I am alive, in every technical sense of the term. Though four hours of sleep within the last 32 are not much good for anyone and maybe especially not for missionaries. Still wouldn't trade an economy train at midnight for any other adventure. Inescapable all-nighters can be some of the best.
The biggest, brightest, bestest news from this last week is that Pak J and Ibu P are going to be baptized. We have yet to pin down a date, as their oldest daughter is having a hard time with "those Mormons" and her parents want her to better understand the situation before they take the plunge, but at the very most they promised me they will be baptized before I leave because I am "their missionary." I am somebody's missionary! It has been a long learning process but they have been moved and changed and their testimonies have become a part of mine that the Church is true.
Sunday afternoon we left for Solo, arrived around midnight, and spent the next two days in Leadership Training from nine to eight, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. It was killer, with a helpful dose of spiritual strength and missionary motivation, with the only truly low point being at about three o'clock on the second day when Sister Lie and I gave in to evaluating and appraising the Elders' ties from keren-keren (super stylee, you win) to paling jelek (no no no please take it away!) instead of listening to Elder Hartanto teach us about Revelation Through Church Attendance. But that was just a second's slip-up, I swear, and by the next rounds of role play we were better. Slightly slap happy, but better. It was long, but good, with the end joy being the satisfaction of having survived and also catching a glimpse of Elder Greenwell through the west window. (He moved to Solo last week but what with our schedule that's all I saw of him.) Plus, we managed to cover everything in 22 hours over 2 days and so our third day morning session was canceled, allowing for some P-Day play. Which we more than took advantage of.
Because Sister Lie is from Solo, and she has connections. People-with-car connections. People-with-car-and-cabin connections. And seeing as the Elders hadn't thought to extend a soccer invitation to the Sisters, ya sudah. We took off Wednesday morning without them and spent the day in Kemuning, a tiny little tea-plantation town up-up-up and away in the Solo hills.
To say it was happy would be an understatement. To describe it as magical might be accurate, but too cliché. Essentially I was not a little bit entirely enthralled by every bit of it; the sudden rushing release as we passed from city borders into wild countryside, the creeping fog as we swung up and around each switchback to the mountain's top, the clever aesthetic of the one-great-room cabin with an open loft and a view out to the world we'd left behind. We ate our tahu kupat from the loft, clouds gathering and dispersing, fog thinning and thickening, air cool and then cold. With the first few rays of hopeful sun we took to the steep slopes walking in search of waterfalls, past family patches of cabbage and carrots and wide-eyed children jabbering in Javanese and toothless grandmothers nodding, smiling as we walked. Once past the last row of houses it was deep into where the wild things are, and at one point I turned a corner before anyone else had caught up with me to find myself facing sheer canyon sides on either side of me, cliff face mottled in verdant mosses reaching up into leggy palms and the tracings of a classic rain forest canopy above me. It was quiet, perfectly quiet but for the nature sounds there needed to be—-sounds like distant water and insect songs and the swift hush of a bird taking flight. Butterflies danced in circled flurry about me, butterflies in lurid blacks and turquoise wing-tails, and if I didn't know any better I'd have thought the scene was simply some orchestration of Disney design. But this was God. All good things, all God. I felt small. Because what am I to all this?
And then, in the same second, everything. Tall strong invincible unreachable because what is this to all me? And not just me, of course, but all us? You and me. Children of God. Our literal Father in Heaven, a Father who knows and loves each and every one of us individually, above and beyond the flowers, the trees, and the butterflies He created for us. It is something I have always known. But yesterday, in that short space between turning that corner and then the others turning to join me, I knew it better than my knowing before. And I realized that I think that's maybe what I've always loved about the world, all creation. That it makes you feel small in so much grandeur only to remind you that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.
We found the waterfall. We hiked up behind it and through it and over it and an hour later we hiked away from it, back to the cabin, back to the great room, on to the floor and under the covers as the rain fell all around us. Sleep, for a second, because if there is one thing I have learned from Indonesians it is that rain necessitates napping. And then waking up, waking up to maghrib from the mountain mosques, calling us to prayer calling us to happiness calling us to home. We drove down the mountain in the sleepy silence of sunsets and fast friends and fresh air. We drove home to Solo and then five hours later we train-ed home to Malang. Where I am now. So very, very tired. But alive. Still alive. And isn't that some sort of wonderful?
I love you. It's true, all of it.