The streets of Jakarta are speaking to me still—yesterday, in the crush of busway transport, I reached up to grab hold of the passenger handle to find a note tucked into the plastic case. There, written on the back of a used ticket for 3500 Rp— in black, blocky ink, the reminder to Haraplah! (Hope!). Which is an admirable admonition for any day, but this week especially as Sunday welcomed Idul Fitri, the Muslim equivalent of Christmas with all the festivity of a New York New Year's. The party began Saturday as the sun set, the final day of Ramadan's fasting going up in a blaze of fireworks and drumbeats echoing along the corridors of Jakarta's slums. It was an incredible eruption of life and color and light—a party I got to watch all night long as well, seeing as I'd eaten dinner at a member's home that afternoon . . .
But anway. Idul Fitri. For the Muslims, a party all night long and the promise of presents in the morning and a week's holiday. For the LDS missionaries, seven days of Not A Lot to Do. Jakarta is empty (or as empty as it could ever be) with families off visiting their childhood villages or far-off family, and those that are left are very decidedly Muslim and so very much off-limits. It's been a lot of walking and wandering mostly, desperate attempts to find people to talk to about the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead of the logistics of Hari Raya (which is also fun, just not quite as productive). Luckily, Keluarga Subandriyo understands all too fully our predicament. They have been watching over us since day one, but this week they've stayed especially close and caring and it's been a life-saver.
You remember Elder Subandriyo, right? His whole family's just as incredible and inspiring, a true and pure light among so much grime here in the city. Monday they had us over for FHE—all six of us, plus the Elders—which included a fantastic feast of all sorts of spicy entrees and cool desserts along with one of the most uplifting lessons I've heard in a long while. There's something so singular about this man, this Area Authority who eats with us barefoot and cross-legged on the floor and then proceeds to teach the lesson of the Restoration as if we'd never ever heard it before. I not only learned about a hundred new Indonesian words (his Bahasa is incredibly halus, pure) but went home to look up another twenty-five more, just to be able to describe the experience later. First on that list? Bermartabat. Dignified. Elder Subandriyo is that word personified.
So we had a most lovely evening there, and then today found Sister Stefi (his wife) waiting for us outside our house first thing. “Forget P-Day!” she said. “We're going shepherding!” And so out we went, searching out lost sheep and sharing Gospel messages. Sister Stefi knows absolutely everyone, and she doesn't bother with calling beforehand, either. We just show up at these less-actives doors and talk until we get up and move on to the next house, which may or may not be hours away. It was an adventure of the best sorts, the kind where you occasionally just turn to SisLily and bust up laughing. Where are we, who are we, what in the world are we doing, you know? Along the way she'd stop to buy us sweets or entertain us on longer drives with the story of falling in love with Elder Subandriyo or how she found the church in the first place, always laughing, smiling, so happy. Oh, the whole family is just so full of joy. Sister Stefi dropped us off only a half an hour ago, after which we all set off at a run to get to the internet before the day was officially over. And now here I am, sitting here talking to the Papuan man next to me, who just agreed to come to Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. (!!!!) Life's a miracle, a beautiful thing.
So once again this is short, but I hope it's full enough to carry over until next week. I'll try to get another letter off as well, but those missives tend to take a lot of energy out of me and now I've forgotten exactly what I wrote before and don't want to repeat myself. . . oh well. More later, as always.
I love you. Miss you like crazy, but love you even more.