Daily Archives: July 3, 2007

03 June 2007

03 July 2007 – Tuesday

The Lord seems to think that I need to study Indonesian at 3 a.m. – at least that how it has been for the last couple of nights. I must say that it is a good time to study – there is not much else I can do at that time except sleep and that is not in the cards. I usually managed to study for about an hour before becoming tired enough to drop back to sleep. Today I woke for the second time before 6. I then did my morning Indonesian study.

We did not need to be at the office until 10 so we had 90 extra minutes to use this morning. I used my time studying Indonesian by trying to translate conference talks and learn the vocabulary words I had yesterday. Elder Kane said he found that he could absorb only so much vocabulary at a time. We kidded that it seemed that every time we got remembered one word, we forgot two. Sometimes it really seems that way. We read from the Kitab Mormon – we made it to 4th Nephi so the end is definitely in sight. Reading went quite fast this morning – Isaiah is behind us.

There was a letter from Tom saying that Kelli had an assignment to tell about her earliest LDS ancestor. That is who was the first to join the church. Mary checked and thought it was Joseph Young – Tom wrote later and had found it was Joseph and Brigham’s father.

Sam and Mary dropped me at the office and headed off to Carrefore to buy a wireless phone and some things for the office. While they were gone I wrote a number of e-mails and things like that. Later Mary cleaned up the remaining class material and now we at least have it all in categories. As usual no one came in but we did have one person call to tell us they could not get into their Jobsdb resume – I checked and got in fine. It turned out he had a really slow connection – it is hard to believe any connection is slower than ours – and was not patient enough.

We have not quite adjusted to the fact that there is no classes to worry about. We tried to make an appointment to go see Rudy but we could not find his phone number. So we just came home after office hours. I spent much of the time studying Indonesian – I am trying to catch up for my being lazy over the last few months on learning new vocabulary. Mary bought the first Harry Potter book in Indonesian and started to read it. I continued with conference talks and flash cards. And of course we both took naps. I always sleep longer than Mary, so she kept busy by writing her monthly letter to friends and family. She wrote mainly about our English class.

Dinner was rice and veggies for me. I continue to enjoy rice and almost anything. I can see why they say a meal is not a meal unless there is rice. Mary is not interested in rice unless it has stroganoff over it – she prefers beans. I also really like pasta as a base for just about anything or alone.

We read for usual hour in Kitab Mormon – we read all of 4th Nephi. Now it is on to Mormon and Ether with all those wars, immorality, and death. After that we tried to find something on TV but it there was nothing interesting. Mary went to bed and I stayed up to read the D&C again. This time I am reading it out loud so I do not skim over parts that do not seem interesting. I decided that I was probably missing some important things and there was no rush to get through it. Time is one thing we seem to have.
As I started to read the D&C I asked the Lord to help me find what I needed to learn. Right from the first I found that parts of D&C 1 that did not really strike when I read it about a month ago, stood out this time. I especially was interested in verses 17-23 which tells why the Lord restored His church at that particular time – this included ‘that my everlasting covenant might be established. But the first reason given is ‘knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth.’ I found it interesting that He did not say ‘calamities’ but calamity.

Reading the scriptures seems to focus my mind on what is important in my life. It is much too easy to get caught up in the pleasing but unimportant activities that I do, instead of looking for the joyful and important activities the Lord would have me do so I could be blessed. It is not that I am doing anything particularly wrong as much as I am wasting the precious time He has given me to make a difference in world and in my life – to do things for which I will be blessed.

Mom’s Monthly Letter

02 July 2007

Hello Everyone – Greetings from Indonesia

We have just finished our Pilot Intensive English Class which was held during the month of June. Our students were six returned missionaries and one 16 year old Korean girl from the English branch here in Jakarta. They entrusted their lives and well-being to us for one month and we hope that it has been a worthwhile endeavor for them.

Our students arrived on May 31 and moved into rooms which our driver, Sam, found for them within a 15-20 minutes walking distance from the Church. The rent for these rooms was paid for by a fund set up under Elder Subandriyo’s control which is for the benefit of returned missionaries. They were given 15,000 rupiahs per day – that is equal to about $1.75 – to pay for their food (also from this fund).

We started our classes promptly at 9:00 a.m. on June 1. The regular class schedule was 9-12, 2-5, and 6-8:30 every day. The students had Thursday afternoon and evening off to do laundry, etc. We started off by giving them a test which is a practice TOEFL test. (Teaching Of English as a Foreign Language) This test is a standard test which is given worldwide to test students readiness for admission to English speaking universities. This gave us some idea of where their abilities were and what we needed to teach them.

During the four weeks the students had homework most nights, focusing on reading from newspapers, church magazines, and short stories and then giving oral reports on them the next day in class. We also had grammar books which they could work in at their own pace, vocabulary lists which we worked on in class together, and reading comprehension activities and tests. The students were encouraged to keep a journal (in English) every day. They also reported each day on how much English or Indonesian they spoke each day both in class and out of class.

We were assisted in the teaching of these classes by Joel and Judy Guttormsen, Elder and Sister Peterson, Brother and Sister Moore, and Sister Mary from Tangerang. The Page and Willis families and Branch President Smith from the English Branch hosted the students several times for Family Home Evening and for dinner and activities in their homes. Brother Guttormsen was especially helpful having them over in the evenings three nights a week, teaching them through activities and games. Without this help we would have been basket-cases by the end of the month.

Two of our students were Anna and Vita, two young women from Yogyakarta. Anna’s family joined the church in 1984 after her father met Yusman Tandiman on the street in Yogyakarta. Anna’s most recent job has been working in a travel agency. Vita was our most outstanding student. She says that she wasted most of her high school years because her father told her that they had no money to send her to college so she did not bother to try to get good grades. She was like a sponge sopping up knowledge and we feel that she could do very well in college.

Eko is a young man who just last month was released as a missionary. Before he served his mission he finished his schooling as a veterinarian, but now finds that there are few jobs available in that field. We will need to work with him encouraging him to be creative in his looking. At times he seemed like his English was very poor, but them he would surprise me with great understanding. I feel that with just a little more work he could make great improvement.

Agus is from Semarang. He is a driver for Elder and Sister Bennett there and they gave him the whole month off to attend our class. He also is married and has an eight-month old daughter who learned to crawl while he was away taking our class. The Bennetts report that his confidence has gone way up and he is eager to share what he has learned.

Toni Mongan is from Bogor, which is just an hour away from Jakarta. At first Toni was not putting very much effort into the class, but after Elder Pier talked to him he was able to change his attitude and worked much harder.

Jin-young is our Korean girl. She wanted to take the class because after being in the English branch for two years, she still could not understand the lessons given each Sunday and wanted help preparing herself to take her graduation tests next year. She hopes to be able to attend BYU Hawaii. Jin-young was really out of her element at first. This was the first time she had been away from home and it really was a culture shock for her–living in a room with no hot water, sleeping on a sleeping pad on the floor, only being able to afford Indonesian Food, and being away from her family. At first she complained a lot (not to us) but she stuck it out and when her mother cried and wanted her to return home she refused and stayed the whole time. Her mother became very popular with the other students because after the first week she brought lunch to them twice a week–home cooked!

Jin-young was one of the students who showed the most progress. At first when she made a presentation it was almost impossible to hear her, she talked so softly. By the end of the four weeks she had gained great confidence and spoke quite well. Jin-young plays the piano and she accepted the assignment to choose our Opening Hymn for each morning and play the piano for us to sing. This was a great help.

The last student was Sam, our driver. Sam did not quite get the full benefit of the class because we frequently had to pull him out of class to interpret for us with someone who came into our office, to run errands for the class, or to drive us home when someone else was teaching the class. But he also made progress and we will continue to work with him in the coming weeks.

During the four weeks we spent lots of time on basic grammar–especially verb tenses, which are not used in Indonesian, vocabulary, reading skills, pronunciation, oral reports, and ONLY SPEAKING ENGLISH. The students read lots of newspaper articles, short stories and church magazine articles.

We tested the students each week on their reading skills and each week their scores went up, but the most improvement was seen in their confidence levels as they used their English skills. The reports we got back from others as they returned to their homes were very encouraging.

We will try to have another class like this again in October. We have learned a lot and will make some changes in how we approach the class, but the basic format will remain the same. This time I think we will be able to plan ahead a little farther and give better assignments to our assistants. There was a lot of trial and error in this class. (Mostly trial, very little error.) I feel however, that the most important element is just getting them to speak English all the time. They all have studied English in high school but had never had a need to use it regularly, so they had not progressed a lot.

Let me just say here that this is not what I thought I was coming to Indonesia for. I felt that it was important to learn to speak Indonesian because I did not want to be the ugly American who insists that everyone speak his language and do things his way. Well, I am still learning Indonesian, but every employer we talk to stresses the need for their employees to be able to speak English. To get good jobs they really need to be able to speak good English. It can make a real difference in their lives. We talked to the head of a school in Bogor who trains students for jobs in the textile industry. They learn both production and marketing. Their first three months at the school are spent learning English before they learn anything about the textile industry! And this is a school run by Germans!

So here we are, teaching English.

We miss all of you and love to hear from you. Any advice you have on teaching English would be greatly appreciated. We are definitely not trained teachers, but managed to muddle through this month without doing too much damage to our students. We really enjoyed it, but we sure came home tired every night. We are thankful we are here and we know it is where we should be right now. I’m sorry for the length of this letter, but I had a lot to say. You may have to read it one paragraph a day!

Enjoy the Fourth of July and light a sparkler for us! Love, Elder and Sister Pier