The GKMI synod office is “our home together” and a “house of prayer” for GKMI congregations. The GKMI synod had a longing: to invite the MWC executive committee, Commission secretaries, regional representatives, General Council, and MWC staff to “our home” for a welcome dinner.
Since the beginning of June, we were preparing for this 4 July 2022 event. Approximately 70 people were involved.
There was only one thing on our minds: to give the best we have, even in the midst of a lot of busyness and limitations.
Although, the GKMI synod office building is still under construction, it was transformed for the guests. All existing shortcomings were not covered, but highlighted, so that guests could see how far the work has gone and what this building will look like in the future.
The long-awaited day arrived. We were very excited (and nervous).
When the 100 guests got off the bus, they were immediately greeted by our synod board. Pagar bagus and pagar ayu (ushers) – dressed in traditional clothes of many regions in Indonesia –provided hand sanitizer and guided guests to enjoy traditional snacks: serabi from Solo; risoles, a Semarang specialty; tea and juice.
The Youth Commission of GKMI Sola Gratia accompanied by karawitan, a Javanese traditional music group from GKMI Lamper Mijen, performed the welcome dance, the Gambang Semarang Dance. Notably, Rev. Budi Santoso, pastor of the GKMI Lamper Mijen, played the bonang instrument in the gamelan.
Our eyes sparkled with joy when we saw the excitement of the guests while watching it, even capturing it with their smartphone cameras.
On the main staircase facing the pool, guests watched events in front of the chapel at the centre of the synod office. The performance of angklung, a musical instrument from West Java, played by GKMI Sola Gratia Sunday School children, punctuated speeches by the GKMI synod board and remarks from MWC president J. Nelson Kraybill (2015-2022).
Mr. Undianto, a member of the GKMI Surakarta congregation and part of the GKMI synod office construction team, spontaneously gave offerings to Mennonite churches facing difficult times, accepted by representatives of the Mennonite church in Ghana, DR Congo and Bolivia. GKMI provided assistance through the Algemene Doopsgezinde Societeit (Dutch Mennonite church) to Mennonite brothers and sisters in Ukraine who are victims of the war. And as stated by Rev. Amos Thang Chin, GKMI has also provided financial assistance to purchase food, medicine and medical equipment for around 450 church members who were forced to flee to the forest and live in makeshift tents due to the conflict in Myanmar.
Under the shade of the night’s sky, the guests feasted on a dinner of Indonesian and international dishes, so that all could enjoy it. The meal was accompanied by soft music and lights, praises from GKMI worship and kulintang, a traditional Minahasa musical instrument, from the GKMI Sola Gratia Women’s Commission.
Before the event closed, the staff of the synod office stood in the midst of the guests as traditional music with beats originating from Maumere, Sikka, East Nusa Tenggara reverberated through the sound system, followed by an exciting lighting game. We danced the Maumere dance, joined by the guests who also danced with enthusiasm!
“I have travelled to many places in the world, and I have never been greeted like this,” said J. Nelson Kraybill in his remarks, “The Mennonite brothers and sisters in Indonesia have truly wowed us with their extraordinary hospitality. Thank you!”
His words, the smiles and laughter of the guests, and our dancing together were priceless. We felt like the child who brought five loaves and two fish to Jesus (Matthew 14:13-21). Although our offerings were homespun and not fancy, they were accepted. Jesus smiled. And he made it a blessing for many!
At the event’s close, guests asked for the Maumere dance song…to dance together again! Praise the Lord!
—Mark Ryan, “berita GKMI” magazine, Indonesia. Used with permission.