Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas Day 2016

We had helped with a special presentation for Sacrament Meeting on Christmas Day.  It was a narration from Luke with many Christmas Hymns.  Some of the songs were done by an instant choir, a solo by a Sister Eunice, a solo "O Holy Night", by Elder Davis, and "What Child is This?" by the Elders.  President Tee made come closing remarks.  The spirit was felt very strong and we were so happy that so many people were in church. 
Many people came who cannot usually come to church because of work. 
 What a blessing it is to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We found out that the sister in the middle is a member from the Philippines. 
She asked me if I recognized her, I said "no, should I?" 
She cleans our apartment.  Wow!  what a small world.

She came with her friend who is investigating and is preparing for baptism.

After church we had the Elders over for Christmas Dinner.
 It was not a traditional Christmas feast, but they enjoyed the lasagna anyway.  
 We gave them the stockings that I had filled for them. 
Wee Loon, who was baptized a couple of months ago, was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood today by Elder Lamb.  We invited him to join us for dinner as well. 
It was good for him to be with the Elders.  He probably didn't enjoy the food very much but hopefully the company made up for it.

Brother Ben is our Branch Mission Leader.  He is always welcome in our home.  We love him.

Christmas 2016 in JB Branch

The JB Branch Christmas Party was on Christmas Eve.  The Relief Society Presidency had planned it so it was well done and you could tell they put  a lot of work into it.  They decorated the room, had a sister paint animals for the "Nativity", had purchased fabric for the costumes  and had two rehearsals for the Nativity Play. 

The evening started with some fun games. 
They got everyone involved and it was a lot of fun for everyone.

A wonderful meal  was catered, which was mostly Chinese food
with some  ham and pastries.

President Tee and his wife Felicia with Sister Amy Kurup

The room was full of people, trying to find seats so they could eat the wonderful dinner.

There were at least 60 people who attended.  Many non-member friends and family joined us.  We were happy that our sweet friends from English Class came. 
They seemed to enjoy the party very much. 

Lots of people wanted to join in on the pictures at the end.  Everyone had a great time.
Merry Christmas to all!!

The Elders always make the party complete with their fun personalities. 
The kids all love them.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas 2016 in Masai Branch

We love being with the beautiful saints in the Masai Branch.  They are such loving people, and they treat us to special.  The branch president struggles because he has so few people to help out with things but with a suggestion from us he agreed to have a Christmas Program for Sacrament Meeting.  We just prepared it and asked a new convert to be the Narrator.  It was a beautiful program with narration and Christmas hymns and closing remarks from President John.  The spirit was there and the saints really began to get in the Christmas spirit.  The Elders had decorated the Christmas tree in the foyer so it was perfect.

We also suggested to President John that we could have a Branch Christmas Party on the Friday before Christmas.  His face brightened up because he wanted to and now he had someone who was willing to help him.  The real blessing happened on Sunday when we got to church and were ready to plan the party, the Relief Society President who we had never met because she spends many months in the Philippines, came to church and wanted to help organize the party.  She had some of the teenagers come and help her set up and decorate and everyone had a great time. 
The Lord truly blesses us when we are trying to do His work. 

I had found a short program entitled "The Story of Christmas from the Book of Mormon."  We just had the Elders translate it into Malay and then brought it with us to the party.   There isn't an opportunity to practice for things like this, so you just go with who is there and it all works out.   I asked a recent convert, Sister Naomi if she would be the narrator and she was happy to do that.  Her husband and another brother who is less-active, were Nephi and Samuel the Lamanite.   

Sister Norma, the RS President, organized a Nativity which was also without practice, but was just so special.  I had brought sheets and towels and ribbons, crowns from Burger King, etc. and we just fixed  the costumes on the children as they came. 
It was not "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever", but it was very special

Elder Lamb was Santa for the first time in his life.  He did such a great job, and everyone loved him.  They all wanted to have their pictures taken with him.  President John had provided a bag full of wrapped gifts for each of the children.

I even got to sit on Santa's lap.

There were over 50 people who attended the party and everyone had a wonderful time.  I am so happy that we did it.  Many of these Saints cannot attend on Sunday and a social is the only time they can get together.  May the Lord continue to bless us as we look for ways to serve and support the saints here in Malaysia.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

JB District Christmas Program

President & Sister Simmons traveled the entire mission in December presenting a beautiful Christmas Program for the missionaries.  They are truly an example of unselfish service.  We enjoyed their presentation very much.  They explained a little about "White Elephant Gifts" because some of the missionaries had never heard of that term.  Then we had a gift exchange of "White Elephant Gifts".  It was a lot of fun.  The Elders truly got into the spirit of it and made it fun. Even their wrapping was creative.  One gift was wrapped in a sock, one with paper out of a shoe box, and one was taped with so many layers of tape it was impossible to open. Our gifts were just boring, useful, practical things for them.  I will do better next year, just wait Elders for a big surprise.

Elder Read said his mom never let him have PEZ so here he is.  I guess I did pick one winner, sorry mom.

Check out the Panda slippers.

For dessert I made a disgustingly rich chocolate fudge brownie cake
with ice cream.

This is our wonderful Mission President and his darling wife.  They make serving here in the Singapore Mission very enjoyable. Their inspiration and guidance is priceless.  You can tell that they truly love and care about their missionaries.
 They have had prepared a Mission Cookbook for each missionary.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Our First Christmas in Malaysia

We didn't purchase gifts for each other because if we need something we get it, and we live very simply here.  We decided to just go to Tony Romas for dinner as our Christmas treat.

It is definitely not like the ribs in America because they don't have pork ribs, but it was a good treat.

I found these stockings at a shop in the mall, filled them with simple treats with Spiritual Thoughts attached for the 6 Elders.  We had them to dinner after church on Christmas Day to help make their day a little more special..   

Merry Christmas Elders

WeeLoon is a very special young man who was baptized in October.  He was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood on Christmas Day by Elder Lamb.  We had him for dinner as well. 

We  became acquainted with this darling Chinese family when we first started teaching our English classes.  They have become sweet friends and accepted our invitation to come to the Christmas Party at our branch on Christmas Eve.  She has listened to two lessons from the missionaries in our home, but is going back to China for a month for Chinese New Year, so hopefully when she returns she will take more lessons.  Her spirit is so sweet and her English is really progressing. 

Being away from our family for Christmas was a very hard thing for me.  I am so blessed to have a family that loves being together and continues with our Christmas traditions, even adding a few new ones.  They are so special to me.
Things here have been so busy  with  activities this week, so  I haven't had a lot of time to think about being away from home.  We are blessed to be able to speak to our family on Skype or FaceTime so that helps when I get lonely  or just need to talk to them.
I am so thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ and for the opportunity to serve the saints here in Malaysia as I serve the Lord as a missionary and do my best to support and love each of them.
This is really a learning experience for me and I am learning to rely on inspiration from the Lord so that I can make a difference here.

Here We Come A Carroling

For our P-Day activity, the missionary force spent the afternoon caroling.  We went first to an Orphan Home.  There are 46 children who live there from teens down to babies.  Their caregivers seemed so nice and were very grateful to us for coming.  The Elders make a great chorus.

These little ones were so darling.  They just stared up at us with their big eyes.  It is hard to think of them as orphans.  They seem very happy and secure and so well behaved.

Oh No!!  Not the Checkpoint....

This is where the day took a bad turn, or we did at least.  We were on our way to the next orphan  home and turned off the wrong exit and ended up at the checkpoint where you cross the border into Singapore.  You should see it, there are several lanes marked for buses, motorcycles, trucks and automobiles.We had no place to turn around so we had no choice but to go up to the checkpoint.  We had two elders in our car and the others were with Bro. Ben.  He knows his way around because he lives here, so he didn't take the turn with us.  Anyway after trying to explain to the agents at the window that we didn't really want to go into Singapore,  they made us all get out of the car and go into an office to talk to the agents inside.  We had to try to explain  why we didn't have our passports with us, because we really weren't headed for Singapore, we just got into the wrong exit.  They asked many questions about what we were doing in Malaysia, where we are staying, how long we are going to be here, etc.  Thank goodness we all carry laminated copies of our passports with us at all times, so they took those and asked us to wait.  This was quite a scary experience, because many of the missionaries are questioned as to why they are in Malaysia, and sometimes their passports are chopped with a black stamp so that they cannot stay in Malaysia.  After about 45 minutes, they finally decided to let us go back into Malaysia.  Now we didn't have time to go to both of the places we had planned to go.  Luckily, when we called the orphan home, we found out that the children had gone on an outing and were stuck in traffic and would not be home until 7pm, so they missed our caroling.


Our next stop was the Green Acres Elderly Care Center.  This is a place where some of the previous Elders had visited.  We stopped and sang in each room.  Some of them had only two people in and others were larger and had several beds.  Some of the people obviously didn't even realize that someone was there, but others really loved the singing.  This man even sang along with us.

These are some of the caregivers who came running after us and wanted to get a picture with us.

This beautiful lady remembers the Elders well. 
She even has a picture on her wall of her with one of the Elders who used to visit her. 
I told her that I would send him this picture, that he was now back in America. 

I think we were able to brighten the day for some of these people who probably don't get many visitors and certainly not ones who sing Christmas Carols to them.