Sunday, June 28, 2015

He has a plan.

Hello.  This is John writing this post to get you up to date on what has been going on here as we continue with our trip.  First off we want to say thanks for your continued prayers during our trip and how blessed we have been on the trip so far by our Lord.  There have been no major illnesses or issues and we can see the Lord working here in both those we are serving and in our team itself.  Please keep those prayers coming!
The last few days have been filled with visits to orphanages, cultural experiences and attending church here, which included Pastor Brett preaching the Word to the congregation.  It was an excellent worship time and several of our talented singers from the team were able to help lead our singing in the service.  It was so great to be able to worship together with believers from so many other parts of the world. 
The story I would like to share with you today is one that is new to Kathi and I and one that I feel shows how Christ is working here in Indonesia.  I believe that it also illustrates why having a team come and serve here is so important to that work.
Two days ago we visited an orphanage that we had never been to but had discovered as we drove past it several times last year on our trip here.  We did not know anything about it but we were intrigued when we saw the simple wood shack with a tin roof that had a sign signifying it as an orphanage.  It looked like it was in bad shape and that it could surely use some outside assistance. 
It is amazing how God works in our lives to make things happen.  There is no doubt in my mind that he has called us to help, even in a small way, this orphanage.  It can only be through his guidance and direction that we could be connected to this place. 
On our very first night in the city I was shuttling some of our 54 pieces of luggage from one house to another by car and there was a friend of ours who lives here who had come to visit.  He went on my last shuttle run as he was going to leave right after as it was getting late and he needed to get home.  As we grabbed the last of the suitcases we needed I went to go turn the car on and the battery was dead.  Since AAA is not an option here in Indo and it was about 9 PM I had to call a local friend to come and give us a jump.  This meant my friend and I would have to spend about an hour sitting there doing nothing but visiting while we waited. 
As we sat there and caught up on each other’s lives he told me about an orphanage that he and his family had just started supporting and when he described where it was at I knew it was the one we had seen last year.  My heart leapt with excitement as I knew that this could only be from the Lord.  What is even more amazing is the story he told me of how this orphanage came into existence.
It seems that the orphanage was started when a couple from another part of the island came to this city to be in a partnership with a Christian organization who was working here.  They were basically tabbed to run this place with the assistance and backing of this group.  When they arrived here the organization and individuals they had been dealing with were gone; as in nowhere around.  They had packed up and left the country without ever telling this couple. 
The husband talked to his wife and told her they needed to go back to their old city and try to continue their life there.  His wife asked him if they had moved here to follow this organization or to follow the Lord’s calling.  When faced with that sobering question they decided to stay on and start this orphanage.  They had no means of support other than their faith.  They have since taken in 20 children who live in this shack with the tin roof that leaks when it rains and heats up like an oven when it is hot.  Since those are the only two types of weather here you can imagine what that is like.
As we approached the orphanage the other day one of the comments which came jokingly from one of our students was, “I want to stay in the car.  This place looks scary!”  Not only is it a shack but it is basically in a parking lot of dirt with no green space at all.  It was very sketchy looking to say the least. 

As we all got out to go inside we could see right away that they took pride in their building and the children’s appearance.  The rooms were made of scraps of wood, which had been slapped together to create several sleeping areas.  The orphanage director and his wife stay in this place with the children as this is there home too.  The floors were swept clean and there was a small library.  Even the kitchen was clean.  We were all floored when we say how proud they were of this little place.  They kept it so well and all of the kids were clean. 
Each of the children introduced themselves in English, and told us their name, age, hobby and ambition.  Some wanted to be doctors, some teachers, some futbol players and even a few pastors mixed in there.  Each of them attend school and are working on getting an education so they can have a life after their time there. 
After we had introduced ourselves, played some games outside with them and given them some new soccer balls, backpacks and jerseys that were donated from the States we had a prayer.  It was here where the director asked us to pray for their rent, which is due at the end of July.  He did not ask us for money or anything else.  He has faith that God would take care of the details and that all would work out in His perfect timing.  He was so humble and so caring.  You could tell he and his wife were all about the children and their walk with Christ and not at all about themselves. 
This is one of the many ways God has shown his mercy and love to us on this trip. Showing us these people who have nothing but are giving anything they do have to serve Christ is amazing to us.  It puts a lot of our own material wants and goals into perspective.  It also shows us that we have a long way to go in order to have a true servant heart. 
My prayer is that we can be even better servants of Christ; showing His love to others in Indonesia but also to those back home.  To do so with humility and thoughtfulness of putting others before ourselves.  I also pray that this orphanage would be able to come up with the full amount of their rent so that they could stay in this place for another year. 
Thank you again for your prayers and we hope you are enjoying seeing the updates and pictures. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Yesterday afternoon we headed to an orphanage that the team visited once before last year. It was a bit longer of a drive into a more rural part of the country. The countryside was absolutely beautiful, lush and green like we only have in the spring back home. When we walked up to the orphanage we were warmly greeted by a crowd of smiling faces. All of the little kids grabbed our hands and pulled them to their foreheads, their form of a handshake kinda. It was really sweet.
     We entered the building, a large church with yellowed stain glass windows and lazy fans. The kids got out their plastic patio chairs and set them out facing us. Then the kids sang to us several loud, lively, and loudly songs in Bahasa. The joy in their faces struck me, they clapped and raised their arms, just so happy. It was so amazing to see people of all different kinds praising the same God together, in different languages and different styles, but still the same wonderful God.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

First Full Day in Indonesia

Hi, we’re Corina and Hannah and we’re sharing our two perspectives on our first full day in Indonesia. Between sorting bags, visiting Insan Permata, introducing ourselves to the Indonesian culture, and overcoming jetlag, we had a busy day.
As our driver took the van down a narrow street, the returnees simply can’t wait another minute to arrive at the orphanage. The rest of us in the van are here for the first time, and are filled with excitement- yet unsure what to expect. When we drive up to the gates, the kids are already there waiting, and we are received by hugs and huge smiles. The yard becomes a commotion of reunions and introductions. Once the craziness dies down, we start activities with the kids. The orphanage is not large enough to hold our whole group and the kids, so we spread out. Duct tape “roads” for toy cars are set up outside, and an obstacle course is made out of streamers inside. With such simple toys, the kids are content. This encompasses their whole attitude- happiness and contentment with the little they have. There is a range of ages at the orphanage, from Gabriel at 9 months to Indah who is almost 17. While one girl immediately grabbed my hand and held it, others take longer to warm up. These are the kids that somehow break your heart, steal it, and fill it all at once.
After we gave lots of goodbyes and hugs at the orphanage we headed back to the Chevron Camp for a late lunch. Next we were off to Mall Ciputra. Driving through the streets of Pekanbaru, the city of over a million we are in, gave us a great glimpse into the culture of Indonesia. The city is raw, there isn’t the orderliness or precision we find in America. Nice buildings are next to shacks and motorcycles seem to weave in between everything. The Chevron camp is out a ways from the heart of the city so it was about a half hour drive to the mall. Our mission from John and Kathi when we reached the mall was to split up into groups and find the best “white elephant” gift.  We explored the mall where a large group of Americans were an unusual sight for the Indonesian shoppers. We enjoyed getting to be celebrities for a couple hours. While there were some weird things and clothes we discovered in the mall, we realized that the Indonesian people are not that different from us at all. They may speak a different language but they go through their days doing the same things we do and experiencing the same daily struggles and victories, just in a different context than us.
Random gifts in hand we all piled back into the cars and returned to Chevron camp. We were welcomed back by the visit of a troop of monkeys who were scurrying around in the trees across from our houses. Lots of picture taking, admiration, and laughter ensued as we realized they had gotten into the garbage and were now eating the bread that had been thrown out. After they all scampered off we were brought Indonesian take-out for dinner. The take-out consisted of rice, vegetables, chicken, and fried soybeans and tofu, a delicious or not so good combination depending on who you talk to. A friend of John and Kathi's

in Pekanbaru wrapped our busy day up for us by talking about the wonderful opportunity we have in our time in Indonesia to show God’s love and let him work in us. Today whether this was our first day in Indonesia or our third year we all were able to begin to grasp and fall in love with the culture of this country we will be calling home for the next week.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

We Made it to Singapore

Hey it’s Susanna again, and we are in Indonesia!!! It was a really long journey but safe. We flew out of SeaTac around 7:00 PM on June 19th, our flight was delayed some but that was all right since we had a long layover in San Francisco. Then from San Francisco we flew to Hong Kong. That was a super long flight. I would never wish 14 hours of being on an airplane on anyone! Then we flew to Singapore.

Singapore was amazing. In the afternoon we took a double decker tour bus with an open top down to the marina and rode on the giant Ferris wheel. It is near the water’s edge and very tall so we got a panoramic view of the city. It was absolutely beautiful. To one side was the ocean, full of huge ships. All around on land was buildings, everywhere they could fit them, and all different kinds.  

After the Ferris wheel we got back on the bus and took a very long route back to our hotel. It was awesome though because we got to see a lot of the city. The thing that struck me was how green it is. Trees line the streets, big green jungle-y things that bring so much color into the place. When we took the bus in the evening we could hear hundreds of birds chirping loudly above us on one street especially. Fortunately no one got splattered!

Singapore is filled with malls. In fact our hotel was connected to a mall and we ate at the food court. I think it’s because land is so expensive so they build the buildings really high and put all their stores in there. It was weird seeing grocery stores in the mall and not seeing stand-alone stores.

Yesterday we went to the zoo first thing. The Singapore Zoo is amazing. I can’t stop using that word! We didn’t have a lot of time and it’s a large zoo but we hustled and saw a lot of it. My personal favorite was the white tigers. They were absolutely gorgeous.  The funny thing was that they acted just like house cats do, sleepily yawning and walking around fuzzily after naps.

After the zoo we got our stuff from the hotel and headed for the airport.  The flight to Pekanbaru was only about 45 minutes so that was really nice. God is so good: everything went smoothly and quickly at immigration!  We have 28 people on the team so we all expected much more of a wait.

Please praise God with us that we had a safe journey and most of our things came along undamaged. Pray for the orphanage and the people of Indonesia, that their hearts will become open to God. Also pray for our team, that we would be courageous and strong in Christ. Thank you for supporting our team!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Let the adventure begin!

Hi! This is Susanna, a junior going on the trip. We are so close to taking off! Everyone is buzzing around, taking care of last minute details and packing up. It’s hard to believe that we leave the day after tomorrow, and that this is really happening. After months of planning, preparation, and prayer, our trip is here!
One of the hardest parts of getting ready for me was not over packing. So many times I thought, What if…?, which lead to a mountain of junk I would have never needed, and  that I had to whittle down. Essentially, we are camping in a teacher family’s house. So of course, the necessary items such as air mattresses and light sleeping bags were squeezed in along our clothes, resulting in a need for creative packing methods. All my socks are stuffed in a drinking glass.
It’s been interesting packing for a Muslim county, especially since I’ve never been to one. We girls are bringing along head scarves and long sleeves, but for most of the time t-shirts and shorts will be just fine. I am very excited to meet new people and experience a totally different culture, but also very nervous. Will I say the wrong thing? Unknowingly offend someone? Experience an awkward language barrier? Most likely, but I would rather make a mistake than never step out on a limb. When we allow God to take us out of our comfort zones, amazing things will happen. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
That comforts me a lot. We don’t have to struggle through life alone. Life will still be a struggle, but what joy it is to have Jesus with us!
I am so excited to see how God uses our trip to reach Indonesia! I earnestly believe that God is going to do something great. This is going to be an adventure for the books, folks. Not everyone can go on a mission trip, or donate money, or items, but everyone can pray. Please keep us in your prayers and hearts for the next two weeks. It really means a lot to God, and us.
The blog will be updated throughout the trip so check back every day or so to get the scoop!