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! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Bandung Week 18

Hello Everyone!

This week was nice, with some great things happening, but we were not able to get a ton of lessons in. That happens sometimes, which means we are confused at what to do, since proselyting here is difficult. But we still worked hard, and had some cool experiences. Here are a few interesting things that occurred.

To start with some great news, my camera is fixed (partially)! After more than a month at the camera shop, the workers finally fixed the problem with the lens. Unfortunately, in the process they created another problem with the buttons. All the buttons besides the ones on top (shutter, zoom, and power button) do not work. So I can still take pictures on the General setting, but I cannot change flash, any other settings, take videos, or even review my pictures. But since they caused this problem, the service was free. I am just grateful that I can take pictures with my great camera!

One appointment that is always fun was at Sister Ellen's house. We take a train to the area, and then walk up a hill to her house. It is a really beautiful area, and I took a lot of pictures this time. She lives so far from Church, yet still comes almost every week with three kids and no help from her husband, who travels a lot and is not a member. She also has to take care of her Father, Brother Edi, who is suffering from the after-effects of a serious stroke. She truly is dedicated!

With the fasting month going on, it has been really hard to find food. We have been forced to cook a lot at home, which is fine, but I am too lazy to cook complicated dishes. So I have been surviving on pasta, instant noodles, and other easy-to-make foods. But it is really cool to see everyone break their fast at around 6pm when the sun starts to go down. People sell food everywhere, and there are some really cool traditional foods that are usually only present during this time.

After more than a month, we finally were able to visit Thomas and his family again. He had been really busy with his police duties, but now is much more free. We were so happy to go there again, and it was even better than usual because his entire family was there. (Usually his daughter is at school in Bandung.) We visited for a while, ate a ton, and gave a lesson. We really focused on the rest of the family, since Thomas is already ready to become a member. We invited them all to learn and pray by themselves, so that they will get an answer from God if it is all true. They accepted, and also said they would try and come to church. It was a great time there.

Friday, July 4th, was Zone Training Meeting in Jakarta. I was already a little tired of being on a bus for 10 hours the day before, and travelling there did not help. But the meeting went well, and it really gave me a desire to work hard until the end. They really focused on those in my group, who will be going home in a little bit, and not to start packing our bags now, but do our best right up until the moment we go home. After the meeting, we went to Burger King to celebrate Independence day. It was nice to be with a lot of other Americans to celebrate.

When Sunday came around, my companion and I fasted and prayed that Thomas and our other investigators would come to church. To our surprise, Thomas and his entire family came! It was the first time any of them had ever been to church. I was with Thomas the entire time, and I know it was a great experience for him. He participated in class, and even bore his Testimony during Sacrament Meeting. I love their family so much, and was so grateful that they are progressing as a family. Hopefully they will continue to come as much as possible, even though it is far away.

For P-day today we went to Tangkuban Perahu, a volcano to the north of Bandung. We were able to take public transportation there, even though some of the guys really ripped us off since we are foreign. The volcano was really cool, and we took some good pictures. It was surrounded by forest, so we did some hiking and exploring, finding a cave and sulfur deposits. People were selling souvenirs left and right, and the temptation to buy a lot of stuff was strong. I bought a few things such as a snake-skin belt, and a few other items. It was a really fun activity.

Well, that is about it for this week. I thank you all once again for the support and love that you always give me. I hope your week goes well! See you soon!

-Elder James