Archive for the ‘Indonesia’ Category

SST Indonesia 2019

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

We just realized that we have not said anything about our time leading the Goshen College Indonesia SST unit.  The reason being that we are posting blogs about those activities on the Goshen College blog.  If you are interested in following us there, go to the current blog for Indonesia SST.

Christmas fun

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

We just discovered this link on one of our friend’s Facebook page.  The pictures are from one of the Christmas parties at the university–described in a previous blog.  If you open the photos, you will see several photos of us, including a video of us dancing!!!  Enjoy and laugh!  We did!



Around Yogykarta

Friday, January 4th, 2019

One more blog of our own activities these last six weeks.  Three photos from around our neighborhood.

We visited Ullen Sentalu Museum, a Javanese culture and art museum.  It houses relics and artifacts from the royal houses of Central Java plus sculptures.  A beautiful setting.  (No photos allowed inside.)

We ate lunch one day at a mushroom (jamur) restaurant.  Everything on the menu was made with mushrooms.  They also sold many varieties of mushrooms.  It was interesting that several days later we visited a possible host family whose business is growing mushrooms—8000 logs!  We had not realized that mushrooms were so popular.

We took a walk down Malioboro Street.  This is one of the main tourist attractions and one of the busiest business districts of Yogyakarta.  It extends for one kilometer and apparently it is busy 24 hours a day. We went in the morning and by the time we left at noon, it was very crowded.  We actually had not been here since 2001 but not much has changed – just more crowded.  It was also interesting that during our several hours of walking around, we saw only 5 other Westerners.  The majority of tourists to Indonesia are from Malaysia, Singapore, Timor Leste, China, and Australia.

We probably will not post much – if any – blogs on our personal site for at least the next six weeks.  If you are interested in seeing what we are doing, follow us at

Christmas season (2)

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Sunday, the 23rd, we came to Drono for the week.  We are at a beautiful Javanese home owned by Reti and Duane.  (Duane died a little over 3 years ago.)  We had spent Christmas here in 2005 by ourselves and had visited for a short time in 2008.  Reti says it is available anytime we want to come!  Duane designed the house in traditional fashion and collected all kinds of Javanese art, music, craft.  It is located in a small village where Reti’s grandfather had once been the village head.

We were here by ourselves (along with 2 cooks, a driver, and 2 gardeners!) for several days.  It was lovely.  We walked around the village, read, and relaxed.  We did go out to eat Christmas day eve but were fed well here.  An MCC friend from Yogya joined us one night and Reti’s brother and family came on the 27th.  Reti arrived the 28th.  (We have many more photos of this place than what is included here!)

Yayok, Reti’s brother, is a contractor in Jakarta.  He also has a workshop here in Drono where he employs several men to build furniture for the houses he builds.  The first morning he was here he took us to his workshop in the early morning to have coffee on the balcony of his workshop which overlooks rice fields.  Lovely.  He also took us on a walk through the village.  Earlier we had discovered some places on our own (tofu-making and rice crackers) but he introduced us to other interesting spots, including the morning market.  In the photo of the tofu-making family, note the pile of bags of soy beans from the U.S.

Our cooks were Yusum and Tini.  We had met Yusum in 2005.  Suradi, whom we also met in 2005, was the driver but we forgot to take his photo!    Reti’s brother is Yayok and wife Indri.  They have two teenage daughters who were fun but were not yet up in the morning when we took a photo of that family!

Reti took us to Solo for a day.  There was nothing particularly remarkable about Solo, but the drive was beautiful.  Her driver took us along many small rural roads and through small villages.  Mt Merapi (near Yogya) and Mt Merabu (near Salatiga) were stunning, towering over the horizon in one direction.  After lunch we went to Nggone Mbahmu Coffee Roaster in nearby Klaten.  Very interesting.  The family started it only about 1 ½ years ago and already it has become very popular.  The owner, Purnama Sidi, learned how to roast and make coffee via YouTube and books!  He buys his beans from all over Indonesia–Sumatra, Flores, Papua, Sulawesi, Bali and different parts of Java, including Klaten.  He has bicycled through out the islands and has learned to know farmers and coffee everywhere.  He roasts only in small quantities.  He will personally make you an individualized cup of coffee.  (However, during holidays, when he is so busy, he only serves iced coffee.)  We hope to go back in April and get our individual cup of hot coffee.  He also collects antiques.  He demonstrated his grandfather’s “hand-turned” RCA gramophone with a 78-rpm record of 1930’s/40’s Christmas songs!


It was a very relaxing week but now back to Yogya and work!  We are hoping to bring our students here for a day to visit the village and to hear the gamelon.  On the way home we saw a number of Bike Fridays, including a group of about 10 riders.

This holiday season is about over for us.  We will most likely stay put New Year’s Eve and play games.  Our only other task is to sing a duet at church on the New Year’s Day morning service.  That should be quite an experience!

Christmas season (1)

Saturday, December 29th, 2018


We experienced Christmas this year differently than usual.  We began with four parties at the university with various combinations of people—English students and department staff, International Partnerships department, department of languages (including English), and then the entire university staff and families.  Each party started with some carols, a sermon, and an offering.  After that the first three parties then included some entertainment, including games.  “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Feliz Navidad” seemed to be very popular songs.  K-Pop is also a fad among the students.  We were often given a gift as being “special” foreigners on campus.  Sally Jo won a prize in an unwrapping present contest.  At one party, groups were to sing Jingle Bells in a crazy way! The whole university party included a brief re-telling of the Christmas Story interspersed by songs from each department.  (It was one way to get everyone to come!)

The Sunday before Christmas was a special service at the Mennonite Church and included several baptisms and child dedications.  For two families the Mennonite pastor and a Catholic priest were able to conduct a child dedication/baptism jointly due to the parents being both Mennonite and Catholic.  It was a special event and made us wonder whether this has happened anywhere else.  Ron had more photos on Facebook of this service.  We actually had met the priest the previous week as a possible contact for service work for our students.

After the service, the church gave out bags of oil and rice to the neighbors (who are mostly Muslim).  They also held a “flee market” of clothes for the community.  What we didn’t take a photo of was the presence of police security.  There are sometimes threats at Christmas against Christian churches and so police offer security presence.

Season activities to be continued i next blog.

Recent Travels

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

We made a couple of trips out of town to visit possible service locations for our students.  It also offered us an opportunity to get out of Jogjakarta and see the countryside.  We visited an area west/southwest of Jogja.  We really enjoyed the mountains and the green spaces!

The first trip was to visit a Catholic church and their activities in the Menoreh Hills.  The church and mission were started by Jesuit priest from Austria in the early 1900’s.  We visited the school, the weaving industry, and the memorial to Johannes Baptist Prennthaler.  It was a beautiful setting.  We had a good talk with the priest who talked about their various activities and told us about their villages in the mountains.

The weaving industry is non-mechanized using looms copied from the looms first brought to the area by the Dutch.  They produce fabric for school uniforms, blankets, linens, etc.  They even designed shoes!

They produce some of their own food.  For the first time we saw dragon fruit plants.

We had a great lunch of goat at a small warung along the way.

On our return to Jogja we stopped at a family water hyacinth industry.  They use the leaves for various kinds of weaving (baskets, handbags, stool covers, etc.) which are sold in shops around the country.

Our second trip was to visit three places in the Menoreh Hills that the priest had mentioned previously.  Our first stop was at an Early Learning Center.  The center runs three mornings a week with various activities for children ages 1-4.  On Saturdays, they have a program for all ages that teach reading, writing, arithmetic, and interpersonal relationships through play.  They have a small library for children to come and read.  In a beautiful setting.

We stopped by an area where the farmers grow chrysanthemums to sell in the markets.  People use the flowers for decoration and making a type of tea.  We were most enthralled with the scenery!

Our last stop was at a small impressive elementary school that includes organic farming in their curriculum.  Each class has their own plot of ground for growing vegetables, a small fish pond, and some rabbits.  Students spend time every day before formal lessons in duties around the school—cleaning classrooms, making tea, feeding rabbits, working in gardens, etc.

We held our meeting in a lovely bamboo stand overlooking the gardens and out towards the hills.  Students climbed the steps to bring us our snacks.

We ended our day with lunch (at 3:30 pm!) at a local fish restaurant.  We sat on the floor built over the fish ponds.  Had one of our favorite Indonesian dishes—ikan bakar (grilled gourami/fish).

Indonesia 2018/19

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

We have returned to Indonesia; our fifth time here.  It feels familiar but there are also always changes.  We returned to Yogyakarta where we first spent time in 2001.

We had a 20-hour stay in Bali on the way to Java which gave us time to catch up on some needed sleep and a walk along the beach.  We stayed in the same hotel that we did in 2000; it was still very nice.

Here in Yogyakarta we are living in a small flat on a church compound.  The flat was furnished with basic furniture but we needed to outfit the kitchen and begin to make it feel like home.  We’ll take you on a quick tour.

On entering our flat is a small room, only big enough for a sofa and 2 stuffed chairs.  This is typical; it is the place you greet people.

The living/dining room includes a couch, a sink, a small bookshelf. and a table which we use for eating, working, and playing games.  There is also a TV – with all programs in Indonesian.  Off the living room are two bedrooms.  (There are only two sinks in the flat—the kitchen sink and one in the living room.  There are none in the bathrooms.)  We definitely need to put more things on our walls!

Our first meal in the house (breakfast)—and yes, Ron is tired!  We had our familiar granola from home and had found some yogurt and milk in the grocery store!

The bedrooms are quite small but adequate.  At least they have air-conditioning!  We set up a charging station for our communication system – computer, 4 phones (2 US and 2 local), and portable internet port.

Our kitchen was furnished with a two-burner gas plate, small refrigerator, and a water stand.  The university thought we definitely needed a microwave (even though we don’t think so) so they got us one.  Indonesian kitchens seldom have regular ovens.  Off the kitchen at one end is a spare bedroom and at the other end are two toilets/showers.

The compound is fairly quiet and away from most traffic.  There are many trees and bushes; we hear birds in the morning; we see many butterflies.  The actual view from our front door is of the garbage collection area!

Sally Jo joined a group from the compound on Saturday morning for exercise.  It was a version of yoga with Chinese influence.  The photo is not good but is included anyway.


Sunday, November 29th, 2015


We spent a short 24 hours in Jakarta on our way home. Our friend Wietje had come to Goshen in the late 1990s when her children were attending Goshen College. She lived here for 8 years before she was forced to leave. We have maintained contact with her – and her children – since then. We even visited her in 2009 when she lived in China for a few years with her daughter and family. She and her daughter and family have moved to Jakarta.

Jakarta is a huge bustling capital city of about 10 million. There is a large mix of cultures, of architecture, of rich and poor, and much history.

We stayed in a small apartment on the 32nd floor of a high rise. Wietje and family live in another building of the same complex. We didn’t have time to see much of the city. Wietje took us to several malls. (Shopping/visiting in malls seems to be a favorite pastime for many Indonesians!) The malls were getting ready for Christmas.

Our last lunch was at a seafood restaurant on the ocean. We could choose whatever seafood we wanted—still swimming or on ice—and then have it cooked in whatever way we chose. It was a great feast!


Friday, November 27th, 2015

Spending six days in Papua was a wonderful way to conclude our 2 ½ months in Indonesia. We were even able to stay in the same apartment where we had lived in 2005-06. It was so familiar. During our time we were able to meet many of our Papuan friends, visit familiar places, make new friends, and visit new places.

sunset over lake

sunset over lake

We spent our first afternoon taking a boat ride on Lake Sentani and then eating supper in our favorite fish restaurant on the edge of the lake. The weather was perfect with bright blue skies and a lovely sunset.

When we were in Papua in 2005-06, Sally Jo helped a local NGO create a small community library in a home. (This NGO was created by Albertino, a former MCC IVEPer who spent his year in Goshen.) She taught a group of volunteers how to create an inventory on the computer, how to classify books simply, and how to have a simple check-out system. This small library has grown and now has two branches in other neighborhoods. We visited one of the libraries. It is gratifying to hear of the excitement of children wanting to read. The volunteers are excited to have and run the library. They are open every Saturday afternoon from 2-5. One Saturday a month they do various activities with the children—reading to them, crafting, drawing, playing games, and just free time to read. They said they often need to tell the children they must leave at 5 before it gets dark.

While visiting the library we also met two Global Family children. The children receive MCC support to attend school.

We spent most of one day with an MCC SALTer (one-year exchange volunteer) at an organization that works with women. They teach women to read, to create crafts, to sew, etc. Another day we visited the work place of another MCC SALTer. He works with an organization that supports persons with HIV/AIDS. He spends most mornings at a hospital where people come for testing and medicines. Many AIDS patients also develop TB; thus, the nose and mouth mask. In the afternoon he works at the NGO’s office which we also visited. We saw the bag of food (provided with MCC money) given to needy patients once a month.



In 2005-06 we became friends with two young university women who were studying English. We have kept in contact and were able to meet with one of them (Diana). Since 2006 she has gained her Masters in Australia and returned to Papua to work. Currently, she is working with two others running programs in primary schools. One month they focused on books doing many activities. She said that at one point she was a bit frustrated with one boy who was having difficulty with reading. However, on the last day of the program, the boy’s father attended and she saw how the boy was teaching his father to read! Another month they focused on the environment, especially cleaning up beaches. The children, parents, and teachers are enthusiastic with their activities. It was so good to hear her philosophy. She said that so many people just complain about the government but don’t do anything. She said they want to focus on ways they can improve Papuans’ life—not complain.

We spent time with two MCC service workers who teach at a seminary. We attended an extra-curricular English conversation class which one of them holds. We sat and talked and ate with them.

On our final day the Papuan MCC team (4 persons) and we hired a taxi and then a boat and spent the day at a beach by the ocean. Fun was had by all!


Saturday, November 14th, 2015


There have been a number of photos we took which did not seem to warrant a separate blog or didn’t fit a blog or didn’t get on Facebook. These are a variety of memories.

Besides the number of small shops along the streets, there are several large “department stores.”

We’ve attended various churches. The GKMI church in Salatiga has been closely associated with MCC for many years. This is the one we attended the most often. One Sunday we drove about 20 minutes to a Catholic monastery outside Salatiga and located higher up in the hills. The service was packed (I didn’t take photos). The grounds are lovely. And after the service they sell kefir which they make and is very good!

One day we went along to Yogya to collect furniture of a former MCCer. We were amazed at the men just lifting the motor cycle on to the truck. In the previous blog we had photos of the organization of the storage rooms back at the office when we brought back these household items. During the last week the gardener cleaned out all the brush from the back courtyard of the office.  I had forgotten how pretty it can be.

Another day a young man was hired to cut most of the branches from a tree outside our office window. The gardener had recently found a man in that tree pretending to look for birds but mostly likely was looking for a way on to the roof and in to our building. The man who cut the tree used only a panga to hack off the limbs – some up to a foot in diameter!

Just a number of photos along the roadside as we traveled to various places.

We have had photos of the two dogs that live at this house. It has been a learning experience in taking care of them. In the process, Sally Jo discovered she is allergic to the hair and broke out in hives. (The one dog, especially, liked to sleep on the furniture.) So she had a sheet that she always put down on the chairs before sitting. After a few weeks, we came home one day to find that the house help had arranged the furniture so that the dogs would not sleep on the cushions! Later on, Ibu Wasti washed all the cushion covers and put all the cushions in another room so that every time we wanted to sit down, we had to get the cushions. She was very helpful!

We had a photo of a cockroach in our last blog. However, we also saw small chameleons and other lizards. The smaller ones which lived in the house were too fast to get a photo. They are considered helpful in that they eat mosquitoes.

One day we attended a youth conference in Solo organized by one of MCC’s partners. It brought together 100 young people from various parts of Indonesia for three days to learn about interfaith peacemaking. There were young people from Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, and Hindu faiths. It was exciting to see their enthusiasm.

We mentioned once that we stepped in and “taught” an English class at the local university for one of the MCCers who was ill. It was fun.

Just some miscellaneous photos of MCC team members. Brooklyn, 1½ yr, came trick-or-treating. One of the YALTers is in to acro yoga and taught some others. Zachary is the newest member of the MCC team. Here he is at less than 2 days old!


And then we always have photos of food! The food is good and relatively cheap. Our simple lunches were usually under $2.00. Our good meal of grilled fish, vegetables, rice, and lemonade cost less than $7.00 for the two of us!