Hello to all friends and family!
Before we start on the week, I want to wish Sara and Kyle a happy Anniversary this week. I hope you have a lovely celebration.
I know I took for granted the privilege I had to be married in the temple and have one close enough to attend. Since 1976 Dad and I have never had a temple closer than an hour away, most of those years the temple was at least 2 hours distance. Today I attended the Jebres Branch Council meeting and the Branch Pres. handed out the goals for the Branch for this year. Included were the plans to help 3 families get to the Manila Philippine temple for the first time. It is such an expense for these families, and so many wait years. Going to the temple often seems like a good way to celebrate any old day.
We started this week by going to check on the Boyalali water project. We left early and once we started up the mountain, the A/C was off and the windows were down. I was lovely, gorgeous, and interesting. The huge reservoir had the top poured and was being reinforced. This huge "tank" looks like a gigantic rectangular cement box. There will be others built similar but not as big. The pipe from the source comes down the mountain and part of the water will fill this tank and other tanks. Then the water will be distributed among the villages. Have I told you lately how I love these fine Indonesian people?!? As we drive along, they wave and call out, and if we stop... for instance to inspect how an MCK is coming along, then the children will crowd around and pose for pictures. Elder Greenway loves to tease the boys about the girls, and they get so silly. (So does he!) It is one of our favorite pastimes, taking pictures of the Indonesian children.
Thursday we are heading to Jogja to see one of the finished MCKs at one of the Islamic Boarding Schools. I love to take cookies to these schools, and they love to eat them. On our way home last Monday we decided to go to visit the Solo King's Palace. Now a bit of history...the Dutch began their rule here around 1600, and before that were the Portuguese. Through all that time Surakarta (Solo) had a King. The first one had in his many names, the name Sola (hence Solo).
The Kingdom passed from father to son, (some of these kings had 40 wives and 148 children) even until now. However, in 1945 when Indonesia gained Independence, the Surakarta Kingdom lost all political power, are only allowed one wife, and have NO money. The King lives in the palace, but he has a day-job, and his children go to public schools. Therefore, the grounds, (which are huge with many, many buildings) and all the ancient artifacts (some from ancient Indonesia when they were just tribes) are in sore need of care. We kept saying that John would go crazy seeing all the poorly kept artifacts.
They have a huge silk umbrella that was used at the first kings coronation, which is shredded and in tatters. However, they also have life size statues of the eunuchs that once guarded the queen and her children, and a wooden teak umbrella that was used in circumcision rituals. I thought to myself that I'll bet the last thing anyone was thinking at that time was, “Boy, I'm sure glad they brought an umbrella!” We enjoyed the lecture given to us in English by the guide, and Elder gave him about 25,000 rupiah for his trouble ( a whole $2.50) and the guide let Bono know he usually got $5.00 for his English tours, so Elder had to cough up the extra amount. Poor Elder...
On Wednesday we were suppose to inspect the missionary apartments, however the Barat and Tangah Elders had their apartment broken into Tuesday evening. They were invited to Pres. Budi's home for dinner and then went to the Sopomo Building. There was a short blackout in that area and when they arrived home a window next to the door had been broken, and then the burglars simply unlocked the door. However, first they tried to force it open, so there was damage to the door and the broken window. They got away with some portable DVD players, a personal hard drive belonging to one of the Elders, a bike, and various other things. The President called Elder at about 9:30 and he walked over to the apartment. Poor guys, there were police all over the place. Elder will have to tell you about the police. Let's just say CSI this ain't. Apartment inspections will be this week.
On Thursday we had the great joy of going with Bimbang, a private English tutor from the Jebres branch, to visit one of his students. He asked us because this young man is taking over his father’s batik business, and would like to market to the United States. He graduated from University here in "economy" (he meant economics) and wants to be able to converse, and understand English so he can do business with Americans. He did well, he needs to have more conversation, learn "money talk", and just grow a bit. But he was delightful (as usual) and let us tour his business.
His "brush batik", where they use bees wax to draw designs, then dye the fabric, then scrap and boil, and restart the process, was done at the homes of the artists. But his "stamp batik" was done on site. Now of all the times not to have a camera, but we thought we were meeting this man at one of the churches, and we didn't know anything about him, so we have no pictures. But the place was like an old auto repair shop, except instead of tools, there were little pots over fire, with trays of wax (paraffin, tree sap and bees wax) and there were about 5 men, stripped down with just a cloth around their waists, dipping bronze stamps into the wax and stamping the fabric.
The Business has about 1400 different stamps, and the young man told us that there is industrial espionage, and that the large textile mills copy their prints. He also told us that it is important to keep his workers happy and pay a good wage so they don't "leave and join a competitor". I had purchased a piece of "printed fabric" unaware of how it was made. I will appreciate it much more having seen the workers in that shop.
We then went to have FHE with the Caturs (Barat Branch Pres.), and some investigators and part member families. Elders Purnawan, and Hendro, and Sisters Nichols and Sari were also there. We had Family Home Evening, and then ate Chicken Satay with peanut sauce, and rice wrapped in banana leaves and boiled for about 3 hours, then sliced and eaten with the peanut sauce. Think sliced potatoes with peanut gravy.
I visited with Asnibar, Sister Catur's mother who was one of the first members in Solo (I think 1971). There were about 8 members then, and she and her husband lived behind the first building used here to maintain it and the grounds around it. She was from Sumatra, and was Muslim, and she married an army man. He brought her here, and then the missionaries found them. She said that when she would go to Sumatra to visit her extended family they would refuse to touch her and they would turn their heads and spit in disgust. But, she said, her parents never did - they still loved her. Then we talked about Farrida and her Muslim parents.
Which brings me to today. Farrida was confirmed and member today. Elder Prasetyo confirmed her and it was wonderful. When she came back and sat down by me, she motioned to her friend Francesca how the Spirit had washed over her. Francesca reached out to tenderly touch her arm and Farrida rubbed Francesca's arms as if to share a bit of the Spirit she felt with such warmth. Farrida is living with her brother, and I don't think her parents know that she has been baptized. Every Sunday her father comes and takes her "motor", so she and Francesca get to church on their own. They are two very beautiful girls, and we love them dearly.
Elder Greenway had to go to Jogja to that Branch Council. So he and Bono left at 5:45 a.m. to get to Jogja by 8. I took a taxi to Kapatihan, to see Farrida, and to attend Jebres Branch Council. We asked the Mission President a few weeks ago if we could do this, and he said he trusted our judgment. I don't think we'll make a habit of it, as I am used to having him right there and it was a little lonely.
During the week, interspersed with the above, we went to visit the less active and some of the elderly who cannot get out. We really love this part of our week. We have met some wonderful people and had sweet experiences. This week we met President Budi's father who is very ill, and can no longer move about without pain. He was cheerful and talked to us about his life.
I now have 24 piano students, and that takes quite a bit of time to prepare their lessons. Every week I have to decide what each student is ready to learn, I use the Keyboard Course, my personal stash, and the Internet to prepare their lesson. I try to do some theory, a fun song and a church based song to move them along. So far Cori, Ricko, Ezra, and Yos have played for Sacrament meeting. I am very proud of them. Agus is about there, just a few more weeks.
Elder Greenway should be about home. He called to let me know he was on his way. I told him to stay awake and keep Bono company. Joel, I know where your sleeping in cars comes from now. The door shuts and Dad is out like a light. I told him from now on I get to ride up front with Bono if he can't stay awake. Bono and I get the giggles when he snores.
We miss our kids, and we miss our grandkids. I held Probono's new baby all during council meeting today, got the baby to sleep, and just enjoyed 2 hours of snuggling with a new one. He kept asking me if I was "okay Seestah", I told him to go away. Hug those babies for us, even those who are 11 years old, and remember to look after one another. Adam is in Boise for the week with his job, and with Sara. We love it when we know you are together. Pray for each other, and we will too. To all of you wonderful friends, have a good week and let us know how you are doing.
Love you all,
mom & dad