I’ve learned much since living in Indonesia. One of my first lessons was that eggs don’t have to come in multiples of six. Also, babies’ heads get flat if they constantly lay on their backs. I’ve learned that men don’t have to be big, tall, and muscular to be men, and that Toyota Kijangs can pass through much narrower spaces than I had imagined. I’ve realized that the whole world does not use 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper, that everyone does not have to have a first, middle, and last name, and that phone numbers don’t have to have six digits plus an area code. Five digits are acceptable too.
My respect for volcanoes has grown; I marvel at their wildness and mystery. And the color green — shades of this hue are innumerable. Oriental sweetlips, silver trevally, moray eels, blue spotted sting rays and giant lion fish —breathtaking wonders of the warm, salty seas. Oh, and birds — song birds that bring a small offering of happiness, courage, and hope on gray days when I hear no other music.
What else have I learned? I’ve learned to survey my food for motion before partaking, to cast out snakes in Jesus’ name from grassy patches before eliminating, and above all to always drive and pray without ceasing! I’ve also learned that I can live without low-fat and health foods, and that my husband is a better doctor than the one down the street. Further, it’s best not to look for a banana split on Java, just as it’s best not to pursue Chinese food in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
I found out that not everyone has a fridge, stove or phone, not to mention a computer, that childcare is a luxury, and that I have more in common with the Nepalese woman married to the Dutch Canadian five-star hotel manager downtown than I thought, just because I’m a foreigner. Did you know that 20-year olds can die suddenly from taking the wrong medicine?
I’ve learned that sometimes it’s more important to offer something, than to hold back because my offering isn’t perfect. I’ve learned that the fewer the resources, the more creative and resourceful everyone becomes. I’ve also realized that it’s possible to live with a denser mix of uncertainty and danger in life.
And finally, I’m learning more about love. Many Hindus and Buddhists are lovely people. And, did you know? God loves Muslims. In fact, He often woos them to Himself through miracles, visions and dreams. I am learning to love and to care, and to look beyond my own inbred prejudices. I guess you could say I’ve gone through one paradigm shift after another. Always shifting, always moving. There’s so much more ahead…