Category Archives: Emailed Update

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

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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.

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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.

Stop Waiting. Start Doing.

What is God’s plan for me?
What did God create me to do?
What am I most passionate about?
What is that one thing that weighs heaviest on my heart, that I want to devote my life to?

IMG_4343These are all questions I pondered through college, and the days immediately following. As the days ticked by and this daunting concept called “The Rest of My Life” closed in, there was a voice that whispered in my head, Faith, you have to find these answers. Your whole life depends on them.

This past summer I was reflecting on all that God has done over the past two years since I arrived in Indonesia, and I had a stark revelation: I had already begun “The Rest of My Life”. Panic!!! No!!! I don’t have the answers to my questions yet!!!! What if I could be doing more? What if there is a cause I am more passionate about? What if I could be more strategic with my life?

But somewhere in the midst of my freakout I remembered an encounter I had with God last January. As language school came to a close, I had really been grappling with and wrestling with what my role would be here in Indonesia. I had a list of 50+ ideas, but no clarity about which direction to go. God spoke:

Stop thinking. Stop waiting. Start doing.

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It’s such a lie that we have to have ourselves, our strategy, and our plan totally figured out before we can begin “The Rest of Our Lives”. That “voice” that demanded answers was not the voice of the Spirit. But there is a Voice that says Jump off the cliff. Dare to dream. Take action. Be a part of what I’m doing in humanity. And trust Me for the parachute.

My team leader Paul writes about this in his book A Certain Risk:

God is moving across the earth in search of men and women who will dare to take the leap of faith. He is offering us the chance to rise up and actuate his dreams for our generation. You and I were born into days of adversity stirred together with unprecedented opportunity. The signs are everywhere. Our times distinguish individuals who live their faith at the edge from those who shrink back. Does your soul cry out for a faith that sets you free to voyage into the depths of God’s dreams? Do you crave a faith that drenches you with hope and breaks open the floodgates of God’s movements through you? The words on the pages ahead are written for you. Will you stare down a certain risk and take the jump? Who knows? God might be waiting on the other side.

Training teachers?? This was never even on my list of possibilities of “Things I might want to do with my life.” But I was made for this. There’s nothing more fun or fulfilling than jumping into God’s dreams and being a part of what He is accomplishing.

Stop thinking. Stop waiting. Start doing.

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Opportunities

IMG_3926Ati’s mother and sister passed away years ago. Her father deserted her. Living in a dorm with other high schoolers, Ati had all the potential in the world, but no opportunity.

6 days a week Tirta bounded through the jungle sleeping under rocks and living off of the land. Once a week he returned home for a shower. Tirta had all the potential in the world, but no opportunity.

Indah’s parents told her she was stupid and that she would never make anything of her life. The reality was that Indah had all the potential in the world, but no opportunity.

Dian dove into the river to catch some fish for dinner. He too was told by his family that he was the stupidest of his brothers. Dian had all the potential in the world, but no opportunity.

Students who once had no opportunity are coming from all over the country to join our brand new teacher training program. In four short years, these students will be sent back to their villages equipped to teach and build schools that spread God’s love to children.

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What’s Next

I am so excited about all that is happening here in Southeast Asia and I am honored to be a part of it all. I can’t believe that my 2 year commitment to serve here is already coming to a close. I will be coming back to the US in early April and I cannot wait to see you all and touch base with many of you.

IMG_4063By God’s grace I have been given the opportunity to extend my time here in Southeast Asia. I feel as if my work is only beginning, God is preparing great things for the future of this country and I have the opportunity to be a part of it. Following three months in the US, I will be returning to Southeast Asia with an indefinite commitment. Each one of you has been an important part of my journey, and an important contribution to God’s work here in Southeast Asia. Would you pray about continuing this journey with me?

I will see you soon! Looking forward to enjoying time with many of you.