Attending Church in Indonesia

Jason and I headed over to the local church today.  It’s an Indonesian Baptist church and I’d say there were about 80 – 100 people there today.  When we walked in, the first folks we saw were friends of Jason and Laura.  Jason introduced me and I shook hands and then one of Jason’s friends asked where Laura was.  She had stayed home because she was feeling sick with morning sickness but Jason wasn’t sure if she knew that Laura is expecting so he told her the news.

“By who?” she asked in astonishment.

We both looked at her and then looked at each other.  I started to laugh and clapped Jason on the back as I said, “Well, I’m pretty sure it’s Jason.”

She got all flustered and realized her English error immediately.  “No, by WHAT, I meant.  How did you announce the news?” she asked.

“It was on Facebook,” Jason said.

“Ah, that explains it.  I haven’t opened Facebook in awhile,” she replied.

It turned out that one of the friends was going to be preaching this morning so he said to Jason, “You be sure to translate for your mother.”

The service started with choruses, quite a few of which were familiar to me (the tunes, not the words obviously because those were in Indonesian).  I enjoyed singing them.  I think it must be easier to pronounce Bahasa Indonesia when you are singing the words than when you are speaking it in conversation….maybe because you are drawing out each word longer and there is the rhythm of the music involved, too.

There were various prayers before the sermon but I was never quite sure when they started except suddenly I’d notice that people had their heads bowed so then I’d listen intently and the end would usually involve the words “hallelujah” and “amen.”

The offering was taken but then, after the offering was brought back up to the front suddenly quite a few people got up out of their seats and started up to the front.

“What are they doing now?” I asked Jason.

“I think this must be a special offering,” he answered.  “Maybe it’s for the guest pastor.”

The sermon was about how man makes lots of plans throughout the course of the year but really, if God isn’t put first when those plans are made, then it is all foolishness and the height of arrogance.  At least, that’s what I think it was about.  I also think I heard the pastor referring to Morocco, Bali, the concept of “enshallah” AND Bon Jovi at points within the sermon so I am not entirely sure that I  REALLY knew what he was talking about.  Jason interpreted as best he could but the pastor was talking really quickly.  I’ll tell you one thing, I really hope that our church, which currently is without a pastor, can find a pastor like the pastor that spoke today.  He spoke with such passion for the Word.  I told him that, too, when I left and I meant it.

After the service, Jason’s friend who had misspoke about the pregnancy, came over and we were chatting.  “You know, your son said that you were, well, I can’t say the word because it is impolite so I’m putting it in quotes, (at which point she made quote motions in the air) but I don’t think you are at all,” she said.

I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about.  Jason looked at her and said, “What?”

“You know,” she said.  “I’m not going to mention the word because it is impolite but you put it on Facebook.
  See, I’m just putting it in quotes.  You know….the ‘c’ word.”

Jason and I looked at each other.  I wondered what in the world he had said about me
Jason said to her, “Why don’t you say it in Indonesian.  Are you talking about ‘gila’?”

“Yes,” she said.  “That’s what your son said that you were but I don’t think you are like that at all.”

Jason turned to me and said, “Oh, I said up on Facebook that sometimes my mom can be kind of crazy.”

“Oh,” I said brightly, “it’s true. I am.”

She looked at me horrified and Jason quickly jumped into the conversation.

“Well, I think ‘crazy’ means something a little different in English than it does in Indonesian,” he assured her.  “It can mean ‘funny’ or a little ‘nutty’ in English.”

“Maybe a better word to describe me would be ‘eccentric'”, I suggested.

She looked at me with a look that told me she wasn’t entirely convinced that this was a big improvement.  Ah, the joys of intercultural communication!

They’re invited over for lunch and I’m hoping that the thought of having lunch with a “crazy” woman won’t keep them away.  I have promised to be on my best behavior.  No swinging on the chandeliers when they arrive.  (Just kidding —-but you knew that, right? )    I may be eccentric but I’m not nuts.

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Hot Flashed Funk

  • misinterpretations crazy nutty eccentric, I really wish I knew what she was thinking, please ask

  • Sounds like a wonderful experience! Even if a little was lost in the translation.

    You crazy lady you! LOL


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