Sunday, January 29, 2017

Christmas to Chinese New Years


Last night was the start of the Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) and so I get a second chance at my New Years Resolutions.  One of them is to do better at posting things on the blog and so I thought today (New Years Day) was a good day to start.  We have a little extra time today since CNY fell on a Sunday this year, we only had Sacrament Meeting.  Did I say, CNY is a big deal here (more below).

The two districts in the Singapore Zone had a contest to see who could build the better Gingerbread House and they had the Senior Missionary office couples judge them.  They took it very seriously and were very proud of what they had accomplished.  They even gave us a complete “tour” of their creation trying to sway our votes.  In the end they both won and we rewarded them with Ice Cream.  Below are the two groups with their creations.

20161219_163927Sisters Hampton, Toone, Morgan, Cloud;  Elders Burke, Miller, Bringhurst, Wong

20161219_163959Elders Riddle, Shirley, Leavitt, Clark, Marsh, Boud; Sisters, Steele and Jackson

We had quite the Christmas Eve.  Instead of snow, we had a huge thunder and lightning storm.  Thankfully, they have a pretty good storm and drainage system here but on the way to President and Sister Simmons’ house, this is what the drainage canal looked like.  In this area, it is about 8-10 feet deep from where the water normally is to the top of the wall.  The water was almost to the top of the wall and was moving pretty fast. 



Even though the drainage system is good, there were still areas where the water was over the street.  In one place, a tree had fallen over and was laying in the road.

We had a very quiet Christmas day.  It was just the two of us and we missed having family around.  We slept in as log as we wanted to, opened gifts and just took it easy.  One of three Christmas trees we had in our home…one in our living area, this one in the living room and one in the entry.  The tree in our living area and the stocking under the tree below were given to us by Corey, Amber and Grayson.


Our good friends Pam and Shafique Janmohamed who used to live in Plano, gave us a great tip on a place to eat here in Singapore.  Shafique used to travel to Singapore and Malaysia on business and said Jumbo’s Seafood was one of his favorite places to eat.  It took us a while  to find time to get to the restaurant but it was worth the effort.  Shafique recommended the Pepper Crab or Chili Crab.  We had the Pepper Crab and it did not disappoint.  It was a bit messy but it was very good.  It was in what is called the East Coast Park and was right on the water.  We could see all of the ships that were anchored offshore waiting their turn to be unloaded. 

It was a very busy place.  The busiest of all the restaurants in that area.

We did make good use of the bibs!!!

20161227_191242That is not another shoreline out in the distance, Those are ships.

A senior couple from Singapore, Elder and Sister Foo, have been working in the office for the past year and ended their mission on January 11th.  We had a little surprise party for them to show appreciation for all the service they had provided.  I have taken over the responsibilities Elder Foo was doing and Sister Walker is handling the responsibilities Sister Foo was doing. They did a good job training us but we do miss them being in the office.



One Saturday we took a trip to Vivo City Mall (wrote about it in an earlier post) and had lunch.  We found a “Hibachi Grill” type restaurant (although not as action paced as others we have been to) and has a very good meal.  While I was away getting a drink, Sister Walker told the chef to make it spicy…and it was.  But it was still pretty good.  At first they did not give us any utensils, only chopsticks.  We tried to do our best, but finally the Asian woman sitting to our right said, “do you want me to ask them for some forks for you?”  She could see that we were not doing too well and would probably be there quite awhile trying to finish our meal with chopsticks. We did get some utensils and the meal went better after that.


A few Saturdays ago, the High Priest Group Leader in our ward arranged to do a walk as a ward at one of the local parks. (Labrador Park).  I had to take a missionary to the airport that morning, so Sister Walker went without me.  The next day in Priesthood Meeting, Sister Walker was all they talked about.  They could not believe how far and how fast she ran while the rest of them were walking.  She said she was just trying to catch up with one of the sisters in the ward who was leaving so she could talk to her.  She then ran back to the group.  The ward was very impressed. 


As I have said before, one of my responsibilities is to pick-up and take missionaries to the airport.  Some come/leave due to health issues.  Some are coming into the mission for the first time and others are leaving to go home.  A week and a half ago, I made 4 trips to the airport in one day.  Two to take missionaries returning home, one to pickup new missionaries coming from the MTC and one to take a missionary from Singapore who started his mission here while he waited for his Visa to go to Australia.  We had to leave at 4am to take the first group and the last one flew out at 8:30pm the same day.  On one of the trips to take a couple sisters to the airport who were returning home to Malaysia (yes, we have a lot of native Malaysians serving in the mission and most serve in some other part of Malaysia other than where they are from), Sister Walker was having a good conversation with them and said a couple things they did not understand.  “He is all that and a bucket of chicken”.  “I can’t sing my way out of a wet paper bag”.  After explaining what they mean, one of the sisters said, “I have to write these down!”, and asked her to repeat them.  They were laughing so hard. Then I was telling them that at one of the areas we had gone to, that they were familiar with, that Sister Walker and I were playing chicken while crossing the road because the traffic was so dangerous.  They laughed again and asked why we made a lot of jokes about chickens.   


Sister Quan and Sister Soon returning to Malaysia

Sister Kershisnik and Sister Tan returning to the US

Sister Erickson with Sister Rungai, one of 4 new missionaries from MTC

Elder Wong going to Australia. His parents met him at the airport

On Monday, we went with a couple families from the ward and the senior couple staying with us, to China Town here in Singapore.  With Chinese New Years coming this weekend, they said Monday would be the best time to go since it would be even more crowded as the week progressed.  We walked around looking at all the shops and restaurants and then had dinner there.  It was crowded but not so bad that you couldn’t get around or find a place to sit to eat. 



After we ate, we went to a place and got dessert.  It was not what we are used to with cake, ice cream etc.  The big thing was “Snow Ice”.  It was not really like a snow cone, a course kind of ice, but was more of a finely shaved ice.  They had different flavors.  One of the bishop’s daughters got Chocolate/vanilla.  One got something I don’t remember the name and that didn’t have a lot of taste and Sister Walker and I played it safe with Strawberry.   Sister Walker tried the fruit that was on the side of the white snow ice and about lost her dinner Smile


We took the MRT (subway) there but decided to take the bus home.  It was only our second time on a double decker bus, which was fun.  However, the bus driver was kind of new and ended up making a wrong turn and it took us an extra 20 minutes to get home (45 minutes total).  The public transportation in Singapore is very clean, safe and very nice and is used A Lot since they restrict the use of cars..


Speaking of cars…there are a lot of very expensive and exotic cars in Singapore.  Just the other day, I saw these two Audis, a Ferrari and a Maserati, just in one day.  That was in addition to all of the BMWs, Lexus and other luxury cars.  Of course there are also a lot of Kia’s ,Hyundai’s and other less expensive cars.  


We had a couple of families in the ward invite us over for traditional Chinese New Year meals this past weekend.   The meal below was from Friday with Brother and Sister Tan and was amazing.  The salad looking dish in the second picture is several kinds of vegetables and noodles that we all used chopsticks to turn them over and mix them up as we said positive things in Chinese…well some said them in Chinese.  The pot in the third picture is Laksa,, a very famous dish in Singapore.  There were many other dishes that I can’t begin to describe or remember what they were.  I have to be honest, some were very good and some were quite different from what we were used to and have not acquired the taste for.



Saturday (yesterday) Bro and Sister Ho invited us and Childs’ over for lunch for Chinese New Year.  We had some traditional noodles, curry chicken and other traditional dishes.  Again, the food was very good and we appreciate them for inviting us and also for educating us on some of the Chinese traditions.  below is the invitation Bro. Ho sent us and a picture of us and the Childs’.


Yesterday afternoon we took the MRT over to Vivo City Mall and then walked over to Sentosa.  Sentosa is an amusement park of sorts and a much smaller Disney Land.  They do have a Universal Studio there, rides, lots of restaurants and other attractions.  It is free to enter and you just pay for the rides etc. if you go on them.  We just went over to walk around and to see what was there. 


These are the Childs’ I have mentioned earlier in the post.  They have been staying in the house for just over 4 weeks.  He came in to Singapore from Malaysia, where they are serving, to have eye surgery.  All of a sudden one day he could hardly see out of his right eye and he could only see a small area in the middle of the eye.  He had it checked out here and found out he had a detached retna and had surgery the next day. Due to the fluid and gas they put in the eye after, he had to keep his head face down for two weeks and cannot fly for 6-8 weeks after the surgery.  They came thinking they would just be here a few days and left most of their clothes etc. in Malaysia.  It has been fun having them here and being able to do things with them.  They are from Farrin, Utah.


20170128_170200An entertainer at Santos

Replica of the Singapore Merlion

A mall like area (yes, another mall!)


The best looking lady at Sentosa

Today we did not have any traditional Chinese food. Sister Walker made some great lasagna, broccoli salad, fruit and French bread…more of an American meal.  We had Ruth, one of the investigators the missionaries are teaching and another young man from the ward over to eat with us.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Being Friendly Toward Others

This is a repost of one Sister Walker put on her Facebook page:

Sikit sikit lama lama jadi bukit. This is Malay for little, little, long, long becomes hill/mountain. I wanted to learn the language here in Singapore which is mostly Mandarin, however most people here speak English. Well, I'm failing miserably at it but one young missionary who is serving in Malaysia taught me that saying. I do love that saying though because it has deep meaning and can mean many things. The way I like to think of it is in the viewpoint that it is in the seemingly small consistent acts of kindness that bring the greatest results.

My Daddy was a very friendly man. As he would drive down the road, every passerby whether a pedestrian or driver in another vehicle would see him nod his head to them and he would raise his pointer finger to wave hello. He never met a stranger. I didn't realize the power of his small gesture of kindness. They weren't the only ones who were watching him, I was watching, too! It was so natural for him; he was so sincere.

I find myself carrying on his legacy; caring about others the way I felt he did. I tell almost every person I pass each day hello or good morning. I try to see if I can get the person with the scowl on their face to change it to a smile. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I wonder if they need a friend or if they might be depressed. It doesn't even bother me if they are non-responsive because I'm not doing it for me but rather for them. I hope I can help them have a better day. I know now that is what Daddy was doing.

Although I don't speak the language that some speak, I think that we all have the capability of communicating heart to heart. In Texas there was a lady that some of us would pick up for church because her husband worked most Sundays. Her name was Padma. She couldn't speak English. We were only able to smile and say hello to each other and being women, we always hugged. Sometimes I found myself talking really loud and annunciating my words thinking that somehow Padma might understand English. My daughter, Katelyn, would always remind me that they weren't deaf - they just spoke another language. I'm sure when we get to heaven one day, Padma and I will giggle about that one.

But all of us who knew Padma and her husband will never forget the day Padma's husband bore his testimony one Sunday. Although we didn't understand a word he said for the most part, we understood his heart. There wasn't a dry eye in the chapel.

I've come to realize the only language we need to speak is the language of love. The greatest exemplar of love being the Savior said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."

I'm so grateful for all those who have taught me by their examples and help me to strive to be everything I came to this earth to be. I know at times in my life, I have had people say we can't work our way to heaven. I heard it said best yesterday by a man name Brad Wilcox and I quote, "We are not earning heaven. We are learning heaven." Thanks to all who have helped and who presently help me to learn heaven, especially my family.

To my older Louisiana friends and family, I bet Buckskin Bill didn't know the hill/mountain he built in the lives of those who watched him each week as he marched around the room in his buckskin outfit with his flute (that he actually didn't play) doing the Monday morning march and as he ended his program with, "Remember, you're never completely dressed 'til you put on a smile!"

Simple, yet impactful! I still say that to people! Never underestimate the good you are doing no matter the size! You will be surprised to see one day that you actually did a mountain of good in someone's life!

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sweating in Singapore

(This is a re-post from Sister Walker's Facebook page)

Went for a run at 6:30 a.m. and was home by 7:10 a.m. and only ran 4 miles and that wet stuff on my shirt is pure sweat!
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I love to run and am grateful that I have good knees. I have noticed however, that I think weird things when I run, like, what if a rock flies out from one of the cars passing by and hits me in the eye or what if a python comes out from one of the bushes where it is dark on my route. That particular thought is a result of a comment one of my friends from Malaysia made who says she occasionally runs over a python; not that there are even any pythons here in Singapore but I have a hard time convincing my mind otherwise!
I'm just grateful that I don't let my fears or the "what if" syndrome keep me from running or from taking some risks in life. I look at some of my greatest blessings in life and what I would have missed out on had I let the what ifs over power the still small voice; Had I said, "What if I spend all that money to have a reverse tubal ligation and it doesn't work, " then I wouldn't have had the surgery and therefore wouldn't have had my 3 youngest children, Marianne, Katelyn and Graham, who have brought so much joy and happiness not only to me but to their older siblings and all the loved ones in their lives.
Had I gone down the what if road and talked myself out of marrying Mike by thinking, "What if he leaves me one day", I would have missed out on being loved by a man that has treated me like I am the Queen of Sheba and who amazes me with his wisdom and patience and understanding and makes me laugh every day.
Not all of my experiences have had happy endings and being human, if I would have known the pain I would have had to go through and if the Lord would have let me take control, I know I would have chosen a life of continual ease, minus any suffering. However, I'm glad He didn't let me take control because all we take with us when we leave this life is who we've become. Those experiences have helped me learn some valuable Christlike attributes such as patience, faith, temperance, forgiveness, charity, etc... I haven't perfected those qualities because I'm still a work in progress, and unfortunately, I may be the age of Methuselah before I get it right. But I don't plan on giving up.
I don't pray for growing experiences but I do ask the Lord to help me trust Him and to keep an eternal perspective when challenges come my way. I love the scripture in Ecclesiastes 9:11: ..'the race goeth not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong'. - However, it does go to him who endures to the end. We can't go around life. We have to go with it. The only choice we have is how we respond. I'm going to end with a familiar poem I was reminded of today (it has the word sweat in it which goes so well with my picture:)
"Stick to your task till it sticks to you.
Beginners are many, but enders are few.
Honor, power, place and praise
Will always come to the one who stays.
Stick to your task till it sticks to you;
Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it, too-
For out of the bend and the sweat and the smile
Will come life's victories after awhile." (author unknown)