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Last Day in Surabaya

First, this was the view from my hotel room on the 31st floor.  The large dome towards the back is a mosque:

The view from my hotel room in Surabaya


Apparently a visit to Surabaya has to include a visit to the Sinjay duck restaurant on Madura Island.  In order to get there, you have to cross on the longest bridge in Indonesia, which is 5.4 kilometers long, or just over three miles.


Madura Island is a fairly large island and is one of the strongest centers for Islam in the country apart from Aceh Province on the island of Sumatra, which operates under sharia law.  Sinjay’s menu is basically limited to fried duck and rice.  The restaurant has been so successful they are opening up another branch in Surabaya itself.  The guests sit at long tables, order from one counter then pick up the order from a second counter.



Henok and Kamty:


Behind the restaurant was a large rice plantation.  The rice had reached maturity and was being harvested by workers out in the field.


Here is the rice close up:


And finally, a beautiful dragonfly on a rice stalk:


Returning to Surabaya, we stopped off at a church that had once been an Anglican parish.  During Japanese occupation, there was no activity there, and after the war–if I am remembering the sequence correctly–it was taken over by a Chinese congregation.  The Diocese of Singapore and the Indonesian Deanery are still the owners of the property, but the Chinese congregation added a second building for offices and Sunday School classrooms behind the original church.

Anglican Church built in 1931.  Now used by the Chinese Reformed Church

The church’s interior.  There is actually a stained glass window that is behind the wall with the cross on it:


A memorial plaque from the Anglican congregation:


We met the church’s administrator in his office just to introduce ourselves.  As we went to the office, we passed by the musical instruments they use in worship:

Tradtional Musical Instruments for the Chinese Church IMG_20160310_115813202

And finally, on the way to the airport and the flight to Kupang, West Timor, we passed by a statue commemorating the mythical origins of the city.  There is a legend that says a shark, “sura,”  fought a crocodile, “baya,”  for control of the area.  The shark ended up with the sea and water, and the crocodile ended up with the land:

The Sura and the Baya:  the shark and the crocodile


As Henok and Kamty left me at the airport, it was hard to believe that our time together was coming to an end.  I am especially grateful and thankful for all that they did–and especially for the opportunity for them to show me East Java–where they both are from.  I learned a lot from them and therefore have a better understanding of the variety of Indonesian cultures.



Driving South of Surabaya

The next morning after the long drive to Surabaya, we left for the city of Lawang.   Henok had arranged for us to meet with the Principal and the Faculty of Aletheia Theological Institute, a seminary that is run by the Chinese Reformed Church.  On the way, we stopped to see the “mud volcano”  in Sidoarjo.  This is the largest eruption of thermal mud in the world, which started in 2006 and it still continues to erupt slowly.  Retaining walls have to be built higher and higher as the mud flows.  It is estimated that 150,000 houses and buildings have been lost.

It is fairly slow moving, so there was time to evacuate the residents, from what I understand.  To get to one of the observation points, the challenge was to navigate these stairs:



Once up at the top, there was nothing but an immense, flat plain with some steam venting from a couple of locations on the horizon:


Here is a close-up:


And then the challenge of walking down the stairs:


It was then on to Luwang to visit Aletheia Theological Institute, a seminary run by the Chinese Reformed Church.  Aletheia offers both a Bth (Bachelor of Theology) and an Mth.  The Anglican Church in Indonesia had been supplying a faculty member until this year.  We were welcomed with a nice lunch and good collegial conversation.


If I had known how people were going to be dressed, I would have worn one of my batik shirts…

There was a special seminar for high school youth going on in their main auditorium/chapel.  The regular students had already finished for the term.


One of the buildings from the outside:


Following our visit to the Institute, we drove towards the mountains, hoping to see some spectacular mountain scenery that includes at least one volcano and rain forest.  Unfortunately, the weather was terrible and the visibility was equally terrible.

The area is known for its rich farmland–most likely attributable in part to the long history of volcanic activity.  Beyond the treeline that you can see partially in the fog is supposed to be a couple of large volcanic mountains.  They have not been recently active.


We were able to drive through some tropical forest, which I always find interesting and beautiful–even in the rain:



We drove on to a restaurant for an early supper.  If you wished, you could catch your dinner out of one of their fish ponds:


We did not do that, but we did have a nice dinner.  I haven’t shown a picture of Kamty recently. Here she is waiting for our supper to arrive:


We were sitting Asian-style at a table that was in its own sectioned-off area.  Our shoes remained outside, and we sat on the floor.  The restaurant had its own prayer room (musholah), and it was at one end of the complex.  I saw a number of them near the restrooms at various locations–airports, gas stations, and other restaurants.  I wondered why this was so, but the only reason that I can think of is that before going into a mosque there is some ritual cleansing that takes place.  I never asked whether this was true for the musholahs, too.  The one at the restaurant was being actively used by the guests.



Except for the drive back, our day was pretty well over after we finished our supper.


Borobudur and Prambanan

For our full day in Jogjakarta we left the city and drove to the northwest to the Buddhist temple, Borobudur.  Built in the 9th Century and abandoned in the 14th Century, this World Heritage site is the largest Buddhist temple in the world.

IMG_20160307_155705449_HDR - Copy - Copy


There are over 500 statues of Buddha there.  It was re-discovered in the 19th Century and went through a few restorations.


There was a light rain when we first arrived, so the first photos I took were with my mobile phone.  The rain eventually stopped, so I was able to use the better camera.

This is probably the oldest frieze, dating to the initial construction of the temple:


If you are interested in seeing more photos of the temple, they can be found in the  Gallery in the Media section of the web site.

The following day, we spent the morning at a large batik market in the center of town.  Kamty was successful in finding the shirts that she needed for her teachers in Batam.


Henok looking for his own shirt:


On the way to Surabaya, we stopped off at a Hindu temple, also built in the 9th Century called Prambanan.  Dedicated to the three gods, Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu, the site is actually a temple complex with numerous temples of varying sizes. The one dedicated to Shiva is the largest, and is located in the center.  Even though the site is not actively used, there was still evidence of offerings being made in front of several of the statues to the different gods.


The stone carvings were numerous and well done:


One of the smaller temples:


There were several high school groups there, and many of them wanted to have my picture taken with them.  It was a little bit of a “rock star”  moment, which was surprising for this middle-aged American!  I took some photos of them.  This is one of them:


There are more photos in the Gallery, if you are interested in looking at them.

We finished the day by driving until well after midnight to Surabaya–mostly in the rain.  Our driver did en excellent job on the two-lane road that was full of trucks.  The line of traffic was surprisingly long considering the hour of the night.


To Jogjakarta

The time in Batam had come to an end, and Henok and Kamty had arranged for me to spend the rest of my time visiting their home island of Java.  We boarded a plane in Batam and flew to Jogjakarta–Yogyakarta is the way I saw it spelled once we arrived there.  They arranged for a driver and car to meet us at the airport–and it was the same driver and car that was to take us to Surabaya.  Jogjakarta is South and somewhat East on the island, and Surabaya is in the Northeast of the island.  It is a very old city that is also the capital of the Sultanate, and for five years after the Japanese occupation, it was the capital of Indonesia.


Arriving at Jogjakarta Airport

Arriving at Jogjakarta Airport

Jogjakarta is especially known for its batik–and there are dozens of shops where you can purchase it.  It is also the best place to get batik items at a very reasonable price.  Some of the batik is handpainted and some is printed.  Kamty was particularly interested in getting batik shirts for her staff at her school.

A typical batik shop

A typical batik shop


Besides look at batik, there are some other things that you have to do on a visit there.  One of them is to eat at a restaurant called Gudeg Yu Djum.


The food is cooked in a particular way–I’m not sure what the actual process is or even what the recipe is–but I was served Nasi Gudeg Krecek Telur Dada–which was rice, chicken, egg, and a cooked jackfruit condiment.


A drive through Jogjakarta on the way back to the hotel took us by the main square that was full of pedal taxis that were decorated with colored lights.  Some were animals and others just different shapes and decorations,.



There were dozens of them, and apparently part of an evening’s entertainment is to hire one of them and be driven around the square–or perhaps anywhere else you wanted to go.

The following day we were back at the main square, because it is at this location that each Sultan is enthroned in a very lavish ceremony. The current Sultan (#10) was enthroned in 1989 and is in his late seventies with five daughters from only one wife.  He is the first monogamous Sultan in their history. With only daughters the sultanate will pass on to his brother or nephew depending on who survives.  It is a very lavish ceremony even though the Sultan does not have any political power anymore since Indonesia is a republic—and I’m not quite sure how he is supported.

This is where the Sultan is enthroned:


The current Sultan and his wife:


Roosters are apparently a symbol of strength, so there were a number of them in cages in the complex:



A frieze on a wall:


Following a tour of the enthronement area, we went to a couple locations where they make batik.  It is an interesting process that involves mixing wax with the colored dyes and then after applying, the wax is somehow melted away and it leaves the colors permanently in the cloth.

Heading towards the batik workshops:


The waxy dye/paint is applied with a special tool that includes a reservoir for the liquid:


Another tool is used to create a consistent, uniform pattern on a piece of cloth:


Here is someone painting a picture:


After the detail work is done, color can be added to the cloth:


And finally, the cloth can be dyed in a vat:


Hanging up the cloth to dry:




Singapore Botanic Garden

This is out of sequence, but I spent several hours today at the Singapore Botanic Garden and took some photos and thought I would just go ahead and post them.   The last time I was there, I was in a boot recovering from a broken leg, so I was limited in how much I could see.  This time I think I just about saw everything.  The Botanic Garden is quite extensive, and the “jewel”  is the National Orchid Garden.

First, hit the “Media”  button on the home page and then click on the appropriate gallery.  I would recommend just hitting the “Show Slideshow”  link and allow the photos to go in sequence automatically. That way you don’t have to keep clicking on the photos and moving from one page to the next.

When I get back to the US, I’d like to see if there is a more user-friendly way of showing photos….

Summary of the Remaining Time in Batam

Once I left immediately after church with Henok and Kamty for Jogjakarta (Yogyakarta), the time has gone quickly, and this is the first opportunity I have had for a posting on the blog.  I’ll upload some photos to the Gallery, but those are only if you are interested in scrolling through them for a more complete visual image of what I have been doing and seeing.

Wednesday, March 2, was spent attending a meeting with the Principal and other key administrators for the four Anglican schools that are now in Batam.  Until recently, there were only two, but supervision of two Christian schools that were previously in the Assemblies of God Church was transferred to the Anglican Church of Indonesia.  Henok is the main supervisor for all four schools.  We met in the main office of one of the new schools.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss getting the required text books for all the students.  Mrs. Serene Kong, head of St. Andrew’s School, was there to provide her insight.


Here is Henok:



Outside the school:


All the schools are Christian-based, but they are open to receiving Muslim children.  Sometimes the Muslim parents want their children to be taught the Koran and other aspects of Islam, but the overall feeling is that since they are intentionally Christian schools, they should remain that way and not be mixed.

Thursday, March 3rd

The Rev. Timothy Chong, Dean of Indonesia, took the Fastboat over from Singapore in the morning to meet with Henok and me.  We sat in the hotel dining room for a couple of hours reviewing all that is going on in the Deanery.  Tim had officially started his sabbatical, but here he was working.  It was good to see him, and we then made a return trip (for me) to the new campus of St. Andrew’s School so that he could see the progress of the construction.

Some thoughts on the schools

What has impressed me with these visits is the depth and commitment of the missionaries from Singapore–and the Indonesians, too, of course–who make significant personal sacrifices to minister in areas that are extremely challenging.  There has been no real hostility towards the work, which has certainly been helpful. Years ago–during our second year of missionary work in Honduras–I read Donald McGavran’s book, Understanding Church Growth.  It is a classic that has been around for over 45 years.  McGavran criticizes the use of schools in Methodist work in West Africa as a means to try and attract members to the church showing that it was not effective.  This was hard for me to take at the time since both Gail and I were teaching at an Episcopal School that was hoping for increased church attendance from the families that sent their children to the school.  And actually, since the focus was on building up members and promoting the Episcopal Church  and not the Christian Gospel, the strategy was a failure.  This, I believe, would be true for any denomination.  In that regard, McGavran is right.  However, what I observed in Batam was that the schools were and are an effective way of reaching into the community.  They give an opportunity for the church leaders/teachers to get to know the children and parents personally.  Bible is taught in the classes–even to Muslim children–who are attending because their parents know that they are good schools and their children will benefit from it.

I also have seen many cases in East Africa where Muslims have become Christian because of the work and ministry of Anglican schools there.  This seems to be something that is working.

Friday March 4th

Henok left the two Singaporean visitors in Serene Kong’s hands–these are the two who shared the duck dinner the night before who had come to Batam to learn about the schools so that they would be better informed about starting a similar school in Nepal–and we took another boat trip to Bintan, one of the Riau Islands east of  Batam.  We went to Tanjungpinan to visit Revival Anglican Church.

Map of route B


There are some photos of the trip that I have posted in the Gallery under the “Media”  section of the Stanway web page.  Once again, you don’t have to look at all of them, but they do give you a visual image of the day.

We were met at Tanjungpinang by Henry Gui, who is the lay pastor of Revival Anglican Church there.  He and his wife are from Singapore, and of they travel to the island just about every weekend from Singapore.The majority of the members of the church are of Chinese descent.  I asked when they arrived.  Some families had been there for over a hundred years.  Others were more recent.  With the various political changes that China has gone through in the last 100+ years, a number of Chinese have emigrated to other locations.  The church also has an active preschool.  One of the teachers there, Welly Tunliu, was very helpful last June when we worked with the children in Batam.

The entrance to Revival Anglican Church and School

The entrance to Revival Anglican Church and School

Henok and Kamty along with Henry Gui and his wife

Henok and Kamty along with Henry Gui and his wife

After we visited the church and school, we drove across the island to the eastern side to meet with a man and his family who are going to be baptized in April.  They have left their Chinese traditional religion behind and become Christian.  The man owns a restaurant right on the beach, and we stopped there to greet him and to meet his family.

The restaurant at low tide

The restaurant at low tide

Here is the owner talking to Henry:

He will be baptized next month

A chicken in the final stages of plucking:


Saturday Evening/Sunday morning in Batam

Saturday was a day free of visiting ministry projects.  Henok needed the time to get ready for the Sunday service, and I needed time to prepare for the evening service at the Anglican Church of the True Light and then for Sunday morning at St. Matthew’s and the Church of the Good Shepherd.

The service at the Church of the True Light was a youth service that combined the young people from all three Anglican churches on the island.  Henok suggested that I give the PowerPoint presentation on the Anglican Communion worldwide, which I had given in Bandung and Jakarta. It was good for them to see that even if the Anglican Church of Indonesia is small–but growing–that they were part of a much larger Anglican Church where in most places it also started out small but has since grown.  The presentation was meant to be an encouragement for them.

Here is worship at the church that evening:


Church of the True Light has a ministry to sailors in merchant shipping–not only in Batam, but in Singapore as well.  This has proven to be particularly effective–especially to the wives and children who are frequently left behind by their husbands for long periods of time.  During my first visit to Batam in 2014, Chris Wendel, a student, and I offered an evening class on Christian parenting and family that was well received and important for the those families to hear.

Henok picked me up at about 6:30 am, I believe it was, for the 7:30 service at St. Matthew’s.  I was all packed and ready to go, because after the second service at Church of the Good Shepherd, we needed to get to the airport for the flight to Jogjakarta.  I finished preaching at St. Matthew’s before the service ended so that we could arrive at the Church of the Good Shepherd on time, and we just about made it. St. Matthew’s is some distance away.  Here are a couple of photos of St. Matthew’s:


Here are some of the children receiving prayer prior to their going to Sunday School:


Henok leading the beginning of the service at Good Shepherd.  He always does a wonderful job interpreting for me.  I celebrated Holy Communion (again) in Bahasa Indonesian:


Some liturgical dancing:


Once the service was over and we had lunch at the church (a spicy chicken stew on rice that was made from the heads, neck, and feet), Kamty, Henok, and I set off for the airport and our trip to Jogjakarta and Surabaya.



A Quick Visit to the New Campus for St. Andrew’s School in Batam

One of the important ministries of the Anglican Church in Batam is the running of several schools on the island.  The largest one, St. Andrew’s, is hoping to move into their new building/campus later this year.  Mrs. Serene Kong is the Principal of the school, and it continues to grow.

Here is the building under construction:

The school sits on 5000 square meters of land

The school sits on 5000 square meters of land

As I have mentioned in a previous blog, 90% or so of a local community has to give approval prior to building a house of worship.  For building a Muslim mosque, there is no problem.  However, for Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus, it is another matter altogether.

The new school building, though, is coming with a chapel that the Church of the Good Shepherd will be using for their Sunday morning worship services.  Here is where the chapel will be:


Access the building was up this ramp.  I was feeling my age when I walked up it:

Access to the building from a less encouraging angle!

The construction workers were all brought in from Java, so they build their own temporary housing out of plywood:

Those plywood houses are where the workers live.  They are from Java.


The building is four stories high–and it will provide ample space for all the students, teachers, and administration.  The building was originally going to be three stories high, but the contractor recommended a fourth floor for expansion.

I have noticed that many of the schools in Batam do not have much area for recreation, other than a playground for the younger children.  The current location for St. Andrew’s School is actually in a “sub house”, and their recreation area is entirely inside.  I think (and this is just conjecture) that with land as scarce and expensive as it is, there is just enough room for the building(s) and not much else.



A Visit to Church of the Good Shepherd’s Children’s Ministry and New Community Center

One of the two areas of ministry that I have been doing with the Trinity students for the past two years is to spend several days in a predominantly Muslim slum area in Batam.  The slum area has all the challenges one would expect:  single parents, deep poverty, domestic issues, and so on.  It is also the location for a cock fighting arena where, I am afraid, a lot of what little financial resources the residents have, disappears.  We are only there for a few days each time, but the response to the “English Camp” we offer has been very positive.

Here is a typical house.  The residents of this area are mostly squatters, so their future is uncertain as land prices increase and Batam continues to grow.  We passed one area where the residents were evicted and their houses bulldozed down.


The Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd has been working there for several years. Kamty has been teaching at a children’s center there, and this is where we have held the English Camp:


Since last June when we were there, there have been some changes.  The Church of the Good Shepherd, where Henok is the Vicar, has since built a community center not only for children’s programs, but for community needs as well.


Anglican Community Centre


We arrived just as the children were leaving their afternoon program, but some of the kids remembered me from previous visits:




Over the past couple of years, they have been cleaning up the property (other than the construction debris you see in the foreground.  Work continues…) in order to be able to provide a comprehensive ministry to the community.  The vision is to have eventually–and I think fairly soon–a church congregation for the residents.


Here are the ministries that the new center offers:


We will be returning again in June to work with the children.



Ferry Trip to the island of Tanjung Balai Karimun

On Tuesday, Henok wanted to take me to Tanjung Balai Karimun, an island that is (best guesstimate) about 30 miles east of Batam.  The boat we took there was fast and sleek with interior seating that was air conditioned and top deck seating under a canvas roof that was in the open air–and provided a great view.   Our route took us by the Straits of Malacca, which historically was one of the most heavily contested trade routes in the world.  It was also the site of the last surface naval battle of World War II when British ships sank a Japanese cruiser.  It took just about 90 minutes to arrive at our destination.

Map of route to Karimun

Map of route to Karimun

I spent a lot of time at the top of a short flight of stairs that accessed the back deck (would have been the poop deck on an old sailing ship) that gave me an unencumbered 360 degree view, overlooking the roof of the top deck.  Just my head and chest were exposed, so it was actually a secure place to be at the few times the water got a little rough.  I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo of what I am trying to describe–just know, I guess, that it was very satisfactory.  What did strike me was the complete absence of any sea birds.  I talked about this with Henok later, and he suggested that they were probably eaten by the Indonesians. On a second trip (to be described later) to another island, I did see six birds that had the shape and look of gannets–and were probably the Australasian variety.

I have posted photos on the Gallery section of the Media page.     Most of them are self-explanatory, but the purpose of the trip was to see the Anglican work that is taking place on the island of Karimun.  For the past five years, a lay pastor from Singapore, Karen Choo, has been heading up a Chinese congregation of about 80 that meets on the ground floor of a store-front church.  There is a second, youth congregation that worships in Bahasa Indonesian.

Grace Anglican Chuch Karimun

Grace Anglican Chuch

Karimun has a large Chinese population, and worship is in Hokkien.  I believe Zhuzhou is also spoken, but I didn’t quite catch the name of the other dialect.  Most of the Chinese still practice their traditional religion, which is a form of Taoism/Confucianism, but the church is growing. In addition to Karen Choo, the Chairman of the church’s council was there.  He had had leprosy in the past, but survived with some physical limitations.  He did not speak English, but was very welcoming and hospitable.


Even though the church congregation is small, Karen thought it was important to take the youth on a mission trip to a small island community called Rang Sang.  They traveled in the cramped, hot, and stuffy cabin of a small wooden boat and had to wade to shore since it was low tide.  The kids had a great experience, and I was impressed by the example that they were setting.  Here is a photo of a collage that Karen put together:



On the right side of the photo, you’ll see some marine life–including an unusual, lobster-like crustacean.  It is supposed to be delicious.

After having lunch at a very authentic Chinese restaurant and visiting the church, we drove out to a location which will be the future home of Grace Anglican Church.  It is a narrow, but good-sized piece of property that is in an excellent location.  There is a little more freedom in these islands to build Christian churches because of the demographics.  While there is a Muslim population, other religions are also present.  In order to build a church, 90% of the people in the community have to give permission.  I have heard that the president, Joko Widodo, would like to see that law changed.

We then went to a pier that Karen frequents to buy prawns before heading back to the harbor and the return trip to Batam. A lot of the surface area of the pier was covered with drying salt fish, and since Karen knows the fisherman, a few photos had to be taken.  Kamty published sonme of them on Facebook.  On the return trip, we passed through a brief, tropical squall that drenched the boat and kept me inside until after it stopped.   For me, it was a fascinating foray into a culture that was so much more Chinese than Indonesian.