Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Indonesian Branch Dedication

When there is only 2 seasons, time seems to move in a different speed. It's really only one's own perspective that changes, because time is still moving forward at the same speed that it always has.

I'm sure the brothers who were actively participating in the Indonesian Branch Dedication can attest to how time moves by. But, once it's over, it's over. The ripples through time keep on moving...

So somehow 4 1/2 months have gone by in Surabaya without sitting down to think and update this blog; what has been happening? So let's go back in time...

Culture between the east and west, is just that. Opposites. A friend and sister in the congregation informed us about 3 weeks beforehand that, ohh by the way, I'm getting married. We didn't even know she was dating. So it was off to Borneo (Kalimantan) for the first time. 

(Nothing says vacation like waking up at 530 a.m. to go on a boat-ride to a floating market)

The floating market was quite incredible actually. It was like the floating market in Thailand with less boats, less yelling, and less foreigners. The people had all types of vegetables, and one lady even cooked a type of pancake on her wooden boat. The best bit is a bit gross...

On the boatride up the river everybody uses the river for livelyhood. They wash, clean, bathe, brush their teeth, and sadly, yes, use it to go to the bathroom...

(This is what washing your teeth in this river does to you. These ladies are 14 :)

Then it's finally time for the wedding. It's amazing the talent we have in our organization. The highlight of the festivities at the reception was a sister from Korea playing some of the most beautiful violin accompanied by a brother from Singapore playing piano.

(United with old friends)

One of our local brothers has always bragged about how good the fruit is in Borneo. He said that about the fish as well. Well he was right. Some of you may have heard of durian, some of you may hate it, loathe it, or love it. In Japan it goes for something like $100.00 USD for a small bunch. It's smells bad, but tastes heavenly. 

(We had enough durian in 2 days to last a lifetime, and it was gooood.)

Sometime after Borneo, I was able to make it home to Batam. It has been one of my longest places I have lived since I was kid. Although I have numerous pictures of sunset's on this blog in old posts, I discovered that starting a day with a sunrise somehow just puts a smile on your face. 

(Sweet start to the day)

Batam has always been a very transient island so when the recent circuit assembly had nearly 600 that shows how much growth is still possible. People who were single when I left now have little kids running around. 

(Old friends, same happiness)

Since online everything has practically taken over every aspect of our life, here's an observations about it.  Sometimes people know more about where you are and what you are doing then you do. This year I saw my memorial picture giving the talk from someone in America before I even saw the picture in the actual location. Same was true in Batam. This was sent to me, I didn't even remember taking the pic!

(30 second conversation, a quick picture, update)

My parents came and visited which is always good and special. There's a few zoo's around, which in Indonesia is always interesting. Here we saw all types of animals. In the ticket price it's included to take a picture with some 'baby' animals.

(Mom picked 2 baby tigers, dad picked the uhhh, baby lion??? Ya, that's what they said)

(I picked the baby orangoutangs, they picked me)

As usual there is the annual pioneer meeting with the congregation. And as usual, after it's over everyone wants to take pictures. And more pictures. And more pictures. So by the 8th picture and being super hungry after assisting to conduct, I'm sorry folks, I can't fake a smile. Like the theme of the meeting "stir like a fire" I was eating the stir fry.

(I like how Brother Herd eloquently put it on JW Broadcasting Annual meeting program: sometimes you have to 'suffer for righteousness sake.')

Anytime my mom comes we undoubtably go shopping. Thanks mom. This year's theme: meeting pants and some meeting shirts. Being in 'meeting clothes' 6 days a week and in temperatures in the 90's (35) on a motorbike, usually ends the life of the shirt faster then you may want. 

(There's 5 girls for every 1 section of pants. All's they do is giggle and find your size)

Now we have caught up to the main event. 
Indonesia Branch Dedication. 

The planning for this goes back about 8 years. From the time they started looking for property until the time they actually purchased the property, built it, and dedicated it. It was a privilege to be involved in a few aspects of the dedication. 

Because of the some 200 international delegates coming from 35 countries Bethel was all hands on deck. That means for persons like myself assisting it was 'find your own way.' For about 3 weeks or so being in Jakarta it was living out of a backpack. I do love it though. You get a opportunity to see people you don't get to see and spend time with them. 

(Leo and Nana are good friends. I was the MC at their wedding and help them find their apartment. Ironically my sister lives in Nana's previous accommodations in Bali. When she cooks Japanese, oh boy, it's good.)

At my old residences there in Jakarta I always made time to meditate on what is going on in life, and this time on how to handle my responsibilities for the dedication project. Jakarta has a fascinating history of trading, empires coming and going and spices that changed the world. Although Jakarta was built in a good location, you only get a sunset once or twice a month since modern pollution takes over.

(Just sit and relax) 

Life wasn't so sunny for the entire week prior to the dedication. Jakarta had floods. Somehow the dedication was booked in the flood month. The day some of the delegates started arriving the road in front of Bethel was complelty flooded and shut down. The airport and transportation systems were in chaos. Nothing like having the largest gathering in our history around this time. 

(Look at this am view from a apartment. Clear, sunny, then the clouds start rolling in. Or is that smog?)

The floods hit part of the scheduled tour at the National Museum of Indonesia. The museum was completely shut down, some of the exhibits were ruined, part of the roof caved in, and part of our scheduled tour was closed. The worse floods EVER inside the museum.

Now to add to this, there were largely supported protests 2 or 3 times in the previous week right in front of the museum and on the route of the city tour that was scheduled for the delegates. Again though, that's one of the great things of serving abroad for many years. "SUDAH BIASA" - that's the way it is. You get used to it. The show must go on. 

(Indonesia's top restoration experts. Toothbrushes and blowdryers to restore 8th century artifacts)

The show goes on and the bus departs! One of the best things about a bus tour with a bunch of random persons is hearing a little bit about their stories of where they come from, what they are doing, and how it is in their assignment. You make new friendships, people are in happy moods, and everyone is laughing.

One of the funny interviews was the chef at Bethel. His English is a bit spotty and he is super dry. He just kept talking about how he was happy pioneering and never wanted to go to Bethel or to cook. He said: "I don't know what I did wrong." A bunch of random people were interviewed on our 4 days of taking them around on the bus. 

(After floods and Jakarta winning the award for the worse traffic in the world, everything went smooth without a hitch.)

Now besides a bus tour, you need something to see. How about a scattered tour. So much of Indonesian's history and story is linked in with beliefs and teachings from Babylon. Anyways, just one interesting point is the word miriam in Indonesia has a link to Portugese. When they used to fire their cannons they would yell out Holy Maria, which the Indonesian's heard the mariam and called a cannon Miriam. 
(Nothing like false religion being used when killing innocent people)

After a Bible themed tour it was time to eat lunch, enjoy a brief play of the theocratic history of Indo and a nice lunch it was time to see historic Kota Tua of Jakarta. 

(Group picture is always great) 

(At the end of the day and during the day, it's time for a show!!! Indonesia Dedication Entertainment)

Now it's time for the dedication itself... There were a lot of interesting surprises. There were less then 500 people at the event itself, but another 1000+ tied in at another location.  One of the funniest things was the interview about the work itself and some of the changes at Bethel. One branch committee member seemed to do a on the spot interview. The interviewee Surya is our longest serving translator. Anyways, there was some hiccups in language where it was said: "your a translator you should know."

Another funny point was the Japanese branch report he said 7 things that are related between Indonesia and Japan. One of the brothers who was involved as designer and supporter broke his leg and has 3 kids I believe and was a elder, husband, and running a busness, and on the project. Other hassles were churches above us and below us in the building. Other challenges were the fact that our construction standard as JW's is higher then the contractors and building itself. 

Lastly Br. Tony Morris and his interpreter Mario were hilarious. At one time Br. Morris said, "I know that I didn't say that." 

(Laughing and good times all around)

Out of everything that happened during this special week, this was probably the most touching to me. The older brother looking down on the left is Brother Ron Jacca who helped take the lead here in Indonesia for decades. If you see the number 1952 down below, I believe he was even the branch servant back then. He's looking at a picture of himself and reading the story of something he hasn't seen in over 62 years. How special it was for him since when he came here as a missionary there were only a few hundred witnesses, now over 25,000. I was tearing up. It reminds me of the new video on JW.ORG of 100 years of the kingdom. Then at the end how it says something like, "We thank you all are dear older ones, your our living history."

("Well done good and faithful slave, enter in the joy of your master")

Since only a small amount could attend the Saturday program, the organization lovingly had a Sunday program with a review of the Saturday program. This included a video, WT discussion, more branch reports, and a different service talk by Tony Morris. In his typical style, lot of stories, lot of good points. Boom, boom. It was the largest ever JW's in one place with over 15,000. All together we had over 26,000 signed in via streaming. So theocratic history was made!!!

(Is that my buddy Eli on the field as the VIP cameraman? I think so!)

Since my parents and sister were in the country, it was a good chance for a family weekend away. One day Jordan and I and some others went on a mountain bike ride down a mountain in Bali. Now everything was going great; nice ride through the small towns, etc, etc. Until a straight up small tornado went through. It was so rainy, cold, and windy, we thought we were stuck. We had to drive over downed power lines, through the rain and wind.., and well it was a story never to be forgotten.

(Oh and we saw a lot of spiders too!)

Some of the delegates went to Lake Toba, others to Yogja, but inevitably all end up in Bali.

(Great to be united)

Back in the greater Surabaya area I had been requested to give some public talks. It happened where it all kind of scheduled at the same time. It's nice to get to know the friends better after that meeting. It's nice for the Indonesian friends to have a animated speaker. 

(You can take the man out of sign, but you can't take sign out of the man)

It had been a while since we had traveled to Pare, East Java where the English village is. Such a fascinating little place. 3 hours there and 3 hours back. Like always, the brothers and sisters all get to know each other better. We laugh, we tease, we talk deeply, we place a lot of magazines, brochures, and books. I think this year trip was something like 295 mags, 45 brochures and 8 books. 

(I haven't seen a cow in sometime while preaching)

We had our Circuit Assembly in Bandung. To get there I took a 12 hour train ride through the rice fields of east, central, and west java. It was harvesting time, and it was nice to see methods to extract the rice that have been used for centuries. 

We also had our 2 day KM School. The Kingdom Hall that we used in Bandung is the busiest Kingdom Hall in Indonesia. 7 days a week somebody is there. It's something like 16 congregations using the same building? It's a lot. So our school couldn't fit everything in one day. On Saturday we helped clean the assembly site. It was the Cat Show of Indonesia and we had hair all over the seats. All in all, it went really well. 

(Old friends saying how much they miss me)

Then of course with all of this going on, it's still memorial season. The campaign is always a busy busy time. We did some extra things this time such as preaching in some of our southern more areas. We went to Pare as shown above. We did some business territory, and we did some additional cart witnessing. We have so many University's and students around Surabaya. It's good to start getting these locations preached too.

(My sister came to our memorial. Was nice having the support)

I had 10 of my studies/rv's come which was nice. The problem is when you are giving the talk you can't sit with any of them. Thanks for the brothers and sisters who help them out to find the needed material. We had 71 attend and another 29 attended with one of our pioneer sisters in the Indonesian venue. Some of her employees who attend don't speak English. 

(Always a special occasion, no matter where you attend)

So now we have caught up to the present time. Although the branch dedication is a theocratic highlight for anyone, I think the people involved always supersede these events. Working with Jehovah's spirit and seeing how it overcomes any obstacles is more of a honor then attending. As Br. Morris mentioned in short, -you have had the holy spirit helping you for a while now, but next week after this is all over your gonna feel it when it leaves.- He was right, many many got sick just from pushing for months to get the job done. But, time catches up and many are back to normal now. 

What a beautiful thing for the Indonesian friends to have so many foreigners around who are serving Jehovah. Many of them will never get to travel overseas, so this maybe as good as it get's for them before the end of this system. For those of us who are in special or regular full time service it was a reunion to see so many who are "seeking first the Kingdom." It was like walking around at the annual meeting, you feel that vibration of love and happiness in the air. Again like Brother Herd once put it "there's so much love in the air, you can cut it with a knife." Shoulder to shoulder with all these dear ones was the experience for none to miss. 

It's been nice to catch up with some of you. Indonesia is growing and is still looking for help. We would love to have you come check it out and see if it works for you. 

(Right place, right time, right view, right on!)