Dearest Family and Friend:
I am sure that the biggest news of the week did not happen in Indonesia. It happened in Kaysville, Utah when our 13th grandchild, and 5th grand-daughter came to join our son Adam, his wife Amy, and their delighted family. Her name is Elia and she was 7 lb. 10 oz and 19 or so inches long. She is a bit of a chub, and is currently being loved to pieces by her brothers (Nate and Eli) and Sister (Cecily). She is beautiful and we love her tremendously from afar. Of course anything I add from here on out pales in comparison.
First of all, we are currently without wheels. The Missionary Handbook for Senior Couples states that we should not be renting cars from local members, AND that we should not be buying cars. Well, up until now, all over Asia, that is exactly what has been happening, until one of the Senior Couples decided to remind those in authority of the handbook. So, when Bro. and Sis Grover left, they turned in the car they had been told to rent from a local member when they arrived here, and now we are waiting for Temporal Affairs to make new policy. We have become very familiar with the taxi drivers of Solo! Yesterday we found a driver that speaks English and likes to practice, so he has taken us to a number of places and then returned to bring us home. Now the biggest chink in this is that we miss Bono our driver. We have been paying him anyway, because it is not his fault, and Friday he let "Elder" know that he does not like to get paid for no work. So he wants to teach us Indonesian. Great! Plus we are going to take him with us by taxi so he can translate for us. But all this slows us down. We have assignments outside Solo, and are being asked to help teach English in various situations. Oh well, we will figure it out.
With that in mind, we taxied to UNS this week and began working with these young civil engineers on Employment Resources. You may remember that was one of original assignments. So we used our training and began the workshop using the handbook the Church provides. It was a hit. At the end they each stood and gave their "I am, I can, I have" statement. For instance, I am a hard worker, I can work well with others, I have talent as an engineer. This is hard for humble Indonesians, but they were so great! We will work on their "me in 30 seconds" speech this week. We enjoy the English students at UNISRI, too. They all are eager to speak well, and try very hard.
I have picked up three more piano students, for a total of 13. Yos joined at Soepomo, and Ezra and Cori joined at Kepatihan. They all three play some, Yos does very well. They are an inspiration. These people Looooooooooooove music. Saturday we decided to sing with the District choir that will be singing at District Conference. The practice started at 6 and we walked home at 9:30 p.m. They just practice and practice. Pres. Antok's mother came from Jogja to help. SHE HAS PERFECT PITCH AND IS A TENOR! Man did she whip those tenors into shape. She was amazing. I watched her all night humming and finding the pitch then taking those tenors AND basses through their parts. I LOVE THESE WONDERFUL PEOPLE!
However, other than a new grand-daughter, the best news came today, Sunday. We arranged to have our new taxi friend pick us up at 7:30 a.m to go to Church at Kepatihan. Friday we had a driver take us to District Missionary Meeting, and he got lost and we were 30 minutes late. But today we were there in good time. Benjesari branch begins at 8, and Jebres begins at 10. AND today Joko and his family (the investigator that we visit with the Sisters) came to church. We suggested to the Sister Missionaries that perhaps if they had a member go get him, he would come. So wonderful Moko, (he is the wonderful young man that is going to Australia on his mission in about 3 weeks), fetched Joko and his children and brought them to church. Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND they stayed for all 3 hrs.!!! PLUS!!! today was the day Elder Greenway baptized Lala and Joko stayed for that, too. During the baptismal program the Primary sang 3 songs, and Joko's little girl, Natasha, stood up and did her best to sing along. What a wonderful day. Elder Greenway even said the baptismal prayer in Indonesian, without a single flub. I was very proud of him. So after being in church for over 4 hrs., poor Joko was probably starving (I did hand out Ritz crackers to him and his kids) and exhausted. Our taxi friend sent one of his friends to get us, and we took Joko and family home. But as we were walking out the door Pres. Awi of the Jebre Branch, stopped me and asked if I would get Aster, one of my piano students and a marvel, and together do the Christmas Sacrament Meeting. Certainly! I swallowed... But Aster was elated, so then I was humbled. I will write it, and she will produce it, with me as her assistant. She is perfectly capable.
Oh! and on top of that, we spent 3 hours with Fareeda yesterday, (the valiant, courageous, amazing university student whose family is Muslim) talking at first about her Mother, and brother, but eventually we talked and cracked up about everything. SHE LOVES THE SAME KIND OF MOVIES AS ELDER GREENWAY!!!!!! Scary, fantasy, the dinosaur that ate Cleveland and was then blown up by some alien warship kind of movies. Elder Greenway explained to her what a chic-flick was, and she likes those, too. But she was much more animated talking about the other. The Grovers are like parents to her, she loves and misses them. So, we were glad to make this connection. She is working to go to Utah for school.
We feel like we are becoming useful. We want to do whatever is needed of us to help the full time missionaries, the members and the people of Solo. As you know, our goal is to become a Stake. Next Saturday at District Conference Leadership Meeting we will be presenting the Rescue Program to all the Leadership. Elder Greenway will do a brief introduction, and then we are having the Elder and Sister Missionaries become a "Branch Council" wearing signs to define their role (ie. Branch Pres., Relief Soc. Pres., etc.) and demonstrate what should happen in Branch Council using the Rescue Program. They will have a script and can do this in Indonesian, which of course we could never do as well.
Finally, Elder Greenway wants me to let you know that we saw a glimpse of the Celestial Kingdom today. The friend of our taxi driver, the one who took us home today, took it upon himself to make sure our life passed before our eyes. Take it from me, the veil way very thin. We had Joko's younger brother, 11, with us... I kept saying to him, "Victor, taxi zooms!" Then the taxi driver would laugh maniacally and shout, "Zoom! Zoom!" I am not making this up! After Joko and his family crawled out of the cab and kissed the ground (okay, I did make that up), he took off, and periodically laughed and shouted ZOOM! The majority of the time we spent with him was in the opposing lanes of traffic. At one point he drove half a block in the wrong lane, then pulled into the right lane and ran a red light! When he let us out in front of the Paragon, he rolled down the window and shouted, "Zoom meester" (they call you mister even if you are in skirt) and laughed and laughed. We told him he should move to New York City.
Well, I think that is enough for 1 week. We could spend pages about this unique and marvelous Solo. Just know that we love it and are happily engaged and grateful to be alive. Please let us know how YOU are doing. We read our emails in the evening, and it is an enjoyable way to wind down.
We are sure you have great things to tell us, well maybe not as great as our taxi ride unless you have a learning-to-drive teenager. We love you all!
Please watch out for, and take care of each other,
Elder and Sister Greenway