Sunday, March 29, 2015

March 29, 2015

I can't believe that another week has gone by.  We had the privilege of having Juswan Tandiman come to Sri Lanka from Jakarta, Indonesia.  He is the area director of Seminary and Institute in Asia.  He is over 14 countries.  And what a wonderful man he is.  It was truly a blessing to spend the week with him.  Very kind, loving and has such great faith and testimony.  We actually began the week with having the missionaries over for breakfast!  They were all sweaty from playing soccer together on their pday!  We had called a taxi earlier and left for our trip to the airport...about an hour away.  The plane from Singapore was a little delayed so we had a bite to eat at the airport and waited until he came.  We drove back to Colombo, visiting and getting to know him a bit better.  We found his hotel and had him check in.  The taxi driver told us that the restaurant across the street from the hotel was really good...right on the beach.  It was called Beach Wadya.  They brought out the raw fish on a tray and asked you what you would like.  You chose out of crab, prawns, lobster, fish, calamari, etc...and they went and cooked it right there!  It was very good.  We dropped him back to the hotel to let him rest after his long journey and we went home to cook an "American" meal for him and the District President and his wife, Pres. Anton and Sister Ann.  We had a pork roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, fruit, and veges.  I had actually made mom's home made rolls and they turned out really great!  After dinner, Brother Tandiman began to orient us on the Seminary and Institute program and the things we will do.  We really learned a lot and had a really fun evening!  Bro. Tandiman wanted to visit all the branches in the district while he was here and meet some seminary students in each branch.  So on Tuesday morning, Pres Anton hired a van and the 5 of us headed to Kandy.  It is a town about 4 hours away and more inland.  We had heard a lot about this beautiful town and we were excited to see it for the first time.  So we had our first cross country experience.  Here are some of the things that we noticed on the journey:
-there are no driving laws.......None.
-if you get to a spot on the road first, it is yours....but others will be there to take it from you at any moment
-the roads are very narrow...2 lanes....but the drivers make it 4 lanes somehow
-there are a million motorcycles
-the drivers constantly honk at each other
-the adults wear helmets on the motorcycles but the children do not
-cows roam
-dogs roam but they have no homes
-people are also on these roads where the traffic is so crazy...yet none seem to care and they all make it to where they are going somehow
-there are shops all along the road...and they seem to sell certain things in certain areas, ex..cashews in one area, pineapple in another, clay pots, bricks, blow up toys, etc
-there are rice fields everywhere
-there are more mountains and it is beautiful
But we arrived safely...which is hard to believe!  I just learned not to watch out the front window very often!!  It was cooler in Kandy.  It sits in a valley surrounded by mountains.  It is really a nice town.
We met at the church where we met Sister Nemishi, the seminary teacher.  She was teaching her class so we were able to sit in and listen to it.  She is a sweet, young, returned missionary....getting ready to have her first child.  We visited with the students and with her and the Branch President there.  We met many of the members that had come to see President Anton and to meet us.  Not many of them speak English but the people were wonderful.  That is a problem here.  There are no materials for seminary or institute in the Sinhala language and they have to read in English and try to translate at the same time.  Takes longer and sometimes the meanings don't come across the way it is written.  But these teachers try so hard and do a wonderful job.  We had a tour of the church.  It was an old mansion that they remodeled to be the church.  There is quite a bit of land and they are very proud of it.  And they should be.  About 8 years ago, there began to be a lot of persecution for the church members there.  After a little time, they were having their sacrament meeting and the police came in and told all the foreign missionaries they had to get out of the country right away.  The leaders in Kandy were Buddhist and did not want the Church in their town. The leaders talked to them and came to an agreement to let them have a week to leave.  Things are better now but they still worry about letting us Americans go there without some of the Sri Lanka locals.  Pres Anton and the Branch Pres, Pres Malagorta, had to visit a family where the wife needed a blessing....and the daughter was an institute student that is waiting for a mission call.  The Sansone family.  It was a very humbling experience to go there.  They live in such a small area with many family members.  The daughter was injured in a family altercation with relatives and the mother watched it and went into shock.  There is hard feelings and they are having a tough time.  The family was so delightful.  We enjoyed them so much.  The daughters were as cute as can be.  The father was very kind and had a wonderful sense of humor.  The mother was distant and quiet.  Pres Anton anointed her and Steve gave her a wonderful blessing.  It was such a great experience.  After, the son in law climbed the tree outside the home and threw down some huge avocados that they gave to us.  The home was in a beautiful area with big beautiful trees.  We had a very special time with their family.  We stopped and met Pres Malagorta's wife and enjoyed their family photos!  They live on the river in a nice home.  As we drove back into town, we noticed very large crows....or so I thought.  No, they are bats!  Very large bats!  And they were hanging upside down in the very large trees.....just like the scary movies as a child!!!  They also had big beautiful white birds covering the trees along the river.  We found a restaurant to eat at and then checked into our hotel.  Great day!  We woke up on Wednesday and looked outside our balcony to see the river going right by.  It was so nice and cool....well...cooler than Colombo!  We enjoyed breakfast outside overlooking the river as well.  As we were eating, we noticed that there were about 4 men in the middle of the river.  They were getting mud from the bottom of the river, piling it high in a plate looking thing, and then hoisting it on their heads to take it out and dump it into a truck.  They would pass it off from one guy to the next and then start all over again.  We are not sure what they were going to use it for but it sure took a lot of time and manual labor.  They filled the truck one bucket at a time.  We then began our long journey home...or so we thought!  Brother Tandiman said he would sure like to ride an elephant.....and Pres Anton figured we had rode an elephant!  It was hilarious because I was not prepared and was in a skirt!!  But it was fun and now we can say we did it.  They also let you get in the water with the elephant and give them a bath....and get drenched....but we were not dressed for that either!  We took a tour of their factory next door....a paper factory....where the paper was made from.....elephant dung!  So very interesting....but fascinating!  They made beautiful creations...notebooks, stationary, boxes...and an elephant statue made from paper which we bought!  It turned out to be lots of fun!  We stopped a few places along the get cashews, and have a drink from a king coconut, and to buy the best pineapples ever!  We made it back to Colombo in time to meet with some seminary students in the Colombo branch.  We visited a brother and sister who are doing seminary home study.  They were wonderful young people with fun personalities and excellent English skills!  We met later with the Colombo branch press, Pres Kolitha  and seminary teacher, Bro Jeffry.  Bro. Jeffry is really a great teacher.  Bro Tandiman has really helped us in these meetings and showed us how things are to be done.  And he does it in such a loving and kind way.  We had a great dinner at the Chinese Dragon!  Yummy!  We had the morning to catch up on things and then met Bro Tandiman for lunch.  After we met with the Negombo branch president and his newly called sister returned missionary seminary teacher.  They were working in Colombo so they just came to the church.  The branch pres is young and the seminary teacher is younger.  They were eager to learn and share.  It was a great meeting.  We hired a taxi to drive us to Negombo so that we could meet with some of their students.  We picked up the Elders quorum president and met with 3 students.  What a great time we had.  We loved meeting in their homes and visiting with their families and seeing what kind of great kids they are!  We went to the church there and met a sister missionary who just returned from the Philippines and was getting released.  We met her sister and found out that she had served with Sister Abbey Hafen!  We also found out that the Elders quorum pres that went with us was companions with Bro Tandiman's nephew.  Unbelievable!  We had a nice dinner at a German restaurant in Negombo before dropping Bro Tandiman off at a hotel there so he could catch an airplane early in the morning.  We got home to Colombo pretty late.  Friday was spent catching up, doing laundry and getting ready for Saturday because I was teaching a class at the relief society activity.   In the evening, I went with 2 sisters visiting a gal and her mother from the branch.  It was really a great visit and I enjoyed it so much.  Saturday was the RS activity.  I was giving a demonstration on how to make banana muffins...the recipe I got from Dawna Drake.  There were about 20 women that showed up.  There were great lessons taught about the history of RS and a nice lunch was provided.  Steve came to the church and just visited with people that came in and out.  We had Eashani and Nihal and their family over for dinner.  They liked our "American" dinner  of chicken and mashed potatoes and chocolate chip cookies.  We really enjoyed them so much.  They told us they were going to the United States for 25 days.  She had been wishing and planning for this trip for the last 20 years.  And it was finally happening.  They are going to go through the temple to be sealed and she is so excited!  It was so special to share that with them!  They are flying into Las Vegas where a previous missionary couple in Sri Lanka lives, then to Salt Lake to go to Conference and go through the temple.  Then to Florida where another previous missionary couple lives.  We are so excited for them.  She is such a tender, humble woman who has been serving as the District RS President.  Today was another wonderful Sunday.  We had a 5th Sunday meeting with RS and Priesthood combined where Pres Kolitha talked about preparing for Conference and making sure we come and listen to it.  We will do that a week after the time it is shown in Salt Lake.  We went to Michael's home for dinner.  He is a returned missionary who went less active for awhile.  He decided in the last few weeks to come back and wanted us to come to his home and meet his parents.  They put on a huge feast of fish and chicken and rice and potatoes, etc!  I am known in the mission as being someone who doesn't like spice so they say they are going to cook without spice.  I can't imagine what it would be like if they did use spice because it is still pretty hot to me!  But it is so yummy!  It was very nice.  The Elders came with us for dinner too!  Michael served in New Zealand on his mission and was in some of the same places that Steve was in.  We saw pictures and they enjoyed exchanging mission stories.  As we were looking at pictures, he showed us a picture of his companion, Elder Smith.  Oh my goodness...Elder Tanner Smith from home!  Bret Smith's son!  They were companions!  Such a small world!  This coming week, we are going to put everything together that we learned this past week.  We are having a great time on our mission and love these wonderful, humble people!

Lunch at the beach with Brother Tandiman!

Fresh fish!

Lunch on the beach!

This guy has a sling shot and is keeping the crows away!

Inside of the restaurant!

The outside of the restaurant..who would think it is there!
Buddhist influence!

Road to Kandy!

Jasintha, Sister Nimeshi, Ann in Kandy

Pres Anton joined us!

Sister Nimeshi's sister joined us with her daughter.

The beautiful church in Kandy

The Primary room

Another part of the Primary room

Back of the church

A cool looking tree

A nutmeg tree!

What the nutmeg fruit looks like!
More of the church

Looking out the side of the church

The church owns this apartment outside of the back of the church.  There was a senior couple here several years ago and has not had any one there since.

The front of the church in Kandy

The baptismal font in the garage.

The YW room.

So funny?!

Brother Tandiman, Sister Nimeshi, Pres Malagorta , Us    

Looking up from the church.

Entrance to the church.

Beautiful river in Kandy

Making bricks

Avocado tree

Sansony family

Getting the ripe avocados!

The avocados are huge!

The path to the home
It was getting dark, but all those spots are big white birds on every tree along the river.

President Malagorta's home on the river.

Sri Lankan buffet!

Our morning view from the hotel balcony

Breakfast outside

Someone was getting married!

The ride back home

Washing the elephants!

Brother Tandiman was so excited!

Our turn!

Riding an elephant in a dress!

From the top!

This was our elephant!

Elephant museum

Did you hear about the three legged dog that walked into a bar...........

Paper factory!

Coconut juice

Condies, Shanu, Shami, Sherine

Bro Tandiman, Pres Rochan, Sister Nishadi, Elder Condie

Beautiful Nishara in her home

Rishell and Melani in Negombo

Sister Vellayan who served with Abbey Hafen in the Philippines!

Sister Vellayan, Sister Nishadi, and newly returned missionary Sister Vellayan

Dinner in Kandy with Kumar...our taxi driver!
Dinner with Eashani and Nihal and family
Dinner with Michael and his family and the Elders

Michaels parents

Michaels family

The Condies and Michael

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