Monday, November 24, 2014

What a wonderful life

Hello all!  Another week under our belts, along with many plates of mie goreng (fried noodles), cap cay (sautéed veggies and seafood), fresh mango and pisang, martabak (think of a very thick pancake folded in half and filled with chocolate, butter, cheese, sweet condensed milk and chopped nuts), nasi (rice) and Diet Coke.  It's probably a good thing that our apartment does not have a bathroom scale. We have discovered the joys of fresh fruit juices here.  We just bought a Miyako blender (although it makes rather unhealthy noises for being brand new; maybe there was a reason it was on sale) to make fresh fruit shakes...watermelon, papaya, mango, honeydew, orange, strawberry, avocado, etc. Wow they are delicious.  Some fresh fruit, a little ice and sugar, maybe a little condensed milk if not lactose intolerant, and a few seconds of grinding metal sounds, and out comes pure Indonesian deliciousness. We want to try some fresh rambutan/lychee next.

Since we spend 1/3 of our life with him now, we thought we would introduce Peter, our driver.  He is from Malang, and now lives in Surabaya with his wife Vivi and son Axel.  We invited them to Family Home Evening with us.  Unfortunately we got a late start and so FHE ended up being dinner at the Solaria Asian restaurant in the mall under our apartment, followed by some cake upstairs in our apartment followed by Elder Williams mengelitik (tickling) 2 year old Axel until he threw up (Sister Williams was not happy with Elder Williams).  Peter joined the church in 2007, and is now YM Pres and Exec Secty in his Church Branch, and Vivi is Primary President.  She converted from the Islam faith when they got married.  She is wonderful.

Peter's mother, called "Sisi" in Malang joined the Church in Hong Kong a few years ago while working as a domestic there.  She is a wonderful woman who is seen here filling out her application to become a full time, live-away missionary for the church.  She also feeds us wonderfully every time we go to Malang.  This week it was a delicious coconut curry chicken, tempura eggplant, fried mashed potato patties, and my favorite drink here, es teller, which is sweetened coconut milk mixed with a little water and crushed ice and small pieces of tropical fruit like mango, pepino and lychee, and agar-agar (colored gelatin cubes).  There are innumerable varieties of banana (pisang) here.  Below are pisang awak, little sweet finger-size bananas.

Every good meal is followed by other human necessities, which here in Indonesia often takes the following form. No TP evident. Nuff said.  Many W.C.'s are like this, but not all. Sisi has a Western porcelain sit-on-top.

We went out on all-day splits with the missionaries again last week, both in Surabaya and Malang.  Kathy takes the car with Peter, and goes with the sisters, usually to far-flung places difficult to get to otherwise.  I take off on the bike with the Elders.  Last week I went with Elder Anderson and Setijawan.  Elder Anderson was sick with GI illness for a few days and was a little weak yet, but we had some nice visits.  These splits typically start at noon or so, and are usually late nights, getting home at 9:30 or 10.  Kathy and I debate over who has it best...I ride my bike in horrible traffic and heat but get exercise, and she spends much of her days riding in an air conditioned car but feels confined and gets no exercise.  Hard to say, but I'll take my bike.

We usually do these splits about two days a week, and the other days, Kathy and I go together to visit families, do leadership training, etc.  This week we will be visiting a middle school.  We met a teacher and his family and he invited us to his school to teach his students. We also received a request to administer a 3 hour math test to a young man, not a member of the church apparently, whose families has BYU contacts, who wants to apply to the Math program there.  We will also have an English class to teach at the Church this week, and some more Leadership training in one of the local Church branches.  Thursday evening we are eating with all of the Surabaya missionaries at Pizza Hut for Thanksgiving dinner.  Pizza for Thanksgiving...maybe a new tradition.  No turkeys to be found in the markets here, although I did see some frozen ones in the markets in Jakarta....they were very expensive however, about $70. 

Friday we drove 2 hours south to the mountain city of Malang.  Malang has a very special place in my heart, being a city where I spent 6 months in 1973-74.  My comps and I were the first Mormon missionaries there, and had the privilege of helping to found the church there.  We are now assigned to assist the Branch and full time missionaries there in my roles as Mission Presidency Counselor. We will be going there every few weeks.  They now have almost 300 members of the branch with an average attendance each week of 80+. 

Friday we spent with the missionaries in their periodic Zone Training meeting.  All 18 missionaries in the Zone gather for training by the Zone leaders, both 19-20ish year olds.  They did a marvelous job, great teachers, very humble and kind, very organized, fluent in the language.  They were inspiring.  I gave 17 flu vaccinations following.  Only had to chase down two missionaries who were a little needle-phobic. After this we went on some visiting and teaching appointments with Elders Panjaitan and Arthur.  We taught a lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, visited an inactive member who ran a little fruit juice stand on the side of the road (the locals call then "kaki lima" ("five feet"...2 wheels, 2 stabilizing legs on the cart, and 2 human feet pushing, but only 1 foot on the ground at a time...I'll let you do the math...), and stopped by some investigator homes to make future appointments.  We invited many to visit us on Facebook "Mormon Java Timur", and to come to English class. Dinner that night at 9:30 with Kathy at the hotel where she had her most favorite chocolate/coconut milk drink, and krupuk and bumbu kacang (think a sort of airy, thick fried chip and peanut sauce). 

Saturday we spent the morning studying, then inspected the Malang Elders apartment.  Found some issues, so after suggesting some areas for improvement, went to the store and bought them a new washing machine and fan, and made arrangements for some badly needed repairs.  At 6 PM had Malang Branch Presidency training covering topics assigned by Pres Donald.  Then took all of them and their families to a wonderful Javanese restaurant just a 2 block walk away in downtown Malang. So fun to walk the same City Hall and Square (a circle really) where I was 41 years ago.  I will show before and after pictures another time. Anyway the food was delicious..I had a fresh, sweet and sour fish, fried bananas, sate, etc.  They had a music show during the meal.  See some video clips Kathy took.  It was a nice time to get to know these fellow saints in a casual way, to laugh and eat and talk about things.

Sunday in church in Malang was the Young Womens Program.  Several graduated from YW.  There were about 10 YW, plus their leaders.  The entire program after the Sacrament was presented by them.  they sang, gave talks...real talks.  Not a single person used notes.  They were beautiful...all in white blouses and different color scarfs.  Confident, sweet, sincere.  They made this old man cry. (Maybe they reminded him a little too much of his own daughters...)  Truly a role model for YW programs back home.  I have never ever seen anything like this by a youth organization.  They have wonderful leaders obviously.  It was a testimony to me of the power of the Gospel to lift and improve people, and of the power of  generations of church members.  There are now 2-3 generations of Church members here.  Many youth going on missions, attending school, a fair number attend BYU-H, attending weekly seminary (distances and means too great to allow daily seminary), working for themselves or companies, improving their own lives and livelihoods.

Following Church and Branch Council training and choir practice (the Branch is singing "Angels we have Heard on High" in District Conference in 3 weeks in Surabaya, and helping Sisi with her mission forms, we started out trip home. On the way we stopped in Singosari to see some old Hindu/Buddhist ruins built in the late 13th century.  I have these same photos from 1973.  I think the smiling Buddha flashing the peace sign has moved a little...his smile is looking a little tired and he switched kneeling legs, but otherwise the same.  Kath found her cat.

After the ruins we drove to visit a past Branch President and his family, pictured below, President Tjioe, in the center.  Much to our happy surprise, his wife in the white T shirt is the younger sister of Effian Kadarusman, also pictured below in the other, older photo from early 1974.  My companion Elder Hobson and I taught and baptized Effian and his wonderful wife Mary,  They had two young boys at that time, Billy and Rocky, who later served full time missions in Indonesia. The Kadarusmans were stalwarts in the young Indonesia Church, where Mary was RS President and Effian was District and later Mission President from 1985-1989.  He is a rarity among Church Mission Presidents world-wide, having been president in his own area. The Kadarusmans have since emigrated to the USA. We spent a few wonderful hours with them and many former missionary companions and friends in Farmington Utah just 2 days before we came to Indonesia in October.

Pictured below are also Pres Tjioe's daughter and grandchildren who live in Surabaya, who are also church members.  The daughter is a dentist.

It was heart-warming to meet them all, and see a bit of the harvest from seeds planted so many decades ago.
A tender mercy occurred during this impromptu visit Sunday.  As it turned out Pres Tjioe had been to his doctor a few days earlier with some jaw and chest discomfort, fatigue and some difficulty breathing. Turns out he had suffered some heart issues. OK...no HIPAA here, As is typical here, all of their medical records, lab testing, EKG, CXR, etc are given to the patients, along with a brief doctor's notation, to bring home with them.  I reviewed these.  He was now feeling fine.  I suggested a small addition to his medication to slow his heart rate.  They were comforted to have me review his medical problem, they having not much confidence in local medical care.  While it is true that in America he would have been admitted to the hospital and undergone much more testing and possibly invasive treatments, it is also true that those are exceedingly expensive, largely unavailable here, and often not proven to have compellingly different long term outcomes. And the medication treatment suggested was quite good. 

Sadly, his very elderly mother was moaning in a back room,  They asked me to see her also.  Looks like she has end stage, burned out Parkinsons.  Totally rigid, inflexible, terrible diffuse contractures, aphasic, decubitus areas.  Not much to do, so we prayed for her. They try to give her good care and kept her fed and clean in a loving environment. 

 A common sight.  Kathy and Peter in the lead at a mall.  The mall below is in Jakarta, but there are many similar malls in Surabaya.  You could easily think you were in Portland, Chicago or Los Angeles. Except here are a gazillion people around to help you. I mean like 4 or 8 times the number of sales people, wait staff, reception people there are in the States.  It's nice but also annoying at times. Imagine having a guy watch you in the bathroom while you use the facility?  A bathroom monitor?  They are there to help, to keep clean, but come on, wait outside ok?  People are very happy to help.  It is easy to meet people.  They love to try their English, often want to take photos with you, etc.  Yesterday we bought a larger refrigerator at the local Hypermart, and after the sale the clerk asked to take a photo with us.  Try that in America.  Sounds like a Reality TV show.  We also gave our business card, facebook address, cell phone numbers to our waiter at the restaurant we went to on P day yesterday.  We texted each other last night.

By the way, Kathy ended up buying another skirt or two, to accommodate the fact that we end up sitting on people's hard floors a lot on visits.  A necessity due to 1) no chairs and 2) very cramped living quarters.  She bought a red skirt covered with little black cats.  Go figure.  Looks cute on her.  And she bought some plastic red and black CROCS shoes after trashing her leather ones in the Kampung flood. 

Kathy has been missing music here.  Plus she was asked to play the piano in Primary of one of the Church branches here on Sunday.  So we spent 90 minutes and $90 on a new Yamaha keyboard a few days ago.  Not a high quality unit but does the job. We also donated a 2nd unit to a local branch who needed one for their RS room.

So in my last letter home I promised I would send home a picture of  what I think is the current appearance of the old Jalan Semeru house/church building.  The old address was Jl Semeru 49.  This house is now Jl Semeru 53, but some think they renumbered the addresses.  The adjacent structure, the NEW 49, is new, concrete, ugly.  The neighborhood has totally changed, very busy.  I miss the old place.  When we get some time we will stop by again and knock on a few doors to try to find out what happened to the old church. 



The front of our home/Church on Jl Semeru.  We had many dozens of young people and adults come each week to our Mutual meetings and English classes.

Elder Manning Moyes from Ogden in front of the Church on Jl Semeru.  He and I arrived and departed from Indonesia at the same time.  Would like to find him again.

Just another blast from the past.  My companion, Elder Jeff Allen with a family we taught and baptized in Jakarta in 1975. 

Yesterday was P day (Preparation Day...a time for full time missionaries to prepare for the coming week...shopping, cleaning, sight-seeing, letters home, etc).  We exercised, wrote some letters, did some missionary/Counselor work, and then went to Ciputra Mall in a taxi ( we give Peter one day off each week)...7 days of work a week would be called slavery...and went to a movie, restaurant, shopping.  Now this was not just any theater.  This was without a doubt the fanciest, most plush theater I have ever been in. For $6 per person, we were led to a sit-down ornate desk, where we ordered our ticket in a reserved private theater, only about 40 seats, ordered food, drinks, popcorn, etc, and were then escorted to our seats, seen below.  Comfy leather recliners with blankets.  They brought our food to us. Watched an amazing premier movie, rhymes with "Talking Pray".  The popcorn was the best I have ever had, ever...warm, uniformly buttered and salted down to the very last piece in the bottom of the plastic bucket.  I think they must have hand buttered each popped kernel.  Of course you can do that when you have 10 employees for every customer.  And the guy making the popcorn was not the same one watching me pee. 

After the movie we went to a sort of Japanese eatery where pick the food you want...shrimp, beef, mushrooms, veggies, noodles, and the type of broth you want.  They then bring it to your table, and you cook it in a hot kettle on your table, use a spoon to ladle it out into your bowl with rice.  It's good!

Life is hard.  We are mortal and full of human weakness. Temptations are many. Yet the Lord wants us to be perfect, even as He and our Father in Heaven are perfect.  I have many faults, but I can honestly say I am perfect in this one thing.  I have never smooked, ever.  Never will. 

Last of all, I am going to start adding a Grandchild of the Week picture.  Isn't this adorable?  No way you can beat this one.  Little Hope walking the road less traveled, visiting us in Oregon in September 2014. 

We love and miss you all.  Somehow, although we try to be as descriptive and expansive as we can in our letters home and this blog, we feel we somehow still miss the real, true essence of our purpose here as missionaries of Christ in Indonesia.  It's just not possible to take pictures, or to capture the Spirit of our discussions with these wonderful people as we speak of holy things, of God's love for us, of the purpose of the Gospel, and of the importance of having faith in Christ and then showing that faith by living lives of Christian charity and service and obedience to God's commandments.

Till next week, lift your vision and lengthen your stride!


  1. We know you are doing the right things in your service and that lives are being blessed and changed because of who you are and what you are doing. Your people, food and activities remind us of our Cambodians we served with in Oakland, but the living conditions are quite different. Know that the Oregon Cowleys love you and are proud of you!

  2. We really enjoy reading your blog each week.I can almost hear your voice Dr.Williams.It sounds like you and Kathy are doing a great job there but know you are missed very much.Stay safe and well there.God bless you both always.

    Love you always
    Julia and Nate

  3. Hello from the Hay's. Thinking of you both today. Sitting in Aaron's house in Alaska. Terry just HAD to be flown up here to work....so I came along. We got to spend Thanksgiving with our son....it has been 5 years since we have spent a holiday with him. We had dinner with Sharifa's family and got to know her parents. We had a good time. I am looking at snow out my window and have to say that 19 degrees night and day for 3 days now made me beg Terry to loan me his long johns. A trip to Cabela's helped me get geared up a little better. I feel like hibernating.....long hours of darkness outside here, but am cherishing this time with our son. Lot's of relaxing, puzzles, games....food. We were able to get together with Sarah and Rob last night. (The Sarah you met). She has completed her Dental Hygienist program in Texas and is back here working away. No children yet. Good kids. Her husband still works on the slope for 3 weeks on, 3 weeks off. Aaron has taken the whole week off, so when Terry goes to work Mon - Thurs we can hang. Love reading about your mission. I am so proud of you both. Jealous as I know how fulfilling a commitment like this to God is....but I know that He is using me wherever I am....to glorify Him. Struggles of course with mom and other family members lives....but I know who is in control.....thankfully not me. I miss my MMC team, but have been busier than ever. I am thankful for the health God has given me to be able to help others, to love them and support them. This is my calling right now. God bless you and know that we love you both very much, Terry and Terri