Tag Archives: lifeinasia

Tirta Rides a Train

IMG_3843Tirta’s tired eyes popped open at the sound of his cell phone ringing. It wasn’t often he got a call, but as he lay in a hospital bed, he hoped it was his family calling to check on him. A smile spread across his face as he heard the comforting voice of his brother.

Tirta grew up in a tiny village far into the jungles of a remote island. When he was 12 years old he decided he wanted to go to school. Usually the journey consists of a 2 day trek through the mountains followed by a short plane ride into the Highland valley. Tirta, however, didn’t have the money for the plane ride, so he and his brothers hiked for 2 weeks up through the peaks and down through the valleys of the mountainous terrain before arriving at his small middle school. Tirta has never taken his education for granted. He worked hard through middle and high school, and upon graduation, we invited him to join our brand new teacher training program.

IMG_3868Here Tirta was, 2 months into the program, when his appendix ruptured. Thankful to be in a city with hospitals, he patiently endured the surgery to get his appendix taken out. Within just the last few years, radios had made it to his tiny village in the jungle. Someone had radioed in that Tirta was in the hospital. Not knowing any details, Tirta’s brother hurried to find cell phone service. Usually the trek to find cell phone service takes two days, but this was an emergency. Tirta’s brother didn’t stop and was able to make the trek in only 18 hours.

Relief overwhelmed his brother as Tirta reported that the appendix surgery was a success and he would soon be released from the hospital. As Tirta hung up the phone he looked up to see one of his teachers sitting beside him in the hospital. Jules leaned over to Tirta and said, “When you get well, I’ll take you to do anything you’d like. What’s your dream?” Once again a smile spread across Tirta’s face. “I want to ride a train. I’ve never seen one and I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like.” Yesterday Jules and I took the three students in our teacher training program on their first train ride. When the train pulled into the station I looked over at Harta as awe consumed his face. Tirta smiled. Kashi giggled a little. As we boarded the train, they were anxious to learn. “How do the wheels work without tires? Can you walk from car to car? What happens if one of the cars gets disconnected?” It was such a joy to experience this day along side them.

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Once in the big city, we took them to the biggest mall. They were grateful that they had learned how to use an escalator a few weeks ago because this mall had so many! They marveled at the restaurants, automatic hand dryers, and a store that only sold stuffed animals. Every time I looked over at Tirta, he was grinning from ear to ear. It was so refreshing to be reminded of the many things I take for granted. I have so much to learn from my students. Let us never forget to find joy in the ordinary.

Rain

Rainy season has come.

I was riding my motorbike in the rain the other day. It’s quite a spectacle–as soon as the drops begin to fall all of the motorbikes pull over and take out these brightly colored ponchos. I was in my bright blue poncho being pelted with raindrops on my way home. In front of me was a man on a bike, seemingly doing the same. However, I looked carefully again and noticed two little feet in pink crocs sticking out the sides of his poncho. His little girl was sitting behind him under the back of his poncho clinging to him as they raced home through waterfall coming from the sky.

(here’s a photo of a similar situation, but with TWO pairs of little feet!)

This brought a huge smile on my face. Here was this little girl completely trusting her father in every way. She could not see where they were going or what was happening around her. She was faced with two choices–she could either ride with full awareness and understanding of where they were and where they were going, but be pelted with rain and mud along the way; or she could rest safely under the protection of her father, but this would mean clinging to him and placing complete trust in him.

Sometimes this is how I feel life is here. Either I am clinging tightly to God and allowing him to direct my every move, or I’m just being pelted. There’s no in between. Unfortunately, all too many times I find I want to grab hold of the steering wheel and drive myself.

God has been teaching me patience. I so badly want to have this culture and language under my belt already so I can move on to some of the things I am hoping to do here, but as I slowly grow and learn about the language and culture, I am finding He is growing me in other ways as well.

 

Laughter

“Hallo!”

KidsI stepped off the boat into a sea of smiling faces; children, whom upon my offer of a simple high five, couldn’t help but erupt into a chorus of giggles. By the time I walked from the boat to the house we were staying at in this small village, we had a flock of beautiful smiling, laughing children following us, absolutely intrigued by the “white giants” that had just stepped into their village.

“Hallo! Hallo!” They echoed the only English word they knew. I couldn’t help but yell an excited “Hello!” back. These children were filled with such joy.

Giggles

We spent quite a bit of time just looking at each other. 25 or so smiling faces looking up at me, some with missing teeth. While I have been here for 3 weeks, my knowledge of their language is still limited. It didn’t really matter, I was speechless anyway.

Imitators“Bernyani!” I finally said. “Let’s sing!” I reached far back into my memory to recall some fun children’s songs I had learned through the years made up predominantly of motions. Words were not something we had in common, all communication would have to be nonverbal. As I jumped up and down, stuck my hands in my ears, and spun around like a total goofball, the children followed my every move.

After about 45 minutes of this, I finally collapsed on the ground, exhausted. I thought the children may just let me rest for a minute, but I was wrong. Before I knew it, I had a swarm of children who couldn’t stop laughing as they also collapsed on the grass next to me.

Imitators

Sometimes I get so frustrated with celebrities. They have so much influence, and I feel like a lot of them blow it. They could do a lot of good with their influence. I know it’s unfair, but I frequently find myself casting judgment on them.

Follow the LeaderStanding in that village, amongst those children, it dawned on me that I was suddenly that person with great influence. Those kids wouldn’t have known me from Angelina Jolie. And whatever I did, wherever I went, they would follow. What a responsibility!

Ephesians 5 lingered in my head:

“Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us.”

Just as those kids imitated my every move, we are instructed to be imitators of God. It was convicting to me just how much I could learn from these children.

Goodbye

Recap & Prayer Requests

What an incredible month it has been since my arrival! Thank you all for your prayers and support. I have spent much of this month in language school, but I have also been given the privilege of teaching a class for 9th graders at the school for Southeast Asian children. Here are some prayer requests:Sunset on Boat

  • Teaching! This is my first year as a teacher, so please pray for guidance, inspiration and creativity through my lesson planning
  • Language learning: this is a key to my ministry here, so please pray for perseverance and that it would come fairly quickly
  • The coming school year: please pray for the students and the families who are a part of our school’s family as we enter into this new school year
  • Month of Fasting: This month is the month of fasting for the majority religion in the area. Please pray for opportunities and guidance through this delicate time

I appreciate your prayers, I sure feel them.