New Everything

I’m experiencing an overwhelming abundance of blessings and new beginnings in my life here in Indonesia.

Locally woven traditional cloth

New Island

In July, I made the move from my long time home of Java to a smaller remote island in Eastern Indonesia. Rolling green hills, luscious waterfalls and white sandy beaches are now part of the incredible panorama I’m privileged to witness every day. This island, less developed than Java, is a hub of deeply rooted cultural traditions. Most women spend their days weaving traditional cloth while the men work the fields caring for livestock and looking after crops.

This place is incredibly beautiful, but lacking in education. Most adults are not educated beyond Elementary school, and the schools which are available are plagued by low teacher attendance and insufficient funding. This is a huge opportunity for us.

New Role

With my move to this island, comes a new role as well. Our organization started a small Christian School here 3 years ago, and we are striving to develop this school into a lab school which will plant schools in villages all over the island. So far, our school is Kindergarten-Grade 2 and has already planted 14 Christian schools in villages. We will continue adding a grade each year, God willing until our school is K-12.

Neighborhood kids join afternoon English club since they are prohibited from going to school.

Like in America, Covid-19 has significantly affected our school here. Children are not permitted to attend school in person, and connectivity challenges limit our ability to conduct school virtually. Instead, our teachers prepare learning materials for students to take home and work on during the week.

Since kids can’t come to school, we sometimes invite the kids living in the neighborhood for English club in the afternoon.

Local teacher tutors a student at our new school.

New Husband

Of all the changes, one in particular has been the greatest of all, bringing immense blessing in my life. On September 6, 2020, I married the most incredible amazing man. Erdy is native to this island and is the answer to many prayers over the years. Although Covid-19 prohibited us from celebrating our wedding day together with family in America, God still amazingly opened the way for family from all over the globe to take part in this special day. 

Watch a replay of the Wedding Livestream

Many of you have sent us greetings, participated in the Photo Booth, and were a part of this special day. We send our deep thanks and gratitude for each of you and for the congratulations, blessings, and prayers you have sent.

We thank God for technology which allowed for family to take part in this special day.

My heart overflows. We look forward to the day we are able to come to America and celebrate with you.

Reshaped and Repurposed

Disappointment happens whenever reality is not aligned with our expectations. Could God have a bigger purpose in mind?

The world is a different place.

A few weeks ago my days were filled with lesson plans, teaching, meetings and small groups. Lately my days have been filled with a new activity—making face shields for medical workers. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, our school, like other schools around the world has closed and moved to distance learning. However, just a few days in, the principal of our school initiated a project to make homemade face shields for medical workers. How? By finding unused foam puzzle mats in all of the empty classrooms, cutting them up, and assembling the shields with plastic and elastic. Pretty soon, parents from the school started donating supplies.

Brand new packs of these foam puzzle mats started pouring in from donors. So we began cutting. I love these carpets, and would love to have one in my bedroom or living room. In some ways, it broke my heart to see brand new mats being cut up with a knife. But as I cut one, I realized that I wasn’t destroying a foam mat, but rather repurposing it. This mat was created for sitting, working, playing. But now, this mat had potential to be so much more. Expectations no longer in accordance with reality.

This mat, after a painful cutting and reshaping process, would go beyond serving as a tool for sitting and playing. Rather, it would be reshaped and repurposed for something greater—protecting the faces of hard working medical workers in this time of crisis.

As I cut mats I found myself reflecting on my own life. I realized just how often this happens to us as children of God. I hold tightly to an expectation of what my life should be like—what I deserve, what I should be doing, who I want to be close to. But as we release our lives to the work of God, He very often brings us through a very painful process, with a greater purpose in mind. We feel disappointed because reality isn’t in accordance to our expectations. However, He has planned to repurpose us for something far beyond those expectations. He wants to use us to help others, and to achieve things for His Kingdom which we never could have dreamed of. We just have to be willing to be reshaped and repurposed.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

The Power of a Second

86,400.

That’s how many seconds each of us are gifted every single day. Sometimes they seem to go by so fast, like when I’m having a great conversation, eating a yummy meal, or laughing with my second graders. But sometimes these seconds can feel so slow, when I’m sitting still at a long seminar or can’t fall asleep at night.

I’ve been learning that these seconds are so valuable. Since I first arrived in Indonesia, there have been many moments while riding my motorbike through the city or the villages, I catch a glance of something or someone so interesting, so fascinating. These moments pull at my heart strings. It’s just a second, but these seconds are filled with information and meaning, pushing me to grow. A child carrying water from the river. A mom with 5 kids loaded onto her motorbike. A child running through the village with his friends

These seconds are so powerful. 

Marcus Aurelius said, “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”

86,400 opportunities every day, to be the best, most God-fearing individuals we can be. Let’s be better.

This concept has caused me to reflect on the amazing children of this country. Check out my recent video “The Power of a Second” to take a dive into the lives of Indonesian children for just 60 of these valuable seconds.

Beauty After the Storm

Rainy season here can mean big thunder, bright lightening, and massive wind. Whenever a big wind comes and knocks down a tree, I smile as everyone freaks out and I calmly remember all those memories from years of Florida hurricanes.

As March and April approach, we keep wondering, “is this the last rain of the rainy season?” A few weeks ago the afternoon approached, the sky was still bright, and I leaned over to my friend, and said “I think the sky is out of gas. No more rain this year.” Famous last words. Not even an hour later, it was suddenly dark and the biggest rain of the year began to descend on us. It was the kind of rain that hurt when the drops hit your back. 1 hour. 2 hours. 5 hours. By the time I went to bed it was still torrential downpour. I woke up in the middle of the night because it started raining in my room. 8 hours. 10 hours. Finally, after 15 hours of intense downpour, the sky was exhausted and the sun started to peek out of the clouds.

8 years in Indonesia and a lifetime in Florida I had never seen a downpour like that. Every roof in East Java was exhausted. The mops came out, and we cleaned up the evidence. But I was just waiting, because I knew what would happen the next morning. You see, after the biggest rains, the sky clears, all the smog, trash, pollution, and junk is cleared away and what’s left it just God’s beautiful creation. It’s my favorite part. The bigger the rain, the greater the view.

Sure enough, the next morning, all 3 of the volcanoes that surround our city popped out. Wow. Sometimes we even see the smoke popping out of the active volcanoes Bromo and Semeru.

After the greatest storm, comes the most incredible beauty. A theme of my life.

I’ve seen this happen over and over. God places struggles, hardships, pain, difficult people or difficult circumstances, and these are the exact things that bring growth, beauty, happiness, joy, revelation, and ultimately my closeness with Him. The greatest victories always comes after the big storm.

God’s been doing amazing things. Last year we brought 17 villagers to our city to prepare to open kindergartens in their villages and they went home and opened 8 schools which are now blessing over 200 kids who last year had no school. The communities are engaging and helping to build the schools which are so badly needed. We have brought 27 more villagers to our city to receive training and we will send them back at the beginning of April to hopefully build more schools and get more kids high quality Christian education.

We are continuing our teacher training program that is hoping to build up leaders and school builders who can ultimately be principals for new schools across Indonesia. So far we have sent 18 and this year we will send 6 more. We are strategically planting hub schools which will grow to be K-12 schools in certain cities of Indonesia that can serve as training centers for our village schools. This year in July we will open a new hub school with a few graduates of our teacher training program.

I can’t thank you enough for your prayer, your support, your love, and your investment. Today, there are kids getting an education because of you. Wow.

A few Photos

I have been learning so much from our monthly culture nights. Each month the students present about their local cultures from their various islands. This photo was from “Sumba” night.

I’m loving living with the girls in our program! This is a photo from last month of a few of the now 40 girls that live in our dormitory.

During one of the recruiting trips, I had the joy of meeting the parents and families of some of our existing students.