Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bekasi Week 2

{This letter, and especially the photos, are a little hard for me to post tonight. However, I know that Elder James wants them to be part of the story of his mission. But, this is a warning that if you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip this week's post!}

This is taken in front of our apartment in Bekasi.

Hello again everyone!

This first week and a half in Bekasi has gone by fairly fast, and I am still doing well. The city is so much different from what I have come to be used to in Indonesia, but I am adjusting more and more as time goes by. The heat is really killer. Unlike biking, where the wind is in your face, and you do not sweat as much, we travel by these little vans called Angkots, which are packed full of people, and it is blistering hot. 

But my companion and I have been getting along great, and we have been working super hard lately. The members here are also really cool, and they help us a ton with the work. Here are some highlights of this crazy week!

An English class where we teach kids and teens.
After emailing last week, we rested, cleaned, and studied. Our only appointment was a regular English class with a member named Brother Samuel. It was mostly for kids and teens, and a ton of people came. We had to split the class into age groups, and I got the teenagers. They were pretty nervous to speak at first, but once we all got to know each other, the class went well. They wanted to learn how to order food, so I taught them. It was a pretty simple lesson, and we had some fun. We then ate at Brother Samuel's house, and he took us home. 

The crazy, confusing map in our apartment of our area!
Although I am new here in Bekasi, I have been able to meet a lot of the members already and do things with them. One in particular is Sister Hesti and her family. She has been such a great help to us lately with an investigator. We have an investigator who has a concern with the Book of Mormon, so we went over there with Sister Hesti. She brought a spirit and shared experiences which helped the investigator feel much more comfortable. It was a great thing, and we were so grateful for Sister Hesti's efforts. She has three kids as well, who apparently always love the Missionaries. Their whole family is so sweet to us.

I was also able to do something this week that really made me feel like an effective Missionary. I contacted an older Christian lady while travelling to an area, and she said we could make a visit to her house another day. I got her address, and a few days later I tried to go over there with my companion. She was there with her husband, and they received us into their house. We gave the message of the restoration, and gave them each Books of Mormon. They enjoyed the lesson, even though they were a little confused about our church. They said they would read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. I felt good about this because it was the first time I did everything to find someone to teach. It is much easier here in Bekasi because we ride public transportation. We will follow up with that family later, and I hope they have read!

Here is him playing with one of the cobras, and the cobra getting angry and ready to strike.
This was the one that I ate!
The craziest eating experience I have had on my Mission was this past week as well. There is a member in my ward named Brother Aguswanto, who hunts for snakes, collects them, and also cooks some. He had snakes ranging from King Cobras, to a 4-meter python, which is fed a cat almost daily. They were everywhere, and it was so cool to see. He even brought out a cobra to play with, which was extremely poisonous and he just let it roam around with us standing there. He was not afraid at all! 

I wanted to try to eat one, so I asked him to prepare a cobra. He cut off the head, drained the blood, skinned it, and then prepared it in different ways. It was so cool! 

I first drank the blood, which was mixed with the liquid from one of the organs. It was really bitter and gross, but he said it was very healthy. 

I then ate the snake, which was prepared as fried meat, and sate. He also had a soup with Python in it, which was good. It was a once in a lifetime eating experience! 

This past Sunday was great, because I was able to meet all the members for the first time. Last Sunday was Stake Conference, so this Sunday was technically my first at this church. The ward is much smaller than my last one, but everyone is so close. I introduced myself in Sacrament meeting, and I immediately felt at home. 

Some cute member children that we visited.
The members kept inviting me to their homes, and saying how happy they were that I was here. It was a really great thing. That night we went to one member's house, and ate together. They made me eat a ton, and I could barely walk on the way home. I know I will become so close to the members here, and I can't wait to get to know them better.

The outskirts of Bekasi.
Well, that is all for today. I am having a great time here in Indonesia, and my testimony of the restored gospel is growing daily. This is the chance of a lifetime, and I am so glad I made the decision to go on a Mission. Thank you all for your support! 

-Elder James

Our normal English class had so many people this week!

Here is how I buy my breakfast or lunch sometimes.
These guys are everywhere, and they carry a bunch of cheap food.
I sometimes get nuts, fruit, or bread for really cheap!

A public restroom {I am rethinking my visit to Indonesia}

This python is 4 meters long and is fed a cat daily. {GROSS}

 These are the cobras, and the 'berbahaya' means dangerous.
He was crazy with the snakes, playing with them and such, even though they could all easily kill us.

He cut off the head first, drained the blood into a cup,
and peeled the skin off while it was hanging on a rope.

I also drank the blood, which was mixed with liquid from the liver or something.
It tasted so strange!
He prepared it into Sate, fried meat, and the python into a soup. It was good, and only $10!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bekasi Week 1

Hello Everyone,

I am still doing great here in Indonesia, and I continue to learn lots about the culture, people, language, and most importantly, the gospel. I am now at the point where I can have a good, complete conversation, and it has really helped me with the work. I hope that all of you are also doing well, and that you continue to help the Missionaries in your own wards. Members are the most important resource for Missionaries, and without their work, we would not have as much work to do.

Bishop Jatmiko's family and the Greenways
all came to see Elder Lee and I off, which was so nice of them!
I am now in my new city! After four and a half months in Solo, the time came for me to move. I moved on Wednesday, after shopping and preparing my things. I have bought and received so many things in Solo, so it was really hard for me to pack all my things. Luckily, here in Indonesia, they do not care about how many carry-on items one has, so you can literally take a ton on the plane. I checked my suitcase, and took a backpack, side bag, duffel bag, and two plastic bags full of things on the plane. It was ridiculous! The Greenways and Bishop's family took us all to the airport, and said goodbye. I will miss all of them so much! Then Elder Lee and I travelled to Jakarta!

My new companion in Bekasi is Elder Mulyono
We first went to Senopati, where the Mission home is, and I transferred some things from my bag I left. I got a bunch of deoderant from America, which was really nice! Then Elder Mongan and I took a taxi to Bekasi, which is not very far away from Jakarta. Bekasi is like a different country in comparison to Solo and Semarang. We do not use bikes, and it is ridiculously crowded. I really do miss Solo, but I am excited to have new experiences here, and learn lots. My new companion is Elder Mulyono, who is from Solo. He is a great Missionary, and really works hard. I have been exhausted every night so far, which is a great sign of how hard you are working. He has been out for a very long time, and I might be his last companion.

We had a fun experience teaching English at a school. We taught for a really long time, and there were two different classes. One was just boys, and they were really rowdy. But then Elder Johnson suggested a game, and we split them up into two groups. I offered the winning team some gum from America. They all became super quiet, and they worked super hard in the English game. It was pretty funny how desperately they tried to get one stick of gum each. 

Me and Elder S. Martoyo, my trainer in Semarang
Stake conference for West Java was this week as well, and all Missionaries went. We left on Saturday, went to the session that night, and stayed over at the Mission home in Jakarta. I saw many other Missionaries and members again which was great. 

MTC District reunion - Elder Walton, Elder Rogers and Elder Johnson
I saw Elder S. Martoyo who was my trainer, and I also saw a few Missionaries from my MTC group. Staying together at the Mission home was a blast, and it was great to talk about our different experiences so far. 

I saw the Sugiyanto family as well, which was awesome. It was strange when I remembered that they had just met with my family. It was a good conference, and I was glad that we could go to it. 

Well, I am out of time, and I apologize that this one was a little shorter than usual. I am having a good time here with the other Missionaries in Bekasi, Elder B. Johnson, Elder Mongan, and Elder Mulyono. We are working hard here, and I am having some different, but great experiences. Thank you all once again for all your thoughts and prayers.

Sampai minggu depan! Semoga anda terus untuk beriman dan maju di dalam Yesus Kristus dan Kurban Tebusan dia. 

-Elder James

Mas Parno, our investigator in Solo that has a baptism date!

Mas Parno's Family

Saying goodbye to Agus

Bishop Jatmiko and his family took us out to
eat at a really cool restaurant for my last meal.

I will really miss the famous Pak John and his food! 

I loved my Solo companion, Elder Martoyo.
I was with him for such a long time and he taught me so much!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Solo Week 20

Happy Mother's Day Everyone! 

I hope all you mothers who are reading this had a great day. I had the great opportunity this morning to video call my family at Elder and Sister Greenway's apartment. It was so nice to see and talk to them, and it reinforced the fact that I have such great support and love behind me. I also felt so grateful to have a wonderful, loving mother. She has always been leading me through the right paths, and helping me through my trials and concerns. I love her so much, as I do the rest of my family as well. Because of having the chance to call them, my email time will be a little shorter for today. But I will still express the cool experiences I have had this past week to all of you.

First off, our preparation day was changed to Thursday for a ward activity, so Monday was spent as a normal day with the exception of emailing. We have still been doing great with our few investigators, and we continue to work hard in bringing back non-active members. We also constantly fellowship and befriend the members here, and strive to strengthen the ward. But honestly, I learn way more from all these people than they possibly could learn from me. It is such a great experience! 

I had the chance to eat with Solo first ward's Mission Leader, Brother Tian. His family is infamous for over-feeding the Missionaries. They started out with a traditional Javanese dish, which could have been a meal by itself, and some Es Buah. I was already full after eating that, but they brought out more. The next plate was a huge serving of spaghetti. They said they would be offended in a joking way if we did not eat it all, so we all tried to do so. Elders Lee, Martoyo and I were successful, but Elder Lopis and the Sisters were not. But I think they were the smart ones, because I felt like I was going to burst after that meal! 

The activity on Thursday was for the Solo first ward, which is not mine, but my companion and I were invited anyway. We all met at the church, and then took buses to Jokjakarta. We went to a really cool Zoo there, which was a ton of fun. I saw many different kinds of animals from Indonesia, and they even had some that you could interact with! 

My favorite was the huge python they let me hold. It was really heavy, and kept trying to wrap around my neck! What was also crazy was the fact that they had very little separating the visitors from the animals. 

While in the Crocodile and Komodo Dragon section, there was only a 3-4 foot glass wall between you and the hungry reptiles. I could honestly have stuck my hand out to touch one of the twelve-foot crocs. 

After we were finished at the Zoo, we took a quick trip to a nearby beach. It was not as beautiful as the last ones I went to, but it was still a lot of fun. We ate a lot, and the members were very nice to us. 

Well, on Friday night, I received some sad news. It was from one of the assistants to the President, and he said that I will be moving to Bekasi (a sub-city of Jakarta) on Wednesday. I have already been in Solo for four and a half months, which is usually about the time to move. My companion will stay here a little longer and train the new Elder, who is Elder M. Johnson! He will absolutely love my area in Solo, and I am glad he is the one that will be replacing me. On Sunday, I gave my farewell talk, and I was pretty choked up. I have really built a strong love and respect for the members here, and it will be very sad to leave them. But I am looking forward to some great experiences in Bekasi. 

Thank you all again for all the support you give me. Thank you also for all of you that have given me letters recently; they really mean a lot. I am continuing to grow on this Mission, and I feel so lucky to be here. There are many hard times, and things that test my faith, but each one of these challenges have helped me become stronger. I look forward to emailing all of you again. Thank you! 

-Elder James

This is some Indonesians making Bakpia. They are these little treats that are so good!
It is really hard to describe them.

This is the cheap place I always talk about across from the church. I took this today, since
I would probably not eat there again. The woman you see is always very nice to us Missionaries.

Here is one of the places we went shopping today. You would love it there! It is a huge building full of places like this one that have tons of cheap, good quality fabric.