Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Jogjakarta becak drivers are dressing up these days.  Putting on the dog for the tourists.  

Sister Williams always looks beautiful.  And she always told me she hated convertibles!

I have calf envy.  This driver is 62 years old.  Has been doing this job most of his life.  We paid 20,000 rupiahs (about $1.40) per becak for a trip taking about 15 minutes from the Tugu train station to the Church building.  

I was born on a bike.  

We attended a Church wedding for Brother Handoko and Sister Ezra in the Malang chapel.  Pres Sugeng is officiating.  They are both Returned Missionaries.  They plan to live in Malang.  They will be a boon to the Branch.  Handoko is in University and is computer literate.  He is the Branch Clerk presently.  

An East Java tradition which was just squelched is for the Branch President to place his hands on their individual heads and give them each a Priesthood Blessing as an integral part of the Church ceremony.  This practice has since been discontinued.  They plan to attend the Manila Temple in a year.  Not clear why they did not plan on doing this now.  The Mission Presidency just clarified for all that in Indonesia a civil wedding is considered lawful and legal at the time of their Church ceremony.  Up until now the couple has been instructed that they should wait until after the Government has issued their formal marriage documents, a process which may take days to months.  They may now start living together as husband and wife immediately after the ceremony.  

In Indonesian custom, the couple is very conservative in the Church wedding.  The kiss after pronouncement of marriage is typically a kiss on the forehead or cheek.  Minimal touching between couples in public is seen, ever. 

Sister Desy and her mother who works as a maid in Hong Kong but is home briefly on holiday, at the wedding reception.  Desy is one of our YSA who is here in University, but has never responded to any of our invitations to participate.  It was nice meeting her.  She speaks English quite well. 

Karaoke is hugely popular here, and no one is self conscious at all.  Vocal talent has nothing whatsoever to do with participation.  There is no word for "self-conscious" in the Indonesian language.  Karaoke forms a frequent part of many celebrations.  Some use karaoke machines, but often just a piano is used, or acapella.  Below are Brothers Iwan, Kadek, Momon and Nanlohi.

Our wonderful driver, Ari, with his family, Lilit, Chloe and Eka.  Sister Williams' goal is to somehow convince Chloe to allow Sister Williams to hold her before she goes home to Oregon.  It's not looking hopeful.  She, like many Indo kids, are quite shy and remarkably addicted to their parents until a few years old. 

Brother Iwan Santoso, former Branch and District President, together with his wife, Mistri, and family.  Their oldest daughter is on her way to serve in one of the Las Angeles California Missions.  

Below is the happy couple.  And also Handoko and Ezra. 

Many young Indonesian children are totally adorable.  Look at these cuties in their wedding dresses.  

Sister Ely, Brother Supono's wife, with her 3 children on the family motorcycle.  A typical sight here.  At least they all have helmets.  This is one of my Home Teaching families here.  My companion and I love visiting them.  

We visited Jakarta for a Saturday training with Elder Funk, the Asia Area 70's President along with Elder Chen, our Area 70 from Malaysia, in early January.   All Mission, Stake and District Priesthood leaders from Java were there along with invited Bishops, Quorum leaders and High Counselors in Jakarta Stake.  I traveled with Pres Rhama.  We ate great fish and chips and virgin mojito in a local mall.  Also managed to find a Cold Stone Ice Cream store.  Oh, and the training was good too.  

While visiting in Surabaya 2 a few weeks ago young Ephraim was baptized by his father, Brother Feri.  We have known them for over a year.  Elder and Sister Hansen also with us.  It was a happy time.   

Sister Williams took this pic while I was in Jakarta.  How funny is this?  Even funnier, the stenciled sign on the lower right of the tailgate says "Prohibited to carry people." Goats are ok, just not goats and people together.  

Sister Williams also spent some time learning knitting with Sister Sioe Gan, the wife of a prior Branch President.  She is the sister of Effian Kadarusman, who Elder Steven Taylor and I taught and baptized with his lovely wife Mary in Malang in early 1974. 

Sister Williams admiring local Moslem fashion.  Somehow, almost all of the dummys/manekins here look Caucasian. 

We took 4 days and took the train to Central Java last month to visit the other MLS couple serving with us in Indonesia, Elder Mel and Sister Julie Jeffreys, in Magelang.  It was an 8 hour train ride on the premium, eksekutiv train from Malang to Yogyakarta.  However, not so premium.  250,000 Rp (about $18-19) per person.  The views were nice however, and it was nice to travel by train again.  This was the dominant means of inter-city travel back in the day.  Picture quality not so good through dirty windows, but beautiful scenery.  You better like the color green. 

In Magelang we spent a few hours teaching investigators with the Jefferys and the young missionaries, Elder Eyre and his companion. It felt like old times sitting next to Elder Jeffery, teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, only now sitting on the floor is a lot harder for this old man, and I can see a bit more of Elder Jeffery's head.  We often sit on the hard concrete floor.  Furniture is expensive and homes are small and hard to accommodate.  We often sit on their sleeping mattress.  It was hot and humid. I was sweating buckets. Nevertheless the young Elders taught a wonderful lesson on the Holy Ghost and prayer.  These wonderful people mostly came to Church the next day. 

The Magelang Branch President, Ari, also the Jeffrey's driver, joined in the discussion. 

Looking down and watching what missionaries do... 

So after a wonderful Sunday Church service filled to overflowing, and a Branch fireside on Temple Preparation in the afternoon at the Jeffery's home followed by a meal with Investigators cooked by Sister Jeffery and Sister Williams, we attacked Mt Merapi very early the next morning, Monday.  Elder J and I flanked by the four young Elders departed at 4 AM and hit the trailhead at 5:30 AM before sunrise.  It was beautiful.  

Elder J and I after about 1/3 of the ascent.

A great pic of Elder Eyre going out on a limb to get a cool photo certain to become his future Facebook picture. A sister volcano, Mt Merbabu, in the background to the north.  

Without a doubt, the most sandy, slippery, scree-min' climb I have ever made.  The fact that I am 62 and out of shape didn't help, but this was a bugger.  More slippery than Kilimanjaro or Shasta or Aconcagua.  I had a piece of bamboo as a walking stick which was of no help here.  Basically I scaled this on all 4's.  Not fun, this part anyway.  Mel climbed this like a monkey.  He was impressive, especially in light of the fact he had just climbed this with his visiting sons a week before.  If it were me, I never would have considered doing it again a week later, let alone cheerfully submitting like the gracious host he is.  I poured about a pound of sand and gravel out of each shoe after descent down to the site of a base camp called Ghost Market.

Below is the top rim of Mt Merapi (Indonesian for mountain of fire), 2930 meters high.  Frequent and usually fatal explosive eruptions and pyroclastic flows every few years. Most recently in 2010 killing 30 people.  The peak lost 38 meters of height after the last eruption.

To the left below is the sheer drop-off into the very deep crater...seconds lapsed after chucking rocks into the crater before we heard any repercussion...  The wind blows up the northern face from the valley to the right.  Smoke and fumes and steam rise from the crater to the left.  The guides all suggest limiting rim time to 15-20 minutes.  Something about sulfuric acid being bad for you.  

Interesting fauna on the trail. I use the term trail quite loosely.  Indonesian trails are vertical.  There is no Indonesian word for switchback.  The trails are very deeply gouged, sometimes over your head, and jumbled with large stones and roots.  If it's raining, it is treacherous and very slick in the lower 2/3rds where dirt and mud prevail.  My legs were screaming, quivering by the time I hobbled into the parking lot.  Somehow I managed to keep my feet under me the entire trip, with some near-misses.  

The sign is holding me up after a long descent, and I don't know why I am smiling.  I was in agony. I was good for nothing for a week after the trek.  

So we have a local feline who has adopted us, probably because Sister Williams frequently chucks any dead pond fish out in front of our house.  I feel like a commercial for Little Friskies some days.  We call her Mollie 2.

Nature is awesome and abundantly in evidence here in this primal place.  Two weeks ago during an intense early afternoon lightning and thunder storm accompanied by rain that I thought was going to shred our plexiglass carport, we saw a bright flash, immediately heard an shockingly loud boom and felt a strong concussive shock out in front of our house perhaps 30 yards away.  Below you see the outcome of hundreds of millions of volts striking a single fixed object, in this case a tall tree.  It was toast. It literally exploded as Sister Williams happened to be watching out her bedroom window.  

By the next day the local golf course had workers out chain-sawing it up and stacking it out of the way.  This while the local neighborhood landscape crew pull weeds out of the community flower beds, mostly devoid of flowers.  

We continue to enjoy our time with the Branch Young Single Adults.  Two weeks ago we had an evening of  French toast and ice cream, Jingga and Pictionary.  We discussed President Uchtdorf's article in the Ensign about navigating through life's storms and turbulence keeping our eyes and hearts focused on the Savior and his Gospel.  

Notice that people often wear jackets indoors.  Granted, we had the AC on the room, but they often are seen wearing long pants, long shirts, jackets, head-scarves, hats, gloves, even on blistering hot, sunny days. 

We were astonished at Virginia's elaborate drawing just to get people to say "eating spaghetti."  Art is a required and emphasized part of school curriculum here. 

We invited all of the missionaries to our home for P Day festivities two weeks ago.  This consisted of  basically herding the tilapia into one corner of the pond using a large fishing net and then scooping them up with another net.  Somehow this seemed to cause many logistical problems coordinating everyone. It was an interesting social experiment to stand back and let them figure it out for themselves. Eventually I got hungry and helped them.  

Each missionary had to clean and gut and scale their own fish, then grill them on our charcoal grill.  

But it was worth it.  They tasted so good, served with curried veggies and rice and watermelon and chocolate cake.  Elder Sukarno ate 3 fish heads I think. I have never seen a little man eat so much food!  We played Jingga and had a nice time with them all.  Below is Sister Solomon, Sister Jatmiko, Elder Lieske, Elder Sukarno, Elder Bell and Elder ArisBudi. 

I went out searching for lost members recently with Ari our driver. Our search led us into a poor, river-side neighborhood in down-town Malang.  It looks so picturesque, although close-up it is pretty squalid.  Yet the people are nice and the little kids are so cute!

A still-functioning hand pump, used by locals.  Definitely not potable water. 

Our Mission President asks us to always have a Book of Mormon in our hands as we go out in public, always ready to invite people to learn about the Savior and his Restored Church.  

The pointing is my idea.

We were able to find the member in question.  A woman baptized with her family when young.  Her father, Brother Boimin, is still very active and has been to the Temple, but she married a Moslem 20 years ago and now attends mosque.  She was polite but refused our invitation to come back. We left her with a Gospel message and a prayer.  
So, as Sister Williams detailed in her recent letter home, we were assigned by President Donald to visit Branches in Manado and Medan for purposes of performing the semi-annual financial audit, interviewing men for the Melchizedek Priesthood, reorganizing an Elders Quorum, and conducting missionary preparation training and meeting with the local YSA.  

In the airport we saw the following sign suggesting it was not a good idea to say the word "bom."  Bad things may happen otherwise.  It is also routine on Lion Air, as part of the pre-flight safety shpeel, to warn that if you carry drugs you may suffer punishment of death, all delivered cheerfully as though you were being invited to join their Frequent Flier program.  

While in Manado, we were asked to make some purchases to furnish a new Sister missionary apartment.  We ended up not doing this after viewing the proposed home and finding it rather unhealthy and disgusting.  We visited the Elders apartment which was much better except for the universal problem of roof leaks.  The clay tiles get moved by wind or cats or ghosts, and the ceiling tiles rot and leak all over whatever is below, sometimes adjacent to the ceiling electric light...shudder.  In this case the rain falls onto their outdoor LPG stove. We are getting this repaired. 

We are also replacing their old washing machine which leaks.  

We admire the hard work and sacrifice of the Manado Branch Presidency, BML and Clerk. President Lang is in the center standing next to me.  

Photos are a standard part of any visit.  Some of the members of the Manado Branch.  I will always remember President Lang's Manado cheer.  I mean a real cheer, just like in High School, delivered right in Sunday School Class..."Manado...Yes!   Manado...Yes, Yes, Yes!"   I loved the Spirit and enthusiasm.  "Hurrah for Israel!!!"

We stayed four nights at the Grand Luley Hotel in Manado, a nice quiet and upscale hotel resort right on the coast.  There is no beach, but a nice pool and a long quiet boardwalk walk out to the little harbor where they moor the resort diving boats.  We can walk through a big mangrove forest.  We were the only guests there for three days. Not another soul in the pool!  A few mosquitos, but manageable. 

A lovely Sunday evening view from the pier toward Bunaken Island and adjacent islands, lovely sandy islands where the diving is supposed to be spectacular.  I behaved, Pres Donald. 

"Red Right Returning" is the water navigation rule we learn in North America, except that will land you on the rocks in Asia.  Here it is the opposite.  Airplanes keep our Nav Light conventions, however.  

Kid Time...Yes, Yes, Yes!!!!!!!!!!

Uncle Peter visiting the Fam in Tucson

Again in Tucson.  Chris' Birthday meal at Wildflower.  Wish we were there. We love the food.  Happy Birthday Son.

Baby Emmett In El Paso. We're so full of anticipation. 

Hope and Daddy Sam.  

This beautiful young woman is Malia.  Isn't she gorgeous, just out of her braces? So sweet.  

Like mother, like daughter.  Two lovely women. 

Move over, Tony Hawk. 

Sam's (slightly early) Birthday feast.  No way you ate all that!

Our Tucson kids. 

Peter selfie at the Provo Temple.  Love you better, Petter.  

Wish you could see this video.  Attitude has a new name. 

Love to all.  See you soon.  

Dad and Mom

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