Monday, February 24, 2014

Yogyakarta Week 27

This is what I would look like with glasses -
I use them to protect my eyes from the ash
Good Morning!

I hope everyone had a great week. For me, this week was good, and we were very productive as far as the work goes. There are a lot of changes happening, and I am now at the time in my Mission where I will be able to work very hard before returning home. Everyone always says that the last six months of a Mission are the best and most productive, so I am looking forward to that! Here are a few cool things that happened.

First off, the transfer was announced a few days ago, and I will be moving to Bandung, a city in West Java, on the third of March. I am really excited for a new experience, since I have been here in Jogja for half of a year. The time really has gone by really fast. It is strange to think that this next city may be my last! I will also be a companion with an American Elder, which will be the first time in my Mission since the MTC. All in all, it will be a unique experience, and I plan on working hard.

Pak Santoso - who is very funny
Since I will be moving in a bit, I have been visiting as many people as possible and helping them as much as I can to progress. I have realized how much I love the people here, whether they be investigators, members, or just people that I meet with at restaurants or other places. I will really miss the members here specifically, since I have gotten so close to them over these six months.

We were able to visit the Zone Leaders, Elder Waltman and Elder Hasibuan, in Magelang and work with them there for a few days. It is a cool city since the population is much smaller than Jogja, and it is much more green and open. I worked with Elder Waltman, and it was a lot of fun. I was also able to interview their investigator for baptism, Ibu Vince, and it went so well. She is a young mother of two, and I could really see how the Lord prepared her for baptism.

On Sunday, Church went great, and many members expressed to me how much they will miss when I move. I felt so much love during those three hours, and I was glad to have felt like I have made a real difference in this ward. I will for sure come back to this city some time in my life, and visit these people again. 

Later that night, we were able to visit Sister Maria with the Sister Missionaries, and it was great. She is so dedicated to serving others, and is a great example to me.

Today, we will be visiting a few historic sites in Jogja for my last P-day here. I really hope I will be able to see everything before moving! This city has such a rich history, and I am excited to learn more about it. I will for sure take a lot of pictures, which you will all see next week! Thank you for all your support!

-Elder James

Sister Susanto is such a great member
Brother Rudi 
This amazing man was the victim of a crash and his face was completely burned.
He was only able to see out of a small opening for his eye,
but somehow he was able to fix my inner tube. He's so impressive!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Yogyakarta Week 26

Hello from Ash-covered Yogyakarta!

As many of you may have heard, Mt. Kelud in Eastern Java erupted a few days ago, sending ash all over the Island. When I woke up, I did not believe that it was already morning, because it was still dark outside. I got a text from the Sisters to look outside, and so I did. It was crazy! Ash was all over everything, and falling from the sky. We called a few people, and they said not to leave the house, and if we had to, we should wear a mask. We bought food since we had none in our house, and it was crazy to see the ash everywhere. 

After staying home for a bit, we received a warning that there might be a very large earthquake, so we met the Sisters at the Church, and stayed there for the rest of the day. But luckily, nothing happened, and we went back to our homes.

Before the eruption, we were able to get a lot of work done, and we have been trying to find more people to teach. I was very glad that we had worked hard, because once the ash came, the city shut down. Everyone spent most of the time cleaning, even though it seemed useless. We helped clean the church, but after we got any surface clear of ash, the wind would blow it right back on. Rain is the best thing to get rid of it all, but it did not rain for a long time!

Our house is still full of ash, and it is so fine, that it is hard to get rid of. But it is slowly going away, especially since it rained really hard last night. It is not in the air as much because of that, which is a lot better. But what a unique experience! I know my family is experiencing a big snowstorm, and I am experiencing something somewhat similar but completely different at the same time. Mother nature sure is incredible!

On Sunday, Bimo was confirmed a member, and given the gift of the Holy Ghost. He has made such amazing progress, and I am glad to have been able to help him. Now we are focusing on helping him build a relationship with the members, so he will stay active. We have already explained to him that if he wants to serve a Mission, he must remain active in the Church, and continue to learn. He is doing so, and I hope it continues.

That same day we were also able to visit an investigator of the Sisters who lived very far away in a small village. It was about an hour bike ride there, but the people in the neighborhood treated us like kings. They gave us a ton of food, and fresh coconuts to drink. They also took us to see a burial site for Javanese Kings, which was cool. (no pictures of that—my camera died) The people in those small areas are so down to earth, and very kind. It was a great opportunity!

Right now in my studies, I am in Acts, which is great. But the other day while I was studying, I looked in my study journal and found a scripture that has now become one of my favorites. It is in Lamentations 3, verses 19-26. I love how it says that the Lord's mercy is new every morning. I shared that with a less active member, who said she felt like she had been away from Church too long, and she still felt very guilty. This scripture helped her feel better. I know that the Lord is always ready to forgive us, because "...his compassions fail not. They are new every morning...", we just have to come to him with a broken heart.

Thank you all for your support and prayers. I wish you the best!

-Elder James

Sisters Believe & Allred with an sweet Javanese woman
Riding bikes to an appointment with the sisters - we had to all
wear glasses so the ash wouldn't get into our eyes.
Here are women creating batik paintings with wax - I bought a couple from them
Filling out our pass-along cards at home
Malioboro Street the other night was crowded with people for some celebration

Monday, February 10, 2014

Yogyakarta Week 25

Brother Rudi

Sorry, I have to keep this short, because I only have a little bit of time. We had a really good week, and we got a lot done. I really wish I could tell all of you all the great things, but time is limited. I am really glad that we are having a lot of success and working hard before I will probably move this month. Here are a few highlights from the many.

Mas Bimo, our investigator has been continuing to make a lot of progress, and was baptized yesterday. I was so happy to be able to baptize him, since it was the first Investigator that I taught that was baptized. I hope and pray that he will continue to be active in the church, and prepare to serve a Mission. I have learned a lot from him, and have been happy to see his progress.

It has been raining a ton lately, and sometimes we just can't wait it out because of appointments. So we often get completely drenched, even while wearing ponchos. But I actually like the rain sometimes, because the city gets a lot less loud and busy.

Sister Siswoyo and her grandson
I have felt very close to all the members here lately, which is natural since I have been here for so long. I am so happy with how welcome and loved they have made me feel. It truly is incredible that no matter where we are in the World, we can always find friendship and refuge at one of our churches.

For our P-day activity today, we played basketball at an indoor place with Elder Waltman and Elder Hasibuan. We played for a pretty long time, and it was a great workout. I was completely drenched in sweat the entire time! I guess I will never fully get used to the heat and humidity. It was nice to talk to Elder Waltman about how we would be going home by now if we were Sister Missionaries!

Well, I am once again sorry that this is short. I really appreciate all the love and support you all have given me over the years. I wish I could express my thanks to each one of you individually. Thank you, and I will talk to you next week!

-Elder James

Weekly planning at the church
A cool self-serve restaurant
Our investigator Pak Mu
Cleaning the baptismal font 
Eating sate at the house

Monday, February 3, 2014

Yogyakarta Week 24

Mangga dari Yogyakarta!

This past week has been very busy. It went pretty slow to be honest, but we got a ton done, and had some really cool experiences. I will for sure be moving pretty soon, I just do not know where yet. One thing is for sure--I will miss this city! Here are a few cool things that happened this week:

We had our regular monthly Zone Training Meeting, where all the Missionaries from the Zone gather. It was held in Jogja this month, and it was so good to see everyone. We had a good, effective meeting, and made some great goals. 

Afterwards, we had a Zone activity since President gave us approval to do so. We went to McDonald's to eat, and then to the local Zoo here. It was a lot of fun! 

Our investigator, Mas Bimo, still wants to be baptized and he came to church yesterday. Because of this, we are going to try and baptize him on the 9th of February. He has already received all the lessons, and has a strong desire to serve a Mission. We are doing our best to help him, and I really think he has a lot of potential in this Church. 

I was also able to baptize Gina, the Sisters’ (Allred and Hasibuan) investigator. She is a great girl, and received permission from her parents to get baptized. The whole story is amazing, but I do not have time to write it all! It was a pleasure to get to know her.

For P-day today, we went to Prambanan, a Hindu temple here in Jogja. Everyone besides Sister Believe and Sister Sperry came, since they had appointments. It was really hot outside, and rained a little bit, but we all had a lot of fun. It was a lot better than what I expected!

Sorry this is short, but we have to get going to an appointment. Thank you for all your support! 

-Elder James

My companion and I with Yonatan after church
Sister Maria, who we visit almost every week is the best cook! 
Elder Waltman and I on our way back to Prambanan a Hindu temple here in Jogja

Elder Sadiyono and I at one of the many temple ruins at Prambanan
An all-you-can eat sushi place we ate at - it was nice!
After ZTM with the missionaries
Elder Honda, myself and Elder Canfield on top of an elephant!   
Two of the sisters and us visiting a member.
It was a one-hour bike ride, but it was so nice to meet with them.