October 30th we found ourselves staying in the mission home after a 33 hour flight to Indonesia. Thankfully we did not have any problem getting all of our bags into the country with all of our meds and Dr’s equipment. Thank you for praying for us! Now we just have to figure out how to get the bags to Surabaya next week…we can only take 20 Kg (=44 pounds). We may end up needing to arrange to have our bags driven up by someone in the mission home. Which means we may not get our bags until December. You cannot travel inside of Indonesia --on domestic flights-- carrying more than 44 pounds per person. They also weigh your carry-ons which cannot exceed 10 kilos. We are staying in the mission home until our KITA arrives (our visa is approved with an ecclesiastical card, probably in about 8 days).
The first morning Keith and I were jet-lagged to say the least. We got up and ate breakfast with the Mission President and his wife. They have an Indonesian Muslim cook who made waffles, eggs, etc. As the morning progressed I began to feel more and more overwhelmed. I was tired, not feeling well, didn’t know the language, and didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. The Mission Pres. asked me to go on splits with the sisters and for Keith to go with the elders. Even though I felt totally lost I obediently went with Sister Olsen and Sister Sheffield, both who had been out for 15 months and spoke the language. We were gone for 9 hours that first day (I went out with them for several days) and what a day it was!
We started out by eating at a “clean” place. (As with any foreign country, we have to be extra careful with what we eat.) We then walked for a long time until we caught a bus.
It was very hot out and humid (we are at the beginning of the rainy season); sweat pours off your body and mixes with the humidity. The bus system is very popular and therefore very crowded. We rode several buses and navigated the crowds that were unbelievably large. The sisters had several appointments to teach about the church. (Keith went with the Elders and only rode the bus without making any contacts the first day. The second day he was able to give away a Book of Mormon and teach a new contact.)
Here's Keith with a local policeman:
And a copy of an Indonesian Bible. The Church hasn't produced a copy of the Bible yet in Indonesian with all our references and footnotes:
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the sister missionaries—Sister Olsen and Sheffield. They were so gung-ho and fearless. They also taught me a LOT!!! On every crowded bus they would give up their seats, turn around and talk to the woman (buses are divided up between men and women). We were able to pass out a lot of pass-along-cards and get some commitments to attend church. (One came to church today!) I agreed to teach an English class Friday at the church and they used me as a walking advertisement to get people to come. The Indonesians are SO interested in learning English!! It is one of the ways to improve their opportunities in life. They were really excited to see that an actual English teacher would be teaching.
It takes forever to get around in Jakarta. I’m not exaggerating at all to say that it can take 3 hours to go 3 miles. The traffic is just so heavy! Here's a view from the windshield of our taxi during a lighter traffic commute:
After emergin, we took an Ankot which is a tiny little car that crowds 13-18 people inside. Ours had 17 people with several hanging on outside. You get to know each other really well!! [this is an example of an Ankot from the internet, they come in all kinds of colors and varied styles.]
After walking quite a while and talking to all the little children that I could find, we arrived to teach a new sister. She was a sweet older lady. She was educated in England and spoke English. She made us spam and cheese sandwiches. I let her know that I was allergic to milk products and politely declined and the sisters said that she would not be offended, for which I was much relieved. We taught her all about temples and I was happy to be there! I was able to share with her experiences that I had over the years and bear my testimony about the importance of going to the temple.
Please include in your family prayers that we will get a temple in Indonesia soon! There are so many people here that need that blessing! We use the temple perpetual fund here a lot, but it is still difficult for them to save up.
I had a lot of fun teaching the English class the following night with the Sister missionaries! It is amazing how sensitive I am now to someone learning a language! I know how hard it is! An Indonesian man who had previously never spoken in any class came and I sat with him and one on one got him to speak his English vowels with me. I had him use repetitive sentences that introduced various nouns emphasizing those vowels. Before he left I spoke all the English into his cell phone so he could listen to it later. Great day!
Today was Sunday so Keith and I chose to go to the Indonesian ward with the missionaries. (The Mission President and his Wife go to an English ward filled with ex-pats). Today was a bit of a break-though for my language. I know you all are wondering how well I’m doing with the language…keep the prayers coming), but today I was able to talk “survival” Indonesian (some whole sentences and some mixed with English) during church. I also wrote my testimony down and Keith and I got up together and bore our testimonies. The Indonesians are really friendly and help you with words in the middle of sacrament or Relief Society. My problem is that it takes me a long time to string words together and they get excited and fill them in for me. Hey, at least they know what I’m saying! Our testimonies touched members of the branch, especially when they heard that Keith had once served here in 1973 and that he had returned with his “eternal companion”. They were sad that our mission was to Surabaya and not Jakarta.
It is so easy to fall in love with the people here. They are kind and always want to please. Sometimes that desire to please can present challenges. Today we had to catch a taxi home from the church (we took a bus to church and it took 1 ½ hr to go about 5 miles because the bus was so jammed from their weekly “party” day--on Sunday no one works and they have parades, parties, and group exercises) and the taxi driver got lost, but didn’t really want to disappoint us. He finally had to drop us off to another taxi who said that he could find our mission home, but he got lost too. We ended up walking some of the way back. We noticed that the people always want to be helpful and compliant even if they don’t know what they are doing. We've decided that we will use the driver in Surabaya; We just can't afford to waste time getting lost on our way to appointments if people are waiting for us to arrive.
Sister Donald and I getting a phone for Elder Williams to use in the mission:
Well I want you all to know that I really am happy to be here. We can’t tell you how happy we are to be here serving the Lord. It really does not matter where we are living. I am at peace, I feel safe, and I am happily engaged in good things all day. (Keith mentioned that this was part of my blessing from the stake president.) The mission president and his wife are awesome people and we love them. There was so much frustration trying to “get-out-the-door” to go on our mission. Once we left, Keith and I felt an all-encompassing sense of peace. We are in the right place at the right time. (The mission president had a quiet moment with Keith one early morning and testified that we were sent here for a reason and that we were needed at this specific time.)
We love you all and miss you. We hope you are all doing well. Thanks for staying in touch with us through our blog and comments!
PS. We just received word that we will be going to Surabaya tomorrow!! (Nov 4). We competed our KITAS, got fingerprinted, etc... Now to get our luggage to Surabaya... May be difficult, but I don't worry about much anymore... I really feel like The Lord is "making our way".