Elder Seth Barrus

Elder Seth Barrus
Jakarta Indonesia Mission May2013-2015

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Medan Punya Kerengaya (Medan Has Terrain)

Selamat Pagi semuanya!

Elder Broberg is in Jakarta right now for MLC (Mission Leader Conference), so I'm with Elder Murphy and Marsudi until Wednesday. But this last week was luar biasa (incredible)!

We ran into a woman who was selling things on the street and she invited us over to her house sometime to teach her. Her name is Ibu R, and she's pretty much incredible. We taught her twice about Heavenly Father's love and then about prophets. She told us right off the bat that she committed some sins in her teenage years and never really was a religious person and never read the Alkitab growing up. That means we have to teach her pretty slowly. Which is fine because she eats up everything we teach! We invited her to church, had faith, but knew it was far from her house. However, yesterday, she showed up with her 6 year old son, Andreas, and sat right down. Afterwards, we asked her how she liked it and she replied with "I feel really welcome here. The members here are so happy and made me feel like I belonged to them." 

Even though the Branch here in Medan is pretty small, they've got huge hearts and testimonies. Also, we have another investigator who is really incredible to me too. His name is H. He's about 20 years old, works from 8 in the morning until 1, and then goes to his college from 2 to about 9 every single day. Except Sunday. He always wants to meet with us, so we've figured something out where we meet him at the church on Tuesday and Friday mornings to teach him for 30 or so minutes. He always comes to church, but doesn't quite have a testimony about the Book of Mormon. This last week, we read together from Alma 32 about faith and how even though he thinks his faith isn't as big as it needs to be, he has a desire to believe. And that's enough to just plant the seed of testimony. I gave him a baptismal commitment after and after thinking about it for a minute or so, he replied with "Right now?" Haha! He's not quite ready, but he's committed to getting ready for his baptism on the 27th of October. Elder Broberg and I are excited!

Last week, I think I told you about Ibu E right? She told us her well of water in her house is getting progressively dirtier and needed help cleaning it out. So we biked over last Thursday to see what we could do. She already had a pump taking the water out, but it wasn't going fast enough and didn't reach all the way to the bottom. So we stuck a ladder down in there and rigged up this bucket with string and started hauling up buckets and buckets and buckets of water, mud, and dirt. Man alive, it wore us out. But I'm glad we were able to help Ibu E in some way. She's been such an example to me of a light in so much darkness, I wanted some way to help. It also humbled me. Again. But it made me wonder why I have been so blessed to be born in a free country like America, be born into the church, have a completely intact, loving family, and have all of my needs and most of my wants taken care of. Yet, through the Gospel, we both get to experience the same happiness.

Last little thought before I sign off: I read from the September Ensign an article on how to prepare teenagers for their missions and the covenants they will make in the temple, and they quoted something from Elder Bendar that made me think. Remember what he said about Family History: "Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. And I promise you will be protected against the influence of the adversary." Who knew that doing family history work would protect us from the devil? I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to do family history work in the temple before I left on my mission because it really has built my testimony. As I've testified to people about the Plan of Salvation, I feel more power behind my words. I'm also grateful that I'm sealed to the best family in the world! I love you all and hope you know that we're also one big family here on the Earth. That means we should love everyone. See you all next week! 

Elder Barrus
With Ibu E's brother after fixing her well.

With Ibu E. She's amazing!

Down in Ibu E's well.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Selamat siang dari kota Medan semuanya! (Good afternoon from the city of Medan, everyone!)

After a 1 hour taxi ride from Surabaya to the airport, a 1 hour plane ride to Jakarta to pick up Elder Marsudi, a 2 hour delay in Jakarta, a 2 hour plane flight to the Medan airport, and a 1 1/2 hour taxi ride home, I arrived in the beautifully powerless city of Medan! Powerless because the city's been having some problems with the distribution of electric power the last few weeks, so I'm writing this in constant fear of another power outage. Keep your fingers crossed.  The power goes out  2 or 3 times a day for about 3 hours every time. Makes planning at night quite the adventure and sleeping at night ridiculously sweaty. In Medan, it feels more wet than Surabaya. So I'm sweating about twice as much here and has made me grateful for you buying my "cooling towel". It really works!

My companion's name is Elder Broberg and he's from San Diego California and lives about 15 minutes away from the beach. He's pretty dang awesome. Elder Broberg is such an incredible missionary and an even better companion. He's super skinny though. I'm trying to help him out with that. :) I've only taught with him for about half a week, but I can already tell he truly cares about every person he meets and teaches. Right now, we have a few investigators to teach, one of them is really progressing and we're going to give him a baptismal commitment this week. His name is H. He's cool! He came to church last Sunday and was really outgoing and is pretty darn funny too. 

Okay. Every time I start feeling pretty awesome, there's an experience or two that humbles me like crazy. A few weeks ago, Elder Broberg got to baptize an older lady whose name was Ibu Ezra. (I know. Her name is a guy's name. In Medan, they sometimes like to be called by the their oldest son's name.) She is pretty incredible because about a year ago, she was living happily with a husband and 7 kids when one day her husband got up, left, and took the kids with him. Crazy!! She got really depressed and starting blaming God, when she ran into the Mormon missionaries. "Coincidences" are a funny thing. After about 6 months of learning from them, she was baptized, confirmed, and hasn't turned back since. She's awesome! Anyway, she gave us a referral to go teach a 19 year old guy named A. about the Word of Wisdom. It really went well and it ended with him, his mom, dad, and brother all committing to live the Word of Wisdom. Lots of potential there!

I play the piano here in Medan more than I ever did in Surabaya. They don't have anyone to play the piano for sacrament meeting, so either me or Sister Hutcheson will play. But we want to leave the Branch better than we found it so we all teach a piano lesson class to all the youth just right after church. It's fun! 

Man, for some reason, I'm feeling really scatterbrained and not organized right now. I think that's about it from last week that I thought was important. Here's one thought from President Monson before I sign off: "Those souls whom you help save may well be those whom you love the most."

Sampai minggu depan, (until next week)
Elder Barrus


Monday, September 16, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Surabaya--in Pictures

Elder and Sister Anderson sent a few more pictures today of 6 of the 8 missionaries in Surabaya being transferred. Seth is really going to miss them. They've been wonderful and it's been nice for us as parents to know that someone is watching over our missionary sons.

Bittersweet day--Got to have lunch with 'our' elders yesterday...a special treat because transfers are today and six are leaving our district!  We love these elders so much and feel so fortunate to be able to serve with them!  They have blessed our lives....

Saying goodbye is NOT easy.

A great companionship!

I'm Moving to Medan!

Flying from Surabaya to Medan--about 1700 miles!
Exciting news for the day: I'm MOVING TO MEDAN TOMORROW. There's a huge transfer going on all around the Indonesian mission, so when Elder Hendro got a phone call last Saturday that he is moving to Solo, that was no surprise. I'm excited for him too because he is going to be the District Leader there and train again. Haha! He's gonna be great. I really have grown to love and respect him, and am really sad to not work with him anymore. What was the real surprise was when he handed me the phone after he finished speaking and said it was the AP's. Elder Coleman then told me I'm packin' up my stuff and leaving for Medan on Tuesday

Complete surprise! Surprise, and yet a bit sad because I have really grown (key word: grown) to love Surabaya. Yah, it's flippin' hot all the time, you only get to ride bikes, and it's about 90% Muslim, but the members are awesome, the investigators we had were really starting to progress and seem more interested, and that means I have to leave Elder and Sister Anderson. Pretty bummed about that. After that, Elder Murphy got a call from the same AP's saying he's moving to Medan too! Seriously, it's like me and Elder Murphy are "soul mate missionaries". We were comps in the MTC, received our first assignment in the same city, same house, and now we're both headed to the same city to work again. That's gonna be like a 1/4th of our missions! His comp is going to be Elder Marsudi and my comp is going to be a bule, Elder Broberg. Don't know a lot about him yet, but I will pretty soon.

Other transfers that I've heard and know about: Elder Kyle (serving in Surabaya Barat) moves to Manado, Elder McCleary (from Solo) moves to Malang, Elder Heiner already moved to Bekasi with Elder Gil too, Elder Hasibuan moves to Magelang, and Elder Rondonuwo moves to Tangerang. Almost our entire zone will be whitewashed. All the members at church yesterday were pretty shocked because it's rarely happened that all the Elders are shipped out from Surabaya at the same time. Indonesia is really a pretty weird mission because it's almost like receiving a new mission call every transfer. The accents are different, the food changes pretty drastically, members work with the missionaries differently, etc. I'm really sad to leave Surabaya, but I know that Medan is where I've been called to serve now. I fly from Surabaya to Jakarta tomorrow morning, pick up Elder Marsudi, and fly to Medan right after at about 3:00 in the afternoon.

I didn't know any of that until last Saturday, so as far as the work went last week, it was great! We didn't have an opportunity to see Mas Wahyu since he was out of town, but we got to go teach Mas William about the Plan of Salvation. And teaching that specific lesson is something I've stressed about the last few weeks because for some reason, I haven't been able to teach it well in Indonesian. I know it's God's plan for everyone and I know every single place that we go and what will happen, but I struggle teaching it effectively. Reminds me of something President Packer said: "A principle or lesson really hasn't been learned until it can be taught clearly and effectively." To remedy that, I wrote down one or two sentences in brief, concise Indonesian for every aspect of the Rencana Keselamatan and practiced going over it again and again with Elder Hendro in companion study. And I feel that it really really helped because the lesson with Mas William went really well. He asked basic, doctrinal questions and seemed interested in what we taught. The Holy Ghost will only step into our lives and our lessons if we've done all we can to prepare first. The Lord expects us to do our part. :)

That's about it from my side of the Earth. I love hearing how all of you are doing! Keep your emails and letters coming. But even if I don't hear from you, I hope you know I love, care, and hope for you. Terus Maju dan Jangan Mundur!
See you all in Medan!

Elder Barrus

Lidya's Baptism

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pictures from a little basketball and dinner at the Andersons

Sister Anderson sent these pictures today. Thanks, Sister Anderson!

Rounding up business for their free motorcycle wash.

"Don't you want a free motorcycle wash?"

A little basketball before the service.

 Elder Barrus on the balcony of our 18th floor apartment overlooking Surabaya.  He and Elder Hendro came to dinner last night :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

What we DO know will always trump what we DO NOT know!

Bagaimana kabar semuanya?
First off I wish a very happy Hari Ulang Tahun to Micah! I hope you have a great day and that this year is a good one. I wish I could buy you some pisang keju (cheese bananas) or some es kolapa muda (coconut ice), but it would get all nasty through the mail. I hope this will do. :) I sent a letter in the mail, so hopefully you don't get it too late.
Elder Hendro is feeling a lot better and it shows. He is much more enthusiastic about going out now. Before, he just looked dead, so that's a blessing. 

It turns out, Lidya was able to be confirmed this last week! We received permission because the last two weeks she was attending 2 of her Muslim cousins' weddings. She didn't want to create any problems or contention in her family, so she decided to go there instead of to Sacrament Meeting. 
This last week was business as usual. Except for that I went on an exchange in Surabaya Barat with Elder Kyle the first day, and Elder Mendrofa the second day. Elder Kyle and I taught one of his investigators, name is Sister Lia, who's been taught for the last 2 years or so from so many missionaries! We taught about forgiveness, shared scriptures, and helped her understand that for a family to truly be united, forgiveness is an attribute that is essential. The lesson went well, but she ended up asking questions. Questions in and of themselves aren't bad, in fact they're great! But the types of questions she asked kinda missed the point. She asked questions like "Do we wear clothes in the Spirit World?" or "Are we ever hungry and can we eat in the Kingdoms of Glory?". We learn from Moroni 10:3-5 that the "Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of all things." And the questions she asked really, if they could be answered, are truth. But they aren't necessary for us.

I found a scripture in D&C 18:18 that says "The Holy Ghost will manifest all things which are expedient." Everything that we need to know to progress in this life can be made manifest to us through the Holy Ghost. But I feel like her small, detracting questions shake her faith in what she already does know to be true, instead of the other way around like Elder Holland explained. "Everything that we DO know will always trump what we DO NOT know." It's really been an answer to prayer for me because sometimes an investigator who's a ton smarter than I am, like Pak Sugiamto for example, asks a question from the Bible about some small, irrevelant thing that he wants to know the answer to before he can progress. When in actuality, they miss the bigger picture. I'm grateful for my own testimony of the Restoration, Jesus Christ, and the Plan of Salvation. Yah, there are some things we don't know. But what we do know is what builds our faith.
One other thing that happened last week: There was a funeral for Sister Endang's father, who wasn't a member, but Sister Endang is. We went to the funeral and because she comes from a mixed family, it was a Christian-Chinese-Muslim funeral. Kinda different. But apparently at every funeral in Indonesia, peanuts are a staple. No idea why. It was interesting to see the contrast though. Sister Endang herself was obviously sad, but she seemed different than the rest of her family, because I think she has a testimony about the Plan of Salvation. Her other siblings were quite distraught and visibly depressed. Anytime I think about why I'm here as a missionary or why others need the Gospel, I'm gonna think about this experience. Because the joy, peace of mind, and knowledge that come from the Principles of the Gospel bring the greatest joy a person can find in this life.
Thank you all for your example and prayers. Terus Maju dan jangan mundur! (Continue forward and not backward!)

Elder Barrus

Elder Kyle and Elder Barrus at the weekly motorcycle wash.
(Photo courtesy Sister Anderson)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Weekly Letter from the Sick House

This is a professional basketball arena in Malang. Yup. Like the NBA, but about high school size.
 And they let us just shoot around too. :) Indonesia's not that big into basketball yet.

 Apa Kabar!

This last week was pretty boring. Elder Hendro got super sick from something last Sunday, and was sick up until about yesterday. We took him to the hospital last Tuesday, they gave him some medicine, and let us go home. But he couldn't go out at all last week. I  was still able to teach Mas Wahyu, Mas William, Steven, and Howard, and go to district meeting. But that's about it. You can tell Brandon that last week I was thankful for the CD's he gave me right before I left. I would've gone a little crazy without them. Even the Kurt Bestor Christmas CD he gave me became pretty entertaining after a while. That's about it from me as far as last week. The Andersons returned from their visa renewal trip to Singapore, which means we have the use of a car once in a while to go places. Don't worry about us though, we'll get back to work this week and I promise to have a better email next week.

One thought real quick: we taught Mas Wahyu half of the Plan of Salvation last week, and it made me think hard about my testimony of the Atonement. He had never heard about it before and I could see him trying to figure out why it was necessary. I wanted soo bad to convey to him my testimony and knowledge about it and how it's not just for members of the church, but for everyone! But I don't quite have that vocabulary yet. Thankfully, Elder Xiong came along too and used some analogies that helped him to start to process the thought of Christ as a Savior, not just a prophet. We gave him Alma 34 to read and pray about, and we'll follow up this week to see how he's doing. But it reminded me of something Elder Christofferson said in last April's conference. He said that "Our greatest redemptive service will be to lead them to Christ. Without His redemption from death and sin, we have only a Gospel of social justice. That may provide some help and reconciliation in the present, but it has no power to draw down from heaven perfect justice and infinite mercy." Jesus Christ is the message of us as missionaries everywhere. And I think it should be a personal rallying cry for saints everywhere. I know that I'm grateful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know He's my Redeemer and that He lives! 

Sampai jumpa!
Elder Barrus

Seth also answered some questions we sent:

1. Do you have enough money? 
Money-wise I'm good. Stuff here is super cheap and we get more than enough money every month to cover our expenses. It's just when I have to fix my bike, take taxis, or buy something randomly expensive that it gets tight. Also, there's a SUPER crazy tax on any money that I take out from a foreign fund. Could you tell me how much I have in my account right now so I can take it all out if I want to buy some souveniers or batik shirts or something? That way, I'd avoid that crazy deduction. :) Thanks! The sandals were only Rp 20.000, or about $2. The guy wanted Rp 35.000 for them, but bartering is great. :) Brooke would be proud. 

2. Do you have mosquito nets?
We don't use mosquito nets. Just these "Hit" bug repellant stuff that we plug in every night while we sleep. I dunno what Elder Hendro ended up having. We couldn't go out at all last week together, but he's feeling a lot better today.
3. Do you still use your lace up shoes? Do the elastic laces make a difference?
I still use my lace shoes. Only when I know I'm going to places I don't have to take them off. Not a big fan of them... But I still use them. 

4. Where is Elder Xiong from? You said he was a bule, but his name is Hmong--one of the Laotion hill tribes we worked with in Thailand in the refugee camp.
Elder Xiong! He's from Fresno California. He told me he would look up Cody Davis, who's serving there right now as a Hmong missionary, when he gets back. His family lives in Wisconsin now though. Yah! His parents are refugees from Laos and actually went through the Refugee camp in Thailand! I thought maybe there was a chance they met you. But you were a missionary there in 1981 right? They escaped in 1979 or 1980. 

5. Did you ever get your pants repaired?
Pants are fixed. :) 

This is a picture of a bunch of little kids we teach for English class. They're so crazy go nuts! Hehe. Quick story. They're all Muslim, right? And there's one kid there who is super smart and already knows everything I'm teaching. So he wanted to go to the higher class. But the other class hadn't shown up yet. The only other people in the building was the Seminary class across the hall. He didn't know that. He asked if he could go over there, and I said feel free because that class is awesome! You get to learn about Jesus! Oh man! His face just dropped and he wanted nothing of it! He hurried back into my class, sat down, and got out his notes. Some day. He'll learn about Jesus. Just right now, he wants nothing of it.