Monday, December 30, 2013

Yogyakarta Week 19

Our District Christmas picture before the party
Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope you all had a good Christmas week. Although Christmas here is very different from Christmas in the United States, I still had a lot of fun. In comparison to my last Christmas here, this one was much more meaningful and nice. Even though we were pretty busy with Christmas activities this past week, we were still able to teach a few of our investigators, and get some work in. We actually were quite successful this past week, because we met with more people to teach. Here are a few cool things that happened.

The crowd before the ward Christmas party started
For Christmas Eve, there was a ward party at night time. We invited all our investigators to come, but I was doubtful that they any would show up. I should not have thought that way, because we had an investigator come with his two grandchildren. He lives very far away, but he wanted to do something special for his grandchildren, so he came. It was great to see him there! The members all did different things, like singing, acting, and dancing. There were a few acts that showed the Javanese culture, and it was cool to see.

Elder Sadiyono with his Christmas presents
On Christmas day, I was able to open my package from my family, and see the cool things they got me. My companion loved all the things my family sent him, and he was really surprised that he got that much stuff. I also was able to call my family through Skype, and that was by far the best present of them all. 

Our District watching "It's a Wonderful Life"
We had a District party with the Elders from Magelang, and I got approval from President Donald to show 'It's a Wonderful Life'. We used the church's projector and a member's speakers. I was able to find the movie with Indonesian subtitles. Everyone loved the movie. We drank hot chocolate, played games, and visited. It was a fun party!

Elder Waltman & Elder Sadiyono when we all ate at McDonalds
The Zone Leaders, Elder Waltman and Elder Hasibuan stayed for three days and two nights to do exchanges with us. It was good to see Elder Waltman again, and work with him and his companion. We got a good amount of lessons done, and were able to eat at McDonald's together. I am glad they spent Christmas with us.

The Sugiyanto family came to visit!
On Friday morning, we received a surprise phone call from Sister Sugiyanto, who wanted to visit us. We directed her to our house, and they gave us food. They were in Jogja for a few days, and it was fun to see them. That night, they took all the Missionaries out to eat pizza, and we were able to visit. They are such a nice family! I have been able to see them in almost every one of my cities so far!

Sister Hasibuan with Gina, the sister's investigator.
An investigator of the Sisters, Fero, was baptized this week as well, and confirmed the following Sunday. A while ago, she was very scared of the Missionaries, and would not come to Church. But after getting to know the Sisters, and learning a little bit, she felt more comfortable. It has been really cool to see the progression she has made. The Gospel really does help people change, and I am so glad that I have the chance to bring that to the lives of others.

My companion and I with our Christmas ties
On Sunday, something really cool happened. Right when we got to the Church, members told us that there were a few people visiting. There was one family here on vacation, and then a single young man sitting in the chapel. My companion and I split up, and sat next to them. The family left right after sacrament meeting, but they said they had a really good experience. Apparently they were just looking for the closest Church. But the young man that came followed us to all classes, and then we taught him after Church. He had many questions, but we were able to help him understand a lot of things, and he said he wanted to be a member of this church! We gave him a baptismal date, and he is preparing for that. It was such a miracle! President called me after we taught him, and said he had a referral from the church website. It was that same guy! I told President that we had already taught him, and he was very impressed. I hope everything will go well!

Me with my new Broncos t-shirt, in front of the Christmas tree
In my personal studies, I have finished the Old Testament, and am now reading in the New Testament. I already love reading it so much! The teachings of Jesus are so clear and explicit, but also deep and thought provoking. I am very happy that I will be able to finish my goal of reading all the standard works by the end of my Mission. My testimony of the scriptures has grown so much! I wish I had studied them more before my Mission. I feel so much peace when I read.

I hope you all have a great week!

-Elder James

A member doing a traditional Javanese dance for the Christmas party

Relaxing in front of our house

Us with Sister Dewi

My Christmas gifts from my family

Monday, December 23, 2013

Yogyakarta Week 18

Elder Watson and I, right before he got on the plane to go home!
Hello Again!

I can't believe that Christmas is almost here! I can remember my first Christmas in Indonesia, and it does not seem like a year ago! Christmas time is quite different here, and you can only really feel like it is Christmas if you go into a mall, or bookstores. But that is not the real meaning of Christmas, so that is okay! We had a pretty busy schedule this past week, and I am glad to rest a little bit for Christmas!

At the bottom of the trail, right where we began hiking
For last P-day, we joined the Elders in Magelang, since it was Elder Watson's last P-day before going home. 

The Yogyakarta district, including Magelang
It was a small mountain in Magelang, and it was supposed to be the center of the Island of Java. 
There were tons of monkeys on the hike.
This one was about to attack us - he was mean!
There were a lot of monkeys there, and some did not like us being there. But they were really fun to watch. It was also nice to be with Elder Watson before he went home. We were actually able to take him to the airport, and wait for his replacement.

Members at Christmas time are great. We have gotten a lot of gifts and things from them, and they treat us so nicely. That helps us so much with feeling at home and all! I know that members everywhere treat the Missionaries well wherever they are.

Christmas is here, which is why this email will be really brief. I will be able to Skype with my family on Christmas day here, and there are lots of ward activities. I am so glad to be serving a Mission, and I am so glad to help other people see the true meaning of Christmas. I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

-Elder James

This big tower represents the center of the island of Java.
It is mostly a legend, but it is pretty much in the center.

A monkey eating a mango

Elder Watson eating Padang - he went home this week

The sisters on the bus ride home

Me dunking on the small basketball hoop outside our home.
(It is only like 7 feet tall - ha ha!)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Yogyakarta Week 17

This is the Winoto Family. I love this picture because I look so big!

Hello everyone!

Well, Transfers were announced a few days ago, and I am not moving! I was so worried on Friday and Saturday that the Assistants would call, but once Sunday morning rolled around, I knew that I was not moving at this point! I am so happy that I will be able to train Elder Sadiyono until he is done with the training program, and that I can continue my service here in Jogja. This has been my favorite city, and I am so glad that I am here for a long time! Anyways, this week was pretty regular, but there were a few cool things that we did. Here are a few highlights.

After we emailed last Monday, we went as a District to the Winoto Family's home in Klaten. They wanted to have a family home evening (in the afternoon) before Sister Manullang moved to Malang. We took a bus there as normal, and had a fun time. They served us food, and we had a short lesson. They are such a nice family, and they are basically pioneers in Klaten. One day a branch will be built there hopefully.

Some of our investigators
As far as appointments go, we were not that busy, but we still were able to meet with many of our Investigators. The problem many of them face is not acting on what they know to be true. I wish they could just see the kind of blessings this gospel brings. It is easy to get discouraged when others do not do their part, but we have to remember that they have their agency, and there is nothing we can do to change that. Remembering that is an important part in this work.

I am starting to buy a few things for Christmas, and this is the perfect city, because there are tons of places to shop! One cool item I found was an old coin from 1945, before Indonesia became independent. It is Dutch on one side, and Javanese on the other. I found it at a Batik store, and it was only about $1.50. I thought it was pretty cool. They had a bunch of old paper money as well, including a 1 rupia note, which is worth .01 cents now, but the bill is rare, so it is expensive now. Pretty funny.

My companion and I are still getting along great. I honestly feel like he is my little brother or something. When you train someone, the trainer is considered a father, and the trainee a son. Training is such a cool thing to do. Maybe I will get the chance to do it again on my Mission.

I got my family's other Christmas package, which I can only open on Christmas day. It was really hard not to open it right away! When a Missionary gets a package, it is one of the best things to happen. I am so grateful for a caring family!

Well, sorry this is fairly short, but we are going hiking in Magelang with the Elders there, so we had to quickly email before leaving. Thank you all for the prayers and support you give me. I hope you all have a great holiday season!

-Elder James

A typical Indonesian meal; Lele (catfish) with rice, chili sauce and vegetables. 

Sometimes I put his bike up there; he loves it!

This tree gave us starfruit, but our landlord wanted us to cut it down.

The watches I've bought during the mission

Monday, December 9, 2013

Yogyakarta Week 16

{Elder James' Christmas package arrived with a new tree, new ornaments
(he added some from last year's tree) and even some snow for the bottom!}

Hello Everyone,

This week has been pretty good, with us getting a lot of work done, and also getting a lot closer to the members here. That has been one big focus lately- building a better relationship with the members here, so that we can help this ward progress. With the help of members, Missionaries are much more effective. When I go home, I really want to build a better relationship with the Missionaries in my ward, and help them with anything that they need. Anyway, here are a few highlights of the week.

On Monday, we were able to play Futsal with the Missionaries from Magelang and Solo, and also a few members from Jogja. I actually did pretty good, and we all had a lot of fun. I still miss playing American Football a lot, but this is fun too. With the humidity and heat here, we all sweat like crazy while doing any kind of sport. It will be really strange to go home, and not sweat all the time.

Sister Susanto's cute grandkids
One member I really enjoy visiting is Sister Susanto. I have mentioned her before, because we go to her house almost every week. She is so kind to us Missionaries, and we have learned a lot from her example. She is fairly elderly, and the only member in her entire family, but she still comes to church as much as she can. When we give messages to her, she is always attentive, and gives amazing comments. I really feel the spirit when we are in her presence. She is the perfect example of enduring to the end!

As I said in the beginning of the email, we have gotten closer to the members here through various ways. On Thursday we went to two families, after we did our weekly planning session. We gave messages on Missionary work, and how we all can do little things to bless and serve others. We showed a short video clip from the church entitled 'by small and simple things', and they liked it. It is so true that if we just do little things every day, we will help others come to the great happiness from this gospel. One of the members had an awesome Husky, and I played with it for awhile.

Eating with our newest sister, Sister Hasibuan
The Zone Leaders, Elder Watson and Elder Hasibuan came to Jogja on Friday and Saturday, and did exchanges with us. I was with Elder Watson, and we were able to meet a few investigators. He is such a great Missionary, and is not 'trunky' at all. He only has about a week left, yet he is working hard until the end. At night, we were able to meet one of the new Sisters, that is replacing Sister Manullang. We all got together and ate to welcome her. She is lucky to have this as her first city!

The Magelang Elders needed our help suddenly on Saturday morning, since the Stake President wanted to visit some members with them. They already had appointments, so they asked President if we could stay there for a night, and he said we could. So I was with Elder Watson for about three days! I liked going to Magelang again. It is a really cool city.

That is about all that happened this week. In a few days, Sister Sperry will come, and she will be with Sister Believe. I am honestly so happy in this city, and I hope I will spend as much time as possible here! I hope you all are well, and feel the love Christ has for everyone. Happy Holidays!

-Elder James

A freaky looking spider I saw near the post office!

Eating at Sister Siska's restaurant last P-Day

My favorite night-time snack: Coke and Molen Pisang
(Fried bananas with a batter around them). It is SO good!

A gorgeous husky that a member had. I loved playing with him so much and he loved me!
He did give me a little allergic reaction, but it was worth it.
I felt so bad for him being in the heat!

A carnival in Jogja (we obviously didn't ride the rides).