Sunday, November 25, 2012

THANKFUL WEEK


Ok, as I was writing the email, the power went out at the internet kedai, and we all had to leave.  Turns out that entire part of town is out of power.... so we had to bike into town to email.  ugh.  Make that 3x now I'm starting this email (thankfully gmail saves it -- the computer place here just had a power surge... what is going on?)

Thank you for sending that recipe.  For thanksgiving we went to that fried chicken place and ate a ton of mediocre (less than kfc) fried chicken!  It was nice to get all together, and we all went around the table saying what we were thankful for.  That was nice.  But today, we're having our REAL thanksgiving dinner.  We're all supposed to make something, and bring it to the Hodder's house at 4:00.  The hodders are making chicken and gravy, the martins are making bread/sangria, the sisters are probably going to try to make a decent dessert, the chinese are making dessert, the Zone Leaders are making sweet potatoes, and putnam/bodhaine are making fajitas..... SO THERE IS NOTHING FOR ELDER MATHESON AND I TO MAKE.  So we decided we would make that pumpkin pie bar stuff you sent, and then since no one offered to make a vegetable dish, I thought I could make that?  They have cabbage here, but about nothing else.  The food has been pretty good here since the fruit season is in full swing.  On every street corner there are people selling durian.  it's pretty expensive so we don't buy any.... just wait till the senior couples do!  Just yesterday, we had investigators give us several Kilos of rambutan (which I swear is laichee, but everyone tells me it is somehow different.  I uploaded a pic of some).  We also were given a fresh pineapple from some investigators, and made a pina colada with ice cream/ice/and some smoothie flavor packets elder bodhain'es mom sent.  We made breakfast burritos the other day with one of my mexican flavor packets.... SO GOOD.  Yeah, I like getting the flavor packets, but don't send beef ones.... the beef here is awful.  Chicken only please!  Also, if there are other type of flavor packets/recipes that don' tcall for expensive vegetables, dairy products, or red meat... send them here!  

I guess kind of the big news this week was that on Wednesday, Elder Matheson and I walked into the house to find everything turned over.. and we had been robbed.  It turns out, for the 1 1/2 hours there wasn't any one in the house, someone busted through the back window and searched/stole everything they wanted.  I freaked out and searched the whole house for everything.  I labeled this email "thankful week" because we really had so much to be thankful for (atleast I did).  The theif didn't steal any of our passports.  Luckily, I had my camera in my bag with me, so that wasn't stolen, but that wasn't the same for the other elders.  They did steal some things that are really making my life difficult, such as: my SHAVER, my extra battery charger for my camera, and one of my batteries, my glasses cleaning kit, and they stole about 40 Sing that I had in my drawer.  They also went through that stationary you gave me and left it all over the place.  How low budget is that?  Bodhaine had several hundred USD stolen, and his ipod/speakers (no more mormon tab!).  The most amazing thing is that we had all of our harddrives sitting in the main room, out in the open, and he didn't steal that.  That has ALL our pictures.  I would have hunted him down and destroyed him had he done that.  So, although a lot was stolen, I am very thankful that the really important things were still there.  The senior couples had the police come over and look things over.  They dusted for fingerprints, which just left a huge mess ( in addition to the other mess we had to clean up from the robber), but all our neighbors told us the police are useless here and that we're not getting anything back.  Our house is not very secure at all... .so now we have gone to great efforts making sure everything is triple locked and hidden.  

As far as packages go, I have received 3.  I just barely got the one with the toffee!  It was SO GOOD.  the V kind.  I haven't opened the rest.  I have a little nibble every day.  Stuff like that is realy good.  I'm kind sick of sugary candy like hi chews and swedish fish.  peanut butter would be nice, or mixes too!  I have not gotten the one with the bike stuff.  When did you send that?  That would be so useful because I have had 4 flats in the 2 months I've been here -_____-
Transfers are on the 10th of December, and there is always a chance that I could be moved, so don't send any packages until after I know for sure.  You can send them to Singapore, but then I would have to carry them back.. which really isn't an issue.  

I really kinda hope I stay.  I have really gotten to like it here.  We do have investigators, and they are great people.  We have several baptisms scheduled for the end of December, so I would be really sad if I were not able to see those.  We have been teaching a young family for quite some time now.  The mom is already a member, and she is so great.  She is so diligent (which is hard to come by here) and even though she has a hard time reading, she is so willing to do everything she can to understand (not just read) the scriptures.  We have been focusing on her husband, who is one of my favorite people here.  We just taught the Word of Wisdom, which unfortunately is a huge issue here.  It was so disappointing, because we have had several significantly spiritual messages, and especially one on Saturday that I can't really explain, and then... on sunday morning, His wife came to church saying her husband had friends bring alcohol over and got too drunk to come to church now.  I was so sad.  All day yesterday.  There is a point where you can do everything you can, and it is still completely up to them to live up to their commitments.  It hurts me to see how he doesn't understand what he is doing.  I feel guilty in that maybe we should have waited until he had a stronger grasp of the foundational topics before we gave him that.  I just hope he can find the strength to do what he needs to do for his family.  

I have never hated alcohol/cigarrettes more than since I've been here.  The cigarette companies, and alcohol companies, have done a fine job at destroying a people.  All of the island tribes here are PLAGUED, in every sense of the word, but alcohol and tobacco.  Both of those substances severely limit their agency.  It is so sad.  Anyone who supports either of those industries should look at the world and see at the culture they are stomping on, and the lives they are ruining.  You can literally see (like night and day) and Iban family that drinks, and one that doesn't.  Completely different ways of life.  Although it is a bit different in America, the principle is the same.  

I do read your guys emails, it's just we don't have a lot of time to email (and I've essentially stopped emailing friends because now we have no time), and a lot of times I forget the questions as I'm typing this beast of an email.  Lets see.  Dad: we teach from the indonesian BoM.  We hope the Malay one will be out soon.  We use all the indonesian church tools.  For the most part, they get the idea from it, but there are usually some common words that always stump them.  Fruit is very expensive on a mission budget, so we usually eat rice/noodles.  I refuse to pull out personal money for food here, because I think part of being a missionary is living on the mission budget (not everyone abides by that rule here).  We are getting creative.   

MOm: the relief society is... well it's getting started.  There aren't many super strong sisters, but the relief society president spoke in church yesterday and gave a relaly good talk about the importance of doing your part, wherever you are.  She said that we all have a duty to help the branch president, and the savior, watch over the sheep of his fold.  If we don't do that, we aren't pulling our weight.  

I am super excited for today's dinner and for singapore!!  I hope you had a fun thanksgiving and enjoyed ALL of you PUMPKIN treats!  I'm so happy whit wrote you! 

k bai
ELder Robinson

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Not that exciting

Dear Family,

This week was not as exciting :( oh well.  In fact, I didn't take any pictures this week, and once again, I forgot to take a picture of my bike/apartment/neighborhood.  We were all too exhausted from the trip on monday to do much else haha.  


News.

We got a new branch president yesterday!  His name is President Willi, and he is great.  He has been a member for almost ten years, and speaks really good english too.  He is Pedayu (tribe), and they are generally pretty educated.  His family had us over for dinner the other day and we ate some tastey spaghetti.  We also had a priesthood training last night with the District President, President Ingkon, for all the Miri priesthood holders.  The church has been in miri for over 10 years, and supposedly there are over 1,000 members here.  Less than 200 are even considered less active.  I never thought I would say it, but this is my testimony to home teaching.  Home teaching is literally the only thing that will save the church in Miri, and apparently in Malaysia too.  A lot of missionaries will plow through and baptize a lot, but because of differences in language/tribe/area/income, members do not fellowship eachother, and recent converts fall through the cracks.  It is really sad, I've seen it happen already.  We have been working with the district president to make home teaching happen.  If it works, everything will be different in the church here.  Just yesterday, I saw two sisters in the branch talking and laughing with one of our investigators.  It was such a seemingly insignificant moment, but you could see the friendship, the support, and "spiritual nourishment" taking place.  President Hinckley said every new convert needs a friend, a responsibility, and spiritual nourishment.  I am so excited to see how the hometeaching will work - starting next month.  We heard from one of the senior couples how his home teachers brought him out of inactivity by just visiting him once a month.  If his home teachers hadn't been there, he would have forgotten about the church.  I am happy to see a new support system coming to help our investigators.  Very exciting.  It made me feel really guilty about the 'effort' I put into hometeaching in SLC.  ALthough the circumstances are quite different, the principle is not.  The bishop needs help, and everyone in the branch needs help.  We need to be there for eachother.  

What else.  OH, those "Nuevo Cocina" spice packets you sent were delicious.  We tried making tacos yesterday (the HOdders bought taco shells in Brunei), but the beef here is terrible, so they were kind of disappointing.  We're going to just stick with chicken.  WE're getting very creative with what we eat now a days.  THanksgiving is this week!  We have all been talking about all the good food we used to eat on thanksgiving.... Kind of depressing.  We're going to a place called "Hartz Chicken" for thanksgiving probably.  It is pretty trashy all you can eat fried chicken, but it is the closest thing we can get to a feast here haha.  I am kind of disgusted with myself because I have a new found love of Fried CHIcken.  Probably because that's the only time we get meat.  I feel like a vegetarian here... no bueno.  We do eat quite a bit of chicken though.  OH!!!  Will you send me the recipe to make Cowboy special???  I was craving that this week, and I think we can make it!  Make sure you eat lots of food for thanksgiving.  Especially turkey, and yams, and that yummy pink creamy cranberry stuff.

Speaking of food.  I was at an investigators house the other day, and I went to go say hi to him behind the house, and he was hunched over a fire.  I asked what he was cooking.  he answered, "dinner".  Went I walked over to the fire, there was a DOG HEAD in it!  With the fur, eyes, and mouth open.... It was actually a really creepy scene.  I fumbled with words and kind of just ran away.  Embarrassing.  

what are your plans for Christmas?  Any fun vacations?  Turkey?  That sounds fun.  We can't stop talking about our Singapore Christmas trip!  We're going to bring suitcases and buy a ton of real food to make Christmas meals all week when we get back.  I have a fun idea for sending you guys a little christmas thing, but I need to figure how to mail it..... 
Thank you for getting an album.  Make sure they are good pics too.  Maybe one of temple square with christmas lights too!  Lots of snowy mountain pictures, because they don't fathom the idea of snow here.  

President Mains came to Miri this week!  It was for training, so he just came and gave us some good advice and then interviewed us.  He has to put up with a lot of non-sense.  In PMG it has a quote saying, "are you a burden or a blessing to your priesthood leaders?"  It is very easy to distinguish between the two.  Especially here.  Supposedly this mission is notorious for having some of the best missionaries in Asia, and the worst.  I've heard a lot of stories....... ANyways, I'm determined to be a blessing at all costs.  I really like President and Sister mains, they are so great.  

Funny moment, we were at an appointment, and we were finishing with a closing prayer, and during the prayer, the entire house fell like a foot.  It was the scariest thing ever.  The investigators asked if that was the Holy Ghost.   haha.  We never found out why the house did that.  


ERIC:
Happy birthday, happee birth day ay ay, happy birthday (proud fam).  Did you get my postcard I sent????  Do you remember the mystery scavenger hunt I did for your scooby doo birthday?? hahaha.  I think that was the same birthday that sammy banner gave you a lighthouse photo album.  (why do I remember these things?)  What treats are you bringing to Student GOvernment?  I've been thinking all morning about what I should by myself for your birthday!!  You know what sounds really really really good?  A gourmandise fruit tart.  You would think that fruits and vegetables would be in abundance here, but they're not.  Unless you're into Malaysian fruits and vegetables, which are not the kind  you like.  I may splurge and buy a durian or fresh mangos soon.  I uploaded a picture of the worlds largest box elder bug.  It was crawling on my companions shoe and I had to take a picture.  HOpe you enjoy your birthday, and eat lots of good food.  

I really don't have anyhting else to say!  Oh, I'm going to try and remember to answer your questions.  There are 14 missionaries in our zone.  our zone goes from Bintulu, to Brunei.  So technically, brunei is in the Miri district, so that's kind of cool.  I'll try to take more pictures this week.

Mariel said that her Parents are coming to singapore in january!  I wish I was there!  I really want them to come to miri..... that would be hilarious.  

Have a happy thanksgiving, and say hi to the whole family for me!  

Elder Robinson

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Another crazy week in Malaysia

ANOTHER CRAZY WEEK IN MALAYSIA.  I feel like I never stop.

The reason why I am so late writing this letter is because for P-day today, we decided to do something different.  We heard there was some good hiking inland a ways, but we didn't really know where.  Someone told us about this Lambir Park, so we started looking into it.  We decided as a Miri District to all go together.  So.  We woke up extra early this morning, and it had been pouring rain all last night, so everything was wet.  Anyways, we get to the main bus station, and get on a bus headed to Sebu (a town in central Sarawak).  Well, we rode it for about an hour or so, and then saw a sign for Lambir, and we all jumped and told the bus driver to stop!  We got off in what was literally the middle of the jungle.  It was so hot, and all the fresh rain water made it really humid.  We went to the little house they have set up, and pay for our entry, and started hiking.  Malaysian "Marked Trails" are not like AMerican ones... at all.  In fact, they tie a little string on a couple trees and you are supposed to follow that.  The ground doesn't even look like a trail.  It is like a hunt for the right colored string on the tree.  Anyways, after hours of hiking we had some cool finds.  We went to a water fall and took some pictures in front of it.  We also went to this point called Bukit Pantu.  It was such a HARD hike.  The whole time, I was imagining what Eric would have been like had he come on the hike...... let's just say he wouldn't have been invited... not that he would have wanted to go!  It was crazy.  In the middle of the Jungle.  We kind of got lost a couple of times... that was frightening.  The hike to the top of Bukit Pantu was so worth it.  It put you on top of this cliff that looked inwards towards the jungles of Borneo.  It was kind of spooky being in there.  It was like the jungles you see in movies.  There were huge ants (maybe over an inch, and super fat) that would travel in these huge lines.  They were so big that you couldn't smash them easily with your shoe.  Oh.  Other bug problem.  They told us at the front, if it started to rain hard, to come back to the house IMMEDIATELY.  The reason why, is because there are leeches all over the jungle, and when it rains, the leeches jump of the trees and will grab on to you.  I, of course, thought this was a bunch of nonsense, and didn't take any heed.  Well, the trees were still wet and within a kilometer or so into the jungle, THERE WERE LEECHES.  They weren't what I was expecting.  THey were narrow and orange.  Some were small, others pretty big.  They are also extremely fast.  I watched one bolt up Elder Putnam's leg!   I looked down at my shoe at one point and saw ten on my shoe.  I caught one on my foot and ripped it off, but it was too late- the leech had already bitten so now my shoe has a bunch of blood stains.  One of the sisters also got bit pretty bad and there was a bunch of blood.  I'm trying to upload pictures as we speak.  I don't think I have ever sweated more in my life.  Probably because I have never climbed things so steep, so steamy.  I also had never had to use a vine to swing over a river to get to the next part (that was actually very fun, I have a video)  So lots of adventures today.  Oh, and when we were done, we went back to the main road and tried to hitch hike back to Miri.  We saw a bus come by, but he wouldn't stop.  Finally, a bus came.  The problem was that some lady had a bunch of durian, so the whole bus smelled like rotten onions.  Lovely.  Not to mention a bunch of stinky, sweaty missionaries.  And now I am sitting in an internet kedai, in gross clothes, covered in dirt, emailing you.  

What else.  

Oh.  My companion, Elder Matheson, is district leader, so he has to do splits with everyone.  That means, I get to do splits with everyone!  This week, I got to go on splits with Elder Chong.  He is one of the chinese elders, who is from Sitiawan.  He doesn't speak a whole lot of english, so I got to learn a ton of Chinese.  It was so fun.  I really hope, somehow, I will be able to learn a lot here.  It was funny, because he came to our area, so he wrote out a prayer in Malay so he could contribute to the lesson.  He is a pretty cool guy.  He worked in a bakery for three years, and wants to work in a bakery when he gets older.  We made pancakes for him, since he had never had them, and I made homemade stove syrup for him.  He ate so many of them.  and he put so much butter on them.... haha

This week, one of our investigators, whose name is Dangkan, fed us Biowak.  Biowak is the iban word for monitor lizard.  I'm uploading a picture of it now.  He told us he caught it in the gutters by our house >.<  Anyways, I ate some.  it was pretty good.  White meat, like chicken... but somehting was off.  Oh, we made Fajitas yesterday with that fancy spice packet you sent. SO GOOD.  It was the best home made meal we've had yet!  Tortillas aren't a thing here, so we bought prathas (a malay flat bread thing) that you fry at home.  They were chili garlic flavored.  They were so good.  We're still talking about it.  

I got the package too!  That was really good how you did it so it was actually addressed to the Hodders.  That way, they can go pick it up with out having me there.  The caramels were very good.  And all of the other stuff was good too.  WHen you get a chance, you should take some pictures of Utah/home/you guys and put it in a little album so I can show some of the people here.  They love pictures.  ALso, everyone is emailing me about holiday stuff... and it is kind of depressing because it is so hot here and no sign of holiday stuff :(  Everyone was jealous of the pumpkin pie stuff you sent!  Except, we have no oven to cook it.... oh well, we'll find one!  Could you send some Christmas music?  Sheet music?  I miss it!  Elder Bodhaine played sleighride in the house and I about died.  Hopefully when we go to Singapore we'll be able to get some.  There is one thing I want for Christmas.  I really want an electronic dictionary that has English, Chinese, and Malay.  Is that even a thing?  You should look into it.  I would love that.  Even just a English - Chinese one.  

I'm sorry the video didn't upload last time.  It took soo long.  It was a video of the storm, and is SO COOL.  Oh well,  I guess I'll show you when I get home.  I think I included a couple of the aftermath in this upload.  

That is exciting to hear about WHitman and his farewell.  That all happened so quickly!  I can't believe I wasn't there for his call, his opening, his temple experience, or his farewell!  I hope he is excited!  Mariel has been keeping me updated, because he hasn't!!  It is kind of sad that he is leaving so close to the Holidays... but hopefully he will have an awesome experience in the field.  I'm telling myself that so that my Christmas here will be really fun!

So President Mains has asked all of us to find 4 hours of service per week.  This week, one of the ward members asked Elder Chong and I to help her out.  They live in this wooden house on stilts over a mud field.  Getting to the house is a disaster, because there is so much mud!  A couple blocks away, there is a huge pile of rocks and crumbled cement.  So.  She had us wear these woven straw baskets that have one loop that goes on your arms and head, so the basket can rest on your back, and stuff these baskets with rocks.  It was very tiring.  Oh, I forgot to tell you why.  She wants to make a walk way to her house, so people don't have to get muddy.  It was fun, but a lot of work.  Got my work out in for the day!  It is interesting, because there is so much that needs to be done here, but the idea of service projects isn't really a thing here.  We pray a lot for opportunities to serve.  Somehow, they always show up... especially when you least expect them.  

We also had an interesting experience with an investigator.  We have been teaching the parents of a child who was baptized (the missionaries before us did that), but the word of wisdom has been a huge stumbling block.  The wife is very quiet.  We assumed they just didn't want, because the husband never kept the commitments.  Well, we went last night to drop them, but the wife spoke up and said she wanted to be baptized.  We asked her why, and she said that when she saw the picture of her son standing there alone in his white clothes, she felt like she should have been there.  Her sister is one of teh strongest members in teh branch, and has been talking to her.  The real issue we are facing is that she can't read, so she has never read the book of mormon.  At that moment in the lesson, the idea came into both of our heads, that we should ask the Husband (even though he doesn't want) to read the book of mormon to his wife.  He himself has never really read it.  he agreed.  This story doesn't probably make a whole lot of sense, but it was a very amazing experience to see how ideas can be put into our heads by the spirit if we are earnestly seeking to follow it.  This is kind of like the last try with this family, so we're praying that this will help them.  The book of mormon is most definitely the most powerful tool we have.  Everyone should be constantly reading it.  If you don't have a reading habit... start one.  We will all be held accountable for the opportunities we had to learn from it.

This email feels really rushed, probably because we got here way late and still haven't grocery shopped.....

one last funny story.  

we have an area called taman tunku that is pretty far away, so we usually ride the bus out there.  Well, on the way back last week, the bus driver literally slammed on the brakes, gets off the bus, and walks away.  The engine was still on.... the keys in the ignition.... and the driver just left.  We sat there for ten minutes... not exactly sure what to do.... finally, he came back, and continued driving.   As if nothing had happened.  Very strange.

oh, I tried emailing the scouts last week, but they didn't respond.  I don't have their email addresses right I think.  I feel really bad that I didn't write Jeff.  Especially because now I know how important letters are.  I should get back in contact with him.  

ok, I'm going now. 
Bai
Elder Robinson

Monday, November 5, 2012

Masih hujan..still raining

Helllo Fam,

This week was jam packed with stuff, so this will probably be a long email....

I finally got the package on Monday!!  Thank you very much!  The cookies were not so good... and the blank sprinkles melted and looked like mold haha.  They probably would have been better had I received them ON TIME.  But the Hi-chews, reeses, and caramels have been perfect!  And all the spice packets look really good.... we're excited to try some of them.  The only appliances we have are a rice cooker, small microwave, and a propane camp stove..... so we're going to get creative.  Elder Bodhaine's mom sent him See's Goodies, and they turned out really well.  Oh, and she sent peanut brittle, which was very good.  Can you make toffee?  

So that was monday.  

TUESDAY:
So we go to district meeting at 11, and afterwards, we always go to town for lunch.  Well, the senior couples only have enough room for most of the elders, so two always have to ride bikes..... we volunteered.  Well, the skies were BLACK, and looking really weird, and it started pouring pretty hard.  By the time we got to Boulevard (where teh mall is) the wind was out of control and the rain too.  There is a covered driveway that all of us were watching it under.  I'll try to upload the video, it was insane.  After a few minutes, police came and told us to go inside.  We followed their orders and had lunch.  They wouldn't let us out for a couple of hours.  Finally, we left, and outside was completely destroyed.  Trees were in the road, buildings had their whole roofs flipped off and in the road.  All of the missionaries and the senior couples drove off in the one direction you could, but elder Matheson and I stayed and helped out.  We were lifting huge trees out of the middle of the road with tons of locals.  It was a cool experience working together.  One of the trees was literally (I'm not exaggerating at all) covered in 1inch red ants.... and they told me to grab on.  I did, and watched the red ants crawl up my arms as we lifted this tree out of the road.  I have red marks on my arms to prove it >.<  We then realized that if downtown was bad, then the kampong houses most of teh members and investigators lived it would be bad.  We went to the nearest Kampong and found that whole houses had been wiped out.  We spent all day chopping down trees, digging up rubble, and clearing roads.  We met a lot of people that we otherwise would not have met, and it was neat for them to see that we were there.  We are part of the community- we speak the language, we live here, and we're interesting in the general well being of the community- I think those who saw us understood that a little better.  In fact, a reporter from the Borneo Post saw us, and interviewed us and took a bunch of pictures of us helping clear out/chop up some fallen trees.  (side note: these trees literally bleed, when you cut the branches, it looks like you cut yourself because it just bleeds exactly like a human. So I had a machete in one hand, and the red tree blood all over my shirt, face, arms, everything.  I saw one of the pictures and it looked like I was from some horror movie where a missionary goes into a village and kills everybody.  Needless to say that shirt is RUINED)  We checked the newspaper the next day, and unfortunately we weren't included in the article.  The interesting thing is that the storm only lasted a few hours, but it was strong enough to really damage many peoples homes.  Only a small part of Miri was devastated by the storm.  In fact, the weather was bright, sunny, and nice for the clean up.  Our branch president bore his testimony about it yesterday, and it was really nice.  He said that many times in our lives, Storms will come in that seem like they're the end of the world, when really they only last a few hours.  Even though it seems so dark in the moment, if we endure it well, bright/sunny weather is in the forecast.  I always interpreted it that even though our homes are fine, not too far away there are people with devastating storms in their lives.  We all have a responsibility to be there for each other, and look out for the storms so we can give our help where it is needed.  

I tried uploading a video of part of the storm on the home server.  look in shared folders, videos, DAJR Mission

Wednesday:
Halloween is not a thing here.  We tried explaining it to an investigator.  We said, yeah, we dress up like monsters, and knock on people's doors to ask for candy.... They didn't understand why on earth we would do that, and they were even more confused about people actually giving us candy.... So no, Halloween isn't a thing.  We tried to celebrate by going to a 'nicer' restaurant here.  I had just been given a ton of crackers and milo at an investigators house, so I decided to order something not fried rice-esque.  Not to mention we tried to make spanish rice in the rice cooker with a taco seasoning packet.... not a success haha.  So I got a chicken basket.  It tasted weird, but I had already paid for it so I ate it all....... 
THURSDAY-> Worst. Day. Ever.
I woke up, and felt a little sick.  I cut myself some banana bread and tried to eat some.  How do I put this in an email to make it not sound disgusting...... hmm. ....  Let's just say for the first 4 hours of the day, I had to be within 10ft of the bathroom.  It was awful.  Every time I either threw up, or you know what, I felt dizzier and dizzier.  I kept getting really hot, and then really cold, so I took my temp.  I had a fever of 103 degrees!  I didn't telll anyone, but they knew I wasn't looking too good.  We tried to weekly plan, and I asked Elder Matheson if I could take a 5 minute break.  I sat on the couch and passed out.  I woke up at 6:00PM!!  I was mad that no one woke me up, because we had plans for the day!  They wanted me to rest.  I felt embarrassed, because I knew we hadn't done anything productive that day.  I told them I was fine, and that we could go to our appointments.  BAD IDEA.  I had cleared my stomach long ago, and they fed us orange drink that made me want to.... well...  And then the appointment I was just ready to pass out.  I came home, showered, and fell asleep.  It is now monday, and I am still feeling the aftershocks of thursday, if you know what I mean.  I haven't really eaten much, because everytime I do, it makes me feel like I want to throw up, or ... well..... :)

Friday:
we had a service project where we went to an old folks home here, and removed a giant tree that had fallen.  There was a little, catholic nun who gave us some not so good tools, and we went to work chopping up the thing.  It was fun, I wish I had pictures.  Even elder Martin (senior couple) took an ax!  

Saturday:
We took a member to one of our new investigators.  We just met him a little while ago, and his circumstances are so sad.  There is a new shop lot being built, so all the workers live in these little wooden huts in the 'backyard' of it.  The family is nice, and humble.  Anyways, we take a member who ALWAYS talks about the word of wisdom.  THe WoW is a big thing here, so we are very careful about when/where/how it is brought up.  We prep our member to not say anything about it.  He agrees.  Well, we go into the hut to find that our investigator is completely drunk.  The member insisted on going in.  We tried to make the appointment somewhat productive, but the member just dove right into a WoW rant.  The room just felt so different.  After this experience, I thought a lot about the word of wisdom.  There are so many questions here as to why our church insists on no alcohol or tobacco, but tonight it made a little more sense.  We sing a indo hymn with every investigator before the lesson, to invite the spirit, and have an environment conducive to learning.  While we were singing, his singing did anything but that.  We try so hard to help investigators understand and feel the spirit, so to see one in a state where he can't even understand or feel himself I thought, no wonder we don't want them doing that!  It also made me think about other things that detract from the spirit.  We're promised to have his spirit to ALWAYS be with us, not when it's convenient, desperately needed, or on sunday mornings.  If we think we're up for that responsibility, and if we understand that magnitude of this gift, we should do everything in our power to remove things that distance ourselves from receiving His presence.  Obviously, there are big things like alcohol, that make it impossible to hear the spirit.  But what else is there in our lives that maybe add some white noise to the reception we are receiving?  It is one thing to see a picture in perfect, high-definition, and another to see a fuzzy/blurred image.  THe clearer it is, the more you can get out of it.

Sunday:
Church was nice.  Some of the members asked us if we would meet them at the church at 5 to help show them where some recent converts lived (for home teaching).  Well, at about 4:45, the power goes out because of the rain.  We decide to be faithful, and go out to meet the appointment.  It was raining SO HARD.  By the time I was out of our street, I was completely soaked.  We went to the church to find that no one was there to meet us, and they had all just assumed it was canceled because of the rain.  THe title of this email is masih hujan... still raining....  We went to a member/investigators house to find it was flooded so we helped a bit with that.  


The funny thing about this mission, is that there have been many occasions (in the 2 months I've lived here) where I have thought, "There is no way this is real life.  This has to be a movie."  I thought that last night as I was flying down a flooded street, pitch black, frogs belching so loud we almost canceled an appointment, and just RAIN RAIN RAIN.  I thought this when I was cleaning up the rubble after the storm.  I thought this when one of our investigators tried to feed me a giant sego larvae...... 

ok, that's all I have to say today.  I really hope this video loads, so then I can upload some pictures.

Elder Robinson
Helllo Fam,

This week was jam packed with stuff, so this will probably be a long email....

I finally got the package on Monday!!  Thank you very much!  The cookies were not so good... and the blank sprinkles melted and looked like mold haha.  They probably would have been better had I received them ON TIME.  But the Hi-chews, reeses, and caramels have been perfect!  And all the spice packets look really good.... we're excited to try some of them.  The only appliances we have are a rice cooker, small microwave, and a propane camp stove..... so we're going to get creative.  Elder Bodhaine's mom sent him See's Goodies, and they turned out really well.  Oh, and she sent peanut brittle, which was very good.  Can you make toffee?  

So that was monday.  

TUESDAY:
So we go to district meeting at 11, and afterwards, we always go to town for lunch.  Well, the senior couples only have enough room for most of the elders, so two always have to ride bikes..... we volunteered.  Well, the skies were BLACK, and looking really weird, and it started pouring pretty hard.  By the time we got to Boulevard (where teh mall is) the wind was out of control and the rain too.  There is a covered driveway that all of us were watching it under.  I'll try to upload the video, it was insane.  After a few minutes, police came and told us to go inside.  We followed their orders and had lunch.  They wouldn't let us out for a couple of hours.  Finally, we left, and outside was completely destroyed.  Trees were in the road, buildings had their whole roofs flipped off and in the road.  All of the missionaries and the senior couples drove off in the one direction you could, but elder Matheson and I stayed and helped out.  We were lifting huge trees out of the middle of the road with tons of locals.  It was a cool experience working together.  One of the trees was literally (I'm not exaggerating at all) covered in 1inch red ants.... and they told me to grab on.  I did, and watched the red ants crawl up my arms as we lifted this tree out of the road.  I have red marks on my arms to prove it >.<  We then realized that if downtown was bad, then the kampong houses most of teh members and investigators lived it would be bad.  We went to the nearest Kampong and found that whole houses had been wiped out.  We spent all day chopping down trees, digging up rubble, and clearing roads.  We met a lot of people that we otherwise would not have met, and it was neat for them to see that we were there.  We are part of the community- we speak the language, we live here, and we're interesting in the general well being of the community- I think those who saw us understood that a little better.  In fact, a reporter from the Borneo Post saw us, and interviewed us and took a bunch of pictures of us helping clear out/chop up some fallen trees.  (side note: these trees literally bleed, when you cut the branches, it looks like you cut yourself because it just bleeds exactly like a human. So I had a machete in one hand, and the red tree blood all over my shirt, face, arms, everything.  I saw one of the pictures and it looked like I was from some horror movie where a missionary goes into a village and kills everybody.  Needless to say that shirt is RUINED)  We checked the newspaper the next day, and unfortunately we weren't included in the article.  The interesting thing is that the storm only lasted a few hours, but it was strong enough to really damage many peoples homes.  Only a small part of Miri was devastated by the storm.  In fact, the weather was bright, sunny, and nice for the clean up.  Our branch president bore his testimony about it yesterday, and it was really nice.  He said that many times in our lives, Storms will come in that seem like they're the end of the world, when really they only last a few hours.  Even though it seems so dark in the moment, if we endure it well, bright/sunny weather is in the forecast.  I always interpreted it that even though our homes are fine, not too far away there are people with devastating storms in their lives.  We all have a responsibility to be there for each other, and look out for the storms so we can give our help where it is needed.  

I tried uploading a video of part of the storm on the home server.  look in shared folders, videos, DAJR Mission

Wednesday:
Halloween is not a thing here.  We tried explaining it to an investigator.  We said, yeah, we dress up like monsters, and knock on people's doors to ask for candy.... They didn't understand why on earth we would do that, and they were even more confused about people actually giving us candy.... So no, Halloween isn't a thing.  We tried to celebrate by going to a 'nicer' restaurant here.  I had just been given a ton of crackers and milo at an investigators house, so I decided to order something not fried rice-esque.  Not to mention we tried to make spanish rice in the rice cooker with a taco seasoning packet.... not a success haha.  So I got a chicken basket.  It tasted weird, but I had already paid for it so I ate it all....... 
THURSDAY-> Worst. Day. Ever.
I woke up, and felt a little sick.  I cut myself some banana bread and tried to eat some.  How do I put this in an email to make it not sound disgusting...... hmm. ....  Let's just say for the first 4 hours of the day, I had to be within 10ft of the bathroom.  It was awful.  Every time I either threw up, or you know what, I felt dizzier and dizzier.  I kept getting really hot, and then really cold, so I took my temp.  I had a fever of 103 degrees!  I didn't telll anyone, but they knew I wasn't looking too good.  We tried to weekly plan, and I asked Elder Matheson if I could take a 5 minute break.  I sat on the couch and passed out.  I woke up at 6:00PM!!  I was mad that no one woke me up, because we had plans for the day!  They wanted me to rest.  I felt embarrassed, because I knew we hadn't done anything productive that day.  I told them I was fine, and that we could go to our appointments.  BAD IDEA.  I had cleared my stomach long ago, and they fed us orange drink that made me want to.... well...  And then the appointment I was just ready to pass out.  I came home, showered, and fell asleep.  It is now monday, and I am still feeling the aftershocks of thursday, if you know what I mean.  I haven't really eaten much, because everytime I do, it makes me feel like I want to throw up, or ... well..... :)

Friday:
we had a service project where we went to an old folks home here, and removed a giant tree that had fallen.  There was a little, catholic nun who gave us some not so good tools, and we went to work chopping up the thing.  It was fun, I wish I had pictures.  Even elder Martin (senior couple) took an ax!  

Saturday:
We took a member to one of our new investigators.  We just met him a little while ago, and his circumstances are so sad.  There is a new shop lot being built, so all the workers live in these little wooden huts in the 'backyard' of it.  The family is nice, and humble.  Anyways, we take a member who ALWAYS talks about the word of wisdom.  THe WoW is a big thing here, so we are very careful about when/where/how it is brought up.  We prep our member to not say anything about it.  He agrees.  Well, we go into the hut to find that our investigator is completely drunk.  The member insisted on going in.  We tried to make the appointment somewhat productive, but the member just dove right into a WoW rant.  The room just felt so different.  After this experience, I thought a lot about the word of wisdom.  There are so many questions here as to why our church insists on no alcohol or tobacco, but tonight it made a little more sense.  We sing a indo hymn with every investigator before the lesson, to invite the spirit, and have an environment conducive to learning.  While we were singing, his singing did anything but that.  We try so hard to help investigators understand and feel the spirit, so to see one in a state where he can't even understand or feel himself I thought, no wonder we don't want them doing that!  It also made me think about other things that detract from the spirit.  We're promised to have his spirit to ALWAYS be with us, not when it's convenient, desperately needed, or on sunday mornings.  If we think we're up for that responsibility, and if we understand that magnitude of this gift, we should do everything in our power to remove things that distance ourselves from receiving His presence.  Obviously, there are big things like alcohol, that make it impossible to hear the spirit.  But what else is there in our lives that maybe add some white noise to the reception we are receiving?  It is one thing to see a picture in perfect, high-definition, and another to see a fuzzy/blurred image.  THe clearer it is, the more you can get out of it.

Sunday:
Church was nice.  Some of the members asked us if we would meet them at the church at 5 to help show them where some recent converts lived (for home teaching).  Well, at about 4:45, the power goes out because of the rain.  We decide to be faithful, and go out to meet the appointment.  It was raining SO HARD.  By the time I was out of our street, I was completely soaked.  We went to the church to find that no one was there to meet us, and they had all just assumed it was canceled because of the rain.  THe title of this email is masih hujan... still raining....  We went to a member/investigators house to find it was flooded so we helped a bit with that.  


The funny thing about this mission, is that there have been many occasions (in the 2 months I've lived here) where I have thought, "There is no way this is real life.  This has to be a movie."  I thought that last night as I was flying down a flooded street, pitch black, frogs belching so loud we almost canceled an appointment, and just RAIN RAIN RAIN.  I thought this when I was cleaning up the rubble after the storm.  I thought this when one of our investigators tried to feed me a giant sego larvae...... 

ok, that's all I have to say today.  I really hope this video loads, so then I can upload some pictures.

Elder Robinson
 
 
 
 

Oh, I Forgot to tell you

I FORGOT TO TELL YOU

I woke up in the middle of the night on wednesday, and my foot was itching really bad.  I went back to sleep.  I woke up later, with my feet, and my arms itching.... I got up and shook my sheets.  I woke up another time, with a bug on my FACE!  I ran into the bathroom and turned on the light, to find that I had sores on my neck and face, that I had been scratching at while I slept!  THERE WERE BUGS IN MY BED.  I changed all my clothes, and spent the rest of the night on a couch downstairs.  The next day, there were two spiders in my bed.. ............

Another long week

Hello Family,

It has been such a week.  ugh.  First off, here is the package story.  I came home on tuesday and found a slip in the mailbox saying that they came to the house, but we weren't there.  That was all it said.  Nothing else.  Except for a telephone number.  The next day I called the telephone number and they said they didn't do 2nd drop offs, and that I would have to find the nearest Poslaju center.  So then on thursday, I called the senior couple and asked if they could help me.  THey were on their way back from Brunei, and said they would call us in a few hours to pick us up.  I was very excited.  While I was downstairs doing scripture study, they called the cellphone, and my companion answered.  They said they were on their way, but he told them we weren't ready, when it was only HIM who wasn't ready.  THey were a little miffed.  I come up stairs 30 minutes later, and ask "I wonder when they're going to call?" he then tells me what he told them.  I was furious.  I hurried and called them back, and they were annoyed because they made time to come get us, but that WE weren't ready, and that they wouldn't have time to get it today.  I chewed my companion out so much.  He was afraid to talk to me for the rest of the day.  We were doing companion exchanges that day so it was a good thing.  Well, bodhaine tells the hodders what happened, and they felt bad, so they said they would take me on friday.  So I make sure we're both ready on friday, and the hodders drive us into town, only to find out that IT IS THE LAST DAY OF HARI RAYA (muslim holiday) and all companies are shut down.  Again, I'm furious.  And post isn't open on weekends.  So here we are, almost a week after it arrived in malaysia, and I still don't have my package!!!!!  From now on, send it to the senior couples house.  Elder Bodhaine has received 2 packages in the time that mine has been here.  His mom found the hodders email and got their address.  It is a lot easier that way.  Ugh.  Very frustrating.  It made me very upset at my companion, and I tried as hard as I could to be cool about it, but it is so hard.  I know I shouldn't be worrying about a package, but on a mission you start to look forward to things like that.  Hopefully the hodders will be able to take me today :/

Elder and Sister Hodder:
Lot 2827 Berembang 7 Pujut 7B 
Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia 98000

for the next package, PLEASE INCLUDE DEODORANT!  Malaysian deodorant is NO BEUNO. I uploaded a picture so you can get the right kind :)  Also, send some pancake mix that doesn't need anything but water.  


I also did a companion exchange with one of the zone leaders, which was a lot of fun.  They live with the Chinese elders, so I got to spend time with them.  They're so much fun.  Elder CHiong is from sitiawan, malaysia, and worked for three years in a bakery.  I didn't have any food at their apartment, so he woke up and made me egg tarts that were sooo good. I uploaded a picture of them.  SO nice.  It was also very fun to practice my chinese again!  THey both were confused as to why I'm not a chinese elder, which made me a little depressed.  Oh well.  The chinese elders had a baptism this week, so I also got to talk a lot with the Chinese group.  They're all so nice.  Group Leader Chan found out that I can mumble a few phrases in Chinese and then continued to talk to me and stuff chinese food down my throat.   I'm not complaining!!  I'm glad I get to be with the Malays and Chinese here.  

Elder Bodhaine made dragon fruit smoothies, I should upload a pic of that.... it was bright pink/purple

What else.

We finished conference yesterday, and we were able to watch one of the sessions in English!  It was very good.  As a missionary, it is a lot easier to focus and get stuff out conference I believe.  I really liked President Eyring's talk about submitting your will to the Lord's, and everything will work out.  I have a lot of personal motives, I've come to realize, and it takes some real trust to put aside the pursuits that we think are important to focus on what He needs us to do.  I memorized the verse in Luke (in Indonesian) that talks about not my will, but thine be done.  I'm glad I did (that was before I even heard him use it!).  I also really liked Elder Bednar's talk about testimony versus conversion.  So many investigators, and members, have true testimonies about the gospel.  Yet, we cannot rely on that alone.  I learned that lesson in the MTC.  It is the same with the investigators.  I really do think they can feel that this message is true.  It is not until they go through the conversion process, and put in their efforts (or oil, 10 virgin example) that they will be able to endure.  I like Joseph Smith's story because he so clearly sets the pattern for us.  He had a concern.  He turned to the Scriptures.  He pondered and prayed.  He acted on what he read and felt by going to the Sacred Grove, and trusted in the Lord.  Because of his Faith and Trust, he was able to receive and recognize an answer.  He then went on to act on the answer he had received.  So straightforward.  At first it was a little difficult to see the importance of his conversion, but it really is the same for each one of us.  I really hope that we can lead investigators to follow this fool proof pattern.  

I also got a surprise email from Elder Beesley in Honduras!!  He is doing well, and he says it is kicking his butt!  I understand.  I'm excited to email them.  

I am so jealous that it is snowing there >__<  it is sooo hot here.  Woof.  It rains really hard, and then the heat comes back and gets SO HUMID.  haha.  

Yesterday, we had a dinner appointment with one of my favorite investigators  (this was the first official dinner appointment we've ever had).  He doesn't have electricity in his hut, so we helped him barbecue a bit.  this is what we ate.  We had some boiled turtle, which was pretty good.  He also went the store, and bought pig fat.  Straight pig fat.  he then, with a bag of margarine and other red sauces, made a spread that he put on top of the pig fat.  he barbecued that up.  He then literally grabbed a fish, and threw it on the coals.  Whenever you eat at an Iban's house, they don't use any silverware, so you have to use your hands.  and there aren't any chairs (ever) so you always sit on the floor  ( i have calluses on my feet from sitting cross legged), They were all making fun of me because I wasn't any good at eating with my hands!  To eat the fish, we literally just reached over and grabbed a chunk off it.  The pig fat was.... ok actually, other than the fact that you were eating margarine and pig fat.  THey had a chili sauce that Sister Mundun ground up herself that was really good.  I have never felt so sick after that dinner though! hahah.  The people are so nice and hospitable here, and it really is expensive for them to feed us.  They always serve food with a ton of rice.  

I'm jealous you were at the beach!  When I was with Elder Christian, Zone leader, on a way to an appointment, we rode through his area by the beach.  There is a road that goes right along the coast (south china sea) so that was fun to finally see the beach.  There were kids playing with kites, it was nice.  

I uploaded some more pics from Singapore, and then some other random ones from our area.  Next week, we have a training conference in Miri for all the elders in all of Sarawak and Sabah.  Most of the elders will be staying at our house-- so we have all been desperately cleaning to get it prepared... except for my companion

I feel bad that I have only portrayed him like that.  I have learned a lot from him.  We hardly see eye to eye on anything, but it balances us out.  He likes to follow the schedule exactly, which I really like.  He also likes to follow the preach my gospel standards for planning and preparing, which I am really thankful for because hardly anyone else does it.  I am glad we're developing this habit.  It is hard, because he sometimes doesn't notice things that I think should be done differently, like he never helps clean up after meals or just messes that are in communal areas.  We had a long talk about a lot of things, and hopefully he will embrace the changes.  I can't really complain a whole lot else though.  We've been getting along well, for the most part.  We just need to learn to be more open with each other.

I don't know what else to include.......

Oh, we found a place that sells bread, and made french toast for breakfast!  It was delicious.  Syrup is way too expensive, so we just used canned sweetened milk with ground cinnamon and bananas.  It is so good.  

KK, I've got lots of emails to respond too.  

Elder Robinson