Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 22, 2013 – First Christmas in Malaysia - Week 3 in Ipoh

This week was good.

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 for work.

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 be fun.

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 you.

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

Good ole Kuala Lumpur.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 15, 2013 – Miracle Scripture Find - Week 2 in Ipoh

Mom: What is a shoplot?

Elder Halpin: So, this week was pretty good. First off a "shoplot" is this.


Shoplot pictures.

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 this week.

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 numbers.

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.

Mom: Funny….never 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

Elder Halpin


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).









Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 8, 2013 – New Companion and New Area – Week 1 in Ipoh

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.


Elder Halpin


Sister Gulang weaving a basket with her cats.

President Mobil Sister Nisi and their family with us.

Saying goodbye to Anaias.

NOTE: The pictures never made it this week.

Well maybe not. The computer is rosak... mintah maaf...



December 1, 2013 – Transfers, Going Ipoh - Week 24 in Kuching

Dad: Ohhhh... You’re going to be an Uncle! Gladys and Bright are expecting in July 2014!!!!

Elder Halpin: Congratulations Gladys and Bright!!!!

This week was pretty good.

To start Elder Ferguson finally got better on Wednesday.

Thursday the two senior couples in Kuching put together a Thanksgiving feast!!! It was delicious!

After 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.

By 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 little bit.

The 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.

We also finished Elder Ferguson's training this week, a bittersweet moment... haha

So yeah, we are waiting for transfer news now, it'll come sometime around 12 noon..

Did 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.

Mom: Could you tell us about some of the Malaysian members? Do you have a favorite family or single member and why?

Elder 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.

President 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.

Brother 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.

Brother 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.

Sister 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.

Sister 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.

Brother 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.

Brother Spincer and Sister Pauline. Their kids are already moved out, they live in Maliha. Awesome family.

Brother 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.

Sister 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).

Sister Christy. Also one of Elder Trotter's recent converts. Lives close to Sister Gulang in Semarah Padi.

Brother 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.

The new family in Sungai Maong. Brother Dickson and Sister Remus with their 3 kids and her 2 brothers Jimmy and Danielson. Awesome family.

This is only a short rundown of some of the members. I love them all and am going to miss them so much.

Transfers are in 10 minutes... It's like Christmas. Really, I couldn't sleep last night.

Love you all,
Elder Halpin

I'll send some pictures after transfers.

Elder 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.

Mom: Where is Ipoh?

By "different mission" you mean the type of area and the people/language/culture are very different?

Elder 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 fun.

Mom: 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!

And just when you were starting to like durian fruit!! :) (Maybe they eat it over there too)

We didn't get your final package list. We really need to send your package tomorrow.

Elder 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!

Mom: 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.


Brother Aret and Sister Linyang family

Monday, December 2, 2013

November 24, 2013 – Missionary Splits and a Sick Companion Week 23 in Kuching

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 the lord.

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 mine!!!

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 some pictures.

(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. So yeah...

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 the doctor.

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.

Elder Halpin

Durian fruit before.

Durian fruit after.

They trick out the junkiest cars here.....