Forgiveness or Retaliation?

From Open Doors USA

STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM

September 18

If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Luke 6:29

Turning The Other Cheek

An Open Doors colleague shares the following incident from a Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS) seminar in Indonesia:

I remember standing in front of nearly 800 pastors on the island of Timor facing a serious dilemma. Most of the pastors were victims of attacks by Muslims on the island of Ambon. They had lost homes, churches and even family members during these attacks. They were hurt, devastated and needed answers to the challenges they faced.

As soon as I started preaching, one pastor stood up and interrupted me:  “Must we accept the persecution from the Muslims or must we retaliate? We are tired of forgiving just to be attacked again. We believe it is time to defend the honor of God and retaliate. What must we do?”

I understood perfectly the challenges. I had met those who were attacked and I have seen the scars on the bodies of those who simply accepted it. I understood there was no easy answer. Then another pastor interrupted: “No, pastor, tell this brother he is wrong. The Bible tells us to accept our suffering. We will dishonor God if we retaliate. Seventy times seven we need to forgive. Isn’t this true?”

I looked at the pastors and replied, “The Bible is clear. You MUST retaliate!”

There was silence. I sensed the division. I could see the smiles on the faces of those who agreed and saw those who disagreed getting ready to leave the hall.

“Wait, brothers!” I intervened. “Before you leave, let me finish my sentence. Luke 6 teaches us clearly to retaliate, but in doing so, we need to choose our weapons. When someone curses you, you don’t just accept it. You retaliate by blessing him. When someone mistreats you and persecutes you, you don’t just accept it. You retaliate by praying for him. When someone takes your cloak you retaliate by giving your undercoat. When someone slaps you in the face, don’t stand for it. Retaliate! Turn your other cheek.”

The burden of just accepting suffering was broken. They were satisfied.

RESPONSE

Today I will retaliate against attacks upon me using the spiritual weapons of Jesus.

PRAYER

Lord, may I always remember how You want me to respond when others treat me badly.
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BALI: Date with Terror, 1956

A True Story by Jessica Reynolds (Renshaw)

Stars glinted over Bali like light off the polished horns of a water buffalo. Under the August night, our pony cart bounced us nonchalantly out of the city toward a date with dry terror.

For Diggie Dee and me, expecting only the merriment of a Balinese festival, the evening promised wonderful things. As our silent Hindu host flicked the reins, we listened delightedly to the gentle jingle of the pony’s bells.

Only these bells and the rhythmic clopping hooves disturbed the whisper of the trees along the road. In the loneliness of the dark countryside, the sounds of our cart were comforting.

My grandmother–dubbed Diggie Dee by my brother–and I were strangers in Indonesia, finding it had a charm and mystery all its own. Diggie Dee had surprised our family by flying all the way from Madison, Wisconsin, to meet our ship in Den Pasar, Bali. Used to rolling pastures and cattle, she quickly came to love race paddies and water oxen.

Malayans, in turn, loved this spirited lady in her seventies who was so unpredictable. Her white hair caused a sensation. Full of fun and easy to please, she made friends everywhere she went.

One couple offered Diggie Dee a ride to the yearly harvest festival which few tourists get to see. They spoke little English, and filled the gaps with earnest smiles that did the inviting for them.

She wanted to share the experience with me so we read up on the Hindu religion before we went. We discovered that the festival was held to give thanks to their gods. We found that Hindus worship the sun and the moon. They burn incense to rough, stone idols. Some idols are hideous animals with human faces; others have wings on a human body, or wield an elephant’s trunk.

Animal figures are carved into the walls of of their temples; individual images sit in small shrines along the roadside and in private homes. At these, people offer dishes of food daily. Even on buses I noticed god-shelves, with flies collecting on rotting cabbage or fish.

This religion seemed incredible to me. Dreading the capriciousness of nature, the people developed such a complex religion that hundreds of demons have been named and special powers attributed to them.

From the pony cart I could see dim shapes of chipped stone lions and bulls. Glaring at us from doorways, they were sometimes all that was left of a temple broken by Japanese soldiers during the second world war.

Of course I did not believe in their idols. I knew that there is only one almighty God, who cannot be formed from stone with human hands. I knew that God created me, and that He loved me. But at that time I worshiped in as much ignorance as the most devout Hindu.

No one had told me that God loved me enough to reveal Himself to me. No one told me that God knew my inability to be the kind of girl I should be. No one told me that God provided His own Son, Jesus Christ, for me. I didn’t know that Jesus came to show me what God is like and to take away the sin that makes it impossible for me to please God.

Most of all, Jesus provides escape from the devil’s power. I know of Satan’s power. In deepest Bali I witnessed it as never before nor since.

After trotting an hour or more, our host guided the pony into a rutted lane overshadowed by trees. He pulled the cart to a halt before a courtyard and helped us out.

Floating on the faint breeze came the distant sound of gamelan music. Unique to Indonesia, gamelan orchestras are made up of shiny brass tubes and drums of different sizes. Young men chosen by priests beat a three-toned rhythm. Sometimes they keep it up for hours without break or variation.

Over fallen stones we stumbled through one doorway after another toward the music. A flickering light helped us see enough to step over the last threshold into a courtyard full of people.

To the left and the right poles supported thatched roofs. Under these, on raised platforms, were dark-haired Malayans of all ages.

Women knelt in the building to the left. Their sarongs made of cloth pounded from wood pulp were dyed to make typical batik designs of brown or dark blue. Their thick black hair was braided or wound around their heads. Some wore flowers in their hair; others had anklets of flowers above their bare feet.

To our right were the musicians and a small group of men who wore loincloths. A kerosene lamp hung precariously over the instruments and threatened to set the entire orchestra on fire.

Motioned with our friends to a bench on one side, we waited eagerly for the harvest ceremony. It began with a dance. A dozen men and women formed a circle and followed each other in a series of complicated, precise steps. Each dancer held a golden bowl or lighted candle.

As they walked in a graceful procession, the music’s tempo increased almost imperceptibly. We sat on the end of our bench, in peril of tipping over, hardly remembering to breathe.

At the height of the quickened beat, a scream rent the air. From the shadows a young women writhed in agony toward the dancers. Everything stopped suddenly as she fainted at their feet.

In consternation, two or three dancers rushed to her and dragged the limp body onto the women’s platform, disappearing behind a curtain.

There was a pause. Chills running the length of my body were all that kept me from being totally paralyzed with fear. Diggie Dee and I stood shakily to leave. As we turned to our host to speak, a man leaped into view, brandishing a sword. He careened madly, thrusting the blade at his own chest in a frenzy. Despite his white-knuckled grip and wild movements, the sword did not penetrate the skin it pressed.

Beneath me, the ground seemed to sway and tremble–or was it only my knees? Terror left my mouth dry, my heart pounding. A second woman shrieked and collapsed. In the commotion our host whispered to us, “Devils enter into her. They choose someone every year–never know who. She belong to devils now. Soon they choose more.”

Diggie Dee, far calmer than I, urged our host to take us home, saying that I didn’t feel well and that it was late. They were surprised; the ceremony had hardly begun. But they glanced at me and nodded. I must have been ashen. The shock, on top of Balinese germs, led to a week in bed, partially delirious.

On the long, chilly ride home, the eerie pitch of gamelan music resounded in my ears. Its unchanging, ceaseless beat seemed to throb above the jangle of the cart bells and the brisk clop of hooves.

Before I ever received Jesus, who conquers Satan and overcomes Satan’s hold on men, I saw demons at work. I saw them enter and claim the bodies of heathen Balinese; I felt their wickedness and knew their violence. My memories of Bali’s mystery are interwoven with cart bells, gamelan music, and piercing screams.

Dabs of rotten food do not protect people from the evil spirits they fear. Chipped stone bulls do not flood people’s lives with reassurance.

Only Jesus Christ can free the Balinese people from their superstition. He drove away my darkness and fear with His perfect light. That’s why I surrendered my writing to Him as Lord and Savior nearly three years ago in Tokyo, Japan. When I graduate from Multnomah School of the Bible (Portland, Oregon) this spring, I intend to serve the Lord as He directs, possibly in Japan in journalism.

Jesus saved me when I, like the Balinese, was at the devil’s mercy. I pray and know He will send some of his faithful friends to the Hindu idol-worshipers with His good news of freedom and joy.

 

(First published in Teen magazine, 1967)

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BALI: cremation ceremony 60 years ago

(Continued from All in the Same Boat)

Also thanks to Rai–and because it was an auspicious time on the Balinese lunar calendar for ceremonial occasions of any kind–we had the opportunity of viewing a cremation. The remains of a number of deceased persons had been “saved up” for months, waiting until the bereaved families could prepare, and afford, a properly grand celebration. I use the term “celebration” advisedly, for a cremation in Bali, coming many months after the sorrow of death has faded, is not a time of mourning but a joyous release: release of the soul of the departed and, one presumes, release of the family from a heavy burden of obligation.

The procession accompanying the crematory tower itself was long and colorful. It included groups of musicians who played on the melodious Balinese drums, gongs, cymbals, and flutes; men who carried bundles of rice straw and others with cords of firewood, and a lengthy file of women with offerings of all kinds which they bore upon their heads. Everyone, it seemed, contributed food o goods, according to his means or ambition, and everything was to be consumed–by fire.

The main attraction, naturally , was the tall and elaborately decorated cremation tower, which carried their mortal remains of the dozen or so individuals who were being honored. This was borne upon the shoulders of some eighteen or twenty men, who plunged from one side of the road to the other, splashed it with water from the drainage ditches along the way, or spun it about in erratic, zigzag patterns. This, we were told, was to confuse the spirits of the dead so they could not find their way back to haunt the living.

At the cremation grounds all the carefully wrapped bundles of bones were removed from the tower and placed, each in its own wooden coffin, beneath a long shed. The offerings were piled, as if for lavish display, upon a low platform covered with mats, nearby, and then the whole was set ablaze.

Only one development marred out enjoyment of this happy island. This was an illness which laid Jessica low for several days. On the night after the cremation–which had been a swelteringly hot day filled with excitement and topped off by a meal of strange and exotic foods–Jessica complained that she ‘didn’t feel good…’

[A week of exhaustion, sore throat, fever, chills, rash and hallucinations followed.] After several days of medication…Jessica was recovered enough to pour into her Journal a hundred pages of impressions of Bali, which she has since epitomized in a single word: eerie! The street noises outside her hotel room: a flute and the weird cadence of a gamelan; [“a funny slooshing noise outside” which was] an old sow who splashed her way up the drainage ditch every morning; the startling cry of a gekko lizard in the night, [the bells on a pony cart on trips to a doctor for penicillin shots and Aureomycin, escorted by an anxious Rai on his bicycle]–these apparently had merged in her delirium with distorted memories of ceremonies she had seen, such as the tooth filing and the cremation.

Most haunting of all, she and her grandmother had had an experience the rest of us did not share. One night, escorted by a fellow guest at the hotel, they had ridden many miles into the country to witness a kris dance at a village temple. The dancers had gone into trance and ended by plunging the twisted blades of their daggers into their own bodies “right up to the handle”‘ as Jessica insisted. People near her had fallen to the ground, “invaded by spirits,” and Jessica could actually feel the ground shaking.

[It was weeks before we knew, from the peeling of the skin on my hands and feet, that I had had scarlet fever.]

We could have spent much longer in Bali, but if we were to get another sampling of Indonesia, the capital, we had to push on. In Jakarta… a childhood friend of Barbara’s–and her husband…were waiting for us… [as well as] the eleventh anniversary of the founding of the republic, on August 17. The entire city was decorated for the occasion with archways of greenery across the streets and parades and festivities in every district. We had received invitations from President Sukarno himself, beautifully embossed with the Indonesian emblem in gold, to attend a program of dances at the palace that evening. It was a splendid affair, staged on the floodlit grounds, beneath the high branches of enormous trees. The variety and fascination of the dances, representing many of the islands of the spread-out archipelago, kept us enthralled until well after midnight.

To be continued

From Chapter 10: “Bali, Java, the Keeling-Cocos,” Earle and Barbara Reynolds, All in the Same Boat, David McKay Company, Inc., 1962 and private journal of Jessica Reynolds (Renshaw), unpublished.

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BALI, coming-of-age ceremony 60 years ago

(All in the Same Boat, continued)

This event, which took place in two days, turned out to be the coming-of-age ceremony for a young cousin, and Rai invited our whole family to attend. At the appointed time he took us to the outer courtyard of his “oldest brother’s wife’s father’s home.” We found it overflowing with milling tourists from the Bali Hotel who were busily taking pictures of suckling pigs turning on a spit and lovely girls passing through from the street to the inner courtyard with trays of food on their heads.

Our hearts sank. We had hoped for more than this, colorful as it was. But we needn’t have worried. Rai led us through the crowd, up some stone steps, through a narrow doorway in the brick wall, and down to the inner courtyard–and another world. All about us were open buildings with thatched roofs,  their floors raised above the ground. Each of them was gaily decorated with lengths of bright cloth, flowers, and woven palm leaves. The guests, sitting cross-legged upon the floor of each pavilion, were all wearing Balinese costume–magnificent sarongs of red or green or blue cloth with designs of gold thread and turbans of batik [textiles with colored designs dyed into them, after first having wax applied to the parts to be left undyed.] They eyed us with curiosity and reserve and, for one horrible second, I wondered if Rai had brashly invited us without consulting his elders. Almost immediately, however, we were greeted warmly by Rai’s brother, who told us to make his home our own and led us to one of the detached buildings which had been, apparently, assigned to us for our own use.

In one of the houses, discreetly curtained off with gay hangings, the young girl for whom the ceremony was being held was being adorned for the main event of the day: the ritual of filing down her canine teeth. The reason for this operation was cheerfully given us by Rai: “So she not be like animal.”

When all was ready the maiden–a pretty, frightened-looking girl of seventeen–was borne out on the shoulders of two men, for on this day her feet must never touch the ground. She was clothed in a sarong of green and gold lamé, with a gold scarf around her chest and wearing a tall crown of beaten gold, heavy with ornaments.

In the center of the courtyard was the most gaily decorated pavilion of all and here she was deposited on a raised couch in full view of all the family and guests. Women attendants removed her headdress and helped her to lie down. A priest then took over, intoning prayers and throwing petals of flowers around and over her with a ceremonial gesture. Having induced at least semi-hypnosis, he began the task of filing down her teeth. Throughout the proceedings, the chants of a dozen handmaidens provided a moaning background, in which the girl herself joined at times as if in fear or pain. Several times she sat up long enough to rinse her mouth and spit into a yellow coconut shell. The business had just enough of a suggestion of a dentist’s chair to lend it a slightly incongruous note.

When all was over, she was again lifted to the shoulders of her bearers and carried, wan and red-eyed, back to the privacy of the dressing room.

“Soon,” Rai promised Jessica, who was visibly upset, “she be more happy, you see. This afternoon, many food–everything play.”

For us, too, there was “many food”: trays heaped high with molded rice, both plain and highly seasoned; a wide variety of curries and condiments; succulent pork roast; sate–bits of spicy meat on thin skewers; bananas, mandarin oranges, and various other dishes that I preferred to eat without identifying.

In the afternoon, as Rai had promised, the girl–now a marriageable young lady–was again carried among us, glowingly triumphant. Dances and a Balinese puppet play were presented for the assembled guests.

Note by Jessica: When I described this ceremony to one of the Balinese men we met on the Carnival cruise recently, I asked if their culture still held coming-of-age ceremonies like this. In answer, he opened his mouth to show that his own canine teeth had been filed flat!

To be continued

 

From Chapter 10: “Bali, Java, the Keeling-Cocos” from Earle and Barbara Reynolds, All in the Same Boat, David McKay and Company, Inc., 1962

 

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BALI, 60 years ago: Worth all the trouble to get there

Bali - 1956

Den Pasar, Bali, July 1956:  Jessica Reynolds (me), 12, my brother Ted, 18, and Balinese friend I Gusti Rai Suwandi.

(From All in the Same Boat by Earle and Barbara Reynolds, continued)

Our entrance into Bali was one of the most trying and difficult that we had yet experienced [in a year and a half of deep-sea sailing]. The currents that sweep down between the islands are fierce in these areas and the monsoon wind pours down through the passes….  The log tells of some of our difficulties: ‘Rainy, misty, visibility poor. No visibility in frequent showers. Terribly rough–roughest we’ve had yet–high, steep waves, from all directions.

‘Finally located Benoa, in a relatively clear moment, got the leading marks in line, when a heavy shower washed out all sight. Since the entrance involves a right-hand turn and various tricky meanderings, we put about and lay off one hour until the weather cleared a bit.

‘When we entered, we found buoys were completely changed from the pilot book and our up-to-date chart. Had to put man at masthead and con our way through the reef.’

BUT Bali was worth all the trouble it took to get there. Not only is it spectacularly beautiful, with its rugged mountains, its misty vales, its crumbling temples, and the glossy green of its rice paddies, but the people are beautiful too. Outside of Den Pasar, where the tourist congregate and create understandable disruptions and where it is considered “rude” for women to go about unclothed above the waist, the Balinese serenely follow their age-old customs, practice the Hindu religion, which is the hard core of their society, and preserve their independence and integrity.

In contrast to other countries we had visited, even the more remote islands, we saw little influence of the West in Bali. No American movies, not even in Den Pasar; no Cokes or chewing gum. Music could be heard as one strolled the streets of a village at night, and it was not rock and roll but the hauntingly compelling music of Bali, played on drum and gamelan [Indonesian percussion instruments, especially gongs, xylophones and drums].

The village of Benoa turned out to be a picturesque cluster of houses and brightly painted fishing boats drawn up on a spit of land to the left of the harbor, but the port of Benoa, on the other side of the water, was less interesting… [except for] a stack of long wicker baskets like porous sausages, each of which contained–a real live pig!

(My journal for July 16-17, 1956 adds): “But we did discover something about which we had read in the National Geographic–baskets of woven leaves piled up on top of each other–and each with its pig inside packed for shipping!… The basket-pigs were classed by Mum as the original sausage rolls. Some snouts were sticking out which was unfortunate to the snout’s owner, as a strutting rooster marched by and took pecks at them.”

(Back to Dad’s account): Our first act, after officially entering (Benoa) the next morning, was to take the bus to Den Pasar [11 km away] to meet Barbara’s mother. Minnetta herself was on a trip around the world, traveling by a somewhat faster means and at a bit higher altitude, but the motivating aim of her entire junket had been to meet us in Indonesia!

No one seemed to know the bus schedule, but all were happy to show us where to wait for it. Eventually, a dilapidated bus pulled up, so we climbed on and waited…

Several praus [various Indonesian boats usually without a deck that are propelled especially by sails or paddles] with wishbone sails pulled up to the sea wall and willing hands began to unload. Stalks of bananas, bunches of coconuts, matting bundles were all unloaded, carried up the sloping sea wall to the road and thence up a narrow ladder to the top of the bus.

The driver returned, carrying a woven leaf tray on which were a few carefully arranged yellow flowers and a few leaves. He placed this in a niche above the driver’s seat and stuck a stick of burning incense into a holder on the dashboard. (There’s an extra that American models don’t have!) We wondered if he was exorcising whatever demons may have gotten aboard with us.

A little later the people began to get on. Soon the bus was full, but still we waited. Down at the waterfront another prau came in. This one was loaded to the gunwales with large turtles and Barbara scrambled out with her camera.

“Don’t let them go without me!” she warned, stalking her photographic prey.

She didn’t have to go to the shore for her pictures, however. Her subjects were being brought to her, each turtle borne upside-down on the shoulders of a man who walked with it easily up the sloping ladder to the top of the bus and there deposited it neatly.

The last two turtles were too large to be carried by a single man. These were slung from poles and brought up to the road by two men each, who shoved them inside the bus where they filled the aisle and made an excellent foot-rest for the passengers, who sat in long seats facing one another. At last we started.

[My journal:] “We all had a jolly ride to Denpasar. On the way were flat rice fields, huts on mud or salt flats, old, old looking stone buildings falling to ruin with broken dragons or people or elephants guarding the gates. Behind some were lots of smaller shouses with carved roofs and little children playing in the yards. The irrigation ditch in front of all the houses along the road is convenient for washing clothes or to take baths in or most anything. The children either wear tops and bottoms; tops, bottoms; or don’t bother to dress. The women carry hug baskets on their hears just as easily as pie and not all of them … wear tops.”

[Dad:] Once we were rolling, we passed beautifully irrigated rice fields, villages with walled compounds, and temples which looked centuries old, with carved elephants or boars guarding their narrow gates. Everywhere we saw evidences of the rice harvest: rows of workers in the fields, seemingly bowed over beneath the weight of huge mushroom-shaped hats as they cut the ripened grain; men and women carrying sheaves from each end of a pole across the shoulders, the women with a single, larger bundle balanced on the head.

Throughout the Balinese countryside women apparently have not heard of the regulation, promulgated in Java, that they must be “properly clothed” or, if they have heard of it, they pay it the same attention that the Balinese, through the centuries, traditionally have paid to the directives of their alien rulers: they ignore it. In the dooryards the lovely bodies of the women, clothed only in a sarong of patterned batik, moved in graceful rhythm as they bounced an upright pole first with one hand, then with the other, to thresh the grain which had been spread on mats to dry.

In Den Pasar we got off at the wide dirt lot which is the bus terminus and transferred to a doh-ka, the pony-cart-for-two which is the picturesque means of travel through the city streets. The driver whipped his tiny horse at a gallop, the plume of bells on its head jingled merrily, and in no time at all we were deposited in front of the Bali Hotel, where Minnetta was waiting on the porch.

She was far too travel-wise to be living at the Bali Hotel, however. Already she had found lodgings, at one-fifth the tourist rate, at a small Balinese hotel on a side street. [My journal: “As we talked … men, and even a woman and boy kept buzzing around us with things  to sell … postcards, jewelery, carved gods and animals and cloth …. Diggie Dee and I went out for a walk to see all the carved figures in the shops, the fancy gold headdresses and a section of the town. Fat, sway-backed pigs, paying not the least attention to the people or vice versa window-shopped or strolled about the town. Men carried fighting cocks under their arms, often stroking them as to a dog, or keeping them in cages nearby.

“Finally we had to be going back [to the Phoenix] but Mum wanted to spend the night with [Grandma] Diggie Dee. They were loading the pigs on the boat when we got back–rows of men tossing each basket along to the boat and rolling it down a ramp–not heeding the loud squeals.”

[Dad:] On the way back from seeing the rest of us off at the bus terminal, [Barbara] managed to get herself completely lost. Through this happy accident she made the acquaintance of Igusti Rai Suwandi, a charming young Indonesian of Ted’s age who had been studying English in school. Rai (Igusti, we learned, is a title of caste and not a proper name) was happy to show Barbara back to her hotel and practice his English.

“Tomorrow I come again,” he promised, “I will meet your son. I will show him many things. If he will come by me for two days I will show him fête of young girl who become big.”

To be continued

From Chapter 9: “Into Indonesia; Thursday Island to Bali” and Chapter 10, “Bali, Java, the Keeling-Cocos,” Earle and Barbara Reynolds, All in the Same Boat, (David McKay and Company, Inc. 1962)

Posted in Beauty, biography, Books, family, friends, Helping others, human interest anecdotes, Indonesia, interesting people, memory, My brother Ted, My mother Barbara Reynolds, nature, pictures, sailing, Scenery, Travel, yacht Phoenix of Hiroshima | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

BALI: By way of Timor, by yacht, 60 years ago

Phoenix at seaWe arrived in Indonesia on the yacht Phoenix of Hiroshima–my older brother Ted and I, our parents and 3 Japanese yachtsmen.  The following is from All in the Same Boat (David McKay Company, Inc., 1962), the book our parents Earle and Barbara Reynolds wrote about our voyage around the world:

Finally, on July 6, [1956], the island of Timor rose out of the haze off the starboard bow…. All the next day we cruised westward, with the land growing more distinct…. By late afternoon we were sailing just off the southern shore, but it was obvious that we could not reach Kupang that night… Telok Bay, Sakala, seemed to offer a protected anchorage, so we dropped the hook there in eight fathoms, half a mile offshore….

At 0500 the next morning, we got underway and continued along the coast. … We flew our colors and the Indonesian flag, which Jessica had made during the trip….After we had dropped anchor in the harbor of Kupang… [t]wo immigration officers in neatly pressed tans were the first to board us. Both were very young and slight in build, looking like neat, precocious, and well-scrubbed schoolboys….

I filled out the necessary forms–which were printed in both Indonesian and English.  That, the officials then indicated, was all. There were no further requirements. We were quite free to go ashore…

[Then] another official dropped by. He told us… that our Japanese men would not after all, be allowed ashore… He was polite but adamant. He had no intention of permitting any Japanese to set foot in Kupang. He gave no reason, but I assumed it was a personal matter. Perhaps he had unpleasant memories of the Japanese occupation [The Japanese Empire occupied the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, during World War II from March 1942 until after the end of the War in September 1945, only 11 years earlier.] He acknowledged that all our visas were in order, but managed to bring out the fact that it is a long way from Jakarta, where such permission is given, to Kupang, where he was in charge. A long way, both in miles and in authority….

[Barbara and Jessica went ashore to get provisions before we set sail again.] Off they went, along the street that curves beside the harbor, past the bombed-out shells of what had once been substantial brick buildings, to the market–a miscellaneous collection of mats beneath a single thatched roof. The stall-keepers squatted cross-legged on the ground, or, if they boasted counters, on the counters behind their wares. In neat piles  arranged upon banana leaves were chunks of meat, hands of tiny green bananas, fish, eggs, Chinese cabbage, bean sprouts, and bright red chili peppers… Eggs–all tiny and without any guarantee of freshness–were six rupiah for eight–one rupiah being worth about nine American cents on the official exchange. Potatoes, sold in heaps of ten or twelve, cost one rupiah per pile, the catch being that each potato is, literally, the size of a marble! Tomatoes were the same size and about as costly. Bananas, however, were cheap–only five rupiah for a good-sized stalk–and oranges were one rupiah for four.

The final purchase, and one for which the phrase book had to be called into play [we had brought Teach Yourself Dutch and Teach Yourself Malay] and a special expedition made, was bread. The bakery, at a considerable distance from the market, had a complete stock of ten loaves of bread, each loaf consisting of a length of five to eight bun-sized segments which sold for half a rupiah apiece. The very idea of one customer buying the lot was staggering [to them]…

Meanwhile Ted and I, for our part, had… wandered up and down the streets of the city trying to register everything in a short time so that we could share it with the others on board. For the first time since leaving Japan we had the impression in Kupang of teeming life, of countless people, of bustle, color, movement–and above all poverty, grinding poverty. Many people were clothed in nothing but patches, one upon another. Faces were gaunt, arms and legs were nothing but sinewy muscle laid upon bone. Most noticeable of all were the toothless, gaping maws of the betel chewers, men and women alike, their mouths stained red and drooling fungus-like shreds as they chewed. It was a sight, we felt, that would take a bit of getting used to. [Betel is the leaf of an Asian evergreen climbing plant that is used in the East as a mild stimulant. Parings of areca nut, lime, and cinnamon are wrapped in the leaf, which is then chewed, causing the saliva to go red and, with prolonged use, the teeth to go black.]

There was a wide variety in the costumes of Timor. The most common form of dress seemed to be the tubular length of bright cloth which served equally as a skirt, a shawl, or a complete costume à la Gandhi. Fierce-looking banditti from the hills strolled around with bright scarf turbans on their heads and sheathed knives stuck in their sashes; Muslim in black velvet fez worked side by side with nearly naked Malays whose headgear dress was an amazing replica in woven pandanus of the fifteenth-century flat-crowned velvet hats worn by the early Portuguese explorers…

Much as we had looked forward to a leisurely trip up the Indonesian archipelago, we decided to make no more stops until Bali, where we felt more certain of our welcome. We had no desire to cause incidents, and were afraid that the feeling against the Japanese which had been evidenced in such a relatively large port as Kupang might cause even more trouble in remote spots, even farther removed from central control.

Accordingly, we set our course for Benoa, the port of entry to Bali, 500 miles to the west…

To be continued

From Chapter 9, “Into Indonesia: Thursday Island to Bali,” Earle and Barbara Reynolds, All in the Same Boat, David McKay and Company, Inc., 1962

 

 

 

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BALI: Greetings to our new Balinese friends!

Greetings to our new Balinese friends on our recent Carnival cruise–our stateroom steward NI KETUT, our hall steward I MADE (pronounced Ee MahDEH), towel steward I DEWA PUTU, deck stewards I KADEK and NI SRI, and I NENGAH MUDIANA–and especially our dinner stewards I EKA and I DANU!

Balinese Eka and DanuEKA was outstanding. As soon as he found out I was gluten-intolerant he had me order my dinners the night before so he could make sure everything he served me was “kosher” and even brought gluten-free bread for me when he brought the rolls for everyone else. Eka and Danu, it was a pleasure to dance the Macareña with you two, even though I had to copy the steps from you!

I pray for a different people group every day, including the Balinese, so it was exciting to actually meet and make new friends from Bali–eight of the 100 or so Balinese staff aboard our recent Inspiration cruise to Mexico. Each one we met wanted to know, “Have you been to my country?”

“Yes,” I was able to tell them. “When I was 12!” (There were almost as many Filipinos on staff but we met very few of them because they were not assigned to our part of the ship. And we have never been to the Philippines.) In 1956 our family docked in Benoa, Bali, during a 3-1/2 year voyage around the world aboard the 50-foot yacht Phoenix of Hiroshima my father had built in Japan. We spent 8 days on their island, so I could describe Bali as their grandparents knew it–very poor and primitive by our standards, with unpaved roads, few vehicles and a modest hotel or two, but very exotic to  us foreigners!

To be continued

 

 

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