Week twenty five! I can't believe it. Time certainly flies when you love what you're doing!!!
Before I say anything else, I must tell you that yesterday was the highlight day of our mission. FARRIDA WAS BAPTIZED! And standing in for Elder Grover was Elder Greenway, who baptized her. It was simply and absolutely beautiful. She was so happy and excited and the font room was full to overflowing with the wonderful members who have grown to love her. Her friend Francesca was there and Francesca brought another friend. We gave her a photo album with some pictures we had the Grovers send us of her early days as an investigator. She has also begged me for pictures of my family.
Farrida wants an eternal family. She recognizes the difference between a God of love, and the vengeful God she knew about. She Knows Her Heavenly Father Loves Her and She Wants an Eternal Family. So Greenway Kids, she is now part of your family. She has taken a hankering to Jackson. She calls him rascal, because that's how I described him. Today, she was to be confirmed, but her father came (she lives with her brother) and took her "motor" away. So by the time she found an "angkota" (a van that is part of the public transportation here) and got to Church she was too late. The Branch Pres. said next week... so we are taking her and Francesca out to dinner tomorrow to celebrate anyway! She is beautiful inside and out, and we love her dearly.
The only thing that could make this better was the baptism today of Indah and her daughter Febi, another 2 baptisms for the Tangah Elders!!!! This lady will make a wonderful contribution to the branch. She is as they say "golden".
We started the week by driving off to Yogjakarta (Jogja - 2 hrs.) with Bro. and Sis. Meridith, the humanitarian missionaries for Indonesia. They own a cherry orchard on West Mountain near Payson, Utah. They're practically neighbors from where I grew up and we know many of the same people. (For my siblings... they are very good friends with Doc and Pam Mendenhall.) What a small world.
Anyway, Jogja is a country within a country. When Indonesia gained their Independence, Jogja arrange to retain their "kingdom" title, and so they have a king (who serves like a governor of a state) with a palace and everything. There is fierce loyalty to home here in central Java. If you are from Solo, you are from there no matter where else you live, and the same goes for Jogja. The Central Javanese people LOVE their homeland and their language and customs. Jogja also has some very rich history. There are some ancient Hindu temples there that are gorgeous, and other historical areas.
However, we were on a mission (get it?) on Monday and Tuesday, and so we were at full steam. Our first stop was to meet Sister Russell, the wife of the Retina Surgeon who was sent by the Church to teach some Drs. at the Eye Center there. They are actually headed home to Iowa tomorrow, but they have been here for two weeks. He brought equipment ($$$) donated by the Church with him, and has taught and lectured and operated so the Doctors, Residents and Interns could learn the latest. We found Sister Russell, and then met with both of them for lunch. Dr. Russell had to get back, so we took her with us to visit the United Cerebral Palsy unit there in Jogja.
The Church works with the United Cerebral Palsy in placing wheelchairs to needy people worldwide. Recipients are required to pay something for the chairs, so it might be a dollar, it might be $100, depending on the income of the family. The Church actually worked with them to design a better wheelchair for all the areas of the world, (they don't believe in sidewalks in Indonesia). These people are the best of the best! You almost feel you are in the presence of something holy. They understand the term "the least of these", and they have dedicated their lives to helping others. We were in awe.
We took a minute after that to visit a village south of Jogja where the entire community works together to produce some gorgeous pottery. We all enjoyed going from shop to shop. We bought a wind chime that is made of bamboo and coconuts. It has a funny bird on the top that moves as the chimes move, and a beautiful pottery dish that has bamboo woven along the edges. Then we did something monumental.....WE ATE SUPPER AT A WENDY'S!
Now, you have to understand that McDonalds and KFC are here in Solo, but they don't taste like they do in the US. (Some of you are saying that is a blessing). This Wendy's had the very same chili and baked potatoes that you can get on South Hanover Street in Carlisle!!!!!! Then the big news…we found out from the manager that they are building a Wendy's in the mall that connects to our apartment building in Solo. (I want to be honest, they do not have Diet Coke, so this was much bigger news for Elder Greenway than for me.)
Okay, back to the mission... The next day we attended a short lecture (short was good because I didn't understand a thing he said) by Dr. Russell, which Ron said was excellent and I'll take his word for it. Then we went to the operating room area. Now this is where it got worrisome.
They invited us into the Doctors’ area. However, to get there we had to go through a dark room where they had about 4 patients draped in gowns for cataract surgery. There were also about a dozen sets of shoes by the door, because that is the Muslim custom. So, this is a hospital. Hospitals are very germy places. Indonesian hospitals are VERY germy places. There is no door separating the Doctors’ area and this yucky waiting area, and I had to take my shoes off and walk barefoot to the couch where they were all waiting. There were about six other barefoot natives, and then the men had socks on.
So, we sat down and they had snacks and water available, and a TV that was showing actual cataract surgeries in progress. Imagine 12-inch eyeballs being cut, cataracts being sucked out, and then stitched up. Two of the snacks were these little round balls, but I was too worried about my polluted feet, to care about eating "eyeballs". However, I did learn more than I did in the lecture. I always have been a visual learner.
Well, then it was time for lunch. We decided it would be fun to take the 2 sets of Sister missionaries out for lunch, so we called and let them decide where they wanted to go. You guessed it, Wendy's!
I promised myself I would not tell anymore piano stories, but I just want to tell you, that I was just about finished with my 5:00 lesson on Wednesday, when the door opened and in walked a family (mom, dad, 2 kids) I don't recognize. I only had time to say welcome, when the door opened and in walked a couple of kids and a Muslim woman (I am assuming was their "nanny") that I have never seen before. I only had time to say welcome, when the door opened and in walked the lady that was baptized today, Indah, with her daughter, Febi. Now, I was sort of expecting Febi, but not the others! After some interesting moments of my bad Bahasa mixed with their bad English, I found out that Elder Mortoyo sent them and told them I would teach them piano, but he sort of forgot to tell me. So, I sat them down to the pianos, talked to them about posture (sit tall - duduk tinggi), hand position (dengan bola bawa), we "numbered" their fingers (satu, dua, tiga, etc.), and I wrote the finger numbers on the white board to "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" (because it was the only song I could think of in my shocked condition and I had no music for them BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW THEY WERE COMING) and we all played that song and talked about rhythm and then they were "sudah" (done).
I then sent a SMS (text) to Elder Mortoyo, who barely understands English, and told him, and I quote, that he was "dead meat"! He understood that. We had a good laugh about it Friday at DDM (district meeting).
Right after DDM we took the Jebres Elders to lunch and let them chose where (if we had a Wendy's...). They chose KFC!!!! Mannnnnnnnn!!!! What a week for cholesterol! THEN we went to see Samsi, whose husband is a return missionary, but is not coming to church. She lives where there is a communal bathroom, a communal well (I'd rather go back to the operating room), and her home was one room about 12 ft. by 12 ft. However, it was colorful and clean and we sat on the floor and had a wonderful lesson together. She has a son who became a deacon today. Today at church she told a member that I was as her "Ibu" (mother). I told her I was okay with that, her mother passed away last year.
Elder Greenway has some big events coming up with PEF and ERS. Tomorrow we are heading out to inspect the water projects. OH!!!!!!! Elder Greenway and Elder Meridith, and Mike Allen (from United Cerebral Palsy), and the Elders ( if they can get permission) all want to HIKE TO THE TOP OF MARAPI!!! (I know, Elder & Sister Grover, I tried to tell them). Merapi is the ACTIVE volcano that looks just like a volcano you would draw if you were 6. Straight up to a point on top. So, children, this is to take place around March 19; I should be bringing your injured father home on the 20th for you to take care of… 'cause I'm comin' back!
It has been a marvelous week. What could be better than 3 baptisms? (I know... 4.) We're thrilled with the branches, the missionaries, the work, and most of all with being a part of this worldwide Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are grateful to talk to many of you. You are important to us. We want to know what is going on in your lives. Sometimes we get caught up in paradise, and you bring us back to your paradise.
We are thankful that you are taking care of each other. There isn't anything more important than that. The Savior made sure we knew that he expects us to take care of our stewardships. Family is the most important stewardship on earth. We love you, we certainly do pray for you, and we hope you pray for us. Be faithful.
With full hearts,
mom & dad
(Sister and Elder Greenway)