Sunday, June 17, 2012
This week has certainly been one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life. People coming together to discuss theology from all over the world- it does really get much beter than that. This past week we have engaged in conversations about Poverty and Wealth, Disaster and Creation, Christian Ethics and Worship and Spirituality. It has been absolutely amazing. We have class from Monday to Thursday and on Friday we went to a cultural centre where we got to paint local art, make batiks, and plant a rice field. The rice field in particular proved to be such fun. It was a rather muddy experience without much reprieve from the heat. We were able to ride on the back of a make-shift rig attached to 2 water buffalo who drag a grate around in circles to level off. the fields to plant the rice. Awesome! Yesterday we went to visit a community affected by a mudslide. It was fascinating listening to their perspective on what we would define as a disaster. The community is located on the side of the Merapi mountain which is an active volcano that erupted just a few months prior. Much of the mud that came down after a particularly hard rain was the ash that had settled around the mountain. We were greeted and addressed by local church leaders and an Indonesian man doing his PH.D. in local Indonesian culture. What was so interesting about this talk was their perspective of the mudslide. They told us that they believe that prior to an eruption, the mountain is cooking in preparation for a wedding. The wedding occurs when the eruption happens. What was noted from our group was that they did not seem to focus their attention on blaming God or asking God why this happened. They simply went to work to clean up the left-over wedding festivities. We walked around the village and were able to see the effects that mud, stones and water can have. A friend and I decided to go into an abandoned building. On the floor, below a small fill of stiff sand was beautifully colour tile. On the wall were plaques of Islamic prayer. It is hard to describe the feelings standing seeing the beauty in the destruction. What challenged me was my instinct to question God first, even though I had just heard the locals do the exact opposite. I think I will still need some time to reflect on this one a bit further. UP next, another exciting week of theological studies!
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
It is all strangely familiar; the sights, the smells, the buildings. There is one thing, though, that has been a new shock to the system-the humid heat. I have basically sweated my way through each day and peel my clothes off at the end of every day. I think my Indonesian room-mate must find me rather amusing with the amount of liquids I seem to be expelling here. It is certainly not the most pleasant thing to experience for my cold North American blood. When I first arrived I really wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to deal with the heat. I am a fairly stubborn person and so it was a challenge for me to accept that this heat might get the better of me. I have stayed happy and healthy and we’ve had a great time learning coping methods here together. Apparently Asia has been having a heat wave so it is even hotter than normal. YIKES! It has been about a week now that I have been in Indonesia and this conference is starting off wonderfully well. We have had some absolutely amazing discussion on the church’s place in issues such as Poverty and Wealth as well as Calvinist Theology and inter-cultural Spirituality. I was misinformed when I thought there would only be 30 people from across the world. There are actually 70 people in attendance here and I have met some truly inspiring people. Our daily schedule starts with breakfast at 7am and then community worship at 8. Then, we get onto the sticky buses and travel to the school to have our morning class from 9:30-11:30. We come home for lunch and then have another class in the afternoon. Everyone is taking 2 courses and then we are divided for our afternoon courses. I am taking Poverty and Wealth as well as the theology of Creation and Disaster. Fascinating! On Saturday a small group of us decided to make our way to one of the local beaches. I had forgotten how much I miss travelling with local people on various forms of transportation. This particular beach had blackened sand from the volcano. We did not go swimming as the undertow was too strong but it was nice to get to know some people better. Unfortunately, as soon as I arrived in Indonesia my computer decided not to work. I will do my very best to write as often as I can. Blessings, Margaret