Monday, December 8, 2014

Monkey Business

Today for Preparation Day we took 4 young missionaries to the Safari Park about 90 minutes away in the mountains near Malang.  What a great time we had.  We saw more undeveloped, rural farm land and forest, which was so refreshing to our eyes, ears and spirits.  Miles of rice padi's, so lush and green, terraced into the hills, full of standing water.  No water buffaloes to be seen however.  Otherwise much more reminiscent of my Indonesia of 40 years ago than what I have thus far seen. 

We drove our car through the safari park. Lots of animals.  Afterwards we had a chance to have up close and personal animal experiences for rather nominal charges of about $1.25 per person.  For some reason I have always been indescribably happy about orangutan's. They just seem so gloriously funny, sensient, interactive, and red.  I have always been fond of redheads.  Orangutangs, actually Orang Hutan, man of the forest/jungle in Indonesian terms.

I am pretty sure we are the only Senior Mission couple, heck, maybe any missionary, period, to ever be bitten by a tiger.  Both of us, on the thigh.  Playful bites, in retrospect, but at the time all we knew is we felt like rather fragile play-toys to this animal.  He is a cub, playful, distractable, unpredictable.  One minute we were spectating, and the next moment shrieking and checking for blood. Thankfully, none.

Maybe he smelled the deer steak with mushroom gravy we had just eaten for lunch. By the way I have never been to a zoo where they serve some of the animals for lunch in the café.  It was a really remarkable restaurant.  Less than 10 feet away from our table was a thick Plexi-glass window separating a grassy area and swimming pool inhabited by 3 large and very amorous tigers, including some white tigers.  It was like an amazing Disney Park without the crowds.  I kept checking for animatronics, but I'm pretty sure Disney animals would not be doing what these tigers were doing.  Multiplying and replenishing I suppose.

Early in the week we spent a wonderful 2 hours with a wonderful Indonesian family, and conducted a Family Home Evening with them, culminating with a rousing game of "Don't Eat Pete".  Our children will remember this game from our young family days.  Now this Williams Family tradition has been passed on to Indonesia.  We used Indonesian M&Ms, made in Makassar, a city up in Sulawesi.  Not quite the same as what we are used to, but they loved it.  We left the game with them. I suppose they will have to rename it "Jangan makan Sugianto", or some such.

This family was just getting over a round of Cacir Air, chicken pox.

Durian.  An acquired taste for some.  This was really good.  Shipped in from Sumatra.  The Javanese version, reportedly smellier, ripens in January or so.  Thick, spiny, green shells, divided into fibrous compartments housing about 10-12 large seeds coated with a sweet, slimy, grey-yellow-white fruit, very malodorous at times, variably described as rotting flesh, 6 week old sweaty gym socks kept in the bottom of a young man's school locker, or maybe a fetid Surabaya sewer at 3 PM on a very hot day. Yeah, I'll have another one. They eat them raw, baked into cakes and ice cream.


We have enjoyed many very heavy rain storms lately, resulting in some local flooding.  Really amazing natural displays.   They cleanse the air, help scrub the sewers a bit, wash the streets, cool the air, and blessedly keep all the motorcycles off the road.  It's the best time to drive, providing you can see and avoid the deep pools.

We ascended and descended to the 6' x 8' room of this wonderful 80 year old man, soon to be baptized, on this narrow steep staircase.  Many poor people here rent a room in a guest house and share cooking and bathing areas. 


We often get fed, although the feast this lovely woman provided us surpassed everything in my experience...we each got a whole fried chicken and rice followed by a bowl of chicken nuggets, whole fried fish, grapes, oranges, cake, brownies and ice cream. I was already sweating bullets from riding my bike in heat and high humidity, aggravated by high concentrations of sambal, very hot Indonesian peppers.  I was drenched when I left her house. 

I often enjoy the opportunity to accompany the young Elders as we stroll through the gangs and kampungs, giving us a chance to casually talk with anyone out.  We meet many new friends this way, occasionally resulting in a chance to enter their homes at their invitation and share with them a Gospel message.  This night we met with a family of five and shared with them the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith, the gift of the Book of Mormon Another Witness of Jesus Christ, and of the blessing and necessity of living prophets in our age.  Here with Elder Setijawan and Elder Andersen, great missionaries.

On the missionary side of things, I had two remarkably spiritual experiences today doing missionary splits for eight hours. We taught four lessons, and two of them moved us to tears. One was a former Catholic nun who joined the church just One month ago after being contacted at the front door by missionaries in her neighborhood. At the first contact, in a rather unusual approach, they presented to her the doctrine of baptism for the dead. She exclaimed that she had been praying for this answer for the past 10 years. She intends to attend the temple in Utah next year and is praying fervently every day to meet the prophet. She gave a beautiful, moving and tearful prayer during our visit today.  

The second person is a 19-year-old Moslem young man who agreed this evening to a baptismal date in two weeks. I have never felt the spirit so strongly during a lesson. It was marvelous. He gave a prayer truly inspired by the Holy Ghost. This young man kneeled with us, and prayed eloquently in the name of Jesus Christ in terms only an angel would use, let alone a 19-year-old Moslem boy. 
In over two years here, I have never heard such beautiful, heartfelt and eloquent prayers. 

We also gave a lesson today to a 80-year-old widowed man who is getting baptized in three days. He is a bicycle tire repair man and works on the street. He lives in a one room apartment with a shared kitchen and bathroom. His room is about 6 feet wide and 8 feet deep. It is very humbling. He was very humble, meek, and eager to have the Gospel in his life. He loves paying tithing. 

Certainly very many problems remain in Indonesia, which only full acceptance of the gospel can cure, but these experiences today were certainly tender mercies to me from the Lord. 

Saturday and Sunday we attended several baptisms of new members in both East and West Branches here in Surabaya. 

Elder McCleary, Brother R_____, his son in law President Cendi
of the Barat Branch, and Elder Pujianto
Sister Aryanto, Sister Hasibuan, R____, Sister Sperry and Sister Fisher

Even in this city of congestion, dirt, noise, and odors, there are tiny pockets of nature.  Here we have a few Plumeria blossoms floating in water in a bowl in our kitchen.  Such a lovely scent, redolent and reminiscent of Hawaii, Cassandra, Hope and Sam.  Happy memories!

The lovely scent of frangipani exceeded only slightly by the juicy white sweetness of rambutan (rambut = hair in Bahasa Indonesia), this peculiar, red, hairy, tropical fruit seen below, and the source for lychee fruit.  So delicious fresh.  Just peel the rather soft, hairy shell away.  There is a soft nut in the center.  So delicious.  My fave fruit here actually, even better than durian, mango, banana. 

More zoo photos...

We had llamas, zebras, deer and elephant trunks a good 2 feet into our car today.  Fed them carrots and bananas we bought outside of the park. I swatted a zebra and he responded with a hard kick into our left front quarter panel.  This vehicle damage report is going to take some "splainin."

One of our amorous tigers taking a cold shower

I blinked first.  He kept stealing my name plate and putting his fingers in my pocket.  He loved zippers.
Grandchild(ren) of the Week.  Halloween with Marc and Britni's kids, Kinsley, Malia, Ami and Holden.  We sure miss them. 

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