Thursday, May 2, 2013

April 29, 2013

To MomWhy did Karlene have and anxiety attack?  Things are good here in Kuching and we're getting ready for a baptism this week.  With Karlene's hair that why she look older than she is.  You can always count on the Marriott to have Book of Mormons. Sorry no pictures this time because I didn't take any but I will next time.  Many of the people we teach have very little to no education but they are very humble and very kind. 

To Dad:Going from one end of Kuching to the other on the bike can be hard especially when you have to go up and down hills.  We might be moving soon but also transfers are coming up and I'll still be here most likely but Sis Tehrani might get transferred.  My language skills need a lot of work before I can understand what people are saying.  I'll hear what they say and then I wont understand it till maybe an hour later.  Maybe this time you might get a free sample of chocolate.  Glad to hear you might be getting your own truck soon.

To Michael: The usual missionary stuff.  We're getting ready for a baptisme this week.  How are your papers coming?  Where did they serve?  What will you be doing now? 

To Karlene: Who is Natalia?  Why did you freak out?  Now, remember how you felt after you got off the bus and then magnify that by 100 and I will probably be like that when I get home.  I've got some cool pictures to show you when I get home and I think you'll really like them.

From Mom: Natalia is our cousin, Kathy's younger daughter.

To Faline: Sounds like you have been having lots of fun.  What will you do next week?  Are you excited about moving to Utah?  There are cat every where here in Kuching and mean dogs.

Till next time...

Sister Summer Ballantyne

April 28, 2013

From Mom: Our weather has finally warmed up! They say it was the 2nd coldest Spring on record. It was pretty nice in Seattle, a place known for drizzle and rain. Karlene and I just got back this morning. As usual, Children's Chorus won everything, 8 awards in all, including 2 adjudicators' awards for both Concert Choir and Premier Singers! Those are the ones Linda thinks are most important. We had fun seeing the sights but there was so much packed in I'm exhausted! We got to go up in the Space Needle and then went on the Boeing plant tour the next day. That was also the day they performed for the judges. There were only 4 groups that day, 2 of which were TVCC. The judges were pretty impressed, of course. Saturday we had free time in the morning so we went swimming in the pool at the hotel. We had to be out of our rooms by 11:30 am to check out. The buses took us down to the waterfront and dropped us off near Pikes Place and the world-famous fish market (where they throw fish to order). We checked that place out and then went down to the waterfront. Karlene kinda had an anxiety attack so I split off from our group and took her to McDonald's to grab lunch. The Curiosity Shoppe was neat to look around in. We got a few souvenirs at the different places. I think I kept all that we spent under $100 for both of us. Our final outing was by boat to an island in the Puget Sound for a native American program and awards banquet. They fed us salmon that was cooked around open fires, inside the building! It smelled wonderful with that wood smoke greeting us as we went into the building. Then we took every award we could possibly win.

I also spent a few more days with Dad. I dropped him off at 6 am, Wednesday morning and took off for home. After picking up Faline from Dee Dee's I went home and unpacked the car and got ready to go to Seattle. I've basically been gone for over a week. It's nice to be back to the home "campground" with your brother and sisters.

While I was in Seattle, I was sharing a room with 3 other moms. Two of them are wives of bishops and the 3rd one was not a member of our church. Melissa and I got to know Delphina a little bit and found out that she has a nephew that just joined the church, at her encouragement, about a month ago. She thought it would be good for him. She's married to an inactive member but hasn't gone to a ward meeting before. We told her about all the programs the church offers families and especially the youth. Since we were staying at a Marriott, there was a Book of Mormon in the drawer of one of the night stands that we gave her. I hope she looks into it, she seems genuinely interested. If she and her husband both tried to go it would show that they support her nephew, who now is wanting to go on a mission (he's 18, I think).

I also got to talk to one of the judges who asked if the choir was made up of mostly Mormons. I told her that they were and she said that she hadn't looked into the church very much but always wanted church members in her choirs. I told her that it was never too late!

Well, I need to get Dad's letter done so I'm going to stop there. Then I get to sleep!

From Dad: It's been a busy week, especially this last part of it. I spent some time with your mom then went down to California to pick up some produce to drop it off in Dallas. They told us we were to drop off the produce at 10 pm on the 27th in Dallas but were supposed to pick up a load of beer at 8 am the same day. Needless to say there was no way we could pick up the beer when we were supposed to so we got to Dallas 9 am and they took the produce early. We went to pick up the beer but it wasn't ready. We got the beer to take to Salt Lake but traded trailers in Amarillo, TX and are taking another load of produce to Pennsylvania. There we will pick up a load of chocolate and bring it back to Salt Lake. If all goes well, I will have my own truck by the beginning of next week! We met a guy who's taking produce to PA, also. We're supposed to drop off our load at 8 am and he was supposed to drop off his load at the same place. Then we're both supposed to go pick up chocolate and take it back to SLC.

I'll bet you've been busy, too!

From Michael: Nope. Jordan and Alan came home and spoke in sacrament. I am now lade off and I was home alone for three days. It was nice, so what are you up to?

From Karlene: Sorry I tried to write, but Natalia pulled the plug on the enternet because I was taking too much time and not paying her any attention. Nothing really happened last week. This week mom and I went to Washington and near the end I started to freak out. I got home early this morning and went strait to bed. I missed church do to the fact that I couldn't keep my  eyes open after I got off the bus. The part of Washington that freaked me out was Pike's place. Talk about bad ju ju. I only calmed down after we got on a boat.
From Faline: I have been at Dee Dee's for the last week or so. I had lots of fun, too! Dee Dee got me a Sorry game and puzzle that I decorated with littel jewels. I got to go to the playground with Resa a lot. I want to go back there. I really love you.

Karlene & Mom with Bruce & Linda Walker and Tim, our bus driver

Karlene in the pool at the Marriott

Karlene & Mom at Pike's Place Market

Karlene in front of the Eye of Seattle. Looks neat but not willing to pay $15 each to ride it!

Cool store!

New planes, mostly 787s, built by Boeing

This 747 is heading off for a test flight

Lovely lake on Snoqualmie Pass, just off I-90

Treasure Valley Children's Chorus Concert Choir performed first

Then Premier Singers

Seattle skyline with Mt Rainier in the background

The Space Needle at night

Karlene with friend Caroline at the bow of the 3-deck boat


April 22, 2013

To Mom: I wouldn't mind getting some of the shampoo and conditioner again, I didn't get to try it the 1st time because I was saving it for Malaysia but the airport through it away.  I am sending you more pictures from Bako.  Right now in Kuching a bunch of missionaries are getting ready to move to new apartments so that will be interesting.  I don't know much about DoTerra other than a few of the sisters in the mission use there oils for different ailments but I'm open to checking it out.  I finaly ate something I think is wierd the last picture is snails, I ate 2.  Can't say I'm a fan of them.  You know the grub on Lion King that Timon gives to Simba, I might be eating that tonight, they are call sego worms.  Oh, I can Skyp or call on May 12th or 13th so what time would work best for that?  If you send a care package could you send some Mac and Cheese please.  I miss cheese.

To Dad: Grandma is starting to age.  Glad to hear that your drive is going safe through all the bad weather.  Here are some pictures of some of the kids in the branch and yes they are wearing my helmet and that name tag you see on one is mine also.  They can be very rambunctious.  I ate cooked snails last week, I didn't like them all that much.  We're moving house soon so that will be fun and on the 12th or 13th of may I'll be Skyping or calling, I think Skyp so I can get everyone on at once.

To Michael: Michael, what is happening with your papers?  You know you need to write me every week right?

To Karlene: Hey party pooper. Why didn't you write?  Now you need to tell me 2 weeks worth and not just 1.  

To Faline: Hey stinker, I missed you this week.  How was it at Deedee's? Till next time.

Sister Ballantyne at Bako National Park

Sister Ballantyne and some of the children of the Kuching Branch

Posing with Summer's helmet on

Sister's turn 


April 21, 2013

From Mom: Happy Beginning of your week! I'm in Utah with Dad for a few days. It's wonderful to be able to be with him again! We went to Scheel's for the first time. It's a sporting goods store but it has a bunch of other things, too, like a ferris wheel people can ride for $1. There's a picture included below. It also has a mountain with stuffed animals on it like Cabela's back home and here in Salt Lake. There's probably more clothes in this store than anything else. We were wondering why there were so many cars going into the parking lot when there are so many other things to see in this area. We even have a Boondocks just about 2 miles from the apt. Then we saw the ferris wheel and figured it out. This place is so close to many things it's so convenient. It's also kinda wierd to hop on the freeway to get to most of them, though, like church. The chapel is only about 5 miles away but it's fastest to get there via the freeway than go on the city streets. We will be in the River View 5th Ward when we officially move. In the mean time we visit that ward when we come down. Bishop Welling is in charge. He's a nice guy! The other ward, 4th ward, was friendlier when we visited it but I feel like I might be used in callings more in this one. We'll see when we go this afternoon. They start at 1pm, like last year in Marsing.

This week, at home, is Stake Conference for the whole valley with everyone having their own Saturday night session and a broadcast from Salt Lake for their Sunday session. A new drop down screen was installed in Marsing so our ward and 1st ward get to go to conference in our own building. Our ward is even holding choir practice afterward! I'm hoping Michael has an interview with the bishop to decide if he's ready to send off his mission papers. That would be a nice homecoming (mine after this vacation w/ Dad) present. To prepare for Stake Conference we had ward fill-the-temple day on Thursday, the day I left to come here. First I went through 2 sessions with our ward. The bishop was my partner in the prayer circle in the first session (It's been my tradition to be in every prayer circle I can and have only missed only 2 or 3 since I've been endowed.) and Bro DeWitt in the second session. I helped celebrate Resa's birthday early after that, then went home and packed up the car. I left a little space so that I could drop Karlene off at the Flying J on my way out of town so she could catch her ride to Ontario for choir practice.

If you need anything from Herbalife, Melaleuca or want to try some oils from doTERRA let me know at least 3 wks in advance so I can get them to you.

I finished my work with Intuit and have a check for $1525 coming for training and $2290 for the amount of calls I took. Very profitable couple of weeks! I only have one more return to complete for the tax season and that's for Gem County Sr Ctr.

I know you'll be seeing most of General Conference today. I really enjoyed it! I took notes so that I can remember the talks better. I especially like Pres Uchtdorf's message during the Genereal YW Conference held a week or so before. I tried to show Dad that one but the video wasn't working very well.

From Dad: I'm here in Utah for a long weekend, I get to spend it with your mom. The day before yesterday was a long day! I started driving in Cheyenne, WY. Apparently, the freeway was shut down the night before for weather. When I started driving they had just opened up the freeway heading west so all the trucks that had to stop the night before were just getting started. This was on the I-80. Because all the trucks were starting at the same time, heading west, it seemed as though it was nose-to-tail trucks, in both lanes heading west, the entire length of Wyoming. Although the interstate was open heading west the weather was still bad: 50 mph winds and drifting snow. We were stopped a couple of times for about an hour because of accidents and most of the rest of the time we could only drive 40 mph. It made for a really long day! The interstate heading east was still shut down so all the travel plazas and eastbound rest areas were packed with trucks. The cops were busy as well as the tow trucks. There weren't very many cars on the road just lots of trucks. I-80 is the main trucking corridor going east and west. It runs from Sacramento, CA to New York City, NY. It's funny because there are some pretty hefty tolls from time to time going across the I-80 and that's where the freeway surface is the roughest. We got to our destination okay. I was a little tired. It was funny because a team of drivers who were in the restaurant with us when we ate breakfast in Cheyenne were dropping off product at the same place we did in Logan. We had dairy products in our trailer.

Last Sunday, we picked up a trailer full of chocolate in Sacramento. Nobody was there but the trailer was already loaded and waiting for us. There were these little fire hydrants in the parking lot of the chocolate factory that were painted white and, from a distance, they looked like little Oompa Loompas. When there are two of us in the truck, the truck is just about able to run 24 hrs a day. One sleeps while the other drives, every now and then stopping for fuel and, on occasion we'll have a hot shower and a meal or a hot meal and a shower. I was a little disappointed because I was thinking Spring had arrived just before we got all these snow storms. Although, snowing and blowing in Wyoming, the East and West was downpouring and in several spots in Illinois and neighboring states the flooding was so bad that the water came up to within 2 feet of flooding the freeway, in places. This too will pass. We'll get on the road and it will be nice.

It was kind of interesting, I was listening to one of the guys cleaning the bathrooms at one of the travel plazas in Wyoming and he was saying to one of the other truck drivers that he had moved to Wyoming about 3 yrs ago, and he was saying that in Wyoming they have 2 seasons: winter and winter light. But I've never been through Wyoming when the wind wasn't blowing. Most of the towns are in holes or basins where there is less wind.

Well, have fun! Work hard.

Sorry, I don't have time to stop and take pictures of bad roads, long lines and bad weather but here are a few your mom took.

Boise Temple

Frozen tulips

Happy Spring! Frozen wheel line.

Scheels has a ferris wheel inside

Grandma Doris with new glasses.

Dad by Scheels mountain

Dad is driving with Pride

April 15, 2013

To MomAsk Elder Hong which part of Singapore he is from. Well in all the crazy just remember to write.  Bako is really cool, very jungle.  I got some shells from there and some cool pictures.  Right now I tired so my brain isn't quite running and I'll need to cut this email short.  The pictures I send are only a small part because I can only send so many a week but you all can see them when I get home and I'll still send some when I remember.  Oh, I look like a lobster right now because I got burned (sun burn). 1st is a picture of a couple of girls in the branch I'm serving in, 3nd is a place that reminded me of the haunted mansion, and 2rd is from Bako national park.

To Dad:  If you get any cheese samples eat some for me, most of the cheese here is fake.  Bako is really cool, you would like it.  I can't really think right now because I tired.  We got back from Bako, had lunch and now emailing. 1st me and some of the girls in my branch, 3rd is the sign in the park for Bako, 2nd is how the go fishing here.

To Michael: Ex-pats are expatriates who are people who come from other countries and live and work in a foreign country.  Any news on your call?  Where are your papers?  Hope you like this picture it reminds me of you.

To Karlene: Glad you like the pictures here are a couple more.  Are you excited to be a bride's maid?  How is school coming along?  Alex sounds like a big cat.  Most of the cats here have tails like Krookshanks.

To Faline: Sounds like your having fun.  I miss you too but you know that I leave my family so other people can be with there family for all eternity, right?  You need to wait 9 more months and I'll be home before your birthday.  It will be like a Christmas gift to you.  Till next time.

Sis Summer Ballantyne

Bako shoreline

Bako shore

Path in Bako National Park, Malaysia

Entrance sign to park

Sister Ballantyne with girls from Kuching branch and bike she got from Sister Wilson, her previous companion.

Some of the girls from the branch

Monkeys in the park

This one posed for her

Hermit crab that reminded Summer of Michael

Nice sign from Bako

This is the place that reminded Summer of the Haunted Mansion.

This is where they go to fish in Malaysia.

April 14, 2013

From Mom: This has been a really busy week for us! I've been on the phones everyday but today and will be on 11 hrs tomorrow. I took 19 calls yesterday during my 9, almost 10 hr shift. We clear the queue if we are on at the end of the night. I got 2 or 3 calls after 10 (which is closing).

The next few weeks are going to be a little hectic, too. 11 hr shift on Monday, my visiting teachers, companion and the gals we visit teach may come over Tuesday to help me pack the rest of the house. Friday I will be going down to Draper to meet Dad. He's going to come in with his trainer either Friday or Saturday. If he tests out he may get his own truck. Dad just told me that the guy who would test him isn't there anymore so he's not sure if that will happen this weekend or not. I'll get back to Idaho in time for choir on Tuesday. We're going to sing in the ward talent show on Wednesday night then Karlene and I leave early Thursday to go to Seattle for the TVYA competition. We'll get back early Sunday morning. That's what's going on for the next 2 weeks.

Conference was awesome! There were lots of good talks. Oh, I talked to the missionary serving here from Singapore. He said that you won't be able to use your debit card there but you should see what the bank can do for you. His recommendation was May Bank. There are some banks in Malaysia that he said weren't very good and May has the best exchange rates! His brother just started taking the discussions in Singapore. I don't know his 1st name but the elder's name is Elder Hong.

I'm beginning to wonder if Michael will go on his mission. I haven't asked him but want him to do what's best for him. I just hate not knowing and am not very patient for something like that.

I saw a neat sight! It froze last night and some people now have their sprinklers running. One of the yards, along Ustick, had their sprinklers going. They have an evergreen tree in their yard and the lower limbs were drooping down to the ground, heavy with ice! The ground where the water hit was icy, too.

We're heading up to Grandma's so I'm going to let you go.

From Dad: Today's a good day and a bad day. It's a bad day is because we're in California at a chocolate factory where they usually give out free samples but there's no one here to give out free samples. It's a good day because the sun is out, sky is clear, it's warm and we're going to have cherry cobbler. We've got 38,000 lbs of chocolate that we're taking to Pennsylvania. I saw the salt flats a bit for the first time while I was driving last night. The wind was sure blowing hard across them! Then I drove across Nevada to California and we're on our way back again. We'll probably stop by the world's largest truck stop on our way thru.

From Michael: I bought a laser pointer and was shining it on the floor and Alex's body while he chased it and might know where it's coming from. 

What are ex-pats? I'm now attending temple-prep. I'm know doing busy work for Tumura again instead of throughing onions.
thats it

From Karlene: I am having fun! school is slowly coming to an end. Cumorah made me a bride's maid. Alex is so big, he is taller then most full grown cats now at 9 months.great pictures by the way.

From Faline: I spent most of the week at Dee Dee's. I had fun going to Whitney's house. Mom has a picture of Seth climbing their tree in the back yard. Today I'm going to Grandma's house. Miss you.

April 8, 2013

To Mom: Writing letters here is sooooooooooooooooo random.  It could be as early as 10am or as late as who know when.  The 1st and 3rd pictures are of some of the architecture here in Kuching and the 2nd picture is the back yard of the apartment I'm at.  I'm only on the 4th floor here but that's ok, there isn't an elevator and my suit case was heavy for Elder Molder to take up the stairs (good thing it was just one).  Hope Krookshanks is ok but he is pretty old.  Right now my right leg is covered in bruises from the bike but they'll get better as I improve my biking skills (hehehehe).  Everything sounds really busy there.  I wont get conference till the 20th and 21st.  There is a group of people here called Ibons and they are awesome.  My language skills need a lot of work but it will come.

To Dad: Malaysia is more laid back and not so hustle and bustle.  The 1st picture is a building I thought was cool the other 2 pictures are of Ronald McDonald drawings from kids here in Kuching.  I am using my language more here but I'm finding how much I don't understand of it too.  I'm not too worried about it at the moment because I know it will come.

To Michael: I wait a week or 2 to watch it.  Only the Senior missionaries and locals/ex-pats stay up to watch it on-line.  What are you doing in the top of the shelf?  Keep me updated every week.  I can't wait to hear about your call.

To Karlene: I bet you're having lots of fun.  How is school going for you?  All I've heard about is the TVCC choir trip and moving.  Check out the pictures I sent to everyone I think you'll like them. 

To Faline: Don't worry, next year I'll be home and we'll get to see each other more.  Glad you got to see Whitney.  Did you have fun?  Here is a picture of me infront or behind a cool looking building. Do good in school!

Sister Ballantyne and Sister Tehani in front of Parliament House.

Summer's new backyard

Ronald McDonald pictures colored by local children

McDonald pictures

Looks like a church but not sure

Statue of alligator? in Kuching