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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Addresses

I have an address here in Indo that can safely receive mail including letters or packages.
I love to write so know that your letters will be replied to. In English. :)
If you're dying to send me something specifically I am missing my art supplies :-/ I haven't painted in a month and it's driving me nuts. Will be looking around here for some, but specifically acrylics and canvasas if you are so inclined. Just saying.
As far as food goes.. Herbal teas (spec peppermint), cereal (lucky charms or fruity pebbles), reeses pieces, pop tarts..
My room is sparse as far as decorations go and the color of my walls are pink so the more I can put up the better. And it will make it feel like home, so if you see a beautiful pic in a magazine or find encouraging words somewhere or want to sketch me something or want to send a picture, know that they will be appreciated and put up on my wall. :)
And... Here it is:

Juliana Shepherd
C/o MCC
JL Merbabu No.3
Salatiga Jawa Tengah
50724
Indonesia

Some people have mentioned support. I'm doing fine and my needs are covered. If you read about something I'm working on that you would like to contribute to, or if you would just like to gift me something anyways (it will most likely be put toward a project) you can send a check with the words "Juliana Shepherd PDA" in the memo line to
21 South 12th Street PO Box 500. Akron PA, 17501-0500.

While I'm at it, my email if juli.shepherd@gmail.com and I would love to hear from you. :)

bahasa indo

Oh goodness. My head hurts. Maybe it's from sickness or maybe it's from the 52 flash cards I just wrote out. I don't know but it sure sucks the energy from my spirit.
Today was our first day of 6 weeks of 6 hour-a-day language classes. It was super encouraging as I was able to have a semi-understandable conversation with the school receptionist in bahasa Indonesian by the end of class. And by conversation I mean about 7 simple and pretty broken sentences. :) But hey, it's communicating, so it's language.
I'm trying to take advantage of my motivated attitude to learn as much as possible right now and I really do look forward to these next weeks of focused, intentional learning. There's something about learning that makes my brain work better in other areas as well. I feel like I articulate better and my thoughts are more established when I am in the mindset of learning. That said, it's going to be a cram and I would appreciate your thoughts and encouragements as I set goals and press on to learn this ridic crazy, though simple, (there are no tenses!) language.

Salamat sore. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bangla.....Indonesia

I guess it's about time I update people on what the heck is going on.
By now most of you probably know I never made it to Bangladesh.
I got to MCC (Mennonite Central Committee, the organization I am working for) on Thursday the 12th and found out that it was doubtful I would be able to get a visa into Bangladesh. I had been told before via email that there were some visa difficulties but to not worry, it would all probably work out. Well in the end it didn't and when I got to orientation I was faced with the reality that Bangladesh was not going to work out. It was the next day that we (Joel, Chase and I- the 3 Bangla SALTers) were told absolutely the Bangla door was closed.
It actually was not that bad to hear.. I was for sure disappointed but when you are working with NGOs and different governments flexibility and being prepared for the worst is a must. We went about 3 days without knowing where we would be going.. As in, what continent even we would be in.

***aw, man! the power went out. Will have to post this later :-/ Fan also shut off which means I'll be sweating profusely in about 47 seconds. ***

MCC was doing all it could to reassign us- sending out urgent messages to all it's programs wondering if there was any openings or places where we could serve that would be close to what we would be doing in Bangladesh. That was a tough time- just waiting, while still doing orientation but not knowing what we were being oriented for.. A couple days later we heard that there were placements in Indonesia and Nepal. Chase has gone to Nepal and Joel and I decided on Indonesia. It was kindof crazy, the whole thing... I KNOW I was being lifted in prayer because while I'm not usually a high-strung person, I am a planner and when plans change especially to this extent... Well, Gods grace was HUGE during all the uncertainty. MCC staff were awesome is being sensitive with us and being proactive at getting us reassigned, other SALTers were super supportive and concerned about us, and it was great to have two more people in the same boat. I've gotten to know Joel pretty well and thank Jesus we get along, cause he's going to be in the same town as me for the next 11 months. I'm sure I'll want to kill him eventually but I'm sure glad to have another white person around to practice my English with and to laugh hysterically about the stupid antics we will get ourselves into while here.

***yesssss power is back on :) ******

If there's one thing I have learned in the past 2 weeks it's that a) flexibility will ALWAYS be necessary because life does not care about your plans. :) But I take heart because my God does not sleep. b) LAUGH. Oh my goodness I have laughed a LOT in the past two weeks because it was either that or crying... From dumping cocoa/cappuccino powder down the aisle of the British Airways flight... and having it puff out everytime I moved my backpack... to having tense moments in the Singapore airport when Joel and I had to split up to get luggage and call our visa coordinator... to the ridiculous and dangerous traffic... to not understanding any bahasa Indonesian and having people talk about you and laugh at you.... and the latest difficulty- diarrhea + squatty potties. :)
During orientation the most helpful session was about the ideal cross cultural worker and the three things that we were told to have was 1) a sense of humor 2) low expectations 3) the ability to fail repeatedly. It's sooooo true. It helped that I was not planning on Indo, so my expectations were not only low, they weren't even there.

So after skyping with the Indo MCC staff and deciding to accept the position in Indo which would be mainly teaching English at the University and then whatever else we wanted to get involved in we were told during a session that we were accepted to the position and our tickets were bought and we were flying out the next day with a layover day in Singapore to get an Indo visa. Just like that. Quick packing, a quick run to the mall and Turkey Hill, a short night's rest and we were off. I loved getting to know people at orientation and it was a bit tough to be there for 5 days with people and form friendships and then to just take off. But we had a fun night the night before we left and I'm sure I'll keep in touch with at least a couple of the friends I made.

From Philly we went to London and then London to Singapore (12 hour flight. Crazy!!!).
24 hours in Singapore consisted of....
-giving our passport and $320 to a "Pak Wahab" who would be "at a McDonalds with a red umbrella." Random? Yes. But random was becoming normal at that point so giving our possessions to a stranger was not that weird. We picked up our visas form him 3 hours later.
-buying a lot of MRT tickets (subway) that are plastic and that you return for a $1
-observing the cleanliness and efficiency of the country (you can be arrested for littering)
-getting caught in a tourist trap, taking a cable car thing to a weird, undeveloped island under construction & not as advertised. The whole thing looked like a weird dream.
-missing dinner because Joel would not wake up no matter how hard I knocked on his hotel door (which honestly was not really that hard cause I was wanting more sleep as well)
-having breakfast at 3am at an outside McDonalds at a central mall area observing a bunch of Singaporeans meander the city and fill their bellies with greasy hangover food.
-having Starbucks for one last time- and experiencing jelly coffee in my frapp.

Singapore is jungle meets huge underground mall. That is my assessment.
We got to Jakarta and met up with the rest of the group (there are 7 other SALTers other than myself in Indo, though none but Joel will be close at all to me) and from there flew to Samarang. We met with Karen and Major who are in charge of the Indo SALT program and got a good nights rest after a dinner of "soto ayam" - chicken soup with spices.
The next day was orientation activities and 2 hours of language training. One of the activities was a 30 minute silent walk around the town.
The next day we went off to each of our host families houses- we will be here for 1 week and then go back to Salatiga where the MCC office is and be there for 6 weeks of language training.

I'm here at my host family's house now. They're great and I'm glad to be in such a welcoming and accepting family. My host dad speaks pretty good English for which I'm super thankful.

I've gotten to see a lot of Java island since getting here and I really love it so far. Very green.. Rice patties and trees and shrubs galore. Banana trees, gruit trees, flowers... It's great.

I heard little tid bits about what I'd be doing here but not a lot, and I told some people some stuff that I actually will not end up doing. What I will be doing is this:
Teaching English at the university 30 hrs/week, exploring innovative ways to integrate conversational learning into their normal theoretical learning of English. I'm excited about the possibilities and the space to be creative about it.
I will also be teaching English at a mosque. Getting involved in the community and local church is my official job description but I would like to concentrate more on working with a specific issue the country faces. For example doing something to combat in a small way the rampant corruption this country faces. I'm not sure, and it won't be exactly what I was expecting to do in Bangladesh. And that is ok.

I know it's weird that I won't be doing what I told people I was, and what I thought I was, but it's like this: My God does not sleep, there are people in Indonesia who need love and can use skills that I possess, and I can learn and serve where ever I am- regardless of country.
The choice of where I was going was taken away from me by life circumstances all of which God is sovereign over. So am I disappointed? Sure. But I am so busy thinking about the ways to get involved here in Indo that I forget to be disappointed and I don't have time to wonder about the what if's.
I am happy. I am here. And I will find where I can use my gifts and my desires to serve these people.
Life is good and I am very ok with where I am and what God has/is/will do.
I am so thankful- for what I left behind in the US, and for what lies before me here.

Peace!


Thursday, August 05, 2010

journey start!

I flew into Philly this morning and after dragging my 50lbs suitcase, knocking my guitar around, and breaking my back with my ungodly weighty backback all through the septa train station and then china town, I made it sweaty, happy, and definitely slap happy sleepy to my sisters apartment. Thank God for crocs. And again I remind you all mine are not the traditional ones, they are a nicer looking line of crocs. I am a croc hater and in general will sacrifice comfort for looks. There- I said it. I grew up in Europe, I care about how I look. And from what I read Bangladeshis care as well so I think we are a-ok. But, consequently packing these past few days has been a stinking challenge. On the one hand I have everyday work which I want to look nice for, and then I have trekking in Nepal which I'll need "rough it" clothing for. And then the winters are cold and the summers are hot..... So I ended up packing about 4 outfits and whatever else I need, which I'm sure I will, I can get there.

I also discovered REI this week. LIFE SAVER. Amazing store.

Now I'm off to bed. I'll be here in Philly seeing friends and family until Monday and then I'll see more family in Harrisburg and from there to orientation in Akron on Thursday. Orientation for a week and then....................
Which, I think I'm already famous in Mymensingh because someone just told me via twitter that I was in the newspaper today. Interesting...
I love being able to see people in PA and I know that orientation will be excellent but man do I look forward to finally being in Bangladesh and settling down!
First thing I do there will be brew a fresh cup of coffee in my REI super durable and efficient french press. That is, if we have electricity................