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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.