Monday, August 4, 2014

Bandung Week 22

Hello for the last time in Indonesia!

Isn't it hard to believe that two years have already flown by so fast? It really has not struck me yet that I will be going back home in just a few days. I have said many goodbyes, and had many 'lasts', but it still just has not hit me. But what has been good is that I have worked very hard this last full week with my companion, and we have seen many miracles together. The branch here in Bandung has grown through our efforts, and it is great to see. Here are a few things that happened this last full week.

For our P-day activity last week, we were invited to a member's home, since it was a National holiday. They made us some traditional food, and we had a great time visiting with them. 

Nial, a young member, showed us all his pet lizards that he has caught. They would bite things, and not let go, including our pants. It was fun to see. The members here are great.

Despite the holiday season, we had free time on Tuesday, and went to Sukabumi to visit Thomas and his family. We left early, knowing there would be traffic, but we did not expect it to be that bad. Boy, were we wrong! Where it usually takes 3-4 hours to get there on a good day, it took 7! The road is not in a good condition, and many people were travelling. It was insane! But I did a lot of reading on the way. We ate quickly when we arrived, taught a quick lesson, and then had to go, afraid the traffic would be bad on the way back. It was. To get home took us around 7 and a half hours. We got home late, tired, but glad that we had a great lesson.

Sister Agnes and her family 
The next few days were really busy with many appointments. I tried my best to visit as many members and investigators as possible, knowing it may be my last time going to their homes. I taught the best I could, and gave my simple testimony to each of them, which I really hope helped. All of them expressed thanks for my service as a Missionary, which is the best thing to hear.

We got a few referrals from the Church Headquarters in Jakarta, and although two of them were unable to get in contact with, we met with one who is amazing. He is a college student here, and was very happy to have us teach him. He is very humble, and has been diligently searching for truth. He is progressing with the lessons, and has already become friends with many of the members. I hope he will continue to learn and grow!

Us with the bride and groom -
One is a member of the Jogja and the other is a member from here in Bandung.
Saturday was also really busy, mostly because of the marriage of Sister Yanti Risakota, a member here. She asked us to come early, and help out which we did. We were the greeters, wearing traditional Sundanese clothing and helping with the front entry. It was a lot of fun, and I met many members from around Indonesia that came. Ninoy Kusumarmanto, my former companion in Jojga came, and it was great to see him. He was just barely released and went home a few days ago. The food was also amazing, obviously, and we had a great time overall. That night we were also able to visit many people.

The Santoso family always help the missionaries so much!
Sunday was a bittersweet day, since it was the last time I went to church in Bandung as a Missionary. But what was amazing is the amount of investigators that came. Eight in total, being the most I have ever seen come to church. They included Thomas and his entire family, who came for my farewell, and also Jerry, who is in a pretty bad condition with his health, but still came. The others were new investigators, and we taught them all at the same time. I gave my last testimony and farewell during Sacrament Meeting, and took pictures with almost all the members afterwards. They were very kind to me, and told me how much they appreciated my work here.

We had dinner with Brother Han-King and Brother Budi's family
Well, being my last email from Indonesia, I want to express my gratitude to this church and the amazing members here. I have learned so much during these two years, and made friendships that will last forever. I will never forget all of the great things that I have seen, and all of the miracles that have happened. I hope that everyone reading this will continue to develop greater faith in Jesus Christ and become more like him every day. I know that he is the only source to our true happiness and salvation.

Thank you for all your support! I love you all!

The Jatmiko family gave me this great Batik shirt
Elder Peterson cutting my hair - It was scary!
{Side note from mom - I specifically asked Elder James NOT to cut his hair before
coming home so we could get him a good cut before our family pictures!} 
I was able to interview Pak Agus for his baptism - he is a great guy! 
Eating Bakso on the side of the road by the church -
we usually eat at places like this every day

Elder Loudon getting dressed in traditional Sundanese clothing
for Sister Yanti Risakota's wedding.
We were asked to help by being greeters for the ceremony.

Elder Panjaitan and I wearing our traditional clothes

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bandung Week 21

Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri!

Idul Fitri is the Muslim Holiday at the end of the fasting month. It is much more interesting here than it was in Bekasi a year ago, since more people are here celebrating with their families. It has been really cool to see, but also really hard to work since everyone is busy, even Christians. But we were still able to visit a descent amount of people this past week, and had some cool meetings as well. 

We did not do anything fun for our P-day last week, except for a little shopping. I am trying not to buy too much, because I am worried that my bags will be completely full when I go home! That night we visited Sister Agnes, and had a Family Home Evening with them. Her kids participated well, and we had a fun game to play. Hopefully they will be more enthusiastic and follow the great example of their Mom.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we got as many appointments as possible, since we would be in Jakarta from Thursday morning to Saturday night. Tuesday was also when the new President for Indonesia was announced, and we saw the results at a member's home. It was really confusing, and there are a few issues with the candidate that lost. It just confused me. But the new President seems good, and will hopefully help this country grow. 

Those two days were really busy, and we met with a lot of people. I was very glad that everyone was home, and we were able to meet with all of them. 

On Thursday morning, we traveled to Jakarta, and met with all the other Missionaries there. That day we had interviews with President, did some shopping, and played soccer at the church. It was the last time for me playing soccer in Indonesia, and I actually did a really good job! 

The Elders from my group that are in our Zone all wore suits to celebrate
our last PLD. We looked very good with our (fake) expensive watches,
(fake) Armani custom-made suits, (fake) Burberry ties, (fake) Lacoste socks,
(fake) Oakley sunglasses, and such!
Zone Conference the next day was awesome. Those from my group wore our suits with the nicest accessories we had, and we looked really good. It was our last meeting with the Zone, and there were some great talks and lessons from the leaders. 

It was sad to think that I will only be able to apply what I have learned for a few weeks before going home. It was nice to meet with the entire Zone one last time. 

We did not get back until Saturday night, since all the buses, trains, and other forms of transportation were booked. When we got back, Bandung was very busy for Idul Fitri, the Islam holiday. That night we went out and saw all the festivities. The next day was church, and only 10 members came besides us. For this holiday, everyone goes and visits family, so hardly anyone was here. I replaced a member and spoke in Sacrament meeting, and it was nice. Lauren came as well. 

That night was crazy with fireworks, chanting, and drums going on all night. It was fun to watch them pass by our house and see the culture. But it went on all night, and we live very close to a Mosque, so it was difficult to sleep. Today by the church, the streets were filled with people by the mosque, and it was cool to see them.

Well, that is all! I will only email one more time in Indonesia, and I hope it will be good! Thank you all for everything, and I will talk to you next week!

-Elder James

I got a package from home - my Aunt Leslie got me the new BYU shirt
and my mom bought my companion a NY shirt. Thanks!!
A traditional food for Lebaran.
It's rice wrapped in weaved grass and cooked.
My two 'kids' - in other words, the Missionaries that I trained.

Elders Johnson & McCleary juggling

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bandung Week 20

Selamat Bulan Puasa Semuanya!

As some of you may already know, it is the fasting month for the Islam religion, and in a little bit, the holiday 'Lebaran' will start. This makes the streets really busy in the evening around 6pm, when everyone is breaking their fast. It is pretty cool to see, and I am learning a lot about both Indonesian and Muslim culture. Because of this, it has been fairly difficult to get appointments, but we have been doing our best. Here are a few interesting things that have happened.

Elder Peterson at the church
Last Monday, we got permission to watch the Disney Movie "Frozen" for our P-day activity. We all got together as a District at the church, and four young men watched this Princess Disney movie. Only on a Mission right? The thing is, we loved it! I thought it had a great message of love though service, and putting others problems in front of our own. We now all find ourselves singing the songs from the movie at idle moments.

The very next day, my companion and I went back to work, and got many lessons. We taught a family for the first time that we met by chance while looking for a different address. They listened intently, and promised to try what we said. I really love when people are open to what we have to share, and don't just shut us out without listening at all. If everyone was more like that, I think this world would be a much better place!

Just as we normally do when we can, we visited Thomas and his family on Wednesday. We had a great lesson, and they are that much more ready to be baptized. If they lived near a church, it would have already happened. Thomas is great, and it is so fun teaching him. We will continue to work with him until the end. He will strengthen the church here so much!

This is one of the views from Lembang, north of Bandung.
It's really pretty there!
We were able to go to Lembang, a small city north of Bandung and visit the members that live there. It is a beautiful area in the mountains, and is very cold compared to the rest of Indonesia. Everything is also much cheaper, so we bought some fresh milk to take home, only 50 cents for 1 liter. 

Brother Budi's little baby was very cute, and happy since he just got better from being sick. We also met Sister Silen, who lives very close. It was a fun visit.

This is the crazy traffic we experienced when coming home from Sukabumi.
There is a factory right there, and all the workers were going home -
there were thousands of them!
When Saturday came, we had a lot of plans, but slowly almost all of them failed. This happens sometimes in missionary work, but should not bring us down. I was worried with what we would do, since we had nothing. We started walking around, asking where Christians were, and found a great family. We taught them about families, and it was a great experience. We then went to the Sijanto family's home, and had a great time there. It was great, because what looked like a bad day turned into a great one.

Lauren came to church, and has not missed a day since he was baptized. He is receiving more and more duties as a member, and it is great to see the progress he is making. We helped him download the Gospel Library on his phone with the help of President Joko, and he loved it. Technology is a great blessing sometimes. Seeing him makes me so happy that I have served a Mission.

Well, that is about all for this week. I hope you all are doing well!

-Elder James

Elders Loudon and Peterson at District Meeting

This is one of those portable rides powered by the bicycle.
Little kids love these, and I see them all the time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bandung Week 19

Hello again!

I am finding it hard to start these emails with clever headings, so 'hello again' will have to work. I hope you all had a good week, and that everything went well. We had a fun week, with some good appointments and chances to share the Gospel. The best part of being a Missionary is seeing the spirit touch the lives of others, and how it will change their life for the better. Here are some things that happened this week.

I was able to work with the other two Elders in the District on exchanges this week. I was with Elder Loudon on Tuesday and Elder Petersen on Wednesday. We do this to help train other Missionaries and learn from them as well. It was probably the last time I will do exchanges on my Mission, and it was a great experience. Elder Loudon and I went to Sister Ellen, and also taught a Muslim man, which was interesting. He was very nice, and open to learn about new things. I have learned a lot about their religion since I have been here.

Elder Petersen and I visited Thomas and his family in Sukabumi. They were all there except for their daughter, who goes to school in Bandung. The lesson went very well, and we helped them all prepare a little more for baptism and other covenants. Thomas is so fun to teach, because he already has such a great knowledge of the Bible, and everything that we teach is in accordance with what he knows. It really is amazing.

President Donald and his wife let us know that they would be coming here, so we did a lot of preparation on Friday to make sure they could see a lot of people and teach as much as possible with us. The Lucherinis came with them as well, so we split up the companionships with each couple, and planned on visiting a ton of people. That night we had English class, but hardly any people came because it was raining pretty heavily. It has been raining a lot here.

On Saturday, Elder Panjaitan and I worked with President and Sister Donald. We had a car driven by a member, so we were able to visit four less-active/part-member families. The traffic was really bad, but luckily all the appointments went through. It was the first time he has ever been here, and he had a great experience. It was awesome teaching with him. He showed such love to everyone we met, and they felt it for sure.

Church was very nice with all of them here, and President Donald really touched many members when he spoke. Lauren came, like he always does, and was happy to meet with President. He kept talking about serving a Mission, since in a year, when he can apply, President Donald will still be the Mission President. After Church, he came to see our house, and was impressed that Missionaries have been there for eight years. He met with the nice man that owns the house, and talked about repairs that may need to be done.

Well, thank you all for everything. I will only email a few more times before going home, which is crazy to think about. I hope that you all have a great week!

-Elder James

This is the former Elder Mulia and his family
His mother will be my Indonesian teacher at BYU
Kittens at the courtyard of the church 
President Donald took us out to an amazing restaurant
We like to play chess, but Elder Petersen likes to distract the people playing
and tells them what to do, so to help him resist the temptation,
we taped his moth shut!