The Journey Begins in Surabaya

Posted on February 18, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

Surabaya-Bobbye&JennyOur service in Indonesia years ago ended with a two-year assignment in Surabaya before we left for a regional leadership role and served out our overseas tenure in Bangkok and Singapore. But our reminiscing with Lori and her family began as they arrived here from Central Asia. After negotiating a perplexing array of new thoroughfares and unbelievably congested traffic, we located our former house. Thirty years ago in was the Darmo Permai housing development, well outside the city, but it has now been swallowed by urban growth. The small international school she attended in the 7th and 8th grades is still just around the corner.

One of our delightful experiences was a visit from Jenny (pictured with Bobbye). She was a participant in a ladies’ English class Bobbye taught in Jember more than 30 years ago and was one of a few Bobbye led to trust Jesus for salvation. She is now 79 and living with her daughter in Surabaya.

Surabaya-KomodosThe grandchildren had been reading and studying about Indonesia along with hearing stories of their mother’s childhood so were able to put their excursion into context. They were intent on seeing a komodo dragon (pictured) unique to the Indonesian archipelago, so a trip to the Surabaya Zoo was a mandatory part of our itinerary. These giant, scaly carnivorous lizards are considered to be descendants of ancient dinosaurs.

Surabaya-FamilyChurchAn unexpected serendipity was discovering Prada Baptist Church in our old neighborhood with a new building, a kindergarten and elementary school and growing congregation. Although I was already traveling in a regional role at the time, we facilitated the beginning of Prada as a church plant by beginning a worship service in the home of a neighbor. Although I got credit for starting the church, it was actually Bobbye’s diligent witness and discipling of new converts at home while I traveled the region fulfilling administrative responsibilities that planted the initial seeds of this congregation. What a woman!

Surabaya-FamilyTrainAfter a hot and exhausting day in tropical heat and introducing the grandchildren to Indonesian food, we boarded the train the next morning for the four-hour trip to Jember where we lived for nine years, 1971-80. We usually took the train when traveling to meetings or just getting away for R&R, and Lori wanted her family to have that experience. However, she was disappointed with the luxurious accommodations of the plush seats and air conditioned coaches. All she remembered was hard seats and a sultry wind blowing through open windows as hawkers constantly plied the aisles badgering you to purchase their delicacies.

Surabaya-PedicabsUpon arrival in this familiar provincial city on the eastern end of Java, we found it much larger, but not much had changed. There were no taxis, and we had to negotiate with six beca (cycle pedicab) drivers to get us and our luggage to the nearby hotel. It wasn’t long until emotions begin to overflow, stimulated by familiar sites of coming home. It began as our pedicabs passed Dominos Ice Cream parlor on main street, one of the few amenities which Lori remembered as a pre-school toddler.

Accounts and photos of meeting old friends, re-visiting familiar sites, and experiencing East Java culture will continue in subsequent posts.

Leave a Reply

More News