A/N Dickens theme of two weeks' running unintentional; I just did a quick reread and realized he worked for this subject, too.
I find our resident rat impressively acrobatic and quite agreeable; just yesterday he made a stunning dash across our kitchen and up the window shade to freedom, from whence he took the stairs at a tip-toe tilt up the spiral railing and away out the terrace. I actually applauded, I was so pleased. The other sisters, however, did not. They do not like the rat. "He steals our potatoes!" they say, and I tell
them to lock them in the pantry cupboard where they should be, anyway. "He trashes our trash!" they cry, and I mention that perhaps maybe we only need tieup the trash bag for the night. They won't have it. The rat is still a rat. They want him dead. They bought a trap and set the bait. I started a liberation front, but have yet to come up with a name any better than S.P.E.W., so the buttons are pending. And in the meanwhile, my little rat's much smarter than any wire trap or cheap cheese lure, thank you very much, and together we will fight the good fight.
Oh, the daily battles of Indonesia. I only wish it were always so easy as cat-and-mouse.
Presiden came to Bandung today for another round of Cafe Bali*, bearing with him the latest pulang pergi from SisLily (packaged in Tim Tam wrappers woven into an envelope—-clever girl) and therefore, all the news from JavaTimor.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. There is some good in this world, and there are people willing to fight for it. Like Elder Greenwell, who is proving against all odds that Obedience and Hard Work do prevail out in Yogya. Three baptisms in three months and another one next week. He and his companion plan every night, make goals, and accomplish them. He's single-handedly
created the opportunity to teach English five times a week there, which is where they've found all of their current investigators (for a total of twenty). Meanwhile, he has already outlined his rise to power
and the programs he will instate once granted any leadership position at all. From the sound of it, he is exactly the kind of missionary this mission needs. I am trying to be more like him. I am sad I will most likely miss his eventual reign as AP.
Here in Bandung there is the Atmo family; their oldest son on a mission, the dad and other two boys always at church, but their RM mother most usually a no show. Last week I proposed we stop by this
past Monday for FHE. My companions (I'm in a trio now, with Atmi and Sodjo) grudgingly agreed to "try it." They grumbled even more when I made them actually plan for it. But the point is that we did it, and it worked. Really well. One of my more favorite experiences of the mission so far that also made me realize how much more favorite all of this could become if we could pull off "Real Missionary Work" all the time. Will work on that, too.
But anyway, the Atmos. Really love them, especially after finally meeting their mother. She has raised remarkably sweet and outstanding boys, so of course she was sweet and outstanding herself, but the mystery as to why she still never makes it to church (esp since the
rest of the family is always, always there, so transportation's obviously not the problem) remains unsolved. We taught out of the January Liahona** from the parting editorial on the back page about
searching for (and finding) God. We read from Jeremiah and testified from verses in the Book of Mormon. It was a super feel-good lesson, though I mostly chalk that up to the stark contrast in Spirit you find from only stepping over the simple concrete thresholds into these Member homes. Though their houses are just as small, cramped, spare or broken as the next, the protective magic of expanded blessing and light are undeniable. Monday night, when seven year old Nikki led us in his favorite hymn—-shoot, don't remember the English . . the one about the 99 and the 1? Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd, maybe? And yes, it is his favorite, sung aloud with gusto and truest Indonesian
tone deafness—-and his dad said the opening prayer, and fifteen year old Christian stood to bring their stack of Kitab Mormon from a set-aside, sacred shelf in their living room without being asked as
the study began, I felt there couldn't be more beautiful gestures the world over as the simplest ones I'd just been witness to. Afterwards, when Nikki was dead asleep on the couch and Sister Atmo finished
regaling us with her own mission stories (way back then she got to live at Senopati, too, with a maid to cook and clean!), Brother Atmo suddenly cleared his throat as we were preparing to leave. "Hold on," he said, waving us toward the couch again. "I need to thank you." We sat back down, aware of the hour but this seemed serious. He was a long time before continuing, the clock at a slow tick as Christian watched his father patiently. "Maybe . . ." he began. "Maybe. . .I have learned something new tonight. Or, actually, I have remembered." He looked up at us again. "We do not usually have Family Home Evening," he confessed. "Or, if we do, it is a short prayer and a verse of scripture before I decide there are more important things to do, like stock the store or replace the water filter." He kind of laughed, then, embarrassed. "But this, this is important. Family Home Evening is not just song and scripture, it is more sacred than that. It is where we learn and teach and testify to each other of Christ, and I want to thank you for doing that tonight. For helping me to remember what I'd forgotten and what I need to seek again. Maybe . . . maybe I can follow your example and from here on out we will do as you have shown us and really have Family Home Evening."
So. That was worth it.
Plus I got to ride a becak home, because we were late and still an hour's walk from home, and even though we were late and exhausted I still made my companions plan and discuss—-TRULY discuss—-what we needed to plan for and care about, and then we had prayers and then at least I went to bed on time and so I think, for this week at least, we are doing the best we can do.
And this is starting to be a novel in it's own right and again I'm sorry it's mostly sad but there's the truth and also there's the prayer call, which means I've been here half an hour over my time
limit and must be going. I love you.
*If this were another email, unhindered by outside drama, I would tell you the story about how I've been praying to be able to interview with Presiden for a few days now and then, wahlah! There he is at our doorstep, surprise cleaning inspection—-and then interviews at the Church. So there you go. Pray.
**Was the Ensign redesigned like the Liahona was? All moderned-up and super white-spaced? I, of course, have an opinion, but in the matter of time I will only say that I like it well enough and End of.