A unique day lies behind us – the day of outing. It was a wonderful mixture of culture, spirituality, relaxation and community in different places in and around Kupang. Once again, we were struck by the hospitality and generosity of our sisters here in Timor, who made this day so unforgettable for us all.
After morning mass and breakfast, we left Bello around 9 am. Our first stop was at the parliament building, which is constructed in the shape of the “sasando”, a traditional stringed instrument, which we encounter in so many occasions here in Timor. We stopped for picture taking and a quick sneak into the entrance hall before we headed to the museum. Here we were already expected by Mr. Leo Nahak (the anthropologist, who came to us when during our topic about youth) and his colleagues, who welcomed us with traditional music. As we took a tour through the museum, we got to see exponents from ages as distant as the stone age, as well as specific cultural items and practices that are still used and valid in Indonesia today. It was particularly impressive to see the skeleton of a whale. We learned that in one particular area of Flores whale hunting is still permitted and practiced, in order to sustain the community. We left the museum after a little snack and dancing.
Music and dancing really have a stable place in the life of the Indonesian people. We experienced this again at our second stop – a shop where the above-mentioned instrument – sasando – is manufactured. The owner, a shiny man in his late 70’s, happily explained to us what the sasando and a traditional hat, which he was wearing, is all about. While he spoke to us of communion and his desire to live in peace and share that peace, we very much connected with this simple, but truly fulfilled looking old man. Together with some of his relatives, they sang, danced and played for us, before we moved on.
Our next stop was in the so-called prayer garden, a park-like area that was opened just three years ago. By now the sun was at its peak, and we could feel it as we walked up the hill along different prayer stations, which were prepared by the different parishes of Kupang. On the way, we paused with candles at the statue of Mary and had another moment of prayer at the top of the hill itself. When we descended, we were already expected by some sisters and the aspirants from Bello community, who had prepared a very good lunch box for each of us.
In the early afternoon, we moved back to Kupang, to a hotel along the beach. We were strongly recommended not to swim in the sea, because there happen to be crocodiles around in this area. However, still our desire for a jump into refreshing waters could be fulfilled, because for the length of four hours the swimming pool of the hotel was reserved just for us. Many of us took the opportunity to play and swim in the water, while others took a nap under the shade of trees, walked along the beach, and danced to some Indonesian music. All of us thus had a very refreshing and relaxing afternoon, which culminated in viewing the beautiful sunset, dinner and more community dances.
We drove home with a heart full of joy and gratitude for a wonderful day spent together and in touch with different people, who shared their culture, gifts and appreciation of life and goodness with us.