Tawau, East Malaysia

Friends. Family. We have been home just about a month and a half now!
Our blog seemed to slip off the face of the earth after we left our home in Zhongshan, China. After talking with so many cool people who actually read our little entries - and enjoy them, I decided to continue posting about our 'adventures', whether at home or abroad! Before I post about our current 'ventures', I think I will try finishing up our last few weeks of traveling Asia..

Saturday June 22nd, Preston and I stood at the bus stop facing our apartment. We were there with our sweet little coordinator Vicky, watching some of our teachers waving to us from the fourth floor. We were officially leaving!
While standing there waiting for the 003 bus, I may have been drying a teary eye, and just boggling over the fact that we had just come to an end of our stay in our beloved city. At this point, Preston and I had been a married couple in China longer than in America, for pete's sake! It was like this chapter in our life, starting mid February suddenly fast forwarded us to that point in time, at that bus stop, like it had been four days instead of four months! 
I know I will never forget the time we spent in China as newly weds. We learned even more about each other than we thought possible after being together nearly nonstop for the past four years! The things we learned from one another, the situations that brought us closer,  the memories we made and the friendships formed are completely invaluable to our marriage. Awe.  
When the bus finally arrived, we hugged Vicky and watched her waving all the way around the bend. Once we were out of Kaiyin city limits, I had a sudden change of emotions; suddenly we were on our way to another adventure! This time to:

                               >>>TAWAU MALAYSIA<<<
This included; 
two bus rides
one speed train,
one passing through the China/Macau border,
one flight from Macau to Kuala Lumpur,
one loooooooonnnnng layover (16 hours, hello airport campout,
and finally,  one last flight to Tawau, Sabah, East Malaysia

Why Tawau (pronounced; Tao-wow), you might ask? 
Why, to visit some really spectacular people related to my handsome husband.. Grandma and Grandpa Atkinson! 

Pam and Lloyd were just a week and a half away from finishing up their second LDS mission to the wonderful land of Malaysia when we came to visit - talk about good timing!
Pamela and Lloyd Atkinson: Parents of Prestons' amazingly, wonderful mother and ten of her crazy-fun siblings, grandparents to countless crazier grandkids, a few great-grandkids, and missionaries!
On the left: muslim masque
On the right: The bay

a hawaii inspired jig
Grandma and I shaking the bridge, Grandpa hanging out by the river while we swam in
Palm oil trees
A dragon fruit orchard
Monkeying around with Grandma Atkinson
The tree walk

 the most exciting people I know!
My jungle man
The worlds biggest rolli-polli/potato bug!

This photo was taking not long after pushing my husband in and jumping off rocks with Grandma A!
Trying to look as cute as our furry friends.. he succeeded 
Monkeys, everywhere! 
We LOVED the trees in Malaysia

twisty trees
tall trees

Whomping Willow-esque trees
Trees with crazy roots!

Although exploring the jungle, hiking to waterfalls, swimming in the rivers and seeing monkeys was the biggest blast, I think what Preston and I enjoyed the most about our time in Malaysia was the small look we got into the world of a missionary work
Visiting a sweet family that lived in the jungle
These cute kids sang us every primary song they knew, some in English, most in Malay (:

A surprise party for Elder & Sister consisting of cake, pop corn and performances by the kids from Gangham Style to primary songs (a family of thirteen! look at all eleven of those adorable kids)

A cute couple from the branch we got to hang out with a couple times
New found friends
Sometimes you just need an ice cream cone and a good ol' church film to end the day
is what Grandpa called the old Safari that him and Grandma drove for the last year and a half. 
This car is comparable to Mary Poppin's carpet bag; since many of the members live so far from the church building and often don't have the means for public transportation, Grandma picked up quite the crew every Sunday morning before Sacrament meeting started.

Nineteen little Malaysians and one little Pamela

We were lucky enough to be in Tawau for Pam and Lloyds last Sunday of their mission. It was an honor hearing their testimonies and feeling the incredible spirit that resides with their humble little branch. 

The experiences we had in Tawau will never be forgotten. Thank you Pam and Lloyd for your examples of missionary work and for allowing us the chance to visit a place we would have never thought of visiting! 

XOXOX - Amanda 

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