Sunday, April 26, 2015

"I want to know if I am being good"

We have to lead off our blog posting this week with a photo of our grandson James in Medford.  James is sitting on the sofa at home.  Said James to his Mom, Annie, and his sister, Lily, "Can you and Lily be quiet so I can listen to the Holy Ghost?  I want to know if I'm being good."

From the mouths of babes.  Though James is not a babe, he is without guile, innocent, as we all should strive to be.  The key is make time to be quiet and listen, harder for some of us than others.  "Be still, and know that I am God."  Then go to work.  

A few weeks ago Sister Williams and I visited some villages south of Surabaya looking for long-time members who no one has heard of for years. Sadly, many moved, gone, where-abouts not known.  We met the local RT (Rukun Tetangga), a local paid official/neighborhood watch/ombudsman, twice at his home while looking for members.  Lots of pretty natural landscapes around.  

Sister Williams never found a baby she doesn't love. 

Roads are usually pretty bad.  Full of holes, patches, etc.  Makes writing, texting and reading a jarring experience.  Sign says, "Caution, the road is full of potholes and bumpy." 

Another new mosque under construction.  Thousands of these here, one in every small neighborhood; many more now than 40 year ago.  Some of them quite beautiful and colorful, as seen below. 

A local "motorcycle wash"...basically a roadside improvised stand where cycles are washed, in this case right over an outside drainage ditch/sewer.

A beautiful grey day looking out to the northeast over Surabaya from our balcony.

A local neighborhood game of dominoes we discovered while looking for members.  Every time they win they get to wear a clothespin in their face...cheek, ear, lip, etc.  I think I would throw the game, but they were having fun. 

A 2 month old baby girl being cared for during the day by her grandmother.  Her mom works, and tragically her father left the family. 

We rented a large van and hauled 14 missionaries to the Safari Zoo.  Lots of songs and fun.  The missionaries sang a mean version of  "In the Jungle."  The usual zoo experiences with wild beasts of all sorts trying to get in the vehicle. 

Less than an inch of Plexiglass between us and 500 pounds of teeth and claws.  Sitting in the restaurant waiting for the deer steaks to arrive.  Who knew white tigers like water so much.  Of course, the fact that they were throwing chickens into the water encouraged them.

Almost as much fun as kids, and a lot less noisy. Where else can you just sit down and play with a young orangutan. I love this!

An appropriate sign as one prepares to traverse the footbridge over the Nile crocodile pond. No fooling!

This one is for you, Uncle Mike.  An Indonesian attempt at Fritos...a swing and a miss.  

One of my favorite activities...going out with the young missionaries on our bikes.  Finding contacts, teaching, visiting members.  It's as hot as Indonesia in summer. In about 10 minutes I am sweating buckets, my shirt drenched, face dripping.  Quite comical/pathetic.  The locals think it is crazy funny, but it does generate many free drinks and maybe a few invitations to come in and rest.  I guess they don't want an old bule dying on their front porch. 

Elders Hayes and Setijawan.  Elder S is from Bekasi near Jakarta.  Here waiting to enter the home of Brother Rasimin, an 80 year old recent convert who lives in a boarding house. He fixes tires on the street.  He lives in a room about 6' x 10' with shared cooking and bathroom facilities.  Life is very hard for him. We help him as best we can. 

Elder Hayes and Setijawan again.  Spiritual giants.

A very color-conscious District.  Very united.  Maybe looking to be the next "District."

Zone Conference with the Mission President and AP's. Having fun, as young men are prone to do. 

Birthdays happen in Indonesia just as at home. The management here at our apartment are very nice and brought us a birthday cake. Mr Sigit on the left is manager, and has been very kind and conscientious helping us get new, American-sized furniture and getting our cell service upgraded in our apartment so we can actually use our phones outside the bathroom.  Signal strength has been terrible. The birthday surprise came while Kathy was down exercising.  They sang "Happy Birthday", more or less.  Sort of petered out by the 3rd line so I jumped in and helped them.  Turned out to be some sort of green cake.  Actually quite tasty as Indonesian pastry/cakes go.  Later Kathy came home and told me everything like this in Indonesia is made with green tea???  Maybe, maybe not.  In any case, we gave the rest of it away to the friendly security guard later that day at the huge National Mosque in Sidoarjo later that afternoon while visiting less active members in the neighborhood. We took off our name tags while on the premises to avoid any possible confrontation.  We ascended the high menara (tower) you see in the background for a commanding view of the area. Thankfully no power outages during the uncomfortably long elevator ride.  Ever since our elevator experience being trapped in our apartment elevator a few weeks ago during a power outage, I have surprisingly felt a little uncomfortable on elevators. Weird.  

Notice my tie...Moroni on top of the National Mosque.  

Because of some personal security issues we made an emergency trip to Malang to bring home a missionary companionship to Surabaya.  We fed all the District at McDonalds. They never seem to tire of this place.

Road trip!

A wonderful less-active family we recently met, Sister Slamini and Brother Noer.  Have visited twice, with more planned.  Hopefully go to dinner with them soon.  

Grandchild time!
Ephraim in Tucson.  Such a happy lad.  

Our very grown-up grandchildren in Oregon. We are very lucky grandparents. 

Beautiful baby Hope enjoying her last swim on the beach in Hawaii. We miss Hope and her family so much.  Can't wait to see you in ???El Paso...

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Nine Day P-Day, dan lain-lain

So, get something to eat, use the bathroom, and get comfortable.  About 150 photos to follow. 

President Donald gave us permission to take a few days off our usual missionary schedule to spend time with visiting friends.  Senior Missions are much more flexible now than in past generations.  If more Senior Couples knew how rewarding, flexible, productive and fun missions can be, more would sign up.  We provide undeniable evidence in the following pictures and stories.  Please consider all these in the context of what you have read and seen in our past 6 months worth of emails home and blog entries. 

These photos are predominantly from our 9 day get away to the islands of eastern Indonesia, Bali and then Central Java in Yogyakarta with our life-long friends from Medford, Oregon, Mark and Stacy Skillman.  We have traveled the world with them.  They are a few years away from a Senior Mission, but I think after these two weeks they are ready to enlist right now.

We flew into Labuan Bajo on Flores island, where we were met by our resort escort and taken by private boat to Sebayur Island, a small private island 1 1/2 hours away.  We stayed at Komodo Island Resort.  I attach the web site if you are interested.  www.komodoresort.com

We stayed in individual private bungaloes.  The resort is run by an Italian family, and the food is all included and Italian-themed.  They cater to water-lovers, especially scuba divers.  We saw beautiful reefs and lots of sea life including giant manta rays, sea snakes, lion fish and thousands of reef fish.  Kathy kayaked in mangroves. 

We volunteered to President Donald to be the fist missionaries to open these eastern Indonesian islands for the preaching of the Gospel. There are many thousands of them.  So far, no new assignments. 

Gave a First Discussion on the Restoration on the way back in the boat, and an Indonesian copy of the Book Of  Mormon to the boat's captain.  He came to our bungaloe later.  

This is the reef right in front of our bungaloe...squid, star fish, etc. 

We took a day trip to Rinca Island where we visited this komodo dragon protected area. 

A water buffalo also in the park.  They also have spitting cobras and salt water crocodiles.  Thankfully no pictures of those. 

We found this dragon in the wild digging up birds eggs.  

The scuba diving was nice, although the swells came up substantially while we were down, making re-entry to the boat somewhat treacherous.  The sea ladder broke.  

Mark driving the boat.  He drove all manner of internal combustion vehicle this trip. 

A most beautiful little island with the prettiest sand I have ever seen.  Pink sand, which is actually coral sand composed of the two coral types you see above.  It was breath-taking, the prettiest I have ever seen in the world.  Here we also swam with a pod of giant manta rays, twice my size.

 We stopped in a little fishing village on a remote island on the way home from snorkeling and komodo-watching.  Instant fan club!

Next stop after flying out of Labuan Bajo...Denpasar Bali.  We spent 4 lovely nights at the InterContinental Hotel on Jimburan Beach. 

We tried every swimming pool in the place!

Beach sweeping patrol every morning. 

We hired a driver/guide who took us south to Uluwatu for an evening of Balinese culture watching the Ramayana with 70 Balinese male chanters.  The setting was beautiful. You should YouTube this to see the performance.  The setting is a 1000 year old Hindu temple site. Because these are still active religious worship sites, they require visitors to wear a sarong or sash.  

Tanah Lot,..a famous sea-side temple. 

So as it turns out, we visited Bali in the week leading up to Hari Nyepi, a Hindu holiday of silence.  On thisday, people are not allowed outside, no lights are permitted, all stores, schools, and businesses are closed.  There is absolutely no traffic, car or pedestrian, on the roads,  The airport and bus and train stations are closed.  Hotels may stay open and food is prepared for any guests, but they cannot go on the beach.  They actually have "Quiet police" to enforce compliance.  I had never heard of this before.  

Part of the Silent Day celebration focuses on an ancient tradition of spending months building evil-looking, painted, styrofoam images seen above and below, called "ogah-ogah", which are carried in a procession through town by local communities, then burned the night before the Silent Day. 

Church services in Bali are conducted in a room of a local hotel in downtown Kuta.  Note the small purple sign above the larger one directing members and visitors where to go. Not often you see a "Smoking Area" sign in the same frame as a "LDS Church Worship" sign. 

There are more temples in Bali than there are people.  So we were told by our Balinese guide.  Bali is 90% Hindu, and every home has a home shrine.  In addition, there are hundreds of village and larger public temples, and on every street, every business, every corner you find small hand made, woven palm leaf baskets filled with flower petals, incense, food.  

Balinese women in a local community temple.  Very colorful.  

Cock-fighting is a common sport here. Technically illegal, but by holding it on the temple grounds, it is accepted.  Lots of gambling going on.  Men only allowed, dressed in traditional garb, including "kris"...dagger in the back held by a belt.  Lots of smoking and spitting going on, much to Sister Williams' disgust.  

Indonesia is a land of bureacracy.  No one does anything unless there is precedent, approval, policy. Here it took two trips across the airport check-in lobby to get tickets, pay our airport fee, and pay for extra baggage.  And the receipt was 4 pages long, printed with an ink-dot printer on old fashioned, continuous, perforated printer paper.  Here we are off to Jogjakarta for our 3rd leg of the trip.  

Food was amazing during this trip.  We ate the most delicious gurame fish here.

Wayang Kulit...a shadow puppet show, using 100's of very detailed puppets made of water buffalo hide, painted, with articulated joints, and operated by a Master puppeter and accompanied by gamelan music.  The shows can last 10-12 hours without a break.    

A complete set of traditionally made wayang can take 3 years and cost $100,000

Kris are traditionally made steel knives, usually having a series of curves, like a snake, and anciently felt to have magical powers. A good knife, and a good knife handler, can balance it on its tip.  

Off to Prambanen, a Hindu Temple built in 800 AD or so.  Actually many temples to a pantheon of Hindu gods, the greatest being Shiva.

We had a small group of 4 University students learning English accompany us during our tour.  

And also a constant wave of young school students, eager to learn English also peppered us with a list of 20 questions prepared by their teacher to ask the bule's.

An evening watching the Ramayana Dance in Jogjakarta.

We visited a lovely new restaurant up in the south hills looking over Jojga.  Prambanen is seen in the distance along with a faint outline of Mt Merapi in the background.  

Next we embarked on a 3 hour jeep tour up the slopes of Mt Merapi.  We really only reached the hills at the base of the mountain, arriving at a  poorly engineered "safety bunker" where 4 people cooked to death in a failed attempt at saving themselves during the last eruption in 2010. We are due for an eruption, if the averages hold true.  

The deadly escape shelter on the south slope of Mt Merapi, exactly in the path of the last debris flow in 2010.  

Mark and Stacy and their first (and apparently last) taste of durian. 

Next on to fabled Borobudur, an ancient Buddhist temple dating back over 1000 years, built near Magelang.  Despite living here for 2 years in the 1970's, this is our first time here.  Each of the domes contains a stone Buddha, most with the heads missing, victim of souvenir-seekers through the years. 

The sign reads, "dilarang coret-coret"...."No scratching", although the intent was no graffiti or engraving one's name int the stone. 

It was interesting to watch as Buddhist monks arrived here for worship.  

We attended the Kraton, the royal palace in Yogyakarta, where there is still a living sultan who presides over this large area.  

Our hosts rented typical Javanese clothing for us.  We rode along Jl Malioboro in horse-drawn carts to the restaurant.  Very hot and confining.  Now I appreciate better what women go through trying to climb steps with a skirt on.  And the knife/kris stabbing me in the back did not help my comfort.  Quite a shock for the locals to see bules dressed in Javanese servants garb riding in a horse cart and speaking to them in Indonesian and a little Javanese.   

Not too any Javanese with red hair.  Sister Williams is always a hit where-ever she goes. And Sister Skillman is trying the red thing also...Looking good, Stace.

The last day in Yogya Ronnie, one of our guides and friends took us to a street cafe.  Quite the authentic experience as we ate nasi pecel, gado-gado, chicken, rice and peanut sauce, all the while eating over skewers of small boiled egg yolks, chicken intestine and liver, fried tempe and tahu (soybean curd/paste), vegetable rolls, sate, small quail, sitting utterly unrefridgerated for ? days.  Some of us enjoyed it more than others.  Hygiene was not the best.  They would not be licensed in the States. Serenaded throughout by guitar-playing street musicians, and being gawked at by locals.  Lots of picture taking going on. 

Mark taking a hand at driving a mildly nervous becak driver.  The only non-carbon-emitting vehicle he drove this trip. 

Elder Williams looking not-too-happy at having to shop in the big-and-tall section.  Indonesians are tiny, and I am definitely growing bigger.  *grinding teeth*

Buying more  Batik.  Can one have too much?  Another question...How many Indonesians does it take to help one Bule shopper?  Answer...how many want to practice their English and take a selfie with the white folk?  All the sales people are very nice and friendly.   

Sister Bertha showing us her hydroponic kit. She developed this business only by researching on the Internet, and now runs a successful business teaching, selling kits, and helping other families become more self-reliant and healthy growing vegetables hydroponically.  We like the idea so much we are going to do this when we go home.  Also plan on making a small fish pond back home to grow fish for consumption.  Great ideas, Bertha!

A random street shot of a cute little Jogja girl and her mother who is feeding her.  

Our wonderful friends and travel world travel companions, Stacy and Mark Skillman.  We love and admire them.  

I managed to kick one of these Indonesian lady's feet while sitting together in the Yogya airport. They teach us this approach technique in the MTC.  Not.  Anyway, very nice gals on their way back to Jakarta after a little vacation in Yogya.  We spent a delightful hour talking to them. 

Everyone is friendly.  This security guard at this bakery cane out to say hi.  Really?  A security guard at a bakery?  Those must be some kind of special donuts.  Actually I think it is the bank...BRI...next door. 

Culture clash...horse carts and SUVs vying for the same pavement. 

Try reading this sheet music...

One of the "gongers" in the gamelan band at the Kraton. 

Back in Surabaya, we happily re-enter missionary life with a Zone Training meeting. 

We'd like to introduce you to some of the best missionaries serving in the world.  

Sister Chapman (Australia) and Sister Chua (Filipino)

Elder Chou (Texas) and Elder Supriyanto

Elder Davies (Manchester England) and Elder Pujianto

Elder Setijawan and Elder Hayes (USA)

Elder Baize and Elder Thompson (USA)

Sister Ingersoll (USA) and Sister Sarwono (Solo, Indonesia)

Sister Wihanda (Indonesia) and Sister Romero (Filipino)

Elder Sutarno (Solo, Indonesia) and Elder Williamson (USA)

A very special experience.  Sister Ira of Surabaya 1 Branch was badly burned in an LPG explosion in her home.  Sister Williams washed her hair for her.  It was a lovely moment.  

A few days earlier we were privileged to participate in a Priesthood blessing for her which had miraculous results.  

A common street scene in Indonesia.  All manner of supplies are caried on a motorcycle.  In this case some very long bamboo structures built specially for each Javanese wedding.  These are placed outside the homes of those marrying to announce the wedding.  These 20 foot structures can be dangerous to those tailgating...

Roadside fruit stands near Malang. Hanging sacks of oranges. Yams on the ground.

A delicious fruit here, not ever seen in the States.  Called kalengkeng.  These are grape-sized,   They have a hard, firm shell.  You open it by just squeezing one end, and it splits open.  The inside is very sweet, texture of a lychee or rambutan.  Good sized, round seed inside.  We love them.  

Another peculiarity of an apple sold here. This one imported from China.  I think it is a Gala.  Anyway, when growing they somehow put a stencil on it which blanches the skin and it grows with the brand name indelibly printed on the skin.  Pretty cool.  

Grandkid time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hope and Daddy Sam...maybe her first selfie. 

Beautiful Lily.  This one is a screen-saver. Chris DeBeikes took this. 

Our Central Point grandkids at the coastal redwoods, Kinsley, Holden, Amalie and Malia.  We miss them so much. 

Don't mess with these two...Rhys and Eli in Tucson.  The world's newest yellow-belts.

A sad day...Aloha oe...farewell from Hawaii as they are transferred by the Air Force to El Paso Texas.  They received these lovely leis at their last week attending Church in Honolulu.

So proud of James...sharing his Incredible Hulk with sister Lily for her birthday!

And nothing better than ice cream cake.  (Except maybe ice cream cake with Grandpa)
Happy Birthday Holden!