Elder Seth Barrus

Elder Seth Barrus
Jakarta Indonesia Mission May2013-2015

Monday, December 30, 2013

Selamat Tahun Baru (Happy New Year)

The Tangerang District celebrating Christmas.

The time in between Christmas and New Year's was always fun for me back home to hang out with family, friends, and others while enjoying the break from school. I think it's about twice as cool out on the mission. Unless everyone is sick... Ha ha! We had a great Christmas last week! All of the missionaries from West Java were invited to the mission home first, and then to an English Member's home in Jakarta for some real American "bule" food. Fun stuff. No snow or Santa or anything, but a closeness with the Savior. I think that's the best kind of present I could ask for. And skyping with the family. That was a pretty great present too. 

Last week was weird. I was sick from Monday til Wednesday, and then out of the kindness of my heart, I think I gave the same sickness to Elder Sxxxxxxxxxxxxx. He was sick from Wednesday til yesterday, and now Elder Sxxxxxx is sick. Yep. It's weird how things work here in Indonesia. (No worries mom, I just took Vitamin D, C, and ibuprofen) but the Indonesians just walked on down to the local pharmacy and got some medicine for themselves. 

In spite of all the illness, we still managed to teach a couple times. We taught a less active family. (Do you remember Elder Mxxxxxxxx? He was my first DL in Surabaya. It's his family. His mom didn't even know he'd had dengue fever until he came home. Oops.) We taught from Elder Packer's talk from last conference how simply reading and pondering the scriptures will protect us from the evil influences of the world. When Sister Mxxxxxxxx closed with prayer she started crying and thanking the Lord for the 'inspired' message the missionaries had shared. Really touched me. I hope we as active members aren't taking things like prayer, scripture study, and church for granted. These things give us power and the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. 

As far as investigators go, we have one 19 year old dude, his name is Mas Txx. (Remember in Medan, they say 'bang' but in Jawa they say 'mas' in reference to young men.) He's currently attending college and his mom is super supportive of him coming to Gereja Yesus Kristus (church). We're meeting up with him tomorrow to follow up, so next week I'll let you know how things are with him. 

Tangerang is entirely an angkot area. It's too large to be a biking area. Although, President told us at Christmas that he might use the leftover mission money to buy bikes for the Tang elders. Which would be nice because there are some areas close by the house where we have to walk for an hour to get to because there aren't any angkots that run through that area. I'll let you know. I'm feeling a bit stuffed up still, but perfectly well enough to go out and teach. Tangerang is colder than Medan. But just because it rains more. When the sun is out, it gets downright hot. The apt is a nice little place. We have AC in the bedroom and an actual bathtub, but no hot water. Still haven't had that since my first week in Jakarta. It's a nice, little expensive place. :) 

Angkot--a converted minivan

I did get the CD's! I totally forgot to mention that! Thank you so much for them! And also the cookies 'n cream bars! It was a testimony to me that you still love me. :) I also got the big butcher paper Christmas card from the ward. That was a nice surprise! Did they do that for all the River Oaks missionaries?

The work will always continue! But it only continues as members and missionaries have faith. Something that was quoted in last Conference by Elder Dube was that "faith is always pointed toward the future. The past is to be learned from, but not lived in." With the new year coming up, let's all have a little bit more faith than we had last year, a little more love, and be a little bit more obedient. As we do so, we invite Heaven's power. Selamat Tahun Baru!

Elder Barrus

Wow. It's about 30 times faster to send pictures. So I'll send a bunch today. This is me at "Air Tejun 2 warna" (or waterfall of 2 colors.) The colors? White and blue. Ha ha! But it was really pretty and cool. We hiked for maybe 1.5 hours to get there. No worries, I didn't actually dive in.

Elder Mxxxxxxxx and I helped bail out his
family's home in Medan after it was flooded.

Elder Mxxxxxxx and I with three young men from Medan 
who will be leaving on their missions in February. 
We taught their mission prep classes on Sundays.    

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Christmas Skype

This is Mom-Sharon. We were able to skype with Seth last night. He told us that they spent Christmas Day in Jakarta at the mission home, so that was nice. Then he and his companion got up early and went to the "warnet", which is an internet cafe. It took us about 40 minutes to set up the call. First he had to find one that was skype accessible, then he had to find a computer where the the video worked (he could see us but we couldn't see or hear him), then he found one where we could hear and see him, and he could see us, but he couldn't hear us, but he finally found one where we could all hear and see each other.

We set up a group skype call with Brooke (his sister) and Eric in Portland, Brandon (his brother) and Mandi in Idaho, and Becca (his sister) in Provo, so there were 5 of us. (Well actually there were 17 of us--just 5 groups.) The quality of the sound and video were great, so we really enjoyed the call. About halfway through the call, the internet at the warnet went out, so we just waited and he came back on about 30 minutes later. Everyone took a turn talking and we even got to talk to his companion, who has pretty good English. We really liked his companion--very animated, and funny, and charming. 

I asked him what his favorite thing about his mission was so far. He said, "The people". He loves the people they meet and just really enjoys working with them and talking to them. When I asked him what the hardest thing has been so far, he thought for a few minutes, then said, "Being transferred so much." It's really had to learn how to get around the different cities--it takes about a month until you feel comfortable finding things, so just when he's feeling like he can get where he needs to go, he's been transferred. 

He told us that his mission president talked to him on Christmas about his transfer, and that he hadn't planned on transferring him at all, but as he and his assistants were working on transfers, they all felt impressed to transfer him and his companion to Tangerang. So, he feels more positve about going to Tangerang. He said Tangerang is a beautiful city, but that the people are well off (every home has a toilet, for example), and as a result, they are less receptive to listen to them. But he is still determined to work hard and find those the Lord has prepared to receive the restored gospel. 

He told us he'd been sick last week--upper respiratory stuff. Elder Heiner thought it might be all the pollution in Tangerang, but then his companion got the same thing this week, so it's probably a virus. And he told us he didn't play the piano much in the MTC or in his first area, Surabaya, but that he played it all the time in Medan and now that he's gone and Sister Hutchinson has gone home, there is no one to play up there. He said there are several members in Tangerang that play, so he hasn't played there so far. 

He also said that Elder Murphy had shared his peanut butter with him and that he hasn't bought any so far in Tangerang. (We put extra money in his account so he could go buy some.) We also told him that one of his uncles had put $30 in his account for Christmas and he said, "Wow! That's a lot of money here!" He said they get more money in Tangerang than in Medan, because it's more expensive to live in Tangerang. They rode their bikes in Medan, but in Tangerang they walk or ride angkots (minivans turned taxis) because the distances they travel to teach and go to church are much farther. And he really misses a particular dish they make in Medan--he hasn't been able to find it in Tangerang. 

All in all, it was really great to see him and hear him. I'm sure it made him homesick. When he could hear and see us, but we couldn't hear him, he emailed me and said, "This is fun! I can see you but my webcam isn't working. You guys look great!" 

Selamat Hari Natal Semuanya dari Tangerang

Hello from Tangerang! The trees are green, grass is green, it's slightly drizzling outside, it felt like 70 degrees yesterday, and we put up our paper tree. That obviously means it's Christmas right? Ha ha! Definitely doesn't quite feel like the Christmases I'm used to, but it's just about the 25th so that means Christmas is coming nonetheless. 

Elder Sxxxxxxxx and I packed all our things up, hopped on the AirAsia airplane, and headed on over to our new city. Even though it took an hour and a half to find the church building, I'm positive we're going to like it here. Even if we have to ride angkots (minivans turned taxi-buses) everywhere. Tangerang really is a beautiful city---really green and really modern as well. There are two wards here and my companion and I are assigned to Tangerang 1. It's really weird too because there are a lot of returned missionaries in our ward, like Brother Mxxxxx, Elder Mxxxxxxxx (my district leader in Surabaya--remember, he's the one that got dengue fever?), and Elder Sxxxxxx. We're sharing our apartment with Elder Heiner (we were in the MTC together) from Oregon and Elder Sxxxxxx from Solo. As far as the work goes, there are a lot of potential investigators that were left by other missionaries. At the same time, our plan is to work as much as we can with the members in getting more referrals and reactivating less actives. 

We met up with the Wxxxxxx family our first night there and they're pretty great! Sister Axxxx, the mother, is a member from Solo, and she married a Muslim man who is cool, but pretty set on being Muslim. They have a son, Elder Wxxxxx, serving a mission right now and he was in the same MTC as my companion, Elder Sxxxxxxxx. I know that he felt the spirit while we met with the family, but for whatever reason, Brother Wxxxxxxx is holding onto his Islam identity while his family follows the church. We're going to keep meeting with them and see what would prevent him from joining his family in enjoying all of the gifts and privileges of the Gospel.

I hope you all have a great Christmas! There's a quote from President Hinckley that I really like and hope we all apply during this season and in our lives: 

"'Mormonism' is a religion of refinement. It reasons that every man has within him God-possibilities, that salvation is essentially development. It argues that every man is potentially a great man. And through an inspired system, it offers the most extensive facilities in all the world for every man to discover himself and his possibilities, to so live that he can stand on the summit of his life and look back upon a trail of accomplishment and not a slough of wasted energies... Happy will be the man or woman who has tapped some hidden resource and given it voice. To such a character will come the sweet satisfying feeling of strengthening power, of having done something that has made life a little nobler. God has generously blessed us all with talent... Catch the silent thrill of growth!" 

Selamat Hari Natal!!! (Merry Christmas)

Elder Seth Michael Barrus

Monday, December 16, 2013

_____est Week of the Mission

Hello semuanya!

You could fill any word into the title line and it would fit how I feel about last week. Happy, sad, crazy, weird, spiritual, long, sick, cool, etc. All would work. I'm really bad at organizing my thoughts, especially with all that happened last week, so I'm gonna make a list instead.

Numba 1: Remember Elder Mxxxxxx? He was my DL in Surabaya. His dad's been super sick for the last couple months and President gave him permission to visit him for a week here in Medan before he goes to his new area in Bogor. But he still is a missionary for 8 more months. Which means he needed a companion. And President asked me to go with him every day to his house and help comfort his dad. We took him to the doctor and finally got him some medicine the first day, but other than that, I was pretty much confused as to what I could do for an entire week. Push came to shove, and we studied. A LOT. So I didn't get to teach at all this week. But Elder Sxxxxxxxxx was in a threesome with Mxxxxxx and Murphy and taught Txxxxx and Rxxxxxx.

Nomor 2: Transfers. We all knew there were transfers coming up and the feeling we've been getting is that Murphy and Mxxxxx would transfer out, leaving me and my companion to finish his training. But, we got a call last Thursday saying that Elder Sxxxxxx and I are moving to Tangerang to finish up his training and help the current companionship there (since Tangerang is the biggest area in the mission).  Elder Mxxxxxxx is moving to be a ZL in Surabaya Timur (my first area) which leaves Elder Murphy here in Medan with Elder Costner. Did not see that one coming. I'm crazy happy here in Medan. But it seems that I'm needed more in Tangerang now. But in all honesty, 3 times is a lot for one missionary to move in his first 7 months. And it's tough because it's right before Christmas. No worries though, I've kinda gone through the whole "accepting God's will" thing the last couple days.

Nomero 3: Txxxx and Rxxxxx weren't baptized yesterday. Their mom, Ibu Mxxxxx's  brother that passed away last week causing them to miss church yesterday. We knew about it before and pushed their baptismal date to the 29th of December. Which means I'll miss it. It's really given me a testimony that the baptisms I get to take part in on my mission really aren't "mine". And even though I feel like "I" found them, I've learned that they were prepared by the Savior long before Elder Sxxxxxx found them. I'm still a bit sad, but no worries.

Number 4: President Riko and Sister Emma had their baby! First child born into the covenant here in Medan. Pretty cool no? Her name is Rebecca Wee Setiawan. Ha ha! That's all.

Even though I'm sad to leave Medan, I know I need to be in Tangerang for some reason. I won't necessarily miss the city itself, but I will definitely miss the people in it. I have grown to love and serve them as my own family and friends. This has been His work since the time I arrived and will be until the end of my mission. 

Hope everyone has a great week in preparation for Christmas!
Elder Seth Michael Barrus

Selamat Hari Natal Family

(This is one of the snail mail letters we received in our Christmas package from Seth.)
Merry Christmas! Love,  Elder Barrus at the beach!
I'm hoping to get this letter written and sent so you receive it before Christmas, but knowing the Indonesian mail, anything could happen. Nonetheless, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope you're enjoying the plethora of snow and Christmas festivities that usually happen at this time of year. I know I am. Just with the whole snow thing. Christmas is awesome, isn't it? I hope you have a great Christmas even without a certain missionary who's in Indonesia.

I'm excited to talk to you face-to-face. The missionary couple here, the Tucker's have said we can use their "speedy" internet to skype our families. I'm pretty stoked about that. Other than that, the only thing I have to get me in the Christmas spirit is my Kurt Bestor Christmas CD. I do want to hear from everyone what they're doing--basketball games, concerts, shopping, brotherly kindness and shoveling.

Txxxx and Rxxxx are awesome. By the time you get this letter, they should already be baptized and enjoying all the blessings that come along with that. Even though they're so poor, they are always SO happy, even when I make fun of their names and call them "Toyota" and "Macaroni". They're good sports! I wish you could have seen how their faces lit up like a Christmas tree when we gave them white shirts and ties. That was all. 2 shirts and 2 ties, but they received it like we gave them a brand new car! It's made me wonder why I can't be grateful for the many, many things I've been blessed with. It's also made me become grateful for the things that really matter: family, our Savior Jesus Christ, the restoration of His gospel, the scriptures, and my own personal knowledge and testimony. That's all Txxxx and Rxxxxx have and they're happy, so why can't I be happy with that! I'm really grateful for you all, especially you, Mom and Dad. I love you all and pray for you almost each day.

I'm already a firm believer in "no coincidences" and with this second story, I've become a firm believer in angels. Have I seen any? Nope. But they're helping Elder Sxxxxxxx and I. We were out contacting one day and decided to go to Grammoedia to buy some colored pencils. As we were leaving, we heard something we hear about a hundred times a day: "Hi Mister!" Notwithstanding the "genericness" of the introduction, we responded to the woman who said it. Her name is Rxxxxx and she's a 22 year old woman. We made an appointment to meet with her the next Wednesday. When we showed up, her mom was there and Rxxxxx explained to us how her brother, who is a pastor in Jakarta, told her to "find the best way to Christ". She's been out of work for awhile and has been looking for jobs and interviewing anywhere she can. She ended up at Grammedia that one Monday for an interview. As she was getting ready to leave, she saw 2 studly-looking men in white shirts and ties, and (in her words) "an angel told me 'talk to the Bule.'" (Bule means foreigner). Then she told us, "I hope this is the best way because I feel that it's right." That was a cool and humbling experience for me. Whether or not she chooses to act on the answer she's been given is her decision, but we have given her "a more excellent way", as explained in 1 Corinthians 12:31.

Why is this important? Because the Savior explained in Matthew 7:21 that "not everyone who saith 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father in Heaven." It is nonetheless an awesome confirmation that our work is the work of God and we get to take part in it as we work hard and seek His will. Angels are helping us!

I want to share a fun spiritual tidbit I've learned on my mission about the gift of the Holy Ghost. We as members of the church have all received this Gift (Christmas tie-in there ), but like President Uchtdorf share in conference, are we living beneath our privileges? Do we seek power and guidance from on high as we work hard. To illustrate (who am I? some institute teacher now? ha ha! just kidding, Dad), we read in Luke 5:5 of the soon-to-be apostles explaining to Jesus that they have "toiled all night and have taken nothing." My first reaction was "Duh, because you were working after 10:30 pm! #obediencewithexactness" Verse 5 explains that they responded to Jesus, "Nevertheless at Thy word, we will try". When they cast their nets where Jesus told them, their nets broke because there were so many fish! What changed? At the Lord's word they succeeded. As missionaries, we can work our tails off every day, but if we don't seek and ask for the Lord's direction, and then follow it, we will lose out on bigger blessings. How do we know the Lord's way? Through the power of the Holy Ghost, which we all have access to. This is one Gift I'm really grateful for this Christmas season.

Because a mission is both really spiritual and really fun, time for the fun stuff:

*I'm getting crazy fat! It's awesome! I'm  up to 86.3 kilos. (190 pounds) You would think biking and sweating everywhere and only eating rice and noodles would make me lose weight. Nope. Total mystery.

*We teach Jxxxx and Sxxxxx, 2 members from a 7 member family. All the kids are members. The parents are not. Their dog had puppies, so the last few times we've taught them, we've had little dogs biting and scratching anything from my bag and socks to my scriptures. Annoying cute little things.

*Even with bug spray, I get eaten alive by mosquitoes at night. Thank you, Mom for the "anti-itch" gel you gave me before I left. It doesn't happen when we're sleeping, but when we're doing our daily planning at night.

*Indonesia is the second biggest facebook user in the word, just behind the United States. Almost everyone we teach asks us for our facebook names. President Donald is looking into how we can use facebook for missionary work.

*Medan might lose a set of missionaries by January because President wants to build up Surabaya.

*Indonesia has open sewer lines on both sides of the road, which also means open and free outhouses all the time. Many a time have I seen people relieving themselves on the side of a busy road. Welcome to Indonesia!

Saya bersaksi ketiko kita mencori kehendak Bapa Surgowi melalui bisikan Roh Kusus, kita akon menemukon itu. Saya tahu bahwa melalui Pendamaian Yesus Kristus, kita bisa kembali ke hadirat Bapa Surgawi. Poda musimlini, saya songat bersyukur atos Jeruselamat saya don kosih nya bagi kita semua. Sayaharap kita memperilotkon kasih ini kepada semua orang. Walaupun saya songat jauh Hari Natal ini, saya selalu mendoadon onda Kalian don akon meni kmati centa anda dari sona desini.

I hope and wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Elder Seth Michael Barrus

Luke 2:11  "For unto you is born this day a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord."      
Elder Mxxxxx Elder Barrus  Elder Sxxxxxx Elder Murphy (everyone thinks he's Pakastani, and I have to admit that he does look Pakastani in this picture)

Elder Sxxxxx and I

A Day in the Life of a Missionary in Indonesia

(Seth recently sent us a package with a couple of snail mail letters--a fun Christmas treat!)

I don't know how this will turn out, but this is so you can have a small look into a day in the life of Elder Barrus, Mormon missionary in Medan.

6:25 am   Alarm goes off. Out of bed by 6:30. Pray.

7:00 am   Exercise. I crank out a whopping 25 pushups and 10 pullups today. Josh would be proud.

7:30 am   Shower. Iron shirt. Make and eat horse food, I mean, oatmeal.

8:00 am   Start Personal Study. Read from Preach My Gospel about "How to Begin Teaching" for 10 minutes, then spend the rest of the time reading from "True to the Faith", Al Kitab (The Bible), Kitab Mormon (The Book of Mormon), Doctrine and Covenants, and Gospel Principles about the Priesthood to prepare for my talk on Sunday.

9:00 am   Companionship Study. Usually, we sing, pray, read from the white handbook, recite memorized passages, and role play.

10:00 am  Elder and Sister Tucker asked us to come to their apartment and help set up their internet. After a 20 minute bike ride, we get there and wait for the technician.

11:00 am  The technician finally shows up and gives the Tuckers internet. It's expensive--about 450,000 Rupiah a month. We as young full time missionaries get Rp. 1,400,000 to live on every month.

12:30 pm  We have an appointment with Ibu Ixxxxx for 12:00, but we are a little late. She's great! She has a 2 year old daughter. She doesn't quite accept the Book of Mormon because she's never heard or read it. She wants to know the history first, so we give her a "Book of Mormon Stories" to read.

2:00 pm   Take an hour for lunch. We go to this place where we get Masakan Padon and immediately leave because we're meeting Jxxxxxxxx at 3.

3:00 pm   It's an hour bike ride out to Mondala, where a few investigators and members live. We teach Jxxxxxxx, a new member since March, about repentance and about finding a job. We teach his younger brother, Sxxxxxxxx, from "Book of Mormon Stories" about Nephi building a boat.

4:30 pm   We promised Sister Exxxxxxxxx that we could come to her house and eat kolak, this purple mush looking food with sweet potatoes and bananas in it. It's weird how my taste buds have changed since I got here in Indonesia. We talk for a little bit and I think, "Doesn't she have enough trials?" About a week ago, some drunk men threw a frisbee size rock through her roof, which scared her so she left and while she was gone, they stole her biggest pig. Last Sunday, her husband had a stroke and, for some reason, her family is blaming her for it. She is a modern day Job. It's a testimony to me that anyone who embraces this gospel fully can use it to overcome any trial or temptation. She's incredible! One of the young men in the ward, Exxxx, moved into her house last week and was pretty sick. I'm really grateful for that small vial of oil mom gave me in that MTC p ackage, because I've used it a lot here. Elder Sxxxxxxxxxx anointed him and I gave the blessing. I am humbled again and again by the situation the people here live in.

6:00 pm   It starts to rain a little by the time we leave, but not enough to justify putting rain jackets on. We want to meet with Axxxxxx, but he has another commitment, so we turn to our back-up plan--teaching a 17 year old girl we contacted a month ago. When we get there, we end up meeting with her whole family who all live in the back of a bengkel--a shop that fixes bikes and motorcycles. There's a fun part of the culture here in Medan. It's called "Mati Lampu" or "Power Outage". They occur almost daily, sometimes several times a day. It's pitch black inside their home, but they bring out a few candles and we make it work. Elder Sxxxxxxxxx leads the lesson and it's great! I'm hoping that the intentions they express during the lesson carry over to when we aren't there. They offer us tea, but we politely decline, and they are fine with that. We make a return appointment for Friday to see if they prayed about Joseph Smith and the Kitab Mormon.

8:00 pm  It's already dark by the time we leave so we get to use our fancy new bike lights for the hour ride back to the church where we meet up with Hxxxxxxxxx to start the New Member lessons. We bring 2 youth, Hxxxxx and Txxxxxxx, to help us teach the lesson about the Restoration. Hxxxxxx's great! He tells us about how he's trying to invite his friends to come and learn from the missionaries!

9:00 pm  We buy Nosi Goreng Telur from our usual spot for Rp 9,000 (about 90 cents US) and go home. We have this goal to plan and update the Area Book before we eat, so we pull out our planners, record stats, and area sheets from the day and plan for tomorrow. Then we eat.

Nasi Goreng Telur
10:00 pm  In Medan, we as missionaries send out a "Radio Osza" every night to members and investigators. It's usually just a quick thought from the scriptures. Tonight's is from 1 Nephi 19:23 "...for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning."

10:15 pm  Shower, brush teeth, floss (Dr. Boseman will be proud to hear that), pray.

10:30 pm  In bed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

80 Degrees at Berastagi

Medan District at Berastagi
This morning we trekked on up into the mountains to take some pictures at a Hindu Temple--Berastagi I think, and by the time we got there at about 8 oclock in the morning, it was hot. Like Utah in the summer hot. My apologies for not enjoying the snow like the rest of you. I'm taking a break for a while.

To answer your question, Lake Toba was incredible last week. Really nice to get out of the city. I have picked up a few Batak words like "Horas" which is like "apa kabar" and "maulihate" is "thank you". That's about it. Most of the people just mumble when they speak it, so I haven't made an effort to learn it.  But apparently "Barrus" is a tribal name here from Karo. Anytime people ask my name, they start speaking to me in Batak. After seeing my pasty white skin, they backtrack and try Indonesian again. Ha ha! But it's pretty great,.

Medan is still great! Txxxx and Rxxxxx are right on track to be baptized this coming Sunday. They invited us to their Christmas program dealio by their house this Saturday. They came to church yesterday all on their own and the youth have really welcomed them in. Even though all their friends at school are confused at if Gereja Yesus Kristus is Catholic, Protestant, or Charismatic, they still are stalwart and are choosing to make their first covenant with their Heavenly Father. We taught them about Tithing, Fasting, and The Atonement last week and they both just ate it up. There was one funny moment though where we had a really spiritual moment talking about the Atonement when all of a sudden their mom jumped into the conversation and asked "Bang, I want to ask you: can a person really be forgiven of ALL their sins?" We replied with the proper steps of repentance, anyone can be forgiven. She answered back with a sigh of relief and said "Good. Because Rxxxxx was a naughty child growing up." Ha ha!! They're all so great! We're focusing right now with her two sons, but eventually, we're gonna try to get their mom to come to church too. I love this work!

For other important investigators, Elder Sutadiyono and I have 3 investigators, all studying law at the local university, who went home to the island of Nias for the month of December, so we won't get to teach them until January. But when they come back, they all said they want to continue learning and Axxxx expressed a desire to be baptized. We just have to wait...

Life is seriously really good right now. I'm probably the happiest I've ever been on my mission and it's not because of the baptisms, even though that adds to it. I'm happy because I'm doing what the Lord wants me to do. I'm learning that there are two types of obedience that a missionary can have and they get two different results. The first is compelled obedience like we learn in 1 Nephi. Laman and Lemuel obeyed their father and went to the Promised Land. Why? Pretty much because they were compelled. I mean, if my brother shocked me with some lightning power, I think I'd go too. The second type is willful obedience. This means searching out God's will and following it, even when you don't understand why. As a missionary follows this pattern of willful and cheerful obedience, he is blessed with joy and the Spirit. No one can be perfect, but as we try, the blessings come.

Elder Seth Barrus

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving and Lake Toba

Horas Bah semuanya!  (I think this is some kind of greeting in Batak Toba--a different language used by the people who live near Lake Toba.)

Nope. I haven't learned any Bahasa Batak, but we did end up going to Lake Toba for P-Day yesterday. Really really green and really really cool. It was about a 4 1/2 hour drive in the Tuckers' car, but it was really nice to get out of the city into the mountains. (The Tuckers are a new couple here. They got here about a month after I came here. They are going to serve in Medan for two full years. They're pretty great!) We hopped on a ferry that took us to the middle island where we looked at a couple museums, bought some fun batak things, and took some really cool pictures. Heavenly Father had a lot of fun creating Lake Toba. 

Beautiful Lake Toba--the largest volcanic lake in the world.
The island in the middle of Lake Toba--Samosir.

P-Day was fun, but I really enjoyed last week a lot more! We met up with Toyo and Roni a couple of times and they are ready for baptism. We talked about the Word of Wisdom and they have no problems giving up tea, and they're cool with whatever we tell 'em to do. They even invited one of their friends when we met last Sunday night. Teaching them is pretty much a huge blessing. Ha ha! Fun story: they didn't come to church yesterday and we didn't find out the reason until later. Their mom explained she got really industrious and washed all of Toyo and Roni's shoes the night before Sunday. Toyo got all ready to go with his shirt and tie and saw all his shoes soaking wet. His mom explained that he became really mad at her because he was going to church, shoes or no shoes. She wouldn't let him come because, heaven forbid, coming to church with no shoes would be embarrassing to her. But she explained she's seen so many changes in both her sons that she might be interested in joining herself if she can quit smoking. We've been working with her on that.

Thanksgiving! The Medan District all went over to the Tuckers' apartment for the famous Turkey Day which is nowhere to be found in Indonesia. Sister Tucker couldn't find a turkey that was reasonably priced, so she bought steaks for all of us. I'd say that's a pretty fair trade off. Ha ha! We had vegetables, rolls, mashed potatoes I made using the recipe mom gave me, (you should be proud of me, Mom) and even pie. Pumpkin and apple. After feeding ourselves, we watched 17 Miracles. For the first Thanksgiving away from home, I thought it was very enjoyable. 

Check out those creamy potatoes!

This Church is true! Even though Indonesians have a hard time accepting Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon because it doesn't take place close to their home, I know that they can receive a testimony just like us if they choose to pray about it. Prayer is Power. With Thanksgiving passing, let the Christmas season begin. See you all next week!

Elder Seth Michael Barrus

PS  Ha ha! Yeah. I have gained weight. I've got a pretty nice gut. I haven't noticed it until I looked back at pictures in Surabaya and I looked pretty skinny. At least in comparison now. Tell Matt I'll be able to push him around when I get back.

Monday, November 25, 2013

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

All of my short sleeve white shirts were dirty, so this is me wearing my long sleeved one trying to act cold. Brrrr!
We got ready for church yesterday and walked out the door to a thin layer of this fluffy white stuff. My first reaction was that the Second Coming is nigh and upon us as we speak. At church, President Rxxxx explained that there was no need to get so excited. It was just volcanic ash from Mt Sinabung erupting or something. Nonetheless, the song never specifies how to have a White Christmas; whether it's snow or volcanic ash, it's all the same right? Haha! Just as a precaution, we get to wear these sweet dental masks whenever we go out on our bikes. 

(This is a picture of Mount Sinabung. Eight more eruptions occurred on Sunday, closing the Medan airport. Don't worry though, the volcano is about 55 miles away from Medan where Seth is serving.)

We'll be going to Elder and Sister Tucker's apartment for Thanksgiving and cooking dinner. President Donald gave us permission to switch our P-Day from today to Thursday but still email today. 

As far as the actual missionary work goes, it was a pretty mysterious week. Mysterious because from Monday to Thursday, we had pretty close to zero success. It was awesome. Appointments fell through, we couldn't teach Toyo and Roni the whole week because their mom was out of town and didn't want us over when she wasn't there, and our bikes kept breaking causing us to have to cancel appointments. Humbled me pretty hardcore. And frustrated me. Elder Sxxxxxx and I started flipping through the Area Book just calling up every one that had a number and name. 

But, we ended up having a really great day Saturday that culminated in us meeting Bang Axxx and Bang Exxxx. Do you remember Bang Pxxxxx? He used to live in a kos with about 15 other people and we happened to have one of their numbers. We called him up and met last Saturday and weren't quite ready for what ended up happening. We talked about the Restoration and invited them to church to witness a baptism. Bang Axxx was the only one that came, but after the service, I asked how he felt and he said "senang". (happy) I was kinda joking when I asked if he wanted to be baptized himself. He laughed and nodded and I didn't think about it again. Later that night, we met up again to follow up with him. Bang Axxxx brought up the baptism and out of the blue said "I know that many churches follow Christ and try to do what's right, but I felt that baptism in your church is the best way." Man, that's why being a missionary is so awesome. You can have an absolutely depressing couple days, still work hard, and then have one thing happen that makes everything better. They both are from Nias and are going home to see their family during the month of December. But they want to meet starting in January and be baptized then. 

I'm humbled again and again in realizing this is the Lord's work and as I work through His ways he's given me, I will find success. It's like the account in Luke 5:5-6 where the fishermen, soon to be apostles, were trying so hard to catch fish and couldn't for whatever reason. As soon as they tried the Lord's way, they had so many fish it sank their boat. We had 66 people come to church yesterday. President Rico said that's the most that's ever come since May of 2012. The Church is true!! 

Youth from the branch after a futsal activity. This is why I love Medan so much. There are SO MANY YOUTH! 

President Rxxxxxxx, the Medan branch president. He and his wife Exxxxx are so great and are a big part of why the church in Medan is growing so fast. 

I wish I could write about everything that's been happening. Or describe how the last 3 months have been in Medan without using any missionary cliches. But anytime I try to do so, I can't come up with the words to describe how great it is. That's why the last 3 months have been quite literally the best 3 months. I like being a missionary. It's fun!
Elder Seth Michael Barrus

Look out! The outside of the durian fruit is quite sharp--making it bad for you both inside and out. Stinky!!!!

We gave some white shirts and ties to Rxxxxxx and Txxxxxxxxxx. You should have seen their faces--they lit up like a Christmas Tree! They were so excited! I know you can't tell by looking at them. I promise, they really do smile and laugh. It's just an Indonesian thing when they get their pictures taken. They don't smile.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Where Is Winter?

Selamat Pagi Semuanya!

The sun is shining. And it's not snowing. That's about it for the weather report from Medan today. As far as a missionary report, things are going great! It's funny how the Lord blesses His missionaries as they do what they're supposed to be doing. 

I told you about Txxxx and Rxxxx last week right? Total miracle that we found them. It's been another miracle in the sense that they have been prepared by God to receive the restored Gospel. We taught them the Plan of Salvation and The Gospel of Jesus Christ last week and the whole time we've been teaching them, it's like we're teaching an "investigator" from the MTC. Seriously. They both keep their commitments, read their homework, and say "Yes" to anything we want them to do. It's awesome! Elder Sutadiyono gave them a baptismal commitment for the 15th of December. Even though BP moved and things aren't working out with Axxxxxx (our other investigators), the Lord still blesses His missionaries with people to teach. With Jonathan, Josh, and Micah all in Utah right now, I really feel like Txxxxx and Rxxxxx are my little brothers. I've grown to love and appreciate them so much especially since their situation is so difficult. Yet they make the best out of their situation and even smile about it. I'll take a picture of them this week and send it the next. 

Do you remember Sxxxxxx from Surabaya? Elder Hendro and I gave him a baptismal commitment for the 27th of September but it never happened because he never came to church, that rebel. But, I got a phone call last week from his mom, Ibu Yxxxxx, who said he wants to be baptized and wants me to fly back to Surabaya and do it! I asked President Donald and he said "nope". No surprise there, but some fun news to get.

Fun story: we met up with this guy who is a self proclaimed "pengInjil" or preacher. He hasn't been to church in 14 years because he believes that churches are built by man and when the Savior comes again, all the churches will be destroyed. So what's the point of coming to church? He's a little weird. We got to talking with him and he said he had just gotten out of prison. We were kinda surprised to hear that. He explained that he tried preaching about Jesus to our good friends, the Muslims, and that he preached with such great power and testimony, they had no other choice but to throw him in jail. Ha ha! There's some weird people here in Medan. But they're mostly good people, I promise.

I've been thinking a lot about the doctrine explained in Alma 37:6-7 about small and simple things. Sometimes we get so caught up in thinking about the big picture we get depressed and forget about the little things we should be doing. It's great to have a goal in mind to give you motivation. But if we expect to see the big things happen automatically, we'll constantly fall short. We hear this ALL THE TIME. Yet, it's so important to our well-being. Read your scriptures every day. And pray every day.

Makasih banyak atas dukungan anda dan doa-doa anda! Saya tahu bahwa kerja ini adalah akibat dari saya, Allah, dan bantuan anda. Sampai minggu depan! (Thank you so much for your support and your prayers! I know that this work is a result of my God, and your help. Until next week!)

Elder Seth Michael Barrus

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pacman tire

Weird yet awesome week. Update on the investigators first: We met with A last week and he seemed pretty serious about his baptismal commitment, but he didn't come to church yesterday. So we're going to have to push his date back. And that's okay. Yang penting, dia siap.(Importantly, he is ready.)  Our other investigator with a baptismal commitment seemed really serious about his date last Tuesday when we met. When we tried calling him to make sure he could meet on Saturday, he said he had already moved to Surabaya. Say wha...? He was so golden too! Oh well, we gave his info to the Surabaya Elders and hopefully he still progresses there.

New investigator though! Last Monday, we had two appointments cancel on us. So Elder Sutadiyono and I were scrambling to find someone. We looked through our phone and found a name "Ibu Tidak Tahu Namanya" or "Woman that doesn't have a name." What the heck, we tried anyway. She sent us the address of her "house" which we thought was on the east side of Medan. After biking the 30 minutes out to to what we thought was her address, we called and she said she lived on the west side of Medan. Dang. So we backtracked and tried finding her again. After getting lost and kinda frustrated, I told myself, "Just change your attitude Elder Barrus. Because if she's this hard to find, she'll become that much more of a great investigator." So I did! And we finally found her by 8:45 PM. Enough time to give a Book of Mormon and see her situation. Her name is Ibu M. She used to be Charismatic, but the church moved really far away and she hasn't been to church in a year. She has two sons, Roni and Toyo, who are really interested to learn from us. Her husband passed away 14 years ago. She doesn't seem too interested, but she basically gave her children to us. They're really cool too! I'll fill you in later when we know more after this week.

H received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday! And he's still great! He invited his friend to come to church yesterday and he came!

Elder Sutadiyono is a great companion. We were biking over to Elder and Sister Tucker's apartment to help them set up their internet last Wednesday, when he got clipped by a car and fell to the asphalt. The driver looked out and then drove off. I was in front and turned around to see him walking up the sidewalk with a bent tire and broken pedals. I asked him if he was okay and he said "My tire like Pacman now." Ha ha! And he was right! The rim was all bent. He ended up being okay and there were a bunch of security guys lounging around that helped him fix his bike (because his comp was a bule). And we were off again. Great companion Elder Sutadiyono is.

I think durian is looked at as a challenge for missionaries to like. The stuff is trash. It's 15,000 Rupiah for just one fruit and why anyone would want to spend that much to throw up is beyond me. Even the Indonesians all said after eating it "biasa aja" or "it's normal." Gross. it needs to be against the Word of Wisdom. There's a story that went around the mission where an elder ate a ton of durian and received the sensation like he was "drunk". Needless to say, after 8 pieces of durian, I told my companion to stop. Ha ha!

No matter our position in life, we all can accomplish the things we've been asked to do through strength in the Lord. Romans 4:20-21. There's my spiritual thought.

See you all next week! (We haven't felt any effects from the typhoon. Btw.) Prayers go out to all the people affected by it though.

Elder Seth Michael Bule Barrus

PLD or Zone Conference
President and Sister Donald are in the front on the left after the Indonesian couple
and Elder and Sister Gong are to the right of them.
Can you spot Seth?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Email yang dikirim dari Elder Barrus setiap minggu

(The heading means "Emails Sent from Elder Barrus Every Week".)

Elder Murphy, his companion, Elder Broberg and Seth in front of their house
in Medan waiting for a taxi to the airport when Elder Broberg was transferred.
No one here in Medan knows about Halloween, so all of the bule (white) missionaries put together a Halloween activity last Thursday that included a lesson about Family History (ghosts/dead people... get it?), musical chairs, jack-o-lanterns made out of watermelons, bobbing for apples, an egg roll race, eating masakan padang, and eating lots and lots of candy. Because what else are you supposed to do on Halloween? We had a great turnout and had a lot of nonmembers come too! I'll attach a few pictures later. 

As far as the actual work of God goes, H. was confirmed yesterday! I've got such faith in him especially after he got up and bore his testimony that he knows this Gospel is true because of how many changes he's made in his life. Man, he's awesome. He's really willing and ready to fully embrace this gospel. We talked about what's next after his baptism and confirmation and brought up receiving his own endowment in the temple, receiving the priesthood, and maybe even serving a mission.

We put President Donald's challenge to the test (about how teaching the Atonement invites the Spirit) with one of our investigators named A. We taught him after English class and held up a picture of Christ in Gethsemane. He actually had only a small idea about what happened there. So we read the account in Luke 22 together and just waited for him to explain to us how he felt. I expected him to be confused or ask questions but instead he asked "Brother, saya mau menerima awal yang baru. Bagaimana saya bisa melakukan itu?" or, "Brother, I want to receive a new start. How can I do that?" Probably the goldenest (not a word) question I've heard so far on the mission. We invited him to be baptized on the 24th of November and he accepted.

God has been so generous to us as missionaries here in Medan in placing so many prepared people in our paths. Reminds me of what the Lord explained to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in D&C 100:4 where we have really been called to this place for the salvation of souls. Not by chance or luck, but called to this place. I know that Jesus Christ suffered for me and my sins and that's why He knows perfectly how to help me and the people I teach. I'm so grateful for that and want to share it with everyone. But we'll start with the good people of Medan first.

I've started sleep talking... Elder Murphy said he got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night one time and as he walked back in, I sat up and said "Hi, kami misionaris dari Gereja Yesus Kristus dari Orang-Orang suci zaman Akhir. Kami percaya bahwa keluarga dapat kekal selamanya." If I start proselyting in my sleep, is that a good sign?

Tell Micah I watched the little 5 minute clip on mormonnewsroom.org  about the 100 Years of Scouting program and saw him helping another scout up a wall or something. I saw Eric, too. Tell him hello for me. :) Tell Ricky thank you for his letter too. He sent me one about three weeks ago and I haven't had time to get back to him yet. Is he doing okay? He's in Colorado right? Oh, my glasses are okay. I use them all the time for personal study and companion study. But I can't wear them while I ride my bike. I can see better without them while riding. I'm wearing them right now as I email...
Well, better sign off. We are going out to buy durian. Apparently it's durian season for Medan and only in Medan can you find good ones. Apparently. They all STINK whenever I bike past them! 

Elder Seth Michael Barrus

Regarded by many people in southeast Asia as the "king of fruits", the durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The flavor is described as a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds
The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as pleasantly fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, stale vomit, skunk spray and raw sewage. The persistence of its odour has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia.

(from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Don't Even Know Where to Begin!

All the elders and sisters serving in the East zone---so Medan, Jakarta, Bogor, Bandung, Bekasi, and Tangerang came together for a big missionary meeting with President and Sister Donald as well as the Area President over Asia, Elder Gong and his wife. It's called PLD. It was probably one of the most faith-promoting and excitement-building meetings I've ever attended. Elder and Sister Gong brought a great spirit with them and you could definitely tell they were called to be an area authority over Asia at this time. They emphasized truly caring for the people we teach and meet. They emphasized the Book of Mormon and how every person accepted Jesus Christ before coming to this earth. The Book of Mormon will help them realize that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is really Christ's Church and God's Kingdom in these the latter days. President Donald emphasized that when we ask for referrals and get help from members, to ask them about their goal of building a temple. Because it's a universal goal for every member in Indonesia to build a temple. They just don't quite know that it involves quite a bit of work on their part for it to happen. But it'll happen! Ahh, I wish everyone could have come and taken part in the meeting. It was crazy cool!

Last week, Elder Broberg and I flew to Jakarta, where he started his new area, and I picked up my new companion, Elder Sutadiyono from Bogor. He's cool! He wears these thick red glasses and is a total hipster. But a hard worker. I'm a fan of that. :) We flew back Thursday night and started work Friday. Not that cool of a week as far as teaching goes, but there was a lot of preparation and progress. We even gave a new investigator a baptismal committment for the 24th of November. Yay! God keeps blessing us, it's cool how it works. His name is B.P. and he's originally from the island off of Sumatra, called Nias. He has the most "real intent" of any investigator I've ever taught. We'll see how things turn out over the next few weeks.

Even cooler was this last Sunday where H made the decision to be baptized with the proper authority from God. He's such an example to me. About 5 minutes before Sacrament meeting started, he hadn't shown up yet and I started to get a little worried. Then he showed up with about 10 of his friends behind him, ready to come and support him. He had invited almost every single one of his roommates and a few of his college friends!! Medan is going to grow. It's got so much potential!  This last Sunday, not only H was baptized, but C, a 14 year old girl from a part member family, as well as S, Elder Marsudi and Murphy's investigator. Is this how South American missionaries feel all the time?? Elder Gong mentioned something as we talked today that made me realize the divinity of this work. He mentioned that if Indonesia is going to grow, it will take Energy coupled with Focus and Faith for the work to move forward. As much as I can work hard and teach a million lessons a week, the work won't go anywhere if I don't invite God's hand into the work we do here. 

I'm being plenty blessed here, I hope you all are being equally, if not more, blessed. To end this week's letter, I bring up 2 topics that will always invite the Spirit into lessons. The first is obvious because it's the First Vision. It's something that is so true, it's almost impossible for someone to deny if they really listen to the Spirit. The other is the Atonement. I hadn't really thought of that before until we role played with Elder Gong teaching about it in 5 minutes. I am so grateful for my Savior and His Atonement. I likewise have a testimony of the Book of Mormon because it testifies of Christ, who I know is the Redeemer of all mankind. So that means the Book of Mormon has to be true. I wish you all could "come and see" the great work that's happening in Indonesia right now. But maybe just "read and think" from my emails. Whichever. 

Elder Seth Michael Barrus

(Answering Mom's questions):

1. When did you find out you'd be training? 

I learned there might be a possibility I would be training from President Donald's email a few weeks back. I just didn't think it would be this fast. I thought he would wait until December for the new Americans to come in. 

2. How is your new companion?

Elder Sutadiyono is great! I apologize for not sending pictures, but I'm emailing in Jakarta and don't trust the warnet here as far as viruses go. Next week!

3. How were your first few days with him?

First few days were great. His bahasa's good. He comes from a strong family in the church.

Sounds like the fam had quite the Halloween! There's a ward Halloween party this Thursday hosted by the missionaries and members. WIsh us luck! I think Halloween might be a cleaner holiday. Hari Raya Idul Adha was gross. It turned all the disposal rivers brown and red. Gross right? Sadly, we don't live close enough to the Masjid (mosque) to get any of the meat. But that's okay. We eat pig meat pretty often here, so i get my meat fix. 

Love you mom!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pindahan (Relocating)

President Donald told me in my weekly email last week that some changes would happen soon, but I didn't expect it to happen as soon as it did. The phone call came while we were in Rodalink getting my brakes fixed-- Elder Broberg will be taking his talents to Jakarta. He and Elder Xiong (remember him--Zone Leader from Surabaya?) are going there to replace Elder Prasetyo and Elder Adhjidarma, the Zone Leaders there who are heading home this week. He leaves Wednesday and I'll miss him very much. 

After Elder Broberg was done talking to the AP's, he handed me the phone and Elder Coleman told me I'll be one of the missionaries that gets to train a new missionary from Tangerang. I'll fly in to Jakarta with Elder Broberg on Wednesday for a training meeting with the other trainers, pick up Elder Sutadiyono, and we'll fly back Thursday night and start working. Dang. This last month went by too fast! Elder Broberg is an incredible missionary and will succeed at whatever he puts his mind to because he's such a hard worker and listens to the Spirit. I'll miss him tons.

We still worked hard last week and as a result, sangat memberkati kami (we were very blessed). We still have an investigator with a baptism set for October 27th, but we had to teach a few lessons first. Like Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, Tithing, no problem right? We've been praying really hard he would gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon first. Because if that happens, everything else will fall into place. We showed up in his Kos (or little room he rents out) and after praying, asked about his reading. After explaining where he was at in his reading, he said, "saya yakin bahwa Kitab Mormon benar." Or "I'm absolutely certain the Book of Mormon is true." Ah man! God does answer prayers! We started teaching the Word of Wisdom, but he had already read the pamphlet and stopped drinking tea and coffee weeks ago. We taught tithing the next time, but he had already learned about it in the Gospel Principles class and already started paying it. As a result, we were able to cover and make sure he has a testimony of all the commandments last week, which means we get to focus on his baptism and other doctrinal things this week. It was a testimony builder to me! God is in charge. Our responsibility as missionaries and member missionaries is to just simply guide through the Spirit. He's ready for his baptism on Sunday. Can't wait! 

As far as other investigators go, we're starting to get a lot of help from the members. And as we teach with them, I'm beginning to see the value of having members bring friends in. It's much more effective because they can answer the questions we can't as Bule missionaries. Sister Novitha, a convert about 3 years ago from the main church here--HKBP, helped us teach three 22 year old ladies who came to the church building one day and wanted to know more. She could explain why we take the sacrament in a way that they could understand.Be a member missionary! The Elders and Sisters will appreciate it. It invites the Spirit and as the investigator progresses, they already have a friend. This work will roll forward because it is God's work. The blessings that come from the strait and narrow path are much greater than from staying on the wide and easy path. Church is true!

Hari  Raya Idul Adha--a Muslim holiday where they sacrifice a cow at the local
masjid (mosque).  Here I am with the cow sacrificers (is sacrificer even a word?).