Baffling Bountiful Indonesia – Doors Fly Open For Wayan

Mysterious Indonesia, the largest island country in the world, is made up of over 17,000 separate island provinces. Most of them have their own language, their own religions, rituals, and customs. The country spreads in a graceful curve just north of Australia and has the world’s fourth largest population.

I’m reminded of the Tower of Babel story – in reverse. According to that tale, the Babylonians were building a magnificent city that would touch the heavens. They wished to make a name for themselves. God foiled their plans by confusing their language.

They could no longer understand each other so all work ceased.

Indonesian leaders realized the only way they were going to successfully govern such a mixed bag of rugged individualists was to create a national language and make it mandatory throughout the entire educational system. So when the country gained it’s independence in 1945, that’s what they did. That action emphasized and underscored Indonesia’s motto: Unity in diversity.

Because this diverse population is able to communicate with each other, the people, goods and wonders of all the islands often intersect.

In Bali, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. Opportunities to experience vastly different cultures and viewpoints present themselves daily. At the same time, the potential for misunderstanding is huge. Patience is essential and waiting until all have had their say, then coming to an agreement that suits everyone is diplomacy at its best. “Good for me, good for you,” is a familiar phrase in Bali indicating a satisfactory compromise.

The Balinese have also mastered kesabaran.* They sit for hours in full temple dress waiting for the high priest to arrive so a ceremony can begin. Unlike us in the West, they don’t expect anything to happen fast, not in ceremony, not in life.

I’ve sat with them on the ground, sweating in my corset and lace, eaten by ants. But when it begins…OMG! The pageantry, the ritual, the sound and color make me forget the hours of discomfort.

Wayan’s journey is proving to be no exception. As we go forward, we make new contacts and realize there isn’t just one option available. Right now we’re in the process of researching an offer that would allow her to begin training sooner and work abroad more quickly.

Every step advances Wayan’s adventure. It thrills me to see how willing people are to help this young woman achieve what very few in her position can hope for. All of you who donated so freely are the ones making this possible.

Hang on, friends! I’ll keep you posted as we go. This promises to be an exciting ride!

*kesabaran – patience

Miracle of The Naked Tree

It looms grotesque, a daily reminder of botanical brutality. The Naked Tree. After Ketut’s failed attempt to hack it down for firewood, a task that left an open wound encircling the trunk, I have tried to ignore its unsettling presence. For weeks I expected any day he would come with a saw, a tool more suitable for a tree trunk than his machete, and removing the offending corpse. But time passed to no avail.

The Naked Tree’s Wound

Mrs. Dove and her devoted mate recovered from the loss of their primary residence and are now firmly ensconced in a lovely, leafy home within arm’s reach at the other end of my balcony. In the early light of morning, however, as my eyelids flutter open, the first sight I behold is the pair of them side by side on a bare branch in The Naked Tree.

Mr. and Mrs. D in The Naked Tree at dawn

So the other day when Ketut was in a particularly jovial mood (I had just asked if he would be my body-guard  and accompany me out dancing to ward off the amorous Frenchman that seems to be blind to the fact that I am old enough to be his granny) I pointed to The Naked Tree and shrugged my shoulders in that universal gesture that says, “And your plan is….?” That made him double over with gut busting mirth. I was serious. With righteous indignation I said, “But Ketut…it’s dead! And it’s ugly! You can’t just leave it there.” When he had composed himself, with laugh-tears still wet on his cheeks, he said “No, not dead! See? Leaf!” I gave him a look (again universal language) that implied, “Yeah, you’re crazy Ketut.” Struggling to contain another outburst of hilarity he shook his head, “Not dead, see?” He pointed. I looked. Then I really looked and sure enough, tiny green sprouts have begun to emerge from the impossibly compromised Naked Tree branches. Now the expression on my face was one of shock and awe. “Seriously Ketut?! How can this be? You cut all the way around the trunk. It’s impossible!” By then he had assumed the countenance of patient longsuffering that has become all too familiar and summed it up, “In Bali, okay, many-many.”

Miraculous New Life Appearing

Silly me. In Bali, of course, the natural laws are simply suggestions that may or may not apply. Slap an orchid on the trunk of a coconut  palm and Wallah! you have orchids growing out of a tree trunk. Stick a white bougainvillea branch, and a coral bougainvillea branch on a pink bougainvillea bush and Presto! you have a profusion of pink, white, and coral flowers blossoming from the same stem.

There is a saying here, Plant a rock in Bali and it will grow. It isn’t far from the truth. I apologized to Ketut. Once again I was the clueless foreigner trying to put Bali into my midwestern, Minnesotan-frame-of-reference box. In my realm of possibility, spontaneous regeneration would be cataloged under miracles. In beautiful, equatorial Bali it is biasa hidup, normal life.

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