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

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