So a few days ago we received a written request from the Management at the condominium complex where we reside that we attend a new required event to make sure we were properly registered with the local government as foreign nationals living in Surabaya. So we collected all of the requested documents and showed up at 1 PM downstairs in the event room here. We found about 30 Indonesian bureaucrats, refreshments, and exactly 3 foreign nationals, 2 of them US! Police, immigration folks, others. We all quickly discovered that we already were in possession of the "Green Card" which was the object of the event in the first place. The next best option was what Indonesians do best...take pictures together. Out came the cameras. They also called the reporter from the Java Post, the Indonesian equivalent of the New York Times, along with a reporter from the local TV station. We were on live local TV, proclaiming to very leading questions how impressed we were with the service and collegiality of the government (which is actually true!) What was so strange for us was how eager they were to put on this show for such a mundane event. They called us "sangat antusiasme" (very enthusiastic) and "tidak terganggu" (unbothered) with this examination of our papers. I found the officials "sangat ramah" (very friendly) and honestly stated "Ini kesempatan untuk memahami satu sama lain." (this is an opportunity to understand each other). This article showed up the next day on the first page of the Metro section of Java Post.
Anyway, this made us very well known apparently as we received comments from all over Java wondering if we were ok. Sadly, they chose to use photos which excluded our names tags proclaiming us representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and neglected to include this fact in the article. Unfortunately this was pretty predictable. In spite of their public claim of religious freedom, this is really in name only. Any reference to Jesus Christ is always avoided in public discussions, although Islam is always frequently referenced. It is blared from every minaret (hundreds of them) many times daily.
New young missionaries in town. We still enjoy going out separately with the young missionaries each week. This is Elder Hayes. We just arrived at this small gang (alley) where we entered a small one room house. We gave a discussion on the Book of Mormon to a 65 year old man. He was very kind and accepting of our message.
|Elder Setijawan and Elder Hayes|
|The Suryadi Family|
We enjoy conducting Family Home Evenings with local member families. This is an opportunity to gather as families, to counsel together, teach Gospel principles, sing, pray, make plans, play games, and for parents to teach their children. We really enjoy them. We always play one of our silly games we played with our kids growing up..."Don't eat Pete!" Families seem to love them. Game playing is not a common part of their family culture here.
Some more Family photos follow.
|Our driver Peter with his wife Vivi and son Axel, leaving after church.|
|One of our District Presidency, President Kurniawan, with his sleeping daughter.|
|Sister Aan, the wife of Suryadi, and one-year child Alecia|
Ok. Now a bit of local tradition which we would all see as distinctly "un-Western." Following childbirth, the placenta is typically placed outside the home for a few days. Usually the placenta is placed under a plastic basket, and is illuminated at night in the narrow gangs to prevent people from tripping over them in the dark.
All over the world are held periodically a regional Priesthood Leadership Conference. These are typically presided over by an Apostle. This past weekend we attended a PLC in Singapore attended by Mission, Stake and District Presidencies from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Also in attendeance were Elder Rasband, presiding Seventy, and also Bishop Stevenson, Presiding Bishop of the Church. Also Elder Gong, president of the Asia Area, and our area authority seventies.
|Elder Ballard entering the room for a group photo session|
Elder Ballard taught us using D&C 43 as his source material. Elder Rasband taught us about the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy. And Bishop Stevenson taught us about the Law of the Fast.
This is a large, 4 level church building in Singapore on Bukit Timah Rd. This is the same site as the Chapel I attended 40 years ago during my first mission here. The old chapel was torn down, and reconstructed to create room for 3 Wards to meet. The Singapore Mission Office is also present here in the rear in another 5 story building. The area has become very built-up.
Singapore is an amazingly beautiful, orderly, clean city-state. We saw only two motor cycles all day. No horns at all. No litter. We arrived at our hotel after a 30 minute drive from the airport with only a single stop for a red light! The airport was beautiful and incredibly large. Mind the Gap! A shuttle train between terminals.
While the Brethren were involved in Priesthood training, the Sisters attended the General Authority wives in Singapore for a nice visit to a famous local Orchid and flower garden, followed by lunch.
|Sister Williams and Sister Donald|
|Sister Ballard, 84 yo, attended by her daughter.|
|Sisters Williams, Gong and Donald|
|Subway at Singapore's Chiangi airport. She is happy!|
|Granddaughter Amalie, an OOmpah Loompah in Willie Wonka.|
|Granddaughter Hope in Hawaii, walking with Mom and Dad, sporting new glasses. She is happy her Daddy, Sam is home!|
|Our Tucson grandkids, Ella, Ephraim, Eli and Rhys! Yeah!|