Elder Seth Barrus

Elder Seth Barrus
Jakarta Indonesia Mission May2013-2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Last Email

Despite the emotional Skype session we just finished, I'll get it together and compose this last email while my tears fall on the keyboard. I'm thinking about writing a song... "Skype's the Reason for the Teardrops on my Keyboard..." Ha ha something like that. Sorry Sister Swift. 

(For those who didn't follow the Skype, we actually didn't cry. Well I didn't. But it was good seeing everybody. Even though I'll see everybody in like 2 days.) This last week was sooo much fun! Last week, Aryo was baptized from our teaching pool and it was awesome and great because yesterday he got confirmed as a member of the Church. Last Saturday, Elder Troff and Elder Jones met up with Andi, their Chinese investigator and he said he felt that God was disappointed in him for not being baptized last Sunday, so he asked and plead if this Sunday he could be baptized and after going over the baptismal interview just real quick to make sure everything was OK, he was given the go ahead to get baptized yesterday.

I told the members during my final testimony that I have been extremely blessed to have seen so many of my brothers and sisters baptized into the true church of God during my mission. But really the only conversion that took place has been within myself. I can't judge others' conversion. However, I can know of my own. We visited with Brother Tri and Sister Chrissie last Saturday. Tri's doing really well. Antonius just soaked in the final lesson of enduring to the end and gave me a giant hug after the lesson. Hendra from Medan (who because of extenuating circumstances hasn't been to church in over a year) gave me a call and we chatted for a few minutes. Ivan came and played basketball with us earlier this morning. Brother Wintolo and Sister Ayu took me, Elder Wood, and Elder Troff out to lunch and we had fun reminiscing about teaching Brother Wintolo. Elder Wintolo didn't come because those are his parents... :P 

We're having a FHE night at the Lopis' house later with Aryo, Natanael, and others. And sitting back during the baptismal service, I just felt happy. Downright joy. I'm excited to move on to another season of my life. (Although ironically Indonesia doesn't even have seasons...) These last two years have been full of unforgettable moments. I love the people here. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Bules, Christians, Catholics, Mormons, etc. I love 'em all. Indonesia has the coolest mix of culture in the world. It's full of the nicest people ever (even when they don't give a darn about your message of salvation). Thanks Mom and Dad for all the support through the thick and thin. My mission hasn't been perfect, but I know you were praying for me through it all. Thanks to the Barrus clan for the emails and pictures that made me laugh and cheered me up. I also love my last companion. Elder Wintolo is such a stud. He's helped me overcome my trunky thoughts and kept me working hard. I hope you all can meet him someday. He will be a pilot. So if you're ever in Indonesia and fly Garuda Airlines, look for him.

The rest of my week pretty much goes like this: Pack tonightTomorrow morning finish reading the 80 day challenge of the Book of Mormon. Have my final exit interview with President Donald. Have a warteg lunch with Ivan. Go proselyting with Elder Heiner. Eat a bbq dinner with everyone at 4. Final fireside at 6. Hop in a taxi after that and head to the airport for 25 hours of goodness and joyness of riding in a airplane. Ahhh yeah.

I am not going to bore you all with stories and things that I learned from my mission, but to be short in writing, I'm grateful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I always point to my name badge when I contact people on the busway because I always say "My name is Elder Barrus. I am not Jesus Christ, but I represent Him. That's why His name is second biggest on my name tag." I've learned through repentance how to have full access to His Atonement and mercy from Heavenly Father. The mistakes and sins we commit can be forgiven and forgotten. I haven't found lasting peace and happiness anywhere else than in applying and proclaiming the Atonement of Christ. I love Him. And I know He loves me. 

See you soon!

Harap Allah sertamu slalu.. sampai kelak kita bertemu.
(God be with you until we meet someday.)

Note from Mom:
We had a great visit with Elder Barrus for Mother's Day, although I forgot to take a picture. I asked him what he wanted to do when he came home.

1. Go to the temple.
2. Hold a gallon of milk.
3. Drive a car.
4. Sit on carpet.
5. Eat roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Final Stretch

Aryo's Baptism
Aryo got baptized! It felt like a "Best 2 Years" moment, really, getting to see one of my brothers make his first covenant with God at the tail end of my mission. I'm just glad after so many prayers and lessons and struggles, he decided in the end to make the right choice. Despite all our reminders, he still didn't bend his knees so it was like baptizing a plank of wood. :)  But it went well and he felt happy. Two of the sisters' investigators also got baptized and it made for a packed and exciting day. I just took a moment while everybody was milling and talking to step back and realize how far the Jakarta 1st ward has really come. I know it was nothing that the missionaries really did, it was all because of the Lord; but I took some joy in the fact that we took part in it.

Jakarta District (photobomb courtesy of Elder McCleary)
For those who want to serve missions: In your efforts to follow the guidelines in Preach My Gospel about talking to everyone, you will meet some interesting people. You will also meet some great people! This last week, we met people in busways and on the streets who: 

1. Organize Pokémon tournaments in Indonesia
2. Can read the Al-Quran in Arabic
4. Has claimed to see Jesus.

Also, one man missing an arm and another (a Batak) who just ate up the fact there's another testament of Jesus Christ. 

Elder Troff and I went on an exchange last week and after teaching Brother Antonius, we stopped by a table where a bunch of old men were playing chess. Elder Troff, being the chess master he is, went over and proceeded to play chess while I contacted the man's friends who were watching. For the record, he won once, lost twice. As I've been out longer, I've realized that we can be more creative than just asking where the Christians live. Or inviting them to English class. The Lord gives us a key of flexibility to use within our callings that we are expected to use. And it makes fulfilling our callings a lot more fun. :D

A mission has been the absolute best decision I've ever made in my entire life. I've changed because of it. I'm not the same Seth Barrus that I was before I left. To look back on myself 2 years ago is a bit embarrassing and funny. I realize it's all a part of the process of our lives, but I'm different now. I hope that I didn't simply go on a mission, but that I really tried to become a missionary. The people that I've met on my mission are people I feel like I knew in the pre-earth life. I hope that one day you all get to meet Ivan. And Aryo. And Brother Wintolo. And many, many others. 

Ultimately, the biggest lesson I've learned on my mission is love. Love of God comes first and foremost. But if a man truly loves God, love of His children cannot be overlooked, which means (in this case) loving someone enough to invite them to repent and be baptized. It's super easy to love those who you love you back. But the growth comes when you choose to love those who don't love you back. It makes me wonder just a little bit about how the Savior felt when He knew that there would be some of Heavenly Father's children who would not receive His Atonement. Yet He performed it anyway and we all will be eternally grateful. I testify that Jesus is our Savior. I know that He took upon Himself all of my weaknesses and imperfections and sins. I understand the repentance process now and will apply it continuously throughout my life. I understand part of the joy that God feels when a soul returns unto Him through repentance and baptism. I'm extremely grateful I still have one more week to give my all to God. :)

See you soon!

Elder Seth Barrus

Monday, April 27, 2015

Get Thee Hence!

Zone Conference in Surabaya
We finished the last of the Zone Conferences, the last one held here in Jakarta. It went well. I went on a split with Elder Kyle and taught Brother Budi about family history and the temple, and he asked Sister Lely his wife, "Do we have that in our church?" Noooope. He came to church yesterday to hear my talk, and said he enjoyed it. We're still working with him. Elder Kyle's a great man. I will tell stories to my grandchildren about him. 

Phew. So much happened last week. I almost forgot to say we have a fifth member of the team here in the office. Elder Lovelock from Australia came into the mission field last Tuesday and got his assignment to serve in Tangerang and immediately went there the following day. Meaning there was an awkward 9 Elders trying to use 8 bikes there in the two wards. So because it's easier to have a three-some in Jakarta than in Tangerang, President Donald moved Elder D McCleary here to the office to work with me and Elder Wintolo for his last 3 weeks. The rivalry has been rekindled. Ha ha! Just kidding. We've had fun politely trash talking each other (Riverton High School vs West Jordan High School) and talking about the mission. 

Elder McCleary and Elder Wintolo walking to a member appointment
That's a first on my mission. I've never been called Satan before. The Sister Trainers have an investigator, who is Muslim and has been to church a few times wearing her hajib (head cover), and is essentially on the fence of being baptized. Last night she came by Senopati to be taught by the sisters while we were taking statistics and after asked to meet with all of us, including the office Elders. She was really closed off at the start of her learning with the sisters, including not shaking hands with men outside her own family, but being the naturally friendly missionaries we are, we tried to make her feel as comfortable as possible by smiling and talking with her. Well. There was one time she came to church and was finally willing to shake my hand and smile back. But apparently I didn't smile at her that day and ask how she was doing. So she went home, conjured up thoughts about how I was the adversary, and stopped reading the Book of Mormon because of it. She confessed yesterday it was all too fast judgement and apologized. She's great! I've repented of my satanic ways and have now committed to smiling even more and shaking her hand every time she comes to church. She's awesome!

Traffic jam!
Every year, delegates and leaders from all over Africa and Asia gather in one country and hold a council about how to improve each other's economies and relations. This was the 60 year anniversary of the "Asia-Africa Convention" and it was held in Jakarta this time. We use the busway mostly to get around the city, especially on some of the main roads, like Jalan Sudirman, so when they announced that they would be totally closing some of these main roads during major parts of the day, we got stuck. Luckily, we planned well enough where we were already teaching and finishing a lesson when they were closing and opening the roads again, so it didn't affect us too much. But it was a fun atmosphere the last couple days. 

The Bishopric somehow took note how I've only got 360 hours left on my mission, so they assigned me as the second speaker for yesterday's sacrament meeting and the sister before me took her allotted time of 10 minutes and then sat down. Leaving a solid 30 minutes for me to fill. I don't know if the youth speaker didn't show up or what, but I enjoyed it. Although I don't know if I could do that in English. My topic was, "What do I need to do to gain eternal life?" Much like the rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked. James Talmage explained how selling all we have to follow the Master may not be the universal remedy for spiritual inactivity and true discipleship, but each of us need to ask the question on a daily basis "What is it that I lack?" There's two verses from Acts 17:27-28 I've been thinking about a lot: "That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring." Why would we be so brave to challenge people to ask God if these things are true if we knew it was all wrong? Anyone who seeks will find because we are His offspring. He's not some professor who avoids his students so he won't be bothered with dumb questions he already knows the answers to. But rather like a caring parent who answers his child's questions and honest searching because he loves him. People get so locked into thinking there has to be proof in the scriptures of what we believe (and there is) but it doesn't work like that. Ask God himself. Because He doesn't want us to just have knowledge, but to have experience

Nxxxxxxx feels like he's still searching, and that's OK. He'll get baptized someday. Axxx is all ready to be baptized next week. Again, he's got more swag than any investigator on my mission but also one of the greatest testimonies. :) 

Yep. There was a ton more that happened. Buuut I'm only allotted so much time to tell you about it. :) Hope everyone has a great week!

Elder Barrus

Monday, April 20, 2015

Can Ye Feel So Now?

This last week at the two Zone Conferences, Sister Donald asked all the missionaries to reflect back on when we opened our mission calls and remember how excited we were. She then opened up Alma 5:26 and asked "can ye feel so now?" That was the theme of these last two Conferences. We hopped on a plane last Tuesday morning and landed in Surabaya, held interviews, checked all the missionaries' area books, held the meeting the next day, ran over to the train station, took a 4 hour train ride to Solo, held interviews the next day, played futsal, held the meeting, and then got back on a plane and came back to Jakarta last Friday. There's my week!

Surabaya Gubeng Railway Station (picture courtesy of Sister Donald)
My computer's been acting weird these last two days, so it's not registering my memory card from my camera, so I can't show any pictures... But the Zone Conferences were soo good. President Donald talked about how discouragement is the tool of the adversary. Rejection is a part of the mission, and how we deal with it determines our own spiritual and physical growth. 

Elder Wintolo and I grouped all the missionaries together with their districts, tied one of their legs with their companion's leg, and had them walk the length of the parking lot, make two cups worth of Nutrisari (it's like Kool-aid here), walk back to their district and give it to the following companionship who did the same thing for the companionship behind them. We were making the point that our effort as a companionship has an impact on the rest of the district. If it's the best effort you can put out, the district is blessed. If you are lazy, don't want to work with your companion, or don't follow the rules, you'll miss out from the blessings and prevent your district from the blessings they could have as well. We then talked about the importance of the Christlike attribute of unity in our companionships. There's a saying in Indonesian "Bhineka Tunggal Ika" or "Berbeda-beda, tetapi tetap satu" or "Everyone's different, but all stay as one." 

Because we have so many Indonesian-Bule compansionships in our mission, it makes for some interesting dynamics. We referenced a talk by Elder Bednar about the importance of not simply going on a mission, but becoming a missionary. Then we invited each missionary to ponder two questions: 1- What can I learn from this? and 2- How can I change for the better? We're hoping that by asking these two questions, that they'll want to study Chapter 6 from Preach My Gospel on their own. I'm so grateful I have so much time to still learn! If anything, these trainings are more for myself than the other missionaries. :) 

We met Axxx last Saturday once we got back (and once he got back from a fashion show. :P)  and he's still cool as a timun (cucumber). He's been experiencing some difficulty, but still wants to get baptized on May 3rd. We've been throwing everything we know at Nxxxxxxxx, yesterday we taught about the temple, the Priesthood, and family history. And it's easier for him to search out his family history because he's Chinese. Javanese families are harder to search out because they don't have descending family names. 

We still have one more Zone Conference to do, and it's the biggest, here in Jakarta. But I got to see most my MTC group give their final testimonies and it made me realize how much we've bonded these last 24 months, even though we've been serving in places far from each other.   These relationships are some that will last a lifetime I hope. We are the most privileged people in the history of the earth. And it's because of the Gospel. We have every reason to be happy. :D 

Elder Seth Barrus

Monday, April 13, 2015

Trunkiness Never Was Happiness

Elder Jones and Alien

Note from Mom: We received this email a few days ago from Seth's email:

so many days left


Seth Barrus

Apr 9 (4 days ago)
to meJoshMatt
Dear family .. I am so trunky... I count my days and my minuets. I miss you all.


(We knew it wasn't Seth because it wasn't on PDay, he wouldn't ever write that, and the word "minute" was misspelled.) We thought it was his Indonesian companion, Elder Wintolo, because he's been giving Seth a hard time about going home and counting down the days for him.)

Dear Family,

I just asked the office elders if they sent that email because Elder Wintolo claimed he was innocent. It was just Elder Jones. Not sure how he got onto my account. The bum. Ha ha! I love that elder.  No I'm not trunky. He's the one counting down days in an effort to try and make me trunky. #trunkinessnever was happiness

General conference was sooo good! Mostly it was me, Elder Jones, and Elder Troff watching it on a TV in one of the classrooms at the church. Elder Wintolo went with our Ward Mission Leader, Jonathan, to listen to it in Indonesian. He tried staying for one session in English, but said "Elder, that is hard. I don't understand them." Ha ha! poor guy. I told him I don't understand sometimes too. That made him feel a little better. 

OK, General Authorities and Quorum of the Twelve, I get your point. I should get married, be a good father and husband, have kids, raise them right in the Gospel, and embrace the grace of Christ more often in my life. That's what I got out of Conference. Seriously. It's like they realized all those missionaries who left right at the age change announcement are coming home within these next 6 months. And that with all these gospel checklist things we have to do, that we need to realize we won't be perfect in them; and it's not so much the doing of those things that bring us exaltation, but the becoming that's only possible through Christ's grace. Such a powerful conference. By the close of the final session, I just felt at peace. I felt satisfied. Grateful for the chance to still serve for the next ___ days as a missionary; and excited at the opportunities in front of me. 

We got a couple of our investigators out to conference, but I hope you realize from listening to the voice-over when Spanish or Portuguese speakers talk, that listening to the voice-over is just not the same. Indonesians have been listening to a voice-over for years. And you just miss the emotion in the voice of the speakers. President Ucthdorf's joke when he started speaking German got a couple of laughs out of our English listening section at the church. Our leaders are just normal men! They're not robots, but have a sense of humor as well. 

Elder Wintolo is the coolest companion on planet earth because he really really wants to do what the Prophet asked and get married in a reasonable amount of time after his mission. The culture expectation here is that you have to have a home, a job, and stable finances before getting married. But Elder Wintolo doesn't want to follow the trend. It made me ask if I'm as excited to follow the Prophet in things that aren't too popular in my own culture or personal opinions. We taught Axxx afterwards and he wants to get baptized on the 8th of May now because he feels bad for not coming to church the last 3 weeks. We taught Nxxxxxxx with Brother Ivan from Jakarta 2nd ward and Ivan's gonna make a great missionary some day. He testified about all the right things and was able to give a perspective that we couldn't give as missionaries. So invitation for the day: Go on splits with the missionaries. It helps a lot!

We went and finally played some basketball in Jakarta selatan (south) this morning and I got destroyed. My shoes that is. Josh, don't you be getting any ideas. ;) We played with two of the elders' investigators from Africa. They're super soccer players, but when it comes to putting the ball into the rim with hands, not feet, it got a little difficult. Ha ha! But it was fun. Amongst their broken English and jabbering French, we still had a good time. First time I've played basketball in a while here. You just can't find quality courts here.

Elder Wintolo and I have been busy in preparation for this next round of Zone Conferences. We're going to Surabaya tomorrow, Solo Thursday, and coming back by Friday for the Jakarta conference next week on Wednesday. I'll be sure to let you know how it all goes.

Hope everybody has a great week! 

Elder Barrus

Fancy Indonesian vests. A new fashion statement.

District Meeting group study.

       Got this from a bud serving in New York. Made me laugh. It's an essential attribute for missionaries!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Because of Him

I hope everybody's had the chance to view the new Easter video the Church has produced. It's super good. They even got it translated into Indonesian and we've been asked to post it to all our facebook pages as well as start handing out these special pass along cards to help others get in the mood for the true reason for Easter. Even though most of Indonesia is not Christian, our friendly Muslim friends are usually really tolerant and are open to at least learning about what we believe. Needless to say, I've had some fun conversations with people from differing religions about the purpose of Easter.

Manado's beautiful coastline
 My companion just got his patriarchal blessing earlier this morning so he's on a spiritual high and I've been feeling really good after coming back from our last exchange last night. President decided at the last minute to take us to the famed and beautiful land of Manado. The rumors are true: it's really beautiful and green and almost everybody and their dog is Christian. We flew up there on Friday morning, split that day with Elder Heiner (which coincidentally happened to be his birthday) and then split the following day with Elder Campbell. I was a bit of a tourist, taking so many pictures. But we had some great experiences! The angkots here are nuts with their loud music and all, the members live way out in the boonies up in the mountains, and there are so many prepared people up there just ready to soak up the Gospel. There's a strong branch that's growing every week. One of the few difficulties there is association with other, strong branches or wards. It's so far away that the leaders can't get a lot of training or gain valuable experience working with other wards because of the distance. So every month or so, President Donald sends a counselor or two to give that training. We trekked up there with Brother Subandriyo who taught a great lesson 5th Sunday lesson on the fruits of the church that can't be found anywhere else. Elder Wintolo and I also got to spend valuable time working and talking with President and hearing his experiences serving as a Bishop and Stake President. All around, it was a fantastic weekend that motivated me to keep pushing along. 

As for our investigators here in Jakarta, Axxx is doing well. Couldn't go to church yesterday because his family had an activity he was obligated to go to. Nxxxxxxxxx didn't go either because his old church asked him to go fellowship a new member or something. Aleks is great! We sat down and read Elder Klebingat's talk and made goals associated with what he talked about. It rained sooo hard this last week! We had to cancel a few appointments because the busway took forever and a day. It took us 3 hours to get from our place to Harmoni and back last Wednesday. But we're doing OK; it's just made us focus more on planning and trying to follow the spirit while trying to anticipate how long it will take to get places. 

Sometimes I don't think we quite realize what we have as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We have everything necessary to lead to a peaceful and happy life here and to enjoy immortality and eternal life in the world to come. We are all witnesses to what Jesus Christ is doing in the last days in preparation for His second coming. Soooo that means we need to be brave and share it with everyone we know. :) 

Selamat Paskah Semuanya! (Happy Easter Everyone!)

Elder Seth Barrus

Elder Heiner's birthday! We made him a cake by throwing egg and flour on him. Yay!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

“Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togeva today."

Mission Leadership Conference March 2015

Elders Litster and Murphy 
The day to day normal missionary life is something I will never get bored of; but going to a wedding is a nice change up once in a blue moon. It gives our investigators and new members a chance to socialize with long time members and I've never been known to turn down an offer for free food, so all around it's a win. The president of the elders quorum tied the knot last Saturday at the church with a sister from Jogjakarta. Weddings here are a bit different than the Mormon receptions back in Utah, full of rice, traditional Javanese music, and funky improv songs. Brother Antonius got into the mix and sang a nice Ambon song with another member from Tangerang. After the wedding at the Harmoni ward, we swung on over to the South Jakarta ward with a few of our investigators and members for a fireside activity put on by the missionaries serving over there. It was fun seeing former members and people I know from that area again. Overall, it was a solid day.:)

The work is progressing. Investigators are still learning. Ummm... What else do you want to know? Cool experience last week: we had some time after an appointment to go RT proselyting and were walking along and felt impressed to start down a street to the right. Usually at 2 o' clock in the afternoon, not a lot of families are home because of the work schedule here, but a nice Muslim man led us to a house where a Pak Axxx came out and welcomed us in. His wife was there too and wanted to go to the market in the next 5 minutes, so it was a total "coincidence" that we were there right at that time. These two had been married for 5 years, but had never had children. Finally, they had a son. And he lived only for 3 years and then passed on to the other side. They were wondering where he was because so many people had told them different things. We felt impressed to teach the Plan of Salvation and tell them exactly where their little boy was. It was a nice feeling leaving their house knowing we were used by the Lord to find and give answers to His children who were seeking. 

We're still reading the Book of Mormon in 80 days and have found that what we read that day can be applied in one of our lessons with an investigator or member. We just finished reading Mosiah 24 about the people of Alma being put under bondage by the former high priest, Amulon, and how "they did place many heavy burdens upon their backs which were grievous to be borne." Alma's people had that much faith that the Lord visited them in their afflictions and gave them power to submit cheerfully to the will of the Lord. Sometimes we ask for a situation to be changed, but what ends up happening is the Lord giving us power and strength to bear our heavy burdens until the time He decides we should be freed. It's all about perspective. :) 

Thanks for the support and prayers everybody! Hope you all have a great week. 

Elder Barrus

Surabaya with Elders Heiner and Blaser and a former investigator who got baptized.