Well, we’re back home in Indonesia. Our trip back this time took us a total of 44 hours, 38 minutes, and 19 seconds. That’s a long time to travel, especially with a one year old baby! Eli did well. Towards the end of the trip though he got super tired and fussy. That’s to be expected I guess. We were pretty tired too. I don’t sleep well on airplanes. I can doze a little bit but for the most part I have to wait till the trip is over to really get any sleep. The exhaustion definitely starts to catch up with you after two days though. Walking around our final airport with Eli in my arms I was afraid I was going to fall over and drop him! And when we got home I was so hungry but couldn’t finish a muffin. You know you’re pretty tired when you start to fall asleep in between bites! Our jet lag seems especially wicked this time too. Here it is- 12:40 at night and I’m wide awake after four hours of sleep. I should AT LEAST make it to 3 or 4 am! Going back to bed and fighting through it is probably the smart thing to do, but right now I feel like staying up. There are other things on my mind.
I’m always amazed with the relative ease with which we transition from our life in America to our life overseas, and how we can go from one world to another in a matter of days. It’s comparable, I think, to taking a rocket ship to the moon. All you have to do is just put on your space suit, strap yourself in, and hang on tight. After a couple days of interstellar travel you’ll find yourself disembarking on a foreign planet, in totally new surroundings. That’s sorta what it feels like to come to Indonesia. Only here it’s not quite so desolate. We have a house, a Tv, a living area, bedroom, refrigerator, and can speak the local language. And instead of a barren wasteland like the moon this place is teaming with life and activity. Everything is green. We have goats in our front yard. Coconut trees in the back. You can only take the comparison so far. But I can’t imagine the experience of traveling to the moon to be much different from what we do. Our two lives are worlds apart.
When we finally got to our house, tired, and completely exhausted after a long trip we were informed by our neighbor that our ‘uncle’ passed away earlier that day. We weren’t greeted with a hello, or “how’s your trip?”, but informed of the local news. I guess she wanted to skip to the punch. Our ‘uncle’ is a local man whose extended family we are pretty close to. It turns out he had a sudden stroke, was in a coma for two weeks, and passed away the day we arrived. So today we visited his house to pay our respects to his family. In Cousin belief you have to bury the body the same day they die, and then have prayer services on the 3rd, 7th, 14th, and 100th day after that. By the time we got there it was already the 3rd day service. In typical Cousin fashion all the men had on their long-sleeved batik shirts and kopiah (hat). I showed up dressed similarly and Kim wore a head wrap. Pretty different than the polo shirt and jeans I wore just two days ago in Indiana. When we arrived there were a bunch of people there, but it seemed the event was just finishing up. People were starting to head out. Oh well. There were still quite a few people milling around and I sat down and ate a plate a food, which consisted of rice, beef, chicken, and noodles. Yum!
You can only know so much about another culture when you see it through a pinhole. And oftentimes what you do see is colored by our own perceptions.
Social events, even funerals, are always an interesting experience. It’s hard to know what to talk about, especially when I just stepped off an international flight, jet-lagging pretty badly. They just can’t relate to that. And when I tell them about our time in America (something so fresh and real to me) it always seems like a fairy tale to them, as if I’m describing a magical far off place. They ‘re very curious about America, naturally, but they don’t know much about it apart from what they’ve heard. They ask about the form of government, what snow feels like, and if we eat rice over there. Usually their questions are trying to scratch an itch, answer a rumor perhaps, but they don’t really know for sure. They’re inquisitive but they have such a tiny window, a small frame of reference with which to ask questions from. It’s a similar story in America when people ask us questions about life over here. People in America often ask, ‘Do you feel safe? Do you have to cover your head? Do you drink a lot of coffee?’ etc. These are interesting questions but are usually based on a rumor, or hearsay, or even worse, television. You can only know so much about another culture when you see it through a pinhole. And oftentimes what you do see is colored by our own perceptions. It’s rare to find someone who’s lived in both places and can talk about travel and airports and the struggles of overseas living having done it themselves. It’s hard to find someone like that. Maybe that’s why we appreciate our team so much. We’ve done similar things, gone through similar struggles. You bond quickly with people you share a common experience with. And in our case making rocket ship commutes to the moon and back is a pretty unique experience. We’ve bonded quickly!