September 28, 2011
Nama berita means “How are you?” in Iban. I am doing well and my Malays is pandai. Pandai means to “to be able to” or “to be good at.” You could say: “I’m pandai Rubik’s Cube,” meaning that I can solve one, or “I’m not pandai Malay,” meaning I cannot speak Malay. It’s a useful word that is now part of my vocabulary.
Because I have done so many baptismal interviews the past few weeks and because I was tired of having to use another missionary as a translator, I had Elder Whittaker write the questions in Malay and then read them back to me. I’m learning and hearing enough Malay that I only had to hear it a few times to comprehend it. Would you believe I actually interviewed someone in Malay on Thursday night? It went really well.
It just so happened that right after the interviews I received a call from a Chinese member and we spoke in Mandarin. Then I spoke to Elder Gott in English. The Malaysians I was with were in shock. They said in Malay, “Oh man, he speaks everything!” Needless to say, it boosted my ego and made me happy. It is a fulfillment of the promise in my setting apart that I would be able to communicate with people whose language I did not speak. Awesome!
It has been a pretty tough week. We went contacting a lot last week but had no success. Three people came out and talked to us but didn’t want at all. Everyone else just gave us the hand wave or the total ignore. I hate feeding into the idea that ignoring a problem will make it go away but I can’t force anyone to listen, so how to fix, lah? Mmm. Cannot. One time when we called out to ask if anyone was home. We heard someone shout “Yes!” from a house across the street so we immediately abandoned the house we were at and crossed the street to find who it was. Sadly, no one came out so we just moved on. Frequently people will actually tell us that they’re not home. We can’t do much more than just laugh it off. Fortunately, I’m pretty pandai at laughing it off so no worries.
After the interview last Thursday Elder Gott and I ate at a restaurant with outdoor seating. During our meal we heard a group of three girls speaking English. Two were Chinese and the other looked native Malaysian. I must have just stared in amazement. As we left, the Malaysian girl called us over to speak with them. Turns out that her parents are both Malaysian but she was born and raised in the States. She said she was in Malaysia to do some soul searching and then asked if we were on our “missions”, air quotes and all. She is 25-years old, very pretty and more flirty than I was comfortable with, so when she asked us to sit with her I was like, “Nah, we gotta go home . . . now. I wasn’t rude but I’m sure it was really awkward. She said she saw me staring — something I’ve picked up from the locals who can’t take their eyes off us, especially when we’re shopping. For some reason they are very interested in what the white men are buying. It’s funny but can get on my nerves.
On Thursday night Elder Forsyth and I were riding home, being completely obedient to all road laws and mission rules. We both had our helmet lights on; we were riding one behind the other; and we were staying inside the bike lane and away from traffic. Out of nowhere this car approaches us going way too fast and was much, much too close. By close I mean that it actually scraped my leg as it flew past us. After passing us, the car swerved to one side and then back again before it pulled off the road and stopped. We road up and as we approached I was ready to give the guy a good tongue lashing, but I restrained myself. It was some 16-year old kid with his girlfriend in the car. He asked if we were okay and then told us to be careful and get lights. Get lights?!!! We kindly pointed out that we had lights (to which he had no response) and then he drove off. I can now say I was hit by a car while riding my bike but came away without a scratch. It left a bruise but nothing really to complain about. I swear that angels were protecting us. He was going about 50 mph. It’s hard to explain why I honestly feel like we were protected, but I’m convinced that more than one angel ministered to us that night. I remembered that when Dad set me apart he promised that guardian angels would protect me, would be round about me and would bear me up. Fulfilled!
Yesterday I decided teach Elder Forsyth my beading skills with the assurance that he would pass the tradition onto more Chinese elders. I’m afraid I might have to find a new protégé. It was cracking me up how frustrated he got. I’m talking stressing out, shaking and getting hot in the face. Dude, it’s beading! It was completely hysterical. Reminded me of dad. He can do a ridiculously huge project in a limited amount of time, but get him distracted with something he can’t figure out and watch his blood pressure rise. Very funny.
Although it has been a challenging week I have faith that things will pick up soon. The APs are coming down to do splits with us on Thursday and next week I have a leadership training in Sibu. Love you guys! The Church is true.