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.