Robert Doecke - Indonesia - April 28, 2005

Dear all:

Here comes number 5. I am in Jakarta Indonesia, miles away from Mongolia, where I did my last letter a month ago. Time sure flies and we’ve been flying with it. Next stop was Beijing, where Joan T met us. We met up with Leanne, who traveled with Bill and I to Xian, where she lives .She took us to hotel where Gwen and Cindy met us. Great to see them again and have two feasts while with them .One girl who came had seen Leanne and another girl so happy in a restaurant. She asked them, "How are you so happy?" In finding out, comes most times to learn.

We went to see the eighth world wonder ….Xian was the capital to at least 4 dynasties. The first emperor about 200 BC made a terra cotta army of about 8,000 soldiers, horsemen, and horses in battle array with archers and chariots, etc. Each person different, down to finest detail of facial features, garments, buttons, shoes, and hats. Previous rulers' custom was to have household servants and soldiers, etc., all killed or buried alive with them when they died, so they could serve him in glory. So this idea was a welcome change for some but not for the builders who needed to die to preserve the secrets of where the tomb was, etc. Also, the men who sealed the doors on the inside had to die in the darkness, along with some real horses.

Shanghai was next stop. Stayed with Robert and Su Lian. Later to Paul and Annette’s. Jeanette was there and a girl from USA (Koral L) with her for a while. We had several special feasts and times together. It’s a mighty city of 20,000,000. More high-rise buildings than ever seen anywhere. Bill left for HK on Sunday and on to India on Monday. So special he was able to visit with Ratna before her homecall.

I went to HK next day. Helen M, in great form and busy with interest on every hand. We had pancake tea with Elizabeth “Brown” ex NSW, then on to a meeting at camp. Some nice hopes. I valued staying with Hubert and Areatha. I was impressed with Helen’s driving skills scooting in and out!! Next day, we visited contacts from one end of HK to the other by train, bus, and ferry. Was public holiday for grave sweeping - cemeteries were crowded. Much letting of crackers and all the resulting paper had to be swept up, too!!! On Wednesday, read at camp visited with John and Shaun. Later went to visit John and Jodie (nee Crombie) across border at Shan Zhau. I thought it a village, but a mere 8,ooo,ooo!!!

Next day to Singapore and to batch with Wallace. Two months of mail waiting for me there, so guess what kept me busy for a while!! Saw Bonnie Dahlin next day and other sisters in evening. On Saturday morning, Joan Willshire and I headed for Indonesia over 3 hours to Manado (Sulawesi). Ralph, Simeon, Esther, and Meike were there to meet us. Then 58 km’s into hills to Langowan. I was there 12 years ago and great to meet so many there again. Ralph’s brother-in-law (George Lomas) also there but back to NZ on Monday. So good to see Lia and Femi again. Sunday was a special for us. The hearty singing took me by surprise after two months, otherwise. On the Monday, we went to Minanga to visit some there some 30 km away. Countryside and markets, etc., as interesting as ever. Horsecarts a common mode of transport to market and school. I looked up some folk I met last time and even came to meeting then.

Ralph not so well, so went to Jakarta when we went to Surabaya. Deetje and Margo met us there. On Sunday, we went out to Mojokerto. Special time there with all gathered. Next to Jakarta, but plane 3 hours late leaving. Much excitement from some, but met up with folk from Dilli (Timur) who would like a visit. A young man from there has decided in USA, and wants some one to visit when there. Would be wonderful if that part opened up. Australia on good terms there. Any takers??? Ralph now out of hospital, but out-patient treatment needed. Simeon will take his place in going to Madagascar for conventions with Esther. They go via Bangkok when Joan and I head back to Singapore on April 25. At present, I’m at camp at Matraman with brothers. We're on first floor and get a bird’s eye view of the 4 lane highway going past. At busy times, they turn it into 6 lanes mixed with carts, tri shaws, and tuk tuk taxies of every conceivable shape with the cars and motorbikes. We sure don’t need TV!! There’s a live show out the window every minute. A man has just walked with two beds on his head!! I saw a bus so full, that 4 people could only get one foot each on first step!!! We went to bird market and 50,000 birds plus?? Every kind there, trapped from wild including birds of paradise from Papua!! It is a public holiday today and lots of activity around the mosques as Muhammad’s birthday. Thoughts turn to South Australia and specials starting there on Sunday when we're here at same in Jakarta. We heard at one place about a song called, "Listen to your heart" but that could be fatal. Better is the advise, "Listen with your heart and obey from the heart." Thanks to all who've sent letters one way or another. If you could see me doing this with one finger, you would have mercy on this poor brother who has not typed in his life before!!

All the best, as ever Yours in Him,
Robert