Sounds like everyone had a pretty amazing trip and I'm glad that Dad was able to make it home safely. I also hope that Malan and Hansen have one good week at EFY!! I think my favorite year at EFY was the one that I went to BYU. But it still doesn't beat living in Indonesia!!! This week has been good. Dad is right, yesterday was my 6 month mark. A little surreal to think that I only have a year left. It really has started to go fast, but only when I don't think about it. The second I start it goes pretty darn slow. And as I think over the last 6 months of service I am amazed at all the things I have learned and how I have changed. Not only am I more or less fluent in another language (I don't actually know at what point I get fluent...), but my testimony has grown so much and I have learned to rely so much more on the Savior for help and guidance. But I would say that the way I have changed the most is the development of one impressive talent... killing mosquitoes out of the thin air with my bare hands. I'm pretty darn good at it. In Jakarta there weren't too many mosquitoes and I really didn't wear bug spray, but here in Malang they are everywhere. I wear bug spray everyday and still manage to get bit once a day. I wear it to bed too or I wake up in the middle of the night itching like crazy. I sit there in our house at night and I can catch four or five mosquitoes in a manner of minutes. Let's just say by the time I leave Indo my plan is to have the species of mosquitoes extinct!! It will be a great and marvelous day!!
This week has been a good one, not too much exciting things have happened. To answer Mom's questions the missionaries from Indonesia all go to the MTC in Manilla. They have sessions there that start every 3 weeks in English and if the missionary is good enough in English the missionary can start whenever he is ready. If not they wait until a group of 8 or 10 missionaries are ready to go and they send a teacher from Indonesia to teach them. Sometimes when this happens the missionary will start serving his mission and can serve 3-4 months before he goes to the MTC and the only reason that he goes to the MTC is so that he can go through the temple. And before they formed the new stake in Jakarta they also got their patriarchal blessings there, but now there is a patriarch in Indo so that's hopefully already taken care of. The missionaries can serve anywhere in Indonesia except in the branch/ward they come from. Which means that for my current companion even though she grew up just a few hours outside of Malang since she left for her mission and her records are in Hong Kong she is able to serve in Malang. We have run into her little sister a few times. I think that would be pretty darn hard!! But missionaries from Indo often see their families at church meetings or often are given permission to go home for family events such as funerals or weddings. Pretty sweet!! But at the same time I don't know how much I would like serving in Denton while everyone is in Carrollton!! But each missionary from Indo is pretty excited to serve in their county and help the church to grow here. They are also pretty determined to learn English well enough before their mission so that maybe they can serve in the States. It has happened for 5 Indos.
The church here in Malang is pretty small. Just one branch. It used to be two but was condensed about 4 years ago. It has been a pretty hard transition since I don't think the two branches liked each other very much before the change. It is a pretty interesting branch with quite some strong personalities. It is like the Indonesian version of the branch from Baptists at our BBQ. They also love to teach about how they become like a Branch in America. One Brother taught from the pulpit that all American member families have at least 6 kids and he wasn't going to the Celestial Kingdom because he only had 2. Oh dear!!! It is quite an adventure in this Branch.
As for investigators this week: Vito and Floren are still hoping to get baptized. They are still wanting to learn and wanting to get baptized. I'm still not too convinced whether it is for the social aspect or for their own personal testimony. But they are always at church and at all the youth activities. There has to be some belief inside of them. I'm really impressed with the youth group in this branch. They are strong and have great testimonies.
Pamela is still good. She is hoping to get baptized on the 31. She even has invited her parents to come to the baptism which would be great. She has a great opportunity to be a good example to her family and hopefully one day they will want to learn and follow suit.
We are teaching a pair of sister Yusi and Desi. Their mom is living in Hong Kong and is a member and really want them to get baptized. They basically started learning with no actual desire to do anything just get baptized to please their mom. We have started teaching them and helping them understand the importance of the baptismal covenant and it is not just something you do. They are still willing to learn and we are hoping that they come to church this week. It is pretty hard since Desi is Muslim and Yusi has only enter Christianity for a few years. Their knowledge of Christ and the Bible is limited. But hopefully they can keep understanding and progressing.
The funny story this week is in answer to Dad's question of if I have eaten any weird things lately. Yesterday we were at a member's house and they bring out this purplish soup thing for us to eat. The Sister explains that it is a purple sweet potato and banana soup with "a bit of durian just for taste." I have no idea why you would add durian for a taste of anything. I couldn't believe it! It was so gross and awful and I don't think I will ever be able to eat sweet potatoes again!!! The whole time I just thought Malan should not be called to serve here because there is no way he would've been able to eat that!!! I was able to eat the whole thing, but my stomach hurt the rest of the day. Gross!!!
I'm glad things are going so well at home. I hope Ezra is born safe and sound this week!!! I will expect a lot of pictures. I love you all and know this church is true. It is an amazing blessing!! I miss you and love you! Say hi to BYU for me. Not the MTC I don't care to go there ever again!