Saturday, May 9, 2015

We're going to play "Name That Fruit/Vegetable?"

Indonesia is a land of an amazing variety of fruits and vegetables we never see in America.  

Answers at the end of this blog posting. 

We try to visit at least one family every week solely to conduct Family Home Evening, a dedicated evening each week to focus on family relationships, spending time together in talking, planning, worshiping, praying, singing and playing games.  This is done in recognition that no other pursuit in life is as rewarding and important and joyful as that of building strong, healthy family relationships.  Families can become eternal.

Here we are with a cute young couple, Hendi and Christin.  We studied scripture together, talked about preparing for the Temple, and played a long game of UNO together.  Kathy won!

We attend one of our young missionary District Meetings each Tuesday morning, a 2 hour planning and training meeting.  Here we are in Timur Branch with Elder Hayes, our District Leader, Sisters Chapman and Ingersoll, and Elder Blaser, one of our Zone Leaders, who goes home in a week.  Sad to lose him.  He is fantastic, kind, conscientious, obedient, a great speaker of Indonesian.  

We are almost done with our 80 day Book of Mormon reading challenge. 3 chapters a day. Kathy takes great pleasure in Xing off our progress each day.  It has been a joy to spend this time reading out loud together, often in the car when we are stuck in traffic.  

We are in the midst of a 9 day Family History Research Marathon.  We have scheduled dozens of members in the 3 Branches for 2 hour sessions with Elder and Sister Lewis, our full time Senior Missionary Family History specialists here for a year from North Salt Lake City.  They are dedicated and brilliant FH workers who have blessed out District out here in East Java. 

Here is a pedigree chart of a local member who appears to have pursued one genealogy line all the way back to Father Adam and Mother Eve.  This is possible, I am told, if one can tie into one of the royal lines where record keeping was done fastidiously through the millenia.  

So Kathy just participated in quite a major way with Sister Lorieta, RS President in the District, in planning the first Women's Conference in East Java, and possibly in Indonesia.  There were almost 100 Sisters in attendance in Malang for the all day event, with talks and classes and workshops covering topics such as compassionate service, Family Home Evening ideas, Effective Visiting Teaching, Temple Preparation, and Hydroponics. 

Midway through the first hour, a 5.0 earthquake struck Java, just a few miles south of Malang in Pujiharjo.  Some of us felt it, others not. 

When you live in one of the most tectonically active areas of the world, you get used to periodically scanning your World Earthquake App.  See 9:46 AM below. 

Sister Bertha, our benefactor, quite a wonderful person, entrepreneur, largely self-taught owner of a hydroponics education and supply company, chicken farm, Javanese restaurant in Magelang, and film producer in Jakarta.  She is a Relief Society President in one of the Jakarta Wards.  She came to Malang at her own expense, brought 2 helpers, and supplies to give everyone a starter hydroponics kit.  We appreciate her so much. 

After the long day of the Conference, we took some of the key workers to a wonderful local Javanese culture restaurant. 

Not sure why I included this on our blog.  For some reason this guy is popular here.  Maybe he sells cafe food better than he runs our country. He spent a couple of years as a kid attending school in Jakarta, born of an Indonesian mother.  

We took the Malang District missionaries to the beach south of Malang on our Prep Day, the Monday following the Womens Conference.  President Rhama suggested a trip to a place called Hidden Beach, a remote beautiful beach on Sempu Island, reached after a very brief boat ride across the bay from Sendang Biru, followed by a "45 minute" hike through the jungle to Hidden Beach.  

Sister Ingersoll from Idaho and Elder Baize from Oahu, great missionaries.

Not the boat we took across the bay to Sempu!

Elders Lewis, Thompson, Baize, Sister Sarwono, Elders Williamson and Sutarno.

Elder Thompson

Sister Ingersoll

It took about 2 steps to discover that we were in for a muddy slog though tropical jungle mud.  We had to rent rubber, studded shoes, and buy socks.  

Elders Williamson and Sutarno, Sisters Ingersoll and Sarwono, Elder Baize and Thompson, Elder and Sister Lewis, Kathy and I, and our driver Peter.  What a great hiking party!

Often steep, always muddy and wet.  Sometimes wading through calf-high, muddy water, alert for snakes, sometimes sinking 10" into thick sucking mud pulling your shoes off.  Scrambling over sharp coral limestone, roots, vines, and just slip-sliding away.  We all took a tumble at one time or another. Clean clothes and dry socks lasted about 10 seconds.  What started as a planned 45 minute pleasure hike turned into a 2 hour, hot, sweaty, exhausting slog.  No food and maybe a liter of water each, quickly sweated out in a few minutes.  Yet no complaining.  Just smiles.  

Monkeys followed us in the trees as we walked. Smelled very gamey.  We were told of many feral pigs on this isolated island which is a nature preserve. We were likely walking through pig wallows.  

The last few meters were some of the hardest as we crawled down these rocky cliffs to the beautiful sandy beach below.  We had to watch our belongings, as they quickly became the target of larcenous monkeys. We hung our backpacks on the vertical cliffs.  They hissed at us and made adolescent fake charges, quickly retreating when I hissed and charged back at them. Who was the adolescent?

My wife, the adventurer.  Isn't she beautiful?  I'm so proud of her.  Some people pay for mud baths. 

Sempu Island's Hidden Beach is actually an isolated lagoon, surrounded on all sides by coral limestone cliffs, as seen.  The water is mostly no more than 4-5 feet deep except way out in the distance, where millenia of wave action have created an arch in the rock, allowing periodic waves to wash over the rocks and bring fresh sea water into the lagoon.  Really quite peaceful, beautiful.  The water was quite warm, almost too warm.  The rocks made for nice cliff jumping (for the male Senior missionary only.)

It was a seemingly even longer, just-put-your-head-down-and-keep-walking kind of hike out. The mud was even more churned up, slicker, and we were tired, thirsty, and feeling weaker and lazier.  Thankfully, no injuries.  Some muscle cramps and minor bruises.  We did find some quite large, 3+ inch black scorpions on the trail on the way home, just when Sister Williams was congratulating herself that at least there were no creepy crawlies out to get her.  How do you keep your eyes on the trail to pick your foot placement over the roots, on slick mud, while avoiding scorpions and also making sure that the branch or tree trunk you are grabbing to stabilize yourself isn't covered in dangerous spines?  

It was exciting.  Something we all said in retrospect, "That was fun, what an adventure, how beautiful, I didn't know I could do that, and I never want to do that again."

A flat tire capped off our day.  How many missionaries does it take to change a tire?

Our beautiful Javanese moon.

Our new El Paso family.  Currently swapping lomi-lomi salmon and kalua pork for chipotle and salsa.   Sam, Cassandra and Esperanza.

Ok.  Here's the answers:  Eggplants (terong, very colorful, no two alike and small).  Yellow dragon fruit (buah naga, also comes as a fluorescent purple fruit, very colorful, mildly sweet but a little bland).  Mangosteen (manggis, in Indonesian; sweet soft white fruit similar to rambutan and lychee; the thick purple husk is peeled off).  Pare, a vegetable.  Kalengkeng (a very sweet, soft, white, delicious fruit with a large black seed in the center and a soft inedible brown shell).  Lastly, one of Kathy's favorites...called sirzat here, soursop elsewhere; a green spiky fruit on the outside, and inside a sweet but tart, white, slimy fruit with big black seeds.  

How did you do?

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