Monday, March 31, 2014

Bandung Week 4

Hello Again!

I hope all of you reading this had a good week. To be honest, this past week for me was not as interesting or busy as usual. There were many people that we tried to visit and teach that were not able to see. We even made a few appointments, but because of rain and other factors, they did not show up. But we were still able to teach many in active and less-active families, which kept us somewhat busy. Here are a few of the cool things we did.

For our P-day, we did not do anything too amazing, just went to some of the many malls in this city. The malls here are very nice, and there are many interesting stores, both western and Indonesian. These coming P-days should be a lot more fun.

On Tuesday, we went to Lembang, a small town north of Bandung where many members live. We visited as many as we could at once, and they were all very nice to us. Lembang is even higher in the mountains than Bandung, so it was even colder. It rained as well, which made it quite chilly. 

While we were there we tried the local cuisine of Sate Kelinci (bunny meat on a stick). It was really tender and tasty!

This week I did exchanges with the other companionship, which was fun. I was able to see how they worked in their area, and how they contact people and such. They have a hard job, since they were white-washed in their area, (meaning they were both new, and had no previous knowledge about the area) and spend most of their days proselyting. They have had some good success in finding new investigators, and they know the area much better now.

Church was fun yesterday, since many more people came than usual. There were members there from Bekasi who still remembered me well, and I was happy to see them. All classes were combined, since it was the fifth Sunday of the month, and we spoke a lot about the progress the Branch has made so far. There was also a talk given by a member on the High Council from Jakarta, and it was really good.

I am sorry this email was not as interesting as usual, but I guess we all just have not so interesting weeks sometimes. I hope you all have a good week, and always remember what Christ has done for all of us.

-Elder James

Sometimes we order McDonalds for breakfast - unhealthy but so good!
Elder Loudon caught me riding my bike in the house 
A man cooking sate 
Sister Elen's kids (same name as my mom!)
Elders Mangum & Hendro 
A family on a scooter. I have sometimes seen up to 6 people on a motorcycle,
kids and all, and none were wearing helmets. Crazy!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bandung Week 3

Hello Again Everyone!

I hope you have all had a good week. I sure did. We were busy as usual here, and were able to visit many people. What is interesting about the work here is that it takes a great deal of time to get to most places. Such as Thomas, who takes 5 hours to get there. Sometimes we are only able to visit one person per day, but we are able talk to people on the way there. We ride bikes sometimes, but mostly take public transportation. This week was very similar to last week, but here are a few cool things we did.

Our P-day was fairly boring, and the weather ruined our plans. We were at first going to go to a nearby Zoo, where you can ride elephants, but it started raining really hard, so we did not go. We just did a little bit of shopping, and got some chores done as well. We also played Monopoly together, since Elder Louden bought it in Solo.

Thomas and his wife are amazing investigators.
They live in Suabumi, which is 5 hours away.
We visited Thomas in Sukabumi on Tuesday, and he was amazing. He already seems like a member. I just feel so bad, because he is so far from any church. As far as distance, he is closer to Bogor, but the road there takes much longer than the road to Bandung. So we are the ones that visit him. We are doing our best so that he and his family are able to come to church. He is the smartest and most amazing investigator I have ever taught.

Elder Mangum and I are also really focused on non-active members this week, and had a good amount of success. They were all very kind to us, and we helped them best we could. The stake has a goal for this Branch to become a Ward, so we are doing our best to accomplish that goal.

Brother Lim is a new member that had found the church here in Indonesia.
He is from Malaysia and is returning soon.
Church on Sunday was nice, and I did not play the piano like last Sunday, so I was not as stressed out. I tried to explain that I can only play a few hymns, and that there are members that can play way better than me. It was Brother Lim's last week here for a while, since he will be returning home to Malaysia in a few weeks. He found the church here, since he lived next to a member. He is great.

That is about all the interesting things that happened this week. I hope everyone is doing well. I love you all!

-Elder James

These are the towers of Masjid, right in the middle of the city.
I couldn't get both towers because they are so tall.
This is an elderly man who sells really good traditional noodles at night.
The way he cooks them is really cool!
Teaching English at the girls' school again
We smashed some coins on the railroad and it made an indent on the tracks

Elder Mangum got a frowny-face ninja turtle ice cream

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bandung Week 2

Trying to shoot a {Happy 21st Birthday} balloon off Elder Loudon's head.
Don't worry - he only had minor bleeding {I hope he's kidding}.
Hello Everyone,

My second week in Bandung was much better than my first, mainly because we stayed super busy. The work in this city is actually known for being difficult, but I think we did a good job. The hard thing is that many people we visit live very far away. We sometimes travel many hours to teach one lesson, so sometimes in an entire day, we will only have taught one person. But I love teaching and visiting people more than anything else, so as long as that happens, I am happy! Here are some highlights of the past week.

Since Sunday was my birthday, we went to Burger King on Monday. It was the best burger I have had in a very long time, and we all had a good time eating there. I really do not feel 21 years old. I feel at least 6 years younger than that, but time keeps passing by! Thank you so much to everyone who sent packages and cards and made my birthday special.

Zone Conference was the next day, in Jakarta, which was a lot of fun because I was able to see some new and old Missionaries from the area. I was able to meet with Elder Johnson, and also saw all the Missionaries that just barely came into Indonesia. It was hard to believe that Elder Johnson and I were the eldest Missionaries there. We all made some really great goals, and went home with confidence that we could accomplish much.

One person we visit on an almost weekly basis is Thomas, an investigator who lives in a city named Sukabumi. It is pretty far from Bandung, but ours is the closest church to him. His home is 5 hours away from Bandung by bus. It is that long mostly because of the poor roads and traffic. But it was well worth it because Thomas is amazing! He is so smart, and has such a desire to be baptized. The only problem is that he lives so far away from the nearest church, and he would have to stay overnight in order to come. He is a high-ranking police officer who trains other policemen. I think he will be the one that starts the church up in that city, since he shares what he has learned with many of his friends.

This is the train we often take in the city - it only costs 15 cents,
no matter how far you take it.
Even though that trip was nice, I did buy some crackers made out of dried cow skin that I usually like, but they made me super sick to the stomach. I was pretty miserable for the 5-hour journey home, just because I ate them. Usually I am okay with things like that, but this time, it was deadly! We finally made it home, and when I woke up the next morning, I was not sick anymore.

We were able to teach English at a school that the previous Missionaries served. It was all girls who are preparing to become secretaries. Their English was very good, and it was fun to get to know them. We felt like celebrities there!

On a spiritual note, I read an amazing scripture the other day in my personal studies that stood out to me. It is in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, and it speaks about how our trials and tribulations are only momentary, and will make us something great in the end, if we endure. I shared this with a member who is going through some hard times, and the spirit was so strong when I read it in Indonesian. I think the verse is much more beautiful in the Indonesian language. I have learned so much here, and I am so glad that God has given us the scriptures to comfort and help us. We sometimes take this for granted, and I think that we would be much more blessed and happy if we read more often.

Thank you all for your support, and I will talk to you next week!

-Elder James

A very cool shot of a lizard that Elder Hendro caught at the church
Bandung has a lot of cool stores; I purchased a blowdart gun and this bow & arrow
(a very popular missionary souvenir) for only $7.50!
A really funny Turkish guy that we met at an investigator's home

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bandung Week 1

Hello Everyone!

It has already been a week of me serving in my new city, Bandung. The biggest differences it has in comparison to my previous cities are cooler temperatures and fewer lessons. So there are obviously positive differences and negative differences. But my American companion, Elder Mangum is really cool, and we will work hard together. Here are a few interesting things that happened this week.

This huge map at our house helps us find places
For my first full day in Bandung, the four of us just took Angkots around the city and proselyted a bit. Elders Hendro and Loudon are both new here, and so they do not know the area at all. Elder Mangum is the only one, so we are learning the city from him. As we travelled around the city, there were some really cool places. This city is nicknamed the "Paris of Java". It is very clean for a city that is this big, and I am excited to get to know it a lot better.

On Wednesday and Thursday we visited many people that the Missionaries usually visit, and I was able to meet some members, investigators, and one new member. They were all so happy to see me, and I am excited to get to know them better. The new member was Sister Agnes, who was the investigator of Elder Waltman when he was here. It was incredible to see the progress she has made in such a short amount of time. She has a calling, and is very active at church. She really wants her little kids to be baptized one day, and is an example to her friends. It was great to talk with her.

Friday was interesting, because an English Student/Teacher invited us to an event for his school. It was a basketball tournament, with a few performances from the students. We did not stay for very long, but we came to support our friend, and he was very happy to see us there. The girls basketball team surprised me for how good they were! They were the best team I have seen in Indonesia. Later in the day, we had our regular English class, and all the students were very cool.

The durian on the right is the regular kind and the yellow on the left is a bit different.
They were both good to me, but they almost made the other elders throw up!
That same English Student/Teacher, Pak Hendri, invited us over to his house for dinner. There were about five courses, and we were all so stuffed! Everyone in his family and neighborhood was very nice to us. They gave us Martabak manis, (google it, it is a really interesting snack here) and some other snacks to start, and then fried chicken, fried rice, eggs, pudding, fruit, and then to end, Durien. I was so full going home. It was a great meal.

Sunday was unique here since it is the first Branch I have served in. There were only about 26 members that came, and so us Missionaries did a lot, like blessing the sacrament, and speaking. But the few members that were there were great, and many were happy that there are four Missionaries here, since there used to be just two.

I hope you all have a great time wherever you are. Keep me in your prayers, so that we might find success here. I hope all is well, and I will talk to you all next week!

-Elder James

Leaving for Bandung with Elder Loudon
Elders Loudon and Hendro asleep on the plane 
This is a picture of our district last Sunday in Jogja!
I was on exchanges with a member since Elder Sadiyono went to Magelang
with Elder Waltman. It was funny that our district was made up of 5 sisters and me! 
In Jogja - Sister Chandra and her daughter.
They are a great family!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Yogyakarta Week 28

Standing in front of TUGU - a landmark here in Jogja

Selamat sore!

I am actually typing this in Bandung, my new city, but I just barely got here, so this will be my last entry about my longest city: Yogyakarta. I will miss it so much, but since I was there for so long, I am ready for a change. This could be my last city, but I am not quite sure, since I may move again. But here are a few cool things that happened in Jogja this past week.

For our P-day activity, the Elders from Magelang came over, and we went to Kraton, the old Javanese Kingdom. It was pretty cool, but I was mostly just happy to be together as a District. There were many things to see, and many ancient artifacts from the old Javanese people. We took a lot of pictures, and a member who works there took us around. It was a fun last p-day for me!

Sister Siska
This week was very busy, because I wanted to make sure that I could meet as many people as I could, say goodbye, and give one last message. This was surprisingly successful, since usually many appointments failed. I was able to say goodbye to most everyone that I wanted to, and they were all very kind to me. I am going to miss all of them!

The Bishop and his family here in Jogja
Sunday was pretty sad just because I gave my farewell during Sacrament Meeting, and had to say goodbye to all the great members here. I have gotten so close to them, and I will miss them a ton! I was able to take a lot of pictures though, and I will for sure come back to Jogja some time in my life. One member took off the tie he was wearing and gave it to me.

Elder Hasibuan and Sister Sperry left for Jakarta on Friday, so Elder Waltman was with my companion and I until earlier this morning. It was fun to talk to him, and especially to talk about BYU since he will also be going there. He went with us to the airport, and I met Elders Hendro and Louden there from Solo, and we all took a plane together to Bandung. I met my new companion, Elder Mangum, who is great. He is my first American companion in Indonesia, so this will be very interesting!

I am sorry I cannot write more, but I will tell you all about this new city when I email next week. I hope you all have a great time wherever you are!

-Elder James

Brother Jerry, who helped translate the very first Book of Mormon in Indonesia!
Also one of the first members in Indonesia.
My last time eating at Raminten, my favorite restaurant here in Jogja.
The drinks are huge and I couldn't finish it!
Elder Waltman and I by a statue in Kraton
Traditional Javanese music
Guys that work at Kraton
I have no idea what this is, but we have killed a few in our house - freaky!
{We found out it is an African Cave Spider}