Monday, June 15, 2015

Water Project, Temple Nights, Rice fields and Baik2 Saja

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.   

Kid Time!

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!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Baptisms, water project, wild pets, villages, Presidency pizza

How exciting it is when we get to participate at those times when people here make the wonderful decision to be baptized and take upon themselves the name of Christ, to always remember Him, and to obey His commandments.  In return we are promised we will always have His Spirit to be with us.  
This day three wonderful young single adults were baptized.  

Below are Sister Henny, Brother Samuel, and Brother Seung Do.  Seung Do is from Korea, and has been living here with his member-aunt and uncle for the past year.  He returns home to Korea in two weeks.  Teaching him has been interesting and a bit challenging, for a time relying on Skype lessons with Korean-speaking missionaries in Korea, arranged with Elder and Sister Bringhurst of back home in Medford Oregon fame, who also provided us with Korean scriptures.  

Samuel, below, is seen with his mother and father, not church members.  We are having a wonderful time teaching him continuing lessons after baptism, along with teaching his girlfriend Nunuk and neighbor Renita and her two very small children, who are both so very interested, reading their scriptures and coming to church. What a blessing it has been to assist them and befriend them in their young faith. 

Seung Do and his mother, aunt and uncle. 

One evening recently, after returning home from working, we watched a National Geographic  program on TV about the deadliest snake on the planet, the black mamba.  Thankfully none in Indonesia.  Many of you know snakes and I do not get along very well. Sister Williams blessed my dreams that night with a ssssssssneaky prank on my pillow.  

In Surabaya some people have set up a business taking kids and their parents on "train rides," really just long, open-air vehicles, decorated up and painted to look like a train.  Sort of goofy really.  They just drive through the streets for a fare.  I guess that would be fun if you're Indonesian.  Anyway, they looked like a dour group until I rolled down my darkened window at a red light and started taking photos from the car.  Never met an Indonesian who did not like to have their photo taken. Just say "Facebook" and they are all giggles. 

This sign on a fence in a kampung says, "Peeing and garbage here."  What you can't see is the very faded, red "Dilarang" just above it, meaning "Prohibited, or Don't."

Any takers on this Indonesian soda?...Sweetened milk and yogurt soda. 

I have actually considered purchasing these...watermelon flavored marshmallows.  Then Sister Williams gives me the look.  Who would not want "Chomp Chomp Mallows?"

One of our inactive members we have been visiting for the past few months has been a member since he was a teenager here in Surabaya.  He actually went to the SLC Temple as a youth for a Sealing with his family, but has been very inactive at Church for years.  He runs a business selling tobacco and tea/coffee products.  It has been a difficult path to trod with him, but we are seeing him weekly.  He has such a sweet 12 year old daughter, Dewanti, who seems to love to read the Book of Mormon and Bible with us when we visit.  She seems to adore Sister Williams.  

Another recent convert family, Brother Hendra, Sister Lily, and their teenage children, daughter Stefanie and son Michael.  On their wall is a framed photo of a Temple with a picture of their family.  We are visiting with them weekly and providing continuing lessons about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His restored Church on the earth.  

A street scene taken from our car.  This was supposed to be a cool photo of a guy carrying a bunch of helium balloons on a motorcycle, but the truck photo-bombed me.  I am still trying to figure out the aero-dynamics of balloons on a motorcycle.  We have seen all manner of goods carried on a motorcycle here, ranging from these balloons, to 15-20 full size car tires, to large sheets of glass (how do you say decapitation in Indonesian?), to 15 foot long bamboo poles, to 4x8 ft sheets of plywood.  Food carts with large glass or wooden "saddlebags" in the rear carrying all manner of food for sale.  Even people.  Lots of people...5 is the record we have personally witnessed. 

Here is a large community center in a city named Lamongan, about 2 hours drive to the west from us here in Surabaya.  You see the writing above the open entry...that is Javanese writing...very beautiful flowing script.  We drove there last week with the Mitchells from Clayton Utah, Senior missionaries for the Church assigned to coordinate all Church-assisted Humanitarian projects in Indonesia.  The Church is providing for 3 new water wells, tanks and distribution lines in this rural area. The Church has provided for all of the funding and the engineering plans, and is paying for the materials and construction foreman, but the local people are expected to provide much of the labor digging trenches.  We return tomorrow for the ground-breaking ceremony. We have been asked to serve as site monitors over the next few months of the project.  

The sites of the wells are noted below in yellow.  Local citizens sign up for water distribution and pay a monthly fee based on metered use.  We'll see how it goes. 

The contract was signed last week.  Work begins in the next few days, we think.  The Village head is Pak Sutrisno, in the center with the red flowered batik shirt.  Brother Subandriyo and President Hadi are 2nd and 3rd from the right. The contractor, Sutarno, on the far left, is a Church member from Solo. 

Making some site visits where the actual wells will be dug.  The water is not pure and will still need to be boiled, etc for culinary and drinking purposes.  

Sister Okky and her new infant son, Davis.  Western names seem to be all the rage anymore.  She just likes the name.  

Brother Agus Suwito and his family.  He is a mechanic, and works with his father.  His lovely wife, Rena, is a Moslem.  They live with her mother. His son Elroy comes to Church with him.  We had a nice meeting together talking about Family History and Temple work.  We spent some time helping them fill out their pedigree charts.  

Sister Williams always draws a crowd.  Yesterday we spent an hour in a local kampung looking for a lost member. No success...he seems to have moved long ago...but we made many new friends, talked about our family back home, showed pictures, took a lot of pictures, passed out a lot of "Choose the Right" stickers, and invited all to come to English Class.  It was enjoyable.  

Lovely Renita and her two small children.  We taught her last night with Brother Samuel.  They loved "Bedazzled" on my Ipad. Kept them entertained for a long time until our laughing started him crying.  

Recent Zone Training Meeting.  Jawa Timur rocks!

Weekly District Presidency meeting.  They are rapidly developing into a very organized and committed and energetic group.  We conduct the meeting by Skype with President Rhama in Malang 2 hours away.  This time I ordered pizza for those here.  They often come here straight from work without a meal.  A 12" pizza with everything, including tuna...their choice, not mine...cost 60,000 rupiahs, about $4.75.  That includes delivery!  Pizza here is surprisingly good(minus the tuna).

A few more hotos from Bali.  At least half the weekly attendance, and often more, comes from tourists to the island of Bali.  The Branch President, Pres Heru, has been Pres for more years than anyone knows.  His wife and children are not members. We just organized an Elders Quorum.  They conduct Church services in a local, rented, hotel conference room.  After church activities often include ping-pong.  

Yesterday in the kampung we came across a man with many family pets in cages in front of his house.  We spent a few lively minutes there. This is a musang...translates in Google to weasel, but this is like no weasel we are familiar with.  Lives in the trees in the wild in Borneo, very long tail, sharp teeth and claws, but was very docile.  Nocturnal, eats fruit and insects. 

Kid Time!

Crazy James before school

To eat or to sleep...let us know your decision, Ephraim

Sweet Hope in El Paso, enjoying her "new" recycled and refurbished school desk. Way to go Cassan. Looks great. 

Our budding Swimming champion, Ella.  First place in backstroke and butterfly!  Way to go!

Rhys.  Love your smile.  Save some smiles and laughs for G&G, ok?

Ephraim doing one of the things he does best.  He had some serious catching up to do. 

Love to all.   Till next time.  Say your prayers.