Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Glimpse Java!

I have decided that Indonesia and I have a relationship akin to that of an arranged marriage. I did not decide to come here because I was deeply in love with the country, I didn't get to date the country before and find out if we would be a good match... We just got put together because it was the most practical solution to the current need. Because of that I think that I have not really had a honeymoon period. I've had moments where I've been more impressed with the country and moments where I'm less impressed and a little more critical of what I see, but there hasn't been a big turning point where things start going down hill emotionally and where I am constantly missing home and struggling to see the positive in this culture.

While I'm beginning to form a routine and stick to a schedule, there are still new adventures and lessons everyday and I'm looking forward to continuing to getting to know this town of Kudus and the unique things she has to offer.
Last week I went to a small "warung" (food shack) with a girl I met through a friend of a friend and had roasted corn with wicked spicy sauce and ice tea. Afterward I rode with her on her scooter to the big town circle, bought avocado juice, and walked around the little park. The talk was sweet and I realized that I could get used to these things being my social life. In the states there are countless ways to socialize. Almost too many. Maybe not almost. Maybe too many. Regardless, there are less here. There aren't coffee shops. But there are warungs and baked corn. There aren't malls (actually there are but not in Kudus) but there's the town circle with some grass and places to walk. There aren't a ton of people I can socialize with who understand my culture, but there are books. There are ways to make life here and I'm getting to know them and while I didn't plan on this country, I'm pretty sure I'll be sad to leave once the time comes and there's a good chance I'll be able to say I'm leaving a part of me here. Also like arranged marriages, I think I'll slowly come to love this place, as opposed to love at first site and big, romantic expectations for life here.

Happy news: I'm no longer sick. *cheeeers*

And since I've overcome this poo poo problem, I feel it's time to hunker down and switch from survival mode to living mode. Pull out my pen and sketch book, dust off my guitar.... Do those same things I do at home in the US, but here. Decorate the room, figure out a laundry system where my underwear wont get stolen (down to 3 pairs. wth), start makin' my own food (I have been craving chocolate chip cookies for days now), do a little grocery shopping, make a budget, take my vitamins daily... Ridin' solo in Kudus and makin' it a good one.

Oh my goodness ok. I write way too much about myself on here.

Want to get to know Indonesia?

She's an archipelago of 17,000 plus islands in Asia. Actually, more commonly she's referred to as Asia Pacific, hanging out below the Philippines and above Australia, and bordering Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Timor Lorosea.
Crazy history but in short: colonized by Portugal, the British, and mainly Holland.
People: Malay decent, Javanese, Chinese decent/Chinese immigrant.
Her position in the Ring of Fire means that crazy natural disasters visit often and can create a sort of fatalism in people's thinking. There are earthquakes, volcanos erupting, and tsunamis not to mention mudslides and other rain-induced problems. Like floods.
Natural disasters this past month:

Flash flood in Papua

Merapi volcano eruption

Tsunami near Sumatra

I think this is not the norm, just a super active month. It's exciting. And scary. And heart breaking, cause those people in the pictures are not "tho
se" people over there, far away. They could be my neighbors. Uh, the ARE my neighbors... So be in prayer to Jesus for them, please?

Here are some Indo glimpses......

This is Soto.
famous in Kudus but better (to my tongue..) in Salatiga.
Ingredients: lemon grass, lime leaves, bean sprouts, garlic, tumeric, salam leaves, cucumber, ground pepper and white pepper, salt, limes, chicken, fried onions.

This is a rice paddy. They are beautiful, and they are everywhere,
and they provide our daily food.

There are motor bikes EVERYWHERE. They are the main mode of transportation. I do not have one. I ride a bicycle (lame compared, I know)..

This is jagung bakar- grilled corn. Ridic good, especially smothered in spicy love sauce that will burn your lips off.

These are what we often sit on when we eat in warungs. They are colorful, and they are everywhere. Cheaper than chairs, and prettier.

This is a wedding. I didn't get a good picture of the bride and groom dressed in traditional clothes, unfortunately. But you can see how the place is decorated and the two on the left up front are dressed traditionally. They're a sort of brides maid and groomsman.

This is a view of mount Merapi (taken from Salatiga) now billowing smoke and spewing lava. This is pre-eruption.

This is batik- cloth dyed into beautiful pictures by drawing with wax.
Super traditional, its everywhere. Clothes are batik, wall hangings, bed sheets, table cloths.....

And that's all for now. More to come about life on Java.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Adventures in Kudus and elsewhere. Week one.

Wow, okay, let me get my mind around this... It's been only one week since I started teaching...?! How is that even possible... Maybe it's because I still haven't created a rhythm and a schedule or maybe it's because every MOMENT is a new adventure, but woah.. All the emotions and happenings in the last week could comfortably fit in the time span of a month and I would not think life was boring. Where to even start....
Let's start with last Sunday. I'm just going to put this out there: Mennonites have too many committees. There are conferences and synods and committees right and left and I get so confused trying to figure them all out. Also, Menno
ites travel a ton (I'm being super general here.. I've only been exposed to them in the last 2 months, so this is just my impression from the little, though intense, exposure that I've had). And last but not least, they are ridiculously nice, open minded, and overall I like them a lot. There was a semina
r this past week and my Pak (host dad) has been ba
ck and forth all around central Java taking Canadian Mennonites everywhere. I've had the pleasure of meeting them and picking their brains on everything from good books on development to schools they've attended and jobs they've had to what life is like in Bangladesh. It was profitable and they gave me the time of day a
nd blessed my heart.
This all went down Friday through Sunday. Saturday
we spent the day picking up a Canadian Mennonite from the airport who would be teaching at the seminar. The rain delayed his flight, and we ended up coming home at 11:30 pm which was wicked late considering we had to leave for church at 5am the next day. Thankfully there is such a thing as Indonesian rubber time and we
actually left at 5:45am the next day.
Church was good. One of the Canadian Mennonites spoke and had some positive things to say about how men in the church are supposed tak
e on the role of a good house wife in their work in the c
hurch. I think it's always a hard balance, being both a leader and a servant. Like, the role of deacon was formed because the preacher couldn't effectively preach and serve tables. But yet we are all instructed to serve. Some serving is just dirtier than other forms of service and less appreciated, but I think everyone, including those who preach, need to get their hands dirty once in a while and scrub the church floor, clean the dishes after the fellowship gathering, and do nursery duty. To prove a point. That when we pick up the cross of Jesus, we lay down our statuses. We are the same in Jesus- Jews, gentiles, servants, masters, men, and women. And may I add- pastors, pastors' wives and husbands, deacons, etc. Nothing is too dirty or unimportant for any of us to do, regardless of our degrees and titles.
Traditional music accompanied the singing and gave me a he
adache. It's a choir of gongs and symbols and xylophones but they are slightly off tune and shrill and while they're awesomely creative and unique in their sound, they are a little disturbing to the ear used to traditional melody and harmony and..
well, un-confusing music. But it was great to see the church incorporate some culture into the service. Go them. By the way, the music is called Gamelan
Something that surprised me after church was everyone's clamor to take pictures with me "For my facebook profile pic!!" I felt slightly harassed and a little embarrassed for the adults behavior about it. Just, a cultural difference I guess. I forget how.... I guess the appropriate word would be "exotic"... I am to them. Most of them have never seen a white person up close. God grant me patience. No seriously, I need patience because if you know me you know I like personal space and the touching drives me nuts sometimes. So far I have done quite well with it but I a
m a little concerned I might snap one day and break someone's camera phone.

Later on that day I was able to go to the beach with Joel and his brother and friends. Oh man... It was gorgeous. The SALTers took a trip to the beach once during language training and it was cool, but it wasn't the traditional touristy beach with white soft sand and blue clear water. This was. And I was not expecting it to be, so it took be a while
to take it all in and r
ealize it was for real. I still can't believe it was this beautiful and I can't wait to go back.

I know.. Ridic beautiful, right? Blessed to have found that place and definitely planning to return.

Monday school started. Pretty crazy..
I get my own desk, which I love. I've already put some pictures and cards up. Family, Micaela from Portugal, and Cassie and Kena. You all made the cut, congratulations. Well, I spilled coffee on my desk and Kena and Cassies faces are now slightly distorted. Sorry chicas. I still look good in it so the pic is staying. lol
My favorite card says this: Go into the world and do well, but more importantly go into the world and do good. It reminds me that "Result is not the goal"- according to Putut, my Bahasa Indonesian teacher who has been a great encouragement to me. There are bigger things going on behind the scenes and I need to remember that while I am teaching English, there is a lot more learning happening that is not measurable and may not be super evident to me. The relationships that are being formed as well.. They are priceless.

Let me think.. More school stories...

There is a crazy man who comes in once in a while selling things. Well, more like everyday. He used to be a psychology student at the university but after he graduated he went insane and now wears his hair long and gray and knotty, usually dresses in short shorts, sox and sandals, a long sleeved and a short sleeved shirt, two scarves and a lot of jewelry. He's very nice though and funny as could be. If I ever go insane, I want to be like him. As long as I'm happy and oblivious to my insanity and embarrassing behavior, just let me go free and be nice to me and don't put me in an institution, ok? (Sometimes I wonder if I'm insane right now, and that everyone around me knows it except for me. Every wonder that? Maybe I've been watching too much Shelter Island.)

The teachers are so nice to me. They come by my desk and talk to me and it's my favorite part of the day. They bring me fruit or ask me academic questions or questions about my life here.. I feel like I'm building community with them and I like it. A lot.

I ride my bike to class everyday and get yelled at a bit. First, I'm white. Strike one. Then, I'm on a bicycle while everyone else rides a motorcycle. Strike two. And then I'm usually lost, therefore riding in circles. Strike three. They can laugh. I'd laugh too. And usually do.

I am teaching around 15 hours a week. That's two classes a day. As little as that sounds, I do get tired out easily and haven't built up the stamina to go to 3 classes a day. It takes creative energy to get the students talking and to make lessons up on the spot. I will be talking to the head of the English Department this week to see if I can't go up to 3 classes a day starting next week. I do appreciate them starting out slow with me though. The students are so great and I usually have a blast teaching and talking in class. I'm excited to start some more informal after school activities with them, especially the girls.

I'm supposed to be working in the community too but I haven't started. My position mentor is also my Pak and has not had the time to sit me down and explain what all is expected of me. So until that happens, I will keep using my time up in teaching, and after class either reading or socializing or sleeping.

I have read two books in about 2 weeks. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is hilarious. Also sad. She's a good story teller. I also read The Poisonwood Bible. Incredible book that I will be reading again with a pen in hand, and I strongly strongly strongly recommend it to you. As in, you should stop reading this immediately and go buy it. Buy it, not borrow it, because you will want to read it again and underline parts. Just a good commentary on people, on missionary work, on life in general. Quality writing right there.

This weekend I went to Samarang with Joel. We left on Friday after school and stayed till Sunday, just now. What a crazy weekend. It deserves a post all for itself.
To get there, I rode my bike to Joel's house and then two girls who were friends of a friend of a friend of mine took him and I to the terminal. But not before picking up catering and taking it to their house. I had no idea what was going on. Or who they were. (You just gotta go with it....). Then we took a bus for an hour and then we took a taxi into town to my friend Vivi's house. So many diff forms of transportation. Then we went to a 5 hour long church birthday celebration which I will write more about in a moment.
Joel lost his wallet. Then we found it in a taxi the next day. Then Tye, Joel and I went to a movie and ended up being scarred for life and walking out before the movie ended which was about an hour too late. Then we spent the next couple of hours recuperating with ice cream and banana bread while Joel tried to get his money card back that the ATM swallowed. Oh my goodness. There is definitely more to tell but I'm exhaust.

And there are some other thoughts pressing on my heart..

So we went to a 15 year celebration of a church. It went a little long and we ended up getting out of there at 11:00. It was a crazy church- super lively and I loved it. (The parts I understood.) I've had quite a lot of different church experiences here in Indonesia. It's had an interesting effect on me. It's made me super non comital about denominations. Also made me weary of saying any way is best as far as how Jesus is worshiped and learned about. It's also made me miss my church back at home a lot. I'll say it- I know God a certain way. I know him in a way that is comfortable to me. My upbringing and personal and unique style of thinking and searching has made me find a perspective and view of God that works for me. Not that there isn't sacrificing and struggle and learning, but it's in terms of my ability to understand God based on my culture- it fits me, fits into my mind, and makes sense to me.

He has come to me in a way different than people here. And that's ok, because my culture is different. Yeah, we serve the same Jesus, but he sure does look different to different people sometimes. I wonder how that works. Jesus is one, but cultures are many. How flexible is the Truth of Jesus? Is it ok that some churches have speaking in tongues and some don't? That some have adults moshing to praise music and some have solemn hymns? Is it ok that I form my praise style around the Jesus that I know and my culture has allowed me to know? Is it okay that while I appreciate the many different styles of Jesus-loving that I have come to know, that I will pick and choose what seems best to me, based on my understanding of truth? Because everything we know about Jesus passes through our head and our eyes that have presuppositions and a personality and a perspective and life experience and a unique tendency to certain ways of thinking and understanding.. God is sovereign over those things, I know. But still in his sovereignty he allows diversity in how his children view him. That's so... weird... to me..

And it makes me super turned off to trying to make people view him as I do (not in terms of big picture doctrines like the divinity of Jesus, but in terms of issues like...Do we need water to be baptized? Can we lay hands on people? Speak in tongues? Can women preach? Should couples date before marriage? What does the day of rest look like? Can Christians be rich? How much is true tithe? How long should a church service be? What version of the Bible should be used? Is cursing ok? How about smoking? How about working at a tobacco factory?). It has, however, presented me with some ways that my personal loving of Jesus can be improved. I will never wholly adopt someone else's or another denomination's view of God. But I can be challenged to re-examine my relationship with Him and improve it.


It's reminded me that America is not where it's at as far as Christianity is concerned. We get a little lost in our own America-world and forget that the HS is alive and well in very many other countries and that we would do well to stop sending our missionaries out but start supporting indigenous church and community support movements abroad. Yeah, I'll say it again. We would do well to not send missionaries out, but to send learners out, to find those places where Jesus is alive in his people, and to learn afresh the trueness of Jesus' cross-cultural message. And then to go back to the American churches, and teach the lessons learned abroad, and present them with the financial and prayer needs of the churches abroad. Build mutually beneficial relationships. Instead of "Here- we'll give you one of our members because your country needs Jesus," it perhaps should be "Here- please host one of our members because we desperately need to learn from you and your love for Jesus, and we want to know how to effectively share our gifts with you to help you serve your people better, and in turn you will fill our need of a fresh and different and unique perspective on Jesus."

And now there is a roach walking across my floor so this post is done.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Teach a man to fish, but make sure his lake isn't sacred...

I'm not sure why I titled this post the way I did.. I guess because I'm a little frustrated these days about how development is looked at. So much teaching but not enough learning.
Take the example people use for effective charity: "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a life time. " It goes something like that. It sounds great, but it's not that simple. What if the man has no water to fish in, or what if there is a lake and but he can't fish in it because it's a sacred lake, and so fishing is not an effective way to produce food in that culture?
For there to be any help given, learning has to happen on the part of the helper about the culture of those being helped. That's my point.

I'm sitting on a chair in my room with my legs to my chest because there's a mouse the size of a cat under my bed. He's not so scary as he is fast, and the fastness is what frightens me and makes me throw things every time he decides to run back under the closet.
I'm back in Kudus, with my pink room and little table next to the door that barely reaches the ethernet chord that stretches up to the ceiling in the living room. But I am connected and this is an awesome fact.

I started teaching today.
I thought I was just going in to the school to get my schedule but no, they wanted me to start. Which is no problem, just takes a lot of thinking on the spot. I have my own desk :) Pretty excited about that. Also got the feel for what the school is like and the flexibility I will have in working with the students. Right off the bat I see that I'm going to need creativity and assertiveness to make the most out of this year. It's not going to fall into my lap. There are two long breaks and I'm starting to think about possible English camps or conversational classes that could happen then. Also, I'm seeing that I will usually be given a topic and then asked to lecture/teach on it for the entirety of the class time, so I will need to have stuff prepared beforehand and be creative in how I deliver the information. If I'm not careful I can easily start lecturing instead of teaching and these kids get enough lecturing. They need interactive teaching. So right now I'm off to look for some materials for tomorrow. Today I started at 9am but tomorrow I start at 1pm and will be teaching Intensive Course D and Speaking 2. I dont know what I'll be asked to teach or what those classes are about but I want to be prepared with something... Pronunciation is one of the biggest difficulties for them. But pronunciation takes interactive practice and thats something difficult in a classroom of 40. Thus the need for creativity. I was pretty pooped after teaching today and ended up coming home and taking a 3 hour nap. Then I woke up and realized I was really lonely which is another issue that will require creativity to address. There's another SALTer in town which I appreciate, and there is internet. And there are the friendships that I will create after a while here.
And there is the mouse under my bed.....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Terima Kasih Tuhan

I'm in at the MCC office in the sitting area between the airconditioned meeting room and the courtyard that leads to Karen and Major's office. It's not AC'ed in here but the rotating fan is enough to make it comfortable.
Leanne just left to buy more sweet potatoes. She and Rea are making sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner but the potatoes they bought were bad so she took them back. Worms and such. Tye is on the computer typing and giggling away. Joel is on the internet and I am anxiously awaiting 3pm when I can stick my Green Bean Casserole in the oven. Nervous, a little. I mean, it's Thanksgiving dinner and if I screw up the Green Bean Casserole it's just not going to be the same. Funny, this is the second Canadian Thanksgiving I have celebrated in a row. Last year I was at L'Abri... I made rolls then. I think they came out well, I can't really remember... I can just remember how amazing the table looked and how Joel Smart and I made wreaths, wore them on the deck and took pictures. Then we got to drink wine.


I think the giving of thanks is really important to God. I mean, he killed people in the Old Testament for not being thankful. Burned up cities I'm pretty sure. And if he didn't I'm sure he thought about it. Said some harsh words to Israel for their complaining, not to mention made them walk around in the desert for 30 years. After living in the desert of Arizona, that's pretty severe in my mind. Especially walking in circles. I wonder how many circles they walked in?

And why are we not walking in circles? Cause the Lord knows we complain just as much if not more than the kids of Israel. Does God have more grace with us or is he just not as involved/doesn't care so much about thankfulness anymore?
Maybe these questions come from my desire to walk in circles than accept the grace of Jesus.
Somedays I'd rather sacrifice sheep and somedays I'd rather walk in circles in the desert than accept the grace of Jesus for the forgiveness of my ridiculously loveless heart.
And sometimes I'd rather be a Catholic and pay for my sins through repetitive prayer than just have to sit in a state of grace and accept in my weak faith that no prayer but the prayer of Jesus on the cross will ever satisfy the Just cause of the Father's wrath.

None of that today though.. Just thankfulness for everything good in my life because I know that I am entitled to nothing. Compared with the nakedness I had when coming into this world, I have so much. Countless blessings throughout these past 23 years. From naked to clothed and fed and familied and living in all these foreign countries. I am blessed for the purpose of being a blessing to others and that fact helps me refocus the ever-tormenting question"Why do I have so much when others do not?" to thankfulness of heart coupled with giving to others with my time, love, and possessions. I still suck at it but it's a good goal and better than sitting in misery wondering why I am plagued by good fortune.
Really, seriously, what else is there to living life well but thankfulness and sharing? And how great is it to have a day to intentionally do just that?
I mean really.
This day is awesome.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Tomorrow starts the last week

Officially, since I'm here in Indonesia where the week starts on Monday, I have another day until I can say that tomorrow starts our last week in Salatiga.
I always tend to count by "the day after"s and "tomorrow"s.
For example.. "Tomorrow I can say that tomorrow is Christmas eve!!" Anything to put tomorrow and Christmas in the same sentence. Makes time so much shorter.
Back to the point.. It is officially week 6 and day 49 of life in Indonesia and I can say that I am ready-o to start living "for real" in Kudus. And in 5 days I'll be doing just that. If things go as planned. Ahaha.

My first week in Indo was spent in Kudus and was for observation purposes. So I knew what kind of life I needed to prepare for and the importance of language learning.

So the following 6 weeks have been language learning/ cultural learning. Really, you can't have one without the other and the day trips and non-classroom conversations have been just as beneficial as the words on the board and the flash cards.

No I am NOT fluent, but I can joke around, order and give directions, learn someone's story and share my own in Bahasa Indonesia. The rest will come with time. Or not at all. I'm not under the illusion that I will leave here writing books in Baha Indo. Or read books for that matter. But I will be able to speak without thinking about the content in English, and not hesitate after every few words when I speak.

This past week consisted of language learning Monday through Wednesday, and then a trip to Yogyakarta (spoken Joe-g-juh-car-tuh or just Jogja) till Friday for some cultural learning, some bus figuring-out, and some away from Salatiga time before we run through the next week. I think something interesting happened on Monday or Tuesday but I can't remember what. Probably just the insanity of our classes which feel like a daily event consisting of ridiculous conversations, joke telling that takes 10 times the amount of time to tell in Baha Indo, juice and pre-lunch trips, music parody writing, mega often "istirihat"s (breaks) where people make coffee, throw ant-filled sugar containers on the floor, relieve themselves of the tummy conflict the coffee from the previous break caused, and eating what ever delish snacks one of our families sent with one of us. Much laughing, much groaning, much "What the heck, I can't even understand you in English..". Much of everything.

Next week= Last language lesson and class bash, Thanksgiving dinner which we are all attempting to cook for (Green bean casserole without cream of mushroom soup will be interesting), a ton of goodbyes, then off to Kudus!

One thing, while I'm anxious for Kudus, there is something about having weekly (and almost daily) activities of a diverse nature that makes time go by faster and in Kudus, as much as I love having normalcy and a schedule, I bet it will get a little harder to pass time. Less distractions, a little more seriousness. I'm interested in knowing what I'll be writing about in the next 9 months. What my writing will look like, how it will look different than my language-learning weeks posts...

"It's business, it's business time!"

But first, a few days of part-ay are in order!!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The ails and graces of mega last minute reassignment.

Today as I was wandering around Anda Baru (“baru” means new, and every shop here seems to have it in its name) mourning all the things I had thought out carefully to bring with me and now realize can easily be bought in about any grocery shop here (specifically what triggered the thought was seeing moist towlettes for sale) and all the clothes I did not bring with me because I was planning on buying 3 cheap Bangladesh saris that I’d wear everyday when I got to my assignment, I decided it was time for a blog post on the ails and graces of being reassigned to a different country within days of leaving for SALT year. And by days I mean 2 days.

First, after talking with Nathan, an MCC Bangladesh worker visiting Indonesia for a few days, I realize I packed my single suitcase absolutely perfectly. For Bangladesh. For Indonesia, not so much.

I brought Toblerone chocolate because I heard Bangla has no dark chocolate. As luck would have it, I got to Indonesia only to find that the single western chocolate bar available here is Toblerone. Sad fail.

I brought enough cosmetics and higene products to last a year and realized upon arriving that they sell them all here. And, they are considerably cheaper then they are in the states.

I brought about 4 western-ish outfits for vacationing in Bangla and then got here and realized I was reassigned to a university teaching position that requires professional, conservative dress. While MCC has been gracious enough to cover the cost of a small work wardrobe, it’s been a trip trying to find clothes that fit (and when I do, buying an XL when I’m a medium in the US is a mental war) and will be modest enough for a Muslim university but cool enough for the out-of-this-world heat of Kudus.

I brought my hiking boots, expensive water purifier, French press, transformer and international drivers license all of which I have not used yet and may never because there will be no 4-day trekking through Nepal, the natives drink bottled water so it’s available anywhere, I live on an island called Java – French press uncritical, I realized that all my machines needing to be plugged-in can handle 220v, and last but not least we’re not being given motor scooters like we would in Bangladesh and bicycles don’t require an int’l DL.

Second, the mental trauma of being told what you have been preparing yourself for throughout the last 6 months…

all your readying, praying, planning, researching, expecting, $75 postcard making, putting 7 hours and $25 into making a website, telling the three hundred people who now think you are going to one place and now you're not… Was a little numbing.

I think subconsciously I decided to not traumatize myself by thinking about the hours and efforts lost to preparing for “Bangla year” (see and just focused on what was ahead, and now that I have time to think about it, I am pretty glad that’s the mindset I had because wow- that was a pretty huge turn of events.

Oh my goodness where to start. I think there was remedy in the fact that I was still going to go SOMEwhere, we just didn’t know where. There was an adrenaline that came from the uncertainty about my immediate future and sometimes I feel like I’m still running on it. When you have no expectations, you can’t be disappointed. And like I mentioned in a past blog post, once I got over the initial disappointment it was go-go-go. I was so busy with thoughts about how to be effective (or just survive) in Indonesia and what this country was all about anyways that there was no time to be disappointed. I felt a little like I was on that TV show where people race against time to get to a certain international destination and they never know where the next clue will take them and what experiences lie ahead… The Amazing Race, I think it’s called. But this was real life, no cameras, and no one who knew where that end destination was going to be.

Still, it was a struggle the first couple of nights when I went to bed and my mind calmed down and started being rational and processing the realities of the day. Luckily MCC orientation and fellow SALTers puckered me out enough that I fell asleep before I could think too much about the bigness of what was going on and before my pillow got too wet (not tears of sadness as much as tears of overwhelmedness).

Third, now that I am here in Indonesia, I am seeing that it is hard to divorce my expectations for Bangladesh from my experience in Indonesia and be completely comfortable with my surroundings. Indonesian life is easier than Bangladesh life, plain and simple: My living conditions here are much better than they would have been in Bangladesh. Every house I’ve been to/stayed in has a helper/maid, and they usually wash my clothes for me. I brought with me baby packets of Tide thinking that I might be washing my 3 outfits by hand in a bucket in some dirty river. I brought with me these little paper cups called “urinelles” that facilitate relieving ones self sanitarily in wilderness-like circumstances as well as a ton of moist towlettes for extreme bathing and here I am with a western toilet and the option of a warm shower.

In short, the challenges I was expecting for life in Bangladesh were mainly in the area of physical survival, sanitation… living in poverty. I was mentally prepared for that. The challenges I will actually be facing now that I am in Indo are more intellectual. The thought of teaching college students when I myself just graduated a year ago is super intimidating.

Also, I thought the issues I would be directly addressing in my work would be poverty relief and women’s development, but here in Indonesia I can only work to change those things indirectly. My work will involve motivating the students I work with to care about poverty and peace, about non violence and the respect of humanity and the care for what we’ve been given to be stewards over. The challenge for me will be seeing the big picture of poverty and need, and seeing how I am giving indirectly, but still giving something important and valuable. This maybe will be more of a challenge then living with mud floors and washing my clothes in a river.

Being reassigned also involved a number of graces.

There was something weirdly life giving about being reassigned without much say in the matter. It was like for once in my life I had no choice. When everything in life from college to career to simply dinner involves a myriad of choices that you have to decide between and then live with the consequences of that choice hanging over your head, to have one choice be made for you, it’s a bit… freeing. I do believe God is sovereign over our choices but there is something about me not having the opportunity to choose that reminds me that God is truly sovereign and we are really just men. He, being sovereign over life circumstances, decided this with no input of mine, so it is not vulnerable to my sabotaging. Make sense?

Also, MCC showed a lot of care and concern about getting me reassigned and in so doing showed me grace.

Not having expectations makes it easier to not be disappointed. Expecting a lower quality of living makes me appreciate the warm water, tiles floors, and good, healthy food.

The fact that my spirit is still strong and my heart is at peace here is the hugest grace I’ve received. You make plans based on what you think is right for you aka. what will lead you to a sense of peace. When things become out of your control, but you still end up in a place where you’re at peace… what a gift!

I don’t feel I’m becoming passively resigned to a life where I don't try, and just let things just happen. I feel like I’m learning to embrace the curve balls and use them to the best of my ability because no one, as well as they might plan, will be able to forever avoid a change of plans that is out of their control.