My last days in Kediri


The view from my front porch in Kediri; where I spent hours reading, writing, and practicing my Bahasa Indonesia with the neighbors. 

Sunday fun-day santai at my family’s house for the last time: We went to church in the morning for the last time, and the congregation said their good byes to me, all hoping to see me for Christmas, all sending me off with blessings and prayers.


In the afternoon, while on the front porch reading and hanging out with my always stoic grandfather, I got a final lontong tahu (my favorite Indonesian dishes, a fact that makes every Indonesian laugh when I tell them so), and then was dragged across the street to Ibu-Ibu, which was actually a first for me.

While there, confused and honestly pretty bored, my Bapak came in and asked me to follow him, which I first thought was a rescue; until he took me to a second church along with my nenek, grandmother, and the neighbor who blesses me every morning on my way to training. This was a new church where I had to introduce myself over and over before being asked to sing. And, I actually did it, just to make Pak happy one last time and to get them to leave me alone.

The only remotely Christian song I could think of was “Silent Night,” so that’s what I sang. I harnessed my inner Beyonce and the band started playing along as they could. My Nenek cried, as did the pastor. They couldn’t understand what I was saying, but it was the attempt that mattered. Music is a beautiful tool for crossing cultural barriers, whether you’re a good singer or not.


Rafa and I playing in my room.

After the excruciatingly long lecture — I mean, sermon — that followed, Pak took us to a roadside stand for nasi pecel. I’m going to miss them all so much.

After dinner the following night, Rafa and I were playing in my room as usual and he burped at me (as usual), but immediately said: “Tidak sopan!” beating me to it—and promptly ran away. I’ve taught him something in the past two months, it’s official.


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