March 23, 2011
Pergi mana means “Where are you going?” in Malay, and it’s a very common phrase used to greet passers by. As many times as I’ve heard it I still find it strange. What if you asked some stranger in the States, “Hey, where are you going?” They’d be weirded out, guaranteed. The Chinese ask the same thing, “Qu nali?” Malaysia is a funny place.
So, we got back from zone conference in Sibu on Friday morning at 4:00 a.m. We took the Asia Star which is a really nice bus, but there is no leg room. And if you know me, you know that when I say “no leg room,” I really mean there was none at all. (People here still laugh when I can touch my toes without leaning forward.) So some of Friday was spent sleeping then we went contacting for three hours. It may have been the worst contacting ever. We were yelled at, laughed, at, and brushed off by literally everyone. Not even a single phone number or pamphlet given away. I came home that night a bit discouraged but still ready to make up for lost time the next day.
Saturday we met with Brother Lim. Boy, what a meeting! I learned some things about that man that surprised me. He was a very successful business man until a truck hit him when he was walking home from work. It pretty much ruined his life. He can’t work or drive now and doesn’t have all his faculties about him. We’re sitting in his house, talking, and he abruptly wants us to move to another couch. We’re sitting there confused a bit and he looks up and says, “Look at my chandelier; what do you see?” Well, said I, “I see a bit of crystal and some light.” “Look again, closer to the ceiling. Do you see him?” So now I’m thinking he’s looking at a ghost or something. “Nope,” I said, “I see nothing out of the ordinary.” “It’s Jesus! See, there’s his head and mouth and eyes! And there is God and the Holy Ghost too next to him!” There was nothing there. I don’t know where in his head he constructed Jesus from a chandelier, but he said it builds his faith when he looks at it, so I guess I’m glad for him.
I also heard that he almost went inactive at one point because when you turn a Hymn book upside-down the organ pipes look like monster teeth. Elder McCormies assures me that he saved that man from apostasy at least three times in the last six months. I’ve already saved him once in three weeks! He’s a funny guy.
Sunday was pretty normal, but Monday was amazing. To start out, we had to get Elder Jenkins a bike because the spare one is totally out of commission. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the funds in his account so we called the bike shop and they agreed to let him put a down payment and set up a plan to pay it off later. That never happens. But, it did. Blessing! Then, we had Big Mac Monday (which I love). Blessing! Then, Elder Porter told me that he found an area that would be good for Chinese work, so we followed him on our bikes for about an hour and arrived at Sungai Apong or, as I like to call it, “The Area.” It’s flippin’ cool. It’s a traditional fishing village, but instead of Iban, there are Chinese there! I couldn’t believe it. I guess they’ve been there a long time. All the houses have tin roofs, no indoor plumbing, and little or no electricity. In other words, these people are humble! And, like the Zoramites, they are ready to learn. The road is made of rocks and is really narrow, but people still manage to squeeze cars through by some miracle. The village is right on the bank of a river. Because it rained the day before, some places were too flooded to get to.
On a side note, do you know what mudskippers are? They are fish that can live in water or on land. They use their fins to bounce or skip around on the top of the water or in mud. They’re so cool. Me and Elder Jenkins are pretty sure we saw a mutant one that was about four feet long. It’s head was bigger than my hands! They’re normally about six inches long, but I’m convinced that in Malaysia anything is possible.
Back to Monday. Every door we knocked on set up with us. Everyone! That’s unheard of. We have five appointments tomorrow. After that we went to play badminton with a member who had some referrals for us. Little did I know how exciting badminton can be. It’s fast-paced and difficult. My arm is actually sore today. Elder Lim is a pro! Everyone here is. They can’t throw a ball, but they can hit a birdie at 200 km/hour, no problem. We got two referrals from that. Greatest Monday ever!
Yesterday (Tuesday) we went back to Sungai Apong with less success. Everyone was at work. Everyone. And, it was raining. Chinese here believe that if you go out in the rain you will catch the death fever and die. Poor, scared souls. We got soaked on the way home. I hate rain.
And that brings me to today. We just got back from the orangutan sanctuary! The word “orangutan” is actually Malaysian. It means “forest person.” An orangutan is a person of the forest. How cool is that?
We saw six or seven of them. We left the house at 7:45 a.m. so we could get there in time for feeding. At first there were only these two babies that came down for some bananas. Then the tress behind us started to move … a lot. And then we saw him. The alpha. He’s huge! Like five feet tall, and thick. He descended by grabbing trees and letting his weight bend them until he could reach another one. Theses weren’t small trees. Big ones! It was really cool to see.
In other news, there’s now a white guy in our branch that speaks Chinese. He learned Chinese while serving in the U.S. Army and converted after marrying his wife, a returned missionary. She’s from Taiwan. Maybe he can be the group leader and we can get things moving. Honestly he’s the only one that could lead the group.
Well, as you can tell, it’s been a good couple of days. Love you guys! The Church is true.