Merry, Merry Christmas good family and friends!
This is such a great day! We got to finish our beautiful advent calendar, and we got to have Christmas on Sunday. That is double good. But before I get to that, I'd better start back a ways in the week. Now, I would not be silly enough to think that any of you are going to read this before,...let's see, oh maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. Life is pretty busy right now for all of us, and I would think doing all the Christmasy stuff is pretty important. This is always news that can wait.
First of all, Tuesday piano got rained out AGAIN, so there will be three weeks where we do not have piano. But we did have piano on Wednesday, well at least Agus and Yos came. They want to play a duet, I gave them, at their branch Christmas party on Tuesday. The problem was, that the secondo part of the duet is in 6/8 time, while the primo part is in 6/4 time. So it was giving Agus a heart attack that Yos would play two measures to Agus' one measure. Anyway, finally I grabbed the part, and re-wrote Agus' part in 6/8 time and WALLAH!,....they were much better. We counted to 6 about a hundred times, but he finally got it. I am very proud of them.
While I was counting to 6 over and over and over and over, Elder was working with Ari on her Toefl test material. By the end of the evening, he had her reading and finding info. and implied info. However this is going to take some time. She has a ways to go because this test is pretty hard. I read through the practice question, and while I figured it out, at first it seemed that all the answers were correct. I am glad that part of life is behind me. Ron and sometimes I will be meeting with her twice a week, until she is ready. Her goal is April or May.
Thursday was a big event in our week. We will have a number of events until the new year but this was the first. We have spoken of Moko many times over the weeks. He is the son of Sutarno, he was a driver for the Senior Conference held ages ago, he has been called to Australia on his mission, and he has been meeting with Ron and Riko (the young man going to SLC on a mission) twice a week for a month or so. They have been working on Preach My Gospel and their english. Now, in Solo, when a young man is getting ready to leave, the family has a farewell. This is held on a day other than Sunday and they call it a special Family Home Evening for the Branch. They set up chairs in a big oval about 3 rows deep, and they sing hymns, and they have friends and family bear testimony, and at this event the YM and YW sang a couple of songs, one being "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again". Moko asked Elder Greenway to be one of the speakers. It was a very nice event, and lasted about 1 1/2 hrs. Now that being said, it was to start at 6, so if you think Mormon Standard Time (always late) is a problem you should experience INDONESIAN Mormon Standard Time. Moko didn't get to the building until 6:20! When we got there, the Elders were there and that was it! I didn't start until about 6:45!!!!! Afterward, they had a buffet outside that included, Bakso (or something like that) which is a brothy meatball soup, macaroni (sort of a mild milky casserole that they put sambal (hot!!!) all over, fried bananas, rice and........ stewed, spicy, (sort of like stew meat) DOG! Yup, only they don't have a little sign that states "dog", but they all know. So I'm standing in line behind Elder Garnett (who by the way would eat anything and everything) and I pick up my folded paper cup, and scoop about 1/2 cup rice into it, and just as Sister Gustaco (Goostaycho) ladles the gravied meat onto my rice, the District Pres. bursts out laughing. Then others standing near him join in, so I know immediately that it is dog. He wants to know if I know what it is. I tell him I do now... Ha Ha Ha, then I take my first bite of dog. A bit gristly, and very bony, but very, very, very spicy! That I think is to hide the dog flavor. Now I was NOT going to be the prudish American lady who wouldn't eat her dog, so I ate every bit, but the bones and the gristle. Soon everyone came to watch me eat it. Elder Garnett loves it and told me it has made him see his beloved Golden Retriever in a whole different way. So that was a new milestone for me. I ate dog. Elder Greenway declined. He was busy eating Hairy Fruit (see pictures). Jack Fruit ( sort of like a hard cantaloupe) and Diulangi (okay Bro. & Sis. Grover, we cannot remember the name for sure) which you can smell you are having BEFORE you are having it. They have to use machetes to get into the last two, and as soon as the machete gets through the outer casing of the diulangi, you can smell it from afar. It smells like petroleum and cough syrup mixed. No thank you, I'll stick with dog.
Friday we finally held our big Christmas dinner for the Elders and Sisters. We also invited Fareeda, Widap, and Bono & Dia, his wife. Dia had to work, but we set a place for her anyway. All in all, we fed 15 wonderful people Turkey, Stuffing, Gravy, Sweet Potatoes, Homemade Rolls, mixed vegetables, Carrot cake, Spice Cookies, and Candy. Now I must tell you that the church kitchen in Indonesia consists of a stove with oven (yea!), a sink, no pots, no pans, no dishes, no serving items, and many, many, many ants. So to start, we had to disinfect the kitchen area with Clorox water. Elder Greenway will send the picture of us leaving the hotel with everything you would need to have a Christmas dinner, except the table and chairs. All this was loaded into a taxi, whose driver couldn't believe his eyes. I even took my easy-bake oven along. We put many of the loose things in our old maroon suitcase (which I called my cupboard), our refrigerator was a green squishy cooler that the Grovers left with us (thank you again Grovers). Elder Greenway and I got there early, then the Missionaries came and held their weekly DDM while dinner was cooking. Finally the pop-up-timer on the turkey popped, and we feasted. Soon it was clean up time, you know that because the ants are back, and so the dishes were done and everything put back in the "cupboard". It was a wonderful day, and it ended with the Elders and Sisters practicing the 12 Days of Christmas and Rudolph to take along caroling. They left and we left about 2:30 in the afternoon. Fun! Fun!
So Bishop Kellis, they Church might eliminate the calling, but once a Christmas Party Planner always a Christmas Party Planner!
So, Saturday brought Christmas Eve. We cleaned the apartment, and baked Wacky Cake for the doormen, guards, reception desk people, and other employees of the Hotel Paragon (where we live). We have tried to learn their names and we talk about what we are doing. They love to ask about our family, and are amazed that we are still here. I think they are slowly getting that we will not leave for a while. They worry about our family at home. Christmas Eve evening the Sopomo Building showed the First Presidency Christmas Devotional in bahasa. Luckily we had already watched it on the computer, so we listened hard and tried to improve our language. We had invited Fareeda, and when we got there she was there. But her mother had just SMSed her and wanted her home. They keep her pretty close. So a group of young people stayed and talked to her and then we all hugged her and loved her and sent her on her way. Someday..... After, Elder and I went to Oobonk, a "steak and ribs" place that President Ipung told us about. He is the Branch Pres. of Benjasari, and takes the missionaries to this place. It had checkered tablecloths, and plastic lawn chairs, but it was busy. The steak tastes like steak and isn't breaded and fried, and the ribs (although beef ribs) were actually ribs. It was fun, and we paid 93,800 for it. Which is $9.38 for steak and ribs, and 2 drinks. We walked home, because this place is just a couple of blocks away.
So that brings us to MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!! We attended the Kapatihan building. The Jebres branch started at 8 and showed the Christmas Devotional.
We came a bit late because we were delivering the cake to all the people at Paragon. Then the Benjasari branch also showed the Christmas Devotional, but it was also Sacrament Meeting. Then, after the devotional, they have their Christmas Celebration. Some of the members sang solos, the Elders sang (impromptu), and then they handed out Christmas presents. Yup, that's right. Someone had wrapped a bunch of presents that were then handed out to all the members. This is a tradition for this branch. Pres. Ipung likes to see the children happy. Then the feast! It was a full Indonesian dinner, minus the dog,
Well, that bring us to now. We just want to say that we are so grateful to be here. We know that time is passing very quickly, and we are anxious to do all that we can for these amazing, wonderful, loving, dear, dear people. We are constantly reminded how blessed we are to be here. We are so thankful for our call, for our experiences, and for our many, many blessings. At this time of year everyone is so thankful for friends and family, and that includes us. First of all, and I have told them this many times, Heavenly Father blessed us with wise and wonderful children who have raised us well as parents. They are our shining stars, our delight, our joy and our blessing. However, they knew they had better do something amazing to keep us happy, so they had a big bunch of the most beautiful grandchildren ever created. (I know some of you may argue this point, but we are here and you are there so I can say it). We miss them, and we love them each one, and we will have some catching up to do, but that will come. Heavenly Father also knew we would need help, because, well everyone needs help raising such "perfect" children. So he sent all of the rest of you to be our example, our teachers, our comrades, our substitutes, and to encourage us through life. Thank you, thank you, for being there, and for your friendship. We pray that you have had a joyous Christmas time, that you have felt that gift of Spirit, and have had time to remember our Brother, and those many fragile Sheep that he loves so dearly. Thank you for your support. We love to hear from you and would love to hear about your Christmas celebrations. (Again, we would love to see any pictures of Great's Christmas Party. Thank you Sara, for sending yours!) Merry Christmas dear Brothers and Sisters!
With all our love,
Elder and Sister Greenway