September 2, 2008

Settling In

Selamat Pagi Teman-Temanku di Indonesia!

Saya sudah pulong ke Indiana dan sekarang sudah siap untuk sekola. Hari ini, classes begin.

I am taking:

Classical Political Thought, Economic History of the United States, Public Finance and Government Spending, Health Economics, and the Politics of Genocide.

It will be a busy semester with lots of reading. But I am really excited to start!

Adik RRRRRRRRRRRRia!!!! I forgot to mention your name in my last email to Kak Wen...sorry :P I know what you are thinking... "Andrew, why are you so kind???" :)

It sounds like things are going well in Calang. Congratulations to Esron for the opportunity to lead the project in Setia Bakti! I pray that it goes well for you.

Ronal, my brother, I hear you are still alone out in Lhok Gelumpang. I am there with you in spirit! Maybe you can leave the light on when you go to bed to remind yourself of my time out in Lhok Gelumpang, haha! Say hello to Mamak for me. And if the workers from Java are still there (doing "blasting") tell them I said "apa kabar!"

I would love to hear from the rest of you. I will email you all individually soon.

Jadi Bang Jim! I have a friend here in Bloomington named Jimi. He is Indonesian too. So I can still say 'Jadi Bang Jim!!!!' :) I hope your mom and "HORAS Rooooooooose Marie HORAS" enjoyed those videos!

Pray for me as I begin my semester! I hope to do well in school this year. Also pray for David Strivings. It sounds like he has a mild case of typhoid over there in Nias.

I miss you all and look forward to hearing back from you!!!!

In His Love,

August 12, 2008


Sorry for the delay on this one folks :P

Those who know me well are familiar with the struggle that I've had finding direction for my life. My interests range from economic development to writing to ecclesiology (church-y stuff) to music to entrepreneurial ventures...adding to the breadth of my interests my propensity to indecision complicates the situation.

This summer, I hoped, would encompass many of those interests and help provide some direction for life after undergrad. Well, I'm pleased to report it did. And I am eternally grateful to those who made this experience possible; supporters (financial, prayer, emotional, intellectual, and morale), those at FH who organized everything, my home church (Central Christian) and my other home church (ECC).

In Indonesia, in some form or another, I was able to dabble in missions, church life, development, entrepreneurship, writing, leadership, followership :), agriculture, dirt bike driving, jungle get the point. So I couldn't have asked for a more fitting opportunity.

What I learned this summer really will be life changing...direction altering...mission focusing....

The unifying factor in all these interests of mine is the Gospel. The direction that God wants me to head is straight towards the cross of Christ (Phil 3:14). His plan for me is the same as His plan for you (Heb 9:12). He plans to, and will, restore our broken souls to glory (2 Pet 1:3-4).

Phillipians speaks volumes to this. Paul opens the letter by sharing how his suffering in prison has "really served to advance the gospel". And at the close of the same chapter he lays it out clear and simple in this line,
"to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (1:21).

In case you tend to favor the left side of your brain...

Life = Christ
Death = Gain

Pretty simple.

The lines that follow flesh out this incredible Truth; "If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose (life or death) I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart (DIE) and be with Christ for that is far better."

Lord willing I will be graduating this December. That's about four and a half months from now. So what's next, Andrew?

For me, it's His Joy (Psalm 119:111 et al).

As I mentioned in my previous entry I will be transitioning away from this blog. I intend to use this address to keep my friends in Indonesia posted on life in Indiana. Feel free to check it out for those updates.

I also plan to set up a more substantial blog to share my walk in a more personal and more participatory way with those who are interested. If you'd be interested in following along with me there, send an email to and I will let you know when I get the details ironed out.

Until Then...

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you." Titus 2:11-15

August 10, 2008

: )

Hello All!

I just wanted to throw up a quick post letting you know that I have arrived in Indiana safe and sound.

I hope to post tomorrow a sort of transitional post...update on what's next for me, how you can hear more about my time in Indo (seriously, we're all friends/family...just give me a call!), and what's next for 'Andrew in Indo'.

In short I intend to transition this blog into a blog to update my brothers and sisters in Indo! I will occasionally post about the goings on here in Indiana and maybe some pictures of people and places that I talked about in Indo.

I am also planning to launch another blog devoted in some way, shape, or form to my personal musings. Once I map that out a little better I will let you know :)

Until then, it's been a blessing and a pleasure.

Check back tomorrow for my 'farewell' post!


August 4, 2008

Goin' Home

***Note: This blog is a few days behind...I fly out from Medan in 9 hours :)***

Throughout my time here in Indo, one particular musician has proven a consistent source of encouragement (ask David, he'll tell ya!)

And as I pack my bags (both the 'way too big for just two months away' green duffel bag as well as the emotional baggage I've been unpacking with gusto)to head out, the words of his (Josh Garrels, of course) song "Going Home" have faithfully accompanied the process...

I, I’m going home

she, she’s going home

we, we’re going home

going home

when we die

going home

in the sky

going home

by and by

going home

to live with Christ





...It really is a beautiful song.

As I process through the weightier parts of this trip (relationships established and left behind...souls who don't know the hope to which we have been called...the body of Christ...missions...the Gospel) God keeps bringing me back to the simple Truth in the words of this song. My home is in Christ.

The other day I was perusing the blog of a dear friend of mine when I stumbled across a post that had been tucked away in his Archives. He is preparing to move from Indiana to New Jersey to work with a church plant next month and writes about leaving home.

I encourage you to check out the whole post (by clicking the words "a post")...but the hope that it pointed me to was this:

I am leaving Calang tomorrow morning around 7 am (for those who are worrying about my travels, I will fly from Meulaboh to Medan tomorrow, from Medan to Phoenix on Tuesday the 5th and then from Phoenix to Indiana on the 9th...and I'll do my best to keep you posted throughout). I'm going home.

When I get there I suppose there will be a week or so of rejoicing, relaxing, and rejuvenating. I have scores of friends and family to update, Thank You letters to write, presentations to plan and schedule, I have to find housing for this Fall (pray for that!), and then there's all the hustle and bustle of the forthcoming semester.

Before long, however, my restless soul will feel that deep down itch for a new place. Home (Bloomington, Indiana, the US...Earth) will have provided a much needed sanctuary. But the satisfaction fades. There is a place prepared for me in my Father's house to which no worldly wind, no matter how full it fills my sails, can carry me.

The blog post ends with this exhortation:

We must shape our lives around the reality of true hope, our home in Christ. Else we have no hope. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, you too will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4). God is our portion, our heritage. So we die to ourselves and live for Christ. Why New Jersey? I don’t know. :)
But my Father does.

Pray for safe travels. Pray that I don't miss any flights.

Pray that as I head back, get things settled in for my last semester and plan steps for after graduation, I would shape my life around the reality of true hope. My hope and my home in Christ.

July 26, 2008


Today we had farewell party for Yono and me. We were going to head over to Lhok Geulumpang to this sweet beach…but because ‘rainy season’ here is in full swing and it’s overcast again today, we just stuck around the posko. But the rain didn’t stop us from buying nenas (pineapple)! So I was happy : )

After the party was over I sat down to write a little update post for you all.

I have been reading through Ephesians this week. And to supplement the Scriptures I am reading through Jonathan Edward’s Resolutions and a John Piper book that was given to us through FH called Don’t Waste Your Life. Between Piper’s consistent message that “God being glorified and God being enjoyed are not separate categories”, and Edwards’ Resolutions such as his fourth, “Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it…” I have had some edifying food for thought.

And rather than try to summarize all this amazing stuff in one giant disheveled mess of a blog post like I had originally intended...I'm just going to share with you a few more of Edwards' Resolutions.

I hope that they feed your soul like they've fed mine. And I would encourage you to really dive into them. He leaves plenty of room for exploration :)

"BEING sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

64. Resolved, when I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered" [Rom. 8:26], of which the Apostle speaks, and those “breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it."

As Edwards himself highlights in his introduction to his Resolutions, the only power by which we can have the slightest hope of the all-fulfilling joy which comes from living a life pleasing to the Lord is the saving name of Jesus Christ.

July 23, 2008

Selamat Sore All!

Last night David and I made the trek (ok, so it’s only a 5 minute walk…) to the BRR office to use their (awesome) internet connection. I decided it was the opportune time to post a blog entry. “It’s been a few days,” I thought, “and I’ve got so much I could share!”

But as I sat staring at the blank entry and blinking cursor…I just couldn’t write.

This experience has been incredible. Challenging on so many fronts and I am learning a love for God that only two short months ago I was begging for. And it’s down right perplexing how to share every essential input that has shaped, refined, and directed me these past few weeks.

I could tell you about the people here…my love and respect for the two gentlemen that I spent last week with in LG; the amazing camaraderie God has established between David and me (a serious blessing); the time I've spent trudging through communication breakdowns, team dynamic issues and other struggles that come from this type of work environment...being stretched further than ever; and in the midst of the frustrations the hours spent with FH staff laughing over a game of Mexican train, worshiping God in song on a Saturday evening (the warm tone of a classical guitar and Tio’s inspiring voice… “It Is Well” indeed!), praying over His work here in our morning devotional time (ibadah is the Indo word for ‘devotion’); the simple joy in the face of a child as he watches his homemade kite soar over the cool green ocean; the foretaste of Glory I see in the eyes of passing acquaintances in the fields, the market, the mechanic’s shop, the engagement parties…

Or I could take some time and walk you through all the things I have been processing…about the Gospel (seriously, read Ephesians through in one sitting…amazing), about missions (haha I can’t summarize that one in parenthesis), about the Church (oh, how I love the church!), about development (you gotta see the forest in the seed my friends…the mustard seed that overcame the mountain…small is beautiful), about discipleship (*hums* “Where He Leads Me I Will Follow”), about Creation (both His creation and the desire to create that was given us as we were crafted in His image. If you have some good poetry or song lyrics, please send them!)…

Or I could post more pictures and share with you the sheer beauty of this place. You could see how it has been so easy to meditate on the Glory, the Sovereignty, the Beauty, the Grace, the Majesty of our heavenly Father here. And even how living amongst the raw splendor of Aceh Jaya has helped me to seek out the beauty in even the simplest, most mundane, and even the straight up ugly corners of this world. God is everywhere! And where He is His love and glory abide.

But instead I decided to humbly admit my inability to effectively communicate the work of God’s hands without being able to use my smile, my hand gestures, words like ‘awesome’, ‘soooo good’, and ‘I don’t even understand…’ with proper inflection, and some hot Acehnese coffee and fried bananas.

So I hope that this snippet will suffice for now. I hope that you will be encouraged by the way God is being glorified here in my heart and through me. And I hope that this sneak peak will wet your appetite for more about His renown!

Ephesians 1:16-23

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

July 19, 2008

I'm Back!


I just got back from LG this afternoon (Friday). What a blessing this week has been.

I had a great time with Ronal and Yono. For real, these men are some true studs.

They have been working with three women who have done some incredible work. The three of them, with the help of Ronal's agricultural expertise re: organic farming, composting, etc... have started an organic garden. It's like the Acehnese Golden Girls or something. One of the ladies is in here 60s, and the other two are, in their 30 somethings.

The garden has become one of my favorite places here. We walk in (if Ronal didn't forget the key at the posko : ) ) to check on the vegetables (rich purple eggplant, refreshing cucumbers, long bean [green beans except they're about 1 meter long], and some spinach-like leafy plant). Ronal disappears for a second and then pops up smiling with two freshly plucked cucumbers. AMAZING. We just ate them like you would an apple. Bite off the ends and away you go : ) sooooo tastey.

And there is this great place to sit. Ronal is teaching the women how to make their own organic compost using the chaff left from the padi (rice) harvest. They have a little shelter to house the compost and with the tarps covering the compost it makes for a perfect lounge. The view; jungle covered mountains on one side and the mighty ocean on the other.

On Wednesday the ladies had a 'garden party'. They spent the morning preparing some delicious (some of which was a tad spicy) Acehnese food. We carried it from their homes to the little shelter in the garden and shared it with their families in celebration of the garden. It was beautiful.

Life here is so simple. It's going to be hard for me to reintroduce myself to western society...

It's normal here to walk around barefoot (awesome) and it’s not uncommon for your feet to rest in the soft dirt as they hang down from a wooden bench made of mismatched pieces of scrap. Houses aren't really houses but more like drafty shacks. The funny thing is: these villages look just like the ones we see on the news and on brochures for organizations like FH. The ladies we ate with in the garden, the children we teach at the posko, the farmers we helped to clear their land, the men we drink coffee with at night…these are the faces of the ‘dollar a day’ people.

So often we frame life in these simple villages as total depravity. When was the last time you saw a photograph from sub-Saharan Africa where the children were smiling, playing, just being normal children? Instead we get the shots of the broken down mother and her four children staring soullessly into the lens, their emaciated arms clinging to a splintering wooden stake which holds their shack stationary and their swollen bellies bulge out with hunger.

But things are not always what they seem. These people are genuine, happy, friendly people. They're certainly more sociable than the average American. At night in Lhok Geulumpang everyone (15 people or so) congregates at the little shop right next to (seriously, I could fall off of our front porch and into Mamak's kitchen) our posko. We sit around sipping the AWESOME coffee, playing chess and shooting the breeze. Of course I do more listening than speaking...but I speak up when I can.

And so generous! Every family we visit implores us to come in a join them for some coffee and these amazing little banana chips; at least!

Mamak (or mama) spends the day cooking and socializing with her customers. You just walk over, grab some food that she's made, sit down for awhile and enjoy. Then before you leave you just slip her what you owe her and head out. It's so casual and homey.

It's going to be hard for me to wear shoes when I go to the coffee place back home : )

I'm still having a difficult time processing things...but am learning so much. This week I started a new 'devotional technique'. I have a hard time remembering things (as I am sure some of you can attest to) and so I thought "maybe if I just read one Pauline letter every morning throughout the week...I'll remember more". So I spent my first 20 minutes or so of every morning this week reading Galatians. It's been really great! I've been able to really think about things and flesh out the big picture of the letter. I'd definitely recommend it for the smaller letters. Next week…Ephesians.

Be praying for Ronal and Yono. They've been here for a year or so together and Yono is leaving for good in two weeks. He's headed back to Java to get married. It's going to be hard for him to leave and hard for Ronal to be without him for support.

Also pray for the people of Lhok Geulumpang. Specifically for the three women and the farmers who are working the 20 hectare plot.

And pray for the unity of the team here. We celebrated Julius's birthday tonight and watching the team laugh, sing, and love together was such a huge encouragement. Pray that the bonds being formed here would continue to grow further in and further up.

I am really missing ‘the Church’ and from a spiritual measurement I would say my brothers and sisters here are too. I think we might go get some Grape Fanta and these biscuit things for communion this Sunday. Hopefully that will help move us in the right direction.

Acts 2:42-47

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

July 13, 2008

Saya Ke Lhok Gelumpang Untuk Satu Minggu!

Hello again wonderful brothers and sisters in Love!

Wow. What a great weekend we had here in Calang! Following my news I will share with you a detailed outpouring of my thoughts from the weekend:

Since I’ve been here in Indo I have been processing: ‘What’s my role here? What’s FH’s role here? How can my time be best spent?’

And since that first week I’ve come up with a score of responses: ‘Oh! I can be a blessing to the Calang team…I can help with the big picture piecing together this business plan stuff…I can be an example of Love to the Acehnese people by focusing on learning their language and culture…I can… I can…I can…’ Well the Truth is, as I’m coming to realize and as David Curtis and the rest of the Phoenix staff informed us before we left my time here is not about what I can or will do in these two short months. It’s about (sorry for the cliché) what God will do.

God most certainly is doing here in Calang. I’m learning much about living intentionally both at home and abroad. I’m learning about community and fellowship. I’m learning about rice farming and salat (Muslim prayer). He’s bending, breaking and shaping my heart. He is moving in and through our staff here as they set out to love the Acehnese people.

And every day He reminds us of His glory, His grace and His sovereign reign with amazing ocean views, beautiful sunsets, rugged jungle-covered mountains, morning praise and fellowship in a mixture of Indonesian and English, seasoned conversation with Acehnese security guards, ‘maids’, farmers, children, co-workers, friends and neighbors…with torrential downpours, the blazing sunshine, a gentle breeze…a laugh shared, a smile offered and received, ‘hello mister’ and ‘puhaba buh’…rice planting and soccer games, Josh Garrels and traditional Batak flute…He was and is and is to come…Alpha and Omega…in your heart and mine. He is everywhere always and so are His people and His plans.

My prayer is for humility. My prayer is that I might be here to serve, not just be served.

So with that heart I will set out this week into the jungle with Ronal and Yono, both of whom have encouraged me tremendously recently. I will live with them in their posko for a week doing all I can (or rather getting out of the way of His work as best I can) to make it easier for them to live and love as they have been amongst the rural Acehnese farmers.

That said I wanted to let you all know that I’ll be away from internet access for the week. And my plan for this coming weekend will be to read all of your wonderful emails and comments of encouragement 

And with that, I will leave you with a little raw ‘journaling’ I did about my Saturday here. Enjoy!

Today was awesome. In fact I shared that with ban Jim on the back of the motorbike as we rode out to the fellowship time.

It started around 8:30 when I finally rolled out of bed. I headed straight for the kamar kecil (sweet relief) and then ate some wonderful rice. I've been eating significantly more than when I first got here and am actually afraid of missing the grub when I head home. *sigh* the bitter sweetness of travel...

I read for a spell (a book that Uncle Steve got me) and was happy to see the discernment the Lord is building up in me. Wisdom to follow? This 'Devout' as he so pompously refers to himself has some funny hermeneutical methods...anyways, it's been a good read.

After that we played our usual 2 hour or so long game of Mexican train (a domino game that takes two hours but lasts for what seems to be two weeks). I gotta was fun at first...but I find myself losing patience after the double 8 or so.

Then we all headed to the kitchen for a surprise batch of nasi pati (that sticky rice stuff and coconut/brown sugar). It's alright...but a bit too sweet for my tooth.

I dinked around on the guitar for a little while with Tio. I love listening to him play/sing. Especially 'I Surrender All'. I asked if I could sometime record him and Kak Wenni before I leave. They agreed : )

After that, the crew busted out the badminton net. On Saturdays this usually doesn't happen until 4 or so at the earliest. Throughout the day it's just 'too hot' : )

David asked if I wanted to go for a run. I apologized (sort of casually) the other day for being a terrible running partner. I think this was his way of asserting that we stick with our routine : ) plus I know he really enjoys it and running alone is only fun sometimes.

Reluctantly I agreed to go and slipped into his extra pair of tennis shoes. Seriously bro those shoes have been a lifesaver!

We decided to head RIGHT out of the posko rather than taking our usual route. We'd talked earlier today (on our way to Logica for the internet! That's what I forgot! I was able to copy a bunch of Josh Garrel's lyrics, download another one of his songs and email mom and dad requesting that they preorder a copy of his new album for me haha) about how AMAZING the view of the ocean was as you round the bend leaving our encampment. So I grabbed my camera just in case it was photo-worthy.

To our dismay we made a brief stop only to peer out over a dull ocean blanketed by a drab grey sky. I snapped a few quick shots, pointing out all the equipment I would need to take some 'good' pictures and we hit the road again. It was such a good run...down to Logica, around the bend and back to the posko over the back side of that hill. I'd say it was a good 5 km.

By the time we got back to the posko it was about 5:15. I told Jimi we'd try to be back by 5:10 so he and I could go to the 'store' to buy some soap. I've been critically low for a few days now *blush* But before I had the chance to cool down and re-hydrate Ronal reminded us that he had hoped to go to the beach tonight. I think David and I were both a little hesitant at first. But out of tremendous respect for Ronal and what I can only say was a little nudge from the Helper...we peeled off our sweat-soaked running garb and slipped into our swim shorts. (if you don’t have board shorts…get some, they’re amazing)

I'm telling you this beach is unbelievable. I promise at some point you will see pictures and or video of it... : )

Anyways, we swam for a little while but, as Ronal put it "nothing special". Then some Acehnese hoodlums (haha any male between the ages of 15-18 can be up to nothing but trouble :) ) came down with a soccer ball. I asked Ronal if it was ok for me to ask if we could play. So he said "sure, ask!" Hiking up my trousers I confidently strolled their direction. "Bole kami bermain?" I asked as naturally as I could. "Ya, bole!" was the response.

For the next hour and a half we played some AWESOME barefoot sand soccer with a size 3 soccer ball and some bicycle kicking Acehnese dudes. David later commented that that was the most incredible field he'd ever played on. The occasional wave would come in further than expected and haul our bola out to sea. It became a skill to be able to dribble in the ebbs and flows. Crosses had to clear the large rocks that jutted up out of the sand perpendicular to the two dried out branches which marked the goals. And when someone scored, both teams would retreat (about 10 steps) to the ocean to wash off all the grainy sand.

Once my team had been sufficiently destroyed by 4 or 5 goals they said "Ayo bercan di laut!" And who could say no to that refreshing water after a tough game of football? So swim we did. David and I were both afforded the opportunity to exchange a few words with the boys before we headed out. Not only was I encouraged by the way my language skills are progressing. But more so it was an awesome opportunity to churn my heart for another side to the gem that is the people of Aceh. Until today most of our interaction with the locals has been with older folks in the community. But today I got to interact with an age I can relate to. These boys are just like we were...much more independent, but still they talk about silly things...wonder about the western world, Michael Ballak (and his 'pretty wife'), listen to Bob Marley and I'm sure smoke the occasional ganja.

*disclaimer* When I say “they are just like we were” I mean that these teenage boys are no different than any teenage boy I grew up with 

As the call to prayer rang out through the town the boys decided it was time to head in.

So the three amigos (Ronal, David and I) were left to enjoy the most incredible sunset I’ve seen here. As much as I would love to describe it to you, words really don’t do it justice.

We headed back to the posko just before dark to clean up a bit and grab a bite to eat. I had forgotten that two Americans who had befriended the FH staff were holding a fellowship time at 8pm. So I scurried around the posko showering and dining as quickly as I could. Ban Jimi and I headed out together about 2 minutes after the rest of the team 

The fellowship time was really encouraging. The American couple hope to facilitate conversation about working in this area. I think in a deeper place in their heart they just want to provide a place for like hearted folks to come and share/encourage each other to keep loving, learning and leading in their work with the Acehnese. It’s great to know that there is someplace where the staff can go to be reminded about and supported in the ultimate reason they are here.

David and I are planning on having dinner with the American couple this Wednesday. He and I have been bouncing some thoughts off each other and are anxious to get the perspective of foreigners who are living and working here long term.

Ok, I’d say that’s enough to read for one week 

Please be in prayer for my time in Lhok Galumpang. Pray for Ronal and Yono because they have to live with me for a week 

Also pray for the American couple. Their work here is important to the success of FH and their work.

July 11, 2008

: )

Hello Hello!

Progress on our internet connection with Canadian Red Cross is moving, slowly but surely. They are just waiting for confirmation form HQ back in the motherland ;) So keep praying for that! It would be a huge help with research (requirements for organic certification, alternative rice know, typical Indonesian rice farmer stuff)

David and I are able to drive ourselves to the internet place finally. I gotta admit, it's liberating! And yes Walter, while I do enjoy the ride in the shade of the jungle, I can imagine it would not be too pleasant in the dead of Indiana winter!

Our meeting with the country director went...well...we have a lot to pray about! Things are going well, we just landed right in the middle of a rather transitional period for FH Indo. I will share more details as I am able. Please pray for David and me and the rest of the FH Indo team. With budget adjustments and organizational restructuring...feelings could get hurt. Pray for unity amongst the team, that, like in Acts we would be of the same heart...loving, understanding, humble, gracious...and that by His grace we would unite under His gospel to share the love of Christ with the people of Aceh.

Things in Nias (where Craig, the other Indo intern is) are better! We were able to talk with him briefly over the phone and he said the spiritual attacks have subsided but there are still some tensions amongst the team. Continued prayers would be appreciated. From his text messages, phone conversations and blog posts it sounds like Craig is doing some great work over there in Nias. Lanjut terus brother!

Relationships here in Calang have been good recently as well. I spent some quality time with one of our Muslim staff members as we got rained out of some work Wednesday. We planned to head out to one of our sub-villages but the rain pouring down the steep mud hill prevented us from deliver more cocoa trees to our beneficiaries. It worked out well though as we spent some time in the truck (and then at the invitation of a typical friendly Indonesian...sipping Acehnese coffee in a little shack by the ocean) talking about Islam. This particular staff member spent four years in Islamic school. He's rather devout which, honestly is quite rare amongst the people here in Aceh. Considering it is the most conservative Muslim provinces in Indo, thus far I've not seen more than a handful of Acehnese in the Mosques during salat (prayer times).

I would really appreciate prayer for him. He was born and raised here in Aceh and really has a heart for the people here. He also seems to be open to receiving the gospel. Pray that God would continue to work in his heart and surround him with Christians who are willing to speak truth in love to him.

Well David and I are getting ready to head back to the posko. I think we have another swim lesson scheduled for this evening :) Thanks so much for all your support. It is always an encouragement to read comments from all the different people who are lifting me up in prayer.

And stay tuned! I hope to get some more photos/video posted soon!

July 9, 2008

A Little on the Lighter Side

In one of my earlier posts (before we left for Indo) I wrote about things I might experience here; specifically rambutan and rupiah. And as I thought through my more recent thoughts/entries I decided I wanted to dive back into the light hearted child-like excitement for Indo that I had in previous postings.

I finally tried rambutan the other day. In case you've forgotten it's that crazy lookin' "hairy fruit" as the locals call it. Like many of the favorite fruits here in Indonesia, inside that wild outer shell is a large seed covered in a rubbery fruit. It was actually pretty darn tasty. To get to the juicy innards you have to first bite through and break off the hairy 'jacket' that encases the seed. Then you just pop the whole thing in your mouth and chew and suck until you've cleaned the fleshy goodness off from around the seed. Of course there is always the chance that you grabbed a not-so-stellar rambutan from the bunch which tends to be relatively flavorless. But in general it is a mildly sweet and typically juicy experience.

The other foreign object I wrote about was rupiah, the currency here in Indonesia. I always enjoy greeting friends that have returned from trips abroad and scoping out the cool bills and coins they bring back. So this particular experience held a special place in my heart :) The going rate for a US dollar in rupiah is about 9,100 (unless you try to exchange in can only squeeze 8,500 rupiah/dollar out of them). That tends to make the math quite interesting. After our first afternoon in Medan I wasn't sure I'd pick up on the language quickly enough to understand the pricing system. It's one thing to learn "satu, dua, tiga, empat, lima, enam..." (one, two, three, four, five, six...) But when prices are all in THOUSANDS of rupiah?!?!

Thankfully the language has come faster than I thought it might. Now a trip to the market or a conversation about annual family incomes is not quite so intimidating. The money system has actually provided a unique system by which I have been able to monitor my progress in learning the language. I can keep score in a game of badminton, bargain for a sack full of passion fruit, or even calculate and discuss rice yields and income per farmer with our lovely staff. And since the exchange rate is so excellent I'll be sure to bring home a few thousand to show and share with you all :)

A pleasant surprise I've had since my arrival here has been the motor bikes (that's Indonesian-English for dirt bikes or mopeds). The only word that can accurately (yet inadequately) describe the terrain here is "rugged". And traveling all around Aceh Jaya on dirt bikes is certainly no walk in the park. But man is it fun! I've had the opportunity recently to practice driving and let me tell you...there's no "training wheels" option available here. My first drive was from one of our paddy (rice) fields. I started it up in the choppy grass leading up to the field, traversed a nearly impossible stretch of dirt and gravel and hopped a gap between the dirt and the asphalt about 4 inches across. Even then it's not exactly smooth sailing. Huge trucks that were brought in to haul rocks and dirt out of Calang as they build new roads take their toll on the simple road that USAID built through the downtown area. The way is riddled with pot holes (and even sections of road that are simply missing...), violent bumps, unmarked detours, crazy 12 year old boys on scooters, random piles of sand and rock...I'd love to get a dirt bike when I get back to the states. It would cut down both of gas costs and my 'carbon footprint'. And the feel of the wind in your hair and the purr of the bike beneath you is so liberating! I would say that after the practice I've had here even the worst roads and trails the States have to offer would prove to be a drive in the park. And don't worry mom...I always wear a helmet :)

Well, I think that's enough for today's blog. It's been raining here all day so we've been trapped in the office with nothing to do but blog, read, and pray (oooooh sweet release. I've been longing for some good downtime like this.) So now I will go do the latter of the three.

Praise be to God that the past few days have been filled with wonderfully challenging (yet encouraging) conversations and work assignments. Tomorrow morning we chat with the country director and the Calang staff about the 'co-op' and future of FH Indonesia. So keep us in your prayers!!!