Elder Seth Barrus

Elder Seth Barrus
Jakarta Indonesia Mission May2013-2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Gong Xi Fa Cai! (Happy Chinese New Year)

Aleks in his traditional Polish costume (and Seth in a hat with a Chinese braid) 
The Chinese population is big enough in Indonesia that last Thursday was a national holiday, complete with fireworks, lots of oranges, drunk Chinese men on the busway, red lanterns, and streamers everywhere. I've been picking up a little Mandarin as I've been here. I can now say "Please, sit down." And "Please, open the door." in Mandarin. Yep. I'd say I'm pretty much fluent. One of our investigators, who is from Chinese descent, raised his hand in Priesthood quorum and asked if we had a Valentines activity last week, why we didn't have a Chinese New Year activity this week. Great question. But I did attach a photo from when we taught Aleks last week. Apparently it was culture day at his school, so he's all dressed in his Polish gear, and I'm wearing one of those Chinese hats with a long black braid in the back. 

One of the blessings of being in the Indonesia Jakarta Mission is that our mission is too big for us to split with the zone leaders or other missionaries that often, meaning that we can still work our area, which is really really nice. Especially on the last leg of the mission (don't say it Mom). I'm grateful for the opportunity to still teach and see some of God's choicest children progress towards him. Like Axxx. That man is choice. We're emailing a bit later today because we went and taught him earlier this afternoon about repentance. It made me think how crucial forgiveness is in our own repentance process. While we're asking for forgiveness of our sins to God, we should be asking forgiveness from others we may have hurt by our actions. Axxx still has a lot of questions he wants answered before he's baptized, but he came to church rocking a yellow and red plaid shirt, complete with unripped jeans, and no shades. It's a step up from last week. :) 

Nxxxxxxxx is doing well. We taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ last week probably more completely and more thoroughly than we've ever taught before and invited him to be baptized again. He then told us "I feel like you guys are like the sowers in Jesus' parable. You've already done your part to sow a seed in me. If the seed is good and from God, He will do his part and it will grow in me." Ha ha! He eats up the Gospel! He just needs to exercise his faith and act. New investigators also came to church: Axxxxx, Axxx, and Sxxxxx. Wish I had time to tell you about them. Axxxxxxx is sooo wonderful. He's right on track to be baptized on the 8th of March. There was a baptism yesterday of two Batak sisters taught by the sister trainers and that I think will kick off a couple of weeks in a row of  Jakarta First Ward convert baptisms. Huzzah!

Mission Leadership Conference at the Mission Home
Mission Leadership Conference was cool. :) We talked a lot about becoming a full purpose missionary. Elder Wintolo and I gave a presentation comparing the aspects of missionary work to the Tree of Life vision from 1 Nephi 8. 

I was told of a Chinese proverb last week that goes along with something I've been thinking about Ether 12:4-6 for awhile. It's about a big hall with a stone floor and a beautiful statue. The stone floor complained to the owner of the hall "People just step on me all day to go see the beautiful statue. Why wasn't I molded into a statue?" The owner then replied "You and the statue were made from the same stone. But you weren't willing to go through the pressures of chiseling, the trials of waiting, and the hardships that precede the beautiful statue." We all are made from the same "stuff" of eternity, as President Uchtdorf said. But our willingness to pass through trials of our faith will determine our eternal destiny. We have to be willing to endure the trials and hardships of mortality if we ever have hopes of becoming like God. 

Elder Seth Barrus

Elders Wintolo, Jones, Barrus, Norris and Troff with Sister Donald

Farewell lunch with Elder Norris, who is headed home to Australia

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chinese New Year

I always knew I was the adopted child. We met this guy on a busway last week and after chatting with him he asked "Where are you from, Mister?" And before I had a chance to reply, he said, "Chinese, mister?" Ha ha! What? I know Chinese New Year is on Thursday, but it hadn't ever crossed my mind that I could fit right in with their celebrations. 

We don't have a ton of time to email today because the Solo Zone Leaders missed their flight for Mission Leader Council, we just received a shipment of 1,920 Kitab Mormons from Salt Lake and we need to send those out today, Mission Leader Council is tomorrow and we still need to tweak our training, and we're going to go play basketball with the district plus the zone leaders at 11:00. But I'll include essential details to enlighten you on how my week went. :)

The Lord blessed us with a new investigator named Axxx. We met him on a busway about a week ago, taught him the first lesson and then watched the "Prophet of the Restoration" film with him, and then he came to church yesterday. His English is near perfect and he even has that slangy American accent when he speaks. You know what I mean? Anyways, he used to be Muslim, moved and became Protestant, was brought in by the Jehovah Witnesses, and then settled on down with Catholicism before meeting us. He's had a pretty rough life, but he's down to learning more about what we have to share. He texted us yesterday after church and said he's never felt more welcomed before than in our church, and then thanked us for waking him up early to go to church. That's what missionaries are for right? :) Definitely the highlight of the week.

Still working with Aleks. President just got back from Taiwan last Friday, so hopefully his parents pick up the phone sometime and make an appointment with him.

Nxxxxxxxl is awesome! We taught him about the Plan of Salvation and he had so many quality, honest questions. I like teaching him because he actually accepts the answers we give him. Some people just keep searching for mistakes and other questions, trying to prove us wrong, but he's truly on a search for the truth. He didn't come to church yesterday because he had another engagement, but he's coming next week he promised.

Happy Valentines Day! Since missionaries are protected from the vices that abound in such a holiday, I spent the day with my beloved missionary companion, Elder Wintolo. And since his mom works in Jakarta, she dropped off a huge 2 foot chocolate candy bar, some KFC chicken, and a cake at the office. So we spent that night chatting about how awesome his family is and eating the gifts they brought.

I had a couple of questions rolling through my mind over and over again this last week, and while searching in the Bible really trying to find an answer, I came across Daniel 12:10 which reads "Many shall be purified, and made white and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand: but the wise shall understand." I've experienced that over and over in my mission--people who were too prideful or too set in their ways, that when the Gospel was presented to them, they couldn't understand it, or couldn't get over the fact of sometimes we don't have answers to the whys of things we do. But I've also met the most humble of people, but they recognize when the Gospel is presented to them that it is from God and that they want to understand. Then they become wise. But the verse also mentions how the purified shall be tried. The wisdom doesn't come without some form of trial or opposition.

Elder Seth Barrus

No picture this week. Somebody took the card reader out of this computer...

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Weak and the Simple

In Amos, we read of a famine, not a famine of food or of water, but a famine of "hearing the word of God." Yes, I know this scripture is talking about the Great Apostasy soon after the Apostles died, but this prophecy was fulfilled in the Indonesia Jakarta Mission. We have had 0 Kitab Mormons in the office from last Monday till now, and there are missionaries who have been calling me and Elder Wintolo asking where their Books of Salvation are. Turns out, the man in charge here in Senopati has been a bit behind in ordering them. A big shipment of 1900 has finally made it to Singapore and is scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on the February 13, but until then, I feel like my words mean nothing, since investigators and people I meet on the street have nothing to try. If anything else, it makes me appreciate the missionaries back in the 70's who didn't even have a Book of Mormon translated into Indonesian, Yet, people still joined the church and are active to this day. Other than that, we had a sweet week last week!

Transfers! Elder Simanungkalit left for Jogjakarta last Tuesday morning, and my new companion is Elder Wintolo! I like working with him. :) Besides the fact his father is the one and only Brother Wintolo, he has a pure desire to serve the people. He himself used to be Muslim, following his dad's beliefs, but at the age of 17 decided to make a change. It's a cool conversion story maybe sometime I'll share. 

We met a lot of cool new investigators last week. I really feel like we were led the entire week. We met people on busways who hadn't been to church in years because they didn't feel it was right. We met people who had never heard of the Book of Mormon but are willing to learn more. There were just miracles all around I wish I could include here. But I'll just share a few. The first one is Pak AXXXXX. When I called him up last week, (he's a former investigator) he said he was reading a pamphlet from another church and was really confused. He remembered something from them Mormons, so he started searching his house for his Kitab Mormon. Right at that moment, we called and made an appointment. I've stopped believing in "coincidences" as a servant of the Lord. Every action we make, as long as we're trying to follow the Spirit, will in some way give another an opportunity to receive the Gospel. 

Elder Welch in his farewell dinner last week (also with Sister Sperry and Sister Olsen, and the Lucherini's) talked about the importance of maximizing the opportunity people get to receive the Gospel. Last Saturday, while we were doing our personal study, President Donald came into our house and said "Hey, Elder Holland is talking to you right now." We followed him into his house and got to watch that devotional. He said a lot of great things (he always makes your heart burn a little, no?) but one thing that stuck out to me was "It's not necessarily that important what we teach or deliver to our students (or investigators) but how we teach it." 

Aleks is doing okay. His dad is in Melbourne right now, but his mom contacted President Donald and, very cordially, explained how when he gets back from Australia, they will come over to President's house to talk. Not sure when exactly that will be yet. But we're still praying for him. Thanks for putting his name on the prayer list, mom. 

Two new investigators came to church for the first time, their names are Axxxxx and Wxxxxx. It's an uncle and his nephew. Right after Gospel Principles class, Uncle Wxxxxx went outside for a smoke break. And when he came back in, our priesthood quorum was talking about free agency, and the example they were using: Smoking. Oops. I explained quickly about it and said we would talk about it later. He wants to stop. :) I attached a photo below. Agxxxx's moustache is awesome. 

Elder Martinez said last conference, "As we open our mouths and share the Gospel we become 'His under shepherds charged with nourishing the sheep of His pasture and the lambs of His fold'; we become the weak and the simple fishers of men." Something I've been thinking about this last week was, "Why would I want to become weak and simple?" I found my answer in D&C 1:23 and 35:13-15 which essentially says "the weak and unlearned are called to thrash the nations by the power of my Spirit. They shall fight manfully for me." What I learned is that those who already know or think they know what to do aren't humble enough to seek God's power, but would rather rely upon themselves for success or victory. The weak and simple rely upon God. And thus are more effective stewards. 

Sampai berjumpa (good-bye)

Elder Barrus


Monday, February 2, 2015

Saddest News of the Week

Wow! What a week. We finished up Zone Conferences with the final conference taking place in Jawa Barat last Wednesday. Elder Simanungkalit and I felt that this role play presentation went the best comparison with the previous 2 (even though our role play was about as exciting as watching grass grow. President asked us to role play a daily planning session. It needed to be role played because not enough missionaries are doing it.) Following the meeting, our focus immediately shifted to the transfers happening Tuesday. And that's why I'm emailing a bit late today because we've been busy taking care of all of that and the logistics today in preparation for Tuesday's big move. 

My new companion will be...... Elder Wintolo! Yep. As in Brother Wintolo's son. The Lord blessed me with the opportunity to teach that man and to see him get baptized too, and now his son is going to be my companion! Pretty cool eh? He arrives from Semarang tomorrow night. I'm super sad that Elder Simanungkalit is leaving though. He leaves for Yogyakarta tomorrow. We've had a great time together. He took the Michigan test (English as a foreign language exam) last Friday and he said he's never seen some of those words in the dictionary before. Ha ha! And his English is probably the best I've ever seen from an Indonesian! He's hoping to go to BYU next year and study accounting. I say he should just become a seminary teacher with how well he teaches, but then I realized that Indonesia doesn't have any paid full time seminary teachers. Ha ha! Although his dad is the Seminary and Institute Coordinator for all of Indonesia. So I could see it happening. 

Brother Budi came to church!! Yes! He brought his son Julian as well and Sister Lely was just so happy. (Sister Lely was just baptized a few months ago.) It was great to see them all sitting together as a family throughout church. He even made a few comments in the Gospel Principles class. I see potential! Also a kid we've been teaching, his name is Nxxxxxx, also came to church. He considers himself Adventist, but never really goes to church. He lives sooo close to the church in Harmoni, we're just trying to find what sparks his interest to try the word in the Book of Mormon and eventually to be baptized. He's a super great guy though.

Aaaand for the saddest news of the day: Aleks' baptism has been postponed due to certain reasons in relation to his parents. Aleks is still going to be baptized, it just didn't happen yesterday. He's awesome. Seriously. When he becomes a General Authority or something someday, he's gonna look back on this experience with a smile on his face in recognition that the Lord put him through some of the toughest challenges in preparation for who he is going to become. 

Getting the font ready for the baptism that didn't happen.
It's been quite the last 36 hours. It's been weighing heavily on my mind. President took Elder Simanungkalit and I and Elder Lucherini "go carting" and out to Burger King today. So that was awful nice of him to help get our minds off the situation. 

I sent Aleks a verse from 2 Nephi 30:6 that I hadn't really realized or understood before I came on my mission. In the dedicatory prayer that Elder Benson offered when dedicating the land of Indonesia, he prayed that "the scales of darkness would begin to fall from their eyes when the Gospel is presented to them." I told Aleks that there will be one day where his parents will rejoice and consider it a blessing from God that the Gospel has been restored. Just right now, the scales of darkness seem pretty deeply ingrained into them, but there will come a day when the scales of darkness will fall from their eyes too. So that's what I'm praying for these next couple of days and weeks. 

That's about it. :) Hope everybody has a great week and is grateful for the knowledge and testimony that they have of the restored gospel. And also hopefully are grateful for their parents if their parents raised them with that knowledge. Thanks Mom and Dad! 

Elder Seth Barrus