Friday, December 4, 2015

Merry Christmas Season from Indonesia!  Below is the original Poinsettia plant.  They get quite large as you can see.  They grow like this year-round here. 

They are building a new golf course near our Malang home.  On a clear day you can see all the surrounding volcanoes smoking.  It's peaceful and beautiful and quiet out here.  I love to bike up here. 

Pasar Burung (Bird Market) is near the Church building in downtown Malang.  Formerly called Pasar Bunga (Flower Market) when I lived here in 1973.  Now largely converted to an open air pet market, with all manner of animals and birds, cages, pet food and the like.  Sister Williams likes coming here occasionally, and we buy our fish food here. 

Below are a moderately large lizard called a "tokay".  They make a loud croaking sound, quite easily discernible. They can bite.  A beautiful baby blue with red spots.  They often live inside homes in the rafters.  I inadvertantly leaned back into one on the wall 40 years ago while I was studying...both of us croaked. 

Remember the story of the local man collecting ant eggs from high in the trees?  Below you see them, used as bird food.  The local vendor was eating them.  He offered me some.  I politely left them to the birds. 

Below is Dandi, a 30 year old single man who lives with his mother, Sugiarti.  We recently brought her back into activity, and he is now being taught by the missionaries. He runs a small laundry with 3 washing machines.  He washes and dries and irons.  He's tall by Indonesian standards.  He loves his mother. 

Below is Gwan Sun Lauw and his family.  He lost his right leg 20 years ago in an accident.  We recently reactivated him, and in the process introduced his son, sister-in-law and niece to the church.  They were baptized last month.  As with most Indonesians, they are not of much means.  He gets around on a bicycle through the hilly Malang streets.  Imagine biking with one leg on a 40 year old single speed bike.  We have seen him also pedaling his wife and sister-in-law on the bike as passengers, and sometimes beats us to some destinations.  

We gave him his first, brand new, white missionary shirt from the Missionary Mall store in Orem, along with a Moroni tie. We presented them to him at his family's baptism.  He now always wears them to Church.  

Below is a wonderful Moslem family and their friends Sister Williams met at English class.  They invited us to their home.  We visited and taught them about "putting on the whole armor of God."  It was well-received.  We felt a soft and friendly spirit, and we will be going back again.  Sister Williams adores the little girl on the right, Caca (pronounced cha-cha).  She has remarkably good English pronunciation and is so sweet. 

We attended a Senior Missionary Couple Conference for 2 days in Jakarta 2 weeks ago.  We spent a day at the Taman Safari zoo in Bogor.  

Below you see the Mens bathroom.  Cool idea about using smooth river rock.  And who needs room freshener?  Just don't install windows. 

Below a huge Nile Crocodile.  Jeffrey's, Baird's and Mitchell's making their best crocodile faces.  

They have an Indonesian version of a Wild West Cowboy and Indian show.  It loses a lot in translation. 

So, in case you wonder if Senior Missionaries have any rules, the following picture sequence should answer that. (The young missionary white book covers about 90 pages, the Senior missionary section 2 pages).  Common sense, sometimes in short supply, directed by the Spirit, is usually the guiding principle.


Lots of leg pressure, bordering on pain.  Closest to an elephant massage I ever want to be. 

If it cuts me any slack, I will tell you President Donald went first. 

Have I ever told you that I like Orangutans?

Has Sister Williams ever told you she likes kitties?

We watched the last few moments of the lumba-lumba (dolphin) show.  Watching the other spectators was way more fun.  These women from Saudi Arabia and Oman found the show about as interesting as we did.  Maybe because they had a limited view.  They enjoyed their phones more. 

One of the Arabian women was on her honeymoon with her enormous entourage.  She was not veiled.  Sister Williams struck up a conversation with her, and they quickly discovered that English was the best medium.  We admired her henna tattoos. 

While in Jakarta we took an opportunity to visit with Suharto who currently lives in Tangerang with his family.  I met Suharto when he was a young man while my companion, Elder Steven Taylor and I were traveling on the train from Surabaya to Malang in the Fall of 1973.  I was just learning Indonesian, and he knew some English.  During our conversation I introduced the Church. He was immediately interested, having read about the Church in a magazine some years earlier. After missionary discussions, I baptized him in February 1974, and he became the very first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Malang Indonesia.  Within a couple of years a Branch was formed in Malang, and Suharto became the 2nd full time Indonesian missionary, called to serve in his own country in the Spring of 1975.  

1974 photo of young Elder Williams, young Brother Suharto, and some other Investigators in Malang.

Below is a recent photo in the Senopati backyard with Mel and Julie Jeffrey (current Sr missionaries in Magelang; Elder Jeffrey and I were District companions in Bandung and Jakarta in 1974-75), President Juswan and Sister Aischa Tandiman (Elder Ralph Zobell and I taught and baptized her mother Frau Meyer in Jakarta; Juswan is a former Mission President and is now the Jakarta Stake Patriarch), and far right is Brother Paul Simanungkalit who works in the Indonesia Service Center and was Brother Suharto's Bishop in the past. 

Below is a precious book, for many reasons.  This is the actual, English Book of Mormon I gave to Hart after his baptism in 1974. Remember the old, bright blue, soft cover BOM with the golden angel Moroni on the cover?  The cover is now lost, but the rest remains, somewhat tattered and well-read.  

Through some sad and unfortunate circumstances, Suharto is not currently a member of the Church.  He has married a lovely Moslem woman and has 4 children, the youngest a teenager.  He has grandchildren.  He is a nurse practitioner and sees patients from the village in his home. He very much wishes to rejoin the Church, and continues to read his Book of Mormon and prays daily.  In Indonesia, the government requires both marriage partners to be of the same religion, and so sadly this is a common occurrence where Christian marriage partners for Church members has been so very limited.  

During our visit we shared some precious memories and feelings, bore our testimonies, and we gave him a Priesthood Blessing that through his faithfulness and example, at some time he would have the happy, unified, eternal family he desires.  

You can see his mission photo below.  He is kneeling in the front row.  In the back row are President Hendrik Gout, as well as Elders Rowley, Halleck, Westenskow and Allen, companions or District companions of mine. 

Below are some unusual food choices one sees in the supermarket here.  Milk-flavored sunflower seeds.  Eggs in many varieties.  The eggs here stink.  I mean really stink; rotten stink.  I walk 2 aisles around them in the grocery store to avoid the smell.  The are not refridgerated.  Here you see salty eggs, eggs baked in ash, smoked, duck and quail eggs. 

This past week we celebrated Thanksgiving.  We have two American missionaries serving here with us in Malang.  Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday.  I am not aware of a holiday like it anywhere else. We invited our Indonesian driver, Ari, to participate also along with his small family, and our twp native Indonesian Elders also.  

Last year in Surabaya we had only been in country for less than a month, and had a tiny condominium kitchen with no stove, so our Thanksgiving feast involved taking 12 young missionaries to Pizza Hut.

This year, we happened upon a local member who has a small turkey flock, 4 birds, who was willing to part with two of them for the large Indonesian price of IDR 450,000 per bird (about $32).  So two days before Thanksgiving Day Ari and I drove to her home out of town, and there slit the necks, bled and plucked and butchered the birds.  By we, I mean Ari.  

My surgeon skills (I am not a surgeon) came into play as I used my tweezers to try and pluck the last of the feathers from the birds.  

After the feathers and innards were removed, we were left with two scrawny birds. No sage or poultry seasoning is to be found here, but Thankfully, we found boxes of Stove Top stuffing here in some Western specialty markets. Sister Williams did a masterful job of cooking the birds in our counter-top Barbie oven, using oven bags which worked pretty well.  The birds were very fatty, not much meat, but she made some wonderful gravy.  And we found Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, unheard of here. 

Sister Williams was wonderful.  She made yeasty dinner rolls, chocolate cake with homemade buttery frosting, green beans, candied carrots.  I made Close Encounters mashed potatoes, lots of butter.   And of course wonderful cashew stuffing.  It was wonderful. Lots of work. Maybe Pizza Hut was a good idea.  

We played Jinga after eating (you can tell by how I am sitting).  Elders Shaner, Lieske, Ngikku and Sukarno.  The missionaries watched 15 minutes of BYU football highlights (BYU vs Fresno State) on my lap-top.  It isn't Thanksgiving without a little football.  

A few pics follow of my low budget solution to Sr missionary mental health.  An hour on my bike every day keeps me mostly sane and happy. And maybe helps keep me from outgrowing my trousers and shirts, although my pockets and buttons are pulling.  

These shots are from an adjacent golf course and our housing development.  Quiet, pretty, reasonably kept up. The evening cloudy mists this time of year are neat. (I sat in an ants nest, I discovered).

Scriptures or smooth jazz on my Ipod. 

Elder and Sister Hansen from Surabaya and Brother Peter Bushi from India, our Asia Area Family History Manager, visited Malang for a few hours last week for training of the Branch Presidency and the three families attending the Temple from Malang next February.  We hosted them in our home overnight.  Twas nice to have some house guests.  

Several times I have traveled on the Public bus from Malang to Surabaya and back, when I have District or Mission business to perform and Sister Williams has business to attend to in Malang Branch.  I rather enjoy taking this public transportation. It is very much a "planes, trains and automobiles" type of travel day...a mix of bus, taxi and ojek (motorcycle taxi), always starting very early, and usually arriving home in the evening at dusk.  Every public bus has its multitude of sellers and purveyors of all manner of food, trinkets, newspapers, flash lights or pens, and even serenading guitar players who get on and off the buses seemingly at will and without paying any fare.  

We are now in the rainy season.  And as we have told you before, not just lazy soft rain. It is heavy beating rain and wind, sometimes blowing sideways and knocking down trees, flooding streets.  Often accompanied by crashing thunder and lightning strikes. We love it.  Below is a pic of our fish pond in a rain storm.  We wonder what the fish think of the storms. By the way, our several hundred tilapia fishlings are growing rapidly.  Unfortunately, so is our fondness for them all. We like watching them.  They give us joy as we sit and watch their territorial behaviors. Now we face a moral dilemma. We bought their parents intending to eat them.  

Below are Fandi and his wife Caroline and her son Hita.  Fandi and Hita were baptized last month.  Sister Williams has worked tirelessly with Caroline and her mother Sister Endang in Surabaya. What a joy to see this family now united in their shared Christian faith, knowing that through obedience and faith and grace they can be saved together as an eternal family through sacred Priesthood blessings.  

One other side benefit of bike riding, Sister Williams gets fresh flowers many days, and Elder Williams gets a happy Sister Williams.  Plumeria are wonderful.  They have saved our olfactory lives on many occasions. 

Would you call a real estate agent named Fang Fang?

My standard position in the front passenger seat.  Many, many hours in this position.  I will never call "shotgun" again.  Sister Williams usually in the backseat with her eyes closed in the insane traffic.  

KID TIME, our favorite time!

Marc and the Central Point grandkids enjoying a famous Oregon Fall Day.  

Chief Ephraim at Thanksgiving

Sister Hope.  The Sister missionaries in El Paso made a call. 

Mal, Ella and Eli at the St Louis zoo on a recent vacation. 

Who can forget this classic Peter pic?

Below is one of our favorite pics of Annie and lovely Lily.

Miss you, Love you, Pray for you. 

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