Monday, December 15, 2014

Speeding by in Surabaya


The Sign Language Convention in Indonesia was finally on it's own without the oversight of the Indonesian District. How did it go? As to be expected for people representing over 20 cities in provinces around the archipelago. Nine deaf were baptised. Including the Balinese Deaf Organization Chariman. A deaf/blind man, and some others from a very strong majority religious family. 

For the third time of these Regional Conventions, I was being interviewed on the first part on Friday about 'Meet those Seeking First the Kingdom.' I still don't feel like I should be there. Although 16 years has sped by in full-time service, I still feel like a new guy. It is interesting though how much of a different way of explaining the same thoughts into sign compared to spoken words in Indonesian, and my mother tongue in English. 

(Aim the Arrow Straight With Your Destination Firmly In Front of You)

From the first time I saw Sign Language singing when I was around 8 years old to now, it still doesn't get old. 
(United Hand Poetry)

Meanwhile, it has been very special that my sister has come to 'test the waters' of the ripe field of Indonesia. She has not been disappointed. Of course she has had to deal with immigration, motorbikes, bali belly (tummy problems), language issues, and the whole array of other new headaches that Indo lovingly brings. Of course, there are happy things too...

(Nothing says modern Indo like a bunch of girls in head scarf's taking selfies and showing the Vsign)

Jordan and Ohio Jen hit it off, and hit the screams. I have never seen the locals laugh so hard. For some reason my sister got the idea to scream as loud as she could. So the staff, people waiting in line, kids, adults, everybody stopped to laugh and say, "hehehe the white woman buffalo is really scared and freaking out." It provided entertaintment. We also got a bunch of random girls to try bumper cars with us. Not a good idea for them.

(Two thumbs ehhh Chad?)

We got to do a brief trip to one of my new favorite places. Purwokerto. This hot spring waterfall is just priceless. I really can't describe how neat it is to be on a mountain with jungle all around and nothing else, besides hot sulphur falls and cold refreshing mountain water. It was good to do it with a few other foreigners who could appreciate it how different and special it is. 

(Out of the smoke, comes- a shadow with a hat?)

(Ya, I jumped from the top)

Back here locally things are always as busy as. Preaching, CO visit, studies, etc. I have about 12 studies right now of differing backgrounds. I don't write much about all these studies for there is just too many. I guess it's just part of the assignment. I do like this story... 

A sister contacted this Indian man in the mall doing informal witnessing. She turned it over to me. Personally, I never like that. If I don't meet the person and form a connection it's really hard to start up since you have others you think about. Anyways, I finally met him after a few tries. We had a good conversation that centered around his brother who was baptized a JW less then a year ago in Japan. 
Our brother preaches to him through the phone quite regularly. In typical fashion for someone new, he is missing a little tact. So I helped smooth out the edges and show the scriptural reason why his brothers said these crazy things. After that we left and good terms and I left some literature. I met his wife another time who was very very thankful to have the magazines and enjoys the spiritual conversation. When she was young she went to a Christian school. 
The next time I met them both and did a study with the two of them. A young sister was with about 8 years old and she did a study with their little boy from the Imitate Their Faith book. 
The next time was sweet. Our CO Massa, lived in Japan in the same island and same congregation where the baptised JW brother was. Nah, of all things, he happened to have the congregation picture AND his brothers picture on the baptism day. Massa has met him before he went to Gilead and then on too Indo. 
Recently, he's been in India with his brother of all people. What will happen when he's back here in Surabaya?

(The instant that he saw his brother on a random JW IPAD... really 'angelic.')

Massa and his wife stayed with us. Well, I gotta cook for them. I usually only cook about twice a week on Monday's and Friday's. Food is cheap and fast here in Indo. When you do the math, sometimes eating out can be cheaper. It's nice though to have time to actually think about what you will cook and do. I don't think anyone got sick... :)

(More and more need-greaters coming to Indo, including our two Japanese sisters)

On Sunday we did a little preaching, hiking, and site seeing with our sub-CO and his wife. The Dutch had described Indonesia as the Emerald Isles when they first approached. It was so green and would almost shine off the see. It's not hard to see why even to this day. 

(Some hiking in meeting clothes, slipping, and getting wet. Another day in Surabaya)

(Gotta take a few minutes and take it all in)

For the first time, the English Circuit Assembly was moved to outside Jakarta. Bali. That in itself is just so great. The attendance was over 500 for our circuit which was a new peak. The location was at a hotel that gives 50% rates off for witnesses. That's really nice when you can wake up and be at the assembly. People were talking to others, saying hello, and generally happy all the time...

(My sister was a bad girl with a good heart. Nothing like getting to have fake tattoos for an assembly demo)

(The baptism at a infinity pool. Not to far off the side is cliffs and the ocean)

(Jusssssssssst fit)

If your in Bali, you have to see the ocean. There is an island about 45 minutes away from the mainland Bali which is still like going back in time to Bali 30 years ago. No major hotels, development, wide roads, etc. They still carve out the mountain for limestone. Beautiful!

(Just alone in a lagoon)

(All smiles!)

I had to get back for the meeting in Surabaya, so I was on my own. Typical Tommy stories and habits don't change easy.  This was how I got home to Surabaya- 11am -6:15 p.m. 
Riding a car, getting lied too about the price, negotiating with the govt official, having to run on the beach and ocean to jump in a boat, going to two different islands, getting lied to about prices, hopping on some random stewardess from China's motorbike, transferring to another random Indonesian's motorbike, hopping on the back of a boat, getting a good deal, jumping off a boat, walking through the sand, motorbike, car, airport, plane, gov't bus, public bus, metro mini bus, change clothes, motorbike, - ARRIVE 6:15- conduct the Theocratic School and handle a service meeting part. Clean KH, drive home, sleep. 10 p.m. The next day Wednesday? 12 hour service day.

(Somewhere in that day I drove past a few gorgeous sites. Camera phone shot from back of motorbike)

Back in the ministry here in Surabaya, it still is always entertaining.
Madura a large island with 1 million +/- inhabitants has only 1 small congregation. We went over to preach and see the famous 'bull racing.' It was hot, dusty, and total chaos. Entertaining? Always. Now to watch the event you had locals trying to find seats wherever they could.

(One little, two little, 3 little Maduranese, 4 little,... how many do you count?)

(It felt like they were running 40-50 MPH)

On the way home on our 13 hour service day, we stopped at the beach for a little swim and sunset. The boats were coming in from their day of fishing. We happened to find a family who sells tuna. He sold us fresh tuna just caught that day for $2.50 a piece. They were the length from your fingertips to your elbow. Was nice to buy some, filet them up, and cook them in homemade mango sauce. 

(Run away, run away, we don't want to be your dinner!)

In other preaching activity I was invited to a school to give a class on how to prepare for the 'test.' In Indonesia there are big tests depending on your grade level. These test in a certain way lay out your future. Kids stress for months on end for these tests. Teachers as well spend a lot of time just to prepare the kids on how to past the tests.

Research has shown that you can do all the study you want, but some simple prep-tests tips and during test tips can affect your score greatly. For example, get a good night's sleep the day before. Funny enough, the kids chose praying to Allah as a way to get a better test score. I concur.

(I used it as an opportunity to give tips and promote

(Using the videos to teach and invite to the meetings)

(Our meeting place, young Avel and his father adjusting the microphone for his talk)

I learned in Jakarta that there are always some type of shows that have English speakers. Surabaya get's enough as well. This was a artistic show that had extremely various forms of art. The Javanese as a people are influenced by the Arabs, Hindu's, Chinese, and their own traditions. The artwork has abstract and nature, people and animals, political expressions and dreams.

(This gentleman had no arms, but had beautiful paintings)

Another festival was the Sports and Vegan festival. HUH? Yup, buy some exercise equipment and get your Tofu on! Strange combinations in Indonesia are normal. Interestingly enough when you eat the tofu, soybean, rice meals combined with the sauces that they are imitating; it really does taste like your eating meat. I hate to admit it as a meat lover. 

(Take a bow, then buy a treadmill)

Although many people speak English in Surabaya, levels of English undoubtably vary. Some understand and read it, but they lack confidence to speak it. Others, say: 'little little I can.'  Still, English opens many doors in the preaching work. 

(One thing for sure, the longer you live outside your home country, the more you quickly understand what people mean, not really what they say or write)

In the door to door work, you have to keep your eyes open for potential interested people. I didn't know what to look for in this 'thing.' Actually it's a motorbike with a roof, a back-bed, and all types of clothes, bags, and other things you can think of. He's quite the entrepreneur. 

(Ruth, is there a doorbell to contact the householder?)

Speaking of events to preach, why not a wine exhibition? Here, at the wine exhibition you receive salmon, tuna, sliced beef, and other nice snacks while you try fine wine. Why not find people who like to listen to the truth, while you sample their product? 

(Actually Sir, Psalms 104 says, wine makes the heart rejoice.)

Other places to preach? The mall and Car Free Day...

A lot of things happening in and around Bethel in Jakarta right now. I would assume that is everywhere. Translation teams gotta keep up! I have been around Jakarta for a few things, so it was nice to give a talk in one of the local Indonesian congregations. The talk is for young people, and this one had plenty of young sisters. 

(What?!? No victory fingers sign under the Kingdom hall picture?)

(Nothing like being in home sweet home Jakarta. Was nice to hit the once a month sunset)

When traffic hits the fan like it does in Jakarta, you need to come up with an alternate plan. What we did was walk. And walk alot. But it was still faster and cheaper then a car. We ended up randomly at a craft and batik show. Only in Jakarta. 

(Beautiful and random people)

Entertainment and hanging out in Indonesia is different to what most need-greaters grow up with. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the aahh, well, softer... This was one of the better.  First, you will eat. The friends here don't mess around with makan. Sure, it's not hamburgers and hot dogs, it's much better overall. Here some need-greaters from America, Korea, Japan, and some locals.

(Hanging out is- Mall Food Court. A whole duck with veggies, rice, and 3 hot sauces = $7.50) 

(Fun is -Drive to the mountain, sit and take pictures while eating meatball soup)

(Main course is-Kalimantan Shrimp. This is real finger food)

The international convention had brothers from Indo and Korea meeting, and they each have visited before and after to renew friendship. A guitar and soju was all it took. The one singing on the guitar has quite a story for the truth. Nothing like Tae Kwan Doe, alcohol and drugs before the truth. Now it's sign language, a guitar, and helping where the need is great. 

(The sister in the lime yellow gave her life story, amazing description but after 2 hours, we were out of soju)

In addition to Indonesian culture, I'm not the biggest fan of Indonesian weddings. Food, pictures, extremley loud MC, all standing around, then you go home. There is something to be said for a proper live band. A DJ to dance to music for all. Also some kind of either wine, beer or spirit. It does make it a bit more fun, lively, and memorable. 

(Pink is all around!- Representatives from Surabaya English Congregation)

Now, that being said, this last weekend was a good one. Actually sitting down at tables. Getting to communicate with the people around you. Some kids dancing, and games. Games like the furthest traveler to attend gets a prize. The longest name, the oldest, and the one with the least amount of phone credit. Unfortunatly the winner of that one was a elder. Probably not good when he's the only elder in that cong. SOMEHOW, they also had a 5+ video highlights of that mornings getting ready, pictures, and wedding talk. How the video editors did it so fast is beyond me. Very nice wedding. Good job Yosia and Dewi. 

(I look older then my roommate who was born before WWII was finished. Man oh man)

Time is speeding by here in Surabaya. Things are good, 4 new pioneers, a new m.s., and were really a small family who has gotten to know each other. Just like the sun rises and sunsets, its time to say adieu while 'speeding by in Surabaya.'

(Bali Beach, Bir Bintang, Breathtaking Beauty, Bye Bye)