Sunday, April 3, 2016

April 3, 2016

I think I might get this posted on time!  We made it to the end of March and have started April already.  Where does the time go?  Our Monday was spent with Sister Malis family!  Methasa, her daughter, made us a welcome sign outside the door!  We enjoyed being with their family so much.  So many of the sisters stories in Sri Lanka are tough.  Abusive, drinking spouse....who leaves most of the time.  Mali is a wonderful mother and her 2 kids are the best!  Shashrika goes with the missionaries every week.  He has only been a member for a few months!  We just love this family.  Mali made a wonderful Sri Lankan meal with all the extras!  We loved being with them.  We feel so much for the hardships these families endure.  We had district meeting with the elders on Tuesday morning.  Lots of great investigators right now!  Oh how I wish we could get some missionaries here!  I taught piano classes and then we headed to Darshinis for the evening!  We gave a lesson on tithing and budgeting.  It went really great!  Oh how we love them.  Another example of a father not taking responsibility for a family.  Wednesday was a fun day.  We met a Colonel Ross from the US embassy with Pres Berrett last week.  As he was leaving, he invited us to visit the USS Blue Ridge....a Navy steam ship that was docked in Sri Lanka for a few days.  We were so excited to be able to do this!  It was really great!  The most Americans we have ever seen in Sri Lanka at the same time!  We visited Shanika and her family that evening.  We picked up Sheramy from work and then headed to their home.  She made a nice dinner for us.  We were also able to help Sheramy get the final things done on her mission papers.  And we turned in everything to Pres Berrett.  He sent back a message while we were there that the papers had been submitted!  She was so excited!  She asked a lot of questions and we had a great visit!  The next morning, we learned that Shanikas uncle died.  The brother of the aunt who died 3 weeks earlier.  They found out when Sheramy went to work (he is the editor of the paper she works at).  So tough for them.  Shanika was going to go to Switzerland and her uncle was going with her this week.  It was terrible for them.  They are all heartbroken.  I had piano classes and Steve went with the elders to see Jean.  He was late getting home so I listened to the General Womens Conference on my IPad.  I am so grateful to belong to such a wonderful church.  I loved the talks and felt the Spirit as I listened.  They want us to reach out to the hundreds of refugees if we get a chance.  As the church was helped by many in the early days of the church.  I taught piano on Friday and then we got ready for our big journey to Adams Peak!  The name in Sinhala is Samanalakanda.  This is a sacred place where devout Buddhists make Pilgramages to, all the time.  It is 2243 meters tall which is 7359 feet.  It is believed that Adams footprint is there (or Lord Buddhas foot print if you are a Buddhist).  But it is about 7 feet under the ground on be preserved.  To begin, we met at the church for dinner and a movie.  No one was on time...but it eventually started!  We watched...The Ultimate Gift.  I love that show.  We stopped half way through and had the dinner that was served outside.  Sister Nilmani's family made string hoppers with potato curry and fish curry and symbol.  We finished the movie and then waited for the buses to show up.  We took a 20 seater and a 40 seater and packed the seats!  The bigger bus was late and we did not leave until 11 at night.  It was a very nice bus....but still was hard to fact I don't think many did!  We arrived at the foot of Adams Peak around 4 am.  We were supposed to start climbing around 2 so we could get up there when the sun rose!  What a journey.  It was one of the toughest physical things I have ever done.  About 5500 steps each way.  (someone had a fit bit) And most of the way straight up!  There are shops all along the way where you can buy drinks, treats, food, clothes, flowers....etc.  And it is dark!  They do have lights along the way every so often.  Since we had such a late start, we couldn't get there in time for the sun rise....but i was most of the way up when the sun came up.  It was beautiful.  The sun starting to peek over the mountain until it comes right wonderful!  I didn't hike with Steve.  I lost him somewhere on the bottom.  I actually made the journey pretty fast.  About 3 hours.  It was tough.  Stair after stair...and it was so steep.  It was cool as we hiked before the sun came up.  I even wore a jacket for some of the way!  I got the feeling that people stared a lot at me.  You don't see many Americans in Sri Lanka.  As I said hello, they were surprised and always wanted to talk to me and always had a friendly smile for me.  Many wanted to touch me too.  They all wanted to know where I was from.  Many shared cookies and treats with me!  Steve had the same journey a little.  He talked to many of the people all the way up as well!  I was in the first group to reach the top.....about 6 of us.    There were old people, young people, barefoot people, people praying in chants, many carrying children (oh my)...all making their sacred journey to the top.  The view was spectacular.  The hike was a killer.  The stairs were uneven but had a railing at most of the steep parts....  Which was most of the climb!  When the sun came up, it started getting warmer!  As you get to the top, you have to remove your hats and shoes at it is very sacred there!  And you ring the bell once for every time you have climbed the mountain.  I started the journey down by myself because the others didn't stay on top at all.  I thought I would meet Steve but didn't for awhile.  But it was fun seeing everyone else and trying to cheer them on.  There were 60 of us and we were all at different levels of physicality (is that a word)!  But everyone kept going no matter what.  Sister Nilmani was so sick from the ride up in the bus....and her knee was in so much pain.  Some of the younger kids whined here and there....some of the older people wondered if they were going to be able to make it.....but everyone did!  I think the journey down was worse.  The pounding as you went down those stairs!  We tried to go down on an angle and that helped a little!  But it seemed like a journey that was never going to end.  It went on and on and on!  The pains in my thighs and hips were setting in!  I waited for Steve over an hour before we met up.  He stopped and took pictures of everyone and had stuff to eat.  It was pretty hot on the way down.  But we made it!  We had to wait at the bottom for a long time.  Most people came about 4-6 hours after we did.  And everyone was beat and hammered and cramping up.  But they did it!  So proud of the branch people!  We got home late...after 10:30!  It was fast Sunday the next day and I bore my testimony.  I had been thinking a lot about the journey.  It was one of the hardest physical things I have ever done.  But there were people along the way helping you up and encouraging you....even pulling and carrying you to the top.  Pres Nishan carried his 4 year old son a lot of the way....and some helped him do that.  Frank and Steve helped Jayenthi the whole way up and down.  Nilmani's husband pulled and helped her all the way.  Even though I was old, I felt like I could do it.  It reminded me of the saying you hear....I can do hard things.  Everyone did a hard thing yesterday.  And in our lives, we face hard times and challenges.  But if we remember that we did a hard thing and made it through, we can get through it.  We have people there to help us, people to ease our burdens and then we have people at the "finish line" cheering for we can do it!  We can make it through this life because we have people around us to help...and we have the love of our Heavenly Father to get us through anything.  We are truly blessed.  It just touched my heart today.  And many bore their testimonies of the same type of experiences.  Such a wonderful meeting.  Plus, Thilukshi and her mom and brother came to church today.  They want to be baptized!  They are another family who Brother Lyle helped bring around to the church.  Thilukshi made it through her terrible cancer and got the news from her doctor that she can resume all her normal activities with no restrictions!  And her goal is now to be baptized and wants to do anything she can to get it well as her mom and brother!  I have so enjoyed teaching them piano lessons and seeing how well Thilukshi has done in the past few months!  She is a happy and beautiful and fun!  We invited them over for dinner along with Nilmani and her family!  The elders came too!  It was a great visit!  We even found out it was Kavishkas birthday!  I had a small cake in the freezer and some chocolate frosting already made so that worked out great!  It is so fun to see these people embrace the gospel and see such a wonderful change in their countenances and lives!  The Gospel is true!  It helps and strengthens people!  How truly blessed I am!      

Dinner at Mali's..with a welcome sign made from Methasa as we came in!

This is the sign that means dinner is ready and you are being invited to come and eat!

You are given a glass of water on a plate and you just touch the plate with both hands saying that you have received the invitation!

And here is the amazing dinner that was prepared for us!

We love Methasa, Shashrika and Mali!

We also met the shy neighbor next door!

Wonderful evening!

Field trip with the Hendriksens!  Bro Hendriksen works at the US embassy.

Winding through the docks to find the USS Blue Ridge!

There it its!

A view of the city behind us

Lighthouse out in the distance

The Galley....where they eat

Their library and email station

The chapel

The bottom of Adams Peak at 4 am

Those are lights on the hill that you hike during the early morning!

Deek, Jinuka, Garrett

Part of over 3500 stairs to climb

The last few stairs to the temple!

We made it!

Look at this view!

When you make it to the top, you ring the bell!

Stephanie and Fiona made it!

Sandimali is almost there!

The sign says 10 more minutes!!  yea

Darshini is almost there!

Hansani, Anula and Gnana

Here come Shashrika and Methasa

Here come even more!

Praveen even helped with Jarel

The Wijendrens are almost there...with Harsha!

And Pres are almost there!!

Here come Timothy

and Deandra!

Sister Roshani

Brother Mark and Anton Roshan

Inoka, Steffani and Naveen

You can do it Mali

Look who I found on the journey...with some random guy!

The Buddhists wrap coins and hang them all over to receive blessings from Lord Buddha

We need a rest!

These guys are bringing supplies up to the stores and restaurants.  Can not imagine doing every day or so

Come bathe in the sacred waters

From down the path a little ways

Some guy wanted to be in our picture

Waiting at the bottom with the Peak in the distance

More beautiful scenery of tea plantations on the way home

Adams Peak in the distance

Thiluckshi, Kavishka, Jinuka, Mom, Nilmani and Hansani..I was tired I guess!

It is Kavishkas 15th birthday!

Traditional cake for his mother!

the sister!

He made it!!!!

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