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Posts Tagged ‘(A letter to the MISTERS)’

There’s nothing quite so universal for me as the joy of stepping into a classroom to teach. This last month has been a journey with ramifications to be surrendered with time and reflection. Immediately following the end of the orientation phase of this grant, I moved to Padang on the island of Sumatra. Padang is considered the food capital of Indonesia and with its keen location on the western coast of lush Sumatra, there is no shortage of culinary resources. The people are kind but have a certain edge that is hard to explain. I think it’s an adaption to the fact the people come and go, some for leisure and others for exploit, as they remain having lived through the truth or visage of it together. They are conservative, but no Saudi Arabia. The youth in Padang, much like the youth in other parts of Indonesia (re: world) have embraced Western and European pop cultural influences and infused it into their present. It reminds of Orangeburg in a way. I was happy to make my home there and had begun settling in earnest. Relationships with students, faculty, and environment were in the works. Then the earth shook and it was as if someone mistakenly pushed “STOP” instead of “Pause” on a DVD player. Everything changed. If you’ve never been in an earthquake it may be hard to appreciate how jarring it can be to witness the most consistently stable thing in your life become unbalanced. The earth move under my feet. It moved buildings, streets, and life itself. Two students from my school lost their lives. Two small children who happened to be at/near the school were killed and countless others have died or are yet to be discovered. Please keep them and their loved ones in your thoughts, prayers if you got ‘em. I was fortunate to survive with no physical injuries. The next night I caught a red eye to Jakarta on the island of Java and sustained 1st degree burns from a hotel shower. Really. I was relocated temporarily to a town outside of Bogor to assist another ETA (English Teaching Assistant) while another site was prepared for me. His situation was far different from mine. We were living in the dormitory of a wealthy Islamic boarding school. The campus was very nice. They had smart boards, air conditioned classrooms, an Olympic swimming pool, covered basketball court, and countless other amenities. It was “nice”. The downside, he had far less freedom then I did in Padang. At times I remember it feeling like a beautiful prison. The gossip machine and politics of the place was simply “off the chain and down the street already”. That whole Churchill thing about lies and pants comes to mind. It was a firm reminder of pros and cons. Though I was scheduled to be there for two weeks, the relocation call came at the end of the first week. I was touched and surprised at some of the people sad to see me go. As is my tradition I donated books to the school library, Song of Solomon and Kite Runner. I thanked them for their hospitality and was off to Makassar, Sulawesi early that morning. After spending some time with the ETAs stationed there, I bought some last minute materials, met my new Indonesian counterparts, and we struck out on the 13 hour journey (8 hour drive) into the mountains for Tana Toraja. The last four hours of winding road nearly made me throw up. Four hours of winding!
We arrived around 1 am at the hotel that is to be my home for the remaining 7 months of this grant period. I’m happy to have one. The English level of the land ladies demands that I learn Bahasa Indonesia. Our neighbors seem kind and genuinely curious about the foreigner next door. Plus, the kids have personality.
As I sit in the outdoor meeting room of this hotel writing, the reason for recording this comes to mind. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. This experience has challenged me to keep faith in God’s plan. Perhaps as a reward, God has granted insight into the fact that I am indeed supposed to be here. Evidence:

1. I have only seen my guiding constellation one other time faintly in the night sky over Bandung. It always helps me feel accepted and watched over. It reminds me that no matter where I stand, I am always under the same sky/God. I can see it clearly right outside of my room door.

2. Since the summer of 2000, when I first witnessed it, mute lightning storms have always made me feel safe. On the night that I arrived, there was a bright one in the skies above.

3. The school color is Orange

4. The most highly regarded symbol of the city/region is the buffalo. My zodiac sign is Taurus.

I merely noticed these things in succession and chuckled to myself. I think God understood the question I was asking myself. He answered in his own time and I appreciate Him so much for the experience and the opportunity I have. I wanted to share that. I pray you are aware of the ways that LIFE is answering your questions.

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