So after 7 months in Surabaya, guess what I found just down the street? A Cannondale bike store! Lots of wonderful road bikes, off road bikes, etc. I love the smell of carbon fiber in the morning. See Sam, we have everything we need here. Is a chamois compatible with Missionary dress code? Can I wear a tie with my bib? They are currently advertising a 330 km, 2-day ride here in Java. I am tempted. President asks us to use creative proselyting, right? The young FTM's play futsal and Bball. Why can't this old FTM ride a bike for 200 miles in 2 days? Sadly, my legs have turned to jello, and I have far too many rolls under my jersey. The Lord tells us to "waste and wear out our lives" in His service. We both certainly feel we've aged, lost fitness, tone and gained many pounds on this mission. We pray for the renewing of our bodies, but I need to get on the stick (or the treadmill or elliptical, or pull out my T-25) and get going. I have few excuses.
I want to share with you how often I look at and take comfort from this labor of love from our anak sulung, Chris. He made this wallet for me for Christmas 2013 just a few days before we left on a father-son climb of 23,000 ft Aconcagua in Argentina. We have had many grand adventures together, along with our other children. I shall always remember and find joy and take comfort from reading the inscriptions patiently engraved on this wallet. It is a treasure. Sometimes when I feel a little down, a little bewildered, I take it out and read it. It helps ground me again. Like the scriptures. It reminds me I can do hard things. Thanks Chris.
To see the world, things dangerous to come to.
To see behind walls, to draw closer.
To find each other and to feel.
And I have not watched Walter Mitty more than 10 times this mission.
A few weeks ago on P day we drove across the Sura-Madu bridge to the island of Madura on the recommendation of a friend to visit a supposedly close and lovely beach called Camplong out past the town of Sampang.
Lovely sandy beach, yes. Clean, definitely not. We were the only ones on the beach and the only ones swimming. What do the locals know that we do not? Maybe I don't want to know. The water was delightfully warm, the bottom sandy, and it was nice. Sadly no sizeable waves. Here looking south toward the Javanese area of Probolinggo and parts further east.
A day proselyting on splits with Elders Chou and Peterson in Barat. Always one of the highlights of our week. Strolling our bikes through the gangs talking to whomever is out front. Usually not difficult to strike up conversations with almost anyone. Finding someone willing to learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ always more difficult.
A beautiful family recently baptized in Barat Branch. Brother Patris, his wife Anni and their cute daughter Putri. From NTT out in eastern Indonesia. They have such wonderful spirit. Here with their good friend, Brother Yohannes, and Elders Gartz and Davies (from Manchester England), and Sisters Sarwono and Wihanda.
Indonesian chicks. Must be a new variety of Easter chickens.
The expected gang of curious kids. Usually very little "bule shock" with kids.
One of our most loved jobs here is to try to track down "lost" members. About 90 minutes southwest from here is a smaller city named Mojokerto. We found this man, Sudarmono, and his wife and brand new baby. He was baptized as a child, and has never been back to church. When we visited, he rummaged in back and found his baptismal certificate. Probably not coincidentally, his pastor walked up the path and into his house within moments of our arrival. We had a slightly tense discussion about the basic tenets of our belief, discussing the first few Articles of Faith with all, focusing on the Pastor, but Brother Sudarmono was rapt. His wife was not at all interested. We will go back in the next couple of weeks. There are two other families there not seen in years. We also visited another member living there from Malang, again not active in 20+ years after marrying a Moslem woman, a common occurance here unfortunately. His brother is a Counselor in the Malang Presidency.
After a Priesthood Council in Malang 2 weeks ago, I took everyone out for burgers, Indo-style. The place is a small hole in the wall called "Burger Shot", and they serve a pretty good burger as these things go here. Not Carls Jr-worthy, but pretty good. Good fries too. Lots of napkins needed...always a good sign. 5 people ate for about 225,000 rupiah, about $18. Brother Handoko (RM, District Exec Secty), and President Hadi. Also ubiquitous Peter, our driver.
The kitchen help at the burger joint. Imagine working in a kitchen over a greasy grill top in clothing like this.
Sister Williams doing what she does best. We went to teach a lesson to a part-member family with the FTM's. After a few minutes we realized Sister Williams was not there. We found her just outside sitting on the stairs surrounded by kids and moms. They love her.
We have adopted a cute little Moslem family across the street from the Barat chapel. Below are Aci and her two daughters. We have helped them acquire some dental care.
A street-side open air market. These chickens have been sitting out in the Javanese sun all day and are looking a little grey. McNuggets anyone? Nevertheless, always fun to drive slowly, or better yet, walk through these markets. Hard to be anonymous here, but fun to just look, watch and take photos.
We are having fun with our YSA group here. 10 young adults last time from all three branches. Swimming, then Indo food at Solaria followed by Dunkin Donuts. They love it. We had our first planning meeting tonight with the YSA leaders from the two Surabaya branches. We are training them to run this themselves, focusing on the 4 main purposes of YSA groups. They are so excited to learn square dancing from the Hansen's when they arrive in Surabaya next month.
My next Halloween costume. Vivo is a cell phone brand. I wanted to just knock em over. But restrained myself.
So I just had to take a pic of this. Indonesian censorship of the French cable channel Monde. Content was deemed not appropriate. Dying to know what it was.
I recently watched video of some Moslem religious enforcers/thugs recently tearing up restaurants who dared to stay open during the Moslem fasting month Ramadhan. Pancasila and religious freedom is just an ideal with very little footing in reality in Indonesia.
A couple of weeks ago on P day we drove into the mountains near Batu to some waterfalls. At a pertigaan I just had to stop to take a picture of a statue of cows being milked. Not sure why, but you don't ever see this sort of thing.
Who doesn't like sate? Ever had sate kelinci or sate kuda? Rabbit or horse? PETA doesn't get a lot of press around here.
A lovely small village in the mountains above Batu. A big cultivated field of hydrangeas in the foreground, surrounded by red-tiled roofs and a pretty mosque in the background.
Sister Williams has explored more bathrooms than anyone. This one did not pass muster.
A note to me...never name your pizza restaurant Panties Pizza. I can't get that image out of my brain.
Indonesians have developed many uses for hot dogs. And are quite artistic. I never envisioned making my hot dog look like an octopus. I ordered a chef's salad.
And below is a menu at a mall restaurant in Malang. The item on the right is kulit ayam goreng, fried chicken skin. We walked out without ordering. We're not opposed to chicken skin. It serves a purpose. I usually like something akin to chicken flesh under my chicken skin. Maybe I have seen too many grey, sun-baked, plucked and head-on chicken carcasses proudly displayed in the day-old chicken section of my neighborhood open air market.
It's hard to find something not fried here.
Below is a novel dispensing idea. I think it's a great idea. For dispensing dressings, condiments, etc, you just squeeze the dispenser like you are milking a cow, and out comes your product. I think it's genius. Of course, they all thought I was one crazy bule for being fascinated. Had to try them all. The problem was I wasn't eating here. But they were patient.
So Sister Williams and I have been reassigned to the city of Malang starting in September. We have spent 2-3 days looking at multiple properties to rent there. Almost all funky, dirty, in gross disrepair. Here we walked out on the front deck of one rental to find this lovely mess. Then we looked up. We were looking at bat guano. Fruit bats. Although this property did have a 1980's karaoke stage in the living room. Seems like a fair trade-off.
Now wouldn't you think that a landlord who wanted to rent his house would spend a little to clean up the mess, cut grass, chop weeds, paint, clean toilets, screen windows, fix doors and falling ceilings, sweep the floor and knock down down the ant hills (inside the house)? It simply doesn't happen here. We have a hard time seeing past the grunge and filth and dilapidation. Guess that's why I am not a flipper.
Have to find a new mattress and bed. Putting 'em to the test.
Furniture here is notoriously uncomfortable. Here I found a cheap but thickly cushioned and very comfortable recliner. For studying. Cost is 3,300,000 rupiahs, about $246. President Rhama was so very kind to show us around for 3 days.
Street scene in old Surabaya. The old and the modern.
Peter's wife Vivi and her new baby daughter, Aleysia Eleanor Prahari, born about 2 weeks ago. Both doing well.
Peter the good daddy. Every dad in the world gives horsey rides. Axel is a handful.
Davis, a little boy born two months ago to Sister Okky and Brother Deddy. We challenged them to prepare for the Temple next year.
Sam recently posted on FB a photo of goats on a motorcycle. We have seen all manner of goods transported here. Some of them comical...balloons (he was going surprisingly fast) and chickens, and other times crazy and dangerous (larges plates of window glass, 20 car tires, 20 foot bamboo or steel pipes.
We are also buying a few simple pieces of furniture for the new house in Malang. Rattan and cane is cheap. Seems pretty good quality too. But their marketing and displays need some work. The front half of the store sits perched on very rusting, see-through, steel plates looking down onto the most smelly and disgusting open fetid sewers I have seen in a while, and the mosquitoes and odors chased me back to the car.
From smelly to sublime (and sometimes smelly). Kid Time!
Little Hope applying SPF 50 to her mommy.
Chris and grand-kids James and Lily at our house out back at the fire pit. Hot dogs on a stick. Wow, I am having such happy flash-backs.
Hope and friend.
Love the attitude. Happy Birthday Malia and gang.
Macaroons with Dad. Love you guys.
How can a delayed flight be bad with Lily?
James steals the show at a recent wedding. He has an eye for blondes. I see him Dancing With the Stars, or more likely he will Be the Star.