A Morning with Mrs. Titi

Meet Mrs. Titi, and note how
big she is compared to Landon…

A few days ago, I had a bad day. Landon was especially naughty, Austin was off work but dealing with work stuff, and it was just a bad day. I missed home/family, I missed going to church, I missed normal food,  I missed speaking to people and having them understand me. This rarely happens to me so when it does the tears flow. Anyway, the next day, I ran into not one, but two women who both spoke great English! Not only that, they both invited me to their houses! I was very sweaty as I met them both post-run, but man did it help my spirits to speak to women who spoke English. I’m grateful for a Heavenly Father who knows me and hears my prayers, but more than that knows what I need more than I do.

Anyway, the first lady gave me a slip of paper with her phone number and told me to call her and come to her home and she would make me spaghetti. Her husband is from Amsterdam and is there right now so she is all alone. I haven’t called her yet, but maybe I will? I don’t know.

The second lady stands about four feet tall and is named Mrs. Titi (pronounced tee-tee). We were walking down a smaller street back to the hotel when she starting giggling and running towards us. She said, “I learn English from Mr. John from University of California!” Then she asked me if we could practice English sometime. She is a private English teacher but has not  had a native speaker to practice with for quite some time. Anyway, I tell her where we live, because I am of course gross and sweaty from running and Landon was on his way to a nap. I didn’t think anything of it until she showed up at our hotel last night. We were coming back to our room from Austin’s birthday BBQ dinner, and there she was with her husband, just sitting in the lobby. When she saw Landon, she jumped up and ran to him and started pinching his cheeks, holding him and singing songs in English.  This lady exudes energy at least twice her height. Landon was really tired at this point and ready for bed, so we set up a meeting for 8 am the next morning. Titi had suggested 7am, but I knew that was too early for Landon and I to be ready. When we got over near her house where we met the first time, there she was! The funniest part is that she said she usually gets up around 9:00 am. Here I was thinking that if we met later it would be inconveniencing her, but in actuality 8:00 am was also too early. Oops!

She wanted lots of pictures with Landon

Mrs. Titi knows English fairly well. Sometimes she had weird answers to things that I asked, but it was always easy to see how she could think I was asking one thing when I was really asking another. She grew up in a town about 100 km from here with 7 siblings- six girls and one boy. All of the girls are English teachers. The boy did not want to go to university. When I asked her what he does for a living, she said he takes care of her mother and watches the house. She spent time with grandparents while in high school in another city, and then went to university in either Jogyakarta or Jakarta- I couldn’t quite distinguish this point. She has an undergraduate degree in international relations, and she wanted to be a diplomat. I’d imagine people would have a hard time not bending to her will because she is so charismatic, energetic and bubbly. Anyway, she said she had a boyfriend at university, but her mother told her that there was a very nice man in Cilacap that would make a good husband. So she came back and married him, and moved to Cilacap about 11 years ago. He is from a very poor family- both his parents are factory workers, and so he worked as a secretary at the school that his siblings were attending in order to pay for them to attend the school. Titi has been unable to have children, but still wanted to be a diplomat. Her husband told her that she belonged at home, but that if she could teach English from home she could do that. So she does.

She told me she has four students today, I’m not sure about every other day. The appointments are in the afternoon because she needs her husband to drive her to some of the people’s houses. She is afraid to drive a scooter- she says it is too dangerous. She said when she was at university, she had a car to drive her where she needed to go- with a driver. She and her husband live in a tiny house/shac adjacent to a tiny house belonging to her sister-in-law. I saw a refrigerator in her sister-in-law’s home, but I’m not sure about her house. They have a tiny series of ponds in front of their house where they keep feeder fish sized gold fish and other kinds of fish. They are tiny. When I asked what they are for, she says that they are the family’s pets. She asked if we had fish as pets in the US. She even had a plastic baggy ready to give Landon his own fish, but I declined. I didn’t want him to kill it in 2 seconds and then have to have that talk about how all things die eventually. We’ll save that for later down the road. Landon had a blast trying to catch the fish with a little pink net. He succeeded a few times, but mostly just caught the rocks and plants at the bottom of the little pool.

Monkey with cages in background
PS- SO SAD for those monkeys!!!

Her family is Muslim. Friday is their holy day of the week. On that day, all of the men go to the Masjid (mosque) to pray at 12:00 pm. The women stay at home. However, she told me she had to go at 11:00 am to pray with her husband and prepare for her husband to go to the masjid, It seems like most men wear their best on Fridays, which usually means batik shirts.

Landon liked the monkey, but did a great job not touching.

Titi also took us to a mini-park. It had the saddest, most dangerous looking ferris wheel and rusted out merry-go-round with cars strapped to it instead of horses. It was not open, thankfully, because it would have been hard to explain why Landon could not go on the shady ferris wheel. Anyway, there were some monkeys in a cage there that Landon liked to look at. All of the sudden, a monkey that looked like he was part of the monkey family in the cage came over. He was not in a cage, but it seemed like he stayed close to the cage anyway. Titi gave him a packaged snack and he ripped it open with his teeth and ate it. The monkeys in the cage looked like they wanted out really, really bad. It was all very sad, but interesting to get some pictures of Landon and the monkey just chillin together.

We also visited her husband’s work, but discovered that he had already gone home for prayer. We saw all the women of the school and met several of them and took pictures. Then Landon wanted to leave.  I’m glad that Titi got to see a little of the celebrity that comes with being the only white people walking around town. People would call out to her in Indonesian, and she would answer them as best she knew- usually about where we were from, where we were staying, etc. She was a cheery companion.

Titi was not amused by the monkey

Titi asked me for my address in America. I gave it to her, along with my email address. I guess I had assumed that she had learned English online from Mr. John, but I came to realize that he was an exchange student who had come to her university in Indonesia. I told her I could email her some pictures that I had taken of our morning together, and she explained that things are different here than in America. She explained that she would like a laptop “when she had more monies” and then she could get internet as well. She also said that she wanted to move back to where her mother is and build a house there. She said she would have to save up for a long time for either of these things because she and her husband only made enough to eat. This saddened me.

Austin and I are going to try to find some English books for Titi. I wanted to get her a refurbished laptop, but Austin reminded me that without internet, it really wouldn’t do her much good. I am looking forward to a few more mornings with Titi- she invited Landon and I to visit whenever we would like. 

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