Happy Day! All is Well!!! It is so very wonderful to see the Lord's work expand and progress and to see the Indonesian people take hold of an inspired program and just fly! WOW!! or should I say WADUH!!!! which is wow in Indonesian.
I'm sure you remember the letter where we asked the Full-time Missionaries to act the parts of a Branch Council using the Rescue Program as outlined on the Church's website. It was for District Conference in Dec. and it was our opportunity to introduce it to the District Leadership. Well, then came Christmas, and there were no Branch Councils to be found. We had asked to go to each Branch Council and take them through the Rescue Program but we had to wait until they were really having them. Unbeknownst to us, the Benjasari Branch had already started work on it. Elder Greenway had taught the Branch Presidents and shown them the website for instruction earlier in Nov., and so Pres. Ipung had gone home, and he had done his homework. Today when we met with his Branch Council they were on target, right down to have the chairs set up in a "U" shape. They had chosen 8 or so names and had really worked hard to gather information, to visit, to ponder what would be the best action, etc. IT WAS AMAZING! And for any bishop or branch pres. out there, these councils have some pretty intense struggles to deal with. When you are a Christian Church in a Muslim country it complicates things about 1000 [times]. We just sat back and watched them be inspired, and every so often they would ask our advice, and we would say you are doing perfectly well without us. WE WERE SOOOOOOOOO EXCITED!!! Now, just to pull us down to earth, not every branch is there, but they will be, and then they will grow, and then they will do other things well, and then they will be a Stake and then.... Oh it is so wonderful .....We have a big sign on our apartment wall that states; GOAL: SURAKARTA STAKE 2013! And do you know what? I believe that it is going to happen! We just need to work a little harder.
These Branch leaders are wonderful people. Today as soon as we walked in the door, the Primary Pres. from the Jebres Branch, Endah (who is the Branch Pres. wife) grabbed me and asked if I would play through the Primary song of the year for her. So we sat down and went through it literally about 15 times, over and over, so that she would know it well. She asked if I would come to Primary and play it for them, however the next Benjasari Branch asked me to play for Sacrament meeting. But she came and got me, and the children went over it 15 more times. She taught it to them, then she had them sing all 3 verses about 3 times, then she had different children sing a verse, then she had them stand and sing, then she went over the 3rd verse twice, and then they sang it again. Then I told her I had to go play the closing song, so I don't know if they went over it again or not. They are such a glorious people. I overheard the YW singing the "As Sisters in Zion/We'll Bring the World His Truth" medley to a tape today, and I noticed that about 5 girls sounded like 20 girls.
Elder Greenway has also been working with the Branches to get the names of all members 18-30 for PEF. He then needed the 4 President's input as to the best candidates. Next, they will send out invitations (a huge bunch) for the PEF Fireside where the program is explained. Then we can really get started identifying serious students, holding the workshops, and getting the schools on-board. Then come the PEF Loans, and wahlah! PEF in Central Java. We are hoping the 1st Loans will go out by May or June.
This week also brought the beginnings of a new Water Project. The Meridiths (the humanitarian couple) came on Thursday and we went out to eat to Layar, one of the wonderful restaurants the Grovers showed us. We have eaten there a number of times and it is always great. But Thursday, for the 1st time in Indonesia, I got food poisoning. By the time the taxi got us home I knew something was wrong, and I was up most of the night getting rid of it. It was either that, or the fact that all of my family at home have had the flu, and I got it over Skype. You can decide. Nevertheless, the next day we were to go with the Meridiths and Bono, and Sutarno (the local member who is the liaison with the people who live on the mountain) and meet with the Village Councils and talk about what they need, and to go over the plans that will take off from the original project. So sweet Elder Greenway went without his companion, but loved every minute of it. These villagers love the church, at one point Elder Meridith asked, "You do know that we are Christian?" and the reply was "We have a Christian (pointing to a fellow villager) and Christians and Muslims are like this!" (locking fingers together to show brotherhood and strength). Then one of the farmers gave out his beautiful long tender fresh green beans and I have some sitting in my 'fridge. This was so exciting for my Elder, who loves to hang with the locals. Later that evening President Groberg and Sis. Groberg (who were in Solo for Zone Conference) wanted to go out to dinner, so we went to a little "warung" (cafe) across the street from their hotel. I had Sprite.
Zone Conference was especially inspiring. The theme centered on the Attributes of the Savior taken from Preach My Gospel. There is a survey in Preach My Gospel where you can rate your progress in adopting the attributes of the Savior. Each District collected the "scores" from their District, and the first talks were on the lowest scored attributes. Can you guess which attribute scored lowest....... if you guessed patience you were correct. (and that was without my scores!) If mine had been collected, patience would have even been worse! So there were talks on Faith, Hope, Charity, Love, Virtue, Obedience, Knowledge, Diligence, Humility and Patience. Patience was discussed twice. We also discussed budgeting, (I bet my family can guess who gave that talk) yup! Dad!!! He did a great job. He drew a picture on the board of a life raft with 2 people, and an island. He said that you are in the raft, and you are headed for the island which is 30 days away. In the raft are 30 bottles of water and 30 bananas. Then he talked about budgeting water and bananas. He talked about saving a swallow or two of water a day, just in case. It was a great way to help the missionaries understand the need to be careful with their allotment. I talked about making the English classes fun and active. Most of the Elders teach free English Classes using the "Daily Dose" program. And there have been many converts that come from those English classes. But if they are boring and unprepared, people will not come or recommend the class. So I ran quickly through a class with them. We sang "She'll be Comin' 'Round the Mount'in" to emphasize a lesson on contractions. All in all, it was a great day, with wonderful missionaries, and a strong and capable Mission President. We were grateful for the opportunity.
As we have told you, it is the rainy season, which means that every day it rains. Sometimes a lot for a bit, and sometimes a lot for a lot. They have had flooding in some areas, and it has been downright cool in the evenings. Guess what, I, yes I, even turned the A.C. back a bit in the apartment. Every night there is a cool breeze, and sometimes it rains the entire night. It rains here like it does in PA. when we have a gutter buster, only every day. Yesterday during Zone Conference it was so loud we could not hear for a bit. But I was wishing that it would go on and on. I am not looking forward for the hot season. We came in at the end of it, so I do know the difference.
Well, rainy or not, we are grateful for this opportunity. We have not found a solution to the lack -of -a -car problem and may have to buy a car. I guess that wheels turn slowly in all governments, even church. We cannot adequately do our job without a car, so the next step is to purchase. There are complications with that, but we will not be the first. We keep telling the President that we could handle a "motor" (scooter). The word he keeps using is "verboten", or something negative like that. We will conquer this issue. Thanks for your support, it is always nice to hear from you. We love it when we have birthdays, (we have a gadzillion in January) because we get to Skype the kids. We would love to hear from all of you. News of home is always welcome, we love you all so much.
Take care of each other, (that is a Christ-like attribute)
Elder and Sister Greenway