Hey, look who showed up in front of our house this week? A flash back from 1973 in Malang. Jalan Semeru No.49. Notice no name tag. We did not have them for the first part of my Mission. Only later did we get locally-made, pocket tags, blue writing on a white plastic background. "Penatua Williams" over the name of the Church, "Gereja Yesus Kristus dari Orang-Orang Suci Zaman Akhir." The Mission opened in 1969, and I was the 38th missionary called to the land of Indonesia. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.
Speaking of water, here's an interesting story about this bike. Each missionary was expected to purchase his own bicycle. It often traveled with us when we transferred to another city. Mine had a locking bar on the rear wheel operated with a key. Shortly after arriving we went out one wet and stormy night. We carried umbrellas to try and stay dry, usually with no effect. After descending a long sloping hill we arrived at an intersection in downtown. With one hand on the handlebar and one hand attempting to negotiate an umbrella, I lost my balance and the bike tipped over in 4" of standing water in the intersection, engaging the locking bar and allowing the key to then fall out onto the flooded street. I then spent a few frantic moments on hands and knees with traffic zipping around me feeling for the key in the dark. Finally, success! Wet but back on my bike, only a bit late for our appointment. I have never taken keys, of any kind, for granted since then.
2 weeks ago on Monday, Preparation Day in Missionary-speak, Sister Williams and I decided to visit a local mosque, Mesjid Ampel, built in the early 15th century in what is now downtown Surabaya early in the Moslem proselyting effort here. Interestingly they originated from western China and Uzbekistan in conjunction with the great, world-wide, Chinese voyages of discovery early in the Ming Dynasty.
Sister Williams, as all women, was expected to wear a head scarf in respect. They kindly provided one for free. Below you see the enclosed, shaded courtyard which also functions as a burial site. Here I saw graves dating from the past 50 years.
Many of the men also wear the traditional, Moslem, male head covering, a black or white, flat-topped hat, or sometimes a skullcap. Sister Williams always draws a crowd, especially women and children, and speaks Bahasa Campur using equal parts Indonesian, English, smiles and gestures.
Below you see large concrete vats of drinking water, with attached tin cups.
Water for traditional and ritual washing of face, nose, hands and feet before entering the mosque for worship.
Beautiful and peaceful outdoor porticos at the mosque. We often see men lounging, sleeping in the halls.
This is the protected grave of the brother of the original Mosque founder, Sunan Ampel. Here were men reading and praying at this 600 year old grave site.
A colorful feast for the eyes, watching the women and men enter the graveyard. I could only think of how hot and constricted I would feel. I admire their faithfulness. Both men and women may wear the cloth skirt called a sarong. I still have mine here from 42 years ago.
We meandered through the adjoining alley ways, sampling dates, raisins and various traditional, sweet bakery goods made of wheat or rice or cassava flour, cane sugar, peanuts or coconut. Fingers are used. I tried to calculate bacterial loads along with enjoying the wonderful flavors. I cringed and later gave most of it to our driver.
Hard to be inconspicuous here. The shops and vendors all sell the same items.
She is selling clams, shrimp and mussels. Refrigeration is unknown.
She is making homemade sambal, a spicy hot, chile and fish paste-based sauce served with rice and vegetables. This dish called rujak.
We elected o avoid this true street food, and instead walked a couple of blocks away to a larger street where there was a sit-down small restaurant serving Middle Eastern food. We gorged on amazing jasmine rice, lamb shank (really goat), pita, tangy hummus with tahini yogurt sauce. Wow! So delicious, and such a nice change from our usual fare here. It reminded us of the EPCOT version of Morocco (without the belly-dancers, and at a tiny fraction of the cost).
Following are some wonderful street scenes taken as we meander, often agonizingly slowly, through gnarled traffic. These are everyday sights here. We try not to take them for granted. How blessed we are to be able to experience this for 18 months. These are not just chapters in a college ethnography textbook, or a National Geographic photo-essay, or a wanna-be traveler's day-dream. We are really here, seeing the sights, smelling the smells, hearing the noise, feeling the heat, tasting the chile burn, conversing with the regular folks, observing the subduction zone between Indonesia past and Indonesia present.
Above you see one of those historical and cultural cross-roads mentioned above...1920's technology (becak pedi-cab), Adam and Eve-style transportation (2 feet and one head), 2 wheel kid-power (bicycle), and 2014 Toyota, 4-wheel drive.
One always sees people lounging, more commonly men. Here some are playing a game.
Above is Jembatan Merah, Red Bridge, a famous site in Surabaya in the Battle for Independence. Here the locals fought the Dutch. Sadly they do not seem to take preservation very seriously.
It is not coincidental, we believe, that many shops selling fragrant oils, kedai minyak wangi, are physically situated immediately adjacent to the local fish market. Above you see the polished metal canisters containing a large variety of scented oils, used to make body oils, cosmetics, incenses, perfumes, etc.
Jembatan Merah again. Around us traffic of all sorts is whizzing or pedaling by. The noise is very loud. Lots of truck exhaust and fecal smells, mixed with smells of frying and garlic. Down below us are men fishing using bits of weed as bait. In months of observing, I have never once seen anyone, anywhere, ever, catch a fish, although I am assured it happens. In the distance are two, naked little kids taking their daily mandi in the river. The little girl is washing her little brother, pouring buckets of water over him.
Three becak drivers enjoying some down time, ngomong-omong-ing (shooting the breeze). I bought them ice creams from the old man selling home-made, chocolate ice cream below. 5000 rupiahs (the white man rate) a piece...somewhat frozen chocolate milk on a bamboo stick. As my wallet came out, I discovered that these three becak buddies suddenly had many friends, each also hungry for chocolate ice cream. I went home with a mostly empty wallet, although the ice cream salesman seemed satisfied. My other choice was kacang hijau (green bean) ice cream.
Water pollution is so problematic here. And it all flows directly to the ocean. Small wonder that there are kilo-tons of plastic trash circling the world's oceans. These canals convey all manner of human effluent.
We recently initiated the Church's Self-Reliance initiative here in Surabaya District. We had visitors from the Asian Self-Reliance Office in Taiwan as well as our Indonesian director from Jakarta. Me, Brother Furness, President Hadi, Brother Mak, Brother Danu, Brother Dean, Sister Sukemi, and President Rhama. A majority of attendees to our first meeting elected to participate in the 12 week course on "Starting and Growing my Own Business", to start in early September. Many others were also very interested in the course on Pursuing more Education. We are in the process of identifying members to function as group facilitators.
We still occasionally go out on splits with the young missionaries. Here are our Jawa Timur Zone Leaders Elder Sadiyono (below) and Elder Troff (above).
Grandpa time, Indonesia-style. I'm mildly jealous. On the other hand, this Indonesian Grandpa does not get to help grow the Lord's Kingdom with the best companion ever.
We are engaged in a wonderful project right now for these past few weeks in helping families to become more spiritually and physically self-reliant and more capable financially to attend the Temple. Using a scriptural, stewardship model, we are purchasing a few inexpensive food carts and associated cooking tools, and while we maintain full ownership, allow these members to use them without any user or rental fee, allowing them to keep all income for themselves, We are also helping them learn budgeting and simple accounting processes, and also requiring them to maintain full Church activity, keeping their covenants, and saving a portion of their incomes for future Temple attendance. They are required to attend the Self-Reliance course, and may not operate their business on the Sabbath day. For some of these families it is their only source of income, and for others is a solid secondary income. Many hope to be able to quit their current, low-paying job and do this full time, giving them more income, giving them Sundays free for Church service, and most importantly giving them opportunity and hope to raise themselves out of poverty.
We attended an Indonesian blok-party this week. Brother Samuel, recently baptized 3 months ago, and recently called as the Surabaya 1 Branch YSA leader, together with his family, organizes a yearly ecumenical Christian dinner/get-together in gratitude for the blessings of the past year. A wonderful thing. Many YSA as well as President Sandhi showed up in support. It was a fine evening. Below is Samuel with his parents. I had fun playing with some cute neighborhood girls. They enjoyed doing Book of Mormon puzzles on my Ipad. General Moroni would be proud.
We continue to love our association with the YSA (Young Single Adults) in our District. We are the District YSA advisors currently, by default, and meet with them twice a month. 3 of them have been called as their respective Branch YSA leaders, and we are having regular planning meetings. As all YSA do everywhere, they are pretty self-initiating and self-organizing. We just give them some direction, and provide a little logistical support at times. We have a few non-members joining us, and have also opened up to at least one older Single Adult for lack of a better organization just for them.
They recently totally (I really mean totally) just planned a District outing to the beach south of Malang. They arranged all of the budgeting, contacting, transportation, food, spiritual program, and games themselves. It is so wonderful to see them coalesce into a cohesive group that cares for each other. As everywhere, all YSA activities require food, and usually lots of it. Below, nasi ayam (chicken rice), Tang orange drink.
The beach is called Gua Cino...China man's cave. A Chinese hermit lived here several years ago. It reminds me of the Oregon coast, although the water is quite warm, and the tidal change is quite striking for an equatorial beach. This trip occurred on our P-day. Wouldn't you like to come join us on this mission? It's not all work, you know! And there's a big load to carry. We need to move this rock over there.
We went to the beach on 17 Augustus. For you Indo-philes, you know that is Independence Day here. 17 Aug 1945. Dirgahayu Indonesia ke-70. You will notice the red and white flags and other decorations in the photos. Each community really goes all out...parades, formation marching (no bands, just marching), speeches, games, etc. No fireworks, BBQ's, etc like in the States.
Rattan/wicker walls, mud floors, banana trees. This is more reminiscent of Indonesia 45 years ago, at least much more commonly seen then than today. I really do miss it. A much calmer, slower paced, simpler, unique life then.
You can see evidence of the large tidal changes in these photos.
The local tukang loak...the junkman/recycler, hauling cardboard, plastic, etc. His truck is piled high. Imagine driving these winding, at times quite steep, 2 lane roads, competing with a million motorcycles, trucks, buses, and cars. You want to just close your eyes, but then you might miss something so amazing, beautiful, unique. So, I keep my eyes open, my camera out and the window down in the front seat, uncomfortably close to the front-end crumple zone.
This guy is hauling leaves harvested free in the jungle. Maybe for animal feed, maybe other uses. I'm not sure. Maybe it's just a poor man's rear air bag.
We still occasionally are called to drive to Lamongan to observe progress on the Church-sponsored water project. Four wells and associated underground pipe conduit are being constructed using church funds and some local sweat equity by the villagers themselves. Should be completed and ready for an official opening ceremony the end of September.
Although still in progress, the local villagers have already used the water. They loosely connected some PVC pipes above ground to convey water to a nearby house for a wedding.
This village woman is separating kacang hijau, green peas/beans from the husk. These little beans are very popular here and used in many dishes. I have seen it served as a bean porridge, candy, ice cream, and as a dessert served with coconut milk, ice and sugar.
In one of the villages we are bringing water to, we entered one simple red brick home. The floor was mud. The furnishings sparse and well worn. It had electricity. The windows were unglazed. It had a TV. The kitchen was spartan. A LPG stove. A few very used pots and pans. You can see the bathroom below. President Hadi is inspecting the kolam which holds the water used for bucket bathing and cleaning up after using the toilet.
One of our inactive member families lives near this cemetery. Full of garbage. It is literally where they throw their garbage, Full of chickens, ducks, goats, cats, and the occasional yet-uneaten dog. Small garbage fires burning making it very hazy. Creepy at night.
Daughter: "What kind of work do you do, Daddy? Daddy: "I sell green and pink chickens."
Daughter: "Why do you sell pink chickens, Daddy?" Daddy: "So you can drive a Frozen car."
How many Indonesians does it take to sell one microwave? Believe me when we say this is NOT an isolated anomaly. Retail shopping in Indonesia is a nightmare. There are no economies of scale here. Many hands do not make the work lighter. Compulsive shoppers would quickly go home thoroughly cured after one day shopping here. Trust me.
KID TIME...aka, the best part of the photo blog. We dare you to find cuter grand-kids anywhere. And if you do, we do not want to know about it.
This says it all. So are you.