Indonesian Pioneer Grateful for ‘Countless Blessings’ of the Gospel

Editor’s Note: July 2022 marked the 175th anniversary of the pioneering company of pioneers who arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847 after Latter-day Saints were driven by mobs from the Nauvoo, Illinois area the previous year. The Church News honors the accomplishments of pioneers crossing the plains 175 years ago and also of Latter-day Saint pioneers from different eras on every continent. Today: Sri Anon from Indonesia.

As a young woman in Indonesia, Sri Anon’s passion was to learn English, but her father wanted her to go to pharmacy school.

This desire to learn English led Sri Anon, who like many Indonesians uses only first names, to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just a few years after missionaries arrived in the country. Now 79, she has seen the Church grow in her homeland, translated many Church documents, and written this history as part of her current assignment as a Church history adviser in Indonesia. .

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After graduating from pharmacy school, she worked in a pharmacy and studied at an English language academy for two years. When the academy closed, a friend suggested that Sri Anon attend a new English class, taught by native speakers. The instructors were American missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“The missionaries were successful and there were over 100 students learning the class,” said Sri Anon, who also speaks her native language, Javanese and Indonesian. And she loved learning in the classrooms.

At the time, too, she was looking for answers to religious questions.

Sri Anon grew up in Solo, a city also called Surakarta, in the Central Java Province, in a happy Muslim family. In pharmacy school, she lived in the dorms with a Christian roommate named Rohana.

One day, Rohana took Sri Anon with her to a Christian bookstore, where she saw a crucified statue of Jesus Christ.

“I felt his eyes looking directly at me and touching my heart,” Sri Anon said.

It was during this time that her mukena, the garment worn by Muslims when praying, was lost, she said. She soon started going to church every Sunday with Rohana. When she graduated, returned home and started working in a pharmacy, Sri Anon began looking for a church to attend.

“I thought, ‘I’m a Muslim, but I don’t pray anymore. I am a Christian, but I am not baptized. When I die, where do I go? “, did she say. She also had other questions and started attending a local Christian church, but was unhappy with the Reverend’s answers.

When she started taking the missionaries’ English classes, they invited her to Sunday school—and she went. She had questions, like why there was no collection plate like in other Christian churches she had attended. The missionaries told her about tithing and invited her to learn more about the gospel.

“As they taught me the plan of salvation, I felt that I had found the answer to my question,” Sri Anon said. “I was sure that [the Church] was a real church.

She was 30 when she was baptized on February 22, 1973, by Elder Warren Harper of Idaho and confirmed by Elder David Koch of Utah—less than three years after the Church received official recognition in the country. .

Sri Anon, seated in the second row and depicted circa 1973-74, was baptized in 1973. Her first calling was to teach in the Primary.

Then about 20 members gathered for the solo group in a large house for Sunday school and sacrament meeting. By October, the group had grown to about 100 people and became a branch, Sri Anon said. There are now several rooms there.

Her first calling was as a Primary teacher in the Solo Group. She later served as branch Primary president, district Primary president, and youth Sunday School teacher. Sri Anon was also a temple worker in Hong Kong and lectured at the institute.

Shortly after her baptism, the pharmacy where she worked was sold and she began to look for a new job. A few months later, she saw an advertisement from the Church’s distribution center in Bandung, West Java Province, looking for part-time translators. It was a position that could be done remotely. She applied and was hired as one of the first batch of translators in Central Java Province. Sandra and Irma, the other two translators, who were from Semarang, the capital of Central Java Province, proofread Sri Anon’s translations.

Her first assignment was to translate the family home evening manual, she said.

“Perhaps the missionary [the leader of the Solo Group] gave me these calls because at that time guides and manuals, even the Book of Mormon, had not yet been translated into Indonesian,” she said. “So when I was teaching the junior class, I translated the textbook and asked the students to take turns teaching. My goal was to educate them about self-confidence and how to better teach and learn the gospel.

She translated many children’s songs into Indonesian, especially for Primary presentations, and also helped with songs for the first edition of the children’s songbook and about 90 hymns for the fourth edition of the Indonesian hymnbook. . And since 2017, she has been involved in a group translating more anthems.

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Sri Anon, left, and Sandra, right, were two of the first three translators hired by the Church in Indonesia in the 1970s. They are shown here outside the Hong Kong temple’s client accommodation during a a trip to the temple in 2010.

Later, Sri Anon was able to get a full-time position for an engineering company that was looking for an English-speaking typist, and she continued her translation work. She got married in 1979 and they moved to Jakarta with her job. Her late ex-husband, Koko Bintarko, was the first branch president of the Jarkarta Ray branch when she split from the Jarkarta branch in the early 1980s.

In Jakarta, she met a member of the Church who was vice president of a Canadian oil company, Asamera Oil, who was looking for a secretary. She retired after about 19 years and served as a senior missionary.

“I have a testimony that the Lord has a wonderful plan and has given me countless blessings,” she said. Sri Anon later noted that she had seen how “the Lord always takes care of me”.

The Church in Indonesia

The first Indonesian to be baptized in the country was Sustrisno, on June 1, 1969. He had met Latter-day Saints living in Indonesia in 1957 and had lived with one of the families for three years.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then a brother of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Bruce R. McConkie, then a member of the Seventy, visited, and Elder Benson offered a prayer over the land and people of Indonesia in October 1969.

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Dennis Lyn Phillips, left, Sri Anon, Jill Thompson Andersen, Wayne Dell Crosby, and Erwin M. Dumalang, currently president of the Jarkata Indonesia Stake, in March 2013, visit Mega Mendung Hill, Bogor Region, where the country was dedicated on Oct. 26, 1969, by Ezra Taft Benson and Bruce R. McConkie.

In January 1970, six missionaries from the Southeast Asia Mission arrived in Jakarta and were greeted by several Latter-day Saints, Indonesians and missionaries in the country. The first branch was organized in February, and the missionaries baptized two people in March. In August, the Church was recognized by the Republic of Indonesia.

President Russell M. Nelson, during a visit to Jakarta during his ministry in Southeast Asia in November 2019, said, “This sequence is a testimony to the divinity of priestly power of atmospheric dedication.

In the late 1970s, at the request of government leaders, foreign missionaries were to be replaced by Indonesian nationals, and the last foreign missionaries left in 1981. Many ethnic Indonesians served in their home countries and foreign missionary couples began serving in the 1990s.

“Many young men and women in the area have served missions. We have our own local missionaries, and our self-confidence grows that the local missionaries are capable. And the Church has continued to grow,” Sri Anon said of the growth of the Church in a country where 87.2 percent of the 277 million people are Muslim.

There were eight groups or branches when she was baptized. By the end of 2021, there were more than 7,500 members, two stakes, 15 wards, and nine branches.

Meet Church Leaders

Sri Anon recalls two visits by President Gordon B. Hinckley—as an Apostle in 1976 and as President of the Church in 2000. In 1976, due to flight delays, he was unable to travel to Semarang in Central Java Province, where the members were waiting. for it to happen. She took the train with about twenty other members to Jakarta to see him the next morning. The members picked them up at the train station, took them to the church, and she heard him talking. After lunch, they returned home that evening.

It was after these spiritual experiences that “the Solo branch grew very quickly and became the first branch that was separated into four branches,” she said.

Sri Anon also saw President Hinckley during his ministry in 2000 when she was doing her missionary training.

“I witnessed the amazing devotion in a large meeting hall and felt a strong influence of the Holy Spirit,” Sri Anon said.

She also sang in the choir when President Nelson and D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles ministered there in 2019.

“I was very happy to listen to the Prophet,” she said.

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President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson, enter a devotional at Jakarta, Indonesia, November 21, 2019.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

‘Countless Blessings’

“The Lord is blessing me abundantly with innumerable blessings,” Sri Anon said.

She often wondered how she could make her calls, especially when it seemed like there were people who were more talented, spoke better, or used technology better.

The answer she received through a dream was “If not you, then who?”

As she pondered this, one scripture that resonated with her is Jeremiah 18:6: “O house of Israel, may I not make you this potter? Says the Lord. Behold, as clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in mine, O house of Israel.

“I understand and I’m grateful that the Lord wanted to make me (clay) to be a potter, or to change…into something,” she said.

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