Monthly Archives: January 2007

#3

1 January 2007 – Monday – Happy New Year

After waking at 3:00 am I was able to go right back to sleep and did not wake up again until 5:30. I barely had time to get moving before it was time to go the gym for my daily workout. Along the way I ran into brother and sister Leishman. Her knee is feeling much better so she decided to test it this morning. He told me that he was able to get on the internet so I asked if later we might be able to send off an email just to let our children know we are OK.

I put in 50 minutes on the treadmill and then did some crunches and sit-ups. I am feeling great and I seem to have lost at least a pound over the weekend. I start the year weighing 85.7 kg including my sweaty clothes.

Back at the apartment I showered and then ate a small breakfast. I do not seem to have a real appetite – unless I am around sweets of course. Not that I can not eat a lot of food only that there is no drive to.

Mary has fallen back to sleep and I think after studying some Indonesian I will join her. There is little else to do today.

We ended up being fairly busy this morning. I did not take a nap. Instead I studied Indonesian. If I am ever going to learn to speak it, I must work hard each day. Later we studied together by translating the first 8 verses of 1st Nephi. We are able to get the general meaning of about 85% of the words but we do not always get the English meaning.

I had a nice conversation with the Kanes. They are doing great – if they were not so nice I would be jealous. They seem to have been busy each day, had a party at their house, and have a driver that is a gem. Elder Kane is determined to learn the language – he wants to be able to prepare and give a talk in 6 months. I am sure he will get there sooner than that.

About 11:30, Mary and I went for a walk around the grounds. We walked about 3/4 of a mile together and then I walked another 3/4 mile by myself. I would have walked more but started to really work up a sweat so I stopped. I do not enjoy sweating. Next time I will be sure to take a towel along.

Back in the apartment we watched the ball fall in Time Square. There is exactly 12 hours difference in time. I called down to the desk and asked if they had a phone book – that does not seem to be a concept that they understand. She called back with some restaurants that we could call. We also found that the hotel next door may have 5 restaurants. I will check them out after I take my nap. If any of them look good we are going over there for dinner.

After my nap and lunch, we work on Indonesian until we get a call from the Leishmans inviting us over to use their internet. Mary sent out a shot message letting everyone know we are fine and will send more when we get a good internet connection. I am just not sure when that will be.  We spent some time talking to the Leishmans about their mission and how they felt about it. They said it was not what they expected but then they probably never are.
Back at the apartment we do more Indonesian – including watching some on TV – and just killing time. It seems we do a lot of that right now.

02 January 2007 – Tuesday

I woke just before 4 am and thought it was almost 5 am – I was congratulating myself for sleeping in when the local mosque started broadcasting morning prayers and I knew it was not 5. However I managed to get back to sleep and slept in until 6:30.

This made me rush to the gym arriving without a towel. Since once I start really sweating I have a hard time pushing on I only did 30 minutes on the treadmill. But that still got my heart up to 127 and I will go back this evening and do some more. I did get a chance to study some vocabulary – but I am not sure any of it stuck.

We are looking forward to seeing the Kanes today and spending some time with them..

Mary and I studied 1st Nephi together. By the time we have worked our way through 5 or 6 verses we are pretty much ready to move on to something else. If it was not for Mary’s excellent memory and vocabulary I would stop much sooner. Anyway I think things are starting to come together – slowly but surely.

Sister Leishman woke up feeling poorly so just Elder Leishman and ourselves went into the office. We were able to get on to internet enough for me to send a single message via the chruch’s e-mail. Then Elder Leishman informed me that they did not like us to use the chruch’s e-mail to send personal messages so that was the end of that.

Before we left the apartment I called the Kanes and they said they would meet us at the mission office at 11:30 and we could get our bank accounts set up. So we left the office at about 10:45 – leaving Elder Leishman to work with a man coming in to learn some English.

The Kanes were already there and we found out they did not need to set up the account in Jakarta. So we got the paperwork we needed and their driver took us shopping and to get some money exchanged. We first stopped at a shop that carries only imported goods. Everything is very expensive but we were able to get black pepper and I bought two cans of diet A&W Root Beer. Since they cost $1.50 each, I will save them for some special occasion. I can get regular A&W for 40 cents at our little store.

Next we went across Jakarta to get our money exchanged. It was a lot different than my experience at the bank. No paper work, no ID and a better rate. We exchanged $1700 which made us multi-millionaires in Rupiahs. The young women who helped us can count money faster than a machine – they do it by flipping through the bills. It is a real sight to see.

Then we went to the So Go market where we managed to find just about everything we needed at a reasonable price. The Kanes can get better prices for most fruits and vegetables in Bogor so they did not buy as much. We had a problem with our American Express card and so it was a good thing we had a lot of cash. Of course we also bought some goodies at the bakery…it is a good thing it is not close by our apartment.

By the time we were done there it was too late for us to go to the bank and the Kanes needed to hurry up to get back to Bogor in time to open their account. So they just dropped us off at the apartments.

I then went through the hassle of trying to call American Express to see what was the problem. They finally sent up a very nice serviceman who knew exactly what to do and I got through. It turned out the problem is a local one because the company shows that we will be in Indonesia until 2008. Tomorrow I will try to call the local number and see if they can tell me what is wrong.

We had lunch and now are about to try to take a nap.

I took a nice 2 hour nap and would have slept longer if Mary had not woke me. I decided we would splurge and so we ordered from the restaurant downstairs. I had a hamburger with fries and Mary had sweet and sour chicken. The total bill, including 10% tax was $5. The burger was over cooked but OK – Mary’s chicken was very good.

I kept watching the news to find out how USC did in the Rosebowl. Finally I found out that they easily beat Michigan. So they should end up #2 in the nation. If they had not lost to UCLA they probably would have ended up national champs by beating Ohio State. Little Boise State beat Oklahoma State.

I am now going back to studying Indonesian by reading from the Book of Mormon. I find that I can read pretty well but when I try to go from English to Indonesian I do not do as well.

03 January 2007- Wednesday

I slept in until 5:30 but was up and out walking by 5:45. I walked because the gym was not open. I was it’s first customer and put in a good 45 minutes on the treadmill. I think I did a total of about 3.5 miles total. I just wish I did not sweat so much – it makes my exercising much less enjoyable. After the treadmill I did a little work on my arms and then a couple of sets of sit-ups. I am not working too hard on my body until I get down to about 170. Which is about 15 pounds away. At least this year I only have to lose 25 pounds and not 35 like the last time. I think I took off about 4 pounds last week.

This morning as I looked out over Jakarta I thought of how big it was and yet how there are not a lot of high rise buildings in my view.

You sprawl across the land
a giant made of red
roofs small busy people
jammed together traffic
motorcycles scurrying
like ants among the cars
trucks, buses – many lanes
where two are marked.

Rain soaked, hot and humid
old and new, brown, green, gray
multi-colored landscape
active mountains waiting
to erupt creating new
covering the past.

I will finish that someday soon because I am sure my feeling about Jakarta will change over time. I really would love to just explore the city – get to know it from the inside. Maybe some day Mary and I will come back and do that.

Sister Leishman was feeling better so we all went into the office this morning. We did not even get out of the car but headed for the bank to open our account. It took about 45 minutes to get all the paperwork finished. The people were all nice – especially the woman who was supervising. She spoke very good English and tried to tell us everything we needed to know. However I was glad we had Sam along to get the details in Indonesian.

We now have an account but we can not really use it for a week. So we will come back next Wednesday or Thursday to get our ATM card.

Back at the office by just after 11 and we spent the next three plus hours trying to get one woman enrolled in an on line job search. I hope that there is a quicker way to do this because that was just too long. As sister Leishman pointed out, most Indonesians are quite introspective and so it takes lots of patience to get anything out of them.

After she left we ate our lunches and then came back to the apartment. We happen to turn on ESPN and found that they were showing the Rose Bowl – it was fun to watch USC play. Of course we already knew the outcome so we did not watch it to the end. Instead we took naps – at least I took one – for a couple of hours. I was really asleep and was not happy when Mary woke me up. But of course if she had not I would have been up all night.

We had dinner – mine was a banana – watched some animal programs on TV and then I got back into reading the Kitab Mormon. I am going to stick to 1st Nephi 1 until I know the words. In just 15 verses I must have 40 words I need to learn well enough to recognize them when ever they come up. I need to see the root words better. But I think the work is beginning to pay off. A few more words stick each day. However listening to Indonesian on the TV is still impossible. But I do have 10 more months.

During the day sister Leishman mentioned that after this week’s English lesson we could do them ourselves. I took this as a hint that they are ready to turn some of the work over to us. I later mentioned that perhaps by the 10th or so we could handle all the work so they could start getting ready to leave. I think she will be more than happy to let us do that.

So another week is coming to a close – we arrived in Indonesia almost exactly two weeks ago. I can not say that it has felt much like what I expected, but I am sure that as we take on more and more responsibility it will.

#2

29 December 2006 – Friday

We have now been in Indonesia for a week. We have managed to stay well, to learn a few things, and we have not been involved in a traffic accident.

I feel great – I slept from about 9:30 to 4:30 which is a step in the right direction. Now if I can just make that from 10:30 to 5:30 it will be almost normal. I tried to study Indonesian this morning but could not really get into it. I find that once again the vocabulary seems to go in one eye and out the other. Nothing much sticks in my mind so I read the same paragraph over and over and do not remember much more than from the first time I read it. But I am not going to give up. We need to speak it around the apartment so that we are just use to speaking and hearing the language.

I am already encouraged by what I have been doing at the gym each morning. Today I put in something over 40 minutes on the treadmill with the speed pushing 4 mph. I also do some sit-ups – not many yet – and a couple of other exercises. Today while on the treadmill I sang songs and studied Indonesian. I found that I could read 90% of the sample testimony that is in the grammar book. I also studied some vocabulary. Now if I could just remember it for more than 10 minutes it would be good.

Back to the apartment for a nice long shower, a little more studying and then breakfast. I am not eating a lot of anything and between that and the exercising I am starting to lose some weight – about two pounds in the last few days. Hopefully this will keep up and I will easily hit my target weight before my birthday. Maybe this time without the Holidays to tempt me in 12 months I will be able to actually keep it off.

Mary showed me her bruise from when she fell down earlier this week – it must be the size of a large dinner plate and the color of beets. Speaking of beets – Elder Roper was really excited about getting to eat dog tonight…it seems a member or investigator promised to prepare it for dinner. I love Elder Roper but he is rather strange at times.

On the way to the gym this morning I once again ran into Elder Leishman and we talked a little about what we might do today. He said maybe Mary and I could go out to the district meeting while he and his wife took care of the office. I would like that much more than being in the office. We could take the Elders to lunch and then perhaps do some shopping.

Yesterday was more like what I expected to do on our mission. Many more ideas are going through my head – but I am sure that there is still a lot to learn before making any major decisions.

We went to the office and then went to the mission home to meet with another district of missionaries. What a difference and I think it has a lot to do with the district leader. I forgot to write down the missionaries name but there are four of them in the district and they are on fire. The district leader, Elder Mateer, served on Sumatra which turns out to have the highest concentration of Christians. So while in Jakarta he looks for people who have the darker skin of Sumatra and approaches them. Since they are already likely to be Christian, the gospel message is easier for them to accept. They are averaging over 3 baptisms a month from the district. So many that the branch president asked them to not have so many. It seems it is a well to do branch and they do not want to spend each Sunday afternoon going to baptisms. At least that has been their feeling in the past but it seems that in the last couple of weeks there has been a break through and the Elders are excited.

After district meeting we went to SoGo market which is an upscale store that seems to cater to Americans and wealthy people. They have just about anything you might want including some American brands. But the cost is high on some items. Meat is especially expensive and since I really do not care about what I am eating – I have not been real hungry since we got here – I do not think we will be buying much.

Sam – the Leishmans and soon our driver – is a lot of help. I think we will get alone well with Sam as we want to learn the language.

We will not go there often and the reason is that they have both Krispy Kreme donuts and a bakery to die for. More calories per square foot than anywhere except a candy store. They are constantly baking and putting out  fresh breads and baked goods.  As soon as we got back to the office the Leishmans were ready to take us home so they could do some errands.

As far as I am concerned our total missionary hours for today were 2 and that is stretching it. We will do nothing tomorrow, go to church on Sunday, and then have Monday off. There is little we can do about this lack of work until the Leishmans leave. But I suspect that there will be few Saturdays that we will be home and we will need to find something to do on Sunday afternoon.

Mary and I have just spent about an hour working on Indonesian grammar. We are trying to understand the use of ‘kan’ as a suffix. Unfortunately after an hour we are just as clueless as we started. Sister Tippets also taught us this lesson for the better part of an hour and obviously it did not sink in then either. So I guess the only way we are going to ever learn how to use ‘kan’ is just to read and listen…and perhaps try reading the section one or two more times.

Mary continues to plug away at reading the Liahona in Indonesian. She pointed out to me that it seems they use words without any prefixes or suffixes. Yet in newspapers and in the scriptures they are careful to always use the correct and full spellings.

For dinner I had some papaya and some instant noodles. I figure it set me back about 40 cents. Mary had some bread pudding she got at the store this afternoon. I would have a great day for eating if it was not for the two donuts and some ice cream I decided to have for a late snack.

We spent the rest of the night watching TV – something we would not have done at home. As soon as we get our own apartment, I am going to probably buy an inexpensive new computer so we can set up a real office. I can then do mission work at home. I can imagine sending lots of e-mails, calling couples, etc. from home on the evenings we are not out doing work. Also on Sunday afternoon and part of Monday.
Now I am going to try to get ‘berjanji’ into my mind once and for all. But if not then “Saya berjanji saya akan besok.”

30 December 2006 – Saturday

I just realized that if we had not changed our tickets, we would have been arriving sometime today. Although we have not done much in the way of missionary work in the last 9 days, at least we have gotten a number of administrative things out of the way, met with a couple of districts, and have managed to get over most of the jet lag symptoms.

I say most because I still woke up just after 4 am to the sound of the call to prayer. I really believe they are louder now than when we first got here. I hope it has something to do with it being holy days.

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s journal that we got back our passports. Unfortunately they did not give us a year’s visa so we will have to go back before the end of March and go through all the mess again. At least by then we will be old hands at the traffic and other time wasting things about Jakarta.

I got to the gym just after they opened. Since there clock is 11 minutes fast it was about 10 to 6. I put a good 40 minutes on the treadmill. During that time I went through a page of Indonesian. I read and translated the paragraph. Then I looked at the English version and translated that back to Indonesian. I also worked on vocabulary – I may have finally got berjanji – to promise – into my head. Also Mengatahui – to follow seems to be getting there. But Terus just slips away. I also did a couple of sets of sit-ups, a few minutes on the horizontal bike, and a few chest exercises. It all seems to be getting easier but I still pour sweat.

On the way back to the apartment I ran into Elder Leishman and we talked some about what they did yesterday afternoon. They are shopping for gifts to take back. He also told me that when they could not stand the office any more they would go shopping or take a trip to Bogor.  I am sure that we will do some of that also, but I imagine we will spend more time trying to help with employment and PEF. When we leave I want to have a strong program in place and hopefully we will be able to train our replacements so whatever we set up continues.

I took my regular shower and after about 30 minutes I am finally cooling off.

We spent most of the morning watching what I think were Japanese made cartoons with the characters speaking English and with Indonesian sub-titles. We turned off the sound so we could concentrate on trying to read the sub-titles. We probably read one or two words out of 10 but we were not frustrated because it seems to be getting easier to do. We also would choose some word we did not know and look it up. So we have a new list of words that we need to learn.

I think the more we do things like that and the more we listen to Indonesian channels so we can learn to hear the words, the sooner we will get to a point where we can converse in Indonesian. Mary and I really need to start using it in the apartment and when we are with Sam. But it is hard so we do not do it often.

We also went to the mini-mart to get some flip-flops for Mary. It is a nice little store and the prices are not that much more than going to the big stores in the mall. I picked up some more different types of instant noodles to try.

A funny thing happened this morning. We did another load of clothes and never thought about what we put in because everything is done in cold water. Big mistake because one of Mary’s purple dresses had never been washed. So we ended up with a nice batch of very pink garments. We immediately washed them again with lots of bleach. I just looked and they are now just kind of pinkish. I decided to wash them one more time and see if we can get them back to white.

Without a car and driver there is not much to do, so we took a nap. I slept for about an hour and Mary seems to be doing even better. I am not sure what we will do for the next 10 hours. I guess we could go to the mall, get some of the new movies on DVD and watch them on this computer.

The day moves on – slowly at times. We have spent the last three hours working on Indonesian, watching a condensed version of the 2002 British Open, eating lunch – I am becoming a real fan of instant noodles – and reviewing the DVDs that came from the Elder Bullpit. There was nothing new about the PEF that we had not already while being trained. However the December 2006 training package was much more extensive in some ways.

I decided that to use up some of the time, I would go back to the gym for about 30 minutes. Because of the long workout this morning, I thought I might not be able to really do much. However I found that the only problem was that I got bored rather quickly so the time seemed to drag on. I put in about 35 minutes on the treadmill and then did some sit-ups. I think if I keep this up I will quickly get back in condition. As I left I got on the scales and with clothes I hit 86.2 kg.

Back at the apartment I found Mary still plugging away on Elder Bednar’s talk on less actives. She is determined to make it all the way through. Before I went to gym we did about two paragraphs and that exhausted my patience. I am married to a very determined and very talented lady.

I am afraid that I need to go get my ears tested. It seems that I have problem with letters that sound the same. It is fine with English because I usually can figure out the word from the context but I will never figure out Indonesian unless I hear clearly. I hope there is someone good to go to hear in Jakarta.

This is getting much too long – but I need to fill my time doing something and this is at least somewhat useful.

Mary fixed delicious omelets for dinner – the first meal we have cooked in Indonesia. I cleaned up and washed the dishes. The rest of the evening was spent watching different things on TV. Some were with Indonesian subtitles and some were just plain pleasure watching. We could have just as well been at home.

It is now approaching 9 pm and the mosques continue to broadcast across the city. I believe it must be some special day because usually by now they are all quiet. Hopefully they will stop so I can go to sleep. But first I need to do some more studying.

31 December 2006 – Sunday

It is 4:30 in the morning and I can not go back to sleep because the mosques are all continually putting out prayers. It would not be bad if there was only one or if all were on the same page, but there are many and no two seem to be in agreement. So there is this constant drone of strange sounds – sometimes rather quiet but then the sound jumps in volume. I would think I could tune it all out long enough to go back to sleep but it is much like a dripping faucet or someone snoring. I lie here anticipating the next wave of sound.  Like right now – the volume has fallen way down but I search for the one in a distance that is still wailing away.

I wrote yesterday that if we had stuck to the original schedule we would have just been arriving. But that is not true – it would have been today.

To try and go back to sleep this morning I read King Benjamin’s talk in Mosiah. I was especially struck by the part where those who had wealth was told that they must impart their goods to the poor among them and judge them not.

On Friday when we met with the Elders they mentioned that they had taught and baptized a man who was very poor. So poor he did not own a shirt and tie. After he was baptized the branch president would not confirm him because he was not properly dressed. In fact he took him aside and accused him of joining the church just to get a handout. As I read Benjamin’s words I thought how that branch president should have given the man his shirt and tie instead of a tongue lashing. As Benjamin points out we are all beggars before God.

The Elders did mention that the branch president may have changed his attitude. He invited the elders to his home and to take part in correlation meeting. I understand this is the first time that this has happened in the branch.

Somehow I managed to get some sleep between 2 and 5:30 but I am not sure how much. Since then – it is now 7:30 – I got dressed – after ironing my shirt – and had breakfast. I then started in on reading the Kitab Mormon and have actually made it through 4 verses. I see some progress but not much. The start of 1st Nephi is easier because I know the story.

Out of the corner of my mind I am hearing the mosques continued broadcasting. I hope that this is something that only happens a few times a year because if it goes on very long it is going to drive me crazy.

We went to one of the branches we will be responsible for and met a few people. It will take some time for us to be accepted but we are determined to become part of their family and to learn the language. One of the elders started to translate for us but I asked him to stop because I wanted to hear the language. I did not understand much of what was said but the spirit of the gospel and the joy it brings to lives was there. They only had two meetings – sacrament and Sunday school – because of the holidays and many families are out of town.

After the meeting we came back to the apartment. We had only been gone for 3 ½ hours so our total commitment to missionary work for Saturday to Monday will be less than 4 hours.  We will just have to bear this until the Leishmans leave. But I did not come 10K miles to spend less than 60% of my time doing the Lord’s work.

I had 10 cents worth of noodles for lunch…I am not sure Mary had anything. We then watched a movie about the Carpenters – with Indonesian sub-titles. We tell ourselves that we are at least learning some Indonesian and I think that is true. I find that I can read more and more of the words. That is I can if they stay on the screen long enough. We comment on the fact that it is too bad we do not have Tivo so we can stop the picture and read the titles. I think I will check to see if there is something like that here in Indonesia.

It seems that either I lost the electronic translator or perhaps Sam found it in the backseat and took it home to keep it safe. The only other place it could be is at the branch we visited this morning. If we do not find it I will have to buy another one because we have come to find it very useful.

We spent the day doing very little except taking naps, working a little on Indonesian and watching TV. It is really very boring and I am afraid that tomorrow will be much the same.

It is New Years Eve and we are going to bed before 9 pm.  Of course we always tend to go to bed before midnight but this is earlier than usual. Not being able to drive is a real bummer but even if we could drive I am not sure what we would do.

Major Catch-Up

OK – for the next few days I will be posting the journal I have written over the last 35 days. I will post them in order so you can follow how we have been doing. Hopefully once I catch up I will be able to stay current.

26 Decemeber 2006 – Tuesday –

It has been a somewhat frustrating morning. We have not been able to make any connection to our family in the states. We have tried any number of times to get the right combination from our apartment but nothing worked. So we are going to go through our first Christmas ever without any contact with our family. It really does not seem like Christmas when you do not have your family or at least are able to talk to them.

I woke at 1:00 am and really never went back to sleep did doze but there is just too much to think about. Finally got up at about 6:00 and went to the gym where I spent about an hour either walking on the treadmill or doing some light exercising. I must remember to take my glasses, some water, and something to read.

At 9:30 we went to the office with the Leishmans – they have made a nice small office but there seems like there is little to do. I will have to find something more to keep us busy or I will go crazy. I did not come to Indonesia to sit around waiting for people to come in.

It is now some 7 hours later and I must repent of the words I typed above. Although they do not have many people coming in the Leishmans have not been sitting around throughout their mission. In fact if we accomplish as much as they do, our mission will be a success. However I hope that I will find some ways to increase the number of people who are coming to us for help in employment. Also we would like to get PEF up and running fairly quickly.

One of the things the Leishmans did was to find out about a great program of classes provided at very reasonable prices by the government for people to learn technical and mechanical skills. I am sure they will be just the thing for PEF loans. Even if they take a series of classes, it will only cost $200 to $600 – which is a lot of money here, but nothing like thousands would be. I want to look more closely at these schools and see if people can get jobs when they completed them.

We went to KFC for lunch – it is a short walk from the office – and our two complete meals for under $4.  On the way back to the office I bought a papaya that must weigh 5 pounds for $1.10. It should be breakfast for at least three days and probably more.

After closing the office we went shopping at the big general store – kind of the WalMart superstre of Indonesia – called Carrefour. They have just about everything you could want including live fish that you take home that way. This makes for really fresh meat. I bought some fried rice and some noodles – total cost 95 cents – that will make a nice dinner for the two of us.

During the day the Leishmans told us about their horror story of the first two months they were here. They had to drive 90 minutes each way to the office – they got dropped off at their apartment and they were on their own. They found that they had no sheets or other bedding. And from there things got worse. It was two months before they even started to be comfortable.

I mentioned to sister Leishman that it seemed strange but I did not really miss home. I did wish we could have at least said Merry Christmas to each of our family members but other than that Christmas in Indonesia was great. When we got to the office this morning we were able to send an email to Tom telling him how to call the phone there. Not too much later we got a call from Tom so we could wish them Merry Christmas and then one from Brian – I was really glad to hear from him because he does not have any family to be with on this special day.

27 December 2006 – Wednesday

I am glad that there is a gym in the complex because I can just go down and workout. I find that I can do about 40 minutes at about 4 mph and that burns 300 calories. To keep my mind from going numb I took a vocabulary list along and during the workout I was able to get 15 words memorized. By the time I was done, sweat was just pouring off me but I felt really good. I am going to be down to 71 Kilos by my birthday.

It was great to jump into the shower and soaked for a long, long time. But even though I rinsed off with very cold water, I could not really cool off. It did not help that Mary turned off the air-conditioning because she was too cold to eat her breakfast.

The rest of morning until it was time to go to the office I had breakfast of part of a huge papaya that I bought yesterday. It was really ripe and delicious.

The trip to the office was uneventful and other than sister Leishmann teaching a three hour English class to a young man who wants to go to BYU but can not pass the English test. He has been trying for a while but just can not get the 70% required.

While she was teaching Sam, Elder Leishman and myself went to the bank so I could exchange some US for Rupiahs but of course that part of the bank closed 10 minutes before we got there. But I have enough to get us through until tomorrow. On the way back to the office we stopped at the KIA dealer and found that we could buy a new KIA van for about $17K and they would guarantee to buy it back in two years for 82.5% of the purchase price. That would mean we would get back all but $3200.00 which is less than $200 a month for car expenses and they guarantee the car from bumper to bumper for 100,000 K. The problem is that I am not sure how guaranteed the guarantee is. Elder Leishmann suggested that one of the Indonesian businessmen who help with Employment could go and negotiate for me.

Just before we left the office I called Elder Kane on his cell phone. I caught he and Traudi coming home from visiting one of the recent projects that had been finished. It was a path that led from a small village to the school high up the mountain. Before the church stepped in and provided the concrete to make the path, the children had to wade through mud to get there. Often it was so bad they could not make it. With the concrete, the villagers were able to provide the labor and now the children have a safe and dry way to get to their school. Dan said that it was the perfect kind of project where we were able to help the people help themselves.

We arrived back home at about 3 pm and there is little to do until tomorrow. Until the Leishmanns go home, we can not do much different from what they are doing. But I am going to put together a plan for what we might do.

My thought is that we will go to the branches in the evening and be available for the members to come in. Maybe if we are available when they are off of work more will take advantage of our opportunities. So during the day we will be at the office – we will go by taxi – and in the evening we will be out in the branches. I think we will also go on some Saturdays.

The Leishmanns have done a great job in getting things moving, now we must figure out how to make ourselves more useful to the members. I can not imagine that there are not more people who would like to take advantage of our services.

I am also going to enjoy working with the young missionaries. It seems that the work is very difficult in one area and that the missionaries are getting discouraged. I am thinking that perhaps if we advertise in the area that we are going to have English lessons each night from 7 to 8 or employment resources will be available that we can get some non-LDS to show up.

All I really know that like LeGrand Richards the Lord did not send us here to not be successful. We just have to find out how to do that in the Lord’s way. He must have a plan for Indonesia and we are a part of it. I just pray that we figure out what part we are to play.

Mary continues to read from the Book of Mormon and other books in Indonesian. She is getting very good at it and I am sure it will not be long until she is reading 80% of anything that is written. I will be happy to be able to read well in 6 months and speak well in a year. I am not sure that will happen but I am going to keep trying. I want to be able to teach the workshop in Indonesian. Or at least part of it.

We did our first load of washing today. First we had to hook up the water and then I forgot to hook up the drain so it would not. The crew came and fixed that. We found out that the 3 foot by 8 foot room that we thought was for storage was really a maid’s room. I can not imagine how anyone could live in there – and without any cooling system. All for $40 a month plus meals.

On the way home today we took a trip down a lane of shops – think of a strip mall in a slum – where just about anything you could think of was being sold. We did not stop because the Leishmanns did not feel safe, but Mary and I agreed that if we had been there alone with just the driver, we would have made a number of stops – especially for fresh flowers. I think we will become well acquainted with that area during our mission.

I took a nice 2 hour nap in hopes that I can stay up late enough to sleep until at least 5 am tomorrow. So far – it is now just after 9 pm – it has worked. Dinner tonight cost about $1 – we had mie and nasi that I got from the store yesterday. The mie – noodles – were quite spicy and the nasi goreng was pretty neutral. Mixed together they were just right.

For the last few hours we have been watching TV. Mainly we watched the local Jakarta station which of course broadcasts in Indonesian. We can only catch a word now and then, but I think we need to do this each day so we can start to hear the language. I am surprised that I do not find it frustrating but it seems like we are making at least baby steps in learning to hear the language. I am sure as we continue to read, learn vocabulary, watch and listen we will find our abilities increasing. I believe as we do this the Lord will bless us with a gift of tongues that will fill in the gaps.

We also watched the recreation of the bombs that blasted Bali some 4 years ago. It was on the National Geographic’s station and was quite well done. It showed some of the people who were caught in the blast but survived, how it occurred, the investigation, and the capture of those who did the planning.

All in all it has been a good day. Not that we accomplished much in the way of missionary work, but we are starting to get into the swing of things.

28 December 2006 – Thursday

I am trying to get something for the third time today. The other two times were lost when I somehow selected everything and then erased it. This time I am going to save often along the way.

I woke at my accustomed 2 am but for once went back to sleep for a couple of hours. I hope it is a start towards actually sleeping all night. From 4 to about 5:30 I worked on language. Not that I got much done but at least I put in the time and tried. I keep praying for help and I know when it is important for me to use the language it will come.

At 6:00 I headed out for the gym and found elder Leishman out walking the track. I walked with him until we got to the gym and then we parted ways. I spent a good 40 minutes on the treadmill. I found that the best way to past time was to sing church songs. The problem is that I do not know enough of them – and I make mistakes on those I do know. I will have to take a number of songs with me next time. I took a word list but not the one I wanted. For some reason I could not get interested in the one I did take.

I worked up a really good sweat and then did some sit-ups. Not many because I still hurt from last time. But if I keep this up I think I will start dropping the pounds – or in this case kilograms – and feel better. I wonder if they play racquetball in Indonesia?

Home to a long hot shower and then a papaya breakfast. I am thinking about taking a short nap before getting dressed to head out for the day. No nap – I tried but could not fall asleep.

Today was a busy day – at least a long day. We went to the office and dropped off the sisters. Elder Leishman needed to get his hair cut and while he was doing that Sam and I went to the bank so I could exchange some money. It was a very interesting experience. First we had to wait for a teller to write up the exchange. We filled out a form, gave I.D. and the young lady had to get a man to OK the transaction. Sam explained that all the checking was to make sure there was no errors. Once that was approved we had to go downstairs to get the actual cash. Once again everything was double checked, approved by another man and finally the cash was counted three times before it was given to me. Obviously time saving and customer satisfaction is not part of the Indonesian banking system.

When we got back to the office we actually had someone come to get help in finding a job. He is over 40 so it may be hard for him to get one. But Elder Leishman helped him the best he could and he seemed to leave happy. The other visitor we had was a member of the district presidency who had been out tent looking. I mentioned I would be happy to help out in that area.

At about 2:00 we closed down the office and went to the mission home. We were almost able to get to our email account but it just could not make that last move. So we have now been out of touch with our children for since Monday.

While we were there we met Sabandrya (?) and had a nice talk with him. Later we talked with President Jensen and found out that it was not our going to be trained in Salt Lake that got our mission changed but because he did not want a couple in the office. He is really happy with the missionaries. We found that at one time we were scheduled to be full time prosylyting missionaries and then it was quickly changed to employment. I asked him some questions about some ideas I had as far as changes in what was being done in employment and he thought they were all good. I think he likes the idea that I would like to take the office to the branches instead of having them come to us.

We also talked about cars and it seems we will probably end up spending $12,000 buying a used Toyota. We should be able to sell it for about 80% of what we bought it for. This means we will end up spending about $125.00 a month instead of $400. That will make up for the extra we pay for rent.

From the mission home we went out to a missionary district meeting where we got to meet with 5 missionaries of the Tangarang district. They included Elders Roper and Tiemann who we already knew from the MTC. They are just the same as they were then only already seasoned missionaries. The district meeting seemed to me to take a little long. I spoke up a couple of times with suggestions.

After the meeting we all went out to eat at a Steak and Shake place the missionaries knew. We told them they could chose anything on the menu and it almost blew there mind. Everyone had steak, french fries, and a shake. Some of them had two steaks. The food was quite good – especially the gravy and potatoes. Elder Lieshman and I split the bill – a grand total of just over $41 for the 10 of us.

The ride home seemed long so I tried to go to sleep. I think I came close but I am not sure. By the time we did get home both Mary and I were dead tired. I have stayed up writing in this journal while Mary is happily snoring away. I am going to try to stay awake until at least 10 with the hope that I will sleep for 6 hours straight.

This has been the most interesting day of our mission. I think once we have the office to ourselves things will get even better. The only downer is that we can not get even an email to our kids. Hopefully they will get the damage done by the earthquake fixed so Indonesia can get back on line.

2 1/2 weeks in Indonesia

[Note: this text was sent by email to everyone. I am posting it on the blog it is saved here, too. –Jim.] 

We have been out of touch with all of you only because we do not have a reliable Internet connection yet. We have no connection at the apartment where we are living this month. I am using the connection in the Leishman’s apartment which we will be moving into on the 26th. After that we should have reliable internet connections.

The internet connection at our office at the church appears to be a hard line connection which is still running on the line which was broken after the earthquake near Taiwan. We seem to be able to reach the Church site in the United States, but then we can’t get in any farther. It tries to connect to another page, but usually takes at least half an hour.

So for now, we are still learning our new jobs and seeing what we can do. We sat in on an English class at a small University this morning. They want us to give an English conversation class to their faculty, so we will try that on the 26th. Bill is planning to give them some reading (Shakespeare) the week before and then we will discuss it with them. It should be very interesting because I believe their language skills vary quite a bit.

On the 27th we will be assisting with a Career Workshop in the Tangerang branches. (West Jakarta) I think next week we will start teaching the English classes which Sister Leishman has been teaching. This Sunday we will be going to Church in the Jakarta Raya branch. They have 2 baptisms scheduled.

Both the Tangerang and Raya branches meet in office buildings. The Church portions of the buildings extend over 4 floors with the Chapel on one floor, offices on another, and classrooms and multipurpose room on the other two. From the  outside you would never know there was a Church there. When we get back on the Internet regularly I will send pictures.

So far the most fun we have had is meeting in District meetings with the young missionaries. They have great spirits. Two of the young men we met at the MTC are in the Tangerang branches so we get to see them each week.

When we first got here we went to the store to buy some things that we
needed. They had really cheap hair dryers and I spent a whole four dollars for one. Well, today, the motor burned I so I guess I really got my money’s worth. Tomorrow I will try to buy another one, but this time I think I’ll spend a little more.

Mike, we did not get your e-mail. That is why we did not answer. Please
send it again. I hope everything is going all right.

The rainy season here sure has fizzled out. It rained the first week and part of the second week we were here, but we have seen no rain at all this week.

Well, while I still have a connection I will send this off. We love you and miss you all. I am really looking forward to more regular communications with you after the 26th. Ed, thanks for your e-mail. I’m glad to hear that
Ralph and Anne are doing well. Please tell them all hello from us. If you can send us their e-mail address I will write to them also. Bob, do you have Hal Lonas’s e-mail address. He has been very reliable in sending us Christmas cards and I couldn’t find his address the night before we left. I would like to write him.

Love, Mom

Indonesia

[Note: This was orgininally sent in email. I am posting this to the blog, too. –Jim] 

In case you haven’t heard there was an earthquake near Taiwan which disrupted the Internet and phone connections with Asia and the rest of the world. This is the first time we have been able to get on the Internet, so I will keep it short just to let you know that we are getting adjusted.

Happy New Year. I am writing this on someone else’s computer, so it is strange to use. We just watched 2007 arrive in New York. There were lots of fireworks last night all over the small section of the city we could see from our window.

Love, Mom (Sorry, Ed. You’re now part of the family!)