Monday, November 26, 2012

Semarang Week 3

Thanksgiving dinner at KFC was amazing!
Hey Everyone,

I sure hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Since I have been here, I have truly realized how much we have, and how much we should be grateful for. I will never/should never complain about my house, my car, my job, really, anything in the United States. This has been so humbling for me. Many of the people here live so simply, yet they are so happy. It is great.

It was great to hear about all the good things you did in New York. Believe it or not, I completely understand the kind of things you saw. When it rains here, which it does almost every night, homes flood, and there is trash everywhere. You would not believe how some people live. I see people on the side of the street in their later years, completely naked, or wearing very little. It is pretty sad, but also very humbling. It reminds us of what we have, as I'm sure it did for you in New York.

This week has been good. The KFC trip was a lot of fun, and I have been doing a lot better with the language. The culture is very different, and I am for sure still getting used to that, but it is a lot of fun. It is starting to go by faster and faster, and I know that if I continue to work hard, I will do fine! I sure do love the members here, too. They are so loving, and I feel very welcome at church! It is for sure a different experience, since they are much more loud and talkative during sacrament meeting, which is strange, but it is so great. As I said before, they eat after each meeting, and the food is amazing!

Here is a little day to day account of what went on this week:

Starting with last Monday, after I sent my email, we ate dinner and then returned home. While at home, we all just relaxed and talked. It was really strange to be relaxing so much, since we work so hard all the time. We also watched 'The Other Side of Heaven' which was a lot of fun. It's especially cool because it is the story of my Mission President's brother. We ate, talked, and had a good time. I slept like a baby that night.

Tuesday was a pretty normal day. After our study times, we got food at our regular spot, and ate at the church. I was adventurous, and got a little bit of sambel (spicy sauce) with my meal. Right when I took my first bite, I regretted it. My mouth was on fire! And it was only a little bit! We then went to Brother Bambam's house, since he didn't come to church. He was really sick, so we gave him a blessing. It was a good experience. He has a lot of faith. Later on, we taught English at the hospital again, which was fun. They are improving for sure, and it was cool to see progress. We had our regular English class at 7:00, and a lot of people showed up. We talked about our favorite movies, and one girl was talking about Skyfall! I was pretty upset, and tried not to listen. In two years I will see it!

Bubur, a rice porridge that is eaten for breakfast.
On Wednesday, in the morning, I wanted to get something different, and so I went to the nearest food stand, and got whatever it had. It was Bubur, a rice porridge, and it immediately became my favorite food. (See picture) It had chicken and a bunch of other stuff in it. I love it, but it does make me pretty sick to my stomach. However, it is so worth the pain. Since it made me a little sick, I wasn't hungry for lunch. Because Brother Bambam was sick yesterday, we took him some bread. He was so grateful! He had not eaten in three days, and looked pretty ill. We then had another English teaching appointment at a hotel. They were much more advanced in their speaking, and we taught them about tenses. I then realized how difficult English must be as a second language. In Indonesian, there are no tenses, and so the students were having a hard time understanding. But we were able to help.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, of course, but it was a bit different here. Every Thursday we have a weekly planning session, and this one went well. We were able to plan everything that we needed to do. The main point of the day, however, was our Thanksgiving meal. We went to KFC, and bought a ton of food! Places like KFC, McDonald's, and Pizza Hut, are the nicest places here! It is pretty strange. They are also the most expensive, but for all the food and drinks we got, it was 22$. So Elder Giolas and I split it, so it was 11$ each. Crazy! It was a great meal, though, and I will remember it forever.

Friday was a fun day as well. We did service for a member, and it was really early. But it was fun. The rest of the day was pretty normal, and we had a lot of teaching appointments. It rained pretty hard that night, which made biking a bit crazy.

Saturday was a physically hard day for sure. We had appointments that were very far away. It was extremely busy, and we were able to teach a lot of lessons. For one lesson, we watched the Testaments, and the person we watched it with liked it a lot. It was a spiritual experience for sure. It is so great when we use resources like DVDs. It helps the investigators understand so much better.

Sunday was a lot of fun. We were able to have the Senior Missionaries come over to inspect our home. Nothing was wrong, and we were able to talk with them. It was very strange to see a white, older couple here in Indonesia. They work mostly with family history, and they help people with the Church computer system. They also brought us doughnuts, which was really great. Church was good, since we had two of our investigators come, and I think they had a good experience. We ate afterwards, as always, and the food was amazing. The members are so nice! They gave us a ton of food. Later on, we had a few lessons, and it started pouring rain again. We got home before it got too bad though. All in all it was a very good week!

Well, I am doing great here, and I am learning lots. My testimony is growing every day, and I am so happy to be serving here in Indonesia. I wish you all the best!

-Elder James

Monday, November 19, 2012

Semarang Week 2

An Indonesian father and his cute daughter.
She was so shy when I was taking a picture.

Hello from Semarang!

First off, I am very sorry that last time my email was so short. I did not manage my time very well, but hopefully I will be able to write a lot more now.

So, starting form last Monday, I will go day-to-day...

After I emailed on Monday, we went straight to the Church, and met the other Elders. The church has a separate building where we teach English, and it has a ping pong table! So we all played ping-pong for the rest of P-day, and played the piano a little. It was really fun! We are also allowed to watch certain approved movies, and so Elder Giolas and I watched, “The Best Two Years” in our house. It was really entertaining! Especially watching it as missionaries, it was much funnier, and a different experience for sure. So my first P-day here was good.

As part of our service this week, we taught English to a group of people from a hospital.  They were very funny and way nice. We taught them pronunciation and it was funny to listen to them.
On Tuesday, after our study times and getting ready, we went to a hospital to teach English. They were very nice to us, and they gave us a ton of food and drinks. The hospital was very cool as well. It was all basically outside, which was strange, but there were some very pretty gardens and fountains. We taught a group of nurses and helped them with pronunciation. It was really funny to hear them try to say all these difficult English sentences. They would always laugh super hard at some words that sounded funny to them. Afterwards, the manager took us out to eat, and said we did a good job. My companion and I then traveled to our appointments. One was not there, which is disappointing sometimes, because we bike so far to get there! But our next appointment was there and we were able to teach a little. They lived in a tiny house that I could barely sit in, and the guy we taught was wearing short-shorts and no shirt! To make things worse, he was in his 60's! Wow. But, he was very nice, and it was a positive lesson. After biking around, we went back to the church, and taught our regular English class. Many people showed up, and I taught about grammar. They were pretty confused, but at the end, they learned a lot. We then returned home!

This is my sunburn after only a few days here-crazy! It is just so hot.
The white spot is from my watch.
Wednesday was a pretty physically tough day for sure. We always work out right after we wake up, and it was super hot outside this day. So it was fairly rough. We then got ready, studied, and went to our first appointment. It was the furthest one we have ever had, and it was really hot! I love biking, but it sure is difficult sometimes! I got burned really badly (as seen in picture). What was really sad, is that once we got there, they were not there! Even though we called ahead. But we were able to visit with some members nearby, so it was not completely wasted. Our next appointment, which was closer to our house, was a Pentecostal, but her son is a member, and went on a mission, so she loves the Missionaries. We taught her, but she likes her church too much, so we just visited and shared a message. We asked her to say the prayer, and she gave one that was about 5 minutes long! It was crazy! She said some funny things that I could barely understand, like, "Thank you for these Elders, and I think their church is good, but I like mine better." It was really hard to not laugh at times like that, but it was good. The last appointment was a less active member who said he would not be active again unless he sees Jesus. We taught about faith, but he is pretty set in his views. By his home, there were some little kids that asked me to teach them an English song, and I taught them "Twinkle, twinkle little star" It was so cute to hear them sing it!

Thursday was pretty normal, but the one cool thing we did was go to a traditional market. There were tons of fruit and vegetable stands, and it was all very cheap and fresh! I bought some mangos, which were delicious, and my companion bought some things to make some spicy sauce. Everyone was staring at me a ton here, since they never see white people, especially in places like that. Another cool thing was the lesson we taught to a Christian who is fairly interested. We read 3 Nephi 11, when Christ comes to the Americas, and he liked it. The spirit was very strong in this lesson, and it was a good experience!  I hope he felt the same way.

The Zone Leaders came to our home on Friday, and they each went with one companionship. Ours had Elder Kuijampa, who is from Highland, and I knew his little brother from Jr. High. He was really nice, and it was fun to have him with us. Early in the morning, we all went to a food stand owned by a member, and helped him out for breakfast. He had a lot of customers, and they were so taken aback that white people were serving them! Usually it is the other way around for them. We helped serve food, and then he gave us a lot of the leftovers, so it was a great time. We then went to our appointments, which were also pretty far today. After we ate lunch, we went to a less active member, and he gave us a ton of food! We told him we already ate, but he would not accept that. The food was the spiciest I have ever had here, so it was pretty difficult, but I shoved it all down. I felt so sick! He was very nice, though. We then had English class again at the church, but it rained really hard, so not very many people came. The rain gets pretty crazy here; it rains every night, and sometimes it is really hard.

On Saturday, the Zone Leaders left in the morning, and it was a little sad, because we had such a fun time with them. The day before I put my white shirts in the laundry, since they were getting very dirty. When I got them out, and they were still super dirty! I had even put bleach in. But that is just how it is here I guess. Our first appointment was teaching Sister Joko, a new member about the Plan of Salvation. The lesson went really well, and I was able to be quite involved, even with the language. I am coming along in the language, but I still have a lot to learn! By this time in the week, I really started to notice the time going by faster.

Sunday was good, and church was also good. The members are really nice, and I am getting to know them very well. We had a few teaching appointments, and one referral contacted. He was very nice. He bought us a ton of food, and also, a pack of cigarettes! So we had to explain nicely how we don't smoke. He was really nice about it though, and we will probably teach them in the next couple of days. I also was able to cook some noodles by myself, and they weren't too bad! I am sure getting used to things here.

Well, that is all that happened this week! This coming week will be pretty fun, since we are going to KFC for thanksgiving! Just like my Dad did on his mission in Argentina. I am having a great time here, and it was great to email!

-Elder James 

There are a lot of cats running wild in Indonesia, but they are usually pretty ugly.  This is a kitten that didn't have a mother, so the family dog was nursing it! I missed a picture of it, but the dog didn't seem too happy to be nursing a cat!

This is the bamboo/tin house that a little member family lives in
(the cute little kids from the picture last week).

This was my lunch today, sate aium. It is SO good, but it does make me sick to my stomach. 
It costs about 15,000 rupia!
That is expensive here, but in American dollars it is only about $1.50.

We had a few questions to ask Elder James and 
these were his replies that he sent in a separate email:

{Do you hear the morning prayer calls? I hear that those are very hard to get used to at 5:00 a.m., or whatever time they start.}

I actually do not wake up for the prayer calls, but what does wake me up sometimes are the roosters! They make a ton of noise right at sunrise, which is around 4:50-5:00 am here! I have to wear earplugs sometimes. It is so funny, they are everywhere. However, at some points of the day, I hear at least 5 different mosques playing the music really loud. Its pretty crazy! They are everywhere. Just like LDS churches in Utah county!

{What do you miss most about the US?}

I do really miss clean streets, driving, and just feeling at home. I also miss milk, mountain dew, and a few other American foods. But I am adjusting well here, and getting used to it. I miss being with you guys the most for sure!

{We were curious what is in your typical lunch, like the one that you sent a picture of last week in the brown paper?}

Honestly, most of the time, I don't know! But usually I get these potato crisp things, which are long sticks, and then some type of vegetable, usually cucumber. Sometimes I add fish (which can be really sketchy) or fried chicken. I like to try different things, even though I don't know what they are! One time I got something, and it was really gross! I asked my companion, and he did not know the english word, so I pulled out my translator, and it was chicken intestines! It was pretty gross!

{The boys asked if Andrew ate the huge rats he killed.}

We did not eat the rats we killed, but you would be surprised by how many people here would. They are so resourceful, they would not throw anything to waste. Another funny thing to tell the kids, is there are tons of cats here! Just wild! The only thing is, they are the most ugly cats I have ever seen, and I stay as far away from them as possible. Don't want rabies!

{With so much rain, how are your shoes holding up? Are your feet staying dry?}

I actually left my dressy Eccos at the mission home on purpose, and I just have the ones spencer gave me. They are animals! They hold up so well, and water does not get in at all. Tell Spencer they are great!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Semarang Week 1

Apa Kabar orang-orang dalam Amerika Serikat! 
{What is news, people of the United States!}

Well, I am finally here in my first, official area! It feels really good to finally be at the place where I will be for some time. Because of traffic last Monday, we were not able to make our flight, so we got one for the next day, and we made it safely! 

The Indonesian Elders asleep on the bus.
Semarang is right on the coast, and it is beautiful. Although the city has a lot of poverty, and is fairly dirty, it is much cleaner than Jakarta, or any other city I have seen so far. I am happy to be here! When we first arrived in Semarang, the airport was tiny! We got our luggage, and waited for the Elders to pick us up. Everyone was staring at us, probably wondering what two white guys are doing in a very small town in Indonesia. The Elders then arrived in a taxi. They were both very nice! My companion is Elder Martoyo, and he is great. 

They then took us to the Elder's house. It was a lot nicer than what I was expecting! I picked out a bed, closet, and most important, a bike. Everywhere we travel here is by bike, and it is also really hot! So it is pretty hard sometimes on the body, but hopefully I will get used to it. 

This is the food we get almost every lunch here in Semarang.
It ranges between 3,000 and 7,000 rupia. (20-70 cents!) It is really good.
We ate that night at a favorite spot for all the Elders which serves Nasi Goreng. It is basically fried rice with a few vegetables and a fried egg. It was spicy, and really good! The best part of it was that it was 6,000 rupia, which is 60 cents! That night, I slept pretty well since our bedroom is the only room with AC, and I rested for a full day! 

The next morning, I woke up having had a good rest, and we went right to work. We all exercised for a little bit, and then we got ready. After getting ready, we all do our study times for about four hours. It went well. And then we go out into the field! Our companionship has had some great success lately, so we were pretty busy with appointments. We went to non-active members, new members, and investigators. All the people were so nice! This is how our days were for these past few days, and since I don't have very much more time left, I will tell you a few things that stood out this week. 

One event was a male member. We visited him because he had a problem smoking, and we were going to help him. I gave him a scripture: 2 Ne. 4:27-28 with a note that said "Kalau menggoda untuk merokok, membaca ini:" which means "if tempted to smoke, read this." It was a really good experience! 

These are two of the kids from a new member family, and they were so cute!
They were shy at first, but we pulled out some candy, and they came right over
Another was visiting the Joko family, who are the cute kids in the pictures I sent. They were so humble, and such great people!The members are also really great here, and they have really made me feel welcome. 

Our house is one of the nicest I have seen so far in the mission, and the city is a lot cleaner than others. (even though it is still pretty dirty) What has been the best is the people I teach. I will send you some pictures of them, but they are great. The kids are adorable! You would not believe the kind of houses they live in, and they are so happy! It truly is so humbling. We also bike every day, which is interesting. I will for sure lose a ton of weight! One funny story, we were about 30min. from our house, and it started POURING rain like it does almost every night, but we were out. And I didn't have a poncho yet (I do now)! It was insane. 

I really feel bad that I can't write more, but I am out of time! But I am having a busy, good time here, and I can't wait to tell all of you more about it!

-Elder James

This sweet man has been a member of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints for 20 years!
The outside of our house.
The wall around our house has shards of glass all over it! 
I guess that means we are well protected! 
{Rick says they did that in Argentina as well.}
This is our bathroom! We actually have a toilet, but it does not flush, and no toilet paper...

A very common food here that everyone loves. I have not tried it yet, but will soon!
My companion, studying in our house.
My companion caught a lizard with teeth!
This is the view from a member's house. It is made of bamboo and tin.
Our chapel
Lunch after church with the ward members
What my shirt looked like after biking home in the rain!
This is the oldest man ever found, and he was found in Indonesia. 
This, of course, is not the actual one, but this was at the center of a mall, 
so I thought it was pretty cool.