On the Thursday before the conference, the Barat Branch decided to have the "Last Party" as a branch. They had the children and youth sing, the leadership speak and a testimony meeting, and then food! Her are some photos. Oh the youth all wore purple T-shirts with the SL Temple on the front and the girls' backs read, "Guardians of Virtue," and the back of the boy's shirts read,"For the Strength of Youth - Fulfilling Our Duty to God."
Well, we now are serving in the Surakarta Stake, which now comprises the Solo 1st and 2nd Wards, the Banjasari and Jebres Wards, Semarang, and Jogja Wards and the Magelang Branch.
Here are a few photos of the Conference presided over by Elder Perkins of the 1st Quorum of Seventy and our Area President. Here is Elder Perkins being greeted by Elders Hendro and Johnson.
Here is the first Surakarta Stake Choir! (Sister Greenway learned that she shouldn't say "awesome" any more because it sounds like an Indonesian word meaning "sour." She kept calling the choir,"awesome!")
Just to prove they don't make their flowered signs just for funerals!
Here you can see (R to L): Sister and Elder Healy, Elder and Sister Beaman, and Elder and Sister Seiters.
Here's a better shot of Elder and Sister Healy. They just arrived and are the Humanitarian Missionary couple. They are the replacement for the Merediths.
Conference was held in the Emerald Ballroom of the Solo Paragon, where we live. They set up 800 chairs and we had nearly a full-house!!! Members came in buses from Semarang and Jogja. What faithful saints!
Last, but not least .... our translators for the Conference. Elder Purnawan, Sonia, Elder Kunjapaa, and I don't know the 2 fellows on the right.
There once was a T.V. Program with the name "That Was the Week That Was!" I think that would be a good title for this week. Or better yet, The Incredible Week that Was!!! However that was not just about us. John and Lynn moved this week from Carlisle, PA. to near Chicago, IL. It has been a marathon week for his family. Thursday morning early, after having a good turnout to help tightly pack a 24 ft. truck on Wednesday, John left for Chicago and drove 13 hours only to unload that tightly packed truck into a storage unit with the help of a wonderful EQ in the Chicago area. They will be living with Lynn's parents for a bit, until they know what's up. While John was driving some wonderful friends and Relief Society members came and helped Lynn clean their PA. home. The next day John flew from Chicago, was picked up at the airport by Lynn, they grabbed a few things she had prepared and off they drove. Now, luckily they had made the decision to make this a fun trip for the kids. So, they stopped early at a motel with an indoor pool, and let the kids have at it. Smart Mom and Dad. Then they are planning to stay a couple of nights near Matt. Isn't it wonderful to have family to love you and take care of you. Thank you to all those involved with the help and care. We were certainly grateful for those who stepped up when we were unavailable.
Now, for Our Week...
To start our week, we did our absolutely favorite thing and went visiting with Bono. The Branch Presidents had each given us some names of families to see, and since Bono has an embedded GPS unit in his brain, he knew where they all lived. The first home was the home of Aries and Yenni, who have 2 of the cutest little girls (Jesseka, Vanesa) you have ever seen, who were absolutely terrified of us! Yenni works in Solo, and Aries works 6 hours away at an MSG factory. (Did you ever stop to think that there would be an MSG factory?). He leaves Sunday evening by bis (bus) and comes home on Friday evening the same way. So....Gramma and Grampa, Lina and Budi, come and care for the children during the week. It was a great visit.
Next we headed across town to visit the Paynem (Pie Nem) family: a divorced mom, her son, and her mother. We have been to all kinds of places. We have seen lovely homes, we have seen comfortable homes, we have seen poor homes with one room and nothing in that room, but nothing we have seen could have prepared us for this. Solo has major streets, like main streets in America, and side streets, too. Then there are the allies, which we also have in America. But then there are the allies off the allies, which you can only walk to, and where the extremely poor usually live. We drove to the main alley, and Bono got out to ask if we were in the right place. The woman he talked to took us down another alley to a third alley where the teenage son worked in a printing shop. He was very cordial, and wiped his hands to shake our hands. We then walked further down the alley and turned onto the third alley, which was along one of the many extremely polluted canals (the Dutch had the natives build during their occupation) to a wooden building, divided into four rooms. One family lived in each one of the rooms.
There was a covered walkway where mothers were washing their children next to the retaining wall that separated them from the canal. In the far corner of the retaining wall was a very public squat toilet that emptied directly into the canal. The young man went into their room and talked to his Gramma, very old, who was resting on a mat on the floor. There was a rope strung across, about 7 feet from the door, that had rice sacks sewn together to make a curtain that divided the room. His mother was not home, so we gave him our little bread (which seemed like a pitiful offering), spoke to his Ibu (old woman), told him about conferensi (stake conference) and invited he and his mom to come. He was very polite (they always are), and he walked us away.
As we made the turn back onto the 2nd alley, we saw a young man walk to the central MCK (bath house) fling his clothes over the partial retaining wall, and then started to fill a communal bucket with well water (the very shallow wells usually sits very close to the toilet), so he could step behind the wall and bathe. That well and that wash house are their source of water and hygiene, Everyone must boil their water to drink, or get a water cooler (like we have) and have water delivered. Of course, that is not possible for the very poor. There is so much tremendous poverty in Indonesia. So far, this was the hardest to see.
I think Bono could sense our sadness, so he asked if we would like to see Kustedjo and his family. This man is retired military, lives on a pension, and is much better off than most. He has a married daughter, Ajeng, who is married to Siyamto, one of the new bishops. Their son, Tian just became engaged to Riyanti a girl from Jakarta who is beautiful. Tian is studying to become a lawyer, which takes 3 years total in Indonesia. What a great idea!!!!!!!! We were grateful to them that day for lifting our spirits. We can't do much about the poverty, but we can love the poor of world and keep them close to the Gospel. I am sure we will go back to that little alley to see the mom, better prepared to help.
We visited one more family on Friday. This family lost a 14 year old daughter in a "motor" accident 3 years ago. Tutup and Bambang have invited us, but we have not been able to go until Friday. Part of the problem is that they live 40 kilometers out of the city. So Friday, we grabbed Elders Xiong and Praesetyo, who had made the appointment and left Solo. When we arrived, we found out that this was to be a memorial for their daughter (they do that here). Elder Greenway and I had the majority of the program. It began with Elder Greenway teaching a lesson on the Plan of Happiness (remember we had no idea would be doing this). Elder Greenway did a great job! Then Elder Xiong bore his testimony, then me, and then we watched a DVD about temples. Then we all walked to the village graveyard, up the road a piece, to honor the Ibu, Gramma, and the daughter. Then Tutup asked if I would say a few words over the grave. What came to me was the lesson of the Glove and the Hand, about the body and Spirit. You know, actually it was a lovely visit, and it turned out to be quite a spiritual moment. We all knew that we had lived before with our Father, and that we have the opportunity to live with Him and all those we love, again. She then fed us Bihun, and fried tofu, and rice.. It was a wonderful afternoon.
Then came the historic, weekend of a lifetime!!!!!! Today THE SURAKARTA DISTRICT BECAME THE SURAKARTA STAKE. Our new STAKE President is just 34 years old. His name is Budi Susanto, his 1st Counselor is Budi Utomo from Samarang, (who was the first counselor in the District), and the 2nd Counselor is Joko Poernomo (but we all call him Ipung) who was a Branch Pres. in Banjasari. Each of the Branches were made Wards, except Magalang which will remain a branch. The new Bishop of the Banjasari Ward is Bishop Suparno. The Tangah Branch became Solo 1st Ward and Barat Branch became Solo 2nd Ward. All Branch Presidents were sustained by just their new Ward, and All were the former Branch Pres. except Banjasari. It was an amazing experience to watch the Church Government work under the Priesthood Authority. Elder Subandriyo (area authority seventy) and Elder Perkins (area President) were here. Elder Subandriyo was given the assignment to announce the reorganization to the people he has loved so much. He is originally from Solo, and this was such a moment of joy for him.
On top of all that, my two choirs (the "general choir" and the youth choir) sang perfectly. We had asked for the help of angels (anyone who has lived in Carlisle will understand this) and those angels sang in the ears of those choir members. It truly was the best they had ever sung. All in all it was the most inspiring meeting I have been to in a very long time. One of those, "no one wants to leave" meetings. Elder Perkins reminded us that it took 40 years for Indonesia to get it's 1st Stake, and just a year later, the 2nd. He smiled and wondered if we will make it a yearly thing. Well, I am not sure about that, but it will grow and it will grow well with power and strength. I wish you could have heard the almost 50 youth sing "Shall the Youth of Zion Falter" in English by the way, with their heads up! and huge smiles on their faces. And when they sang that "NO" at the end of verse one........WOW! You knew they meant it. WOW! WOW! and MORE WOW!!!!!! We held STAKE CONFERENCE in the ballroom of the hotel we live in, so we just had to get in the elevator and go down a couple of floors. BUT.... they had set up 60 chairs for the choir, (I told them 75) and we had to add 15 more chairs. They had set up 800 chairs for the congregation and it was packed! You need to remember that some of these new Wards are 2 and 3 hours away. They come in huge buses, because very few have cars. Many from Solo have for their main mode of transportation a simple bicycle. But they were there.... about 900 of some of the most beautiful people on the face of the earth. We love them so much, and we were so proud of Indonesia today.
On a side note, we found that the word for sour in Indonesian sounds just like awesome. So I am trying to forget that word and work on excellent or amazing or super-duper or something. [Editor's note: "Fabulous" would be my suggestion - excellent choice.]
We thank you for your encouraging notes, and for all the work you do in your part of God's vineyard. We are grateful for our family, who skype us and let us see our dear, beautiful, growing up grandchildren! The greatest joy is to know that you love each other, without ire. We are grateful for the package (Laura) of crayons, glasses, fruit bites (you can't get those here, so I will feed them to the kids at church) and for the past Stake conference program. We loved seeing who is where on a mission. It is so wonderful to feel your support and love. I hope you know we love you well.
We are being well cared for here, so please take care of each other at home.
Mom and Dad, Gramma and Grampa, Bro. and Sis, and Ron and Melanie
Fransesca Xavaria Diana Rahmawati is now the newest member of the Banjasari Branch! About two weeks ago, she asked me to baptize her, so I started working on my baptism prayer in Indonesian. Since I have now done it a couple times and know the words and translation it seemed a lot easier; then she told me her entire name...!!! So here is Elder Greenway, Fransesca, Farida (who introduced her to the Church), and Sister Greenway.
Here are Elders Xiong (he's Hmong from Southern California - Fransesca is his first convert) and Elder Prasetyo (Elder Xiong's companion and trainer).
And of course the requisite Sister Greenway cookies for the choir and the subsequent district (Stake) choir practice. Here you can see Elder Prasetyo, President Timin (counselor in the Branch presidency), Elder Johnson, Sister Greenway and Yuli.
One of the sisters also made supper for everyone. That's her on the bottom left (we don't remember her name). She made a rice noodle meal called Bihun. You can see the members holding it up in the newspaper/butcher paper package (and plate) that it came in.
Here is Busro on the left (I don't know the fellow on the right). Brother Busro was a Muslim - his family still is. However, he was a driver for someone and Bono struck up a conversation with him and well ... Oh, Bono - D&C 18:15-16.
Finally, here's another beautiful Indonesian child - keeping an eye on Elder Greenway and the camera - and protecting his Bihun!!!
Helloooooo to all those not blown away by the nor'easter! ..... and to everyone else, too.
I read that those of you living in the east were to feel the brunt of mighty Mother Nature! I hope your trees all survive, and that you are not one of those destined for 12 inches of snow!!! I did predict this, you know. I could not believe you could possibly get off with so "little weather" this year. Emily said that the weeds in my yard did not have a chance to die this winter, so they are growing with fervor. Maybe they will be blown away... However, poor John is packing and moving to Chicago this week, and that is "no fun" to do in a foot of snow. Part of me wishes I could help with the weeding and the packing, of course the other part of me is extremely happy to be in Indonesia.
We happily had a great week, with many happy experiences. I wrote last week that we were to take Sis. Nichols to the train early Monday and send her on her way to Malang via Surabaya. That we did, bright and early Monday morning. We then, immediately headed off to Jogja, with Sis. Sari, to fetch her new companion, Sis. Blake. Sis. Blake is from Dallas, Tex. and is a sweet and wonderful Sister. She is tall, and athletic, and happy, and this will probably be her last transfer. We are very happy to have her.
The sisters live in a VERY tiny apartment, which is much better than their original huge rat’s nest apartment. In the new apartment, the bathroom is tucked under a stairway, and Sister Blake has to duck to go in the bathroom. The kitchen is really a hallway, as is their study area, but it is clean and tight, and for that we are grateful. We have 4 Elders in an apartment near us, sort of central Solo, another 4 Elders north and east of us, then the sisters South and east. So it is a good fit.
Oh! And I forgot to tell you, that while we were in Jogja, we stopped by United Cerebral Palsy and said "hello" to the wonderful people there, and then took all (5) Sisters out to Wendy's for lunch. It was our good-bye to Sister Peters who is now home in western Idaho.
Tuesday and Wednesday was piano, and piano prep. We now have 25 regular students that come each week. We start around 3 PM at the Kapatihan Branch building on Tuesday with 6 piano lessons and are finished around 6:30 PM. We begin at 4 PM at the Sopomo Branch building, with 5 piano lessons and are done around 7:15 PM. I have some help at Sopomo in the form of Elder Gilbert, for now, because I am teaching two children (Bimo & Fafa) of a Muslim couple who are attending English classes from the Elders. He and his companion (new to Solo) Elder Mokodompis come and help with Indonesian, and Elder Gilbert knows some piano and can listen and correct.
Last week I had an amazing experience. Bimo and Fafa's parents brought a friend into the class after their lessons. They asked if I would like to listen to her sing and play. So we all took a break and she sang (okay this is where it gets funny, because I can't remember the name of anything) the song that made Andrea (or something like that) Prochetti (or something like that - you know the Italian tenor that is blind that sang with the Tabernacle Choir). Okay, are we on the same page....? Anyway she sang his famous song that goes way low then way high (high A) with this beautiful, pure voice singing in Italian, and all coming from this 13 year old Indonesian girl. It was gorgeous. What she wanted was piano from me. Whew! I am glad she wasn't thinking voice. THAT would be embarrassing.
Thursday and Friday we were out visiting for most of the days. We had texted the Branch Presidency and asked if they had some members they would like us to visit. So on Thursday we started with a visit to Sis. Warsyatno, who is ancient. She has "arthur" (my mom's affectionate :( name for arthritis), and her movements reminded me of my mom. She could not stand, her hands were twisted, and she was in pain. But, she cried when we came. She lives with her son who works evenings and I am sure she gets lonely. The Elders take her the Sacrament each week. She was baptized in 1972, a real pioneer. Next we attempted to visit a less active family, the parents both being returned missionaries. We found out later that they are never home before 7 PM. So we went to visit Bro. Muliano, a fun wonderful man who was baptized by Pres. Groberg when he was an Elder here a million years ago. We stayed a while there because they fed us something yummy with tofu, chicken, noodles, etc. He is also a pioneer in the Solo area. When he joined there were 15 members in Solo. In a week we will be a Stake! He was delightful.
On Friday we headed to DDM. (meeting with full-time missionaries). As usual, we head down to B-2 (the parking garage) to meet Bono, who is always waiting. Now I forgot to tell you that we had a new "radio" put in the car so that we can listen to music on long journeys around central Java. Before we left PA. I gave Elder Greenway the assignment to figure out the recorded music problem, because I wanted ALL my Motab stuff, etc. So, of course, I have no idea what he did, or how to get to it. With that in mind, I have since found out that he also brought Johnny Cash, ABBA, and about a hundred others. Now, on Friday morning we get in the car, and we are hit with the BeeGees as we are about to exit the garage. I start to laugh and then I say... “I don't know Elder,” (meaning I am not sure of the spiritual quality of the BeeGees)........ So he reaches to find something else, when Bono quickly looks at Elder Greenway and pleads, “Elder! I like the BeeGees!!!” So we listened to the BeeGees all the way to meeting. Bono kept saying ...Sister I think they are tenors! AND as we leave Bono to go to DDM, he is in the car, eating cookies (I always give him his before DDM because the Elders don't leave survivors) listening to the BeeGees! We laughed all the way into the meeting.
After, we headed out to visit Brother Suwardi (some sort of "therapist" who had this weird electronic device) in his office-store, which also included a million ants. He joined the church 34 years ago. Next we visited Ani's home. She is the Primary Pres. in Banjasari, and was one of the first people we met here. She gets up every morning at 3 AM. and make 300 rice rolls ( rice wrapped in a banana leaf) to sell at a local warung. She is an extremely wonderful dedicated woman, and she is much fun! We then headed to Bro. Tomi's home. He was a contractor, and so his home is quite lovely. He was a member BEFORE Pres. Groberg came on his mission. He and his wife were the first native senior couple to serve a mission from Indonesia. They served in Jogja, and she has since passed away. He has a son, Bro. Coki and a daughter, Ida that live nearby and are wonderful members. We had a good visit. He loves U.S. History, and has come to the conclusion that "Uncle Sam" was named after Sam Houston, from the Alamo. He also has some other theories concerning history that gives me pause, but what the heck. When we visit we like to take a loaf of mini- (roti pisan) banana bread with us. As I have said, they don't bake, so it is a treat. That keeps us busy baking when we are not out and about.
Finally, this week Elder Greenway baptized Fransisca Xavaria Diana Rahmawati a member of the Church. He said her name, and the prayer from memory for the first time. What a guy!!!!! That was Saturday, and today she was confirmed a member of the Church by Pres. Ipung. She and Farida came to our apartment yesterday because Fransisca was sooooooo nervous. Not to be baptized, but because she has a mortal fear of water. They ate cookies, and we looked up important sites on Google Earth, and tried to make her forget. It was sweet.
We are so grateful for these wonderful people. We also had 2 Choir rehearsals this week (Elder Greenway sent pictures). We first meet with everyone participating and then we excused the adults to practice with the youth. They all sing their hearts out, and learn and are so teachable. Somewhere along the line they have learned all of the Hymns without 16th notes. So "Praise to the Man", "Let Us All Press On", "I Stand All Amazed", etc., no 16th notes. I had to explain this to them without offending. They now sing "I Stand All Amazed" with 16th notes, but not the others. It makes me happy. They can sing them however they want, BECAUSE THEY SING WITH GUSTO!
You would love it! We love them dearly. We love to be among them; it is our happiest time. They now love to tease us, and joke around. They are comfortable and funny with us. We love it!!!! We want to be able to help them in any way we can; they are always helping us. When we write next week we will have a new Stake President!!!!! We are so proud of these people. They are certainly among the "noble and great ones" spoken of in the Doctrine and Covenants. We are so excited for them, and know they have been blessed for their righteousness.
Here is a section of old PVC pipe. It was, I think, tapped into the original system by the locals to run the water to where-ever they wanted it. It may also be off of a really old water system the village govornment put in years before using an unclean source. You can't see our new piping because we bury it 18" into the ground. At this point it is three inch diameter.
Here's the new MCK by the school and by the "General Store" I mentioned.
The MCK by the soccer pitch. You can see one of the orange polyethylene storage tanks at the other end of the field.
How's this for a view when you go to potty!?!
And finally ... OUCH !!! Poor Ismun, he was so excited to see us again that he parked his "motor" too close to our "mobil" and it tipped-over and took out our tail light. No big deal - we had it fixed and replaced by the end of the day!
OK - you've been watching this reseervoir progress. Well, it's nearing completion. Right now the crew is working inside.
Here is the inside of the reservoir. It is being water-proofed by the crew.
Here are the outlet valves. We are bringing in a new 4-5 inch lines and tapping off three 4 inch lines.
The four inch lines eventually make it to smaller (10 cubic meter) pressure reduction / storage tanks - also of concrete. These tap out to the large orange polyethylene tanks you've seen before. This tank was built in two weeks and is curing now.
Here's another smaller tank under construction.
And another just in the beginning stages of being built. That's Koko in the dark hat, one of the engineers, and Wastu. It's funny that as I have gone through my photos, Koko has put himself in most of them.
And they have begun a new MCK by the school where we had the opening ceremony for the project. It's right beside a cross road and I'm standing on the porch of the "general store."
This week we'll start with some of the children from Ampel Project/ Boyolali Area. We were photographing an MCK being built by a soccer pitch and these girls were with Kowo's daughter (she and her Mom were down from Jakarta for a week or so visiting "Daddy Kowo"). Sister Greenway asked them to "strike a pose."
This is the MCK by the soccer pitch. As you can see, it's a Jungle Gym right now. This unit is on hold now - awaiting its water connection. You'll see in later photos that we are now focusing on the smaller pressure reduction tanks and piping.
Kowo and Wastu (one of Widap's older brothers. Her oldest brother is the Branch President in Samarang). That's Merbabu in the background. Look closly and you can see farmfields on the steep sides of the mountain. If they can climb to it, they'll farm it!
Melanie took a close up of one of the many patches we pass as we go around the water project. Here are red and green Ceba (chili's) and cabbage.
We are always so happy to receive emails and letters from our family and our ward family. We received a happy note via "snail mail" from Sis. Pieffer this week. Every missionary in the world LOVES to get a letter. We're always grateful for your love and interest in our mission. We absolutely love this mission and the people we serve. Our most favorite moments are the moments we spend with the people here. Just about every day Elder Greenway will turn to Bono, our driver, and say, "Bono, do you know how lucky you are to live in Indonesia?" or "Bono, Heavenly Father must love you very much to have sent you to Indonesia for your time on earth!" Bono always laughs, "Yes, Elder...."
Today on the way to church I asked Bono what Sunday School lesson he was giving today. He told me he could only say it in Indonesian. Then some minutes passed by and he said, "sestah, the lesson is of King Bunyumeen, on hour deth to tha Savior" Oh! I said, from Mosiah.... “Yes, Sestah from hes towah.” He had worked that out in his mind so he could tell me of King Benjamin, and the tower, and about our debt to the Savior. He is a wise teacher. We learn something from him every day. We learn from each member. I think that happens more than any of us can say. We all can have an influence and we never know when that might be, so we just have to speak up.
We did learn that today. A couple of months ago we were out with Elder Garnett (now in Surabaya), and Elder Daliis (left today for Bandung). We went to visit a family where the mother (Bukti) was active, but the Father (Widodo) was not a member. He was very sick, smoked, and was in pain. I remember telling you that Elder Greenway spent quite a bit of time talking to him about his pain, and told him that he would feel better if he didn't smoke. We gave them the "recipe for eternal life" lesson. Well, he started coming to church with his wife. Now, the funny thing was, I was so worried about remembering her name, that I didn't even know he had a name.
So, when the Elders (Johnson and Dalilis) told us that there was a baptism, and that the man's son, who is a missionary coming through Solo on an exchange to Jakarta, would be here to baptize him.... We thought Great!!! They kept talking about Widodo the father and Widodo the son... Anyway, last Sunday I finally figured out that it was Bukti's husband! Today he was baptized!!! and the Branch Pres. asked him to bear his testimony. He is this little, skinny, rather withered 40-something man who has a hard time moving. But he stood very tall and bore his testimony with tremendous strength. At the end he thanked us for teaching him, and asked if I would play for everyone to sing "How Great Thou Art". You all know the feeling...... It always takes my breath away. AND...
Next week Francesa, Farida's friend, will be baptized by Elder Greenway. When we found out it was to be, I SMSed her and told her I was excited about the news. She told me "I can't wait any longer to be member of the amazing LDS Church." See how they teach you..... Those two are the Alma and Ammon of the Solo area. They are always teaching, always testifying with courage and always standing up to be counted. We are in awe of them, and love those special daughters of God. I asked Francesca how her family felt about her baptism, she said they were happy if she was happy. WOW!!!!! Quite a difference from sweet Farida, who had another bad week with her family. Each storm she has weathered has made her stronger, but we constantly pray for her.
We spent a lot of time this week making banana bread (to take on our visits), cookies (to take to the water project workers) and to DDM (to give to the Elders). We also spent time planning for the 24 piano lessons, (going through a gadzillion ink cartridges), and for fun and joy and relaxation, going to the Water Project. This week the Meridiths (humanitarian missionaries) left for home (Payson, UT), and their replacements, Elder and Sister Healy (SLC), came to Indonesia.
Now, the tale is... When a new Humanitarian couple comes there is a disaster. This time it was the earthquake just off Sumatra, (which we didn't even feel); last time, Merapi blew (and boy did it blow) the day the Meridiths flew in. When the huge tsunami killed so many in Sumatra (which by the way happened in the same place as the recent earthquake, but this one slid sideways, instead of vertically) you guessed it, a new couple had just arrived. Thank heavens this time they were not needed.
But, because we knew they were coming, Elder Greenway and Sutarno (head of project) wanted to get current pictures of the project's progress. Elder will post pictures from that day. What you can't see is the joy we have being with these men. One of the fellows, Ismun, is a delightful Muslim worker who has a giant smile, and loves cookies. Well, we missed him at the main project and so he zoomed after us on his motor and found us taking pictures at the MCK. He jumped off his bike and ran to shake my hand just as his bike tipped over and put out our taillight. This was less than a week after Bono forgot to take the car out of gear so that when he started it, it jumped forward into the light pole at the church. We were at the other building, but in both instances these poor men were devastated.
We just laughed and Elder kept saying "It's just a car", "It can be fixed." [phrases he learned from SOME (and they know who they are) of our children [cough_adam (3 cars in 1 swoop), cough_emily (looking at boys), cough_john (looking at beanie babies), cough_joel (looking very carefully at the side of a Ford Excursion)] Luckily, the workers who are members laughed also, which lifted the alarm a bit. We were able to spend some "down time" with these good, good men. Koko, (engineer) figures the project is about 40 per cent complete.
The people on the mountain are beginning to know us (I take them cookies, too.), and we love to watch their agriculture progress... cabbage, chilies, beans, onions, carrots, cabbage, grapes, corn, cassava, bananas, papaya, coconuts, some tomatoes, chilies, cabbage and more cabbage. We especially love the children. One of the little girls belongs to Kowo. His wife died 6 months ago from brain cancer and his daughter has been living with his parents in Samarang. She was so glad to be with her dad. She is the little "poser" in the picture you will see of the little girls.
We did spend some time teaching with the Sisters, and we went with Aster (a 19-year-old fireball from the Jebres Branch, who keeps me on my toes) to visit a less active YW (Elsa). She was not home, so we visited with her less active mom instead. Tomorrow morning, very early, we are taking Sister Nichols to the train station so she can head to Surabaya, then we are taking her companion, Sister Sori with us to Jogja (2 hrs.) to get Sister Blake, and bring them both back to Solo. Sister Sori goes home in a month.
Sister Peters, and Sister Collins are headed home this week, which will leave the mission 2 sisters short. However, we will be seeing the Barnards, a senior couple coming to Jogja, very soon..... And we are getting a new Family History Senior Couple here in Solo ( the Knorpps) in July.
Well I am sure this Epistle is way longer than it needed to be. We just get soooooo excited about everything, that our dear readers pay the price. You can do as my dear children always did, and just zone me out. (speed read) I will understand! Thank you for your patience and love, and especially for all the concerned emails the day of the quake. It is always nice to be cared for.
We watched General Conference on Easter weekend because of the delay needed for translation. I was also given DVDs in English so we set up to watch it in the Relief Society room. Here are the attendees. Elder Xiong (from California), Farida, Elder Praesetyo, Francesca (non-member), and Aster. We also had Frankie, Sister and Elder Greenway.
I had to include this shot of Aster, Sister G and Xavi.
And I got her to smile big!!!
After the Saturday sessions which included the YW Conference, we went from Kapatihan to Supomo for District Choir Practice. First Sister worked with the General Choir, and then the Youth, SA-YSA Choir. These are all photos of the latter because I was singing in the General Choir and didn't take any pictures.
This week was Zone Conference which saw the visit of our Mission President and his wife, and all of the missionaries from Central Java. Elder & Sister Kusumarmanto were also present. Here are some candid and sometimes less-candid photos of these great missionaries.
Elder And Sister Kusumarmanti.
Elder Rawle and Mogan - the Assistants to the President.
Preparing for the meeting.
Missionary choir from Solo and Jogja. "If You Could Hie to Kolob."
Week 30!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe it! I remember when I typed week 20 and couldn't believe it. Amazing, just amazing...
Anyway, Hello to all of our beloved Family and better than dear friends!
Today we watched conference. The Branches here watch a week late because conference needs to be translated for them. So we wait, also. We watched it, in English, at Kapatihan's Relief Society Room. I think that was a tradition begun by the Grovers. We are not the only attendees. Some of the members like to improve their English by watching with us, and usually we have the English speaking Elders.
But this conference we had one set, Elders Johnson and Dalilis (he is Filipino but has learned English at the MTC, and Indonesian) wanted to try the Indonesian direction. They did very well! Elders Xiong (a brand new Elder from California) and Praesetyo (Indonesian, but has good English) watched with us. Farrida and her friend, Francesca, Aster, and Frankie watched in English, as well. I wanted you to know how dedicated these fine people are to improving themselves.
We were all blessed to watch together, the Spirit was very strong. Every session, all four, left us wishing we could see another and another. When it was done, we all just sat for a while. Elder Greenway has been teaching the 11th commandment to the Branches. The Sopomo building has a projector to be used for showing conference, and a huge screen, while Kapatihan had a T.V that was about 25 " for their congregations. So, Elder Greenway went to the top, Senopati (mission offices) and complained about the inequity of the situation. Senopati said that all four branches were supposed to go to Sopomo for Conference. Elder Greenway quickly let them know that All Four Branches won't fit at Sopomo! Their 2 Branches barely fit. So today, the Kapatihan Branches watched Conference projected onto their new big screen!
Oh! The 11th commandment has something to do with the squeaky wheel. He received many a thank you from branch members. What a guy!
These branches are beginning to feel like home. We enjoy their company so much. Today I asked Frankie to tell me his daughter's name. Now, Frankie is a young father, going to school, working to provide for his wife and 3 little girls, and is a counselor in a branch presidency. When I asked her name (Paris), he just looked at me a said, "Uhhhhhh,". I just burst out laughing, then he started, then Elder G. said, "Do you remember your wife's name?" We all laughed and laughed.
The branches provide a "box lunch" for the members both days of conference. Yesterday we had Ayam Bakar. Today we had lunch made by Ani from her Warung at her home. We had "arem-arem", rice wrapped in banana leaves with "chaves" (chilis) and steamed until it is like a pudding. Little sweet cakes, also fried. Wonderful oily roasted peanuts (they keep them on the raw side and they are absolutely delicious). We also had "risoles", yummy croquette-like rolls that are filled with steamed bean sprouts, corn, grated carrot, etc. They are also delicious!! One of my favorite foods here, and Ani's are the best!!!!
Well, Brother Coki (Choki), ate his box, and then started on his kids. Every time we saw him he had a different box in his hand. Finally, I said, "Bother Coki! Are you still eating?" He held up the little sweet cake and told me he loved them. I turned to Sister Ani, and told her Brother Coki was on his eighth box!!!! Brother Coki looked so surprised and then we all laughed, and kidded him about how much he had eaten. We want you to know that these are real, and wonderful people, who have dedicated testimonies, who love the Lord and each other and are kind, happy, loving people. We can laugh and cry and happily, we can sing together. Which leads me to the choir.
Last night was practice number two. So, after sitting through 2 sessions of conference, and for the brethren, the Priesthood Session, and for some of the YW leaders, the YW Conference.... those men, women, YOUNG WOMEN and YOUNG MEN came and practiced the songs for an hour and forty five minutes. Now, just in case you think the teens don't listen to the Saturday sessions, they absolutely do. I was expecting a poor turnout. I need more faith... I need to quit judging on my level. Elder Greenway will post pictures of the Choir.
AND!!!!!!! On Friday, the Tangah and Barat Branches hired buses for their annual Easter Activity. In Indonesia, Easter is a Holiday. Yup!!!!! In a country that is (in some places) 90 percent Muslim, Easter is a holiday. So the day chosen is the Friday before Easter. Then there is all weekend to celebrate. So on Friday Tangah took off for Wonogiri (hour away) to fish, picnic, play soccer, etc. They left at 6:30 a.m., and returned at around 3 p.m. Barat headed to Jogja to go to a "water park" and to the beach. They left at 7 a.m. and returned at 10 p.m. Friday night. The Jebres and Banjasari Branches didn't celebrate on Friday. So the Elders from those branches were "orphaned".
We had a hard time deciding what to do. We could have used the time with the Tangah Branch, but those 4 Elders were on our mind. So after some deliberation, we decided to take the four out to lunch and then we went with Elders Praesetyo and Xiong to visit two less active prospective Elders. First, we gave them the choice of any place they wanted to eat. They chose Mac Donalds! The ate McFlurries, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, chicken and eggs (yes, chicken and eggs were eaten by both Dalilis and Praesetyo) and chocolate sundaes! We had such fun, because we had to go by taxi, (Bono was at Wonogiri), and we had to find many a big taxi at that.
But the highlight of the day was the visits. The first fellow's whole family are members, but he was "offended" and has been gone a few years. We really wanted to get to know him, and finally we asked if he knew that Heavenly Father loved him. He said he knew, he said that he believed in Jesus Christ, but the world was a hard place to live without making a wrong choice. Oh...,..... So we taught about repentance. But we also taught that he would not feel right until he came back to church. He agreed. He asked if he could go to Sopomo,( the other building). So, we suggested the Elders talk to his leaders about going to him and asking him to return. We will see.... The other young man hasn't been since he was a child, and doesn't have much family support. But he is reading what the Elders give him, and he is learning. We were soooooo impressed with Elder Xiong. He has been here all of a month, and he bore such strong testimony, in Indonesian! We were so proud of him. Both experiences were very strong experiences. We walked a lot, because you have to be on a main street to get a taxi, and most people do not live on the main drives. It rained, but that was better than muggy. All in all, it was a wonderful day, and we were very glad that we made that choice. The Elders were happy, too.
Now, I have to back up, because on Monday evening Bono took us to visit an entire active family, It is more common than not, to have whole families live together. So, it would be as if Elder G. and I live in our house, and so do a couple of our children and their children. Now these homes are not large, and so you will see padded mats rolled up, everywhere, and there will be a curtain to pull across to make a bedroom. The family we visited were the Tukimins, they live in a home that is right against the river. Occasionally their home is flooded. One time was in 2009, and they lost almost everything. They were lamenting losing their pictures of family and missions, so they wanted to see our pictures of family. There was the Ibu (mother), Bapak (father), 3 sons and their 2 wives, and a total of 5 children. The father had sold bakso (soup) for a living long ago, and would regularly feed the early missionaries. Well, you can guess the rest. One of the sons has been a Branch Pres. of the Barat Branch. We visited longer than we had intended, but they were so wonderful, and we were a bit lonely for family, I'm afraid.
Tuesday Elder Greenway and Bono went to Samarang (over 2 hrs.) to a meeting for PEF. I stayed at home for piano. PIANO IS SUCH FUN!!! We love these children, and teens. We have such fun. [editor’s note: Suster Greenway got two new piano students this week.] Today at church Luki (6) poked me and sang, Seeeeeeesssstttahhhhhhh Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeennnnwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayy! I poked him back and gave him a hug, Luki, Luki, Luki!!!!!
I took a taxi to get to the building, and when I got in the driver said, "Haaaallllo Seeestah, do you rrrrrrrremembah me? I did! But he had actually taken us to the other building once. He has pretty good English, and on Tuesday he told me he wants to come to Pennsylvania! I told him I'm sure they have taxi drivers in Pittsburgh, or Philadelphia. He wanted to know everything about that. In the meantime he got me lost, so then we had to figure out how to get to the building. We did some weaving back and forth until I found a street I knew, then we headed for the building. He kept laughing at me, "Kiri (left)! Kanan (right)"!!!! Well, we did get there, still laughing, THEN he told me I was beautiful, (because I laugh so much) and then he took my hand and kissed it.
When I told this to the Elders Greenway at lunch they told me the Sisters get marriage proposals all the time. I cracked up! Elders, I said, look at this face! I promise he was not making advances. He was just being gracious. (Maybe he thought I would arrange a job for him in Pittsburgh or something). Elder Greenway didn't have anyone tell him he was beautiful in Samarang, but he did learn a lot from Brother Tandiman, the fellow over all of the Seminaries and Institutes in all of Asia. He was also just called to be Patriarch of the Jakarta Stake. He was training the Institute instructors to do the PEF workshops. Later, he rode to Solo with Elder Greenway and Bono. Elder Greenway said it was the most interesting ride home. He got home very late, and the next day was Zone Conference. But, he felt his time was well spent. We have pictures from Zone Conference that Elder will post.
I just had to include these shots because I continue to be amazed at these woderful, awe-inspiring people. This shot was taken south of Merapi and just west of Jogja between Jogja and Klaten on the way back to Solo. This is where the majority of the "down-hill" damage was from the volcanic eruption. I included pictures of the destroyed, detritus covered village a while back. A river was blocked by the volcanic material that flowed down the mountain and the government is working to redirect the river back into its original channel. This fello is "mining" volcanic boulders that were swept down from the mountain about 10 or so Km away. He mines the boulder and then manually reduces them to workable sizes!!!
Step 2 (or so).
Step 3 (or so). Almost managable. And did I mention - this is done with a hammer and rock chisel. NOT a sledge hammer!!!!