Editor’s Note: Dan and Jeanne Jantzi, MCC representatives in Indonesia, returned to Padang on the third day of their visit to areas affected by recent earthquakes. The Jantzis are from Lowville, N.Y. Here are some of their reflections, in their own words:
In Padang and in the surrounding area, the Nias Protestant Christian Church continues to assess the destruction of the homes of its members. Church members are struggling with a lack of water in the city. Pak Yana, a church member working on the earthquake response, said members are collecting water from any broken pipes they can find around the city.
The ruined, three-story Sunday school building on the church property causes grave concern to church members and relief workers. The building was incomplete at the time of the quake, except for the top floor. The two lower floors had only pillars for support. The top floor was nicely finished and served as a large auditorium for Christian religious education for about 500 children each week.
Although Indonesia has a secular government, the public schools in Padang allow only Islamic religious education. Christian children may have religious instruction outside of school hours, and their grades are recorded in the public school record.
When the quake hit, the top-heavy building twisted off its pillars. It now leans on its pillars just six feet from the parsonage and three feet from the church sanctuary, casting its shadow on the lower buildings. Church members fear that another tremor will bring the building down on top of these buildings.
One group of Nias church members have been particularly affected by the quake damage. In the 1990s, this group of immigrants from Nias sold their property in the city of Padang in order to begin farming and invest in cloves in the mountains near Padang. At that time, cloves brought a very good price. Unfortunately, a monopoly developed on the clove trade, and these farmers were forced out of business. They had not yet recovered from this economic set-back at the time of the earthquake.
The Nias Protestant Christian church is made up of people who immigrated to Sumatra from the island of Nias since the colonial times. Mennonite Diakonial Service made connections with this church through partnerships formed to respond to the 2004 tsunami.