From Cleaning to Compassion to Confidence
A Scholar’s Wife’s Journey
Early in 2015 we published the story of Denni Boy Saragih from Jakarta, who alongside his studies, also contributed significantly to the success of a local table tennis club in Edinburgh https://langham.org/karl-barth-table-tennis/
This time Liz McGregor gives us a glimpse into the experience of his wife, Desi.
When Denni Boy had studied for his Masters, the family also lived abroad. Their children were small then, and with her limited English Desi found it hard to make friends. It was not an exciting prospect for her to move abroad again, to Edinburgh this time.
The first year confirmed her worst fears. Funding was tight and life was tough. Yet she sensed that God was with her, and she could see it was an important opportunity for Denni Boy.
By the end of the first year, things changed for the better. Langham Partnership agreed to assist with scholarship funds. The family was able to rent a more suitable apartment, and Desi found a job as a cleaner at the University.
It was mundane and hard work. She had to leave home often while still dark in winter. But Desi sees this as one of the most important decisions she made. Not only did her small salary help with some extra finance for the family, but she began to meet people in her own right and take pride in her work. She grew in confidence. She developed relationships in the team of people she worked with and felt compassion for them when some shared with her the messes and hurts of their lives.
She prayed that God would help her bring a sense of Christ’s presence into her work environment.
Her colleagues soon found she was a good listener and came to trust her. Her boss noted her commitment to her work, and the influence for good she had on the whole team.
When it came to the time for the family to return to Indonesia, Desi was surprised by the farewell party her colleagues organized for her.
Desi had also joined the Edinburgh University Wives Club and loved the interaction with women from all over the world. A retired OMF missionary with many years of experience, and fluent in Indonesian (Bahasa), helped Desi improve her English. She encouraged her to co-lead a small Bible study group for Indonesian ladies. Desi’s confidence in God grew.
Denni Boy took responsibility for their children in the mornings, when Desi had to leave early for work. It gave him precious time with Nicholas and Sophia. The family also joined a local church and Sunday School.
And now, how is life for her back in Jakarta?
Denni is working very hard in his new job in leadership and lecturing at a Christian University that welcomes students from all faiths.
The children too are still settling back. They have received excellent commendations at school for their English! And, ‘Mackie’s ice cream’ stays a fond memory.
As for Desi, so far it has taken all her energy to support the family with their transition. There has been no opportunity yet to look for work or consider returning to her previous employment. When she left Edinburgh she felt very excited about how much she had learnt during the time abroad. She felt her journey from cleaning to compassion to confidence was a preparation, perhaps for new challenges back home. But the difficulty of travelling across the vast city of Jakarta has till now meant she could not yet re join her previous Bible study group at the university. Desi is not discouraged though. She is working and waiting. Remember her, she asks, and please pray she may soon be able to re join the study group.
By Liz McGregor, Langham (UK) Scholar Care Coordinator.