This week we were busy with a 3-4 day district conference. We picked up the Mission President and his wife (President and Sister Donald) at the airport on Friday and enjoyed a three day conference from Saturday through Monday. Elder Funk, (Area Presidency and a member of the Quorum of the Seventy) and his wife also flew in for the entire conference. During the conference a new district presidency for the Malang and Surabaya area was called. Above from left to right is President and Sister Donald, then the new district presidency, us, then Sister and Elder Funk.
Elder and sister Funk with us outside of the Timur Surabaya Chapel.
It was a very busy three days. We made visits to local members, distributed Christmas packages to members, and held many training and general meetings. I sang in three or four choirs and played piano for the primary children's chorus. The meetings and visits were wonderful, but I think we wore our driver out! Our driver, Peter, transported us to and from the meetings, airport, member's homes, to and from our home, and to and from President and Elder Funk's hotel early in the morning until late and night! Many times he would have to wait outside or in a classroom for hours at a time for us to finish our meetings. (Yep, I believe he deserved a little rest here!)
This visit was with a wonderful family! This is the Elder's Quorum President and his family in the Timur Surabaya Branch. During this visit I gave out "Choose the Right" stickers to all of the kids and talked with them about making good choices. (Every time I say "good choices" I now think about our grandchild James' discussion with his dad one night about how Laman and Lemuel need to visit grandma and grandma in Indonesia so they can learn how to make better choices! :)
I also posted this picture on my Facebook. I just love this family! (Her husband is actual sick and asleep in back on the mattress.) The mother will be baptized in two weeks and I really admire her for setting such a good example for her children. The anak perempuan (girl) speaks some English and tutors me in Indonesian every time the sister missionaries and I visit. I brought them over a Christmas package with a few toys, canned milk, cookies, rice, etc, and the first thing this little girl reached for was the canned milk (susu)!
After the last meeting, on the last day of the conference, we gave our driver the rest of the afternoon off and took a taxi home. I actually "kind of" captured a bit of what it is like to drive here in Indonesia. These pictures (below and above) are direct shots out the back and side windows without me zooming in on the camera. These motor cycles are actually this close to us. Sometimes they hit our side mirrors or rest on the sides of our car. Once Keith and I opened up our window, talked with the three passengers on one of the motorcycle while waiting for a train to go buy, and invited them to our "gratis" (free) English class at church. (I alternate teaching English class every month between Timur and Barat branches as a public service with the missionaries.) There ARE traffic lanes on the roads, but no one EVER uses them...I guess they are more like "suggestions".
This is a picture of Keith going on splits with two elders in the rain.
(After seeing how bad the traffic is (above) you may want to include him in yours prayers for safety.) I don't know how Keith did it with the rain poncho on, but he managed to literally trash his shirt with muddy back-splash off the back tire of his bike. I figure we will now just designate that particular shirt for all of his rainy day bike splits. We sure have some awesome missionaries here though; they are hard working and self-sacrificing! We love them!!
Above is a Korean pastry machine. We watched this man hand load each little circle pan and then fill each pastry with chocolate of vanilla after they finished baking. We bought this dessert for one of the families we visited. (I don't have much time to cook anymore and there are very few ovens in Indonesia.)
Back after much demand: MORE SAFARI PICTURES!!! In our last Blog we did not have time to share all of our nifty safari pictures (We took the elders out on their P-day to a safari two hours away.) Above, Keith and I are standing in the middle of a rice patty. (It looks the Indonesia that I imagined seeing initially.) Below are some really interesting statues in the safari area.
Below Keith is standing by Jack-Fruit (Nangka). We have yet to try it, but when it comes into season we will and let you know what it is like. We have heard that it is good. Anyone out there tried it?
Ok, so never tease a live elephant with carrots! This one would have climbed into our car if we'd let him. It would have been really fun if his trunk wasn't so wet and full of mud! I spent the next 20 minutes wiping the mud off inside the car! I have to say that the Indonesian safari parks are really awesome, because there aren't a whole lot of rules. It felt a like our trip to Africa in the safari trucks. We got to feed and touch most animals!
The park had several Komodo Dragons and they looked really tough. I wished that Kevin Miller (Keith's previous missionary companion) was with us to teach us everything in the world about these cool reptiles. I find them fascinating!
I kept waiting for the camels and llamas to spit at us, but they never did, even when I teased them with the carrots. Keith had fun teasing peter, our driver, AND the llamas by trying to feed a llama on top of peter's head.
We got fairly close to the lions, cheetahs, and bears. Our car probably looked like just another animal to them.
These two pictures are just for Keith. I don't know why he likes monkeys so much, but he does. The top picture is one very large orangutan (Indonesian for "people of the forest".) I kept wondering what he was thinking...the orangutan, not Keith...
This picture was taken on a swinging rope bridge over a river filled with very large crocodiles. Guess no one worries too much about liability here in Indonesia...
Ok, now for our weekly grandchild--or grandchildren in this case--of the week. (These are Chris and Malinda's kids in Tucson, Arizona.)
May your week be filled with good family traditions and the true meaning of Christmas. The picture of Ephraim reminds me that the most important Christmas gift is not purchased in a store.
We love you and are grateful for your support. Merry Christmas!
Love, Keith and Kathy