Thursday, March 10, 2016

Last Blog of our Mission.  Not sure who is happier about that... 

Last week we had the opportunity to pick up Sister Krisubanu at Malang airport after completing her mission in the Philippines San Pablo Mission.  We brought her home and interviewed at the request of President Donald and released her as a full time missionary.  This is almost always a sweet and tender and sometimes tearful moment as the missionary takes off their missionary name plate for the last time and realizes they are no longer called to be full time, set-apart and dedicated ambassadors of Jesus Christ throughout the world. We then took her home for the happy reunion with her family.  However, as you might remember, this is the same Sister who was sealed to her family in the Manila Temple two weeks ago at the end of her mission.  

Sister Titit fed us a delicious soto ayam (chicken soup) and home-made donuts.  Really good.  She is quite a good cook.  

There is a sister in the Branch here who is a very talented seamstress, Sister Sugiarti, who we met some months ago as we were visiting less active members of the Church here.  She has started coming to Church quite regularly.  She made a very formal and beautiful Javanese style dress for Sister Williams. Lots of fragile material, hand stitching and an incredible amount of bead work.  She relates that it required about a month of time to complete, all costing 875,000 Rupiahs, about $67, although we added to that.  It is a beautiful reminder to us of Sister Sugiarti and of Javanese tradition. 

Brother Ari, our driver, about as interested in shopping for women's clothing as the rest of us. He was watching Indian Bollywood soap operas.  

A Malang thunderstorm with incredibly heavy rain, painful if out in it, turning our golf-front home into lake-front. 

On 28 February we were assigned by President Hadi to speak on behalf of the District in Surabaya 1 Branch.  We started our mission here 18 months ago. We have many, many fond memories, some memories of trial and struggle, and many dear friends. Through the course of our 11 months there we visited virtually every member listed on the Church roster.  There are many long-time faithful members here.  

Above is Brother Septinus, the only member of the Church in his family, and an insurance agent.  Baptized a few years ago and very active for a season, he has been much less active for the past few years.  Nevertheless through the frequent ministerings of the missionaries he has remained friendly and open to home visits.  He promised to attend Church with us before we departed home to America, and true to his word, he came to Church for the first time in years.  How wonderful to see him!  He committed to me he would try to stay active and work for advancement to the Melchizedek Priesthood in a few months.    

Above is another good friend, Brother Hartanto and his wife Susie.  He is the nephew of Effian Kadarusman. He is a returned missionary and lived in Las Vegas for a few years later.  He is a self-employed computer wizard. 

Peter Prahari, our former Surabaya driver, and his wife Vivi and their children, Axelle and Alecia.  

Sister Nini, a life-long member, recently released RS President, and faithful supplier of bak pao.  And an avid traveler and shopper!

Brother Nini's husband, Brother Alex, a very successful and generous businessman.  

A portion of the SBY 1 Branch Relief Society. 

Brother Patris, a recently baptized member, just ordained an Elder in December, and below his cute daughter Putri.  We love and miss them all so much. His wife Anni and baby son were not in attendance at church this day.  Putri always has such a happy, smiley disposition, and she loves to play church puzzles and draw on the white board on my Ipad.  

Sister Williams' favorite Moslem family who live across from the SBY 1 Chapel, Aci and her daughters.  Always so happy to see Sister Williams.  Sister Williams has lost sleep worrying about the welfare of this little family. These little children always seem so sickly. We brought them Christian love as often as we could.  

A tender mercy came to me this last week in SBY1.  We have been teaching all of the Branches how to organize Aaronic Priesthood Quorums, which up until now have never been taught or organized. Above you can see all of the men holding Priesthood keys in SBY 1 Branch in front of all of the Priesthood holders at the beginning of Priesthood meeting.  They each reported on he activity of their Quorum and made assignments. President Shandykia asked about Home Teaching and asked the EQ Presidency to make sure that the visit statistics were regularly entered into MLS.  It was so pleasing to see the Priesthood function more effectively.   

3 Priests in the Surabaya 2 Branch...Pippin, Deon and Roni.  I call them the Three Amigos. They are best friends and such a support for each other.  They faithfully attend church each week, attend Seminary and participate in Sacrament ordinances. Deon is the Branch chorister also.  

These same fine young Aaronic Priesthood holders seen above shortly afterwards visited Sister Win, the 40 year old wife of Brother Andy, 2nd Counselor in the District Presidency, in the hospital where she was being treated for cancer.  They brought all of the Sacrament supplies needed, and in a very reverent spirit brake and blessed the emblems of the Sacrament for her.  It was a sacred time, and these fine young men, all looking forward to full time missions in the next 2 years, magnified their calling with great reverence. 

The Relief society sisters and some brethren frequently visit each other when sick, often for hours, and are a wonderful source of comfort to each other.  We learned that sometimes just being there, or holding hands and softly rubbing arms or legs, and praying together, and crying together, is enough. They live in deed the admonition of Alma to Church members given at the Waters of Mormon. 

Sister Win and Brother Andy have two small girls.  Her mother, Sister Sukemi, seen above to the right, looks on.  All have been blessed with Temple blessings and Sealings, and face the future with faith. 

Just an hour ago, as I was siting here beginning this blog post, I received several calls and text messages from Branch members that Sister Win just died, with widespread lung cancer.  So sad.  She is such a lovely humble person.  I remember interviewing her with her husband just a few months ago as he was called into the District Presidency.  She showed such maturity and faith and humility and love.  

Sister Eny Tio is a wonderful older member who splits her time between Surabaya 1 and Malang Branches.  She stopped by to give Sister Williams some lovely going away gifts, all handmade.  The members have been so generous.  

Sister Williams took this photo of a peculiar phenomenon observed each day in our fish.  They love congregating, seemingly entranced, in front of our fountain.  Maybe fish hypnosis..."Come into my net, into my net..." 

You never know what you will see next here.  Sister Williams walked into a nearby Indomart...the Indo version of 7-11...to buy Pulsa Listrik (pre-paid electrical minutes; you buy a card with however many kilowatts you want, and then enter the serial code number on the receipt into the meter in front of the house which boosts your available supply of power), and ran into this Korean couple who apparently likes pets, a lot, and takes them everywhere.  He had a monkey and she had a poodle.  What you can't see is that she had dyed her own black Korean hair to be exactly the same color as her poodle's.  

These are a few pics of Sister Williams amazing English classes, held weekly here every Thursday night.  Over the few months here the participants have grown from a handful to 44 last week!  Many of these are university students, with some high schoolers and even a few professional, working types.  She has quite a knack and a system, and she works really hard each week to create a lively, interactive and challenging course focused on conversation.  Small groups, each led by a native speaker ( a missionary usually) is the key.  It gives each student one-on-one time to work on pronunciation and practice comprehension.  It also allows for friendly competetive games between the groups! Each week has a theme...going to the doctor, what would you take on a sailing trip, what would you take on a mountain climb, arranging a tour of American National Parks, etc. She will be sad to leave this.  

Also she has given a dozen Michigan tests to various students, and has been teaching a weekly advanced class to help students prepare for this test, required to enter American universities, a dream for many of them.  I think she gave the test to 4-5 students just tonight.  She will be missed.  

Sister Jatmiko from Surakarta, whose English is quite good, works with many of the youngsters.  English songs is a natural way to help them learn words.  Below is one of her favorite students, Caca and her older sister, Royyan. 

On 5-6 March we held an overnight YSA conference for all of East Java, the Surabaya District, here in Malang.  We had about 25 YSA attend on Sunday.  We had some wonderful lessons, meals, and 90 minutes of Square Dancing, which was a new and unusual experience for all of them in this culture where dancing in general, especially among mixed genders, is not typical,  We hope this is a tradition which will continue.  The YSA themselves conducted and participated in planning. 

Engga, Samuel, Virginia, Dean, Oni, Jordan and Siput.

Even old Senior missionaries got into the action. 

Sunday morning all attended Malang Branch Fast and Testimony meeting and church services, followed by another gathering at our house for a break-the-fast meal and an hour-long program on the theme "Focus on the Temple."  Above President Rhama gave a wonderful keynote address. He is such a talented speaker and teacher. 

Brother Handoko and Sister Ezra were just married two months ago civilly and are leaving for Hong Kong to be sealed for time and all eternity on 23 March.  They spoke about how they have prepared to attend the Temple. Both are RMs and already endowed.  

Sister Fery and Brother Momon, married 6 years now, attended the Manila Temple with our large group 2 weeks ago and were sealed together. They also bore their testimony of the blessings of the Temple which includes greater love and appreciation for each other and greater faith in the Lord. 

At the conclusion, after eating Sister Williams' chocolate cake, we picked names and gave some gifts away...Temple pictures, BYU T-shirts and pins, candy bars, and such.  Above is Jordan Panjaitan. 

Sister Jeanny, a wonderful young lady who just took the Michigan test and hopes to attend BYU.

Sister Virginia Elizabeth and her friend Oni.  She was just baptized a few months ago.  

Sister Pipit. The shirt is a "Small", and just fits. 

It's fun and entertaining to just stand back and watch the YSA interact. True the world over, I think. They are a lively and engaging bunch, full of enthusiasm and fun and passion.  It's why we have so much enjoyed serving with them for the past several years of our life.

There comes a time however when you just need a break, some time alone.  President Rhama taking a well-deserved rest in one of our TV easy chairs.  We are giving him this chair as a gift for his faithful help and service and because he is our friend. He is a wonderful servant of the Lord here and a vital help to the growth of the Church here. 

Sister Nunuk from Surabaya 1 Branch, also a wonderful and beautiful woman, baptized as a convert from Islam a few months ago. Floors serve as convenient and common places to sit here in Indonesia.  We have spent many hours sitting and teaching in this position. 

This past week we visited for a 2nd time the Moslem family of little Caca and her older Sister Royyan.  A happy and hospitable family.  Sister Williams gave a wonderful lesson on Moroni 7 which teaches that all good things come from God.  They shed tears when we left.  They truly adore Sister Williams.  She has taught their children for the past few months in English class.  

Caca and her friend like to draw pictures on my Ipad while we visit their home and Sister Williams teaches their family about Gospel principles. 

We had to include a few more street pictures of a typical Indo street, focusing on Indomart and Alfamart, here in close proximity on opposite sides of the street.  These are the Indo version of 7-11.  This is important for two reasons...bathrooms, which Sister Williams frequently takes advantage of, and Magnum ice cream bars which Ari and I frequently take advantage of.  

Ari guarding a local rombong selling tahu...a rather yucky fried pasty/doughy food product made from soybean.  

One always pays to park every where, usually 2000-3000 Rupiahs for a man to guide your car in and out, and stop traffic if needed.  Oh, and to "guard" your vehicle.  Any man with a whistle can make a living here.  

This week we invited President Tatit and his family, Sister Titik and Nia, just returned last week from her Philippines mission, and Nefi Dika, to dinner at a nice restaurant just a block down the street from our house, Djoglo.  Usually pretty good food, mostly Western style.  Perhaps symbolic of our frequent experience here, we ordered our favorite dish here, fresh white fish filet served in a phyllo pastry dough....quite yummy...but it was kosong (gone, empty).  Also, the vinegar for my alternate choice, fish and chips, was kosong.  Ahhhh, Indonesia.  

We gave them some parting gifts...a Funglish game for Nia and Dika, a Temple pin for President, and a bag and Hersheys chocolate syrup for Mom.  They are a faithful and happy family.  Malang Branch is in good hands. 


Our newest Cub Scout, Eli.  He will be baptized tomorrow.  Wish we could be there.  Way to go,buddy. 

Littl Ami.  Looks like her neck is all better.  Also turning 8.  We will attend her baptism on April 9.  Just got her ears pierced.  You look beautiful, sweetie. 

Eli again.  Happy Birthday!

Sweet Hope, watching the weed grow.  See you very soon!!!!