Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nama Saya Sister Blake, Tidak Sister Black (My name is Sister Blake, not Sister Black)

Hey Family,

I hope everyone is doing well. I'm definitely doing better; I still have some hard times but am definitely feeling your prayers and love. Thanks so much for being such a support for me. As for me, I think I have said that sentence about a million times since I have gotten here. Apparently to Indonesians my name looks like Black the color, which most of them, especially the kids in school, and then they proceed to laugh and laugh at the irony that my name is black yet I am white. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone laugh so hard so when I met the Branch President in the branch I am in. He could not get over that fact. I, however, have yet to see the irony and hilarity in my name, but I guess that is one difference between Indonesians and Americans.

That is really only one of the many things I have had to adjust to with being an American in Indonesia. Luckily being in Jakarta, especially when we go downtown, you will see a couple other white people occasionally, but in the neighborhoods, or compons as they are called here, people always stare at me. The coolness of it has worn off and now it is weird, hopefully soon it will just feel normal. The kids love to run up to me and give me high fives and shake my hand. Most people on the buses love to try out their English on me, which unfortunately can sometimes be only swear words. I try to change the subject after that. I got my first proposal the other day. We were on the bus going home after a long, long day, I was pretty tired, and this guitar player came on the bus to play and get money. He noticed the only white girl on the bus, in his limited English dedicated his song to me, and then afterwards told me he loved me and he wanted to marry me. I tried to explain to him the mission rules and that I didn't think it would work out. He seemed crushed, but I think he will live. So that was exciting and definitely journal worthy.

I'm starting to teach more in lessons, which is exciting. Me and my companion have a good thing going where the investigator will ask a question, I will try to understand it, but usually can't, she will explain it to me in English and then I will try to answer it in Indonesian and then she will really answer it. It's getting better and I'm getting more and more confident in how much I can communicate. It can get frustrating at times when I can't say exactly what I want to say but I just keep telling myself that I am not meant to be a perfect missionary now, but this is a learning experience for me to. That usually helps me keep perspective.

The really exciting news here is that Elder Bednar is coming the middle of May to visit Indonesia, do leadership training, and then spend time with the missionaries. We get a three-hour meeting with him and maybe a lunch if things work out. All the missionaries are pretty excited about it. Part of the meeting will be a question and answer thing where he will answer whatever doctrinal questions we have, so if you have any burning doctrinal questions let me know and I’ll ask them for you.

Now I will try to answer Mom's questions ... Yes, our house is big and I get the impression a lot of the missionaries places are pretty big, but we usually have 4 sisters living in it, so I think that is why it is big, but right now we just have two. No, none of the houses are really that big here. Some of them are one-room houses that share a community bathroom with the neighbors. Those are pretty sad to see. But most are a living room, with a bedroom and a bathroom. Nothing too large but enough for them. The food is getting better. I have definitely had some things I’ve liked and some I haven't. Everything always has rice. I don't think I will ever want to it eat again when I come home. The best is the fried rice that you can get. I want to learn how to make it. People always feed us here. Depending on their wealth, it can be a full meal or just some snack, but we are always fed. About once a week members will feed us. I think my favorite thing so far has been to get to know the members. While there aren't very many, at least in Jakarta they are very willing to serve and help the missionaries. We use a lot of public transportation. The bus usually, or ankots, bajais, or sometimes we will walk. I don't think I can describe adequately what those are, so you will have to wait till I come home. In two of the four cities where sisters are they have bikes. So that's something to look forward to. We contact people mostly through the public transportation. But we can't talk to them about the church until they ask us, so it can be hard at times to get peoples name and number, especially since they aren't too willing to listen if they are Muslim, which a lot of them are. But more and more the members are willing to give us referrals and we do a lot in training them how to talk to their friends about the church, since they can talk more openly initially. It is definitely a challenge for the missionary work here, but we get creative and try to meet as many people as we can. I have gotten a couple of the dear elders, it takes a while to get here also, but I do enjoy getting the mail at other times during the week. Because I live so close to the mission home, at least for now I get the mail y'all send pretty regularly. Thanks so much. I can't remember what other questions you had, asked them again next week and I will try to answer them.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO TAYLOR BLUTH!!!! I hope you read these letters also. And I hope you have a marvelous 21st! Sorry I’m not there with you, but we will celebrate when I come home.

I'm glad things are still going well at home. It makes it a little easier here to know that y'all are all taken care of. I'm sure the house it very quiet now, which is really weird. But that's good too. And I'm glad the Rangers are back in season, hopefully they will have another great year. Cheer for me! And keep cheering for the Mavs for me also!! Congrats Malan for your computer science triumph. I've never been prouder of you!!!

Thanks again for all the prayers that have been said for me. This definitely hasn't been the easiest transition for me but knowing all the support and love that I have at home has made my life here a little bit easier. Thanks so much Mom and Dad for always being there for me. I was reading this week about the Sons of Mosiah and their mission to the Lamanites and I noticed there were a couple of references of how Mosiah had to entrust his sons to the Lord and how much faith he had to have to let them go. And while Indonesia isn't quite as dangerous as the going to the Lamanites, it definitely is a different world. I have very impressed with the faith that both of you have to let your timid, kind of sheltered, American daughter go to this unknown world to do the Lord's work. Thanks so much for your faith and support. (Are you crying Mom and Dad, because that was my goal?) I know this church is true and I know that Heavenly Father lives and loves us. I know He is watching over me and I will be taken care of. I love you all and love the Lord. I miss you and will email again next week!!! Keep praying for me!

Love, Leah

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