller version.  They were both delicious!!!

After the Fellowship Night we had the baptism for Bro. Jackso.
 This is Bro. Jackson on the left.  His friend, Jusmani (Juice Money) baptized him.  Jusmani has only been a member himself for about two or three weeks.  What a special treat for him to be able to baptize his friend.
Elder Parker, Bro. Jackson, Bro. Jusmani and Elder Putnam.

Our trip to the hospital this month involved Elder Griffin who was showing signs of pneumonia.  Elder Griffin has had pneumonia twice before so he knew he was getting it again.  We took him to the hospital to get treatment.  The doctor there told him he didn't think it was pneumonia.  He told him it was "tuberculosis or maybe something else."  He gave him prescriptions for pneumonia though and Elder Griffin is now doing better.  We all have to have TB tests before we come on our mission, so we're pretty sure it's not TB.

We had three babies blessed this morning.  Sis. Roslyn's baby, Emily,  I sent you a picture of before.  Also blessed was baby Dora, whose twin sister Evy died about a month ago.  And also we blessed Sis. Kiko and Bro. Bryan's baby:
They named her Bella.  She is about a month old now.  Kiko was lucky in that she married Bryan who is also a member of the church.  That is very very rare here in Malaysia.  They plan on going to the temple next year.

Well, bright and early in the morning, 6:00 am, we are leaving for Singapore.  It is senior conference time again.  This is our next to last conference and so we are taking an extra day and doing a little sight seeing around Singapore.  We are looking forward to the conference.  It is so nice to be with other oldsters.

We love and miss you all more than last week.  We would love to hear from you about what is going on in your life.  Please email us.  Love to All   E/S Read

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Selamat Datang

Salamat Datang to another blog from Borneo.  Borneo continues to be the same weather wise every day.  We know you have been suffering in Utah with record snow and cold temperatures, but nothing like that ever happens in Borneo.  Every day the sun comes up at 6:30 am and every night it goes down at 6:30 pm.  The temperature everyday always stays between 85-92 degrees during the day and will get down to 72 or 75 at night.  We still have to run the AC at night so we can sleep.  The AC wasn't working very well for the last month, so we called the service tech to come and check out all the units.  We have 4 AC units in our apartment.  The first time we called they said they couldn't come for a week, because it was Chinese New Year.  Then we made another appointment where they were supposed to come at 9:00 am.  We waited until 5:00 pm and they never showed.  We called the next day and they said "Sorry.  We send someone today.  Come between 9 and 11 am."  So again we waited and they never showed.  So we called again.  "So sorry. Technician very sick.  He come on Friday at 9 am".  I thought, he wasn't too sick when you called in the morning to say he was coming between 9 and 11.  Oh well.  They did finally come at 9 am on Friday and now all the AC's are working great.  One thing we have learned, there is time and then there is Malaysian time.

                                                      A L E R T
Don't forget it is Ben's birthday on Saturday, March 9.  If as many of you as possible could send him a birthday greeting for his 70th birthday, I know he would be thrilled.  Send it to  And remember the time difference.  We are 15 hours ahead of you.  Thanks again!

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog:

Our car has been acting up too lately.  Ben had one of the Elders go with him to the car place to make sure they understand what work we need to have done.  About two months ago we needed to have a fan belt checked and tightened.  Well, they replaced the fan belt, which was fine but now the fan belt is really squeaking again.  We wanted the Elders to explain to them in Malay what we wanted done.  So we have an appointment for Monday morning at 8:30 am.  Hopefully, they will get everything taken care of at this appointment and we will be up and running again.

The other apartment tower by us had a fire last week.  We think it was an electrical fire but it destroyed one whole apartment on about the 14th floor.  OOPS I mean floor 13A.  There are no floors here that have a 4 in them.  No 4th floor, no 14th floor, etc.  The fire was contained to the one apartment and no one was injured.  But it did cause some excitement in the area for a while.

We also had to replace a broken toilet seat in our apartment.  I never knew there could be so many different toilet seats to choose from.  We finally settled on one that cost us Rm60 or about $20 US.  Kind of expensive sitting I think, but hey you gotta have comfort.  Anyway, this toilet seat has an automatic closing feature.  You just give it a very gentle tap with your finger and it very slowly and tenderly closes itself.  No more excuses for the toilet seat being left up.  The man who sold us the seat asked where we were from and what brought us to KK.  We told him we were missionaries.  He wanted to know about our family so we told him we had 3 children and nine grandchildren.  He thought that was really a lot.  I asked him, "How many children do you have"?  He said he didn't know for sure because he had had a lot of girl friends through the years and wasn't sure how many children he might have.  Funny but also kinda sad.

Good News.  We had another project approved.  We are going to be helping the Sabah Society for the Blind.  LDS Charities will be helping them with new braillers, a new embosser, refurbishing their mushroom house and building some new shelves for them to store the baskets they make in a better manner.  A brailler is like a type writer only when you press the keys, it prints in braille.  An embosser is hooked up to a computer keyboard.  The blind type with the computer keyboard the information they want and then it is "embossed" on special paper through a special print program.  The blind society also has a mushroom house where they grow mushrooms to sell to the local vegetable markets and to restaurants.  They had two mushroom houses, but one fell into disrepair so LDSC is going to furnish the materials to fix the second mushroom house and make it functional again.  That way they can double their mushroom production and become more self-reliant.  They also make beautiful baskets.  It is a dying art form and the society sends the blind to a special school in KL to learn the skill.  They don't have any decent shelves to store their finished baskets on, so we are going to build them some new shelves.

Our camera battery died during the week, so I haven't been able to get any pictures.  We are back in the camera business now, so I will be sure to send more pictures next week.

We love and miss you all very much.  We are so glad when we get an email from you.  It is the first thing we check every morning.  Take care and we have heard that Spring is just around the corner for you.  You will soon all be complaining of the heat.  Enjoy!   E/S Read