Category Archives: Emailed Update

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.

I Can’t Help but Love Them

Her eyes were wide as she glanced over at me.  “I’m nervous,” she said. “About what?” I asked. “I have to lead the activity tonight,” she replied. I smiled and my heart couldn’t help but overflow with love for this sister of mine. Ezia is the future of this country. She’s one of our 8 university students that we are training to become, creative, innovative, phenomenal teachers. I can’t help but love her.

Jon laughs boisterously in the corner as he strums his guitar. Orphaned at a young age, he has figured out how to survive in this world on his own. He has finally found a home here, and I can’t help but love him.

Priza sits quietly and listens carefully. Her small stature is deceiving, for her heart is big and overflows with love for those around her. Her words are chosen carefully, but when she does speak, wisdom and gentleness reverberate from her heart. I can’t help but love her.

Nathan makes a face each time I enter the room. I know he hopes I will make a face in return, so we can erupt in laughter together. I do, and as we laugh, I can’t help but love him, as his smile spreads wide across his face.

“Soooooo sweeeet,” Rachel says to me. It’s her favorite English phrase. Immediately her laughter fills the air and I find myself reaching over to embrace her. I can’t help but love her.

What a privilege it is for me to live with these 8 teachers-in-training as they have dug their way into my heart. We laugh, cry, share, eat, play soccer, study and live life together. Many of them have been through circumstances beyond my imagination: loss of parents, rejection from family, poverty, and some being told that they are not smart enough or not good enough to make anything of their lives. But when I wake up to their beautiful faces each day, I find that their joy has permeated the grief, and God has truly captured their souls. I just can’t help but love them.

Movement Initiators

I’ve been living in this dorm for 6 months now. When I first moved in, there were 4 university students participating in the pilot program of our new Teacher Training Center. We have already doubled and now have 8 students in the program. The vision is to train nationals to be innovative teachers that transform the education system in this country and empower the next generation of leaders. Our hope is that the students who graduate from our schools penetrate the various domains of their society: medicine, education, arts, media, technology, church and government, with strong leadership, creative ideas, and transformational values.

Just the other day I heard someone describe Jesus as a “Movement Initiator”. Jesus was socially active in His community. He compassionately healed people. He fervently spoke truth into people’s lives. Jesus couldn’t help but love every single person he encountered, and this love initiated a movement. I am literally shaking with excitement as I think about this next generation of movement initiators God is raising up to be the future leaders of this country. Will you join me in praying for them?

 

Just Jump

Her eyes widened dramatically. “What??” she said. “Yes, plans have changed,” I replied.

We took 33 ninth graders up to a small village in the mountains on a short term m-trip. Just two weeks earlier we had broken them up into groups and told them, “You will teach 7th or 8th graders for 50 minutes. Create the most creative, imaginative lesson you can think of. See you in two weeks!” My students went to work. Resolved to create the best possible lesson they could conjure, they toiled and poured their hearts and souls into the assignment.

We made it up to the village school and the students prepared to give their lessons. “Are we teaching 7th or 8th grade?” one girl begged to know. But plans had changed, as they often do. “Eleventh grade,” I said to her. Her eyes widened dramatically. “What??” she said. “Yes, plans have changed,” I replied. These ninth graders had already taught me so much, so even though the eleventh graders would be older than them, I had no doubt they would do a great job.

“You can do it,” I said, “I know you can.” “Ok,” she said, “we’ll do it.” I stood back and watched my students excel. Their lessons were creative. The students they taught were captivated. And most of all, they loved. They loved each other, they loved their new friends. I was beaming with pride and humbled to be called their teacher.

I think my eyes frequently widen when God puts a seemingly impossible task in front of me. “What??” I say. But just as I took pleasure in the courage of my students, I think God finds that same pleasure in us when we fearlessly jump into the seemingly impossible tasks He gives us.

I was brought back to memories of my 18th birthday. My best friend and I jumped out of an airplane. It’s counterintuitive. It doesn’t make sense. And it’s pretty scary. But once I jumped out of that plane, all of my fears were released. Peace swept over me. I was exhilarated. Ironically, no one ever dies from jumping out of an airplane. People who die while skydiving do so when they hit the ground, not when they are suspended in mid air. Strange, then, that I felt relieved while I was still in mid air, despite the fact that possible danger was still to come. But I had completed the step of faith that was required of me. I was in the hands of God now.

“How did you feel teaching students who were older than you?” I asked my ninth graders. “It was scary at first,” they said, “but it was really great!” God honors our leaps of faith. He joys in our risk-taking and our courage to try something counterintuitive. And then He carries us. We just have to jump.

These past two months have provided many opportunities for new experiences. Read about recent developments in The Nit-Grit: Smiles and Sweat, check out new photos on the photos page, and be sure to read through the full list of prayer requests on my prayer & praise page. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!