Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26, 2015

It has been a wonderful week!  Celebrating 34 years together in Sri Lanka.  We started our week teaching seminary to 4 wonderful youth in their homes.  Brother Jeffry teaches early morning seminary once a week at the church.  We get to teach the others!  What a wonderful experience it is.  These kids are amazing and want to learn the gospel so much.  They do their daily assignments and write wonderful things in their study journals.  Such strong young people!  And good parents that teach them and love them!  When we were going to meet with one of the families, it started raining like crazy.  The lightening and thunder was going crazy all around us.  We have to go quite far for one of the families.  We had been there one other time but figured we knew where we were going.  We found the place but it was just pouring.  We figured we could make a run for it!  We stepped out into a river of least 4 inches of water that covered out feet.  We had to go up some stairs to get to the salon.  The water was pouring off the roof and we were soaked from head to toe.  When we got to the top of the stairs, we saw some old men who looked at us funny, wondering what we were doing there.  Yes....we were in the wrong place!  Luckily, the nano taxi had not left yet.  We jumped in and had the driver talk to the family and finally found our way!  We teach them in their mothers salon so they got out the blow dryers and towels and got us dried off in no time!  We also spent a lot of time this week getting all the finances for Sri Lanka organized.  That is a big job.  We cleaned out files, paid bills and organized the file cabinets.  It is amazing how much paper work there is to do in the seminary program and in the mission....and we are doing both of them!  We had President Anton and Sister Ann over for dinner.  He has so much he has to do and worry about in the District.  There is always something going on which needs his attention right away.  He is such a good man.  He has the strongest testimony and doesn't get worked up about anything.  He is a great example to us.  His wife is just the same.  I kind of think they enjoy coming over and being away from all the outside things that he has to deal with.  We enjoy their visits!  Our anniversary was a good day!  I finally decided I needed to be brave and get a haircut!  It was getting so shabby!  There was a place close to one of the big hotels that we decided to try.  First, some guy washes your hair...and then gives you a massage.  It started out ok...but then he was really pushing hard on my temples.  I think he pushed so hard I got bruised.  If I touch my head there, it is very tender.  So crazy!  But Vena was very nice and I was happy with what she did!  It is short...but that is good!  We met with a member and a less active member in the evening.  So we didn't get to go to dinner until after 8....but it was worth it!  We went to an Italian restaurant that isn't too far from here.  One of the investigators in the branch works there.  They really spoiled us!  We had the best homemade, authentic, Italian meal.  The owner and his wife were there and we visited with them.  They are Italian and were very nice.  They gave us free dessert and then pastries to take home for breakfast!  It was yummy!  Steve met with Harsha, a young 20 year old young man that wants to be baptized.  He interviewed him and asked him all the baptism questions.  We are so happy for him.  He is a wonderful young man who is getting so many problems from his family.  It is really hard on him. But he knows the church is true and wants to be baptized and serve a mission.  I can't believe the strength of most of these members.  They all have stories similar to that.  Steve went on splits with the missionaries and visited several members.  I taught piano lessons!  I really enjoy that.  We have had some wonderful visits with the members and with the less active members.  We really enjoy missionary work!  Our Sunday was really great today!  We had about 100 people to church today.  We love visiting with the people and they love the missionaries!  One of the young ladies in the ward returned from her mission this week from the Philippines!  She still had that missionary spirit and it was wonderful!  She wanted to share her testimony to everyone and get everyone excited about sharing the gospel.  One interesting thing happened during the sacrament today.  The Priests were preparing to bless the water and then started talking to each other, looking around and then talking to the District Presidency that was on the stand.  They moved things around, left, came back and continued on after doing more things that we couldn't see.  We found out later that there was a cockroach in one of the water trays!  Yummy!  They got rid of it and didn't use it....thank goodness!  I had to teach Relief Society today on Continuing Revelation...a Conference talk from Pres Eyring.  The ladies were wonderful.  They really shared and talked and I hardly had to say anything!  It was perfect!  We had Brother Jeffry and his family over for Sunday dinner.  Such a great family.  Sister Darshini is the RS President.  They have 3 great boys.  One is 17, one 14 and one 12.  It seems like all Sri Lankan kids like mashed potatoes and gravy.  I thought I would make Ginger Snaps for dessert.  We gave them each one after dinner and they were very nice and ate them....or so I thought.  Steve said he watched the 17 year old take a bite and then decide it was terrible and didn't know what to do.  He slyly put it into his napkin and then got his youngest brothers attention.  His brother took it and put it in his pocket!!  Too funny!  That made me laugh so hard.  The missionaries stopped by later and we fed them.  They were a little sad because one of the investigators that is close to baptism didn't show up to church today.  They are such great young men.  It is hard to see those kind of things happen for them.  Good week ahead.  Can't wait to see what happens!

Elder Condie got the privilege of interviewing Harsha for baptism!

He passed!!  May 2 is the big day!

Beautiful sunset in beautiful Sri Lanka...going by the new Parliament building.

Our wonderful house helper....Margaret!

Happy Anniversary!  Sri Lanka style!  34 years!

Anniversary lunch at Burger King!  YUM

Before my first haircut!  It has been 11 weeks!


Anniversary dinner at Dolce Italian!  Brushetta

I love brushetta!

Chicken Fettuccine with homemade noodles.

Our good friend, Teshan, helped us!

IKEA knives!  

Special visitors.....Nuwani and Madelina

Brother Jeffry and Darshini family

Sister Rosemary and Chubby with the Elders

Elder Condie with Rosemary and Chubby

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 19, 2015

Beware!  Lots of pictures ahead!  And probably lots of words as well!  It was a really great week!  Lots of fun and lots of spiritual strength too! It was actually New Years here.  Everyone leaves the city and travels to the villages to see relatives.  It was so crazy around here.  No traffic, no horns honking, most shops were closed, people lighting off loud fire cracker type of things, some sky fireworks, not many people around.....and this was for the whole week!  We would find groups of people in different areas that were having big celebrations with races and games....all over the place.  They would take over the roads and play in the streets sometimes too!   We visited with some wonderful families this week!  We began with visiting Prianka!  She is a darling young gal who is getting ready to serve a mission.  It was her birthday and her family invited us all to come to lunch!  They are less active members and yet Prianka is coming to her meetings and doing great.  The strength these young people have is inspiring.  We ate wonderful Sri Lanka food!  They would see that your plate was getting down and they would come over and keep loading more on!  It takes a couple of hours to cook all the food they give you.  This family lived in a big high rise.  There were about 4 of them together.  They don't have windows really and everyone keeps the doors open all the time.  You are very very close to each other in everything you do.  They are all so happy when we come!  It was a wonderful time!  We also visited a young Pakistan family, The Sohail family.  They are refugees from Pakistan because their lives were in danger for being Christian.  He found the gospel a few years back and she joined last year.  They have 2 beautiful daughters who were so funny and really enjoyed the chocolate cupcakes I brought....well, at least the frosting!!  They live in a small room with a twin bed and a few chairs.  They bring a small mattress from off the porch at night.  The bathroom is outside by the entrance to the home.  It has a small toilet seat and bucket for showers.  It makes my heart ache.  We have so much at home that I take for granted.  So very blessed.  They are so humble and have so much faith.  Such a great feeling being with them!  We had a nice visit with the Wijendren family as well!  They are the parents of one of our wonderful missionaries here!  It was Sister Christines birthday and she had cooked up a fabulous feast!  They have another son serving a mission in the Philippines.  Their conversion story and life story was so interesting and amazing!  Yes, again, so much faith!  We got to spend a wonderful day with our Mission President on Wednesday!  He was coming for Zone Conference and had not had a Pday in quite sometime.  So they came a little early and wanted to do some sight seeing up North.  They called and asked if we would like to join them.  It was a wonderful day.  We went to the Wilpattu National Park.  It took us about 4 hours to get there!  It is an animal sanctuary where if you are lucky, you can see leopards and elephants.  We were not that lucky but we got to see many other kinds of wildlife and birds there!  It happened to rain a little so it was nice and cool (well, cooler than normal) and there was no dust!  Plus it was absolutely beautiful!  We really enjoyed getting to know Pres and Sister Berrett!  They are really amazing, kind, smart people!  He was a lawyer that had worked for the church for many years in Hong Kong and all around Asia.  Sister Berrett is as sweet and kind as can be!  We didn't get home that evening until almost midnight but it was so worth it!  We had Bernard Pang here from Hong Kong helping with the audit.  He trained us on some things and took us out to a very nice Chinese dinner.  He was so funny and full of energy.  Fun time with him.  Our Zone Conference went very well.   Only part of the Zone I guess.  We are just the ones from Sri Lanka.  We had a wonderful day of classes and learning many things to help us on our mission.  We had made lunch and everyone came to the apartment to eat it.  Very American meal of chicken and mashed potatoes, home made rolls, etc....YUM! Saturday we traveled to Negombo for their branch New Years activity.  It went from around 9 am to about 7 pm.  They had games for all different ages!  There was a potluck lunch and then more partying!!  Everyone got involved....from young to old.  The bad part.....95 degrees and 100% humidity.  It was very tough for Steve!  Luckily, there was a room in the church with air conditioning that we could escape to once in a while.  Made for a really bad hair day for sure!  But everyone was friendly and just enjoyed being together.  We did not stay the entire day and left about 4.  Fun to meet the members in the other branch!  Sunday, we had the Sunday session of General Conference.  We watched the morning session for 2 hours, had a potluck dinner and then watched the second session.  I think you get much more out of it being dressed in church clothes and having to sit there and listen than I do at home in my pjs and laying on the couch!  We really enjoyed it!  We got to visit one of the members from the branch that was in the hospital.  He just had a pacemaker put in.  There were 8 men in his room with the beds only a few feet apart.  Lots of people were visiting.  So different...(Steve hopes we never get too sick on our mission).  But he looked great and was in good spirits.  Such a nice man Brother Lyle!  We then went and visited a new young family that is investigating the church.  A young man with his wife and baby.  His family has already disowned him for becoming Christian about 6 years back.  The Elders taught about prayer and reading the Book of Mormon.  It was a wonderful lesson and we enjoyed being there very much!  We are enjoying this mission so much and love meeting new people and hearing all their stories!  We are so blessed!
Brother Shajan Vaeghese from India - for audits!

Our first flat tire on the trishaw!

Prianka's family (the girl in the back) She is getting ready to serve a mission!

Sacred tree for the Buddhist people

Missionaries are so helpful!

We have never seen anything like this since we have been here!  NO TRAFFIC!  Because of New Years!

The Sohail family from Pakistan

Saying good bye to them!

They have the Eiffel tower too!?!

Sister Christines birthday!

The Wigendrens have 2 sons on a in Negombo!

Wonderful birthday dinner!

The Negombo branch

Beautiful Sri Lanka scenery

Lunch with Pres & Sister Berrett before the National Park Tour

Our wonderful Mission President and his wife!

Our tour director, Sashika..from Negombo branch.

Our ride into the Park!

Steve kept trying to pull the trigger........

The Sri Lanka National bird

Looking for crocs!

We found a crocodile as we were in the water about 3 feet!!  You can barely see the eyes!

I loved the creepy trees!

Brother Pang from Hong Kong took Pres Anton and us to an amazing Chinese restaurant!

Part Zone Conference!

Sister Berrett made Snicker Doodles for everyone!

New Years celebration at the Negombo branch

Get the cap out of the Brandy bottle!!

Put the eye on the Elephant!

Beautiful Nishara

More beautiful seminary students...Melani and Rishell

A swing....

and a miss!

A chop......

and a miss!!

Sister Ann tried too!


Palm leaf weaving contest....amazing how fast and pretty!