To our dearest family and equally loved friends!
Every week on this mission is inspiring, each one brings new experiences, some trials, and countless blessings. We have had a truly inspiring week compacted into the last two days. Last night we held a YSA activity at the church. It was advertised as a Sloppy Joe, & Movie Night. We had prepared 8 times my usual sloppy joe recipe. In other words, we used about 8 lbs of ground beef to prepare the sloppy joes. We took 54 buns, and 4 bags of cassava chips (yum), and lots of punch. You see, we have a rules in the mission that if the full time missionaries want to participate in a YSA function, they must bring a less active YSA or an investigator. Now the missionaries were pumped for this and so if we had all the missionaries attend with an investigator..... right there would be thirty people. As it turned out, we had a total of 20 people attend (which was a little disappointing) however those 20 people ate every last crumb of food. Some had 4 sloppy joe burgers. We were happy that they were happy.
But regardless of attendance, the film "17 Miracles" set the tone for the night. It certainly made me ponder and be grateful for my heritage. I have often remarked that everything I have or am I owe to Henrich & Anna Hanson, John and Sarah Williams, Owen & Ann Rowe, & Christen and Martha Christensen; and in some cases to their parents. Nearly all of these wonderful family members joined the Church in Europe, and all felt the call "to gather to Zion". All gave up everything.... family, homes, belongings, culture,..... to board a ship, ride a train (if they were lucky), or to pull a handcart and walk across those plains to Utah. Every thing I hold most dear goes back to their decision to gather. I think of them often, and I realized long ago that I will see them someday. I realized that I never wanted to be ashamed to face them, I never wanted to be the "weak link" in the mighty chain they forged. "17 Miracles" brings all those feelings very close to your heart. Elder Greenway's family joined the Church when he was just 14, and he reveres the missionary who brought the Gospel to his family. R.H. Larsen is from Snowflake, Ariz. and came from the same pioneer stock.. We reminded these fine youth that from these pioneers came brave young missionaries that came to Indonesia long ago, and brought the Gospel to this land. We reminded them of their heritage, of their own pioneers, and made sure they could relate to the sacrifice. They are amazing youth, and the night ended with a strong Spirit.
We have told you before about Farida. Her family are devout Muslim, and she came in contact with the Church through the offered English Courses. The Grovers worked with her with tremendous dedication. She was baptized in February and has enrolled in UVU's ESL courses in Utah. She will live with the Grovers to start and then grow from there. She leaves for the U.S. on August 7. As we have mentioned, her family was not happy with her decision to convert. But she has remained a devoted daughter, and has been very patient with them. When she told them she was leaving, they thought she was just wishfully thinking. She has tried, but they don't believe her. We have kept her Passport and Visa at our apartment for safe keeping. Well, after the movie last night, she suddenly felt overwhelmed at leaving her little sister and older brother. Elder Greenway, Francesca ( her dear friend that Farida brought into the Church), Farida and I stood in the parking lot of the Sopomo Building and had a good cry. What a young, courageous pioneer! She has become endeared to many in the Church here. She is an amazing missionary, and friend. She is good to the elderly, the children, and the other members her age. She radiates goodness, and while we are sad that she is leaving, she is going to do something she has dreamed of since she was a child. Francesca will graduate from college in August and return to Jakarta to her family. Wow, so many will miss them!
On Friday we fetched the Knorpps, a new Meridian, Idaho Sr. Couple, from the Solo airport. It seems like a minute ago that Grovers were there to meet us. We got them at about 10:30 a.m. drove straight to DDM because I had been assigned the lesson for District meeting. We have all had a busy weekend. However, we couldn't wait to take them to Church today. Elder Greenway and I love these people so very much, and we were anxious to "show off" our Indonesian family. We attended Kapatihan until 11:00 a.m., then Bono took us to the Sopomo building so that Knorpps to see the Family History Center, (that is their assignment). Then we dashed back to Kapatihan by 1:00 p.m. for the baptism of Bambang, and Arum (8). Bambang is 13 and when we first arrived we taught his father and mother, and they returned to activity. But Bambang held out. We'll credit Elder Xiong for encouraging Bambang to make a good choice. They really worked well together and became good friends. Elder Xiong was just transferred to Semarang and missed the baptism.
One really funny event of this past week happened at "piano korsus" on Tuesday. I have been working with a Muslim girl named Billo (beelo) for the past few months. Her friends Bimo and Fafa take lessons, also. Billo is the 13 year old with the marvelous singing voice I have mentioned. Just lately she won a gold medal at an All Indonesia Arts Festival. In other words she took the whole contest in vocal performance. She is currently working on a Grieg piece on the piano, "Wedding Day at Trolhaegan" that is somewhat difficult, about 15 pages long. She is just starting it and doing well. Anyway! Last week she walked into lessons with a beautifully framed Javanese painting SHE had done with pastels, and it is a "Javanese" me, sitting at the piano, here in Indonesia. It is a hoot. I have the typical Javanese mask looking face with the huge smile. My hair is black and in a traditional Javanese style, I am as round as I am in real life, and everything else, including the piano looks very Indonesian. I LOVED IT! She had done it for me, and that made it priceless. She is as good in Indonesian Traditional Art as she is a singer. Elder Greenway will send a picture, but I doubt if it will do it justice. What a treasure.....
Elder Greenway and I will be very busy during this next week with some interesting happenings. Besides running to Ampel with the Sister missionaries, stopping in Boyalali to work with the wheel-chair project, having the Missionaries to our apartment for a movie on their P-day and making tacos together, (this was their idea and we were surprised the President "okayed" it); we will also be celebrating Elder Greenway's birthday on Thursday! He will be 29....... give or take a few years. I will tell you what I am giving him next week, just in case he reads this. It is Widap's birthday on the 24th and we are going for ice cream with Bishop Caturs family, and of course our sweet Widap, for her special day. Then there will be piano, and of course all of the visiting we didn't get done this week. We are grateful the Knorpps are here, and we are anxious to have them see beautiful Java Tangah, and meet our wonderful members.
We of course, are always thinking of you. We miss and love you, and we love to hear about your families. We are praying that the drought will soon end, for most of you. We are grateful for your good lives, for the kind people you are. There is truly "peace in righteous doing". We love the added peace you bring to our life. Have a great week, and give our grandkids big hugs from us. We would love to see them via Skype!
Take care of each other!
Dad and Mom, Elder and Sister!!!