Saturday, January 17, 2015

News from Indonesia


Hello again. 

We made a visit last month after Christmas to a lovely family about an hours drive northwest of here in Gresik.  Their daughter had a newborn, just 4 days old. The Sujono family.  The son Yoga is a RM, now living in Kalimantan, home for the holidays.  Three generations of Church members here.  And you have to love the green.


While in Gresik we also visited another member, Sister Martoyo, who is raising her granddaughter after her mother died after childbirth.  A lovely rural area. Always fun to stop and talk to the local folk.  Always so friendly and helpful. Everyone always knows what their neighbors are doing, where they are, what problems they may be having, who is sick, and so forth.  Close proximity, thin walls, and just a general openness prevails here often, but not always.  I'm always somewhat amazed at the discussions that we have with people, sometimes about quite private thoughts and feelings, within easy earshot of neighbors.

3 generations live here.  One son returned home from his mission last year.

Beautiful sunsets often present here.  Rural Indonesia is beautiful.  One can almost become "green blind" from the constant greenness.  Those retinal cones get get hyper-stimulated. 

Babies and young children often have their faces covered with this white makeup.  It's a Javanese cultural thing.  They consider it to be beautiful. 

Outside "ngomong ngomong"  ("just talking"), in his case with a clove cigarette also.

Sister Williams with jackfruit, "nangka".  It's good, sweet.  This is a tree alongside a small neighborhood street.  They operate on the honor system here...leave my jackfruit alone...

While on bicycle splits with one of the Barat companionships, Elder Martineau and Elder Anderson, the heavens opened up, quickly soaking us in spite of our ponchos.  We ducked into a local Alfamart...their version of 7-11...about one every 200 yards, or less...for a chat and an ice cream.  Not just any ice cream.  A Magnum Gold...rich creamy vanilla ice cream, wrapped in chocolate and then wrapped again in butterscotch.  It's heaven on a stick.  We met the store clerks, signed them up on Facebok as a friend, invited them to English class, and took a picture. 

This young lady wears a jilbab, a Moslem head covering worn at all times when outside by many Moslem women here. Interestingly, 40 years ago we hardly ever saw a woman wear these.  Also, 40 years ago many more men wore the traditional, black felt, flat-topped hat called a topi, peci or kopiah.  Still seen on going-to-mosque days, but seems not as prevalent now. Tried to invite a man on a motorcycle who also ducked in to listen to a message about the restored church, but he politely returned our introduction card.  He was Moslem. 

2 weeks ago we missionaries in Indonesia held a special Fast day to seek the Lord's help in spreading His word here, and in opening doors and softening hearts, and to beseech the Lord to help us gain better governmental support to expand the work and allow more missionaries.

The Fast was supposed to start at 5 PM...
A&W service was a little slow this day. 

Sister Williams always draws a crowd, especially children.  They think she is the most beautiful person in the world.  All want a picture with her.  And she loves them back in turn.  Passes out "MYB" stickers..."Milih Yang Benar...Choose The Right".

Many Indonesians are quite talented musically.  Here Hendi plays for us and sings in his beautiful Batak voice.  He tried out for Indonesian Idol.

An Investigator family

This is Brother Soewardi and his wife of 50 years on their Anniversary.  He was in the Indonesian Army.  He has been Branch President in Surabaya 3 times, last released last year.

We took the Barat Elders to Madura for P-Day 2 weeks ago, an island just off the northeast coast of Surabaya, connected by a very long bridge over the sea.  It is the longest bridge in Indonesia.  Once we got there, we sort of scratched our heads and asked why?  Had been planning on driving to a beach, but found out it was at least another 2 hour drive one way to a raher ugly muddy beach.  Instead we bought a little batik, and then went to a locally famous bebek (duck) roadside cafe. 

This is a sit-where-you-want kind of place.  They call it family style in America.  In Indonesia that means every man for himself.  The duck is really excellent, we must say.  Not a lot of meat, but very tasty.  The seasonings are great, make you sweat a little.  Pedas, as they say...hot, meaning spicy hot.  You eat with your fingers only.  They have sinks spaced periodically in the place to wash your hands before and after eating.  Buy a green coconut for coconut water for about 60 cents. Then you can scoop out with a spoon the somewhat slimy and often rather tasteless, white coconut meat afterwards. 

This is their idea of an orderly line, by which I mean there was no fisticuffs.  You sort of muscle your way to the front and make yourself really big to fight for counter space.  Then when you have your food you elbow your way past everyone else.  If you have to make more than one trip, you're going to go hungry. 

This is the bridge.  Really beautiful.  Not much traffic to speak of on the toll bridge.  And isn't the sky beautiful.  Hot and very humid. 

On the way home we stopped at the Surabaya Heroes Monument, built in honor of the men and women who died in the 1945 uprising against the Japanese and a few months later against the Allied Forces trying to restore order to the island (The Indonesians would say trying to bring them back into servitude to their Dutch colonizers after WW2) .  The British landed a force who tried to march into the city after their Brigadier General was killed.  The locals fought them off, the British and Dutch eventually withdrew, and Indonesia was born.  Below is a statue to Sukarno, the first Indonesian President.  Interestingly, when I was here in 1973, his name was taboo and most references and public remembrances of him were removed after he was impeached for malfeasance in 1967 under Suharto.  After Suharto was voted out of office in approximately 1998, Sukarno's role in nation-building has been re-emphasized.  Sukarno was born in Surabaya.  Surabaya is considered to be the birthplace of liberty in Indonesia, although there is a large memorial, Merdeka Square, in Jakarta, with a large tower similar to the tower below.

Sukarno and Muhammed Hatta, the first leaders of Indonesia after WW2 ended

Don't scratch or smear in the monument.  Some things go without saying. 

Butterfly tree...look at the leaves

A moving remembrance of the cost in human life of obtaining and maintaining liberty and self-determination

Indonesian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Interestingly, I discovered that the Indonesian flag, seen above, was derived from the Dutch flag.  Go look at the Dutch flag and then see if you can see how the Indonesian rebels may have impromptu derived the Indonesian Merah Putih ("Red and White") from the Dutch flag.

So, changing the subject radically, I have seen these signs in several local washrooms.  "Wastafel.  Dilarang cuci muka disini"..."Sink.  It is forbidden to wash your face here".  Go figure. 

Our Toyota 7 passenger car.  We love it and we hate it.  Our rear ends are growing roots. 

The missionaries very frequently eat at a local roadside Warung.  These are usually small, mom-and-pop eateries specializing in local Indonesian food.  Cooked on site usually.  Utensils cleaned by wiping them in water of questionable purity and then wiped with a paper napkin. The food usually tastes very good, authentic and cheap...maybe 10,000 rupiah, about 80 cents for a full meal.  You then turn back in the dirty plate and spoon.  Diarrhea usually follows within 2 days, unless you have been doing it for a year and your gut has accomodated, but even then missionary work days are lost to GI illness.

Often there are locals at major intersections, as in America, except here they, to their credit, are usually hawking something.  Newspapers, food, krupuk.  Sometimes 2 boys will play a ukulele and sing for you while you wait for the red light to turn.  It's not why I go driving actually, to check out the local American Idol talent.  In this case he has put on traditional Javanese makeup and has a homemade boom-box of sorts playing traditional music, and for a price will dance for you in the street.  Creeps me out, to be truthful. 

Elder Headrick, one of the ZLs, getting directions in a local neighborhood, a kampung.  We always draw crowds of onlookers. 

A beautiful little girl in the neighborhood, don't you think?  The yellow, concrete, open structure behind her is where neighborhood garbage is placed.  Then periodically a tukang sampah, a trash collector, will manually move the garbage into a hand-pulled cart to take to a larger collection container where he manually unloads it.  Here eventually another crew will then manually transfer it all to a flat-bed garbage truck.  This in turn, you guessed it, will then be manually emptied wherever Indonesians ultimately put their garbage.  No one can tell me where. 

This is Brother Matali in Malang.  He is the only Church member in his family.  He has been a faithful member for many years.  He lives alone. His children of other faiths do not help him. He is 90 years old.  The Elders...here Elder Wills and Elder Getter...check on him frequently. I fear he has some heart trouble after my last visit with him.  Gave him some assistance to get to his doctor. 

Beautiful Indonesian countryside images during our recent car trip from Malang east into the foothills approaching Mt Semeru.

We spent 3 busy days in Malang last week participating in District Council, attending a missionary Zone training meeting with all 17 young missionaries in the Zone right now, and going on bicycle splits with the Elders while Sister Williams took the car with the Sister missionaries.  We enjoyed a quiet dinner as the only two in the hotel restaurant, feasting on gado-gado with lots of peanut sauce, tenderloin steak, and of curse, Kathy's chocolate coconut susu  drink. On Saturday we went with the Branch Mission Leader, Handoko, and visited C., a 31 year old less active Returned Missionary.  What a wonderful young man he is.  Many of his family have left the Church.  Then a meeting with one of the new District Presidents, Brother Rhama, while Sister Williams met with his wife, who is the District Relief Society President.  Great people.  Sunday we spoke in the Malang Branch.  Kathy gave a wonderful sermon on Charity, focusing somewhat on her new role as advisor to the women's auxilliaries in the District.  I spoke on the way to recognize truth and avoid being deceived, and of the method to receive personal revelation, using the example of Joseph Smith.

Sister Williams and Sister Aulia.  A single Sister baptized last year.  The only member of the Church in her family. She rides her motorcycle an hour each way every week to come to church.  She is the Primary secretary.   Moved home from Jakarta to help her mother who had a stroke.  We shared a prayer with them and taught a lesson on faith.  She is a wonderful person. 

On the way out of Malang we stopped with Brother Tatiet, a Counselor in the Branch Presidency, to visit a Sister with a bad, post-operative, wound infection.  She had her kidney removed via a traditional 18" incision a month ago.  I gave her some suggestions to review with her doctor the next day.  I am so grateful to be living where we live.  Though not perfect, medical care in America is amazingly good compared to many 3rd world countries where so many of God's children reside.  They have no other choice.  Sadly all of this could likely have been avoided if she had gone to the doctor a year ago when she developed pyelonephritis symptoms. 
The day after returning from Malang, we flew to Jakarta to participate in a Church-sponsored Humanitarian Conference on Neonatal Resuscitaion, called "Helping Babies Breathe"...HBB, attended by about 35 pediatricians flown in at Church expense from all over Indonesia.  This was the 3rd year this program has been conducted here, the other two events occuring in Bandung.  The goal is to "Train the Trainers", with the hope that these doctors would return home and coach and teach the Bidan-Bidan...the midwives back home who perform many of the births in Indonesia.  The program here was taught by a pediatrician from Logan, Utah.  He is very gifted, kind. I gave a few introductory remarks as a former Indonesian missionary, turned doctor, turned missionary again, now come back to Indonesia to help.  It seemed to be well-received.  They are now onto Padang, Sumatra for another training session.  Enjoyed spending time with the Lucherini's, our Humanitarian missionaries, who sadly for us, return home to Idaho next month.  Maybe a Humanitarian Mission could be in our future some time.  Their work sounds like it has been so rewarding, though they have spent half their time traveling.  So many projects they have shepherded to completion, helping both those who give and those who receive.  By the way, check out their blog...

This was fun.  This group of doctors doing their small group practice, were laughing uproariously, as this older pediatrician was earning an Oscar pretending to be in childbirth.  It's not often that I see Indonesians really letting go like this, especially a group like this. It was so entertaining to watch.

President and Sister Djarot, Jakarta Stake President, Elder Lucherini, and Subandriyo, past Mission President, Area Seventy and now Indonesia Service Center Manager

The joys of donuts. Indonesians really love their donuts, it seems, judging by the number of donut shops found here, and  also by their seemingly expanding waistlines. Much more obesity here now than than I ever saw 40 years ago. (He says as he stuffs another chocolate frosted Dunkin Donut into his mouth...you think I'm kidding, donut you.  I am a full-time, set apart, telling-you-the-truth, Mormon missionary. I have chocolate frosting on my lips this very moment.)

OK, you donut officionados, even you frequenters of VooDoo Donuts in Portland.  Here is one you will never see...a "Green Fortune Goat" donut, apparently made with green tea.   Someone needs to explain this one to me.

And now, the highlight of  each blog post...Our Grandchild of the week.  And once again, Grandpa cannot choose.  Below is sweet Kinsley in Oregon looking like a Queen, followed by precious Hope, back in Hawaii after a fun trip to Oregon for Christmas. Thank you, Mike and Paula, for that blessing!

And last, a little look back, not too far back actually, to our first day in the Missionary Training Center in Provo last October.  I just pinned Sister Williams' first-ever, Missionary nameplate on her.  What a joy.  Hard to believe this was just 3 months ago.  It seems like years.  

Till next posting, sampai ketemu lagi, until we meet again, we love you and pray for you. 

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