A Million Gods, a Thousand Hotels and Seven Churches: a Bali Photo Essay

I do not know how and when Bali got the name "Island of Gods" but there could not be a better one. The island, of about four million people, is almost totally Hindu, in a country that has the largest Muslim population in the world. I visited there a few weeks ago and was entranced by the things that I saw.

This huge god is one of the two that guard the main entrance of the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center.

Many from Bali identify first as Balinese before being Indonesian. There is a lot to Balinese culture: food, clothing, religion, art.

Bali women, dressed in traditional Balinese ceremonial clothes.

The gods and their altars are everywhere. Almost all buildings I saw in Bali had at least one altar, one prayer place, one stone statue of a god.

A giant monument to the gods in the heart of the city.

There is a constant smell of rotting flowers and incense that hang in the air, as you move around. The gods and altars come in different sizes and shapes.

A shop with its god.

The island is reputed for its tourism and tourists arrive from all over the world for vacation, for the sand, the sea and the warmth. The hotels are uncountable, especially in the Kuta Beach area. It was amazing to see the Hindu cohabit with tourism and the ancient statues rub shoulders with stylish and cutting edge technology shops.

A traditional dancer entertains a crowd.

The beaches are flowery, filled with color and one can do almost anything: shop, get your hair braided, get a pedicure and manicure, get a tattoo and even a massage, and surf and swim, of course.

A native Balinese lady sells local craft and jewelry.

I wondered if there was a Seventh-day Adventist group in Bali. I looked up the Internet and found the website of the Bali Nusa Dua Church. They also had a Facebook group. I joined the group and asked for directions.

Nusa Dua churchmembers.

The church has been in existence in Bali for some 40 years, beginning with just one small congregation, then two, and now seven Adventist churches. Though located in a hard-to-find part of town, the little flock I found is doing well. We had a memorable Sabbath on October 26, as it was also the birthday of the pastor and a potluck was organized.

Delicious Balinese cooking.

I enjoyed every minute in that "little house on the hillside." The choir sang beautifully well, and I joined to sing the old Christian tunes in the Indonesian Bhasa.

Fellowship with churchmembers around great island food.

If you plan a vacation there, or are passing by, ask Brother Harry to help you book a hotel, drop the church a line on Facebook or Twitter and prepare to be blessed!

A young AYM member takes a photo.

Nnenna Nwakanma is an activist, community organizer, development adviser and consultant originally from Nigeria. She is the co-founder of The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa, which she also co-chairs. She is based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5640
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