The beauty of the surroundings of Batu in East Java, Indonesia, where I have been this last week, was matched only by the sweet and gracious Indonesians that I met there. It was such a privilege to attend the South East Asia Leadership (SEAL) meetings at which the leadership for this region was officially transferred into the capable hands of Freddy, my new ‘boss’ who has led an amazing TWR team in Indonesia for many years. Andrew, will spend the next few months looking at the work in South Asia to establish a plan for his leadership of that region.
I always enjoy the opportunity to hear each of the country leaders present the work that their individual teams have accomplished over the past year. These are very small teams with limited resources who face obstacles of poverty, communication, limitations in transportation and health systems, geographical barriers and religious and government restrictions; yet the extent of their outreach is awesome. It is certainly not for financial gain or personal glory that they labour so hard in such difficult conditions, but the recognition of lives changed forever which is the fuel that keeps them going in spite of all the challenges.
The hotel where we stayed was perched on the side of a mountain overlooking lovely scenery and the temperature was refreshingly cool after the steamy heat of Malaysia. It is the rainy season in this part of the world, so we drove up the mountain in a torrential downpour against a river of water flowing down the road carrying with it all sorts of debris. Due to the rain and fog we were unable to see any scenery the first night but I awoke at five the following morning to bright sunshine and a gorgeous view of the clouds drifting in front of the mountain.
With two full days of meetings we had no opportunity to explore the area but saw enough to know we need to go back and learn much more about Indonesia. On the way back to the airport in Surabaya, we did get a quick tour of the city and a trip over to Madura Island to check out the batik market. The Javanese food is spicy and delicious and I ate way more than my fair share this week.
The discussions were rewarding and engaging, and there is practically no end to the work that lies ahead. But we did have some time for leisure and even wrapped up the conference with a rousing table tennis tournament. After losing badly to some very serious contenders, I learned that table tennis is taken very seriously in these parts. But the comraderie and competetion also helped to build morale and team spirit among colleagues who don’t often get to meet and encourage one another. I look forward to working with both Freddy and Andrew as they begin their new roles and I undertake new challenges for the coming year. I promise I will keep you posted.