Category Archives: Major Update

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?

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?

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.

Did you know??

IMG_0820Did you know….

….on the island of Papua there are many schools, but more than 33% of teachers are absent every day?1

….only 46% of high school aged students in Indonesia attend school (98% in the US)?2

….only 37% of teachers in Indonesia hold proper qualifications (undergraduate degree)?3

Every single day, in villages all over this beautiful country, children eagerly run to the gates of their schools, hoping that today their teacher will come, hoping that today they will learn something. These classrooms are not just spaces for learning; these classrooms are laboratories where discipleship can take place, where future leaders can be nurtured, and where the next generation of Christian influencers are being raised up and prepared every single day.

IMG_1067If one teacher teaches 20 students, disciples them, really digs into their lives and invests in those 20 souls, and does that for 20 years, that one teacher is worth 400 souls. Every day we are training teachers to go out into villages and disciple the next generation of Christian leaders. Last week we gathered all of our students in our teacher training program and asked them two simple questions: Why are you here? What are your dreams for the future? One of my students gave this response:

“Teachers who are smart are in large supply. But teachers who are smart and who also teach with their heart are hard to find. Here, we are learning to become teachers like that: teachers who’s work hours are as long as they live, not just from 7am to 3pm.”

I can’t wait to see this group of teachers rise up to be teachers who teach with their heart: teachers who invest their entire lives into loving their students.

1 http://www.partneraid.org/blog/2012/09/06/indonesia-bringing-health-to-schools/
2 http://dds.bps.go.id/eng/aboutus.php?tabel=1&id_subyek=28
3 http://edisicetak.joglosemar.co/berita/60-persen-guru-belum-sarjana-1457.html

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.