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September 7, 2015

Greetings from Thailand!!
We have had some pretty amazing experiences since our last letter that we want to share.  I apologize again for the “novels” each time but they also serve as our journal entries.   I can’t imagine ever forgetting any of this or any of the missionaries or people we have come to love so much, but just in case.  Hopefully you will enjoy them too.

We were able to attend a talent show at the Asoke Branch here in Bangkok on Saturday, the 29thof August.  We were not disappointed.  We had a front row seat and had the best time watching members we know performing.

We had a group of Thai sisters dancing a Hawaiian dance.  We had a magician, some authentic Thai dancers with the beautiful hand movements and then a group that did a 50’s dance.  We had a wonderful young adult group that came on stage wearing matching shirts that said I Am A Child Of God and the rest of the words to the song.  They sang it together and then a recent convert of one week played the guitar with the same song and they livened it up a bit.  It was really good. We enjoyed it a lot. They had a primary age group of girls do a fun dance number and a little boy jumped on stage and gave one of the girls a flower.  His crush I think.  It was adorable.  We had one Young Adult Sister that can play anything on the piano.  She is truly amazing.  She would accompany people on the spot with only a few chords on her cell phone.  We had 2 Thai sisters start singing a song in Thai and then switched into Phantom Of The Opera.  They had a very strong Thai accent for the Phantom but it was great.  One sister got up and sang “Flashlight”  and she was right on.  You wouldn’t have even know she was Thai.  The highlight of the talent show was watching Dad get up in front of everyone and dance.  There is no refusing when they come to get you, so I ended up taking a turn also.  Pictures of us dancing were all over facebook right away.  Truthfully we are not any better at dancing here than we were at home, but they loves us anyway.

We were able to visit the branch in Bang Khae Sunday.  They have great missionaries there and a really strong branch presidency.  The members are wonderful and get so excited when we show up at their branch.  Dad and I had to speak in sacrament meeting and bear our testimonies.  I used Elder Paxton (who reminds me of Ryan) to translate a little message and then bore my testimony in Thai.  Dad does everything in Thai now.  I am proud of him.  He talks with all the members and they love it.  I have cute members ask me questions that they know I can answer in Thai.  How many children I have and grandchildren.  How long we have been married and if I like Thai Food etc.  I am working on increasing my vocabulary. 

We left for The Mission President’s  Seminar on Monday the 1st of September  through the 5thWe met with the Area Presidency and Wives and all the Asia Mission Presidents and wives in Hong Kong, China.  Elder Gong is the President of the Asia Area Presidency.  It was amazing to sit in the sessions with people who understand exactly what you are going through and are dealing with the same pressures and joys of serving as Mission Presidents. 
Hong Kong is pretty amazing.  Tons of people and tons of buildings that reach to the sky, tons of traffic but a lot less of the chaos.  Hong Kong was well planned out for expansion and increase in population.  They also don’t allow street vendors to park carts on the sidewalks.  And the biggest surprise was no motorcycles.  In Thailand we are still trying to figure out where pedestrians are supposed to walk.  The motorcycles drive on the sidewalks, create their own lanes of traffic and choose which direction they want to go regardless of the flow of traffic.  “Flow” is being generous because nothing flows in Thailand it just abruptly merges everywhere.

We loved the seminars we went to every day.  A highlight for me was when Elder Gong shared the talk and video of Elder Eyring’s talk on the Atonement.  He used Handel’s Messiah as a parable.  Handel’s Messiah was supposed to make Handel wealthy enough to pay all his debts and to provide a higher level of living.  No one could believe when he used the proceeds of the composition to pay the debts of those who were locked up in a debtor’s prison.  He knew the people who were imprisoned were good men, who were just down on their luck and owed a debt they could not pay.  He compared it to the Savior paying a debt He did not owe because each of us have a debt we cannot pay therefore showing mercy and settling the demands of justice.  I had actually seen the story on PBS at home before our mission and thought it was wonderful that Handel was so kind to his fellow debtors, he himself owing a debt. The video showed a man released from a long line of debtors who’s debts were paid by Handel.  His name was called out loud from the prison list and then it had to be approved by repeating the name by the jailor.  Most of the men ran upon release into the arms of their waiting families.  One man ran to Handel and embraced him, calling him great Sir and thanking him for his mercy.  Now that I can compare it to what the Savior did for me and for all of us my love for Him has grown.  He knows each of us by name and atoned for each of us individually.  He knows who we are, and is aware of our weaknesses, our sufferings and comes with mercy to our aid.  It was a wonderful experience.

Another highlight for me was attending the Hong Kong Temple.  While the bus was taking us to the temple we were able to listen to the Temple President.  He shared with us why the Hong Kong Temple is the only temple in the world that is open on Sundays.  He said he was so saddened by the number of people that wanted to attend the temple but were never able to fit in a session on the regular schedule.  These people are from the Phillipines.  The Temple President called them indentured servants.  They work so hard for so little and are only allowed a few hours off one Sunday a quarter.  The temple president said he was emailing a letter one day requesting that they would like to open the temple on a Sunday to accommodate these people.  He wasn’t brave enough and couldn’t bring himself to push send.  He had a couple come in to the temple office just then and tell him about several of these indentured servants and how badly they wanted to attend the temple and hadn’t been back to the temple since their first visit.  They had family names just waiting to be done.  The Temple President said he just wept and said, “don’t move, I will be right back,” then he walked over to his computer and pushed the send button.  The answer he received from the First Presidency was open the temple on Sunday once a quarter and tell these saints that the Lord loves them and has brought the covenants of the temple closer to them BECAUSE  He  knows them and loves them.  It was so wonderful to be in the temple.  It was wonderful to know that at least two times a year while we are serving here that we get to attend a temple in Hong Kong or Taiwan and even more exciting to know that we can help prepare for a temple here in Thailand.  Our Heavenly Father really does know and love each of His children and wants them to have every blessing and opportunity to return to Him.

We took a bus up to “The Peak” on Thursday evening.  This is where Hong Kong was dedicated for missionary work in 1949.  We are including pictures of the overlook from there.  It is beautiful during the day and at night it is all lit up.  It was a nail biter riding the bus up the long and narrow (way narrow) road, considering there were busses coming down at the same time.  I could have tapped the shoulder of someone on the other bus it was so close.  But they are amazingly courteous drivers and accommodate space for each other.

The church office building is a beautiful building in the heart of downtown Hong Kong.  They have 3 chapels 3 homes for the Area Presidency to live and a visitor’s center on the bottom floor.  It has other classrooms and offices because it is about 13 stories or more, which is tiny compared to everything around it.  It was interesting that the hotel we stayed in had covered skywalks from the hotel to the church office building.  You weren’t really even outside almost the whole way .  A lot of places are built like that in Hong Kong which is why the foot traffic seems so much calmer than in Thailand.  I am going to take a picture when I walk to our church office building and show you how challenging it is.  The Elders tease and say a sure fire way to get the crowd to split and let you through is to hold up a pass-a-long card and flash your missionary badge.  They scatter everytime they say.  Ha!

We love having the missionaries in our home for dinner.  We asked our Sister Missionaries in our close area to come Sunday night.  The Assistants were trying to invite themselves to join and Sister Alley said, “No way are you crashing our night with President and Sister Johnson, they feed you all the time anyway”.  They kept trying playing the “you realize that we don’t have a dinner appointment tonight right?”  card.  Sister Alley said, “So sorry but we do”.  It was funny.  I saved dessert for the Assistants for our meeting with them later that night.  I honestly caught Elder Arne running his finger around the bowl of the spaghetti sauce I had cleared from the table.  I was starting to feel bad but then the truth came out that they had begged dinner off of the Granges, our office couple.  If I had offered I’m sure they would have turned around and eaten another whole meal.  None of our missionaries are heavy in fact they are so skinny.  Dad has lost a lot of weight.  I went in to have 2 skirts made and they kept hovering over Dad saying your pants are too big, let us fix them or better yet you need a new suit.  They told him they would make it right then and have him pick it up the next day.  (He is going in when zone conferences are over.)  Jace, dad told them he would bring you in when you come to visit and they will make you a suit while you are here.

The sister missionaries came to dinner and brought Sister Htwe (sounds like Tway) with them.  She is from Myanmar and was leaving for the Provo MTC in the morning.  Dad set her apart as a missionary and she just cried after.  She has wanted to serve a mission so badly and she has such a beautiful testimony.  She is the only member of the church in her family.  Some of the missionaries here sacrifice everything to serve a mission.  Some of them are cut off from their family if they join the church and give up Budhism.  We have one missionary that told Dad he didn’t have a home to go to when he was released.  His parents disowned him.  Dad is helping him work through his situation.  They are incredible missionaries because they are so faithful and know that the gospel is true. 

We had the funniest dinner with these sisters.  They loved the spaghetti and breadsticks and ate and ate.  Then Sister Htwe started making faces when we were eating dessert.  I made the “sinfully delicious chocolate cake with score bars on top.  The other sisters were loving it but she looked like she was being forced to eat dirt.  We asked her if she didn’t like it and she said it was too sweet.  The Thai’s and Burmese don’t eat a lot of sweets.  We told her she didn’t have to eat it.  Soon after she whispered to Sister Sattathip.  She told us that she said she was still hungry.  We laughed and got her some fruit and more bread.  She is 89 pounds and is so skinny.  We found that she can eat a ton of food just not dessert.  Sister Sattathip is so funny.  She makes us laugh every time we see her.  She used to refuse to speak any English and now she tries out everything the missionaries teach her on Kelly.  The other day she came up to me and said Sister Johnson I have something to ask President but I don’t think I should.  I said what is it?  She said the Office Elders dared her to say “Hey good lookin what ya got cookin”.  Then she buried her head in my shoulder.  I told her that President Johnson just loved her and that she makes him happy when she jokes with him in English.  So she did it and practically ran away after.  The way she said it was hilarious.  “Hey you good looking, what you have cooking?” The sisters have been teaching her things to get back at the Elders for teasing her all the time.  At our last MLC she put her hand on Elder Arne’s head and said, “What is this?”  He said I don’t know.  She said, “It is a brain sucker and it is so starving.”  It’s funnier if you picture a Thai sister saying it in broken English while laughing the whole time.  She is darling.  We love these missionaries, they make us so happy.  She is a great example to the other Thai sisters.  They are afraid to be companions with the American sisters because of culture and language.  Sister Sattatip is in a trio with two American sisters and she loves them and loves working together.  They are an amazing companionship. 

Sister Alley ended up staying the night with Sister Htwe in our home.  We had to be to the airport at 4:00 a.m.  Sister Alley said they had to be in the same room so we made a bed on the floor for her out of all of our couch cushions and Sister Htwe, all 89 pounds of her, slept in the queen size bed.  I was worried Sister Alley would fall through the middle of the cushions.  She left me a note thanking me for dinner and a “way comfy” bed.  I have never heard her complain about anything.  She is an excellent teacher and I always feel the spirit when we are with investigators.
We were so glad that Bro. Wissan’s daughter, Wiw was also leaving for her mission and was on the same flight as Sister Htwe.  Their whole family hugged and encouraged Sister Htwe.  She has never been out of Myanmar and was really struggling.  It was neat to see everyone wishing her the best.  Bro. Wissan’s daughter was very confident and just took her under her wing.  I am so glad they had each other.  It is really hard sending these missionaries off.  I am glad Sister Htwe will come back and serve here in Thailand.  Wissan’s daughter will serve in Arizona.

We are busily trying to prepare for MLC tomorrow.  We leave for the start of our first round of zone conferences on Thursday.  We are excited to be with all the missionaries.  We have to fly to every area so it will be a little crazy this month to get them all done.  I have been saving all our flight tickets and will be interested to see how many miles we cover while serving here. 
A young sister that was baptized last Sunday came into the office today and was waiting for the missionaries to come back from lunch and teach her.  Dad was in his office and I was sitting in the foyer trying to figure out which missionaries had a birthday to celebrate at zone conference.  When I looked up she was just sitting and looking at a book.  I recognized her from her baptism on Sunday.  I was going to talk to her and I said sister and she jumped up so fast and slid right in next to me on the bench I was sitting on.  She started speaking in Thai lightning fast.  When I could only recognize a little of what she said to answer she slowed down and started speaking in English and Thai.  It was so funny.  She would speak in English and then speed up and get so animated that she would speak Thai and English in whatever order.  Kelly heard the conversation and came out of his office to see who it was.  We all sat in the foyer just laughing and having a great conversation.  She showed me a picture she drew of the Savior.  She kept saying she loved His face because He looked so kind and loving and warm.  Then she grabbed my hand and took me in the back office and started pointing at paintings on the wall and said, “you tell me about this painting”.  The first one was of Abinidi with wicked King Noah. 

We are looking forward to the next few weeks.  It will be wonderful to be will all of the missionaries. 

We love you all.  You are in our prayers and thoughts every day.


Terri and Kelly

The Legacy of Luther Strode #3 review

The Legacy of Luther Strode #2 was pretty much one ginormous, over-the-top, and awesome fight scene as Luther, Petra, and Delilah continued their search for Cain. Issue #3 can be described the exact same way, but that doesn't matter all that much because the handling of the characters is solid, and the hectic fighting is jaw-dropping. Seriously, comic book fights don't get much better than this, people.
Time and time again, I've praised Justin Jordan's ability to write dialogue that simply feels natural. The things these characters are saying feels organic and relatable; it doesn't come off like forced displays of emotion or blatantly stating exposition just so the reader knows what's up. There's several instances in this comic where Petra's blunt reactions were basically a reflection of my own; it's great having someone who's also blown away by just how stunning and ridiculous these battles can get. Someone who's constantly spewing insults and cursing with every other word could be obnoxious or the character could get old fast, yet Jordan continues to make me adore Petra. Her response when she realizes which weapons she could have brought? Or her witnessing Shooter's incredible accuracy with guns? Priceless stuff.

While writing the script, there's no doubt Jordan has this comic's amazing choreography playing out very clearly in his head. Luckily for him, artist Tradd Moore and colorist Felipe Sobreiro do an absolutely brilliant job bringing all of the insane and fast-paced mayhem - as well as convincing facial expressions - to life. Jordan makes sure this book has a fun and well-paced script, and Moore and Sobreiro make sure these pages are pure bliss for our eyes. Moore's animated and exaggerated character work feels perfect for Luther Strode's crazy world, and the handling of the motion and impact is phenomenal.
In the last issue, the creative team unleashed a fight with a powerhouse that was loaded with staggering hits. Now, it's all about technique, skill, and agility. In the wrong hands, this fight could have been far too complicated to properly follow. In Moore's hands, everything feels fluid and that he allows us to fully appreciate just how swift and elaborate some of these actions can be - even something like two characters leaping up a stairwell can be easily followed and enjoyed. Throw in Sobreiro's attention-grabbing colors and the end result is pages that'll keep you staring and, eventually, going back just to look at 'em all over again. This art team nails the expressions and they do a satisfying job establishing environments, but once the punches and bullets begin to fly, they produce some truly remarkable panels that are full of energy.

Like I said above, the story here is very, very similar to the previous issue. The group is looking for Shooter, a man who can potentially reveal how to find Cain. While Luther Strode tries to go non-lethal, Petra still has no problem going for fatal shots, and Delilah's pretty much there to assist both characters. Like Petra pointed out in the first issue of this volume, her facing people with these abilities is just no fair, so having Delilah by her side makes things more interesting - not just because she can save Petra from the impressive targets, but also because their personalities are so very different. That said, there are noticeable differences this time around. First and foremost, they've encountered someone similar to Strode. Usually, people like this are out for blood and not exactly the kindest people around. Okay, technically both of those descriptions do apply to Shooter, but what makes him different is that he's an anti-hero - he's using his talents to kill scum, not decent people. Additionally, Delilah still remains a mystery to us (for the most part, that is), but she's starting to show just a little more humanity - it's slow and steady development for the character.
The backup - which is written by Tradd Moore, and has art by Stephen Green and Sobreiro - continues to be a solid, character-driven tale. So much of the worldbuilding has been done through Luther's perspective, so it's refreshing to see how two other people were brought into this bloody and twisted story. It's definitely a nice little dose of fan service for those who have followed along since the first volume, too. (If you're reading Legacy but you haven't read the others, what gives? Go read them!) Green's expressions do the creepy kids justice, and while Sobreiro still has vivid displays of red, purple, orange, and several other colors, you can tell his work is more restrained to better fit Green's style - a style which is drastically different from Moore's energetic panels. Green's work creates a much more haunting and darker atmosphere, and Sobreiro's noticeably different handling of the colors most definitely complements the experience. The story may feel very different than Luther's adventure (and understandably so, of course), but Moore's script makes it still feel like a fitting addition to Luther's vicious world.
The main story technically doesn't move forward all that much, but that's easy to ignore because everything else is just so entertaining. The character insight remains strong, the visuals are thrilling, and the creative approach to all of the chaotic action absolutely makes up for the lack of story progression. I've read this issue 3 times now and I loved it each time - the layouts and dialogue are just that enjoyable. The Legacy of Luther Strode is full of exciting action and personality - what's not to love? This is apparently the last volume with Luther Strode, but I'm pretty sure no one would object to a Shooter spin-off. Let's see more of that dude, please.

Saturdays At Yoders

I have written about Yoders Restauant and Buffet in the Yoders Country Farm Market in New Holland, PA many times. The last time I wrote about it I said that things were inconsistent there. I have since have within one month had three very good meals at Yoders and they were all on Saturday nights.

Hungry Ghost Festival in Phuket Town

It's festival time! The Por Tor festival, also called the Hungry Ghost festival takes place in Phuket during the second half of the 7th lunar month, which this year is August 28th to September 12th. The hungry ghost festival also takes place in Singapore, Hong Kong and other places, and the history seems to be a mix of Buddhist and Taoist beliefs. It's not a huge event in Phuket, and almost everything takes place in Phuket Town, though I did see a few offerings outside a small Chinese shrine near our house in Kathu. Certainly, if you stick to the beach areas you will have no idea this is happening! It's not something that all local people participate in, and in other parts of the country this festival hardly exists. A few years ago we visited with my wife's sister and husband. His family is Chinese-Thai from Bangkok and he'd never heard of this festival before! I have blogged about the Por Tor festival a couple of times before in 2011 and 2012. The last couple of years we'd either not been here during the festival or just decided to skip it. This year I wanted to have a look again. My mother died last year on August 29th and her funeral was on September 8th. I hope she's not hungry. She should be OK though, she had a proper send off, a lovely funeral and a huge family gathering, so she should hopefully be a happy ghost.

The first part of the festival included a couple of street parades (which I missed, but you can find some pics on Tim's Blog). The center of activities for a few days was the central market on Ranong road in Phuket Town. We went for a look on August 30th. The second floor of the market becomes a temple and has massive tables full of food offerings for those hungry ghosts!

Roast Pig

Red Turtle Cake

(above) Roasted offerings and giant red turtle cakes for the Por Tor Festival. The red turtles are a symbol of long life and good fortune.

Lighting Candles

Prayers at the Por Tor Festival

(above) Lighting candles and saying prayers at the temporary shrine in the market. This was on for the first few days of the festival, along with a street fair outside on Ranong Road. Lots of food stalls and a stage with dance and music performances. On the 31st there was a parade from the market heading through old town and south to the Por Tor Kong shrine. A place that I did not know existed until 2011, down a small unassuming side street, but it's the center of activities for much of the Por Tor Festival.

Stage outside the market

(above) Dancers outside the market in Phuket Town

Making Pancakes with Mussels (หอยทอด)

(above) Street stall near the market, making Hoy Tod (a kind of omelette with mussels)

The little Por Tor Kong shrine is in the south of Phuket Town, not far from the Bang Neow shrine, which is one of the main shrines during the Phuket vegetarian festival. We found this shrine in 2011 when we went exploring during the Por Tor Festival and just followed the crowds. Not a big shrine, but gets very very busy in the evenings during the festival as people come here to make offerings and say a prayer in the shrine. This year we headed into town on a Sunday evening (September 6th) and I dragged the family down to the shrine to make a turtle offering. We had to park about half a mile away and take a little walk, passing the famous Keng Tin bakery on the way. They do Chinese snacks year round and make lots of turtle cakes for the festival, but when we passed they were just about sold out! But a little further up the street a family was making a big turtle ...

Making giant Ang Ku - Turtle Cakes

Heading down the small side street called Takuathung Road things got busier as we approached the shrine. Lots of food stalls and clothes stalls and of course stalls selling turtles. So we bought one to leave at the shrine as an offering to any of our lost ancestors who might be hungry.

Family with turtle cake

At the shrine itself the crowds were thick. There was a queue to obtain incense sticks for lighting and placing in the shrine. And many, many people arriving with turtle cakes. Of course, I dived into the crowds to take a few photos, while the rest of the family found a relatively quiet spot to wait for blogger Dad. The photos here are all taken with an iPhone 6, and they seem to be OK, which makes we wonder why I still want to buy a nice new Canon SLR! This was the first time I have really tried to use this phone/camera in these conditions (night time / low light) and it's done pretty well.

The food offering display outside the shrine (see below) was quite marvelous, and it is a very nicely decorated shrine.

Por Tor Kong Shrine

I went looking for a back way into the shrine. No way past the queue of people with incence sticks. I found some space just inside the "exit" - you have to enter and exit a Chinese shrine and leave incence in the right places in the right order. With all the candles and all that incense it was pretty hot and smoky in there. I could still feel the smoke in my lungs next morning. if hanging around in there, a mask would be a good idea.

Por Tor Kong Shrine

(above) Inside the Por Tor Kong shrine.

The altar at the back of the shrine is in a narrow passage. It's here that people will put their burning incense in different places. Yes, this is Phuket. Not the beaches, beers and sunshine version of Phuket. A bit different.

Prayers in the Por Tor Kong Shrine

Saying prayers in the Por Tor Kong Shrine

Por Tor Kong Shrine

One of the volunteers looking after the shrine found me a space to stand for a couple of minutes right inside, a bit too close to people, maybe! In a case like this a nice camera with a wide angle lens would be ideal. I squeezed against the wall to keep out of people's way as they came through the shrine. After a few minutes the smoke was a bit much and the volunteer guy suggested I should move on out anyway, and not stay too long right there in the "holiest" area. The true meaning of this festival is hard to grasp without being a local (and when I say local, I mean really local). Many local people in Phuket have Chinese ancestors and they understand what these festivals mean. Many areas of Phuket have nothing to do with Por Tor or the vegetarian festival. I try to get some meaning out of it by getting close to the events, but I am an English atheist, merely here as an observer. I'd like to believe in something more spiritual and maybe someone somewhere has the answer. Are the spirits of hungry ancestors hanging around Phuket Town right now? As I write this, it's September 7th, so 5 more days if you are in Phuket and want to see something a bit different... Note that the dates change every year. Festival starts in the middle of the 7th Chinese lunar month if you want to plan for the future!

Por Tor Festival - Map of Locations

View Por Tor Festival in a larger map

S̄up̣hās̄ʹit kl̀āw ẁā keī̀yw kạb khuṇ ph̀x mæ̀

( พ่อแม่ของคุณ ) สุภาษิตกล่าวว่าเกี่ยวกับคุณพ่อแม่. สถิติในการสั่งซื้อและการจัดเก็บเอกสารในภายหลัง Tamga จะใช้ร่วมกันกับคุณในโลกของเพลงพื้นบ้านและสุภาษิตสำหรับพ่อของเขาของพ่อและแม่ ฉันจะใส่ชื่อบทความคือประโยค Ca ดาวสุภาษิตเกี่ยวกับผู้ปกครองขอขอบคุณทุกคนที่นี่ออฟไลน์ ถ้าเห็นใครหรือเพื่อดูแบบออฟไลน์และถ้าเป็นไปได้มากขึ้นแล้วร่วมกันและต้องการให้พวกเขาไปข้างหน้าไก่ โดยทั่วไปพวกเขามีบางสิ่งบางอย่างหรือจะแบ่งปันให้คุณเกมเพียงอย่างเดียว ผู้จัดการหลายเว็บไซต์ แต่เหนื่อย แต่มักจะให้ความสำคัญกับคนโตเป็นเกมเดียวเว็บไซต์ c10mt.


บทความที่เกี่ยวข้อง : Ca Dao Proverbs verses about the thanks of Parents