Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Saya Sangat Suka Malang!! (I really like Malang!!)

Hey Family,

How are things going over there in the USA? As for things in East Java they are pretty good. Everything went smoothly with my transfer on Saturday. There was no hitchhiking involved, just one airplane ride from Jakarta to Malang. It was pretty exciting, even though the lady next to me had no interest in talking to me at all. But the nice thing was that even though my luggage was about 3 kilos overweight I didn't have to pay a single rupiah because I'm white. I think airlines in America should adopt that policy. It would make flying for me quite a bit easier. Even though it was a little stressful having to show my proof that I was actually allowed in this country to every single person, but I made it safe and sound and am now enjoying Malang. Yes, I got my package last Thursday. I loved it as did Sister Nababan. She was really touched that yall would think of her. I especially LOVED the Mavs shirt, and even though the box got searched by the mail people and I had to pay a $20 tax on the shirt I still wear it with pride. Maybe the Mavs champion shirt should just stay at home for the next year... just don't let anyone wear it.

Malang is great. It is situated in between three volcanos and we have to sweep each morning so our tile doesn't darken from the volcanic ash that is just in the air. It was nice to see that the sky was still blue and that clouds can be white... I had forgotten those two facts during my time in Jakarta. It definitely can get pretty chilly at night when the wind blows, but I would not say it is cold. I imagine that it is just a lot like Southern California. Just in Indonesia!! My compaion is Sister Tukijan and she is actually from about 2 hours outside of Malang. So she is pretty close to home. But she has a similar story with Sister Nababan. She joined the church about 10 years ago when she was 20 years old while living in Hong Kong. She has quite the amazing conversion story which all started with one pass along card. She converted from Islam and told the missionaries when she first met with them that she had no interest in learning about Jesus Christ, but she only wanted to know how Families can be together Forever. Kinda Funny. But she also has pretty much no family support since her family is all still Islam. But she is a great missionary and a hard worker. She also loves to cook and I think I'm going to gain back all the weight I lost in Jakarta while I'm with her. It is also nice because she forces us to speak Indonesian all the time. She can speak English enough that when I get stuck she can help me, but I'm pretty much in Indonesian mode. Hopefully it will help me learn a lot more and pretty fast.

As for investigators, we have a few that have baptisamal dates for July 10 which is pretty exciting. Ibu Sugiarto has been learning for while and has always wanted to get baptized but has always waited because she hoped that her kids would join her, but she decided to stop waiting and just get baptized. I actually haven't met her yet since she has been out of town, but I hear that she is great.

Another is Ibu Hanawati. She has been learning for about 6 years but her husband is a preacher in another church in town and he has never let her get baptized. But through a series of miraculous events, which included her getting cancer and branch members here donating blood when she needed it, her husband's heart was softened and gave permission to get baptized. He even asked for a book of mormon so he could see what's inside. Her two kids are also learning and what to get baptized but still have a little longer to go.

We also teach Ibu Wahyu (which actually is Indonesian for Revelation) she has three kids that were baptized a couple of years ago and she has recently started coming to church with them. We taught her yesterday and challenged her to read the Book of Mormon, she said she would. It is amazing to see how her kids have set such a good example for her that she has been given the desire to learn. Hopefully she keeps going on that path.

That's about it. The work is definitley a little slower here in Malang. The branch is pretty small with only about 50 or 60 members that come on a regular basis. We spend a lot of time looking for less active members and talking to people that way. You most definitley meet some crazy people that way, but it is great.

Here's a funny story, so I've definitley gotten a little tanner over the past three months being here, but I didn't think too much until I met a man in the branch and he asked where I was from. I said Texas and she said that he thought I was from Mexico because I looked like I was a latino. Either he has never really seen a latino ever or I've gotten pretty tan. I would say the first. But it was still kinda funny.

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers this week. I have definitley felt them this week. I always feel your love with me and I am always grateful for it. I know this church is true and am so grateful for it in my life. I love you all and miss you! Have a great week!


P.S. I know you are reading this Melissa... I hope that you had a wonderful birthday last week!!!!!!! I also hope things are going well with your pregancy with your little girl. I still don't know what you are naming her so I'm still assuming Leah Palmer! Awesome!! Love ya!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Dear Family,

When I thought of all the sacrifices I would be making when I decided to go on a mission, I really, really hoped that the Mavs winning an NBA Championship and me missing it wouldn't be one of them, but nevertheless, even though I didn't see I single bit of the playoffs, this is probably one of the most exciting things of my life!!!! And I am trying really, really, really hard not to think that I missed a chance to actually go to one of the games in the Finals. But still that is so awesome!!! I got really, really excited when I found out when one of the elders told me at FHE at a members house, the members did not understand what was going on, neither did my companion. This whole time she thought it was a cricket team that I was rooting for. Kinda funny. Well I hope that I get a NBA champions shirt, maybe two since I didn't go to the game, and possibly a hat or something, or maybe a hand written letter from Dirk Nowitzki telling me that he his sad that his most trusted fan missed the playoffs. I am so proud of my Mavs!!! I hope they know it is all a blessing from my service as a missionary!!!

This week hasn't been too bad, not as much teaching as usual, but still a good one. The most exciting thing was that this week was the first ward conference ever in Indonesia in the Indonesian branch I serve in. Everyone in the ward was so nervous they were all in their seats about 30 minutes early. But the funny thing is that I think the stake president was more nervous than anyone else because it was his first experience doing this too. But it all went off without a hitch and the bishop gave a great talk about his goal and desire to get every worthy adult member of his ward endowed in the temple. Last year they had a record 53 adults go to the temple for the first time and he wants to repeat that. It made me very grateful for the temple that we have so close by in Dallas and also very impressed with the faith and dedication of the saints here in Jakarta. It was a great Ward Conference!

This Sunday I get the exciting adventure of giving a talk... in Indonesian!! Needless to say I am quite nervous and anxious. I'm pretty sure it will be a lot of quotes from conference talks that are already translated and then my testimony. But who would've thought that after 5 months of learning this language I could give a talk in it. Pretty incredible, but still... Pray for me!

Oh, Happy Birthday Maren!!!!!!! I can't believe you are going to be 3 this week! But I hope that you have a wonderful day!! And Happy Father's Day Dad! I'm sorry I won't get to call you for your day, but I love you and am so very, very grateful for your support and love for me as I serve! (Are you impressed that I actually remembered? Do you think Bevan will?)

So, where in Indiana are Deborah and Jon moving to? That was quite the surprise for me, yet everyone in their letters said it so nonchalantly, so I guess this isn't huge news to everyone else, but it is quite big news to me! That's crazy!! What are Mom and Dad going to do without any grandchildren near by? They might go nuts! I think with all of them away and me and Bevan on missions all Mom is going to be doing is mailing off packages. Speaking of, I got the package from Sister Whitley this week. I loved it and have enjoyed it all and the thank you note is already in the mail. You taught me well Mom!! I hope all goes well at Girls Camp this week Mom and that you don't die of heat exhaustion. Sometimes I feel like I should still be going to girls camp but that's ok. You just be sure to tell those girls that you never know where life could take you. In a few short years you could be serving a mission in Indonesia like me!!

Our investigators have been doing well... I think. At least the one's we have been able to visit are well. Riyanti and Ibu Linda have both been sick so we haven't been able to visit them. But Riyanti keeps asking us to tell her different chapters in the Book of Mormon to read so that's comforting to now. Raz, the investigator who is pretty much a member but just can't get baptized, is going to Australia for 3 months in a few days. Kinda sad, but she has already looked up the church nearest to where she will be and knows where to go for that. So that's good. And none of our other investigators want to come to church. So this week we have spent a lot of time visiting less-active members. There are a lot of them here so we do that which always allows us time to talk to people on buses and on the street and hopefully get some referrals. Sometimes it works and a lot of times it doesn't. A lot of people just say that they have no Christian friends. But hopefully our investigators return to health soon and we can start teaching them again.

I also hope that Bevan made it to California safely and is enjoying his home for the next two years. I'll be excited to read his first letter next week. Be sure to send it to me.

My funny story of the week: So, a little cultural background information, Indonesians do not like sweet foods at all. They much prefer spicy foods. All the cakes and sweets that they do have here I don't think contains any sugar as to make is as bland as possible. It's crazy, I don't understand. But last week when we were teaching our English class to kids about the ages of 7 to 11, I was teaching them basic adjectives. Two of the ones that came up were rich and sweet. Just as a FYI note for them I told them that something that was really, really, really sweet could be described as rich also. I asked one of the boys what was the sweetest thing he could think of, he thought about it for about 30 seconds and then replied, "Ketchup!!" Oh dear, these Indonesians!!

Well it sounds like everyone's summer is off to a roaring success! Don't forget about me, Hansen and Rebekah, as you play. Keep writing me! When and where are yall going on your summer vacation? No one has ever told me since Alaska fell through. I feel like it is really, really good and yall don't want to tell me because you feel bad I'm missing it... But anyways, keep having fun. I love you all! I know this church is true. I feel so blessed each and everyday that I have the gospel in my life and I am a little more determined to share it with those around me each day. Always remember to be a good example to those around you and be a good missionary in all that you do. I love you all!! Miss you too!


Thursday, June 9, 2011


Leah mentioned angkots in her blog this week. Here are a couple of pictures of them from the internet. They hold up to 12 people, including the driver, ten in the back and one in the passenger seat up front. Sometimes there are even an additional passenger or two that squeeze in the back or hang onto the open doorframe. Hmmm.

Terima Kasih, Ya? (Thank You, Ya?)

Dear Family,

Hello everyone!! So one of the first things that I noticed when I arrived in Indonesia was their love of the word 'ya'. They use it after pretty much every single sentence ... thank you, ya? excuse me, ya? sorry, ya? how much, ya? I like to equate it with the canadians and eh, but when I first arrived I thought it was weird, because they always, including the men say it with a high pitched voice and it is just odd to hear, but I vowed that I would never say it and that was one thing of the Indonesian culture that I would not emulate. Well, I'm sorry to report that I have started saying ya. It was shocking the first time I did it and my companion just laughed because I have made fun of it for so long. It is ridiculous!! I just know that by the time I come home I will be saying it all the time annoying everyone at home all the time with my incessant yas! But it was a cool moment of I guess something has rubbed off on me here and I guess I am adjusting at last to the Indonesian culture. What a slow process it has been!!

Lets see Mom asked for something that I ate that was Indonesian... Probably the best thing here is called Martabak Manis. It is like a pancake from Heaven with enough calories to last a life time!! But it is so good. I'm pretty sure that the only time that missionaries gain weight here in Indonesia is when they eat Martabak Manis in excess. It is basically like a think crepe smothered in butter, chocolate, nuts and if you want cheese. Yumm... it is just so good. It is also the thing that Indonesians know that Americans love and so a lot of investigators and members will buy it for us when we come over. And then my companion doesn't really like it so I eat it. It is getting dangerous!! But so good!! Mom, you should try and find a recipe for it online and we can eat it when I come home!

Don't worry everyone, I am back to being healthy. My voice didn't really come back until Friday or Saturday which was pretty annoying and I am pretty much back to normal except for a little cough that has lingered. I don't know how much of it is from being sick or just living in one of the most polluted cities in the world... probably a little bit of both. I am very glad to have my health back it was quite boring/not fun at all to be sick. Hopefully I stay that way for awhile!!

This week has been good with investigators, except for the fact that Ibu Sri officially moved to another city. Thankfully missionaries are there and so she is continuing to be taught and learning about the church, but it is sad to not be teaching her anymore. But I continue to pray for her and hope that she can fully accept the gospel.

Riyanti is doing good. She continues to come to church, read the Book of Mormon, and pray, but she feels that she hasn't received a for sure answer to her prayers, but she really has a desire to learn and receive that answer. It has been a little frustrating since her boyfriend has gotten a little impatient and pressuring her but we continue to tell her that we are patient and will keep teaching her as long as she is trying. Hopefully she gets her answer soon and will be ready to be baptized.

So last week I told you about the crazy Ibu Linda, well apparently she isn't too crazy. She has read all the way through 2nd Nephi and came to church this week. It is kinda remarkable. She has been too busy this week so we haven't been able to teach her this week and continue but hopefully soon we can teach her and help her. She still is quite the character!!

My funny story for this week is another one that involves just being a white person here in this country!! We got on an angkot (which is another type of transportation that mom can google and freak out about!) the other day and I sat next to this woman who honestly didn't seem quite all the way there, but nevertheless I tried to start a conversation with her and all she would do is giggle. She stared and giggled at me all while saying who beautiful I was with my white skin. And each time I would say something she would giggle louder since I knew Indonesian. This went on for like 10 minutes. It was a little awkward since there were quite a few people on the angkot. Finally I asked her were she gets off and she said that she should've gotten off like 8 minutes before but she wanted to sit next to a white person for awhile. Oh dear! Sometimes I wonder what some of these people would do if they actually went to America and saw lots of white people. Some might die of shock I'm sure!!!

I hope the Mavs are doing good. I continue to cheer from Indonesia! I hope they can hear it!!! No, I have yet to receive a package from anyone, but I will definitely be on the look out since I know some are coming. How exciting!!! I'm glad Viola is doing so well and such a fun and glorious baby!! It's sad not to be there... like what Annie is feeling times about 100,000!! But I continue to pray for her! I love you all and know that the Gospel is true. I love it and how it blesses our lives. I hope you have a wonderful week!!



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Selamat Datang ke Dunia, Viola!!! (Welcome to the World Viola!!!)

Hey Family,

Sounds like it was quite the exciting week to be apart of at home with lots of things happening. Don't worry it didn't make me too homesick, probably because the weekly letter Dad sent me this week was from February and talked about BYU Basketball ... I don't quite know how that one happened but kind of funny. So really I have no idea what happened this week. Except for the fact that Viola was born!!! YAY!!!!!! You look quite adorable Viola and sorry I can't be there to hold you but I'm doing something kind of important on the other side of the world. I hope you forgive me and still think of me as your favorite aunt!! She looks a lot like me so that's good. She is one lucky girl!!! I can't wait to meet you in who knows how many months!! But what exactly is her birthday? June 1 or May 31 because with the time change and everything I do not quite know... I know will never be able to get it right her whole life. Sorry Viola!!

In other news... WAY TO GO MAVS!!!! I just am trying REALLY hard not to think about it and how many people there are in Carrollton, TX who are laughing at the fact that the Mavs are going to the finals right after I start my mission. I am sure there are quite a number of them. Ridiculous. You better TVo each and every game for me. I wonder if I could go the whole rest of my mission not knowing who wins so it could be a surprise when I come home... hmm... Also I want a Western Conference Champions Shirt please!!!!

In other news from Indonesia ... I have a question... What is more useless than a missionary who cannot talk? NOTHING!! Yep, I've been a bit under the weather this past week and have completely lost my voice!!! It is just not there and hasn't been for like 4 days. My mission president told me to just stop talking! I do not know how to spread the good news of the gospel without talking. Maybe I will just start acting out first vision story on the side of the road without words. An interesting new finding technique. I've spent two days sleeping all day in the mission home while Sister Nababan went out with my mission mom. Very exciting, but I am getting better. I am getting more energy and able to work, but still can't talk at all, kind of frustrating. But don't worry too much mom. I will be healthy again in no time.

Other than that... because I've been sick I really don't know if anything else is going on. Our investigators are still doing well. Riyanti is still doing well and has opened up about some of her main concerns and hesitations about the church and have been able to help her with those. She is still reading the Book of Mormon and praying so hopefully soon she will feel ready enough to set another baptismal date.

Ibu Sri's mom got sick this past week and has gone back to another city to take care of her. It is kind of sad because we were all ready to commit her to a date to baptism but then she left. But hopefully she will come back soon within the next couple of weeks and we can pick up where we left off.

Umm... We don't have too many other progressing investigators just ones who like to discuss with us about the Bible. But my funny story for the week is that we started teaching a "famous" Indonesian soup opera actress. She is "famous" because she believes in her own head that she is famous. She spent about 3 hours with us just showing us all the things in her house, her self-portraits, her photos from her childhood, and telling us all these ridiculous stories that I don't think had an ounce of truth. I honestly was sitting there and kept thinking ... oh I wish Bevan and Malan were her with me because they could make SO many jokes out of this. It was awesome. We left thinking that there would be no way that she would read or pray, but she did! So there will be even more great stories from Linda the Indonesian Actress!

Well... I'm glad everyone had a great week and that mom survived her first week as a mother of two missionaries. That's good!! You can do it Mom!! Keep cheering those Mavs for me, because I have literally sacrificed my voice for the cause of the Gospel I cannot cheer right now. I expect that you all do it for me! I love you all and know that this gospel is true!! I love being a missionary despite the fact that I can't talk right now, it is still good. I love and miss you! Have a great week!!