Friday, June 26, 2009

Selamat tinggal desa Ema


I came to Indonesia to not only see where it is that this part of my family came from, but to try to learn more about the history of the name Leimena.  Two hours in the small mountainside village of Ema, accessible only by foot, provided me with all the information I could ask for.

I do not speak Indonesian and therefore something is bound to be lost in translation but here is the story as I understand it.  

Five generations ago the world was left with one Leimena male.  He then had three boys that all Leimenas today can be traced back to. Each boy went a different route in life leading to these three Leimena classifications:  

The Kapitan (Army Captain) - This is our branch.  The Kapitan has become a local hero, along with the later mentioned Dr. Johannes.

The Tukung (Worker) - We didn't really hear much about them, we were only shown their houses.

The Ima (Religious) - They have lived in the same house for hundreds of years, a house adorned with at least 20 depictions of Jesus, etc.  I stood in the spot that Dr. Johannes was born.

From there I learned that my great  grandfather was the school teacher in Ema and was the first Leimena to leave the village to continue his education abroad.  This paved the way for not only my Grandfather, but also his cousins (one of whom, Dr. Johannes, went on to become the equivilent of the indonesian Vice President).  Despite their pilgrimages abroad these men always returned to Ema to put what they had gained back into the village.  I stood where these men were born and walked the streets that they walked hundreds of years ago. 

I am attracted to their self sustaining way of life.  We sampled their Mayung Sopi, an alcohol that they make from a fruit that looks to be the tropical equivalent of a grape, and tastes similar to Sake.  They treated us to what seemed like everything they had.  They gladly shared the family history and we genuinely excited to meet a Leimena that they never knew existed.  As devout Christians I think that they liked my name (I didn't tell them that it really hadn't been given with religious context in mind).  

With the exception of the two images of children everyone in this post is a Leimena.  Some even from the Kapitan branch of the family.

From top to bottom:

1.  Peter and a statue of The Kapitan
2.  Ema children
3 & 4.  Two "Oma" Leimenas carrying the groceries up the "road" to Ema
5.  Ema children hiding, scared to come out and face the giant ghost.
6.  Clothes drying outside of an Ema house
7.  A Leimena family from the Kapitan branch.  These were the ones who told us of our history
8.  Josi Leimena, our "tour guide" and my "cousin" with his mother
9.  Josi's "Oma" Leimena


James said...

That only means one thing Chris- youz gots to make beaucoup babies to carry on da legacy. Looks like you're having a blast. The pictures are awesome.

honeybeeeee said...

beaucoup?? hmm.. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
come back now!