Well, hey hey, it's been a while. Haha sorry about that. It's been officially 2 years yesterday since I reported to the MTC. Thursday will mark 6 months of being home. Life has been way more difficult and complicated that I ever imagined when I was in the field. I definitely see why so many missionaries struggle in their first few months being home. I don't know how to explain it. I was doing good maybe the first month being back. I still prayed on a regular basis and studied the scriptures and all the good stuff that I'm supposed to do, but suddenly it became so hard and even though I had the desire to do good missionary things I just never got around to them. I fell. Although I never stopped going to church, and prayed every now and then, my faith and determination to hold fast nearly disintegrated. I almost gave up. I felt like coming home was like being dropped into a white-water rapids and I was barely able to grasp for air let alone keep my head above water. But one thing never left me, and that was the connection I had to God. Looking back I did no once felt like God didn't love me or wasn't rooting for me. I held onto that as hard as I could until I knew I could steady myself in the waters.
Things got better when I moved into my dorm and started college. I made other LDS friends and went to an Institute class specifically for returned missionaries. I felt like I could finally swim again and decide which turns to take in the river of life.
Now here I am, 6 months later. Even though it has been one of the hardest mountains to climb I have nearly made it to the summit. Things still aren't easy. I get reminded of that every day, but I'm almost there. I can practically see the finish. Instead of worrying if I can make it, I am beginning to see others struggling along their way. I am ready to help them. I am determined to build my faith and I am willing to give everything to make the world a better place. I'm really starting to believe we are constantly being crafted by the Lord to become the tools He needs us to be. I honestly believe that. Even though it has been incredibly challenging and frustrating, I have learned more these last months than I ever have before. And as goes one of my personal philosophies: And it has all been worth it.
This week was full of miracles and was just... pretty great! But, there were two days where it rained SO HARD! I can't believe it, but we're still alive so that what's important, right?
Last night on our way home it rained maybe the hardest in the last few months, we have to ride up a hill to go home and it felt like we were going up a waterslide in some places! But, we made it home so it's all good. We got super wet though!
Also on Tuesday it rained super hard and in front of our house it flooded again. Sorry, a little blurry!
We also had a really cool opportunity to teach a Buddhist woman. She has had some experiences that have lead her to believe in Jesus Christ, but because she has been Buddhist all her life, she isn't really sure who Jesus Christ is. We were given the sweet oppotunity to testify to her who Jesus Christ is and why He is important. She was so thankful to finally know and is looking forward to meeting us again.
I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that He died for me, that He loved me enough to give His life for my salvation. I know that because of His Atonement I can become a better person and the weakness and tiral that weigh me down can be lifted as I rely on Him and obey His commandments. He truly is the only way we can find lasting happiness and peace in this life. I've looked for peace through the world and haven't been able to find it, but when I look to the Savior, I know that everything will be alright. I know that each and every one of you can find peace through Him as well, all you have to do is let Him in.
I love you all and see you in 1!
This week was great! Sister Rizkiana, in the west part of Surabaya didn't have a companion this last week so we were together, so we had all of Surabaya all to ourselves! It was really fun and I learned a lot. Nothing too exciting happened but I got to meet a lot of great people in the west. We were also able to find a really good potensial investigator in our own area. In all a very good week!
We got a picture with the train. Saw the opportunity and took it, great timing! haha
We got to go to the 21st floor of an apartment building, and the view was great!
So in Central Java there is a food chian called SS. It's the most delicious food ever! They said there wasn't one in Surabaya but we found one. On the menu: kangkung (vegatables, so healthy!), sambal, baked chiken, fried squid, and fried mushrooms. And don't foret the rice! So much rice...
We had a litle bit of extra time so we took some candids. Can't go on a mission without one of these!
This was a good week. We were looking for new people to teach. Even though we didn't find any, we were able to find some less active members to visit.
This week we really felt the end of the rainy season and start of the hot, dry season. It's like living in an oven, but that's ok, I'd rather be in the heat than in the snow.
Nothing new going on, just good ol' missionary work.
Starting on the first of March I will officially be the most senior sister missionary in the mission, I can't believe how fast it's gone! In the blink of an eye I'll already be home! There have been so many blessing that I've felt because I've come on my mission, and I've learned so much. Even though there have been challenges and hard days that I've had to overcome, it has all been worth it, I'm so glad for the opportunity to have come all the way on the other side of the world, all the rejections, hard words, and hot days, and all the smiles, laughs, and shouts of joy. Every extra mile and every downward spiral has left me to rise again and become stronger. Thanks everybody for always supporting me and cheering me on! Here's to another 6 weeks of hard work.
This week was really good. We had my last Zone Meeting of my mission (that came by really fast, where has the time gone?), we also had a wonderful baptism and saw our investigator baptized this Saturday. It's been a great week and next week is going to be great as well!
This is Sister Christin, she's pretty great!
There's one hill by our house where you can see a skyline. Here in Indonesia there's not really a 'downtown', but little groups of tall buildings amongst all the short homes, but it's kind of cool.
Here's one of the streets here, a lot like America ya?
Last P Day we went to the Surabaya Zoo!
This week was so much better than last week! We actually know the major streets now so finding our investigators wasn't as bad. We have one investigator from the last sisters that is ready for baptism and we've been focusing on teaching about the impotance of families this week. I know that this gospel can bless families so much! I've seen it at home and I've seen it here. This gospel can help us in all aspects of life, especially within the walls of our own homes.
The weather is pretty weird here in Surabaya. Last week it rained pretty much everyday, but this week it didn't rain too much, except last Friday. The road in front of our house flooded! As we went to our investigator later that evening, we had to go through flooded traffic jams. THAT was fun! I love Indonesia!!!
here are a lot of rivers in Surabaya. This is one of them!
Us at the same river a couple miles up the river.
Taking some light reading at the book store.
This week has been... weird! It's gone really fast but also very slow. So we are WHITEWASHING. That means both of us don't know any of the investigators or any of the roads here in Surabaya. So, our plan was to go and find all of the investigators that the sister before us taught, but the roads and the directions people gave us and everything confused us and we got lost a lot, but that's OK! Because now we know the roads better and have a better idea of where to go now. I learned how to be more patient this week, and that God will not leave us alone, not even in the middle of Surabaya. Sister Octaviany and I are excited to work here in Surabaya.
This is us looking for an address and lost.
This is us eating after looking for an address and got lost. I got a giant glass of 'Milo', a chocolate drink.
This is us leaving from the park where there wasn't anyone to talk to because is was Chinese New Year. But we did find a really yummy fried rice/fried noodle place.
This is us looking for an address again, but not so lost this time.
That was our week! Getting lost! Surabaya is the biggest city I've ever lived in but we're figuring out the roads little by little. But we're going to have a geat week next week. Hope you all have a great week too!
I have now moved to my (probably) last city- SURABAYA!!!
I'm in the Surabaya 2 (or Surabaya East) Branch. This is the first time I have ever served in a branch and I'm having a great time! Surabaya is Indonesia's second biggest city, and in my area there's big malls and some high rises. When I got here I thought I was in an American city, there are some big streets and more modern achitecture and the streets don't have as many potholes. I've really enjoyed moving here.
But... there's one problem. I'm whitewashing again! Me and my brand new companion came here in the same week, so we don't know anything about this area! I was able to work with Sister Tanner, who was in this area beforehand, but she was just with me until my new companion Sister Octaviany came from the MTC 2 days later. So... we have no clue what wer'e doing out here, but I'm still having a great time!
So, when a new missionary just starts in the field, we have a program called First 12 Weeks, where for the first 12 weeks of their mission we go over different aspects of missionary work so that they aren't too confused when they get here. I figured out that for Sister Octaviany's first 12 weeks, it is the same as my 'last 12 weeks', as we like to call it here. Ah man! This mission is going way too fast and the time just keeps going faster and faster, pretty soon I'll be home and I'm not sure how I feel about that! But it's okay, I'm going to enjoy every minute of my mission, these have been the best months of my life and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to come here and have all of these amazing experiences. I really wouldn't want to be anywhere else, no matter how hard it has been, with all of the difficulties the blessings have been even greater!
Well, anyways, that's been my week, just going around and around lost on my bike!
Love you all so much!
This has been a wonderful week! We were able to visit a lot of people and learn a lot this week! We have actually have a couple of investigators that are actually reading out of the Book of Mormon and sincerely seeking truth. We also had a meeting with President Rowley yesterday but had to go to the Supomo building, my old building. Church was still going on for them and when a lot of them saw me they were so excited! We were so happy to see each other and I got a lot of hugs and handshakes and happy smiles. Being in that ward I didn't feel like I made that much of a difference. We never really had any progressing investigators, but going there I could feel their love for me, and I love them also so, so much. A message to all of those struggling missionaries out there: You are doing better then you think your doing. You are making a difference. Maybe you don't see it now, maybe you will not see it in this life, but I know as you work with all you have and you do what you can do, it will all be worth it and people do see the goodness that you bring. You will not disappoint if you keep at it- you aren't expected to be perfect, you're just expected to not give up. You can do it!
We went to the book store today. We also bought Bibles in Javanese... and bought some batik. I don't know how long I'll be here in Solo, so I've been hoarding as much batik as I can!
Not one day comes by when someone doesn't remind me that I've only got a little while longer. I still have a couple months, but with the amount of missionaries in this mission, I'm one of the oldest sister missionaries. 'pulang' means 'go home', so we couldn't resist getting a picture.
This is me and Sister Wiradi, my companion. She is waiting for her visa to go to her mission in Australia.
We went on a hike, and to get there... well... let's just say the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland will never beat getting up that mountain.
We went to the bishop's villa and could see all of Solo from their balcony. Best P Day ever!
Well, the time has finally come! I am now in Solo Banjarsari. We packed up and took a taxi to our new house. And you know what... I love my new area. I was pretty doubtful when I was going to be sent to a practically the same place that I had been serving in, but going out and just serving and loving the people, it has opened my eyes even more to the love God has for His children. Yes, it's been a little difficult not knowing where to go or where anything is, but He has tuly been guiding me to where we need to be. We've met a bunch or awesome people here.
Here is our great packing. Haha. I didn't think I had that much stuff, but turns out it was a suitcase, a backpack, and a couple of plastic bags. Haha
Sorry, I haven't sent any photos in a while, but the photos are back up and running. This is still Solo 1 & 2 on my favorite little street between 2 rice fields.
More rice fields. We went to go look for a referral from one of the members and the taxi driver took us farther and farther until we got into the deep desa, the village. It was worth it though.
HOLLEY STRINGHAM: Salt Lake City, born and raised; returned missionary from the Indonesia Jakarta Mission.; a simple folk aimed on changing the world