The cycle continues.......

Many friends and family were quick to tell me, “don’t go out alone!” and I honour that concern but once you are here for a week or so and have been tossed into a new society you begin to see the presence of God all around you and begin to feel more comfortable and secure. I believe most of those loving concerns were targeted at my safety whenever a loved one goes into the unknown. Do we not say that to our children every day, “stick together honey, there is safety in numbers”.

 In a fear based society, such that we live in North America, we must witness true diligence. Should something unthinkable happen to someone we know we can take solace in the fact that we warned the person, or that we knew something like this could happen, or confirm our greatest fears go on all over the place when we tune into the evening news. But after our outing this morning and a “boxed” lunch I decided to walk to the store at the end of the lane. I say lane because the dorm faces out onto a very narrow lane. This lane is one car wide and barely wide enough for the buses we travel on to come and go. I went alone. The first day I was here I accompanied another student on a walk. This student had been here for 24 hrs or so and had already mastered the busy street at the end of the lane. It is consistently busy with bikes, cars and other vehicles and you must be aggressive to quickly cut across and they will slow for you but they do not stop. I wanted ice cream and I wanted to simply reclaim my independence. I am in a safe neighbourhood I am told, and it was the echo of my family and friends in my head that had kept me waiting for a companion.

However, as our visit opens up people are falling into community and like-mindedness and if one is to wait to always be accompanied one may spend a lot of time in one’s room. So off I went on my own. I walked past a construction site. I know it is a construction site because they are renovating something. Not sure what it is, but men are working and there is a cement mixer and hammering and scaffolding. It looks dissimilar to what I know as a construction site because men are in shorts, flip-flops and there is an absence of head protection. Like all men in the world then noticed a single white female walking and proceeded to cat-call. I ignored them like I do in Canada (although secretly it strokes my ego that at 52 I can still encourage cat-calls, but I soon chastise myself with a reminder they are quite far away!) and they carried on about their business. I went to the store and looked around. It was fun to guess what was in packages by pictures and surrounding items since it is all in another language. I got my ice cream after a person who seemed like a woman but looked more like a man came into the store burst into song and promptly left. I asked myself, Dorothy are you sure you aren’t in Kansas anymore because that person would have fit perfectly in Toronto! Speaking of this special person….

Today I visited a place where some fear to tread with or without friends. It was a house which is a school/harbour for the GLTB community. GLTB stands for gay, lesbian, transgendered, and bi-sexual and in North America I think we have added another letter to that acronym to represent the inter-sexed community. It is owned by a woman who has been severely marginalized because of her ambiguous means of living. She was born a man but felt like a woman all her life. How must that feel? I haven’t looked in the mirror very often since I arrived because there is no need. My hair is short so I wash, fluff and go out. I haven’t been wearing any cosmetics other than a little eye brow filler, (and for that I used a 3” diameter magnifying mirror) and I only do that because I am vain, but other than that there is little to see. My identity is in my head. I feel my breasts and my genitals and they match what society tells me I am: a woman. What must it feel like to identify all that makes you a woman but not have full breasts and sport a handsome penis? It makes me sad that we, and I mean society, cannot look beyond our own 3” magnifying mirror and our own vanity and see what some people live with every day. The seriousness of what makes us “who” we are and to understand we are all God’s children in every way. I wish we could look beyond our cultural constructions, society’s norms and stereotypical behaviours and love our neighbor as we want to be loved ourselves. The icing on this lovely cake is that this house is primarily serving the Islamic community. In your media fed understanding of Islam I am sure you wonder how these people are left to live freely and practice Islam. The Imam is liberated and welcoming and the government has given this school status so it is protected and honoured. As I was walking alone this afternoon I was not alone. I was in God’s creation with others who I have not been introduced to but others who are also children of God. They are simply strangers to me because we haven’t met yet but they are not strangers to the collective faith that we all carry of which is a knowledge that there is a force to which we are all a part of. I choose to call this force God.

Today I met many wonderful human beings who just want to live as God has made them. To have the freedom to love their spiritual identity and match it to their humanness whatever that means. I didn’t have to come to Indonesia to see this community it is in my own back yard. 61 Isaiah Street: A place of refuge for all … The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. Thanks be to God.


“Toto we are not in Kansas anymore!” Dorothy, Wizard of Oz

Although the house is not tending to twitch or pitch I am know I am out of familiar surroundings and yet there are times when I feel quite at home. I am also developing a habit that I am in bed about 9 or so and then up about 3:00AM. I don’t seem to need much more sleep than that. However, by about 6 PM in the evening I begin to feel weary with things needing to be done in the evening. Yesterday was our first day of class and it is going to be challenging to have 7 AM call for breakfast, 8 AM Worship, 8:30 on the bus, 9 – 12:00 Class, return travel by bus, which takes 3x as long as the morning commute and we think Toronto has traffic. Then 1 PM lunch, 3 PM class, 7 PM Dinner, 8 PM worship and then bed sounds like a good idea. In between that we have to find time to read and reflect on this exciting journey. You may have noticed there is about 2 hours (5 – 7 PM) where there is a little free time ~ siesta anyone? Like Dorothy, I am treading softly on the yellow brick road looking for my way. Last night at worship the theme that Marianne spoke about was how God is our light. She used the story of a lamplighter who cares a lamp as they go on their journey. The journey may be long or short but the lamp is lighting the way. This being said we are reminded that the lamp only lights a step or two at a time and although we can see the whole way along we are only given light for where we are at the time. It felt like God was whispering in my ear! I could hear how this was so true of my journey and how I need to concentrate on the steps I am taking today and tomorrow and let the past go while trusting the future will unfold before me just as it should. At 4:15 AM every morning there is the Muslim call to prayer. It is strange to me because I am not accustomed to being awakened at that time each night. Considering I am up anyway it gives me a chance to reflect on my own prayer time. Knowing that my Muslim brothers and sisters are praying to the same God we all trust and love I can join in my Christianity and pray along with them. I am reading a wonderful book by Timothy Gianotti, a professor of Islamic Studies who I met at Huron College. It is a wonderful introduction to better understand faith, religion and Islam. I hope to share it with a group when I get home sometime this fall. Blessings upon you all and keep me in your prayers as I will do the same.


Frustrations of technology

Well folks I have some bad news that my computer has crashed here in Indonesia so my posts will be few and far between because unlike our culture there is not an internet cafe on every corner and I would be hard pressed for time to even find one! Class homework and preparation is very demanding and there has been talk that it is over expectations. So we are all dealing with our heads in articles and books and trouble accessing internet to get resources. It is a great experience and it will all be worth it. I will post when I can but will say so long for now!


Yogja Day 1 Rested and Adjusted

Well after a long haul of three flights and a lovely bus ride I arrived into the university campus last night at about 7 pm local time. Funny how the day came to a close so quickly as the sun sets much faster here close to the equator. We in the north are blessed with lovely sunsets and diminishing light. A beauty we take for granted. Here it is like someone just turns off the lights.

The first thing I noticed was the odors as I came out of the airport. New smells overwhelmed me and I realized I needed to take a minute and acclimatize. Thanking God for a safe and uneventful journey I asked that my nose not be attached to my stomach for a bit. This seemed to give me the time to organize my head away from my nose and give my stomach a break. As we drove from the airport I was reminded of Cuba and the Dominican Republic where it seems there is chaos all around. I truly do not know how the drivers do not crash. Motorcycles are the vehicle of choice an as you skip across the road in front of a car you must watch there isn't a motorcycle coming up the outside edge. I almost got picked off, not to mention I was looking the wrong way as they drive on the right here. We had a preliminary meeting last night with those who have arrived but honestly I literally almost fell off my chair. I fell asleep just sitting there. You can see by the picture that I was already pretty tired and this was taken just before we loaded up for the third flight. I have a woman from India as my roommate. She is the one on the far left. She better understands the bathrooms that have the white hole in the ground where you place your feet on either side and squat. Thankfully for us North Americans there are some bathrooms with flush toilets as well. But I braved a pee into the hole in the ground and did not fall in nor did I pee on my underwear so I feel I can survive anything now. We had a light breakfast which consisted of an egg and bread. There was some watermelon brought out after and the locals smiled when there were chocolate sprinkles to put on their bread. Local custom I think. It was wonderful to share a meal and better understand all those who have come so far.

The UK woman has already mentioned she is going to have trouble with the heat, and so I will be thinking of her as I pray for everyone who is feeling out of their element to find a way to enjoy their time here and not yearn for home. I am blessed to be here I know. My good friend Fred Joblin visited me in my dream last night. He died last year and he was there with me reminding me that in the chaos of life is when God is changing and working with us. God is around us in everything we experience. It is not about being good for God it is about being in God, with God and loving like God created us to love. I am in heaven in my heart and I am blessed to be having this experience. God Bless and have a wonderful day!