Camping

Camping was so much fun! There was sun, rain, heat, cold (it got down to the 40s!), and watching my students suffer. All those variables add up to a great break from the normal teaching schedule.

Trees!

Being out of Jakarta was refreshing. My lungs got 2.5 days of clean, fresh mountain air, and my skin got UV rays, which are normally blocked out by the smog. I got a tan! The days were hot and nice, and the nights were rainy and cold–a nice change-up from the constant heat and humidity of Jakarta. For entertainment, I had my handy-dandy copy of Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince. When I wasn’t reading, I was enjoying the views of the mountainside and of my students being forced to play games in the hot sun, looking like they would rather watch a 12-hour documentary on clouds. At a few points I almost felt bad for them. Almost.

There were some negatives about this trip, though. I mentioned earlier that I enjoyed the colder temps, but at some points the sleeping bags just weren’t up to par and I was pretty cold. The food was at time questionable. I had my first experience with squat pot toilets, and the “shower” was a faucet in the bathroom (see picture). There were no handwashing sinks.

Our squat pot and "shower" while camping

Oh, and did you know leeches can live outside of water? I didn’t either.

Apparently they can live in bushes and plants and wait for unsuspecting animals (or year 9 students) to walk by. A bunch of students got leeches on them. One student even got one inside his BELLYBUTTON! How does that even happen?!

Throughout this experience, I had a ton of fun with mine and Brady’s students. They were hilarious and I enjoyed getting to know them outside of class. They taught Brady and I how to say a bunch of useful things in Indonesian, like:

  • “I am your servant”
  • “I am annoying”
  • “I am hopeless and have no future”
So in summary I had a good time. I tried to add pictures to this post, but my internet is not having it. I will try to add them to this post tomorrow. In the meantime, I uploaded camping pictures to my Facebook page.

Chickens and camping

I do not believe I have introduced the idea of “village chickens”. Village chickens are chickens that run around freely in the streets and between houses in villages. Although they are free to move about the city, they typically remain in one spot. Because they are “free range” chickens, they are more expensive than farmed chickens. To us foreigners, this seems strange because we have never seen a healthy-looking village chicken, and from what we can tell, their diet seems to be garbage from the street.

But hey, at least they aren’t fed gross chicken food?

The other day coming home from church, one of the village chickens wandered out of the village across the street and into our apartment complex. This is what happened next:

In other news, Brady and I were invited to go on a camping trip with our year 9 students. It starts tomorrow, and lasts for two nights. I am so excited for this because the weather is going to be cold, the air is going to be fresh, and most importantly, I am going to get to watch my students out of their comfort zones. I can’t wait to watch them freeze and struggle to find food and catch fish.

On a more serious note, I am a excited to spend time with my students outside of class. I am looking forward to the opportunity to hang out with them instead of getting on their cases about not speaking English.

I’ll let you know how it went in a few days.

Living in a different world

Last week I thought of a great discussion/writing topic for my students: How do they feel being a Christian in the majority-Muslim Jakarta?

I had been planning on asking them this week (I asked them today), but yesterday someone from back home turned the tables on me: she asked me the exact same question! What?! I’m supposed to do the same assignment as my students?

Ok, I guess I can do that. But before I move on to my response, I want to share and reflect on some of my students’ responses.

It seems like most of them feel very comfortable being a Christian here in Jakarta, despite the fact that the vast majority (80-90%) of the city (and country) is Islamic. From what I could gather, my students’ sense of comfort and security stems from the people they are surrounded by, which includes their Christian families and Christian classmates.

Some of them expressed occasional feelings of insecurity, sadness and anger, mostly due to events that have happened in past years. These events include Muslims heckling and mocking Christians, extremist Muslims burning Christian churches, attempted church bombings, and even extremists killing Christian pastors. These feelings seemed to be infrequent for most students, though.

So, how do I feel as a Christian in Jakarta?

Well, based on my 9 weeks over here, I can relate a lot to how my students responded. I have felt pretty comfortable, mostly due to the fact that I am surrounded by so many Christians on a daily basis. My friends are Christian, my coworkers are Christian, and my students are Christian. Plus, there is probably around 10 English-speaking Christian churches in the city. Even though I am part of the small minority, it doesn’t feel like I am because of the people I am surrounded by.

That being said, I have daily reminders of where I am: the neighborhood prayer calls; the Muslim prayer centers (musholas) in malls and restaurants; the women wearing hijabs (head coverings); the Mosques scattered everywhere. It is safe for me to assume that almost everyone I interact with outside of school or church is Muslim.

Most people here assume that all white people are Christian. That means whenever I go outside, my skin color is broadcasting my faith. I normally don’t worry about consequences my skin color might bring about, but I would be lying if I said the things my students wrote today didn’t alarm me. I haven’t felt targeted with any religious persecution, but I am aware that it is a slight possibility.

My experiences have been good so far. Most people I come into contact with in the public have been respectful and kind. Indonesians in general seem to have a kind, humble heart, which is refreshing. I am especially thankful for how kind the employees at our apartments are, including the man who just brought my water jug to me.

Perhaps in a few more months, I will give an update on my feelings of being in the minority.

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A new thing I am going to try to do–internet allowing–is upload a picture of myself at the end of each post. That way you guys can see where I am and what I look like while I typed the blog. If you don’t want to see pictures of me, don’t scroll down to the bottom.

Pondering today's topic

Worst vacation ever

Over our 10-ish day break from school, we went on a trip to Carita Beach. That is all I can tell you about the vacation, because the trip was so painful (literally and figuratively). I am not courageous enough to relive and retype it–but Brady is.

Brady is recounting the details of our trip over at his blog. He is retelling it in installments, and they are worth reading.

His blog is called Chapter 73, and the story is titled “What’s Relax?”.

To read it, click this link: chapter73.wordpress.com.

Another fun English translation

Continuing with the English Fails segment, here is another little gem that came from our outing to Bandung, Indonesia. The McDonalds restaurants here are franchised (like in America), so if the restaurant owners want to make their restaurant more appealing, they can add decor like the wall-piece pictured below. However, they may want to have a native English speaker proofread any English sentences to make sure they sound… not awkward.

McDonalds likes to read

In summary, “I love books they make me happy fun joy smart and young”.