Happy Thanksgiving! I'm actually a little bit ashamed to ask this, but Thanksgiving is on this Thursday, right? There have been absolutely no indications of any holiday celebration here, and with Thanksgiving always moving around it's hard to be sure when it is! So, in answer to your question, Thanksgiving is definitely an American's only holiday. It's funny, the members here will celebrate Pioneer Day and Halloween, but when it comes to Thanksgiving nobody has ever celebrated one. Too bad, huh?
But, for us the work just moves on. Tawau is still doing well. Last week we had kind of a tough time as far as numbers go, but we set some new goals and got a little bit refocused and things are looking a lot brighter already this week. If I've learned anything, it's that missionary work is all about ups and downs. So we worked through the down week and aren't really too surprised to see that things are looking up this week.
The senior couple from KK came down here this week to start work on a humanitarian project, and they were thoughtful enough to take us out to dinner. It was really fun to get to spend a little time with them, especially since they've just been here in the field for a couple of months. Their stories were hilarious and reminded me a lot of all the things that are so crazy to you when you first get out here, but just start to get a little bit normal after a while. Their best story though was definitely hearing about how Elder Larson got the "biggest shock of his life" walking into a public bathroom at a mall only to find that in Malaysia, a toilet can mean just a hole in the ground and a hose. A "squatter" as we like to call them! I still remember the first time I went into the bathroom in our apartment in Singapore and noticed there wasn't any toilet paper. I came back out to ask Elder Buchuluun (I still can't spell that!) where they kept it, and he just laughed at me. Ah, the joys of a hose...The Larsons have actually adjusted really well though (they ate rice with us at a food court in the mall here for dinner), and it was really nice to get to see some other missionaries for a little.
This Monday we're flying into KL again for our last Simplified Curriculum training. Apparently after this we'll just be back to regular Zone Conferences, so we'll be spending a little bit more time in our areas which should be really nice.
Turns out there wasn't any flooding by the time we arrived back home, which was a little disappointing actually. Elder Cazier and I were thinking there was going to be an absolute disaster awaiting us, wondering how bad flooding in Tawau would have to be before you could read about it in a newspaper in America. I'm not really sure anything about Tawau has ever made in into an American newspaper! It makes a lot of sense though if you've found a local Sabah newspaper. As small as Tawau is, it's the third largest city in all of Sabah. A real newsmaker.
I have a confession to make! I'm actually glad you mentioned it would be ok to open something for Thanksgiving, because just today I finally yielded to temptation and grabbed a little something out. I didn't look in the package at all, so Christmas will still be a huge surprise, but I did reach in there and feel around until I found the book that you sent. I was just sitting there thinking about that package in the other room during personal study and it the temptation just got to be too much for me. I'm actually pretty proud of myself for making it this long. It's hard to know how a missionary feels about packages until you get into the field, and waiting is just killer. So, I cracked a little, I'm sorry :D! But the book is awesome! Thank you so much! I love Elder Maxwell and I can't wait to really dive into this book. You're the best Mom and I love you a lot. I promise I'll save the rest for Christmas! :D
Welp, other than that, Tawau is just same-old same-old. It feels like home here and I think it's going to be awfully sad when I have to go. It's a lovely place and I hope that someday we get to come back and see it together!
I love you so much! I think about you and pray for you everyday! I have the greatest family on earth and I couldn't be more grateful. I can't wait to see you guys and little Johnny again. Tell John that I said Happy Birthday. I saw it on the calender and was thinking about him. What a blessing he's been for us, huh? I love you so much! Happy Thanksgiving!