Friday, September 13, 2013

Road Trip to and fro Surabaya

In the midst of modern megalopolis lifestyle one only needs to see green grass to jump for joy. In this lifestyle a blue sky can cause a heart to rejoice, and puffy clouds cause the soul to shine. 

Unquestionably my feelings have bonded with the friends in JEC, but as is the case so many times in this journey-caused-life; it was time to make new bonds. 

These bonds will happen on-the-way...

(I'm a sucker for a road trip. Hey, if it saves money, brings you to sights you have never seen, and gets the job done why not)

The word Kampung (village) creates an image in most Indonesians minds of simpler life, tastier food, greener and cleaner. It's true. We can includer cheaper as well. This random roadside restaurant was built over a cliff overlooking the sea with banana and coconut trees. 

(This meal was one of the top I have had in Indonesia. Freshly caught Tuna bbq with spices. Four types of vegetables including eggplant with shrimp, fish curry, mashed sweet potato, and to top it off a coconut drink. COST- $6.00 for two people.)

Indonesians always will have something going on that's normal, that a foreigner may look and say, HUH? WHAT IS THAT? On the way through Yogya I saw something that I hadn't seen in 6 years. 

(Live chickens tied upside down on a motor bike)

On our trip through good roads, bumpy roads, holes in roads, dirt roads, we arrived at the president's road. Here we saw the house where Indonesia's president SBY was raised. Nino the brother who drove with me randomly met a man who knew his father the city Dr in the past. So he took us to the house, met the president's aunty in her 90's and placed magazines. 

(Might as well also take a nap in the president's childhood bed) 

On the sides of the roads going through Java you will see random glimpses of paradise with men and women wearing big hat's on their heads. 

Here's a few random spots of glimpses of green bliss.

(While driving I turned my head and this is what you see)

(Rice paddies in perfect symmetry) 

(Clouds coming in...)

Many don't realize the Islamic history of Indonesia is pre-dated by the Hindu and Buddists period. The largest Buddist structure in the ancient world named Borobodur is here in Java. This second temple called a Chandi is the second largest. Unfortunately it is closed for the public. Why? Unstable due to an earthquake. If you look aroud the site there are still blocks and stones that are trying to tell a storied past. 

If you look closely at a lot of the buildings you will see things that remind you of Babylon and Egypt. Eagles, three headed  images, moon shapes, phallic symbols, etc. Nimrod got part of what he wanted. 

(Once you live in Indo for a while you learn that a tip of $1 or $2 can get you almost anywhere.)

Now, what does this Hindu relic look like? Did you say Mayan temple? You would be correct. Remember what was mentioned above? "Eagles, three headed  images, moon shapes, phallic symbols, etc. Nimrod got part of what he wanted." You can go here to this beautiful location in the mountains and see for your own eyes how false religion spread all over the earth after the construction of the Tower of Babel was stopped. 

This was faith strenghening to see with our own eyes some of the history of Bible prophecy and images right here in Indonesia. If you look closely these symbols are still mixed into the modern entertainment, political, and religious systems.

(It was nice as well to have our lunch here of BBQ rabbit on a stick.)

This third temple was practically all about fertility. Turtles, phallic symbols, eggs, the whole layout was practically for sex worship. It is reported that in this time period in Java, the immorality of temple worship extended into the lives of the daily people. Many of the temples and images were damaged or destroyed when Islam took over centuries later.

(This place is still used on special occasions by the local people for Hindu religious ceremony's)

This third temple was out overlooking Mt. Merapi a active Volcano as you can see on the left. As beautiful as the sunset was from the top of the mountain was eclipsed by hearing the sounds of silence from the mountain top. Crisp, clean air with the stars twinkling.

(The only change for next time- not being up their with a 50 year old man named Nino! :)

Along the sides of the roads in Indonesia you occasionally see a sign that shows a tourism spot. You never know what your going to find, but it is usually good. In this case it was a double waterfall that flowed right into a dark sand mineral beach with cliffs. 

(It was refreshing, and the local crowd went wild seeing a visitor in the water)

Beaches are an amazing highlight to any trip. This beach was about a mile long with nobody on it. It was screaming for somebody to explore the cliff caves, put some of it's sand in their toes, and just breathe to be alive.

(Random stop, Permanent Memories)

After the road trip it's now on to my new home in Surabaya. One of the best ways to learn a new place is...? Hop on a little motorbike and go out in service. In this case a pioneer took me to the end of the road. In the background is Indonesia's largest bridge which connects Surabaya to the island of Madura. In the past everyone had to take a ferry. Not a quick payment at the toll and you are there. 

(Where the wild things are)

Our territory for the English group is huge and spread out over all types of conditions. We find English speakers in all areas. It's a lot of driving, but not as much traffic as Jakarta. Although the locals complain about Surabaya being so hot, I still think Batam was hotter.

(No matter where you go, there's always a peak at what Jehovah has in store) 

Just as it goes in Indonesia there always is a big mall somewhere. In this case it happens to be a Hello Kitty production. Nothing like being in the middle of Indonesia with people jumping around worshiping and buying Hello Kitty. In these locations so many of these families can speak English. 

(Do you like Hello Kitty? Yes I do. So here's a magazine.)

For places to go preaching we go to Rome... Well not exactly. These housing complexes are designed with a theme. This theme is European. 

(About 2 km away are shacks made out of almost nothing.)

Since Madura is so close to Surabaya it's worth it to go and check it out for the day. Funny story is how when they were building the bridge bolts and pieces kept disappearing since the locals and contractors were stealing them. 

(Nice bridge, leads to a big island)

I always thought Madura is famous for it's satay (meat on a stick). In reality the satay food only comes out night. What's during the day? Duck, Duck, Duck. VERY GOOD. Lines out the door. People buy the duck and bring it back to Surabaya. Now outside the restaurant in Indo's there always seems to be a parking guy. This guy stood out. 

(With the hat, with everything, just too much)

For some reason wherever I go, I still end up bumping into deaf people. Here we were in a village in Madura pulled off on a side road next to a rocky beach. Interestingly enough while there we also met some students from the Bandung Technical Institute who were observing the sky. They were trying to find out officially when Ramadan would start. They and a television news team were there for the big event. 

(The deaf boy in the far left was super shy. Him and his friend on right had developed their own sign language)

When I first arrived in Surabaya I was looking for some indoor soccer or basketball. Their not as much into soccer here as they are going out to eat. It's a culinary culture in Surabaya. 

(After a meeting. Ayo, makan makan. Eat Eat!) 

Indonesia is getting more and more need greaters to come. Two of the recent need greaters came from Kiwiland. Big ups to be in your 70's and come to Indonesia. A brother in Surabaya met John and Margaret in NZ at the recent special convention. The hook was sent and the bait was taken. They were a very positive influence for the ministry and the young people. 

(Try to guess which one is John?)

Like most cases in Indonesia there's always a going away party. There's always a lot of food, smiles, and this time big laughs! We played the calling out numbers game that just took off. You couldn't hear anything. As you can see from the picture there is the potential for a congregation. Plenty of young people willing to help. 

In the ministry we meet all types. Educated, and not. Rich and not. Happy and not. Etc, etc, etc. The nice thing here in comparison to Jakarta is people let you inside their home more frequently. In my own theory, once your in the home, you can practically start a Bible Study at any door. Normally you are the one who excuses themselves. You can go hours if you want.  It's happened to me already with about 4 people.

(You wanna join???)

Although been living in Surabaya for a while I hadn't had a chance to see some of the friends in Sign Language. So we got together in a mall of all places. Now, somehow the deaf know that when I'm around they can ask any random questions that's been bothering them and get an answer.  This night was no different. In the middle of an Aussie Steak restaurant questions were flying about selling illegal DVD's, different ranks of angels, rebellious spirit and such and such. 

(If I can just 'shut up' it seems to help the signing flow so much more smoother) 

Now with all the fun, and everything going on in Surabaya, well, it's back to Jakarta. Why? Visa time. Yes, after only a month it's back to Jakarta.  Actually, not really ready to go to Jakarta. With the congregation field ministry getting going, studies started, learning the roads, getting in shape with the gym and basketball, and good conversations with my roomate; I don't want to mess with the routine. 

That means it's time for another roadtrip. This time back solo for either 18 hours straight, or breaking it up into smaller trips. What would we see this time? 

(Below are all teak trees. Everywhere as far as the eyes could see was teak. Here was teak fields next to rice paddies at a hot spring with no one there. It smelt so fresh, so alive.)

Gotta love searching on google for places to go. In this case a waterfall shows up only in Indonesian. Why not, it's on the way. I took the wrong road to the waterfall, but that was a mistake in surprise. It was the source of the river coming from an underground spring. The water was so clean, so fresh, while you swim you could drink the water like a dog slurping his tongue around. The local man took me to a place that was called mandi belanda. {Dutch swimming hole} The water was deeper for the talller-then-indos so the Dutch used to like to go and swim. 

On the way down this curvy road again I noticed teak. So after parking a few locals were building this shack on the side of the road. I asked them if it was teak? Ya. The wood for the shack was worth 10x more then the home itself. 

(After paying my 20cents entry, this was the waterfall I came too. The water was so nice, so deep, so blue)

If you drive to a waterfall, you might as well also have a stop at a deserted beach. You just need to park on the side of a road. Walk through someones yard down a random path. Look out coconuts falling overhead!

(Then you arrive alone; and of course with a boyfriend and girlfriend on a motorbike smiling saying hello mister)

(Since for the most part the Indonesians are afraid to get a tan, then this is the beach your left to alone)

After getting sandy and wet it's back on the roads. As you drive by scenery that make you smile and realize how happy you are to be alive serving in Indonesia. 

(A simple site. Mountains, rice paddies)

Then somewhere from among this nature you arrive back in a big city like Jakarta. It's like; what happened? Where did the paradise go? 

Then you turn around and realize the spiritual paradise is right inside these places where the phyisical paradise is lacking. 

(It's time for another D.C. in Sign Language. A new peak of over 600 was reached. This time was a few firsts. Song's were pre-recorded. Release of tracts also released on 1 DVD. Many, many new deaf)

One deaf man I had met nearly 2 years ago in Medan, North Sumatra. He's quite an inspiration. If you notice him next to me, he's quite short. So yes, he's really short. If you also notice he has no arms. Now it's hard to be deaf in this world, but to also have no arms would severely cut down on communication. Somehow with the neck, smiles, yes, no, and his FEET, he can communicate. 

(Ever seen someone send a sms with his toes???)

I met Andy nearly 10 years ago. Andy was a good guy to chat with since he was quite fluent in ASL. Every few years I bump into him again. 

(Many times people like Andy bring their friends so they can hear about who and what JW's do)

Of course every convention is a reunion of people you haven't got to seen in awhile. 1 year ago I had 6 deaf muslims in my apartment in Jakarta. This year I met some of them again with a few suprises. First, they had deaf come from the next island over called Tanjung Pinang, Bintan. Can you imagine a congregation with 18 publishers sending people over to help an area? Yes, that's how much of a need it is. Yet, 3 of them came to the convention. 

The other big news is related to last year. Ilham (inspired) had been a rv ever since I came to Batam in 2006. From all the time he started studying and stopped studying meetings and no meetings. He had family religious pressure, was still in school, under 18, etc. Finally last year he snuck his way to his first convention. I still remember last year when all of the boys went to go out in Jakarta to see the city and he decided to stay back in my apt. He had so much on his mind, and wanted to think and meditate on what he had learned. He was blown away at the whole convention and brotherhood. It touched me watching him touched.

(1 year later Ilham (tall boy left of me) dedicated his life to Jehovah)

Amidst the happenings of the convention was the Indonesian convention next door. Since many of the Indonesian brothers and sisters have friends there and want to hear the program in their own language they swing by. It was really heartwarming to me that they knew I would be with the sign language so they 'sought' me out.

(Some of the old JEC crew)

Like I said before I still miss the sign language meetings and culture along with it. As you might be aware sign language doesn't have audio dramas. The only way to have the audio part clear is to have it video taped.  So for the sat audio drama they asked me to help out...

(Behind the scenes of what Jesus and his apostles would do between takes and make-up.)

Sunday's concluding drama featured a spine tingling scene in the sign language convention. It showed JW's getting arrested all over. It showed them in sign langauge, Japanese, Indonesia, etc, etc. They showed it complete with Lawyers, Police, Immigration, TV cameras, the whole 9. Wow oh Wow. 

(A lot of cameos too, but the brothers did an amazing job)

Reunions are always nice, and this time was no exception. Martha and I have known each other from CT. Dave and Daniella from Mass and Ecuador. A group of New Englanders meeting up in Jakarta of all places. When it's a choice of what to eat in a city that provides culinary choices from all corners of the globe; nothing like good old Pizza, Burritos and Beer. 

(Representing English group, Sign Congregation, and Indonesian Congregation. Wanna help?)

As I've talked about in years past Ramadan is always a unique time of year. Everyone is hungry, sometimes cranky, but spiritually minded. A lot of food specials, a lot of buffets, a lot of trying to be middle eastern. Is it 'scary' to live in a Muslim country during a month long of fasting and prayers?

(In the middle of Ramadan in a large mall I was eating the following: A Hawaiian {pork} pizza with beer surved in a tea cup while studying the Watchtower for the week)

Every year for a month or so it's all about 'mudik.' That's the mass exodus of people in cities back to their villages for the finishing of Ramadan. Traffic in Jakarta seems to increase 50x because people are hungry and have no tolerance, and people come and go, shop and dine. 

(A typical afternoon in Jakarta during Ramadan)  

After people leave Jakarta, it becomes a world-class city. Honestly this time around I was thinking it doesn't get too much better. You could see the mountains in the background. You could see the ocean only a few miles away. A few hours away is waterfalls and botanical gardens. A 1:30 boat ride gives you white sand beaches under coconut trees. The skies were blue, the roads were empty. There are happy people, int'l restaurants, good shopping, it has it all. Unfortuntaley so many of the friends aren't around to enjoy it. Since it's holiday time many leave the country and travel to Singapore, Melbourne, and Bali which becomes little Indonesia's.

(Even a baseball field right outside where I was staying. Nice to be back in the heart of the city seeing green grass)

Now, since we had a few days before the English convention it was a good opportunity to head to an island in our territory. A sister had promised me for a while to take me fishing in her husbands boat. Nothing like freshly caught fish chopped up sashimi style while in a boat skimming over crystal clear blue water.

(It's also fun to be with a group of Brothers you don't know who are happy and smiley. Good to always sleep with 7 random guys in a small room. Then a big 9 year old kicking you all night.)

On the island we ate bbq fish, played cards, and laughed. I was so wasted from 7 hours of deep snorkeling. Indonesia's oceans are never dull, but you can see the effects already on the coral reefs. A lot of the coloration is lost. At the same time you can still see sea turtles (5), blow fish and clown fish, weird spikey things that I have no idea what they were. The cliffs, the coral, the little creatures that are alive that have various colors of the rainbow.  I think the best part was this school of tropical blue fish. My bathing suit, gloves, and finds were all of a similar color as them. So they decided to follow me around for about 1 hour.

(The guys on the boat would just stop somewhere in the middle of the ocean, drop me off, and come back in a few hours to go to a new place.) 

When your on a tropical island in the middle of the Java sea you almost expect to see a good sunset. Well, over the years I have learned that there is a lot of variables that can happen between the morning and the evening. You can't always guarantee where you will be or what the weather will be when it's sunset time. 

(Although a sunset is not predictable, you can almost always be ready for a sunrise; if you hit the alarm)

Back in Jakarta it was time to visit old calls, studies, friends and hit the campaign. The last day before the campaign we were able to give out over a 1000 invites to various apartment buildings. It was faith strengthening for us to be able to give a witness to so many in such a brief period of time. 

We had a lot of things to do get ready in different departments. Beautifully many brothers from the Indonesian District were involved and helped out. We of course had many new guests come including new ones serving here. 

(Someone called me a twin with this 'Nutter.')

Like all conventions the baptism is always one of the highlights. Our cong had 2. One of whom had a unique background. She grew up in the majority religion and studied the Koran in Arabic daily. When she came across the scriptures that mentioned the scriptures by the prophets before the Koran she realzied for herself she needed to understand the Bible. Her study led her to us, and she decided this was the way to go.

(Tattoos and all, she decided to come and serve Jehovah)

Another highlight was the new releases. Here in Indonesia we released for the first time tracks in some local languages including Javanese. The response so far has been great from those in our territory. Many times they smile and laugh when they see something in their own language. 

(We had persons from 32 countries at the convention was a peak attendance of 662 or something... You think I would remember since it was my job to record and report it.:)

Of course during the convention you always get some new faces and old ones as well. Unfortunately fimiliar faces get a little strange after you eat enough hot sauce (sambal) and fried rice.

(Hey guys, this was supposed to be your happy convention face)

Back in Surabaya after a successful down-to-the-last-minute-VISA-is-OK-run, it's back to Surabaya.  Here the routine is nice. My roomate is a veteran miss from the Amazon. He's got stories and pictures from life on the mighty river. Being older he paces himself and that paces me. We talk deep and keeps us abreast on the 'scene of the world that is changing.' 

(Our little home in {as locals say, Suur o boy o)

Surabaya is known for it's delicasies and range of food. I love the duck and the vegetables made with coconut shavings.  Many of my friends in Jakarta have even sent me a list of things to eat and experience while in Surabaya. 

(Hey Tom, what do you want to eat? I don't know, I'm not hungry, just something light. You can surprise me)

Recently East Java did their elections. That opened up an opportunity to go open up a new area of service in Pare or as it's called (The English Village). Here some 40 years ago an Indonesian moved here an opened up a village that would have very cheap courses to learn English. Over the years thousands of Indonesians have moved here ot learn English. OVer 200 registered courses are in town with nearly 10,000 students. 

(We got our name out there)

So a group of 7 of us went from Surabaya down to this group to help open it up. Needless to say it was successful. We placed 124 magazines as a group with a extreme variety of backgrounds. A few courses requested magazines monthly. We met some who had attended the meetings before, some with witness relatives, others who had never heard of us.

(Nice lunch with village fresh veggies, fish, live birds, mammals??? It was a park that you eat)

On the way home we took the alternate route home, unfortunately it rained. We were all happy after a 13 hour day, although most felt it the next day.

(Still through the clouds we got a few glimpses of Paradise) 

Back in Surabaya after a long day of service there was a change of light on a dirty river that told me that whatever will happen next here in the Indonesia; life will be alright. Until next time, wherever that may be...

(Wherever you are, whatever the weather,, no matter what the weather, a sunset brings a smile)