Monday, June 30, 2014

Bandung Week 17

Hello Again!

Well, the internet is down at the Church, so we are emailing at a internet cafe near our house. It is designed for online gaming, so while we are here, little boys are yelling and laughing while playing loud games. It is pretty funny. Some of them come next to me, sit down, watch me email, and then leave. They must think I am playing a game, but then get bored watching since I am just emailing. We did not have that busy of a week, since many of the people we teach are busy. But nonetheless, we had some cool things happen, so here are some highlights.

For the Islam religion, the fasting month just began. Because of this, the streets are much less crowded, and many places are closed during the day. I remember experiencing all this last year in Bekasi, but it is much more interesting here, because the culture is more prevalent. This has caused our schedule to change quite a bit, since many people cannot meet. Also, many restaurants that we usually eat at are closed, so I will have to learn to cook or something.

When we visited Sister Agnes this week, we realized it was her daughter's birthday. They had cake and food, and it was fun to celebrate with them. Sister Agnes is a great member, and has really strengthened the Branch here. In August, it will have been one year since her baptism.

We visited a good amount of members this past week, including President Joko and his family. His daughter is probably one of the cutest little kids I have ever met. We had fun talking to all of them, and getting to know the family better. President Joko is a great Branch President, especially considering the challenges for this small Branch. 

We were also able to visit Brother Han-King, who was one of the first members in Indonesia. He lives alone, and we go there often to visit him, and help him with different things. He can read palms, so my companion and I tried. Apparently my future is very bright, with 7-9 kids, lots of money, and a successful marriage. He also predicted that my work would take me out of the country a lot, and that I may not marry until I am 30 years old. I also have the talents to be a celebrity as well.

We had a great experience teaching a contact of ours, who accepted everything we taught, and really felt the Spirit testify to her that it was all true. It strengthened my testimony as well, and my companion and I were very happy to get another good investigator. We really hope that she will keep learning, so that she can receive even more blessings from the Gospel. The Lord really prepared her for us!

Now, on to food. We ate at this Chinese buffet the other day, where you cook almost everything yourself. There were tables full of raw meat, vegetables, and other food that you bring to your own table, and cook it on a small grill, or put it in a boiling pot of soup. I ate mostly meat, which was amazing. I probably ate enough protein for a month, no joke. My stomach probably thought that I was already home, since I did not eat any rice, and a ton of meat.

On Sunday, we had Branch Conference, and a ton of members from around the Stake came. It was the busiest I have ever seen the church here. One of the families that came was the Sugiarto family from Bogor. Elder Sadiyono's family also came. There were more members from outside of our branch than the members from here. Lauren also came, and he was happy to meet all the different members.

Thank you all for your support. I will do my best to work hard until the end! See you soon!

-Elder James

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bandung Week 16

Hello Again!

Just like last week, this one was quite busy, but we did a lot of great things, and had a good time. Elder Panjaitan and I have really got to know this area and this Branch. We are working very effectively, and seeing miracles in other people's lives. I really need to do my best considering how fast the time is flying by! Let me tell you all about some highlights of the week.

The Jatmiko family from Solo came to Bandung for vacation, and they invited us to eat dinner with them and Brother Unang, a member here. We went to a Dutch restaurant, but it had Indonesian food as well. It was great to eat there, because we rarely eat at places like that. It was also nice to get to know Brother Unang better, and talk about his younger Brother, who is serving a Mission here as well. It was a fun appointment.

The Jatmikos invited us to join them on Tuesday to Trans Studio, an indoor amusement park here. I had to ask permission from President Donald the week before, and I was doubtful that it would be allowed. I had to ask to change our P-day to Tuesday, and to go to this amusement park. We were so thrilled that he actually gave us permission; he trusted us with members. He was also happy that we had all been working hard as a District, and that this would be a good reward for our efforts. The rest of the District and I were all very happy!

On Tuesday we met the member family there, and spent most of the day at Trans Studio. There was a fun roller coaster, thrill rides, stunt shows, and many more attractions. It was a little busy with school groups going there, but after a bit they went home, and the lines were short. I was very impressed with this place, and how clean and organized it was. It is apparently one of the largest indoor amusement parks in the World! We had a blast there, and left around 5pm, so we could make our night appointments. Thanks to the Jatmiko Family for a great time!

After all that fun, we got to work for the rest of the week. We had some great appointments, and some interesting experiences that always come with sharing the Gospel with others. One of the great appointments we had was with an older couple, which I contacted a while ago, but we could never visit them, because they are rarely home. We taught them, and they were so happy to hear it. They said that they were not going to go to their house, but for some reason they felt like they needed to. They said we were the reason why. It was really cool to see how the Lord helps us find people to teach.

On Sunday, Lauren was confirmed in Sacrament Meeting, and it was a great experience. He said that right afterwards he felt a big difference, and his testimony grew even stronger. My testimony has grown just by watching him progress in the gospel. I know he will be a great member and addition to this Branch, and might even be able to serve a Mission.

Well, I thank you all for your support, as always. Keep praying for me, as I strive to do my best here in Bandung. I will see you all soon!

-Elder James

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bandung Week 15

Selamat Hari Senin Semuanya!

This week was honestly very stressful, with some last-minute changes to our plans, and a ton of things to do. But at the same time, it was probably my favorite week here in Bandung. Some amazing things happened, and things are really changing here for the better. I will do my best to describe what all happened, even though it is impossible to do so perfectly.

First off, our activity last P-day was very simple, but fun. We just watched 'The Best Two Years' at the church together after finishing emailing and such. It was really fun because the movie is much more funny while you are serving a Mission. The jokes and quotes make a lot more sense. The day after, Elder Hendro moved to Magelang, and Elder Petersen replaced him. He is a great Elder, and will work very hard with Elder Loudon.

Wednesday started out normal, until I got a call from the APs and President about Lauren, our investigator. They talked about how they would rather the baptism be done this week, even though we planned on doing it next week. This made me pretty stressed to be honest, and since I was on the road, I went into a McDonald's that was nearby, and got to work. I had to schedule a Baptismal interview with the Zone Leaders who live four hours away, tell Lauren and schedule the interview, tell the Lucherinis that it was pushed forward so that they could come, let the Branch President know, and many more things. Luckily, it all worked out.

Before the Zone Leaders came, we had some good appointments on Thursday, including one with Jerry, the nice older man we visit. After the lesson, he pointed to the calendar and said it was his birthday. We immediately took a picture with him, and sang to him 'happy birthday' in Indonesian. He sang along with tears flowing, so grateful that someone took the time to celebrate with him. It was really hard not to cry as well. It is so sad to see how alone he is. We know he will most likely make little progress with the lessons, but we will continue to visit him, because it means so much to him.

On Friday, I was on exchanges with Elder Suryono, and we met Lauren at the church. We taught him what he needed to know before the interview, and then right afterwards, Elder Suryono gave the interview. It went great, and he was ready to be baptized. We told him that Elder Lucherini would be coming to his baptism, (he met them a few weeks ago, and they were really nice to him) and we asked him if he wanted Elder Lucherini to baptize him. He liked that idea a lot. For the rest of the day, Elder Suryono and I visited and taught some people, which was funny because he is from here. He goes home at the same time as I do, and will be a great friend for Lauren. 

That night we had English class, and many came. Afterwards we ate at this new Mexican restaurant. It was the first time I had Mexican food here, and although the burrito was small, it was very good.

Saturday was a day of preparation for the Baptism the next day, and we cleaned the church really well.

On Sunday morning, we got our suits on, traveled to the church, and I left my keys on an angkot, losing them. It was not a great start for the day, and I gave my phone number to a bunch of angkot drivers, offering them money if they found the keys. I did not focus on that, and just went on with the day. We had an investigator come for all of church, which was great because he was able to see the baptism. Lauren's baptism was amazing, and I was so happy to be able to see it. Elder and Sister Lucherini were great with him, and he was so grateful for all their support.

From the time I contacted him two months ago on a train, to seeing him now, it is incredible to see all the progress he has made. He will be a great member here in Bandung, and really help it progress. I will really miss him once I have to go. There is no greater joy as a Missionary than seeing someone come unto Christ, and follow his example.

Today is actually not a P-day, because we switched P-day to Tuesday for a certain activity. We are just emailing, and then will go to work. I will tell all you about that next week. I hope you are all doing well!

-Elder James

Elder Panjaitan on the train
A shot Elder Panjaitan took of me secretly while I was planning -
hence the strange face!
Since the water here is dirty, we had to have a water truck come and fill the font. 
After filling the font, we celebrated our first baptism together as a companionship. 
We played fut-sol with an English student.
I did pretty well with four goals!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bandung Week 14

Hello from Bandung again!

Although this week was not nearly as busy as last week, but we still got a lot done, and worked very hard. What is funny is that this city was known for being one of the hardest in the Mission with the work. But honestly, this has probably been the most productive city on my Mission so far. It is interesting how important attitude is with the work; if you think a city will be difficult, it probably will be. But, if you are positive, and work hard, it will be a completely different experience. Here are a few notable events that happened this week.

After emailing last week, Elder Panjaitan and I went to Burger King; he had never been there before. We were both really full since we got the biggest burgers there. We also cleaned out the house, and rested for part of the day. That night, we went to Sister Agnes' home, and gave a message about enduring to the end. It was amazing to hear her testimony and all the trials she experienced when first joining the church. She is a great member.

Thomas has been really busy, so we were not able to go there this week. Because we didn’t have to go to Sukabumi, we had an extra day here in Bandung. We were able to visit a lot of investigators and members here in the city. We were able to contact some really good people, and because of that, we found some new investigators that we will be teaching regularly now. Elder Panjaitan is great at contacting, and very brave with others. It is great!

Elder Hendro got notice that he will be moving to Magelang this week. He really will miss this city, but he will also do a great job in Magelang. There are now a lot of Missionaries in this Mission, at least more than before, which means cities like Magelang are getting more Missionaries. It is really cool to see the work progress in this country. Before we know it, there will be a temple here!

My two 'kids' sitting together - aren't they cute?
On Friday, we went to Jakarta for Zone Training Meeting, a monthly meeting for all Missionaries in the Zone. It was really fun, as always, to see all the Missionaries from the different cities in West Java. We learned a lot, and made some new goals for the work. Everyone was very enthusiastic for these new goals, and we will all work our best. We all ate at KFC together, which seemed pretty stressful for the workers, having 30+ hungry Missionaries taking over the place. We had a lot of fun.

Lauren has been really sick lately, so he was not able to come to church. His baptism has been pushed back a week because of this, but that is no problem. What is important is that he is ready. He has been so dedicated to the church, even though he is not even a member yet. I am so happy to have the chance to see his progression and the changes he has made.

As always, thank you all so much for the support and love that I constantly feel. I really would not do as well here if it were not for that support! I hope you all have a great upcoming week!

-Elder James

Pak Hendri took us to a very cool restaurant overlooking the city.
The entire english class went as well.
Elder Panjaitan and I at the cool restaurant with the great view

At a nearby soccer stadium
The Jatmiko family sent me a nice package with this great tie!
Elder Panjaitan with the former Elder Craig, who is a returned missionary.
He served in Medan when Elder Panjaitan was younger 
and they were very happy to see each other. 
Andrea is the branch president's daughter & is a very cute little girl!
Elder Panjaitan with the delicious fried rice he cooked.
He is a great companion!