Category Archives: Week One

Here kitty kitty

I made a lot of decisions on this trip. One of which is this:

I really don’t like cats.

Here’s why:

There are tons of stray cats and dogs all around Indonesialand. Adorable, yes. Healthy, no. At the Wisma, there were a few “regulars” who liked to take a rest there too.

One day, I’m rushing to get out to the van. I usually was the one who kept the key for the room, so I was the last one out. Just as I was walking out the door, I suddenly realized I’d forgotten something. I left the door open just a crack. After all, the bed is only seven steps or so from the door.

I picked up what I needed in no time at all. Apparently that “no time at all” was enough time for a cat to squeeze its way in.

Bad kitty.

I’m really bad with animals. I don’t understand them, they don’t understand me, so I enlisted Lindsey’s help to get the cat out. She called it out, the cat pranced right out, and I shut the door immediately.

Phew. That’s over.

It wasn’t.

We came back that afternoon. The room looked normal. Joanna and I were getting ready to freshen up. I opened the door to the bathroom and found tons and tons of flies/fleas/BUGS scattered all over the four walls. They weren’t buzzing around, just….sitting there on the walls nonchalantly.

Apparently, the cat that had gotten in was infested with some flea problem. Although the cat didn’t make it far in, maybe a few feet, the fleas did, and they rushed into the bathroom with the much warmer, moister air.

They probably multiplied and made flea babies while were out.

Okay it’s just a few flies on the wall, no biggie. That’s it right?

It wasn’t.

I lifted the toilet lid, and inside were tons and tons of flies/fleas/bugs inside the bowl. Probably 30 or so. They weren’t big, but it was still really disgusting.

FLUSH. (add in a couple more for good measure)

They cleared out a few hours later, thankfully. I was also thankful for Joanna being there, since she wasn’t terribly grossed out by them, she kept me sane.

 

So now, I am officially not a fan of cats. For the remainder of the trip, I freaked whenever I saw one come near my room. I freaked inwardly whenever I saw one in general. Even now at home, even though cats are domesticated and inoculated and squeaky clean, I freak out whenever I see one, that it’s going to infest my bathroom with flies.

Sorry cat lovers, no feline friends for me.

 

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“That wasn’t lunch?”

After a full morning of constantly interacting with kids and singing songs and playing lots of Quack-diddly-oso, by around noon time we were somewhat hungry. One day, we were all done with our morning program and were waiting for either lunch or time to teach the teachers English, whichever one worked better for them. We were cooling off in one of the few air-conditioned rooms, and in came a tray full of bowls of noodles (Mie in Indonesian).

It was extremely tasty, and the portion size was just right for a midday meal. It was probably one of my favorite dishes of the trip.

We all cleaned our bowls and then we proceeded to start teaching English to the teachers. Mostly we were helping them with pronunciation (more on that to come). Midway through our teaching time, Ashley asked me to accompany her to the restroom.

On our way back, we ran into Ken, who had just come back from an errand.

“How were those noodles?”

“You didn’t have any?”

“No, I was out while you were eating”

“It was pretty good. I liked it.”

“Yeah. Bet you didn’t know that was your snack.”

“You serious?”

“Uh-huh. Lunch is on it’s way.”

Well guess who we’re sitting next to during lunch.

It was then we discovered that in Indonesia, food does not constitute a meal unless there is rice. Otherwise, it is merely a snack. At fast-food places, like A&W or KFC, most meals come with rice in addition to or in place of french fries. While eating breakfast during our second week, a rice cooker sat in the corner.

And, soon enough, we finished teaching English, walked outside and saw a table set up with our lunch for the day.

We were fed very well that day, that’s for sure. I don’t think anyone was hungry for the next day. 🙂

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Breakdown or blessing?

The second day spent at the school was great. We did our morning teaching, the guys helped on the work project, we came together and shared songs and Bible stories for a couple hours, we had lunch; everything was flowly as smoothly as smooth could get in a relational culture. Plans were constantly changing, and we all were learning as we went, but everyone adjusted whenever the plan changed without complaint or struggle.

After lunch, we took a couple hours to rest at the Wisma, get cleaned up, and have our team Bible study. Once that was done, a van was to pick us up and take us to the school again. This time, for a men’s Bible study. The three guys were all asked to prepare their testimony to share, and the girls would do a prayer-walk around the neighboring village.

The time rolled around for the van to show up, and indeed it did.  We planned to take the van in shifts because eleven people would be a tight squeeze. The first group piled in the car, and off we went down the driveway.

We didn’t make it very far.

Right before we approached the opening to the street, the van broke down. The car began to smell a lot like….car processes, maybe engine or exhaust or something, but we all knew something was not right. We sat there for a while.

At last, they were able to get the car running again, but the driver was not comfortable using it to take us. He feared that the van would have another breakdown and that it wouldn’t be in such a convenient location. We all imagined the prospect of the van suddenly stopping in the midst of Jakarta traffic. Thankfulness set in, that we had broken down close to the Wisma, and not miles away.

Still, while we were happy that the breakdown was close to home, the problem still lay in that we weren’t at the Bible study. We weren’t at our ministry sites. All we were doing was sitting and waiting for a replacement vehicle. At the moment, it partially felt like wasted time. We knew that we had no control over the situation, but everyone wanted to be serving at the sites.

Little did we know, that this was the beginning of a lesson that would be taught over the course of the trip; ministry is a lifestyle, not something confined to a certain area or time. Every minute and every breath is an opportunity for ministry. Ministry is a verb, not a noun.

During the time we were waiting, a man came out and introduced himself to Ken and Linda. He said his name was Niki; he was the owner of the Wisma and wanted to know how we were enjoying our stay and if there was anything that could be done to improve it. Through this conversation, we found out that he was a Christian. He introduced us to his staff and told us if we needed anything, we could ask the staff and they would do their best to help.

As a result, we were able to start having conversations with the staff whenever we were waiting for the van to come. A couple of them really wanted to practice their English. They also offered coffee (no, it wasn’t Starbucks, but it’s the thought that counts) and would try to accomodate any need we had. One great thing that happened, was that they offered to do our laundry. In the heat and sweat, we had been going through outfit after outfit. For the guys who worked all morning, they usually went through two or three a day. A test load was sent out first, to check and make sure the clothes wouldn’t be ruined, and they came back smelling great and fresh and clean. It was wonderful, being able to have clean clothes and not worry about it on the field. It was an unexpected blessing, because we didn’t know whether or not laundry would be available at all over the course of the trip.

Eventually, a replacement vehicle came, and we were able to get to the school. By then the men’s study was over, but we were able to enjoy dinner with the teachers who were waiting for us.

If the van hadn’t broke down, we wouldn’t have met Niki. We wouldn’t have had such wonderful conversations with the staff. Maybe we’d be stuck with piles and piles of dirty laundry.

Was it worth it? I think so. God used a bad situation, and turned it into good.

Was it simply a breakdown? Or was it a blessing?

The team with the Wisma staff. They were so nice to us.

Ashley and I with Niki. He videotaped the songs we wrote for our team, and thought they were great.

What’s your name?

Several activities took place at the school. One thing that the girls were able to do was teach English to the students.

Lindsey and I had a group of about 15 fourth graders. They were so cute in their colorful school outfits. Before classes started, all the girls began learning names. What a task! There were so many kids, and on top of that, they were constantly moving around. This is a typical scenario of how it would play out:

Team Indo:  “What’s your name?”

Kid: [says his name, but very softly/shyly]

Team Indo: “What? Say that again.”

Kid: [repeats name, again very quietly]

Team Indo: [feeling the need to take a stab at it, attempts to repeat the name, or what fragments she heard of it, but butchers the pronunciation]

Group of kids: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….Noooooo!” [they all proceed to shout the correct pronunciation of the name]

Team Indo: [taking another attempt, now trying to muddle the name from the shout. Again, gets it wrong]

Group of kids: “HAHAHAHAHAHA. Noooo!” [they shout the name again]

Team Indo: [using skills, deduction, and process of elimination, finally gets the correct pronunciation]

 

Or on the slight chance the name was familiar to our culture, the conversation went more like this:

Team Indo: “What’s your name?”

Kid: “Dave”

Team Indo: [sigh of relief] “Dave. Now that I can do”

 

Now, I don’t know exactly how much English we actually taught. They knew a lot of words already, thanks to Krystal and Heather coming a few months earlier. Their vocabulary was pretty extensive, but every once in a while, we’d find a word to stump them. Usually it was a word that was not phoenetically pronounced and so it was harder to conjure in the mind. But, for the kids, hearing our pronunciations and sentences was really helpful for them. After spending about an hour learning their names, because after learning how to say them all, we had to remember their face too, we played lots of word games and songs. Hangman was very popular, as was pictionary. We did a lot of Rock-paper-scissors and Heads-up-seven-up too. Girls in some of the other classes played Bingo. We also sang lots of Sunday School songs, like I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N (teaching letters), Father Abraham (human body vocabulary), the Jesus version of the Hokey Pokey, and the Lord’s Army.

We also played Simon Says, but they didn’t quite understand the concept of “Simon didn’t say,” so by the end, the game had turned into “Lindsey Says” and the kids would just do whatever she said. There was no hesitation whatsoever when she announced, “Walk like a chicken!”

During our teaching time, we were able to really connect with the kids and that really helped when we segued into our ministry presentation each day. Also during the teaching time, we exhausted the whole room’s supply of dry-erase markers by the second day (but there, they don’t just throw them away when they dry out. Their markers are refillable! How genius is that!)

The rooms were warm. The fans in the room didn’t do a whole lot other than circulate the warm air. Regardless of the heat, teaching was something to look forward to because the gleam in the kids’ eyes was so bright. They all treasured the value of education so dearly, and made the most of it. What a concept. If only that mentality took place in the States as well.

I don’t consider teaching a career option for me, but the week I spent doing it was pretty awesome.

All the adorable kids!

We spent forever trying to figure out the pronunciation of the boy in front’s name. I don’t think we ever got it exactly right.

The room where Lindsey and I spent the first portion of our mornings.

Very VERY (did I say “very”?) spicy chicken

I’m sure a few of you are curious as to what sort of foods we ate over in Indonesialand.

Simply put, most foods we ate were similar to what we eat in the States, just prepared a little differently as they have different modes of cooking. Kitchens are for the wealthy, so most cook outside over an open flame.

When meals weren’t prepared for us, we ate out, usually at shopping centers (because their health guidelines are a little stricter. The last thing we needed was someone with an upset stomach).  The first day, we had a little time to recoop and rest. We were in the process of exchanging money, which was lengthier than expected, and afterwards we decided to go eat.

As the meal options were described to us, a majority of the team was intrigued by a dish called “Sate Ayam” (Ayam means chicken in Indonesian). The way it was described to us was skewered grilled chicken in sauce, sort of like an all-meat shish kebab.

Sounds yummy.

And this being our first real meal after lovely airline food, it sounded all the more delicious.

We waited…

…and waited…

and soon enough, several plates of sate ayam came our way.  We were really excited for our first traditional Indonesian food tasting.

The food looked just as described. Skewered grilled chicken in a plate of peanut sauce and something else that looked soy-saucyish.

We proceeded to taste.

The verdict: It was EXTREMELY tasty. The blend of flavoring spices used is very unique and wonderful. The flavor was exquisite.

After a few seconds though, our taste buds started to tingle. The sate was also VERY VERY spicy. There was a chile used in one of the sauces, and that certain chile gets hotter the more it is cooked.

Soon enough, we were ordering extra bottles of water because we were running out of  the supply we’d brought.

I loved the dish. I loved the flavor and it was extremely tasty, but I, for one, after about 5 sticks could not handle the spice. Thankfully we had a couple fellow team members who happened to enjoy extremely spicy food.
They ended up eating a LOT of chicken that day. 🙂 They even found a packet of hot sauce and added it to their chicken.

Everyone else enjoyed it as well, but we were sweating so much and our expressions probably weren’t that all that charming as we ate. It was quite funny, and we were constantly telling the servers who were closely observing, “Yes, it’s very good, although we probably don’t look like we like it.”

We offered some to our guide and driver, Pak Willy, who had accompanied us. Even he said that it was hotter than any sate he’d had before.

Phew, it wasn’t just us.

It was a great first meal. Just a little bit unexpected.

Oh so yummy. Oh so spicy

Happy Birthday

The first day started as soon as we landed at 6:30 in the morning. In order to adjust quickly to the time zone, we had to stay awake for the rest of the day even though we’d already been up for 36 hours.

The original plan was that we were supposed to drop off our bags and head straight over to the school.

Thank goodness that plans change, and that they change frequently in Indonesialand. (That’ll become a recurring theme over the course of my posts)

Fortunately, we found out we were able to take a few hours and rest at the Wisma before going to the school. Some showered, some unpacked a little, but we all took an hour and slept. We needed it. In fact, I didn’t want to get up once we had to leave. We were all pretty tired after having to stay up so long. By the end of day one, we had been up for 50 hours before a full night’s rest on an actual bed.

Our destination was the school where we would be serving for the next six days. The school, named Sekola Gracia, also functions as a church meeting place. That night, the seven ladies on the team were to attend a women’s prayer meeting while the guys walked around the adjacent village and prayed.

We arrived, were greeted, and soon later the study started. We sang songs, and they were all English worship songs and we were able to sing along. Afterwards, we moved the chairs from a row configuration into a circle. Each girl on the team shared why she had come on the trip, one girl shared her testimony, and Linda shared a short devotional.  Of course, this all had to be translated, so it was also an experience of figuring out the balance of how much to say before letting the translator do their magic, as well as adjusting our speed and vocabulary so that it was translated effectively and accurately. After all of us had shared and it had all been translated, a few of the Indonesia ladies shared about why they were happy our team was at the school. Once this was all done, the Indonesian ladies circled up around our team and prayed for us. Then, we did the same for them. We ended the study time with more singing and praise and prayer.

This was all supposed to take one hour.

It took nearly three.

However, nobody noticed until afterwards. We had been having such a good time with the ladies, sharing our hearts and they doing the same, the clock didn’t matter anymore. Meanwhile, the guys were outside walking around, and a plethora of children began to follow them throughout their walk. They told us it was enjoyable for them as well.

When the meeting concluded, it wasn’t quite over, for there was a special event needing celebration. One of the ladies, Ibu Duma, had recently had a birthday, and all the ladies in the study pitched in to buy her a cake. They lit the candles, we sang the song, and then they proceeded to cut it.

The cake wasn’t all that big. Compared to our gargantuan, monster Costco size bricks, it was fairly small. I didn’t get a very good look at it, but it didn’t look any bigger than an 8×8 square, and it had to be cut into about 25-30 pieces.

I’d do the math, but that’s beside the point, that being: the pieces were extremely small. Yet, the ladies were gracious and offered the seven extra guests a piece as well. Let’s just say, that cake was pretty hard to eat. Of course, we weren’t going to say “no” and, yes, it tasted fabulous, but those ladies had put in their hard-earned money into buying  that cake. Money that could be part of buying new fabric, shoes, food. It was evident that each lady had sacrificed some in order to get that cake for that night. That was probably the most special piece of birthday cake I’d ever had.

We were able to talk with Ibu Dewi, one of the teachers at the school. She was so delightful and had very good English. She was extremely happy to see us.

The Wisma

For the first week, we stayed at a hostel named the Wisma.

The Wisma was Blessing #2.

Just a few days before leaving, the team leaders had received word that we didn’t have a place to stay for the first week. After much prayer and scrambling, reluctantly the team was booked for the Wisma with no information besides a couple pictures. We didn’t know what to expect.

At the Wisma, we were divided into five rooms, the girls two to a room and the three guys shared one. Inside, we had a full-size bed, a table, a bathroom with a toilet (YAY) and showerhead, and, most amazingly, an air-conditioning unit. The rooms were tidy and clean, thanks to a lady who had helped coordinated all the ministry sites. She came over with her househelp and scrubbed the rooms down for us.

For Washingtonians and Oregoners, the A/C was a lifesaver, with the shift from overcast skies to 90+ degree weather. In fact, the A/C in my room was really cranking hard. Joanna, my roommate, and I actually started to get cold in the middle of the night! Our A/C was able to get the temperature in our room down to 66 degrees Fahrenheit during the night, so we had to use extra sheets and even ask for a blanket. The air-conditioning was completely unexpected and benefited us so much.

During our ministry at the school, we spent the morning there, left for a few hours, and returned again at night. In those few hours for break, we were able to shower, rest, and have team time in the Word. It was an amazing blessing to have the Wisma during that time. Because we were split into separate rooms, each with their own bathroom, there was no huge wait for the shower. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could shower morning, noon, and night because it was so readily available. The A/C helped us adjust to the heat conditions, and allowed us to get more adequate rest when the opportunity came. Our team time was especially valuable. We all came into one room and spent time talking, sharing, reading the Word for Bible study, eating tons of Redvines, and enjoying each other’s company. Sometimes, we got creative and began writing songs about team members. All in all, the Wisma became a great place to rejuvinate and refresh after a busy morning at the school and to prepare ourselves for whatever may come our way at night.

Such wonderful proof that every aspect of our trip was in God’s hands. ImageImageImageImage

Arrival

If there’s one word that described the journey to Jakarta, it would be long.

My room woke up at 3:00 AM, Monday morning. We had to be out of the showers by 3:45 so that the guys could use them. Target time to leave the house: 4:30.

We loaded up all our bags onto the bus and headed off to the airport bright and early.

Flight #1: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to San Francisco International Airport

2.5 hours in the air.

Flight #2: San Francisco International Airport to Incheon International Airport (Seoul, South Korea)

12 hours in the air

Flight #3: Incheon International Airport to Singapore Changi Airport

6 hours in the air

and we arrived very late at night, and our flight didn’t depart until early the next morning, so we were able to take the opportunity to camp out beside our terminal and finally lay in a more comfortable position.

Flight #4: Singapore Changi Airport to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (Jakarta, Indonesia)

1 hour in the air.

Add in all the layovers and seemingly endless security checks (we had one at every single airport), and you’ve got a grand total of 36 hours of traveling.
From a glance, it looks like a crazy amount of time. One and a half days, with a good majority of that in the sitting position. The question is: how was that time spent?

First off, we attempted to sleep. A couple of the guys were able to zonk out almost the entirety of the flights thanks to good old Tylenol PM.

We spent lots of time playing the interactive games in the airplane. We were asked to refrain from watching the movies, and that was quite a challenge, especially after reading the entertainment brochure to see all the latest movies advertised at our grasp.  The whole team complied willingly though, and saw the value of utilizing the time in the Word and in each other. The games, however, were not off-limits, and there were plenty to choose from to stay occupied with.

And after 36 hours of fastening seatbelts, sleeping on shoulders, peeking out the windows, parking outside gates, playing games, and eating airplane food, our plane finally touched down in Jakarta.

Next stop: customs.

Oh boy.

11 people getting through customs does not sound like a pretty picture. On top of that, we also had to purchase visas. When arriving at the customs area, we were prepared for a wait.

We first got in line for the visas. Blessing #1) Ken was able to purchase all of our visas at once. We didn’t have to show our passports individually, or even come up to the counter individually. Our visas were purchased and approved all at once. We probably spent only five minutes in that line.

Next we got in line for the immigration stations. This we had to go in individually and some of us were sort of nervous. We knew what to say, but still, there was always a possibility of a problem arising. I arrived at the counter, and the only question I was asked, “Are you in high school?”

“Yep”

Stamp. Stamp. Through.

And for almost everybody else, that was the same case. A couple kids didn’t get asked any questions at all. We were in and out of there in, again, five to ten minutes tops.

So much for spending a long time in customs.

It was amazing, after spending a long day and a half cooped up in airports and airplanes, to not have to struggle with the hassle of customs. We were blessed in that the whole process of immigration and baggage took no longer than twenty minutes total.

What a great way to start out the trip!

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