Well, this week is a week for pictures for sure, so assuming everything goes ok, you'll be able to see the big adventure that this week has turned out to be as well as read about it! Cross your fingers, right?
So, it all started with Thaipusam, which involved a whole lot less needle-hooky kind of things like we expected, and a lot more looking at Hindu temples and observing priests and that kind of thing. But it turned out to be a lot of fun! Batu caves is really kind of a beautiful place. It's a big Hindu temple complex located not to far at all from the city (you can actually see it from tall buildings), but the most famous temple is the one in a cave 200 and something steps up the side of a mountain. It was super fun to see everyone there getting all in the festival spirit. So I guess Thaipusam is all about doing penance, and there were a few people there already even though it was actually the day before Thaipusam was meant to start. Anyway, the most popular activity of the day was carrying these jars on your head all the way up the 200 and something steps of Batu Caves, which may not seem that difficult until you actually tried to do it. Some people were really struggling! One of the coolest parts of Hindu art and style and stuff in my mind though is that the Indians always use bright colors, and these people didn't disappoint with their awesome, yellow clothing. So, the whole area was filled with lots of sound and colors and excitement and turned out to be a whole lot of fun. So, that was the first adventure of the week!
The second was actually Indian related too, as we got invited to attend the Indian wedding of the family member of one of our ward member's. So that was a pretty fun cultural experience too. I've actually been to one Tamil wedding before, and I wasn't at all disappointed to see that this one was pretty much the same as that. So, when you go to a Tamil wedding, the very first thing you look forward to is eating a whole lot of delicious curry, but what people don't usually tell you is that before you can eat any curry there's a huge, long ceremony they have to go through to actually get the bride and groom married. The most notable feature is that there's always this umm... very Indian musical accompaniment to the whole thing with only two musicians, a drummer guy who is going absolutely crazy for well over an hour (and usually drenched head to foot in sweat too!), and a guy who plays this Indian trumpet looking thing, which I'm not exactly sure how to describe except as sounding very nasally. You'd actually know it if you heard it. If you ever watch a cartoon where they depict a snake charmer, they're always playing this funny trumpet thing. That's the kind of trumpet that we're talking about! Anyway, the night was super fun and really cool to see how they do their marriages (which I didn't really understand any of, there's a whole lot of the priest picking up something and waving it in front of the brides face, then picking up something else and waving it in the bride's face, then someone else picking something up and waving it in the bride's face. There's a part where the groom ties a necklace onto the bride and they're actually officially married. The best part though was when the parents of the bride and groom sat in chairs facing each other and negotiated what I think was the dowry. All I know is that it involved an incredibly thick wallet!). The best part of the whole night though was when we were invited with the other white people (another couple from the branch and a random German couple. I don't exactly know where they came from) to come sit at one of the tables of honor right at the very front of the whole wedding. Can you talk about being stared at? But it was super fun. We had a really good view of everything.
So, the last adventure for the week was yesterday, when one of our Nigerian recent converts took us to go eat African food with him. There's an unusually large number of Nigerian and other African students here, and they're always super fun to be around. Super friendly, very, very hopeful, cool, cool people. So, anyway, he mentioned the other day that cow head would be one of the dishes on the menu. Well, it turns out that cow head isn't quite as exciting as it sounds. It's all divided into its parts and things (doesn't even resemble a head!) and tastes almost exactly like roast beef, but it was a fun adventure anyway! I guess in Africa, they don't eat rice like they do here in Asia (with every single meal). Instead they eat this stuff called suji, which is pretty hard to describe except to say that it's a big, white, lump of dough. Really, really soft, with a texture almost like soft play-dough. Anyway, the way you eat African food is you take a piece of the suji and you roll it into a ball, then you take the ball and dip it into whatever kind of sauce you're eating (in our case, "melon seed," which I guess is just a melon seed ground up really find with some kind almost curry-like substance to go with it). So, it was fun, and actually not too bad at all!*phew*.
So that's the cultural experiences for the week, except to mention that this week we met a man from Botswana and another from Somalia. So, my map marked with all the countries I've met people from is keeping updated. I counted just the other day and was pleased to find that I'm up above thirty countries now! Crazy, huh? Just one reason the Singapore mission really is the greatest mission in the entire world!
*** was interviewed and is looking really solid for baptism next Sunday! Woohoo! It's so awesome to see their family get completed. When it comes right down to it, the ultimate goal of missionary work is to get families sealed in the temple and faithful to their covenants, so it's awesome to see them take this exciting step.I know that the Lord is in this work. I know that this is Jesus Christ's church and that it's led by living Apostles and Prophets today just like it was before. I've never been happier than on a mission, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity (and adventure) it's been to get to serve!
I love you all so much! Talk to you next week!