Elder Seth Barrus

Elder Seth Barrus
Jakarta Indonesia Mission May2013-2015

Monday, December 29, 2014

Selamat Hari Natal! (Merry Christmas!)

Christian's baptism from Jakarta Selatan
I figured I just talked to everybody this past week, so I'm not sure of what else I should say. Except for this: Do you remember Christian from Jakarta Selatan? It's the guy who came to church 3 times before he had time outside of church to meet with us and actually learn about the Restoration? Yea, that guy. He got baptized yesterday!! Because it was still in our district, we got to go and see it. And even though I wasn't a main part of teaching and nurturing him, (that was Elder Wood and Elder Sutarno. Great missionaries), it filled my heart with joy to see him make that covenant with Heavenly Father. That was most definitely the coolest Christmas present ever.

Flooding in Jakarta. It's the rainy season!
On this region of the world, we don't get snow. But we sure do get some heavy rainstorms. We went out to try and follow up on people we found who are interested, but just weren't at there house or didn't have the time to meet right then. We turned onto the street with all their houses and found that the street had becometh a river. The rainy season is well upon us, as is the flooding season here in Jakarta. 

Ingrown toenail surgery. Ouch!
I went to a hospital and had my ingrown toenail removed. That was pretty fun. Picture attached below in the doc's office.

Aleks came back from a vacation to Bali and told us his mother gave him permission to get baptized! Yay! We're on schedule for the 11th of January, so here's praying that it all works out OK. Other than Aleks, a lot of our investigators returned to their hometowns for Christmas and New Years, so we're waiting for them to come back. 

"The Gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His grave, our failures to live the celestial law perfectly and consistently in mortality can be erased and we are enabled to develop a Christlike character." - Elder Christofferson. 

The birth of Christ was a miracle. His life was a miracle. And His death along with His resurrection were miracles. And because of Him, our lives can be a miracle. We've been watching "He is the Gift" with investigators and while we proselyte and I really enjoy the invitation at the end to "Embrace the Gift." Each of us decides whether or not to receive it and to be changed by it. The choice is ours. 

Hope everybody had a great Christmas and a great new year this coming week! 

Elder Barrus

Pictures from Christmas Day at the Mission Home, courtesy of Elder and Sister Lucherini and Elder Jones.

Cookies courtesy of Elder and Sister Fryer

Playing the card game, "Presidents"

Not sure what they're doing in this pose. Hot chocolate??

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mission Tour

(This is the email we received last Wednesday.)

Pripun kabaripun? (That's Javanese for "How are you?")

I'm just shooting off a quick email to say I am indeed alive after not emailing last Pday as a result of the mission tour with Elder Funk. We got to go on lots of splits with missionaries, the two of us picked up Elder and Sister Funk in a taxi, we attended District Conference in Surabaya,  attended a zone conference in Surabaya, rode a train out to Solo and then attended the zone conference there, and just got home from a flight back to the populated land of Jakarta.  Yep. I'm not sure how to explain it more abbreviated than that. But I can just say that I hope when I die, that Heavenly Father lets me watch this past week over again. The spirit that Elder Funk and President Donald bring is indescribable. Once I get a chance to actually sit down and pound out a true email, I'll include more details.

Salam kasih, (With love)

Elder Seth Barrus

(And here's this week's email.)

Well huh. I've never had to do a recap of two weeks in an email before. At least I don't think so. I think I'll just do a day by day recap. Here we go!

12th Dec - We flew to Surabaya with President and Sister Donald. We split with the Surabaya Zone Leaders for most the day. I went with Elder Blaser and taught 4 lessons while just proselyting around the church. President was caught up in traffic out in Sidoarjo, so he asked Elder Simanungkalit and I to go pick up Elder and Sister Funk at the airport. Talk about nerve wracking! We rode a taxi from the airport and got to sit knee to knee with a general authority. He mostly talked about his experiences when he was a missionary here in Indonesia. 

13th & 14th Dec - District Conference in Surabaya. I split with my former companion, Elder Sutadiyono and caught up with each other about what's going on. He's having a great time in Surabaya, even though it's super hot. President Donald called a new district presidency, with Brother Kingwi as president, who was baptized by Elder Murphy's dad back in 1980. Small world,eh? 

While in Surabaya, I got to meet up with the first investigator I got to teach and baptize.
You remember Lidya? She's still super active and awesome! 
15th Dec - Surabaya Zone Conference. The missionaries from Manado flew down and I got to catch up with Elder Heiner. Sister Sperry and I translated for the entire meeting from English into Indonesian. We mostly focused on effective ways to find, how to teach more effectively, and why being exactly obedient is important. After the meeting, we all rode the 3 hours on a train from Surabaya to Solo. Twas the first time I've ever step foot in Central Jawa. 

16th Dec - Solo Zone conference. Elder Simanungkalit took my place to translate so I got to focus a lot more on the meeting itself. Elder Funk is a soft spoken man, but invokes the spirit when he speaks. I was kind of hit in the face with some personal revelation I've been thinking about for a while. In the church, there are things that are true, and there are things that are expedient. Sometimes, as missionaries we focus too much on true things, but not necessarily needed. Like Joseph Smith was 14, lived in New York, his grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War, things like that. And then there are things that are expedient, like he prayed to know which church to join and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him, and they need to be baptized to show their faith. I split with Elder Canfield after. He's one stud of a missionary.

It was Elder Canfield's birthday during MLC. So Elder Heiner and I bought him a cake.
17th Dec - Flew back to Jakarta after spending the day with the Zone Leaders in Solo.

18th Dec - Final Zone conference in Jakarta. I felt the spirit most strongly this last meeting. It's interesting how I followed the same meeting three times, but got different things out of it all three times. It's a testimony to me how the Lord truly teaches us according to our needs. Elder Funk left a blessing upon us that if we're faithful and do all the things asked of us, the Lord will open doors for us that weren't opened before. It was a little bit more detailed than that. But the spirit was very strong during that part. 

Not to bore you all with that, but just so you know we weren't just having fun the last two weeks. Although we pretty much were... These last two weeks were very uplifting and inspiring to help me know what I need to do to be a better missionary. 

These last 3 days, we went out Christmas caroling to some of the semi active members. And one of them came to church yesterday! Even though our busway bus broke down and started smoking out of the engine on the way out to Tanjung Priok, we had a great time spreading that Christmas spirit. 

Last experience I want to share before signing off, yesterday I went out with Elder Prayitno just proselyting. We left right after church at 1 pm and spent the whole day proselyting trying to share messages about Jesus Christ. We taught one lesson. About Jesus Christ. To a Muslim man. Ha ha! Needless to say, the citizens where we proselyted weren't too receptive to our message. But! On the ride home, on the last bus before we needed to get off, I sat next to and contacted a man who hadn't been to church in 4 months, had never heard of the Book of Mormon, and was excited to learn more sometime. It's a small miracle, but I know that the Lord works miracles among us usually after we first show our faith. 

We've been sharing Christmas messages with people these last couple weeks, centered around the video that you can watch at www.mormon.org/ind/natal. Jesus Christ is the greatest gift our Heavenly Father could give to us as His children. I hope we don't just share about Him only at Christmas time, but all year round. He's applicable and needed every day of our lives. Hope everybody has a Selamat Hari Natal!! (Merry Christmas) See you soon when we skype!

Elder Barrus

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Came Early!

And by that I mean, spiritually. No mom, your package hasn't arrived yet. And Sister Sheffield hasn't swung by Senopati either, so I haven't even gotten the new shaver you sent. But, this past weekend was Stake Conference for the West Jakarta Stake! It's the second time around for me in Jawa Barat, but this time, we had 2 special guests--Elder Funk and Elder Chang, who came to address all the members and missionaries. Elder Funk is from the Hong Kong presidency and has come to Indonesia before. And Elder Chang is from Malaysia. I can now say I'm fluent in Malaysian as well. It's pretty much the same language as Indonesian, just replace all the "you"s with "kamu" and "mobile" with "kereta" and you're fluent. I was asked to translate from Indonesian into English for the Sunday session for all the English speaking members. It's hard! Not to mention intimidating, since a general authority was listening in. I said this last time when Elder Funk came to visit Indonesia last January, but I can see and feel the joy and love he still has for the people of Indonesia.

The mission tour starts with district conference in Surabaya Friday and so I'm looking forward to being with and learning from him. Two of the people he baptized came up to the stand during the Saturday session and taught about the importance of true conversion to the Gospel in order to attain exaltation. After 41 years, these two good members are still active and strong in the faith. I told Ivan after the meeting that I expect him to have 13 children and 45 grandchildren when I come back 41 years from now. Ha ha! It was a spirit filled weekend to say the least. I'm not sure how things are going to work out for next week's email since next Monday will be the zone conference in Surabaya, but I'll let you know for sure how the mission tour went as soon as I can. 

Last week, we found and taught a new investigator. His name is Pak Erwin (don't get him confused with Brother Erwin from Jakarta Selatan. Even though they're both Batak.) We were supposed to have an appointment with him earlier this morning, but he wasn't home. But last week, after we taught him and were waiting for the bus to come by, a big fat dude with a goatee rode by on his motorbike, flipped his helmet up and asked in a thundering voice, "Are you guys the JW's???" Elder Simanungkalit and I looked at each other, shook our heads and said back "No! The Mormons!" The dude replied with a sound of disgust and drove off. I would just like the world to know that yes, I am a Mormon. And proud of it. Our choir is better than anybody else's in the world. Which is actually a thing of importance to other churches here.

Remember Pak Budi, Sister Lely's husband? We went over there last week, taught about the plan of salvation and the importance of the temple, and at the close of the lesson, we challenged him to kneel in prayer right then and ask God sincerely if the church is true. After a 30 second prayer, he opened his eyes and said "that's all." We didn't say anything and he then closed his eyes again and offered a silent prayer. For 15 minutes. We didn't know what to do other than just pray our hearts out that he was feeling the spirit as much as we were. At the close of that, he told us he felt he should stay with his old church, but that he was coming to Stake Conference this weekend. Hey, he wasn't even considering coming to church at all at the beginning of the lesson, so I count that as progress! He didn't end up coming to conference because his aunt died in Bogor... But we both think it's a turning point for him. 

The soon to be preachers from Nias were "busy" all of last week and so we didn't get a chance to follow up with them at all.... I was super bummed about that. But we'll keep trying to contact them and get a return appointment. 

Pak Barus was sick this last week and William was asked to go to his mom's church yesterday so we kind of layed a solid goose egg as far as progressing investigators go. But Aleks came to stake conference! We all wore suits to the meeting and I was graaaaateful because it was freezing in the stake conference building. I swear, it must've gotten down to 60 degrees in there. Aleks leaves for Bali this week and won't come back till the 27th or something because of his birthday, but he told us he will text us when he is going to talk with his parents about him getting baptized. He's already "of age" at that point, so he's going to go ahead and do it anyway in January, but he wants his parents to know about it. I promised him we'd pray and fast for him on that day. I don't think he's going to get kicked out of the house, but you never know how his parents are really going to react.

Elder Simanungkalit, Aleks, Elder Barrus

I attached a picture below with Brother Wintolo looking all studly in his suit and the tie Elder Sutadiyono and I gave him for his birthday back in April. Seeing that family all complete and active fills me with such joyness and goodness and happiness, I kind of get the sense of what D&C 18 is talking about. It's interesting in Indonesian because the translation reads "the worth of souls is expensive in the eyes of God". Heavenly Father considers us each the most expensive and worthwhile item he can spend his time and effort on. And because of that, he truly weeps when that person is broken or rebellious or unrepentant and rejoices when before mentioned person returns unto Him, repentant and willing to receive His gospel. I've been blessed with the opportunity to see both sides of the coin, with people I've had the chance to see baptized go inactive and lose out on those blessings as well as see others stay active and I get to see the light that comes into their life. This is the case with Derry. The amount of light that's coming into that young man's life is a testimony to me about the life changing effects of the Restored Gospel. I told him in kind of a "immediately to the point" way yesterday that he's come this far and experienced so many blessings, there's really no going back. Maju Terus dan jangan mundur! (Onward and do not back down!) I think it's true for us all, no matter how long we've been members. 

Hope you all have a great week! 
Elder Seth Barrus

Elder Barrus, Brother and Sister Wintolo
PS The package you mailed isn't here yet. Sister Sheffield should be coming by sometime this week and giving me the package you gave her. I'm getting excited for the razor!! 

I don't have a bug. I'm just not gaining weight. Not sure why. 

Tell Jeff Rollman hello for me as well as the rest of the BYUtv crew. I miss those guys. Tell Mike Olsen that he's pretty cool I guess. :) 

I don't know when I'll email next week. But for sure on Christmas I have 40 minutes to skype with you and the fam. So we'll catch up then. :) 

Not sure what this picture is. Maybe traffic in Jakarta?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Saudaraku Mau Menjadi Anggota

Title means "Brother wants to become a member".

The long lost relative in the Barrus family is officially a progressing investigator. Ha ha! We've been teaching Pak Barus for the last 3 weeks or so and he came to church for the first time yesterday! He even brought his daughter. Elder Jones and I went on an exchange last week and gave him a baptismal date for December 28. He lives much much closer to the Jakarta Selatan church, so we'll probably give him to Elder Wood and Elder Sutarno, but it's been a blast teaching somebody with the same Marga (clan). He's a cool cool guy. William didn't come to church because he slept in.  

Thanksgiving Dinner with the Jakarta District courtesy of the Lucherini's at the Mission Home

Sapi Suci! (Holy Cow!) It rained so hard last week! We had a nice Thanksgiving lunch with the Lucherini's (the mission couple), President and Sister Donald, and the Jakarta district missionaries after District Meeting last Friday and it just started pouring rain during lunch. Trees fell over, light posts turned a whole 180 degrees, and Jalan Senopati (Senopati Road) turned into Sungai Senopati (Senopati River). But Thanksgiving was delicious. We had pie, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, ice cream, turkey, and gravy.Good stuff.

Elder Barrus and soon to be member, Aleks

We had a Wilford Woodruff type experience last week. Much like how Elder Woodruff was led to the Benbow farm and baptized thousands as a result, Elder Simanungkalit and I were led to Kebun Jeruk (Orange Farm if translated directly) and haven't quite baptized thousands, but we taught 10 new investigators, all from the wonderful land of Nias (an island off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia). The only difference, is that about 8 of them are going to a school to become preachers. Man, it was way cool pulling out doctrine from the Book of Mormon to help them see the need for a restoration. K fine, we don't know if all of the pastors want to get baptized or just want to know, but we figured 2 of them are honest seekers of truth. It was quite the miracle. We'll be going over there this week to follow up. Bahasa Nias is still by far the weirdest language I have heard on my mission. It's not even on Google translate. 

Sister Jibson, Elder Barrus, Sister Sheffield

The time has come for the sisters in my MTC group to go home. Sister Jibson and Sister Sheffield came into Senopati last Tuesday night for the farewell dinner with President. It was fun, but weird to see the same missionaries I came with to Indonesia go home. Yikes, how many months do I have left? 12? 17? 24? I dunno. It's not that important. Mom stop counting the months. 

Derry, Elder Barrus, Ivan. Two of the greatest guys right there.

Guess who came by the English class in Harmoni the other day? Derry and Ivan!! Ah man, it just warmed my heart to see those two, still active and getting stronger in the Gospel every day. Derry is really starting to come into his own and interact with all the members, according to Ivan. That might be one of the biggest joys in my mission is seeing somebody change their life for Jesus Christ. Not for missionaries, not for their parents or anybody on earth. But because they developed this love and desire to follow the Savior. 

2 Nephi 25:23. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the answers to questions of the soul we receive from it. Like that verse. We used that maybe 5 times last week. I testify it's true!!! 

23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

Elder Seth Barrus

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Saya bersyukur untuk... (I Am Thankful For...)

Elder Simanungkalit and I had a really fun miraculous week. We've been working really hard to try and find more people who want to be baptized so we can help the Harmoni Ward grow. And as we've "wrestled with the Lord" through prayer, He's blessed us with more teaching opportunities. Like yesterday we were coming home from church riding the busway and I met a fellow from Nias who was interested in learning. At the same time, a nice Muslim man was trying to convert my companion. Another kid came and sat down next to Elder Simanungkalit and asked if he could see the Kitab Mormon he was holding. Poor Elder Simanungkalit was getting his ear talked off by the guy sitting to his right, so amongst the crowded busway, he shouted to me "Hey Elder Barrus!! Can you contact this guy?!" His name is Anton. He's also from Nias. We only had like 2 minutes to contact him because then we needed to get off, but we got his number and have been texting him. 

We've been pushing our investigators to come to church and a few said they would come and didn't come, and a few said next week. So we sat down in church with Aleks (awesome guy--I'll share about him later) when this guy came and sat down with us on the end of the bench. His name is William. He's a member referral. He's divorced and looks like he could use some much needed spiritual knowledge. We're meeting him on Wednesday

Aleks! He's on target to be baptized when he returns from a family trip to Bali on the 4th of January. We met with him last week and he said it's like Satan also knows he wants to be baptized soon because all of a sudden, some of his relatives are sending anti-Mormon stuff to his parents and saying how bad the church his son is going to is. But Aleks is not swayed at all. His baptism is going to be such a sweet day! 

Elder Jones and Elder Prayitno are also living in Senopati with us until we can find an apartment for them closer to the church building. It's fun to have them in the house.

Our Ward Mission Leader is the coolest guy on planet earth. His name is Jonathan. He just got off his mission maybe 7 months ago and he's a fireball! He always asks to fellowship with us and last Saturday, he followed us all around Jakarta the whole day visiting less actives and contacting people on the busway with us. And he looks exactly like our beloved American President, Mr. Obama. That or Will Smith. Or a mix. I attached a picture below so you can judge.
Elder Barrus, Elder Prayitno, Elder Simanungkalit, Sister Olsen, Sister Sheffield,
Elder Jones, and Jonathan, our Harmoni Ward Mission Leader, Jonathan

Elder Barrus, Poli and Elder Simanungkalit. He's gonna get baptized someday. But he just went back to Nias for the month of December. But he wants to meet again in January. Bahasa Nias is a weird language, man...

I heard about Grandma's passing last week and I've been thinking a lot about that. I'm grateful for my testimony and knowledge of the Plan of Salvation in which we can all be reunited with the ones we love for all eternity as we remain faithful and true to our covenants we make in this life. Tell Grandpa I love him and I'll be praying for him. :) 

What usually is brought up in missionary moms? I'm 81 kilograms now. (179 pounds) I eat a lot of catfish because it's cheap and close to the mission home. We already put our Christmas tree up and sister Donald gave us some Christmas lights. There's a mission tour from the 13th to the 15th of December with Elder Funk.  What do you want to talk about in missionary moms? Anything from my emails is fine to share. 

"Strength and struggle go together. The supreme reward of struggle is strength. Life is a battle and the greatest joy is to overcome. The pursuit of easy things makes men weak. Do not equip yourselves with superior power and hope to escape the responsibility and the work. It cannot be done. It is following the lines of least resistance that makes rivers and men crooked." Miracle of Forgiveness pg 164. 

Hope everybody has a great Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving here this year will be a little different than last year. We'll just be taking a normal pday today. And then on Thursday, we'll probably go eat at KFC or something for lunch. And then on Friday, Elder and Sister Luccerini are making us a Thanksgiving lunch after our district meeting. No football. :) But I haven't had any football for the last year and a half, so it's all good. Rasa Syukur! (Thankfulness)

Elder Barrus

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fahrenheit 81

Looking at the weather today as stated on my computer, and judging by the weather outside, it's a solid 81 degrees and slightly cloudy. In spite of all the pollution, it feels good. Sorry to hear about the 30 degree weather and snow.... :) I'll try not to enjoy the weather here too much.

Mission Leadership Conference this past week was a different experience. Instead of just showing up ready to take notes and take in the revelations that came from President Donald, Elder Simanungkalit and I had to prepare a presentation ourselves on how to make facebook a more effective tool. It went well, but the most inspiring thing to me was how President Donald answered a prayer I've been asking for these last 18 months. In preparation for my mission, I was told to study and ponder to more fully understand the Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I've always known that only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can someone have full access to the cleansing and redeeming power of the Atonement, I just have always struggled at how to best communicate those thoughts to someone I've met on the street or an investigator. We had a chance to apply what he told us in a lesson with a guy named Purwanto later that night. He's from Borneo, but is Hindu. He already came to Brother Erwin's baptism a few weeks ago, so it was easy to bring that part up again. We asked him if he knew what was going on and he didn't. So we asked him if he knew what sin was. We then asked a few more follow up questions like "How do you feel when you sin? How would you feel to have those feelings washed away? Can a sinful man enter Heaven? Then how can we all enter into heaven?" We then explained that the power to cleanse sins has been restored to Joseph Smith and asked if he would get baptized when he knew it was all true. He accepted and is willing to be baptized on the 7th of December, if he doesn't go to Germany. It was humbling and exciting to finally get an answer to something I've been searching for the last 18 months. 

18 months. 6 months left. Well it's weird when you put it that way. I just say I'm going home next year and that makes it feel like I have plenty of time to accomplish the things I want to accomplish. :) I know! It was sooo great meeting up with Elder Murphy again. He's gotten a lot skinnier, but still the same guy I love. He's serving in Solo with Elder Canfield. Such a power combo there. :) 

We had a sad experience in meeting with a really not active member. His name is Gatsu and he was baptized in Malang, but moved to Jakarta 3 years ago. He's well off and because of that, he has quite a few friends. But these friends aren't too great. He hasn't met with missionaries in a long time, so we asked if he had a Kitab Mormon still. He didn't because these friends came over and burned it saying it was from the devil. We invited him back to church to partake of the sacrament, but he said he just drinks wine in his room whenever the Holy Ghost tells him to. There were a few other things he said that just made me want to cry in my heart. Even though he's a ways off from the strait and narrow, it reminded me of the importance of our friends. Which way do we face? If we find other friends who are willing to face towards the Lord, we'll be much better off than trying to satiate the endless appetite of the world. 

This last week, we had the opportunity to meet with Elder and Sister Gibbons, Elder and Sister Tanner, and Elder and Sister Funk at the Saharjo Church. They talked about so many wonderful things, but one thing Elder John Tanner said was "We as missionaries need to Re-Present the Savior when we teach. We are quite literally substitute teachers for Him." And I've known this since Elder Funk came last year and met the missionaries, but it was emphasized again how much he loves Indonesia. Sure he lives in Hong Kong and has been a mission president in India, but the spirit I felt while he testified of his love for the people of Indonesia is something that can't be denied. We did have a neat meeting with them all. And President Donald asked me to lead the meeting. That was weird leading a meeting in English. I messed up twice. :) English is a hard language...

Well, hope everybody has a great week. :) 

Elder Seth Barrus

Service Project (Picture courtesy of Sister Sheffield's blog)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Jakarta Raya

I packed up all my stuff, hopped in a taxi last Wednesday, got to Senopati at 12, and the new missionaries arrived by 4. Meeting new missionaries is always fun, mostly because of the lack of knowledge about the mission. It's fun filling them in. It was a fun mix, too. A group of 10 Indonesian missionaries came from the Philippines MTC, and then there were the 7 foreigners coming from the Provo MTC. We just got back from playing futsal earlier this morning, so that's why we're emailing later.

Elder Simanungkalit in the office at Senopati
Thus life in the mission office has begun. I attached a picture below of my new companion, Elder Simanungkalit and I. 20 points for whoever can pronounce his name correctly when I Skype at Christmas. It's definitely a change being here, sending out letters and packages, meeting with President Donald more often, and using hot water for showers. Seriously, I'm worried I might get spoiled here. If somebody could send me a cockroach in a package or something, that would be appreciated. Ha ha!

We ride the busway a looot more than Jakarta Selatan, which is nice, because we only have to pay one time to go pretty much anywhere in our area.The problem is waiting for buses mostly. We waited at Tanjung Priok last night for 35 minutes for a bus to pass by. But the principle of finding on public transportation has stayed the same: You meet some weird people. And you meet some great people. Like last week I was looking on my left at the person's tablet which was opened to her facebook. (Is it okay to be a bit nosy as a missionary...?) And the page she was opened to happened to be a "Sister something" and the background picture was a photo from "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." What are the odds? After asking how she knew about that church, she immediately asked for a Kitab Mormon and hopefully we get to meet her this week and find out. We're teaching a few people who aren't yet progressing, excepting a super cool brother named Alex. He's been an investigator for almost 2 years now, and he is more solid than a member. He's just waiting to turn 18 so he can get baptized without permission from his parents, who haven't given it yet... But he comes to church every Sunday and can speak fluent Polish. Pretty cool, eh? 

We also met a guy named Himas. When we started teaching him, a motorcycle pulled up and 2 missionaries from the Jehovah Witnesses came into the room. We didn't debate at all, but eventually our investigator Himas just started debating with one of the JW's. We were just bored and ready to get out of there, when one of the JW missionaries turned to us and started asking questions about the Kitab Mormon. We shared the first lesson with him and felt the Spirit really strong. He agreed to pray, and we asked him if he got his answer from God that the Kitab Mormon was true, would he join our church. He said "Tidak." or "No". Ha ha! Oh well. It still was pretty fun testifying to a Jehovah's Witness about the truth. 

Church is a bit different. It's smaller than Jakarta Selatan. And there aren't very many Primary age kids, mostly just an older ward. But guess who I get to meet each week?? Brother Tri! Remember him? He was my investigator in Tangerang, and then got baptized when I was in Jakarta Selatan. He's doing good! He's going to bless the Sacrament next week. Oh yea, and Elder Wood told me that Derry got confirmed yesterday. Woot!

Brother John S. Tanner and Brother Larry Gibbons along with Elder Funk are coming to the Jakarta Stake this Wednesday for a meeting with the youth and also the missionaries. That's gonna be fun. And then there's Mission Leader Conference on Friday. Busy week, but I'm stoked. :) And also freezing. Because the AC here is freezing. Serious. It's like an ice box over here. I miss my kipas angin...  (electric fan)

Semoga minggu ini bagus buat anda semua! (Hopefully this is a good week for you all.)

Elder Seth Barrus

Last chance for dinner with Ivan last Monday. I'm gonna miss that guy...
To answer your questions: Sundays are probably our busiest days. After church, we usually meet with investigators, our Ward Mission Leader, and then usually can find a couple of appointments because nobody works on Sundays. I used to get home and just crash, but now we get to take stats... Blessings!

Whoa. Lauren Page is already home? That's kinda weird... Sister Sheffield and Sister Jibson should be home by now, but their release date is on the 26th of November for some reason, so they're staying an extra 3 weeks. They say it's "overtime blessings" at this point. Who else from the ward is leaving or coming home? Anybody getting married?

Our schedule as an AP is pretty much the same, but a little different. We have personal study at 8, companion study at 9, but then usually head straight up to the office to finish stuff. Like laminating missionaries' permission papers, putting missionaries' mail in their boxes, and cleaning up the office. Then we usually head out to eat at 12 or so and then we're out for the day by 1. We will help with transfer decisions when the time comes, but President Donald just finished a pretty big transfer, so there probably won't be another one for some time. I loooove my new companion. He's a champion of a missionary. His dad actually works here in Senopati so it's pretty funny. Their interaction consists mostly of just saying "good morning". 

Ahhh yes. And my trusty electric razor has finally called it quits. Even after charging it, it doesn't switch on. Not sure what happened. But I'm shaving using a normal razor and some shaving cream. That's probably why my face looks extra scruffy... I can buy another electric razor here. Would that just be best? I haven't looked at prices yet though. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Freed From the Burden of Sin"

President Donald called last week, right after we finished emailing to give me my reassignment news. I'll be moving about 20 kilometers--from South Jakarta to Central Jakarta and will be serving in the Harmoni Ward. I'll be living in Senopati at the mission home there and will be living the rest of my days of my mission life as an assistant to the president. My new companion is Elder Simanungkalit. (Out of all my mission companions, I think his name might be the most difficult to say. Have fun!) 

Elder Wood will move up from Tangerang and fill the Zone Leader position in Jakarta. It's actually quite exciting because Jawa Barat is splitting into 2 zones now--Jakarta and Bekasi will be one zone, and Tangerang, Bogor, and Bandung will make up the other zone. It's different, but it will be a great opportunity to have a lot more "hands on" work for the Zone Leaders. The transfers happen on Thursday

Derry's Baptism
The Lord has been blessing us sooo much in the last couple weeks and we're quite humbled by it actually. Derry got baptized yesterday!!! I needed to do some quick repenting the other week because I didn't have the faith that he would make the sacrifices necessary to become a member. He lives a train ride plus a bus ride away from the church in South Jakarta, so I had some doubts about whether he could keep that up. Last week in his interview with Elder Sutadi, he committed to coming to church every week after his baptism. He has to work til late at night, so we baptized him after church Sunday. Do you remember Elder Suryono (my old companion)? He came up from Bandung the night before just to see him get baptized. It was really fun seeing him again! I've attached a picture below. Just before going into the font, we did the pre-baptism run through and I noticed a brown wristband I hadn't noticed before on Derry's wrist. He said it's a wristband he's worn for the past 10 years and never taken off. So it was all hard and impossible to slip off, so after asking if it was okay, Bishop grabbed a small knife and cut it off.  While changing afterwards, I asked how he was feeling and he said "Free from the burden of sin". I said, "Kinda like your wristband, eh?" It was a fun little symbol of the commitment he's making for the rest of his life and the life to come. Derry's been such a testimony to me about sacrifice. There's no distance too far, no economical problem too big, no sacrifice too great to know the truth.

Ivan came to the baptism as well. He's progressing sooo well. All the members already consider him a full member, and now when we teach him, we ask him to teach us. And then we fill in whatever's missing from the D&C or words from living prophets. I seriously will miss Ivan so much. I wish everyone could have a chance to meet him.

We went to Brother Erwin's house last week as well and there was a different light about him. I don't how to explain it any other way. You could just feel it. He wore a white shirt and tie to church for the second time too and should shortly begin blessing the sacrament. 

 We did a split in Bogor last week. Beautiful city! I went with Elder Sadiyono. Great missionary. :) 

I'm definitely going to miss Jakarta Selatan. I would have to say I've been the happiest here so far on my mission, Sampai jumpa lagi! (See you again!)

Elder Seth Barrus

Monday, October 27, 2014

Minus the Whole "Writing a Girl Back Home" Part

We meet some interesting people in Jakarta. And some people who just want to speak English and show off to a bule (foreigner) like myself. Elder Sutarno and I were riding the train back home after a baptismal interview in Tangerang and this middle aged man came up to me and said "Sir, where are you from?" After replying with one word "America", he just went off for 10 minutes about how he's been to Orlando, Washington DC, Boston, and other places. And how he has 3 houses in Jakarta and owns 2 Porsches. I offered him a chance to hear a message about the Kitab Mormon and restoration of the Gospel, but he wanted none of it. He just kept going on how his wealth has allowed him to do so many things in this vast world. I felt bad for him really. To think that he's trading his chance at salvation for a Porsche seems like mixed up priorities to me.

This last week was full of  miracles. It seems that ever since Brother I's baptism back in September, the work has just exploded here in Jakarta Selatan. Brother E's baptism on Saturday, culminating with his confirmation yesterday at church, finished up a long 2 year process of many many elders and lessons. I wish I could say we did something special to help him overcome his doubts, but in all honesty, it was his own desire and choice to make that covenant at this time. Everybody just has their own timing. 

After his baptism, the Jakarta District put on a movie in front of the church, complete with popcorn. We probably had about 60 people show up to watch the thriller "The Other Side of Heaven." When I get home, I'm telling people my mission was exactly like the movie. Well, minus the whole "writing a girl back home" part. All the members came up and said how great the event was, too.

Mas D, Brother I and Jakarta District
Mas D! He came to church yesterday, and solidified his testimony of the divinity and coolness of our church, and we got him all ready to be baptized next week. His parents are still not in full support of his decision, but he has decided to go ahead and do it because it's what the Lord wants. He's soooo cool. And I's fellowshipping is helping out so much too. So here's to hoping for another baptism by next week's email as well. Horas!

Speaking of I, after much coaxing and prodding, he finally went up to bless the sacrament for the first time yesterday! It always fills a missionary's heart with joy to see a new member do something like that. I is an incredible new member and will be wonderful in helping the work grow in the coming months and years. 

A kid from Nias also came to church yesterday and after calming his fears that drinking coffee and tea is something he can overcome (he heard about that before we taught him anything about the Word of Wisdom), he also committed to be baptized on the 15th of November. His name is A. Which means "cloud" in Indonesian. I dunno, don't ask me. :) He lives here in Jakarta alone, his family is all in Nias, but he had a great time at church and we're going over there later today to follow up with him.

Aaaaand we had Pertemuan Latihan Daerah (Zone Training Meeting) last week with President Donald and the AP's. We learned many a things like how to teach for understanding, how to effectively find, and how to become "full purpose missionaries". President Donald also told me where I'm moving, but I'm not at liberty to tell until next week. Mwahahaha... 

In closing, just a quick thought from Elder Ballard in "Our Search For Happiness". It says "That's the way it is when Jesus Christ becomes a reality in your life. It isn't that he somehow makes you do things that you wouldn't do otherwise. Rather, you find yourself wanting to do what He would do and respond as He would respond in an effort to bring your life into harmony with His." 

Love you all! Thanks for the prayers and thoughts on my behalf. You all are also in my prayers and thoughts. 

Elder Barrus

Monday, October 20, 2014

Konferensi Umum Yang Ketiga

That translates to "The Third General Conference", since he's been out, I guess.

How about General Conference? Pretty good eh? OK fine, we get to feel the spirit and wonderful talks from inspired leaders 1 week after the rest of you. But can I still talk about how awesome it was? The nice thing about watching it in Jakarta is that there was an entire separate set up in the cultural hall for the English members who wanted to come and watch. The only problem was, all of the English members stayed at home and watched it on their computers, which left Elder Campbell and I watching it by ourselves. We had a blast! I attached a picture below showing what fun we had together this weekend. Quick overview of my thoughts:

- So many talks about sustaining prophets and the apostles. 

- President Ucthdorf's talk was so perfect about how we need to look in and ask "Lord, is it I?" rather than pointing fingers at our neighbors saying they need this talk more than I do. 

- Are we not all beggars? 

Despite all our efforts to get investigators to come to conference, nobody came. They pretty much said they all were "too busy". And then there was Ivan, who was recently baptized. He had to go to his university in the morning on Saturday, but he rushed over to the church as soon as it was over because "I want to hear the word of God." It was a fun perspective to think of that this is the first time he's heard from living prophets and apostles. Sometimes it's something I take for granted. 

We went on an exchange this past week to the "Paris of Jawa", also known as the city of Bandung. While there, I met Elder Widigdo and his trainee, Elder Williamson. Elder Widigdo was trained by the one and only Elder Broberg, my comp in Medan, and much like his father, Elder Widigdo is an awesome missionary.  I did an exchange with Elder Petersen. He's new to the mission 7 months or so, but was made a District Leader and is doing miracles down there in Bandung.  

In other news, I received an invitation from a former investigator in Tangerang to go to his baptism next Sunday. President Donald gave his permission, so I get to travel back to my old area and see Brother Wintolo get baptized. I'm so stoked! It's been such a long process and journey for him. I know his son, Elder Wintolo, is flying in from Surabaya to come and baptize his dad, and it's going to be such a cool experience. I'm excited, to say the least. :) 

That's about it from me this week. But remember that most of the personal revelation and application of God's word comes after conference. Here's to the November issue of the Liahona! 

Elder Barrus

Last picture is of  Elder Sutarno and I at Brother Bob Hasibuan's house. He's been a member for the last 42 years, and has a little shop in the front of his house. Hence the "Toko Liahona". 

Meet the Muslim Turned Mormon

I'm thinking about making a movie with that title. Do you think it would be big enough to sell in theaters? It would be based on a true story. After a short 10 months of missionary discussions and over 20 years of patient waiting by his wife and kids, the one and only Brother Wintolo was baptized by his son yesterday. It was a truly humbling and spiritual experience to witness the service. It reminded me of when Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized. Much like the Savior Himself, Brother Wintolo had to humble himself and come unto his own son and someone who in society should be "inferior", but had the authority, to baptize him. Elder Wintolo received permission from President Donald and flew in from Surabaya to do so. I also got permission to do the interview and had a very sacred experience with him. It isn't that easy to change religions, especially from Islam, a religion I respect and love, to Christianity. He hasn't received a huge spiritual outpouring confirming that he needs to be baptized, but he told me he's taking it all in faith. Shouldn't that be the reason for most of our actions too? It was a great experience I'll never forget. I'll be telling that story to my grandkids till the day I die. 

We went to Taman Mini last Pday and I attached some pictures below, including a picture of a real komodo dragon. Elder Booth, I finally found one! We also got to hold a 2 meter long snake. That was fun. :) There were a ton of cool cultural things as well, including houses from Kalimantan, Medan, Padang, Lampung, etc.

Remember Brother E? Elder Sutarno and I were headed to District Meeting after teaching Pak P, and while crossing the street, we got a random call from Bro E's wife, Sister Rawuh. She said that Brother Erwin wants to be baptized on the 25th of October. After we calmed down from our initial rush of excitement, we called Brother E to make sure and he's ready. Yay! That was pretty much the miracle of the week. He's been an investigator for 2 years, receiving baptismal commitments on and off, but never really getting in the water. So to hear this news is definitely humbling and exciting! We have Zone Meeting this week with President Donald, 2 other interviews we need to do in Bekasi and Tangerang, and our own investigator needs to be baptized, so this week is going to be busy, but we're stoked.

We did a split with the Tangerang Elders and again, I am impressed and proud of their dedicated work down there. Elder Troff (from South Jordan--he went to Bingham) and I taught a few people, including this guy named Jeff. He was a large, large man. But he speaks perfect English and we had a great lesson with him. They've done such great work, that the Tangerang district is expanding from just 2 companionships to 4 companionships in the next month. Tangerang has been an area where the work has always been considered "slow" but the Lord is truly hastening His work in every part of the world. 

That's about it for this week. Hope you enjoy the pictures!
Elder Seth Barrus

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Boar's head in hand I raise, Bedecked with Baize!

I shall give 100 points to whomever catches that reference. If you paid any attention to our Madrigal songs my senior year, you would know. 

Living goats. Obviously not sacrificed yet.
The area close by our house has started smelling like an animal farm the last couple days which means it's time for sacrifice day! The only problem is that Hari Raya Idul Fitri happens to fall on a Sunday this year, so while walking to church yesterday, the cows and goats were still living and walking around the masjid by our house, but by the time we were heading home, the deed had been done. Nothing remained but a few carcasses and lots of blood.

We keep meeting new investigators, but for some reason, are having a tough time helping them stick around to keep meeting with us more than once. One of the fun experiences we had this past week was meeting Pak P. (Although probably distantly related to Elder P, there is no evidence of close family). We decided to start proselyting around members' homes because it will be easier to bring fellowshippers to future lessons, and after 2 solid hours of talking to people on the streets, asking anybody where someone might be interested in hearing a message about Jesus Christ or the Kitab Mormon, we had pretty much nothing to show for it except for a few irritated folks who told us to bug off. We finally tracted into a Batak kampung and it so turned out that they all were Batak Tapanuli, which meant they weren't Christian. But they said one of their neighbors happened to be Christian, so we gave it a try. As soon as Pak P saw "Yesus Kristus" on our name badges, he let us in. After sharing a quick message about the Kitab Mormon, he said "I like you guys. Come back next week and teach me more about this. But come when my family is here too." So we set an appointment for this Tuesday. Yay! 

As for other investigators, we met with a guy named Mas O. I've taken for granted the overall ability of Indonesians to read and be literate. It was kind of like talking to a rock while teaching Mas O. He kind of just nodded his head with everything we said and when we asked him to repeat what we said using his own words, he couldn't do it. Turns out, he can't really read either. Hmm. So we toned our Bahasa Indonesian down and taught according to what he could understand. After the lesson, we asked how he felt and he said "I didn't understand most of what you said, but all the bad feelings I had before I met you went away." The Gospel has to be taught to everybody right? In their own language and all, even if that language is really informal Indonesian.

Whiteboard after Zone Training Meeting, along with my cousin, Sister Sheffield
Zone Training Meeting! Elder Sutarno and I taught about how to become "Full Purpose Missionaries" in not only finding, teaching, and baptizing, but in retaining and reactivating, too. Hopefully it went well. We're well on target to reach our goals by December 31st so here's me getting excited!

After much prodding and poking, we got Ivan to bear his testimony in Sacrament meeting yesterday! And it was aaaaawesome! He said the things that every missionary wants to hear. He said something along the lines of "I commit to enduring in this Church and keeping my covenant I made at baptism."

I've been thinking a lot about sacrifice (in honor of Hari Raya Idul Fitri) and how others around me have sacrificed in one way or another for the benefit of others. But ultimately, it made me think about the Savior's atoning sacrifice for all of us as children of God. We don't need to cut up cows or burn goats anymore to show our willingness to God. But rather, we need to come unto Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and offer our whole souls as a sacrifice to Him. 

We get to listen to Conference this Saturday and Sunday and because there's an English ward that meets in the Jakarta Selatan building, it means I get to watch the proceedings in English!!! Needless to say, I'm pumped. :) 

Elder Seth Barrus

The only thing I could think of when I saw this was "Meow..."
It means "want" in Indonesian.  But sounds too much like a cat.