Category Archives: Emailed Update

Give it to Him and go to Sleep

Carrying wood up the mountain.

Last week I took a group of our teacher trainees on a hiking trip up a local mountain. The goal was just one: grow in character. With 30 students and 2 nights on the mountain, we divided into small groups to coordinate food, tents, and making sure everyone got to the top safely. I tasked each student with something specific from first aid to paying the guide. I asked one student, John, to find a machete before we left so we could cut fire wood at the campsite. John’s a quiet student who doesn’t like to draw attention to himself. He’s committed to learning anything put in front of him and works extremely hard.

As we started to hike up the mountain John approached me and confessed he wasn’t able to find a machete to bring. “Don’t worry Teacher Faith, last night I went to the woods behind the dorm a cut some wood.” I looked and slung over his shoulder was a big bag filled with chopped wood. “You’re going to carry that all the way up the mountain?” I asked. He convinced me he could do it.

Carrying wood up the mountain.

About 2 hours into our 8 hour climb to the first campsite John started to lag behind. The wood was clearly weighing him down. In my mind I kept thinking, Why not just dump it, we can get wood at the campsite. We are SURROUNDED by trees! But committed to our goal of growing character, I let John carry on. “Let me carry it”, said one of his friends. John looked relieved. Over the next 6 hours we all switched off carrying the wood up the mountain.

Our whole group at the top of Mount Welirang

While carrying that wood may have brought our group together, it felt so pointless. To walk amongst trees carrying wood. It made me reflect on my own life. How many times do I carry pointless burdens, worries, grudges that are totally unnecessary and that weigh me down? I know that God will provide for me. I know that once I overcome and conquer this mountain He will be there waiting. I know worrying just weighs me down. Yet in my own stubbornness or pride I refuse to cast off my burden to God and I carry it; slowly and painfully.

“Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)

We have a phrase in our dorm that we constantly remind each other at the end of each day: Give it to God and go to sleep. I’m learning. He’s taken care of me this far. Will I trust Him to carry me the rest of the way?

At the top of Mount Welirang. They mine sulfur here.

(click to see more photos of our hike)

Which Way?

WorldLead 2016

Last November I found myself on a plane headed for Boca Raton Community Church’s annual WorldLead conference. I truly love traveling alone, the feeling of invisibility in airports full of people, and the unique opportunity to witness people from all over the world cross paths. My first stop was Kuala Lumpur, and I was the lucky one who got to sit at the front of the plane. With only one person in front of me, I relished the chance to get off the plane quickly and beat the crowd. The person in front of me was a Malaysian, polite, and visibly well traveled. As we walked through the jet bridge into the concourse, I noticed the signs which normally indicate which way to walk were absent. As we came through, the Malaysian in front of me turned right, so I naturally followed, as did the large crowd of people behind me. The man in front of me soon after turned around in shock and quickly said “Not this way! I’m only going to the bathroom. Go left to get out of the concourse.” I paused in my tracks, looking left and right. It was unclear which way to go. Meanwhile the flocks of people continued right, following the man who was only headed for the bathroom. I considered. Do I follow the instructions of this man I don’t know, even though it goes against my initial instinct? Or do I follow the crowd, the safe option? I considered for a minute before deciding to go left, against the crowd but in line with the advice of the local Malaysian. Within minutes I began smiling to myself as I realized I had indeed made the right choice. Meanwhile flocks of people continued walking in the wrong direction.

As I sat waiting for my connecting flight I pondered and reflected on this experience I had just had. In so many ways it reflects our lives as God’s children. God rarely calls us to follow the crowd in an easy, safe manner. He is calling us to turn away from the crowd, completely trust him, and walk towards the unknown. His voice is whispering to us daily, giving us the opportunity to follow in faith or turn away.

Future Teachers

The past few months have been incredibly full but so rewarding. I was so blessed by the WorldLead assembly last month. Our oldest group of students has already begun teaching. We have made progress on opening a new school on another island. And most of all, God’s voice has been speaking to many of the students. It’s a joy and privilege to grow together with them.

Our teacher training program is growing and developing and it’s so exciting! In just a few months we will graduate and send 12 students to be teachers in remote schools all over the country. Over these next few years we are going to be sending teachers every year to be disciplers of the good news to villages everywhere, and we are only just beginning. Please pray for these teachers in training, as they step out in faith to go to the most difficult, least reached areas of this nation to bring good news and education.

A Flood to be Thankful For

13433246_10100553599080370_8755052361755025951_oAs I write this, the rain is pitter pattering outside my window. We had a HUGE rain the other day. It reminded me of the hurricanes that frequented South Florida when I was a kid. Gusty winds, palm branches blowing in the wind, but most of all, rivers of water flowing down the street. I was out on my motorbike, trying to dodge the pooling lakes and rushing currents. The rivers flowing down the street, however, weren’t streams of crystal clear water like I love to visit up in the mountains. They were dirty, muddy, filled with trash, bottles, branches and garbage of all kinds. Each river which came across my path was indecipherable—impossible to tell if it was inches or feet deep. The dirt and grime that filled the water clouded my view, and each obstacle was a risk to cross. Where did all of this trash come from?

I didn’t have much time to ponder this as I dodged the big puddles and currents, finally making my way home. As usual, however, soon after the big rain the clouds opened up and the breathtaking volcanoes appeared in the distance. The dark heavy storm always brings about the most beautiful vistas. Cascading mountain tops, white fluffy clouds, and a bright blue sky. It was a thrill to look at. I pondered back to the gushing garbage and seeping mud I had fought against just hours before. The trash, gunk and rubbish had always been there. However, it took the giant rainstorm to come and wash it out, cleaning through the streets and wiping them clean. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t pleasant (and I sure got soaked in the process!) but the result was pure beauty.

I pondered my own life. The trials, difficulty, and challenges I face each day. Some small, some big, and  as I walked in the house with my jeans sopping wet I found renewed joy in those trials and challenges. Its these challenges which bring to surface the dirt, rubbish and character issues in my own heart and life what God wants me to confront and clean out. It’s the storms and thunderstorms in my life which clean me out. It’s never fun, it’s never pleasant, but after each one the sun comes out and wow there’s always an incredible vista to be seen!

Group at BeachI know in America we generally take the month of November to be thankful, but in our dorm we designated last April as a month to really focus on gratitude. Each day we were challenged to think of at least one thing which God has given us, blessed us with, or grown in us, and thank Him for it. It was an incredibly rewarding month. Each day we practiced the discipline of gratitude, and through it, each one of us learned to make a habit out of God’s many blessings. In response to this, I wanted to take the opportunity to express some things I’m thankful for:

I’m so THANKFUL for each of you who generously donated towards my Master’s degree in Education. I’m humbled and thrilled to say that I have completed the degree, and God provided the exact amount I needed. This degree is timely as well, as it turns out I need it in order to renew my visa which is currently in process this month.

I’m so THANKFUL for ten new students who have just joined us! We are finishing up our orientation this week. They are awesome! I am thrilled to have ten new members of my Indonesian family.

New Students

I’m so THANKFUL for my chili pepper plant which sprouted this morning (yes the small things too!)

I’m thankful that God is growing us. I’m thankful for the difficult days, for the trials and challenges, for successes and victories. Let’s celebrate together how God is growing us and challenging us, flushing out the garbage, and revealing beautiful landscapes which only He can create.

Thank YOU for being a part of what God is doing here!

The Voice

518430594340A few weeks ago while visiting my hometown I got to attend the “Winterfest” basketball game at my former high school. The bright lights of the gym, the sound of the buzzer, and the chanting crowds all brought back vivid memories of when I myself played on our high school basketball team in that very same gym. It was strange to realize that it was ten years ago, but the realization of the time passed was not able to erase the wonderful memories. I looked over at the bench and there was a new coach—a dear friend and teammate whom I played with for many years. But sitting next to her was my own basketball coach, the one who mentored me and taught me to play the game.

The game was exciting, with packed bleachers and yelling fans. The screams of the fans competed with blasting music and the whole building was erupting with energy and noise. It was mid game and as my dad and I watched intently as the girls played, I noticed something. “Get back on defense!” my former coach yelled. Amidst the noise and chaos his was the only voice I heard. Yes, it had been ten years since I played on his team, but something in my mind and ears was attuned to listen to and hear his voice only. While on the team, I had trained myself to block out the yells, suggestions, and voices of the crowd and to focus on hearing the instruction of my coach.

518430514500On my way home from the game I reflected on this. How could it be that after all these years I could still clearly hear the voice of my coach? How was I able to discipline and train my mind and heart to do this? But more importantly, I began to ask myself, what voice do I listen to now? Although each of us have distinctly different lives and struggles, there is one thing we all have in common—chaos, noise, competing voices steering us between right and wrong. But is there a Voice that sticks out in the crowd? Have I trained my mind and heart to hear the most important Voice, the Voice of our Father in heaven? He is the best coach of all, guiding and leading us through each twist and turn in this life. But are we listening?

Looking for Greatness

“1 in 4 millennials think they will be famous by the time they are 25,” I heard one of my favorite speakers say while listening to a podcast this morning. Guilty, I thought to myself. Not that I thought I would be reeling in the dough, but deep down I thought maybe CNN Heroes would be knocking on my door, wanting to report to the world of how I’m changing it for the better.

Greatness.

I think we all crave it to some degree, some of us more than others. We want our lives to be worth something, for the world to look at us and go beyond acknowledging our existence, but stand up, give us a high five, and acknowledge that the hard work and fruits of our life will surely live on long after we do. But what makes greatness so great is that not all of us achieve it. But could we? Is greatness something reserved for a certain few?

If greatness means being famous, winning, receiving accolades and high-fives, or even accomplishment, then yes, it is reserved for a certain few. But what if greatness is something much bigger than that? What if greatness is not about how the world views us, but how well we live, and how well we respond to God’s call in our life?

Greatness is overcoming the fears we face.

Greatness is intentionally pursuing things which are uncomfortable and cause us to grow.

Greatness is caring for and fostering the dreams which God has planted in our hearts.

2015-10-08 06.07.53I’ve been challenged to this definition of greatness by my brothers who currently are enrolled in one of our programs called STREAM. STREAM stands for Skills TRaining in Engineering And Mechatronics. It’s a two-year, highly intense program which truly challenges each student to greatness. Teenagers are recruited from all over Indonesia with only two minimum requirements: 1) no opportunity and 2) a desire to learn. When they arrive at STREAM, every one of their possessions is taken from them. They are given a haircut, a uniform, and a wooden slab to sleep on. Students of STREAM may sleep on a mattress as soon as they can sew one themselves. Each day they wake up and work hard. They learn how to take apart a motorcycle and put it back together. They learn industrial sewing and how to make backpacks and laptop bags. They learn computer programming and engineering. They are discipled in the Word of God and are given intensive Bible training. They are each day reaching oustide of the comfortable life they always knew, and striving for greatness.

After the first year, students from STREAM go out and work for their second year in order to gain the necessary training and experience to go back to their villages and not only survive, but bring change and growth. No part of this process is comfortable. Each day students of STREAM are challenged to dig deep within to face their fears, pursue things which are incredibly challenging and uncomfortable, and respond to the dreams which God has planted in their hearts. This is true greatness.

What are you doing today to pursue greatness?

Stream 2
Students at STREAM learn Computer Science
Students at STREAM receive daily intensive discipleship and Bible Training
Students at STREAM receive daily intensive discipleship and Bible Training

Anticipation

2015-02-24 20.22.12 Do your remember when you were a kid, counting down the days until summer vacation? The anticipation was huge. Just thinking about summer vacation made your stomach tickle—it was too exciting! Some nights you lay awake dreaming of it. Tomorrow? Not yet, but soon.

I’m not sure why we lose that when we become adults. Somehow we flatline into the monotony of the day-to day, failing to feel excitement for what’s to come. That vacation in a few days, the new movie coming out, or even the delicious hot dog you know you get to eat for dinner…can you feel the anticipation and excitement??

I am living in great anticipating, an exciting day is coming and it’s just around the corner! This Saturday we have ten new students arriving from villages all over Indonesia to join our teacher training program and I just can’t wait!!! We have been preparing for them for months, searching for them, praying for them, getting everything prepared. This morning I wrote a checklist on our whiteboard in our dorm of the things we still need to do. Wash the sheets. Buy more spoons. Prepare shoe racks. Clean the house! Sometimes the many things to do can feel stressful, but it’s just a reminder to me that this life is exciting, new adventures are coming and we are growing! These ten students will be with us for four years learning, growing laughing, crying and preparing to go out and be teachers and leaders in the toughest villages in Indonesia. They will enter my heart and become a part of my family. You too will see their pictures and hear their stories.

2015-05-04 16.20.45Will you join in my excitement and anticipation, and will you join in me in praying for these ten? They are about to embark upon a journey which will not only change their own lives, but which will impact their families and villages forever. Pray that God would prepare their hears to take this big step of faith. Pray for their parents and families as they say goodbye to their students. Pray for us a we receive them, that we would be ready and that God would equip us with what we need.

Thank you so much for partnering with me as God prepares his leaders to grow his Kingdom here in Indonesia. What are you anticipating today?

Sharing a Cup of Java

My dear friends and supporters,

My students teaching me how to cook
My students teaching me how to cook.

I can’t believe how many months have flown by since the last time I sent you an update. God is so alive, moving, and as His work is moving forward. Each morning I wake up feeling overwhelmingly blessed that today I get to run alongside my Savior, follow Him, serve Him, and serve His people.

Here in Indonesia their favorite coffee is called “3in1”. It’s instant coffee mixed with dry creamer and sugar, packaged in one little packet ready to go. I must admit it’s difficult for me to call that coffee, let alone consent to swallowing it. In my office I keep an Aeropress, a most precise coffee making device which produces a delicious, aromatic, bold, smooth cup of the most delicious black liquid in the world. I’m so thankful for this device.

I love it when visitors stop by my office, but each time this happens I’m faced with this puzzling decision. Do I share my precious Starbucks beans, which I drove 3 hours on my motorbike to retrieve, and press them with my Aeropress making them a delectable cup of coffee they probably won’t even appreciate? Or do I simply stir up some 3in1, hope they don’t notice my coffee making materials, and get past the meeting? A petty question, perhaps, but questions concerning coffee can quickly become wrestles of the heart.

“And if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”

2014-12-27 10.03.06We talk so often about giving our best for God, but are we giving the best we have to those around us? “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

I’ve been so convicted lately. Am I giving my absolute best to everyone around me? Can I give more? Can I give better? What can I give today, that I didn’t give yesterday? Recently I heard a pastor say, “On this earth, the beginning is birth, and at the end is death. In between, there is only service. We can always serve God more.”

I’m challenged today. Serve more. Give more. Love more.

1 Teacher is Worth 400 Souls

Have you ever stopped to think about the people who have been instrumental in shaping you to be who you are today? The way you think, your ability to solve problems, overcome challenges, breathe creativity? I’m not sure I truly appreciated that until I came here. I’m a graphic designer, not a teacher. My first few weeks in the classroom, I felt way out of my league. What could I possibly teach my students? But I quickly realized, I had already experienced years of teachers pouring into me. The teachers in my life had already equipped me with knowledge and skills, and it was time I gave what I had back to my students.

Teachers are some of the most pivotal, instrumental influencers a child has in his or her life.

If one teacher teaches 20 students in his or her class, and that teacher teaches for 20 years, that teacher is worth 400 souls.

I’m convinced that the classroom isn’t just a place for education. No, the classroom is a laboratory for discipleship. I estimate (conservatively) that a child spends 16,800 hours between Kindergarten and 12th grade in the classroom. That’s 16,800 hours a teacher has to influence, disciple, train up, and prepare a child for his or her future.

I love what I do. Why? Because in TransformNation, our teacher development program, we are preparing, discipling, and empowering future teachers to go out into the most remote areas of Indonesia and train up the next generation of leaders. After four years of training, we send our teachers to under-resourced villages to be salt and light. Just last month, we sent the first graduates of our program out. Check out this video of our celebration of how God is transforming this nation through teachers!