Elder Matthew Halpin here.
I'm serving a Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
I've been assigned to labor in the Singapore Mission.
I'm currently assigned to the Kota Kinabalu 2 Branch in Sabah, East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo.
My Family is updating this Blog for me.
We have been working
with our investigators and less actives. Our investigators are progressing. We
will have to push Xavier’s date back a week or 2 because his mother is in China
working until like the 2nd of January and we want her to be here. Also
my companion is WAY green and basically doesn’t know if Xavier asked her if he
could be. We will see though, she was investigating too before she went to China
Angel is progressing
as well. The whole branch has been going caroling every night for the last
little while and she has been coming too and has made some good friends. That
will definitely help her in the long run. We will try and put her on date this
week as we did not have a chance last week to meet with her.
The 1st Myanmar
refugee family and the 2nd one are doing well I guess. We found out a lot about
them when we met with them yesterday. So first off they are all a race called
"Chin Chi." I think. they are all one big group for the most part and
are almost all Catholic. We met with their pastor yesterday he was nice and a
little interested. Anyway they say that Malaysia is their first stop on the way
to America. I guess they are trying to get refugee visas or something. They say
they plan on living in Syracuse, New York. Not sure why Syracuse, maybe there
are already Myanmar people living there? Anyway interesting story. We are
meeting with Myanmar family 2 after this, wish us luck yeah.
On Thursday we had a
Christmas conference in Kuala Lumpur. We took a 3 hour train ride down on Thursday
morning and came back Friday morning. I received the package there. It was wondrous
and the music is much appreciated. The cookies were also delicious. The
nativity set is great and I set it up on our bookcase, it’s very nice.
Anyway, we jalan
jalaned it up Thursday evening, went to a mall for dinner that was located under
the Petronas Towers. They are very pretty at night and are covered in white
lights. The apartment we stayed at was the weirdest thing ever. So first off,
they have no water filter so they have to buy water from the apartment filter
downstairs, very odd. Secondly the apartment security is on a power trip and
demanded that we give him the copies of our passports for him to keep until we
left the next morning. Of course we refused which started a 15 minute argument
in Malay, (actually kind of fun) anyway they finally let us up without taking
the passport copies.
I’m not positive
that the apartment wasn’t a gang boss’ before it was the missionaries. It had
blue lighting (yes blue lighting in the ceiling) and this weird hanging chandelier
that almost touched the floor.
Anyway like I said
we have been caroling to people’s houses like 3 times this week and will go
again tonight and tomorrow night.
On Christmas we have
a few appointments already. There is a recent convert family that we have been
working with. Before they joined the church they were Hindu. Anyway on Tuesday
we met with them intending to relate the story of the wise men and how they
could share the gospel by giving away a Book Of Mormon to their friends. Anyway
come to find out, they had no clue what Christmas was or why people celebrate
it. I’m sitting there a little in shock about this revelation. Anyway we will
be going over on Christmas to help them celebrate their first Christmas, should
This Branch loves
missionaries - seriously. For instance there are like 5-8 people that give us
rides in their cars to appointments all the time. They provide referrals to us
all the time as well and help us teach. There are also a lot of really cool Young
Single Adults and Young Men that help us out. Yesterday the Relief Society gave
us Christmas presents.
Do you remember if I
ever told you about Sister Chris and her family? Well anyway, they love the
missionaries and shower us with stuff and favors. For instance, yesterday, we
went to their house for dinner (sangat sedap!!!) and they gave us all badminton
rackets (they own a sports gear store). Anyway I think I told you before but
Badminton is very popular in Malaysia, they have the number 1 ranked player in
the world. It is also very popular among the missionaries here. We go every Monday
and play for about 2-3 hours. I am getting much better.
Anyway, life is
good. I’m getting the area and faces down, and Elder Coloma is great.
Oh, about curry,
there are a million different types, Iban, Tamil, Hindi, Melayu, Chinese and any
number of mixes and such. They are all good, but yeah, I probably should try
and get some recipes.
Also, Sister Chris offered
her computer and gear to Skype. So yeah, make a Skype name. Sister Chris will
search you and "friend" you or what not. On Christmas day I might
send an email to reconfirm the time. There are two of us and one computer so
one person might go at 11 or 1 and the other will go at 12.
Mom: Good to hear
things are going well with Xavier and Angel.Hope you are taking pics of those you are teaching. Also, a suggestion -
when you take a picture of something, put yourself in it.You know- like Matthew with Kuala Lumpur in the background. Yeah….We like to see
Elder Halpin: You
sound like my "father" Elder Berger. He looks through my pictures a
couple weeks out and is like "these are good, just one problem,... where
are you!!!!" So don’t worry, I’ve got lots of me... Got to go, goodbye.
Mom: OK… Remember to
send them our way!!“See” you in a
couple of days.
Elder Halpin: So,
this week was pretty good. First off a "shoplot" is this.
Mom: You will have
name tags in Malay and English and ??
Elder Halpin: The
other language name tag I will have is Iban.
I think this week my
email will consist mostly of pictures.
Anyway we have 2
solid investigators and 2 families of Myanmar refugees that we are teaching. They
are decently solid in their religions and only speak Malay and Burmese. It’s
pretty difficult to teach them, I am having a hard time simplifying my language
enough, you would think that wouldn't be a problem but they only understand
when you use slang and super simple expressions. They are also having a hard
time understanding the importance of the Book Of Mormon. Thus they always ask
for proof in the bible of everything we teach. It’s not such a problem but the
first time they asked it caught me off guard. I was scrambling through my Indonesian
bible trying to find the pre earth life as the family waited and my companion
and the member we had with us just looked at me....I finally realized I didn’t know a scripture
about that and so just said a prayer and opened the book, to a scripture about
the pre earth life! Total Miracle there.
The other 2 investigators
we have are from mainland China and so we use translators to help them.
One of the
investigators is named Xavier. He’s 14 and from mainland China and is on date
for the December 28th.He’s pretty solid
so we are mostly just working on making sure he understands everything and also
working with his mother.
The other good
investigator we have is Angel. She also is from mainland China. Her husband is
less interested, but is progressing. We will probably try and put her on date
They are both
progressing well and come to church almost every week.
Other than that it’s
been a lot of knocking and such, actually people seem to be more open here as
long as you go to the right area. We knocked for half an hour once and got 4
The other cool thing
that happened this week was last night. One of the member's niece was getting
engaged. So we got invited to the Hindu Temple - to the engagement ceremony. It
was pretty cool and we got some really tasty Indian food and a up close look at the
idols inside. The ceremony and dinner took about 2 hours. The actual wedding
will be in June 2014 I guess.
thought I would hear you say “really tasty Indian food”!
Elder Halpin: What
do you mean? Curry is delicious, no joke. Honestly there are very few things
that I’ve tried over here that I haven’t liked. Some things take some getting
used (for instance Durian) to but they are all good.
Mom: Hey…I am with
you.I love curry too.But the one time I tried to make something
with curry, you kids all complained so I didn’t try again.
Love you all
The 4 Matang Elders
with President Mobil and Sister Nisi family.
The Church building with our apartment tower in the background and Elder Coloma in the foreground.
Waiting at the gate for the ceremony to start.
A Buddhist temple built into one of the huge rocks I was talking about. apparently they have cave temples here. I even heard tell of an abandoned one full of monkeys....
A funny thing, I don’t have picture of Elder Coloma and I in our missionary garb. This is the best I have right now. (at the Engagement party).
So, lots to tell. Please
excuse my typing, I’m using a keyboard where the letters have been painted on
with nail polish, literally.
First off, saying
goodbye to everyone sucked. I miss the people on Matang so much! You don’t
realize how much you love the people until you have to leave them.
That being said Ipoh
is awesome so far. There is only 1 branch here, split into 2 halves, we have
the east half. The members here are all either Chinese or Tamil, there is one
half Karazan family (a tribe from Sabah). Typical attendance is about 50-80. Basically
the biggest difference branch wise is that the branch is more mature and runs
much smoother. I think I already told you but almost all the people here speak
a broken Malaysianised form of English.
The members here are
really great. On Thursday after flying in on a janky ready to fall out of the
sky turboprop Kit and June picked me up, they are the sons of one Sister Chris.
They are 18 and 19 respectively and received their mission calls the next day
(1 Hong Kong and the other San Jose California). Anyway we met Sister Chris at
a restaurant and we ate there. Sister Chris is famous Mission wide because of
the things she does for the missionaries, I found out yesterday that every week
she buys us some groceries such as real milk and cereal (just an example). Almost
all the members in Ipoh have cars and they drive the Elders to probably about
half of their appointments, it’s awesome twofold, first cars are much quicker
and less sweaty than bicycles and second it means that there are members
present to testify and help teach. They also throw tons of referrals our way.
Elder Coloma, he’s
from Paris, France. English is his second language. He is pretty cool, and we’re
getting along alright. He and his first trainer didn’t communicate much and so
he’s not too sure about some things. He also had never touched a bike before
his mission. He’s doing alright but still pretty shaky. He related to me a
story from like his first week. The poor guy was trying to follow the other Elders
in and out and around cars and in one particularly narrow stretch managed to
break off 3 side view mirrors.....
Our apartment is in
a condominium tower, we are only a 3 minute walk from the church. The apartment
is truly a step up from our last house, the shower doesn’t flood; there are two
usable bathrooms, and much, much more. The church here is sort of a middling
church if you will. It is a standalone building, maybe it was a house at some
time. It is basically the step between a shoplot and a full sized building.
Work wise it’s all
right. Right now we have a few investigators, maybe 1 or 2 will be baptized
soon (maybe within this transfer?). The other thing is it’s not burned over
like Matang was. Basically we have half of a city about the size of Kuching. Also
distance doesn’t matter because almost everyone has a car. On Saturday we
tracked maybe 10 houses while waiting for an appointment and we got 1 return
appointment and 1 maybe return appointment. So I’m pretty enthusiastic because
there is a lot to do.
I’m placing the
shipping order for my bike today. It
should get here in about 1 1/2 to 2 weeks. Until then I am using an old bike
from an Elder that already went home. I also am going to order an English name
tag, I’ll have three languages then. Our mission has 5 available, English, Chinese,
Tamil, Malay and Iban.
This morning we
hiked up a mountain (through the jungle, lots of fun). Ipoh is in a valley. on
either side are jungle covered mountains. Also throughout the city HUGE chunks
of rock stick up through the ground covered with jungle, like as tall as the Finnoe’s
hill, maybe as big around as our property but sheer cliff most of the way
around with jungle all over it. Also there are large Chinese and Hindu temples
all over. In Kuching the predominate religions were Islam and Christian. It’s
kind of different, here you see people all over praying to statues and such all
the time, straight up idolatry.
So yeah, having a
blast, Dad nice job on your talk, that’s cool that he remembered your lesson
from all those years ago.
Now for the bad
news.... I managed to forget my card reader in the mad rush out the door this
morning at 6.... I’ll send some pictures from my last days in Kuching, but Ipoh
will have to wait until next week.
weaving a basket with her cats.
President Mobil Sister
Nisi and their family with us.
Saying goodbye to
NOTE: The pictures never made it this week.
Well maybe not. The
computer is rosak... mintah maaf...
Ohhhh... You’re going to be an Uncle! Gladys and Bright are expecting in July
Congratulations Gladys and Bright!!!!
week was pretty good.
start Elder Ferguson finally got better on Wednesday.
the two senior couples in Kuching put together a Thanksgiving feast!!! It was
that we went and visited Brother Aret and Sister Linyang for the first time
since the Temple. It was a really good experience for them and when they bore
their testimonies at church it was really awesome. Malaysians are very private
with their emotions but when Sis Linyang bore her testimony she was crying, the
first time I have seen that since I've been here.
the way, I'm getting sangat pandai makan Durian. Durian season is in full swing
and every other member we go visit gives it to us along with Rambutan. It turns
out it's true, what people say, by the 4th time I ate it I actually liked it a
rest of the week was pretty normal. Oh, my bike tire exploded (a used one I
scavenged at another missionary house) and I had to do quite a bit of searching
to procure a suitable one.
also finished Elder Ferguson's training this week, a bittersweet moment... haha
yeah, we are waiting for transfer news now, it'll come sometime around 12
I ever tell you about what Elder Ferguson does in his sleep? The first time I
noticed it we were about half way into his training. Basically he goes into an
awake/asleep state. What he can do varies depending on what awareness level I
can get him on (yes that's right I can trigger it when I hear his breathing go
into a certain stage). Anyway, the first level is when he talks and makes noise
in his dream, basically uncontrollable and the quality (for comedy purposes) of
the episode is completely random. The second level is fun, basically I can hold
conversations with him and sometimes get him to sing and such. The third level
is just plain scary... I've only gotten him to that level twice. The first time
I got him to that level he danced around like a madman. The second time was
actually just a couple nights ago. He tried to kill me, yes, you heard that
right. Basically he had a dream where he was fighting transformers/cyborgs. I
apparently was the lead cyborg.... Long story, bottom line is that he woke up
outside sitting in our courtyard with the keys and locks, a can of air
freshener he was using as a gun, and a monkey wrench he tried to bludgeon me
with after I fought him for the war hammer and won.... Long story. When the
episodes end he wakes up and has no clue what just happened. I video some of
them and he always gets a good laugh, all in good spirits.
Could you tell us about some of the Malaysian members? Do you have a favorite
family or single member and why?
Halpin: Let's see a favorite family or member? Don't have one, I couldn't pick
if you put a gun to my head. They are all great and I love them all. I guess I
could give you a list with brief descriptions.
Mobil and Sister Nisi and their family. They have 6 kids and one moto, Most of
them use the bus on Sunday. President Mobil is the best example of Priesthood
service I have seen in my life. He works very hard to support his family and
then does a TON to support the Branch. They live in a Malay style house on the
outskirts of Kampung Kudei and their son Cyrill, who is 13, comes with us to
visit all the less actives in Kampung Kudei.
Aret and Sister Linyang and their family. They have 3 kids and live in Kampung
Kudei. They just went to the Temple as you know. Really a great family.
Dunggat and Sister Dina and their daughter Dorina. They live in Kampung Gita,
in a Kampung mansion. As you already know Brother Dunggat owns a palm oil
plantation. He is exactly like Grandpa and she is exactly like Grandma.
Exactly, no joke.
Gulang. She lives alone with a bunch of cats and dogs so we go visit her a lot
so she doesn't get too lonely. When she talks she campors (mixs) Iban, Malay
and Bahasa Sarawak (a slangy language that basically mixes the 2 aforementioned
languages and then shortens and twists all the words. Only the locals know it)
so it's always fun.
Munah. She is like 80 years old and lives with her family in Siol Kandis. They
are half less active and half Muslim. You see she is from Indonesia and was a
Christian there. When she moved here she married a Muslim and thus was forced
to become Muslim. He died and she decided to become Christian again, (very
difficult). So she went to the government building and whined and made a riot
until they let her change back. A few years later and now she is the only
active member in Siol Kandis.
Ulat and Sister Janta and their family. They live in the Batu 5 flats. They
have a couple kids that are already grown, one of which, Angela, is going to
Unimas and wants to go on a mission. Really cool family.
Spincer and Sister Pauline. Their kids are already moved out, they live in
Maliha. Awesome family.
Fredy and his wife, (drawing a blank, maybe lina?) and their daughter. They
live in Taman Genesis. Brother Fredy makes Kuching famous BBQ chicken and pork.
Anaias. One of Elder Trotter's recent converts, she works in emart and lives in
a hostel in one of the shoplots. Super awesome. A lesson with her was the first
lesson I went to (she taught me).
Christy. Also one of Elder Trotter's recent converts. Lives close to Sister
Gulang in Semarah Padi.
Liman and Sister Norsia. They live in the Batu 9 flats. Awesome family they
have 2 kids that are like 5 and 6, the most nakal (naughty) kids I have ever
met. Bro Liman makes a mean burger.
new family in Sungai Maong. Brother Dickson and Sister Remus with their 3 kids
and her 2 brothers Jimmy and Danielson. Awesome family.
is only a short rundown of some of the members. I love them all and am going to
miss them so much.
are in 10 minutes... It's like Christmas. Really, I couldn't sleep last night.
send some pictures after transfers.
Halpin: So, I’m going to Ipoh 2 to finish the training of an English Elder
who's name is Elder Coloma. I'll most likely have a flight out on Thursday.
This transfer is sort of bittersweet, I'm basically going to a different
mission. For one, the Ipoh Branch is probably the strongest in Malaysia.
Secondly, I'll be speaking English and we are going to be working with Chinese
most of the time. It's still a biking area. It'll be fun, I'm excited.
Where is Ipoh?
"different mission" you mean the type of area and the
people/language/culture are very different?
Halpin: Ipoh is in West Malaysia. Basically instead of Ibans, Bidauyus, and
Chinese I'll be working with Chinese and maybe some Tamils. Ipoh is mainly a
Chinese city and I will be speaking English 99% of the time. That's the biggest
downer in going to Ipoh for sure. But other than that it's going to be a fun
transfer. It's still a biking area so I'll have to haul that over, it'll be
Well.... just keep reading your Kitbab Mormon. You'll probably get transferred
again to a Malay branch and you won't want to get rusty!
just when you were starting to like durian fruit!! :) (Maybe they eat it over
didn't get your final package list. We really need to send your package
Halpin: Oh yes, package list well here it is. And why are you sending it to the
MTC? Anyway, so the bike lights and tire patches. A pair of jeans (you can pull
them out of storage). Anything else that I had in the previous list that I have
not mentioned. The chocolate of course. Other than that I honestly don't know,
I couldn't really think of anything. Surprise me!
Whoops...did not mean the MTC.... We will send to the address you gave us. We
will surprise you then.
Pictures this week were provided by Sister Moulder, one of the Missionary Couples who provided the Elders and Sisters Thanksgiving dinner.
Ok so first off I didn't think I had
a BYU ID or anything like that, unless they are referring to the thing I made
anciently for EFY...I haven't logged on
since then.... Over 5 years ago...
About the package, no need for
deodorant, still working on getting to the stuff you sent me the first time...
I will send you the definitive list
next Monday, lots of options etc, etc...
So basically we went on double
splits on Tuesday & Wednesday. That was fun.
Wednesday night however, Elder
Ferguson fell sick... and has thrown up 18 times since then. I am feeling fine
however and despite my confinement to a concrete almost windowless, fluorescently
lighted box for the past few days I’m doing alright, only half crazy...
On Friday one of the other Matang Elders
fell sick as well, so his companion and I went on splits. We went to some flats
in their half of the Matang area and went contacting. After that, we went and visited a member.
(We’ve begun asking Matthew to
answer questions in the emails from us and will be including the questions,
along with his answers in his blog going forward)
Mom:I feel prompted to ask you to share with us an experience on your
mission where the Holy Ghost has guided you and has helped you know what to
say.Also, could you share with us what
the greatest blessing is that you have received thus far while on your mission?
Elder Halpin: There have been many
times when I have felt prompted to say something or do something... Honestly
mostly it’s been promptings to talk to certain people or say certain things to
people as we are about. For instance, on Friday, we knocked on a door, a lady
answered, and as we spoke to her i felt prompted to testify about the Holy Ghost
and how it could bless her life. We weren’t able to get a return appointment
but she said she would talk to her husband and read the restoration pamphlet
and start the Kitab Mormon and that she would call us if she wanted to learn
more. So yeah, nothing yet but we will see.As for blessings, there are a lot. Both spiritual and physical. Probably
the biggest blessing I have received is knowledge, knowledge that i can rely on
So yeah, that was my week. Elder
Ferguson is still kind of sick, so after this we will probably just limp home
and spend the rest of the day in the dungeon...
Glad to hear your week was better than
Also!!! On Tuesday, on splits, we
went to a member’s home and they gave us durian..... Actually it wasn’t as bad
as it was the first time, and I managed to eat 6 bijis... (6 seeds). yummy...
Also I am probably being transferred
next week. Maybe deeper into Sarawak.My
theory is that I’m going to Bintulu (I do have reasons for thinking this, it’s
not idle speculation), never know though. What I do know is that I am going to
hate saying goodbye to everybody here.... So yeah. If I do get transferred I
will know about 12 on Monday and probably fly out or bus out Thursday the 5th.
I forgot my SD card adapter so I
will borrow someone else’s camera and cord in a little while and send you guys
(Matthew and we were able to “email
chat” for a bit)
Mom: So you have been working a lot
with inactive members.How is your
little branch doing?How is the
priesthood leadership?How are the youth
doing?Do you see the branch becoming
stronger or is it going to be a much longer process?
Elder Halpin: President Mobil is
amazing, that being said it’s going to take a lot of effort over a long time to
reactivate a lot of these people. The Youth here struggle a lot. We’ve been
working with the young men in the branch a lot, and when we go to appointments
we bring one of them if we can. That all being said I feel like the branch is
stronger than when I got here.
Mom: Also, let Elder Ferguson know
that we will be praying for him.
Elder Halpin: Oh, Elder Ferguson
says "Well I haven’t got you sick yet, so that’s good"....
Mom: So you are waiting right now to
find out if you have been transferred?
Elder Halpin: No, transfers are next
week. Don’t mind my English it’s sort of gone off a cliff. I’m constantly
trying to remember words... As the people say here, "oh my English".
So here’s the deal with transfers. Basically the mission is being prepared for
a split, since the beginning it’s been like 2 different missions. In West Malaysia
and Singapore all they need is English and Chinese except for in one city. Also
the work is very different. You mostly work with Tamils and Chinese and a lot
higher percentage of the population is Muslim. So as the mission doubled in
size just after I came in a majority of the missionaries were English speaking.
Basically the President is putting all the Malay missionaries except a few in Sarawak
and Sabah preparing the mission. Because of this and because the President
wants to strengthen the cities, before pushing into the Kampungs, all the areas
in east (and most of west), with a few exceptions, are being split into 2 like
the Matang branch. There are still a lot of Malay missionaries in west and Singapore
right now finishing up the training of English Elders. This transfer they will
be finished. Anyway, basically, the only city not split up is Bintulu so my
theory is that I will go there to split an area, maybe with an elder from the West.
Mom: Has Elder Ferguson gone to the
doctor....Throwing up that many days is probably not the normal stomach
virus.He could have picked up a
parasite.Katherine says she feels sorry
for your sick companion. David says I hope Elder Ferguson gets well.
Elder Halpin: Also, when Elder
Ferguson got sick in the US he was sick for several days too. That being said,
he called Sister Mains and if he’s not better by tomorrow then he will go to
Mom: That brings up a question - Are
you taking your vitamins and when will you run out?Are you using your preventive oils?
Elder Halpin: As for me, yes I’m
taking my vitamins. I don’t know when they will run out. I haven’t touched the
oils except for the clearskin stuff which I am now trying in conjunction with
face wash stuff.