Monthly Archives: February 2007

Church News –

In case you missed it in my post for yesterday, I am in one of the pictures about the floods in the Church News for this week…

27 February 2007

27 February 2007 – Tuesday

I woke very early and so was ready to go to Zone Conference long before Mary. We had breakfast and read Kitab Mormon and then it was time to go. Actually we could have left later because we were the first couple to arrive – the next one did not come for 20 minutes. So much for being there by 8:30.

I did have a spot of trouble – I managed to shut the door with the good key still inside. Mary’s key is hard to turn and I turned a little too hard. I snapped it off in the lock. But I did not panic or get overly mad. I just asked the deskman to get a locksmith to open the door. Then I told Sam to come back, get the key and have two copies made. He was to make sure they worked as well as the original.

Zone Conference was fine. For the couples it is more to tell them what the younger missionaries are being instructed about than what we need to do. Until President Jensen spoke it was not very interesting but he is a good speaker – straight forward with lots of words of wisdom for all missionaries. Lunch was made by the Jensen’s cook and was fantastic. I had a nice talk with Elder VanDongen and what they were doing up at their area. They have made a big difference there – doubling the sacrament attendance, starting a choir, and other things to bring the branch together. They will be missed.

There is a new program for keeping the missionaries here healthy. They are being given pills for killing parasites, stopping diarrhea, and headaches. It seems that too many are going to hospitals and too many days are being lost because of illness. The president pointed out that just as many native elders are getting sick as English speakers – he is concerned with where they eat and what they drink. No wonder people look at us funny when we eat from BYU.

After lunch the AP’s and ZP’s put on a couple of presentations that were actually well done but not very exciting for us. It was about weekly and daily planning – something we do but for very different reasons. But as we expand into looking at more resources and schools – interviewing more people to find out about the job situation in Indonesia, we will have to do more planning.

The meeting ended at 3:15 and since all the couples are heading back to their homes, we just came home. Mary was tired of sitting and I am tired because I have been up for 12 hours without enough sleep.

I almost forgot the exciting part of my day. We got the latest Church News today and I am in one of the pictures in the article about the flood. None of the article is from the one I wrote. It seems President Jensen sent in one and they used almost all of it. I do think he used some of my language in his story, but it is basically all his. Anyway it will be interesting if anyone spots me there among the young elders.

While we were at the conference I asked Elder Decker how his second meeting with the Chinese man we visited last week had gone. He said it went OK but that he thought it was better when we were there and he wondered if we could go the next time. I said sure and felt good that we will have an opportunity to visit him again. I also felt good that the Elders felt we were a good influence while they taught. Hopefully they can make an appointment at a time we can be there.

We are ordering Pizza Hut for dinner – it is only the second time we have tried to have food delivered here. The McDonalds we order was not all that good. So far the only chains we have eaten at that really reminds us of home are KFC and Pizza Hut. Hopefully the home delivery will still be warm if not hot.

I have been trying to read the Indonesian version of Preach My Gospel. I can read quite a lot without getting out the translator – some I can guess at but there are still a lot of words that I have to look up. Sometimes it is just to make sure I got it right. I figure as long as I keep trying to learn and keep praying for help, someday down the road things will really start coming together.

Some of the couples think that the study time is better spent on reading the scriptures and studying the English version of PMG. I am trying to do both but with more emphasis on the Indonesian. Mary and I just feel this is the right thing to do – at least at this time.

I called Brother and Sister Bennett to tell her that she is now famous because president Jensen used one of her stories in zone conference. We had a nice talk. They are doing well and are very busy. She mentioned that they had been asked to teach an English class in a regular school and I passed on the information that I got from the Leishmans and the Petersons that we are not certified to teach a regular class to students. I suggested that perhaps she should talk to the president before getting too involved.

February 24 – 25, 2007

24 February 2007 – Saturday

I slept fairly well and woke about 6:00. Breakfast is included in the price so we went down at about 7:00 and had breakfast. It was an excellent buffet – especially the watermelon and the pastries. The pastries in Indonesia are not very sweet but they are still very good eating. Lukito joined us and he has been downloading the scriptures and other things on to my palm. The only problem was that it was running out of battery and we did not have any charger with us. Luckily it held out long enough for him to get them all secured on the card.

We got to the chapel soon after 9 and set up the room for the workshop. To make a long 5 hours short – there were 5 members there and the new district specialist. Lukito gave his usual CW – I need to suggest he spends more time with the start and try to get the participants to be more involve. I think Agus does this part better. But Lukito is great when it comes to motivation and the members certainly need to be motivated.

I just remembered something from Friday. Mary and I sat next to a man on the airplane who turned out to be the owner of a big craft shop in Jakarta that hires 700 people. We exchanged cards and Mary and him had a good discussion. When we get back to Jakarta I will have Mary call and see if we can pick his brain for what kind of people he is looking for and how we can get some of our people employed there.

Back to the workshop. When we started to look for lunch to be delivered we found the Benards in the building. I had asked them to drop by so we could meet them and let them know what is going on about the ERS center in Solo, what they could do for us, and just get to know them. They are a great couple from Australia and after a rough start are doing a great job working with the branches and the missionaries. I think they were happy to have another couple to talk to.

The afternoon part went well – we lost two of the participants but that is not unusual here. One of them had his mother stay and get the information while he went to work. They can not afford to give up any work. At the end of the workshop, I spoke for a few minutes about the need to pay tithing and fast offerings. I promised them if they did this, the Lord would bless them. While they might never have a nice house, car, etc., they would always have peace, a roof over their head and food to eat.

After the meeting Lukito and I did some training of the new DS. She is going to be very good. She said that she told the Lord she could give Him two days a week. I told her if she could just give Him Saturdays it should be a great start.

Next up was the leadership training. I was happy to see 4 branch presidents or counselors there. Lukito went through the training – it is really not very much. After that I gave my talk about tithing, fast offerings, etc. I then talked about networking and how everyone needed to help each other find jobs. Finally I talked a little about PEF and then opened it to questions. They were rather reluctant at first to ask but once we got started the floodgates opened and I found out they had a lot of misconceptions about the program. We are going to have to come back and really lay it out for them and the other leaders about what PEF really is and how it works.

When the last meeting was over we cleaned up the room and headed back to the hotel. We took three bicaks – this was the first time Mary got to ride in one. It actually costs more than taking two taxis but it was much more fun. We almost lost Mary because her driver did not really know the way. Luckily my driver did and yelled until her driver turned it around. She ended up beating the other two back.

It was a good day but it could have been a disaster. While we were talking to the DS we found out that the faxes we thought we had sent never came because no one had a fax machine. Lucky for us I had Agus call on Tuesday to try to make sure that someone would come so that the Christensens would have something to see. It was then he found out that we had problems. The DS got busy and arranged for people to come to both the CW and the leadership meeting. I would guess we would have had more if it had been announced in church last Sunday. But now I know not to trust faxing – that the DS has to be made aware at least two weeks in advance so they can get it announced throughout the branches in the area.  So all’s well that ends well.

I feel strongly that ERS needs to push the commandments about tithing and fast offerings. If a person is not keeping the commandments than it is difficult for the Lord to help them. They need to be in tune with the spirit as they look for jobs, etc.

I did not sleep very well…

25 February 2007 – Sunday

I am not going to write much about today. We all went to a branch and other than a very lively SS class where we did not understand anything and a rain storm that came up during PH that made it almost impossible to hear anything, there was nothing much different from any other Sunday since we have been here. I am hearing more words – at least when the speaker does not go too fast – and I think it will only get better.

When the meetings were over the rain was still coming down in buckets so no one was in a hurry to go home. We stood outside and watched the rain. Finally is slowed down to just a normal rain and we called two cabs to take us back to hotel – but then we decided instead to go to lunch. Lukito asked for a recommendation for another good place to have Chinese. He told the taxis to take us there – and what do you know. It was the same place we ate on Friday night. At least we knew what to order this time and it was only $8. The Christensens found it hard to believe things were so cheap here.

When we were finished eating it was still raining so we gathered up three more bicaks – they put plastic over them when it rains – and headed back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and head for the airport.

The Solo airport is quite small and the security is a laugh. Unfortunately the plane was about 30 minutes late getting in so we were about 45 minutes late getting out. While we were waiting I talked to a man from Canaga who is in Indonesia for a NGO and also to teach English. He and his family have been here for 9 years. He and his wife are thinking about moving back home this year. His 15 year old daughter asked what is this home they are thinking about moving back to – to her ‘home’ is Indonesia. I asked him about his family learning Indonesia and he said that they have not learned much because they go to an English school and have English friends. However a couple who were with them sends their young children to an Indonesian school and of course they are fluent.

The flight back to Jakarta had a few good jolts but other than it was routine. We set next to a man who taught auto mechanics. He and Mary had a good discussion but he said I did not speak very good English so he could not understand me. Mary thought that was very funny – so did I.

On the trip home we found out that one of mission cars had been stolen out of the locked yard. It seems that someone knew that no one was at the mission home except for the Petersens who live in the back. It is also suspicious that the camera that watched that part was not working. It is hard to believe that someone associated with the mission would help steal a vehicle but it is possible.

We also found that we had a package of Benadryl come into the postoffice and the government wants to know what it is. They think we may be  smuggling drugs. We must go to three different agencies to get them cleared. We are worried that if we do not they will put our name on some kind of list and not renew our Kitas.

Sam brought us back to the apartment so the Christensen’s could pick up their luggage and I had a surprise for them. Sometime when we were talking I found out that they loved Walls Classic ice cream bars. I knew that I had some in the freezer so when we got home we all had one. They were in 7th heaven.

After they left I called President Jensen to see when the Christensens might meet him. He was rather upset with me because we had the other office vehicle. He wanted to know who Oked that and I did not know who Sam got it cleared by. I apologized and called Sam. He was just coming into the parking garage. I told him he had to go to the mission office and return their vehicle and pick up ours.

I am sure the President thinks I am a real pain in the neck. Oh well I do my best and then apologize. When Sam finally got back I found out that Elder Subandriyo had approved the switch. That made me feel a little better but I am not sure it will do much with President Jensen.

22 – 23 February 2007

22 February 2007 – Thursday

A rather typical day for us with the only real news being a mistake I made in English class. Normal morning with prayer, study and reading the Kitab Mormon. Off to the office where we mainly worked on our English class material. We have not had a person come in for help with a job in three weeks. But of course much of that time we have been busy doing other things that are not ERS associated. We need to establish more regular hours and stick to them.

About noon we went out to try and get a phone card for the church computer so we can use it to help people in the branches on Saturday. After two futile attempts we gave up. One of the problems is that the  fast program works only in Jakarta and so would do no good anywhere else. After failing to get any real information about the card and services we went to the mission home to take care of some details and to change cars for the weekend. Our car is not big enough to take 5 people and their luggage to the airport.

The evening English classes went well except I made a shy young man – about 6 or 7 I would say – cry. I felt terrible about that and still do. The problem is that I am not sure how to make up for it. I just hope I did not make it so he does not want to come in the future. If he does I am going to be very careful not to even look his way for a couple of weeks.

The trip to Tangerang and back went quickly. It has been a long time since we have not been caught in traffic. When we got home I called the Christensens to set up our day tomorrow.

23 February 2007 – Friday

Normal morning – I am not going to the gym and must re-set my commitment soon or I will never go. It is strange how I can go for weeks without fail and then reach a point where I can hardly force myself to go. Read from the Kitab Mormon. We are in the last chapter of 1st Nephi.

We picked up the Christensens at the Marriott. Wow is that a palace – King Noah would have loved the place. This is the first hotel where I went through a security search to get access. It seems that there was an attempted bombing not too long ago so they have really stepped up security. The Christensens are a little late – it seems at the last minute they managed to dump the contents of their suitcase all over their room. First impression was that they are great people – the next few days proved that this was so.

We all went to the office where we had a meeting for an hour. It was very general and basically was just to find out what was going on in Indonesia. I found the meeting very useful because it helped me to focus on the things that might be most important. One thing they feel strongly about – and I now agree – is that we should be spending more time looking for resources for job opportunities and less sitting in the office. I will start on that next week – we will ask members of the English branch to give us a few minutes to talk about their jobs and employment opportunities.

Agus and Lukito came at 11 and we had our usual meeting to about ERS for the next couple of month. We went over the Career Workshop schedule, talked about new hours for the center, and the Christensens gave us an overview of what they would like to see done here. We set a reporting program – something that we have not had for a long time – and a goal to get 10 job openings from each branch each month. This will not be easy but if we can get it set up over the next three or four months it should be of great help – perhaps I can set up a blog for members to post to and get information from about job opportunities.

As soon as the meeting was over all but Agus headed for the airport. It was nice to see the airport in the daylight. It is beautiful and the grounds are amazing. There is nothing like it – or at least I have not seen it – in America. Unfortunately I did not take pictures but the next time we fly out during the day I certainly will.

The flight was late – nothing unusual there – but we did not have any trouble. When we got to Solo we found that Novotel had a van there to pick up some guests. We squeezed – and I do mean squeezed – on and save the price of two taxis. It was also more fun that taxis.

The hotel was very nice but not as nice as the one in Surabaya. After we had unpacked I called the Christensens and asked if they would like to go for a walk. They said sure – they are game people – and so we walked for about four long blocks which gave them a chance to see, hear, smell and feel Indonesia. We came home in bicaks – peddled taxis. They thought that was great.

We decided to all meet for dinner at about 7:00. When we saw the buffet we were not impressed so Lukito suggested we go out and look for somewhere to eat. We ended up at a clean Chinese restaurant where food for five cost under $10 – the price we would have paid for a single dinner at the hotel. We had a good talk, lots of food, and afterwards a nice walk back to the hotel.

21 February 2007

21 February 2007 – Wednesday

I slept until 6 and did not go to the gym – that is getting to be a habit and I need to stop. After that it was a normal morning with an hour spent on reading Kitab Mormon. Isaiah is not easy to translate – of course it is not easy to read even in English – but we do our best and then read what it really says. Most of the time we are somewhere in the ballpark.

I did a load of laundry. If we do it every two or three days it just the right size load. It still seems strange to need to hang the clothes to dry. One of the things I am not going to miss about Indonesia.

We had a short Skype talk with Tom. Just checking in about finances, etc. They seem to be doing well. I just wish we had a faster connection so we did not get such garbled speech and we could see them clearly.

We had our first regular day at the office in a long time. This means we were there for four hours and other than a couple of phone calls we did not have much to do except get ready for the rest of the week. I did the agenda for our Friday meeting, updated the Career Workshop schedule, and wrote a proposal for changing our office hours by starting to open on Saturday.

This will mean that some Saturdays Sam will have to drive us to Tangerang, Jakarta Raya or even Bogor but I think it is the only way we can really do what we were sent here to do. We will need to get the phone card so we can have the internet wherever we are. We actually may need two because sometimes the computer must be where we are not… we will just have to work it out somehow. I wrote a letter to Nancy and Neal to ask them what they did as ERS missionaries in Texas that seemed to work. Hopefully they will have some ideas that might be useful here in Indonesia.

We left at 1:30 so we could take a nap before heading for Tangerang and the district meeting.

The drive to Tangerang went smoothly so we arrived early. The zone leaders were there and I thought the meeting went well. They talked about giving and helping the investigator keep commitments. I told them that until their contact felt the spirit they would not really be converted and would have trouble keeping commitments. I told them the story of my own conversion and bore testimony that if they would bring in the spirit that they would have success. I could feel the spirit as I bore my testimony.

As we read from Preach My Gospel I realized once more how important it is for the members to read and use it in their daily lives. Every family that has children should be using it as part of family home evening. They should use it to teach their sons and daughters to use it just as we teach them to use the scriptures. They should learn to teach the lessons – short 3 to 5 minute ones at each FHE. They could use just one section of one lesson as a FHE lesson. Every adult member should be using PMG for their personal study and also use it for lessons. It is an inspired book – almost like a new scripture.

Over the last two days, I have had some good spiritual experiences. Now I just need to figure out how to have them everyday.

The drive home went smoothly and took the normal one hour. My dinner was a piece of bread with peanut butter. I was thinking on the way home how seldom we eat meat. Normally no more than once a day and often not even that. When we do eat meat it is almost always chicken or ham – I think on an average we eat beef once a week at the most.

I am happy to be on a mission with Mary. It feels good and right. I am thankful for our family back home who supports us. For those who are taking care of the finances, apartment, house and soon the yard. For those who pray for us as we pray for them each day. For those who are preparing themselves to serve missions – it is as Elder Bednar said. We need to become missionaries, not prepare to serve a mission. Personal testimonies of Jesus Christ, His Gospel and His atonement, are the greatest power on the earth for changing peoples lives.

As it says in D&C 50. “To what have ye been called? To preach my gospel.” We need to remember that each day and if we do the Lord will provide an opportunity for us to do just that.

20 February 2007

20 February 2007 – Tuesday

I forgot to set the alarm and woke at about 6. I did not go to the gym…lazy I think. However I did remember that we were to visit a member’s uncle with the elders and I was not sure we ever really made the appointment. It was too early to do anything so I wrote myself a big note. Later this morning I made a number of phone calls and it is set up for this afternoon. I thanked the Lord for reminding me of this … I need all the help I can get.

For my personal study time I read about the need for the spirit in missionary work from PMG. As I read the section and took the self-test on prayer I realized that this was another area I needed to work on. So along with patience and charity, I now am working on improving the quality of my prayers. This means I first pray in Indonesian and then in English … this way I can cover all the things I need to pray about. Also I need to take time to listen to what the Lord has to say as and after I pray.

Jim was on line so we had a rather strange but very good ‘talk’ with him and Olivia. We got to see them and they see us for a short time. However our connection here is so slow that it is almost impossible to really hold a meaningful Skype call. For some reason our sound to them becomes mostly static. We solved this by me using the written chat feature while Jim talked. It is really great to be in contact with our family.

We then read Kitab Mormon – we are in the Isaiah section of 1st Nephi and it is really hard to translate it into Old Testament language – of course it was also difficult for them to translate the English into Indonesian. The words and concepts of the OT do not move well into Bahasa. But we plug along and usually come close.

When we arrived at the chapel I realized that I had left my keys back at the apartment. Luckily the custodian came and could let us in. Or at least let me in because Mary and Sam had to return a computer desk that could not be assembled correctly. I ask them to stop on the way back by the apartment for the keys.

I was just getting the computer up and running when first the air-conditioner turned off and then a few seconds later the computer and lights went off. I went looking to find out what the problem was and found that they were replacing the whole electrical service. It would have been nice if they had warned me so I did not have the computer turned on.

Anyway I sat in the office alone with only the light from the window to read by until Mary got back. Then the two of us sat there reading from the Kitab Mormon until it was time to leave for the mission home where we were to pick up the missionaries and the member to go see the appointment I had forgotten about. On the way we stopped at BYU and picked up lunch…I am becoming a big fan of that place. It is amazing how much you get to eat for 40 cents.

Jemmy’s – that is the name of the member – ‘uncle’ lives in a very expensive home in a very good neighborhood. He is 72 years old and is very well educated and well read. He speaks Dutch, English and Indonesian very well. We had a nice visit in English and then we found he was interested in asking some questions about the LDS faith. I told him that the elders were specialists in answering questions like that. He was happy to find that they spoke Indonesian. He said that while he knew English, when it came to discussions about things of the mind, it was better to speak in a language you are completely comfortable with.

Elder Decker did most of the lesson – the investigator did a lot of the talking. I soon realized he knew a lot about the bible and also that he was a spiritual person who took religion seriously. When it got to the part of the discussion that talked about the First Vision, I bore my testimony of the truthfulness. I mentioned that I had been to the sacred grove and knew that Joseph had been visited by God and Jesus Christ. I also told him I was a convert to the church and had taken the lessons. I told him that no amount of reading or discussion will finally convince anyone to be baptized. That it was only when you prayed and the Lord answered that you would know. Mary joined in with her testimony and I thought the spirit was very much with us.

Later he started asking about why we were called Mormons and it reached a point where I thought he was confused and elder Decker was not really answering his questions. I told him that there was never a ‘Mormon’ church and that it was only a nickname that other people called us because the full name of the church is quite long. Which is why we often call ourselves LDS. After that he seemed to understand. We could have stayed there for days but we had other things that needed to be done so the elders set another appointment for Friday. We can not be there, but I think elder Decker will do fine.

We dropped the elders and Jemmy’s wife – he had to leave earlier for another appointment – off at the mission home. I forgot to write earlier that when we were at the MH for the first time, the office elders mentioned that they had just bought a 2 Gig memory stick for $19. Since most of the ones we bought are full, I asked if they would get a couple for us. I gave them $50 and they happily went off to bargain. When we got back to the office, I found that they had gotten 2 of them for $35 – Elder Allred loves to bargain. So after they loaded a short movie they had made about the flood on one of them I took them both and left.

We were able to spend about an hour at the apartment before leaving for an appointment to talk to a university class about English. Actually we were told that we would be asked questions and we would just answer them. Sam said it would take an hour to get there so we left 90 minutes early just to make sure.

Once in the car I almost immediately fell asleep. About 40 minutes later I woke up and looked at my watch. I asked if we were almost there and Mary pointed out that we were only about 3 k from our apartment. I thought she was kidding me until I looked up and saw what we call ‘This is the place’ monument still in front of us and I knew she was telling the truth. We were in the middle of the worst traffic jam that we have experienced so far – even worse than the one the other night.

We ended up taking well over two hours getting to the university and the students were patiently waiting for us. The next hour and something went by quite quickly. They were a very good class and after we told them something about us and why we were in Indonesia, I spent most of the time talking to them about how to prepare for getting a job, I told them about the importance of networking, about the careers that seem to be the most likely to lead to a good job, and a little about self-employment. Some of them had very good English and all of them seem to be able to follow what I had to say. Afterwards Mary said that I did not really give her a chance to talk – she is probably correct.

The trip home took less than 45 minutes – about 1/3 of the time it took to get there. The total length of the drive was about 25k – 17 miles. So it was a long but rewarding day – one of the best we have had in Indonesia.

19 February 2007

19 February 2007

The alarm went off at 5:30 and I managed to get out of bed 15 minutes later. I almost decided not to go to the gym, but realized that was the wrong decision to make. So I went and did some sit-ups and put 15 good minutes on the bike. Not enough of course but at least a start back. I was nicely surprised to find that I have actually lost a few ounces since I was there last. I supposed I had put on a couple of pounds. That gives me encouragement to get busy and try to get down at least a three or four more before the end of the month.

Regular morning after that. We read the Kitab Mormon until the maid came for her weekly cleaning. We will need to do more reading sometime during the day – we did not study during the trip so we are behind.

I got a call from Lukito who told me about the phone card we need for the computer so we can use it anywhere. It will cost about $165 for the card and $30 a month for the service. But that means we can use the computer when we are at the branches on Saturday. I think I will ask for volunteers or perhaps the missionaries to help when we are our office so Sam can at least have a couple of Saturdays off. More thought will have to go into the final decision but I want to make sure we are available to help when the people can get to us.

The young lady came to clean and if she did not move, we would never know she was here. I need to learn enough language that I can at least carry on some friendly discussion with her and others so they do not think we are not interested in them. I am sure they are told not to bother people when she works but we need to let her know we do not consider her unworthy of our attention. We need to let our light shine for her to see.

Mary spent part of the morning getting our request for repayment of expenses ready. She could not find one receipt and she looked everywhere. I finally found it mixed in with some papers that had no relationship to it at all. We are not at all neat and organized – it is amazing we can find anything. Maybe one of the reasons we have this call is to help us learn to be better planners and organizers. If so we have a long ways to go.

I spent much of the morning catching up this journal. It does take time but I think it is worth it. I do need to be better at learning names – or at least writing them down – so I can use them in this journal.

After the cleaning lady left, I took or at least tried to take a nap. Sam came and started to put together the computer table we bought – he ran into a snag and so we just left it until later.

Unfortunately Sam could not find any place that was showing ‘Night in the Museum’ and nothing else was on that we really wanted to see. So we just went to SoGo and did our shopping. Somehow Mary found $90 worth of groceries and other things to buy. I pointed out that was more than we would spend at the store in Utah. At least we should have some good meals from what we bought.

On the way back to the apartment we stopped at the mission home and found everyone except the two office missionaries were gone. I think they all took the Chinese New Year day off. Strange how folks take any holiday off – even if it is not one they celebrate.  The president and sister Jensen flew off to Sumatra for the week to be with his new Indonesian family. The A.P.s went to Bogor. The two elders that were left did not look like they were doing much. I was not able to leave our reimbursement request so we will come back on Wednesday, drop off the request and get any mail for the Tangerang elders.

I can not say that we spent the evening in much of a productive way. But we did get to see the first episode of the newest Amazing Race. As we were watching it I said to Mary – ‘Here we are sitting in a nice apartment watching our favorite show – it hardly feels like we are on a mission.’ But now we are going to study from Gospel Principles in Indonesian. Besides it is our P-day – the first really one have had in a month. Excuses – excuses.

Earlier today I did not find anyone on line or at least not with Skype on. I missed not talking to some member of the family on their Sunday. I guess they were all busy. Maybe next Sunday night – their Sunday that is. I wonder if anyone is actually reading these and if Cindy is collecting them for us.

Gospel Principles are easier to read than conference talks but we do not have an English version so we can not really check our translations…which means we take our best guess and hope that we are correct. The next time we are at the mission home, I hope to get an English version.  We found that the hardest  parts to translate are the  scriptural  quotes but at least for them we can check  the English.

17 – 18 February 2007

17 – 18 February 2007 – Saturday and Sunday

Saturday – We woke at about 3:30 a.m. and Sam came to get us at about 4:15. The trip to the airport went fast – no traffic at that time of the morning. It is too bad that it is not that way all the time so I could drive. We met Agus and his wife at the airport. Although I am not yet ready to tackle the airport without help, it seemed that it would not take long to learn. The security is much lighter than at any other airport we have been through. They go through all the motions but no one really cares. I think you could put any liquid you wanted into your carry-on and they would say anything. We brought open water bottles through all checkpoints with no trouble. Metal was pretty much the same – anything less than a HK-91 would not have been questioned. Most people do not bother to unload their metal – they just set off the machine and then security runs the wand over their body. I did not notice anyone be questioned about what that metal thing was that set off the machine or the wand. Maybe it is different for international flights – I certainly hope so.

We flew in a well kept up 737 with good service. I slept much of the way to Surabaya. We got there in time to go to the hotel so we could check in and drop off our bags. The rooms would not be ready until later in the day.

The Surabaya chapel is only about 3 years old and is quite nice. The grounds are lovely – much nicer than you find at home. I took some pictures to include in our mission scrapbook. The Career Workshop was well attended – 9 people. Agus does a great shortened workshop and gets people involved. Hopefully Likito will do as well with the Christensen’s here. I took Mary’s advise and got the people use to the camcorder so that when it became time for doing the mock interview, they did not think anything about being recorded. I will do the same thing next week.

After the workshop we went back to the hotel so we could settle into our rooms. There were no Taxis around so Agus negotiated a ride in an angkot. It was our first experience with public transportation and it was surprisingly nice. Of course there were not 30 people crammed into a space made for 15 and there was only one stop so the breeze kept us cool.

I must say that for a middle priced hotel the Novotel is something else. Everything is first-rate – the grounds and the buildings are beautiful. The only thing that would have made it better would have been an elevator to get us up one flight of stairs but other than that it was a great place to stay.

We had less than an hour before we headed back to the chapel for the evening meeting. When we got there the whole place was locked up – we could not even get into the yard. It turned out everyone had gone to eat and we very apologetic when they came back to find us trying to \figure out how to get in.

When it came time for the meeting there was no one there. However by 5:30 we had a nice group of leaders – no branch specialists – and Agus again did a great job. It was mentioned that one of the problems they have is in Indonesia people are reluctant to mention they have lost their job. Therefore not only do they not like to network, but they do not even let people know they are unemployed. I am going to ask the Christensens what they think we can do about this and what other countries with the same problem may be doing.

At the end I told them that Lord plan for the happiness of his people depended on them paying their tithes and offerings and that they seek riches to use righteously. I also said that the younger generation needs to be educated in careers that are needed in Indonesia. I bore my testimony that if people would follow the Lord’s plan, they would be blessed and the church would grow stronger because of this. A member of the district presidency interpreted for me. He seemed to do an excellent job – he teaches courses in English in a local University.

After the meeting we went back to the hotel, had dinner and collapsed. I was in bed and asleep by 8:30. But before going to bed, we went down and had the ‘traditional Indonesian’ buffet that they put on 6 nights a week. There was an amazing array of food but we tried only a few things. Unfortunately I did not find the chicken sate until late in the meal – it was great. This is small chunks of chicken on a skewer, bar-bar-qued over coals and glazed with soy sauce. Oh and the salad bar was pretty good also. Mary was more adventurous and tried a few new things. I can not imagine how they can offer so much for less than $8 a person including the 21% tax that seems to be added to anything you do at a hotel.

Thinking back: My mouth is almost healed and my cold did not really bother me. I did cough a few times and my nose ran from time to time but overall things are looking up health wise. Surabaya seems to be cleaner than Jakarta. The sky is clearer, the traffic not as heavy, but the basic atmosphere is about the same. Lots of small shops, lots of pedal-taxis – so there are no three wheeled taxis – and lots of motorcycles. Of course we only saw a very small part of the city and hopefully we can go back in the future and see more.

Sunday – I slept for almost 10 hours and it was great.  We went down to the breakfast buffet – we did not know that it was included in the price of the room but would have been happy to pay the $5 if it was not. Other than an omelet nothing was very good – the breakfast buffet at the Harris is much better. There was a tater-tot looking dish turned out to be a crisp shell with nothing inside – really rather strange.

Church was excellent. A young woman who was released from her mission in November let us know what was going on in Sacrament. I forgot to mention that Edler Thomas who we know from Jakarta, Raya was also there yesterday. He is the companion to Agus’s son – which is one fo the reasons his wife wanted to come on the trip. That does not make a lot of sense but I am too lazy to change it.

The branch is small but it seems enthusiastic. There was about 45 -50 at Sacrament. I especially enjoyed Sunday School because the teacher got all the class involved in the lesson about miracles so that she did not just lecture. This was the first class in Indonesia where I saw so much participation. Went they were talking about PH blessings, I got out my missionary handbook and Agus read to them about how the ordinance of blessing the sick should be done. They were wondering if there was no consecrated oil available was it OK to use something else. I wanted them to know that it was not but that they could still give a blessing of comfort.  Later, when they were talking about how some people wanted a person with some high PH calling to give them blessings, I mentioned that when someone in our house was sick, we always called in our hometeacher to give the blessing because I felt he had a special calling for my family and therefore was the best person to use.

PH was OK but the teacher did not ask many questions and so there was not much participation from the audience. This is somewhat worrisome because just last Sunday there was a good WW Leadership meeting on teaching and class participation was stressed.

I met two interesting English speaking people – unfortunately as usual I do not remember their names. One was an American who married a Chinese woman and moved to Indonesia 17 years ago. He knows Japanese, some Mandarian, Indonesian and of course English. 5 years ago they started a school that taught English and Japanese. It was a struggle at first but after the first year they started to grow. They added Mandarian and now have two thriving schools. I would like to go back and see the school in action. They have been observed by others who want to know their methods. These people are amazed that Indonesian children can learn these difficult languages so quickly and well. I am going to write them and ask for their help in employing qualified members of the church. I also hope that they might franchise their schools and give members a chance to own the branches.

The second person is a Spanish man who married a younger Indonesian woman who was a member of the church. After some time he wanted to know more about her beliefs and so he took the lessons from Elder Decker and his companion – he learned in English because he really does not know much Indonesian.. He came to know that it was true, accepted the principles and was baptized last August. We had a good talk about what his testimony is based on – he just knows it is true, that God lives, that Jesus is his savior, that Joseph was a prophet and restored the church. He does not believe in Adam and Eve, etc. but it does not bother him because that is not important – which is of course true. I was surprised to learn that his wife was the SS teacher who did such a great job – she looks much too young.

After church we went back to the hotel – Agus and his wife went visiting – until 3 p.m. We both took short naps and then we all headed for the airport. The airport only opened 3 months ago and is built quite a ways out of town. It seems to be well laid out and there is lots of room for it to grow.  Since we spent over two hours there waiting for our flight home, we got to know it fairly well.

The flight home was interesting because I sat in the middles seat and Mary sat by the window. The aisle seat was taken by a mother with a child I judge to be about 7 or 8 months old. Although the mother tried her best, the child did a lot of fussing and moving around so that much of the time I ended up with only about half a seat. Luckily I could lean against Mary – we put up the arm rest – or I would have no room at all. I must say that my working on Patience and Charity as attributes really helped in this situation. I did not get upset and tried to help but there was little I could do but be patient.

Sam was waiting for us and we were soon on the way home. We dropped Agus and his wife off near the mission home – they then had an hour taxi ride to their home – and still made it home in less than an hour. It was really good to walk through the front door of our home away from home.

We ate a couple of snacks – other than breakfast and some pastries at the hotel we had not eaten – and headed for bed. Our first adventure to Eastern Java was fine but I am not looking forward to repeating it again next weekend – especially since we will be gone for two evenings. I guess I should not complain – the Christensens will be spending the best part of a week here and probably spends much of their mission traveling.

16 February 2007

16 February 2007 – Friday

I slept well – in fact I think I slept too well. I did not get out of bed until almost 7. That seems sinful but I really did need it or so my body thought. After that we had a normal morning with our reading from the Kitab Mormon. We are finding that we can get most of the words, but the meaning is much harder because of the way the message is expressed in English made it hard for the translators to put it into Indonesian. I suggested that we start reading current talks by the General Authorities which tend to have language that we might use each day or at least they are usually easier to understand.

We received a nice e-mail from Taylor and we immediately answered. We hope that other grandchildren will write – letters from home always lift our spirits. We remember our family in all of our prayers and we are sure that they remember us in their prayers.

We went to the office at the regular time. They have finished all the kits and now all they need to do is deliver them. I would guess that by tonight the project will be over. Agus came in and we went through what we need for our trip tomorrow. I was happy to hear that we will not need to travel to the CW after this time. Once they are trained the DES will put them on. That makes a lot more sense than our traveling there to just sit around. I do think we will visit them some time during the year but not each month.

This means that we will be able to have our office open on a couple of Saturdays a month and then be available at Raya and Tangerang once a month also. We could have the office open from 10 to 2 on Saturdays and maybe Lukito and Agus could be available at Raya and Tangerang once a month – like on the first Saturday.

As I consider our purpose here in Indonesia, I felt like what we should be doing the most is training or helping to train the branch and district employment specialist to do their calling so they can help the members at a very local level. They can learn to help those who are unemployed or underemployed to be more successful in preparing for and finding more jobs.

I also think we need to be more involved in getting the members of the branches and missionaries aware of the need for them to form a better network so our members will know when jobs become available. With as many members as we have, they must have access to new job openings at all times. Perhaps that would be one of the things we need to do – or ask couples to do. To encourage members to tell the employment specialist about jobs they know about.

I see there is much more to do than we have been doing. Of course it would be better if we spoke Indonesian but being American can also help us get into places that are not available to most native Indonesians.

We went to the Jakarta district meeting and spent most of our time training elder Decker about his calling. We helped them establish a district standard of excellence and gave them some counsel about setting their goals each morning so they can be successful.  I think Elder Cheney will be a great help there and once Elder Decker gets his feet under him better he will be fine.

Back at the apartment we rested up before going to the University. Once again there were problems at the university and we could not have our class. It turned out it was time for finals and so there were no rooms and everyone was busy. We will not go again unless we know ahead that they are ready for us.

So it was back to apartment where we made sure we had everything we need to take on our trip. We will pack tonight and we need to be up at about 3:15 to be ready when Sam gets here at 4:15 – that is much too early to travel and hopefully this will be the only time that we will do this. Thank goodness we will have tomorrow night off to rest and I think we are safe on Monday.

Mary has learned to pay bills on line – the security measures are really good so that we do not have to worry about being ripped off. It also makes it very hard to send money to the wrong person.

15 February 2007

15 February 2007 – Thursday

After waking during the night and having a good bout of coughing I went back to sleep until after 6. I woke feeling quite good and thinking that perhaps the work yesterday did sweat the cold out of me. I certainly hope so as there is really no time for being sick.

I read the Kane’s latest news to their family and realize that we are having a very different mission from them. I imagine we are having one that is quite different from any other couple except perhaps the Petersens. Where the other couples seem to be right in the middle of Indonesian life, Mary and I are on the edges. Elder Kane speaks about how the travel around in ankots – small buses – going for long walks, and they are now thinking about buying and driving a car. We travel in our own vehicle or in good taxis. They live among the people and we live in a high-rise apartment. They go and do what needs to be done and we must tailor our week around going into the office on some kind of regular basis. I am not complaining but I do think I am slightly jealous of their greater freedom and wider experiences.

We received our first couple’s newsletter and it only re-enforced my thought that a native couple should be called to our position as country directors of ERS and we should be put out with the branches and missionaries. Not only would we then be able to spend more time with members but the Indonesian people would be better served. I am going to send this suggestion to president Jensen.

We had a long and fairly productive day. We spent the first part of the day at the office getting things ready for our English lesson and then helping with more hygiene kits. I was feeling quite good and so I was able to spend at least a couple of hours helping.

There was some excitement as Elder Subandriyo, the Jensens and the Petersens were invited to visit with the First Lady of Indonesia. She wanted to meet them because of all the humanitarian work that the Church has been involved in since the tsunami. It is the first time a Church leader has been invited to visit with anyone that high in the government so it was a great honor.

From the chapel we went to the mission home where we picked up some supplies for the Tangerang missionaries, church magazines for everyone, a flyer for our English class, and other odd and assorted things. I wonder what the couples further away do when they need things like this. While we were there we got to meet all the Zone Leaders who were in for a conference. We said hello to Elder Matiere who seems to at least be somewhat recovered from whatever sent him to the hospital earlier this week.

By the time we started out for Tangerang, I was feeling poorly. I had forgotten to bring any nose spray or DayQuil or anything to help me with my cold. Big mistake. I was able to sleep for some of the trip, which I am sure helped.

District meeting was OK – elder Collins lesson was not the usual quality that we have received from others but he gave it a yeoman’s try. We could add little to the meeting which for once did not focus on the negative things about the area.

Thank goodness for Elded Roper. He was the main reason I made it through English class. Due to the fact that it was pouring rain, the attendance was small. No one who must travel by motorcycle would come out in that kind of weather. So we had only had a couple of handfuls of people – about half of what we usually have. But Agus’ family had fun learning ‘Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree’ and ‘ Do What I Do.’  We reviewed long and short E, time, and did an exercise about what people do.

The drive home was a nightmare – even for Jakarta. We hit a backed up section of the toll road and Sam said – it will take 90 minutes to get to the front. I thought at first he meant home but he meant to go the 5 kilometers to the turnoff. He was wrong – it only took an hour to go those 3 plus a little miles. Thankfully we only had to travel those 5 k and then could get off. The people going the other way had that to go much further before things would open up.

By the time we got home, we were both hammered. Mary went right to bed, while I stayed up just so I would be sure to go to sleep. I spent part of the time reading Elder Ballard’s talk on ‘Being Wise’ from the last conference in Indonesian.