HUMANA STUDENTS SINGING FOR US
A LARGE GROUP OF PYGMY ELEPHANTS
ALONG THE KINABATANGAN RIVER
CHECKING OUT THE RAIN WATER COLLECTION SET-UP
BEHIND ONE OF THE HUMANA SCHOOLS ON THE
MELANGKING OIL PALM PLANTATION
THOSE ELEPHANTS WERE VERY ENTERTAINING TO WATCH
To those of you who follow this blog regularly, I apologize for the lack of entries. We have just been so busy. We are currently back in Lahad Datu and this time with Dave and Lena Frandsen, the clean water specialists assigned to us to help us put this project together. Nice choice--we have known Dave and Lena for over 30 years and it is partly because of their friendship that we are serving a humanitarian mission.
THE ALPHA MALE OF A FAMILY OF
CURLY TAIL MACAQUES
HOMES OF PLANTATION WORKERS
So for the title of this entry: yes, in the last few days we have seen all three of those creatures and more in our travels. One of the managers invited us to spend a night on one of the oil palm plantations AND take a boat ride up the Kinabatangan river AND tour one of the oil mills to see just how they do it. All very interesting. On the evening boat ride we came across a herd of pygmy elephants grazing alongside the river. There were probably about 30 or more of them, mostly moms and babies. We just beached the nose of the boat and watched them for quite a while and took a lot of photos. Pretty exciting as it is quite unusual to see so many and many river tours don't see any. What is so cool about all these animals is that they are not in the zoo.These are all wild animals!!
We also have visited about 18 different schools that are in need of water---some have no water and others are using unclean water. Most of the schools are 45 to 90 minutes apart over rough timber roads. Most of the time I am glad we are in a 4 X 4 truck, like when the bridge is gone and we just drive across the river. Good thing it is not yet the wet season.
At many of the schools the children and teachers had prepared a little program for us; either singing or recitation or just counting (in unison) to 100 in English. In one school they recited multiplication tables in English. Some students even danced for us. Many of the teachers had refreshments for us which was very welcome. All are very gracious and grateful to be getting some help. Dave and Bill and Ismael, our engineer/contractor, have spent hours together making plans for this project.
Last week we rented a car and driver, our favorite taxi driver, Chong, and went to visit a children's home up near Mt, Kinabalu. It is the Don Bosco Children's home run by the Catholic church. It was founded in 1954 by Brother Ben, a lay brother from the Netherlands, when there was no more than a trail into the area. He literally carried on his back the supplies to build the home and then built it. He is 79 years old now and still running things. He makes the 2-hour-one-way-trip to Kota Kinabalu twice a week for supplies. There are about 80 children from age 5 to 19 who live at the home. Most have some family in the area but that family are not able to care for the children. They do have some needs so we are putting together a project to help them. It was pleasant to be up at the school and learn about Brother Ben and his story. He was originally sent to Malaysia to teach the people farming in the temperate climate they have at that elevation. They have to terrace the hillsides in order to grow all kinds of vegetables. He showed me a grapevine but said no grapes had ever reached maturity on it because there were too many little eyes that saw those grapes and picked them green to eat. I'll try to get Bill to add a photo of Brother Ben. he is a well-loved grandpa.
Bro Ben is a book ready to be written. He has literally dedicated 50+ years to these children and this village. He has been there since the beginning of time for this community. The children just love him so much.
Today we attended sacrament meeting in the home of some members here in Lahad Datu. There is no branch here and no missionaries; not even an official group. It is basically one family who live here but they have not had any meetings for over four years. One thinks he has the Aaronic priesthood but isn't sure. With Frandsens there were 9 of us and assorted children. We had permission from the mission president to have the sacrament so we did and then a testimony meeting. Pretty cool "...where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I also."
This is the first time they have had the sacrament in 5 years. They are very anxious to have authorized meetings. We are so fortunate to have had a little part in the beginning of the church in this area. This all came about because the Lord prompted us to ask a few questions of the district presidency in KK and the we got permission from the Mission President to have the sacrament.
We will fly back to Kota Kinabalu in the morning and get all our clothes washed and packed to take off for BINTULU on Wednesday. We are going back to Data Kakus to check out their water situation and they will be added to our water project. I hope we will have some time to see some of our friends there.
Boy did we cover the miles!! I am not sure but probably 2000km or about 1,200 miles in the jungles of the interior of Borneo. We saw 17 schools some for the 2 or 3rd time for us. We will be doing about 19 schools. We will provide water and toilet facilities for 2400 Humana children that right now have no water at school and they use the jungle for a toilet and also do the teachers.Along with these children being helped we will a also be doing a project in the jungles outside of Bintulu where the Datae Kakus village of 2000 will get water and two villages outside of Kuching of 1500 will get water for the first time. So a total of about 6000 people of Borneo who live in the interior jungles will have a better life thanks to LDSC. We are so thrilled to be a part of this great work.
I was so touched by the programs we were presented with at the schools. It is so hard to hold back the tears. These kids are living 3 hours back in the jungles and have so very little and live in such primitive conditions. And when they perform they are so passionate about what they do. I just love these kids. I have so much fun visiting with them. I think I could live back there and teach them. It is hard for me to leave them.
We can share our pictures and our thoughts and try to describe our feelings but I don't think it is possible to share with anyone what this experience really feels like. We love our mission and we are just so thankful that we are able to be here. We feel it is going so fast...7 months done already. Many are already asking if we will go again. We are so busy with what we are doing we just haven't the time to think much about that, however ......I will leave it there.
We leave for Bintulu this week and in a week or two we will be in Kuching again.
Thanks so much to all of you that leave us a note once in awhile. We love to hear about your lives.
Bill & Ellen