Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good News This Morning

In Sri Lanka over a 100,000 civilians escaped the area where the Tamil Tigers (rebels) were boxed in. However, several times during the sort of cease fire the Tigers gabbed hostages who were also Tamils. Guns were held to the hostages heads and they were used for shields against the army of Sri Lanka. Finally, the army rescued the hostages. Stories were told of very young Tamel boys forced to fight with the rebels and of long periods of time with very little food.

This morning the army of Sri Lanka promised to stop using heavy artillery. Hurray for the U. N. and world pressure. NO MORE SHOCK AND AWE!

Monday, April 27, 2009




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Do Things Look Better In The Morning?

Red in the sky lights the night that we thought would be a peaceful swim.

The newspaper in the morning said that the attack had failed. The news cast in the previous blog post indicates the same thing. See another view of the same airplane as it hit a government building. You be the judge. This particular war has been going on for twenty-two years so it is hard to pick a winner or a loser. (As you view this posting, sorry about the ads on the news cast.) This video shows our hotel(the "low" tall building) as the plane passes over it then goes behind two very tall buildings and finally crashes into the government building.

paste link in to your browser to see video

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just A Swim At Night

Through the garden by the hotel. . .

Up the stairs and then across an overpass, with a armed soldier standing guard at the other end and

You find yourself at the edge of a huge and inviting swimming pool. We saw this beautiful spot earlier in the week but just one of us had gone over for a swim.

Weeks before when this conference had been announced we had been told that there would be an opportunity to swim. We had not expected this and neither of us had brought swim suits when we came to India. The first night in Sri Lanka we went to a recommended outlet department store. Look at the labels in some of your clothes and you will see "Made In Sri Lanka." This store was nice, but when you looked at an item everything available was in the same size. Definitely an outlet store with mostly overstock items. I did locate pants in the right size so I could ride an elephant.

We found a subdued pair of gray men's swim trucks but they were trimmed around the bottom with orange flames. We didn't care. We bought them. There were no women's suits in the whole store. We were about to leave when we ran into a pair of black shorts. That gave us hope and twenty more minutes of looking unearthed a black over blouse with spaghetti straps. Voila! A woman's swim suit.

That was a Monday and now Friday arrived and we had not yet taken time to go for a swim together. At noon a stop at the hotel gift shop to borrow their scissors, two quick cuts and then five minutes upstairs with the little complimentary sewing kit and the makeshift, black swim suit was ready for use.

Now late Friday night after dinner we debated on running down for a swim. The decision was yes. Gathering our gear we were off. At the last minute at home in India I had thrown in a large wrap of cotton batik fabric. As I walked out of the hotel room I grabbed it from the suitcase and we headed down to the pool.

At the pool the attendant sent us right into the locker room. I had just changed and was turning the key in my locker when there was a power outage. I wished I had taken more time to notice all the angles of the room and how many doors I had passed through coming in. My memory wasn't bad and I did not trip over any stationary benches as I made it to the last doorway before I had a stupor of thought and could not remember the last turn. At that moment the young woman sitting on a bench in the locker room remembered that she had a light on her cell phone. In one moment of flash I saw the last door and was out. It was dark outside too. General power outage. Very familiar, we got those everyday in India.

It wasn't hard to follow the edge of the pool in the dark and I found my companion already swimming. At the close end of the pool was an Italian restaurant and we could hear voices of patrons. As we swam we noticed the shape of one man back by the trees - probably security. The pool was large and as we traversed back and forth we got a lot of exercise quickly. By now the waiters in the restaurant were placing candles on each table. The scene was perfect but the next day was a travel day and long so we made for the far end of the long pool and the large steps.

As we finished our stokes the sky was full of sweeping search lights and as I reached the steps the night lit up with red streaks. At the top step gun fire began. I took a few more steps and then it seemed expedient to crouch down. In this position I watched as my companion still in the pool, stood looking into the sky. He had spotted an airplane. As the gunfire was going on and on I yelled for him to get out of the pool. He came to me and we sat for a few more minutes together then I thought that we should get under the wooden table near by. We shoved chairs aside and climbed in.

(Later a member of our group who was former Secret Service said with a chuckle that the table would not have saved us. Instinctively I knew this. I was hoping just not to get a bad burn on a bare leg from a stray spark. THE MOVE UNDER THE TABLE WAS SYMBOLIC TO LET HEAVENLY FATHER KNOW THAT THIS WAS NOT THE DAY THAT WE PLANNED TO DIE.)

Has everyone tried to visualize the horror of being safe one moment then hearing guns coming closer and closer? War must be horrendous! These guns did not come closer they were up close from the beginning. The red in the sky came from just over the back wall near the far end of the pool AND leaped from the other end of the pool too. too. We were in a war zone and the only thing that was missing was Wolf Biltzer. The red lights in the sky were accompanied by rapid fire of antiaircraft guns. Did we have fear? Maybe but it was not conscious, just awe and hope that it would end soon.

There was a deafening explosion but still the swooping lights and guns were in action. Bad things can often seem longer than they are, but the shooting went on for over twenty minutes. Long to us. It stopped but we waited and it started again. The next time it stopped we waited a minute then decided to run for a better spot. Dashing along the pool we found another group huddled under a roof connecting two buildings. "Stay with us," they called and we did.

The people there were mostly employees. We didn't know if they had a leader or just a take charge guy, but a firm male voice told us to lie flat and we did that too. We stayed there for another ten minutes. People were tense but calm. One woman was pregnant and two people kept wanting to take her to the hospital. she kept saying that she was fine.

A car drove from the hotel and discovered us in their head lights. We were instructed to go to the hotel and enter by a back door which would put us in the basement. We started out at which point the man from the car called out softly but urgently, "Go quickly." We moved rapidly now and the only panic seemed to be the lady behind me calling out,"We are going to die. We are all going to die." This continued until we entered the basement of the hotel and her voiced was lost in the chatter of hundreds of hotel guest as they visited and drank soda.

It took a while to locate our conference group but through the long hall and then on to the very back of the grand ballroom we found them gathered with a circle of chairs. Their first action was not to greet us with gladness for our safety but to whip out cameras for the photo op. I was so glad that I was swathed in the batik wrap and later one of the group handed me his extra shirt. Love that man!

We soon got moved out of the ball room. I noticed windows there all the way up at the ceiling. (Not to mention huge crystal chandeliers.) We all crowded into the long hallways which were under the lobby. The concern to get us from the pool and into the hotel fast had been reasonable because it turned out that the loud explosion had been an enemy plane crashing into a high rise but there were two planes.

We waited in the hall another half hour and then the call came that the second plane had been shot down at the airport. We were all sent back to our hotel rooms. A simple ending? Maybe, but even though the two pilots were the enemy rebels they were some mother's child. Nuts to war!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Head for the Hills!

Before we report the action of our Sri Lanka finale in Columbo, let's go back to the hills for one more elephant adventure.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Settling In

You've seen all this food and more in an earlier blog. Start to finish the hotel's buffet was equally good every night. We headed there again this last night in town and saw when we returned to our room that there was still time for a swim before the pool closed for the evening.

Those so familiar with blogging know that when you read a blog there could be more on the same subject down below. The first time I blogged I had something I wanted in a different order. I worked hard to get it that way but it probably wasn't really worth it. This trip to Sri Lanka definitely has a grand finale so dear readers go over the information on Sri Lanka and in a day or two I'll post the end. The story that we have only up until now told our children. Until then . . .

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A Nice Day And Wonderful Week Comes To A Close

We headed towards the water . . .
Drove along an empty beach and watched the sun set . . .
Saw military presence in a country at war . . .We got stopped twice by the soldiers during the week we were here and every time we rode into our hotel driveway our car was checked for bombs . . .
Pointed out to sea a relic of old battles still stands.
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All Around The Town

We did a bit of site seeing - religious symbols ...
Temple elephants. . .
Intricate roof lines . . .
And buildings that remind of past grandeur.
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Out Of The Hills Of Sri Lanka And Back To Colombo

After the elephant adventures we attended a spirit filled conference.

Enjoyed the drama as the bats hanging in the tree on the hotel's front lawn took to the air for their night flight.
Walked all over town and bought a Sri Lanka elephant print skirt.
Inspected crafts of the country. Just liked the difference from India.

Sri Lanka was very warm so the weather was not a big difference but as we flew over the island it was green, green, green. Our part of India is a little dry. Like Southern California without the imported water. Acres and acres of palm trees. And as we drove in from the airport we enjoyed a marked difference in the orderliness of the city of Colombo. Why there is so much trash in India we have not learned, but there is a lot all over the cities that we have seen. Sometimes you can ignore it and sometimes it makes you a little weary of the disregard of the fact that cleanliness is next to Godliness.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Let's Ride An Elephant In Sri Lanka

We piled back in our bus with the fringe on top and headed a bit down the mountain to a place where for the right price you can ride an elephant. Remembering how the man at the Elephant Orphanage did it we pumped up our courage, but there was absolutely no disappointment when many wanted to stop to buy cashews. Yeah, a short reprieve!

Now notice how this man sits. There is a natural place for one person. His knee fits perfectly between bony shoulder and bony back. Most of us rode double so the second guy is up on that sloping back bone. Easy to slide off even when you don't want to.
Think riding an elephant takes courage? First you have to cross a swinging, almost bridge.
We are holding on tight. Everytime I tried to take a picture the elephant handler got excited and jumped up and down until I had my fingers laced together.
Are we glad we did it? Of course. Is it fun? Somewhat but traveling through the jungle I would recommend a Land rover. An elephant has a side to side motion that you are not prepared to experience. Think a giant land ship. Even after only a short ride when you hit ground again you have a bit of the wobble knees like you get after being on a small boat at sea. Do we
recommend ridding an elephant? If you ever get a chance, go for it ! ! !
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A Tradition Begins

This is how one of our Easter traditions started. Our grandmother was a professional candy maker. She and her husband had a store at different times in Salt Lake City. When she was older and alone she worked in a shop in Santa Ana, California. Even though she eventually had to retire because of poor health she would make candy for anyone who asked. They brought her the ingredients and she supplied the work which to some of us looked like magic. Cream and butter and sugar became candy and then friends would then have large batches of fudge, toffee, dipped chocolates and salt water taffy to share as gifts to their family and friends. The only stipulation was they must bring good ingredients for the candy, butter not margarine.

This dear lady knew the importance of "good" ingredients in everything you do to have the right outcome. She was always an example to us of patience and kindness. We loved being with her and we liked the compliments that came when people tasted her candy. "This is as good as See's."

At Easter the dipped chocolates took the form of eggs and our baskets were full. When grandmother was gone on our only choice was to buy our eggs at See's candy and we have ever since.
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter Sunday

We peaked into the just opened box and saw that one of our children had gifted us with See's Candy. What memories of childhood flooded through our minds when we saw those sweet treats. Thank you , thank you. First we thought of being young and then we remembered blending two sets of traditions as we made a happy family Easter celebration for our children.

Not only did we remember the tastiness of the treats, but the sweetness of blessings. One particular event came to mind as I remembered being young in St. George, Utah on Easter morning. Our father was working in California at the time and would join us later to drive us to our home in California. We all got dressed in typical Sunday Easter outfits and our mother drove us across the desert and down a steep, winding, mountain road to a small town, La Verkin, to attend Easter services. I had lived in this town for awhile as a small child. We had a home there still but had now rented it to a young family. After Church we came out of the building to see that one of the tires on our car was flat. There was lots of help for us and the tire was soon changed. That was nice, but in our hearts we knew that the blessing of that day was that the tire did not blow out as we traveled down the mountain that morning.

This Easter in India was so busy. We started out to Church early to meet visitors. They didn't come. We watched the first conference session until it was about half through then jumped in an auto and traveled across Chennai to be at Church on the other side to attend a baptism between sessions. A young collage age man. After the closing session of conference we traveled to this young man's home to have dinner with his family. You saw the picture of the room where we spoke at the ministry meeting. The young man's living room where we came for dinner was half that size and fourteen of us gathered for dinner. Wonderful food. AND this was my first time to eat with my hand. We have been in India six months now so you might wonder how I put that off so long. It can be done. I only ate with three fingers too instead of the typical five. It works for a slow eater.
This was a long day but not the longest and we had the sweet memory of a baptism that day and a sweets for the tongue waiting at our apartment.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Weekend

We were asked to speak at a special monthly fast and testimony meeting conducted by the man who waits by our apartment and drives an auto. He has talked about his group before. Usually there may be fifteen. This month there were twenty-five or more. I could see seven people sitting outside the door, but there could have been more.

We were in conference at Church and then came here to this special ministry. Their meeting had been going for a half hour when we arrived. There was singing as we came in and then three woman stood one at a time and bore their testimony of how God had blessed their lives. One man translated so we could know the details. Amazing faith!!!!!!!!!! Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is lifting people from despair and helping them to move ahead through difficult lives.

We were presented with beautiful silk wraps as the meeting ended. It is hard to receive a gift when there is so much poverty, but we knew that we had to receive their love. Even harder was to have a woman knee at my feet and ask for a blessing. I took her in my arms and told her I would pray for her and love her like a mother and the Lord would bless her.
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Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Talk

The man in charge came by with his handouts for the meeting Saturday that we will attend and address. A close look at this photo will allow our children to see the city of their childhood advertised on the other side of the world.

We are only allowed to preach and teach in English so no time to practice a new language. Look closely at the rest of the letter and you will see that we probably couldn't "get" Tamil even if we had time.
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A Special Week

Just a bit more time from the Sri Lanka tale to enjoy this week. We stayed up late in the night to listen to General Conference live from Salt Lake City. We will see it delayed on this Saturday and Sunday but it will be tucked in among other things and it was nice to get a head start. Conference is always so tender and meaningful that you hate to see it end. We have baptisms at both building Sunday and will try to figure that out and the day before between conference sessions we will speak at a special ministry meeting . We wondered about teaching to many at one time when we were pondering this mission and this will be the first time that it happens.

On top of other exciting things this week special friends from home sent us Easter "baskets". Very exciting!
We feel the love that came all the way across the ocean and of course nothing tastes as good as the familiar.
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