Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thomas has been in Bintulu for a month!

It's hard to believe but Thomas has been in Bintulu for a month.  The highlights of the past week were (1) attending zone conference (where missionaries from Bintulu and Miri got together for training by the Mission President, who came in from Singapore) in Miri, (2) visiting the famous Niah Caves (where the oldest modern human remains in Southeast Asia were found), (3) purchasing a bike for the jungle trails, and (4) seeing one of the people he had been working with get baptized.  Here are the pictures associated with some of these activities. 

Bus to Miri
At the Niah River
Crossing the river
On the boat with other missionaries
Niah Caves
Boardwalk in the caves

Tropical rainstorm
New bike
Bike spray painted over to make it look old (hoping that it will not be stolen)
Biking in the mud
At the baptism
Thomas is getting the hang of the Iban language.  He says that people understand him pretty well now and he can say what he wants to communicate with others.  He still has trouble understanding people when they speak fast.  However, when they repeat what they say and do it slowly, he is able to understand them quite well.
Thomas is working hard and is meeting a lot of great people.  He is teaching quite a few families and is making a lot of friends.
His latest project is to convince a 7-year-old boy to not drop out of school.  The boy would rather play with his friends who are also dropping out of school than to attend classes.  Thomas learned some "awesome magic tricks" and used them to get the boy to go to school (as in asking the kid to pick a card from a deck and telling the kid that he had to go to school if Thomas could tell him what card he picked).  So far, the magic tricks are going great but the boy is still not interested in going to school.
He has been playing Futsal (basically indoor soccer) with other missionaries and some local youths on Wednesdays (his "preparation day", in which he runs errands, reads/writes emails, and does recreational things).  He has been using this morning exercise time to practice ball handling with his soccer ball, hoping that he'll improve his skills over the next 21 months.