Last week we accompanied the Mitchell's, our Humanitarian Senior missionaries, to Lamongan for a groundbreaking ceremony for the water system being supplied to four villages there. It's about a 2 hour drive there. The area is much more bucolic and agrarian than where we live here in Surabaya.
Gabah, or harvested rice still in its husk, lays drying in the sun soon after harvesting in the field, where it is called padi. After about 8 hours of drying, the husks are removed, at which time the rice is called beras, the form in which we buy it in the store. After cooking it, it is called nasi. And you thought it was just rice!
The gabah is dried on tarps in the roadways. All manner of traffic...feet, cars, and motorcycles drive right over the top of it. Initially we took care not to walk on it, but soon discovered we were being too cautious.
Which one is not like the others....
On arrival in one of the villages, we were taken immediately to a local Moslem private school, where we were treated very kindly, given fried foods, including fried bananas, and before we had even had the opening ceremonies for the water project, asked if we could also supply funds for a new bathroom for the school.
The young men wear flat-topped, black felt hats called topi, and the girls wear their jilbab. These are typical garb here signifying they are of the Moslem faith. They look hot, and when asked, tell me that they are hot!
We then went on to a covered tent area in the middle of the village. Any event...wedding, birthday, etc in a village often occurs right in the middle of the street. They simply close it off to all but foot traffic. Chairs, tables, sound system was set up. We were given very nice upholstered seats to sit on in front facing everyone.There was on opening prayer in Arabic, Moslem style. Then a talk from the local official, followed by a few remarks from me and Brother Herry Siswoyo, a member from Surabaya representing the local Indonesian Church leadership. President Hadi could not attend because he was in Solo attending his younger brother's funeral. I spoke about the importance of water, including Living Water, quoting both from the Quran and also from John 4 about the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. The focus in these activities is on Humanitarian service only. No proselyting is ever done at all.
After the spoken words describing the project, what the Church was supplying, what the local people were expected to provide, and the blessing it would be to the local populace as well as the Church's motivation for doing this, food was served.
As the Humanitarian missionaries, Elder and Sister Mitchell had the honor of taking the top off the rice cones.
Food is served on waxed paper, eaten with fingers or a spoon. Rice, very hot spicy veggies, chicken, fresh cucumber, rice flour crackers with peanuts. Made me sweat even more. As I spoke, sweat was running down my face and into my eyes.
Then a short trek out into the padi where one of the wells will be dug and tank erected. A ceremonial hole was dug and filled with rock and cement. There was a smoldering fire of rice chaff right next door. The smoke obscured some of the photos. I had to be careful where I stood to avoid burning my shoes. Sister Williams was a hit, as always, and everyone wanted a picture with her, especially the men.
"Baik-Baik saja." Translates to "It's all good!" You commonly hear this in response when you ask, "Apa kabar?"...How are you? Elder Lewis said he has been waiting his entire mission to make a joke about this. We hauled the Sister's bikes back to Malang for them.
Beautiful bougainvillea in front of a house.
Kesemek, or persimmons. We just discovered them here. They are quite seasonal. They pick them when sweet but still very firm, cover them in a calcium carbonate powder to promote ripening. They have an apple texture and are very sweet.
Key chains from our recent 80 day, "Read-the-Book-of-Mormon" challenge.
In conjunction with another 3 day visit by the Lewises, the Mission Family History missionaries who live in Solo, we conducted two Temple Seminars in Surabaya and also in Malang in successive evenings for all who might be interested in accompanying us to the Temple in Manila next February. We had over 40 members come to these mid-week evening classes where we provided many hand-outs about the steps required to prepare spiritually, financially and physically, including how to apply for a Temple Recommend, a Passport, and we gave them approximate costs involved. We also went through the steps necessary to apply to the Church Temple Patron Assistance Fund. Now our work is to follow through with their Branch Presidents to ensure that as many of these dear members can actually attend with us. They are expected to provide at least a portion of the costs of attending the Temple, typically at least the equivalent of 3 months' family wages. For many of them this represents a huge obstacle as many live quite hand-to-mouth. We are trying to help some obtain jobs, or find second sources of income to supplement.
In conjunction with this we are quite excited to be beginning in the next 3 weeks for the first time in East Java the Church's new Self-Reliance training initiative, designed to focus ob the three primary targets identified by the Church...Finding a Job, Improving Education, and Starting a Business. We have Regional Trainer coming this weekend, and Brother Dean and I will act as the first Facilitators for the first small group (8-12) of members. The course runs over 3 months, meeting weekly for about 2 hours. The large majority of attendees elsewhere in Indonesia have been interested in the Entrepreneurial portion of the program. They want the independence that derives from owning their own business. I am so excited to see this course develop here as it has a grand possibility of helping so many members lift themselves out of poverty based on this Gospel-centered program of self-help based on proven business principles. I have even heard rumors that the Church might be considering a Church-sponsored, Micro-loan business, similar in intent to the Church's Perpetual Education Fund. What a grand blessing this would be. Hope the rumor is true.
Look at this point, done without prompting! What form! What style! Who taught her this? Or maybe it is genetically acquired, passed on from her Grandpa!
We Love this pic. It captures the essence of Hope!
James and Lily, sharing lunch. A blanket picnic on the front grass. Wish I was 4 again.
Lastly, this is the essence of Indonesian traffic, especially in Surabaya. We call this "macet"...bottle-necked, congested, traffic jam. Somehow with Grandkids it is cute. Here just a pain in the neck.
Love to all. Sampai jumpa lagi!