It has been awhile since we've had access to the internet since the last hotel we were at only had wi-fi but no computers available for guest use.  I'm only supposed to use this hotel's computer for 15 minutes so I'll cram in as many posts as I can...or maybe I will use the computer longer than 15 minutes if nobody is waiting...

So to close up about Lombok...we LOVED it there!  We spent Saturday morning before our flight just hanging out on the beach.  It was luxurious!  We wish we could have stayed longer and we think next time we will do Lombok for 3 days and Bali for only 1 instead of the other way around.  And by next time, I mean who-knows-when.  Bali was great but it is just so crowded and loud and crazy.  Lombok was quiet, peaceful and relaxing.  We weren't hounded quite as often to buy this or that or take this taxi or that was nice.

Our plane to Jakarta ended up leaving about an hour late (ugh) and we arrived in Jakarta around 7pm.  We were picked up in Jakarta by Virli and Lani (sister and cousin of the woman whose family we were staying with).  We arrived in Bogor around 9pm and were SO tired.  We went straight to bed that night since we had to leave at 7am the next morning for the district conference in Jakarta.

Sunday morning we were up by 5:45 readying to leave for Jakarta at 7am.  I met Anita & Thomas Sirigar (whose house we were staying at) and their children, Moses (10) and Abigail (5).  We had a pastry breakfast and then left for Jakarta.  The conference didn't start until 10am but Virli and Lani were participating in the Single Adult choir and had to be there early.  While waiting for the conference to start, we said hello to many of the members who Tom knows from his mission.  We were sitting in the English branch section since there were headphones for English translation so I could understand.  We were able to meet and talk to a few of the English branch members who live in Jakarta for business purposes.  The conference started at 10am and I will try to summarize some of the happenings.

This district conference was for the purpose of organizing the first LDS stake of Indonesia, the Jakarta Indonesia Stake.  Elder Bednar presided at the meeting and Elder Pratt (of the seventy) was also in attendance.  Elder Bednar was the first speaker (and he actually gave the closing talk as well and I don't remember what he talked about in which talk so I will summarize both talks).  He spoke on the purposes of a Stake and the blessings of becoming a Stake.  He stressed that becoming a Stake instead of a district is not simply a change in name.  He focused on the three differences between a Stake and a District.  If I remember correctly, they are as follows:

1.  There are more opportunities for blessings when a district is organized into a stake.
2.  All the keys of the Priesthood are available when a district is organized into a stake.
3. ...Yikes, it has been too long since Sunday.  Neither Tom nor I can remember the #3...I'll keep thinking on it.

He stated that the members will now have a Stake Patriarch to whom they can go for Patriarchal blessings.  I hadn't even realized that they never had a Patriarch!  I bet he will be busy the next few months!  He talked about the members' responsibility to "Rise and Shine Forth" and share the gospel with others so that there might be more stakes organized in Indonesia.  Several times he stated that this experience would happen "again and again and again in Indonesia."  He said that one day the Indonesians will have the blessing of a temple.  In his closing talk he said that he would not say farewell but "until we meet again" as he plans to one day, in the future, visit Indonesia yet again.  He talked about how, 60 years ago, the Philippines had their first stake organized and today they have hundreds of stakes and a temple, with another under construction.  He mentioned that this was due to the fact that the members of the Philippines "Arose and Shined Forth."  He talked about how in the early days of the Church the Saints were encouraged to leave their native countries and come to Utah.  He said that today the Saints are encouraged to stay in their native countries and build the church there.  He said "The Saints in California are to stay in California, the Saints in Bolivia are to stay in Bolivia and the Saints in Indonesia are to stay in Indonesia."  He talked about how many members of the church might wonder what it might have been like to be pioneers.  He said to the Indonesian people "You are pioneers.  You are pioneers in this land."  Elder Bednar talked about what it takes to organize a stake.  He said that he and Elder Pratt arrived in Indonesia on Thursday and took Friday & Saturday morning interviewing men of the stake to find the stake president and spent Saturday afternoon interviewing men to find the new high priests and by Sunday at 10am the stake had been organized.  He compared this to the organization of other companies or groups.  He said how it can take millions of dollars and months on end to create a functioning group of leaders over such a large number of people.  He said the reason it is so quick and so smooth when organizing a stake is because it is the Lord's work.  He said without the Lord it would not be possible.  He also made a point that they did not come here to choose a stake president but to find him.  That the Lord had already chosen him and it was Elder Bednar and Elder Pratt's responsibility to only find the man the Lord had chosen.  He talked about how the wards need to be united and the stake needs to be united.  He said that if anybody wanted to find fault with the members of the new stake presidency they certainly could.  They did not call them because they were perfect.  He said nobody should focus on the imperfections.  He said that a lack of unity is what destroys wards, stakes, and the church.

Elder Pratt did the reading of the new stake presidency, bishops, and high councilmen.  Because the church is still fairly new in this country some members are still confused when it comes to sustainings and such.  When sustaining the new bishops, Elder Pratt had the members of that ward stand and had to repeat several times "only the members of the such-and-such ward should raise their hands...only the members standing."  They understood after the first couple times :]  I'm having a hard time remembering what Elder Pratt talked about.  If I remember, I'll come back to it.

The new stake president (President Subiantoro) and the 1st and 2nd counselors of the new stake presidency shared their testimonies.  I just remember a few jokes from President Subiantoro's talk - they were pretty funny.  He said that he was present during the meeting that Elder Bednar had with the missionaries and that Elder Bednar had opened it up for a question and answer period.  One of the missionaries said to him, "Elder Bednar, you are one of the youngest men to be called to the quorum of the 12 apostles.  Do you think that you will one day be the President of the Church?"  Elder Bednar replied, "I hope not!"  President Subiantoro said "If somebody had asked me if I thought I would one day be the first stake president of the first stake in Indonesia, I would have answered the same: 'I hope not!'"  Another missionary asked Elder Pratt "How did you feel when you were first called to the seventy?"  Elder Pratt replied, "I turned to my wife and said 'this is all your fault.'"  President Subiantoro: "I say the same thing now to my own wife: 'this is all your fault.'"  He then talked about how his wife had introduced him to the church before they were married and he shared his testimony of the gospel.

The spirit was so strong during the meeting and I felt so happy for the Indonesian people to be able to have a stake and to be able to see the fruits of their labors in sharing the gospel with their friends and family and bringing so many into the Church.

Being in Indonesia has opened my eyes to the blessings I have in my own life, in America.  I feel so blessed that I've never known what it's like to not have a stake patriarch, to not have the keys of the priesthood in full effect because I was part of a district instead of a stake.  At the same time I feel a little envy knowing that the members of Indonesia fully understand and appreciate what it means to have these things while I have taken them for granted for 22 years.

After the conference was over Tom and I visited with some more people while we waited for Virli & Lani who we would be riding home with.  The single adults had a meeting with Elder Bednar from 2-4pm (the conference was over at noon) so T & I had to wait for that to end.  We spent time walking around the building, sitting some, and visiting with a little 3-year-old girl named Olivia.  She was so cute!  After the single adult meeting was over T & I were waiting outside of the meeting room.  Elder Bednar, Sister Bednar, Elder Pratt & Sister Pratt passed by us on their way out and we were able to shake their hands.  Sister Bednar stopped to talk to me for a second (since I'm white so I obviously speak English) and she asked if Tom & I were moving to Indonesia.  We talked for a few seconds and then they were hurried out by the body guard.  Two apostles down, 10 to go!  We need to plan more vacations as that's where we always meet them!

That night we went back to the Sirigar's and spent the night with them.

Monday morning we went to Taman Safari.  I've been wanting to go here for sooo long!  This has been on the top of my "things to do in Indonesia" list ever since Tom and I were married.  We first took a ride on a tour bus through the safari where there are elephants, zebras, tigers, lions, bears, etc roaming free.  If you are in your own car you can buy carrots on the way in and feed them to the animals.  Well the elephants and zebras and such.  I don't think anybody dares to feed them to the lions and tigers and bears (oh my).  Since we were in the tour bus we didn't get to do that and the bus actually went through pretty fast while the personal cars took their time and stopped so the animals would walk right up to their car.  I wish we could have gone in a car but still it was cool.  After the safari we walked around inside the park and went through the aviary (where there were bats and owls...creepy!) and saw the birds of prey and watched a dolphin show (where one of the dolpins was named Justin after Justin Beiber and those Indonesian kids went crazy!).

After the show we got to take pictures with so many cool animals!  Tom & I both took pictures with the orang-utan and the baby tigers and I also took pictures with the baby lion and the jaguar.  The monkey was so fun and just sat right on your lap and hugged you.  He was so cute (and not scary at all).  There were two baby tigers and they were pretty rambunctious little things.  They were playing with each other and jumping all over you and wriggling free while we were trying to take pictures.  The guy put one of them away while I took the picture but they were both out while Tom was taking his picture and the tiger he wasn't holding kept nibbling at his leg and trying to crawl up.  They were so cute!  The baby lion was fast asleep while I took my picture with him and I had to hold his head up so that it didn't droop.  His eyes are totally closed in the picture.  He slept right through the whole thing!  I was so nervous to take the picture with the jaguar because he just looked so creepy and was pacing in the cage.  I decided to anyway though because he was huge and pretty cool looking.  When I went in he was growling (which made me nervous) and then the keeper hit him on the nose to make him stop.  I thought that was going to make him more mad and make him take it out on me!  The handler set him up for the picture laying on my lap but he got right back up so the handler did it again so we could get a good picture and then the jaguar BIT ME!  A big chunk of my back!  Not hard (like not breaking the skin or anything) but still it scared the heck out of me!  The handler said "it's okay, it's okay" and set him back on my lap for the picture.  My back hurt for a few minutes after (more just like a tingling type feeling than really hurting) but I was a little shaky!  A guy that Tom served with who lives in Malaysia was also in town came with us to Taman Safari and made a good point - he told me "you can tell people you survived being bit by a jaguar."  I think I'll just tell that story and leave the whole tamed-jaguar-bit-me-softly part out.  Tom and I got to ride an elephant right before leaving the park.  It was even more fun than I'd imagined!  You sit like right on the elephant's backbone so you are wiggling all over the place with every step!  What an experience!

After Taman Safari we went to a member's house who Tom taught and baptized.  Their names are Lenny (mom) & Cecilya (17) Tjoe.  Lenny made a HUGE dinner for us and the missionaries (4 of them who came also for dinner).  I was so impressed - there was fried chicken, rice, noodles, 2 other Indonesian dishes and a fruit dessert type thing.  It must have taken her all day!  The food was good (especially the chicken - yum!).  After dinner we did FHE which the missionaries led (all in Indonesian) and I sat quietly and listened...for like an hour and a half.  After about 20 minutes of everyone speaking Indonesian my brain feels like it's about to explode.  I take deep breaths and think things in English so I don't go crazy.  Try sitting with a group of people who all are speaking a language you don't understand for 20 minutes.  You'll go crazy too.  Especially when you try to read their faces and hand expressions and try to catch a word or two to see if you can understand what is going on.  That makes you more crazy.  I've had the experience a few times now since there was quite a bit of Indonesian-speaking at the conference and at the Sirigar's!

On Tuesday we went to the Botannical gardens in Bogor (beautiful!) and the Bogor market.  Bargaining in Bogor was a much more pleasant experience than bargaining in Bali!  The prices were reasonable to start and when we offered a lower price they almost always said "ok" or only asked for a little bit more than what we suggested.  I loved shopping at that market and I got some great souvenirs!

We left Tuesday afternoon for the airport where we flew into Jogja.

I am so grateful for the Sirigar's who took us into their house and provided us with a nice guest room with our own private bathroom and who were such gracious hosts!  They were so kind and fed us and let us use their driver to go so many places (and sent him to pick us up from the airport).  They took us to dinner and let us use their computer and had a TV for us in our bedroom and an air conditioner.  They had their maids iron our Sunday clothes for us late Saturday night and also had the maids do our laundry and fold it for us.  I can't even express how kind they are!  Anita (mom) asked us to stay with them again the next time we come to Indonesia (she said to bring our children too :]).  Thomas (dad) was one of the men called to be a high priest in the new stake.  Moses (10) is so smart and speaks English very well as he goes to an International school.  Tom had a good time playing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with him on Moses' iPad.  Abigal (5), aka Gaby, is my new best friend.  Her English is amazing.  She speaks it as well as I do and she can write it and spell hard words too!  We played Barbies together and played a LOT on her iPad.  She would make different foods on a game on her iPad then split it in half and have me "eat" half while she "ate" the other half.  She was so sweet and very cute (and super smart).

Oh and I had my very first motorcycle ride in Bogor!  We hired two guys to take us back to the Sirigar's late one night.  It was so fun!

Bogor was fantastic!  We would love to visit again the next time we come to Indonesia.

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