Dave Gullett

a miscellanea

Village Update #3

As the Kijang rolled to a stop and the dust settled on the dry gravel road, I opened my eyes and looked around. And as they adjusted to the harsh sunlight, I felt an immense rush of relief. Finally. After fourteen long hours of bouncing along the “roads” leading from Palangka Raya to the remote village we were visiting; trying to doze, failing mostly and trying to stay relatively sane while being bombarded by the constant repetition of the same cassette of mostly cheesy American love songs, we were there. And as I looked around excitement pushed away the drowsiness, followed by something between nervousness and fear. This was a new world. Unfamiliar. The dirt and gravel continued before me up a long hill and out of sight, and behind me I could see the last long hill we had descended before stopping. Here in this valley lay the village where we would live for the next ten days. On both sides of the road were small houses, built on stilts about three feet high, with few windows and wood shingle roofs. Down the hill a bit, along a well worn path was a house more familiar, still on stilts, but with windows and a broad porch. Chicken coops sat to the left and a small garden was tucked between them and the house. I didn’t know it yet, but this would be home. Walking up the path was a lady with graying hair, perhaps in her forties, with a welcoming smile. Our host. Surprised for we were early, but glad to see us. She greets the driver in Bahasa, then us, in English. More relief. As we walk into the house we see that the many windows have no glass just chicken wire and the plank walls and floor are in need of painting. We see light fixtures and outlets, but soon learn they are all dead, as there is no power service in this village. And while some families have generators, our host uses a solar panel to charge a 12volt battery, which in turn operates a small light for a few hours each evening and charges her laptop. The house is simple but nice. Warm in more ways than one. And if it rains there is running water. Otherwise, we must carry it up from the river at the bottom of the valley. The river is where we bathe. And wash our clothes and our dishes. And where we get water to drink. Unless it rains. But this is dry season. So several days pass before it does. As we settle into the house, we set up mosquito nets and roll out old single mattresses and try to take in our new home. Its morning still, a full day awaits us. A friend of our host has had a death in the family (one of 4 in two weeks) and the funeral is today. And we need food and kerosene for cooking. And we need to register with the polisi, before our presence here arouses more curiosity than it already has. Our host cooks us a light lunch. We make introductions, and try to get a sense of how things are here. Almost time to go. We shed our traveling clothes, wash off and dress up a bit. Motorcycles have been hired to take two off us to the nearby town, while one of us rides with our host on her scooter. We head out. In an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar customs. Hearing an unfamiliar tongue. And not really knowing where or when to do what we don’t know what to do. But God is good and wise and we can depend on Him. So we go.

Village Update #2

One of the most interesting things about Indonesia is the contrasts. This is true of village life as well. There is the contrast between the modern and the ancient. The people go out into the rice fields, laboring for hours at end, picking rice by hand and carrying it back to the village…where it is hulled by a gas powered machine. They depend on the river for water and fish. They carry river water up to their homes for use and they go down to the river to bath with soap and shampoo, wash dishes with liquid detergent and laundry with a national brand powder. The sun directs their lives. They get up at dawn, go out to work if it isn’t raining and work all day til dusk when the return home…and in some homes start a generator so they can watch Indonesian satellite TV all evening. Sometimes they cook with wood…but more and more with kerosene. There is the contrast between relationship and progress. Though the government and other agencies have often sought to help the people progress, they choose keeping good relationships with their fellow people than security or growth. They will abandon rather than offend if they can. And they will give up at the slightest hint of discouragement from the community. They willingly choose poverty over the slightest bit of relational stress. They often want change, but fear to pay the price. And there is the contrast between the Truth and beliefs they hold onto. Though many of the people here have heard the Truth and many have it in Indonesian, because it is not in their mother tongue they do not understand and believe. Or, if they do believe, they cannot grow to maturity and continue to fear the spirits they once served. They lack the knowledge and commitment to reach out to others with the Truth, because the Truth is not yet their own. The old beliefs and traditions still influence and control the people, though often only the forms remain and the meaning they once held is long lost. And understand the meaning of the Truth remains elusive because of the language barrier. Modernity is coming to the village. Progress is as well. Nothing can keep them at bay. And they travel swiftly. And the Truth is coming to them too, in a way they can understand and grow with if they choose to. But it’s a long, hard road to get there. And time is short.

Village Update #1

After our time in Jakarta, we headed out to the provinces of Indonesia, to visit a village. We stayed in the village for ten days, living with someone who has been working with there for eight years. The work there consists primarily of community development with an emphasis on literacy. There is an upcoming workshop of soil fertility in the region, so we assisted in the preparations for that. In addition, we made some odds and ends repairs around the house we stayed in. There is much more to say about the work here, however this isn’t the most conducive place to do so. We also spent a lot of time building relationships with the people in the village, who are very friendly and hospitable. Until school started, we spent a lot of time with the children of the village as well. We had a great many experiences in those ten days, and learned many things about the people there. I’ll do my best to relate a few of the most memorable of these in the next few days before I return home. Most of our debriefing work is completed, and our focus for the next couple of days is a little relaxation and a lot of reflection over the past eight weeks and all that we have experienced here; as well as preparation for the trip back to the U.S. Thanks you all again for all your support and prayers during this summer.

Leaving Jakarta

It’s our last morning in Jakarta, and its almost time to leave for the airport. Last night we had a thank-you/ farewell dinner for our Indonesian host families and some of the staff here. We attempted to serve them a typically American meal of bar b cue ribs, baked potatoes, and broccoli, though we had some Indonesian food as a backup. It was pretty entertaining to watch them try to eat the ribs, since they prefer to use only a fork and spoon and rarely eat with their hands. It was a great evening with a lot of good fellowship and a few tearful goodbyes…and a lot of laughter as well. We’ll be spending this weekend in Palangka Raya before at the office there, before heading out to the village on Monday. It’s a two day drive one way, and we have a chartered ancot to take us, as no one is flying in the region. We’ll be in the village for about 8 days, and then make the return trip to Palangka Raya before flying out to Bali. This will probably be the last update for some time, as there isn’t likely to be access or perhaps even time. Thanks you all so much for your prayers and I’ll try and post again as soon as I can.

Independence Day

Tuesday, we ventured across town to visit the offices of Kartidaya, an national Indonesian organization that is comparable to that of W. The ultimate goal and primary purpose of both groups are similar and the cultural and linguistic situation here affects both their work in similar ways. The main difference is that as a national organization their aim is to encourage and motivate Indonesians to become involved and to involve others mainly as consultants and trainers. Their work includes language development and literacy, community development and support of cultural workers. They also train Indonesians in linguistics and for literacy work here. Another aspect of their work is increasing B. awareness and use through conferences and seminars and training. During our visit we were able to tour their office and get to know some of the staff and the current class of students. Both the staff and students are from all over Ind., and the staff has many years of experience in their respective fields. It was a very interesting and informative day, and a great encouragement to see that Indonesians are becoming more and more involved with the work in their own country.