I looked down at my phone before going to bed and noticed a message saying, No Service. “Hmmm,” I mused, wondering what that meant. The next morning we realized it meant that the internet was out. In this modern day and age, fiber optic internet had amazingly made its way here to Papua, Indonesia, several years ago. It changed the boundaries of what we could do here via internet—as long as it’s working.
Living on an island in the Ring of Fire also presents its challenges, like earthquakes that can break undersea fiber optic internet cables. Just like that. Poof. Then you’re back to slow speeds, or even no internet at all for a month or two. We are blessed that MAF has a backup VSAT system, but for other missionaries and the local Indonesian community, there aren’t many options when the cable breaks.
That morning happened to be a Saturday. My husband and I and our youngest son Ryan had made a plan to go to the local coffee shop (this is also a newer thing in Papua, which we all enjoy a lot!) and get some hot drinks and a plate of pancakes to share. There were SO many cars and motorbikes out front that we had to park down the street.
It seemed particularly loud and cheery inside the coffee shop as Indonesian patrons were animatedly conversing. At one point, my husband Dave said, “You know, I wonder if it’s so crowded and loud because the Internet is out.” Sadly, just as we face diminishing face-to-face conversations in the West because people are engrossed in their phones, Indonesia faces the same challenge.
It hadn’t even dawned on me that perhaps the lack of internet was to blame for the loud conversing that morning. Perhaps there are some advantages to an injured internet.