How do I begin to describe the island of Bali? How can I begin to share the significance of a week with Presbyterian Mission Co-Workers and how it renews the spirit? It all began with the flight to Bali, which took me over the ocean from Thailand to Singapore. Singapore’s Changi International Airport is a wonderful facility. Spacious, clean, user-friendly, and filled with everything from designer boutiques, bookstores, coffee shops and people-movers. What they have included – that Thailand does not have in their newer Suvarnabhumi International Airport – is delightful places for people to sit and pass the time between flights – with WiFi, comfortable seats, beautiful arrangements of orchids (see thumbnail below), Koy ponds (see thumbnail below), and foot massage machines (see my grateful feet in a thumbnail below). The time passed too swiftly to really enjoy all of it, but I learned long ago not to wish for a longer layover on any trip!
We landed in Bali after dark and I went to get my Visa-On-Arrival for my one week stay. Since I had limited US currency, I paid for my visa in Thai Baht. Surprise, surprise! My $25 visa cost me $40 in Thai currency (1200 THB), which I only figured out after I got to the Resort and had the chance to convert the money from Thai to US. The receipt they gave me was the same $25 receipt that everyone else received, so that will hurt the pocketbook. That was the only negative, though, as the island and the week with Presbyterian Mission Co-Workers surprised and delighted me, beginning with Dhyana Pura Resort in Bali. A Christian retreat on the beach, its beautiful grounds, lovely pool (see thumbnail below), and beach frontage (see thumbnails below) offered the perfect place to shift into a different gear and enjoy a time of reflection, refreshment, renewal and learning that really recharges the batteries.
On the first day, I met Doug and Liz Searles who invited me along on a visit to a coffee plantation on the island. It was a hot and muggy day, especially deep inside the coffee plantation where the ocean breezes could not reach us. But I learned a lot about coffee and the process of preparing coffee beans for public consumption (see the woman roasting coffee in the thumbnail below). I also tasted some delicious blends of coffee and tea – buying only two as they were a little beyond my budget. And I got to know two new co-workers who will be stationed in Thailand next year! Their 35 years as mission co-workers in several different countries gave me confidence as I followed them around from coffee plantation to an incredible restaurant with a close-up view of rice fields (see thumbnail below) to shopping opportunities on my first day in Indonesia.
When the conference began that evening, we were all welcomed with a traditional Balinese ‘Welcoming Dance’ performed by musicians on traditional instruments and gracious women trained in the classical dances (see thumbnail below). Indonesian batik, which is recognized by UNESCO as the world standard for this Southeast Asian textile art, was in evidence from the time I arrived to the time I left. And I left with several pieces of this cotton cloth which exhibit the intricacy and vibrancy of this unique art that I am still trying to decide how to use. I am grateful that Bernie Adeney-Risakotta, a long-time Mission Co-Worker in Indonesia, arranged our lodging and this wonderful welcome into the culture of this unique island in the Indonesia archipelago.
What Del Braaksma planned for us was truly a great gathering! Why do I say that? Because we had the opportunity to meet with the leaders from PC(USA) – such as Roger Dermody and Hunter Farrell; to meet with our support team from World Mission – such as Mienda Uriarte, Nancy Cavalcante and Del Braaksma; to meet fellow Co-Workers in other parts of Southeast Asia – the list is too long to include here; to learn about the new Strategic Direction of World Mission and discuss its impact on our ministry; to hear leaders in mission speak about specific topics – such as H.S. Wilson on Missiology in Asia and the Pacific; to worship with fellow Co-Workers each day – with the leadership of Rev. Kristin Frederich and Del Braaksma; to explore the island of Bali and learn about its history, culture and traditions (see thumbnails below); to taste Balinese food (see thumbnails below); and to rest and relax and enjoy the beach (see thumbnails below). We also celebrated significant events – such as Cobbie Palm’s birthday (see thumbnail below) and Bill Yoder’s retirement (see thumbnail below). It was the right mix in the right sequence with the right leaders at the right time. Thanks, Del.
What I take home with me from this PC(USA) Gathering of Mission Co-Workers is the sights and sounds of this unique island (see thumbnails below); wonderful memories of good friends (new friends); a sense of support and camaraderie I never had before from the staff of World Missions in the USA; the joy of worship in a setting filled with God’s presence; and a renewed commitment to the endeavor to which God has called me here in Thailand. My memories are best expressed by the tapestry we created on our first day in Bali from strips of cloth that each of us brought from the places where we serve. Each strip is unique, but together, they make a beautiful tapestry that is bound together by PC(USA) in this part of the world. How blessed I am to be a part of this tapestry at this point in time!
Thumbnails of all those images of Bali that I could not include in my post: