Halo Keluarga Aku,
Heavens! Everyone I've talked to said that you get a new culture shock each time you go to one of our three areas (Singapore, East and West Malaysia) for the first time, but I guess I never really realized the extent until I got here. It's crazy. Ipoh is so, so different! The people are different, the work is different, the food is different, languages are different. Everything! It's like I went into a whole new country.
It's so good though. I think I'm going to really love it here in Ipoh, which is good news, since I could easily be here for a long time. My companion, Elder Hall, is actually going home in just a month, but he's spent the last 8 months here, and although transfer schedules are completely impossible to predict (as I just learned), I think I could be here for a long time.
Anyway, so what's it like exactly? Good! It actually kind of reminds me of like... a smaller town in Texas kind of feel, only with a lot more Indians. Things here are mostly pretty run down, lots and lots of farming, very friendly people who will just sit and visit with you for a long time, and not a whole lot of the same western conveniences we had in Singapore. Also much dirtier! But good, it seems like the kind of dirtiness that comes from people just lounging around so much, more than dirtiness from any kind of intentional badness.
Let me tell you about how I got here though. Goodness it was crazy, and if I didn't have to do it like this, I certainly wouldn't have, but it all turned out ok in the end.
So I found out I was getting transferred at exactly 11:08 Monday morning which was really, really bittersweet. On the one hand, I was really excited to be getting into Malaysia, but I was also really sad to be leaving Elder Merrill and Singapore and everything. Like every missionary says, I felt like I was really, finally getting a handle on Singapore just in those last few days. Things were going to be pretty tough, but I was kind of excited for the adventure. Guess it just wasn't meant to be! So after being blown away by the fact that I was leaving, we started making phone calls to people to tell them I was leaving, got invited over for dinner and all of those kinds of things. Then we went down to the office to take care of some things where, surprise, surprise, there were about a dozen missionaries in for their trimonthly visits to Singapore. Normally that would just be fun, until I found out that the Zone Leaders from KL, who normally buy peoples bus tickets in for people coming up to Ipoh were in Singapore instead. No big deal though, one of the Senior sisters just told me to talk to them and they'd work it out, so I did, no problem, just went out and enjoyed the rest of our day.
It wasn't until I got home around 10 o'clock that night and I realized no one had really told me what the plans were for the next day. I had my flight plan, so I knew I what time I'd be leaving, but that was about it. By the next day (after I'd stayed up until about three packing and recording all the information I had to give before I left), we'd discovered that I didn't have any ride to the airport arranged, didn't know what terminal I was going to, didn't have a bus ticket from KL so I'd have to buy my own, and didn't have anyone to accompany me on my first trip to Malaysia. Hooray! It all worked out ok though. I was able to find out where the terminal was, how to catch a taxi to the Bus station in KL (which is a *terrifying* place called Puduraya. It's this dirty, nasty place where everyone sits around with scowls on their faces, and people without nametags or any way to tell they are employees just shout at you ,"Hey boss! where you going?" It was scary, but somehow I ended up on the right bus (which I wasn't even positive about until around 3 hours into the trip when I finally mustered up the courage to ask the guy sitting next to me how much longer until Ipoh. I couldn't make myself really sleep the entire time for fear that he or someone else was going to rob me. I had my passport in my pocket and everything). Anyway, I made it, I'm here, everything's ok. All I can say is that prayer is real.
Things are good though. I'm safe, the work is going really well here and Elder Hall is great! It was a crazy experience, but I'm finally here in Malaysia. Phew, what a trip. It's definitely going to take some adjusting, but people always talk about how good the food is here, so I think it will be a pleasant adjusting period. You should look up some pictures of Ipoh. They have these crazy *huge* rock mountain things that just pop up out of the ground and are covered with like... jungle on top! Very strange...
Anyway, I love you so much! I'm doing great! Thinking about you all the time and I'm excited to get working hard here to make you all proud!
Love you so much!
Elder Blissett (Kevin)