Hello from Gorgeous Indonesia!
I think of all the ads I have seen inviting snowbirds to paradise for the Winter. Well, here we are! Today is Partly cloudy and the pool we can see from our apartment is full. Speaking of "fullness" ( how did you like that segway?), we just attended the Surakarta District Conference. It is so uplifting to see the chartered buses from Magelang, Jogja, and Samarang pull up to our Soepomo Chapel and see the members of these faithful branches arrive to attend District (like stake only smaller) Conference. We also had Elder Victor Chan from the Asia Area here to preside and speak to us. Yesterday, Saturday was Leadership Mtg. from 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. As you recall, we had prepared a "skit" suggesting how a Branch Council would use the Rescue Program of the Church. We were first on the program.
Now, we had practiced during Friday's Missionary meeting and the Elders and Sisters from Solo were perfect in their parts as members of a Branch Council. We made signs to show each participant, ie. Branch President, Branch Mission Leader, Primary Pres., etc. Well, when all of the outlying Branches come to conference they bring all of their Full time Missionaries with them, and then the Elders and Sisters do a Big Service Project for the community. Yesterday was no different. Wearing the "helping hands" vests they cleaned up garbage along Slamet Riyadi from noon until two. They needed to be to the building by 3:30, all cleaned up, to present the skit. Well, at 3:30 there were no Missionaries, but there was a remarkable rainstorm! We thought we were toast, because the missionaries are all on bikes.
At 3:35 the time was turned to us and zip. But just then the doors to the chapel flew open and in walked the Elders, with their giant grins. Wow!!! However, there were no Sisters, so these dedicated Elders volunteered to be the Primary, YW, and Relief Society Presidents. Elder Greenway began the presentation by briefly explaining the Rescue Program to these Branch Leaders, and then I explained that we had men in women's parts, and so it began with Elder Mortoyo as the Branch Pres. (I need to explain that we had purposely put the Native Elders on parts before the "buleh" Elders, so it was the American Elders on the women's parts, Elders Ward, Brown, and Wagstaff). I would sustain Elder Mortoyo any day. He was perfect, and so were all of the rest, even the "women". This, of course, was all done in Bahasa, and the Leadership had a great lesson on Ward Councils. It was interesting, because the subject of Elder Chan's address to the Leaders, was the Rescue Effort, and what it will take to become at Stake. It is good we are now on the Same Page. As for the Sisters, well you put 7 Sister Missionaries in an apartment trying to get ready and what you get is about an hour late.
Then today, we held the main session of Conference at Novotel, in the big ballroom. The Solo Choirs sang 4 songs, three as prelude and 1 during the meeting. I inherited the job of pianist because Sis. Tandiman (the real pianist) and Sis. Nichols were transferred this week during missionary transfers. We received 2 new native Elders, an American (Elder Gilbert) and a new Phillipino Elder who speaks very good English and of course his native tongue, but is quickly learning Bahasa. His name is Dalilis, which we could not pronounce. So with his accent, he told us to think of the 3rd verse of Battle Hymn of the Republic, you know, "in the beauty of Da lilies". That's it! We won't forget now. We also have Sis. Collins who is with Sis. Peters. They all sang in the Choir. But the highlight of the day for us was hearing Lala, the 9 year old Elder Greenway baptized. She climbed right up on a chair so she could be seen, and spoke about how important the temple is to her family. She loves her family, where she is # 10 in the line of 13 children. She said her father, that she really loves, is not a member, but someday her dream is to have her family sealed together forever. We were soooo proud of her. It is amazing how you can become so attached so quickly. All in all the conference was excellent. They even had translators for we English and for Elder Chan.
The one other event that was remarkable this week was our visit to UNISRI, where we work with the English majors. This is the university where we never know which class we will have. Last week we decided to teach this class of about 40 "The Twelve Days of Christmas". I found coloring pages online, colored them and typed up the lyrics. We also prepared "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" with lyrics, and a giant Rudolph head I put together. Please remember that about 93 percent of these students are Muslim, and do not know a lot about Christmas. So we talked about the different names of Santa Claus, and other holiday terms, and then we handed out the lyrics to the 12 groups we had formed at the beginning of class.
Ron and I demonstrated how the song should go, with pictures, emphasizing 5 GOLDEN RINGS, pointing to the 2 girls and 1 boy in that group. And then came the performance! We started with everyone singing every number, and you should have heard them. I had left the door open, so that other classes could hear, but I could have locked us in sound-proof room, and they would have heard. It was soooooooooooooo fun. And the 5 GOLDEN RINGS,..... AMAZING!! Then we stopped and worked on fourTH, fifTH, sixTH, etc. Indonesians are not to good with the "th" sound. So we practiced sticking our tongues out, (after all this is an English class) and then we lined them up along the front of the class and had each group sing their own number. When we got to 5 GOLDEN RINGS, that young man sang in a loud falsetto soprano voice (my sons know how to do this very well while embarrassing their mother), so he would sound more like his partners. We ALL cracked up, but went right on to the end. Oh, how I wish you could have heard this!!! We also did "Rudoph the Red Nosed Reindeer", with the echoes ( you know "like a light bulb") but instead of "like Columbus did", we sang "like Slamet Riyadi" because he is the namesake of the University and Indonesia's famous hero.
THEN, we played pin the nose on Rudolph, explaining that it is usually "pin the tail on the donkey". They had such fun. By the time it was over, we were dripping sweat, but we kept saying all the way home, "THAT WAS SO MUCH FUN!" We let them take the words home, and encouraged them to sing with their families. They were excited to try. Can we say family home evening?!
We are so happy to be a part of these people’s lives. We love them, and they are so good to us. Yesterday I had one of my bad neck days (long story). So we left the adult session of conference a little early and took a becak ( baychak - a transportation mode where a fellow bicycles a little cab around) home. We had 4 texts (called SMS here) asking how we were. Most from the YSA group - Widap, Monique, Ricko, and Aster. They are Heavenly Fathers future here, and they have been put here with purpose. They are mature, (Monique lead the District Choir and she is 15, Ricko is the young elder heading to SLC on his mission), dedicated, loving, converted children of God. We learn from them every day. We can't tell you how impressed we are with the youth and children of Indonesia, members and non-members. They are polite and hard working. We can see the Armies of Helaman in them. They honor this country.
This week on Friday Elder Greenway and I are feeding the Elders and Sisters Christmas dinner. We found a Norbest Turkey at Lotte Mart, and the missionaries voted to eat it before Elder Ward and Elder Brown head home to the US. So this Friday is the day. I am writing down the plan to cook all this with my easy bake oven, and two burners. But I think we can do it...... That story is for next week. Also, we are having the YSA party the next day at the Kepatihan building. We are having Taco Soup, etc. and watching "Scrooge", (yes, my children, Scrooge!), the wonderful musical based on "The Christmas Carol". So we will be cooking from about Wednesday on. I think we'll do some singing too. But that is for another week.
So we will say tootle-loo! We hope you are having a Christmas time full of joy and service. The two definitely go together! We are grateful for any emails, so send away. You are the people we love, and we love to know how you are doing.
Serve and take care of each other,
Elder and Sister Greenway