Saturday, October 30, 2010

East Malaysia and the End of the Road

East Malaysia (The home of Survivor Borneo) is full of what they call Kampongs. Illegal immigrants from the Philippines or Bangladesh come to these areas and setup their homes on the water and in the wooded areas. Saying these are poor people would be an understatement.

They also live on boats.

Kelly liked the fact that men do the sewing. They do what ever they have to do to generate money. These men would receive every kind of sewing repair you can imagine and in the streets complete the work. Notice they use a foot powered machine.

By the time we catch that plane by the end of the week we are ready to find a soft bed somewhere. Yes we love to serve and yes we are thrilled to at the end of week to head home.

A walk in West Malaysia

Wild Monkeys and Lizards

This is one of the wild monkeys from church. The rest are really in the wild!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Butterworth Branch

The tall office building on about the 10th floor is where the Butterworth branch is located. We stayed across the water in Penang.

These three elders had been transferred and the branch was so sad to see them go.

This is the YW president, 20 years old and a member for a few months, her brother has also joined the church. There mom joined after her husband died and she had an interesting experience.

Elders Quorum President ,
and wife have been
members for about
6 months.

This is the Branch President and RS president and there family. They have been members for about 20 years. President Ching had more energy and enthusiasm than 10 energizer bunnies.

Malaysia - A Wonderful place to Serve

We spent the last week in Malaysia. As we began the trip by leaving HK in class. We were given "business class seats" on Cathey Pacific. No you may think you have spent time in business class but nothing like this. Asia provides service on airlines the way it was done 20 years ago in North America. Kelly is stretched out ready for a nap and 100% service.

After a wonderful 3.5 hour trip we arrived in Penang, West Malaysia. This is a small island across the bay from Butterworth where our couple resides, the Johnson's. Our main purpose to travel is to train new couples. The Johnson's arrived a month ago. Malaysia is a very green and civilized compared to other countries we have traveled. Sunday morning we are off to church via the ferry. That is Elder Johnson who came to pick us up.

As you can see by the landscape it is really beautiful. The one down side is the beaches are not close to the cities and even if they were I am not sure I would be jumping in too quickly. You will also see the rich and the poor areas side by side.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How could you not just love these faces!

The children at the schools were so happy and thankful to see us. They crowded to the windows of the school to greet us as we walked by.
Hands held like this is a way of saying thank-you and is very commonly used in both Myanmar and Thailand.
The painting on the face is very typical in Myanmar and is seen as not only beautiful but is also designed to soften and protect the skin.

YEH, we get to get out!

Do you see that Van at the end of the road? Roads in the villages are very narrow and the guys (Elder Missionary's) stopped to quickly look at a school and we were to remain in the van as we did not have permission to visit this village. While the van was trying to turn around it got stuck and we had to get out and walk back to the school, while it went up the road to find a better place to turn around. To say the least we did not do a very good job of getting in and out of the village unnoticed!
Typical housing in the villages, quaint don't you think.

Everyday life, carrying things and selling things.

40 Million people- 60 at church

The church building that is leased in Myanmar.

Have you ever had a monk attend your Book of Mormon study group? He attends the couples english class they teach so decided to come to study group and then stayed for church. He had a wonderful spirit about him and asked some sincere questions.

Three Generations. This beautiful mother had just cut her hair off to sell so that she could purchase some vegetables wholesale and sell them door to door to try and start a little business to support her family.

This is the young womens. They had an activity after church and made beaded necklaces.

This is the RELIEF SOCIETY! The sisters enjoy being together. The lady in the back row in blue has three small children and is the RS President. Many of the members travel for at least an hour to get to church.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Faces of the Children

Some have asked to learn more about the work we do. So this school is in Yangon area. We have provided the school with clean water. This was done by drilling a 2 inch hole down about 120 feet and then casing the line. A compressor is used to put air pressure on the line to push the water up to these children who need it. It is then stored in a cement tank until the children need water. Clean water is a huge blessing to these children.

We arrived to these faces. If you want your heart touched, this experience is always guaranteed to overwhelm you. After the smiles/greetings, with a tour of the project and of course you need the speeches by local leaders we headed back to the vehicle to head to the next project. In two days we attended these ceremonies at 4 schools.


Our latest adventure took us to Myanmar which is pronounced, "Myanma". In their language they always drop the last letter of the words or names. So for example the city we were in is called, "Yangon" but drop the "n" and the word is pronounced "Yango". There are 40 million people who live here with about 4 million of them live in Yangon which is the capital. There were about 60 members of the church in attendance at their Sunday meetings. The membership is growing. For example they have a baptism that should occur today as well . There are no young missionaries in the country but we have 2 couples who serve in Yangon. They live in a beautiful apartment that looks out over the landscape of the city and is clean and would compare to any apartment in Canada or the USA.

The people are wonderful in the country. Kind, considerate and full of all the energy you can imagine.

The thing that has amazed me the most in our travels is the connection between wealth and happiness or should I say, "lack of connection". In all of these countries they live on very little. For example a teacher earns about $50 USD a month. If anyone needs food they have access to it either by purchasing it for very little or they have plants or chickens that are available to anyone who is willing to harvest.

In all cases the people appear as happy or happier then most in North American cities. They create the life they live vs. wait for someone else to do it for them. They don't fear the person next door so to speak. To date I have never seen anything that would be close to violence or crime. No one is under any form of threat that I have ever seen. It almost seems contradictory to the way we have thought in the past. I'm not sure that the North American way of life would bless these people.

Now they do have some "unique" elements in Myanmar. The country in lead by military rule. The General is in charge and everything you can think of, goes with that. They control communication and movement. For example you can't mail or courier anything into or out of this country. I mean nothing. So for example we were replacing the computer equipment for the couples and had to carry it with us. Part of that was this huge box with a new multi-function printer in it. At customs they would not allow it enter because it had a "fax" function. They can't control a fax signal. So our box remained at the airport until we departed back to Thailand with it in hand. The couples who live there need written permission to enter any public building (school, hospital etc.). All electronic signals are monitored and screened. So email is blocked in many cases. If you get beyond this stuff the rest of the experience is like any other country in the area. It looks a lot like Laos in my opinion.

Now the other twist, the USA has sanctions on this country so they have no banking systems with the outside world. No money can come in our go out so to speak. You can't use a credit card in any situation. No ATM, no check cashing, no access to money of any kind. The only thing you can use is "crisp $100 USA bills". If it has folds or winkles they won't accept them. The couple forgot to tell us this point so fortunately we had just enough money to pay the hotel and with meals costing as little as $1 a person per meal we made it.