First Days On Our Own….

Very disconcerting with the Mitchell’s gone…..however, they’ve offered to Skype with us to answer questions, and I’m sure we will take them up on it, because we have a trip coming up on Monday, and we have no idea what we’re doing.  Dr. Jarstad is an eye surgeon who lectures at a major university medical school here and he and his wife arrive on Monday, and we then leave with them to Madano, a city about 3.5 hours away.  What happens after that, we will see…. Small world, though – he moved to Columbia, MO this past year and was in Holly’s ward there!

We met with President Rowley and in addition to our Humanitarian work he asked us to work with the Branch in Bandung (you’ll have to google it), a city of about 2.5 million people about 3.5 hours away via train.  We will go out there at least once a month to attend church, teach a class, etc.  The Mitchell’s did that and they went out on Friday afternoon and came back on Sunday, so we’ll see if that works for us.

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More about Jakarta

On Sunday, we attended the Jakarta 3rd Ward, a ward of (mostly) American expatriates who live in Jakarta for a couple years for work.  (The Bishop works for the American embassy, the counselor for Conoco Oil, etc.)  We were still a bit jet-lagged, so we got a have a nap, then dinner with the other senior missionaries here – the Moss’s (office), the Baird’s (Public Affairs), the Mitchell’s and us.  All live in the same apartment building.

Monday we went to the office to get started in our transition, which was tough, because we’re trying to absorb all we can, knowing the Mitchell’s are leaving on Thursday.  Monday evening was their farewell dinner with President and Sister Rowley and the office missionaries.  The dinner was at Gonzo’s, a very good Mexican restaurant in the Lotte Mall, a VERY high end mall not far fro the office.

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One comment about the shopping here – malls are everywhere (some incredibly nice, like this one) and the cost of goods is relatively low.  Restaurant’s are very cheap (our 2 meals were about $10).

A comment about traffic – the traffic is unbelievable, with cars, buses, taxis and motorbikes all jockeying for position.  A 2 lane street has 3 lanes of vehicles. all within inches of each other, all moving and amazingly, it all works.  The drivers all just let everyone merge and everything keeps moving and there are surprisingly few fender benders given the amount of traffic and how close they are to each other – I’ve seen one – and no one seems to get mad.

The only way to get around Jakarta is via taxi – Blue Bird taxi’s are everywhere and they are astoundingly cheap – the cost for the 15-20 minute ride from the apartment to the office is about $2 each way.

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More later….

 

 

 

Jakarta!!

 

I’ve been without internet for a week now, so I have some serious catching up to do and it will take several posts to do that.

Yes, we finally made it to Jakarta after a grueling 30 hours.  Getting here is not so easy – it was a little hectic trying to get all of our possessions into 4 large bags and 2 carry-on’s, but we did it.

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We left Salt Lake on Thursday the 15th at 7:00 pm for the 1.5 hour flight to Los Angeles, had a 3 hour layover and left at 11:00 pm for the 14.5 hour flight to Hong Kong.  We arrived there at 5:00 am Saturday (sine we crossed the international date line) and left for Jakarta at 9:00 am – another 3.5 hour flight.  FINALLY, on Saturday at 1:00 pm, we arrived in Jakarta!

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Yes, DeeAnn is as tired as she looks!  The picture on the right is outside the airport with the Mission President, (President Rowley) and his wife (far right) and the Demke’s.  They are going to Timor Leste (you will have to Google it), a small country south of Indonesia.  They are going to be the only members of the Church in the country and will be doing humanitarian work there.

We then went with the Mitchell’s, the couple we are replacing, who took us to our new apartment.  We are on the 17th floor of a high-rise downtown Jakarta.  The top floor is 51, but the numbering jumps from floor 35 to to floor 50 – don’t ask, because no one knows.

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This is the view out our window.  Looking the other way, you can  see a tiny mosque between all the new construction.

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90% of Indonesia is Muslim and Muslims pray five times a day.  They are ‘called to prayer’ (salah) via very large and very loud speakers (they are on the tall minaret) beginning at pre-dawn – which here is 4:30 am. (FYI – theyesm  other times are mid-day, afternoon, susnet and night.)  Now, another unique feature of Jakarta is that construction goes on 24/7.  And, in the green space directly next door to our apartment (and just out of the the picture above) is a little shack that keeps chickens.  Sooooo, at 4:30 am, we hear the call to prayer, roosters and heavy construction!  It’s great!

A great thing about our apartment is the gym/pool – and yes it’s as nice as it looks!  (They clean it every day.)  Since senior missionaries are not bound by the same rules as the young missionaries, yes, we get to use it.  So DeeAnn and I will be able to continue our routine (as best we can because of the frequent travel schedule we will have) in visiting the gym and pool every day.

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The Mitchell’s have been so terrific helping us get settled, showing us the ropes, taking us to the store, etc.  They are going home after 18 months and since we are setting up a new apartment, they have loaded us up with all the stuff from their apartment – pots,pans, towels, etc.  They have been so helpful as we’re trying to learn the Church Humanitarian computer tracking system, the various projects that have been done and that are pending.

One of the great ongoing projects here is working with Dr. Titi – a pediatrician who has a small 26 bed hospital.  She arranges plastic surgeons to come in to her hospital and she donates the facility, they donate their time and skill and the Church purchases the supplies needed to perform cleft palate surgery on children from surrounding villages.  This is life-altering surgery for these children and we are so excited to be able to continue working with her!  She and her assistant, Dr. Maya, came by the office yesterday to bid farewell to the Mitchell’s and to meet us.  We took her to lunch and during lunch it started to pour down rain (it does that a lot here). She and Dr. Maya came in her ambulance, so after lunch, rather than call a cab, she called the ambulance to pick us up and drop  us off back at the office.

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We’ve been here 5 days and there’s so much to put in the blog.  Give me time to catch my breath and more later…..

Finishing Up….

We’re finishing up our training here at the MTC and it’s been a great experience.  Yesterday was a busy day with additional welfare / humanitarian training, then a special treat:  my sister Carol is in the midst of a fairly long RV trip through the west and was in Provo so we were able to have dinner with her and my brother-in-law Robert.  Showed them around Provo a bit, then they dropped us off just in time for the Tuesday devotional with Elder Gene R. Cook, one of the 12 Apostles.  He discussed Four Loves:

  1. Love your Companion (I do…)
  2. Love the People (I sure we will….)
  3. Love Your Mission President (I’m sure we will…)
  4. Love the Lord (we do…)

He also gave us an Apostolic Blessing that we will be blessed to be able to rise to the challenges that we surely will have and that we will be blessed to be able to do hard things.  We need this blessing as we will surely have BOTH situations!

Today was a very interesting day as part of our training today involved LDS Family Services – with a professional counselor discussing our being together 24/7 – a situation most of us have not been in!  True enough, and he discussed various ways to deal with the stress.  I’m not sure what stress he meant – other than PERHAPS that we will be in a new situation (being together all the time), involved in new, unfamiliar activities (being on a mission and carrying out humanitarian projects), living in a foreign country, surrounded by people who speak a different language, living in a new apartment, eating strange food, leaving our family and friends behind, leaving familiar surroundings behind, etc.  If he meant that, then MAYBE there will be a little stress.  But we CAN do it and we are both excited to give it a go!

Also a little training on filtering our water – we can’t drink the water, so we have to be VERY careful – always drink sealed, bottled or filtered water, even to brush teeth, wash fruits and vegetables, etc.  The experienced missionaries (those on their 2nd and 3rd missions) told a few stories about prevention….

Then another treat tonight – we had dinner tonight with Glen Jones and his wife.  Glen was and I served as missionary companions in 1976 in Bessemer, Alabama.  Great fun to catch up and reminisce about the old days and speculate about the new days coming up.

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Wednesdays are a big day here at the MTC – it’s the day when the young missionaries arrive!  Today there were about 500, last week was near 700.  Certainly, many of them have the “deer-in-the-headlight” look, but an exciting adventure awaits them too!  We were hoping to run into Malachi Lassiter, one of our YSA’s from the Carthage YSA Branch, but no such luck.  Perhaps tomorrow….

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Tomorrow is our last day.  Training in the morning on CHaS – the Church  Humanitarian System computer program that tracks the various projects we’ll be involved in.  You can see a sample of the the projects the Church is involved at this link: http//www.ldscharities.org.

Then we’re off at noon and the van comes to pick us up at 3:00 pm for a 7:05 flight to Los Angeles.  Then an 11:00 pm flight to Hong Kong (about 12 hours), a 5 hour layover, then a 3 hour flight to Jakarta and arrive at 1:00 pm Saturday afternoon.  Finally….the day has arrived.  My next post will be from the mission field in Jakarta….

 

Welfare / HumanitarianTraining

So today was special welfare training in Salt Lake City for the 6 Humanitarian couples.  We started off by gathering at 6:30 am bus ride to the train station in Provo for the hour+ ride to Salt Lake – along with several hundred young Elders and Sisters on their way around the world

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We then made our way to Welfare Square and took a tour of the facilities there.  If you ever have a chance to visit Salt Lake, do yourself a favor and take a tour – it’s amazing what the Church has going on – canning, bakery, dairy, a huge Deseret Industries store, an employment facility, and more.

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After that, it was off to Church Headquarters where we we had lunch in what is the old Hotel Utah and now the Church Administration building – VERY nice!

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For those who’ve never seen a pic of the Church Office Building, here’s a pic:

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Here’s a shot from the 10th floor where we had lunch:

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After lunch was additional training about Welfare Principles as well as Emergency Response.  During that training, the speaker referred to a statement made by a former President of the Church – Heber J. Grant.  When asked by a friend why the Mormons had come to the desolate Salt Lake valley in the 1840’s, he said, ‘they came willingly, because they had to’.  A very interesting comment.  They had to leave Nauvoo because they were driven out, but they came willingly because the Prophet told them to go and they knew what they were doing was right. Leading up to our departure, many people asked DeeAnn and me ‘why are you doing this?’ and the answer today became very clear – we are going willingly because we have to.  We have to because we have a testimony of the Gospel, because we’ve made covenants to do what we can to help and give our time and talents to to the Lord’s work and because it is what the Savior would do.

 

Free Weekend

Our training finished up Friday afternoon and we have the rest of the weekend off.

This morning DeeAnn and I went to the new Provo City Center temple.  Wow….so beautiful and the woodwork inside is amazing.

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The temple used to be the Provo Tabernacle, built in the late 1800’s and used up until a few years ago for Stake Conferences, a community center, musicals, concerts, etc.  In 2010, the tabernacle caught fire and burned.  The Church made the decision rather than tear it down, to rebuild it as a temple.  So in an engineering marvel, the outer walls were preserved and the inside was rebuilt.  At one point the walls had to be suspended while the basement was dug out.  Truly spectacular….

After the temple, we went back to the MTC for lunch (leftover Olive Garden, which was better than the cafeteria – that’s not to say the cafeteria food is bad, but let’s face it, institutional food is institutional food!).  Then we had the van take us to the Mall, where DeeAnn got a pedicure and got a dress that she is liked and will have the seamstresses in Jakarta make.  Apparently, fabric stores are everywhere and you can get a suit or dress made for very little.  So that’s what she’ll do.

Now, it’s off to some friends to watch the BYU – Utah game.

On another subject, we were asked what our ‘day’ is like….Well, there are about 50 senior couples and we gather together at 8:00 am to start the day.  Then we break off into our ‘districts’ (4 couples each) for teaching and training with young fairly recently returned missionaries.  Break for lunch, then back at it until 4 ish, break for dinner.  Monday and Tuesday we had evening meetings, but the rest of the week, we were free.  So one evening we had dinner with friends, another we walked down to the Creamery on 9th (a famous BYU institution that serves ice cream made from the BYU dairy.  Excellent.

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Last night we had dinner with Chris Claypool, a friend from Missouri who moved out here a few months ago.  We stopped to see Bekka Schofield, another of our YSA friends who had also moved here, and we really enjoyed seeing them both again.

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More MTC

It’s pretty much one class or meeting after another – they have to cram a lot of training into a few days that the young Elders and Sisters get in a couple weeks.

This has been a great experience.  It’s so fun to talk to the young missionaries and ask them where they are from and where they are going.  Smiling, happy people and just a great Spirit here.

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Several weeks ago we met a friend of my sister, who in turn had a sister that had served a mission in Mozambique and she and her husband lived in Provo.  They invited us to dinner and after a wonderful meal of salmon and all the fixings, they gave us a tour of the very-much-changed Provo than when DeeAnn and I lived here in the mid-70’s.  A very nice treat  and a break from the cafeteria meals!

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