Luke and I returned last Friday from spending two weeks in Indonesia visiting Luke's brother, Caleb. We saw and experienced so many things that I've been having a hard time deciding how to give you a glimpse of it in one blog post. So I will do my best (without going on and on and on...) to share the highlights with you. I've only included a few pictures in this blog, but I will make a slideshow of some of our favorite pictures on the sidebar that you can look at if you'd like. Between us and Caleb we have over 500 pictures, so I promise I'll just pick our favorites!
We spent the first week in Indonesia in Bandung, where Caleb lives. We met with many of his friends, spent some time with a couple from Kansas that has lived in Indonesia for 32 years, saw an active volcano, went to a market, went a Muslim mosque, and traveled to a farm in rural Indonesia and spent one night there. We then traveled back to Jakarta (the capital city) and stayed with an Indonesian family that Caleb has gotten to know well during his time there. They showed us great hospitality and we really enjoyed our time with them. While in Jakarta we were part of a going-away party for the couple from Kansas, toured a park that displayed the culture of the different islands that make up Indonesia, and spent one night on a small island where we were able to snorkel, relax, and enjoy the scenery. On our way to the airport at the end of our trip Caleb asked us to choose five words to describe our experience in Indonesia. I think this may be the best way to highlight the trip for you. And in all honesty, I've made some slight changes to the five words from how I originally answered Caleb's question as I've had a little more time to reflect on our trip (and to try and give you a more complete picture on the blog!).
1. People: I think this word best describes Luke's and my first impression of Indonesia...there are people everywhere!! Caleb told us that the island has an average of 1000 people/sq km...and there are rural parts of the island with very few people. Most neighborhoods did not have streets through them, just very narrow paths (impossible for a car to fit down, but just wide enough for a motorcycle) called gongs. The gongs weave through all the houses that are definitely not set up on any sort of grid. We were amazed Caleb could figure his way through the mazes of gongs! The other reason we chose this word is that everyday we had at least one meal with a friend of Caleb's. It was a lot of fun to meet the people that he has been developing relationships with over the past two years. The above picture was taken after we ate lunch with Caleb's roommates. We had a great time with them and ended up giving a mini "marriage seminar" as they are almost all single, really wanting to find a wife, and had lots of questions about dating and marriage. I don't know how much wisdom we have to share after short 8 months...but they were eager to learn whatever they could from us!
2. Overwhelming: For much of the trip I found myself feeling overwhelmed, for a number of reasons (being pregnant may be one). I think one of the most difficult things for me was to see the level and extent of poverty that exists in Indonesia and feeling a sense of hopelessness and wondering how you could even begin to make a difference in a place with such poverty. The poverty level in Indonesia is considered an income of $2/day or less and 40% of the population lives at or below the poverty line. The government is well-known for its corruption and this has definitely contributed to the lack of development in Indonesia. The people we talked to though had great respect for their newest president and they all felt that he was taking steps to eliminate the corruption. This picture is a typical street scene in Bandung. There are a couple of bicycle taxis on the left side of the picture and a man carrying to large metal boxes over his shoulder. He is most likely able to cook out of these boxes and then sell food on the side of the street. This is a very common way Indonesians try to make a living. So not only do you have all the traffic of cars and motorcycles but you also have bicycle taxis, people pushing carts, and horse-drawn taxis trying to weave their way in and out of traffic. We actually saw a motorcyclist get knocked down by a young boy pulling a horse-drawn taxi against the flow of traffic during rush hour in Jakarta.
3. Culture: Luke and I really enjoyed getting to experience the culture of Indonesia. While we were in Bandung we attended a performance of traditional Indonesian music and dance. The Anklung is a traditional Indonesian instrument made out of bamboo reeds of different sizes to make different pitches. We even had the opportunity to learn how to play the Anklung. Dance in Indonesia always includes very colorful costumes, often a mask, and a lot of emphasis is placed on facial expressions and hand movements. The video at the end of this paragraph is a traditional Indonesian celebration for a boy before he is circumcised. The boy being carried in the chair is the lucky guy...I don't think he has any idea what's coming! We also got to try a variety of Indonesian foods, which always includes rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Indonesians we met joked that unless they've had rice with their meal they aren't full. In Indonesia breakfast food is not much different than what you eat for lunch or dinner...seasoned rice with tofu is a very common breakfast. We were also fortunate enough to be in Indonesia for mango season, so we ate lots and lots of mango and other tropical fruits while we were there. We also ate at a restaurant in Bandung that was up on top of one of the mountains and was an open restaurant in the jungle. There were huts spread throughout that each had one table, so you felt like you were the only ones there. There were trees, large boulders, and waterfalls all over as well. It was gorgeous and the food was delicious!! It is considered an upscale restaurant, but the entrees were all about $5/plate...what a deal! The night we ate with Caleb's Vietnamese friends they cooked traditional Vietnamese food. It was really good and Luke and I managed to eat the entire meal with chopsticks! The most interesting thing they made us was a dish they normally have to celebrate the new year that is made with meat and cartiledge from a pigs ears and face. I tried one bite, but that was about all that I could stomach. I think it was knowing I was eating cartilage more than the actual taste. I'll make sure and include some pictures of the food we ate in the slideshow of photos.
4. Ministry: It was really encouraging to see the fruits of the ministries that have been started in Indonesia. The first couple of nights we were in Bandung we stayed with a couple that has served in Indonesia for 32 years. They actually moved back to the US while we were there, but the fruits of their labor were very evident and encouraging to see. We met a friend of Caleb's that is a leader on a campus ministry team whose father had been discipled by the man of the couple that had been in Indonesia for 32 years. Luke and I were really challenged to think about how we can be intentional where the Lord has placed us and how we can best serve Him and the people that He has placed in our lives.
5. Beauty: While I would not necessarily say that the cities were overly asthetically pleasing, we saw some amazing beauty in the rural parts of Indonesia. We saw valleys of hand-farmed rice patties, active volcanoes, mountains, jungles, and amazingly clear blue water with gorgeous coral, sea animals, and fish. Definitely much different scenery than you see in Kansas or southern Germany! We also got to experience some traditional Indonesian music and dance while we were there that was beautiful as well! We both really enjoyed experiencing the culture and the friendliness of the people of Indonesia.