Monday, May 4, 2015

May 3, 2015

Lots of pictures ahead.  We saw some new things this week!  There was a holiday for May 1, one for Poya day (because there was another full moon) and one for Vesak day...which is the day the Buddhists believe that Buddha was born and also died.  It looks like Christmas around here!  The lights are lit up everywhere!  The best decoration is the lanterns!  Some are small and some are huge! Some just hang and some have motors and spin.  Some tell stories of Buddha.  It is a magical time here in Sri Lanka!!  Our week began with our calls to the kids and grandkids.  How I love that time!  The grandkids are the funniest and so fun to talk to!  Kenzie won a new bike at her schools Daddy Daughter evening!  She is so lucky!  We had such a wonderful seminary visit with the Seller family .  These kids are something special.  They really want to come back to church but their mother is struggling for money and works in her salon all the time. The father has left the family and it is really tough.  We will keep visiting and loving them and hopefully things will change! We were able to visit Sister Rosemary in her home!  We went with Nihal and Eashani and that was really nice.  Sister Rosemary is such a pioneer here in Sri Lanka.  She suffers from Diabetes and has a terrible wound that will not get better.  We went with the missionaries to visit Jasmine and her 2 kids.  The visit just broke my heart!  She has an abusive husband who gets drunk and is terrible to her and the kids.  They just got kicked out of their place (it is hard to call it a home) and she does not know what to do.  The bad thing....and you read about this all the that she won't leave the situation.  He promises to do better, etc....but just keeps repeating .  They have money...hardly any food.  If her husband gets anything, he spends it on himself.  Hasn't worked for years.  It brought me to tears.  Steve and the elders gave her and her oldest daughter a blessing....because her daughter understands what is going on and is trying to protect her mother...which ends up bad for her as well.  We can't tell her what to do...she has to decide.  Oh how it broke my heart that night.  We were able to visit Sandreen and Carmalita and their family.  They made a lovely lunch.  Carmelitas father enjoyed talking to Steve.  Sandreen wanted some tips on motherhood.  She is sweet.  We were able to visit Radini and her daughter Michelle.  Her husband works abroad and she only sees him about once a year or so.  These women amaze me with their strength and courage.  We fed the missionaries as we wrapped up the planning for the baptism.  I typed up a program and we were all ready for the big day.  And it really was wonderful!!  We had a program at the church.  Steve gave a talk on baptism and Pres Anton gave a talk on the Holy Ghost.  We had a missionary choir (with future missionaries also) sing a musical number.  Then we were off to the ocean!  We took a caravan of trishaws to the beach, crossed the train tracks....which totally made me nervous because the trains come all the time....and headed to the place the elders thought would be good.  The water looked calm but when they went down to do the baptism, the waves got higher!  They would be ready to do the baptism, and the waves would knock them over....and they would have to regroup again.  But it finally worked and Harsha was baptized!  It was such a wonderful day.  The Spirit was really strong...even though we were outside at the ocean with other people around.  Harsha was so happy!  He has waited a long time.  His parents or grandparents did not attend as they are unhappy about his choice.  But we had good support from the branch.  Sister Ann made sandwiches and handed them out!  Everyone left and I headed to the church for piano lessons!  Really fun.  The kids are great!  We also received really great news from Teshan....he got a job as a pilot!  He is not a member but comes to church with his wife and daughter who are.  He seems to be getting closer and closer....or at least we hope so!!  Our Sunday was really great.  We began with being sustained in our new church callings.  Steve is a district (stake) high councilman and I am in the district (stake) Relief Society presidency.  It will be great to serve with wonderful people here in our district!  Pres Sunhil (an ex District President) was in charge of the meeting on Sunday.  He bore a beautiful testimony and you could feel the spirit so strong.  Bro Akash who is going on his mission on Wednesday also bore his testimony.  He will do such a great job.  Then they had Brother Raju....who is the first Sri Lankan to be baptized...bear his testimony.  He was visiting from Los Angeles...where he has a successful jewelry business on Rodeo drive in Beverly Hills.......pretty cool!!  He is a very humble man and we enjoyed meeting him and hearing his strong testimony.  Following that, we had an Area Conference for all the Asia countries that was broadcast from SL.  Elder Russell M Nelson was the final speaker of the Conference.  It was really good.  Following the meeting, we had cake and a celebration for Akash!  Some of the members asked us if they could come over to our house and do something a little more spiritual for him as a surprise.  So we came back to the house, made a card, and waited for him to come with his mom and sister.  We had a really special meeting where messages were shared for Akash and for his mother as he leaves for the Philippines.  His mother is struggling with having him leave.  He has been the man of the house and has helped her so much.  We will need to really help her while he is gone!  We were invited later that night to the Clarke's for dinner!  They are a young, American couple, with 2 kids, who have been working here the past 2 years.  They are leaving for Ruwanda for their next assignment.  They are a great family and it was fun visiting with them.  They live on the 26th floor of a high rise apartment complex.  It is very nice and the views are spectacular.  And since it was the big holiday, we were able to see the lights and the fireworks from way above.  After dinner, we went down to the lake and were able to walk around and see everything up close!  There were many people and it was extremely hot.  But it was so great to see the Sri Lanka culture.  It was beautiful.  We also enjoyed watching all the people stare at the American children!  People wanted to touch them and look at them and follow them.  It was amazing to watch!  We will miss this great family.  They have done great things in the branch.  He is the Elders quorum President and she is in the Primary.  We got home late and Steve was completely drenched.  He said it was the hottest he has ever been.  Looking forward to another week in Sri Lanka!  Lots to do with our English class starting up!  We are very excited to keep doing the work!  The gospel is true and we love it!!

Big Mac Chicken Burger

I happen to really like McDonalds!

McDonalds delivers!!

Monument from the war

Government buildings

Getting ready for the festivities!

Michelle and her bunny

Radini and her cute daughter, Michelle

She loves ping pong and has challenged Elder Condie to a duel!!!

Fabulous meal prepared by Sister Carmelita

Sandreen and her daughter and her mother, Carmelita

We caught him!  He kept running away for the picture!

Jayasingh Arachchige Harsha Udara!  Baptism day!

Elder Rajan is going to baptize him!

Sister Ann and Pres Anton are his relatives!

Nihal, Eashani and Andrew with Harsha

Sister Ann and Sister Nugara

The missionaries and branch mission leader, Bro Nilukshan

Posters for upcoming events!

Caravan of trishaws going to the ocean!

Crossing the tracks!

Elder Condie at the ocean

Harsha's baptism

Akash, Harsha and Elder Condie

Harsha was so excited!

Branch support!

Brother Wijendren welcoming Harsha to the branch

View down the coast
Elder Rajan and Elder Wijendren taught Harsha the gospel

Baptism musical number by missionaries and future missionaries

And we are off!

Home made Brushetta, shrimp and rice....YUM!!

Akash last day before leaving on mission!

His mother is having a hard time!

Spiritual farewell messages for Akash at the apartment!

Great friends!

View from The Clarke's apartment!!!

Holden and Liza glued to cartoons!

Wonderful couple, Zack and Carlee Clarke

Vesak celebration...the life and death date of Buddha

Beautiful turning lanterns displayed throughout town

Lovely dancers!

The lights are amazing!

One of the bands all around!

The boats are lit up as well!

Buddha stories all around town


This is a cool tree!

Close up of one of the boats

Young buddhist children

Buddhist temple

All the people wanted to stare at and touch the American children!

Buddhist temple

Free food!

Holden was so tired!

Wonderful view and fireworks!

Lobby of the Clarke's home

One of the Buddhist stories where the mermaid dies from an arrow!  OOWW!

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