I spent the first two weeks of my stay in Indonesia on the island of Java. I arrived on November 16th to Jakarta. On November 28th, 2018 I fly to Flores island. So far my stay in Indonesia was rich in meetings with people. First of all with the SVD community in Jakarta, then in the mission house in Yokyakarta, and at the in Surabaya. I also met with the SVD and SSpS novices in Batu and seminarians in the Divine Word Seminary in Malang.
All the time I'm impressed by the richness and cultural diversity of Indonesia. Here I have the opportunity to meet people from different ethnic groups of Indonesia because this country consists of thousands of islands. I have met people from such islands as Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi (Celebes), Bali, Timor, and also from Flores. Many of them came to Java for working, studying or doing their medical examinations. Everyone is heading towards the capital, because there are better perspectives and the opportunity of personal development.
Almost in all major cities there is a basic problem, which in the Indonesian language is called - MACET, that is simply traffic because of the plenty of cars and even more motorcycles. Regardless if it is sunny or rainy day, you can see whole families on bikes, i.e. dad and mom, who travel with two children. Crossing the street is dangerous and extremely difficult. For the Europeans it is a real nightmare. It does not matter if there is a pedestrian crossing or not, so you have to wait quite a long time and then wade between the vehicles that run from both sides. The rule is one - bigger and faster has always priority. A small and vulnerable man must usually escape from the road.
However, in everyday conversations, meals and recreation, Indonesians are very friendly and sociable. They take care of the guest as best as they can. Every day, three times a day rice is served, which here tastes much better than in Europe. Moreover, you have many kinds of fish meat or chicken, and also vegetables and delicious exotic fruit, whose names I have not yet learned. In Batu you can even buy a special kind of green apples in the market. Of course, you need to drink a lot of water here (ind. "Minum air banyak"). They say up to eight liters a day.
All Indonesians are very religious. Most are Muslims, but Catholics also have strong faith in God. For example, every day in Surabaya during the Eucharist the cathedral is full of people. Admission to the church area is guarded by special security because of the danger of terrorist attacks on places of worship. People in Indonesia treat every priest with great respect (with the title "Romo" or "Pater"), and during the meeting they give him a friendly smile. That is why every witness of Christ, especially from such a distant country as Poland ("Polandia") is welcome here. Then, he is invited to eating together and asked many questions. However, usually in the Indonesian language ("bahasa Indonesia"). Consequently, I am often forced to respond only with a smile or using English.
On the island of Java, the rainy season has finally started and it begins to rain almost every day. It is high time to travel by plane through the island of Bali to my destination which is seminary in Ledalero on the Flores island. With confidence, I set out to start an Indonesian language course there.
Prayers of SVD
May the darkness of sin
and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word
and the Spirit of grace
and may the Heart of Jesus live
in the hearts of all people.
(Saint Arnold Janssen)