Well, Elder Hall is gone now. We had a really nice breakfast with President Yap and Sister Chris and the Dabels, stuck him on a bus and then he was gone! Crazy to think it happens that fast, but I'm excited for him to be back home.
Malaysia is really starting to heat up getting ready for Chinese New Year! As far as I can tell, it's actually bigger than Christmas here. In fact, since the first day falls on Sunday, this next week we're only going to have sacrament meeting. Crazy! So the public holiday is officially the 14 and 15 of February this year, but I guess people will celebrate for kind of the two weeks surrounding the holiday too. It's crazy, people take off like a whole week of work and just have a good time with their families! Should be fun.
This one comes right on the tails of another holiday I forgot to tell you about called Thaipusam (or something kind of like that). It's actually an Indian festival, and another huge deal and public holiday. Maybe a little less wholesome though. I guess the whole idea of the festival is to show the gods that you really want a particular blessing by sort of torturing yourself in their honor. The most common ways are by putting about a dozen nasty looking hooks in your back, and having someone pull them while you walk a few kilometers, or else carrying a nine foot tall mini-temple with an idol in it on your shoulders from the river to his temple. I guess that one often gets combined with some good ol' fashioned hooking as well.
Sounds a little less fun, huh?
Anyway, it sounds like the major ways to celebrate Chinese New Year are by singing all kinds of funny sounds, gathering up your whole family and spending time together, giving away mandarin oranges and (certainly one of the best parts) giving away ang pow! Ang Pow are little red envelopes that married people put money in and give to single people! I don't really understand all the reasons for the tradition, but it's always a very friendly one to missionaries.
I have my new companion. His name is Elder Watkins, and he's from Holladay. I think we're going to get along really, really well. He's actually a really young missionary also, only about two months older than me, but he's super motivated and definitely has his head on his shoulders. So, we're off to a good start, lots of exciting families to teach and everything.
Just before Elder Hall left we were able to have two more baptisms. The first was a really nice chinese lady named S***F ***. She almost delayed, but we asked her to go home, pray about it and really think about it, and she pulled through in the end. It was so good to see her baptized. I really know it's going to make such a difference to her and to her family. We're starting to teach her husband and son more this week, so hopefully they'll be able to follow!
The second was a daughter of our recent convert named D ***. She's only about 11, so she's got a wonderful pure heart, and I'm just so happy that now she's going to be able to grow up in the gospel. It makes such a huge difference to be able to learn while you're young, and I feel like I can see such a bright future ahead of her. She's got so much potential. I can't wait to see where she goes!
That's pretty much the news for the week though! Lots of things happening here in Ipoh, and it looks like in the coming weeks there's going to be a lot more! So glad to hear everything's going well at home, and I can't wait to hear from you again!
Ok! Love you so much! Talk to you soon!
Selalu dengan kasih sayang,
Elder Blissett (Kevin)