Time Capsule Letter
Hello all! Om Swastiastu!
Can you believe it has been so long since our adventures in Bali?! Do you remember way back when we all sat together in our very first circle at Madra Homestay? Everyone was so exhausted after traveling all day. But somehow we came together and slowly began to warm up to each other and the idea of spending the next three weeks with newfound friends.
Our first service program at the primary school was no small task! You all came together, some of you with no education experience, and made it work. Those kids were so happy to see you every day! I don’t think I have ever seen so many people involved in a single hug before.
Some of you were such naturals working with the children. It was also incredible to watch some of you come so far out of your comfort zones, standing in front of thirty eager children, all hanging on your every word. No matter where we looked, the smiles reach from ear to ear.
The next week we moved to Singaraja to do home visits in two different banjars. Do you remember the first icebreakers with the STIKES students? Everyone was so hesitant and shy, but it wasn’t long before Monika had us jumping up and down, giving fisherman, lumberjack and Bollywood handshakes. The service days were long and hot, but with the power of snacks, Polcari Sweat and good old fashioned motivation, we pushed through to the end.
Our final week was our adventure week! We started off with some amazing views of the ocean and Mount Agung while staying at East Bali Immersion. On our hike, we learned the true meaning of perseverance as we reached the peak just in time for a magnificent sunrise over the horizon.
In Amed, almost everyone went SCUBA diving for the very first time! It was so amazing to see many of you overcome your nerves and jitters to try this wonderful, new experience. Finally, back in Ubud, some of you had some other firsts while rafting your way down a winding river or catching some perfect surfing ways.
Our three weeks in Bali were an adventure – one that we, as mentors, hope you will carry with you for the rest of your lives. Hopefully, the lessons you learned will permeate your lives and affect the decisions you make.
Be The Change!
Miss you all!
Monika, Ian, Fira and Kris
Niko – who ate four banana pancakes and shamelessly wore pink Gucci slippers through the streets of Kuta.
Eddie – who was a goober. THAT’S SO LIT!
Morgan – who was able to tame the goober.
India – who was the program’s tattoo artist. No body alterations!
Maya – who swam in the open ocean for the first time and was unofficial program hair stylist.
Leilani – who, despite enduring a harrowing illness, stayed happy and smiled.
Bella – who had unwavering love for every cat and dog. Greetings from Piggy and the Singaraja cats!
Nina – who ‘rocked’ the waterfall excursion.
Alexis – who saw the ocean for the first time and always kept the morning conversation alive. “So how’s everyone…?”
Jolie – who was the only one willing to DJ karaoke.
Akash – who set the record for chicken satay skewers at 24 (higher than anyone else wanted to go) and was always just a little too cold.
Molly – who has no fears.
Amelia – who was always happy to update the blog and spread kindness with a smile.
Serina – who was determined to learn and constantly improved her Bahasa… Selamat Tidur!
Lauren – who conquered her own adventure on the last day of the program with a smile.
P.S. The higher you get, the higher you get!
Saturday June 22, 2019
Hello friends and family! We’ve made it to Bali! We have officially arrived at Madra Homestay in the lovely city of Ubud. As the teens trickled in throughout the day, everyone had the opportunity to rest up and make new friends. Those of us that arrived early enough were given a delicious lunch – a noodle dish called Mie Goreng. Once most everyone else arrived, we were offered a wonderful welcome dinner. We are only waiting on one more who has just arrived at the airport and is on her way to meet everyone at the home base. We are so excited for the adventures to come!
Molly, Akash (Students) and Ian (Mentor)
Sunday June 23, 2019
Today was orientation. We played games that were designed to break down our walls and help us get to know each other. Following lunch, we went on a scavenger hunt in order to immerse ourselves in the Balinese culture. The language barrier made it difficult to complete, but also forced us to find creative ways to communicate with the locals. We found that the most helpful thing was to simply smile!
-by Alexis and Morgan
Monday June 24, 2019
Today we were given the opportunity to immerse ourselves deeper into the culture by visiting a Banjar – a Balinese community center. Here we experienced gamelan music, Legong dancing, wood carving and offering making. Then we learned about global health issues and how they relate to our program. We enjoyed dinner with the Prince of Peliatan, Cokorda Agung Krisna Peliatan, and were given a private, professional Legong dance performance. During the performance, some of us were even pulled on stage to join the dancers!
Akash and Nicola
Tuesday June 25, 2019
Our day started with an early morning herbal walk. We discovered the indigenous plant species and their medicinal uses. To break up the hike, we stopped for some refreshing coconut water and herbal tea along with a small snack. We also visited the famous water temple, Tirta Empul, where we got a first hand look into the water purification process. Then we entered the candi bentar and experienced the traditional prayer ceremony. We enjoyed lunch at Grand Pucak Sari overlooking the famous Batur volcano. To finish off the day, we prepared the curriculum for tomorrow’s volunteer work.
Leilani and Bella
Wednesday June 26, 2019
Today, we went to the NGO Bhakti Senang Hati which supports people with mental and physical disabilities. It houses over 90 people while helping them pursue their dreams and develop key life skills. We had the opportunity to buy some of the many goods which their residents make in order to support their lifestyle. Later in the day, we ventured to a local school for our first day of service. Each group focused on nutrition, hygiene, and physical activity, respectively. Although we faced a language barrier, we found that a simple smile was the most effective way to transcend the divide.
Morgan and Maya
Thursday June 27, 2019
Today we got a chance to visit Bumi Sehat, a Natural Birth Clinic. We were given a tour and learned about various aspects of the clinic’s operations, natural births and caught a couple of interesting videos. It was our second day of service and again we got a chance to prepare our lessons about nutrition, hygiene, and physical activity. All the children seemed to enjoy the activities and had a lot of fun. Tomorrow is our last day of our education workshops for the students. We are all looking forward to another exciting day!
-by India and Lauren
Friday June 28, 2019
We went to laughing yoga today and we learned the 5 different types of laughter: stomach, chest, throat, head and fully body laughter. Today was also the last day of teaching for our service education. Many of had some small feelings of stress going into it, but ended up happy and fulfilled in the end. The day was full of laughter and sad goodbyes. To finish off the day, went to dinner at the Fair Future Foundation. They are a non profit organization who dedicates their time and money to giving free medical treatment and consultation to people who can’t afford it. The dinner also gave us some insight into the bustling city center of Ubud.
Saturday June 29, 2019
The day started off with our final breakfast at Madra Homestay. It was bittersweet as we took our last bites of banana pancakes. We boarded our buses and headed to Ulan Danu Bratan Temple before reaching our final destination – Singaraja. Our time here started with a lovely walk on the beach and through a local fishing village which gave a great feel for the local lifestyle. Medical students from STIKES met up with us back at the hotel to teach us the necessary skills for successful medical home visits, which start tomorrow. After such a long day, we are ready to get some rest and recharge for tomorrow’s adventures.
-by Nina and Serina
Sunday June 30, 2019
Today was our first day of service in Singaraja. We went with the local medical students into villagers’ houses to record their blood pressure along with gauging other aspects of their health. We returned to our current home to pack for the beach. The water was beautifully warm. Dinner was enjoyed at a local restaurant with a sunset view over the ocean, a perfect end to a great day!
– Alexis and Molly
Monday July 1, 2019
Today was our second day doing service in the local village. Everything went so well that, tomorrow, we are moving on to another banjar (community). Since today was our second day, we have started to feel much more comfortable working with the local people which helps us better complete our service.
In the afternoon, we visited the Narayan Seva Foundation – a local orphanage. Here, we were first introduced to Sister Dede. She traveled much of Southeast Asia as a missionary before settling here in Bali and founding The Foundation in 2004. We joined the children for an intense yoga class and beautiful meditation, as well as a delicious vegetarian dinner. To top off the evening, we were treated to an awesome talent show where the children we able to show off their best selves and be recognized for some incredible talents.
– Ian, Mentor
Tuesday July 2, 2019
Today we ventured to a new Banjar and helped the communities health. Overall the group felt inspired to show compassion throughout the day. Then we explored the Aling-Aling waterfalls. We plunged in to the crystal clear pool of water, which was a refreshing contrast to the hot and humid climate of Bali and a great way to end our day.
Amelia and Nikola
Wednesday July 3, 2019
Today was our fourth day of service. Despite the humid temperatures, we still were able to contribute our all. With the locals being hot as well it was interesting to see how the body reacts to the humidity. Later today we ventured to the Bengkala Village, which is home to many deaf people and their families, alongside the those who are hearing. There, we were able to enter and observe the lifestyles of these families.
It was heartwarming to see that everyone had a place in the community no matter their differences. We also watched the people of the village make various products such as incense, baskets, and sarongs, which they sometimes sell in order to make a living. As the day draws to a close, we are getting pumped for a day of celebration on July 4th!
– Maya and Serina
Thursday July 4, 2019
Today, we went out for our final day of service with the STIKES students. It was bittersweet as we shared the highlights of our time together said our final goodbyes. Once we returned to home base, we reflected upon the many lessons which we had learned over the past 5 days. We then prepared to head out for a beautiful sunset boat ride. After going for a swim and watching the sun set over the ocean, we had a wonderful burger dinner on the water. To celebrate the Fourth of July, we watched fireworks on the beach by the bonfire and sang along to the live band. It was all a nice slice of the home we’ve been missing. We concluded the night by symbolically overcoming our fears as we tossed them into the fire.
-by Morgan and Nina
Friday July 5, 2019
This morning we prepared for lessons we will be teaching tomorrow to preschoolers. While the mothers go to work at the cashew factory, they send their children to a nearby preschool. The lessons are all on topics similar to our previous service – hygiene, nutrition and physical activity. Today we are moving to East Bali Immersion and we will not have cell service for a few days. During our time there we will be taking tours of the cashew factory, teaching the kids and enjoying complete wilderness. We’ll be back to blogging in a few days!
-by Alexis and Molly
Saturday July 6, 2019
The last two days we had many excursions, such as touring a locally run cashew factory and teaching educational health workshops to preschoolers. We even had a cashew peeling competition!
Today, we started the morning bright and early with a sunrise hike and tour of the newly built temple in the village of Ban. Afterwards, we came back and had some time to relax at the EBI camp—utilizing the comfy hammocks and swings. Then, we were given the opportunity to learn how to cook a few traditional Balinese dishes for our lunch. We then packed our stuff and moved bases to the beach bungalows in Ahmed. Now, we’re preparing for scuba diving tomorrow!
– Team effort!
Monday July 8, 2019
Today we went SCUBA diving in Amed. We saw sea turtles, a huge variety of colorful fish, stingrays and even a shark! We dove down to 12 meters deep and we were down there for 45 minutes! First, we learned how to use our gear in the pool at a nearby diving resort and quickly transitioned to the ocean for two different shore dives.
We slowly waddled our way into the ocean from the beach with our tanks on our backs. We began our descent to the sea floor and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. Later that day we came back to our beach bungalows to swim at the pool and enjoy the last bit of sunshine for the night. For dinner we all sat in a circle, still removing excess water from our ears, and reminisced on the events of the day.
– Amelia and Jolie
Tuesday July 9, 2019
Today we had a long journey from Amed back to Ubud. Upon arrival we had an exciting lunch at a rustic rooftop restaurant. We checked into our fancy new hotel and later met a Balinese healer who inspected our auras for signs of black magic. He then told us about our futures, potential careers, and love lives. We ended the night with a group leadership activity! It confirmed that our communication has gotten significantly better but there is always room for improvement!
-by Amelia and Akash
Wednesday July 10, 2019
Today we visited a coffee plantation where they make coffee using palm civets. It is an animal that is fed coffees beans. It then poops out the beans which are then ground and turned into some of the most expensive coffee in the world. They also provided us with many different flavors of coffee and tea to sample, such as avocado coffee and lemongrass tea.
Later we went white water rafting. It was a wild ride as the river winded through a lush, green tropical forest. It was so much fun!
To end the night we dressed up and went out for a surprise mystery night at a karaoke location where we sang our hearts out to Don’t Stop Believing!
– Amelia, the main blogger
Thursday July 11, 2019
Today we started another fantastic day with an early wake up call in order to catch good tides for surfing. After shredding some killer waves we relaxed in the sand and sun all afternoon.
When we were done with our beach day, we were given time to buy souvenirs at little shops along the main drag.
We ended the night with a candlelit closing ceremony and gifts to remember the trip by. It was a heart warming goodbye that concluded a hardworking and rewarding service trip that none of us will ever forget!
– Amelia and Serina
Today was the final day of the program! It was bittersweet as everyone boarded their flights and said final goodbyes, but we all knew it was just see you soon. Stay mindful and be the change!
Amelia – the main blogger!