The Farewell Note is “Peace”

Was awakened by a flood of loud waililng prayers from about 6 LOUD loudspeakers atop mosques in downtown Yogyakarta. Sometimes the prayers are taped and sometimes they are live. This happens 5 times each day, at 4:30 AM; 12:30 PM; 3:30 PM; 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM.

This my third day in Yogyakarta was really a whirlwind day, since I had to visit four WACC members before my 6 PM departure. I am now aboard the flight which will take me to Jakarta, then Singapore, then home to the US.

This will be my last blog entry from Asia. Hard to believe that I’ve been hopping and been gifted with friendships and best wishes in 5 Asian cities.

My first visit was to the Media Village whose director is Rev. Yosef Iswarahadi,SJ. Called Puskat Audiovisual Studio, it is a grand complex of video studios, digital editing suites, sound studio, conference center, with sleeping and dining accomodations, two outdoor stages for dance and other musical perfoamces — and a beautifully designed outdoor chapel dedicated to inter-religious prayer. This is an art place filled with spirituality. Steeped in its Christian faith (Catholic) Puskat produces award-winning Buddhist productions, Muslim stories and also music produced and performed by inter-religious youth. (You can see pictures of the productions on their site) These are broadcast on national television and now are being sold on DVD to schools and churches.

Then I went to the TPK (Taman Pustaka Kristen) bookstore whose director is Ms. Martha K. Marmiati. Stared in 1960, it does a brisk business of Christian books and devotional artefacts. Ms. Marmiati says that both Catholic and Protestant buy at the store, which is operated by the Javanese Christian Church, a Presbyterian church. Located on the same grounds, the church was built in 1818. It is one of four Christian bookstores in Yogyakarta. I was led upstairs where a beautiful table was waiting for us, laden with banana-leaf wrapped patties made of rice and meats. Boiled bananas were delicious. As we said our goodbyes, I remembered her words, that the ecumenical store builds up the body of Christ.

Next I visited Mr. Otniel Sintoro , Director of the printing and publishing company, Penerbit Andi. This publishing house is a private company inspired by Christian principles. About 30% of their pulications are Christian and of these about 60-70 are books from other countries that are translated. Mr. Sintoro asked me to ask members of WACC in the US and Canada to share catalogs of books and leaflets so that he might investigate the possibility of licensing these in Indonesia.

He and his staff are dedicated to the promotion of Christian values and to this end last year built a bookstore that sells Andi books and also books from other publishers. They prepared lunch for me and I was able to meet with some of the other staff members. They could not have been more gracious and maybe at the next world WACC assembly these relationships can be enjoyed again.

Finally I visited Kanisius, a Catholic publisher, also ecumenical and also publishing school book texts and general reading books. State-of-the-art, the publisher and printer is guided by Rev. Sarwanto, SJ, a young priest who took over as director about one year ago, after Emmanuel Surono retired. As I toured the facility and met editors, translators, graphic artists and printer technicians, I got the feeling that I was experiencing a culture of service and quality.

The vision of Kanisius, Fr. Sarwanto explains, is to build peace in the world. Not a bad note on which to end my tour of Southeast Asia.

Blessings, peace.

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