Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Elder James is finally in Indonesia!

I am sending this email from the mission home, and it is just a quick message letting you know that I have made it here safe!

I cannot even describe with words what it is like here. We went right out once we got here and walked around. It is INSANE!!!! If you thought Rome was bad with all the motorcycles, you would wet your pants here. I thought we were going to die multiple times. Also, since there were nine guys, including the APs, all with white shirts, we stood out a ton! Everyone was staring at us, taking pictures, and laughing. They are all very nice though! Especially when they realize that you are nice too. But holy cow... our P-day is on Monday, so I will tell you much more then.

The Mission President and his Wife are great. She made us some amazing Indonesian food, and had us try some crazy fruit. So good! And I just finished my interview with President, and he was very nice. He was worried about the storm, but I told him you were all okay. 

Well, I can only write a small message, but I miss you guys a ton, and I can't wait to send you pictures of all the crazy things that happen here!

-Elder James

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Traveling to Jakarta

We had the pleasure of talking to Elder James two times this week while he was traveling to Jakarta, Indonesia. On Monday night he called from the Salt Lake City airport. I was nervous as it was getting later and later and his flight's departure was getting closer and closer. He finally called, but only had about 10 or 15 minutes to visit. They decided that they wanted to get Cafe Rio (a favorite local restaurant in Utah and now in the airport) to take and eat on the plane. I found out later that it was in the other terminal and they almost missed their flight! They arrived at the gate 10 minutes before the plane took off! They said it was worth it. Can you imagine, nine elders missing their flight because of Cafe Rio?

They flew from SLC to LA Monday night and had a short layover where they had to check in for their international flight. They took Cathay Pacific from LA to Hong Kong. Elder James said it was such a nice airline with great service and yummy food. When he sat down, he decided to take his jacket off and put it up in the overhead bin. The flight attendant saw him and hurried over to get it. She took it, hung it up and gave it to him at the end of the flight. It was a 17 hour flight and he was able to sleep most of the time, despite the fact that he was in between two Chinese businessmen that were speaking Chinese. He said that a lot of the flight attendants were from Malaysia and spoke Malay (very similar to Indonesian). He loved being able to talk with them. He said he did a pretty good job except for one gentleman who spoke very fast. He was woken up once by the flight attendant when she gave him noodles in the middle of the night, and he said it was really good. They had some kind of porridge for breakfast that is made of mashed up rice. 

They arrived in Hong Kong at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 31 and he was able to call once again. It was a huge surprise, as I didn't think he was going to call again. I was thankful that we had given him our Net2Phone calling card information for Hong Kong. It is a great phone company that we have had for years where you put money in your account and can call from all over the world with different access numbers. Others used calling cards they purchased in the MTC and weren't able to call as easily. We were able to talk for about 30 minutes while he was at the airport, until he needed to go back through security. He said he loved the Hong Kong airport. They had some yummy ramen noodles with scallops (he's all about food, so we always hear what he eats).

Elder James spoke to us in Indonesian and bore his testimony about the Book of Mormon. It was wonderful to hear him speak this foreign language!

He should arrive in Indonesia at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31. Because of the International Date Line, he completely missed Tuesday, October 30th. But, I think he is okay about skipping a day. He is more excited than I have ever heard him and that makes me excited for him. Although I miss him with all my heart, I am proud of where he is and what he is doing to serve the Lord. I am grateful I got to hear his voice and can't wait until Christmas. I will not need any presents this year!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 8 - Last week in the MTC


This will be the last letter I send from the MTC! We received our travel plans last Thursday and I am leaving Monday, the 29th. We check into the travel office at 4:30pm, and our flight leaves at 8:05pm! Luckily, our group is not one of the ones who leaves super early in the morning. We fly to Los Angeles at 8:05pm, arrive at 9:05pm, leave to Honk Kong at 11:15pm on the 29th, and arrive at 5:55am on the 31st! Isn't that crazy? We basically skip a day because we cross the International Date Line. We will leave Hong Kong and fly to Jakarta, Indonesia at 9:30am, and will arrive at 1:20pm. We will be greeted by the Mission President and his wife, go to the Mission home to eat, and then rest a bit. After that, we will most likely go out shopping to get a few things, and spend the night in the mission home! I am incredibly excited to go. I’m sure this week will go by slowly!

Thank you for all the packages and letters I have gotten. I love everything that has been sent, and I feel very blessed to have so much support! Aunt Karen, thank you so much for the English Toffee! It was really, really good! Aunt Leslie, thank you for the letters and the Halloween package you sent! I also loved all the messages from all my fantastic cousins! Thank you to Grandma James for the pillow and snacks, they will come in great handy as I travel so far. Thank you all so much!

The MTC was pretty good this past week. We are really improving with the language, and we pretty much feel that we are ready to go. Our teachers are trying to teach us as much as they can, and we keep asking them for stories in the Mission field. They tell us some pretty insane stories, and I can't wait to have my own so I can tell all of you! Last Wednesday, our District was assigned to host the new Missionaries. There was not a huge group of people coming in, but we each were able to host about two Missionaries, and it was a lot of fun. I hosted two who were both going to different places in South America, Spanish speaking. It felt very strange to host new Missionaries, because it felt like just yesterday when I was one of them.

On Thursday, as I said earlier, we were expecting our travel plans. It honestly felt like Christmas! The day went by so slowly, and when dinner finally came, we were able to get them! We were very relieved that we all had plane tickets, because sometimes one or two Elders in a District have problems with visas and such, and they have to wait in the MTC until they are approved. I have heard of some Missionaries staying an additional three weeks! So all went well. 

We had TRC this past Saturday, which is where we teach members in the language, and try to help them with anything we can. This week it went really well. My Companion and I taught two people, one a wonderful return Missionary, and the other, a lady who was from Indonesia, but is living in Utah! It was very humbling to teach a real Indonesian, and I think we did a pretty good job with the language. It really is so strange to learn a new language, because I mix Indonesian and English all the time! Our District loves it, because unlike some other languages in the MTC, there are only nine speakers of Indonesian. So we can pretty much say anything in front of anyone, and they will have no idea what we are saying! It is like a kid’s dream, where you and your friends have a secret language that no one else can speak!

Sunday was our second to last one here in the MTC, and it went well. Our Branch is very cool, and everyone in it is super nice! The devotional Sunday night was also really good, and we gained great advice for the mission field.

On Monday, our District's good friends, the Missionaries going to Madagascar, left. There were only four of them, Elder Arrington, Elder Ham, Elder Horne, and Elder Evans. They were on our same floor in the classrooms. They would always play Volleyball with us during Gym time, and we all had a lot of fun together. Elder Horne and Evans were our Zone Leaders, and I got to know them very well. We will miss them, and we wish them the best of luck in Madagascar!

Today was quite sad, because it was the last time we were able to go to the Temple for the next two years. I realized it on Sunday, and I promised myself that I would pay as much attention as I could. It was a great experience! I really felt the spirit, and it helped prepare me for the departure to Indonesia.

Well, I have run out of time, but the next time I email, I will be in Indonesia! I hope all of you reading this are doing great, and my Mother will post my new mailing addresses if you want to send anything! Thanks for all the love and support!

-Elder James

{Please see previous post with pictures from Week 8}

Pictures from Week 8

Our old Zone Leaders who left for Madagascar yesterdayreally close with them!

Elders Collett and Miner decided to part their hair in the middle today.

 Elder Rogers, the Australian, with a very gross thing called Vegemite. 
It is some really weird thing that Australians put on toast. 
I tried it the other day, and it was so nasty! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 7

Hello Everyone!

I really can't believe that in two weeks I will be in Indonesia! My time here at the MTC has been strange in that it seems like it went by fast, but it really was pretty slow at parts. I am jealous of the new missionaries who will be leaving next year--they only have to be here for one third of the normal time at the MTC. If that were the rule for our district, we would have already been in Indonesia for a week! You should have seen the reaction from all the missionaries when they made those announcements. The MTC is changing for sure, as they are about to expand the MTC in preparation for all the new missionaries.

I really have liked the MTC experience, even though I am thrilled to leave. What really was nice was to receive all the letters and packages throughout my time here. Thank you to everyone who sent me letters and packages, especially the Beeson family! Thank you all so much for the cookies! They were amazing, and reminded me of home. I will send your family a letter as soon as I can!

Our classroom time has now been completely in Indonesian. It makes us learn so much more, and even though it is hard, we now understand the language quite well. Our lessons with our fake investigators have been going well, and we are able to give the lessons without any notes in the language. Our teachers really are fantastic. They spend so much time with us, and we have all grown to love each of them! 

{Elder Miner putting on a bunch of clothes that our teachers have from Indonesia. When we role play we always dress up, it's pretty funny!}

Our study sessions have also been much more focused, and I have never understood the Book of Mormon more than when I read it here. Before, I did not completely understand many of the stories, and I was mixed up with the history. When I first came to the MTC, I had brand new scriptures, and I began to read the Book of Mormon in great detail, taking many notes, and marking important scriptures. My goal is to finish it on the plane ride to Indonesia. I am around Alma 55 right now, so I think I can do it! I am in my favorite part of the Book of Mormon, which, of course, are the war chapters with Moroni and Teancum. I have also really begun to love Preach my Gospel. The teachings in the book are so inspired, and we all can learn more from reading it.

As far as the weather here, it has became much more cold, and the fields outside have been closed a few times. We are going outside to play volleyball as much as we can before it becomes too cold. I never really was into volleyball before, but for some reason, our District loves it! Like I said before, we get a little rough, but it sure is nice to release some energy!

The times at the Temple have also been very nice. We only have one more time next week at the temple, and after that, it will be our last time for about two years. I realized this while I was walking back, and I am so grateful that I have been able to go every week here in the MTC.

A cool thing happened on Tuesday at the Devotional. We never know who is speaking until we are there, and every time it has been members of the seventy who comes. We were expecting a normal meeting, but then Elder Bednar walked in and sat down in front! It was such a great surprise for all of us! He gave an amazing talk on how to study the talks in conference, and we were all very blessed to have him come. The MTC is really fascinating in this way--you never really expect who you will see, or what happens. All the talks and devotionals we have had in the past have been amazing, but I am so glad that I was there for that particular one. Once the talk ended, a few people in our District said we are ready to go now, since we saw a member of the Twelve Apostles. I completely agree!

Other than the few things I have talked about, there is not much else that has happened. We have gotten to the point that each day just slips by, and leaving seems like an abstract idea right now. Our teachers have told us the coolest stories about Indonesia, and I can't wait to have my own experiences. As always, I would write more if I had time, but I have to go eat lunch! I wish you all the best of wishes, and I can't wait to email about all my adventures in Indonesia!

Sampai Nanti!
-Elder James

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week 6

How are you all doing?

I really can't believe that I am 2/3 done with my MTC experience! It really is starting to go by fast. And I am glad, because I really can't wait until I get out to Indonesia! What's crazy is that on top of changing the age for missionaries, they are also changing the length of the MTC for all missionaries. Instead of twelve weeks for missions like China, Russia, and Mongolia, they will be here for nine. Missions that are any other foreign language are six weeks, and English-speaking missions are two. Lucky ducks! We barely missed the deadline.

Thanks to everyone who sent me letters and notes. Hopefully I will be able to write back to all of you today.

Yesterday especially went by super fast for some reason, and I really hope every day will be like that. They MTC is still pretty fun for me, but the food, showers, and activities are becoming very old! We all feel like we have been here forever, but we still have a ton of fun. We play sand volleyball during gym time, especially now, before the weather becomes colder. It is already pretty cold in the morning. We are by far the most competitive district, and playing volleyball is insane! One of our missionaries was talking to a sister, and she asked what we do during gym. He said, “Volleyball.” She then said, "Oh! Are you the ones that are always really loud?" I guess that's us! Gym is great because when you sit down forever, your body really wants to move around, and it feels so good to release some energy once in a while.

A few funny things that happened this week: First, on Saturday after the morning session of conference, we went on a walk to the temple. We were playing with a little ball, and it was thrown into some bushes. I reached to grab it, but it was far away. So I spread my legs really far over the bush to grab it and I heard a HUGE rip! My pants had basically split in two! Everyone in my district, including myself, started bursting out laughing, which caused a ton of attention. It was funny, but super embarrassing! I borrowed Elder Johnson's jacket, since it was really long, and we had to walk all the way back to my room to get my other pants! The whole time, a few Elders in my district were asking every sister we passed if they could sew pants, just to get their attention drawn to me! It was insane! But I eventually made it back, and changed my pants. I will be much more careful now.

Another funny story is thankfully about two other Elders. Elder Johnson and Rogers were practicing contacting investigators in the hallway. Our teacher was pretending to pick up the trash, and the missionaries approached. Elder Rogers came to help him, and hopefully talk to him about our church. He meant to say, "Boleh kami membantu anda?" which means, "Can we help you?" But instead, he said, "Boleh kami membunuh anda?" Which means, "Can we kill you?" The teacher started to burst out laughing, and he told the rest of us the mistake. Things like that happen all the time, and it is so funny!

As many of you see with the pictures I sent, AFHS got together and took a few pictures. It was awesome, because I didn't realize how many of us there were here! We were one of the biggest groups taking pictures in front of the big map.

Conference was also really good, especially as a missionary. It seemed like every talk had something to do with mission work, but I think it is just because that was what I heard as a missionary! It was really cool to be in the big gym with all the missionaries watching conference. There was a very unique spirit there for sure. It did make me realize that the next conference I watch will be in Indonesian! I really hope I can understand the language by then, so I can get a lot out of the messages.

Well, I really would write more if I could, but my time is up. I wish you all the best, and I hope to hear from many of you.

Sampai Nanti!
-Elder James