once upon a time in the land of Java…

It’s been two years. Say what now?

...I used to make little kids cry. Sometimes they still get scared or confused, but they’ve learned to embrace their insecurity of encountering a strange face, and some of them have learned to give hugs.

…I used to make little kids cry. Sometimes they still get scared or confused, but they’ve learned to embrace their insecurity of encountering a strange face, and some of them have learned to give hugs.

I do recall almost being late for the flight to California April 4, 2011 for PC staging the day prior to my departure to Indonesia. The night before that flight, my family gathered for dinner, my close friends came over for one last goodbye, and the morning before I left my childhood best friend almost didn’t let go when I had to leave for the airport. The morning of the flight, I was sort of frantically pulling out underwear from my one checked bag because I was a pound or so over the weight limit. Then again while in the hotel in California, I sat on the floor lobby with my sister as she repacked my bags and took out things she swore to me I didn’t need.  She was right of course.

...I could get away with this ensemble. I will continue to try to get away with it.

…we got away with these ensembles. and will continue to try to get away with them.

Today, it’s April 4, 2013, and as I clean out my closet for the 2nd time this week to find clothes that I can give to certain individuals in my village or at my school, I realize how much my perspectives have changed about having stuff and things. I look and see how things have changed for me over the past two years, I guess it was inevitable for me to be a little different.

...this towel WILL make it 27 months!!

…this towel WILL make it 27 months!!

Every time I talk to my sister Nikki I always begin by saying, “well when I start my REAL life in the States…“ Thing is, everything is starting to come full circle now and I’m beginning to realize how real this actually feels. I honestly forget where I am some days. It’s not until I step in a hole in the floor (yes in my house) that I remember, oh yeah…   Wait what am I doing with my life exactly?!?

...my neighbors and I were strangers. Now noodle eating bffs

…my neighbors and I were strangers. Now noodle eating bffs

My neighbors have been doing their thing, usually the same thing everyday of their lives because it’s their life and what they know. Obviously what any outsider knows is a lot different. It takes serious patience and work to deal with a life that is based on tradition that can seem stale to an foreigner. On the other hand, a life of continuous transformation and change can seem unnecessary and foolish…don’t we always go back to the start after we finally reach Chocolate Candy Mountain in Candyland?

...discovered adorable faces and really tiny fruits

…discovery of adorable faces and equally adorable fruits

I think what really helped me gain a stronger perspective of my surroundings and the majority of peoples’ lifestyles here, was when I spent a day in the rice fields back in January before the school semester started. No doubt, unforgettable experience.

...we weren't afraid to get our hands dirty

…we weren’t afraid to get our hands dirty

I had been thinking about doing it since I arrived, but was unsure how to go about it. Since my host mother is a farmer, getting involved was the easy part. Being able to keep up and prove myself in the blazing heat for 8 hours bent over to stick rice seedlings into the earth knee deep in mud was the real challenge. The best part that kept me going was when there was a finished section of the field. After standing up, and your back cracks in four different places, there is just these long straight rows of rice seeds that seem to go on for miles.

...learned how to really taste adventure

…learned how to really taste adventure

These ladies work and they were not shy about putting me to work right alongside them. That really made me feel accepted. They knew I was willing to set my teacher uniform aside and get my nails dirty. After those few days, I gained serious respect for them, I felt closer with that community of Ibus, and I think they were introduced to a new side of me and my eagerness to learn more about them. I felt it was an experience I needed and I felt honored they were willing to share that with me.

...we got a little crazy.

…and got a lil crazy.

24 months in, I’d say I am surprisingly still pretty focused. The idea of going home is creeping into my consciousness. I think after April’s done I’ll be ready to just santai (relax) and move forward.

...we envisioned a community garden,  dug up my front yard and help plant tomatoes, chili, eggplant, and carrots. Vegetables to be harvested and picked fresh

…we envisioned a community garden, dug up my rocky front yard and planted tomatoes, chili, eggplant, and carrots. best part, it was *bersama* TOGETHER

I haven’t been as nice or friendly as I used to be to everyone. I’ve been a little more distant than usual. I’m still close with my village neighbors and people I’ve made friends with in town. Of course I’m friendly with all the teachers and still love going to teach everyday and working with my students. Although when I travel, I’m less likely to carry on conversations with people I meet along the way. It’s just too late in the game to be making new connections and at this point I’m kind of over telling perfect strangers why I’d ever work for free, my WEIGHT, no I’m not from Thailand, and yes this is my natural skin color.

...I used to skip out on my morning bathing. Now I can’t wait to bathe and find out what’s being prepared for breakfast.

…I used to skip out on my morning bathing. Now I can’t wait to bathe and find out what’s being prepared for breakfast.

I see a few different angles about this point in my service. I don’t have many regrets and I feel good about how things will come to an end. I’ve become more honest with people about how I feel and hope they value those opinions, especially when they suggest I stay here and find a husband, then they really get my opinion, loud and clear!

...the idea of creating a World Map Project was said to be “impossible”. Meanwhile, in my absence, students and teachers worked together and created a masterpiece using a grid and guidelines from a printed map! Well, maybe not a masterpiece, there might be a few countries missing. Knowing them it will be perfected over time.

…the idea of creating a World Map Project was said to be “impossible”. Meanwhile, in my absence, students and teachers created a masterpiece using a grid and guidelines from a printed map! There might be a few countries missing. Knowing them it will be perfected over time.

I’m going to end this on a personal achievement. Now, I may not have reached my goal to be fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, however, I went to the dentist and even with all the sugary tea drinking, stress-cookie munching, and random jelly snacks Ibus often try to feed me, I am CAVITY FREE!

...there was a time to be serious

…there was a time when we were serious teachers

...which was NEVER.

…which was NEVER.

*Fist pump to all IDfly homies for 2 years of sweaty service and to “little” saudaraku ID6 for their 1st complete year! No joke, year 2 will go by cepat sekali!!!!*

...the ID5 love began, and will be everlasting. Happily Ever Indonesia! THE END.

…at last ID5 love is everlasting. Happily Ever Indonesia! THE END.

6 thoughts on “once upon a time in the land of Java…

  1. This post was so bittersweet, and it made me cry, I am so very very proud of you . You are an amazing person, I know I have said it before but I’ll say it again I am so proud to have you in my life. thank you for showing me the wonders of life through your eyes I love you so much!! Mommy

  2. What a truly amazing person you are. I am excited to see you in June. The timing is perfect, otherwise I’m not sure when we’d be able to get together. There’s always a guest room in AR. See you soon and keep doing your thang.

  3. I love this post. You are so awesome and inspire me everyday. Next time I have ridiculous thoughts like, “I only have 10 vacation days a year” or “I ran out of milk for my coffee (which is pretty dramatic for me)”. I will think of how lucky I am and learn to appreciate every thing! I love you dearly and am so proud to call you my friend! I know you have been making a huge difference in these children’s lives. Keep doing what you do!

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