Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Suitcase of Memories

The key volunteers of Jakarta :)


Like a fly swatted and glued to the bed for four hours. That’s how I felt after sleeping in my own house this afternoon. Dad and Kuya picked me up from the airport in the morning after a gruelling 3.5-hour flight after midnight (wherein the passenger in front of me reclined his chair, leaving me little space to crouch over to the table and sleep… stress). I can’t tell you how much I missed the smell of Filipino breakfast. The city may also not be as wide, modern-looking, traffic-free and clean as Central Jakarta, but my taste buds and heart is home! Even the hotel life can’t replace home showers.

As I waited for almost an hour for Dad and Kuya, I tried to contemplate on everything that happened in Indonesia. It still seemed surreal meeting all the people I had in mind. Yesterday dinner time, we had a celebration with our key volunteers. Mesakh, Richard, Noel, Stevie, Devi and Damar were present. It’s the first time I met Damar from PNJ, and I really admire everything he said because he was determined to start moving and aware of the possible obstacles at the same time. They said goodbye to us before we hopped on a bus to go to the airport. All around were hugs, high-fives, gifts, calls, SMS and even tears (from the female LPMI staff!). I really felt the love.

Before our team dispersed as we arrived in Manila, we prayed together for the last time. There were so many to be thankful for, ask for and look forward to. I pray that the movement will be sustained, I pray for the staff and the key volunteers to stay committed and in love, I pray for the safety of the other Filipino teams, I pray for my teammates to never forget what we learned and also for us to share them. Going on missions was a great experience, a dream come true, and I can’t wait to go on one again.

In the meantime, I’m praying for my own home to be reached by Christ. Pray with me.

Ingat / Remember

Breathtaking Monas


I woke up today with a heavy tummy ache. It must have come from all we did yesterday. We went to Monas, Taman Mini (someday I want to go back and check out everything, the place was sprawling!) and spent the rest of the afternoon on an Indonesian theme park where my teammates and I rode a Tornado, got on Hysteria, experienced a Power Surge and had a Roller Coaster ride that left us shaken and dizzy but thankful that night, as we had our fill of un-spicy food in a little gathering of all Philippine Hybrid delegates from Davao, Iloilo and Dumaguete.

Few days before yesterday, I wrote about how we felt as our days on campus are nearing an end. It was a bittersweet piece that started like this: “Mafi and I sat on a bench under the shade of a tree in front of Fakultas Teknik— frustrated, confused, defeated, thankful, discouraged and completely silent. We didn’t know what to do.” It was the time when we felt like giving up finding key volunteers.

“Half of me said, “There’s no way we couldn’t find another KV! An unaffiliated Christian with a desire for movement has to be out there!” The other half is reminded of what we did the past few days, which is random Soulariums to explore the field. We encountered all kinds of students. There was Rayman, a Christian who thinks that all religions worship the same God. There were the mechanical engineering guys, who were mostly Moslems but have the desire to be closer to God. There were the group of drugged, smoking guys from Communication we ran away from. There were the two batches of friendly English-speaking students from LIA and more. As we distributed post cards today to the people we thanked, I felt the sadness remembering Mafi’s first prayer when we received the name of our campus, which is to “see the fruits of our labor.” At that time, I felt like the “fruit” was bittersweet. That is, until the Philippine Hybrid delegates began to share.

They encountered the same difficulties as our team—existing organizations, holidays, the students’ final exams week, personal struggles, stress of commute and miscommunication but they also remained strong. The fruit of God’s labor, put together, were staggering! I can’t believe the big picture involved reaching 25 campuses and having more than 70 key volunteers all over Jakarta in just two weeks, of which only eight days were school days!

Mech Eng afternoon
Last day on campus with Citra and Tika
Our first dinner in Indonesia, with our friends from Maker Community, Jojor and Def
Team lunch
Goofing off

What is even not reflected in the statistic were the spiritual conversations initiated within the campuses, and the personal, individual stories of how God revealed himself to all people who have been touched by Hybrid, from the staff to the students to the delegates to the ministry partners. We went home that Friday (our last day on campus), with a bracelet on our arm given by Citra, a Catholic whom I shared the 4 SL with (it was my first time I used the material I think, or at least the first one that is memorable, because I usually use Truths), a box of Indonesian food, similar to empanada, given by Victor whom Mafi shared the HSB with (that we shared with our team during the sight seeing day) and text messages from other students expressing their thankfulness that our paths crossed. I have never made so many friends in a short time.

To me this experience enlarged my view and made me bolder about sharing God’s truths. Going to another country (with a different language, religion and culture) as a stranger with a mission is a lot like going around the AS lobby meeting freshies. I can’t wait, really, to go back to school and do witnessing again. More so, to go back home and do the same thing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You only got Five Loaves and Two Fish? / My Battle of Envy

Ever since, I have concluded that I am not an envious person. It never crosses my mind to compare myself against other people in terms of looks, academic achievement or financial stability. I always think that I have something good in me, and there is no reason to be envious because each person a unique combination of highs and lows. Whoever is better than me, I genuinely admire, whoever is not, I try never to look down on. To me envy is a heavy, defeated feeling nobody should nurse.

Earlier this morning, we heard John Piper’s “Battling the Unbelief” series in our devotionals. Today it is about the green “E”. I realized a lot of things about my past, that the only persons I’ve ever felt envy of were my brothers. Don’t get me wrong! We are the closest bunch right now that I can even afford to say “I love you” to them and I know the feeling is mutual. It used to be worse when we were young.

Despite being the only girl between two boys, I didn’t feel special. To me, I was inferior from the two because I only got into the honor roll when I was in fourth grade and I had a 76 grade in Algebra in second year high school. While our parents are never hard on us on grades, there was light teasing that I was “eliminated” (there was a prize if we get into honors in high school).

From then on, I strived never to try pleasing my parents because it seems I can never do so, permanently. (Dear parents, if you are reading this, it’s not about you! Haha) I’ve been so convinced that they have a negative perception of me that anything that I do positively will be cancelled out anyway. So if I didn’t get into honors, that’s okay, I’d feel disappointed myself without needing their comfort. And if I excel at one subject, I didn’t speak of it. At one time when I win competitions or elections, I never tell my parents, or get rid of the details, even to the point of keeping it secret.

At one point I casually told Mom, “You guys always think I’ll fail, don’t you have trust in me that I can do well?” I think it struck something in her. She said, “Then prove us wrong, anak.” And in my mind I thought, “I wouldn’t waste my time proving anyone wrong, or just proving anything.” And it’s true. Eventually I became more at ease of my own skin. I accepted my weaknesses and failures and am happy of my strengths. I never tried to please anyone or compare myself by boasting or being envious.

Only God has gotten rid of all the rebelliousness and pride, however. I used to not be envious out of my own conviction that I am justified — self-justified, that is. But when I realized that I also have to be less hard on myself because I am justified by GOD, it is when I can let go of my own standards as well. Even as I fail for my own standards, I can still be God-justified, which is greater than any justification I could ever receive. It’s not the happy ending of envy in my life. But it is something I try to always keep in mind.

Maybe this will help you also if you feel envious at some points of your life. You have a design and it is not by accident that you live a life that is different from others. You are justified by God himself as you receive him so that you can free yourself from all the bondage of standards that the world has placed upon you (and don’t be surprised that it can be YOU who is hardest on you). There is a reason why he is called OUR Savior.

Similarities, Differences

Her bright black eyes shine and her braces show whenever she smiles. She was quite talkative and obviously intelligent and interesting as she relates her life as a teenaged Indonesian who grew up in the African country, Kenya, and returned to her hometown alone to study in the university. We are of the same age and the same batch, which is unusually young in Indonesia’s school system. We both speak English fluently, which also isn’t very common in the place. But apart form those, we have very little things to share in common—in terms of family life, history, educational background and clothing preference. Any passer-by would notice that she is wearing a veil, long-sleeved blouses and closed shoes and I am not. Ina is my first veil-wearing Moslem friend.


We met this afternoon when Mafi and I arranged an appointment to meet English students in UP and do Soularium. We met four students, one of whom is Citra, our new PKV. She is a Christian, also from Farmasi and inactive in the Christian community (we brought Ruth with us, another PKV). When the rain started pouring just before we left, we stayed inside the room and talked more through comparing our countries and playing Ice Breaker until Ina arrived and joined us. She clicked with the group immediately.

What struck me the most is that upon hearing the students’ answers, you would not know the difference between a Moslem and a Christian. We all desired to draw close to God. Perhaps what differs is our idea of the means of fulfilling that desire. I’m not sure. I am yet to ask.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not up to us

Taken by Mafi again, she likes taking pictures than being in them

Right now, Mafi and I feel the pressure of our last week of stay in Indonesia. We have only found one KV, and have one PKV to challenge tomorrow. As mentioned in my updates, we have been doing Soularium for the past few days in order to explore the field and find Christians who are not involved with the campus Christian community but have the heart for movement.

Today we met a guy from Fakultas Law, Rayman. He is a Christian involved in an evangelical NGO, but delving deeper into his beliefs, he mentioned that he thinks all religions lead to the same God. Mafi described that while most religions focus on “do”, which is rules of works in order to attain salvation, Christianity focusing on what is “done”, not by us, but by Jesus. I believe that despite sharing this it still did not make sense to him.

One of the highlights for today is when we met a student government member who led us to LIA, and English-teaching private institution within UP. We met Ka Ine, whom at first I thought would scold us for the cultural study that we are conducting. However, what we talked mostly about is the educational system of Indonesia and the Philippines since she is an English teacher there (like my mom). She then graciously proceeded to call some of her students who are free to participate in the Soularium, to the point of providing us an air-conditioned room for the activity. Tomorrow she also arranged for her students in the afternoon to participate.

On our Soularium sessions today, most of the students we met are Moslems. Only about one in ten is a Christian, as I estimated it. The random Soularium is kind of difficult and time-consuming because at this time of the week, we really should only be setting appointments for challenging PKVs instead of looking for one. We are on the edge hoping and praying that God would cause us to cross paths a Christian who have in him or herself a vision of movement waiting only to be supported. We can never orchestrate those alone.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Boy Talk



The boys of mechanical engineering are all eyes and ears on us. We can see by their buzzing presence and abandoned tambayan that their attention was captured again by the photos. Victor, whom Mafi met last Friday also through Soularium, served as our translator as we asked them “How would you describe your life now?” and “How would you want your life to be?” I expected them, like stereotypical guys, to make an excuse to leave and dismiss these questions as “heart-to-hearts” or cliché “getting-to-know-you’s” as they kept on joking in their own language. Amazingly, they started sharing a bit of their lives as well, which is mostly about the yearning for freedom, troubles in their family and their desire to have a close relationship with God. I couldn’t believe my ears.

Afterwards, when asked about what we thought about Indonesian students, I told them, “We don’t usually do this (Soularium) with guys. But I think Indonesian students are really friendly because most people would dismiss us and be suspicious or refuse, but you were kind enough to trust us and give us your attention in the process.” And it was true.
The conversation continued all afternoon even as we finished the little game. Mafi shared to Victor at one corner, who was a Christian but considered himself ‘lost’ and whom we are also eyeing to be a key volunteer because of his leadership attributes, while the guys were friendly enough to gather around and talk to me after meeting Ruth. I learned from the chitchat that most of them are Moslems and that they are intricately tied to their ethnic groups. Also, something I had to mention, there was a forewarning by the earlier batch that minor acts of courting are not impossible in our stay here. I had to act coy when they asked if we would like to have a drink (merienda they mean), if we’d like to go around Jakarta before we leave, for our Facebook names, et cetera, although I know they are just curious about us. I hope that we can still find someone out of them who wanted to be a leader.

I’m glad that we were able to talk to them because never in my life have I tried making friends with big groups of stranger-guys. Mafi and I really just had to go through it because otherwise, we would stick to what is comfortable, that is, speaking only to women. Perhaps tomorrow if we still see them hanging out, I might ask the Moslem men about their beliefs. I’m also curious.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bersyukur / Be Grateful

Friday
Tika’s eyes looked tired and weary. She seemed to be encountering some difficulties in making her thesis proposal. The examinations are coming and she is yet to review Chemistry and finish a paper. So when Mafi and I came to UP to challenge her to be a key volunteer, I wondered if her current situation would make her too drained to accept the challenge of building a movement.


It didn’t.

“How do you feel about the challenge?” I asked, aiming for her honesty. Her tired eyes smiled, showing no signs of burden. “I’m really excited.”
Since we met her, I have seen that she is familiar with the concept of spiritual multiplication. Being a daughter of an LPMI staff had its perks, but she mentioned that more than that, a person should personally accept this movement mindset, and she did. Over and over I have heard of the difficulties of Christians in UP. Other religious groups would criticize them, they were limited because of school regulations and…let’s just say that college academics really isn’t really a breeze. But above all that, this woman stands firm with her vision. It was amazing and I wanted to help keep that fire burning.

Sunday
It was a quiet family with much love and food to share. Served on the table were babi cecap (sweet pork, our first red meat in Indonesia), adobong manok (the first Filipino one) and oseng (made from kangkong).
Mafi and I spent our Sunday at the home of our first key volunteer, Tika, to teach each other how to cook our native dishes. In the morning, we attended the Sunday service with her Church's youth group. What I admire about Indonesia is that they have a lot of worship songs in their own language. I wish more Filipinos would compose worship songs as well! Even though we have never heard of the songs and though the lyrics sound like tongue twisters for us because we can’t comprehend, we always find ourselves singing and clapping to it anyway. I often shared about my Church—that guys are trained to preach, that we do not have a physical building and that regardless of seniority, anyone can lead a Bible study.

During the waiting period, us girls were chatting about Hybrid. We asked Tika for names of people she believed that we could challenge, talked about modelling the 4 SL and sharing various concepts to students. We were received by Tika's parents, Uncle Didik and Auntie Diok who are LPMI staffs, with utmost warmth. They picked us up that morning, treated us to lunch, gave us our ingredients and brought us back to the hotel. We are so thankful that the first key volunteer that we have is a “rock” kind of person with a “rock” kind of family. We had a sweet time with them.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Soularium

Ruth, me, Tika, Gerald, Monika, Messy, Olive and Rindang

Mafi took the pictures and led our Soularium time :)

Pictures scattered all over the carpeted floor inside the room of PMK, Tika’s Christian community, an intercampus organization. Tika is our intial contact in Pancasila University (we’re back there!) whom Mafi and I met over lunch today. The students (Gerald, Monica, Olive, Rindang, Ruth) started sharing a parcel of their life and dreams through the photos—some of them looking for reconciliation and direction from God, while some expressing the willingness to welcome new people in the community. Though I know that the fellowship they share is something important to their personal relationship with God, I am yet to see in them the desire to share Christ actively on campus.


Messy, the leader of the community, mentioned about the difficulty of sharing the Gospel in their campus because Christians are the minority. Tika shared earlier that their community have met opposition on campus from other religious groups because of their faith. On a personal note, I am concerned more about their fear than the opposition. While having a good community supportive of their faith is helpful and influent of their growth, it would be more difficult for them to be become discouraged and inward-looking in terms of evangelism. Our plan is certain: to instil in their minds that the Gospel is something they have to urgently share despite the opposition they face because God commissioned them to. They can build on what they already have—good friendships and constantly seeking of God—and use it to minister to Pancasila.

Tomorrow afternoon, we will be joining them for their service. I’m excited because I know how Church life is important for me as a believer. I also see this as an opportunity to get to know the other members of PMK, to really get to know what kind of movement mindset they have and to share with them the multiplication process. How do they actively work on their movement? How can we help them get over their fears? I pray that by tomorrow we would have found out, chosen, or better, challenged, students who are ripe for leading the movement. The clock is ticking.

Terima Kasih / Thank You

Gunadarma

The orientation in Jakarta could be confusing. The driver’s seat is on the right side of the vehicle that I often think the person on the passenger seat is the driver. “Keeping right” for pedestrians cause traffic and accidental bumping. Crossing the street could also be dangerous, as you would look at the cars which had already passed by instead of those which are coming your way. It takes some getting used to. A new hotel and a new campus do, too.

                We transferred hotels twice, this time, in a place within the University of Indonesia. It was the biggest campus I’ve ever seen so far. To go around the campus, one would need to ride an air-conditioned bus (for free!). The food and laundry here is cheaper, student-priced and in terms of aesthetics is much, much better than the past two, or the past ones I’ve been to as well (I have a thing for fabric curtains and showers). It really looks like a resort. We could swim, have free wifi, eat buffet breakfast and have a small lobby on the second floor all to ourselves. However, we might need to re-transfer next week. We are so thankful that finally we’re more at ease on our stay here.

Mafi and I did not go to Pancasila University, instead to another campus of Gundar, something we found out the last minute. We were alone and we do not know anybody from the school since it was our first time to go there. There were bands and booths and teenagers—a huge majority guys—hanging out when we arrived. It was intimidating to be strangers here, so when we spotted two girls buying drinks, we asked what was happening and introduced ourselves. We ended up talking about their campus. Two guys who were with them arrived and joined the conversation. Olan particularly stood out because she was a non-veil-wearing Moslem, saying that wearing it is mainly for “fanatics”.

Islam became a train of thought for me today. Moslems have a more cultivating environment in Jakarta relative to the Philippines. Malls cater to Moslem fashion, employ women regardless of their religion and even design their uniforms according to their beliefs. In a way, their lifestyle fit in to their religion and not vice versa. To me this was an evidence of religious freedom, to work without discrimination, to be treated and to be given equal opportunity as any other person. But at the same time, I wondered if their wearing a veil is a violation of a woman’s personal freedom by her religion. I know that in any religion, there is more reason than one why Moslem women practice it. Perhaps this will be the subject of my future studies in my course.

By the end of our first day on campus, we have talked to students and a psychology professor in Gundar. There is a lot of stress regarding miscommunication and misunderstanding, as well as personal struggles regarding leadership in our team. But God really spoke to me today when I heard an audio message by John Piper. We have been so blessed lately. God allowed us to transfer to the nearest hotel to do his mission, he has saved us money and time and effort, and the miscommunication and misunderstanding is nothing but a blip. I’ll be resting today with a thankful heart than casts all the unbelief to him who is faithful.

(guy on the right)

HYBRID PERSON OF THE DAY: Richard
                We met Richard during our day at church and we’ve been seeing him since then He doesn’t speak much at first because he knows little English. But his action spoke in volumes. I don’t know where he got the commitment to accompany seven strangers who can barely understand him. He is with us from morning till night for the past four days. From talking to the lunch lady to crossing the reverse-sided street (on our POV), we owe him a ton. Thankful for students like him who are there and ready to guide us willingly.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waktu Rehat / Time Out

                 The room in the new hotel fell silent as seven people gathered around small scraps of paper. Lord, please guide us towards the place where you need us the most. I’m praying that the person I will be working with will be chosen by you, and that you would use me effectively in whatever campus you arranged for yourself.

One by one each person picked a paper, some smiled gleefully, some frowned for a moment, and some just shrugged the results off. From my paper, I peered slightly perplexed at the letters “UP” until I realized it stood for Pancasila University. Mafi would later reveal that she was my teammate, and that God has also been impressing her which paper to pick like I did.

Pancasila University.

The first time we went there we were welcomed by the rain and the empty, student-free campus. We didn’t meet anyone from UP, and it was really one of the last campuses I considered opening, since I already forgot about it after visiting the more pulsating universities UI, BSI and PNG. I was confident that I was designed to be placed there. Our group (Mafi and I) had only a few minutes of planning. Relatively few than the others, in less than ten minutes we finished planning. Haha. On our first day, we just wanted to meet our initial contact, Tika, and get to know the Christian organization where she is from. We really had no structure or directions to follow but to just listen to their stories and ask questions, to naturally build relationships. I’m excited to be sent on the field tomorrow and experience campus life there. Also, we’ll be transferring to a nearer hotel that sounds promising. Pray for more powerful times!

HYBRID MOMENT OF THE DAY:

                Us girls and Ka Rum ate dinner at a restaurant near our new hotel. The menu was posted on the wall, and as usual we could not understand many of them (we do understand some words such as udang, ayam, nasi and goreng, but when they are mixed together, no). So the staff, not fluent in English, asked us to be seated. And at once they started serving us plate after plate of viand. Soon, practically everything on the menu was on our table. We panicked at this act. Do they expect us to pay for everything or was this just an exhibit? We learned later that we are only to pay the food we choose. So much for a feast!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tur Kampus

At BSI, shot by Edz


Universitas Indonesia
            We hopped off the train and walked around the familiar-looking campus of Universitas Indonesia. There was a UP feel to it, with the pavement of stone darting across the trees, wide roads and the sprawling land area. It was our first time, and we had no adult supervision. “Let’s use our lost-ness as an opportunity!” we thought, and asked the group of teenagers hanging out in a building where the nearest place to eat is. It was lunch time. Since it was a holiday, only the convenience store was open, Aira, Febry and Rey, newfound friends, accompanied us and told us facts about their school and campuses. It’s amazing how they are able to trust us despite being new to their country.

BSI
            Richard and his newly invited friend Yola took us from the train station of UI to BSI, which is a small information technology school, closed, due to the holiday. There were no students around, but we decided to walk in prayer instead. Prayer walk is something new for me. We climbed up several floors and prayed about the campus lives. Nixen shared afterwards that this was a meaningful time to him because he was really able to imagine conversations along the hallways and powerful campus experiences.

Gundarama
            Gundar is a polytechnic university, and they were having a mini-fair when we arrived, contrary to the empty halls of BSI. On one of the booths, a python found its place on my arm, and the more sporty students told us about wall and mountain climbing. By this time, Adi has joined us and we divided into groups to pray there as well. It seemed to be a pretty friendly environment dominated by youngsters studying engineering and other mathematical courses.

There are two other campuses that we did not visit today: Pancasila University and PNJ. These visits were really tiring – we haven’t had enough rest ever since we arrived here. Our team always come back to the hotel near midnight because of the late dinners and leave early in the morning for appointments and devotion. So tomorrow, we will be changing hotels into somewhere nearer and spend the time planning and resting. I thank God for our productivity until our third day. I really enjoy meeting new people and finding similarities and differences among us. Even though the commutes and the trips were arduous, God is revealing a lot of promises for us.

Hari di Gereja / A day at church


Attending a service in Bahasa Indonesia was probably not a good idea. We were seating at the front pews clueless about the program—the flow, the songs, the verses—understanding nothing from what they were speaking at all. Rain started to pound above the sky-painted ceiling of the church. On our own we started to pray instead, reading the Bible and discussing the verses. We were doing our own thing basically. That is, until the youths began to sing.

The youth group consists of the friends we met during yesterday’s fellowship: Ando, Jojor, Def and Andi were the ones I recognized. My mind shook awake. They were singing the Bahasa Indonesia version of “Heal Our Land” and immediately we started to sing with them with the English version. They sang three songs which we also didn’t understand, but seeing and hearing them really led me to prayer thanking God for the realization that we are worshipping the same God, only in different tongues. God is the mover of tongues and opener of ears. I prayed that he will continue to open our ears during this trip whenever we do not understand his leading. It is very easy to get impatient or frustrated when we could not understand each other in terms of language, but there is understanding beyond comprehension.

Over dinner, Dika and I had a one on one sharing about our ministry in our courses. We both are sociology majors with similar woes about theories and professors. Despite the subjects that seem to be hostile to Christian faith, Dika has found an opportunity there to share the Gospel using the papers, surveys and interviews that he naturally does. He related testimonies of people who have finally received and committed to Christ despite strong distaste before, stories of changed lives and continuously praying for and reaching out to people, and how sociology majors in his university are at the forefront of the ministry. It was amazing to hear it from someone who is in the same context as mine, and it really is one of my goals for the next semester, to evangelize among the future sociologists of the Philippines. To some this may sound naïve, but I have witnessed how faithful God could be to his promises. It has happened in Universistas Indonesia. Surely, it can happen to UP.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Senang Kenal Kamu / Nice to know you

A candid shot of Jojor's and my arm by Edz. Tehbotol is a popular flower tea in here

Our team “huddled” inside the cold Room 401 as we unwind and remember what has transpired during the day. With the night coming to a close, it was hard to imagine how much God could pack a lot of events in less than twenty four hours of our stay.

This morning, we had our first taste of Indonesian food through our hotel breakfast. But there was hardly enough time to chew idly as the Lembaga Pelayanan Mahasiswa Indonesia (LMPI, counterpart of the PCCC) staff fetched us by foot to their glass window paned office at 10 AM. Details of our visit were further discussed and questions were flung over the meeting. We learned from Bang Wim, Bang Ras and Ka Rum that for the next two weeks, students will have plenty of holidays and time offs from school because of their finals exam week. It was a daunting task that there will be no classes this Monday and Tuesday, which would have been the time for us to get a glimpse of the campus environment. So after a few minutes of indecision and distribution of allowance (we were amused by the foreign currency difference, we were millionaires in Rupian terms!), we decided to visit them today.

Being out and about Indonesia had its fair share of surprises for us first timers here. The train system has been particularly remarkable. From the outside, it was similar to a typical scene at EDSA, except that trains have different classes. On the economic class, there were people on top of the train, a dangerous stunt to pull for the sake of transporting oneself. There was also an express train which no less than bulleted across the stations, leaving us shaken by the time the chugging metals have passed. Like the MRT, there was a self-regulated female- and male-area in the train. Old women, veiled women, women in uniforms, women with children and teenaged girls rode the trains to get to their destination. This will be our mode of transportation during our stay here as well.

The heavy downpour started when after our short visit and praying at the Pancha Sila University and driving past BSI. We rode an angkot, a makeshift van-looking jeepney, to the student center where the students from the University of Indonesia welcomed us. By the time we came inside the room, shivering wet, it was as though we divided ourselves into small groups and got into conversations with each other at ease even before the real fellowship program started. The friends I met were Jojor, Def and Dikka. Despite the language barrier, we were able to be friends and share a little bit of our lives and hobbies. They accompanied us to a nearby mall afterwards, helping us to identify groceries and sim cards. As we were teaching each other how to speak the language pver dinner, I had to smile when I realized that we were speaking Filipino, Bahasa Indonesia, English and even Chinese at the table. Who would have thought that a day of meeting could turn into friend-making by the end of the rainy night? Finally, we thanked God for the many people he introduced us to and the culture that we were able to immerse to.

Even though there are unforeseen events such as the holidays and the finals week and the little details that remain unstable, our group remain faithful that it was God is in control. More and more it emphasized that the momentum we are carrying on our very FIRST day of stay here. This is not to say that we are all work and no pray. Tomorrow, we will be spending more time resting and finding out how God is leading our ministry. Please pray also for the arriving Filipinos on the same day. :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Selamat Datang di Indonesia!

I swear my heart is swimming in its little bowl of blood.

Dad and my brother are chatting on the front seat, as I devour what is going to happen in a couple of hours. It didn’t help that it was the thirteenth of May and the day is Friday.

Earlier Dad came home with a hue box of pizza and Manay cooked spaghetti and sopas. It was a mini-despedida for me. I’m the first one to be outside the country, and while I smiled and thanked them, I was actually scared deep inside. Throughout the week I have also been meeting with my friends. At the back of my mind, I know I can’t be assured of safety. Prayers were uttered and well-wishes and support. It was overwhelming, to tell you the truth. It is amazing that my first trip out of the country is about God. It’s a dream come true for the little girl who pored over the biographies of saints, dreaming of going on missions when she grows up. Never expected the age to be nineteen. Then again, never expected it to happen at all.

For the past few days, I’ve been excited while other people around me are scared. Mom warned me of mafias. Dad, of extremists and terrorists. I just shrugged it off. What could happen? It was so like me to not be scared until the last minute, after everyone else have gotten over theirs. And this is what’s happening right now.

The materials I brought for Hybrid gave me a picture of what we will be doing for the next sixteen days. Although they seem to be systematic, I know that there is a huge ingredient that it is missing: God’s providence. Who knows what God will do for our trip? Who knows about his plans for us and the people we will encounter? Who knows about what he has prepared for us even before we start preparing?
I have no expectations. AT ALL.

***

The plane has left dry land for a couple of minutes. There is nothing to view outside, lest you should say I got lucky to have the window seat. But as we sped high above the clouds, the glimpse of the city lights gripped me. It was a top view of a black bowl of diamonds and golden orbs. Breathtaking. If I thought flying was not humanly possible, how much more amazing is what is Godly possible? Excitement building up.

Crouching mates signalled an attempt to sleep at almost 11PM. Another thing that I find a hindrance is that I am not close to them. It’s the first time I ever been with them while they all know each other already. But these things, dealing with strangers, is expected in the few days to come as we walk through the city of Jakarta. I wanted to be a correspondent in my stay there. To be the insider, to peer through their lives and what they hold important. To see the differences and uniting bonds between us. I want to witness what God will do orchestrate in this trip.

In the meantime, let me try to sit still for the next four hours.


***

The black private car-looking taxi sped off in an SLEX-like highway in the city. Stomach rumbling and a bit sleepy, we made our way to our hotel. It was refreshing to be in the highways I was gazing at hundred feet above the air an hour ago. The Philippines is only an hour ahead in terms of time.

We had our first experience of Bahasa Indonesia, their language, as we met the person in charge to meet us at the airport. It was difficult to get an idea of what they are talking about, and it is tempting to just talk amongst ourselves. For the first time, I was relieved that English is the universal language we are so familiar of, and that Indonesia uses the same script as ours (ABCD..) so that we could more easily learn how to speak the language. We are off to a good night’s sleep. Can’t wait to experience Indonesia in the morning.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Most things go unpublished


I love reading blogs, especially those from people I know. They might not even be the people I know best, but the people I spend time with, laugh with and even play around with. When I read their blog, there is something different and new that I find about them—something serious and at the same time, something utterly amusing and relatable. It may be in their plain narration of what is happening in their lives and how they are making sense of the world around them. There is a kind of beautiful poetry within it that is completely irresistible. It’s like meeting them for the second time.

There are words too beautiful for mere utterance that last in a few seconds, short enough to not make it to your short-term memory. There is always something precious about peering through another’s eyes, hearing someone’s voice or chancing upon a sincere smile as much as there is in reading how a friend put together their words, mindfully twisting and arranging them into something uniquely powerful, as if painting words into a black and white canvass for nobody’s eyes, just like how we think on our own heads. That’s why I always pretend that nobody’s reading what I’m writing. It got me into trouble one time and for the times I wrote for the newspaper, the fear is always there. This is something I feel whenever I write, hit the publish button or submit. It’s probably one of the reasons why, ironically, the most honest writings go unpublished. The fear lives there and it lives there for a reason. So I always keep in mind that I have an audience of One, of which if compared to a scene, where a musician ignores all the applause until the mentor finally does. I continue to write for nobody but for the one who knows everything anyway.

They say that if you want to be immortal in earthly terms, do three things: Plant a tree, parent a child and write a book (do a good deed too, if I might add). I could only imagine how short life is, and capturing just a parcel of it into a few paragraphs is worth the bother. So I encourage everyone to blog, more than the daily buzz of your life, what you actually think about it. Who cares if you don’t know what medium to use or if your grammatical skills suck? For me, good thinkers always make good writers, regardless of the language form they take. A penny for your thoughts is a price I would pay.