I posted some pictures from our recent trip to Borobudur. Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It’s divided into 8 levels with a bunch of stuccos on the top three levels. All along the bottom level walls are carvings. I wasn’t sure what the story was but it was pretty impressive nonetheless. Check it out!

After a week away for training and a little vacation, I’m back in BK. So. . . how am I feeling? Honestly, it’s always hard to come back to normal life. It’s hard to jump back into the daily routine, partly because there IS no daily routine. Sometimes people ask us “what’s a typical day look like for you overseas?” And I can usually never give a typical answer. That makes for a non-predictable, some might say ‘adventurous’ life, but it’s really nice sometimes to wake up in the morning with a game plan already laid out for me.

There is usually only one solution to the ‘return home blues’ and that is to get out of the house and be with people. In other words, engage the culture. I remember our supervisors telling this to us the first week we were in country. They said that when we’re feeling culture shock, overwhelmed, and stressed, the best thing to do is NOT to run away from the culture, but to run TOWARDS it. The impulse is to run away from it- into our bedroom, turn on an American movie and hide. But we’ve learned that never solves the problem. It only stretches it out. There are other good things to do too, like connect with God, read my Bible, be productive with something like respond to emails or write a newsletter. But when we FIRST come back to town, it’s so important to re-establish our presence in the community. Be with our friends and neighbors. That’s whisks the shock right away, and that more than anything gives us drive.

I bought a Reader’s Digest at a mall in Jogjakarta yesterday. You gotta love Reader’s Digest- pretty much the perfect bathroom reading companion. . .  full of short interesting articles, pictures, jokes, and just short enough to stimulate your mind in under ten minutes.

I read this little Bright Ideas section of how to stimulate your brain during the day. One thing it suggested was “write three pages- in longhand- first thing every morning about whatever comes to mind, no second-guessing, no editing.” I thought about that for a bit and think it’s a really brilliant idea. Perhaps not writing three pages in long-hand every day, but just getting in the habit of writing (or blogging) whatever’s on my mind with limited or no editing. Of all people, I appreciate the idea of NO-EDITING, no revising. I’ve written long hand in my journals for many many years, ever since I was 14 years old. Writing with pen and paper is still my preferred way to write. There’s just something so personal about it that computers and keyboards aren’t able to replicate. It has my handwriting style, so you know it’s from me, and because it’s pen on paper it comes right from the heart. It isn’t touched up or refined, but rather raw emotion and thought. So it carries more meaning for me. My journals have chronicled my life and are some of my most treasured possessions. . .

But anyway, is it possible to carry the raw story of handwriting over to something like a blog? This is something that I’ve wrestled with. How do I be transparent and free flowing with my thoughts yet carry the depth of a handwritten entry? I’m not sure. Like I said, it’s something I’ve been trying to figure out. But perhaps the secret, like the Reader’s Digest article suggested, is to do it daily, repetitiously, without editing.

Here’s an interesting/funny cultural moment.

I’m sitting around my house with my friend Dang Ari. He’s a young guy in his early 20’s. He’s a real social animal and loves to talk and go out and do things. I appreciate Dang Ari because he’s a lot of fun, knows English pretty well, and teaches me his language off and on. But anyway, I tell him my mom is in town and in a couple days we’re going on a short trip to stay in the mountains for a couple nights. He gets this excited look on his face and picks up his phone to call his boss. Uh oh, what’s this going to be about?? I realize I just did something very wrong. He gets off the phone with a satisfied look on his face and announces that he just got permission from his boss and can take off work to accompany us to the mountains. Oh, but even better. Why not make it a large group thing- his boss can come too. . . and our mutual friends Jeremy and Lindsay! The more the better! Geesh. How do I navigate these cultural waters?  How do I explain to him that I see my mom at best only once a year and was really looking forward to some private quality time with her? I’ve been in Indonesia over 3 years and I understand their culture quite a bit. But they don’ know my culture so it rarely helps to explain my perspective, especially in a place as small as BK. Their ideas of privacy and quality time are very different than mine.

So what do I do? I try to dodge it. It would be rude to outright refuse or reject his idea. Instead, I affirm that going to the mountains as a large group is a great idea and we should all go sometime- like in a month or so (long after mom is gone). I explain that this time it’s all arranged but NEXT time will be a lot fun. After repeating this four or five times he finally gets it. Lesson learned: when you tell an Indonesian friend your plans they often think it’s an invitation for them to join.