You know what you shouldn't name a warnet? Virus. Also, Snail. Not doing much for the PR there, Indonesia.
Anyway. It's been yet another week in Indonesia, and I have stories for you—but strangely little focus. So sorry if this comes out in ADD and if you don't mind, I'll just jump right in:
Last week we taught a referral named Mitin (not pronounced "Mitten." That's just how Elder Miller says it.), a referral we received from a former investigator almost a month ago but haven't ever been able to reach via the phone number that Mbak Mega gave us. She had introduced the referral by saying that she had an old high school friend who was interested in understanding Christianity after years of faith-hopping and maybe we could talk to her? Yes, please. But then no go. For weeks and weeks and weeks until Elder Miller started to hint that he didn't quite believe this so-called potential investigator existed.
But then we were desperate. Because our statistics are zero for zero for zero for zero and after having to hand Mas Kuncoro over to the Elders last week, things were really looking sad. Our proselyting efforts were flagging, our appointments were falling through, general levels of semangat [TranStar says: spirit, as in gusto, zeal] were at an all time low. So we just kept calling and calling and calling Mitin until, one day, she picked up. And that very afternoon we met her at her house, where we introduced ourselves and eased into the first two principles of lesson two—-the effects of Christ's Atonement and the necessity of having faith in Him. Mitin grew up Hindu, tried a few years of Buddhism, and her most recent driver's license declares her Muslim, so we took it slow. At the end of our little hour we went over the steps of prayer and invited her to church. It was a good lesson. We got a return appointment.
Which was yesterday, late evening, right smack dab in the middle of a major rainstorm. After our fair share of unfortunate events we arrived at her doorstep and hour late and soaked through—-only to discover that the entire neighborhood was in total blackout and her house was running on a generator, which meant that our previous plan of watching "Finding Faith in Christ" had just taken a somewhat fatal blow. We floundered for a second. Talked about the weather . . . um . . .I was just about to signal to Sumarno that we might as well forge on ahead with principle three when Mbak Mitin somewhat timidly asked if she might pose a question. Yes! Please! Anything, and we will answer it! She left the room for a minute and we were confused. Moreso when she returned with a Book of Mormon. "Could you tell me about this book?"
Sumarno only looked to me to indicate she'd take the first principle. I re-checked my resources to switch over to Lesson One: The Restoration. And so we taught. Really well. Far beyond any mortal ability, and with a clarity we very rarely accomplish even when teaching with the Spirit. Without any set plan beforehand our lesson somehow came together to focus specifically on the Priesthood, and every principle we taught we made sure to relate it back to God's Authority—-to the point where, when asked, Mbak Mitin rehearsed the definition perfectly. She was incredible to teach; honestly seeking truth and humbly joining in our conversation. I felt like it was one of the better lessons of my whole mission and that we'd finally reached something like the Real Deal (Although, tangent: as Marno explained the Great Apostasy, I had this sudden memory of Elders Bunker and Cowdery teaching the same story with an egg carton, candles, and uninvited moths on the floor of 80 Hill Street NZ and it was all I could do not to burst out laughing.). I testified about the Book of Mormon and re-emphasized Christ's divinity and when we'd finished and asked if Mback Mitin would like to say the closing prayer, she said yes. She prayed. The simplest, sweetest, purest little prayer. That was something she couldn't do last week. If nothing else, I felt the swelling joy of knowing that I had had such a blessed opportunity to teach a daughter of God communicate with her Father. And that would have been enough.
But then we're sitting about snacking on strange Javanese sweets, waiting for the rain to calm down, and I ask a question I should've asked right from the beginning. "Have you had a chance to read a bit from the Book of Mormon yet?" Her entire being lit up, her soul was illuminated. She picked up the blue book off the table and quite handily flipped open to Alma 49, a chapter she'd marked with a blue ribbon. "I finished this chapter just as you arrived," she explained—as Sumarno and I tried to connect just exactly what she was saying with the physical evidence she was currently displaying. "Um, s-s-sorry?" I stammered. "Do you mean you've just read that chapter, or . . . " Sumarno tried to finish my sentence. "As in, you began from the beginning and . . . " Mitin nodded, which still didn't answer either of our incomplete questions. Our perplexity must have showed. Mitin turned back to First Nephi and stuck her thumb up against verse one. "Yes. I've read from here . . . " now she was flipping back to the bookmark " . . . to here." I double-checked the page header. Alma 49. I tried to nod, but seemed incapable of even such a small movement. Mitin talked to fill our stunned silence. "But since I only borrowed the book, I couldn't ever underline all my favorite passages or mark the places I have questions, like I saw how Sister Rhondeau did in her Book. But now I have my own copy, so I'll just start all over from the beginning again! After I read 3 Nephi 11, of course."
I couldn't help it, the words were beyond my control. "Mbak Mitin!" I practically shouted. "You! You are a miracle!" She shook her head, shyly looking back down at the book she was now holding in clasped reverence. "No. I'm sorry, I don't understand very much but I'm trying to learn. I have to read the same things repeatedly before I start to get it," she said. Ohmyword Sister Sumarno looked ready to cry. We jumped all over that apology, telling her that was the very joy in scriptures: being able to read the same thing over and over and over again only to learn something new every time and you know what? Even the prophets still read the scriptures! Because there are prophets! Christ's Church has been restored and you can be a part of it! Really, we were maybe too excited.
And maybe you're thinking "But Sister Rhondeau, that happens all the time in the Ensign." Yes. Those are also the same stories after reading which SisLily and I have to console ourselves by deciding that they're only fantastical fairy tales reserved for such imaginary realms as "Brazil" or "The Philippines." Just reading a book in Indonesia would be out of the ordinary—and here was Mbak Mitin, reading the Book of Mormon. And after some further storytelling, turns out she's been reading it every chance she can get—at work, at home, during lunch, on the angkot. I . . . I . . . I . . . what?! This is the single most extraordinary event I have yet to encounter in my 14 months as a missionary. Period. End of.
So of course we have yet another return appointment, and she's coming to church on Sunday, and we just love her. I mean, we loved her before and always, but you know. We LOVE her. Also, we love God. Because this was all His. He just let us in on the miracle.
Riding the angkot home last night we contacted a bapak who was ninety years old. And he was on his way home from work! WORK. Still as spry and sharp as any college kid, except for a bum knee that was only the effect of a becak accident two years ago. My word.
Also, the thing I have meant to tell you for weeks now: the new triple combination translation is out and it is wonderful, fabulous, inspiring, blessed, and also . . . confusing. Because what with the new translation we missionaries have to switch some gears. The First Vision? Totally different. Had to re-memorize. D+C 4? Same deal, although Marno and I pride ourselves on managing to memorize it before the Elders. And, um, Atonement? No longer Kurban Tebusan. The new term's Pendamaian.
I am still wrapping my head around it, and also trying to figure out what we're supposed to do with all the has been given us since the new version is significantly superior and all the more powerful and yet we've been given the mandate to hand out all our old copies before we start with the new. Given the rate Indo-Jak hands out copies of the Book of Mormon? That could be a few more years. Kidding. But probably at least long past the point I've already come home.*
Oh well. There are much more pressing problems to weigh in, given that it is the end of the month, our electricity blew last Sunday, our house flooded last night, and we are officially broke. And don't even remind me that Lala has YET to send the video we need for tomorrow night's fireside with the branch. Eeh, walawala. Harus cari ilham apa lagi makanan [Must look for inspiration, let alone food!]! Aduuuuuhaduhaduh. Hey. Maybe we'll just for reals ikut the Ramadan fast. That solves the food finances, at least.
Okay. I'm over and out and off to Klayatan for some less-active lessons. I love you, I miss you, the Church is True.
Pray, He is there. Speak, He is listening.
*not-so-subtle pretty-please: all I want for Christmas is the leather-bound triple in Indonesian. Really. That's all. Okay. Love you.