Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trip to Tawau

Hello Again Everyone -- We are still in beautiful Borneo.  It is election time in Borneo but one nice thing about their election is that the campaign season only lasts two weeks instead of the four years in the US.  There are election flags and signs everywhere.  There are many different parties running and each party is accusing the other parties of shenannigans and dirty politics.  Sounds familiar, right?  I guess some things are the same the world over.  Politicians will always be politicians and you have a hard time believing any of them.  The election day will be next Sunday, May 5.

This week we went to Tawau to check on three projects we have there.  When we first got here a year ago we went to Tawau for the "Hand Over" ceremony for the water project we did in the little village of Quoin Hill just outside of Tawau.  It was time to go back a year later and see how the project was doing.  We were met by this cute granma and her two little granddaughters:
The little girl on the right was terrified of me.  You can tell by looking at her face that she is very uncomfortable and scared.  The littlest girl would barely shake my hand but the older one just shook all over with fright.  There is definitely a fear factor regarding "orang putih" or white people.
Here we are in front of the reservoir that holds the water they get from a natural, clean, drinkable spring.  They are having a few problems with the tanks -- they are not filling up the way they should and the pump is not pumping correctly.  We hope to take care of this problem so they will have adequate water in the future.
We were invited by the Tawau Rotary Club to come to their weekly luncheon meeting on Tuesday.  They are a great bunch of Rotarians.  After the luncheon we went to visit the free vision clinic run by the Rotary Club and the equipment was donated by LDS Charities.
The Free Clinic is on the second floor of a shop lot and is only open on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month from 8:00 am to noon.  It is hard to get Rotarians who know about eyes in Tawau to donate their time.  In fact, the current Rotary President is the local eye surgeon and he is trying to run the clinic as well as his private practice.  They have seen quite a few patients though and are helping those who are referred to the clinic who can't afford examinations or glasses any other way.
Ben getting his eyes tested by Dr. Ajit.  He never did tell us anything about Ben's eyes, so we're not even sure Ben has eyes or can see.
This is the waiting room of the clinic.  They have this waiting room and two eye exam rooms.  Last time we were here nothing was set up yet and they weren't seeing patients, so progress has been made here.

The next day, Wednesday, we were off to visit the Red Crescent/Red Cross.  LDS Charities supplies them with wheel chairs for the poor and needy in the Tawau area.  They received 50 wheelchairs about six weeks ago and now they only have 18 left.  There are more on order and on their way.  The Red Crescent Society gives out the wheel chairs to the poor and needy regardless of nationality or religion.  They just have to be poor and needy.  The Red Crescent Society says they have been visiting many of the outlying jungle villages and giving out wheelchairs there to people who cannot make the trip into Tawau to get one.  That is Bagus (great).
 Here we are along with Elder Atkinson and the leaders of the local Red Crescent Society.
Some of the wheel chairs and crutches LDS Charities has supplied them with.  Did you know wheel chairs come in sizes and types.  Sizes go from a small 12" up to a 20".  Each recipient of a wheel chair has to be carefully measured to ensure that they get the right size of wheel chair.  If you were to give a patient the wrong size wheel chair it could cause pressure sores and because Malaysia is so humid the pressure sores could get easily infected and cause death.  There are two types of wheel chairs, the regular wheel chair and a rough rider wheel chair designed for users who don't have smooth areas to ride on.  We have just barely completed an order for East Malaysia for almost another 600 wheel chairs.  The training and distribution of these chairs will be made in September, after we have left.  We won't be here to go through the three day training that is required.

This is Marcus Huet and his wife Sharon.  He is a Rotarian and she is an English teacher and quite a little fireball, so much fun.  They met on-line and have been married for about 9 years.  He was born and raised in Michigan and works for Tetra-Pak.  We met him at the Rotarian luncheon and then they invited us and the Atkinson's to meet them for dinner.  After dinner they invited us back to their home.  What a beautiful home they have.  It is in a quiet, unassuming neighborhood and you would never know their beautiful home was there.  They have completely remodeled their home and it is gorgeous.
 This is their living room and library area.
 This is the guppy pool in the pool area.
 Sharon and Marcus with their dog Beatrice.  Beatrice was a stray and is now one lucky dog.
This is their pool, a resistance swimming pool.  It was just a wonderful home.

The first night, Monday, the Atkinson's took us to visit a family.  The oldest daughter was having a birthday that day and she was turning 14.  We drove down this old rutty bumpy dirt road going deeper into the jungle.  When we ran out of road, by a cemetery no less, we had to get out and walk through the jungle with our torches (flashlights).  It was spooky.  Soon we saw a light coming the other way to meet us and help us make it the rest of the way to the Williams' house.  Their home was just a poor little two room hut, built up on sticks.  But it was clean and the Atkinson's told us that this was the first time they had visited that they had chairs to sit on.  The Tawau branch recently got new furniture so they gave some of the old chairs to families who could use them.
This is Julianne with her birthday cake which the Atkinson's brought to her. Atkinson's also brought some ice cream which we had to hurry and eat before it melted in the hot jungle.  Isn't she a doll.  She has some kind of a rare medical problem where sometimes in the morning she will wake up and be unable to move at all.  Then she has to go to the hospital and get treated.  It is very scary.  Because of this medical condition she can't go to school. Pray for Julianne.
This is the entire Williams family.  Katrina and her brother (sorry can't remember his name) in front.  Augus, Bro. Williams, Julianne and Sis. Christine Williams.  They are truly people who live off the land.  They grow and gather from the jungle all the food they eat.  I will never complain about going to a grocery store again.  We are so blessed.

We had a great visit to Tawau and enjoyed the scenery and the all the people we met.  Marcus and his wife Sharon said they would try to visit us in Utah when they come through.  They come home once a year in May to visit his family and his 90 year old mother in Michigan.  I hope they do come.  We have met so many wonderful people here.  We love them all.  That's all for now folks.  PLEASE send us an email and let us know how you all are doing.  We love and miss everyone so much.  E/S Read

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Conference Time

It was General Conference today in the branches.  We are always a couple of weeks behind by time we get the CD's or thumbdrives or whatever they send.  Both branches meet together on Saturday and Sunday.  Sunday always has better attendance than Saturday because so many people have to work on Saturday.  Between sessions they take an hour break for lunch/dinner.  It is a pot luck dinner and almost everyone contributes.  For Saturday's dinner I took the cabbage/ramen salad and a chocolate cake.  Today I took a macaroni salad and an oatmeal cake.  We had a good time and the conference talks were great.  I especially liked Elder Holland's, and Elder Folabella (sp) and of course Pres. Monson always gives a great talk.  After the dinner usually the women do the clean up but Pres. Ling said that today the Laki-Laki (boys) had to do the clean up.
 Some of the men washing the dishes and cleaning up.
 Elder Parker and Elder Tan with their "supervisor" Pres. Fausto learning how to do the mop-up work.
Pres. Ling got in on the clean up too.  He can push a mop and make the floor shine.  He is a really great guy and we enjoy him a lot.  Pres. Fausto is his one and only counselor in the district right now.

This week for YSA/FHE we went to Sis. Lillian's house.  It was her daughters birthday.  We all met at the church to make sure everyone had a ride.  This is how the YSA interact with each other:
Everyone came in and immediately they were on some type of techie type device.  I bet they were just texting each other rather than talking.  Some things are the same the world over.

Bro David Chong was home on break from the university in KL.  He is a world famous dancer (not) and showed us some of his moves:

 He was going to be teaching the primary girls how to dance on Wednesday.  I would love to have been there to see that.
The YSA's eating of course.  The birthday girl is the 2nd one from the right between the two guys.  And that is sushi on the table.  I did not try any of it.  I'm not your sushi type of girl.

I had a video to send you of Mount Kinabalu, but I keep getting an error message, so I'll have to check to see what is going on.  Mark!  Help!  Last time it went so nice and people said they were able to see the video.  I'll keep trying.

Tomorrow bright and early we leave for three days in Tawau.  We need to check on a water project that was completed one year ago and make sure everything is still as it should be.  We are also going to check on a vision project that LDS Charities has in Tawau.  Hopefully everything is as it should be.

We are always thinking of everyone back home and praying for you.  We appreciate your prayers in our behalf also.  Take care and as always, please drop us a line.  We would really love to hear from you.  Love ya all    Elder and Sister Read

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Brownies and Baptisms

Hello Everyone from Beautiful Borneo

First of all I have a question to pose.  On Sunday I made two pans of brownies.  One was a pan for Ben and I to have for desserts during the week and the other was for the District Meeting we have with the Elders and Sisters each Tuesday.  Both batches were made together in the same pan with the exact same ingredients all mixed together.  Both were put in the same size pans.  Both were put in the same preheated oven - 350 F - for the exact amount of time specified in the recipe 30-35 minutes.  At the end of the time I tested one pan of brownies and they were done just right so I took both pans of brownies out.  Ben and I had brownies for dessert on Sunday and Monday.  On Tuesday I served the saved pan of brownies for the meeting.  When I cut them, it was like they had only been in the oven for 10 minutes.  Still very much undone and runnnnyyyy.  They appeared to be as done on top as the first pan.  So, who out there knows the answer of why one pan would be done just right and the other pan hardly done at all.  They were cooked on the same shelf so one wasn't on top of the other either.  I have been awake for several nights now trying to figure out what went wrong and I just can't seem to put my finger on it, but I sure would like to get some sleep because this perplexing problem is keeping me up all night counting done brownies and runny brownies.  By the way, the elders and sisters didn't care a bit.  They ate them just as they were.  I did put the pan back in the over for another 20 minutes and they raised even higher and were quite good.  Things that make you go UHMMMMM?

On Tuesday one of our investigators, Melin, had to make an emergency trip to the hospital.  She is a young single mother of two small children and is 28 years of age.  For a long time she has been having pain in her tummy area but was afraid to go to the doctor because they would poke her with needles.  Finally the pain got so bad, she needed to go.  It seems she is in kidney failure and now she needs to have dialysis.  She is supposed to have three treatments a week with each treatment costing 300 Rm/$100 US.  No way does she have that kind of money.  And you have to pay for the treatments in cash in advance.  And she is Indonesian so the hospitals here in Malaysia won't help her.  Her mother was able to pay for one treatment, but that is all.  She will have to go to a specialty clinic that may help her since she is a foreigner.  She is really caught between a rock and a hard place.

The hospitals here in Malaysia remind me of a hospital you would see in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was bombed.  Long wards with many many beds in them, no privacy.  In the hospitals here you are required to provide your own food.  Someone has to bring in your meals for you.  They do not have kitchens and feed you.  They have no air conditioning, just big ceiling fans and open windows.
Melin's bed is through the doors beside the red and white lawn chair.  You can see from one end of the building to the other and there are probably about 30 beds.  She asked for a blessing which Ben and David Liew gave her.  There are no curtains even to pull for privacy.  They do have some portable curtains you can push from bed to bed so that is what they did when they gave her the blessing.   Pray for Melin.  If someone is going to the temple and could put her name in, that would be wonderful.

On Saturday we started our day nice and early with our quarterly Adopt-a-Highway project.  We had a starting time of 8:30 because we really wanted to get started at least by 9:00.  We did have a pretty good group by 9:00 but not as many as we had hoped for so we turned the project into a Clean-A-Church project.  The church house here is always always in need of cleaning.  It is one of our shadow leadership goals.  Everyone pitched right in and got to work:

When we got through a few hours later, the whole church was clean from top to bottom.  It looked so good and smelled so fresh and clean.  Sis. Lisa and Sis. Josie brought a treat to keep them going:
Boiled Bananas?!  You can't just boil any ol' banana though.  These are special boilable bananas and they tell me you just boil them right in their peeling.  I thought they would be mushy and gooey and slimey, but they were actually not too bad.  I'm so sad we don't have boilable bananas in Roy, UT though.  I could start a whole new business.

We also had a baptism Saturday night.  (There went all the hard work to clean the building.)  We had five people baptized.  The schedule for the baptism was supposed to go like this:
6:00  Baptizees arrive and get their clothes on and have all the pictures taken
7:00  Baptism
8:00  End of program and then go to KK 2's Fellowship night for food and fun.

This is the actual schedule:
5:15  Simon arrives for his baptism.  He is so excited.  Simon is deaf and one eye is blind due to different childhood accidents.  When we first met Simon I thought he was a girl.  He dressed more like a girl and had longer hair and wore jewelry in his ears and around his neck and wrists.  I would give him hugs because I thought he was a girl, then the elders told me I shouldn't because he was actually a HE.  I really found it hard to believe, but they assured me he truly was a boy.  The elders worked with him and little by little he made every change they asked him to do.  Because of his history, Pres. Clark said he couldn't be baptized for a year.  During that year Simon has done everything that has been asked of him and he has come to church every week.  It must be difficult for him being unable to hear, but one of the sisters knows a little sign language so she could help him and then we also make sure someone sits buy him and can write out what is being said.  He is a wonderful young man and he was so excited when Pres. Mains told him he could be baptized, he was jumping and glowing.  He was so excited to be baptized he  showed up extra early to be ready for his baptism.  Now back to the schedule:
7:00  Two more arrive for their baptism.  They need to get dressed and get pictures taken.  Takes about 30 minutes before they are ready.
8:00  One more arrives.  They have been in a traffic jam they say.
8:30  We start the baptism without the last baptizee present.
8:35  A little kid sticks his head in the door while we are saying the opening prayer and yells "Those people you have been waiting for are here now."  Off to a spiritual beginning.
8:45  Ben runs out and gets a picture of the last person before she is baptized.
8:50  The baptisms start.  It takes a while to baptize 5 people, and have the talks about baptism and confirmation.  Then the 5 people share their testimonies.
9:20 ish   Upstairs for the Fellowship night.  Someone has been taking care of the food for us all this time.  It was good food and they did a good job preparing and maintaining it.
10:00  Take the elders and their investigator who live about 20 minutes outside of KK home.
11:00  We are finally home and getting ready for bed.  WHEW.  Quite the day -- But What A Great Wonderful Day.  Five new members is always exciting and wonderful.  And here they are:
 This is Simon.  I am so proud and happy for him.  He stayed committed and on course for a full year.
                                            Elder Tan with Sis. Rujinah and her two children.
 This is Sis. Melin.  She was just released from the hospital and has a special tube in her neck for the medicine.  They told her she could get baptized if she didn't get the tube wet.  Elder Tadius baptized her and he was so very careful with her.  I don't think it got wet, but because the hospital didn't do a very good job with her, it started bleeding after she was baptized.  She wanted to be baptized so bad she came right from the hospital to the church.  With her is her mother Sarjet, who was baptized two weeks ago and her brother Hans.
                               This is President Sebastian with Bro. Roy.  Roy is Melin's cousin.
                                  This is Elder Tan with Sis. Jalinah.  Jalinah and Rujinah are sisters.

And one last item.  We said goodbye to Bro. Edre this week.  He is one of the "Ed's".  He has been such a pillar of strength in his branch.  He has been home from his mission for a year but now he has been accepted to BYU Hawaii.  Also, his brother Eddy has been attending BYU H and Eddy is getting married on Tuesday. Edre will truly truly be missed but we wish him much joy and happiness.
                                                          Edre and his brother Eder

Wow, I really went on and on didn't I but I hope you can get a little feel for what we are doing here and how rewarding the work is for everyone and how rewarded we are.  We are truly blessed and love the work.
Right On and Write On.  Love to All E/S Read

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Come Come to Mari Mari Once Again

Once again this week we had the opportunity of going to Mari-Mari with Elder and Sister Crookston from Sandakan.  I learn something new everytime we go there.  I think this time we had the best guide we have ever had and we got to do more.
Here I am making rice cookies.  The batter is made from rice flour, a little sugar and water.  Then you scoop some batter up in a half coconut shell that has small holes all over the bottom and sides.  You hurry and carefully put the batter into hot oil in a wok type pan.  You slowly go clockwise for a couple or turns and then you go back counter clockwise for a couple of turns.  Then you take two sticks and fold the partially cooked cookie once to make a square and then fold it again to make a triangle.  This was the hardest part.  I'm not a good cookie with sticks turner.  Mine was more like a triangle trying to escape being made into a rectangle.  Not sure what you would call that shape.
Here we are trying on hats and vests that are made from pounded tree bark.  It is quite a process to pound the tree bark into a material that can be used for clothes.  These clothes we tried on were lined with soft cotton cloth.  Without the lining, they would be so scratchy and itchy I'm not sure how they could stand to where these "clothes".

Once again we both tried the blow gun with the poison dart that will kill you if it hits you.  Not to worry.  We can't hit a shrunken head with a boozka.  However, we both did better this time.  Ben actually hit the coconut head we were aiming at but the dart bounced out and I was able to get the dart into the thatching just below the head.  A few more visits and we should be pros at this "killing" activity.  Watch out when we get home.
 One of our favorite houses to visit at Mari Mari is the house with the "trampoline" floor.  I was finally able to convince Ben to give it a try.  He didn't jump high enough to win the prize hanging from the ceiling.  Dang! I was hoping we could take home an authentic plastic bug or whatever it is they hang from the ceiling.
Sis. Crookston tried jumping also.  How cool would it be if every home could have their very own trampoline floor.  Think of the fun.  Think of the broken bones and flat feet.  It really hurts when you jump and come down on the hard wood floor.
The end of another great visit to Mari-Mari.  Mari-Mari means come come.  It was fun to be with the Crookstons.

Ben has made a video of a hike we took on the hill behind our apartment.  From the hill you can see our apartment and the other buildings in our complex.  We hope this will work.  It is our first time to try this.  Where is Mark to help us when we need him.  Let us know if it comes through ok or not.
We thank you for your prayers in our behalf.  We can feel them and they help us.  We love you all.  Find joy in the gospel and in the journey home.  E/S Read