Selamat Sore Semuanya!!!!! Gembira Idul Fitri!!!!!
For the past month the Islam community has been celebrating Ramadan. During Ramadan the Muslims rise very early, with the cry from their Mosque (which we can't tell exactly which cry they listen to, since the "singing" from the Mosque is often and loud) and eat a big breakfast and then an air raid horn goes off (I am not kidding or mocking, just stating a fact) and that is it for the eating during the day. Then about sundown the air raid horn goes off again, and that signals that the fast is over and everyone feasts. Now that goes on all month until the last 2 days of Ramadan and that is called Idul Fitri. During Idul Fitri the singing increases, everyone returns to their "home villages", or their family's central home, and they set off fireworks all night, everyone chants in the streets all night, until Ramadan is over WHICH WILL BE TUESDAY, FINALLY!!!! Sorry, but this makes the 24th of July, and Independence Day look Mickey Mouse. The traffic is unbelievable.... (Bono's brother left Jakarta at 3 p.m. on Friday to travel 400 miles by bus to get home for Idul Fitri, and as of this morning (Sunday) at 9:30 he was still west of Semarang going about 6 miles in 5 hours...).
There is one other tradition that Widap told us about today. Seems that during Idul Fitri, Muslim children confess their wrong doings to their "elders" (this includes neighbors, uncles, aunts, etc.) and then these people give the youngsters money! Now, I know a few kids with a few things they should really confess, but I don't know which is worse.... knowing the confession or paying for the bad deed!!!! AND I am not sure I want my neighbors in Carlisle to KNOW all those things about my Children!!! Such as it is, our Stake Presidents daughter made over $10 "spilling her guts" to her neighbors. Ramadan is a religious holiday, the most important of the year, and I do not want to make light of it, and while Idul Fitri is part of Ramadan, the entire country celebrates that portion... so this becomes the reality of the situation. (We will survive, really!!!) And if this isn't enough for the world.....it is my sister, Janis's birthday to boot!!!! I don't know if the world can handle it, but HAPPY 29th BIRTHDAY DEAREST NEATEST BIG SISTER!
While we are surviving Idul Fitri, Adam and Amy and family participated in the Joseph Hanson Family Reunion yesterday. They did return and report that they had an absolutely wonderful time. They met a bunch of my super cousins, learned more about me??? and found out that my father had an imaginary friend whose name was Jeppnagee! I am wondering if that is Indonesian for confession!!! We were so grateful for their participation in that fabulous event. In fact, we found out that our various families have been to the Lisburn Community and Idaho State Fairs. They have gone on vacation without their luggage, gone on vacation with buffaloes hanging off their car, and survived 13 bottles of exploding peaches!!!! (and we think Idul Fitri is tough). We are constantly amazed at their comings and goings!!!!
While they were off "destroying the world", we were calmly serving as happy missionaries in paradise. On Tuesday, we attended the new Zone Training Meeting with the Zone leaders leading and instructing. They did a fabulous job! They had asked us to plan a game for the break, so Elder Greenway put together a Q & A game about the Rescue Effort with questions about the relationship between the Full time Missionaries and the role of the Ward Councils, the responsibilities of the Ward Mission Leaders, and the responsibilities of the Missionaries to work within a Ward. It was very enlightening and important, PLUS fun!!! We had to leave early for piano, but we were happy to have been a part of that meeting.
Wednesday we went visiting. We started with an inspired visit to Sister Jinten an older single sister who runs a roadside shop that sells all sorts of things. We found that she had just been robbed. It seems that some unscrupulous people come to Solo during Idul Fitri, put on the Muslim women headscarves and rob these roadside businesses. The woman had stepped behind the single counter to "look" for a certain item, and while Sister Jinten was not looking, reached in her hand bag and stole her money. She was so distraught. We purchased some batik to help her out, and we gave her the pumpkin bread we always take along, but it seemed like a pittance considering how she felt. We also prayed with her, and hugged her and tried our best to help. Today when we saw her she told us she was happy and that she really liked the pumpkin bread. (We are always sort of guessing that this is what they are saying, but we are getting more sure of ourselves.) Our past District Pres. lives very close to Sister Jinten, so we stopped by to say hello. Brother Agus has such a wonderful family, it is a delight to spend time with them and we probably stayed to long. We talked a bunch about how to make Pumpkin Bread. They steam their cakes and brownies. We had to hurry to get to piano at Sopomo. I have a new student there, her name is Sonia and she has excellent English. In fact, the Stake usually puts her in charge of the "translating" for Stake Conference. We love her, and she is a great help to the Senior Couples.
On Thursday we took our new Sisters, Sister Pontoan and Sister Bantjer, to Boyalali to meet the family of investigators we have there. They are no longer meeting at the Water Project offices because as far as the Church goes, the project is done. So we met at Sister Kini's home, with Sister Markini, and Sister Kini's husband. They invited us in...it is always amazing to us how a home can have a dirt floor and be as clean and neat as these homes. They offered us some snacks. One was the rice wafers with peanuts that are so good, and the other was new. Bono told us they take cassava (it is the root of a small tree that they use like a potato) and steam and mash it, then they put a large spoonful on a banana leaf and sprinkle it with sugar and yeast. Then it is wrapped up an left to ferment over-night. It tastes sort of like my mother's roll dough, however before I knew how it was made I asked Sister Pontoan quietly if it would be breaking the Word of Wisdom to eat it. I could just imagine Bono taking four tipsy missionaries back to Solo. She and Bono assured us it was fine. Anyway, Sister Kini and I were so happy to see each other that we just hugged and hugged. We can't tell you how badly we desire this to move forward. Sometimes you have that feeling that you knew these people before, and that they have been waiting for you. We are sure.....
We gave Bono Friday (Indonesian Independence Day) and Saturday off because he had family coming to spend Idul Fitri. But we didn't just sit around. On Saturday we had an "inservice" for our District (all 14 missionaries) at our apartment. Elder and Sister Knorpp talked to the Missionaries about Family History as a missionary tool. Did you know that retention is much higher after baptism if new members are involved in Family History, and is MUCH higher if new members are doing Temple Baptisms. The Knorpps are doing a fabulous job with family history in the Solo area. They are a great missionary couple! We also had sloppy joes. You all know how much we love to feed missionaries!!!! They ate about 6 lbs of ground beef made into sloppy joe, 2 packages of chips, 5 liters of soda, and 5 dozen cookies!!!! We JUST LOVE IT!!
We and the Knorpps did some walking, ran to the mall, and worked on some info. we were compiling for our Stake President. Today we met with him concerning the Young Singles, he wants us to continue to lead the four Ward groups here in Solo. We asked if we could have the 1st Sunday evening, and the 3rd Saturday evening set aside for them on the Stake Calendar. He agreed. We also talked to him about teaching English. He would like us to teach the Seminary Students at the Sopomo building after Seminary. We hoped he would let the Elders do it, and that we could teach a second Gospel English course to the adults of the two Wards. But he was steadfast and immovable, and so we will be teaching English to the Seminary students from the Solo 1 and Solo 2 Wards on Thursdays, our only evening open during the week, and the Elders or Sonia will teach on Tuesday evenings. We also talked to him about Primary Nurseries. Seems that the nurseries in the Stake have no structure. Sister Indah, Prim. Pres. of the Jebres Ward asked me about her Nursery and so I told her how it was suppose to function. They don't even have toys. We then did some homework, and we don't think they know there is a manual for Nursery. Sooooooo, we gave the President some pages from "Behold, Your Little Ones" and talked to him about toys and a toy cabinet that can lock, and he asked if we can get the manuals in Bahasa, so we are looking into that. We are hoping that we can do some work with the Primaries. They could use some structure. Elder told him we only have a year left, and he was surprised. So we said "Keep us Busy"!!!!!!!!!!! We love him, he is such a young amazing individual.
One last event!!!!!! Elder Greenway has been working with a young sister (about 25), a return missionary, who has wanted to go to BYU - Hawaii for a while. The foreign students have to pass either the Michigan or TOEFL English test to get in. Ari has taken the Michigan test twice before and failed (quite frankly because she didn't prepare). So Elder Greenway has been working with her for months and months. It has been a slow process. When she came to him, she was thinking he would just "get her in". But he made it clear that if she wanted it she would have to work at it. She was a little upset, and for a bit just stopped the process. But slowly she began to work, and he has been very patient with her. WELL, SHE PASSED THE TEST!!!!! and will begin 3 on-line courses this semester, secured the tuition and is working toward attending the campus in Hawaii. He is so proud of her, and she is so happy. He also wanted you to know that he fixed the gas line without blowing up the apartment. I couldn't use my easy-bake oven, because the gas was not coming fast enough to keep up the temperature. So my little Willy fixed it!!! And we are still alive to talk about it.
Well, my goodness, this letter has gone on and on. Tomorrow we and the Knorpps are taking the missionaries to the Jogja Zoo (usually about 2 1/2 hours) as a Zone trip. We hope we get there before we have to turn around and come back. We hope we have no buffalo hanging in the window of our car, and we hope the Lion does not escape and eat the Camel, which did happen at the Solo Zoo. Pray for us....
mom & dad