Well, I made it, and I'm writing now from the *very* loud internet cafe in Tawau, Malaysia. In short, it's very, very different here. I'm starting to think I'll feel like that every transfer. But I think I'm going to learn to love it.
Wow, OK, so, where to start! My transfer went really smoothly, no problems getting on the plane or with weight or anything, and elder stewart had a taxi driver waiting for me when I stepped off the plane, so that was pretty great. Elder Stewart's really nice. He's been here for about four months, so he already knows the area really well and I think we're gonna work really well together.
Did I mention that it's different here? It is, in pretty much every way. Tawau is a much smaller place than Ipoh, which is funny, because I was already thinking that Ipoh was a little small. Another big change is that it seems that about 75% of the people who live here are Muslim, which is a new challenge I haven't really had to deal with before now. It's crazy though, we'll step on a bus and not really be able to teach anyone since every single person is Malay. Wild. It's alright though, and it gives Tawau the positive reputation of having about the best Malay in the entire mission, which is a change for sure, but kind of fun. People here don't speak English really. Somehow everyone seems to know a few random phrases, but, for the most part it's all Malay all the time. So, hopefully before long I'll be speaking better than ever.
I haven't been to church yet, so I don't know what the branch is like, but the members I've met so far have been really nice. I think Elder Stewart and I are really going to be focusing on finding potential Melchizedek priesthood holders while we're here. I guess it's a real issue here, in part because most of the men seem to work at "camp." Which I guess just means they go out into the jungle for months at a time to do logging or something. Most only come back for a few days a month. So, that's another special challenge.
The people here are really diverse! I thought I was getting pretty good at distinguishing between different kinds of asians, but after coming here my confidence has been completely destroyed. I guess the people here are mostly from a few different Malay groups, Indonesians, Filipinos or Kadazan/Dusun, some of the native tribes here in Sabah. We actually spend a lot of time looking for Filipinos, since they're the most reliably Christian group around here.
So, lots of new challenges, but lots of good things to look forward to also. I got to see my first real "kampung." Kampung means village in Malay, but it kind of connotes something different. In different areas of the city you'll just have these large residential areas filled with, what I guess I could best describe as really fancy tree houses. I'm gonna have to take a picture, but they're awesome. Anyway, those are the places that most people have been living in for generations, so kampung is kind of just like the ancestral home for whole families. They're really cool actually, and we do a lot of our door knocking in them. Definitely different, but a good thing.
So, basically things are really different here, but I'm doing well and just giving myself a little bit of time to adjust to life in Sabah. I know that this is the place where the Lord wants me though and that there's a lot of good work for me to do here.
Anyway, I love you all so much! Glad to hear that spring is finally blossoming over there!
Talk to you soon!