Halo dan selamat datang! Hello and Welcome!
I have decided to document the recent trip to Indonesia in June of 2016. This is both for my purpose as a journal as well as to share with those who are interested in the good work God has done. I am sharing photos, details about the trip, as well as my personal thoughts. This will be long due to the nature of the trip and all of the great things that were done. I hope you enjoy this journey as I recount the events of two weeks in Indonesia. I also hope that through this you will be inspired to draw closer to God and realize the value in helping others and loving people. If Christ laid down His life so that we may live, are we not to lay down our lives to bring that message of love, joy, and hope to those who are poor, hurting, and helpless? This is the life of a true Christian.
Our journey begins many years ago when our family decided to start child sponsorship. Before this time we lived our normal, happy lives not giving much thought to others. Sure we cared about other people, but there simply wasn’t a desire or even the idea that we needed to do anything. The first child we sponsored was in Indonesia on an Island called Sumba. Over the years our family has sponsored several children on the island of Sumba. In 2010 our father and two sisters did what none in our family had ever done, fly half way around the world to visit those children. Since then our family has been to the island three time, including the recent 2016 trip. This brings us to Monday June 6th as my two bothers, Philip and Mark, and I embark on a life changing journey that none of us will forget. To get to Indonesia is no small task, taking no less than 24 hours transit time (flight and transfers). Indonesia in on the exact opposite side of the planet with a 12-13 hour time difference from our home. With a 4 hour stop in Tokyo, Japan we arrive in Jakarta, Indonesia by midnight on Tuesday evening local time.
The first week of the trip is primarily spent on travel days getting around the country. We have several places to visit and several stops along the way due to flight schedules within the country. In total we are visiting six children, two in Medan (in northern Sumatra) and four in two different cities of Sumba Island. Once we arrive in Jakarta and get stamped into the country we stay at a hotel near the airport to get a few hours sleep before returning to the airport in the morning to continue on to Medan. Wednesday is spent flying to Medan and getting settled into the hotel that will be our base for the next couple days.
We’re in Medan for only two days before we’ll be returning to the airport to continue on our journey. We got used to moving around as we were never in one place for more than two days. For now we are able to relax. The hotel staff and are nice and friendly. At this point we were happy to finally be where we wanted to be for a couple days, but we had no idea what the next week and half would look like, who we would meet, and what it would do to us. The hotel has a nice jungle garden feel with cottage style rooms and a swimming pool.
After swimming in the pool and having dinner we prepare for the next day, it will be a full one. Tomorrow we have two visits with Mark’s sponsored children, Kartini and Yanti. They are in the same project which makes it easier to coordinate visits and allows for more time to be with the children and staff from the project. This is Mark’s first trip outside the United States and his first child visit. I know he is excited to meet the two girls he sponsors and see a new place. The next day we were served a full breakfast from the hotel staff before getting picked up by the driver who will take us to the project. When planning the trip we thought the project was south of the city which is where we were staying. After driving for awhile we discovered that the project was actually north of the city so it added time to our travel, but fortunately Medan traffic is nothing like that of Jakarta. We made it to the project in good time.
This area is near the ocean and is affected by the tide. During high tide the whole area is flooded with water. There is trash and debris all over which pollutes the water when the tide comes in. All of the homes are built on posts so they are not flooded, but this still makes for unpleasant living conditions. In the middle of this stands the church and project center. It is a nice place that is protected from the rising tide and is a place for the community children to play together, learn about God, and have an environment in which to grow mentally as well as spiritually. We arrived during low tide so most the land was dry. We went to the project first and met the staff and introduced ourselves to the children that were there. After meeting the pastor and talking to the staff it was time to visit Kartini. The three of us and some of the project staff went to Kartini’s home.
The first picture shows the community across from where Kartini lives and the second photo is Kartini’s mother in from of their home. We went inside and talked about the family, the school, and the project. We tried to get Kartini to practice some English, but she was shy. This was a common theme everywhere we went. We met many people who know some amount of English but were too shy to speak it in front of us. Once I discovered this I tried to push them a little harder because I knew they would regret not having tried.
Here Kartini is presenting mark with a gift as she did with Philip and I as well. Also here is a photo with all the family members who were present at the time. From here we went to Yanti’s home, Kartini came alone with us. At Yanti’s home we shared stories, photos, past letters that had been written and again were presented with a gifts. Below is Yanti’s home which is much further from the project center as well as the flooding area. Also pictured below is Yanti and her family. At almost every visit the father told us that we are now a part of their family and are welcome to visit anytime.
Having visited both Kartini and Yanti’s homes it was time for lunch. The three of us, the two children and our host/translator drove to KFC for some fried chicken or “ayam goreng” in Indonesian. With full bellies we headed back to the project for songs of praise and worship, special performances, games, an English practice session, and learning how the children make money to pay for school items.
We sang some songs of worship to God and it was a beautiful sound and sight to behold. The children in this project love Jesus and are the only few who attend church here. Most of the community is Muslim or some other religion. None or very few of the families here will attend church. These children are growing up to be a generation that will transform their community for Jesus. Their dream is to help improve their community and bring it up to something much better. The children make chocolates, bracelets and liquid soap to sell in the community. They use this money to purchase needed school supplies, but are hoping to raise enough to fly to Jakarta to see a spiritual father speak and meet him at a conference later this year. They oversee everything from making the products, selling, and managing the money all on their own. This was very impressive. They are well on their way to success.
We finished the visit by praying with the children for their studies, their provision, and for guidance in their dream of improving their community. Of course everyone also wanted a photo. We said our goodbyes and the driver took us back to the hotel. It was a good day and over the time we spent together it felt like we bonded well. It was almost hard to say goodbye. I wanted to go back and spend another day with them. It was at this moment in the trip that I had a great realization. These were my brothers and sister in Christ and no matter where we live, no matter how much or how little we have, we all have the same promise. There is a life after this one in which we will all meet again. Though it was hard to think about never seeing them again and though we may never meet again in this life, I cannot wait to meet them again in Heaven. This was only the beginning, this sense of togetherness and family would only get stronger in Sumba and the pain of saying goodbye increased so much more. That night one of the hotel staff made small conversation with us. During this conversation she asked us if we were Christian. She had seen us praying for our food the night before and it was a pleasant surprise to her. As in America, it is rare to see people pray over their meal. We talked more about faith and why we were in Indonesia. She seemed delighted.
We planned for an extra day in Medan for several reasons, so we decided to go on a day trip to Bukit Lawang to see the orang utan (meaning forest people). Again we had breakfast and a driver took us to the area where we joined a local guide on a 3+ hour jungle trek. We saw a mother and her baby. Another orang utan came down from the trees and took bananas from our guide, and we also saw other wildlife. This was really the only day in the whole trip we were tourists. It was a good thing to do while we were there.
Bukit Lawang was Friday, Saturday we needed to catch a plane and start making our way to Sumba Island. The hotel staff prepared breakfast boxes for us to eat on the way to the airport since we needed to leave early. Since there are no direct flights to Sumba from Medan and only one flight a day to the island we needed to fly to Depasar, Bali and stay the night. After a four hour flight from Medan to Bali we checked into the hotel and walked around town a little. We aren’t here long enough to do anything and there isn’t much of interest to us anyway. We will be stopping here again before heading back to America, but just passing through again.
The next morning we head back to the airport to board a twin-engine propeller plane to the island of Sumba, one and half hours away.
Here we have friends of our father, people we have never met, pick us up from the airport on motor bikes. Little did we know how close all of us would become over the many motor bike rides around the area. It amazes me how when people who barely know each other can bond in such a short amount of time when they come together in a common mission of spreading the gospel. It only takes a few days before you’re family and feel like you’ve known each other for a long time. Only God knows, but there has to be something spiritual in these kinds of bonds. Now that we’re on Sumba Island we won’t be flying for another week. Our travels aren’t over yet however, tomorrow we will be riding to the other side of the island for our second visit. Today is Sunday and one of the local churches has a youth service. This is PPA 660, the same project where I sponsor a child and the project of a former sponsored child who has since graduated. Here is where our ministry in Sumba begins. We are told that Philip and Mark will share their story and that I will have more time to share my story and share a lesson. I sort of expected this, but I really didn’t know what to share. I didn’t have anything prepared, but I do have a vision that I dreamed 3 years ago so I decided to share that. After some time of worship we are given the stage and Philip and Mark shared their stories. It came time for me to share. I don’t really like public speaking and am sometimes terrified to do so. I decided to make things a little more casual and have the teens form a circle with there chairs and I sit down and through the help of our translator, Iman, I shared a simplified version of the dream and what it means to us in our faith. Following the service everyone wants photos, we better get used to that. There are literally hundreds of photos with people in our future. I think Mark got more attention, mostly from the girls who were all about his age.
The first photo is with all the youth from the service and in the second are Iman (red shirt) and Mr Eky, the youth leader. The next day we got on a bus for a four ride from Waingapu, west, to the town of Waikabubak where we will visit one of Philip’s children, Melsi, and one of my children, Yandri. In this area of the island the tribal religion is still practiced heavily. Melsi’s family is the only one who attends church regularly. The children at the project attend church and the project activities, but the families do not.
The morning of the visit we are waiting for our driver, but he never showed up. We made a call to the staff and discovered a mix-up and miscommunication. They weren’t expecting us today, we are two days early! They were able to pull everyone together and we still did the visits, but lost an hour or two of visit time which is unfortunate. The first visit was to Melsi’s project and home. They are expanding her project to offer more class rooms.
Melsi presented Philip with a gift as is the custom and Philip has some gifts for her as well. The family treated us to fresh coconut water and the early jelly type fruit inside. Melsi took us to see her garden before going to lunch at a local cafe. After lunch we and Melsi went to the project where Yandi is a student. There we were greeted and gifted as usual. We looked at the project class rooms and the church. The church here is doing much better. If I remember correctly, 600 people attend church here and there are four other branch churches where the pastor also teaches. Due to the large response they are expanding the church. Praise God!
From the project we went to Yandri’s home where they greeted us with gifts. One of the gifts is their traditional clothing that is given to the bride. They said that I now had something to give to my wife, when I find one. They also prayed that I would find a wife soon. They grow a lot of fruits in this region. Papaya, jack fruit, coconut, and pomelo to name a few. Yandri’s father gathered many pomelo for us all to eat and even several for people to take with them.
Above: the photo here is with Yandri’s family, project staff, Melsi and her project staff and us, of course. The second photo is in front of the family tomb. Nearly all peoples in this area have one or more tombs where they keep the remains of their deceased relatives. It is a part of the native religion in which they believe in keeping the spirits of their ancestors close.
After visiting with the family we went to a cave waterfall to take some photos. The waterfall floods the nearby rice fields, but also serves as a place for children to wash and play.
After the waterfall we all went back to Yandi’s project and played some volleyball with the children and took photos with those who weren’t playing. The younger boys were just being silly, but I played along and they just got even more giggly. It is now the end of Tuesday June 14th and tomorrow we will take the same bus back to Waingapu where we will spend the rest of our time in Indonedia. At this point we still have one more visit day with our children, Stephani (Philip) and Aprilia (me) in Waingapu. We will also be visiting with people who were sponsored before but are no longer in the program. They have become family to us now.
Back in Waingapu, the date is now June 16th and today is our last Compassion planned visit day. First we go to Stephani’s home. She lives with her grandparents as her birth parents have left her and her siblings. At their home we are greeted and served cooked banana and sweet potatoes. The family has a small farm with horses, pigs, and a garden.
In Sumba the traditional greeting is to “kiss noses”. When we travel we try to conform to the local culture and customs so everywhere we went we would greet the locals with a nose kiss. Philip had gifts for Stephani and here he is giving her a necklace that must have made her feel so special. After speaking with the family and presenting gifts it was time to visit the project. There we were greeted by the pastor and presented with gifts of their own. The pastor was very happy and almost shocked that we greeted him with the traditional nose kiss. After visiting with the project and meeting one of the Compassion staff from Bandung we went to the harbor for a short while.
After finishing the visits with Sephani’s family, seeing her project, and spending some time at the harbor it was now time for the final visit of the trip. The last visit was to my sponsored child, Aprilia. She lives in the smallest home I have seen on any visit and I have been on nine child visits now. Her family does not own the land they live on, it is leased to them from her uncle or someone else in the family. Because of this her home is more temporary and very small with one bedroom for the whole family. Her father is ill and is not able to work as much to provide for the family. Her family raises animals to sell them. They have roosters, chickens, and one pig. They also collect sugar syrup from the trees and boil it down to sell at the local market.
Above: we are discussing letters and photos that I sent to Aprilia over the past couple years that I have sponsored her. One of my brothers saw coconuts in the trees and said something so they climbed up and knocked a few down. We didn’t want any, but they thought we did. It was good fun anyhow. After drinking the water, Aprilia spoon fed me the coconut flesh from one of them. It was a good bonding experience and I was glad to have the opportunity. After spending time visiting with Aprilia’s family we took our last photos and went to lunch and to the beach. The tide was low so we weren’t able to go swimming, but we still had fun playing with starfish and walking around.
Following our time at the beach we split up, Philip and Stephani went to her project for activities and Aprilia and I went to her project. When we arrived they were discussing technology. I could not understand what exactly they were teaching, but Iman explained a little about it as the teacher spoke. They asked me to speak about this subject in my sharing time because I am a “menguasai teknologi” or master of technology. I was happy to share about this subject, but before that it was time to prepare the tea for the children so we went to the kitchen to meet the staff there.
I shared with the children and teens how technology is a great tool, but how it can also be used in harmful ways. It can be used for learning and productivity and well as spreading the gospel, but we must guard ourselves against using it in ways that are harmful to us and our relationship with God and others. I also shared with them how I have grown in my walk with God and how we must seek God with all our hearts and make Him our greatest desire in life. There is no one more loving than Jesus. I prayed over all of the children that they may have a desire for God stirred up in their hearts and that they would have wisdom in how to use technology for the right purposes and guard against the evils. After praying for the children I presented my gifts to Aprilia in front of the class. I gave her a bible, some fruit, and a necklace. I think she wanted to cry but hid it behind her hand. As the day draws to a close we say our goodbyes, finish our last visits and return to our hotel. Our Compassion visits are now concluded, but there is still much to come.
We are still in Sumba for three and a half days and we have asked our local friends to arrange visits with other people we knew from past sponsorship and through meeting on Facebook. The days to come are packed full of fun and time of close bonding. Friday morning we wake up early and are picked up by motor bike to ride to our first visit. Here we will meet with Dari, a woman who was previously sponsored by our family and whom our father and sisters have visited before.
We talked and shared from our hearts about our experiences and how much this visit meant. I shared how Dari is a part of our family and she is our sister as we are her brothers. Our father sent a gift and card which caused tears of joy. Dari also had small gifts for us which were presented in the traditional way. Dari offered to pray for us and so after sharing that we wanted prayer for our family and personal needs we all joined together in powerful prayer to our God. I greatly appreciate Dari’s sincerity and heart in her prayers for us and our family. After taking a family photo Dari accompanied us to the next visit which is also a woman who was formerly sponsored by our family. Her name is Sandriana and she lives on a small farm.
Above: I arrived to Sandiana’s home first so in the first photo we are pictured with the young boy whose name is Joel, like our dad. We presented Sandiana with gifts of cooking oil, soaps and shampoos, laundry needs, snacks, and an American shirt. We luckily had three of these identical shirts for each of the three ladies we visited. It is only fitting since they are all our sisters. After sharing about our visits and telling Sandiana she is also our sister and a member of our family and sharing about hurts and pains there was an emotional time that demanded hugs. This is not a normal part of their custom, but I am glad that they allow for this embrace. I truly believe that human contact in an embrace in necessary in expressing our love and care for one another. Of course, Sandiana’s family presented us with gifts that they make themselves. We are now Sumbanese.
After taking many photos and saying goodbye and nose kissing all of the family it was time to leave to eat lunch and rest a little while before going to our last visit of the day. The last visit is to someone that none of us have ever met and for the three of us on the trip it was someone we had never really talked with either. Yohana is a young lady who connected with our father on Facebook after previous visits. She is living in Sumba now and has had many struggles in life and we just had to meet her and share our love and the love of Jesus with her. Later on Friday afternoon, the three of us and our motor bike drivers went to see Yohana. She lives with her grandmother and other family in the hills of Waingapu. She has a simple home, but this is the norm for all we have visited in Indonesia. We shared photos and stories from our trip with her and she shared from her heart and was very happy to meet us. I again explained to her that we have adopted her into our family as our sister. Through Jesus Christ we are all bothers and sisters, however we have made these young ladies a part of our family though we do not share the same blood or even skin color.
After visiting with Yohana, we were invited to have dinner with the family of our friend and driver, Lenny (far left above). They had plenty of food and we had second servings of everything to show that we liked it. Tomorrow is Saturday and we will go to the beach to swim and have a picnic with Dari, Sandiana, Yohana, Lenny, Iman, and some of the other locals we met. In the morning we all piled on 5 motor bikes and rode for about an hour along the coast to the beach with nasi (rice), ikan (fish), mixed vegetables and some of our pomelo for the picnic lunch. The beach was beautiful and the water was very refreshing.
The beach was a great time to bond even more and just spend time with our family away from home. Between the motor bike rides and the swimming those of us with white skin got a little sun burned, but nothing we haven’t had before. After the beach we went back to the hotel and cleaned up. From here Mark went with two of the girls from the beach to go bike riding while Philip and I went to PPA 662 where Iman mentors and teaches English. We played a form of telephone with the teens which they enjoyed very much. Afterwards we had tea with the project staff and mentors.
The next day is Sunday and our last full day before we leave Sumba and ultimately Indonesia. I think it was about this time that the thought of us leaving started it hit everyone. We had met with, visited with, shared with, cried with and prayed with so many people this place really felt like home. The people we were with, even though for only a couple days, had become like family to us. The thought of having to leave weighed heavy on my heart and was all I could think about. The next morning Iman had arranged for a car and driver to take us and the three ladies to his village church. There we would meet his pastor and family as well as the community in which he grew up. We had an opportunity to share our story and Dari, Sandriana, and Yohana shared as well. I prepared a message about being holy as God has commanded us. How we are woven together has His tabernacle, His place of dwelling and how we must conduct ourselves in right living.
After what I think was a four hour church service we went to the pastor’s house for lunch. Everywhere we have been the food has been good, though sometimes we don’t quite know what we’re eating. After lunch Iman wanted to take us to his home to meet his mother who had fallen ill. After meeting her and hearing about how she was hurting and ill we prayed for healing in her foot, stomach, and head. Jesus is the healer and we know that if we ask and pray in His name and believe that He will do it. I know that she is healed in Jesus’ name. After saying goodbye to Iman’s mother and finishing our day with the pastor and the other local villagers we drove back to the hotel. In the evening we attended the evening service at Sephani’s project, however she was not there. She was away from the city doing evangelism with her peers. After church we went and picked up Dari, Sandiana, and Yohana and headed to the harbor for fish dinner as our last night together. The girls had planned to all wear their American shirts to dinner. After sharing a nice meal together it was time to share about our time together, encourage one another and say our thanks. This was a hard time for everyone. We have grown so close to one another over the past few days that it was hard to think that we were already leaving tomorrow. There was a lot of tears and moments when it was hard to even get the words out, but we all shared about our time and wished each other well. I encouraged our new sisters to stay together and encourage and help one another in hard times. We can’t be there with them to hug them, encourage them, talk though difficult things, or pray together but they have each other now.
Monday is the last day in Sumba. Our flight is at 11:30 so we have a few hours left to spend together and say “no da da, sampai jumpa.” Da da is bye-bye and sampai jumpa means see you later. We could not say goodbye, but only “see you later.” Iman picked us up from the hotel to take us to the airport and on the way we found out that Sandiana and Yohana were already there waiting for us. They both live close and had arrived early to make sure they had as much time with us as possible. Dari and her sisters were on their way as well. We gathered at the terminal, which is very small, and checked our bags and got our boarding passes. Before we leave we wanted to see a wind powered pump at a nearby well that our dad had helped support. It was only five minutes away and we had plenty of time before we needed to leave.
We have said our final words and waved goodbye, boarded the plane and are on our way back to Bali where we will spend the next day before we leave Indonesia and return home. Leaving may have been one of the hardest things I have done. Over the past short few days we have bonded so well with not only Dari, Sandiana, and Yohana but also with our other friends on the island, Iman, Lenny, Yuyund, Ichy, and various staff at the PPA projects. When I left, I definitely left a piece of my heart there and I long to go back. During this trip I felt so much joy and love both from and for the people there. I was right at home with the children everywhere I went who had huge smiles on their faces. Every trip I’ve been on I’ve had a great compassion for the people, but this trip was different. On this trip I felt a place for me among these people, I felt like family, I felt like I belong there. After visiting many of the PPA projects and seeing the great need I felt that I could very easily come back to this place and teach English language and technology, both of which are greatly needed with globalization. On this remote island of Indonesia they don’t have immediate access to these things as other areas of the country do. I know I have a home among the people there and my prayers to God are to show me what His plan is and if there be a way to send me back to help in every way I can.
I must close this journal/report by giving all glory to Jesus. It is not I who love these people the way I do, but the love of Jesus inside me. There was a time when I did not have compassion for people, there was a time when I did not think of others. Jesus is the one who has healed my heart and filled me with a great love and compassion for people. He loves us so much and I think it pains Him more than it pains me to see people suffer and live in terrible conditions. I still cannot answer why we are born where we are, I may never know. I do know that He has given us everything and that we are to use what He has given us to touch this hurting world. To some He has given much and of them He requires much. It is up to us to use what He has given us either for ourselves or to show His love by helping others in any way we can. I cannot describe or explain how wonderful a gift God has given us in His Son Jesus. You must accept Him and surrender yourself to Him and allow Him to change you from the inside out. Only then can you truly feel His love for you and for all people. I hope that through this journal you would be so inspired to seek God, lay your life down for Him, and follow in His footsteps of loving people. This world needs people to die to themselves and follow Jesus in a way that brings life to the dying, healing to the sick, comfort to the hurting, peace to the mourning, and light to the darkness.
I leave you with two songs: Psalm (Mazmur) 139 – Shane and Shane
Praise His Name – Ashmont Hill
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