July 27 to July 29 –
We took a three day trip to Semarang to see some of the programs that the Bennetts are involved in and to put on a couple of programs about self-employment and preparing for a career. Semarang – a city that is either a 45 minute airplane ride or a 12 hour car ride from Jakarta. We chose to fly of course.
We arrived in Semarang at about 9 and after we went to the BennettsÃ¢Â€Â™ home to drop off our luggage and talk for a while we went a district meeting and found out the two missionaries in Semarang were Elders Widodo and Hendaryono – two old friends from Tangerang District. Elder Bennett was surprised when Elder Widodo spoke to me in English – he does not do this often and had never responded when Elder Bennett spoke to him. Elder Hendaryono is a tremendous elder and I am hoping that by the time he is released there will be able to either go to BYUH or to one of the good Hotel schools.
After lunch, we went to see a school that they are excited about. A 76 year old man has started it and he is attempting to build it up enough that the government will start giving it some money. Until then he would like the church to donate about $6000 to help get some needed equipment. In looking over the proposal I told the Bennetts that I thought it was really inflated and besides the Humanitarian funds can not be used in this way. I told them they should try the Rotary Club and see if they would get involved. I will ask Elder Peterson about it, but I am pretty sure I know his answer.
The last activity of the day was to observe an English class that the Bennetts are teaching to help prepare Indonesian leader to speak English. They have over 30 people coming to the classes and while I think Mary and I would teach it differently, they seem to be doing a good job. They are preparing to become the first stake in Indonesia and therefore all instruction will come to them in English. Before we turned off the lights for the day, Mary and I read from the Kitab Mormon.
We spent the first part of Saturday at home – Mary and I read from the Kitab Mormon. Then we headed out to the fabric store so Mary and sister Bennett could buy some material. The one we planned to go to was closed for a holiday – one of about 100 they seem to have here each year – but they managed to find one that was open. Mary spent $20 for enough material to give her a whole new wardrobe. Elder Bennett and I sat and talked while the ladies shopped.
They then took us to lunch at a Korean BBQ. The food was good and the company better. After that we headed to the chapel for a full schedule of meetings. We got there a little early and all of us took a nice little nap. The first meeting was with people who were self-employed who wanted some help or some ideas on how to start or improve their business. We only had three people come for that, but by the time we had finished we at least had given some hope to a sister who was in great despair because she was about to lose her lease and her business. Elder and Sister Bennett will follow up on this and if everything holds together it should mean that she and another family will have a chance to make a decent income.
At five I spent an hour trying to encourage the youth and their parents to plan ahead as to careers with futures and to choose if possible the better schools where they have a good placement rate. Many of our young people go to universities do little more than give them a piece of paper and without any real chance to get a job. There was about 50 people there and other than the fact that I could not stop sweating and I managed to get blue ink all over my wet face, it went well. I was some folks taking notes.
When the hour was up we switched over to a program the Bennetts put together. A group of young ladies sang to music provided by a band consisting of a cello, a bass, a violin; two ukes. They were pretty good and full of enthusiasm. Then the youth put on a dance exhibition – they did the Virginia Reel and then Put Your Little Foot. The Bennetts teaches the youth dances on Thursday nights.
To end the evening I held one on ones with a half dozen of the members who had questions about education and other things. By the time we got home I was beat but it was a good day.
Sunday we went to church there and was surprised to see a young man that came from Semarang but has been training for a job in Jakarta. I had some time to talk to him and found that he had used information and techniques that we taught in a Career Workshop to get into a management training program that will allow him to have a great career. Even while he is training he is earning twice what a normal graduate would make and as soon as he finishes his training he will make 3 to 4 times as much. It means he will be able to marry, raise his family, and send his children to good schools. It is a true success story.
The meetings were as normal with Elder Hendaryono speaking in Sacrament and giving the lesson in Gospel Principles. The sister that spoke in Sacrament, used the Bennetts as an example of how we should care about and serve our neighbors. The Bennetts are loved by all the members because they know that the Bennetts love them. For the 5th Sunday meeting, the branch president gave a good talk about the need to have an emergency supply of food and about preparing to become a ward when the district becomes the first stake in Indonesia.
After a lunch of chicken wings, fried cabbage, potato salad and fruit – fried cabbage turns out to be pretty good – they took us to the airport for our flight home. The man who sat next to me did not seem to want to hold any kind of discussion so I left him alone. But as we were starting to de-plane I spoke to him and we talked all the way to the baggage claim where we parted as he went on to catch a flight home to Korea. We exchanged cards so I can e-mail him on Monday. As we waited for our luggage I struck up a conversation with a man who turned out to be rather high up in the state oil company. I talked to him about employment opportunities and schools that they recruited from. We exchanged cards and he said he would be happy to talk to me some more about the subject. So I got two good contacts from the trip but did not give out any pass-along-cards.
Sam was waiting and the trip home went well. It was great to walk into our apartment. The first thing I did was to turn on all the air-conditioners. Then I put in a load of laundry and we ordered pizza. The long trip finally caught up with Mary and so we only read for a half an hour before she headed off to bed.