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News Release

Light the World Goody Bags Bring Christmas Cheer to Pandemic-Hit Bali

Over 1,220 Light the World goody bags and snack boxes filled with essential food and hygiene items were distributed in Kuta, Bali, during various events as part of Christmas service initiatives. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Indonesia, in partnership with the Christian Services Assembly (MPUK) and Inter-Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB), hosted the main giveaway ceremony on December 15, 2021, after months of preparation and relationship building.

The ceremony was held at the local municipal office in Kuta, with guests from the police, army leadership, and other religious organizations. At least, sixty representatives from various Christian denominations who had never known or had misunderstood the Church in the past came forward to receive the goody bags on behalf of their members. In total, around 600 bags were distributed at this event.

“I am grateful for the Christian community's participation in my district,” said Dr. Drs. I Putu Parwata, M.M, the senator of Badung Administrative District (which oversees Kuta), in his closing remarks. "This kind of program helps ease up the local government's burden as we continue to try to sustain our people here. We thank The Church of Jesus Christ and the interfaith collaboration in this program. Once again, it proves that interfaith people are solid even beyond difficult times."

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Distributions of the Light the World goody bags from recipient churches to their members on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, in Kuta, Bali.

  

The short ceremony for the program concluded with a closing prayer offered by a Balinese Hindu priest, who in his prayer asked Hyang Widhi (the term for “Omnipotent God” in Hindu belief) to bless the Church. He also thanked the Church for blessing the local people of Kuta and other parts of Bali who would be receiving the goody bags.

But Light the World efforts did not end there.

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Distribution of 100 goody bags to impacted industries’ workers at the Bali Branch on Wednesday, December 15, 2021.

  

After the event, another 100 goody bags were distributed at the Bali Branch premises to workers in the hotel, parking and security industries. These industries were identified by Church leaders as those hit the hardest financially during the pandemic. Coupons had been issued to eligible families beforehand and were collected at the Church building on December 15.

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Last batch of Light the World goody bags delivered to Bali Branch’s long-term service partner Niti Mandala Club on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, in Kuta, Bali.

  

A delivery of 22 goody bags was further made on December 15 to the Community Learning Activity Center (PKBM) Niti Mandala Club, a long-term service partner of the Church in Bali. The Club is a nonformal school for students who have disabilities, come from needy families or are victims of domestic violence. These efforts and others—including a preceding event where the Church presented 26 Light the World goody bags for charity at the senator’s Christmas celebration—brought much needed cheer to pandemic-hit communities in Kuta.

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Light the World goody bags given out initially at the senator’s Christmas celebration.

  

Commenting on the seriousness of the situation in Kuta, head of Badung District MPUK and Indonesia Pentecostal Churches Alliance (PGIP) for Bali province Reverend Jonathan Suharto reflected it is “worse than in the aftermath of Bali bombings I and II back in 2002 and 2005.” Before COVID-19, the Kuta area was known as one of Indonesia’s busiest tourist towns. But what was once a nightlife attraction, culinary center and surfing hotspot has become more like a ghost town, with the local Balinese who depend on tourism for their livelihood badly affected.

The items in the goody bags are intended to help recipients meet basic needs. They include food supplies like rice, cooking oil, sardines and biscuits as well as MPUK-requested hygiene supplies such as face masks, hand sanitizers, thermoguns, laundry detergent, oral care and bath soap to help people through the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

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Photo of the Light the World giveaway event’s key organizers on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, in Kuta, Bali.

  

Building Bridges of Trust Through a Heritage of Service

The Light the World initiative also presented an opportunity to strengthen goodwill ties between the Church in Indonesia and local government and religious leaders, building further bridges of trust in the country. In particular, the Church’s introduction to and partnership with MPUK was facilitated by the Church’s national public affairs council, which tapped into existing ties with the national ecumenical body, the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI).

Three years ago, the Church had worked with PGI to send urgent aid to the Palu region in Indonesia, which had been devastated by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and a localized tsunami in its wake. The twin disasters on September 28, 2018, caused a large humanitarian crisis in a country already reeling from other earthquakes that had struck just months prior. Adding to resources supplied by PGI, Latter-day Saint Charities (LDSC), the humanitarian arm of the Church, provided 25 out of 28 tons of supplies in Palu, with the Indonesian Navy engaged to ship the provisions to the disaster zone.

The timely and generous pledge of support from the Church built a bridge of trust with Reverend Nengah Suama of the Bali Protestant Church (GKPB), then-chairman of PGI Bali province and former bishop of Sinode GKPB, advocated for the Church in Bali. Thus, in mid-2021 when Brother Sandiakira Pagalla, second counselor in the Bali Branch presidency of the Church, received a call from Area Seventy Elder Djarot Subiantoro asking him to build further bridges in Bali, they were able to tap on the heritage of service rendered in earlier times.

Reminiscing on the phone call from just half a year ago, Brother Pagalla shared, “I think this event came at the right time and right place … and the call from Elder Subiantoro came. It was the right decision to ask the public affairs council to come and help this event, and I am glad they are very helpful. Thank you for the Church’s help.”

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