Eight Years, Eight Months Ago

DRL Note: Since the Wallers will be with us for the gospel meeting this week, I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at the first report sent back to us from the Wallers. This is from “Susan’s Page”…

Getting Settled in Jakarta (October 1998)
by Susan Waller

Greetings to you all from Indonesia! I would say Salamat pagi, Salamat sore, Salamat siang, or Salamat malam, but I don’t know the time of day you will be reading this letter. Indonesian greetings are very precise as to the time of day. Yes, we are presently in hot pursuit of a new language. There are many cultural differences that are reflected in the language of Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia). The sentence structure is also very different. We have been told that there are very few rules as far as grammar is concerned. It seems that they make choices about what is right by the way things sound. What sounds right seems to dictate the correctness of a sentence. However, that would mean that what seems right to me may not sound right to you. How can I be wrong if there isn’t a standard by which to judge if I am right? Does that sound familiar to you, brethren? However, my language teacher seems to have no problem correcting us.

The conditions here in Jakarta are still in a political upheaval. There are extra security measures being taken, especially around the celebration of holidays. The government is taking precautions to prevent the outbreak of more violence on the scale that took place in May of this year. Businesses in Indonesia have been severely set back by the brutality that occurred then. They have either closed completely, drastically laid off workers, or are in the slow process of rebuilding. We have seen many businesses that have been completely destroyed. There are some malls that no longer exist. Since so many are unemployed the traffic flow is lessened to some extent. However, traffic in Jakarta is like no other city that I have ever seen. There isn’t an American city to compare with it. I have heard that there are some other Asian cities that compare! Now, there are many beggars on every corner where traffic may stop for a light. These are not the usual groups that normally gather for any number of legitimate reasons. There are women with babies who cannot feed their children. There are children of all ages begging at car windows. Some seem to be orphans, or children without any parental supervision. Indonesia has much from which to recover. There were many poor before this crisis happened.

The problem has been compounded by the national crisis. President Habibie has helped pass legislation to get children off the streets and back in school. There are also expatriate organizations helping with the distribution of food to the poor. There are many agencies around the world that are helping in this area. There are signs of recovery. The U.S. dollar has weakened by over Rp. 3,000 (Rupiahs – currency) since we came. This is good for the Indonesians, but it reduces our purchasing power. We think that there will be further strengthening of their currency as they take steps to resolve their economic situation.

On the lighter side, we have been adjusting to the cuisine of Indonesia. It’s not beans, potatoes, roast beef and cornbread! As a matter of fact, I don’t think you can even buy cornmeal here. My mother told me that we would miss her southern cooking. She was right. However, in St. Louis, Steve and I made a point of eating foods from many different cultures, i.e., Mexican, Indian, Italian, Thai, Chinese, German, Greek, and American. Without eating a variety of foods we would have been ill-prepared to eat Indonesian food. As with food from other countries, there are good and bad restaurants. Indonesian food has a tendency to have a “kick” to it! Sambal is a hot sauce that some people like to add to their food. It would compete with Tobasco. The “American restaurants” in Indonesia are not very good. Also, they are very over-priced with mostly sub-standard food.

Shopping in Indonesia is quite an experience. One never knows what he or she might find, or where it might be found in a store. For example, in a grocery you would find all the “sauces” together. The apple sauce and Worcestershire sauce are side-by-side on the store shelf simply because they have “sauce” in the name, not because they are alike in any way. For some strange reason I have problems reading the labels on most of the packages–wonder why?? One can’t go by sight. Something may look like cinnamon, but it may not necessarily be cinnamon. Remember, we are in the Spice Islands. You would think that there would be special stores just selling spices alone. No! As a matter of fact, you can only find them in the grocery store next to the imported spices packaged in America that originally came from Indonesia! Is this confusing?? Any food imported is extremely expensive. There are many open air markets where fresh fruits such as mango, pineapple, bananas, guava, and durian may be purchased.

An Apotik is a drug store here. One can find some medications here that are available in America. Last spring I developed a severe allergy to grass, dust, pollen, etc. before we left the States. I wanted to scratch my eyes constantly. My eyes started swelling and itching only a few days after we came to Jakarta. I had medication that I brought with me which I thought would last for a while. Fortunately, I was able to find some in the Apotik close to the house without the need of a prescription. “Apotik” is from the word “apothecary.”

There are many “nyamuks” here in Indonesia. No, they are not a new musical group. They are mosquitoes!! We have special electrical mosquito “zappers”. Also, we spray the house often for a wide variety of insects. We also have tiny lizards that eat the insects. Lizards find their way into houses and most people are willing to allow them to stay. We have at least two that roam the house. I am very grateful for both of them.

We deeply appreciate all the financial support and encouragement that we have received from everyone. We have much to learn about the land and its people. The brethren here have been wonderful to us. We are reminded daily of the many millions of souls that are lost without the Gospel. Our primary goal is to help the brethren here in teaching others the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We need your help to be able to accomplish this task. I know that you will do your best to help us in this work. Thank-you again for all that you have done to help us.

Love, Susan
____________________

DRL Note2: There is a very real possibility that this godly couple–Steve and Susan Waller–will have to end their work in INDONESIA before they wish to do so. We have been notified by two large supporters of this work, who have been supporters from the very beginning, that their support will soon be ending. The amount from just these two is quite significant: $1450 per month. If you know of churches of Christ looking for a good work to support, we would surely be interested to learn of them. If you know of individuals who might have interest in helping spread the gospel in Indonesia, please put them in contact with us. THANKS! Susan acknowledges in the note above from nearly NINE years ago that she has much to learn. Indeed, Steve and Susan HAVE LEARNED much about the culture and the needs of the brethren in Indonesia. I have visited them seven times and I can highly recommend the work to you. It would be a terrible shame for them not to be able to continue using the knowledge they have gained over these many years.

–DRL

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