Yearly Archives: 2006

Moving Up

24 December 2006 – Sunday

Our first one in the mission field. We will go to the Sacrament meeting of the English branch and then all three meetings at an Indonesian branch. All with the Kanes and the Petersons. In the afternoon we will move out of the hotel into our new but temporary apartment in a deluxe highrise.

It is temporary for two reasons – we could not afford to stay in it for our whole mission and second because we hope to move into the Leishmann’s apartment in the same complex when they leave on January 26th. The cost for the one month is $2200 but includes everything but internet connection – which we will not have until we move again. Both apartments are two bedrooms, large livingroom, two baths and a kitchen. They are furnished and the one we have for a month includes maid service – which means we get clean sheets, towels and it completely cleaned each day. If we buy a new camera, we will send some pictures.

I am in my sleep for three hours – wake for two – and then go back to sleep mode. Mary is doing much better but still waking early.

A short note on traffic. It is worse than you can imagine. Not only is it crowded – they make three lanes where there is supposed to be three by driving down the middle of the street – but there are hundreds of motorcycles that weave in and out of traffic. What is amazing is that there are few accidents and honking is kept to a minimum. They know exactly the limits of their vehicles and everyone just keeps moving. Also there seems to be no road rage. The same kind of traffic in LA would be littered with dead and wounded.

Here is the address of the mission home: Indonesian Jakarta Mission, Jalan Senopati 115, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta 12190  Indonesia.

Our new apartment address: Bill and Mary Pier, Room 22-05 Tower Dahalia, Puri Casablanca No. 1, Jakarta 12870 Indonesia. Phone 021 8379 9888. You might need to find the country number for Indonesia…this is just the local area code, etc.

I am going to end this now before something happens and I lose all that I typed.  More later.

Love Mom and Dad

Jakarta Day 1

We made it. We are at the hotel in Jakarta. I e-mailed Cindy a description of the adventures of the first half of our trip. She should post it for us so the rest of you can read all about it. [Note: I’ve added Mom’s email to the blog. See the blog entry before this one. –Jim]

We arrived in Jakarta at about 10:40 PM and sailed through immigration without any problem. We were met by two of the missionary couples – the Leishmanns who we are replacing and the Petersons who are friends of the Don and Vivian Ostler. from Orem. I got us a couple of porters to help us get our luggage. They were really nice men and I was able to use a little of what Indonesian I know without them laughing at me too hard. I convinced the Kanes to do the same thing and then we over-tipped them by a mile. It turns out you are supposed to not tip very often. I think I will continue to do as I do at home only reduce the amount. It seems only fair with the economy being so low here.

After getting our luggage we got into two small SUVs and got just a taste of the traffic problems we were told about. Actually there were not many vehicles on the road but we hit a couple of construction areas which called big bottlenecks. It is rather hard not to get a little anxious when a 20 ton truck is about one inch from your door and trying to get even closer. But our driver seemed to know what he could do and what he could not do so we got through without a scratch. The other couple said it gets worse during the day because of the motorcycles who weave through every crack and seam in the traffic pattern.

When we arrived at the hotel there was 6 to 10 security men on duty. Most of them were just standing around talking – rather like a gaggle of men rather than a working group. The cost of having them must be really cheap or there is no way that they could pay for themselves.

At least the reservation was still good and since they had filled the standard room, they up-graded us to the penthouse suite. When we got to the room we could not turn on the lights and neither could the Kanes. It turns out that you have to insert your room key in a special slot for them and the air-conditioning to work. It is a good system because it keeps down the cost of lights left on.

Speaking of air-conditioning, it was quite hot and humid at the time we arrived. I can not imagine what it is like when the sun is up. We were told that the smog is very bad – so bad some couples can not take it so must be sent to the country. I am sure we will be fine but another part of me would like to be in a less crowded place.

The room is two decent size rooms and a small bathroom. The tub is quite long but really narrow. Rather like a narrow casket. However nothing mattered since it was the first time we could take a bath or shower in over two days. It felt like heaven. The room also comes with wi-fi which is how I could write this post.

It is now 6:15 am on Friday the 22nd here. We tried to see if anyone was online so we could Skpe them but no one was available. If you read this before 5:30 pm Provo time, please ry to Skype us. After that we will away for most of the day getting set up.

We are excited about getting started and hope that we can get the details out of the way by Tuesday.

Love to all of you – more later.

Our Adventures of the First Day

*Note: Cindy forwarded the email, so here is Mom and Dad’s account of the first travel day. –Jim*

After you left us last night, we got our boarding passes and went  to our gate and then started the adventure! The board stated the  flight would leave at 9:11 and then once I looked over and it said  1:00. We knew we would have a three hour layover in Las Vegas, but  that was four hours! They didn’t have any pilots who could fly the  plane. The only ones were coming in from Cincinnati and would  arrive at midnight.

They said international passengers would have to go down to  ticketing to make arrangements and they were putting everyone going  to the East Coast up in hotels because they would miss their connections. So the other three headed down to ticketing and I  stayed with the luggage.

Then an agent came to the gate and made an announcement and as he  left the podium I asked him about our connections. He got our names  and went to work on it. In a few minutes he came back with tickets  for us on an American West flight leaving in about a half hour.  Needless to say the others weren’t back yet and I couldn’t carry  all of our carry on stuff all by myself. Just then an empty cart  came by and the agent flagged him
down and loaded all our luggage  onto his cart and we took off from our D gate to the A gate. Half  way there we met dad and the Kane’s and they jumped on also.

Then we got over to the new gate and wouldn’t you know it, it was  late too! But it did manage to take off and got us to Las Vegas  with a half hour to spare. We made the connection to the Korean Air  Flight which was also a little late. It was a great flight with  lots of stewardesses who really worked hard and took great care of us.

We are now in the middle of our ten hour lay over in Seoul. We  didn’t get ourselves organized enough to take a tour of Incheon. It  would have cost us $50 each, so we weren’t sure we really wanted to  go on it. In Las Vegas we met a mother and son who are on their way  to Jakarta to spend three weeks with her other son. We are spending  the time with them. We played Category Five for a while.

Now here comes the real reason for this e-mail. Dad has figured out  that he somehow managed to leave our camera home. Please call Brian  and have him look for it. It could be anywhere, but most likely is  upstairs in the bedroom. We will send you our address tomorrow and  would like you to mail it to us. Oops, I hit a wrong key and this  computer started typing in Korean, but the lady who works here  fixed it for me! The camera is about the size of a pack of  cigarettes and is in a black leather cover. I sure hope you can  find it and Dad did not lose it out of his pocket on one of the  planes.

We don’t know yet if our luggage made the changes. The gate agent  had me describe them to him and he went to look for them, so we  will find out when we get in Jakarta if we have luggage. We leave  here in about five more hours and the flight is a seven hour  flight. It is very cold here in Seoul, but luckily the airport is  warm. That is another reason we were reluctant to take the tour,  none of us have coats!

Well, you can forward this on the everyone else. I don’t have all  of their e-mail addresses in my aol address book yet. The Mongolian missionaries we traveled from the MTC with made their connection to  Ulan Bator and are now on their way. Their flight from here is only  a four hour flight.

We love you all!   Mom and Dad

Last Sunday at Home

17 December 2006 – Sunday

I woke at about 3:15 and alternated between dozing and studying Indonesian. It seems I either sleep straight through or play this tiring game. At least I get some vocabulary started so it is not a complete waste.

When I finally gave up trying to go back to sleep, I looked outside I could see that overnight it had snowed. Another couple of inches or so had fallen. I put on some clothes and a pair of gloves to pushed a path down to the end of the driveway to get the paper. Once I got started I decided to keep going and ended up clearing most of the driveway. Luckily the snow was light so it was not hard to clear.

I was released as 1st assistant in the group leadership and Steve Gibson was sustained in my place. The new 2nd assistant had not been interviewed so he will not be sustained until next week. Everyone said nice things and I was regularly embarrassed. But it was nice to say goodbye to a number of the people and perhaps our being there will help some other couple to make the choice to go on a mission. There are certainly any number who could if they wanted to.

I continue to be surprised how much I am touched by the spirit. The new Creer family gave their introduction talks and they were as good a pair as I have heard at sacrament. They were an excellent blend of personal stories, scripture, and gospel discourse. Both talks were on Gratitude but did not really overlap. As they spoke – especially when they shared stories – I felt the spirit very strongly. Even as we sang the closing song – While Shepherds Kept Their Watch – I could not keep tears out of my eyes. I am not usually emotional about hymns but that seems to have changed. 

While we were in church it snowed another two inches and I was rather worried about driving up to Bobs. But I checked the UTA cameras and the roads looked quite clear so we decided to go.

Mary coughed through much of the night and did not feel 100%. I asked Lynn Wardle if he could come by with another PH holder and give her a blessing. He and Jeff Turley came just before we left and gave her a strong blessing.

The trip to Bobs was clear and fast – not much in the way of traffic on the road. We wore our missionary clothes and badges so the grandchildren could see them. It was great to see Bob and Cindy’s families and have dinner. After dinner we had a short birthday party for Lisa. Unfortunately Mary completely forgot about it so we did not bring a present. I guess she had other things on her mind.

We left fairly early and drove home in light snow and the dark. It is always stressful for me to drive at night when it is snowing. Luckily the traffic was still light and people drove well under the speed limit until we reached dry pavement around American Fork. The strain was enough that I developed a headache.

Once home we relaxed for a while and then started cleaning up and getting the last things together for packing. There are still things to do, lots of cleaning up, and of course the final packing before we can leave.

As I write this we are down to less than 48 hours before our plane takes off.

 

Shopping

16 December 2006 – Saturday

It seemed strange not to go to the MTC this morning. Of course we did not sleep in but at least we did not have to hurry around getting dressed.

We woke to about 9″ of fresh powder everywhere. I did not even try to get the blower started so snow removal was all manual. I took my time over a number of sessions so it was not bad. After he got home from work, Brian finished up the parts I did not get.

I am not sure where the day went. We spent part of it packing, part of it shopping, and part of doing I know not what. The morning shopping trip went really quick and the traffic was not bad at all but the afternoon trip reminded me why I do not like to do any Christmas shopping after 10 am. The diagonal looked much like a long parking lot.

I just realized that if the traffic in Jakarta is half as bad as they say, what we went through today is just a preview of what we will go through everyday.

One of the funny things that happened today was how we went completely overboard at the grocery store. We bought enough food – including a lot of junk food – to feed a family of four for a week. I do not think we could pass anything sweet without putting it in our basket. I would guess that we will not eat more than 25% of what we got and the rest we will leave for Brian. As we left I said that at least it is the last time we will go to a grocery store in the US for 18 months.

When we got our visas, Mary noticed that they were only for 3 months. I was concerned that we would have to leave the country and apply for a new visa in March. I wrote to the mission president and got an e-mail back saying not to worry. As soon as we get into the country we will go somewhere in Jakarta and get it extended to one year. Actually I was a little disappointed – I was hoping that we would have to fly up to Singapore or somewhere like that for a few days. Oh well – maybe on the way home we can do some sightseeing.

ESL –

15 December 2006 – Friday

We went back to the MTC for one more day to learn something about teaching ESL classes. I am really glad we did because we got a great manual and had the chance to teach an actual class. After some introduction information we observed a class being taught. Then we went back to our room and were taught some ideas on how to plan a lesson.

We were then given our objective and what was to be taught. We were to teach ‘future tense’ using Will and ‘am going to.’ We did a little work on our plans before going to lunch. After we had eaten our lunch we came home to get an old suitcase for the Kanes so they could pack away their winter clothes. They are leaving them with a relative in the area. It is nice to be able to help our new friends and since the suitcase had not been used since Susie went to Australia some 30 years ago, I am sure we are not going to miss the suitcase.

Back at the MTC we worked out our lesson plan and then we got to teach. I must confess that I was a little worried but everything went really well. Mary started and finished while I filled in the middle. I think we covered all the material, brought in Preach My Gospel, and had enough activities to keep them interested as well as learning. Mary had a great activity that integrated the objective, the need to cooperate, and writing skills.

Before we left I was prompted to tell them that they were going out to change the world by bringing others unto Christ. I told them that they were the only ones who could bring peace to the world. That no amount of guns or money can do that. But one by one they can.

As we left they asked us if we would be back to teach on Monday. I think that meant that they enjoyed our teaching. It made me feel very good. After the class the teacher said we did an excellent job with the best part being our smiles and the excitement we brought to our teaching.

Of course it helped that the missionaries had been there for four weeks so most could understand and speak pretty good English. Also we were able to judge something about their level of confidence when in the class earlier in the day.

After that experience I am almost willing to go back on Monday – at least for the morning class. According to the manual we will be taught activities we can use in teaching ESL. I am afraid the MTC experience is catching.

When the class was over Mary and I went to the bank and then to dinner. As we waited for our meal I read and Mary memorized scriptures in Indonesian. Even after eating out, we made it home just after 6:30. It felt strange to be here that early. We made Skype calls to Jim – Olivia was already in bed – Bob – all the girls were there – and Tom – his camera was not working so we did not get to see them. But they did see us. I am very glad that through Skype we will be able to see as well as talk to our children and grandchildren.

I almost forgot another experience at the MTC. I was getting Mary a water when I came across a district practicing street approaches with each other. I volunteered to role play an investigator and two missionaries taught me a quick 1st lesson. Once again they had a little trouble getting started but once they got it going, they did an excellent job. I did not make it easy for them but it did not disturb them. It felt great to hear their message and see the earnest desire to teach on their young faces.

Four days until we leave for Indonesia – I am getting trunky.

Lost in the Work

14 December 2006 – Thursday

Our last official day at the MTC – we will go back tomorrow to take in a day of training on how to teach ESL. It seems to me that it has been both a long and a short 11 days. That is it seems like we have been at the MTC a much longer time than 11 days, and at the same time it seems like we arrived yesterday.

Today Mary mentioned that she while she knows how long it is until we leave for Indonesia, she has to stop and think about  long it is until Christmas. When I told that in one of the classes a couple of other people said that they feel the same way. We seem to have truly lost ourselves in the work.

The presentations today were only made interesting because of the presenter. Sister Elkins was back and her great attitude makes even dull subjects pretty interesting.

After the classes we all met together for a wrap-up and testimony meeting. Our 9 couples have grown very close over the last 11 days. Four of us shared most of the same classes and the other five were in many of the ones this week. We have grown very close in a short time.

Each couple is very different. Elder Thompson is a gruff looking man with a very tender spirit. Sister Thompson is a delightful person with a great sense of humor. They are going to Salt Lake and will be in charge of all senior welfare missionaries throughout the world. So they will know where each of us are during our mission. I did not get to know brother Gillman very well, but his wife is a very quiet and very spiritual sister. They are successful farmers and she mentioned that she could drive a John Deere tractor with the best  of them. I find it hard to picture this neat older woman behind the wheel of a large tractor. They are going to South Africa as Area Welfare Agents – which means they will be over all Wellfare missionaries in their area.

The Nelsons are going to Boston as Area Employment Specialists. Sister Nelson is a spiritual rock. She is quiet but when she says something it is too the point and full of insight. Elder Nelson is another one who is very tender hearted. The Dunns are from up Provo Canyon. They are probably the most humble couple in the group. They are thoughtful and are close to the spirit. Their call has been changed a number of times and each time they have decided it was the Lord’s will. One of the things that sister Dunn really wanted to do was to go on a proselyting mission and when theirs was changed to India they had to sign a letter saying they would not do any proselyting. Today their visas came through and they found that it was marked with an ‘M’ – they will be allowed to teach the gospel. She said in her testimony that the Lord was too kind to her in granting all of her prayers. They are going to be Country Humanitarian Specialists and oversee all the humanitarian projects in India. They are going to be great.

The Wimmers are an interesting couple. I doubt if I saw them apart I would ever think of them as being married. But the complement each other perfectly. He is big and quiet – she is small and fiesty. They are going to Frankfort to work in Social Services. The Mills are going to Croatia to be Country Humanitarian Specialists and could be models for senior missionaries couples. They look like grandfathers and grandmothers should look. They are soft spoken and filled with the desire to do the work.

Of course the Kanes have become close friends. We have been able to help them in a few ways. Today after the testimony meeting we took them to Ross Dress for Less. They are a tall, handsome couple. They look like they are made for each other. They are always cheerful. Elder Kane is easily touched by the spirit and bears a strong testimony of the gospel. I am glad we will get to stay in touch with them in Indonesia – they will be only an hour away from Jakarta.

As I bore my testimony I could only get as far as my testimony of the Savior and his atonement for me. I feel that this mission is just a small way to start to thank Him.

After the meeting we all stayed around to say goodbye and to exchange a lot of hugs. Hopefully we will all stay in touch throughout our missions and even after we get back home.

Lots of New Missionaries

13 December 2006 – Wednesday

Since today was new missionary intake day, are awake at 5:00 am so we can get over the MTC early and get a good parking space in the church parking lot. Since no new missionaries will come in between today and the first Wednesday in January, the group coming in today is large – close to 500. During the day and into the evening we greet and talk to them when ever we get a chance. It is great to see the smiles on their faces and feel their spirits.

As we were on a break, two missionaries – not new ones – said hello to us. We stopped and spent a couple of minutes talking and we found out they had been here just one week. I was inspired to ask them to give us a 3-5 minute discussion on the Restoration. One of the elders had a hard time getting started so the other one jumped right in and gave a good presentation of the first four points, by then the other elder had recovered and finished up with the last points. As they spoke I could feel their spirits and I told them so. I reminded them that the Lord had promised them that if they would open their mouth he would provide them with what to say. It was an important part of my day.

The day was spent completely on learning how to conduct a Career Workshop. Jeff Foy was our instructor and he was very, very good. If I can learn to teach the workshop 1/2 as well as he did, I will be happy. Mainly he had us actually do a good portion of the workshop – just as if we were taking it. A full workshop takes about 12 hours. I found that parts of it was not easy to do – especially when trying to develop a good ‘Me in 30 Seconds’ statement.  It was a day of learning.

In the evening we had our last language lesson with Sister Tippetts. Since sister Kane was taking a class in using the computer – I am rather amazed at the number of couples who have no or little computer skills – we invited elder Kane to share our lesson. After an hour Dan was in information overload, so he left to try and digest some of it while we finished up. Although I am far from being able to communicate in Indonesian, I am always surprised at how much has actually soaked in. As I hear some one talking or while reading something, I often find myself trying to translate into Indonesian. Hopefully the learning curve will pick up and with the Lord’s help the language will start to flow.

I forgot to mention that a new intake of senior missionaries came in on Monday. We try to stop and say hello to as many of them as we can. We found a group of them were going to Nauvoo and we asked them to be sure to meet Nancy and Neal and say that the Piers say hello. Most of the senior missionaries who came in this week are going on proselyting missions. I am a little jealous but then realize we will have many opportunities to invite others to come unto Christ – we just have to be ready and able to do it well and with the spirit.

A Quick Look

We have just finished four days of classes on being Welfare missionaries.

Monday the group of 9 Welfare and Humanitarian Missionary couples took a trip up to Salt Lake where we got a tour of Humanitarian Center and Welfare Square. Although I already knew much of what was there, the sheer size of it was a surprise. The amount of clothing that is processed each day is amazing. But the important part of the tour was the spirit that was at each of the locations. You can feel the love that is there.

From Welfare Square we went to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building where we had our pictures taken and then had lunch with some of the leaders over our areas of service. They really did it well with a lovely luncheon and a minimum of talks.

Before lunch we called Bob and told him we were in SL and so he and Lisa came over and spent a few minutes with us. It was really good to see them.

Our final event of the day was to see the film Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration. Since we had seen it earlier in the year while in Nauvoo, I thought once the lights went out I could catch up with some of my sleep. But as the movie started I found myself once again caught up in the story that I know so well and I could not close my eyes.

 Tuesday was a day with 8 hours of 7 different presentations about subjects in Welfare and Humanitarian service. Some were more interesting than others but I learned some things that will be useful for us as we teach and train about employment. Our last presenter was the best of the day – sister Elkins was full of energy and made learning fun. Some of the other presenters could learn from her.

Tuesday night’s devotional was another great one. I wish I could come to each and every one of them. Elder and Sister Parkin – the church Relief Society President – spoke.

Elder Parkin told about an incident on his mission when he was a young man. He was working in a branch and while going through a list of inactive members the came across the name of Brother Johanson. The branch president said that they should forget about him because he had not been in the church for 30 years and the last people who visited him were physically thrown out of the house.

As they left the president’s office Elder Parking looked at his companion and said that he wanted to go to see brother Johanson because he thought it would be great to be able to write in his journal that they had got thrown out of a house.

To make the story short, they were allowed in and they taught the first discussion. Two dicussions later they asked brother Johanson if he would be baptized. He got up and walked into another room. He came back with a box that contained a pair of white pants and a new white shirt. 6 months after his baptism, brother Johanson dropped dead from a heart attack. 

Sister Parkins spoke about Attitude and for one of them she told about a sign she made for her home and later used while he was serving as Mission President. It had the letters A B Y and they stood for Are You Building. She suggested that when when we are having problems getting along with members of the family, church members or our companions that we ask ourselves the question Are You Building a better relationship or are you tearing one down.

She mentioned that after one zone meeting she and her husband were having an earnest discussion about something and a young missionary walked by and said President and Sister Parkin – remember ABY! She knew that her message was getting through.

She also told a story about an Elder that was spending some time in the mission office. She noticed that his shoes were really in bad shape and she mentioned that he should get something done about them. He replied that he was too busy teaching the gospel to worry about his shoes.

At this point she reached down and showed us a pair of shoes that were almost in two pieces from wear – they did not have holes in the soles they were worn all the way across. He had truly wore out his soles in the service of his savior. She said that one day she will return the shoes to Elder Gregson as a reminder of his mission service.

One last thing she mentioned that I liked was how hard President Hinckley worked. She challenged us with the thought “Will you let a 96 year old man out work you?

Sunday

10 December 2006 – Sunday

Sacrament was at 8:00 so we were up a little earlier than usual. We met with a small international branch of mainly Tongan, Samoan, and a three or four from other countries including the Ukraine. It was a great sacrament meeting. The Tongan Elders and Sisters sang ‘Far, far away’ in Tongan and put their hearts and souls into the song. The interesting thing is that these same young men and women who sing with such volume are almost impossible to hear when they speak – even with a mike. However I do think I may be losing some of my hearing because Mary said that she could hear and understand almost everything. I may get my ears tested before we go.

After Sacrament the sisters went to hear the Tab Choir and then a Relief Society meeting. The Elders stayed for sacrament meeting. I must say if you are going to sing in a small meeting of about 15 priesthood holders, having Tongans and Samoans in the group is the way to go. I am sure that we were louder than our ward PH meeting of 50 – 60 brethern. Once again the talks were very quiet, but the spirit was strong.

After PH Elder Kane, Elder Mills and I walked over to the JS building and waited until the RS meeting was over. The sisters were thrilled because the speaker for RS was a member of RS Presidency. I guess she gave a great talk because I think every sister in the meeting lined up to shake her hand.

The afternoon was spent studying Indonesian and napping. In the evening we had the Kanes and Frandsens over for an hour. The Frandsens had recently been in Indonesia and a DVD of their trip there. It was interesting because it showed the countryside and the house the Kanes will be staying in. I must say that I am jealous because it is big and modern and will be about half of what we will be paying in Jakarta. The tropical landscape is filled with ferns and flowers – gorgeous.

We then watched Amazing Race and as I expected the two young men won. From the very first I was sure that unless they made a huge mistake they would win. They almost lost because it looked like they would not get on the first plane to NY – but they were the last ones to get stand-by and then beat the other couple easily. The poor team that did not make the first plane, never had a chance.

About 8:15 Berkeley Spenser came over and we talked about Indonesia. Berkeley had been in Indonesia just before Thanksgiving and had met with the Leishmanns. He was positive about PEF getting started but could not give us much info about our part in the work. I would guess we will not really know until we get there. When we talked about learning the language he said we would not be able to learn it. Mary and I are getting tired of people telling us we can not learn the language well enough to carry on a regular conversation with natives. We are going to prove them wrong.

Speaking of that we are doing much better about reading the language. Mary can figure out about 70-80% of the words and I am up to about 50% – or close there to. My goal is to be able to read the language in 6 months and speak it in a year. I think Mary will be able to understand most of it in 6 months.