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!

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