Sound and Movement

Candlelight service at GKMI.

Candlelight service at GKMI.

Today’s the day to pack away my clothes, my notebooks, my camera, and everything that I have acquired while living in Indonesia. Right now a storm is rolling over the tops of houses and buildings, motorbikes are rumbling by, the food carts wheezing their existence, and the rain soft at first. I hear the chatter of the woman who helps with cleaning the house with my host sister who is tearing open a plastic snack wrapper. I hear the creak of her chair as she leans back into it, music leaking out of her speakers. Now the woman who helps clean is systematically ironing clothes, the slight rustling of fabric and the ironing board. My host father is roaming about his office, whistling, and I hear the whiz of a bicycle wheel. My host mother squeaks open the door to the bedroom and whispers something to the woman who cleans, and they quietly laugh together. Another ominous thunder crack, threatening a downpour, overcomes the distant hum of the call to prayer. Birds dash by, twittering riotously, and car horns declaring existence, the faint grumble of a truck with the movement of traffic roaring up and down the road. My host father opens the fridge, purring to life, takes his ice water, gulps it down, and sighs with satisfaction. Rain begins, running off the overhang, splattering the walkway, and saturating the earth. More thunder governs the sky with a vociferous wallop.

My days are numbered to single digits. Tomorrow I leave my host family, friends, and community. By next weekend I will be heading home. This past year has brought plenty of stress, confusion, grace and forgiveness. We have made loads of mistakes, but we also have become friends with in those mishaps. We have become family. Cross-cultural living may not always be about something brilliant as successfully building houses, digging wells, but it could be about people who know nothing about each other to build bridges with our communities. To lessen our arrogance of what we think about this world, to humble our souls, and to challenge ourselves. Oh how we will be challenged, but we will also receive grace. Grace beyond our capacity to give, filling each other up, flowing from one reservoir to the other.

Eventually we may be able to do those brilliant things, together, or in different places. But relationship comes first, a smile, a handshake, a laugh, a shared interest, or whatever it may look like. We share our lives slowly, shyly at first, but it begins to branch out and meander around our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies. It takes root in our lives, takes hold of our hearts, and we may not be aware of it just yet, but it exists. It exists in a conversation with a neighbor, a bike ride with a host father, or laughter with a host mother or sister. It exists in things we take for granted or don’t readily acknowledge. But if we are strident about it, relationship breaks down barriers, stereotypes, prejudices, and may even bring peace.

This world is more than just seeing it but experiencing it. To get on the level with our community wherever it dwells, engage the people, and honor them. We may not always agree or understand, but that is reality. We are human, outwardly diverse, our thoughts equally miscellaneous, but despite that we can break down stereotypes together and learn from each other rather than destroy the things we find wrong about our varied world. And sometimes those things aren’t wrong but misconstrued, beaten down into something poisonous. We occasionally acknowledge our misinterpretations, but do we actively change them? Do we actively seek to reinterpret them into something less acidulous? Or do we sit back and allow for them to remain so, hoping someone else will change the violence, the depression, the hate? What choices will you make?