Is it really December 23rd? Christmas is in 2 days? Really?
It just doesn’t feel like it.
(I don’t normally use photos I don’t take, but here is a great photo of a children’s choir in Jakarta)
This time last year I knew nobody I am going to be spending Christmas with this year. Part of Christmas is spending time with your loved ones and this year will be different. This is not to say that I don’t love my new friends, because I do. I love the people I have begun to know here, and I’m looking forward to spending an important day with them, but it won’t quite be the same. This will be the third Christmas I have ever spent away from my family and that’s going to suck. I’ll definitely miss them. I’ll Skype (audio Skype, video doesn’t really work here) them, which is a poor replacement, but at least it’s something.
I was talking to a couple of friends today about why it doesn’t really feel like Christmas, and I think it is largely to do with the fact that all my cues have been taken away.
Australia has seasonal cues, but not here. It’s always hot and humid, and the weather doesn’t change all year ’round. I’m used to hot weather signifying summer, but now it’s just every day normal.
In Australia the school year is a calendar year, so December is the end of things. You wrap up, say goodbye to your students, and head into the big summer holidays. That doesn’t happen here. We go mid year to mid year, so this is a 3 week break and it’s just the end of the first semester.
It seems weird to say that it doesn’t feel like Christmas because there is so much here reminding me that it is Christmas. There are Pondok Natals (Christmas huts) that BLAST Christmas music 24 hours a day. And I mean that. They do take breaks, but you can’t predict when that will be. I get woken up at 5am pretty much every day because the music is too loud to sleep through. For those of you that know what I’m like in the morning, you can imagine how this makes me feel. I am soooooooo thankful that Josh gave me a set of earplugs today! I might actually not feel the need to murder someone every morning now…
There are also fireworks every night, but that’s been going on for a couple of months, and all year actually. Maybe not every night, but at least once a week we get fireworks. For no reason. Absolutely no reason. It’s a running joke here actually.
“Oh it’s September 14th*! That explains the fireworks!”
*replace date with any date. There is no rhyme or reason to the fireworks.
Fittingly fireworks have gone off multiple times as I’ve been writing this (and there goes a ridiculously loud one!). At least it’s close to Christmas now. And don’t get me wrong, fireworks are fun. Usually I love them. I go out on my balcony (I live up on a hill) and watch them often.
This is a photo of a street at the bottom of the hill, I know people who live here and I drive past it all the time.
Part of my experience of Indonesia has been that I feel like I’m missing out on village life. I live in a town, a pretty underdeveloped town, but a town none the less. In early January I’m going to go to Wamena for a few days to experience a different part of Papua. A bunch of my kids’ parents live there, while they live in the dorms at school. I’m looking forward to seeing a place I’ve heard so much about! Our school has an annex campus there, and there are about 40 kids from kinder to grade 8.
The next photo is from a village here in Papua called Soba, taken by Clive Gray (a guy I know here). There was recently a bible dedication there, the first translation in their native language. Very cool.
There are so many things I love about living here, particularly my job, my kids, and my friends. But there are so many hard things about living here. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to stay another year. I need to decide before school goes back in 3 weeks. I’m praying about it, but haven’t come to any conclusions yet. Please pray for me.
Oh, and just to brag, here is the view from school. This is what I see every day. Remember that I live on campus 🙂