Monday, August 26, 2013

Yogyakarta Week 1

{Elder James sent us a quick email last week and told us the exciting news that he was being transferred to Yogyakarta / Jogjakarta / Jokja (many different ways to say and spell the city's name). When telling us about the change, he said, "I am so happy to go back to Jawa Tengah. I think it is much more 'cocok' for me!" Not entirely sure what that means, but he seems happy for the change, although he will really miss the people of Bekasi. He will be a District Leader there and I think there are only 2 Elders and 2 Sisters. Yogykarta looks like a very beautiful place and it is the closest city to that amazing place he visited, Borobudur, when he was in Solo.}

Hello from Jogja everyone!

I am really sorry that this will be so short. We arrived at our house just an hour ago, since we did not know where it was. The Mission couple took us there and gave us the keys and the phone. My companion and I are 'whitewashed' here, which means we are both completely new. So we do not know anything about the area other than what the previous Missionaries wrote down. We have a lot of work to do! I will try to send a few pictures of my last moments in Bekasi, but this computer is really slow!

I really had a great last week in Bekasi with all the members and other people. On Sunday, I was privileged to baptize the daughter of Sister Hesti, Hilasia. She turned eight, and after learning a bit, she was ready to be baptized. Her elder siblings were baptized by other Missionaries, so she wanted me to baptize her. It really was an amazing experience, and my first baptism I have performed.

I wish I could write some of the other things that happened this past week, but that was by far the most important one. I will have more time next week, and I can write much more. Thank you all for everything!

-Elder James
This is Bakso, which I did not used to like, but now I love it! 
This is from a really good place in Bekasi. 

This is a lady hand making a shirt that looked really difficult!

A member's mother watching 'The Five' on Fox. It was pretty funny to see!

Elder Martoyo with a cute puppy.

Elder Martoyo and I at the church service project on Saturday.

Us eating 'Bebek Setan' (Satan Duck) Which is the most spicy thing
I have ever eaten. It was my last meal I bought in Bekasi.

Us with Jordan Greenwell and the Tandiman family. 

A cool picture of the city.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bekasi Week 14

Selamat Siang semuanya! Semoga anda baik dan sehat!

There have been many changes this week, and lots of things happening. I can't believe I have been in Bekasi for three months already. With all these changes, I realize how long it has actually been! I have made so much progress recently in many ways, and my companion and I are working really hard. Here are a few highlights of this past week.

I hate to begin on a sad note, but Brother Heri, the father of Daniel, passed away on Thursday. He had cancer, and died peacefully with his family at his side. I was really close to his family, since my companion and I taught his son, Daniel, before he was baptized. I was really sad when I heard this news, but I know of the reality of Families being together forever. He was a great man, and I wish the best to his family and friends. 

This week, all three of the other Elders left Bekasi, and Elder Martoyo came. 

Elder Mongan
Elder Mongan went to Bandung, where he will spend two weeks, and then go home. 

Elder Mulyono
Elder Mulyono was finished, and went home! 

Elder Johnson
Elder Johnson went to Manado, and he is so happy to finally leave the Jakarta area. My new companion is not really new, since he was my trainer in Semarang. He is really great, and a very hard worker. We will get a lot done here. It is strange to be in a house alone with just my companion, but I am glad because I will learn a lot. 

Elder Mongan and I at the Hasibuan house, eating 'Siomay'.
It is a pretty strange dish, but not bad. It is hard and gross to explain, so I won't haha.

We were able to visit a few members this past week, which always means eating a ton. The first was the Hasibuan family, where we ate Siomay, a traditional dish that is really hard to explain. We also went to Brother Syaiful's house, and spent some time with his family. His daughter was so cute! I kept taking pictures of her, and she loved it. Elder Martoyo was not feeling to great at this point, so we went home and rested.

Elder Martoyo kept feeling pretty sick, so he started to do many of the traditional treatments to himself. I helped with one that is called 'Croaking'. You put this oil with menthol on the skin, and then rub lines on the skin with a coin. It must hurt like heck, but I have not tried it yet. Elder Martoyo said I did a really good job! Maybe I can become a traditional doctor here! But I will not comment if I think those treatments work. We told President, and he said to go to the hospital to get his blood checked. We did, and nothing was wrong. After a few days, he felt much better, and we went to work! 

On the 17th, it was Indonesia's Independence Day. There was a ward party that we went to, and it was a lot of fun. 

They sang the national anthem, told stories from their families, and sang karaoke. 

An elderly Sister got up and told from her memory the revolution when the Japanese were here. She was only six, but remembers it quite well. Everyone listened intently to her story. I was very impressed. 

The food they served was very traditional, and I liked it a lot. We had to leave a little early since we had a few appointments, but it was fun.

There are a few things that happened to me this week! Next week, we will be super busy since it is just myself and Elder Martoyo covering two wards and areas. But I am really happy to be busy serving the Lord. I have also gained a stronger testimony of the reality of Families being together forever. I can't imagine it being any other way. I love my family so much, and I am so grateful for the wonderful plan that God has given us so that we can return to him with our families. Jesus Christ is the center of that plan, and I know that he lives. I feel his love so much right now, and I hope others will be able to feel the same, especially when hard times come. Thank you for all the support, and I hope your week goes well. 

-Elder James

This is Brother Syaiful's daughter. She is so cute! She made this face while taking a
picture because the camera has an orange light before the picture is taken. It was funny!

A lizzard that got into our Fridge, and died eating cookies.
A good way to die I guess?

Since there are only two of us in the house, we each get the best of everything, 
and the house is really clean! This is my set-up for my bed. It is really cozy!

Do you remember the free rock I got in my food from the cheap 'wartug'?
Well yesterday I got another free item in my food! A caterpillar! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bekasi Week 13

       Us eating at Cipto's house, who is an English student
Hello Everyone!

This past week has been pretty strange, because it is the Islam holiday of Lebaran, which comes after Ramadhan. Almost everyone goes home to wherever they are from, and spends time with family. What is difficult, is the fact that many people in this area are from other places in Indonesia, so this area is very empty and quiet. Usually there is a lot of traffic and many people, but this week, there was none! 

It was hard to find anyone to visit, so we mostly went to the homes of members. It was a lot of fun. Here are some fun things that we did. 

Last week for P-day, we went to a nearby mall which is brand new and really nice. They had a little Mummy exhibition, which was pretty cool, but everything inside was fake. But looking around at the mall was really fun. We saw some members there, and they immediately invited us to eat with them. We drove to a restaurant, and ate together. I was so glad that we saw them! They were really nice to us. 

The very next day, we went to the home of Brother Bong and his family. He had a daughter there who was visiting from Texas, where she lives with her husband. Her kids are part Indonesian, but they can only speak a little of the language since they are being raised in Texas. They had been in Indonesian for a long time, and so they were very happy to talk English with me. It was really funny. We ate pizza, which is rare, so I was very happy. 

Although almost all of our investigators were gone, we were still able to meet with a few of them. We had some great lessons, and I was glad that they continue to receive us. We are a bit short on investigators, and the ones we have are not really making a lot of progress. So we have continued to focus on finding new investigators, and I hope we have some success! It is just so hard to proselyte here when you cannot go door-to-door. 

Another family we visited was the Cayono family. They are a very strong, active family, and they invited us to their home. It was very far away, so they picked us up and drove us. We gave a short message on Missionary work, and ate a ton! We listened to some stories from their Missions and experiences, and it was a lot of fun. I am so grateful for the members here!

One new thing this week is that a big move was announced. I am staying in Bekasi, but everyone else in this house is moving. Elder Mulyono is going home, Elder Mongan is moving to Bandung, and Elder Johnson is moving to Manado. My new companion is Elder S.Martoyo, who was my trainer in Semarang! He only has a little bit left, and I am really happy to get the chance to be companions with him again. We will work really hard since we have two areas to cover now. 

For P-day today, we went to Jakarta with some other Missionaries in the Zone, and went ice skating at a very nice mall. It was so refreshing to feel ice and cool air again. The place was pretty crowded, but we still had a really good time. Afterwards, we went to Carl's Junior, which is the only place in Indonesia that has free refills. It is also only in Jakarta, so we took advantage of the opportunity. It was so good! It also was nice not worrying about my drink running out. 

Well, there is a little about my week! I hope you all had a good one as well. Thank you for everything you do to support me, whether it be through prayers or letters. I will update you all again in my next email! Thank you!

-Elder James

Everything was fake in the exhibit, but still pretty cool.

Stuck in traffic in an angkot

Elder Lee built this gym out of concrete, toilets and other random things.
{This does not seem safe at all!}

The meal I prepared; it doesn't look like much, but it was great for me!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bekasi Week 12

Halo Semuanya lagi! {Hello all again!}

I have had a really cool week, with some interesting experiences. I love weeks like this, because even though there are some unpleasant experiences, I learn a lot, and it is unique. I would also like to thank all of you who have sent me letters and other things. They really make a difference, and I am so grateful for them! Here are some experiences from this week.

Last week, on Monday, we went to Jakarta and played footsol with other Missionaries for P-day. I actually did pretty good, in comparison to how I played when I was new in Indonesia. I also was able to take some really cool pictures with my new camera, and they turned out great! It was really nice to see many of the Missionaries from our Zone. We had to leave from there a little early, because we were invited to eat with some English students. They fed us Soto and some other food, and we had a good time.

One night when the AC was out, I must have slept with my
hand outside of the mosquito net, because when I woke up my hand was
covered in bites, but the rest of my body was fine.

Also, I am so grateful, because after many hot, long, mosquito infested nights, our AC was finally fixed. The guy that came to fix it was late many times before, so we had to wait for a pretty long time. But he got it done, and it is so much better now! The problem, surprisingly, was a very small lizard that entered into one of the pipes and died. It stunk so bad for such a small lizard! We thought it was a rat from the smell. The first night with the AC was amazing. I woke up cold, which felt so good!

On exchanges with Elder Johnson, we had to
ride on a ferry to get across the river
District leader exchanges were this week, so I followed Elder Johnson to his area for one day, and then Elder Mulyono came with me to my area a few days later. When I was with Elder Johnson, we proselyted in an area that he found which was full of Christians. Right away, we found a few ladies, and taught the first lesson. We also took advantage of having two Americans together, and ate at Wendy's for lunch. There are only a few in Indonesia, and it was so good! 

A shake (really rare here) and root beer!
Later, we were going to teach a young member about the Plan of Salvation, so we stopped at A&W and got a snack while drawing the plan. He was very smart, and is ready to be baptized!

A rock found in my food!

I usually do not eat at places like Wendy's, McDonald's and others because they are the most expensive here! (but the same price if not cheaper than in the U.S.) We mostly eat at places on the street that have good, cheap food. But this last time I got that food, I was chewing, and bit something really hard. It was a rock! It was completely disguised in the vegetables and rice. I am lucky I did not break any of my teeth! But it was okay.

On Friday, we went to Jakarta again for Zone Conference. We discussed our investigators, and any problems we were having, and also heard some announcements and changes from the leaders. President Donald also came and discussed some of the changes. One is that we now have to carry a Book of Mormon in our hand everywhere we go. I really like this new plan, because people will be curious about the book. It also helps us focus on our purpose at all times. We ate at Burger King afterwards, and then took a train back home. The train was absolutely packed! People would push and shove to get in. I felt so bad for the little kids who were getting smashed. Since the gas prices are up, the train prices have gone down, so more people ride trains. To get from Bekasi to Jakarta is only 20 cents.

This is me and Pak Hutabarat, an investigator. He is super old, but really nice.
He is way funny. Every time he meets with me, he says, 'excellent boy!' in english.

Well, there is my week! I hope you all liked to hear about the cool experiences I have had. One lesson I learned this week was from this month’s copy of the Liahona. It was an article by Elder Oaks, about revelation. He told a story when he was President of BYU, and wanted the President of the U.S. to come and speak. He could not decide when, how long, or what the subject would be, but he could just ask, giving the President all the decisions. It is the same with prayer. We cannot decide when, where, or in what way God will answer, we can just ask with faith. He will answer, but it will often take time. I have definitely experienced this on my Mission so far. Thank you all for everything, and I will talk to you next week!

-Elder James

This is a cool landmark in our area that I pass often.
It is in a place called 'Harapan baru', which means 'new hope'. 
Elder Johnson in traditional clothing

Happy day--the 7-11 in Jakarta now has Mt. Dew Slurpees!

I thought these signs in McDonalds were funny, since they are "only in Indonesia."
The Musholla is a prayer room for muslims.
And of course there is a smoking room since everyone smokes here.