Elder Seth Barrus

Elder Seth Barrus
Jakarta Indonesia Mission May2013-2015

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Surat Mingguan (Weekly Letter)

Hello Semuanya!

I apologize first off for not writing yesterday... We ended up going to Malang for PDay, playing futsal over there, saying goodbye to Elder Heiner who moved to Bekasi, and hanging out there. And Elder Hendro still came even though he was way sick. He ended up throwing up at lunch and he's been really sick ever since. We're hoping he gets well soon, but his symptoms are looking a little like Elder Mocodompis when he had dengue fever.

Other than that, last week was great! We got to teach MW again and explain more about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and things like that. Even though he's got such an open mind, we're being really careful with him and making sure that he really is open to receiving Jesus Christ and the Gospel. We teach him Tuesday night, so keep your fingers crossed!

Not a ton of cool things happened last week except for maybe one: two weeks ago, while Elder Xiong and I went to Brother David and Sister Jayanti's house to teach them, we ran into three guys along the way who gave us their number and address and stuff and said we could come over sometime. We agreed and went on our way. I set up an appointment to teach them last week and when I arrived, it was just these three guys, William, Steven, and Howard. They are all Christian and going to school here in Surabaya. They live in this dorm-like room with maybe 10 other roommates and as Elder Hendro and I started teaching, the other roommates started filing in. At the beginning, there was maybe 12 people that we were teaching! Man, it felt like a regular Wilford Woodruff experience! The opportunity to teach more than 1 is an opportunity worth gold in Indonesia! A lot of them had to leave to places and couldn't stay the whole time, but we explained about the Restoration, gave 4 of them a Book of Mormon, and invited them to pray about it. I wish I could say through email how cool it was! They told us to come back and explain more and of course we will.

It's weird how acclimated I've become. We can get lunch off the streets at a street cart or "warung" of rice, fried chicken, vegetables, tempe, tofu, and sambal and a drink for 9000 Rupiah, which is about 90 cents in America. 90 cents! But I've become so used to thinking that's normal that when I went out to buy some "sate kamping", or like goat meat kebab, for Elder Hendro and the ibu asked for 18000 Rupiah, I felt like I was getting ripped off!! But only $1.80 cents for some really good meat and rice is a pretty good deal in America.

Um. Yep. My mind's kinda stuck on this week. And also there wasn't a lot of awesomeness that happened last week. So that's it! But there was one quote that I wanna share real quick from President Eyring in a Worldwide Leadership Training meeting in January of 2003. He said: "Because we love the people we serve, all of us want to do better in lifting our Heavenly Father's children tto the faithfulness and purity they need to have all the blessings of the Lord... You begin by holding up the Lord's sandards clearly and without apology. And the more the world drifts from them and mocks them, the bolder we must be in doing that."

Every member a missionary! Whether you're preaching the Gospel in Indonesia or not, through your example or your words, everybody can be a missionary.

Elder Barrus

Happy Birthday, Indonesia! And Baptism!

(This email was sent August 19, 2013)

Hello Everyone!

This last Saturday we celebrated what is known as Independence Day in Indonesia. I was expecting huge fireworks, big parades, and cool things like that. But it turns out that the only big thing that happened in Surabaya was the closing down of a lot of roads and streets. So it made it crazy difficult to contact or teach anyone because the main roads we usually traveled on were closed. But it made some good opportunties to open our mouths about our purpose as missionaries. 

Yet even cooler than Independence Day was Lidya's Baptism!!! I'm glad we made the decision long beforehand to have Elder Hendro baptize her because I later found out that her baptism was his first opportunity to baptize someone. I know we're not supposed to measure our success by baptisms, lessons, or numbers, and I'm not. But it was super cool to see one of our investigators progress enough and see her make the decision to fully enter into the strait and narrow gate through baptism. I was thinking about a scripture the whole time from the Epistle of James where it says "Faith without works is dead." We have so many investigators that love for us to come to their house, theoretically discuss the Gospel, and even feel the Spirit. But they're not developing true faith until they do something about the faith they've been learning about--come to church, read the Book of Mormon. Super cool!

Our Muslim Investigator, MW, is bagus sekali! Elder Hendro was stuck figuring out some things about helping Sister Yeni move to Sidoarjo, so me and Elder Murphy went to MW's house after English Class to teach him. We had planned to teach according to his needs, most importantly because he's Muslim, but also because that's what you're supposed to do as a missionary, so we sat down on his porch, ate some gado-gado, and started chatting with him. We asked if he had any questions and he asked some of the most golden questions a missionary could ever hear. He asked "where did this Kitab Mormon come from?" and "how did your church come about?" If those two questions don't kickstart a discussion about the Restoration, I don't know what does. 

Usually we start by explaining that God is our loving Heavenly Father. But I learned beforehand that for Muslims, it's not appropriate to use the word "Allah" for anything but worship services. Instead, we had to explain that "the Being who created us is known as our loving Heavenly Father." It's kind of weird to start, but after that, we referred to God as Heavenly Father, so it was chill. We explained about prophets, the purpose of the scriptures, Jesus Christ's ministry and establishment of the Priesthood Authority, Great Apostasy, Joseph Smith, the First Vision, and the Book of Mormon. The whole time we were asking questions if he understood or had any questions, but he really just took it all in. 

After explaining about the Book of Mormon, he did have a question which was "Now, what's the role of the Holy Ghost in all this?" Golden sekali! We read from Moroni 10:5 about the purpose of the Holy Ghost, reviewed about how God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct personages. We then taught him how to pray and as Elder Murphy said the closing prayer, I thought the whole time how confusing this must be to someone whose been raised Muslim his whole life, never believed in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, never really prayed personally to God, has a different concept of sin than Christians do, and the whole thing about prophets. Yet, at the same time, how simply beautiful it must be to someone whose never felt like this before. We're going to his house this week to follow up how he did, but I have full faith in him that he can come to know for himself, not because we're convincing him, but because he can know the truth, no matter how confusing it may be, through the Holy Ghost.

I've been pondering a quote by Elder Oaks in the 2013 August Liahona where he says "I have learned that most revelation to the children of God comes when they are on the move, not when they are sitting back in their habitations waiting for the Lord to tell them the first step to take." He then shares my mission scripture from D&C 88:63 - "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me." I can pray every single day for investigators to come to us, for people to listen to our message, and for good things to happen. But they can't happen unless I'm outside, opening my mouth and trying to understand God's will.

Things are good in Surabaya! A big group of Indonesian elders just finished up their missions, so Elder Xiong and Elder Mendrofa moved into our Zone last week, and also there's another group of Elders taking off at the end of August too. Elder Xiong thinks there is a pretty big chance that there are going to be some Bule companionships in the next couple months until more Indonesians come in. That's pretty weird to me. The only thing I've seen so far in my mission is an Indonesian-Bule or an Indonesian-Indonesian. But then I think that usually in other missions in the world, it's Bule-Bule. Haha! Made me laugh for a while just to see how acclimated I've become since arriving almost 2 1/2 months ago! Can you believe it's been that long?? I certainly can't. Feels like yesterday. :)

Elder Barrus

Inside an Soviet submarine

PDay tour of Soviet submarine with district

Teaching Lidya a discussion outside 

Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri!

(This letter is the one Seth sent on August 12, 2013)

Bagaimana kabar anda semuanya!

Last week was probably the slowest week for missionary work in my entire three months of missionary service. Muslims are awesome! They finished up their fasting month last week with the beginning of a weeklong celebration called "Lebaran". It's where every single person returns home to the "land of their inheritance", wherever that is, and hangs out with their family. It's kind of a mix between Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and New Year. Christmas because of the family thing, Thanksgiving because they eat like crazy (especially after fasting for a month!), Halloween because there's this event on the first day of "Idul Fitri" where all the little kids can go outside, door to door, or just on the street, and people will hand them money, small amounts, like a Rp 2.000 or 5.000 at the most, but after about 20 people, it adds up, and New Year because on Wednesday (the day before Idul Fitri) everybody stays up super late, banging drums, lighting off fireworks, socializing together, and eating. Super cool holiday for Indonesians! 

But really slow week for missionary work since everyone was gone and didn't want us to come over. So we ended up biking an hour and a half to Sidoarjo and eating with a few people there. One was a member of the Sidoarjo unit, and another was a man's family named Pak Aji, who always comes to the English Class on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Surabaya. I tried this weird, but delicious, fruit called "pencit". It's a small, unripe mango that is picked off a tree, is kinda green, and tastes really sour. But it's weirdly delicious. That's pretty much how last week went. :)

Elder Hendro is my hero. We biked back from Sidoarjo one day and my bike has been making these super weird noises lately. So we flipped my bike upside down and took the back tire off when all the gears on the back fell off one by one. Dah.... It's time for my moment of regret: Dad, I wish I would have listened and watched you more to learn how to fix and handle bikes better. Luckily, Elder Hendro is a pro at bike care. After tinkering around with a few spare tires and other gears, we finally found a combination that worked with my bike! Because of that and also his continuing patience with me learning the language. 

I feel like I hit a plateau as far as language goes. I can understand most of what is said in Sacrament meeting. But I taught Priesthood meeting afterwards and couldn't understand their input that they had on the lesson. They still carried the lesson for me about missionary work, and I hope everyone was edified, but I feel like I'm starting to plateau. Which means there's only one cure: work and prayer! It's amazing how many problems and bad feelings can be overcome by the simple combination of Prayer and Work. It reminds me of something President Hinckley said one time. He said something like "When I have a question on my mind, I almost always go to the Lord in prayer. After my prayer, I stand up and get to work!" 

It's drilled into our heads as missionaries that we can't measure our success by how many baptisms we get. But the fact we have a baptism on Sunday for Lidya is a nice little thing for me to look forward to! We've been teaching others, and it's been fun to see their small spiritual progression, but it's super cool to see someone who embraces the truth whole heartedly as soon as she found it! I'll always be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of teaching her and helping her progress towards her first covenant with God. 

Love you all! Saya berdoa setiap hari untuk anda dan saya harap bahwa anda tahu berapa banyak saya mengasihi anda dan juga kerja ini! Dan juga berapa banyak saya suka ikan!

Elder Barrus

Apartment Inspection (passed!)  (Picture courtesy of Elder and Sister Anderson)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Welcome to the Hotel Surabaya

Selamat Sore Semuanya!

We taught English Class with the Andersons at this hotel in Surabaya last week. Hence the title. I hope everyone's had a great week! I really am grateful for your prayers and support all the way from around the world! That's the cool thing about prayer is that there isn't a distance restriction. :) 

I've started to sleep talk again, but this time in Indonesian! I don't know what it means, but hopefully it's good right?? I sat up from my mattress on the floor one night, turned to Elder Hendro and asked "Bagaimana saya tulis itu??" (How do I write that?) Elder Hendro freaked out for a second and then said "Anda tidak perlu Elder". (You don't need to Elder). I replied with a "Sip" (Cool) and went back to bed. I hope it means I'm improving! 

There was an experience at church yesterday that proved to me how much I've improved but also how much I'm still (and should always be) dependent on the Lord. Because it's Lebaron, a country wide holiday where everybody goes back to their lands of origin and parties with their family, we couldn't get any of our investigators to church. Lidya's family lives in Sidoarjo, and wanted us to come to the sacrament meeting there, but before that, we attended our meeting in Surabaya Timur. Elder and Sister Anderson showed up which meant I got to translate for them! I've found I enjoy translating more when there's one or two or three speakers, instead of the 13 or so during fast and testimony meeting, because I can get used to how they say certain words and things like that. 

I started off translating and felt pretty good until about 10 minutes left and this one good brother stood up and started speaking, but he speaks so fast and has such a strange accent to me, I can't understand a thing he says usually. After him, another lady stood up, who's originally from China, and shared her testimony, and the only thing I caught was "in the name of Jesus Christ amen". I got pretty discouraged about that, and apparently it continued into Sunday school too because there were periods of 10 or 15 minutes where I wasn't able to say a thing to the Andersons and I felt so bad!  I had kinda given up and felt frustrated with myself that I hadn't been able to help  them like I should be able to. Elder Anderson is such a saint though, he tried so hard to understand and follow along the lesson on his ipad. But I was of no help. It made stop and wonder why. Why couldn't I understand? 

I realized it was mostly because of my attitude. Instead of getting frustrated or flustered with myself, I need to calm down, say a quick prayer, and invite the Spirit into what I'm hearing and saying. I apologized to the Andersons and as we left, they said they would pick us up around 3 to head to the Sidoarjo unit for Sacrament meeting. The unit there meets in a hotel room they rent out and it's so small, and there's only about 13 members that attend usually, but the Spirit is so huge there! I was humbled. Who knows if it made me humble, but it was humbling. While the Sacrament was being passed, I said a quick prayer that I'd be able to translate. Not so I could feel good about how much Indonesian that I know now, but so I could help Elder and Sister Anderson. It's amazing what a difference that simple prayer made. Even though some people spoke really quietly or muffled their words, I was able to pick out the main point of every single sentence that was said. It was a 360  degree turn around and it's all because of a change of attitude and a simple prayer. The language here in Indonesia, Argentina, Europe, or anywhere in the world is nothing but a tool that the Lord to reach and help others. As soon as I realized that, I was able to help others out.

We didn't get to teach as much last week because of Lebaron, but I did get to go on an official companionship exchange with Elder Mocodompis, my District Leader who leaves in a week and a half. And I learned a ton! We didn't get to go contacting, but he taught me that when people ask me "Anda dari mana?" (where are you from?) I should take it as an opportunity to say that I'm from the Church of Jesus Christ and use a quick power statement. If the person is still interested in the message, they'll ask more about the Church and I'll be able to contact them. But if they're not interested at all, they'll usually follow up with "Bukan, anda asli mana?" (No, what place do you consider home?) I have to be super careful to never offend or push anybody too far, because I've found that Indonesians can get offended pretty easily. 

It's tough, but it's the most rewarding work that I can do. Especially when we find and get to teach people like Lidya!! She's luar biasa! Because she had that run in with her parents last week, she had a ton of questions when we met last Saturday. We had planned on teaching about obedience, but I think it was the Spirit that lead us as we taught her more according to her needs. As we started to do that, by reading passages of scripture and drawing upon our own knowledge and experience, the Spirit taught. Not us. Yah, we were the instruments, but I felt like it was the first time for me and Elder Hendro that we taught together through the Spirit according to the investigator's needs. That's really when missionary work begins. I shared a scripture from Joseph Smith History, I think verse 26 where it says that Joseph was confused as to why people hated him and persecuted him for saying he had seen a vision. He knew it, and he knew that God knew it, and he could not deny it. Even though we may face persecution, hatred, or even physical abuse for what we know to be true, it doesn't diminish the fact that we know the truth. And should stand by it till death. Lidya has been such a great example to me of that! 

Zone Training Meeting! The Elders here in Surabaya and Sidoarjo got to go to Malang, a city about three hours away, for ZTM! There we learned about the changes President Donald wants us to make, like how we get to use Facebook now for proselyting purposes (still don't know how that's gonna work), he wants us to carry around a Book of Mormon everywhere we go, and he wants us to look more modern by maybe buying and wearing a shoulder bag instead of a backpack. We also learned how important it is to give commitments to people while we teach them because it's such a key indicator as to whether or not they're serious and also to give them a choice to accept what we say or reject it. Yes or no. No gray area. :)

Saya tahu bahwa meskipun itu sedikit sulit kadang-kadang, itu paling harga untuk menemukan orang lain siap untuk menerima Injil ini yang Paling Bagus! Saya tahu bahwa kerja ini adalah kerja paling baik yang saya bisa melakukan untuk 2 tahun! Terima Kasih untuk semuanya dan saya masih berdoa untuk anda setiap hari!

Elder Barrus