Category Archives: Emailed Update

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!

Empowering a Generation

2014-06-09 09.52.58

Last January I sat in a simple room, with bare walls. Outside the door was a line of students, all hoping to join TransformNation, our teacher training program. It’s a competitive program, and we were doing interviews of each candidate, looking for students with a heart to be leaders and empower the next generation. Shana, a quiet, but strong girl walked in. Her eyes were smiling from the moment she looked at us.  I could tell she was nervous. As we began the interview she was calm but confident in her answers. “Why do you want to be a teacher?” I asked. Tears filled her eyes. She immediately began to weep. She began to tell me about her village, high up in the mountains. When she was in elementary school, many days she would show up to school but her teachers would not. For several years of elementary school, war broke out amongst the tribes in her village, and she couldn’t attend school at all. “When I was a little girl, and my teachers didn’t show up, I promised myself I would grow up and become a teacher so I could give better than what I had,” she told us as the tears streamed down her face.

DSC_3637 (Large) (Medium)Just a few weeks ago this young girl, along with 9 others, arrived in our city as new students in TransformNation, our teacher training program. For the next four years they will train, be discipled, grow, and develop into leaders that can go back into villages just like hers, up in remote areas, where school is a privilege, and teacher attendance is a rarity.

Over this past month we also graduated our first graduates from TransformNation. These four will pioneer going out into villages all over Indonesia to be leaders, teachers and bring His love to under resourced areas. God is moving in such incredible ways through His believers here in Indonesia, I am so privileged to be a part of it.

DSC_3297 (Large) (Medium)Just last week I was in an extremely remote village. 2 hour plane ride, 5 hour car ride, and 7 hour boat ride, we arrived to this tiny place with an elementary school. The school was no bigger than a trailer, two rooms, two teachers, and 250 students. Almost the entirety of that village practices the majority religion here. As I saw the passion of the teacher, who is a follower of Him, I was so inspired. I thought back to Shana, and the 29 other teachers we have preparing to come to a place exactly like this. I can’t WAIT to see what God has prepared for them.

Volcanos, Rappelling, and Tribal Villages

  • IMG_1447On February 13, 2014 Mt. Kelud, a volcano located less than 40km away from our city, erupted. Due to favorable winds, our city did not experience any effects. Shortly after the eruption we brought several of our teachers in training into the effected area to deliver food, water, and dust masks. View the photo album here. Please continue to pray for the people of Kelud as they rebuild.

teambuilding

  • One of my highlights of the past months was a day of team building we did with our students. The day started with a series of problem solving group exercises, and ended with rappelling off of a 100ft bridge. I watched as many students learned to face and overcome their fears, grow in leadership, and depend on one another for help. Click here to view the photo album.
  • papuaThis fall we will graduate three students from our teacher training program, and they will go out to villages in Indonesia and become teachers who teach with heart. Over this past month I had the privilege of taking these three teachers in training to a remote village to see what their life is going to look like next year. It was a joy for me to walk alongside them as we grew and learned together. Check out the photo album here, and watch this amazing video of our experience of a new school being opened in the middle of a very remote village.

Live Well

Have you ever had one of those days where you woke up and the whole day seemed to be against you? Your alarm didn’t go off, your coffee maker was broken, and already the day seemed to have more problems running at you than you’re ready to face.

The thing is, life is just a series of problems. How well you live is how well you respond to them.

IMG_0010_smThis past Christmas was the first Christmas most of our students in our teacher training program spent away from home. My eyes popped wide open at 4am. The house was quiet but Christmas lights dimly lit the living room and I curled up on the couch thinking through all that God has done over the last year. Last Christmas there were only 7 students in our program. This year, with 18, I just couldn’t believe the amount of fast growth that has occurred. As I sat there sipping my coffee, I wondered what new students would enter my life in this coming year, capturing my heart.

The girls slowly woke up and I saw them start to peak their sleepy heads outside of their doors. I knew today would be difficult–we all missed our families dearly today. How would they choose to respond? My own family had sent presents from America for each girl, and the squealed with delight as I handed them a little bit of love from America. Many had never opened a present on Christmas morning before.

1237079_985237559440_1458190457_n

As I look back over 2013 I’m so grateful for the many problems and challenges that I faced–from my visa, students in the hospital, support raising, to relationships, each challenge was an opportunity to respond and an opportunity to live well. And while I know I failed many times, I look forward to 2014 knowing there will be many problems and challenges to come–more opportunities.

In just two weeks I will be bringing a few students to the eastern most island of West Papua in order to visit some schools and build some relationships with some people there. This is a pretty expensive trip that I have been trying to take for a long time now. Please pray for my team and I as I lead this trip.

This week our students finish their semester one final exams, and in the coming weeks will begin semester two at their university. Please pray for them as they continue their studies.

2014-01-04 18.30.55Over the next few weeks and months we will be recruiting a group of students to admit into our teacher training program beginning this summer. Please pray for wisdom, guidance, and direction as we choose our future students.

This morning I woke up to a pile of wood cravings near my bathroom door. The termites are back. The hot water heater wouldn’t turn on, so I dragged myself into the cold shower. How well will I choose to live today? I asked myself. The choice is mine. Every problem is an opportunity. How well I live is how well I respond to them.

They Call Me Mom

IMG_4163Sudah menikah? Berapa anak?

These are two of the first questions I learned in language school when I moved to Indonesia just two years ago. They are important questions when making small talk with someone you’ve just met.

Are you married? How many children do you have?

I never would have dreamed when I first moved here that just two years later, at the age of 25 I would answer, “Eleven! I have eleven daughters!” But every morning, at 5:30, I wake to the sounds of my daughters bustling around the house, cooking breakfast, washing their clothes getting ready for their day. Today, they are one step closer to becoming a teacher. And today, they are one step closer to changing the world.

IMG_4209We just recently opened our second dorm as a part of our teacher training program. This dorm is my new home, and these girls call me mom. As we sat in a circle that first night, after a busy day of moving and getting settled, I couldn’t help but smile as I looked around the room at each of their faces. Each one had a sparkle in her eye. Each one was ready to learn. Each one was now a part of my family.

A few days into my new role as mom I was feeling a little exhausted. I went from having zero children to having eleven! I walked out of my room one morning with my hair mangled, my eyes barely open. But as I opened my door, my soul was instantly given life. Hati was in the living room teaching Risa and Sati to dance. Elti was in the kitchen teaching Ati how to cook breakfast. Tia and Sara were washing clothes together out back. The girls froze and looked over at me, wondering if they were in trouble for dancing in the living room or making too much noise. But such joy spread across my face, and we all burst out laughing together.

IMG_4159Just last week 9 of my daughters started freshman orientation at a university that we partner with in our city. “Mom I’m so nervous!” Ati said to me. I peered into her eyes, the most gorgeous eyes I have ever seen. Ati’s mother died years ago and her father deserted her. I knew it was a miracle that she had found our program. But I also knew she was born to be a teacher. She is a teacher to every person she interacts with, and is daily selflessly pouring into those around her. “You’ll do great,” I said to her, giving her a kiss on the forehead.

As I peer in to the eyes of each of my daughters, I know I am peering into the eyes of the future. These girls are going to impact this country. These girls are going to go out to schools all over Indonesia and transform them. The children are ready, and waiting. Today, I get to live life alongside some child’s future teacher.