Dear Faithful Family and Friends,
It is Sunday afternoon, I am sitting at the Computer listening to the Tab. Choir sing "Come Let Us Anew" only one of my most favorite of their songs, typing a letter to the people I love....What could be better! I had to stop and listen to the "well and faithfully done" then to the end of the song part. Ahhhhh! So amazing!!! You would not believe this, but I haven't listened to Christmas music Except at Missionary District Meeting last Friday when the Elders and Sisters chose "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" for the opening song, in Bahasa. We sing all the hymns in Bahasa. Sometimes during Sacrament meeting, when I can't understand the talks and they are talking so fast, I will translate the words of the Sacrament Song we just sang into English. It doesn't translate straight across, but it keeps the meaning. It keeps my mind in the proper spirit. We are understanding more, but we have a long way to go.
The work is ramping up a bit, which is good. Our ever-kind and patient Grovers are leaving in two weeks and we will be IT as far as senior couples go for the entire Solo District. Jakarta, about 4-5 hrs by car, has the mission home and the humanitarian Senior couple plus and office couple. Surabaya, about 5 hrs by train, has 2 mission couples. But in Central Java, it will be the Greenways for 7 branches. We will be visiting the other 3 branches, (our Solo city has 4), about 1 every three weeks. We are to inspect the Young Missionary apartments and attend Sunday mtgs there. We have PEF just about ready to roll in Solo. The mission needs to call a special S & I teacher for the PEF Workshop, and we need to have the initial PEF Fireside. We are trying to get a list of all the return missionaries from the Solo District that are under 30 so that we can contact them personally. Total return missionaries from Solo since 1972 are about 800. Then the process can really begin. We hope to have the first group done and ready to go to schools by April or May. The Semester starts here in May or June.
Salt Lake emailed and my pianos are on their way. The Harmon Foundation in Salt Lake provides all these keyboards, and lesson material. It is fabulous. I am trying to get some Primary age students, right now they are all Youth or YSA age. When the Grovers leave I will take over her 8 students and will try to add about 6 more for now. Four of the Students meet in a group. We will see how it goes. We are also doing quite a bit of "member support" which of course we love. We are attending funerals, and weddings of people we have never met, but the members love the missionaries, and it is an honor to be loved so much. While I am doing lessons, Dad has been busy. We met a man at the Water Project Dedication who has a cleft palate. The Surabaya couple found out that a Foundation will be fixing cleft palates in Magalang soon. So Dad asked a wonderful member, Sutarno and his son Moko, to go and get the necessary pictures, medical records, etc. for this man to be helped. We got the pictures yesterday on the computer. Dad was in tears thinking that this poor man has been suffering with this his entire life. We hope this all works out for him. It would mean so much.
We attended a Traditional Javanese Wedding this week. It is held in the evening, and everyone comes and greets the family (not the bride and groom) and then sits down. Sometime later, the couple arrives in traditional Javanese dress, think a cross between a Sultan and an Ancient Chinese Dress and hair-do. It is REALLY FANCY! They stand together the bride's family facing the groom's family, and then the bride's family tells the groom's family why they are so lucky to get this daughter. Then it's the groom's family's turn. That all takes about 20-25 minutes. Then the bride and groom come and sit on a throne like loveseat that has been decorated to the hilt with a backdrop and everything. Then the photographer starts taking pictures, and everyone there is served traditional Javanese food. First, comes the dessert, while in the meantime the bride and groom stand with some of their friends and are photographed. Then comes the soup, now this is all served to you as you are sitting in rows with no room to move, so the bowl is passed down from person to person. OH! and we learned a long time ago, that when you are done, or you don't want to eat, you just hide the plate under something like a table, or the chair in front of you. More pictures...... then comes the main course, rice usually and some kind of fried tofu, some meat, some veggie and of course, rice. OH! You know how some crazy people we know, who shall remain nameless, like Dad and Adam (and I think Max) love pickled eggs. Well in Indonesia they sort of pickley candy them. They take brown sugar, and onion and some other things and make a syrup, and then they let the boiled eggs sit in that for a while. Now I detest pickled eggs, but these are not half bad, other that they are deep brown. More pictures.... then they serve a fruity runny gelatin stuff for more dessert. Then all of a sudden, we are having our picture taken with the bride and groom in front of the 200 guests who don't get their picture taken and we don't even know these people! Anyway, when they are done with the pictures, then it’s over. When we left there were a hefty stack of dishes under the chairs in front of us.
I told you a while ago about Fareeda. She is the Muslim girl who wants to be baptized, the one who is the most courageous person I have ever known. We are desperately hoping she is given permission before the Grovers leave, but I am not optimistic. I think I told you her parents have been sending her to a ex- Christian missionary who became Muslim. This lady is ferocious. She told them to have Fareeda exorcised but Fareeda so far has been very brave. She is still meeting the Grovers at places like KFC etc. to talk. We pray for her strength to continue. We pray for her parent's heart to soften. Our other investigator is Joko. We will meet with him again this Friday. He is becoming more interested, and he likes Dad. We have to have the Sisters translate, but that's okay.
Today was the YW of the Jebres Branch Sacrament Meeting Presentation. The leaders and the girls all had parts, they wore identical blouses only each one wore a different value color. The leaders bought the girls pretty little pins to wear on these blouses, and because I was playing for them to sing, I got one, too. They were wonderful. I taught them "I Have Faith" in English and with parts and they pulled it off beautifully. I was really proud of them. They only practice a 100 times. (not really, but it was a pretty good number). Next week I am playing for the Benjesari Branches Primary Program. They are practicing Sat. at 3 p.m. I can't wait to see what they wear. These leaders are awesome!!!! But sweet Dad, he attends all these practices with me, and is so patient. Actually, he likes to play with the babies of the leaders that are there, and tease the little girls and boys.
As usual, we are grateful for this opportunity and love the people of Solo. We are getting a little prejudiced about Solo compared to the rest of Indonesia. Kind of like Carlisls vs. anywhere else. However, it could be paradise if all of you could be here too! Thank you for your emails. Hey we even got our package we had Emily send intact. There is hope for the world. I hope you all realize how blessed you are. We see a lot of poverty, but more that that we see birth defects, and defects that are the result of injuries not well taken care of, and we just realize how blessed we have all been. The Church has it's wheel-chair program here. It has served many people, but there are many more who need it. Oh, and about the glasses. They can just be very cheap Walmart brand reading glasses, different strengths, and if you would like to help, Emily will put the box together to send. If you are interested, let her know. She can set the deadline, etc. If you can't get them to her, email me and I will tell you how to send them. But realize that an average package is around $35. Thank you so much for your interest. We certainly love you, and want to know how you are doing. We do love to get emails anytime!
With our love..... and please take care of each other.
Sis. g.......da mom.