It’s hard to believe we arrived in Medan two weeks ago. Although we feel so inadequate in terms of language, we’ve learned so much in such a short time. Like this post’s title, we’re at times overwhelmed by the process of learning a language and a culture as well as how to function in life in a brand new city with very few people we know around us. Yet God is good, we remain in good health and good spirits. We have moments where one or two of us struggle, but overall we lift one another up and are excited to tackle a new day.
But weekends…man, weekends are great!
In the past two weeks we’ve become pretty comfortable with the local currency, both in handling the physical money and identifying it (fairly easy thanks to large, easy-to-read numerals!) as well as in knowing the words that describe the money. Oftentimes the cash register will show the total, which is incredibly helpful. Other times the shopkeeper will simply say the total. We may need to ask them to repeat (Tolong ulangi) or to slow down (Tolong bicara pelan-pelan) but we’re mostly able to make sense of what we need to pay.
Of course much of the time we’re able to pay via credit card. We’re blessed to have a credit card designed for travelers so we don’t pay foreign transaction fees (or any fees) on purchases we make with it here in Indonesia. Plus we benefit from the bank getting far better exchange rates than we could on the ground. We try to use credit cards for most of our basic needs, saving cash for emergencies or purchases in the local markets where credit cards (kartu credit) are not accepted.
We know how to introduce ourselves and exchange the various greetings that are second-nature here, depending on the time of day. We’ve grown accustomed to hearing the Muslim call to prayer five times a day (the first one at 4am). We get around town for the most part very easily via the local equivalent of Uber. Grab is a popular app and service provider throughout Southeast Asia including Indonesia. We’re able to get a rid to most anywhere in the city – for the six of us – for less than two dollars US. When you calculate gas, maintenance, insurance and other things associated with owning a vehicle in the US it’s still cheaper for us to use Grab rather than attempt to purchase a vehicle. While Caedmon is particularly excited at the prospect of getting a drivers’ license and getting a moped to get around town (the dominant form of transportation), it will be a while before we’re comfortable enough with traffic rules as well as customs to give that a try.
We’re starting to look for a long-term housing rental option. At least a year, perhaps more. Once we have that in place we’ll be able to actually start settling. Our apartment currently is downtown so there is a lot of traffic and noise. It’s not bad, but the idea of settling into a neighborhood where we can begin meeting our neighbors and building relationships, where we can shop in the same places each week and get to know the shopkeepers and become more of the local scenery instead of glaring outsiders, and where we can actually fully unpack and make a place our own knowing we’re gonna be there for a while – that will be a really wonderful thing. We’ve been nomads for the better part of ten months. God has provided for us completely during that time through partners like you, but we’re looking forward to calling a place home for more than a few weeks at a stretch!
We continue to give thanks to God for all of you who help to make this possible, and for His strength which sustains us through changes, studies, frustrations, successes, failures, and an inordinate amount of laughter in the midst of it all! We hope to have a newsletter in your inboxes next week!