Sunday, July 17, 2016

Awesome Awkward Family Photos

Thank the Father when Jacob and I received an invite to Hari Raya randomly from “Louis,” a busker we met in a Ramadan bazaar near our home. From our initial meeting and invitation, Jacob and I had grown closer to him, sharing with him what we could from the Father, so Hari Raya would make for a dedicated time in which we could pour into Louis and his family. Though the festivities with Louis only lasted one day (unforeseen family emergency for Louis), both Jacob and I gained different perspectives from the event, where God revealed Himself to us and Louis in different ways.   

Jacob's Perspective:
My day started in a normal manner of waking up and mentally preparing myself for the day. I was prepared for an excursion of about 3 days into the outskirts of our area of SE Asia, to stay at our friend Louis' home and to travel to see his family. We began our day in a rather rough manner. We had planned on meeting him around 10 that morning but things fell through on that rather immediately as we had trouble with the local train system.  We were already running half an hour behind getting to the train station. To make matters worse, the next train didn't come for another hour. So, to say the least, we finally arrived at around 12 noon. We were greeted about 15 minutes later by a 'flying by the seat of his pants' smiling Louis. Louis had come by car with his wife and 26 day old son. He was deeply apologetic for making us wait despite the fact that we were 2 hours late ourselves. He was dressed to the 9 in his traditional Hari Raya duds, while we were still in our jeans and t-shirts, because we didn't want our outfits messed up on the train.

Next, we had a nice 20-30 minute car ride and discussion out to Louis' mother-in-law's home.  At this point some interesting things occurred, or at least interesting things to me. Louis is a very free spirited character, but he is very traditional and devout in his beliefs.  A traditional practice for the first day of Hari Raya is to visit your parents and eat with them, but most importantly, when you are leaving, you are to go through a ritualistic reconciliation by asking forgiveness from your parents. This really spoke to me in the sense that it showed me that the people here are seeking inter-connectedness. Despite their actions that year, they also know that forgiveness can be asked for and given by their parents. I can definitely understand that from where I personally come from in my beliefs. The only difference is that my reconciliation is with my Father, and it isn't just one day a year. These events showed me what the people here are seeking:
They want forgiveness and they want to renew their relationship with the Father. Keep these things in your heart and know that these people seek but don't know the way.  
Lift them up so that they might see.

Tyler's Perspective:

For me, the main standout of Hari Raya was family. The whole celebration is centered around relatives and visits to their homes; from meeting Louis at the train station, we traveled quickly but purposefully from house to house, relative to relative, visiting upwards of 20 to 30 people per location, and four houses, in a span of 8 hours. At each location, Louis and his fellow relatives interacted joyfully, as if congratulating each other after a long trial, with two Americans in tow who could only semi-communicate with a slim number of people. My initial reaction to the interactions was actually negative, whereas Islam drives this joyous occasion, making this belief that much more of an obstacle to seeing our friend and his family know Christ. But the more I've thought about the family aspect of Hari Raya, the more I've come to see it as almost God-like: these types of relationships and joys are what God intends for us to have with all peoples, blood kin or not, and especially with the family of God. And if a group of relatives can know and love each other this much without God, imagine how happy and joyful these meetings would be with God as the center! 

-Tyler and Jacob