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.
That’s it for this week!
Love you all,
Elder & Sister Greenway