Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 19, 2014 – Baptisms Continue - Week 16 in Sibu Jaya

This week was boss!

So first off Syazliana and Lulong got baptized, Elder Blackwelder baptized them and I confirmed them the next day. Way cool.

Also, we found a new investigator this week. Her name is Jennifer, she is 9 and is the daughter of Sister Menggan, a less active member who recently decided to become active. She is doing way good, started to pray and came to church. She is on date for the 1st of November.

Bibi is doing way good. She came to church for the first time ever on Sunday!!!! She has started to pray in private now! She is still too shy to pray in front of us though. Way cool to see her keep opening up. She is on date to be baptized the 8th of November.

As for Agama Lama (Iban traditional beliefs) it’s not super unified but I will do my best to explain what I know. Basically, it’s all spirit worship and black magic stuff. Sacrifices and rituals to appease good spirts and keep away bad spirits. For example, they put a piece of black cloth over or on their door to keep out spirits. They give their children black bracelets and anklets to wear. On gawai they sacrifice a pig and one or more chickens, and use the blood for various things. The "priest" if you would, is called a Bomo, there is usually at least one in each Kampung. I’ve witnessed, on several occasions, them do various rituals and such. Anyway, lots of members still meddle with it. As for myself, I 100% believe that black magic is real, at least in some instances, I’ve seen and heard too much to not believe it.

Anyway, after that tangent, Kenneth and Eugenia are doing good. They got it down to 2 cigarettes a day. They are in Miri now, we will meet with them again when they come back. It’s kind of interesting here, the word of wisdom that is. In America it’s a big deal but not that big a deal here. It either makes or breaks people.

Our other investigators are doing well.

Other cool stuff that happened this week. The people from Samarahan came back for break. Stalone and Sheeda are here for 6 weeks. Already they have helped us teach their families and other people. It has been raining reliably every day this week at 3 in the afternoon, 9 at night and 8 in the morning. literally everyday at those same times.... Really bizarre.

Sibu Jaya is boss!

Sounds like you guys are having fun. Adam, that’s a pretty mean Rubik’s cube time!

In Sarawak here they started proselyting in like 2005 or so and then called the first Malay elders in like 2007.

As for the package, anything is good. I could use 1 or 2 new shirts, all of mine never really recovered from the 4 months of washing with fabric softener... Anyway I was lugging around too much stuff, so I put the worst half of my wardrobe in Singapore.

Dad.... I can take the picture now, but the problem is that Elder Blackwelder’s shirts are on a drying rack at home, my T-shirts are on the same rack. So he’s wearing normal clothes, I’m wearing proselyting clothes... so I will wait until next week.

Love you guys!


Elder Halpin

Lulong and Syazliana. 
Plus a bunch of other people.

A wild Boer jaw bone someone was using to hold machetes.

Sister Bajik and family. 
Except for Sheeda (red shirt) 
They are less active, nobody but sis Kat really remembers them
They are way fun though, 
and they said they'd come to church this week so, will see.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 16, 2014 - Crazy Busy! The Work is Great! - Week 15 in Sibu Jaya

So, basically the internet died halfway through emailing on Monday so we just saved our emails to send next week. Sibu Jaya is janky.

Anyway, we are currently making the baptismal program for tomorrow and we decided to just go ahead and update and send our emails.

This week was good. Our investigators are doing good.

This weekend was General Conference here, it was pretty good. I really liked that the non-English speakers, I thought that was pretty cool. We had high attendance the whole time, our max was 68. To put it in perspective, both of the Malay branches and the Chinese branch in Sibu town had a combined attendance of 72, Sibu Jaya is a beast

Lulong, Edah and Talut are doing good. Edah and Talut were baptized on Friday. Lulong would have been but some issues came up in the interview. Anyway those have been worked out and she will be baptized tomorrow.

Bibi is doing alright. She is still into Iban ritual stuff though, and doesn’t have a huge desire. We are working on that.

Gilbert is alright too. His Mom isn’t letting him come to church, but he has been reading and praying.

We met with a former investigator this week. Her name is Viani, she learned in 2011. Anyway Sister Kat suggested that we go try again, because her uncle passed away a while back and Sis Kat thought maybe her heart would be more open. Our visit went well, we will see her again this week. Trying to see her tomorrow or Sunday.

Also, now that I know the other half of Sibu Jaya better I’ll introduce some of the people that we have been working with over there.

Veronica is the wife of Roy, a member. Anyway, Roy is 18, she is 15 (both legal and socially acceptable), he went to Bintulu shortly after I arrived for about 3 weeks for work and came back married. So the other Elders have been working with them since then. Anyway, this week we put her on date for the 1st of November, should be good.

Syinzliana is the daughter of Catherine, the one who was baptized the same time as Sigai. She is 11 and will be baptized this weekend also.

Jamel is Punan about 32, he is married to Romy who is Kayan about 26.

Punan and Kayan are both tribes in upriver Sarawak. It’s kind of interesting, since there is also Penan and Kenan which are the basically the non-agricultural Punan’s and Kayan’s. Basically at some point in the past 400ish years they were just the Penan’s and Kenan’s and they were all hunter, gatherer nomads. They would make a camp, live there for a month or so and then move on. They gradually split however, the Punan’s and Kayan’s becoming more agricultural, relying more on the rivers and living in longhouses like the Ibans, slowly their languages drifted apart and now you have 4 tribes/races where you used to have 2.

So anyway, Jamal & Romy, they follow agama lama, or basically the traditional beliefs. He is doing a lot better then she is, he just finished the reading the Book of Mormon and the night he finished the last chapter he had a dream, he didn’t say what it was but he said that it was sign that he should be baptized, so he’s on date for the 8th of November.

Eugenia and Kenneth and Pira. Eugenia and Kenneth are the children of a recent convert named Timas, who was baptized a little while before I arrived. They are 16 and 14 respectively, Eugenia is married. Both her and Timas's husbands work in Bintulu.  Anyway, they were not baptized because they couldn’t quit smoking. They are now recommitted and hopefully will be baptized on the 15th of November, meaning they will need to stop by the 1st. Going way good, they are down to 2 everyday, they started at 6. It’s really kind of sad Eugenia was 12 and Kenneth 10 when they started. Anyway, they are becoming spiritual bosses now, it’s cool to see. Sister Pira was ready to go but issues came up in the interview. anyway, she and the Elders kind of lost hope, but we managed to reinvigorate her and now the issues are finally resolved, she said she will come back to church and she hopefully will be baptized in the next couple weeks, the 25th of October or the 1st of November.

Sibu Jaya is the sickest, we are so busy.

Love you guys, Dad the flyer is cool, I can’t wait to go skiing again!!!!


Elder Halpin

Hope you remember this guy, 
Ramond Beliang from Samarahan, 
he’s now serving in Sibu!

Edah and Taluts baptism. 
That’s Rolyn, a boss member, he’s 16, 
he and Sister Kat helped translate while teaching and 
he Baptized Edah.

That’s me with Tima’s and Pira’s families. 
Kenneth in blue in the foreground, 
Pira in the red shirt and 
Eugenia in the orange shirt.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October 5, 2014 – Brother Sigai’s Wife, Bibi, is Now Being Taught! - Week 14 in Sibu Jaya

So this week was a little rough.

Elder Blackwelder has had an ingrown toenail for about 2 months and it was getting worse not better. So on Tuesday morning we went to the doctor. The doctor promptly lopped off about 1/4 of his toe and nail (funniest broken English conversation ever: President Clement: "He took your meat!?" Elder Blackwelder: "yes President, he took my meat"...), wrapped it up and sent us away. Anyway we were stuck in the house until Friday. I hate being stuck in the house!!!!!!...... It’s the worst thing since stolen bicycles and broken wrists. Still managed to do some good work this week though!

Anyway, the good things that have happened this week!

So Bibi, Sigai's wife is learning now! Also, Sigai passed the sacrament.

Also, Ida, Lulong and Talot are getting baptized this week or next hopefully depending on how things go.

Sister Ramani, who we have been working with since I came to Sibu Jaya, came to church for the first time since last November, then bore her testimony!

So yeah things are good here! Glad to hear Grandpa is doing ok. I'm working hard on my Iban study now, I want to be somewhat proficient before the end of the transfer.

Love you all!

Sorry no pictures this week. Didn’t do anything so I don’t have any...


Elder Halpin

September 28, 2014 – Going for the record! - Week 13 in Sibu Jaya

Well, not really sure where to start!

I’m an uncle! Woot, woot! So cool! Congratulations! 

Good to hear Uncle Ben wasn't hurt and Grandpa’s doing alright.

How’s the fight against the mice and fleas going?

This week was a bit hectic.....

So, first off, transfers were moved to Wednesday and we didn’t know that until Tuesday evening.... Just scurried around trying to visit people.... 

Wednesday morning Elder Kavapalu and Elder Strathearn left. However, things happened and only Elder Zimmerman (Elder Blackwelders new companion) ended up coming. Anyway we were a “tripanionship” all of last week. This morning Elder Zimmerman left so I am now companions with Elder Blackwelder and we have all of Sibu Jaya to ourselves. It has been a bit crazy around here....

The longhouse people came to church on Sunday. Brother Sigai was also given the Aaronic priesthood. Way cool! 

Having all of Sibu Jaya is going to be crazy. Right now we have 15 people on date. 3 will be baptized on the 11th of October and 4 on the 18th of October if everything goes according to plan. We will be going on lots of splits, we already have splits planned 2-3 evenings this week just to see everyone. We have lots of good potentials, in both halves of Sibu Jaya. Last year, in September, they split Sibu Jaya. Previous to that it was just 2 Elders. In the beginning of August 2013 Sibu Jaya had 35 people on date (mission record for 2013). I truly believe that if we work hard, have faith and be bold we can achieve that this transfer. I’m really just kind of hyped right now!

Elder Halpin

What passes in Malaysia for a child car seat. 
It's actually supposed to go over the back of a bench seat 
but this works too.

Helping Sister Kat in her garden. 
We burned and cleared the underbrush 
and then planted ubi kayu.

Elder Zimmerman.

September 21, 2014 – Go Boldly… - Week 12 in Sibu Jaya

So, waiting for transfers. My first transfer in Sibu Jaya was probably the slowest of my mission, this has been the fastest, not sure where time has gone.... Time is truly weird on a mission, it doesn't flow correctly.

Praying for Grandpa, he’s a hell of a lot tougher then I am, I have faith he will be fine. Is Uncle Ben alright?

The baptisms went way good. Sigai asked me to baptize him, way cool, I was pretty nervous, did it in one try though.

Other than that zone conference was good, one of the best I have attended. Talked a lot about faith. Also about boldness. Took away from it that I need to be more bold and also have more faith. I have been really working on the faith aspect and that’s going well. As for boldness, one of the things they want us to do is change the way we introduce ourselves. Typically we will walk up to somebody and talk to them for a bit and then introduce ourselves like this "we are volunteers from the church"....etc, something such. Anyway basically President Mains wants us to do it more like this: walk up, talk for a bit or whatever and then introduce ourselves like this " My name is, blank, this is my friend "blank" we are disciples of Jesus Christ, we have been sent here by Jesus Christ to tell people how they can be saved and experience happiness in their families"....etc, something such. It seemed pretty powerful in zone conference, hopefully it works well in the real world. I will let you know how it goes.

The sisters are doing well. Really working on getting them to understand the importance of the spirit.

Gilbert is good, he wasn’t able to come to church though.

Before zone conference we did some interesting things. The coolest was we accidentally (long story) made it to the top of the marina bay sands, that building with the ship on top. Way sick, pretty tall, tall enough to make your ears pop.....

Dad, I got your letter, this week i will be sending a bunch of letters back.

I hope i dont transfer, i feel like this areas going to explode next transfer... the sisters are still on date for the 11th of october. Elder Kavapalu is great, I love the members here and the area in general.

Still waiting......

Staying in Sibu Jaya!
Elder Kavapalu is leaving though, he’s going to Klang in West Malaysia...... My new companion will be Elder Thatcher from my MTC group, should be fun. Elder Strathearn is leaving too, he is being replaced by Elder Zimmerman (just a random name to you I guess).

With love and prayers

Elder Halpin


the other missionaries are Elders Blackwelder and Strathearn their recent converts are Christy on the left and Catherine in the center.

Elder Kavapalu, Sister Bibi, Brother Sigai (their child) and Me.
At Brother Sigai's baptism.

Brother Sigai and Me

Back row: Me, Elder Blackwelder and Strathearn
Front row: Sister Christy, Sister Catherine & Brother Sigai.

Monday, October 6, 2014

September 15, 2014 – Jetliner in the Water… - Week 11 in Sibu Jaya

So, this week was pretty good.

Sigai came back from Kapit early, on Thursday. As a result he wants to go with his original date of the 20th, so his baptism this Saturday! Tomorrow, before we go to Singapore on Wednesday, one of the zone leaders will come to Sibu Jaya to interview him. The other Elders are also baptizing 2 people on Saturday, so I’ll be interviewing them. Way excited!!!!! It’s been really cool teaching him. Easily the most prepared person for the gospel I’ve ever met, far and away.

The sisters are doing well, they have been coming to church and praying. They haven’t had any problems with the Word of Wisdom. Had a really good discussion with them last night about the priesthood and the restoration.

Gilbert is doing really well. He came to church again on Sunday, afterwards we were able to meet with him. Very solid. We are just going to review all the lessons with him. He will be baptized on the 27th of December, when his mother allows him to.

All of our less actives are doing good. One particular family that we have been working with is Brother Donny and Sister Nayan. Long story short her calling of primary president caused her to go less active but now has caused her to become active again. Really cool to see her come back.

Today was way cool. We went to Kapit. Basically it’s the hub of the Sarawakian jungle. This morning, at 6 am, the entire zone got on "Express" boats - think jet liner with no wings on the water- that’s an express boat. After a 3 hour boat ride up the Batang Rajang or Rajang river we arrived at Kapit town. We met Brother Rachnam, one of 7 endowed members in Kapit. A bunch of them meet as a group. He showed us around the Kapit town area, got to see some cool stuff, monkey meat for sale and such, there were so many people, basically Kapit is the hub for upriver sarawak and there were heaps and heaps of people about. Anyway we rented a couple vans and went to his long house 15 minutes away in the mountains. Kapit is definitely the coolest and most beautiful place I’ve been so far in Malayisa. It’s in the mountains on the river, the jungle is all around, big jungle not scrubby jungle. The road to his longhouse reminded me of the road to Jacmel in Haiti, or maybe Hawaii a bit. Longhouses were everywhere, the running joke was "oh look, there’s a longhouse", "oh look, there’s a longer one". Anyway we met his family and had a devotional, then hustled back to the boat. We almost missed the morning boat, the Elders who were already there stalled it for us but even then it was already starting to move as we jumped onto it.

Wednesday is zone conference, we will be there until Friday evening.

The big changes weren’t actually that big. Rumor mill. Basically there are Elders that are teaching 1 hour plus lessons, that’s teaching time only, not including crackers and milo and asking them about their week,  just the actual lesson.... Just being dumb. The whole don’t teach for more than 35 minutes unless directed by the spirit was the biggest thing.

Anyway, gotta go, sorry it’s short. Gotta be home in 10 minutes....


Elder Halpin


Gilbert and I.

Express boats with cargo boats in the background.

Dressed up as an Iban warrior.

One of innumerable longhouses on the river to Kapit. 
This one is pretty long.

September 7, 2014 – With Faith there are Miracles… - Week 10 in Sibu Jaya

So this week was ok.

Mom:  Are the chickens alive?

Elder Halpin: The chickens are all alive. You can take them home and let them free if you want.

Mom: What did the Sisters do with the Jellyfish?

Elder Halpin: They ate the jellyfish, unless they sold it to someone else to eat. I’ve had it, they make a soup, it’s pretty flavorless, kind of like eating solid water.

Mom: The inside of the longhouse is mostly empty except for some mats…and there are doors on the other wall.  Is that long room an inside common area/porch and are there living areas through the doors???   I had no idea a long house was so very long.  Are all the people living there related?

Elder Halpin: The longhouse. So basically the hall is the common area or lounge if you will. The doors on the left go into people’s individual houses and the doors on the right go outside to a walkway and steps. A lot of the people are related but not all. Back in olden days when someone got married they would usually build a room onto the end of the husband’s longhouse.

So first off Sigai went to Kapit on Wednesday. But he took pamphlets and his Book of Mormon. We have no way to contact him until he comes back, so we just have to hope everything goes well.

The sisters all are doing good, all praying and such. Only Ida came to church but the other 2 were sick. We went over the Word of Wisdom with them yesterday, no problems, occasional buah pinang but they promised to not chew it anymore. It is Beetle Nut, a thing they chew here sometimes that is really red. It makes them look like their mouth is bleeding, and gives you a buzz/small high. Also, because they are making such good progress and because they wanted it they have moved their baptism date from the 15th of November to the 11th of October.

The winds of change....

At the beginning of last transfer I felt like I needed to work on my faith and also that I needed to be more bold, both when teaching and finding. I have been working on that and I felt because of that I have improved a lot.

So basically there is this thing called MLC, it stands for Mission Leadership Council (or The Jedi Council as it is popularly known). Basically all the zone leaders from the whole mission go to Singapore Once a month for this meeting. At this particular one last week Elder Allen (the head of the Missionary department for the last 20 years) from church headquarters came. Basically he strongly told everyone that as a mission we need to make some improvements in our teaching skills and such, not exactly sure, wasn’t there. Anyway he gave a whole list of changes in the way we will do things from now on, not sure what’s on the list, tomorrow, at zone meeting, we will find out. The zone leaders hinted the it was very major???? We will see.

One thing he did do though was talk about faith. Before he came here he was in England. He said that one of the Elders there asked why they weren’t baptizing 1000's like Wilford Woodruff did. He answered that it was because they lacked faith and desire. He then promised everyone there, in the name of Jesus Christ, that they could all find somebody, maybe a former investigator maybe a part member family maybe someone new, that would have the desire and be ready to be baptized by the next week. Apparently it worked because there was a heap of baptisms there in the next few weeks after that. So although he didn’t make that promise to our mission in particular I took it upon myself to find that person. After exhaustively looking through our area book and thinking about all of our potentials and part member families we found a bunch to push for, and will be working on that this week, tell you how it goes next week. One in particular was an old investigator named Gilbert who was taught around the end of 2013. He is a 15 year old Iban kid, I met him once at his door. Basically he wanted and was ready to be baptized but then his mother decided he couldn’t be baptized until the 27th of December...  Anyway, as time went on he lost his desire and stopped coming to church and wouldn’t meet with the Elders. Anyway as I looked at his teaching record I felt that we should try him again. That night in my prayers I prayed that he would have the desire to come to church again. This was Saturday night.

The next day he came to church and met with us afterwards. We asked why he came and he said that he just woke up that morning and felt like he should come to church. He is too busy to meet during the week but will meet us again after church next week. Miracle!

Anyway, love you guys. Good luck with the fleas...

Elder Halpin


Last week, the photographer was a 9 year old child, 
so you can’t tell, 
but I’m about 10 feet off the ground in jungle trees that are running over themselves like in Tarzan.

Each block in the flats has its own character and things unique to it. 
Block F for instance, has a swamp at one end which it shares with Block E, 
Block D has a badminton court in the courtyard, 
Block C is the ghetto and most of it is empty, 
the Block J courtyard is always full of mottos, 
Block K is the party block, almost every single time I go there somebody is blasting rave/techno music across the whole block. 
Block L likes karaoke more than most and most lessons are disturbed by this, 
Block A is the Muslim block. 
Anyway this is part of the Block F/E swamp.

A beaded tie that Sister Kat made. 
Ibans are kind of famous for all the bead work they do. 
I bought this one with some of my birthday money.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

August 31, 2014 – Trip to the Beach with the Branch - Week 9 in Sibu Jaya

So this week was good!

Yes Dad, that was me, stores here do not use cards and if they do I really don’t trust them, cash is king.

We had some very productive lessons with some less active families and they came to church on Sunday! Also, the three sisters from the longhouse came to church as did Sigai and Victoria.

Victoria has been reading the Book of Mormon and also coming to church but we have been unable to meet her because of her schedule. Basically she’s going to school, after school she goes to work and doesn’t come back until late. On weekends, in the mornings, starting at 10 she is taking classes at a local thing, in the afternoons she usually works again. So, basically there is no time to meet her... Just have to wait and see how it goes.

Lulong, Ida and Talot are doing good. We finished the gospel and taught about the Sabbath this week, and they came to church.

Sigai is way sick, he has read all the way to Mosiah 9. Sometimes when he doesn’t understand he reads the passage 2 or 3 times until he does. We taught the word of wisdom on Sunday, he has no problems with that except for tea, coffee and drinking in social situations (ie, Gawai) however, he committed to live it. He goes to Kapit for work for 2 weeks starting on Friday. So we pushed back his date 1 week so that he can be interviewed and also to make sure he’s ready. This will kind of be a trial by fire for him with the word of wisdom, hopefully he does good. We will be meeting him the next 3 days until he goes. His wife, Bibi, is improving a lot, she has been listening to everything now, and we are hoping that she has the desire to keep meeting once Sigai goes to Kapit so that we can catch her up and maybe the two of them can be baptized together.

Sorry if my email is full of typos, my keyboard is janky and I’m sick of repairing my typos.

Today was way fun, the branch had an activity. We went to the beach at Mukah. We took private busses. My previously casted arm got grievously burnt. It’s not white anymore. There were lots of longhouses on the road there and the beach was located next to a longhouse where 5 members from Mukah branch stay. I got to look inside and walk up and down it, it literally took like 3 minutes to walk the length of it. Sigai came and helped cook the meat, he has already made a few friends. The sisters also came (they spent a lot of the time collecting jellyfish, I helped a bit), they had fun. Found a baby monitor lizard (biawak), it was very vicious, would jump at you and not let go once it bit something like a flip flop. Also a baby shark, pretty cool. Also a horseshoe crab, also cool.

So, fleas.... eek. That’s unfortunate. Also the food, unfortunate... Speaking of mice, we hear rats in the ceiling a lot. One advantage Malaysia has to America is that the walls are concrete, the mice and rats can’t go through the walls.

Good that the house is clean though!


Elder Halpin


Looking down the outside of the longhouse from the middle.

The end looks deceivingly close, the people at the end of the hall are adults. 
i have another picture with me at the end but its blurry, i am the same size as them.

Random picture, this is one of many ways they sell fowl at the market, they just wrap them in a newspaper, put a string on it and call it good, no need for refrigeration.