Hello Friends and Family!
I want to apologize for the fuzzy pictures. My cell phone defaults off HDR and I have to think to reset it each time...Hey I'm busy trying to speak the language and don't remember!
This week I finally felt like a real missionary though, because I got sick for a couple of days. I try to be careful what I eat, but there is always some acclimatization that needs to take place when you live in any new country. Most of the missionaries I've spoken with experience some type of gastrointestinal problems off and on through-out their mission. Most missionaries eat at the warungs (street vendors) because they are cheap and convenient. (We suggest that they try to avoid them.) It is also the culture here to serve food and drink every time you visit. Last Tuesday we ate lunch before tracting and went directly into another home that served a very large lunch. I teased Sister Sperry all the way through the meal, "Are you sure you don't want another helping of this chicken, Sister?...How about more of this delicious Nasi Goreng?" (Later she just about killed me!)
Last week we visited a mathematics teacher that works at the local SMP (Middle School). We were invited into his home and drank fresh avocado drinks and a plate of martabak telor and martabak manis from the street vendor; Peter...you had avocado shakes in Brazil...I think you liked them?--I tried to avoid drinking it, but they made a special one without milk (susu) just for me. I actually don't care for them, but managed to get 1/2 of it down AND eat some of the food. While getting into the car Keith leaned over and said, "Good job Kath!" It was the next day that I got sick. Oh well, it was worth it. We will be visiting this same teacher next week at his school. He is the contact that Keith made in the grocery store our first day here! Agus is a wonderful kind Muslim man we met with his family.
When I tract with the Sisters they tell everyone that I am an English teacher from America and invite them to the English classes at the church. (I help teach the classes in Barat and Timur branches in Surabaya.) Being from America (and being an English teacher) is quite a novelty to the Indonesians. They are very interested in what we have to say. In general the Indonesians are a polite, quiet, and soft-spoken people. They are easy to speak to and easy to love.
These are Sisters Sarwono and L. Fisher in Malang. We spent the night in Malang to attend a district meeting. Malang is a beautiful city with fruit stands and lots of colleges. This is one of the major areas that Keith lived in during his 1973 mission. We located his previous house which was also the chapel at that time. He took pictures of it and he will discuss it in next weeks' blog. (We go back up to Malang again next week.) The sisters and I visited several female investigators who were college students. While walking to the investigator's apartment, the sky let loose with a major rain storm! We were almost "carried away" down a tiny alley with a flood! We crossed over the local sewer that was flowing over the bridge (ankle deep) and into a Muslim "gang" (pronounced: "gong"... a tiny alley with many connecting apartments). It was actually a cool experience! (Although I hope there are no open cuts on my feet after wading in sewage.) The "gang" was really interesting and quaint (reminded me of Italy?). There was beautiful music streaming from several homes and the homes were very small and neat. (I've noticed that most Muslim homes are neat, tidy, and organized.)
We sat down with 2 investigators, but were soon joined by 6 more college girls. Religion is of great interest here in Indonesia; there is not much apathy. Some of the girls were majoring in English and wanted to speak with me. (They had about 3 years of college and still could not speak English.) I discussed Jesus Christ with them and bore my testimony to them. There were several girls that were interested so we will go back again next week. BTW: These were not Muslim girls; they were just living in the community. In general the Muslims and Christians are pretty tolerant of each other here.
I had to laugh out loud when I saw this picture in my phone! I asked Elders Will and Arthur (from Utah and Australia) to take a picture of me with the Sisters and they must have taken a "selfie" beforehand! Keith worked with the Elders on his bike all day. They later told me that Keith had "kicked their rear-ends" on all of the hills! (Ha-ha...I'm sure all of the Elders that tracted with Keith found out that this 60-year-old man is an animal when it comes to bicycling! Terry and Mark, you would be proud!) Keith and I have now visited with all the missionary companionships in our District!
This is a bunch of kids that I fell in love with while visiting a member's home in Gresik (a town outside of Surabaya). The middle boy (laki-laki) reminded me of Holden for some reason. You can't tell from the picture because he is being goofy, but he had the same cute smile as one of our grandsons. I gave them each stickers from America (I brought a lot of them with me)! I just love all of the little kids here; they are so cute and polite!
The above picture is a cool invention that America needs. It distributes measured amounts of rice into the bottom tray, then you just pull it out with the exact quantity! Cool, huh? The only thing I would change is all the pink, blue, and green plastic colors...this country does love their colorful plastic!
These are steamed Chinese buns called "bak-pao". (It's like going into a Chinese "Harry and David" store here!) They are very popular, and are available in a large distribution store on the way to or from Malang. We stopped on the way back from Malang and bought a lot of them for our Branch meeting today. They are filled with either strawberry, cheese, chicken, lemon custard, or another unidentifiable fruit.
Oh, BTW, you have not had a mango until you've had one here! They are very aromatic with a slight hint of sweet tomato. I know that may sound unpleasant, but it is really incredibly good! Speaking of tomatoes, they classify them as fruits here. Its unheard of to put salt on them! They frequently use them for tomato floats.
On the way home from Malang we also stopped at Peter's mom's house (our driver). She made us an authentic Indonesian dinner with a catfish, coconut stew. She has two large catfish tanks on her back porch as a part of the Church's recommendation to have a food supply! They buy tiny, live catfish from the market, and then feed them and raise them in tanks in their back porch until larger. (What a great idea!!!) I want to have a catfish tank when I get home, although the weather would probably make it difficult in Oregon. Her name is "Sisi" and she is saving up to go on a Senior Sister mission. Her home was really awesome!!! She had a flare for design and art and had hand painted her walls. She kept everything very neat, clean, and orderly. (A woman after my own heart!) I'm thinking of having her teach me to cook Indonesian food next week when I return. If they ever wanted to sell there house I would want to buy it. It was built by her father out of cement and the back porch looked onto a CLEAN creek! (The only clean water-way I've seen here so far.)
As far as the language goes, I am slowly improving. It is very slow, but as I look back there is some improvement. I think my progress will be slower than the young missionaries, because I am not able to speak with the locals as much as they are. Also, some of them have Indonesian companions that speak very little English. All in all, I am feeling more comfortable with the language and I am able to speak some basic sentences. I understand a lot more than I can speak.
We hope to take more pictures for the next blog. We love you and miss you! Thanks for praying for us and supporting us! We appreciate all of your communications. (Keith is supposed to write the letter home this week, so I hope he has time! We need about four more of each of us to get everything done!)
Kathy (and Keith)