Indonesian culture is a very neighborly and communal one. Emphasis is placed on togetherness in many different forms rather than individualism. While this is shifting as Western culture is increasingly available via media and the Internet, communal consideration is still paramount with the family standing at the center of it, as God intended.
So when there is reason to celebrate, the celebration is open to not just family and friends but neighbors as well. Frankly, any event could be a reason to celebrate, but certainly those moments when we are most aware of the benevolent provision of God are high on the list, including moving into a new home. We’ve known that when we finally were able to move into a rental home, we’d want to invite everyone to celebrate with us. Fortunately the culture reinforces this, so we knew we’d likely have a crowd.
We invited everyone.
Everyone at our language school, both staff and other students. Christian friends. Some of the Grab (like Uber) drivers who we’ve made connections with. The salesgirl who helped us purchase most of the furniture for our home. The crowd of guys we’ve started to meet and talk with at the coffee truck in the market. Pretty much everyone.
We had no idea how many people would come, but we’re not exactly novices at this sort of thing and we loaded ourselves for bear in the form of food and plenty of water, lemon tea and soda to wash it down. Our friend Hotline (pronounced hoht-leen) volunteered to teach us how to make rendang, a traditional beef dish that is highly prized among the Batak tribes in North Sumatra.
So we met Hotline at 7am Friday morning at a market on the other side of town where her spice lady works. We purchased three kilos (almost seven pounds) of beef that had probably been walking around a few hours earlier that morning! Then, as we waited for the spice shop to open we sipped coffee and enjoyed a deep-fried traditional Chinese bread. Finally the shop opened and we purchased three packets of rendang spice mixture, a wet spice blend a deep red color and securely packaged in small plastic bags bound tightly with rubber bands. I think Indonesia exists and function primarily on small plastic bags and tightly wound rubber bands holding them closed.
Today was spent in preparations. The boys and I went to the market to buy napkins (not a common item here), as well as watermelon and makings for pico de gallo, one of my signature dishes (Mexican in origin, not Indonesian!). The house was swept and mopped and anything breakable was stashed away. Several of our fellow language learners have small children and we wanted them to have run of the place.
People started arriving at 5pm. The head of our language school. Teachers. Fellow students from South Africa and Alaska. Much to my surprise and joy, no less than nine men from the coffee truck showed up, lining their mopeds up outside the house. They met my family and some of the other guests. They brought two large dishes of the national food, nasi goreng (fried rice). And then when it was time to go to the mosque for service, they all shook hands and thanked me for our hospitality. Another crucial step in relationship building here in our new home town, and I look forward to continuing to build on that relationship through conversation and coffee and hospitality!
Little kids ran wild until they literally keeled over, happy and catatonic. Several tables of games were going at a time (Uno and Nertz), and the ping-pong table was constantly in use for about 5 hours straight.
Much food was eaten. Much food was also brought by some of our guests, something we hadn’t expected but which allowed us to taste some delicious dishes! We did our best to eat it all, but failed. We sent a lot of food home with some very happy and exhausted guests! We were thrilled that our neighbor across the street, Ibu Ellie, came and was well cared for before being sent home with a large container of food.
Most folks left by 11pm. Gena and I finally called it quits about midnight. The kids and their teachers continued to play Nintendo Switch until 2am.
We aren’t sure how many people in total were here. I think we could conservatively say between 40-50, not including our own family of five. Nothing broken. Most of the heavy clean up done before we hit the sack. Exhausted but very happy to begin sharing hospitality with people, laying groundwork for future, smaller events with folks down the road. A variety of cultures intermingled – Indonesian, American, South African, but also Christian and Muslim, and the youngest in attendance was probably about 3 years old and the oldest was close to 70. What a blessing to be able to share the blessings of God with these people who have helped make our landing in Medan and our initial adjustments and settlings here easier and less frightening.
And thank you to all of you making this possible – you can literally see the Holy Spirit at work and it’s exciting and humbling. We can’t wait to share more stories with you as they evolve!
One thought on “Pesta di Rumah!”
Blessings on your ventures in your new land of mission. Safe travels home to the Youth convention for the kids, you and Alex.