Monthly Archives: March 2008

30 March 2008

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Mary’s huge piece of fish and chips. Mary and Ed as we were dropping him off at the airport for his flight back to SF. We always enjoy the floral arrangements that are in the tower foyer but today’s included these gorgeous lilies that had just opened up. Flowers and plants are two of the glories of Indonesia and as I have written before, even the most humble house seems to have some growing outside.

30 March 2008 – Sunday

Today we went to Jakarta Raya branch for church. Sam dropped us off and we stood with Elders Thiemann and Suseno to greet the people. Most branch members tend to cut it really close in their timing. Since it is also a small branch – at least as far as active members are concerned – it often looks very sparse when the meeting starts. But they have a great spirit and those who come are very strong.

The sacrament theme was the Word of Wisdom. It is difficult to come up with something new to say about that subject but the speakers did their best to keep it interesting. After the sacrament meeting I was given an assignment to speak in Sacrament meeting on April 27. They did not give me a topic so I will start thinking about one. Since this will probably be my last opportunity – at least in JR – I want to make it meaningful.

We went to the Gospel Principle class where they showed a DVD of the beginning of the Church starting before the First Vision. After that the missionaries had a long discussion with their one investigator who seems to likes to question everything. Since it was the fifth Sunday, they had a combined meeting for RS/PH. The subject was the World Wide Leadership theme of The Family.

After the meeting we took a taxi back to the apartment. We read from the Kitab Mormon – we read for a short time this morning – and then I took a nap. Then it was once again back to posting on the blog and finishing the last of the current batch of pictures.

At 5:00 Sam and Annie came to take us to meet Ed for dinner. We were a little early so we looked for some place different to eat and found a Chili’s nearby. When we drove up Ed was waiting for us so we just loaded up him and his luggage and went to eat.

The food at Chili’s was excellent and the portions were huge. Mary had fish and chips and the piece of fish over-lapped her large plate. When we go back again, we will share one order along with a Blooming Onion. We had a great time talking to Ed about his trip, what we have been doing, etc. Since the restaurant was not even close to being full, we sat and talked until it was time to take him to the airport. We had a last hug and picture before driving away. He will have something like a 25 hour trip to San Francisco via Shanghai.

We bought Ed’s new but extra lap-top from him so now we have a spare. Unfortunately we can not both be on line at the same time because there is only one connection. I guess we could get a switch but it does not seem worthwhile for only two months.

Before turning off the lights I read part of an conference talk in Indonesian. I do not know if I am getting better or not. I certainly do not feel very confident.

Pictures – Zone conference and trip

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Barat Zone Conference – 27 March 2008. The whole gang. Notice that President Marchant is on the phone. So is the life of a mission President. Sisters Sadimin and Marchant teaching the missionaries the proper way to clean and cook veggies. The Senior missionaries in the Barat Zone minus the Walkers who were with their driver at the hospital at Out Back Steak House.

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Pictures – Sumatra

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This was our first view of the ferry that would carry us to Sumatra. Notice the interesting rust pattern on the side. I can not say that it gave us great confidence. However it turned out to be a smooth day and a fine ferry so our concerns were unfounded. The series of three shots is of one of the young men who jump off the side of the ferry to chase money that the passengers throw in. The dive is about 25 – 30 feet but the water they then swim in looks like a cesspool. They have to be very desperate, foolish or both to touch that water.

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Sam managed to get us on to the bridge of the ferry so we could see the crew at work.

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Once on Sumatra we took a tour off the main highway on a road that led through small towns and rice paddies. Along the road most houses had lots of plants and flowers growing. The road was very old and so crossing bridges such as this was common. Mary and I got out and walked across. We did get to the beach for a few minutes. The old fishing boat was there for atmosphere. Other than us the beach was empty.

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Motorcycle loads on Sumatra are not much different from those on Java. These are loads of banana cakes. One of Sumatra’s claim to fame is their banana cakes and so large loads of them can be seem going through the streets – even in small villages. Mary liked the taste of the cakes but they did not do much for me.

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As you can see we had lunch at an exotic restaurant where Mary met an old friend from the US. He seemed happy to see us.

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On our way back to the ferry to head home we came across these two truck loads of elephants. Three in one truck and four in the other. When they went around a corner it looked like they were about to fall over. Mary decided we had to have some souvenir from Sumatra so we stopped at one of the roadside stands to buy some.sumatra-trip-march-26-2008-new-friends-who-laughed-at-us-2.JPGsumatra-trip-march-26-2008-us-and-olga.JPG

On the ferry trip back to Jakarta we went to the front of the ship where we became celebrities. The first group of four had great fun making jokes about us but they were friendly folks. Olga was determined to have her picture taken with us and later I gave her a pass-along card and told her to look us up in Jakarta.

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As we approached Java, the sun begin to set. Every few minutes the sky changed colors. Going from white and gray to this final brilliant sunset. It was nice way to finish our trip – well at least our ferry ride. We still had 2 hours of driving to get home to our apartment.

29 March 2008

29 March 2008 – Saturday

Back to a more normal schedule today. My morning included going to the gym, reading from the Kitab Mormon, and catching up this journal. We gave Sam the morning off so we took a taxi to the chapel.

As usual we had a quiet time at the office. We once again had problems with the internet but it finally settled down to be OK bit not until it had taken up a good portion of my time trying to get it to work. I then tried to figure out why the mike did not work on Skype. While testing it we did have an opportunity to talk to Tom for a while. I think I got that fixed also but I am not sure. Once those were settled I answered e-mail and worked on some English material. Mary worked on more games for learning English.

Sam came at noon and did an errand for us. Then he mentioned that he and Anne had an appointment to get their pictures taken. It turned out that it was just when we would be going back to the apartment so we told him to go ahead and we took a taxi back to the apartment. He assured us that they would be back in two or three hours.

At the apartment we read the Kitab Mormon and I took a short nap before catching another taxi back to the chapel to give the Michigan English Test to 8 young people. Only 7 of them showed up – 1 young man and 6 young women. There was District Priesthood at the same time but I had to miss that.

After the test I took a taxi back to the apartment. I checked with Sam to make sure he would be available to Mary to choir practice and found out they were still getting pictures taken. So when the time came I went with her to the chapel. As the taxi was taking me back to the apartment, Mary called to tell me that choir practice was cancelled so I told the driver to go back and pick her up. The driver thought it was great fun to make another circle. When we finally made it back to the apartment the total ride cost R 40,000 with a generous tip – about $4.40 US.

I spent almost all the evening editing the pictures from the last three days. I took about 250 and so a lot got tossed away and the remainder had to be titled and enhanced if needed. I got finished in time to read from the Kitab Mormon for the third time before heading for bed.

I can not say it was a greatly spiritual day, but I have learned that there are days when you keep very busy but no outstanding spiritual experiences. It is just that you have been serving others and God all day in small ways by doing things that need to be done, talking to others, and reading the scriptures. As the scriptures say ‘by small means, great things are brought to pass.’ Or something like that.

28 March 2008

28 March 2008 – Friday

Wow am I behind in writing in this journal. The last three days we have left early and by the time we got home we had just enough time to read from the Kitab Mormon and then fall into bed. At least that is the excuse I am using. Of course the real reason is that I used the time I could have been writing for something else that I wanted to do more. There is always time to do anything you really want to do.

Today we were out of the apartment by 6:30 to get to the mission home for breakfast with the rest of the Zone. We had a very nice breakfast of French toast and scrambled eggs. After eating I helped with the clean-up. It is what I do best and actually enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when the last dish is washed – or in this case rinsed to be put in the dishwasher.

The trip out to the beach was long but bearable because we had the Kanes and the sister missionaries – Sadimin and Findlay to talk to. The Kanes told the story of how they met and it is always entertaining. It is a perfect love story and the ending is definitely the happily ever after kind.

Once at the beach we enjoyed walking on the sand with the waves at times coming up to our knees. Mary picked up shells and I walked and talked along the every changing shoreline. Later the missionaries played football and soccer – even the sister joined in soccer. Sister Findlay even played football. She is taller than most of the Indonesian elders and some of the English ones as well. They had a lot of fun and probably slept all the way back to the mission home.

We had sandwiches for lunch. BBQ beef for most of the bulais and tuna for most of the Indonesian missionaries. Some of course had both. Sister Davis and I ended up helping prepare and serve. We were a good team and kept up with the demand. President Marchant provided enough food so that even 30 or so hungry missionaries did not eat it all.

Of course the sales people came along and got lots of money from the senior couples. We ended up with a number of shells and other things. It was fun to bargain with the salesmen. They always act like we were getting such low prices that we were stealing food from their hungry kid’s mouths. But I am sure that they still tripled their money and went home smiling.

A number of the sisters got full body massages. They took about an hour and it really was from head to toe. I did not think it looked very relaxing at all. However the sisters seemed to enjoy it so what do I know.

We packed up and got out at about 3:00. The trip home took an hour longer than going. Partly because one of the cars asked us to wait for them because they thought they were having trouble with one of their tires. So we patiently waited and then it turned out to be no problem after all. I must say that I had to repent and ask the Lord to help me with my patience lessons.

Lucky for us Sam was listening to the radio and heard that there was some traffic jams. He avoided them and we were the second car back. I almost fell on my face as I was getting out of the car. My legs were numb from sitting in the very back for 3 ½ hours. We bid farewell to our fellow travelers and hurried home. It was great to walk into our own air-conditioned apartment. We had time to read from the Kitab Mormon – the only time we read today – before heading off to bed.

It was a good day because we got to enjoy the company of our fellow missionaries. There is a comradery between missionaries that is just special because of the shared experiences that can not really be explained to others. It is a have been there, done that kind of thing. I guess ‘Band of Brothers and Sisters’ would be a good title of a book. It is not that everything is perfect and uplifting but that no matter what the situation, the majority of the missionaries will stick together and help each other through the difficulties. I feel sorry for those missionaries who do not learn to do this.

27 March 2008

27 March 2008 – Thursday

Today was Zone Conference so we were at the chapel by 8:30 – the first ones there by far. Just before the conference started they handed out the programs and Mary found that she was giving one of the two talks on diligence. As far as we can remember, this is the first time a senior missionary had been given one of the two talks on the subject of the conference. Of course she was not prepared so she spent the first part of the time quickly preparing. Luckily I brought Preach My Gospel with it’s excellent section on the subject and by adding her own thoughts, she was able to give a very good talk. Elder Vatcher was the other speaker and he also did well – he gave it all in Indonesian and his language skills were impressive for the time he has been out.

Elder Rowberry told about a missionary in Paraguay that did not know how to fail. Where ever he went the numbers went up – not only his but all the other missionaries in the district or area. It was an inspiring story and I want to get a copy of the talk so I can read it in full. It seemed perfect for Indonesia where there are many places that do not have many baptisms because “the people are not ready or will not listen to the gospel message.” This would be a perfect story to add to my LeGrand Richards talk.

The rest of the Conference was informative with the Zone Leaders giving a very good and much shortened presentation on why it was important to keep the different levels of investigators filled. It was simple and direct. It was the kind of presentation that others – including myself could learn from for our own presentations.

After the conference, we came back to the apartment to get some rest and read from the Kitab Mormon. Then we went to the mission home and joined the other couples – except for the Walkers – in a nice dinner at Out Back Steakhouse. The Walkers could not join us because their driver John had to go to the hospital because of acute appendicitis. We were sorry that they did not come but we still enjoyed a nice meal and a lot of good talk. I sat across from Elder Kane and I think we solved all the major problems of today’s world in just of 90 minutes.

We decided to walk home and I was proud of how Mary trooped right along. It is not easy for her to walk long distances over uneven surfaces but she never complained. Because it had just finished raining the night was cool but the ground was wet and muddy in sports. It would be great to live so near the big mall but I also like our great apartment.

We sat around the mission home until 9:00 and then caught a taxi home. By the time we got home it was already time for bed. It was a good day of sharing with the other missionaries – especially the couples – and to feel the spirit of the young missionaries who serve in this area. We have had the opportunity to be in district meetings with most of them and know how hard they work in the Lord’s service.

26 March 2008

26 March 2008 – Wednesday

We were up early for our trip to Sumatra. I am not going into much detail about the trip so here are the highlights. It takes 5 hours from our house to the docks of Sumatra. That is about 2 hours in the car to the ferry port, an hour that somehow gets lost and two hours from the port to Sumatra. The trip across the strait was fine and was made better by a breeze. Unfortunately it was over cast and so we could not see the islands that dot the straits very well.

Once at Sumatra we had a 2 hour drive to Lampung. We took a couple of side roads and got to see some lovely rice fields, lots of yards that were filled with flowers, and the true back country of Indonesia that is found along small roads. We even got to go onto a beach where Mary got her feet wet and picked up some shells.

In Lampung we met the young brother Kencanna who showed us his new business – analyzing blood – and then took us on a non-guided tour of the city. We had an exotic lunch at McDonalds – it was that or eat off the street – before wandering around for hour into areas he had never seen. We again got on some smaller roads and enjoyed the sights and sounds of a smaller city suburbs.

We only had two hours in Lampung and then started the 7 hour trip back to our apartment. The reason it takes two hours to get to the port from Lampung is because it is a two lane road that is filled with slow moving trucks. But we did get to see two truck loads of elephants and met a couple of young men on a modified scooter that had water buffalo horns tied to the handle bars. We would meet them again on the ferry home.

The ferry home was great fun. After being driven off the back of the boat by very loud music we went to the front where we became the main attraction. Some people I am sure laughed at us but others wanted to have their pictures taken with us. I gave out two pass-along cards and one business card. We met a man who spoke excellent English and we had a nice talk about what we were doing and his business.

The sunset went from nice to gorgeous and we pulled into the Java port in the dark but surrounded by the multitude of lights both on the sea and the shore. Once we got past a section of road that has been completely destroyed by all the heavy trucks that pass over it, the trip back to the apartment went well.

So all in all the experience was good but I would not do it again. I would take one day to get there, one day to tour the sights of the Southern tip of the island, and then the next day head home. In that way you could leave at a reasonable time – like 9 a.m. and have a relaxing time on Sumatra.

The Lord was kind to us. The seas were calm, the car ran well, and we were able to do some missionary work. All of these are the Lord’s tender mercies of this day.

25 March 2008

25 March 2008 – Tuesday

Most of today was so uneventful that it can be summed up by regular morning, office – where we had no internet, mission home – where Mary taught English, and shopping.

After that we went to see our dear friend Rudi who we have known for about a year. He is a solid Catholic and will probably never join the Church but you can never be sure. Perhaps something will happen in his life that will make him think about Eternity. But it is fun to visit him and talk some about his life and spiritual experiences.

The evening was another normal one with reading the Kitab Mormon, working on pictures, and some studying before heading off to bed a little early. The next three days will be very busy for us.

Pictures

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We spend a lot of time in traffic so we get a chance to see a lot of different motorcycle loads go by. Here are three we saw on Monday. Notice in the first one that there is a large load of empty containers in front of the one with the two truck tires. The second picture is a compressor and hose – he was kind of holding part of it under his arm. In front of his is a Bajaj that wants to make sure it is not mistaken for a bus so it is advertising what it is. The last one is a nice mixed load that looked interesting.

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This looked to me like a nice, neat line waiting along the street for the next bus.

24 March 2008

24 March 2008 – Monday

It has been a good news – not so good new day. But it started off strictly positive with a great workout at the gym, a good breakfast – that is lots of orange juice and reading 5 pages from the Kitab Mormon. Both of us also slept well – which is unusual. I got a lot done on this journal and sent out got some necessary e-mail sent out.

Not long after we got to the office we got a Skype call from the Rebers, the couple that will replace us in July. After figuring out why their mike would not work – luckily they could hear us – we had a nice talk for about an hour. They are really excited about coming, they are going to buy our car – which is great news – and wanted to take over our apartment if the details could be worked out with the owners. Since I am writing this a few hours later I can say another piece of good new is that the owner has agreed to our terms so they will have an apartment when they arrive. That will make it much easier for them to adjust to being here. So far that is the good news. Revision: Unfortunately later in the day the owner changed his mind and wants us to pay for the time we will not be here. I wrote back that would not work for us and we would look for another apartment in the complex.

The bad news is that we are going to cancel our next Intensive English Class because of lack of students. In one way this is good because it will give us all of April to get more of the lose ends tied up before we leave. We can work on the government trade school project that Elder Subandriyo wants done and perhaps do something about the youth program that President Mak has wanted us to work on. I think that maybe why things are turning out the way they are. I have been feeling a spiritual nudge to do something about that.

Other good news is that I wrote to brother Wiser about him shipping some things for us and he wrote back that he would be happy to. So we may be able to send a number of things home that we would probably have left here or had to pay a lot to ship home.

The other possibly bad news is that I may be getting a cold. While at the office for some reason my head started hurting and my nose started to run. A little later my throat felt a little sore. For this reason I came home to take vitamin C and rest while Sam took Mary shopping for lace, buttons and it turned out material at the fabric district and then to a mall for other things she needed.

I really feel that the Lord has shown some tender mercies today – I hope they will be extended to me not catching a cold or getting ill. He has taken a number of worries off our minds so we can spend all our time doing his work while we are here. Just the fact that we do not have to move everything out of the apartment will give us 2 or 3 more days to serve. We really are not spending much time thinking about leaving, but it would be wrong to say that we are not aware of the future.

I wrote a letter to the Rebers telling them the good news about the apartment. I also wrote the president telling him that we had a good talk with them and that they will be ready to go to work as soon as they get here. This will somewhat make up for the 7 weeks between our leaving and their arrival.

Mary came home after her successful shopping trip and we read from the Kitab Mormon. We are where Alma is talking to his son Helaman about turning over the plates and other holy things to him for protection.

The major project of my evening was to finish burning cds with all our photographs from May 2007 until now so we can send them to Cindy for safe keeping. I also have them on our portable hard drive but good to have a second back up just in case. I must confess that we watched an old Amazing Race on TV tonight. One good thing about having a limited long term memory is that I can watch it and most of the time not have any idea what is going to happen.