Rabu, 26 September 2007

On Becoming a Millionaire

Indonesia is where one can easily become a millionaire. At the rate I'm going, I'll reach the point of becoming a billionaire in no time. On average, I pay about 10 to 15 thousand rupiah for a cheap meal. Last time I spent 7000 rupiah for a can of coke and my friend Sally said that it's "mahal" or expensive. I was paying the "bule" rate. (Speaking of the word "bule," in every non-western country I presume, has a word for the white man. In Thai, they are called "farang," in Cambodian "marang," in Spanish, you call them "gringos" and here in Indonesia, they are "bule.")

Every time I leave the country, I have to pay a million rupiah fiscal, quite outrageously expensive. Also over here when renting an apartment or a house, people pay for a year or two in advance! (I often wonder how on earth can they save up that kind of money. Or maybe Indonesians know something about the value of savings that many of us westerners or westernized younger generations may not.) Not only that, sometimes rent can be as expensive or more than in the US, depening upon the kind of living situation you prefer. Do you want an apartment, a house, a mansion, or a castle? Take your pick. A lavish lifestyle is easily accessible by many foreigners.

However, I've adopted to live the ways of the locals by taking buses and eating local food. I figured since I already had food poisoning, by now, my stomach should be as strong as steel. I definitely don't want to miss out on the tasty Sundanese food that tastes much better if you dine with your hands. (Adding to the taste, of course, are the raw elements coming from your hands!)

On another note, I guess I could have lived high on the hog but then again, I need to save money for more traveling in the future and am still paying back that thing called "student loans!!!" It's actually not all bad living like the locals. For instance, taking a bus here is definitely a thrill that doesn't figuratively cost an arm and a leg, but it may literally do so. Still, I like it because it reminds me of riding on a roller coaster.

"I think that travel comes from some deep urge to see the world, like the urge that brings up a worm in an Irish bog to see the moon when it is full." ~Lord Dunsany

Minggu, 23 September 2007

Mataku Tlah Melihat Kemuliaan

"My eyes have seen the glory of the Lord."

Never in a million years had I planned to come to Indonesia. But I'm here now and God has never stopped to amaze me. Oh, the wildness of God! Who can comprehend? I'm falling more and more in love with God, his people and this country as the days go by. I still remember the first few weeks of wanting to get out of here as soon as possible: being lost in translation, having no hot water, getting food poisoning, feeling homesick, facing the chaos at work, and missing close friendships. There were times when I just asked God to give me enough strength for the day and nothing more. Why God? Why did you allow me be here? I heard no answers. But while waiting, God has taught me to find comfort in Him and Him alone, to see things from his perspective, to trust in his great plans and that he knows what he's doing with me. My life story is being written by the hands of the living God.

My eyes have seen the glory of the Lord.

On one Sunday about two weeks after I got here, I specifically prayed that God'd bless me with a friend who was going through the same situation as me--another "fresh of the boat" foreigner, another Alicia perhaps. And watchabygollywhoa! On that very day, I met Becky Vail. Not only was she new in town, she is also a disciple from Seattle who happened to just move to Indonesia to teach! As if God knew we'd need each other, a fellow soldier in the battle, as if God had planned this all along. "He determined the times set for (us) and the exact places where (we) should live."

My eyes have seen the glory of the Lord.

The other day I was doing a slideshow presentation of my Papua New Guinea trip to my ninth grade students for a development studies class. I had never thought that I'd be sharing about God's glory from my travels to students. And the kids loved it, seeing their teacher's painted face in the native grass skirt costume. Moreover one girl is currently studying the Bible. Another girl, with a Muslim background, is trying to convince her mom to let her study the Bible. Many students have brought their friends to church. And yes, I see my students at church every Sunday. Quite strange in the beginning, but I've gotten used to it.

My eyes have seen the glory of the Lord.

I'm building deeper friendships with the brothers and sisters here, growing closer to God, learning and studying the Bible with Indonesians. Aku belajar bahasa Indonesia dan bisa menyanyi dua lagu di bahasa Indonesia. Oh Tuhan, biarlah api ini terus berkobar.

Mataku tlah melihat kemuliaan!

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy."

(By the way, have I mentioned that Indonesians can really sing? The song ministry here is the best I've seen yet...)