Monday, June 24, 2013

Bekasi Week 6

A policeman who wanted his picture with me!

Hello from Bekasi, Indonesia everyone,

Can you all believe that I have been in Bekasi for over a month now? It really has gone by so fast for me! Although the work is pretty difficult here, us Missionaries have really been trying hard to bring others to Christ through his Gospel. One great thing that has happened was in Solo, Mas Parno, my investigator there was baptized! When I heard the news, I was so happy. He has made such great progress, and I was glad to hear that Bishop Catur was the one who baptized him. I loved going to his home and seeing how hard he was trying to make a difference in his own life so his family would be blessed. I am glad that I was able to meet him and learn from his great efforts.

This week has had quite a bit of changes, one of them being a change in companionship! There have been some big moves announced, and new Missionaries coming in, so in preparation, President switched some companionships around. So I am no longer with Elder Mulyono, and my new companion is Elder Mongan. I was pretty sad to not be companions with Elder Mulyono anymore, because we really got along and worked hard. But Elder Mongan is great, and I am excited to learn from him before he goes home in just a little bit. Because of this, I also had to switch wards from Bekasi 2 to Bekasi 1, which will be tough learning a new area, but I am excited to meet some of the members here. 

Our house has been really busy lately, since the Zone leaders stayed with us from Tuesday night to Thursday morning, and we had two new American Missionaries staying with us from Thursday night until tomorrow morning! So our house has been pretty crowded. The Zone leaders were great to have over, and we had some great teaching appointments with them. 

Getting a ride home in the back of a pickup truck with the new elders!
The new Missionaries are Elder Mccleary and Elder Heiner. Elder Mccleary has been following my companionship, and we have had a good time with him. It is really strange to have new Elders here, because it makes me feel senior, even though I feel relatively new. They are both very hard working, and excited to get to work. 

Our regular English class on Friday was great because we had 4 native English speakers! The students that came were so surprised, and a little nervous. But I think they learned a lot. 

The new Missionaries have been doing great at every appointment despite the fact that they are experiencing culture shock, jet lag, and many other things. We have done our best to have them try as many cool new things as they can, and they have had a great time.

Before I write this next paragraph, I would like to warn anyone who might be afraid of snakes. Namely, my grandmother James. We took the new Missionaries to Brother Aguswanto's restaurant to eat cobra again. 

We got three snakes, and since it was my second time, I asked Brother Aguswanto if I could help prepare the snake. So he let me prepare the cobra for everyone. {I have decided not to share the details!} We all had a great meal. 

So sorry to the mothers of the new Missionaries who have to receive such a gruesome email from the first week their sons are in Indonesia.

Other than that, the rest of the week was pretty normal. Church was great, our investigators are doing well, and we are all coming closer to Christ in this great work. I have been so blessed on this Mission, and I have seen such great results because of it. Thank you all for everything you do, and I hope to hear from some of you through letters! 

-Elder James
Missionaries in an Angkot

Happy Factory cars in Jakarta!!

Some really cool street performers

English class

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bekasi Week 5

Hello once again,

First off, I would like to wish my Dad a very happy Fathers day, and my sister, Janessa, congratulations for graduating High School. My family is the best, and without their love and support, I would not be doing as well as I am on this Mission. I feel their love for me, and it gives me strength to continue on this Mission. I have been doing well this week in Bekasi. Sometimes I feel like I was called to be an English teacher because of all the classes we teach, but it is nice to serve the community in some way. I will now describe a few cool things that happened this past week.

After emailing last Monday, we played ping pong at the church for a little bit. It was a great activity because we were in a nice building with AC the entire time! I will probably get pretty good at ping pong after awhile.

We were also invited by Fedri, an English Student, to eat Rendang at his house. Rendang is a delicious beef dish that is originally from Padang, Indonesia. We ate at his house and visited for a little bit. It was a lot of fun. 

As far as our investigators go, we have had a hard time meeting with most of them this past week. But the few that we were able to visit are doing well. We have really been focusing on finding more people to teach, which is pretty hard, but we have been trying really hard. I meet with many nice people every day, and it is great to be able to see how the gospel can bless these people. Unfortunately, many are too busy or often just do not want to hear the message. But we continue to invite others, and hopefully we will have some success sometime. 

Since we have not had many people to teach, we have visited with many members in our ward. One of which was Bro. Bambang, our Ward Mission Leader. We visited him and his family, discussed the work in the ward, and asked for any referrals or inactive members we could visit. The members here really are great. They have helped us so much in our work, and they are willing to go with us to some appointments. 

Another family that we often visit is Brother Eben's family. We eat at their house almost every Sunday, and they always have a ton of food! Brother Eben gave a talk on Sunday as well about obedience, and it was really great. 

Exchanges were this week, so for Friday I was with Elder Mongan, and on Saturday I was with Elder Johnson. It truly was a test for me on my knowledge of the area. With Elder Mongan I got lost looking for a member's house, and we ended up in a forest basically. But with Elder Johnson I was able to get to all our appointments. It was really funny because on Friday, many of the English students had a surprise for Elder Johnson. He began to teach, and then the class became super rowdy and misbehaved. After being confused for a while, Elder Johnson gave up and asked me to teach. 

A cake was then brought in and we celebrated his birthday. He was really surprised, and we had a lot of fun with the students. 

On Sunday, I got a big bag of goodies from the Jatmiko family in Solo! It had a lot of food, drinks, pictures, and other cool things. A member brought it all the way from Solo just for me! It was a wonderful surprise. I really miss that family, and I am so grateful that I was able to serve in Solo! 

There are the highlights of this week. Although I did not do anything too special, I had a really good time. One thing I recently learned was from a quote by Thomas S. Monson when he said, "We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at present, but as they may become". This is a great quote, and when I heard it a while ago, I thought it only applied to other people. But I re-read it, and realized it also applies to us. We should not be upset or inpatient at the current imperfect state of ourselves, but we should have an eternal vision of what we may become and achieve. With this perspective, we will receive strength to overcome any trial and we will be able to change the weaknesses, which we are all so prone to. I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives me that surety that things will be better in the end. I know that is true. I hope you all have a great week, and I will talk to you again!

-Elder James 

Elder Mulyono drinking Es Cendol

Waiting for English class to start

Sate Kambing, which is goat meat

Playing chess in the apartment

Elder Johnson talking to some kids when we were on exchanges

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bekasi Week 4

Hello again from Bekasi, Indonesia

I have really begun to get used to this city this past week. I am learning how to get around and how to relate to the people here more. Even the language is different in some ways here in West Java. Such as for me and you. In Central Java, they use 'aku' and 'kamu' or 'saya' and 'anda'. But here, instead of aku and kamu, they use 'gue' and 'lu'. It took a while to recognize that, but now it makes sense! The Missionary work is pretty slow here, but my companion and I are working really hard to find people to teach. Here are a few cool things that happened this week.

Last Monday, for our P-day activity, we played soccer at the church in Jakarta. That is why my email last week was short. Many of the Missionaries from West Java came, and we played for almost three hours! 

I sure am getting much better at soccer, even though I am not even close to some of the Indonesian Elders. Many Missionaries, including me, got a little sick because we played so hard and did not drink enough. But I am feeling much better now. 

I remember in Solo and Semarang it was hard because we would bike really far for an appointment, and then they would not be there. That happenes here a lot as well. But here, we take public transportation. We mostly ride 'Angkots' which I have explained before, but now I have a picture! They usually cost between 20 and 50 cents depending how far you go. I do get ripped off often because I am white, but I have gotten used to that. 

The traffic can be really bad most days depending on the time, so we are sometimes sitting in these angkots for two hours or more. The positive side is that we are able to contact many people this way. With riding bikes, it is hard to talk to everyone. But here, we can!

This past week we were able to meet with the Bishop in my ward and his family. When we first arrived, his wife brought out Pizza and soda. I thought that was dinner, and I was so hungry, so I ate a ton. After we talked with the Bishop for a while on how we can help the ward, his wife came back and talked with us. After visiting for a bit, she asked us if we were ready to eat. I looked across the room at the dinner table, and she had prepared a huge meal! The pizza was an appetizer! I could not believe it. We said a prayer, and then ate again. I was about to die going out of their house! They are a great family, and I am glad to serve in this ward. 

We actually went to Jakarta twice this week, because on Friday we had our monthly Zone Training meeting as usual. We left by train, which is the fastest way because it avoids traffic. President had a few interviews before the meeting, and so we all talked and ate Sister Groberg's cookies while waiting. Then the meeting began, and President came which usually does not happen, but since he is leaving this month, he wanted to say a few words. He gave some great advice, and I am so grateful for his great influence on all of us Missinoaries. When the meeting was finished, we all ate at McDonalds and then returned to our individual cities. 

Another member I was able to visit this past week was the family of Elder Hasibuan. I went on exchanges with Elder Mongan, and we went to their house. They made a ton of food, and we talked about how Elder Hasibuan is doing. They were so nice to us, and made us eat a ton. I think I have gained some weight this week from eating so much! 

Well, I hope all of you are doing well. I sure am learning a ton on this Mission. I was thinking the other day about the power of the Priesthood. It has been such a blessing to me and my family, and I really want others to find the same joy. With the power of the Priesthood, we have no reason to fear the things of the world. If we are righteous and worthy, that great power will always protect us. I miss all of you, and I will talk to you next week! 

-Elder James

Picking up some food

Waiting for our train

English class with some little kids

Riding the train that is jam-packed with just fans on the top. It was so hot!
We had our Zone Meeting in Jakarta, so we travelled there.

Elder Mulyono sweeping

At Zone Conference

Sister Suwarsid

Here are some homeless people on the street. There are a ton of them here.
Little kids without homes or families are everywhere-it's so sad!

Food Sister Hasibuan (Elder Hasibuan's mom) prepared for me and
 Elder Mongan when we were on exchanges

Elder Hasibuan's family

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bekasi Week 3

Good Morning Everyone!

I am already on my third week here in Bekasi! It has actually gone by somewhat fast! I am getting used to this city, even though it is so much different from what I was used to in my past areas. What is cool, is that I am learning so much more about the language, culture, and people because of this move. Since I got used to my past area, I was not learning as much. But now that I am around different people who use different words and such, I am progressing a lot. My companion is great, and we have been working really hard lately! I am almost out of time, so this email may be a little shorter than usual, but I will write the important things from this week.

Even though I am still new here, I have had the chance to get to know many members. They have been so nice to me, and when I am at church, so many invite us to eat at their house. We have had to schedule it so that we can go to as many as possible, even though we still cannot do them all. One that was notable was with the Kusno family. We watched a video on families, and then talked about it. They gave us a really good meal which included homemade donuts for dessert. They were very close to each other, and it was a great example of how the gospel blesses families. 

Here is an awesome picture of some kids talking to us after their school,
while we were on our way to some members

Also, we have a ton of English teaching activities here. Three times a week we have scheduled ones, and then sometimes we are invited to speak at some schools. They are all pretty fun, and the students have a fun time. 

At one recent school we were at, Elder Johnson and I taught them how to play 'Heads up Seven up" after the lesson. They loved it so much! They were getting super intense, and it brought back some great memories from my school years. 

We have been pretty busy lately, even though we do not have a ton of success as far as numbers go. But we are working hard in this city, and I sure hope we see some success as we continue to work. I am once again so sorry that this is short, but we have to catch a train to Jakarta this morning! I love and miss you all! Talk to you all next week!

-Elder James

Here are some pictures from the roof of the church.
It is three stories, so there is a pretty cool view. 

Here is all of us on our way to English class. 

A close up of Elder Mulyono who jumped into a photo I was trying to take.

A favorite Nasi Goreng place we like to eat at.

This is Serabi Gaul, a traditional food. I tried it a few days ago, and it was pretty good.
It is like a pancake, but with coconut, and other added toppings.

Here is Elder Mulyono trying a cow's lung. I also tried it, and it was so nasty!
I honestly almost threw up.

This is our English class that we usually have on Thursdays.

Here is one picture of those bike-powered rides that you saw on the Amazing race.
There are lots here in Jakarta!