We are starting this letter on Saturday early morning because for the next 4 days we have only a little wiggle time. We will add as we go along. However, we do want the world to know that on Wednesday, Feb. 22, Anna Marie Greenway came into the world as part of John and Lynn's little family. She is a little round bundle (7 lbs. 4 oz., 18 or so " long) with dark hair and is beautiful to behold. That same day we had the opportunity to Skype with our Granddaughter Madelynne's kindergarten class. Last week one of their spelling words happened to be Web cam, so the teacher arranged with Tanya (our daughter-in-law) to have us visit the class via the web cam. We had a momentous Wednesday!
I believe I mentioned in the past about one of our branches having gone through a 3-year drought with baptisms. It just so happens that our driver Bono attends that branch, the Tangah Branch. So, we have been centering our attention there by visiting members, both active and less active. We are going out with the Elders assigned there, Elders Johnson (from Park City, Utah) and Mortoya (from Surabaya, Indo.). We are also going out with Bono. He knows everyone, and translates for us. This week we visited with:
- Heru, an elderly active widow who lives alone and who never had the opportunity to go to school, so does not read or write. The Branch takes care of her, they give her rice and vegetables, and they cemented the dirt floor of the tiny "shack" she lives in.
- Listari, who lives with her sister. Listari fell as a child and severely damaged her hip, but her parents were afraid of hospitals so she did not receive care. She has a severe limp, but is active and busy in her life.
- Sukiarto who is less active, but has a daughter, Puspah, who is very involved with YW. He is very proud of her, and we encouraged him to come to church with her, and let him know how much the branch needed him.
- Sadimin is another active member who had polio as a toddler and has a very crippled right leg and is blind in one eye. He fixes motor scooters, bicycles, and tires for a living from his curb side business. He literally just sets up in a tiny alcove; his sign is painted on an old car tire and was recently featured in the local newspaper for his fortitude in life. We told him he was famous!
- Sister Wardoyo is a cute little lady, 84 years old. She helps her family run a little cart on one of the back streets near the church. They insisted we sit, and they gave us "strobedi", (a weak strawberry flavored drink), and rujak (a "salad" of pineapple, white beets, mango, chilies, papaya that is mashed with a stone) and eaten quickly so as not to burn your lips off. They told me that they made it less spicy for me, and it was absolutely delicious as it burned on down my throat. But the best part of this visit was how smitten Sis. Wardoyo was with Elder Greenway.
For those of you who don't know...Elder Greenway has a way with little old ladies. It comes from years of elderly care with his Therapy practice. I can't tell you how many plates of cookies, how many crocheted dish towels, how many little notes he brought home over the years. Well, all I can say is he hasn't lost his touch. Sis. Wardoyo kept patting his back, putting her head on his shoulder, and pushing down on his shoulders so he wouldn't stand to leave. It was so sweet. We also met her neighbor who is not a member, that we think would let the Elders come and teach. He sat and visited with us with pretty good English.
On Friday we went with the Elders and visited Sis. Sukiarto, who lives about 5 miles from the church. She is also elderly and a widow. But she and her late husband were two of the pioneering members in Solo. She is extremely active and a big part of the growth here. Now, she can't get to church. Her children married outside the church, and she doesn't dare cross the busy road to get on the bus, and transfer twice, to get to church. She is out there alone. We need to find out what can be done to keep her in the loop, and get the sacrament to her as often as possible. We think the branch owes her that much.
We also visited Sisters Sutarmin and her daughter Nooni. Both are active, and both are married to members who are not active. The Elders shared a lesson, and we visited, and as we were about to leave, Nooni just looked at us and began to bare her testimony. She cried, and soon we all cried. Everyone can understand the words of the Spirit. We have some work to do there.
One of our busy activities we have today is a celebration lunch. Sis Suryano is heading home tomorrow from her mission. She is an "angel missionary". She makes us wish we had more sons. We are also celebrating the fact that TANGAH ELDERS HAVE A BAPTISM TOMORROW!!!!! This investigator has taken his time, has attended well, and is ready. Now I didn't mention it above, because I didn't want you to think it had anything to do with our visits. This was absolutely the hard work of the Tangah Elders, and so we are taking all the missionaries out for Papa Rons. The 3-year drought is over, and they have 2 more committed for the first week in March. We'll pray hard for that to happen! These Elders and Sisters are really diligent. They teach English, sometimes 3 times a week, find less actives, go out searching, street contact, provide weekly service to the community, and they do that all on bikes (at the peril of their lives on these streets). We feel like proud parents!
On Tuesday we attended the "farewell" for Ricko, the young man heading to SLC. It was quite a shin-dig. The family had it at their new home, and they had a videographer, and TVs, a sound system and catered food. The best part of the evening was the special musical number. All of the young full time missionaries and all return missionaries stood and sang a song together. It was amazing to see all of the members who had served missions. Most attending were from the two branches that meet at the Sopomo building. So there were many who were not there.
We kept thinking of what the Church will be like in ten years. We told the full time missionaries that it is no accident that they are here at this time. Solo is to become the 2nd Stake in Indonesia!!!!!!!!!!!! and we will all be here. The Lord knows them and he knows who he wants to be here to push this District over the edge to the Stake level. We told them that the day will come when they will tell first their children, then their grand children, that they were here when the 2nd Stake in Indonesia was organized, and then there will be 3 stakes and then a temple, and then two temples. And they will have been a part of that. There is a reason it is these particular missionaries, the Lord has faith in them, they need to honor that faith. We know it is true of us, we know it is true of them.
Tonight we head off to Kaptihan to practice with the YW of both branches. They love to sing and they love to practice to sing. Then it is off to Ayam Bakar, the barbecue chicken place for the traditional see you off dinner for Sis. Suryano. Tomorrow we will attend church at Kapatihan at 8 & 10 to play for the performances of the YW, then head to the Sopomo building at 11 for the baptism, Tangah Branch Council, take Sis. Suryano to the airport, and later pick up Sis. Nichols and Elder and Sis. Meridith from the airport and try to go to the encore performance of "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration". The members loved it so much they asked to see it again. So I will try to get back to you. If not, know that we love you, are anxiously engaged in the work, and are thrilled to be a part of His work in this particular vineyard.
Keep in touch with us, but also keep in touch with each other! To receive love, you need to share love…
Elder and Sister Greenway
p.s. If you can't get a hold of us for the next couple of days, we are headed to Jogja to meet up with the Russells. He is the ophthalmologist the church sent to train Doctors in Indonesia. We will stay in Jogja Monday night and return Tuesday evening. They will be going with Elder Greenway and I, the Meridiths (humanitarian missionaries for Indonesia) and Bono to inspect the MCKs at the Muslim Boarding Schools, etc.