Sunday, August 19, 2012
Muslims and Mormons worshipping in Solo
Today was the first day of Idul Fitri (Eid al-Fitr)--the two day celebration at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan for Muslims world wide. Last night in Solo they celebrated by shooting off fireworks and this morning they gathered at Mesjid Agung (Grand Mosque) to pray and be taught. I went to observe and take photos.
Prior to the beginning of the morning prayer at 6:30, a wonderful parade of people--often parents with children--started to gather.
Mother, Father and two boys (one hidden behind mom).
While everyone was gathering the Muezzin kept singing (Muslims don't call it singing, but it is melodic to me) over and over and over Allahu Akbar--God is Great.
The Grand mosque is build in a typical Javanese style.
Soon the mosque was full and so the courtyard was used too. These women are getting set up and will soon put on their white (mostly) prayer robes (sorry I don't know all of the technical terms).
The begining of the prayers
My favorite photo of the day. She sneaked a few looks back to see what the lone white guy was doing.
After prayers some people left and others stayed to hear the sermon. From the portion that I heard, the sermon would have been a great sacrament meeting talk. Solo's Muslims were told that they need to be obedient to God, they need to pray, they need to try harder, they need to care for orphans etc. All good stuff.
I then caught a becak across town to the 8:00 AM sacrament meeting of the Solo second ward and then the 11:00 sacrament meeting of the Solo first ward. This is the chapel on Jalan Sutomo.
Unlike the Spring Creek 18th Ward in Springvillle where it seems at least 1/3 of the congregation arrives late, this chapel was full five minutes before the start of the meeting. The only late comers were a family visiting from Jakarta. I was not the only visitor. Members from all over Java had returned to Solo for the holiday. One of the speakers got emotional when she explained that she had intended to return to her parents' home (in another town) for Idul Fitri, but when she was asked to speak in sacrament meeting she opted to do her duty as a way to show her love to God. When this sister stumbled a few times on the pronunciation of Bruce R. McConkie--whom she was quoting--several people almost in unison from the congregation spoke out the name to help her, One other speaker mentioned that he didn't need to go home (mudik, pulang kampung) because he was from Solo.
At the end of the meeting Bishop Catur impromptuly and inspiringly offered concluding remarks that built upon the returning home theme. He told about how throughout Indonesia people were returning home to be with parents and family [much like Thanksgiving in the USA]. He explained that this returning is evidence of the love that exists in families and is just like the love that Heavenly Father has for us His earthly children. Just like our earthly parents--whom we return home to see--our Heavenly Father loves us, knows us and wants to bless us. On this day of asking for forgiveness, we need to make sure that our Heavenly Father can bless us (because He knows our needs) by coming to church, keeping the commandments and walking in faith. (my apologies to Bishop Catur for not explaining he remarks very well, but I was touched by what he said and by how appropriate it was for this day and this place.)
The sister offering the closing prayer also seemed to acknowledge this Muslim day of prayer and gathering, as she expressed her gratitude for those from other religions and also prayed: "Help us to love and to value those from other religions." Many in the ward have extended family members who are Muslim.
A photo of nursery for Marie--who is our ward's nursery leader. In Indonesian, nursery is called Below Three Years (BTT--Bawa Tiga Tahun)
I got to meet and visit with many nice, friendly members, They are great at saying hello and shaking hands. This is the family of Didit Sulistya Nugraha (husband) and Tariima Handayani (aka Sister Imma). She is Stake Relief Society President and he volunteers as the Central Java coordinator for the Jaredita Foundation. Their three children (girl-boy-boy just like ours) reminded me of (and made me homesick for) my three children, especially when I learned that their 11 year old son also loves soccer.
Members visiting after the three hour block of meetings.
Two wards' worth of motorcycles parked behind the church. I complimented the one lone man who chooses to ride his bike (his wife and daughter take their motorcycle). The missionaries were the other bike riders.
Amazing how many members now own cars.
In both Jakarta and Solo I observed that members have placed images of the Angel Moroni on their car windows. They are made by an enterprising Mormon.
Today I was was impressed with the faith, devotion and centrality of families noticed among the Mormons and Muslims I encountered.