Serve Well Blog

December 2016 Entries

12.18.16

Advent: Week 4
Sharing Traditions in West Kalimantan by Calista Yates

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press

Gatherings, feasting, merriment fill the weeks of Advent anticipation. Calista X shares the distinctive ways she has celebrated with friends in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Consider how you can extend the good will of this season into the new year, especially with people who share different traditions, values and beliefs.

"I live in the world's most populated Muslim country, I am in an area that is primarily animistic with large pockets of Protestant and Catholic Christians as well as Muslims and Buddhists. Christmas in America means gathering with your family. Christmas in our part of Indonesia means gathering with friends and neighbors. It is all about community. With many, many Christmas services starting in late November and running through early January there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate Christmas with your community.

Christmas EveOn Christmas Eve we gather for a long service at the church that starts with traditional music, lightening our candles, and hearing a sermon. About two hours into it, things switch to a more upbeat tempo with musical performances and dramas until late in the night. After that a large group of us heads to the hospital where we visit, sing and pray with each patient and their family who is still in the hospital over Christmas. We also give them a gift. Then we welcome Christmas with a meal at one of our senior doctor's houses.

 

On Christmas morning, after church ends around 11 am, we start visiting. Visiting our many friends and neighbors lasts for at least a week. We go to each of neighbor's or friend's house to share greetings. They serve cookies, snacks, and drinks and if you are a close friend or someone important you will get a rice meal with vegetables and meat, usually a pig that they have butchered the day before. For some the visit doesn't last long because we see each other regularly but for others this is the one time of the year we may see them, so it is always good to catch-up on their news and hear their stories from the past year like who got married or who had a baby etc.

One of the things that stands out to me about this time of community though, is that Muslim and Buddhist people come to visit their Christian friends during this time. They take the time to honor that friendship during their special days. There is a separate table for halal (prepared according to Muslim guidelines) food though so no worries about the Muslims eating pork :) This practice is then reversed during Idul Fitri when Christians visit their Muslim friends and neighbors and the same with Chinese New Year. During each of these holidays, there is a chance to ask for and receive forgiveness for any wrongs done. Then you eat together.

I wish I had a picture of this happening but I don't as we are all busy talking when we get together. I will attach a few pictures though of Christmas here. Small versions as otherwise our internet won't be up to being able to send it :)

Calista
West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Christmas eve at the Hospital


Calista Yates, '04 Colleague, served as a Medical Nurse and Trainer in West Kalimanthan, Indonesia. In 2013, she returned to West Kalimantan, serving as a nurse midwife and mentor with WorldVenture.   

 

12.10.16

Advent: Week 3
Seeking Beauty in a Challenging Environment by Peter Bittner

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press

 

Peter Bittner Advent 2016

 

"Preparing for the Christmas season during my Fulbright year in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia meant seeking beauty in a challenging environment, with horrific air pollution worsening every day." Peter Bittner

The season of Advent invites us to ponder the meaning and practice of global citizenship. Advent calls us to more deeply live out the connections between our lives and the impact on our neighbors locally and around the world. The prayer flags pictured in the first Advent reflection manifested that connection, sending intentions of peace, justice, hope everywhere the winds blow.

This week, the image of sunrise over Ulaanbaatar shows the reality of one vital and often overlooked aspect of our connection with Mongolia. Whatever the distinctions of our daily patterns and situations, as living creatures we share the breath of life. In the frigid winter, lifegiving winds do not blow through the valleys of Ulaanbaatar. Smoky stench and poisonous pollution collect in the cold air. Human produced particulate air pollution chokes the life of residents, especially the most vulnerable, infants, children and elders. Particulate rates leap seven to 20 percent higher than World Health Organization guidelines. The rates of infant mortality and pregnancy loss skyrocket.

As we anticipate God coming into the world wrapped in vulnerable infant flesh, we acknowledge the mothers, infants, children and elders who are threatened by human-made environmental crises across our planet, from Mongolia to Michigan.

With every breath our prayers fly to surround them. Our concern, awareness, commitment and accompaniment breathe fresh energy into the communities where we live and distant communities as inexorably connected to us as the air that sustains us. Together with all of creation we groan with eager longing and endure the birth pangs of all that will come alive within and among us. We are enlarged in the faithful waiting, enduring the struggle in joyful expectation (Romans 8:19-23).

This writing was inspired by Peter's recent piece on the air quality public health crisis which made the cover of The Diplomat here.

 


 

Peter Bittner, '13 Colleague, is a current student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, where he reports on global development, environment, and health. Peter is passionate to not only help share countries' unique developmental stories but to contribute to their success via collaborations with local leaders. Peter has traveled in Mongolia extensively and documented his experiences through a successful Kickstarter project exploring Mongolia's widening rural-urban divide via photography and narrative writing.