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.
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!