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A Lesson in Perseverence

Today was an awesome one of travel (light), exploration (new foods), and learning (oh yeah!).
Some fellows and I joined our bahasa teacher, Ibu Grace, for church this morning. It felt pretty similar to the kinds of Christian services I’ve experienced back home. I could understand about 10% of what was being said, though. As seems to be the case so many times, the people were especially kind and friendly.
It is strange and infectious. I have met nice people before and been exposed to hospitality in many cultures. This country stands out though. There is a genuine curiosity in some cases but it never impedes comfort. The smiling is what gets me. The people in the hotel are taught to smile, sure. Strangers though, strangers will smile, engage in conversation, give directions, or answer question even if both your bahasa and their English in infantile. All the while, there is no sign that an otherwise frustrating endeavor bothers them in the least. Maybe my explanation doesn’t do the people justice. If ever you get the opportunity, visit. My favorite city so far (I’ve been to 2) is Bandung.
We tried some more new foods today. I’m having a hard time keeping up with the fruits and dishes I’ve come across so far. If you ever get an opportunity to try Mangeese, give it a shot. It sounds like it’s related to the mango but it doesn’t look or taste like it. The fruit is delicious.
Later we went out again and played basketball with some of Ibu Grace’s friends from church. We were a bit rusty but got back into the swing of it by the 2nd game. Afterward, I ran a mile on an adjacent outdoor track. I had forgot the joy of flying.
After we returned from dinner, I decided to make a trip down to the corner. Several nights, I had seen an old man playing chess against other young men with a small crowd gathered. It has been a while since I played, but I was compelled to see what it was about. I traveled down the ramp and just outside the openning to find him playing another man. He will sit on a stone near a lamp and play several games back to back with anyone willing to play. I caught the tail end of the game. They seemed to have had a decent go of it but the old man had come out with a clear advantge. I watched them go into the final phases of the game for about 15mins. Then another man showed up and began talking to the opponent. It was time to go. He asked me (in bahasa) to play for him. He tried to stall his departure, but with his friend ready to board an angkot (small van transport), I rose and offered his stone.

An aspect of my sometimes stubborn nature, I took his place with enthusiam. I had seen the old man play before and his skill was apparent. He was patient, quiet, and calculated. I played in his opponent’s stead for another 15-20 mind before I was in checkmate. I planned to head back up to the hotel but gestured as if offering me a new game. I accepted.
I had a decent openning in this new game but never delivered very much damage. I built an excellent pawn defensive formation. After a bit of manuevering it seemed that sacrificing queens might be the best play. He seemed a bit surprised at the move (or maybe he didn’t). We did and moved forward. The game didn’t improve for me. After another 20 minutes I was in the defensive and down to a rook, a few pawns, a knight, and a bishop. The game deteriorated further and lost the knight and two pawns. A chase ensued. I must have gone through a least 6 separate checks as he cleared the way and positioned his two rooks and knight into final formations.
The game looked to be nearing a final standoff as I moved my king deep into his territory to shield against the rooks. Another series of checks ensued and with limited space, checkmate was right around the corner. After i didn’t go for a trap of two framing rooks and an idle knight, he took a turn away from checking me to set up the final stage. In that window I decided to launch one last offensive. I launched the rook across the board in front of my king. Check. There was a pause……………

The old man looked up, smiled, and pointed at the board. That rook had pinned his king into a castle by three spaces. Even if he dropped his nearest defence, there would neither range or peice position well enough to defend a second time. Checkmate was set inthe next move!
Even as I advanced the rook initially, I recognized the achilles but wasn’t sure of he could mount an appropriate counter. He had sucessfully countered every set up. I wasn’t putting this one past him. Still, I took a shot and it landed.
I can’t explain the feeling of victory. There was a lesson there. I appreciate his kindness and am reminded of the value of perseverence.

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Just arrived a minute or five ago in Bandung. The transportation wasn’t the best for rest unfortunately. I can see the hills and the sky looks better. Gonna spend some time learning the city later. Show ya how it goes.

Keep on Hikin’

Today is our last day of Orientation in Jakarta. We are set to depart for Bandung momentarily. This has been a unique city experience to say the least. I spent last night/this morning have a great conversation with a fellow Fulbrighter on a wide variety of topics. It was refreshing and tiring at the same time. Needless to say, I’ll likely spend 99% of this +4hr journey asleep.

Will I miss the smog? No.
Will I miss the traffic? No.
Will I miss the dirty water? No.
Will I miss the Blue Bird cabbies? Yes.
Will I miss Hani? Yes.
Will I miss breakfast? Yes.

Looking forward to Bandung & sleep.

Jakarta

We just arrived at our hotel in Jakarta about an hour ago. The room is nice, the people have been super nice, and the view is awesome. It is almost 2pm in Jakarta now. We have the rest of the day to take in the city. We plan to hop a shuttle and travel around a bit later, have dinner out.
The people are nice, my peers are talented, and this opportunity is a blessing. I look forward

VISA ARRIVED!

I saw the mail-lady drive up and literally ran down stairs and met her before she got out of the car. Allow me to explain how close a call this was.

My plane leaves Charlotte for Chicago>Hong Kong>Singapore>Jakarta at 9:20ish Friday morning.

Add the time it takes to clear traffic, security checkpoints, and find the terminal.

Add the 3 hours it takes to drive to the airport from where I live. To counter, we plan(ned) to leave Thursday and spend the night in Charlotte.

I’d rather not go any further on the “if”. My passport with visa is here. I’m readying the final preparations.

Home for now, Gone for later

Application Expressed

Just sent off my application for the visa. Prayed over it. Hope all goes well. I’ll let you know in a few days. Once this comes in, it will just be a matter of boarding the plane. =D

A fellow graduate sent me a picture of himself in his MISTER blazer for his first day of school. It’s awesome to be at this point personally and professionally. Seems like a decade and an instance.

2 Weeks Left

This last year has been an incredible journey. I do not have words or prayerful praise great enough to capture my gratitude. My today has been a group effort. Now, I prepare to embark on yet another journey as a student and a teacher.

This next step will take me to Indonesia. Padang is a city on the northwest shore of Sumatra, one of Indonesia’s larger islands. I’ve been preparing for several weeks now. My bed is beset with clothing and packing materials and has been uninhabitable for a few days. Tomorrow morning Ummi (my mother in Arabic) and I set out for the embassy in Washington DC to file for the visa. I have all the components and supporting documents ready to go.

The computer that I’m typing this on sits on a desk that is very special to me. It was given to me by the students and cooperating teacher from my student teaching experience. Each student and supporting teaching signed their names a brief messages on it. Every so often I’ll glimpse one of their names as I glance down at my keyboard. I hope they’ll be able to use this blog to keep in contact and informed of my status. I promised I would keep in touch and with this site, I plan to make good on that promise.