(This email was sent August 19, 2013)
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. :)
|Inside an Soviet submarine|
|PDay tour of Soviet submarine with district|
|Teaching Lidya a discussion outside|