Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 27, 2016 Happy Easter!

Still trying to catch up!  Another fun and wonderful week in Sri Lanka.  We didn't plan for all our outings to be so close to each other, but that is how it turned out!  This was the week that we had our senior couples conference of the India Bangalaru mission.  Pres and Sister Berrett came from India and brought the Littles, the Newtons and the Grundys!  The Bedkes and us met them all Monday morning at the Cinnamon Grand hotel where they had stayed the night before!  President Berrett gets released the end of June and this was the only time we could all get together before he leaves.  The Grundys worked hard to put this together!  We had rented a bus and we all boarded for the long journey down south and east!  The Newtons had read about the Steve and Lauri restaurant and wanted to stop at it since we went right by it on our journey!  So funny!  Naveen was really grateful to see some of the church people come and say hello.  He was very emotional about it.  We continued on heading south and visiting all the way down.  We had met the other couples in India in September but the Littles have only been there for 3 months.  So it was fun to visit with everyone.  We stopped on the way to take a boat safari at Maduganga Lake.  We rode in a boat around some small islands and greenery and pretty scenery.  At one point, you get out on one of the small islands, Cinnamon Island.  There, you could have fish therapy....put your feet in a swarm of swimming fish so they can eat off your dead skin!  The women kept that was not something I wanted to do.  So I watched the other crazy people!!  We then went and learned about cinnamon.  How it is grown and harvested.  They give you the talk so that you will buy something!  Steve bought a candle!  It did smell good though!  We then headed around a little more before going back to the boat house.  We had lunch there also.  We then got back into the bus and kept moving forward on our journey.  We got to the Laya Safari resort after dark.  Our rooms were wonderful.  Nice multi level place with a nice bathroom!  It was on the coast and you could hear the waves pounding!  We had a nice buffet dinner at the hotel before going to bed!  The next morning was an early one!  We loaded the safari jeeps at 5:30 and headed for Yala National Park.  It was nice and cool for a little while!  We enjoyed the safari but we really didn't see that many things that were different.  But we had a great time with everyone!  We had a morning session in Pres Berretts room where we had a devotional and talk from Pres Berrett.  We had lunch and then 4 of the couples went out for an afternoon safari.  The Bedkes and us did not go.  We had been there before and wanted to go to the pool!  It was really nice!  We had an evening session with all the couples after they returned from the safari.  Sister Berrett had given us all an assignment to come up with a 10 minute presentation on some subjects she had been thinking about for the missionaries.  She wants us to learn all the classes to teach our own missionaries.  We were the first lesson....It was teaching missionaries about care and wearing of temple garments.  It turned out good.  The Bedkes did a class on ingrown toenails!!  But they made it pretty funny!  President Berrett also talked and wants us to make sure that we teach repentance and to be baptized.  Teach them together.  He is a great teacher.  We had a late dinner afterwards before going to bed!  No one wanted to get up early and go on the safari again.  We had a nice breakfast and then met for another session.  The Littles taught dental care and the Newtons taught safe water practices!  We had a nice lunch before heading back out on the safari for the evening.  Saw more animals and had a great time with everyone.  We met for dinner before having our final session of the conference.  The Grundys taught budgeting.  Pres Berrett concluded with thoughts on being senior missionaries.  I asked he and Sister Berrett what they have learned while serving this mission.  It was great listening to them and feeling of their love for the people and the missionaries.  They have been great!  We had breakfast the next morning and then loaded up for home!  We went on the highway this time and it was a quicker trip!  We even went all the way to Negombo so the couples going back to India could have Burger King!  They do not get beef burgers at the fast food places in India.  So they were all so excited.  And it really did taste pretty darn good!!  We dropped them off at the airport after, then Pres Berrett at the Cinnamon Grand and then we made it home!  Fun time with wonderful missionaries!  I hit the ground running on Friday as we were having the District Relief Society conference on Saturday.  We met with a man from the American embassy about helping us with getting visas.  We then had lunch at the Cinnamon Grand with Pres/Sister Berrett and Bro Hendriksen.  Very nice!!  I then met at the church to help set up tables and get everything ready for the next day!  It is going to be a nice day!  We put the finishing touches on everything on Saturday morning and prepared for everyone to get there.  It was supposed to start at 10.  The Kandy bus was late and didn't get there until noon!  And Negombo was a little bit late too.  But we ended up starting at 10:40.  We had about 120 or more ladies by the time everyone came!  It looked beautiful!  The centerpieces were lovely!  Primali gave a great opening talk and Pres Kolitha welcomed everyone also.  We watched a clip about the beginning of Relief Society and then cut the cake and sang Happy Birthday!  It was nice.  We then moved into the spiritual part.  We watched a video on temples and had Shehara, Sheramy and Deandra sing a song!  It was beautiful.  I talked next about temple covenants and had a small power point that I used.  Pres Nishan talked about the temple recommend.  We had a class on fitness by Emily Hendriksen and then one on Family history by Sister Ru.  We then had lunch packets!  Everyone left soon after that.  It was a great day.  At the same time, all the Branch Presidencies also came for some training.  Steve and Pres Sunil gave the training.  They liked Steve because if they answered a question right, he threw them a starburst (thanks to our kids who brought us some American candy)!  It took us a long time to clean up everything.  We were supposed to go to a concert that night but I was exhausted so we just stayed home!  It was very nice!  The best part of the week was Easter Sunday....which brought 5 baptisms!  It was the greatest! We met early and got everyone dressed and took lots of pictures of course.  Anuk is 10 and he was the first one.  He was amazing.  He comes to church with a member lady of the branch.  During his testimony, he thanked his mom and dad for teaching him so that he could get baptized.  They aren't even members!  It was so sweet.  He really knew a lot of things about being baptized.  Nilmani was baptized next.  She is Hansani's mom.  Hansani got baptized last Christmas.  She is the sweetest lady!  I remember at first when we were visiting with her family a year ago....and how they were happy in their religion and didn't need to be baptized again or need another church!  So wonderful to hear her and see her take this great step.  Brother Mark and his family...Rebecca and Jennifer...were next.  They are refugees from Pakistan.  It was wonderful listening to their testimonies!  It was just the best Easter ever.  The Spirit was so strong.  Hansani wanted to play the piano for her moms baptism and learned How Great Thou Art.  She played it flawlessly!  She has really learned to play the piano so fast.  I am so proud of her!  Pres/Sister Berrett were still there so they attended everything that day!  We invited them over for dinner at our home after the block.  It was a nice dinner and we enjoyed visiting with them.  They are great people and have such a love for the Gospel and have done wonderful things for this mission!  We are grateful to be serving here in Sri Lanka.  Steve always says that if he would have known what Sri Lanka was like, we would have put it down as our preference to serve here.  It has been the best place for us.  We are doing the things we wanted to do when we thought of serving.  Working with and loving the members!  That is the greatest blessing!

Meeting at the Cinnamon Grand

They all wanted to stop and see Steve and Lauri restaurant!  So funny!

We stopped for a boat tour down south.

Lets put our feet in and let the fish eat off our dead skin!!!!!

Now we are going to Cinnamon Island!

This is how you get cinnamon !

Listening intently!!

More scenery

If you look close on the right, you can see the fisherman out on posts in the water!


Safari Laya hotel right on the ocean

Pretty bird!

Pretty scenery!

Yala National Park

                            During the 2004 tsunami, 47 foreigners we killed at this spot.  

The hotel

The senior couples in the India Bangalore Mission
Pres/Sister Berrett, The Grundys, The Condies, The Newtons, The Bedkes and the Littles
and our guide!

               What did the mother buffalo say to the baby buffalo when he left?  Bi son.......

                                                        Some monkeys on the rock.

District Relief Society Conference

Happy Birthday Relief Society!

Negombo drama

Colombo drama

Kandy drama


Anuk is one of the 5 convert baptisms.  His family are not members but they taught him and he chose to be baptized!

Mark, Rebecca, Jennifer and Anuk being baptized on Easter sunday.

Mark and his family!

Pres Nishan, Me, Nilmani, Mark, Roy, Jennifer, Rebecca, Devin, Elder G, Armen, Anuk, Elder W, Elder Condie

Add President/Sister Berrett!!

Anuk and his family

Nilmini and her family

5 baptisms on Easter...what a wonderful blessing!

Hansani wanted to play for her mothers baptism.  My star pupil!

How Great Thou Art!