Hello from Rainy Solo!
Solo has been great lately, but we have been getting a ton of rain. A few times, it has flooded in some areas, and we have had to bike in up to six inches of water! I have a hardcore two-piece poncho, which helps a lot, but we still get drenched at times. This week has gone by ridiculously fast, and I am trying to keep up with the time as it is flying by. I have been really progressing in the language, but I still am far from fluent. If I am talking about church, I could go on forever. But once someone approaches me talking about business or soccer, I am lost. The people here in Solo are great, and even though it can be hard to find new investigators, I am happy to be serving here. Here is a short description of some interesting things that happened.
Tuesday was a pretty regular day after I emailed. We had English class as always, but since it rained a little bit, no one came. I wish it would not rain on Tuesday and Friday nights so people would actually show up to class! It can be very boring sitting at the church waiting for students. But one good thing is that the church has AC. Later on, we ate at Pak John's, which always makes my day better. His grilled chicken is amazing! That will be one of my best memories of Solo; sitting down with all the Missionaries, eating chicken, laughing, and having a great time!
On Wednesday, we were able to eat lunch after study time at my favorite place. It is right across the street from the church, and the food is ridiculously cheap. I can get so much food for under a dollar, and it tastes great. Solo is famous for cheap food, so I always eat lots. But I somehow continue to lose weight, just not as fast as I did in Semarang. Our first appointment was with a less active member, and so we were encouraging him to come to church. The entire time, he had a little dog, which was barking like crazy! It became hard to teach, but we finished what we needed to say. Hopefully that dog will not bark so much next time! We also visited an investigator who has been looking into the church since 2005. We do our best to help him progress, but he will not act. He has said the church is true, and he reads the scriptures, but he will not stop smoking, and he does not come to church. This can be very disappointing for Missionaries anywhere. But what has been really cool is that we never give up on him, just like our Savior, Jesus Christ never gives up on us. He continues to help us, even if we are not progressing. He never gives up on us, no matter how far away we are from him. It is such a blessing! The last appointment was at a part-member family, and the lesson went very well. Our goal is to get the entire family to come to church. I hope they do!
Thursday was obviously Valentine’s Day, and boy was it different than the usual celebrations in the United States! We did get a lot of food, though, so it was a good day. It started with our early morning service at the park, but when we got there, it was destroyed because of all the storms we have been having. There was one really bad one in that area. Almost every single tree was fallen, or broken. I wish I brought my camera, but other Missionaries did take a few pictures and I will try and get a copy. So basically, all we did was move the fallen trees with a bunch of local Indonesians. It was actually very difficult. This made the meal afterwards that much better! When we got home, the Mission couples dropped off some candy and notes to us for Valentines Day, which was very nice of them. Later in the night, we went to the Bishop's house to teach Danielle, and afterwards, they had a huge Valentine’s feast! They had KFC, fries, ice cream, and a bunch of other great food. It was a fun little party. Near the end, the bishop was teasing that he was tired, so he and his wife posed for the camera and pretended they were sleeping. They are so much fun!
District Meeting was on Friday, as usual, and it was nice to have all the Missionaries together. We all discussed our efforts in our respective areas, and told of the success we have been having. A few of the Missionaries have planned baptisms for the end of this month, which is really exciting for everyone in Solo. The other really cool thing that happened this day was an unplanned visit with a member. We were biking to another appointment, and it started to rain heavily. While we were biking, we saw a member on the side of the road. His house was right there, and he invited us in. He was super westernized! He had a huge American flag in his front room, and would not stop talking about America! It made me really miss the States. He also had something like nine cars, which he was working on to restore to original condition. I wish I had taken some pictures of a few of them. One in particular was an old Jeep Wrangler, which was tricked out. It had police lights all over it, FBI stickers, and a big bronze Statue of Liberty on the hood. It was awesome! We gave a short message to them, and went on our way. The members are awesome!
On Saturday, I was on companionship exchanges with Elder Hernandez from Los Angeles. We had a great day together, and the two scheduled appointments we had went very well. One in particular man is usually not interested in the gospel, and does not want to learn. But when Elder Hernandez and I went, he was entirely receptive to the message, and we had a great lesson. Not that my companion and I did not do a good job before, but it was nice to have the investigator meet another Missionary. Also, while we were riding our bikes, we ran into a blockade in the road. Apparently, it was Solo's birthday, and they had a huge parade! It was so lucky that we arrived just in time to see it. There were many people dressed in traditional outfits, and it was cool to see Javanese culture. We also ate at the nearby mall, and I found a sushi place! It was super cheap-only two dollars for one roll of sushi. Not as good as when my mom makes it, but still good.
Sunday was a pretty normal, long day. During Priesthood, I was asked to translate for Elder Knorrp, a Senior Missionary. I did my best, but it was very difficult. It was my first time translating, and I never thought it would be that hard! I did okay, but it is so hard to hear in Indonesian, and then speak in English. Especially when the teacher talks so fast, and you have to keep up. By far the longest priesthood class I have ever been in! There were a few meetings after church, and so we were there for a while. Once we finally arrived at home, we studied and ate. I made another great meal of canned fish, which tasted a lot better than it sounds. We only had one appointment made, but they were not home. It rained super hard that night!
Well, there is my little description of the recent experiences here in Solo, Indonesia this past week. I hope all of you reading this enjoy these emails. I sure am having a great time here, and my testimony of this Church is growing rapidly. I had a testimony before I left on my Mission, but it has been getting much stronger. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. There is no way that he was able to write the Book of Mormon by his own hand. It is too complicated and inspired to be of man. This holy record is where my testimony lies. If this Church did not have it, it would have ended a long time ago. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I encourage everyone reading this, no matter who you are, to read and study from it's pages. I promise it will bless you so much in this hectic life. There is no other way towards true happiness than through the Lord Jesus Christ. I love you all, and wish you the best.