A Trip to the Country / by Kali Wood

After finishing our first unit of Indonesian class we were given a week break. During that break Matt was asked to lead a sectional for the GKLI’s Youth Conference in Sihabonghabong (which is about 8+ hours from Medan). We decided to make it a family trip and make a couple stops along the way.

Destination 1: Parapat, Destination 2: Tuk Tuk, Destination 3: Sihabonghabong, Destination 4: Balige

Destination 1: Parapat, Destination 2: Tuk Tuk, Destination 3: Sihabonghabong, Destination 4: Balige

First, we rode the 4 hours to Parapat where we got on a passenger ferry across Lake Toba to Samosir Island, the city of Tuk Tuk. Our guesthouse was just a short walk from the ferry dock in Tuk Tuk. Our guesthouse was amazing! It is a little organic farm and guesthouse. It only has 3 apartments to rent so it was quiet and intimate. There were bunnies for the girls to feed, a swimming pool, boats to take out on the lake and even fishing.

Matt and I didn’t realize how much we needed a break until we arrived. Learning a new language is difficult and adapting to a new culture doesn’t make it easier. We needed a break from 1) constantly studying, 2) the heat and humidity, and 3) being away from our kids 4-6 hours a day.

Highlights of our time in Tuk Tuk were swimming in the pool, eating delicious fresh caught fish, taking a boat out onto Lake Toba and taking a becak around town to do some sightseeing.

After 2 days of relaxing in Tuk Tuk we hopped in a car and drove the 5 hours to Sihabonghabong. There we stayed at the GKLI headquarters. Matt got to tour their Seminary, conference center and church. There are about 70 students at the Seminary right now with about 20 teachers.

Matt attended opening worship for the GKLI Youth Conference where over 200 youth came from all over Sumatra came together to worship and learn about the theme “Stand Firm”.

Opening Worship at the GKLI Youth Conference

Opening Worship at the GKLI Youth Conference

The next day Matt did a 45 minute presentation on Standing Firm in Your Faith to the youth. A local GKLI pastor translated for him. By this time next year Matt should not need a translator for speaking engagements like this.

After the presentation we hitched a ride with one of the local pastors who was heading back towards Medan. We stopped in a town called Balige just on the shore of Lake Toba. Here we spent the night to break up the 8+ hour drive.

The town is a wonderful beach town that doesn’t have a lot of tourists. We happened to arrive on market day and booked a guesthouse just down the block from the market. We took a nice stroll through the market and heard many friendly greetings from the locals.

We took a becak to the beach and enjoyed time playing in the sand and chatting with the locals. Eleanor was a big hit with the locals. Her blond, curly hair and white skin stand out a bit here. Many people wanted to take pictures with her but she wouldn’t smile for any of them. We have learned a phrase to describe her “keras kepala” which literally translates to hard headed.


We left the next day and took the 5+ hour drive home. It was a wonderful time away from the city and our normal routine. We enjoyed the cooler weather, the local people, the cuisine and the fellowship with the pastors. We look forward to taking longer trips to explore more of these areas.