A letter from Sharon Bryant in Thailand
I have learned a valuable lesson in the past 10 weeks! I have been traveling nonstop with a virus-laden computer and no time to fix it. I have not stopped taking photographs and thinking about what I wanted to share with you, but after making several attempts to fight the viruses, I gave up. Now I have more than 500 photos to wade through and so many stories that I’m not sure where to begin. But I am determined to share them with you in the weeks ahead!
How can I begin to share the significance of a week with Presbyterian mission co-workers and how it renews the spirit? It began with a flight to Bali in May with a layover in Singapore’s Changi International Airport. It is a wonderful facility, filled with everything from boutiques and bookstores to coffee shops and delightful places for people to sit and pass the time between flights—with Wi-Fi, comfortable seats, beautiful arrangements of orchids, koi ponds, and foot massage machines (for which my tired were very grateful). The time passed too swiftly to really enjoy all of it, but I learned long ago not to wish for a longer layover on any trip!
We landed in Bali after dark and I was welcomed by the staff of Dhyana Pura Resort, a retreat facility on the ocean that is owned by the church. It was the perfect place to shift into a different gear and enjoy a time of reflection, refreshment, renewal and learning that really recharges the batteries. On the first day I met Doug and Liz Searles, who invited me along on a visit to a coffee plantation. It was a hot and muggy day, but I learned a lot about coffee production and tasted some delicious blends of coffee and tea. Doug and Liz’s 35 years as mission co-workers in several different countries shone through as they took me from coffee plantation to restaurants to shopping venues on Bali.
When the conference began, we were all welcomed with a traditional Balinese "Welcoming Dance" performed by local musicians and dancers. Indonesian batik, which is recognized by UNESCO as the world standard for this Southeast Asian textile art, was in evidence from the time I arrived to the time I left. And I left with several pieces that exhibit the intricacy and vibrancy of this unique art. I am grateful that Bernie Adeney-Risakotta, a long-time mission co-worker in Indonesia, made arrangements for our lodging and this wonderful welcome to this unique island in the Indonesian archipelago.
What Del Braaksma planned for us was truly a great gathering! We had the opportunity to meet with the leaders from the PC(USA)—such as Roger Dermody and Hunter Farrell; to meet with our support team from World Mission—such as Mienda Uriarte, Nancy Cavalcante and Del Braaksma; to meet fellow co-workers in other parts of Southeast Asia—the list is too long to include here; to learn about the new strategic direction of World Mission and discuss its impact on our ministry; to hear H. S. Wilson speak on missiology in Asia and the Pacific; to worship with fellow co-workers each day under the leadership of Rev. Kristin Frederich and Del Braaksma; to explore the island of Bali and learn about its history, culture and traditions; to taste Balinese food; and to rest and relax and enjoy the beach. We also celebrated significant events—like Cobbie Palm’s birthday and Bill Yoder’s retirement. It was the right mix in the right sequence with the right leaders at the right time. Thanks, Del.
What I take home with me from this PC(USA) gathering of mission co-workers are the sights and sounds of this unique island; wonderful memories of good times with new friends; a strong sense of support and camaraderie from the staff of World Missions; the joy of worship in a setting filled with God’s presence; and a renewed commitment to the endeavor to which God has called me here in Thailand. My memories are best expressed by the tapestry we created on our first day in Bali from strips of cloth that each of us brought from the places where we serve. Each strip is unique, but together they make a beautiful tapestry that is bound together by the PC(USA) in this part of the world. How blessed I am to be a part of this tapestry at this point in time! And thank you for the support that makes all this possible!
For more photos of Bali, see my blog at www.thailandtales.wordpress.com.
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 183