Elder Seth Barrus

Elder Seth Barrus
Jakarta Indonesia Mission May2013-2015

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?).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Konferensi Umum (General Conference)

The Indonesian translation for General Conference arrived last week, so the Branch here in Medan had the opportunity to watch it the last two days. Not without a few problems though.. Senopati (the mission home) sent us all the sessions on a flash drive and we rigged up a projector, a flash drive reader, and a sound system in the chapel of the church building last Friday. It seemed to be working fine when we set it up with the BML, Brother Ronald, but when we started Saturday morning's session, the session got about 10 minutes in when it all of a sudden skipped back to the beginning. Dah. 

Tell Jeff Rollman it made me grateful for my BYUTV training. After some troubleshooting fun, we decided that the flash drive was the problem. We eventually downloaded all the sessions on a new flash drive from the church computer, and it was fine the rest of the sessions, but all 8 of the members that showed up for the Saturday morning session didn't get to watch it in Indonesian. Which was a bummer because it was so good! 

I have no idea how to get my ideas down except by writing a list. So here we go! Thoughts from General Conference:

-Seeing Kelly Dehaan leading the Priesthood choir was weird. I told everyone he was my high school choir teacher in and they were pretty shocked. 
-Elder Bednar's talk on Tithing. "If you aren't, I would have you consider your ways and repent." Ha ha! Pretty darn powerful!
-Elder Oaks: What's holding us back from putting God as our ultimate priority?
-President Monson: Our purpose as members is to become more spiritually refined than we were before.

Conference always rocks. Other than conference though, Elder Broberg and I had a great week!  We had an experience last week with one less active member. His name is A and he's been inactive for just a few months. But he's the one who brought H, our investigator with a baptismal commitment, to church that one time. We've been talking with H since and he's told us he's a little confused why the person who introduced him to the church is inactive. We explained how God ultimately loves us and because he does, he respects our agency above all. 

However, we met up with A last week and just talked with him. He explained that he has to work on Sundays and can't come to seminary or institute. But while we were talking, I got this distinct impression to tell him about Hendra. I don't know exactly what it meant to him, but I told him how grateful we were that he introduced H to the truth. And that we know H is grateful too. I hope it helps him to become active again. If anything, it made me think about the role of the Holy Ghost in the work I do. 

Remember Elder Vinson's talk from Conference? There's a little kid pushing a rock with all his effort and might, but it won't budge. The dad comes over and asks if he's giving it his all and the kid replies with "of course." The dad then tells him "not yet. You haven't asked for my help." As missionaries, we can push and work and teach like crazy, but if we aren't letting the Holy Ghost teach or find as we work, we're like the little kid, getting nowhere with our work. I know that Heavenly Father will help me as I ask, because ultimately, this is His work. Missionary Work isn't missionary work without the Holy Ghost. I know this is His Gospel and His work. The truth that we hold can bless people's lives beyond measure and bring them the most happiness and joy they can't find otherwise.

Elder Barrus

And now, the answers to this week's questions:

1. Medan is much nicer than Surabaya! Little cooler and not as hot. 
2. I actually don't miss the AC. The fans work really well and it saves a ton of money on our monthly electric bill.
3. I don't get bitten a lot by  .
4. I've been finished with my 12 week training program since the middle of September. No longer a greenie! Hooray! 
5. Ha ha! Yeah, I did leave my maple flavoring in Surabaya.  I was thinking about having an Elder send it up here because I miss it. But it seems like Elder Barlow is putting it to good use. So whatevs. Hee hee. That's funny.

Thanks for your email and quote from the Lorenzo Snow lesson where he quoted Joseph Smith. It's just what I needed to hear this week.

We posted this reminder near our kitchen table so we can remember to
pray for the missionaries and their investigators specifically by name.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hujan (Rain)

Selamat Pagi Semuanya-
If I didn't know the word for rain before, I sure do now. Hujan. All of last week, it was absolutely beautiful clear and sunny during the day, and then there was "hujan" like crazy around 6 o' clock till the end of the night. Elder Broberg and I were woefully unprepared for most of the days. Like last Wednesday where we biked out to teach a less active, Sister Desni, and then tried to make it to Sister Ezra's house before it rained.  We got dumped on and were soaking wet by the time we arrived there. It was still kinda raining, but Sister Ezra wanted to come with us to teach one of our investigators, Agus. So Broberg and I hopped onto her "becak" (bay-chalk) (google that) and went to teach A. Still in the rain. I don't know how I would have reacted if I wasn't a missionary. But knowing we were going out to teach someone about the most precious thing in our life made the rain seem small in comparison. We followed up on his reading and asked if he prayed to Heavenly Father and in essence, he replied that he knows the Book of Mormon supports the Bible and is the word of God. In all honesty, hearing that response that he knows it's true, made up for any discomfort we felt getting to his house. Sometimes being a missionary is just that awesome. 

It does help to have a comp who's crazy optimistic and positive the whole time though. Elder Broberg is a stud of a missionary. In every aspect of the work, he's truly Christlike. Any time we meet with anyone, even if they like us or not, he shows his love for them. In situations where I would get frustrated or irritated at something, he keeps his cool and is always so positive. I've never heard him say anything negative about anything ever. I'm super blessed to be working with him right now in Medan!

How was Conference everyone? I hope you all felt the Spirit, found an answer to a question, or found something to bless your life because that's what Conference is for. Because we have to wait for the Indonesian translation to come out, we don't get to watch conference until this Sunday. Since we have a mission couple here in Medan now, we actually get to watch it in English! I'm pretty stoked about that. We have a goal this week to invite everyone we teach to bring a question to Conference and then promise them that it will be answered.

Fun experience last Saturday too: we met with an Ibu R a few weeks back who expressed interest in learning a little bit about our church. She invited us over to her house last Saturday and so we just expected maybe her and her husband. But when we called her to make sure we could still come over, she kept saying, "We're waiting". She was right. We showed up at the house and saw from the doorway about 15 olderish people all sitting on her couches just relaxing. They all had just finished their Sabbath Day worship and now were relaxing the rest of the day because they were... Seventh Day Adventists. Hooboy. One of the paks asked us to explain why our church was different. We could have gone so many routes, but for whatever reason (I'm thinking the Spirit or something) we started explaining about Prophets, how that's always been how God speaks to His children, and that there's a prophet on the earth today. They seemed surprised and I thought they would become legitimately interested in what we had to say. Then they just started going off about how we were all sinners because we worship on Sunday instead of the Old Testament sabbath, which was on Saturday. We tried explaining that's why there's a prophet so that things not explicitly written in the bible could be cleared up. They just kinda went off though and couldn't give up the fact that the Sabbath is on Saturday. Made me think of what Jesus said to the Pharisees when he said they "strain at a gnat, but swallow a camel". I don't quite understand how a person can build an entire church around one basic principle of the Gospel. It makes me grateful for the testimony I have that the fulness of Christ's church is again on the Earth, with all truth and ordinances.

I haven't seen Conference yet, but I want to quote something Elder Oaks said from last Conference. He said that "Jesus affirmed that keeping His commandments would require His followers to leave what He called 'that which is highly esteemed of men'." Like when Jesus called the fishermen to become fishers of men, and they "straightaway left their nets and followed Him", what worldly thing do we need to leave behind to become a more devoted follower of Christ?
I love you all and hope you reflect on the Conference messages again and again. Santai saja!

Elder Barrus

And now to answer some questions:

1. Our apartment is actually kind of a duplex deal where the renters live in one half of the house, and we live in the other, gated and walled off part. I'll send pictures next week. Our bathroom door broke off its hinges so we just kinda prop the door up against the door frame and tell everyone we're showering. Fun, huh? 

2. No AC. But we do have a couple fans that we have facing towards us when we sleep and study. 

3. Food in Medan is more American. Sort of. In the sense that they love to eat pig and pork products and love to fry everything. You can also find more places to eat weird stuff. Like dog, fish heads, and quail eggs. We usually eat masakan padang which is a plain kinda meal with rice, vegetables, this yellow sauce, and our choice of fried chicken, quail eggs, fish, potatoes, tahu, chicken intestines or heart, or grilled chicken. I might actually gain weight here!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

More Pictures Courtesy of Elder Broberg's Mom

So, Elder Broberg's mom, Jill, sent me some pictures of Seth that her son sent her. They're great!

More "cleaning out the well" pictures.

Getting ready to go out on a rainy morning.

Are these stylin' rainsuits, or what?