the art of waiting…

Ready, set…wait! That’s pretty much been the theme of my life for the past year and a half. The year before I came to Indonesia was full of waiting–I was waiting for official approval to come to Indonesia, waiting for funding to come through, waiting for my visa…and so on. When I got to Jakarta I thought that the waiting would be over—I was finally here! But I was  actually quite wrong…Indonesia is also full of waiting—just a different kind of waiting. Here I wait for the bus, wait in traffic, wait to hear back from people…well you get the picture.

The other day I was walking to get coffee with an Indonesian friend, and I was apparently speed walking towards the coffee shop. He mentioned that it was so funny how Westerners seemed to always be in a hurry, even when they were just hanging out. At the moment I just chuckled a little, slowed down and didn’t think too much of it. It wasn’t until later that week, when I was in the car stuck in traffic, that I realized that waiting is an art. It’s a process. Though I knew it before, I truly realized that life is not about getting from one destination to the other; it’s about being fully present where you are—even if that means being stuck in the car in traffic for two hours.

I have learned a lot from my Indonesian friends this past year, but I think the art of waiting is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. If you’re always rushed, if you’re always frustrated that things don’t happen right away, you will live a frustrated life. It’s so much better to embrace the waiting. I must say that I am still working on this—because my type A “get things done quickly” mentality kicks in quite often, but I really am trying to learn the art of waiting…

to the trash dump community we go…

Taking volunteers to the communities where I work is one of my favorite parts of my job. This last outreach event was particularly fun because I got to take a group of 15 teenagers in addition to our amazing regular adult volunteers!


Right before we take groups to the community you can just feel the excitement of everyone– particularly the first-times (which we had a lot of this time around). Before we left for the field, Lew gave them a brief overview on the community, what we did there, and general guidelines for the day. Then I got to give the volunteers a short overview of what they would be doing and explaining how we would break up into different smaller teams once we were there.


After that, we got on the bus and headed to the trash dump community!


The tone was set right away as we got off the bus in the community and were immediately greeted by some of our kindergarten students in their uniforms, waiting at the door shaking our hands and greeting us.


The clinic was as usual a huge success. The community members do not have adequate access to health care facilities nearby, so the fact that we would come and provide them with free care is always amazing to them.

I think my favorite part of the day in the community was the different games that we had the teen volunteers and kids play together. Though all of our games were fun, my two favorites were the relay race and the balloon dance competition.


For the relay race each team had four kids and three teen volunteers. Each participant had a plastic spoon in their mouth, which they had to use to transfer a kelengkeng (kind of like a small lime) from each spoon to the next all the way to end of the line and then back. Now, the community has one small dirt road and shacks on either side, so we had to play on the road. So as the kids and teens were trying their best to transfer the kelengkeng trash trucks and other vehicles were coming by and we would have to temporarily stop and start back up. You would think that they would have been frustrated by that, but it just added to the competitive nature of the game to have to run back to position after getting out of the way of the trucks. It was hilarious to watch and I think the kids (and teens for that matter) really loved it.


My second favorite game was the balloon dance competition. By this point the kids all knew who their teen partner was, so we had them run to find their partner (since we had just come back from a short lunch break). The kids were so excited and jumped up and ran as fast as they could to get their “teen.” The goal of the game was to see who could dance the best with their partner without dropping the balloon that was between the kid and the volunteer. At the end of each round whoever got the loudest applause won. The kids and volunteers really got into it and it was absolutely hilarious and fun.


In addition to the fun of the activities themselves, it was also really great to see some of the ladies and kids that I had met and chatted with on previous visits to the community.


 I am always amazed and humbled that I get to work with such an incredible team and that I get to go to such amazing people in the community.