Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ya Ampun!

Dear Family,

That is the Indonesian Version of Oh my Goodness or Holy Cow and it has pretty much been what I have said to myself over and over again in the past week. It has been quite the change and adjustment as my world has completely turned upside down, quite literally actually. I am still in major shock with the culture, language, food and everything else. I honestly cannot believe what I have gotten myself into. It is quite crazy. But little by little I am getting used to it. Well, I don't quite know how to begin smoothly so I will just dive right in. My first area is South Jakarta, not the most exciting and exotic area of Indonesia, but I figure then the more exciting areas can be for when I am about to go home. My companion is Sister Nababan from Manado, Indonesia on the island of Sumatra. Her birthday is next week and she will turn 31 ... yep, I wrote that right, 31. So there is a little of an age difference and because of that she doesn't quite understand the homesickness that I have had as she has been independent for so long. So that has been a little bit of a struggle but she is a wonderful teacher and a hard worker. She has been in this area for 4 1/2 months now so she knows the area, the branch members, and the investigators. Which is nice. Unfortunately, she also lived in Hong Kong for about 8 years and studied English there. She probably knows better English then I do, that coupled with the fact that a lot of people here in Jakarta know basic English means that I haven't been speaking as much Indonesian as I probably should. It is kind of frustrating because then I can't participate in lessons or talk to people as much. But, I'm going to work harder on that this week. The language will get better.

Culture wise, I don't even quite know what to think yet. The food hasn't really made me sick quite yet but things are a little more Americanized in Jakarta. But I eat rice with every meal, either with chicken, vegetables, fish, or tofu. Yep, I have eaten more fish and tofu here then I ever had in my life before. And so far I am not quite a fan. But overall I definitely won't starve and might actually love the food by the time I come home. The house I live in is nice. It is actually quite huge for Indonesian standards. It has 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with like 3 living areas. And just my companion and me live in it. 4 sisters were living in it, but the mission is kind of low on sisters at the moment so right now it is just me and my comp. So we each have our own bathroom and our own dressing room. We have to sleep in the same bedroom or else we could also have our own room. One of the bathrooms has a western style toilet, which is nice, and the church does also but pretty much no one else does. Needless to say this is where my holding my bladder talent comes in handy. There is no normal shower or hot water. I bath by scooping water out of a bucket and pouring it on myself. Not quite as refreshing, but other houses I will live in have normal showers so there is hope for one day. Other than the few cockroaches I see in the house every day it is a great place to live. I will most definitely enjoy it.

The area of South Jakarta is huge!! And there is so much traffic basically we can travel for two hours to get to an appointment, teach for an hour of so (we are allowed to teach longer lessons since it takes so long to get there) and then travel for two more hours to get home. Eat. And then have to teach someone closer. Luckily so of our more well off investigators have agreed to be taught at the church, which is about a 5-minute walk from our house. So that is nice. The branch here is really great. It is one of the strongest in Indonesia. We actually go to the Jakarta South Branch and the English Branch. So I got to understand a little bit of church on Sunday, but the rest I could understand the jest of what was being said but not the exact message. Kind of frustrating that the one part of the week where I can get some great spiritual upliftment and I can't understand what is being said, but I can still feel the spirit so that is good.

The visa stuff is taken care of. I don't even quite know actually either, but the other missionaries I came with and I just had to stay near Jakarta for the past week so that we could go to the immigration office on Monday and get our Kitas, which I think are our work permits or something. I don't quite know, but I will have to do it every six months or so. But now all the missionaries I came with are going off to other parts of Indo and I'm staying here. It is kind of hard to see my old companion go and all those who I have come to rely on for the past of couple months leave me. I have really had to rely on the Lord so much as I have seen pretty much my whole support system tumble around me and I have to truly learn to stand on my own.

Sounds like life is good at home. I'm sorry that BYU lost!! But, maybe when I come home they will when. Happy Birthday to mom! I’m sad that I can't be there to deliver the flowers but that is an awesome present. Congrats to Deborah and Jon for moving out. That is awesome. Enjoy living so close to YougartLand. That's awesome. Just remember never have too much fun without me!

I know this was jumbled and I probably didn't answer all of your questions. Good thing I still have about 15 and a half more months to answer them all. But I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve my Heavenly Father. Even though this has probably been the hardest week of my life as I have adjusted to the new time and the new culture I know I am doing the right thing. I know the Lord will help me. I miss my wonderful family, but I know I am doing the right thing. Please continue to pray for me. I really need it. I just keep thinking back to when I was set apart and how I would be able to love the people and culture of Indonesia and they would become my family. I pray for a fulfillment of that promise each day. I want to love it here and I will keep working until I do. I miss you all and am so grateful for your love and support. Please, keep praying for me. I love you!!!!!



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Having fun at the MTC

Key 7

6 5
Hope you enjoy these picture.

Having fun at the MYC

4 3

Here are some pictures of Leah at the MTC. the key of the pictures are above.

Some information about Jakarta

Jakarta (formerly Batavia and officially the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta), is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Located on the northwest coast of Java, it has an area of 661 square kilometres (255 sq mi) and a 2010 census count population of 9,580,000. It is the most populous city in Indonesia and in Southeast Asia, and is the tenth-largest city in the world. The urban area, Jabodetabek, is the second largest in the world. The city's name is derived from the Old Javanese word "Jayakarta" which translates as "victorious deed", "complete act", or "complete victory".

A Letter from Leah's Mission President

We received this letter from George Groberg, Leah's mission president for the next year and a half. He sent it the day after Leah arrived in Jakarta, and included a few pictures:

Hello Brother and Sister Blake, March 25, 2011

Greeting from Indonesia!Our new group of missionaries is here. Sister Blake arrived safely.
The first afternoon the new missionaries went out with the office elders to do a little proselyting and shopping. Then we had a dinner at the mission home. Following a night’s rest, interviews and some training they have been temporarily assigned to companions in the Jakarta area pending work visas.
We are thrilled to have Sister Blake serving here with us. Indonesia is a challenging mission and quite an adjustment at the start but we know that she will rise to the challenge. We love these missionaries and will do all we can to keep them safe, healthy and happy in their service to the Lord here.

We thank you for preparing and sending her.
The pictures were taken on arrival at the mission home and then during their first authentic Indonesian lunch.

President and Sister Groberg

Leah's First Letter from Indonesia

We received this letter just a couple of hours after Leah arrived in Jakarta last week after a 36-hour trip from Salt Lake City. She was pretty tired, but, I think, pretty excited to be there.

Why hello family!

I am pretty much too tired to come up with something in Indonesian to say to you. But, I have made it here safe and sound to Jakarta!!! After many, many hours of travel and lot of time sitting in airports and on airplanes I finally made it! It was pretty much the londest trip of my life, but luckily I was able to sleep about 12 hours straight going to Hong Kong from LA; however I haven't been able to sleep much since then. We got to Jakarta at about 1 in the afternoon today which is Midnight Utah time and have been up since so Jetlag has already set in. From the airport we went to the mission home, met lots of people that work there that I don't remember who they are, went out walking around with the office elders, and then came and ate dinner with the mission president and his wife. It has been a pretty surreal experience actually. I got to talk to a few Indonesian people and realized that they talk really, really fast and really, really quiet. But, I could pick out a few words! I also have taken my picture with two Indonesian ladies because they had never seen that many white people together ever in their lives. It was pretty funny. I will stay in Jakarta as a triple with two sisters for the next week and then get my first true assignment on Wednesday. I am pretty sure my P-Day will be on Wednesday so I will write yall again next week. But all is good and well here in Jakarta, but I'm pretty exhausted. Hopefully I will sleep well tonight. I was glad I was able to talk with yall a couple of days ago. It was great to see Malan randomly in the airport also. I love yall and miss yall! I'm excited to truly now start this great adventure! Love yall!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

The area of Indonesia

Area: 736,000 square miles; about three times the size of Texas

Kaca Mata-0, Saya-2 (Glasses-0, Me-2)

Hey Family,

How are things going? It sounds like everyone is enjoying their spring break. I’m sure Malan and Bevan are loving being together up here in Utah. It’s nice that Malan is there to help Bevan with his homework and staying on track! This week has been a good one. Time has pretty much slowed down to a crawl since we got out travel plans and I feel like I might never get to Indonesia! But it's coming and I'm getting pretty excited. The big happenings of the week took place in gym where I was able to break two elder's glasses and actually give one of them a black eye, all without any contact! This first one happened a couple weeks ago actually in that a serious of unfortunate events happened all in a row. An Elder was playing volleyball about 40 feet away from where I was playing basketball. He knocks off his glasses and they fly in the air a good ten feet and then slide on the gym floor until they landed right under my basketball that I was dribbling. There was no time for me to save them, despite the fact that I pretty much saw the whole thing happen in slow motion. They were bent pretty badly and the elder had been in the MTC for 3 days when this happened. He seemed pretty distraught, but a nice elder going to Dallas was able to fix them. So all's well with that one. The next destruction happened on Saturday in that I was playing knock-out with a bunch of other missionaries. I of course sink my free throw and go get the ball and throw it back to the next person in line. The game is pretty intense at this point and I throw the ball really hard to the next Elder, but then another elder gets in the way and the ball pegs him in the face! His glasses fly off his face and the lens pops out, but the contact actually gave him a black eye. It's not too bad but it is still swollen 5 days later. His glasses were fixe also and I think his eye will be ok. But no elder wears his glasses to gym anymore. I only have one more gym time left so hopefully I can't do any more damage to anything. But beware of your glasses Bevan when you come here! That's my funny story of the week!

I did pull a slight prank this week, nothing too bad. But, one elder in my district lost a front button on his suit coat. He asked me to sew it on for him since he didn't know how. I offered to teach him, but he had no desire to learn. So I said I would do it for him. I took his jacket back home to my residence at night and actually found an extra bright orange button from a sweater I had and decided to sew that one on for him instead of his black one. It was great encouragement for him to learn how to sew on a button when he needed a black one as a missionary. Don't worry the orange button was only on for a couple of hours and I did get a picture. That was the only prank I have pulled here and it actually was pretty funny!

Other than that the week has been filled with learning last minute things before we head out. I'm getting kind of nervous and Sunday had one of those realities setting in moments and I fully realized where I was going, what I was doing, and all the nervousness set right in. Needless to say, it wasn't too pretty. But one thing I have learned here is that Heavenly Father takes care of His missionaries. After a night of prayer and asking Heavenly Father to take care of me, the last 3 days have been filled with so many blessings from people at home and other missionaries here at the MTC. I've gotten so many letters of encouragement and gifts and acts of service that have meaned a lot to me and have really helped me tremendously as I have continued on. It has been a great testimony builder and I know now that I am doing what Heavenly Father wants me to do. He is in this mission just as much as I am and He will watch over me and help me. I'm still nervous, but it's much more of an excited nervous. And I know it will be hard and an adjustment to the culture and language, but I know it is going to be ok. It has been a great week of blessings and love from my Heavenly Father. Thanks so much everyone for the letters and encouragement and prayers. They are felt, loved, and mean a lot!!!!

Thanks for the package!! It was filled with everything I need and was really excited when I saw the stuffing of remnants of the Dallas Morning News. I don't know if that was intentional or not, but I loved seeing pieces of home. Don't worry it didn't distract me too much. I did have to check the NBA and NHL standings in the Sports Page and I definitely did keep the crossword puzzle to do bit by bit through out my mission whenever I happen to have a couple of minutes. And a couple of the comics were hysterical. I can't believe Malan didn't keep the one about the Beiber Hair. I thought he would love that!! Thanks for the socks and the pictures. I showed everyone the pictures of Alice, Lillian, and Maren and was a very proud aunt at that moment. I don't know how much 19 year old elders really care about that stuff, but I still told them all about them anyways.

Life here is good! I'm getting ready to leave and ready to get out there and truly learn the language and begin interacting with people and learn the culture of Indonesia. It is going to be such an adventure and such an exciting time of my life. I know that Heavenly Father is watching over me and He is watching over my friends and family while I am gone. I know this church is true and I have learned so much the past two months. I know God lives and Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. And I am so excited to share it with the people of Indonesia. I love you guys!!!! I will write again from Indonesia!!



Saturday, March 12, 2011

History of the Indonesian Mission

Six missionaries entered Indonesia in January 1970, organized the first congregation in February, and baptized the first converts in March. The Church was officially recognized in Indonesia in August 1970. After recognition, several congregations were organized in Java and missionary headquarters were established in Jakarta in 1975. In 1977, The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a companion scripture to the Bible, was published in Indonesian. Membership at that time was 1,200. The missionary headquarters in Indonesia were closed temporarily and later reopened with an Indonesian president. In 1989, Indonesia was combined with the Singapore Mission, with headquarters in Singapore, but in 1995 it was established again in Jakarta

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Selamat Datang di Malan Keluarga

Hey Everyone!!!

I can´t believe it took me so long to translate this for yall. But it is ¨Welcome to Family Night!¨ I expect it to be used quite frequently until I come home. Enjoy!! Also...
Senang Hari Ulang Tahun, Rebekah!!!!!!!
(In case you didn´t get it, that was Happy Birthday, Rebekah). In Indonesian they don´t really have a specific word for birthday so they just say happy day that repeats during the year. Kinda weird and it is way too long to say. For a language that doesn´t really have a word for a, the, is, and it they sure love to be quite wordy in everything else they say. Its confusing for the rest of us! But, anyways, I hope you have a wonderful day Rebekah! I can´t believe you are 11 years old today! You are getting so old! Enjoy your day and eat an extra piece of cake for me!
Well, not much news here. This past week was pretty typical. Lots of studying and learning the language. We did spend all Monday and Tuesday only speaking the language. It was pretty frustrating at times and I´m pretty sure my brain was about to explode from it all. But I am always amazed with how much I have learned in such short a time. But other than that nothing too exciting too report except that yesterday we got our travel plans to go to Indonesia!!! CRAZY!!! We leave on the 21st of March ... in 11 days!! We fly from SLC to LAX have about a 5 hour layover there and then fly over night to Hong Kong (Deborah if you want to join me there you are more than welcome to) and then from there we fly to Jakarta and get there at 1 in the afternoon on March 23. It will definitley be quite a long trip, one where I hope that I can sleep at least a little. It should be an awesome trip. Getting the travel plans makes it seem so much more real. I´m excited!!!
A funny story I guess I could tell was that this week we worked on telling personal stories in our lessons in the language so we all have to pick a funny story from our life and work on translating it and tell the story of the class. So naturally I picked the highlight of my life to tell... the story of the death of Marble the cat. Let me tell ya, I am a marvelous story teller in Indonesian. My district laughed and they cried as I shared the sad demise of the cat I so loved. Actually my teacher was rolling on the floor laughing because he couldn´t believe that something like that would happen to an 8 year old. I´ll make sure to tell you each the story when I come home. It is great!!! I don´t know if I will ever be able to work that story into a lesson during my mission. Not much spiritual value to it, but I´ll definitley tell all of my companions!!
The other highlight of the week was the fireside Sunday night. President Daines came to talk to all the missionaries. He is the Temple President of the Provo Utah. He was a great speaker and talked a lot about the importance of the temple and spent a lot of time helping us each to understand why it is so important. It was a great talk and definitley made me realize once again that I won´t be able to go to the temple of 16 months and how much I have loved being able to go once a week here. I will greatly miss the blessings from going.
Sounds like yall had quite the exciting week this past week! Way to go with tricking Grandma and suprising her for her brithday. Quite the amazing feat that yall pulled off. I´m glad it was such a success and that Grandma had a great birthday. Congrats to Malan and his band successes this past week. That´s really fun and exciting. I hope life calms down this next week with spring break. Are yall going anywhere besides Malan to Utah? I except some great letters from Hansen and Rebekah since yall don´t have school weighing ya down.
I´m glad yall are all doing well! I´m so excited to be a missionary and to serve the Lord. It has been a great blessing in my life so far. I have learned so much. I know that this church is true and that God and Jesus Christ lives. I love this gospel and love you all so much! Have a great week!

Monday, March 7, 2011

KUTA, Indonesia — The resort island of Bali fell quiet over the weekend as the authorities shut down its airport and seaports, and switched off all radio and television transmissions. Its streets, normally jammed with tourists, were deserted as security guards patrolled the island, ensuring that locals and foreigners alike stayed indoors, and even exhorting them to turn off their lights.

Kuta, a rowdy Bali beach resort, lost its usual din.
The authorities closed down Bali not to stamp down on political unrest, but to mark the annual Day of Silence, a Balinese Hindu holiday called Nyepi that ushers in the New Year. For a full 24 hours starting at 6 a.m. Saturday, Balinese Hindus were urged to remain silent and engage in introspection.

The New York Times

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Saya Menjadi Bapak Saya..

Hey Everyone,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA!!! I hope you have a wonderful day!! I love you lots!!!
How is it going? Im doing really well! The subject means that I am becoming my father... Which in a small way I am because the past couple of weeks I´ve been serving as the Coordinating Sister in my branch. Which really isn´t much but I just make sure all of the sisters in the branch are doing well, they are following lights out and getting up on time, the residence hall we all live in is fine and nothing is broken. It´s fun, really. I´ve enjoyed doing it. But because of this I have meetings every Wednesday and Thursday nights, extra meetings on Sundays, and occasionally on Tuesday nights. Sound like anyone else? Granted these meetings are only an hour or so at most and are not nearly as stressful as Dad´s meetings, however, I think it is kinda funny.
In other news this week has been a great one. It has gone by really fast I had trouble last night coming up witht things to tell yall. The most exciting thing was that my companion had a doctor´s appointment this week outside of the MTC so we got to go on a field trip! It is pretty exciting to ride in a car again and to see the sights on Provo. I´m glad to see that it hadn´t changed much and all was still well in the outside world. Oh, don´t worry my companion is fine and doing well!
Sister Nicholes and I have also started teaching an Indonesian Investigator. We stopped teaching Ryan and Andy and now teach Rafael from Jakarta. He is pretty cool but it is definitely harder to communicate with him during our lessons. We spend a lot of time in our English-Indonesian dictionaries trying to figure out what questions he is asking but then we don´t know the Indonesian words to answer his questions so we just answer something we do know what to say. It´s a pretty good system. It actually been a great experience. We´ve taught him twice and it is fun to see how I can communicate in this language and get my feelings across. I still have a long way to go, but it is always encouraging to know I´m making progress.
My favorite part of the week this week was Relief Society. So for church all the missionaries are broken up for Sacrament meeting and after that the elders go with their branch presidencies for priesthood and all the sisters in the whole MTC get together for Relief Society and they always have someone exciting and important come. This week Sister Dibb from the General YW presidency came, who is also President Monson´s daughter. She gave a great talk about how to best use the church´s resources to help teach the youth who are investigating the church. It was pretty amazing. But then she spent the last half of the time doing a question-answer session about her father. We could ask her any question we wanted and she would answer it. I learned that his favorite color is yellow, he loves boy-scout songs, and he is a pretty amazing whistler! She said that you can always hear him coming in the Church Office Building because he whistles everywhere he goes. She told a lot of good stories about him, she definitely learned that from her father. She told a story of how he almost started a fire in Provo Canyon when he was 7 years old and how he still feels guilty about it. It was quite amazing to hear her talk about her love and admiration for her father. The best part though was when someone asked her about her mom and what she was like and she started crying and almost could´n´t get the words out. But she talked about how amazing her mother was for being such a supportive and understanding wife and loved to be on the sideline while her husband worked so hard. It was amazing to hear and reminded me a lot of you Mom and how amazing and supportive you are. She also asked us each to always pray for me mother each time we pray for her father because she needs the divine help also. It was an amazing talk and definitely something I will remember for forever.
This week for devotional we had Bishop Edgley come and talk to all the missionaries. It was amazing to hear him. He just stood up there and told story after story about how important it is to work each and every day of your mission and when you do you will always be blessed and your mission will be a success. There were some amazing stories. I hope I remember them and then I can just tell y'all them when I come home. But I´m also proud to report that the iPad craze has hit the presiding Bishopric. H was totally using his iPad up there on the stand to find quotes from Preach My Gospel. It was pretty funny to see that old man use it. Keep practicing Dad at your iPad skills just in case.
Sounds like everything is going well at home. I´m glad to see that my Missionary Service is blessing my basketball teams. I hope they both win it all this year so that they have to credit me with the victories. It would be awesome!!
The only thing I could really think of that I need is probably more socks, just like the small socks to wear with my regular shoes. Also, if y'all could print out some of the pictures from right before I left, especially the ones with me and Alice and Lillian and me and Rebekah. Also my CTR ring if it has come. And Sister Nicholes said I want some Tokens of Love... Whatever those are. But anything you send would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for everything y'all do! Thanks for the prayers! They are a great help. I know this church is true and I love being a missionary. It is great to know that in 2 and a half weeks I will be going to spread the message to Indonesia. It´s awesome! I love you all!!
Love, Leah