Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31, 2015

What a great week we have had. Beware.....massive picture attack! As well as lots of words! We got permission from our mission president to take the 4 elders on a district activity away from the cities we are serving in! We left at 4 am on Monday morning! We hired an air-conditioned van (a must for traveling far!) and headed north and east! Our destination was about 5 hours away! The roads were under construction so that added to the time! The Elders were so excited that they had gotten up about 2:00 am and decided to make us tuna sandwiches for breakfast! I think they made about 40 sandwiches! They even toasted them! I had made banana muffins plus we had brought a ton of treats, fruit, etc to eat along the way! Another problem....our driver got sick...."loose motion" is what it was called! We quickly figured out what that was as he stopped many times along the way! The drive was lush and green! Lots of villages and rice patties....gorgeous! We finally made it....SIGIRIYA! We had to enter through the foreign visitors gate. So funny, it cost the Elders (Sri Lankans) 60 rupees to get in. It cost the foreigners (US) 3900 rupees! Unbelievable! It was a very hot day but a nice breeze came around once in awhile. We had to hike in a little bit before we hit the big rock of Sigiriya! Lots of monkeys along the way! Then it was a whole lot of stairs...straight up the side of the cliffs! But it was amazing! It was so beautiful! The story is about a king who had 2 sons. One of the sons killed his father so the other one got nervous and went off to India and became a Prince. The one from India decided to come back and visit his brother after a long period of time. The other brother had built a fabulous palace with many riches at the top of this rock. It had a swimming pool and was very lavish and beautiful.. There is still water in the pool and no one knows how the water gets there. It comes uphill through the rock somehow! WOW! He heard that his brother, the Prince, was coming and thought he was coming to kill him. He sent his guards out to find him. They saw the Prince with his guards and ran away. The brother at the top of the rock got scared and killed himself. There you go! All the Buddhist stories seem to end very tragically all the time! We finally made it to the top! The view was unbelievable! So worth the hike! The elders loved it! Luckily, we had brought water that saved us on the hike! We made our way down and then headed to Dambulla where we went to a Buddhist temple that was inside big caves. It was also amazing! It was another hike up lots of stairs in the crazy heat! But we made it! We had to take our shoes off to show reverence. Really enjoyed the temple. There is also a pot that has water trickling into it but never overflows. I am sure there is some story about that too! You think I would get more information on the places we visit! There were so many statues inside these caves and beautiful paintings. As we were coming down, some women were selling mangos! They cut them up and put them in some newspapers and made them look like french fries. We were really enjoying them when all of the sudden they starting running for the trees and bushes and were hiding.. We looked up to see a policeman coming down the path. I guess you aren't supposed to sell mango on the path!!! Lots of monkeys around here! We went to find a restroom at the bottom. It was way around to the side. All there was was a hole. You are supposed to take a bucket with you that you fill with water. No TP of course. Frightening!!! Then it was time to head home! Lots of stopping along the way with the construction and the driver!! But we made it. We were tired but happy for a wonderful day with the elders!! We love them! We had district meeting with the Elders. The mission president emailed us and told us that he was changing companionships. They have been together for 6 months. So they are just changing it up. He said he was coming on Friday and wanted to meet with all of us for a few hours. He had to come to interview the men in the country because they are going to change the District Presidency. Pres Anton has been in about 11 years. Whoever takes over will have big shoes to fill! Before that, we taught our seminary classes which we love. I also received a package from Kim. It was so wonderful! Accent, Poultry seasoning, licorice, jerky, and then personal stuff for me like shoes and blouses! It was so much fun!! Wednesday we went to Negombo. Elder Nugaras father emailed us and said that his mother (Elders grandmother) was in the hospital and wondered if Elder could go give her a blessing. He got permission from the mission president so we took them to Negomobo. We went to the hospital where she was crying and had a scary bloody leg and heart problems. All of Elder Nugaras aunts and mother were there. He was scared a little. But his grandma calmed right down when she saw him and it was really sweet. He gave her a blessing and did a wonderful job. The aunts were really nice considering they do not like the church. We then split up and went on visits. We went to the pot guy ( how crazy that that is the nick name he goes by!!! because he wants to know if it would be wrong to be baptized and grow pot as his profession!!) Very nice guy! He has 3 beautiful children from 14-21 or so. He believes the church to be true and wants to get baptized. He has had visions of things about the church in his early life that came true when he knew about the gospel. He is the richest Sri Lankan that we have met. His things in his home remind me of an old palace....very ornate and fancy. Very random things. He even has a mermaid inside his home as well as swords, elephant tusks, etc. So interesting!! He really hit it off with Steve because he has a business that interested Steve and that he could relate to. He makes little blocks of dirt that if you put on your yard and water it will grow grass in 3 days! He wanted a blessing and wanted me to take a picture of it! Very interesting but really nice man! We had dinner in Negombo before heading home. We visited Philimina in the cancer hospital. She is the sweetest little lady. So tiny and committed to the gospel. She will not miss a Sunday unless she is in the hospital...where she has been with this terrible cancer she has. The hospitals are so sad. No air conditioning, so so very hot, beds in a big row all over the privacy whatsoever. There are no computers....everything is still done in big books and on paper. It just breaks my heart to see these wonderful people suffering. We taught our English class with about 20 people attending. We also got to talk to Pres Berrett as he was here interviewing a bunch of men. He is a great man. His wife didn't come with him on this trip. Friday was the big birthday and I was spoiled rotten. I had so many of the RS sisters call and wish me happy returns of the day! I had several texts too! Plus I had many emails and messages from friends and family back home. It was the best birthday ever. Some of my family were at my parents pool and they called me on facetime. That was the best! Denise and Kim called and Rob sent a video message and Curt a text message. Some friends from the ward came and brought flowers and jewelry. I just couldn't believe it! I love Sri Lanka! We had our meeting with the mission president the same day! He answered questions that the missionaries had and gave a great presentation. He then interviewed all of us one at a time...except Steve and I were together! We ran home to finish lunch while he interviewed the others. We had a great pork chop and potato dinner! That evening, we went with Pres Anton and Sister Ann to the Cinnamon Grand to the London Grill! It was their anniversary too! It was amazing! I was so excited to eat beef and a steak sounded so good! Steve had lamb! Such a great night!  Saturday, I taught my piano lessons and we did some shopping followed by McDonalds! (It was still my birthday weekend)!! Church was great today. More gifts and wishes! I can't believe it! We had Armen Hagobian and his family over for dinner. After we were done, his wife, Radi, wanted to cook us something so we would have it for later and even breakfast in the morning. She made dhal and tortillas. So yummy! We are really spoiled here by everyone! What a wonderful blessing to be here and to love these people more and more every day. We are so very blessed!  

A school on the way to Sigiriya

The road to Sigiriya

Here we go!

The moat around Sigiriya


A cool tree....and a monkey!


Starting the climb!

Cobra rock


Mirror wall

The Lions Paws-about half way up

The Palace!

The swimming pool!


The temple in the caves

The water that never overflows but keeps dripping from above!

The cave ceiling

Eating fresh mango....YUM

The lotus blossom before you peel it back

A gift from the Elders after peeling it back

Now here is something you don't see walking down the street in Utah!

So hard to tell which one is mine!

My first package!!

Pres Berrett and Elders for pork chops and potatoes!

Birthday surprise from dear friends!

More fun surprises

A very fancy wedding at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel!

Anniversary and Birthday

Fancy crab goop

Radi cooking us dinner for later!

My family enjoying each other for Memorial Day!  Love them!!

Elder Nugara and his grandma!

She was so happy to see her grandson!

Bro Nishante

Trying to be discreet while taking pictures of this house!

Dinner at Bijou

Sweet Sister Philimena

Happy Anniversary Anton and Ann!

The prettiest meal I have every eaten!

I was so excited to eat a steak...and it was divine!