Monday, January 28, 2013

Solo Week 5

Greetings from Solo everyone!

Teaching English to a University class.
Unfortunately, this is the second time I am writing this email. The last one was all finished, and for some reason, it was erased. It didn't even save on the email! So I am pretty bummed, and I don't have a ton of time left, so I will try and make this quick. But things have really started to fly here in Solo. This Mission is becoming more and more fun, and I am learning so much! It has been a little strange here in Solo, because so many people speak Javanese! They also expect me to understand the whole language, and it is pretty funny when they get disappointed that I don't know it. Since I am a little low on time, here are a few notable things that happened this week.

The Indonesian way to get a bike tire fixed (very slow).
After we emailed on Monday, we taught at a University as Native speakers. It was a cool experience, but as we went home, my tire broke twice, after fixing it. So I had to replace it the next day!

Elder Lee was so tired from traveling! 
On Wednesday, the new Elder came to Solo, Elder Lee. He is from California, and is really cool. We will get along great. He is part Indonesian, so many people do not think he is American until they here his accent. It is pretty cool. This brought things back to normal, since it ended the three-Elder companionship. I am very excited to get to know him better. That night was also a BYU Hawaii devotional for all Indonesian youth that may want to attend in the future (including Missionaries). It was a cool presentation, and it made me very excited to start school again after my Mission. Many Missionaries from our Zone attended, and some stayed over at our house. This is always fun, when a house is packed with Elders eating, and telling stories from their Missions.

Throughout the week, we had many great teaching appointments and lessons. I have really seen the difference the gospel makes in other's lives, and it is such a blessing to see. We are having a descent amount of success, but it does become difficult sometimes. The key is just to keep working, and include the members as much as possible. My studies have also been very productive, and I am learning more than ever! 

My new 6$ soccer outfit-I have no idea what team I'm supporting.

On Saturday, we all played footsol, which is always very fun. I bought a new outfit for footsol, which was only 6$! We had a fun time, and I am getting much better. The Indonesians grow up playing soccer, so they always kill me, but I am starting to love soccer, even though I did not really like it before. 

Trying to be tough.
Sunday was also very good, because all the members were able to meet Elder Lee. They are always so welcoming when a new Elder comes, and it sure helps in knowing the area. When I leave Solo, I will be very sad. I hope I can have the chance to know the members better and better.

Today we were able to go to the house of the Mission couple, the Greenways, and learn Family History. The Knorpps made the presentation, and then they gave us the chance to log on to our LDS accounts, and see our family trees. When I saw mine, there was a huge amount that was already filled out! I am so grateful for all my family members who have done so much work in Family History. It is such an important aspect in this church, and I will definitely be more active in it when I am back home. Sister Greenway made us Lunch, and we all socialized at their apartment. It was a lot of fun.

This is the boy that we are getting ready for baptism-he reminds me of Nathan!
Well, I feel really bad that my last letter was lost. There was a problem with the email program. But I will email a longer one next week, and update all of you in much greater detail. I hope you all have a good week!

-Elder James

P.S. Check out the current picture on of two missionaries from Indonesia teaching the gospel-it is the picture with the title, "Why should I serve?"

The hallway of our church.

The church parking lot. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A photo from Solo

A sweet mission couple, Brother & Sister Greenway, are serving in Solo and sometimes post pictures of the missionaries that they care for. Today I saw a picture of Elder James and Elder Martoyo! I love looking at their blog and getting a different prospective of the mission and the Solo area.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Solo Week 4

Hello Everyone,

I am finally emailing on Monday! It sure feels nice to have a normal Preparation day! We have been getting a lot of things done, and our house is so much better when it is clean! It was a little more difficult to clean, since we only had three Elders, but we got the job done nonetheless. Since Elder M. left, I have been in a companionship with both Indonesian Elders, Elder Hasibuan, and Elder Martoyo. We should be receiving another Elder soon. Because of this, the three of us are covering both the Solo one and two wards. This means a lot of biking, and a lot of appointments far away from each other. Which made this past week a little crazy! So here is a brief description about it.

Tuesday was the first day of being with two other Elders. After my last email, which was written in the evening, we still had a busy schedule ahead of us. We went right home, and got ready for the day. We had a few appointments, but none of them were home. This is always pretty disappointing, but we got busy looking for houses. A few seemed like they would work, but one of the ones we found was right across the street from a school. Which is fine, but I think the kids would freak out with having white people right across the street! We would probably be invaded. 

While we were looking, we stopped by a railroad track and took some pictures. It was very pretty, and we had some fun. Later that night was English class, but it just was not the same without Elder M.! He did such a great job teaching. But it went well nonetheless. 

The next day, Wednesday, was a very busy one. It started out with the regular study times, which was a little different, because during companionship study, we had three people. But it was very nice to get help and advice from two experienced Missionaries. We then ate at one of my favorite places, which is right across the street from the church. The food is very good, and super cheap! I got some sort of soup with rice and vegetables, three pieces of Gorengan, (fried things) a glass of water, and a piece of chicken all for around 50 cents! It is crazy that I am still losing weight with all the cheap, delicious food that is around. Once we were finished, we dropped some mail off, and went out. Since we are covering two areas, we had three appointments in one area, and one in the other. Luckily, they were all home. The last appointment was at the Bishop's house. It was far away, but well worth it. His family is great, and their house is incredible. 

We taught a young member boy there, and helped him prepare for baptism. We then ate with the family, and they gave us Durian fruit. It was the first time I have ever tried it, and to be honest, it was really gross at first. But they say it gets better over time. I had a great night talking to everyone there. 

The regular service project on Thursday was a little different. Once we arrived at the park, a man met us, and said he wanted to send us somewhere else. He led us to a nearby carnival, and asked us to pick up trash. It was disgusting! There was a ton of trash, and it was a very dirty park. People were everywhere, and they looked so surprised when they saw a few white people picking up trash: Pretty humbling. 

But after, we washed up, and ate together with all the Missionaries in Solo. This is one of my favorite activities of each week. The weather is nice, the food is great, and talking with everyone is fun. Once we were finished, we studied, planned for the week, and went out for the day. We first visited with an investigator who has had a problem smoking. He smokes about three times a day, and says he cannot afford to come to church. In a nice way, we showed him that if he stopped smoking, he would be able to pay for gas. It was pretty funny, and I think he will come this week. He is always making progress, and it is inspiring to see. We had a few more appointments planned, but they fell through. However, it was a successful day in my opinion. 

Friday was pretty normal as far as Fridays go. After our regular scheduled morning routine, we went to the church for District Meeting. This is really fun, because all the Missionaries from Solo, including the Sisters, and the Senior Couples join. This is one of the great things about Solo: all the Missionaries! After the meeting, I remember I talked for a long time with the Greenways (Senior Couple). They were very nice to me, and we had a great conversation. Sister Greenway brought brownies, but after only two hours of sitting on the counter, ants had invaded. They are pretty small, and they get on open food super quick. This may be a big deal other places, but this is Indonesia! We shook the brownies off, getting as many ants as we could, and then ate them. I must have eaten a lot of ants, but no big deal, just more protein! We had a few appointments later on, and they all went well. It is different teaching with three Elders for sure. Later that night was English class, and dinner at Pak John's as usual. He gave us all Durian this time, and since it was my second time eating it, it was much more tasty! 

Saturday started out with a service project for a member in my ward. She was going to have a ward party, and wanted us Missionaries to help her prepare her house. So early in the morning, all of us Missionaries met at the bus station, and we headed over to her house together. It was pretty far away, but the area she lived in was very beautiful. When we got there, we gave a short message to her, and visited the gravesite of her father, and her daughter. Her daughter was only fifteen when she died, and it happened about three years ago. She spoke a little bit at the gravesite about the Plan of Salvation and how wonderful it is that we can be together with our families forever. The spirit was very strong, and it was a great experience. We helped a little bit with her yard work, and then returned home. After we prepared for the day, we went to a new member's house, named Lina. She was very sweet, and her son was hilarious. We taught her some of the important points of organization in the church. After this, we went to an investigator family, and taught about the Book of Mormon. The lesson went well, and I believe we will find success with them. With families, the gospel has such great meaning. 

It was another long day at the church on Sunday. But it was actually a lot of fun. We went to both wards, and there was an older returned Missionary with his family who attended. They visit Indonesia from time to time, and learn about the culture and food. He spoke in both wards, and talked about the progress that he has seen. It was very cool to hear about his experience, and how much the church has grown here. After church, I was able to talk with him personally, and he was very nice. He gave some good words of encouragement, and made me feel very important. After church, we planned on visiting a less-active member, but they were in a rather prominent Muslim neighborhood. To be respectful, I went with the other Elders in Solo, while my companions went to his house. It was really cool to be with the other Missionaries for a while, and see their area. It was quite a bit different from mine, and their house was very cool. We went to one of their Bishop's house for dinner. He was really funny, and we had a great time socializing and trying on monkey masks (see picture). I then returned home, and went right to bed!

There is a small portion of the great experiences I have had this past week. Although it was busy, and a little stressful, I had a good time. When the work is like this, I become lost in the work, and I feel very blessed. I hope everyone back home is doing great, and I wish you could all experience all the things I have been through! I will talk to all of you next week!

-Elder James 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Solo Week 3

Pictures of Senklee's Baptism from last week.

Greetings again on Tuesday!

Seriously, I am so sorry I keep emailing on Tuesdays. These past three weeks have been really busy, and for some reason, we always have things on Monday, which do not allow us to email. But hopefully as things settle down, we will all get a better schedule. 

One thing that I forgot to mention last week was that I tried eating dog! The feeling was very strange, but the taste was honestly not bad. It was very tough meat, and not to be eaten, but not horrible. At least I can now say I have eaten dog! This week was a little hectic with a lot of things going on, and a lot of changes, but when it is busy, the time flies and we have fun. It is crazy that I have been on this Mission so long already! I can only imagine when I reach the one-year mark, and time starts to really go by fast. Anyway, here is what happened in Solo this week.

After my last email, on Tuesday, we returned home and prepared for the day. Once we were all ready, we went to our appointments. However, since my companion and I were 'whitewashed', (which means we were both new to the area) it was very difficult to find the people we wanted to visit. We kept asking directions, but everyone said different things, and we traveled back and forth around the city. We did have one person planned who we have already visited, but they were not home! It does get a little frustrating, but we contact and talk to people, so it is still fun. In the evening, we had our English class at the church, and a decent amount of people showed up, which was good. It is funny, because as we teach English, we learn things that we did not know before, or things that are a review from school. Looks like my English will still be okay when I get back.

Wednesday started out normal, but shortly after we studied for a bit, we went to a wedding at the Church. Two members were getting married, and it was a cool ceremony. The bride was wearing a traditional Indonesian wedding outfit, and the entire ceremony was held in the chapel. The Bishop performed the ceremony, and he said that he hopes they will be able to be sealed in the temple soon. It made me realize how lucky we are to have so many temples in the United States. There was food at the wedding, and we socialized with some members. After the wedding, we had a few appointments planned with an investigator family, and a single male investigator. Both appointments went well, and I was able to express myself in the language much better. I also got to know them personally, which is very important. 

Thursday morning started as it always does, with early service. This time was just as successful as the last, and it was great to talk to many people. We also played soccer with some little kids, which was super funny, because they killed us. We then traveled to a nearby place and got some food. I got chicken sate, which is really good. It is grilled chicken pieces on a stick, with some tasty sauce over rice. Not exactly a good breakfast, but it is Indonesia. Once we returned home and were ready for the day, we did our weekly planning. My companion and I worked really hard, especially since we are both fairly new to the area. We studied the map, and read a lot of files from all the people who have learned from the Missionaries in the past. I am so glad that the past Missionaries in our area were organized! If not, it would be very hard to function. I remember that once we left and started biking, the weather was incredible. Right at sunset, the sky was pink and blue, and it was not too hot. I really wish I had taken a picture of it! Indonesia is beautiful!

Pictures of our apartment, although we will be moving soon.

Friday began with our regular study session, and it was very productive. I am learning a ton from my companion, and he is a great trainer. Once we were all finished and ready, we went out as a group to look for houses for rent. If any of you know a place in Solo, contact me! We were not too successful, but we have a good amount of time before our lease ends, so no worries. While my companion and I were travelling to an appointment, it started raining very hard. We pulled over and waited for a bit for it to stop, and then continued. Indonesians are a little superstitious about the rain. Many believe you will become very ill if you are out in the rain too long. When it rains, people usually pull over and wait for it to stop. This creates a good opportunity for contacting! Once the rain settled, we met with Brother Mesias, a new member. He was very kind, and was fun to talk to. He is really into classic American Motorcycles, and he would not stop talking to me about them! I wish I knew more about that kind of stuff, because I had no idea what he was saying most of the time! Once we were finished, we went to the Church for English class. After that, we ate at Pak Jon's as usual, which always is a good ending to the day.

On Saturday, right as we were getting up, my companion had a really bad gum infection. The left side of his jaw was huge! I wish I would have taken a picture of it, but I didn't want to make fun. We went right to the dentist, and they gave him some medicine that will help. (It is completely healed now) He was a good sport about it, and we kept telling crazy stories about how he got it. Once we got back from the doctor, we finished our studies. It was then time for lunch, and many of the Elders in Solo went to a member's house to eat. The food was very good, and we went through his pictures from his mission a long time ago. We then had a few people we wanted to talk to, so we went right to work. Everything went great, and we are improving in the area. In the evening, our ward had an activity where we watched 'Mountain of the Lord', about the building of the Salt Lake Temple. It was very nice, and a few members bore their testimonies after. It was a very spiritual experience. 

Sunday was another long day at church. We went to both wards, which was fun, and we had a few meetings after. Once again, we were there for about eight hours. But it went by fairly fast, and we got a lot done. It is so important to build a good relationship with the members. When I was home, I ate a ton, and was able to study and talk with Elder M. I am sure grateful for him! It helps so much to have another American in the house that can relate to some of the trials and differences here in Indonesia. My companion and I had an appointment later on, and it went very well. The person we met wants to learn more, and he is very knowledgeable about the Bible. We then met up with Elder M. and H., and ate with their Ward Mission Leader. He told many stories about his Mission, and gave some great advice. 

Playing Footsol in Jokiakarta.

Preparation day was Monday, and many Missionaries from the Zone met up in Jokjakarta to play Footsol and eat. It took a while to get there, and we had to get up a little early, but it was worth it. We played for about two hours, and even though I am no good at any type of soccer, it was fun. We then ate at a very famous place there for Missionaries. I was very surprised at the amount of white people I saw. Apparently, many people from Australia come to Jokjakarta to visit, sight see, and shop. We then made the long trip back home, which left us very little time to do other Preparation day activities. This is why I was not able to email yesterday. 

There is a little of what happened this week. This morning, Elder M. left for America. It was very sad to see him go, because he is such a great friend of mine. He is a great Missionary, and has been a great example to me. He was always so nice to everyone, and was never afraid to talk. I was sad that he left, but I know things will move along here on the Mission. There are things that are difficult sometimes, but in the end, so many blessings come. I am so happy to serve here, and I wish everyone reading this could experience everything that I have. I hope you are all doing well, and I will talk to you next Monday! (Hopefully) :)

-Elder James

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Single Photo from Solo

{Admitting that I told a lie sounds so harsh. I told a bit of a fib. In Elder James' last post, I said that none of his pictures were uploaded because the computer he was using wasn't working. That wasn't entirely true. One picture came through. Only one. And I decided not to share it. Because it was a picture of Elder James eating the thing I have dreaded thinking about since the day he was called on a mission to Indonesia. I couldn't post this picture right away, but then felt guilty the last few days. I should show every part of his mission-the good, the bad and the ugly. I have now come to terms with this picture by thinking it is a Poodle, not a German Shepherd. He said it wasn't bad.}

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Solo Week 2

{The computer Elder James was using wouldn't upload his pictures, so there are none this week.}

Hello again from Solo everyone!

First off, I am really sorry, once again, that I did not email on Monday. I'm sure a lot of you were expecting to hear about my great adventures, and then were devastated that there was no email! We had a Zone Conference yesterday, so preparation day was moved to Tuesday. Anyway, I am doing well here in Solo, and am slowly getting the hang of things. With time, I know I will come to love this city, and everything that it has to offer. Here is a little day-to-day description of what went on this past week:

Since we did not have time to email last Monday, we emailed on Tuesday. But it was still a regular working day, and we were able to do a few things. Elder M. was still fairly sick, so I stayed home with him for a time while my companion went out with the other Indonesian Missionary to learn the city a little better. Elder M. and I talked a bit, and it felt great to speak with another Missionary from America who is in the exact same place as me. It helps so much to discuss some of the trials and blessings from this Mission. Since I was home for a little while, I became more settled in to the house, and cleaned. 

Wednesday was a strange day to start working normally, and it made me feel like I have been in this city for a long time, even though I was brand new. After we were awake, we all got ready, which was much nicer here, because they have two bathrooms. One is Indonesian, with the squat toilet, and the other is a little more western, with an American toilet, but the process is not that much more western. We then had our regular study times, which went well. My companion and I went with the other Elders, because they know the city, and we sent some mail. We also bought a map at a bookstore, and while we were inside, it began to rain a ton! So we stayed in the bookstore for a little bit until it calmed down, but it was actually a great situation to contact people. Once the rain settled down, we went to our appointments. The first was a male investigator who has been looking into the Church for a very long time. We introduced ourselves, and followed up on what the last Missionaries taught him. He seemed very positive about the church, and I think we will have success with him. The only other appointment we had was teaching a little girl who is preparing for baptism. Her mother is a member, and she is very sweet. She will be baptized this Sunday.

Every area has some type of service, and in Solo, they clean up a park every Thursday. It was fun, because there are ten Missionaries here, with two Sisters, and we were all cleaning up. Many people wanted to talk to us, because they thought it was so strange that some white people were cleaning a park. We gave some pass-along cards, and talked with many people. It is incredible how simple service can bring so many blessings to others, and to the individual performing the service. After we were finished, we went to eat, and returned home. We washed up, and got ready for the day. As we were leaving the house, it began raining again! It rains so much here, especially with it being the wet season. The rain was not too hard, so we went out anyway. The appointment we had was fairly far away, but it was worth it. It was a Christian family who is interested in the church. They are fairly new investigators, and we introduced ourselves. They seemed to enjoy talking to us, and they have strong family values. I hope they will see how much this Church blesses families!

Friday was a normal day, but for our companionship study, all four of us Missionaries prepared for Zone Conference. Each District was given an assignment, and we each had to study different situations that are often difficult for Missionaries. We studied about how to work with the ward effectively, and it went very well. I am so impressed with how well all of us Missionaries can work together if we really focus, and work hard. Once we were finished, it was time for District Meeting. It is much different here in Solo, because there are so many Missionaries! There were eight Elders, two Sisters, and two Missionary Couples. It went much longer than I was used to, because there were so many things that had to be addressed. But it was very nice to talk to the Senior Couples. They also had a lot of food afterwards, so it was fun. My companion and I then went to a member's house again to prepare their daughter for baptism. She was very smart when it came to the gospel, and we were able to teach very simply about the blessings of baptism. For Dinner, all the Missionaries met at Pak Jon's, which is a place where Missionaries have been eating for years. He serves really good chicken, and loves the Missionaries. 

We started Saturday morning playing early morning basketball with all the Missionaries. We got up really early, so we didn't miss any time, so we were very tired. But we played hard anyway, and it was a lot of fun. Elder M. is about 6'4'', so everyone was laughing so hard at how easy it was for him to block us. Once we were finished, we headed back to the house, and Elder Miner and I got haircuts on the way. It was only a dollar, and the man washed our hair, gave us scalp massages, and a free drink. What a great deal! When we got home, we showered, and got ready for the day. After our study times, we all had interviews with President Groberg, since he was in town for Zone Conference. It was really nice to talk with him, and he was very helpful. I am so impressed with how hard he works to make sure all of us Missionaries are doing well. Once we were all finished, my Companion and I went to an investigator's house, but she was not there. We began looking for a new house, because President wants us to move. It is kind of interesting that I am house shopping in Indonesia! It began raining again, but we kept looking. We also were able to contact a few people, so it was not worthless. 

Sunday was a pretty long day, because we were at the Chapel for a very long time. In total, I was inside the church for eight and a half hours. The reason being, we went to both wards, one at eight, and the other at ten, and then all the classes and priesthood. It was also fast Sunday, which I think is tough for everyone! Even though it was very long and tiring, we were able to meet a lot of members, and they were very nice. I think that is the best part about Solo, is the amazing support and strength of the Members. After all the classes, we had the baptism for Senklee, the girl we helped teach. Many members attended, and it was a great, spiritual experience. My Companion and I were able to be the witnesses, and it was my first time. It was really cool to be a part of it. After the baptism, they had a lot of food, and it was nice to eat. Fasting is such a great experience, and it brings many blessings. When we returned home, we studied a little bit, and then four Missionaries from other cities in our Zone came to our house. They are staying over because the Zone Conference is in Solo. It was a lot of fun to have them over, and we talked for a long time. 

Zone Conference was on Monday, and it was very great. It was my first one, since they happen every three months. Before it began, many of us got some food to eat, and practiced singing for our group hymns. The conference began at nine, and President and Sister Groberg opened it. They announced a few things, and gave a short lesson. After they were finished, we began learning. This Zone Conference was focused on Characteristics of Christ. We each discussed characteristics that we have been focusing on in our studies, and we learned a lot. We also played a few games, and role-played different situations. One of the activities that I enjoyed was when we watched farewell videos from Missionaries who recently returned home. It made me think of when I get to that point, even though it seems so far away. I really hope I will fulfill this Mission in a way where I will look back on it and know that I did everything I could to bring others to Christ. I know if I continue to progress, and try my best, I will do great. After the Conference was finished, all of the Missionaries played foot-sol together. Almost twenty of us played, and it was a blast. I played keeper again, since I am much better with my hands than with my feet!

Well, there is a little bit of what happened here in Solo. Although I am quite descriptive of all that happens, nothing can really describe all that I see here. It also is impossible to describe all I feel and learn here. Really, the only way to know exactly what a Mission is like is to serve one! I hope all those that are reading this, and considering a Mission, know how great they are. I can promise that it will be hard, but the blessings that come are indescribable. The experiences and lessons learned will draw anyone so much closer to Christ. It is amazing! I hope everyone reading this is doing well, and I thank you all again for all your prayers, love and support. 

-Elder James