The faith and dedication of Sidney Reilly
Sidney with the native children of Indonesia.
July 30, 2014Everything was going great for Sidney Reilly. For four years, she played basketball and volleyball and ran track at Valley Center High School. Sidney was scouted for track at BYU where, as a freshman, she participated in the heptathlon, a competitive course for women consisting of seven events. She was doing well in college, running track, performing academically, and making new friends.
Soon, Sidney would leave this ideal life of a 19-year-old behind to find herself living in a house shared with four other women. Their bathroom consisted of a hole in the ground. Rats ran rampant. One night, Sidney chased a rat around the house with a broom while the other women she shared the house with yelled, "Kill it."
As Keith Reilly, Sidney's father explained, one day he received an unexpected announcement from his daughter.
"It's usually geared toward boys, so it surprised us," said Keith. "Sidney told us she had been given so much that now she wanted to give back."
Acknowledging she had really been blessed, Sidney had decided to go on a mission. She submitted the necessary paperwork required to be a missionary, then attended a center for eight weeks where 52 languages are taught. There, she learned the Indonesian language that she now speaks fluently.
Sidney rides her bike down a path in the countryside of Indonesia.
For the next year-and-a-half, Sidney would make Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, her home. Indonesia is the fourth largest populated country, preceded by the U.S., India, and China.
Arriving in Indonesia, Sidney stayed in one of the world's greatest megalopolises, Jakarta, a dynamic city of daunting extremes. Jakarta is the capital and largest city of the country.
For five months, Sidney considered Malang home, the second largest city with a population of 1.2 million. Located in the East Java province, Malang is known for its cool climate and beautiful mountains. Temples are located not far away in rural surroundings where the city has retained much of its historical character.
Sidney also traveled to Jogja, a cultural city of traditional markets and handcraft centers. The city contrasts with an agrarian culture on one side of the mountain where a palace exists with hundreds of loyal servants. On the other side of the mountain, students live a modern lifestyle at one of the leading South East Asian Universities.
Sidney with the native Indonesian people.
When Sidney arrived in Indonesia, it was the rainy season. The day would begin clear and sunny, so she would set out in the morning riding a bicycle in a dress. Then it would start pouring rain and she would ride her bike with water up to her knees because no flood control system exists in the country.
Sidney's meals are purchased from stands along the street. She has adapted to eating vegetables and rice with her hands. Once a historical Spice Island, Indonesia incorporates a variety of spices in the food prepared, which is fortunate for Sidney because she loves spicy food. Her showers consist of scooping cold water from a bucket.
During her stay, several active volcanoes have erupted in Indonesia, forcing people to stay inside their homes for several days. Afterwards, Sidney has helped with clean-up of city streets and houses.
At 5'11" with hair reaching her waist, Sidney attracts attention from the native people much smaller in stature. Awed by her, they touch her long hair and take pictures. When they discover she speaks their language fluently, she was even more welcomed into their culture. Missionaries aren't allowed to go aggressively from door to door. Easily winning friendship of the local people, Sidney is invited into their homes for meals and to share beliefs of faith. Some are baptized and others converted to the church. Sidney has developed a love for the people of Indonesia.
Sidney Reilly, left, with friends in Indonesia.
During her year-and-a-half stay, Sidney is only allowed two phone calls home, one on Christmas and the other on Mother's Day. She is allowed to email only on Mondays, known as resource day when laundry, shopping, and other personal items are attended to from morning until 5 p.m. Missionaries are not allowed to date. During missions, no sports or music is allowed unless the music is spiritually oriented.
During a recent unfortunate experience, Sidney had her purse stolen when a motorcyclist driving down the street grabbed her purse.
According to Keith, this kind of work takes a strong commitment and dedication. Each missionary is responsible for paying for the expenses of their mission. Missions vary in cost. For instance, a mission to Ecuador costs $400 per month, whereas in Japan, the cost is $700. To go on this mission, Sidney saved $7,000 earned from her small business video taping weddings. She learned the art in high school and decided to earn a degree in Media Arts from BYU.
Thirty years ago, Keith learned to speak Portuguese to go on an eight-week mission to Brazil. He has remained in contact with friends he met during the mission. He is the Ward Mission in Valley Center, helping missionaries in the area secure places to stay and people in the community to meet who will invite missionaries into their homes. In return, missionaries take time to serve and help others by sharing and teaching their message of faith and beliefs. Missionaries visit and talk with others and help with chores such as helping with the yard. In Valley Center, there are over 100 missionaries who have completed or will soon embark on missions around the world speaking more than 20 different languages and traveling around the world from Puerto Rico to Switzerland, Finland, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, among many other countries.
Sidney pointing to her homeland on the map.
According to Keith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sponsors 70,000 to 80,000 missionaries at any one given time traveling to over 100 countries. Sidney's mission is comprised of approximately 70 missionaries in which 30 to 40 percent are women. The mission for females last 18 months whereas it is 24 months for men.
Sidney is halfway through her mission. She left October 2013 and will return in April 2015.