Monday, June 20, 2016

Wet and Wild Java


Wet- "Get your hands wet." = Get busy. 
The end of Feb/March beginning of April is all tied in with the Memorial season

For our sign language congregation we have a huge territory that has all types of scenery. Let's take a look at some of the scenery that you can see while out in service for the deaf here in Central Java. 

The Dutch were wise with the locations of the big cities in Indonesia. All near the sea, the mountains, and plenty and plenty of water for planting vegetables and the like. 

(Aerial view outside of Semarang)


If you have mountains, you tend to have rain. If you have rain, you get rivers, then waterfalls, etc. etc. So let's take a look at a few waterfalls. 

Due to heavy rains this waterfall became overrun and extremely strong. The man who 'watches it' just told me "don't go in." He was right. It was raging. Right in the middle of the rice paddies and some 100 year old trees. 

(It's not chocolate, but it's just dirt)


Not to far down the road was another waterfall that had a whole bunch little waterfalls around it. Parking was a pain, but it was an easy walk and a great refreshing swim!

(Nobody be me and the camera man running from the rain)


One of my top previous favorite places in Indonesia was Purwokerto. Just amazing to have a hot water spring with a mountain water all in the same spot.  Get refreshed and get massaged at the same time. Well, I found another one that is right up there! 

(Guci, not for leather bags, but for hot and cold waterfalls)


Every waterfall has to have it's source. I've grown a little custom of trying to climb to where the source comes from. In Guci, 1 waterfall leads to another. 

(No one there, so put the camera on a 10 second timer and see if you can capture the moment)


There's always loads of holidays in Indonesia. Most of the friends use this as an opportunity to travel. Part of the culture here is not only to 'travel / jalan jalan' but also to preach. Truly, one of the best ways to travel when you can mix with preaching to those who never heard the truth. 

(This waterfall had proper gov't engineering to make a pool for people to swim in. Never seen that before)


The Dutch built most of the dams and waterways in Indonesia. They are still active although 100 years old. 


Sometimes it seems that Indonesia can take things for granted, or just don't realize it's uniqueness. Below was a King's bathing quarters from the 8th or 9th century. It was an underwater bubbling spring of sulphur water. In the back were ancient ruins that are over 1000 years old. 

(So, we'll just sit on these ruins that are 1000 years old and put our bags)


5 minutes from my home is a underwater spring that for 30 US cents you can go for a swim. The local brothers wanted to visit, so let's party.  

(Water get's flushed every 2 days)

There's above water and under water. It's a whole other world under. The colors of the coral, the varieties of fish, the feelings of little fish following me under water. Over the years I never had a under water camera, {which I'm glad, since I would focus too much on pictures and not enough on what's there} Meet me and the underwater tortoise. 

(Look, but don't touch - Oops)



In our territory and around we have the 'heart of Batik.' Solo, Jogja, and a small town Perkalongan. It is a small town, not really on the map, yet beautiful history. Here in this old Dutch Museum they have Batik from all over Indo. They have some artist's that it's a 5 year process to get your Batik. They Over 2 years to get approved, and a price tag of over $4000.00 USD. Why? It's beautiful, handmade to what you want, and, it's an investor item that goes up in price.

(Rows and Rows of Batik)


Speaking of Rows, there's nothing like some rice rows. Here after a meeting we had a new deaf girl come and one of our old long time deaf bible studies come back. There both the same age, and similar background. Being city girls they don't really know how things work on the outside. A little river, rice paddy, some mud, etc was a good thing.

(Walk naturally on the rice road became the Beatles on Abbey Road)


Out in service you never know what you will see. Again, after a while you get used to everything when you have been here a long time. But, when I first got here there wasn't 'selfie deaths.'  Two young boys died taking pictures in the river when the river suddenly overflowed. 
Here the locals are building there place for sleep. Some people in the village built the box, the others dug the whole, the kids watched and laughed as the men got wet digging the hole.

(2 more selfie deaths)


Also in the preaching work, you never know where you going to meet the deaf. One bible study's mom is the 'pimp momma' at a local prostitution house. Her son is deaf and making process. While waiting for him it's time to preach to some of the local ladies.

(What is True Love whiteboard animation was a hit)


While out in service  I noticed a advertisement for a first time violin concerto. It had been a while since I saw a live music-show. I remember over 10 years ago frequenting the Carnegie Hall in NY for concerts and operas. It was great to get that flow from a live show again.

(Even nicer when it's after a long service day) 


We were preaching in the mall. I have noticed  that Hover-boards have been a big thing in US. While in the mall here I just found it funny kids fully in garb riding around.

(Found 4 deaf and 4 hover-boards)


In another preaching adventure, we have a visit with a deaf girl who used to be active in Surabaya. 
She's attending meetings with the local congregation only when she can. Her husband is very opposed. She's a product of an arranged marriage.

(While going to see her, there were other deaf that we made plans to meet. Nothing like a KFC)


Oh, yes, in the meanwhile we had a memorial. That is of course the most important day of the year. What to write about the memorial...
One of these will be the last..

(The happy crew)


What to say about the new meetings! There a lot more enjoyable with a smooth flow. I personally was shocked when we played the video from the Elder school at the public meeting.  As you can see in the picture below our sister Milla nailed the part interpreting the sister. With all the videos at the meeting, it's being instructed both visually and emotionally.

(Food at the proper time... Sometimes there is wild talk)


We also recently had the headquarters visit. Another big event for Indonesia. The speaker Br. Mantz brought out points that were exactly what we need. Dealing with principles, making decisions right and wrong, being a dictator, rule maker, conscious of others, etc.  So after the streamed program the local friends put on a musical show.

(Of course our buddy Rendy from the sign congregation behind the guitar)


We got another CO's visit really fast with and unexpected surprise! Indonesia now has 2 circuits in Sign Language! That came out of nowhere. So Yosia went north, and Stefanos everywhere else. It's nice to be reunited with my former students, who have been used mightily in the Circuit Work and Bethel for over 20 years. Lot of wisdom and experience.

(Bridge on the monkey island. Literally a monkey cave!)


When CO comes it's always time to bring out the best food. So one of the local family's cooked the most prized possession, man's best friend for a special dinner.

(They actually bought it, cooked some great spicy pork too!)


Let's see what else theocratically going on. Another Circuit Assembly in the books. Imitate Jehovah. It's nice to think about that an entire day was dedicated to trying to imitate Jehovah better and it felt like we only scratched the surface with how Jehovah can help. 
I had the part on being holy. A nice thought is that that they wanted us to make was this. We can never be holy like Jehovah, but we can be accepted in a relative sense by him. Out of everything they chose to show how we can be unholy was... our social network posting. Hmm, why is that a issue?

(In the front row a deaf/blind interested person and a new sister about to say YES)


Finally I had another family member come and visit. This time Mr. Acceptance and Tolerance Nick King came to visit. My sister worked her tail off to accommodate his needs and wants. :)
Nah, it was a great time, going to Bali and Lombok are not the hardest assignments. He's gotta a great zeal and a great way with people. It was enjoyable being around him.

(1 King 2 Kittricks)


My long-time friend Liisi made a trip to Indonesia. She's the one who gave me the sign name "Sleepy T." She is quite a traveler just coming from India and other places. She got a nice run in Indonesia, before heading back. Being deaf she was such a encouragement to other deaf. 

(Old town Semarang from old time friends)


-Wild-  It's only wild because it's not common for you.

While doing some computer work, I noticed a visitor out my front door. I'm a bit skeptical some times, since I have twice had 10 inch long or more slimy lizards come into my house, and sneak into my bedroom. It's never fun when a lizard is on your face at 3am. So, I wanted to make sure this chameleon didn't do the same. 

(He allowed me to get up real close and personal)


Like Batam all those years ago, there always seems to be animals that came into my house. The benefit and malediction of village life. When I first moved in it was always hornets, cockroaches and mosquitos. Those can all be solved with a little spray. But when a butterfly flies in, you just get a big smile...


(He seemed to say that he just wanted to be free)


Like so many posts in the past, CFD Car Free Day always brings out the best and funniest Indonesia has to offer. Just about to go back to the car and finish, I see a snake around the necks of 3 people.

(Were about to be chocked to death! OH NO, just smile :) )


Bible Prophecy is something we don't always understand until we get there. Here's something to look forward too, with proof already on earth. A very rare white lion that is eating grass!

(Isaiah 65:25)


Another animal that get's some mention in the bible is the camel. Fascinating creature this camel, and who knew they liked carrots. When you visit a particular zoo in Indonesia you can feed them carrots.  So I was holding on to a few carrots and Mr. Joe Camel wasn't having any of it. He wanted them. So he kept fighting me in every way for it. Then randomly he bit my friend Chad on the arm.

(Smile for the Selfie)


Besides Lizards, and Butterflies out my window, you also get the workers doing there thing. Apparently the harvest is 3 times a year. The person who watches over the land will hire some people for about 5 dollars a day to be workers in the harvest... I have seen them come in different shifts. So the parable is right on. 

(Just sat outside watching them work, as I cut the grass)


After they get the desired rice, it's time to call in the cleaning crew. Same place a day or so later they bring in the bulls. Just to stand within a few feet of them puts some fear into you. The wild bull in ancient times was even more awe-inspiring. Roman Emperor Julius Caesar once observed that these bulls were scarcely smaller than elephants. "Great is their strength," he wrote, "and great their speed." Imagine how tiny and weak you would feel standing in the shadow of such a creature!


(Imagine the size of the Bull faced angel around Jehovah's thrown!)


Back to funny things you see in life. Driving in Salitiga out in service I noticed some ladies in full muslim garb coming from the market. An old many driving them and their recent shopping items on a bike with a seat. 

(OK, can you see what the special additional items are?)


(Let's take a closer look; OH, just live chickens)


Back in March Indonesia had a solar ecplise. The whole world was talking about it. So here in Java, we got a good 80 percent view. Some of the local brothers, myself and a Bible student decided to hike the mountain to get a bird's eye view. Taking a motorbike up the mountain as far as I could until the clutch burnt out. So parked it, and walked the rest. What a headache getting it back to the world. Stuck half way up the mountain and it doesn't run. Push, push. What a workout. 

(It was packed to watch the eclipse, but it was special)



(The crew in the middle of the tea plantation. Coffee plantation around the corner)


Here in Central Java, there's random places with random views. You turn a corner, go some place new and you get blessed with something you will never forget. Here in this picture what I won't forget is the fact that on that hill is a small elementary school. I thought about it that those kids have no idea how beautiful there surroundings are and what a privilege it would be to have that view out there window. They'll get older and wish to go to the 'big city' for education.

(About 20-30 minutes from my home)


In other wild spots of Java there's Jogja. My transit coming back from the Circuit Assembly took me through Jogja. I needed to hitch hike and change a few buses to get home. So on the way, I noticed a tourist bus going down the road. Why not follow it! 
This was the 1000 year old temple grounds that we were privileged to see. Funny how the ancients based so much of there buildings off the proper geographical settings

(Mt. Merapi in the background)


Near the Circuit Assembly in Malang are the mountains that lead to the sea. On a previous post  you can see the view from that ocean. A waterfall on the ocean, there's still nothing like it. Instead of this time taking the boat out, we walked and walked along the mountain cliffs and the sea to reach our destination. 

(I love fresh waterfalls and just drinking up the water. What a taste difference. I also bought 10,000 or 80cents worth of fresh cloves that will last me months!)


In the last few months, there's always a sunset or two. This sunset really touched me. Why? I was with a bunch of random brothers and sisters.  Secondly, a sunset always reminds me your best friends is always right there. You may have some sand in your toes, and be a bit wet, but the view takes care of all that. 

(Try colored beauty)


This is sunset is famous for it's swing. People come from around the world for a picture for this swim. They got there foot cut up in corals at the same time. It was a special spot and a special sunset. For me, it was more happy to see people from various walks of life forgetting everything for the joy of something that is happening at every second of every day. A sunset. As you read this, it's setting for someone somewhere.

(Yet on holiday, everybody takes notice


(Nobody here but Love)


Coming home from service in the waterfalls and the fresh water springs we had the privilege of this sunset through the rice paddies and mountains.

(Look in the back left for the highlights of the mountain)


This sunset was from the right side of my home. That's the deaf school in the background.

(Who would guess that a swamp view would be so attractive!)


Last but not least. Once in a orange sky you get these amazing colors after the rain. I have no idea what causes the phenomenon. The right clouds, the right rain, the right sunset. I have seen it a few times over the years here in Indonesia. The whole sky kind of becomes a hue. It's like the whole earth turns the air we breathe into color. So you breathe joy. 

Maybe that's a fitting end to this post of Wet and Wild Java.  Many times in life were overcoming some adversity. It could be physical, mental, emotional, or something no-one else can help you with. Sometimes though behind the clouds of anxiety you may get the right bliss combined with the right timing to take your breath away.

(May you get your bliss that your waiting for...)




Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Service, Nature, Life... Always Going Forward

As I type this, the earth is spinning at some 30 km a second. Our bodies are replenishing themselves over and over again with new cells. Birds are building nests, bees are buzzing, flowers are blossoming, and cycles keep cycling. It's all in constant movement. It's all going forward teaching us life is always going forward. 
 Right now in Central Java three things are moving forward for us. The service for the deaf, nature, and life itself. 

SERVICE

Recently, we were privileged to set up a booth for the International Day for the Disabled. Over the years in the ministry, it seems sometimes you get a hunch, feeling, you act on it, and- receive blessings. A deaf person randomly told us about the event, so we went to the State Department of Social Services. They were happy that we wanted to assist. 

(Interpreting for the Vice Governor of Central Java)


Our crew placed over 40 DVD's in Indonesian Sign Language. We also gave out nearly 60 YPA books. I was most happy that the DVD's/publications  reached at least 16 cities throughout the state. Most of them have no witnesses in this 40,000,000 +/- region.

(Smiles, stories, spreading the seed)


As the lone foreigner, you always are going to get asked to take pictures and the basic Where? When? How? What?  Even though your doing this, at an event like this you want to listen to peoples stories and hardships as well. It made me think of Jesus. What Jesus must have felt as he went through the 'crowds' who approached him just to touch him. How he felt 'pity' for them. When you see people lame, blind, deaf, crippled, and other various forms of disabled- your heart goes out. We have the hope of the kingdom. And that's the best we can do for now.  Jesus could just touch

(It was really emotionally to me)


Another local event was the deaf trying to inform all of using BISINDO (Indonesian Sign Language) Again, having to try to convince others of your language and rights is another tragedy in this system of things. Yet, they've moved forward. Compared to 10 years ago and more, BISINDO is in conversation and moving forward. 

(About 200 members of our territory)


Indonesians are very resourceful, and many have a sense of care or duty towards the community. A man turned his property into a school that was designed with colors and fun. Some of the students have special needs. So he asked me to come give a presentation to his teachers. Well, what I didn't know is that he would have some students come too. So, with a laptop, and jw.org videos it was possible to show videos for both. The "How to Beat A Bully" video is so top notch. Surprisingly to me, was the video about James Ryan (Blind/Deaf) brought some of the teachers to tears. That was the one that gave them hope. If he can do it, anyone can. 

(JW.ORG is moving forward)


My partner Yeremia (Jerry) -Yes, Tom & Jerry. He had numerous deaf calls all over Semarang. One of the fascinating things about the deaf ministry is when they are in the populated city areas it always tends to be a camera worthy moment. Life is moving all around in these places. Kids flying kites, old people in traditional clothes sitting around, someone cooking something, someone fixing something...

(The guy in the back, pedals a bicycle and the kids move up and down with music and glee)


On another preaching endeavor we went to the outreaches of our territory to plant some seeds. Get the DVD's in their hands and the meeting location. Again, strange feeling, we stop, we find around 7 deaf in 20 minutes. Some were visiting from other areas so they now could take the message back to their home town. That one stop planned on having 16 deaf attend the meeting the following week. Yet, due to heavy rain they cancelled. 

Another stop in Jepara also lead to a random stop where we met 11 deaf. Again, random. They were doing some exercise. Two were really interested, so trying to follow up. I was happy to stop here since the local friends got some sand in their feet at the local beach here. Preaching on the beach- with selfies of course.

(Monkey in the middle)


Our congregation is small. Really small. The smallest I have ever been in. Were 9 publishers yet 7 are regular pioneers. So for the annual Elder & Pioneer meeting it gave me an opportunity to cook up a meal for all, live music, and joking joking. The young generation in Indonesia is warming up to the idea of western food. Pasta, Fried Chicken, Pizza, Sausages, is a booming market. 

(Weird when I'm the old guy of the group)


Out of the 9 publishers, over half is the servant body. Since all are also either Special Pioneers or Regular Pioneers we meet together all the time. 

(Young, vibrant, and vigilant)


Becoming a new congregation is not without it's ups and downs and adjustments. That's why a C.O. visit is a nice fresh look to everything that is happening and going on. Yosia and his wife Fanny are new in the circuit work and new in sign. That doesn't mean too much here in Indo. Spiritual young men and women who apply themselves are really used by the organization. What a contrast where in some areas there is so many qualified persons who have decades of experience. Fanny in her mid-20's already handles herself like a seasoned veteran. Yosia's reasonableness is very apparent. 

(The next generation)


Speaking of being used, my good friend Daniel is being used mightily in Indo Bethel. At just 30 years old he is now a Branch speaker.  We had the privilege of him giving 2 talks at our recent circuit assembly in Surabaya. Wonderfully some 211 attended from cities all over east Indonesia. We got 1 new deaf sister and nearly 100 deaf attended. The pioneer special day is always a joy too. 

(Front View)


I had a brief opportunity to see the old gang in Surabaya English, and see the progress of the friends in Surabaya sign. What a difference it is for the LCD TV's over the projector system. The sharpness, longevity, and price make it the way to go for us.

(Lot of new faces)


In the last few months I have also had the opportunity to give some talks in other areas. One small town that is part of our territory and it has a small Indonesian congregation there. My fellow teacher Toni is there and he invited me to come down. Anytime I give a public talk without shoes on it really reminds me of where I am. As soon as I walked off the stage I literally had to head to my congregation meeting for conducting the WT and several other parts. We do all 5 meetings at one time right now. Walking down the stairs a group of random men were walking up. Strange. 

(I love audience contact when you have talks in smaller congregations. You get the random new person saying Amen, and agreeing during your talk. You get the kids taking notes, and others trying not to fall asleep :)


For the last bit of our 'ministry' moving forward story we need to go back to the 7th and 8th century. We still have temples (candi) that date back to those times here in Java. Recently a bunch of young Javanese college students were there the same time as me. I was going, they were coming, but something kicked me to give them a witness. In short the story went like this. 
These are your ancestors who built this and worshipped here correct? Yes.
So since they believed this way, where are they now? Hell. 
OK. Yet, at that time, Islam hadn't even made it to this part of the world. So is that fair? Hmmm.
So if God is fair, and loving, does it seem right that since they didn't know they would burn forever? Hmmm.
Wouldn't a fair and loving God, give them an opportunity to learn about him? Yes. 
So they can't be in hell right now if he is fair. So where are they? I don't know, but I was taught hell.
Well, remember from the ground to the ground. They are back to earth. 
Yet, there is a hope. There is more! Here's are website- you can find out more. Thanks Mr!

(1. Worship the stone from the mountain? 2. Worship the mountain? 3. Worship the one who made the mountain and than man?) 


NATURE 

It had been a while since going up the mountain in front of my house. I went up to try and go see the sunrise, and got a little bit at the end. Nature is always moving forward with it's cycles of growth, death and regeneration. It's a good reminder for how things go in this life. I found this tree, and I still don't know what to make of it.

(Sometimes you need a walk in the woods alone to teach you-your not)


On the aforementioned drive to give the talk I was fortunate enough to make a stop for the sun. In our busy lives that we all lead, it saddens me to not see more random people stop to enjoy a rice paddy, a sunset, a leaf, a animal, a whatever. Time is more precious it seems to things that can stop time. 

(The location doesn't even matter)


Here in Indo it seems there are so many 'wisata' 'tourist spots' that you really can't keep up. Some small turn at some random place may in fact be a place that somewhere else would have people lining up to experience. Case in point below. 

(On a mountain, viewing the mountains, with the lake reflection of the sky)


If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I have a soft-spot for sunsets. The finish the day and seem to make it just perfect no matter what happens. I feel the same with sunrises. They START the day and put it all in the right perceptive. 

(Sunrise on sea, what do you even start to think about)


If you like to see what I saw, here is the speed up version. I know your busy.

(Sunrise in Paradise)


At the same sea, just around the corner, and 1 hour later, I was greeted with a view that Forrest Gump once alluded too.  Where you don't know where the sea ends and the sky begins. 

(Some of these pictures are some of my favorite I ever have taken)


Blue Fire. There's only 2 places in the world were this phenomenon happens. One in East Java at Ijen Mountain, the other in Iceland. Apparently the sulfuric gas mixes at such a high temperature that it creates a blue effect and even liquid effect. It was unique. The more amazing thing is the local workers caring some 70 kilos on their shoulder of these rocks. I had seen on National Geographic that there job was one of the most dangerous in the world. We walked up with one of them, and he confirmed that yes, many die and can't do this long. For 1,000 rupiah or 85cents a kilo, it's not worth it. It seems although they are breathing this horrible stuff, the still smoke.

(It was worth the midnight hike to go and see it)


Another late night hike took us to Merbabu mountain. Another mountain in my territory and close to my home. We got to see some stars, and see the shadows of volcanic mountains. But nothing better then the lightning across the sky. It was also special to see the daytime views around the mountain when hiking. The greens, the trees, the ruggedness, the clouds coming out of nowhere to surround us like a blanket. At the very top some 3200 meters or nearly 10,000 feet was a guy in a tent. I give him a lot of credit. He was hiking with no end of time in sight. Staying as long as he could going up the mountain living in a tent. Water? A stream 1 hour away. Food? Living off the goodness of others. Why? Life. Take a step back. Think. Enjoy. Forward.

(Up and Up we go)


LIFE

My sister and I are both enjoying our very different lives here in Indo. Although sometimes we cross path's we have a different set-up. I was so proud of her to take the hike up this mountain. It's cold, it takes everything out of your body, and you have to convince your mind that you can do it. 
Neither of us had ever dreamed of making our home in RI (Republic of Indonesia). Although we were raised in RI (Rhode Island). Yet, with good parental training, proper planning, and a whole lot of faith, it's been quite a ride. 

(After sleeping on some tall weeds and watching the moon overhead. To a nasty sunburn the next day)


Some ole New Englanders made the trip to Indo, and I don't think they were disappointed. From Attleboro Mass, to the jungles of Java, I don't know if Garret and Wesley knew what to expect. Anytime people from back-home make the trip it always hit's the reset button for me. To see what they have come through to make this choice. Hearing how 'life is still going on' back home.  To remember what I was thinking and feeling at their age is always welcome visitors. 

(To take them to my special spots and share, always makes life more enjoyable)


The inner child needs to come out from time to time. Riding a quad through the woods is a good way to get that done. Seeing life from the view of a 14 year old is humbling as well. Daniel helped me get out some of those wonderful bugs. 

(The trees keep growing, the quad keeps moving)


In life, you have to survive. And if your only source of income comes on sunday mornings and special events you need to make it count. Many resourceful Indonesians sell things that appeal to kids to make their business work. Parents are happy to comply.

(Bubble Man -I think his t-shirt says My Other Shirt is Rip Curl)


I believe that very soon, or already, urban populations around the world have over taken country-sides. The county-sides beauty over shines the beauty in a city. It's funny to think about when many people from a city, travel to other cities. Many are one-in-the-same. Granted, cities to offer many opportunities. In this case, the hero's monument provides a brief skip in life where the sun, the water, the fountain, provided a nice mix in life. 

(Fountains are Fun)


Life goes on, and so do trucks. Daily I get stuck behind a truck. Here they are normally over-stacked, overweight, and putting stuff in the back the manufacture probably didn't design.  Here in Indo as well as other developing counties, it's just another day of life.

(Giant horse statues going down the road to somewhere)


(Coming home from school)


(Going down the mountain)


(Don't know where were going)


I've caught up to the main motivational force behind this blog post. About a year ago now, I felt a strong strong pull to go the mountains. To be with nature. To be in Java that has gone forward in time, yet it's still hanging to days of distant past. Those roots are disappearing slowly but some are going back thousands of years. Some of these roots I feel go all the way back to the Mosiac Law. 

I try to take some time to walk without my shoes through the fields here. Put my feet in nature, and watch it's cycles unfold before my eyes. Walking through a corn field and rice paddy at dusk stirs up endless moths, incets, and grasshoppers popping and flying their way away from my feet. They provide almost a grand entrance as you walk through their home. The farmers work with the seasons, not against it. They wake up and sleep based on nature, not forcing nature the other way. Year in and year out, life goes on.

(The Paddy Lady's depending on life going forward)


As another 3 to 4 months have gone by, hopefully you have grown as I have. Grown in what way? It depends on what your planting. How much have you grown? Depends on the weather. Is their pain in moving forward. Sometimes. 

Wherever you are, may your personal growth always have some sunshine.

(The sun will be up tomorrow- "To Guy Pierce, there was a greater possibility that the sun would not rise than that Jehovah’s promises would go unfulfilled, and he wanted to share that truth with the whole world." WT 12/15 p.3 He "Knew the Way")