Dear most wonderful Family and Friends!
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.
Care for each other,
Elder and Sister G.