Sunday, October 24, 2010

West Meets East

Life in Indonesia continues to bring us many surprises and much laughter. I've had some recent experiences that I thought might bring a little levity and smiles to your face.

Coffee in Indonesia
Obviously we've had many firsts here in Indonesia. I've had my first Avocado Vanilla Coffee drink. YUCK you say. Oh contras, my friend!! It is quite delicious and you can't even taste the avocado. It has coffee, pureed avocado, vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate. I don't know if it's coming to the US any time soon, but if it does, you must give it a try. Yummmmmmmmy!!

Riding the Angkots in Indonesia and Open Air Markets
Indonesia has a very interesting transportation system. Right here in Karawaci, it's really quite simple. You can take a bus, an angkot (ong-kot), a taxi, a motorcycle, or ride a bike. None of which I thought I would ever use here. However, one of the wives here wanted to take me to an outdoor market so I agreed. The first step was to ride the angkot to the market. It was quite an adventure. Most of the locals ride the angkots and when this "bule" (or white person) got on, all eyes were on Ibu CeCi. Marian and I chatted and laughed all the way to the market, and the eyes were still glued on us, especially those of the children, and I learned why, which I'll explain later. All five colored angkots, white, green, yellow, red and blue, have their own route, so if you want to know the route they take and where they go, just get on one and ride the entire route. To get to the outdoor market, we rode the blue angkot and it was quite bumpy :)

When we arrived at the market, we really were at an outdoor market. It had a tent-type canopy, but there were no sides to it. Indonesia is not exactly the cleanest place in the world and so there were many things for me to overcome. One was the flies. I'm glad I didn't go with a shopping list, because this American city girl could not bring herself to select any fresh veggies or fruits. Next we walked back to the "meat" section which is in a back room all by itself. The counters were pretty clean and free of pests and the selection of meat was nicely displayed. But the floor ... oh my. It was tile, but streaked with the glooey part of the chicken skin. I was surprised I didn't slip on it. It was all I could do to keep from thinking of it so the contents of my stomach would stay where it belonged. Maria asked if there was anything I wanted to get. I told her, "I'm just here to observe." She bought her purchases and we boarded the same blue angkot to return to UPH.

White Ghosts
In Indonesia there are many, and I mean many, superstitions. Indonesian parents have taught their children that the "bule" is a ghost. As we were riding back to campus, Maria was telling me this and I told her this explained an incident at the HyperMart several weeks previous. Harry and I had loaded our basket and were ready to check out. We went to this one checkout counter and there in the aisle leading up to it was a little girl sitting in the cart, but no momma around to be seen. So we smiled at her - probably 3 years old - said excuse me in Bahasa (permisi) and walked past her. I turned around to smile at her again, and she began to wail, "Momma, Momma, Momma." Oh my goodness, I thought. They'll think I tried to pick her up or pinch her or something. Pretty soon her momma came over and picked her up to soothe her, but this little girl would not take her eyes off me. I'm sure she thought I was going to "get" her :) No wonder the children in the angkot could not take their eyes off me.

Mistaken Identity
Several weeks ago I was surprised by one of our MYC (Mission Youth for Christ) assistants, Daniel. We were eating dinner with our students on a Friday evening and he came to show us his new baby. A woman approached with the child in a stroller and she was dressed in the typical Muslim garb. I was very surprised he was married to a Muslim. One of our friends in Surprise told us if we got a chance, it would be really great to meet a Muslim family and get to know them. Ah ha, this was my opportunity. So I began to think about this and prayed for an opportunity. The next Sunday at church, they were selling New Testaments in Bahasa Indonesian. Great! I'll buy one and when the opportunity is right, I'll give it to Daniel's wife. I haven't had the chance yet to spend any time with his "wife," but happened to ask him the other night, "Daniel, is your wife Muslim?" "Oh no," he replied. "She's Christian." I started laughing and told him the story of seeing who I thought was his wife. He exclaimed, "Oh No, she's not my wife. She's my maid and nanny to our baby. My wife is a Christian." We all had a good laugh. This was definitely a case of mistaken identity :)

I Had My Students in Tears
A few weeks ago I taught several students - both male and female - how to cook. One girl and one guy had a project together for a class and it was to make a meal that they could duplicate in their dorm kitchens. Their kitchens have no ovens, nor do they even have a toaster oven (which is what we had to buy). So what to fix so that everything could be done on the stove top. We finally settled on making apple compote and chicken and dumplings. None of which are too difficult. So I got all the ingredients together and tried to think how best to teach it and have the students do

the actual cutting and cooking. Some of the ingredients for the chicken and dumplings are carrots, celery and onions. I explained and showed how to slice the carrots and onions. Then I demonstrated how to cut the onions. So I handed off the knife to one of the boys, Dennis, and he got the hang of it right away. All of a sudden, he turns to me with his eyes blinking furiously and tears streaming down his face. "Oh Dennis, I forgot to tell you that onions make you cry." With that, I took the knife from him and told him to go wash his hands really good and, "Don't touch your eyes." This was a lesson I'm sure he won't soon forget. The students did a great job and the meal turned out really good.

Please Try, If You Will
Periodically we have Open House at UPH College. It gives prospective parents and students a chance to hear about the the educational opportunities, ask questions, and visit the dorms. Knowing that I would be greeting parents at a dorm and needed to invite them in, I decided to look up the Bahasa Indonesian for Please come in. Not a problem, just say "Coba Masuk (pronoucned choba masook). Easy enough. So there I was standing by the dorm room as the parents arrived. I gleefully said, "Coba Masuk" and they began to come inside and look around. Not one laughed at me or looked at me strangely. I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

Later at lunch I was telling some of the students I'd learned the way to invite people in. So I proudly said, "Coba Masuk." Immediately they began to laugh. Uh oh, what did I say? I asked them to "please try and come in." We all had a good laugh and of course now I know the correct way to say, "Please come in;" Selikan Masuk. Won't make that mistake again.

Yummy Yummy
I have one last story for you - I saved the best for last. The last night we were in Bali (during Ramadan), I caught the toenail of my left big toe on the bottom of the bed and it pulled the nail away from the nail bed. It bled quite a bit, but we cleaned it up and put bandaids on it to keep from catching the toenail on something and ripping it right off. Over the course of about three weeks, I continued to change the bandaids, hoping that the nail would finally reattach itself. Then one day I felt some throbbing in the toe and pulled the bandaid off to discover I had an infection underneath the nail. I sent Harry to the pharmacy to get some Epsom Salts, Peroxide, and Betadine. He came back with two out of the three - no Peroxide. Okay, I was happy. So I prepared a pan of very hot water and put the Epsom Salts into it and soaked my toe for a while. Next I applied the Betadine and then the bandaid. The next day, my friend Marian came over bearing a small container of Epsom Salts and Peroxide. I told her Harry had purchased the Epsom Salts but was very glad to get the Peroxide. I don't know why I thought of it, but I thought maybe she should look at the bag of Epsom Salts Harry had purchased and see if there were anything different about it - everything was in Bahasa. I went to the kitchen and brought it out. After reading the package, Marian started laughing. "You know what you have here?" she asked. "Epsom Salts," I replied. "No, you have ... MSG." Hilarious laughter erupted. I had soaked my toe in MSG. What a hoot!! Harry said I had very good tasting tootsies :)

That's it for now friends. I had to share a few of the fun little stories that have taken place in this eastern culture. I am sure there will be more to come. For now, please know that you are in my thoughts and my prayers. I miss each one of you and look forward to seeing you when we're home for Christmas. Hugs from Indo! CeCi :)


  1. Trying to visualize you riding that bike :) love your fun stories!!!

  2. Love the MSG story...other's too! The first thought that came to mind with your stories was that some things/people never change...from the good ole' days getting in trouble with Kathy Buccholz & the popcorn caper at FEFC to today...we both love to have fun even if it means the fun is on us!

    Take care!