Flour and Water Equals Honor and Respect

When Steve Persenaire landed his Cessna 185 float plane on a river near Jujang Parit, he had a most unusual greeting.

Carrying a team from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Persenaire found himself in a sudden and surprising greeting. Villagers sprinkled water on the heads of Persenaire and the WWF party, followed by pouring flour on them as well.

Mission Aviation Fellowship Float Plane

The Cessna 185 is a float plane MAF uses to reach isolated people living along rivers in Indonesia.

“They were laughing and smiling as they were doing this,” Persenaire said. “I didn’t feel like they were upset but it was one of the strangest greeting party rituals I’ve ever experienced.”

Curious about what the greeting was all about, Persenaire radioed back to the MAF base to inquire from national staff about the ritual’s meeting.

His question was met with gasps. “They put flour on you? That is a sign of great honor and respect.”

But that wasn’t all. While reserved for dignitaries and people the village respects, this ritual was also a way of warding off evil spirits, protecting both the visitors and the village.

“It was definitely an honor to be treated this way,” Persenaire said. “But it also goes to show you how serious the spiritual battle is in the places we serve. However, we’re seeing progress as we helped relocate a church planter to that village recently.”

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