Kristian Nefi and Ernawati Suharto of Yogyakarta, Indonesia


Kristian Nefi and Ernawati Suharto of Yogyakarta, Indonesia

When you first meet Kristian Nefi and Ernawati Suharto, they seem quiet and a little shy. But after talking with them, you find out they are just like other Latter-day Saint children all over the world—eager to share stories and happy to talk about the gospel.

Nefi (10) and his sister Ernawati (9) live on the main island of Java, in the city of Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s royal capital. Yogyakarta is the home of the Sultan of Java, and most of the people who live there are Muslims. This beautiful part of Indonesia has many attractions—from the unique pedal-powered cabs called becaks in Yogyakarta to the magnificent, centuries-old temples in nearby Borobudur. Many people from throughout the country visit Nefi and Ernawati’s hometown, especially during the Muslim holidays.

In Indonesia, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is small, and most members live on the island of Java. Nefi and Ernawati enjoy going to church each Sunday with their family, and they often care for their five younger brothers and sisters.

Their father’s name is Suharto (some Indonesian fathers have only one name; it also becomes the family name), and their mother’s name is Mukimah.

New friends often ask Nefi about his name, since they find it unusual. “When they ask me about it,” says Nefi, “I tell them that when my father joined the Church, the missionaries presented him with the Book of Mormon and told him about the story of Nephi.” He adds, “I like being named after Nephi, because he was a brave and good man.” Nefi is so proud of his name that his favorite song is “Kisah Kitab Mormon”—that’s “Book of Mormon Stories” in Bahasa, the national language.

Ernawati has a typical Indonesian name, but she also has a favorite scripture personality. “I like John the Baptist, especially the story when he baptizes the Savior.” Both Nefi and Ernawati enjoy reading Book of Mormon and Bible stories and trying to imagine how the prophets lived, such as how John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and ate locusts and wild honey. Ernawati also loves to sing, and she feels grateful she can express her love to Heavenly Father in this way. Her favorite song is “My Heavenly Father Loves Me.”

After school and during playtime, the Suharto children play gobak sodor, a local game that many of their friends like to play. Ernawati explains: “We make a field of several squares joined together, and one of us tries to move across the field with stones as markers. We all have a fun time seeing who wins.” Like other children, Nefi also likes playing with model cars, and Ernawati likes dressing up her dolls. During snack time, Nefi loves munching on bread-and-cheese balls called chiki. Ernawati enjoys eating a unique version of french fries called lempeng, which is made of sweet potatoes instead of ordinary potatoes.

Nefi and Ernawati know they will have many different experiences as they grow older, but because they desire to always follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, they will be good examples for their brothers, sisters, and friends.

[photos] Photography by Dino V. Panti

[photos] Opposite page: Nefi and Ernawati. Upper left: The pedal-powered becaks that people hire as taxis are a common sight in Indonesia. Upper right: The Suharto family. Below: Ernawati and Nefi.