Continuing the spiritual growth that led to her call as a Commissioned Ruling Elder for the First Presbyterian Church of Port Angeles, Shirley Cruthers left in late August for a four-month stint as the pastor of an English-speaking church on the island of Bali. She was encouraged in that effort by the Rev. Ross Robson of NPS Presbytery, who had served in Bali several times.
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Bali Blog #2
October 24, 2011
Selamat – Greetings from Bali,
Where to begin, where to begin! The earthquake, the 24 hour notice to vacate the Pastor’s Cottage, the seven hour opening ceremony on Kuta Beach in 90+ temperature? So much has happened it almost seems to become one long continuing adventure and that is certainly what it has been, an adventure.
But no, the adventures will come later. I think the place to start today is with my ministry at the Kuta International Christian Church (KICC) and the congregation. KICC shares a beautiful church facility with an Indonesian Christian congregation in an area named, Legian, which is approximately a 15 minute drive from where I live at the Dhyana Pura* Hotel & Training Center. The Volunteer in Ministry (VIM) driver takes me there and picks me up after the worship service. Trust me when I tell you, you do not want to attempt to drive in Bali. There is bumper to bumper traffic almost 24 hours a day with cars and hundreds (thousands?) of motor bikes vying for an inch of room to make their move. Apparently there are no traffic rules, no posted speed limit, and very few traffic lights so the way to make a turn is to be the most aggressive driver at the intersection and just go for it. Of course, I’m reporting this strictly from my point of view as a passenger who usually has their eyes shut. I have not seen it substantiated in print but have been told (several times – almost proudly!) that there are approximately eight traffic deaths each day on the island of Bali. Why am I not surprise?
There are 150 members at KICC and because so many tourists visit, each Sunday worship attendance varies from what seems to be between 80 to 100. Last Sunday we had visitors from Holland; Germany; Singapore; Korea; Austria and even America. When I asked them what the average weekly attendance is at the service they just shrugged their shoulders (a gesture I’m becoming more familiar with day by day). I explained that by counting how many attended each week they might be able to track if the attendance is growing and/or any trends. No more shoulder shrugging, they just walked away shaking their head. I think that means the same thing in Bali that it means in America! Sorry Pastor Ted, I tried.
Every Sunday 14 to 18 children eagerly come forward for the Children’s Message but no matter how simple the question there is NEVER any response. At first I thought it was just because I was new to them and they were shy; then I thought they might not understand English, but when Pastor Kade, an English speaking Indonesian pastor, asked them a question in Indonesian and they still didn’t answer I decided to give up with the questions. It makes preparing the Children’s Message even more of a challenge. I asked Carol Foss to do the Children’s Message when she was here visiting and she neither shrugged her shoulders nor walked away shaking her head. If I remember correctly the response was something like, “You’ve got to be kidding!”
In addition to Sunday worship there is a weekly evening Bible Study which is attended by approximately 25. Since I got here the last week of August we have been going through the Book of Matthew and I think we are at about Chapter 6. I’m not sure if it is because I’m such a slow Bible Study leader or that they have so much to say and ask so many questions. There is also a weekly evening Blossom group meeting (each group has 5 or 6 members) which is somewhat like our Circles of Seven and I have suddenly inherited a group because the leader has gone to Australia, on business, for 3 months and then these groups have a joint Fellowship meeting once a month. I’m not even going to try and describe the Friday night Fasting-Prayer service or the Saturday Night Healing Service. My observation is that the majority of the congregation attends some kind of service, fellowship group or meeting about four times each week.
Pastoral care consists mostly of members asking to have an appointment with me for counseling though I have visited several homes when someone was ill and went to the hospital to visit once but since I have to rely on someone for transportation or take a taxi visits become another adventure, especially in the evening.
But more about adventures in Bali Blog #3!
Blessings from Bali,
*Dhyana Pura means “place of meditation.”