To our dear family and friends:
We have had a busy and wonderful week, and we hope your week has been the same. Things at home have seemed to calm down this week. We had Madelynne and Jackson starting school in Ohio, with Nate, Eli and Cecily starting in Utah. Nate is in 6th grade!!!! How did we get a grandson starting sixth grade???? Eli is starting 2nd grade, Madelynne 1st, Cecily Kindergarten, and Jackson pre-School. (Editor: As reported previously, other grandkids started school a couple weeks ago in Idaho and Pennsylvania.) How the time flies?....
We spent the week busy in the work. Monday was our weekly trip to Boyalali. After Sister Blake and Sister Neis left, things seemed to slow down there simply because it took a while for the new sisters to set up appointments, etc. But, Sister Neis is back with Sister Manalu, who is Batak. That is the name for a culture of people on the island of Sumatra. She speaks fast, "staccato"ed, and with strength. Her family is still near Medan on that island. She was working in Jakarta, met the missionaries and began the English courses. She was taught and fellow-shipped by Elder and Sister Meridith, who have returned home. We were commiserating their being gone on our ride home from Boyalali. Sister Neis and Sister Manalu are great women and teachers. We love the people of Boyalali, and the end of this month will be the closing ceremony for the water project there.
On Wednesday we attended the wedding of Agus and Yua. They were married by Bishop Catur, Agus's brother. The member weddings in Indonesia are very much like a Sacrament meeting without the Sacrament. There is an opening song and prayer, the Bishop speaks, sometimes a friend will speak also, then the couple is called to the front and the person (ward bishop, or other bishop) performs the ceremony using the LDS marriage script to marry the couple. Then there is a special musical number, and in Agus and Yua's case the Stake President spoke, a closing song and a closing prayer. They will be married in the Manila Temple later this month. Most of the time the wedding is followed by a traditional Javanese reception which I have explained before. Yua and Agus were not quite so traditional. There was a HUGE party at Bishop Catur's Wednesday night with (Elder Greenway and I estimated) about 500 in attendance. It was a party to behold, magnificent.....but friendly and fun. They had made Batik shirts for all those involved, including shirts and dresses for our young missionaries who were asked to be some of the greeters as you walked into the gates of the Catur's home. Caturs' knew that there were a number of non-members coming, so it was a great idea. Everyone ate, and talked, and listened to Agus and Yua sing "My Love" by Lionel Richie to each other, and dance, and sing along to the band. They tried to get Elder and I to go up and sing "When I Was Just 17" by the Beatles, but we remained a dignified Senior Couple and just sang along with the group. There are pictures coming to give you a small idea of the love and joy that was felt abundantly that night.
Thursday we went searching for lost sheep. We took the Banjasari Elders along, and we literally drove all over that area from 2 p.m until after 5 p.m.. We knocked on doors, visited with neighbors, talked to people living at the addresses we had for members, found other members, and at the end of the day... we had zero live bodies, but we knew much more about the people we were looking for and were able to adjust the membership lists for the Ward. Just so we didn't go away forlorn, we stopped at Slamet Widodo's (Weedohdoh) home. He has been ill for almost a month, not able to go to work, and with a family who also had been ill. We found out that the children and wife had had the flu, but Bro. Widodo had Typhus. He was feeling much better when we saw him. Sister Sri, his wife, called for food and in a moment (without us even knowing this was going on) Bakso, a meatball soup, was delivered to the door from the Warung up the alley. It came on a tray with 5 glass bowls of soup balancing, and the sauces you can add if you like, stuck on there, also. We enjoyed their company and the soup, and happily they were all in Church today. Because we are ignorant of Typhus compared to Typhoid, we came home and read up on the two. Everyone should do that....interesting. We do not often hear of either one in the U.S., but these poor countries do know. Interestingly, Bro. Widodo is a CPA, and they live much better than most of the members.
On Tuesday, (after piano), and Thursday, (after Bakso), we practiced with the YW and YM of the Jebres Ward who sang today for Ward Conference. I told you last week they were singing "Gethsemane" which explains in very simple language a very complicated principle of the Gospel, The Atonement. It is beautifully composed, and full of the Spirit. When these lovely people sing, they want to do it right. So they really practiced, and it paid off. It was so perfect! They remembered to enunciate (because it was in English), they remembered to be soft when appropriate and grow loud when appropriate. But most of all they felt the Spirit and communicated it to the members. And after.....,everywhere I went in the building I heard "Geth-se-ma-ne, Je-sus loves me..." which is the chorus. Wonderful! Even if that is all anyone remembers it is worth every minute of practice. When we got to the building to practice one last time very early this morning, Elder Greenway realized I had forgotten the word chart (I wouldn't let them hold papers to distract)!!! So good Elder went off and made another set of charts! I had to play for the conference, so he did what I should have done. He was so good to bail me out of a mess. It is so fun to watch him with the youth and children. Today after church he was doing that trick where it looks like you unscrew your thumb and pop it off and then stick it back on, with all the kids watching, (and some of the Elders). He had them all laughing, and of course he would find his thumb behind ears and backs of his audience. (We had quite a group, because I had been handing out candy, tsk, tsk, tsk..). We so love all of them, and love to talk to them and hear about their desires in life. I also got to play for two primaries today. WOW! Sister Kellis, can you imagine the joy!
Elder Purnawan asked today if we knew why Superman flies with his right arm out in Indonesia, and his left arm out in the U.S. It was so he could shift gears. (Indonesian cars have the steering wheel on the right side, so you shift with your left hand and steer with the right, tee hee hee.)
On Friday we visited with Choki's family, and a Brother from Solo 1 who has also been very ill. Choki is the Stake Executive Sec., and the Brother, (I forgot to write down his name and anyone who knows me knows if I don't write it down it is gone) has only been a member a short time and is married to a very kind Muslim woman. We are so grateful to Bono who knows where all these people live!!!! Then we ran off to Gospel English and worked on is, are, am, was, and were. By the end of class, we think they had it!!!! When they do a great job I always say "Exccccelllllllent"! Then our very young Bishop started to say it with me, and now they are all showing off! He also steals the candy we use to reward!!! I dunno,....... but they sure love him!!! We have "entirely too much fun" in that class. We think we have entirely too much joy every day we are here. We love to be among the Saints. This week, another wedding (Tian and Rianti) with more singing (this time the YSA's), more Boyalali (the Elders are going with us to visit some referrals), more practicing (the youth of the Banjasari Ward for their Ward conference), and more of the usual joy. We hope you have an abundance of "usual joy" in your life, too. We all have so much to be grateful for, so many blessings, how can there not be joy!!
Elder and Sister Greenway