We in Indonesia - 2010

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Here you can find reports about our life and our work. 

Older entries can be found at the bottom of the page or in the archive:

Reports 2008

Reports 2009

Map: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bild:LocationIndonesia.svg

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October / November 2010: Medan, Siantar, and TapanuliNommensen

Here in Siantar, everything is as usual. The big catastrophies which hit Indonesia recently (Mt. Merapi on Java and the tsunami on Mentawai Islands) are far away, as is Siantar from the "Pacific Ring of Fire".

I spent the last weekends exploring the region: First I was in Medan, which once was a nice city with a lot of beautiful Art Déco buildings from the Dutch era. Then I made a trip to Tapanuli, the Batak highlands south of Lake Toba, including the Buddhistic ruins in Gunung Tua, and the Pacific Ocean in Sibolga. If you follow the links, you can see some photos from these trips.

Photograph: Grave of Ephorus Dr, I.L. Nommensen, the "apostle of the Batak" near Balige.
© Bergholz 2010

Volcano Mt Sinabung erupts on Sumatra

September 24

After two weeks of minor activity, the alert status of Mt Sinabung has been decreased from level 4 "caution" to level 3 "alert". Most residents are permitted to return to their villages as the restricted area has also been reduced from 6 to 3 km around the crater (source: Volcano Live John Seach).

The Geological Institute of the Department of Natural Resources has installed a web camera near Mt Sinabung. Follow this link, and after the page is loaded completely, click on the "eye" symbol.

September 5 & 7

At this weekend, no further eruptions were reported. But the volcano stays active and obviously is building up more energy as some minor earth-quakes around the volcano show. This will most likely result in another eruption, but forecasts about time and how big this eruption could be, are not possible. The ash cloud has risen up to 5,000 meters, but the airport in Medan is still not affected. News agencies report that still more than 20,000 people are displaced and have to stay in emergency quarters in Kabanjahe and Berastagi. But these shelters are not equipped to maintain so much people, especially during the very cold rain season in the Karo highlands (sources: Detik Detik Antara, Antara and an internal report from UEM Medan).

September 3 

Sinabung Karte
On friday September 3, two more eruptions happened. The first was at 4:45 in the morning. It was the biggest eruption so far, and a new ash cloud was spewed up to an altitude of 2 km. More people had to leave their villages, some of them had just returned the day before. The National Volcanic Agency issued a warning some hours earlier, so that most people were prepared to leave. The number of the refugees had risen to more than 30,000 (source:
Jakarta Post).  At 18:15 local time another eruption was noted, but with minor impact (source: Waspada).

 Siantar and Medan are still not affected by the eruptions. Only some domestic flights with routes over the Karo district have been cancelled so far. In case the airport in Medan has to be closed, all flights will be directed to the airport in Pekanbaru (source: Antara News).

August 29 & 30

Mt. SinabungOn sunday, the 29th of August at 0:15 a.m., Mt. Sinabung a volcano near Berastagi broke out after being dormant for more than 400 years. An ash cloud climbed as high as 1.500 m altitude and reached even Medan, which is around 60 km in Eastern direction. About 20,000 people had to be evacuated from the villages surrounding the volcano. In Siantar, about 100 km in Southern direction, we did not experience anything so far, and also the airport in Medan is not affected. The GBKP, the local partner church of UEM, openend its churches and community buildings for some 3,000 refugees, providing shelter, water, and food.

A second eruption happened on Monday, August 30.

Photograph: Mt. Sinabung as seen from neighbouring Mt. Sibayak in 2009 (© Bergholz).

August 2010: Siantar
Prof. Becker
In August, the new semester started. Prof. Dr. Dieter Becker who is one of our predecessors and visited Sumatra with his family at the same time, gave his greetings at the official opening ceremony.

Liberation Tree
The 17th of August is the Indonesian Liberation Day. As usual there was an official ceremony (see last year's entry), and after that, games were arranged for the students. One of the disciplines was to climb a tree - which was prepared with oil and tar...

Photographs: right: student preparing the tree with tar. Left: Prof. Becker and Rektor Dr. Lumbantobing during the semester opening (© Bergholz 2010).

July 2010: Siantar and Singapore

PST July2010During July, STT closes down for the annual semester leave. But there are of course a lot of activities going on on the campus. First, there are the annual entry exams. 240 young people applied for the 80 places STT offers each year. The exams consists of written multiple-choice tests about Bible knowledge, General knowledge, English and Indonesian as well as an oral test. 88 people (71 boys, 17 girls) passed the test and were admitted to STT. Almost 90% of the new studenst come from HKBP, and most of them start a full theological course. The course is 9 semesters, of which the 8th is a "practical" semester and the 9th is reserved for writing the final thesis and for exam preparations. Some students however, who already worked in any church related job (e.g. as preachers or teachers), start a kind of additional course to become pastors. This course is only 6 or 7 semesters.

Immediately after the exams the annual three-week "preparation for studying theology" (PST) program started. Due to an ear infection which had to be treated in Singapore, Regina was not able to teach at the PST this year, but as every year, the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) did send three volunteers for the obligatory English course: Mr Mark Schubert, Mrs Marion Schubert and Mr Julian Pfitzner.

Photograph: Benny Sinaga, M.Th., Dr. Dewi Sinaga, Marion Schubert, Mark Schubert, Julian Pfitzner and principal Dr. Darwin Lumbantobing during the closing ceremony of the PST program (Bergholz © 2010).

June 2010: SiantarBegu Ganjang

From 10th to the 12th of June, UEM-member church HKI (Huria Kristen Indonesia) had invited to a seminary on Begu Ganjang. Begu Ganjang (literally: Long Ghost) in the old Batak religion is believed to be an evil spirit, either a spirit from nature itself or the spirit of departed people, who comes and plagues the living. He is responsible for all kinds of evil, especially for accidents and sudden deaths. Although part of the old animistic Batak belief, Begu Ganjang is also promiment even in Christian Batak communities. Until very recently there are reports of violent incidents connected with Begu Ganjang superstition, which can only be compared to European witch-burning excesses during the 16th and 17th century: People who are thought to be active with Begu Ganjang magic are expelled from their villages, their houses burnt - sometimes houses and people together, as this article from the Jakarta Post states.
Photograph: Bergholz © 2010

Garbage MedanJune 2010: Medan
On the 5th of June, UEM Asia Office (Medan) in cooperation with the Indonesian NGO "HSB" (Hijau-Sehat-Bersih - green-healthy-pure) organised a tree planting event on one of Medan's garbage areas.

Many UEM member churches from all over Sumatra as well as students from Nommensen University and STT HKBP came to this event and planted more than 1000 seedlings around one of Medan's garbage sites. Inhabitants from the nearby local community, who live on and from the garbage, also joined in.

The following flash-animation should start by clicking it.

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May 2010: Münster
From the 16th to the 31st of May, 12 students and 3 lecturers of STT went to an excursion to Germany. Invited by the Faculty for Protestant Theology at Muenster University,  we attended a seminary on "contextual theology". Besides that there was enough time to visit the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, diaconical institutions of Muenster regional church district, UEM main quarters in Wuppertal, the central church office of the Protestant church in Westphalia in Bielefeld and the v. Bodelschwingh Institutions in Bethel-Bielefeld. The Pentecoste holidays were used for visits to Cologne and Wuppertal and to visit partnership committees in Oberhausen, Wuppertal, Cologne and Aachen.

The official report (in German) of Muenster University can be found here

Tho official report (in English) of the whole journey by the students of STT HKBP can be found here.

A lot of photographs can be found here.

May 2010: Siantar
Banda Aceh students
Between the 10th and the 15th of May, a group from the National Institute for Islamic Studies Banda Aceh visited STT in Siantar. The students not only visited lessons but also had the opportunity to meet people from another ethnic minority and with another religion.

Batak dance
On fridy evening there was a big official reception, and afterwards a social-cultural meeting, where students from both universities presented mostly musical performances.

left picture: students from Banda Aceh
right picture: students from STT performing a Batak dance
photograps © Bergholz 2010

German language course
February 2010: Siantar

Since the start of the new semester, a group of students is preparing for a trip to Germany. Funded by UEM, Evangelical Church of Westfalia, HKBP and by the University of Muenster, 12 students will go to Muenster for a summer course and also visit UEM headquarter in Wuppertal. The picture shows the group at a German language lesson at our veranda.

Photograph © Bergholz 2010

January 2010: SiantarEKD

There was another visit from Germany this month: Bishop Martin Schindehütte, Head of the "Foreign Affairs" department of the EKD and his delegation visited Indonesia and stopped over at STT Pematangsiantar. Bishop Schindehütte did the semester opening guest lecture about the dialog of the historic churches with the young pentecostal churches and the charismatic congregations which both are growing in Indonesia. After his lecture there was the traditional "Ulos" ceremony.

On the photograph: Rector Dr. Lumbatobing (left) and Bishop Schindehütte during the Ulos-ceremony. © Bergholz 2010.

January 2010: Germany and Siantar

Heidelberg2009After we came back from the Arctic winter in Europe, daily life grabbed us again very fast: The day after our arrival Thomas had to take some exams, and Regina is very busy preparing ot only her regular lessons but also an extra course for the great student excursion in May 2010 to Germany.conference

left: winter in Germany at -10°C 

right: lecturer conference at STT HKBP at +30°C

© Bergholz 2010