Selamat Malam Terekasih Keluarga dan Teman-teman,
This has been an unusual week. So I am starting this letter, but Elder Greenway will finish. He had a very unusual experience that only he can tell you about.
We did start the week with our favorite activity. We went visiting less active members with Bono, our driver. Last week as we were visiting we ran into a member whose vocation is Taxi Driver. We were saying good-bye to one family and he happened to stop next door in his taxi. His name is Setyio, and so we waved and said hello. But when we got in our car, Bono told us that his wife was "long time not active". So on Monday we "dropped by". She runs a small food shop, and she does sewing in her home for a near-by factory. She was very cordial and told us about her family, but I could tell there were problems that we did not know about. So we will have to figure that one out.
Our next visit started out to be with the father of one of the first people we were introduced to here. Arif is a young father, a return missionary, married to Yanni and the father of Angel. Bono took us to meet Arif's father, but first we ended up next door at the home of his uncle, Sriyadi, his cousin, Maria and her husband, Bowo who live there also. Bowo cuts fabric at a sewing factory while attending pharmacy school. I left with 2 Indonesian tee shirts (sort of). They are all active, but so kind and it was a joy to spend that time with them.
Then we went to see Arif's father, Suyanto. It was hard to imagine Arif growing up in the home. It was very similar to a small old Utah barn, with a dirt floor and ample ventilation through the boards and roof. I was reminded for the umpteenth time that we have no clue how many in the world live. He is a delightful, super friendly man, and I was so glad to tell Arif we met his father, uncle, and cousins, and Arif was happy we went. That of course made it especially worthwhile.
Also, Pres. Agus, the District President, SMS (texted) us and asked if I would organize a District Choir for the upcoming District conference! Sure??????!!!! They would like 2 songs during the main session on Sunday morning. So of course my brain started whirling about the way it does when I get an assignment like that. After a couple of days we SMS back and asked if the Youth could do one song and the Adults another. He was thrilled. So I will be preparing one song in Indonesian, and the other in English. Pres. Groberg and Elder Subandryio also let us know this week of a new goal to have all the young Indonesian members become proficient in English. So there will probably be branch English classes. Hence, the adults will be singing in Indonesian, but the youth will be singing in English. I will get things started, but I would really like to have members direct and play. I have the pianists, I will see about the directors.
Anyway, that leads me to why Elder Greenway had his wonderful experience without me. He took off with Bono on Thursday to Wonogiri (about 2 hours up into the hills) to work with United Cerebral Palsy to fit wheelchairs to people in villages there. I stayed here, looked over all my music, did some arrangements, and messed around on a keyboard much of the day until I pulled some music together that I thought would work with my limited Indonesian teaching members with limited English, and some with no English. Trust me, his experience was far better than mine. So I told him that he needed to be the one to tell you about it. He also took pictures. Some are difficult to look at, but I will let him tell you about them.
OK - I have been commanded to keep the plates and engrave a partial history of our sojourn in the land of Wonogiri. As I begin this report, I want you all to remember what Sister Greenway and I have noted in previous letters, and we do not mean to sound condescending - it is just our observation that much of Indonesia could be compared with the USA in the 1950s and early 1960s in so far as everyday modern conveniences and medical care.
On Thursday, I had arranged to travel to the area of Wonogiri which is south and east of Solo. On the Sunday before, when I was in Jogja, one of the things I was able to do was to meet with Michael Allen, the UCP country director. I had met him earlier when we were here for the visit of Dr. Russell, the eye surgeon from the University of Iowa. During this meeting he told me that his team was going to be in Wonogiri, which is about 1 hour from Solo. They were going to be in the area for Weds., Thurs., and Friday. As it turned out I was able to join them on Thursday. Bono and I left early in the morning and were on site at 9:30 am. If you remember, the church provides the majority of the cost of the manufacturing of the chairs; and UCP and US Aid covers administrative and other costs.
The team and the truckload of chairs were there and ready to go. The team consisted of Damai: she was the paper-work part of the team; three physical therapists: Sarwani, Gilang, and Puryoko; and then several drivers and heavy-lifters. The first client we met was a middle-aged woman with severe Cerebral Palsy. Her mother has passed away and her father provided all of her care. However, she rarely got out of her dwelling because her father could not lift her and had no other means of transport. We provided her first wheelchair.
I'll mention here that these are not your every-day, off-the-shelf wheelchairs you can find in any Rite-Aid. All chairs are custom measured and fit to each individual. The team had been to the area several weeks before to take measurements and then spent the interim prepping all of the chairs that were provided during this three-day visit.
The next chair was a special custom model that the therapists were able to obtain and adapt for a 2 1/2 year old little boy with hydrocephalus. His only means of transport was his mother and grandmother who carried him with great effort. They had a "cart" in the past, but it was too dangerous for his use. We then headed up the mountain to a village where the team set up and trained children and families of about eight kids with CP, and one adult who could move about with a flip-flop on his left hand and pulling along his left foot with his right hand, all while in a complete squat. I hope you can picture what squatting is: a typical resting position in Asia.
Our next stop further into the mountains around Wonogiri, was in a village where we saw nearly all adults. These included folks with strokes, spinal injuries, and one fellow who I am guessing had either multiple amputations, a peripheral vascular problem or arrested leprosy. Again, we were providing the first wheelchairs they had ever had. I ran out of day and Bono and I had to return to Solo. However, once again, I remind you of the "era" in which we find ourselves. Some may ask, why was this allowed to happen. Well, it just does and there is no recourse for those involved.
[Consider] your un-numbered blessings and realized you have brothers and sisters who are much less fortunate by US standards and that the Lord's church is doing much to alleviate the hardships in less developed countries; whether it be wheelchairs, eye surgery, cleft pallet, clean water or artificial limbs. As I participated I had cause to remember Alma 7:11.
I therefore end my writing upon these plates.
We love the Lord's work and feel ever so blessed to have been given this opportunity. The Gospel of Jesus Christ in its restored fullness is true. May each of us continue in our own conversion process. In spite of all we may think - these wonderful children of God are full of hope and happiness.
Elder and Sister Greenway