Happy New Year to Wonderful Family and Friends!I really hope you had a blessed Christmas, and that you are all ready for the year to come. Whodathunk last Christmas that we would have been celebrating the New Year 2012 in Solo, Indonesia?!? It always amazes me a little... I have heard from some of you this week and I am glad you are all well.
We spent a very quiet New Year’s Eve. We actually took time to do a little shopping earlier in the day. Just like good ol' USA, the Grand Mall, and Solo Square had their after Christmas sales, and we found a shoe store with most shoes from 20 - 70 percent off. Wow! Now, we have found that missionaries a very hard on shoes, (and we don't even go tracting). So Elder Greenway got one pair at 20 percent off, and I found a pair at 70 percent off, so of course I got to get 2 pair!!!!! I mean that is only logical. All in all, at a Gabino shoe store (?) we got 3 pair of nice shoes for about $37, and at our new Pizza Hut (where they have tuna pizzas, & hot dog pizzas) it cost us less that $10 dollars for a medium pizza and 2 drinks. So, we celebrated well. Solo went right ahead and partied without us with fireworks and a downtown party. The Paragon (the upscale hotel we live at) had a big dance in the ballroom, so we heard the celebration. However, by 10 p.m., I was snoozing, and heard nothing until our Muslim morning wake-up call at about 4:45 a.m.
Now that doesn't mean we have not had our share of parties. As I told you last week, we had three Christmas parties to go to this week. In the meantime, we told the Elders and Sisters that they could use our Skype to "call" home for Christmas. So, Monday morning, which was Christmas night in the USA, our apartment filled with Elders. The Sisters came the night before. They had been out taking their tiny Christmas tree with lights and decorations to one of the less-active families they have been working with. The Sisters had stayed to help the children of the family decorate and to sing carols with the family. So when they got here they were pumped up with Christmas cheer and love. They are such sweet ladies, and we gave them some goodies, but Sister Collins was not feeling well. Sort of a version of Salamet Ryadi's Revenge.
The next morning 3 of the Elders were feverish and yucky but wanted to Skype their families. It was a fun morning. We had 4 companionships in our apartment, and sick or not they went through a huge plate of goodies and quarts of juice and punch! (thank you Emily for the drink packets). Well, by Monday night the sight of food left me a little green. We were supposed to attend a family home evening at the house of one Branch Presidents. Their son had seen "Scrooge" at the YSA party and wanted his family to see it, so poor Elder Greenway went alone. I soon found if I didn't eat I felt better, so by Tuesday evening, I felt okay enough to go to the Tangah Branch Christmas Party. President Budi (Boodee) told us there were almost 300 people at that party. People came from other branches! We will be passing some pictures along to you. They have M.Cs that banter, and all of the auxiliaries participating, and then they have Santa! Each party is somewhat the same, but of course different participants. They are talented, delightful people, AND THEIR CHILDREN LOVE TO PERFORM, INCLUDING THE TEENAGERS!
Remember Yos and Agus, who practiced and practiced "What Child is This" as a duet counting to 6 a million times, well they were amazing, and they found someone to sing along!!!! I was soooooooooooooo proud of them. They played on Tuesday, but also on Wednesday. Now Wednesday was the Barat branch party. There were about 350 at this party. It is the closest branch to a ward – the biggest and most confident of all the branches. And it was this branch that asked Elder Greenway to be the Santa! Barrita (bareeta) brought the costume by earlier in the day. It was a Santa suit meant for a Java dude. So the pants were about 6 inches too short, and the sleeves about the same. But he HO, HO, HOed his way into the party and all the children loved him. Poor Santa, it was about 199 degrees in the room, but he was wonderful. Not only do they pass out presents, but they also have someone take pictures of families with Santa, so he was a little broiled by the time he HO, HO, Hoed out the door. Of course we have pictures of this!
By that night I was starving, (yes I was, Adam) and so I came home and ate something. I was so sick on Thursday that Elder Greenway had to go to the Jebres Branch party by himself. They had Javanese dancers and a pretty scary Santa, (you will see in the pictures). On Friday we had DDM (district meeting) and we went with the Sisters to look at a new apartment. Their lease is up this month and we would like to see them in a non-rat-infested house. We have to okay any apartment they find. Now I tell you this, because we walked during mid-day to this apartment about 2 blocks and then walked home, and I just barely broke a sweat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sister Grover told me that she finally got to where she didn't sweat so much. I, of course, thought that day would never come, and I am not quite there, but it was a vast improvement. Tender mercies, tender mercies...
Now I come to the best part of the week. Sunday. It is always the best day! The Barat branch had 2 baptisms today.
One a child of 8, and another a young woman about 16. So of course, the Primary and the YW (Young Women) sang at the baptism. It was a very spiritual, lovely baptism. They had Amos (Ahhmohs), the YW who was baptized, sing a solo with the YW. She was amazingly calm, and did very well. The whole branch attends the baptism. They are so supportive. Barrita translated for us, we are getting better at understanding, but they sort of like to translate and practice their English. As they were announcing the program, he translated to Elder Greenway that Elder was to speak. (You have to know Barrita, he reminds us of our John). Elder Greenway was a bit astonished, but Barrita finally started to laugh and said he was just kidding. I think we had better get a new translator, or learn Indonesian!
One more wonderful thing. I have been trying to persuade Widap (Weedahp) a YSA (young single adult) who is 27 to go to college. This sweet girl is always so busy helping others. Her father and mother were Muslim, they had a daughter die from burns and were so sad that the father started looking for solace. Well, they found the Church and later had Widap. She and at least one of her sisters served a mission. About 2 months after she returned her father died. So, she has been helping to support her mother for a number of years. Well, we have been worried about her. She is so fun, and so happy, but below the surface I could see "concerned eyes". So one day I sat her down and we had a talk. I suggested to her that she try to go to BYU-Hawaii. She just laughed and told me she needed to take care of her mother. I told her she has at least 2 sisters that can help her mom, and I suggested she talk to her mother and ask her. Well, I got an SMS (text) this week and Friday we began working with her to prepare to take the TOEFL test to get into BYU-H. Happy Day!!!! Our goal for the test is sometime next summer... She and the other YSAs have been going around singing "I Like Life" and "Thank You Very Much" from the movie "Scrooge". There we are standing on the balcony of the church serenading to each other. Have I told you how grateful we are to be serving (and singing) among such a delightful people? They make this calling paradise!
It is pouring outside. This is the rainy season, and it rains nearly every day. We love it. The air cools, the breeze blows, and it is beautiful. We can go for walks, we can be outside, ahhhhh.... So with that I will close. I do wish you the happiest New Year. Please email and let us know how you are doing. You are all so important to us, and we would like to stay close to your lives. Thank you for your support. We are loving the work, and the people. Heavenly Father certainly loves all of His children. We have learned so much from His children here and feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity. I think the best word would be JOY!
That we may all know the joy of serving each other,
Elder and Sister Greenway