Elder Seth Barrus

Elder Seth Barrus
Jakarta Indonesia Mission May2013-2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

Whirlwind Week

The whirlwind known as "the week of mission wide zone conferences" is fast coming to a close. We left from Jakarta last Tuesday morning at 4:30 am for Solo and just returned to Jakarta last night at about 9:00 pm. Sooooo here's the rundown by day:
Garuda Indonesia Airplane
Tuesday: Flew with President and Sister Donald plus the Sister Trainers on a Garuda Indonesia flight (which actually won the award for the best cabin crew worldwide in 2014. Pretty cool eh?) to Solo where President started doing interviews and the rest of us ate, proselyted, and then played futsal near the church. After that, we played a game of basketball with a few of the Elders and a team of random Indonesians who were actually really good. We stayed at Elder Murphy's and Elder Canfield's house (remember them?) and then attended the conference the following day. 

Solo Zone Conference January 2015
Wednesday: The conference itself was awesome! Elder Simanungkalit and I gave a presentation (complete with a powerpoint showing lightsabers coming out of our daily planners) about how detailed goal setting and effective planning will help us achieve the mission standards of excellence. We took 30 minutes from our training to role play a daily planning session, which was about as exciting as watching grass grow. But hopefully, taking time to do something like that showed to the missionaries the importance of it. Elder and Sister Lewis taught about the importance of family history in retaining new members. (Side note: their grandson plays basketball for Woods Cross. Remember who coaches there now? Yep. Coach Walkenhurst. Small world.) We took a 4 hour train ride to Surabaya as soon as the conference was over. 
Surabaya + Manado Zone Conference January 2015

Thursday: Same thing as Tuesday. Got to see Elder Heiner, Elder Blaser, Elder Headrick, Elder McCleary and others. We played basketball at the church before playing futsal. 

Friday: Surabaya + Manado zone conference. With a little variation, it was the same as Solo. President asked, "What is your vision?", because our vision affects the goals we set, and is the motivating factor behind all the little things we do as missionaries. He also taught that "where there is no covenant, there is no ordinance". Our own obedience to the covenants we make through ordinances will determine the amount of guidance and blessings we receive as a result of making those covenants. After the meeting, I went with Elder Martineau and President Donald to teach one of his investigators and a less active member. It was raining pretty hard by the end of that, so President called for an emergency McDonald's run before dropping us off at the house. Ha ha! I love President Donald!
Elder Getter and Elder Headrick in Malang

Saturday: We got to spend the whole day on splits finally doing missionary work! I went with Elder Headrick. And I don't think I've ever said anything about him, but he is a hero in my eyes. He teaches well, contacts all the time, uplifts and loves his fellow missionaries, and he stands firm for obedience. And he's full of integrity. Every worthy quality you want in a person, you can find in him. We spent the day teaching a less active, waiting for the pouring rain to stop, and then taught a long time investigator whose name is Yudha. We watched the restoration film with him and then asked if he had ever prayed to know if Joseph was a true prophet. He said no. Without even thinking twice, Elder Headrick got onto his knees, I just followed suit, and we asked if he would ask God right then if Joseph Smith was His prophet. After going over the prayer pattern, and after I prayed to show an example, Yudha offered such a sincere prayer. And after he prayed, we didn't say anything, until he said himself, "I feel good." He accepted a baptismal date for the 14th of February. It was a really cool experience I'll never forget. I can't really do it justice in writing. After English class, I ran into Lidya again. She's cool and doing great! After a quick interview with Elder Headrick, we found a place that sells an old favorite of mine: pisang keju. Good stuff. :)

Pisang Keju (Grilled bananas topped with cheese and chocolate sprinkles)
Sunday: We went to church in Surabaya Barat with Elder Sutadiyono (remember him?) The church over there is really serene. I attached a picture below. Again, I'm serving in the most beautiful place in the world. The Williams invited us over before our flight took off for some quality Bule food. 

Church in Surabaya Barat

Elder and Sister Williams--great mission couple!
Yeppers. While I'm thinking about it, here's some additional highlights:
  • I gave out a Book of Mormon to a Malaysian man who knew about Mormons from Donnie and Marie Osmond. He was a Muslim man. His wife was wearing the hijab and all, but he was still interested in learning. 
  • There were about 30 or 40 people all preparing to "naik haji" or go on their pilgrimage to Mecca on our flight from Surabaya to Jakarta. I've never felt safer. :) (The Air Asia flight that crashed December 28th originated in Surabaya.)
Well, I think that's about it for this week. Aleks is getting baptized next Sunday and so we'll be gearing up for that. :)  He just called this morning saying his mom and dad are both coming. Yay!

Elder Seth Barrus

Indeed. Thank goodness for Sister Donald. She is an amazing woman. And hilarious! You would think that a mission president's wife would be all spiritual and full of scriptural knowledge (which she is) but she's also soooo funny! She reminds me a lot of Becca in her mannerisms. 

C'mon mom. Ironing my shirt has been a whole mission thing. Since we don't have a dryer, we have to iron our shirts after hanging them out to dry. Even here in Senopati where we have a dryer, I still iron them out of habit. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

While the President's Away...

Holy Cow Steakhouse
President's been in Bali this entire week, so our day to day activities were full of peace and quiet and missionaries chastising us for having not Kitab Mormons to give out to their investigators. The member who sends out orders from missionaries was in Hong Kong this entire week as well, so we had quite a few missionaries ring us up and ask very politely yet firmly why they weren't receiving any copies of the Kitab Mormon. To be fair, we have no control over that since this brother is the only one here in the office that has a key to that door. He came back today though so I'm sure he'll take care of the problem.

This last week was again just the greatest weather a missionary could ask for. Sunny, sometimes a bit cloudy, a nice tropical breeze blowing in once in a while. It made me that more motivated to go out and teach. Speaking of which.... 

Floor Ping Pong!
We taught Aleks last week about the Atonement using an object lesson. We took three cups of water. The first one we mixed iodine in it and called it "Sin". The second one had bleach mixed in it and called it "The Atonement of Jesus Christ" and the third one was called "Aleks". To show how the Atonement works for us, we first poured "Sin" into "Aleks" explaining how all men sin and fall short of the glory of God. But thankfully, Jesus Christ took upon Himself all the sins of mankind. So we took "Sin" and poured it into "the Atonement" and magically the iodine color disappeared. We furthered explained how we need to apply the Atonement if we have any hopes of becoming clean from our own sins, so we poured "the Atonement" into "Aleks" and his "Sins" vanished. For the last part, we explained that all Jesus Christ wants us to do now is offer our whole souls as an offering to Him so we poured the remaining water into "The Atonement" and made that point. In an odd little object lesson, the spirit was still strong. And made me think about my own experiences and testimony of the Atonement. Because of what Jesus did for each of us, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including all the ordinances, can have power, true cleansing, enabling, and healing power, in our lives. We just have to receive it. Aleks really liked it and is well on his way to be baptized on February 1st.

Solo Zone Conference with Elder Simangkulit, President Donald, Sister Olsen and Sister

We found this American fellow named Chris. He has the most crazy background story I've ever heard. I'll explain when I get home just because of how long it is. But essentially, he was open to receiving the restored gospel if we could show the importance and necessity of the restoration from the bible. In preparation to meet him again, I started thinking about how I could do that and then came to the realization that we couldn't do that. Anybody could twist or turn the verses we wanted to use to support or reject our beliefs. So we came to the realization that it's only through the Book of Mormon can a person receive that witness. So when we brought it up and began discussing about it, he said to us "I testify that the Book of Mormon is not the word of God." Elder Wood and I were on a split that day and we just received the impression that we needed to let it go. We shared our own experiences and testimonies that it is the word of God because if it isn't, what else could it be? Failed theories about its origins and source have been planted, grown, gained popularity, then died as Elder Holland puts it. And that's because there is no other explanation. Even this American man himself, (Chris) said that the truth will stand. Whatever truth it may be, the truth will stand forever. And The Book of Mormon has stood as truth for over 175 years and will forever.

Mission Leadership Conference January 2015 (courtesy Sister Donald)
We meet so many people on buses, on the street, or other random places I don't have time to write about them all and the miracles that happen. But yesterday, I ran into this lady from Washington. She's originally from Georgia, but moved to Portland a while back. Her sister is a member and she herself even has a copy of the Book of Mormon. But she's here just traveling and expressed to me her utmost appreciation and respect for us as missionaries and for our beliefs. Including how well ironed my shirt was. :) Mom should be pleased to hear that. But she's just content with her own beliefs but she mentioned like 3 times while on that bus how much she loves hearing about and seeing the fruits from our church. She's not ready now, but I'm certain one day she will realize why.

Solo Zone Conference with Elder Blaser and Elder Heiner from MTC Group
This church has all those wonderful fruits because of one reason: Jesus Christ is at the helm of this church. I take great strength from 2 Peter 1:16 which reads "we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." We might not be eyewitnesses of his majesty, but we can be eyewitnesses of the fruits from His church and Gospel. I just thought that verse was so perfect for what I've been thinking about this last week.

Hope everybody has a great week!

Elder Seth Barrus
District Conference Hijinks

P.S. To answer your question: Release date.... Right. President Donald went out of town this last week to Bali to search out a new chapel for the members to meet in, so we had 0 time to meet up and chat with him. I'll bring it up with him when there's time. Sorry to keep you waiting... But you can probably plan for the early part of May.... But not making any promises. :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Most Beautiful Mission in the World!

This last week was chock full of small little miracles that added up, much like the tiny flecks of gold in the ol' prospector's pouch. Can I just list them? It's easier that way.

- Aleks is getting baptized on February 1 now instead of the 8th! Because of that crazy Air Asia plane crash, all Air Asia flights have been suspended till further notice or something. His parents were planning on going to Melbourne for a business trip on January 31, but you know what their flight was? Air Asia. So they're not going now till the 8th. Which means they can come to his baptism and Elder Simanungkalit will still be here to see it. We taught him from Elder Oaks talk about how to live in the world with differences. "Loving Others and Living with Differences"

- Do you remember Rony and Toyo from Medan? Well, Toyo and his mom, Mary, moved to Aceh for some reason, leaving Rony in Medan. (It's kinda crazy up there in Batak land.) According to the elders, he was just living in the old house.  But they tried swinging by his house one day, and there was just dirt. Apparently the house had been leveled a couple days ago. They had no contact with him. And in a place like Indonesia, that's a very easy thing to do. Elder Barlow told me of the situation through a phone call when he called in his stats, and I began praying that the situation would turn out OK. And that Rony would come back to church. Well, Elder Barlow informed me yesterday that Rony woke up and felt like he had to go to church. So he put on his white shirt and tie, rode an angkot the hour and a half there, and attended church and wants to become active again. That made my day!

- Brother R, a new member we're working with, paid his tithing for the first time. He used to be Muslim and his entire family is still Muslim. But he's one of the most active members in the Harmoni ward. 

- We were sitting with S P (a new investigator) and S (a new Chinese investigator) at church yesterday when all of a sudden, members started poking us in the back asking if we knew the two Papuan young men who just walked in. We did! We had met these two Papuans on a busway last Thursday, gave them a Kitab Mormon, and invited them to come to church with us. They didn't pick up their phones earlier before church, so the fact they were able to find the Harmoni church on their own was astounding! They want to get baptized, but will be going to Surabaya soon because they work on a fishing ship. Or something like that. Nonetheless, we're stoked. The Lord is truly hastening his work wherever He has missionaries. We're just His tools. 

- I've been sick with a sore throat and stuffy nose this last week, but we still were able to find and teach a new family of 5. We had an address of someone who had wanted to meet before, but his phone number was no good anymore. He lived close enough, so we trekked out to his house on foot and ran into his not-so-excited wife. The guy's name is David, and he wasn't home at the time, but we called him using his new number and he came home right away. He was so excited to receive a Kitab Mormon and while teaching the first lesson he received a baptismal commitment. Which his wife immediately replied with "Kamu sudah dibaptis!" or "You've already been baptized!" After a few awkward moments of what David was actually getting himself into, and after some explaining by us, he still wanted to get baptized, and even his wife wanted to as well! They have 3 little kids and they actually live closer to the Tebet church, so we gave their information to the Elders there. 

Beautiful weather here in Jakarta!
I've said this before, but I get to serve in the most beautiful mission in the whole world. It was about 75 degrees, with a cool coastal breeze, and sunny the entire week last week. It was aaaawesome. I'm gonna truly miss this place when the missionary department says I have to go. (I still don't know when that will be.)

We taught this man named Chris. He's from Oklahoma, but somehow found his way to Indonesia, married a Manadonese woman, and has three kids. He's learned with the missionaries before, but he had a really cool story. Long story short, he got me thinking a lot more about my own personal testimony of Jesus Christ. I really am out here for Him. I'm not trying to score heavenly points in this eternal contest, but out of gratitude and love for what He's done for me, I'm out here for Him. Just a thought.

Hope everybody has a great week! 

Elder Seth Barrus

PS Thanks for the sheet music. I'm printing it off as we speak and we might sing it at the next zone conference. 

That's so weird Natalie's already home, I guess just because I wasn't around to see her off. Tell her hi for me. 
I sent Nate an email today. Yikes. That's pretty scary to hear about his dad. Nate comes home in April, about a month before I do. (No. I didn't check on my release date yet. President is in Bali this week with Sister Donald, so we probably won't get to ask him this week either. Or next week because of PLD's.)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Selamat Tahun Baru Dua Ribu Lima Belas! (Happy New Year 2015!)

Whilst most of the world was partying away the night last Wednesday, the Jakarta Elders went to the Harmoni ward for a short meal and chat with the members, and were home by 9:00 PM. But we set our alarms for midnight (rebels!). I woke up to what sounded like a war outside with all those fireworks going off. I said "Happy New Year" to Elder Simanungkalit, and then went back to bed. Ha ha! Elder Jones made some tasty real Mexican burritos for dinner, so that was a nice touch. It was a fun way to celebrate the last new year of my mission.

Quick update on the investigators: Pak E is cool. He's like 82 years old but is sharp. He finally got a new phone, but we had to swing by his house when he happened to be there to find that out. He still remembers John Smith and how he saw Jesus, so that's good. We're teaching this former JW named D A. He's got this wicked lazy eye so you never know which eye to make contact with. But he's down for being baptized once he feels all his questions are answered. Brother B committed to come to church on the 11th of January (which it originally  because Aleks wanted to get baptized on that day, but after meeting him, it was pushed back to the 8th of February because of his family. Not sure what we're gonna do with Brother B. Let you know next week.) We talked about the Atonement with him and the Spirit was really strong. But it made me realize how much the general Christian out there does not understand the necessity of the Atonement. We went a proselyting around Grogol (Fun name eh?) and found 3 little Muslim kids who sat down long enough to learn about the Plan of Salvation. Their mom gave us permission to do so. It was fun! We found another Batak man named Pak S. He's super hard headed, but he accepted the Book of Mormon. 

Aaaaand Aleks. He chatted with his parents and they don't want him to get baptized as "quick" as we were planning. I keep thinking "Quick?? He's been an investigator for 2 years!" But Aleks is being a bit firm and set a date for the 8th of February. We had a good lesson about the Law of Chastity with him. There was a "Cottage Meeting" at President's house where all these investigators and new members were invited for a short meeting and some food. President invited Aleks and Derry to share their testimonies and what sacrifices they've had to make during their process of conversion. Derry is kind of shy, so to share his testimony in front of 30 some people was prolly nerve-wracking for him, but he did a great job. He's grown so much in the gospel. It's been really really fun to stay in the same city as him and see that growth.

Some of the investigators and members at President's house for the "Cottage Meeting"

There are many people in Jakarta who haven't heard about the Restored gospel yet.
I can't really think of what else I need to add. Except that we fasted as a mission for this new year that the hearts of the Indonesian people might be softened to hear and recognize the Gospel when it's presented to them. We have some pretty high goals set and my MTC group gets to be a big part of pushing it forward. Thanks all for your prayers and support. I feel really blessed and humbled to have so many people, family, and friends who share the same beliefs as I. Sampai jumpa! (See you!)

Elder Seth Barrus