Hello! Hello! Hello! to the very most loved family, and wonderful friends.
Well, our dear Sister Sari is all done with her mission. This is a unique Sister Missionary with all sorts of troubles that have framed her personality, but, I must say, has definitely grown in her last 6 months of her mission. Being her companion teaches faith, and Christ-like love, and every Sister Missionary in the mission took a turn. However, Monday we loaded up almost all of her missionary belongings and drove Sister Sari and Sister Blake to Klaten, Sister Sari's hometown. Her Grandmother, who raised her, had a stroke the first of May, and so she will live with her Aunt and Uncle and Grandmother, and help to take care of her for a while.
We have heard some interesting stories about Sister Sari, and have lived through a few of our own; but, I felt sadness as we met her family, and worried about her future. She will live to far away to attend Church, so can you imagine coming home from a mission and not being able to attend Church. We just found out today that there are about 7 members that live in villages around Klaten. We are hoping that the President will maybe start a Unit there and send a set of Elders to help these Members. One Mother and her young son and set of twins ride their "motor" from the Klaten Area an hour to Solo every Sunday. Imagine....3 little kids and you on a scooter, zooming down the highway to get to church. We'll need to work on this…
On our way home from Klaten everyone was very subdued. So we SMSed the Elders and told them we'd spring for McDonalds if everyone could be there by 5:30. We had two sets with appointments, but the others were there and that helped everyone a bit. The next morning very early we fetched Elder Gilbert from the Tangah apt., drove across town and got Elders Johnson and Prasetyo at the Jebres apartment and then took Elder Gilbert and Johnson to the train station to catch the train to Surabaya (about 5 hours away). Then we went to the Sisters’ apartment and got Sisters Sari and Blake, went back to the Tangah apartment and grabbed Elder Purnawan and headed to the airport. You should have seen us, with all of us and all those HUGE suitcases stuffed into our short van. Sisters Sari and Blake were headed to Jakarta, Elder Purnawan was headed to a community just outside of Jakarta, and Elder Prasetyo headed to the northern tip of the Island of Sumatra to the city of Medan. We lost about half of our crew, but we got a new crew, so that's okay. Purnawan had been here since just before Christmas..... You really come to feel a little like their Mother. As Elder Johnson walked away he turned and said, "Thanks, mom!" Sniff, sniff, sniff…
I didn't have time to mourn, because as soon as we left the airport we headed to the Water Projects to check the status. They have 20 of the 22 MCKs almost finished, they were laying pipe along side the roads (digging the small trenches by hand), and they have nearly all of the reservoirs at some stage of completion. The closing ceremony is scheduled for September. Then they are starting a new project in Magalang, probably. We love to go see the progress, and wave to the children and villagers. We hand out cookies to the workers and anyone else nearby. We will really miss going there and keeping track of these good people. One village is populated by mostly wonderful Muslims, and the other village is a mix of wonderful Hindu and Christian, and then here is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints providing over thirty thousand of those living on that mountain with clean water. That is exactly how it should be right now in the world. That same day Elder Greenway was invited to a community about 6 hours away to fit wheelchairs to people in a number of communities. UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) goes and measures the recipients, and then goes back and fits the chairs. Elder Greenway couldn't go that day, but next week they will be in Klaten, so he will for sure be there. I think I told you the Church will provide over 1500 chairs this year just in Indonesia.
With all this going on, you would not think we would be so cruel as to inspect Missionary apartments on Wednesday with all the new Elders, but we did! The Tangah apartment has been in a state for a while. It is just old. But we sent pictures to Senopati (Mission Offices) and the next day they had a member come and fix the A.C (most apartments don't have A.C. - just fans), the sink that was falling off the wall, and the light fixture that was falling off the ceiling. Plus they got a new mattress (one was shaped like a U) and everyone got new pillows. The Jebres apartment also got new pillows, some fitted sheets, a new mattress (same reason) and a new gas hot plate. I think sending the pictures was a good thing. We usually take Banana Bread to inspections so they won't dread them. Besides, we are not too mean. It's like Saturday Work at home when we were raising our kids, right kids? Only I don't think my kids got Banana Bread… So Thursday, while Elder Greenway was shopping for and delivering the loot to the apartments I stayed home and planned Gospel English, organized our YSA lists, baked breads and made some cookies... Oh, and we did laundry! So that…
On Friday we could attend DDM (district missionary meeting). While at DDM, we asked Bono to go over the YSA lists and lump some names together by neighborhoods, or just by some nearness of proximity. So, when DDM was over, we headed out to find some of our lost Young Single Adults. After driving around and around, we finally found one address. We found out that the Sister we were looking for was married, and her brother, who we were looking for, had moved to Jogja to work. BUT!!!! We found a fifteen year old sister that was happy to see us, AND was excited to find out that she could have free piano lessons, and I found out that she sings. So we immediately formed a mutual admiration society, and she is coming to piano this week. Yea!!!!!
Then we hopped in the car and started looking for a place we never found, but did find a different address and there lived Puthut (Pootoot). He has been a member all his life, but had to get a job when he was in Jr. High that required Sunday work. So he quit coming. His mother then stopped coming also. He will graduate from college in a month and will teach High School. He gave us his cell phone (they call them hand phones) number and said he would be willing to come to activities. We asked what he remembered about the Church and he said that we don't drink or smoke. We are sending the missionaries to see him, and will call on him again, and SMS about activities. He is built like our Joel, and was tender and kind. We will hope....
But then we were off to Church English!!!!!! That is the most fun. We added three new members to our class this week. We reviewed vowels, made words out of "at", "op", and "it" (like sat, hop, and hit), reviewed "Heavenly Father" etc. and learned ....we are grateful, we are thankful, and the 1st Article of Faith, "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost", from "Kami percaya kepada Allah. Bapa Kekal, dan Putranya, Yesus Kristus, dan Roh Kudus." They did great!
Today, Sunday, we attended church at Kapatihan. Came home and had BACON and tomato sandwiches. Yes,!!!! bacon in a Muslim country. Actually, it is produced in Bali, which is Hindu. You cannot always find it at the stores, but there it was, but it is also hard to get lettuce. Hence, no BLT.... just BT. But we also had apples and grapes, which were yummy. However, I really wanted to tell you about the fireside tonight.
It was organized by the Sister Missionaries (that in itself is a very long story which I will not get into here) and by 6:30 starting time, Sister Sari had not shown up from Klaten, so we just went ahead. Pres. Budi the Stake President sort of reorganized the program, and off it went. The theme was on Temple Work and Genealogy.
The podium was full of members who portrayed spirits held in bondage in Spirit Prison because their work had not been done. One by one, or sometimes by family, they each got up and told their story from earth. Then they would ask if anyone had "done" their work by stating their name. Members of the congregation had been given there names before the meeting started, and were to stand when that name was given. Then the "spirit" would thank them (with great feeling) and go sit with the congregation. Of course when some names were called no one would stand, and it was pretty poignant when they could not leave from "prison".
Finally, a large family came and the father talked of the love they had shared and their trials on earth, and how much they wanted to be together forever. The father then began to call out each family member's name, and someone would stand for each child, until the last son. In real life, his name is Eden Catur and he is about 10. When the father read his scripted name, no one stood. The father begged, and no one stood, and then the family hugged each other and the mother and children stepped off the stand to go aside and sing "Together Forever". But when they walked past him, and stepped down, Eden suddenly "got it", he did not want to be left alone so there was no acting, he just turned and buried his face in his father’s chest and literally began to sob. The poor "siblings and mother" (which were mostly his real family with a few extras added) had to sing that song while Eden sobbed and sobbed, and then the father (as part of the script) handed him to others left in prison and went to sit with the "family".
Well, let's just say that Eden wasn't the only one sobbing. I can't get over it. It certainly made you realize how important that work is to those waiting. It was a tremendously spiritual event, and we were grateful to be there.
We have put off sending this letter because we are waiting for word that Matt and Tanya's baby boy has been born today. There has been a problem arise with one of the babies kidneys, and so they are bringing him a little early. I am sure that Matt and Tanya would appreciate any prayers said in behalf of their boy. We are grateful for family love, and caring friendships every day. We have great faith in the power of prayer. We know that our Heavenly Father loves us, and that we are blessed to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ to comfort us, to guide us, and to bring us joy. We are very aware of the strength that the Gospel brings into the lives of those who are blessed to be part of it. We see it every day here in Surakarta. We feel it from you when you email. Thank you for sharing your strength and your prayers with us.
We love you without measure!
Mom and Dad, Melanie and Ron