Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Yogyakarta Week 10

Selamat pagi dari Jogja!

This week has sure been an eventful one, and I have been able to see and do a lot of cool things. I cannot believe that in a few days, I will have already been in this country for a year. The time really has gone fast now that I think about it, and I cannot imagine how fast these next months will go by. I am so happy to be serving here, and I am especially happy that the work has been picking up lately. Here are some interesting things from this past week.

At Brother Kanon's house with the sisters; he is Elder Kusumarmanto's uncle.
After about two months in Jogja, Elder Kusumarmanto moved to Jakarta. The move was on Tuesday, and I actually followed him to Jakarta. We had a really nice trip, and it was great to be in the Mission home for a few days. The home now has hot water, and a real shower, so I took my first real hot shower in over a year. I can’t describe how great it felt. I did not want to get out of the shower. It was especially nice to be in a house full of ACs and comfortable beds. It was amazing!

Myself, Elder B. Johnson and Elder M. Johnson reunite to renew our Kitas.
One of the reasons I was in Jakarta was to renew my country identification called a Kitas. The rest of my group had already done it earlier, with the exception of me, Elder M. Johnson and Elder B. Johnson. So we went to the immigration office, got it done, and then had a lot of free time that day. We explored the downtown area of Jakarta, ate Wendy's, and saw some really cool things. It was so fun to be with them and see how they were doing. It was the first time I have seen Elder M. Johnson since the MTC, and I was really glad I got the chance.

The other reason I was in Jakarta was to pick up my new companion and do training with the Mission President to prepare to train a new Missionary. It seems like just yesterday when I was getting trained, and now, I am training a new Missionary! My companion is Elder Sadiyono, and he is great. He is from Tangerang, a city near Jakarta, and is so happy to be out here. I am so impressed with his faith and how he invites the Holy Ghost. We have already done a lot together, and I know we will have great success in this city.

One funny thing happened yesterday, when we were at the house after all our Sunday activities. I was in the bedroom relaxing and studying, and I was not really paying attention to my companion, even though I could see him. When I came into the main area, it was completely spotless. He had cleaned the entire house, and it was the cleanest I have ever seen this house be. I was amazed! He was also cooking dinner for us both. I am so lucky to have him!

We have also been having a lot of fun as a District, and the Sisters add a great vibe to the area. The other day we were coming back from a family home evening with many of the members, and we decided to stop for some ice cream. I saw one of my former companions there, which was funny. McDonald's is a common spot for Missionaries to hang out and eat. We do not go there too often, though, since it is so expensive compared to what we usually eat.

Well, that’s about all the cool things that I have done this week. I am so happy to be training, especially with such an amazing companion. One thing I learned this week was the principle that obedience brings blessings. I have repeatedly studied this principle throughout my Mission, and each time I do, I realize how true it is. We were discussing it in Priesthood on Sunday, and I remember feeling so peaceful while thinking that if I am obedient, God will surely bless and help me. The blessings may not come right away, but they always come. I am so grateful to learn these types of things every day. I hope all is well with you all, and I will update you again next week!

-Elder James

The Executive Lounge at the airport had lots of free food!

The Jogja Airport

Ready to board the plane in Jogja

We could see Merapi, the volcano near Jogja--sorry it's so blurry!

I found some amazing cars while we walked around the mission home's neighborhood!

Lamborghini Aventador

Ferrari 599 GTO
We ate at Wendy's inside this amazing mall with a slide in it (which was closed).

We went to this amazing supermarket in Jakarata called Grand Lucky.
Sadly, they didn't have Mt. Dew, but they did have Pop Tarts!
They were expensive, so we just bought one and shared them.

All three of us tried on all the clothes that we had bought and
left at the mission home to take home.
We looked pretty good (obviously I looked the best)!

More clothes and me with my dart gun!
{How in the world does he think he's getting that home?!?}

Our district, at a red light.

I switched out the small fan for a larger one and hope it helps cool me down!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Zoo Photos!

{Special thanks to Sister Sheffield for sending pictures of Elder James, and their district, at the zoo a couple of weeks ago! Elder James' battery had died and he was so disappointed to not have pictures.}

Monday, October 21, 2013

Yogyakarta Week 9

Hello from the hottest place on the planet!

Honestly, this week has been so hot; I think I have lost my sanity. The temperature has been in the 100s and a little below, which does not seem too bad, but with the humidity here, it is pretty crazy. This is also the first house I have been in without AC, and all I use is a very small fan. I don't think I have ever sweat as much in my entire life! I sure love biking here, but in the heat, it can be very difficult. Bu I still had a really good week, and there are a lot of changes happening soon! I can't believe that it has already been almost one year since I first came into Indonesia! Here are some cool things that happened from this past week.

For P-day last week, we went to a member's home for their daughter's birthday party. They live really far away in a city called Klaten, but Jogja is the nearest church to them. They are super active, coming to every activity even though it takes two hours for them to ride their scooter to the church. Their teenage son has never missed a day of Seminary. That should leave no excuse for those of you who make excuses about coming to Seminary when it is so easy! Their family lives with very little, but they have so much love and happiness in their home. Many members came, and we had a great time.

This is just before the yearly sacrifice for the Islam religion.
This little boy was looking at the goats that would be sacrificed.
The yearly day of sacrifice for the Islam religion was this past Tuesday, and I had the chance to watch it at a Mosque close to our home. All the people there were very nice to us, and excited that I wanted to learn about their culture. They sacrificed both goats and cows, and there was a very specific way of doing it with certain words and procedures. It was pretty gory, and I did not send the gruesome pictures I took, so don't worry. 

They gave the meat to people around the neighborhood, and we were given some. Unfortunately, we were not home when they brought it, so they left it packaged. When we got home, it was covered in ants, but we still wanted to try and cook the meat. We boiled it for a long time, and added some simple spices. It was not that tasty, but I was proud that I cooked it myself! You won't get that kind of experience in America!

At a member's house for a birthday party
The Sister Trainers were here in Jogja last week to do exchanges with the Sisters here. They were both in Jogja when I got here, and it was great to see them again. Sister Baantjer and Sister Manullang make great leaders. We all ate together at our favorite 'Pecel Lele' place, and had a great time. It was funny to have six Sisters and only two Elders! I think that is pretty rare here, but with the amount of Sister Missionaries coming in, I think that will become more common. 

We always called Sister Baantjer our 'mom' when she was here because she would always be concerned for everyone, and help with everything. I miss having them both in our District!

On the bus to Stake Conference in Solo
We went to Stake conference this past Saturday, and it was held in Solo. It was really cool to see everyone that I knew from both Solo and Semarang. I was so surprised that they all remembered me, and everything that happened. I will be so sad when I leave Central Java. We listened to the leaders from the Stake, and then took a bus back to Jogja with all the members. We did not get back to Jogja until 11pm, which was pretty late, and when we got home, we went right to bed.

Dinner at Papa Ron's Pizza & saying goodbye to Elder Kusumarmanto
My beloved companion, Elder Kusumarmanto was called this past week, and will be moving to Jakarta, becoming the District Leader there. My new companion will be Elder Sadiono, who is brand new. It will be my first time training, and I am very excited to get to work. I will be going to Jakarta with Elder Kusumarmanto tomorrow, and stay there for a few days while I get my Kitas (identification) renewed, and go to a few meetings. I will really miss Elder Kusumarmanto. He is a great person, and probably my favorite companion! The Barnards are also returning home to Australia tomorrow, and the ward here will really miss them. This has been their second Mission in Indonesia.

Our awesome district before Elder Kusumarmanto and Barnards go home
I have loved serving here, and I know that as I respect and love the people, I will continue to find success and joy. I am so happy to be serving at a time where the Lord is hastening his work, and bringing blessings to all his children. I hope everyone else feels the same way! I will email again soon! Goodbye!

-Elder James

The Muslim Priest that was responsible for sacrificing the animals

A woman dressed in traditional Javanese clothing 
We went into this store to escape the heat.
We found the section of ties, and the AC was right above them!
We thought that it must have been strategically placed for us missionaries!

My tasty noodles with seafood

Playing tennis for P-day near the sisters' home. It was really fun, but very hot!
I'm not very good at tennis but had a great time.

Sisters at Papa Rons, saying goodbye to Elder Kusumarmanto

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Yogyakarta Week 8

Hello Everyone,

This past week has not been too busy, and unfortunately we have had a hard time meeting with a lot of people. But there were still some great things that we did, and I continue to learn a lot. I was especially grateful to listen to conference and learn how to be a better Missionary. Even though we may not get a lot of lessons here, I know I am a successful Missionary when I continue to work hard and am obedient. Blessings have come to me when I serve, and I am so happy to be here. Let me share with all of you a few things that we did this past week.

Last P-day, our District decided to go to Malioboro Street and do some shopping for Christmas. This street is probably the most popular place for shopping and sightseeing in Yogyakarta. There are white tourists all over the place, so we fit in. The people just get really surprised when we start speaking Indonesian! My companion and I thought the shopping would be quick and painless, but we misjudged the Sisters. They took so long! We waited at almost every booth and store that we passed, while the Sisters looked at everything. They kept telling us that it was preparation for our marriage. I bought maybe two items, and it took me two minutes. For them, it took maybe four hours to buy a few things. But it was a fun thing to do as a District, and we were able to talk a lot.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we were able to get a few lessons in, but after that we had none. I really am not sure why, but no one could meet, or no one wanted to. One day, we had four appointments planned, which were already confirmed with the people, but every single one failed. We were so confused at what to do, since all of our back-up plans were shot down as well. So because of this, we have been doing a lot of proselyting, and have met with a good amount of people.

One cool guy we met with was on his way to work when we began talking to him. He was Muslim, which gives us limited options, but he invited us to see what he does for a living. He makes copies of little stone figures, and then sells them to vendors. He was so nice to us, and agreed to listen to a message about Families. It was incredible to see how much our religions had in common with morals and family values. I could tell that he felt something as we testified that the Gospel blesses families. 

I really wish we could teach more, but we are only allowed to teach Muslims after many precautions are made. We will follow up later, and see what happens.

We were able to meet with a few members, and one of which was Brother Jerry. He is very old, and one of the pioneers of the Church here in Indonesia. He was part of the group that translated the first Book of Mormon in Indonesia. His language abilities are incredible, and it was nice to meet with him. We shared scriptures, and talked about preparing for General Conference.

Sister Manullang's birthday was this week as well, and when someone has a birthday here, we usually go out to a special place and eat. She decided to go to the Italian place, so we all piled in the Barnard's car and went there. The Barnards gave her a nice cake, and we had a great time eating the real Italian food. 

This may seem insignificant to many who are reading this, but for a Missionary who is in love with Italian food, and has mostly eaten chicken and rice for a year, it was spectacular. For Indonesia, the place is expensive, but when I thought about the price in US dollars, it was incredibly cheap. We had a great time.

Saturday and Sunday were obviously General Conference for us, and I was able to watch it in English again since the Barnards (Mission Couple) are here. I don't have my conference notes with me, but I really enjoyed all the talks. Watching conference as a Missionary has great meaning, and I cannot wait until I am able to read it from the Church Magazines. Many talks had relation to Missionary work, and how it is the duty of all members, not just full-time Missionaries to spread the Gospel. That is one thing we teach when we visit members. With the members' help here, it makes all the difference. I am so grateful that we have a living Prophet and apostles who can guide us in difficult times.

In my personal studies, I have been reading the Old Testament. Right now, I am in Isaiah, and I am so surprised at how much it testifies of the Savior and his Mission. I have loved reading in the Old Testament, even though many people put it at the bottom of their priorities in relation to the Scriptures. There are so many stories and lessons that we can learn from, and apply to today’s challenges. One scripture I really like is in Isaiah 49, verses 14 through 17. This scripture reassures me that Christ is always aware of me and my problems, as little as they are. He will never leave me, and he will do anything to help me come back to his presence. I know he lives and guides this Church today. I know that because of him, we can overcome any challenge, no matter how impossible it may seem. I am constantly improving because of him, even though my weaknesses are many. I feel like Job, who even through his trials knew that the great Redeemer liveth, and would save him. (Job 19:25) I love you all, and I hope you too will feel Christ's unconditional love for you all. Sampai nanti!

-Elder James

{We sent Elder James a big package of all kinds of American foods and hygiene products last week. We had a really sweet friend here in DC, Dain Hansen, who was so kind to not only deliver a package to the mission home in Jakarta to be shipped to Elder James, but he also took all the AP Elders & Zone Leaders out to a very fancy dinner! Elder James said the cereal was amazing, but wished he could have real milk on it. Said this milk is worse than powdered milk!}
Here are some members making cake at the church. We got there right when they finished! 
They make it very differently here.

The finished product. We were so happy to be there to test it. 

Elder Kusumarmanto making a phone call at home. 

The great cake that the Barnards bought.

{Elder James said that Sister Sheffield ordered Crème Brulee and said her mom used to make it. 
He said that it reminded him of me, since I also used to make it. 
He said it was good, but not nearly as good as mine!}
Watching General Conference in English

Elder Kusumarmanto eating corn. 

Visiting a member's house after watching conference