Dear Great Family and Friends,
Besides being Kathryn's birthday week, and (I can't remember if I mentioned this last week) Sadie's birthday week last week, I can tell you that both son John, and son Adam are out on winter camp outs with the scouts this weekend. When we told them years ago that they would always be grateful that we pushed for them to get their Eagle in scouting, we left out the part that it would also seal their doom. Camp outs have been the result. But honestly, they love it. (honestly!) Just like Emily and Sara LOVE to go to girls’ camp... (love it!)
Hello to all from this warm, beautiful land down under. I forgot to tell you last week that we were definitely going to buy a car this week. Our Emily wired us our money last week and so we planned to drive it to Magalang this very day. But, for reasons that only bank systems know, it has not cleared into our account, so obviously no car until we can pay for it. I'm sure that is as clear as mud. I believe I told you that buying a car was not our wish, and that we have tried to be patient and wait for SLC to help Hong Kong decide what is in store for Senior Couples in Asia. But, we have so many responsibilities that require a car, and many of them are not getting done because we can't get to where we need to be. So this is the solution that must be.
We hope that it will be THIS week. Then we will be off to Magalang to visit the Elders there, inspect their apt., and visit the Magalang Branch, which is a tiny branch meeting in a store front. We would really like to spend some time there. We will also go to Samerang, a bigger branch that is almost 3 hrs from Solo. Then there is Jogja, which has a strong branch, but has seen their attendance drop a bit, and is part of a city that has a remarkable history (one of the oldest Hindu temples in the world) and where we have 2 sets of Sister Missionaries. Plus, now we have a considerable number of water projects to check on all over the mountains that are all around us, plus PEF. So, we are excited to get going! Maybe we will have better transportation news next week.
So, because we had this change of plans many of our planned projects were postponed this week. We have had the usual... piano lessons (they are so fun, I love to see the members progress), and our Solo missionary apartment inspections. Now in all fairness the Sisters just moved into a new tiny, tiny house. Really just three rooms. But it is clean, newly remodeled, freshly painted, and in a new neighborhood. But best of all (so far) no rats!!!!! This is a big deal, considering the one Elder apartment killed 11 rats the week before last, and Elder Gilbert told me today he felt one run across his feet in bed the other night! (Hey Sara, imagine if a rat had given birth in your sleeping bag!).
You have to understand that these are homes they live in, and the homes in Indonesia are very open for ventilation sake, and so that doesn't help the rat problem. Elder Gilbert's apartment was one of the cleanest, but it has a stairway that opens right onto the roof (which has an awning so rain can't get in) but they have had bats fly down into the house. Now the apartment that had the 11 rats, that wasn't so clean, so we made a great number of suggestions and gave them two weeks to get it spruced up. They are trying, and we will see the progress Wednesday. I am sure my children are wincing at the idea of our inspecting any one's work. They remember "Saturday Work" from when they were at home. I just want them to know that when we go inspect apartments we take cookies or some homemade yummy so missionaries won't hate us to come.
Two of the best parts of this week were:
1) Our weekly DDM meeting with the Elders and Sisters. They are so wonderful to watch and observe, and to just be around. Friday Elder Greenway had been asked by the Mission Office to talk to the missionaries about budgeting. So we went over all their bills and tried to see how much they have left-over for food and personal items. We are trying to see if they need their money increased. It is a very long story - the ins and outs of mission budgets, who pays for what , etc., but those missionaries live a very stark existence. So I let Elder Greenway handle it.
I am always wanting to feed them, which is why I take cookies every week to this meeting. Well, when we got out of the taxi at the Kapatihan building on Friday, I realized I had walked out of our house without the cookies. When we went in the meeting I apologized, I felt sooooo bad. The week before we were out at the Water Projects and so we didn't attend the meeting, and then to forget!!!! Anyway, they all said that they would come and get them and then they laughed and we started the meeting. We want you to know how much we love these fine missionaries. They are remarkable, and they are well disciplined. They have an eye single to the work they have been called to do, and we admire them and are so honored to spend time with them. They sacrifice much to serve in Indonesia, as do missionaries all over the world, and our love for the missionary work has increased by serving with them here.
They were asked to teach a "neighborhood" English class for children once a week where they could have a considerable number of children. Their English classes have always been a great way to find investigators, but they voted on it because they would all need to help. So they will now move forward to see how this goes. Then they also decided that every week they would clean a street. We know that sounds weird, but these wonderful, clean, sweet, loving Indonesians have a big problem with littering. So to increase their visual presence, the missionaries voted to clean a street each week. They are so fun. We'll see how it goes, and we'll see if we can help them. Anyway, after DDM Elder and I came home and I was making some soup to freeze, when tap, tap, tap, and we open the door to 11 missionaries. Can you imagine 8 Elders and 3 Sisters on bikes pulling into the parking garage of a hotel and then crowding into an elevator that stops at each floor? We were so proud of them!!! So they had cookies and juice and then headed right back out to do the work. WOW!! We are so blessed!
2) We found out that Thomas, one of my piano students that just showed up one day, will be baptized with his brother on Feb. 5! He is delightful. He always comes in at the beginning of his lesson and finds me. "Hello, Sestuh Grenway" (Indonesians don't do the long 'e' sound in the usual places), he'll say, and shake my hand, and then go find Elder and shake his hand. AND!!! he is very smart and moving along quickly with the piano. OH I WAS SOOO EXCITED! We are just so proud of him. I'm sure I will tell you about it in a week. Bro. Busro, who comes to lessons is also moving quickly along. He has never had lessons, he doesn't speak a word of English, and he comes to piano every week along with all the kids, Kiki, Lala, Luki, Willi, Dinda, Ricko, Cori, Aster (she's no kid, and last week she help me teach. She is almost 21), Ezra, Thomas and, also, Bro Coki. I found out that Bro. Busro is the only member in his family. His wife and all his immediate family are Muslim. He comes each week and is happy and helpful in the Branch. Every so often his wife will come with him. I tried to tell him today that I am telling you about him..."Minggu tiap saya keluarga tulis mengenai orang Indonesia. Anda saya akantulis mengenai minggu ini. He understood, he even told me to tell you he isn't any good at piano. I told him "Tidak"! (No) Piano builds good relationships.
Today Noto blessed the sacrament. He is the fellow whose son was not attending church, and so the Missionaries asked us to talk to him. What we found out was that the son was not his son and that the mom was not his wife. Well, they are married now, and both are coming and doing well. The boy is still spotty in attendance, but still..... He did a great job! Tonight the Sopomo missionaries are hosting a fireside and showing the Joseph Smith Film that has been showing in all the temple visitor centers. So I will tell you about it later.
Later:What a perfect experience to close this letter. We have just returned from watching "Joseph, Prophet of the Restoration". We remember the first time we saw this film. It was at the Joseph Smith Building in SLC and we were with John and Lynn. When it was over and we walked into the sunlight, I cried and cried... I could not stop crying. Finally, we decided to walk across the street to get something for lunch and there was Elder David B. Haight at the McDonald's ordering a cheeseburger, which made me cry even more. Not because he was eating a cheeseburger from McDonald's, but because I was soooooo grateful to be a part of the Lord's Church. So when the movie started tonight, I started to cry again.
I am very thankful for the Gospel, I am so thankful for Joseph Smith, and Emma and Hyrum. I am so thankful for Henrich Hansen, and Kristen Olsen, for Sarah Thomas and Christian Christensen, for Pleasant Ewell, and Ann Morris Creer. I am so thankful for Nate and Dottie Greenway, for all of these people and more, who accepted the Gospel and left all that was familiar so that I could have the life I have had. I want to see these people someday and somehow thank them for their sacrifice. I do not ever want to be the weak link in the chain that they forged for me. I realized again tonight that our life has been so blessed, that whatever we have been asked to give to the Lord will never compare to what was asked of those early Saints. That their sacrifice was a gift to us, and we pass the gift along by how we live our lives and share the Gospel with others. How can I be so selfish as to keep this gift a secret, to hold it so close that others are not allowed to see its glory and joy? I know that we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that those Saints looked forward, and believed. I hope I can see my way to be like them. We love you eternally, dear family and dear friends.
With that love,
Elder and Sister G