Tag Archives: teachers

Wisdom to Know the Difference

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I stared at this prayer each day before I tucked into bed, pondering its deep meaning. For my 13th birthday my mom cross-stitched the prayer and hung it beautifully there for me to look at and contemplate. But what did it really mean?

For years it was always the third part of the prayer which captured my attention the most. Wisdom to know the difference. The words reverberated through my mind during my moments of failure, both small and large. A scoreless basketball game. Being rejected for a job. Financial stress. Being told by my university that they wouldn’t support me moving overseas. Wisdom to know that these are things which I must accept and which I cannot change.

A few weeks ago I found myself in the back of a pickup truck barreling through dirt roads on the island of Flores. We were on our way to visit a school, but as we got further and further from civilization I found myself struggling to accept the fact that small children would walk such distances in the rain and mud just to receive an education. As our truck tumbled up to the school, children poured out of the classrooms. Their smiling faces and joy-filled eyes distracted from the dirt caked between their toes and their mud-stained clothes. Good morning Mister! Good morning Mister! Gleeful laughter erupted from their little cliques. As I peered into their faces I allowed myself to take a moment and dream about their futures. These kids had already sacrificed so much just to get an elementary school education. Would they survive through middle school and high school? Become leaders? Become doctors, engineers, businessmen, on teachers? My heart broke as I realized the reality that for many of these kids dreams for the futures couldn’t happen because the education they needed just didn’t exist.

Wisdom to know the difference. The words rang in my head again. But this time I saw these words in a different light. Wisdom to know that I CAN DO SOMETHING. The serenity prayer immediately took on a whole new meaning to me. Instead of focusing on all of the ways I was powerless, on all of the things I needed to let go of, my eyes were suddenly opened to all the responsibility I have as a child of God. The courage to change the things I can. Bringing education for the poor. Loving the unloved. Feeding the hungry. There is just so much we can do to serve God’s children. But do we have the courage?

With this renewed ambition and excitement we have been growing out teacher training program over the last few months with the goal of getting more Christian teachers into more schools in more villages in order to influence and share the Good News with more kids.

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

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.


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.

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?