Category Archives: Major Update

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.

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.

Life Together

Even now as I sit in my room writing this update, laughter is reverberating through the dorm that I live in. I’ve enjoyed every moment with these students that I have the privilege of living life together with.

What’s in this edition:

dorm life and teacher training

We have just finished our pilot year of our new teacher training program and are excited to welcome four new students this year. The vision is to take students from undereducated villages, educate, equip, train and disciple them to be teachers, and then send them back to their villages to teach their students in the same way. Last year we had 4 students come from K-island, and just last month we added 3 from P-island and 1 from J-island. This new teacher training program has become the focus of my ministry here. Please pray for us as we build the program, and that God would open doors and guide the program in the way He desires.

visit from Mom and Dad

A huge highlight from the last month was a visit from Mom and Dad! It was great to spend time with them, live life with them, and do ministry with them for ten days. They got to meet a lot of people I work with, and we made some time to do some volcano hiking and motorbike rides through villages. Make sure to check out the photo album.

creativity

I’m passionate about creativity, and I really see it as an important part of all ministry. (If you haven’t already, watch a video about my vision of creativity.) Beginning next week, I will have the joy of teaching creativity to our 8 teachers in our new training program. Please pray for inspiration, and that God would shape them into the creative beings He created them to be.

teaching English

For the last month or so I have been teaching English to my highschoolers. We were studying Helen Keller, and I had them do a project about the Paralympics. It was great to discuss disabilities, how God created us unique and beautiful, and the many ways God uses hard circumstances for His good.

prayer requests

Here are the major prayer requests, visit my prayer & praise page to read more:

  • Pray for the development of our teacher training program
  • Pray for guidance and inspiration as I teach and live with the students in the program
  • Pray for guidance and discernment as I look at shaping my ministry over the next several months
  • Pray for our team here and the many opportunities we have to be a part of God’s work in this country

Thank you so much for joining me in the work God is doing here!

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?

 

The Nit-Grit: Smiles and Sweat

What’s in this edition:

site visits

This month I have had the opportunity of taking several visits to schools and other sites our organization works to support. It was great to spend some time with our national workers, both encouraging them and also learning from what they are doing. One highlight was visiting one of our schools that is just three years old. I was encouraged to see the energy and ambition of our national partners, as they fearlessly led this elementary school with creative teaching style and revolutionary learning techniques. I am excited for the future of this school as it continues to grow. I had the privilege of teaching 1st and 2nd grade while I was there. See the photo album here.

I also had the joy of bringing my grade 9 Bible class on a short term service trip (read about it in my post “Just Jump”). After focusing a lot on community development and leadership this year in class, it was a joy to see them translate what they had learned into practical application. They taught classes, prayer walked, and picked up trash among this tiny village up in the mountains. See the photo album here.

 

s-village

Please pray for S-Village. If you haven’t kept up with the developments of S-village, you can read the first update here and the second update here. There has been an incredible amount of spiritual warfare in this village. We have sent a national teacher from our school, but there is a lot of conflict between a majority religion teacher there and the village chiefs. The village chiefs want education, but coming out of their animistic beliefs, they are not sure which religion to follow. Please keep them in your prayers.

teacher training program

I am beyond excited to be a part of the building of our new teacher training program. This will be my focus over the next year as I not only live with our teachers in training but will also be involved in the creating of the program as a whole.

Quality teachers are the foundational element to effective Christian Education. Right now I work with a “Lab school”, that is a school we hope to model other schools after that provide quality, creative, Christian education to nationals. This year we have started a Teacher Training Program to equip teachers to train in these schools. This last year, we brought four students in from another area and enrolled them in a local University. The students went to class in the evenings and then attended specialized training given by us at our Lab School. We pay for these students to study for four years and live in our dorm (which I currently live in as well) and then they commit to teaching for four years in one of our schools (we have about 25 schools in different parts of the country). This past year was the pilot year, and I am excited to be a part of the program as we grow it into its second year next year. I am looking forward to receiving five new students next year from a different remote area.

We took the four students from this year on a field trip to celebrate them finishing exams. See the photo album here.

language learning

Thank you SO much for your prayers concerning my language learning. I had reduced my official language classes to 2/week in March, and as of last week I have finished classes altogether.  I anticipate language will be something that I will continue to learn throughout the entirety of my time here, but I am encouraged to move beyond the classroom and continue to learn from the nationals I live with and the people around me. Please continue to pray that my comprehension would increase, that I might better be able to understand those around me. That being said, while this journey of language learning has been difficult, I have had some recent breakthroughs that have been very encouraging.

this summer

I am very excited as I look ahead into the next several months. Next week I will be traveling with some of my ninth graders on a short trip to celebrate their graduation, as well as returning to the 3-year-old school I described above for their graduation. I am looking forward to spending that time with my students and continuing to deepen my relationship with them. We will also be receiving five new students into the dorm I live in (as described above).

We will also be hosting several short term teams from the US. In July, I will be doing some teacher training at our school on “Strategies for using the Internet for Resourceful and Creative Teaching”. My emphasis will be on TedEd and Skype in the Classroom, and I am really excited about the possibilities both of these options have for enhancing our creative teaching here in Southeast Asia.

In August I will be taking a trip to a site out in the “Jungle”. Just today I met with some phenomenal, innovative teachers from that same area who have a passion for providing education to their next generation of leaders. I look forward to visiting the school we already have there, as well as meeting with some other people who I hope to encourage in their endeavors to develop Christian education.

prayer requests

Here are the major prayer requests, visit my prayer & praise page to read more:

  • For S-Village (see above)
  • For the short term teams coming this summer, that God would prepare their hearts and ours, and that God would open doors for their maximal effectivity
  • For the 5 new students in our teacher training program, as well as the 4 returning students
  • That God would continue to guide us in developing our teacher training program
  • That God would continue to awaken dreams in the hearts of our students who are graduating this year
  • For our grade 12 graduates as they continue on to University
  • For safety and guidance as I continue site visits

Thanks so much for your prayer, support, and interest in all that God is doing here. It’s so exciting to be a part of, and I am so grateful that you are a part of it with me!

The Nit-Grit: Transitions

What’s in this edition:

s-village
teaching
language learning
moving forward
prayer requests

s-village

A quick update on S-village: we are sending one of our national partners to S-village for a couple of months to see if it would work for her to be a teacher there. Please pray for her as she makes the extreme transition (village life there is drastically different from city life here), and continue to pray that God would provide wisdom, discernment, and workers to send to this village. If you missed the last update, read about S-village here.

teaching

Teaching has been really fun over the last month as my students and I have gone through the books of Esther and Nehemiah and learned about what made them fantastic leaders. Recently, they were each assigned a character from the book of Esther and had to dress as their character and answer questions about what life was like for their character. Consequently, that day was my sister Joy’s birthday, so here is a short video of them in the costumes saying, “Happy Birthday Teacher Joy!”

We have spent the last few weeks preparing for a short term m-trip we are going to take to serve some schools and a mental hospital up in an area a couple of hours away. This area was affected by a volcano a couple of years ago. Please pray for the students as they prepare and that God would really work in them during the trip, opening their eyes to the immediate needs of the community around them.

I just finished teaching CPR and first aid this week and I am so proud of my students! They worked hard, studied hard, asked good questions, and are now equipped with basic CPR and first aid. It was a lot of fun for me too.

language learning

I have good news to report about language! Thank you all for your prayers. I finished formal study and will move to class just two times a week. I have truly felt God’s grace on me over just the past week or two as I have felt somewhat of a breakthrough. I’m not quite fluent but I think I’m flirting with fluency. I have been recently surprised at being able to completely understand people who just a month ago I could not even understand one word. Thanks again for the prayers, continue to pray for diligence and continued breakthroughs in eliminating language as a barrier to ministry with the wonderful people of this country.

One major blessing has been being a part of small group made up of nationals from a local church. It has brought me great joy to meet with them each week, pray, share and laugh together. This has also been a huge part of my language learning. This group is made up of people from different areas of the country who all live on this island, so we unite in a shared feeling of being outsiders in this culture yet at the same time one family in Christ.

moving forward

This month has been a month of transition and I am looking forward to the months ahead. I am currently house sitting for a family who is in the US and will be here for a few more weeks as I prepare to move into a dorm to help with our groundbreaking Teacher Training Program (read about it here). As teaching and language wrap up for this year I am really praying and thinking through what my specific role is going to look like over the next year in connection with our network of schools.

prayer requests

Here are the major prayer requests, visit my prayer & praise page to read more:

  • workers and wisdom for S-village
  • my 9th grade class’ short term m-trip
  • guidance for my specific role over the next year

Thank you for your prayers!

Is this Blessing?

I looked around at the 9 new teachers we have in town for our training this month. Many come from harsh living circumstances. Some had never been on an airplane before today. A few are no longer able to live with their families. Away from their lives and everything known for a month, they crowded into this tiny house together. Is this blessing?

I peered into the eyes of my tired, worn out students. Exhaustion seemed to consume their faces as they confronted the reality of final exams coming next week. With tests, papers and projects looming over their heads, they looked like they were ready to cave. Is this blessing?

I joined the huddle of my tired, sweaty, high school girls basketball team. I dug deep within myself to find one more encouraging speech to give after a series of losses at a tournament in our home gym. With tears running down their faces and exhaustion consuming their bodies I looked at them as I struggled to find the words to say. Is this blessing?

I saw it in slow motion. The precious 3 year old girl stumbled backwards, slamming her head on the concrete. An ocean of tears exploded out of her face as she made a mad dash for her mother. Is this blessing?

I comforted a friend as tears dampen her eyes as she details her broken relationship with her family. They are of the majority religion and have rejected her because of her claim to faith. Is this blessing?

The harsh sounds of machinery once again reverberated through my classroom as I attempted to teach my students. My fading voice was no competition against the hammering of nails and the buzzing of chainsaws. Is this blessing?

“…Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

It’s not that being poor in spirit just brings blessing. No, being poor in spirit is the blessing.

Teachers being trained to transform their communities. Students exhausted because of the incredible education they are being given. Basketball players learning the meaning of perseverance and character (they turned out winning the tournament, by the way). A little girl with the loving arms of a mother eager to embrace her. The testimony of a woman completely committed to following Jesus. The sounds of construction reverberating through my classroom as a reminder that a new teacher training center is being built on our campus. Is this blessing? Yes. This is blessing.