Monday, July 13, 2015

July 12, 2015

This week had some wonderful experiences as well as a few of the hardest experiences we have had on the mission....well at least me!  And it wasn't because of homesickness or anything like that.  One morning, our doorbell rang around 8.  It was one of the sisters from the branch.  She had been beaten up by her husband the evening before.  I know I have mentioned her before.  She is a thin, frail woman in her 30's I think.  She has 2 beautiful young daughters.  It is so hard to understand how she stays with him year after year after year.  All the couples that have served here before us have had experiences with this family.  We called the branch president and he told her to go to the police.  She has no phone, no means of transportation and a scary husband.  She doesn't know what to she just keeps living with him.  It is really hard for me to watch and to listen to her stories.  And know that we really can't do anything for her.  She decided she was going to go to the police later that day.  She did that....and yet on Sunday there she was sitting with him at church.  They are getting kicked out of their new place they are living (because they were kicked out of the old one because of the husband and his drunken episodes and temper).  WOW.  After she left that day, we went to the cancer hospital where we went to visit a gal from our English class.  This girl is 16 years old and has been very healthy.  She went to the doctor for a cold and they did blood work on her.  They found out that she has a blood cancer.  The family is devastated (of course) and they haven't given them much hope. The doctor pretty much told her that she needed to go outside of the country to get treatment because they just don't have the means to help her in Sri Lanka.  The family can not afford to leave the country.  As we entered the hospital pediatric ward, there were about 6 stray dogs laying in the hallway.  There are people everywhere....with some laying in gurneys that have no padding or blankets...just a metal shelf.  There is no air conditioning and it is filthy.  Government run hospitals are free to the patients.  So it seems like they really don't care much.  This gal was on the top floor in an isolated room.  There were small children all around in cribs and beds very close together.  Many had no hair and were just laying on the beds.  They wouldn't let us into the ward so we were just waiting in the hallway.  The mother came out and hugged me and sobbed.  The gal had been down having more tests and came up as we were waiting in the hallway.  She was laying on her stomach and was still very groggy.  They wanted Steve to talk to the doctor and find out what she needed...and to see if we knew anyone in the US that could help them.  Of course the doctor wouldn't talk to him and there really isn't anything we could do.  They are just grasping at anything.  We were getting ready to leave when the mother grabbed me by the hand and started taking me into the floor with the patients.  She gave a pleading look to the nurse in charge and they ended up letting me in.  She took me back to where her daughter was.  Her daughter turned around and smiled at me and grabbed my hand.  She is beautiful.  It really got to me....just everything about that whole situation.  As I walked back out, I couldn't control my emotions any longer.  It was so difficult.  This sweet family...with no knowledge of the Gospel, with little or no hope....I just can't imagine.
Let's try and talk about something better now!  I did mention we had great experiences too!  And we really did!  Steve went with one of our investigators, Teshan, to see the new house he is having built for his family.  Such a great guy!  We were invited to dinner at the Cordells, the new American couple in our branch.  She made homemade spaghetti and bread and cobbler.  It was really nice.  They live in a beautiful place (your tax money at work) with a dishwasher, beautiful furniture, an upright freezer, wonderful a/c....just like the comforts of "home".  It was great visiting with them.  We had another great district meeting with the elders.  We went to Watalla for seminary!  I didn't bring a treat today because we wanted to treat them to dinner....but Darshini had already ordered us a mongolian dinner and it was delicious!  She spoils us every week that we are there.  Deyan and Deek listen and take part in the lessons and are so eager to learn more and more.  They love coming to church and being part of all of that.  Deek is passing the sacrament!  They are such a wonderful family.  Sister Darshini is a fighter...for her kids, for her business (hair, nails, etc) and for her faith.  She is amazing!  Wednesday, Steve went with the elders to visit some investigators.  I had the assignment from India to get some furniture bids for a couch.  There were certain places I had to go.  I also had a haircut appt.  This is only the 2nd haircut I have had since I came here.  She went super short this time and pretty funky in the back.  What do you do?! Later that evening, we visited Inoka's father who lives with her other sister.  It was his birthday!  He used to be very active....even in the branch presidency.  But he has to live with his daughter who is a Jehovah's Witness. So he goes to church with them.  They don't celebrate birthdays....but we bought a cake and picked up Inoka and her family to go visit him.  He seemed to be happy about the cake.  We put candles on it and sang and served the cake!  It was nice.  Inokas sister and husband were very nice.  We had a great visit with them.  So many great people here in Sri Lanka!  Thursday was the day of my tough morning...but it ended up better later on.  We had our English class which we really enjoyed again!  We are getting quite the crowd!  The Elders came by after and we made them waffles!  YUM!  Sister Cordell had picked me up some Bisquick and maple syrup at the American Embassy commissary!  President Anton stopped by for some papers and ended up eating some as well.  Then he called Sister Ann because waffles are her favorite!  So we ended up with quite the party!  Friday I had my piano classes while Steve went with the Elders to teach!  We then went to Inoka's for our weekly meeting.  We brought Stephanie the piano and I gave her her first class.  Steve had a great discussion with Inoka and Naveen.  Naveen is really progressing in his teaching.  He wants to be a member.  They have some things they need to work out...but hopefully it will happen in the next few months.  He is thinking about going to Korea for work.  It is so hard for these people to find jobs...that pay enough when you have a family.  Hopefully, things will work out for them.  He brought one of his friends to church last week that is interested in the Gospel as well.  He is their neighbor.  He was waiting outside for us to get there.  After our lesson with Inoka's family, he and his mother were out waiting again so that we would go to their home.  The daughter had made us a nice drink and we had a nice visit with them.  They are interested in the church and want their father to learn more too.  We set a time to go back next week!  Saturday began early for me with piano classes.  We then made our weekly trip to Chilaw!  It is quite the journey but nice in an air conditioned car!  Steve had a surprise for me....a package from Matt and Jamie!  They had sent it 24 days earlier!  So crazy!  In it was:  licorice, jerky, Meet the Mormons DVD and their wedding DVD....and a really nice card.  But my favorite......a wonderful soft blanket!  I have not found anything like that out here!  I think I held it all the way to Chilaw....just like a child!  It felt so good!  We made it to Chilaw for English and piano classes.  I brought an extra keyboard and Elder Nugara helped me teach the older ladies.  All the men, women and children want to take piano.  It is fun.  They are so grateful and so kind!  They brought drinks for us all during the 3 hours we were there.  The chapel is nice....(the pictures from a few weeks ago) but no a/c.  They have a few fans but it is still very warm.  But so nice to be with those wonderful people.  We didn't stay as long as we were invited to a party for another one of the kids from our English class.  When you "become a woman", (which could be any age between 11-17 or so) you have a big party to celebrate!  They have a big catered dinner, dj for dancing, you invite all your friends and neighbors, you get gifts and you get to wear a fancy dress.  We had never been to a party like this before....but they had come by special to give us the invitation and really wanted us to come.  The gal, Hansani, is absolutely darling.  She has also started piano class with me as well.  It was a nice evening.  The food was really fact her parents own a restaurant.  They live in the back, behind the restaurant.  They really catered to us...wanting pictures, making sure we had chairs to sit on, utensils to eat with, etc.  They don't speak much English but we really felt great being there. One of their friends is a member of the branch and is our friend, Brother Lyle.  He also came to the party so that helped with the communication!  I guess the party goes on all night long...but we stayed for a couple of hours.  It is amazing, like I said before, of how close you get to these people....even if you just teach them English once a week!  This family is also very close to the other family that we visited in the hospital this week.  That has been hard on them as well.  They are just really really good families!  We hope we will be able to teach them at some point soon!  I think they are ready!  Sunday was amazing...a great spirit in sacrament meeting.  One of our cute seminary students, Katie, spoke first about missionary work.  She is awesome!  Nuwani gave a talk on marriage and family and did a fabulous job.  She talked about husbands and wives working together...not the wife doing everything for the man (which is Sri Lanka culture really) but she said it in such a humble, beautiful way.  She is one of the sweetest gals here.  Elder Wijendren finished with a talk.  He is very smart and very spiritual and did a great job.  Our other lessons that followed were great too!  We stayed after to visit with everyone and that is the best part!  So fun to just talk about anything and everything with these wonderful people!  Today, we decided to have some of the sisters over for dinner.  We had Kanchana, Sonali and her mother Numali, Ru and her mother Myrna.  It turned out so fun just listening to their stories and laughing and visiting.  We had a few hours in-between before the elders came.  Today, the Colombo elders went on splits with our recent converts!  So we had 6 of them come for dinner!  We ate most of the chicken so Steve made some shrimp and rice for them!  So yummy!  We love our Sundays and inviting new people for dinner each week.  It brings us closer to them and we also get to know their amazing stories of how they came into the church and the sacrifices they have had to make to do so.  We are so blessed....and so grateful to be in this beautiful country.


Inoka's father, Challs Birthday

Happy Birthday Challs!

Cancer results

Crazy Freddy

He loves to steal Steve's phone and take selfies

Package from home!!!

Thanks Matt and Jamie!  We are so excited!!

Beautiful Hansani's party, with her mother and grandmother

The family restaurant!

Yes I do!

More family at the party...and Brother Lyle!

The amazing desserts!

The incredible Sri Lankan food

Family photo!


Brother and sister!

The cooks at work!

Fun dinner with the ladies!

Then our favorite elders and friends!

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