selamat hari Gawai! gawai is the biggest Dayak holiday of the year, and it started on monday (Dayak is what they call all of the indigenous tribes in malaysian borneo). i'm not exactly sure when it ends... probably just when people get really sick of being drunk 24/7. it's crazy though! dad mentioned in his email about how he ate too much. you have no idea what i've been through the last two days dad. in order to understand what we've been doing the last two days, you have to understand a bit about what gawai is. from the time i first got to east malaysia (sibu), i was hearing about how big gawai was. that was in october last year, and it has just been building up to this week. during gawai, everything shuts down, and everyone goes back to their villages. the only people left in kuching pretty much are the chinese (and even some of them choose to go on vacation). gawai is the celebration of the rice harvest i think, or at least some kind of harvest. anywho, everybody gets drunk. unfortunately, even some of the members get hammered. but since everyone is in their kampungs (villages), there really is no work for us to do. so what the missionaries have done in the past, and what we chose to do, is to go around and visit members all day. it's good, because you can meet a lot of non-members in their families, and you can help strengthen them so that they won't drink or do something stupid. it started on sunday, which is gawai eve. for about a month now, the branch leadership in all the branches here have been announcing during sacrament meeting that there would still be church on gawai eve, and that it was still a commandment to come. elder tuckfield and i usually go to at least two of the branches (because we have some investigators that can only come in the morning, and some that can only come in the afternoon), so we got to see what the damage was. the third branch, which usually has 100-130 people every week, had maybe 30 people at the most... and six of those were missionaries! our branch did a bit better, but still much less than normal. on monday, we rented a taxi van and went to one of the bigger tourist kampungs called annahries and brought all of the missionaries down there. that's when the torture all started. we met up with our branch president down there, and he took us to his grandparent's house. they brought out a ton of cookies and cakes and things. i had a lot. then he took us on a tour of the long house in the village. i got some good videos, so you'll be able to see what it was like, but as we were touring this long house, we got invited to eat twice! by the time we finished the second time, i was pretty darn full... and then president Teo (the branch president) informed us that we were going back to his grandparents for lunch. oh man, i didn't think i was going to be able to handle it... and it was only 12:00! then all of the other elders took the van back while we went with president teo to go and visit all the rest of the members. we did that ALL DAY! and every house we went to had a meal prepared for us. now, don't get me wrong, i love curry and rice, but when you have eight meals of curry and rice in one day, it gets a little bit gross. fortunately though, they mixed up the meat. on monday alone, i ate chicken, beef, flying squirrel, cat, fish, wild boar, and goat. i weighed myself the on sunday morning, at i weighed in at 179. when i weighed myself on monday night after returning home, i weighed 190! oh my heavens! it was unbelievable how much i packed down. and i didn't even throw up! tuesday was pretty much the same as monday, but we got a few lessons in, and i only ate 4 or 5 times.
apart from the gawai madness, we also had a baptism! her name is catherine and she is awesome. she lives with her husband's family, who are really strong members too, so she's got a really strong support system. her husband is a bit of a bum though, even though he's got a baptism date. on the way home from the baptism, i was riding elder romney's bike, because mine is a heck of a lot better than his, and he had to ride a lot farther than me that day, so i swapped him. anywho, on the ride home (it was about 9:25), the bike all but fell apart. it was kind of ridable though, so i was just taking it easy, trying to get home before 9:30, when all of a sudden, i heard a bunch of barking and dog paws moving quickly on asphalt. i looked behind me, and in the darkness saw a black dog dart behind my back tire. i turned and looked down just as the little bugger took a bite for my foot. i managed to dodge him the first time, but then he came in again. i tried to go faster, but my bike just wouldn't let me. as he opened his mouth and went for my leg again, i gave him what i thought would be a well place kick in the jaws. i don't know how he did it, because i was sure that i was going to get him, but he somehow did this crazy jump dodge, whipped his head around, and clamped down on my leg. don't worry though, he only tore my pants pretty bad, but i wasn't injured. talk about tender mercies! after that, he gave up on me and went for elder tuckfield. i think he was tired though, so he didn't put up much of a fight with him. but now i've got a huge hole in my best pair of slacks! poop.
we've got two baptisms this week, both of which will be great leaders in the church in a few years, im sure. and we're having the baptism on the beach! i love malaysia.
it's good to hear that everything went well with whitney's graduation. i hope she enjoyed it. i can't really remember mine, but i remember the all night party was a blast. how was yours, whitney? email me and tell me about everything.
well, i think that's pretty much it. thanks for checking up on the shoes for me. i really appreciate it. stay safe now, ya hear? i love you all.
ps- i got an email from Kelvin today (the one who i'm giving the scriptures to) and he's sending in his papers next week! that's so awesome!