Happy Valentine's Day to the People We Love and Adore!
This is an important week. Today, Feb. 12, marks two years since Great (Grandma Hansen) passed away. TWO YEARS!! I'm sure everyone agrees she will ever be missed. Then there is Valentine Day! The perfect time to tell you all how much we care about you and your families. We are blessed to have been loved and befriended by so many good, good, people. We miss you all tremendously, but we are also very grateful for our Indonesian friends who also bless our lives.
Well, speaking of Valentine Day. Agus and Yos, both 16, came to me and asked if I had a duet "love song" they could play on the piano for the seminary Valentine Party. Yos is a pretty good pianist, Agus has not been playing as long. But, I think there is something to Agus wanting to catch up, because he will work on things that are above his level, and he usually pulls through. Working with the two of them is pure joy. They work hard, we laugh a lot, and I push them along. Well, they are willingly pushed! By the time Agus goes on a mission, he will be able to play the hymns (which is the goal for all these students).
Oh, and I must tell you that I had student number 20 walk in the door last Tuesday. It is so funny, they just come and stand inside the door and wait for me to ask if they are there for lessons, then we put them on a piano. Elder Gilbert has been saving my life each week by helping with the newest students. I have added Arum, and Pungky, two little girls who are the same age. Most of the students are from the Kapatihan building, and I added Devara, Dandi, and Didi to the Sopomo list. You can tell the last three are from one family.
Now, I will tell you that when the Church talks about member support missionaries, they are talking about piano lessons. Those members support me! Not with money, but with joy and love. We have so much fun getting to know these young people and their families. I know I continue to bore you with all this, but it is truly a fellowshipping wonder, and I don't know why we don't do it in the Wards at home. Giving free lessons at the church to those who are willing to come each week and work through the Keyboard Course book. Adults, Youth, Children, the Church certainly needs more pianists.
We having been using our wheels for more than piano. We have been visiting the less active, or part member families with the Elders every chance we get. The Elders are very patient with our lack of language skills – they translate for us. We told you about the "Recipe for Eternal Life" lesson last letter. Elder Johnson liked the lesson and asked us to go with them Friday to two families. First of all, (and all of the missionaries who read this that served in struggling nations will know exactly what we mean) the majority of people in Indonesia live in the most humble of circumstances. You cannot know if you have not seen it. BUT, they are loving and happy and smiling and caring, and we love to be with them. We have visited four families this week and have been praying that the Spirit will touch their hearts.
The last family we visited on Friday concerned us. Sister Subeno hardly smiled the entire time we were there. I watched her as we presented the message and as Elder Greenway and the Elders spoke to her. Elder G. (through our translators) reminded them that as missionaries, we come and go; but, the real strength of the Tangah Branch will always be its members. The Branch needs each member, with all their talents and strengths. Then I asked her when she was baptized and what helped her to make that decision. She told me it was the Book of Mormon! So I told her that the Book of Mormon will never change. That it can still bring us joy and lead us to eternal life. She just nodded. But as we were leaving, she touched my arm and smiled a big smile at me. So I hugged her, and whispered, "Tolong datang." Please come. But then...
We attended church in Magelang today (about 2 hrs. away) and poor Bono had to drive home in the POURING rain, passed the steamy volcano, through the mountain passes, dodging new waterfalls spilling out onto the highway. He's a wonder. We left at 6 a.m. and got home just before 5 p.m. This is a very tiny branch, in the smallest town in the mission with Elders assigned to it. (We found out about that today). But, wow! did we enjoy the time there and the people of the branch. Pres. Dadang is a very dear, spiritual man that we came to love very quickly. He and his wife, Suwartini, and 15 year old son, Dedi, live about an hour from the tiny, tiny building that houses the branch. The son plays the piano for the meetings, (quite well) and I recognized the wife from District leadership meetings. They need so much – more members, more support, more guidance, more recognition for their sacrifice.
When we arrived here in Solo, we found out that one of the missionaries in Magelang came from northern Idaho. His name is Elder Townsend, AND HE IS STILL THERE. He came from the US. and was sent right to Magelang with a native companion, to serve this teeny branch. Oh, the culture shock! But, as we all know, you can either sink or swim, and he choose to swim. He is a very strong and dedicated Elder, and you can tell the members of the branch love him, and look up to him. It made me realize that in this world of instant communication, there is an enormous responsibility that all missionaries take on to remain an example even after many years. I thought of the damage that could be done to a branch if someone like Elder Townsend ever fell away.
We were also delighted to attend Branch Council, and watch the Rescue Program utilized at its best. These wonderful, wonderful Indonesian leaders.
Finally, last night we had a Banana Bread Bake-off, and Movie night with the YSAs from the 4 Solo Branches. We had about 20 there by the end. There is Mormon Standard Time, and then there is Indonesian Mormon Standard Time. However, in the beginning we divided them into 3 groups and we made Amy's Banana Bread recipe because it uses oil. There are entire grocery aisles dedicated to oil here because nearly everything is fried, so it is cheap. It was so fun, most of them have never baked because they don't have ovens. We took my easy bake oven just in case, and that was a good thing because the Kapatihan oven wouldn't start. We made 12 small loaves, and I could fit 6 in my oven at a time. So, we started "The Secret Garden", and after about 30 minutes they all had some warm banana bread. Farrida, and Francesca (her investigator friend) were there. Also, Rudi who was there for the last time because he will be married to Femi this Tuesday. Also, Widap, Yuli, Ricko, Frisca, Bayu, Tian and a number of others. We tell you their names because we want you to know that these terrific young people really exist, really are part of this wonderful vineyard.
Elder Greenway said I should add that one of the most exciting things that happened this week was to find out that you can get Diet Coke... in a cup...WITH ICE at Papa Ron's Pizza! I can't imagine why he wanted me to add that, other than my dancing for joy in front of the missionaries when I found out, (just kidding Pres. Giles & Bishop Kellis). Some things never change.
With great love for you all,
Elder and Sister G.