Monday, February 11, 2013

Solo Week 7 - Borobudur

Hello Again from Solo!

This week has been by far the most fun so far on my Mission. I was able to do some awesome things, and the language is really coming along. The lessons that my companion and I are teaching are becoming more spiritual, and I am seeing the love of Christ in everyone we teach. My companion and I are also becoming very unified in our teaching, and I am learning so much from him. Nothing builds one's faith like teaching with the spirit. I also really like Solo, and I am learning how to get around. We will be moving before the end of this month, so it is a little stressful, but it will be cool to be the first Missionaries in a new house. I will now give an overview of the interesting things that happened this week!

On Monday, after my last email, we had a few appointments, and later on we played footsol. I am still not very good, and I think I foul more than everyone else combined, but the Indonesians are patient with me. I never really liked soccer in any type before my Mission, but it is actually a lot of fun! I think I will get a lot better at it by the time I am done with my Mission. Soccer is such a huge thing here in Indonesia, and really, the rest of the world.

A major test of my knowledge as a Missionary came on Tuesday. It was time for another companionship exchange, but this time I was with Elder Lee. During the last exchange, I was with Elder Hasibuan, and he knows Solo very well. So when I got lost, he would know where to go. But Elder Lee is newer than me in this city, so if I got lost, it was all on my head! The Mission couples here in Solo took all of us out to eat at lunchtime, at a place called 'Papa Ron's' (a spin off of Papa John's). They inspect all of our houses every month and see if they are clean or not, and since all of our houses were great, they rewarded us! After this, Elder Lee and I were on our own. Luckily, I was able to go to our appointments, but it took a little longer than usual. We visited Brother Agus again, and Elder Lee was glad he was able to see his great spirit. After that, we proselyted at the local mall for a while, but there were not that many people there. The next appointment we had was with Danielle again, and it went well. For English Class, we were really hoping that a few people would come, but it started raining right before. When this happens, no one comes! So we waited at the church, and then ate at Pak John's. It seems like I barely passed the test!

Wednesday was as regular of a day as you can get here in Indonesia. We had our regular study times in the morning, ate, and went out for the day. Two of the people we planned on visiting were not home, but we were able to teach two Investigators. One stood out to me, because when we arrived at his house, his mother was having an argument with him. It was a little heated, but when we came in, they went into different rooms. We had planned on teaching about hope, but my companion jumped right in and taught about respecting your Mother and Father. It was one of the most powerful lessons I have been a part of. The atmosphere of the room changed from a feeling of contention to an overwhelming feeling of the love that comes from families. It made me think of my own family, and all the times I could have been a lot nicer to my parents. What is more important than teaching a detailed lesson, is teaching according to the needs of the Investigator. This one obviously needed to hear a message about family, so we gave one. It helped so much. Around dinnertime, we went to the Sukanto's house and ate dinner with them. They are a very strong member family, and they had very cute kids (see picture). We communicated about our success in the area, and Brother Sukanto was able to give us some great advice.

On Thursday, for our service project, we went back to the normal park we usually clean up, so it was fun. Many kids from school often come to this park for their exercise period, so it is cool to see all of them in their uniforms. They always think it is so funny that white people are picking up trash. After we cleaned, we washed up and ate. We had a little bit of free time, so we went shopping in preparation for our trip on Monday. I bought a very cool Batik shirt, and some other things that I needed. Batik is a traditional fabric for the island of Java, and it is especially cheap and common here in Solo. We went to a place that had so many options; it was so hard to pick one! But I finally picked a nice blue shirt, and I was happy with it. Later on, we had a few appointments, including teaching Danielle at the Bishop's house. It is a fairly far bike ride, taking about thirty minutes there and thirty minutes back. But I sure have become fast on a bicycle! I think biking will be a hobby of mine when I get back.

What really set this past Friday apart was how hot it was outside. I have gotten fairly used to the humidity, but when it is combined with scorching heat, it is brutal! During my studies, I had to have a fan on me the entire time, or I would break into an intense sweat. At around lunchtime, we biked to the Church north of ours, and had District Meeting. Sister Greenway brought some blonde brownies, and they were so good! I sure miss those kind of American treats. Once it was finished, we looked at a few houses with Elder Greenway. We have many options, but only a few will work for us. This has been taking up a great deal of time, since we have to be out of our house by March 1st! However, it is pretty cool to have a say in the decision. We also visited with Agus again, gave a short lesson, but Elder Martoyo mostly talked about soccer with him. I have no clue when it comes to soccer teams, so I had to sit there silently. I wished they were talking about American Football instead! For English Class, we did not think anyone would show up, because no one has in the past two weeks. But two people came! It caught us completely off guard, and we mostly worked on conversation.

Nothing too interesting happened on Saturday, but we did do weekly planning because we did not have time before. Weekly planning is so important, because we plan basically everything we will do and teach in the coming week. We make specific goals for each person we are teaching, and it is a very important aspect of Missionary work.  But like I said, other than planning, nothing too special happened.

Sundays are always nice, and this one was no different. Since we do not exercise on Sunday, I woke up at 6:30 instead of 5:00. That hour and a half made all the difference in the world! Even though before I started exercising, 6:30 felt very early. During Sacrament Meeting, and all the classes, I was able to really focus on the language. When I put in a lot of effort, I can understand almost everything they say. It helped that we learned mostly church language in the MTC. But it is much more interesting at church when you understand what others are saying. This extra focus made me extra hungry, so when I returned home, I made a delicious meal of cheese mashed potatoes (from a package another American Missionary left) and fish (not sure what kind, I just bought it at the store). It sounds pretty simple, but it tasted very good! Later on, we were invited to a member's house to eat and give a short message. We went, and the family was very nice. They had great food, and we had fun visiting with them (picture of me and Elder Martoyo with that family). There was a great spirit in their home, and it was a refreshing feeling.

Monday was by far the highlight of the week. Our District, and other Missionaries from our Zone went to Borobudur, a Buddhist temple in Magelang. This is why I was not able to email yesterday. We left very early, because it is fairly far from Solo. When it is that far, we have to get permission from President Groberg, but he gave it without question. It took about three and a half hours to get there, but it was fun to travel with our group. When we arrived, we met up with the other Missionaries from different cities, and ate lunch. It was a little more expensive than usual, since we were in a tourist area. My meal was a whopping twenty thousand rupia! ($2) 

We then entered the gates, and went to the temple. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen! We were able to all take many pictures, and climb to the top. Many tourists were there, but mostly from Indonesia. I was asked by about fifteen different people to get a picture with them. I should have charged a little bit of money! But I always said yes, so I am now a local celebrity.

{From Wikipedia: Borobudur is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple that was built during the reign of the Sailendra Dynesty. The monument consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms and is decorated with 2,672 relieve panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside a perforated stupa. It was constructed in the 9th century and abandoned following the 14th century decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java, and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814.}

Afterwards, there was literally a maze of souvenir shops. These salesmen would crowd us like there was no tomorrow trying to sell little trinkets. Because I know Indonesian, I can barter with them. So I got a full size blow dart gun for $4, a traditional knife for $1.50, and a little statue for $3. If I were to pay the price they were asking, I would have paid more than $40. Awesome!!! 

This trip was by far the best I have taken in Indonesia. Once we returned to Solo, we ate, and went straight to bed. I was exhausted, but I had an amazing experience.

This is my little description of what happened this week. I hope all of you like it! As always, I would love to hear from all of you, so any letters are greatly appreciated! I look forward to writing about many more amazing experiences and blessings that come from this incredible Mission!

-Elder James

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