Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Solo Week 1

My District: Elder Giolas, Elder Martoyo and Elder Mongan
Hello Everyone,

First off, sorry for not emailing on Monday. We had something happen which made it not possible to email that day. But I am able to email now, and I am sure that everyone had a great New Years! It was pretty crazy here! Many fireworks and horns were going off all night, so it was very hard to sleep!

I was transferred to Solo on Sunday, which was pretty unexpected, and it was very sad to leave Semarang. The members there were amazing, and it was a great city. It was sad to leave, but I know I will have a wonderful time here in Solo. Starting with Christmas, here is a little description on what happened this week:

Christmas was a bit different here, to be honest. They do not celebrate it here nearly as much as we do in the United States. There were a few decorations, but many stores and businesses were open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Also, without the snow, it sure felt like any other day! But it was still a lot of fun. In the morning, our ward had the Christmas party, and it was a great time. Many members showed their talents, and I was able to become Santa! I gave away presents to all the little kids, and they were all so happy! Some of them were quite terrified, which was funny. I was in the costume for a long time, and it was very hot! I don't think I have ever sweated as much in my life! We then mainly relaxed and did P-day activities such as laundry, cleaning, and eating. Later that evening, I was able to Skype with my family, which was great! It felt very normal to talk to them, and it felt like I was back home! However, once I hung up, it felt very strange. But it was a very positive experience. A Christmas I will remember forever.

The next day was Wednesday, and it was time for District exchanges. So the entire day, I was with Elder Mongan and went to appointments in his area. He and Elder Giolas were in West Semarang, and it was very different from the East where I served. It was astonishing that the city changed so much by traveling only a few miles. All the appointments went well, and I was able to get to know Elder Mongan much better. Most of the messages we gave were about Christmas and the real message behind it. It was accepted very well, and the spirit of Christmas was still very present. 

A fun party at Brother Budi's house.
Afterwards, we met the other Missionaries at the Church, and traveled by bus to Brother Budi's house. He has been a member for a long time, and served a mission when he was young. He was having a party for a few families and us. It was very fun, and the food was incredible! We had a great time visiting with the members, and learning about mission experiences from Brother Budi. Since it was a long way home, he drove us to the Church, and I was able to talk with him personally for a long time.

The food at Brother Budi's party was so good!

The District exchanges continued on Thursday, so since my companion was with Elder Mongan, I was with Elder Giolas. It was very different to be in a companionship with two white people. We received even more funny looks than normal! I took him to my area, and we went to a few appointments. The few that were home could not be taught, but it was still fun to show him my area. We did quite well with the language and navigation since we have both only been out for a few months. We had extra time since the appointments fell through, and so we contacted others at the mall. It was fairly successful, since we found a few people who wanted to learn English. On our way home, we picked up some Sate, which is amazing, and planned for tomorrow. It was then that an unexpected phone call came from the Assistants to the President. They informed us that Elder Mongan and myself were being transferred. At first, I did not believe them, and it was hard to grasp. I was assigned to Solo, and Elder Mongan was assigned to Magalang, becoming a Zone Leader. We were both to leave on Sunday, so we started preparing right away!

This is Brother Samuel, a very strong member and very funny!
On Friday, we were not able to do early morning service, because the food stand was closed. I was a little disappointed, because it would have been nice to do it one more time before I left. But the day went on, and it was nice. After our study times, we went to the Church for District Meeting. It was the last meeting together as a District, which made me realize how great all the Missionaries here in Semarang are. I will miss them all a lot! After the meeting, we ate, and visited with a few members who were there at the Church. They were very surprised that I was leaving so soon, but said I would have a good time in Solo. My companion and I then had a few people we wanted to visit, so we left. Sister Sudiro was first, and she is a member who lives far away. Their family is very nice, and they gave us some really good snacks. Next was Pak Budi, who is always very sweet. He has a great, happy attitude, and so teaching him is great. It was sad to say goodbye to him! I sure hope he continues to learn about this great Church! The last appointment was Pak Hadi. He has only come to church once in the past few years, so at the end of the lesson, I told him it was my last Sunday in Semarang, and that I would love for him to come. He said he would, and he did! It was great to finally see him at Church. 

Our fun English class!
Later on Friday night, we had our regular English class, and we went out to eat with a few of the people. They were very nice, and the food was great. It was a Steak and Shake place, so I ordered.... you guessed it.... a steak and a shake! However, Indonesians do not fully grasp the concept of a milkshake. It was just chocolate milk! But the steak was good, so it was fun.

Saturday was my last full day in Semarang, so it was a little bittersweet. Since it was the 29th, it has been four months since the beginning of the mission. In the morning, I did a little bit of studying, but I still had a lot of packing to do. I finished it all before lunch, and I had time to spare. We only had a few appointments today, but they went very well. One was with Ibu Anik. She is a new investigator, and is very interested in the church. Every lesson we have had with her has been very uplifting. She has such great questions, and we are able to answer them all. She wants to be baptized, but knows she is not quite ready. But she is preparing, and I think she will become a strong member! It is too bad I am leaving before I see her really progress. The only other appointment we had could not be taught. Later that evening, we played football again since it was our last day. It was great fun again! Probably the best way I could think of ending my length in Semarang.

These are the scooters in the church parking lot!
Sunday was a perfect day to leave, because I was able to say goodbye to all the members at the Church. It was pretty sad to say goodbye, but they were all very happy and nice, and I feel so happy that I had the opportunity to serve in their ward. We ate after Church as always, and I ate a ton! It is really good food, and once my plate was empty, they just kept filling it back up! I got a lot of pictures with them, and I will probably see many of the members when there is a Stake Conference in Solo. So it is not the last time I will see them. 

This is a member's cute little son, opening a present.
Semarang Ward Members

We went home after Church, and I finished getting everything ready. I took pictures with my District, and said goodbye to all of them. My companion was great. He is such a hard-working Missionary, and I have learned so much from his works. I have improved on my Mission because of him, and I sure hope I will become as powerful of a Missionary as he is. I then took a taxi with Elder Mongan to the bus station, and we took busses to our different cities. My travel time was about three hours, because of traffic, and Elder M. and Elder H. picked me up. I went to the house with them, and got settled in. It was very strange to be in a different house! But I think I will love Solo.

We went on a really fun boat ride around this lake in Solo on my first P-Day!

Monday was Preparation Day, and we went to a lake, which was pretty far from our house. It was super scenic, and very beautiful. When we arrived, Elder M. was not feeling too well, but he still came along, and looked around the park. There were some really cool things, such as elephant rides going on, and it was clean and pretty. We took a boat ride around the big lake, and took some great pictures.

After the boat ride, we ate at a place next to the shore, which had great fish. I had a whole fried one, and it was delicious. There was a lot of spicy sauce, but I am getting used to it, and some of the other Elders were impressed! This is one of the few ways for an American to impress an Indonesian. On the way back, Elder M. was feeling a lot worse, and he had to get off the bus. He sat down on the sidewalk, and looked very ill. A policeman was nearby, and suggested we take him to the hospital across the street. (Very lucky) So we helped him over there, and they took care of him. He rested, and they gave him a shot, which helped with his pain. They also gave him some medicine for when he returned home. The mission couple, Brother and Sister Greenway, came and helped us out. They gave us money for food, and a taxi home. We all went home, and Elder M. went straight to bed. What they gave him helped a lot, and he was able to rest. We were not able to email, but it was nice to stay at home and get a little more settled in. Fireworks were playing all night, but I was so tired, I was eventually able to go to sleep.

Well, there is a little about the adventures I had. It was a pretty eventful week, and it went by fast. I am now more than one-sixth done with my Mission, and I have to enjoy it while it lasts! I hope everyone back home is doing well, and had a great holiday season. I will be emailing again next Monday, and will talk more then!

-Elder James

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