Saturday, December 1, 2012


“We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them.” As this time in Southeast Asia has now come to a close I am greatly reminded that this life is but a blink of an eye in the eyes of our Father. As He is the holder of time it is but a breath that we exist on this earth; may it be used for His glory. As recently stated by a wonderful friend, our hope is that “Glimmer of light will dawn in the darkness.” As the only way to the Father, our desire is for the name of the Son to be made known. Filling the mountains, rice fields and shorelines of Southeast Asia exist numerous kinds of people with many different systems of belief. I have been honored to proclaim Truth among these that had never heard before. In addition, I rejoice to have experienced a glimpse of eternity as numerous tongues bowed their knees together before the One True King.

I struggle to fully put into words those things in which I have seen and learned in this place. As I reflect and consider the past six months, I can’t help but notice that great differences exist between the society in 
which I have come from and the 
one I have recently lived in. These differences not only exist spiritually but rather incorporate one’s entire way of life. Buildings are different, landscape if different. Food is different and people are different. This past week, lining the streets of our city for hours were motorcycles and vehicles. Hoping that gas would come to the gas station, people napped on the side of the road until the lines moved forward by only a few meters. The same day the shortage of gas broke out, a citywide power outage occurred. As we were in the middle of our church service, we continued by flashlights. But yet the believers weren’t moved by such an inconvenience. However, the power outage created chaos through intersections as traffic lights no longer worked. It became a free for all game to make it through traffic. Even seeing with my own eyes the trials that come with such circumstances it is inconceivable that a society can operate under such conditions. 
It truly is the Son that makes the greatest difference in one’s life. These issues are minimal in comparison to the veiled souls that are present here and therefore I am reminded of the following verse, “Who have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Paul teaches that we are to help the poor and the poor is what has been made visible to me while in Southeast Asia. What I consider to be my worth has been challenged in this place. I am grateful for these many opportunities that have caused me to rely on Him in ways I would otherwise choose not to.

As we finish our last days here we will celebrate our time in Southeast Asia alongside our friends at the KITA English Club as well as with our weekly home gathering. As they have prepared going away gatherings for us, I ask that you remember these moments, as they could be furthered opportunities to proclaim good news. Please also remember the workers that are remaining after our departure. They are continuing efforts that are only possible through the petitions offered by those of like-mind.

I thank you for your continued support for Rebekah and I. I can truly say that we have coveted your prayers and are forever grateful for those intercessions made on our behalf. During our time here I have learned much with the greatest lesson being revealed truth regarding the character of the Son. I look forward to the next phase of opportunity the Father has prepared for me. However, as we now transition back to the U.S.A., I look forward to hearing of the events that have taken place in the lives of those back home. Thank you for your love and support.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Advocate

John beautifully describes the Son as “the Advocate of the Father, the Righteous One.” Throughout his writings, He characterizes those who belong to the enemy as ones who do not acknowledge the Word in the Flesh as the Son. As I began to ponder the meaning of these words I became grieved. Our presence in this country has made this passage become so much more real to me as the majority of people we see on a daily basis are of the majority religion…followers of a doctrine that refuses to acknowledge Him as the Son but rather, simply as a prophet. I believe it is difficult to view fellow mankind in such a light, as ones belonging to the enemy. The ramifications of such a theory is beyond human understanding. However, our recognition of the greatness of the King should outweigh our compassion for people and therefore I ask that my gaze may be fixed on Him so that I may run with endurance towards the ultimate prize of eternal worship. It is through Him alone that life is given. Although, I am prone to wander, He is faithful.

I have learned much regarding the importance for edification among the devoted believers. All throughout the Book the authors speak of brotherly love and encouragement. His greatest command to His followers is to love one another. Peter writes that no prophecy is given by man but is actually given from the Father through the Spirit. Men are simply the chosen messengers. Therefore, we can trust that the instructions of love that has been given to us are unvarnished.
In addition, Paul encourages his readers to renew their minds in the things of above. All of the examples he gives on how to do so directly involves relations with other people. He provides instruction to not become prideful, to bless those who curse us, to weep with those who are weeping and rejoice when they rejoice. He says to not repay others for their evil deeds but rather to live in peace with one another. He writes, Beloved, let love be genuine. Paul suggests that service to Him is done through our behavior towards others. Therefore, let us encourage one another in the Spirit with brotherly love and joyfully bring that service before Him as a fragrant aroma. 
I just turned 22 years old! I was extremely blessed by my family and friends back in the States as well as my new friends in this place. I believe the Father placed much thankfulness in my heart as He did not have to give to me but yet He chose to extend blessings to me from others. I am grateful. Rebekah made me homemade cinnamon rolls for my breakfast…delicious! She and I joined one of our national friends in an effort to speak His name. Rebekah, our roommate Rachel, our closest national friend and I had a picnic lunch on the Indian Ocean to celebrate with one another. It was a profitable and enjoyable time in one another’s company.  
We then celebrated together with all of our friends at the English club. It is cultural for the birthday person to treat their friends as opposed to being treated. My parents, knowing this tidbit, prepared a plethora of events, games and American snacks to treat our friends here. They delivered the items when they visited back in September. I think it has been one of the most enjoyable English club sessions we have had yet. It was a joy to see our friends enjoying one another in such ways. I finished the day with a fantastic meal at our supervisor’s house. I know that my team and wonderful partner put much thought into my birthday and so I am thankful for their efforts. Also, those closest to me at home made an attempt to celebrate on my behalf and for them also I am extremely thankful. I love you family and friends.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

His Grace Abounds

As I mentioned in my previous post, our home gathering, consisting of both foreigners and nationals, hosted an event for those of like-mind. The goal of the event was to share Paul’s idea of “entrusting to faithful men, the things which we have heard in the presence of many witnesses, so that those men may be able to teach others also.” It was a two-day process where we first began by offering an explanation of the Word and how to present it to others. Day two was an opportunity to put into practice the concepts learned from day one. I rejoice in sharing with you that during this time, not only did nationals rise to the task but also one actually came to believe during this time! Immediately following her belief, we had a ceremony where she was immersed. It was filled with singing and fellowship. A national friend is now going to start the process of continually meeting with this new sister to continue in His teachings. He is good as “The things that are impossible with people are possible with Him.” To Him be the glory forever and ever!

Rebekah and I have been continuing in our efforts at the English Club. We are excited to announce that the club is currently in the process of hiring a national to take over the leadership position. We will introduce our newly hired worker next week at our regular session. I am thankful for the continued relations that our Father has blessed us with through this club. We will soon be hosting in our home a craft day for all the ladies that attend. I ask that you remember this time that it may bring honor and glory to the Deserving One.

Rebekah and I drive a shared motorcycle as our means of transportation. I love it! Most times this serves as a great stress reliever for me as well as excitement as I enjoy riding. However it also provides challenges, as we have had to learn to be creative in transporting groceries back home and learning how to not get wet, as we have now entered the rainy season, which brings rain on a daily basis. Often times torrential downpours will come at random points throughout the day so we have had to learn how to be prepared for such occasions. Some times we get caught in them while other times it simply delays our plans. However, the other day we were leaving our team leader’s house to head home. On the way our tire became flat and fell off the rim. We called our team leader and he told us about a repair shop just down the road. Thankfully he knew the workers and so he called ahead of time to tell them of our situation. It was a blessing that our team leader has friends throughout the village that were willing to help on a moment’s notice. I am grateful for his good reputation among our people. So, we rolled the bike down the hill, around the curve and to the shop where the gentlemen immediately began to work on the motorcycle. As soon as we made it under the bamboo roof, the greatest rainstorm we have experienced up to this point came. We sat under the roof as our motorcycle was being fixed, got our Books out of our bags and enjoyed a nice read as we watched the rain come down. Thankful to the Father that we made it to the shop just before it hit, we enjoyed the beauty of His presence in such a way. However, above is our attempt to combat the rainy season of Southeast Asia.

Idul Adha

“The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the messenger of the Most High; for you will go on before Him to prepare His ways; to give to His people the knowledge of grace by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of Him, with which the sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”      
This past week completed the celebration of a national holiday, Idul Adha. Remembered by thousands all over the world, Idul Adha goes well beyond the country in which Rebekah and I live, making it an event on a much larger scale than the glimpse we were able to see here. Idul Adha is the day where majority religion followers commemorate the sacrifice of Abraham. For those who are financially able, typically a cow, water buffalo or goat is purchased. The animal is slain and the meat is given to the poor. Some say that the act of the sacrifice actually offers forgiveness of sins whereas others say that it is simply a time of remembrance. However, it is not Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac that is being remembered but his willingness to sacrifice Ishmael. This creates a huge difference between the majority religion and the faith in which I belong.
Many invitations were extended to us to watch the killing of the animal. However, in the opportunity given to us to watch the sacrifice, it was important to me that those who saw us watching would not confuse us as ones participating. This distinction was made as a community leader approached us, welcoming us to the event. He welcomed us with a majority religion greeting that is the same worldwide for it’s followers. Instead of replying with the typical response, I smiled but shook my head. He commented that he understood but that we were still welcome to watch the sacrifice. My roommate also had an opportunity to explain that we were not of the majority religion but simply ones who wished to observe. I was thankful for this correspondence as it separated us from the rest of those in the crowd but still allowed us an opportunity to be present.    
            Aside from watching deer being gutted during hunting season in the States, this was my first experience of such a bloody event. The sacrifice begins by tying the animal’s hooves together and attaching them to a board. Then a 3-4 foot hole is dug in the ground to catch the pool of blood that is to spill once the throat is slit. After such preparations are made, the animal is then sprinkled with holy water and the men of the majority religion chant Arabic words from their holy book. The parts of the animal that spilled into the pool of blood was collected in banana leaves and taken elsewhere. The meat was gathered and given to many throughout the neighborhood, including my roommates and I. This gift became an opportunity for us to consider Paul’s advice regarding whether or not to eat meat that has been offered to other gods. Once the killing was complete, a woman took off her sandals and came to dip her bare feet in the hole filled with blood. She did this, as she believed it would offer her healing through cleansing properties. This was very sobering to observe as it was the wrong powers she was seeking. (Below I have posted a picture of the sacrifice. If you do not wish to see such a gruesome image then please do not scroll past the last words posted on this page. Two more paragraphs are below.) 
            “And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will His blood, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to the Father, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living One? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by the messenger to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant which He commanded you. And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For He did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of the Father for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so He also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for redemption without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
     “But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of the Son once for all.” Therefore, because of His sacrifice on our behalf he has said, “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of Him rather than burnt offerings.”
      I do not believe that I have the proper words to say regarding such an event as Idul Adha. It has created such a visual for the numerous in the world who have yet to experience true grace offered through already spilled blood. It is for this reason that as written above I choose not to use my own words but rather the words already spoken.



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Continued Refinement

     For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family, both above and here on earth, is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that the Son may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all those who believe what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of him that surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of him. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him is glory in the body and in the Son throughout all generations, forever and ever. So be it. As the Father continually reveals Himself, challenges, trials, and great joy are offered. It is through this process that understanding of His character is deepened and rest is brought. It is a difficult yet beautiful process that requires those who follow Him to do so with great diligence and faith. It is only because of His grace that I even have my being.

We have begun to notice changes in our time and efforts here in Southeast Asia. We are currently transitioning from the dry season to the wet season. This typically includes a few rain showers everyday. Some are heavy downpours while others are light sprinkles. It also means that we are experiencing mati lampu on a daily basis. This translates to power outage. We are learning how to keep things charged at all times so that when the electricity is out we are still able to use them. For example, our well is dry so we have a pump attached to the house that runs to a large container in our backyard. We must run the pump each night in order to ensure enough water for the next day’s activities such as laundry, showering, dish washing, etc. If the power is out then we are unable to run the pump as it is powered by electricity. The only exception to this is our floor fans. When the power is out it simply means no airflow, even if it is the heat of the day. Mati lampu has also taught us how to enjoy dinner by candlelight. It has provided for fun moments in the house. 
However, we have greatly noticed other changes as well. These changes are the most important and the reason as to why we are willing to allow other changes, such as the one mentioned above, to refine us. Through the work of our Father, we have begun to see hearts softened and trust built. Friendships have continued and sharing has increased. We have been given opportunities both through friends we have established a relationship with over the course of our time in country as well as with people that we have intentionally met for the first time. I am encouraged during these moments but also must take into account that there is not any good that will come from myself but rather the working and drawing of the spirit. This serves as the ultimatum. This weekend we are gathering with several like-minded nationals. We will discuss Paul’s idea of teaching others so that they may in return teach others. I ask that you remember this time and thank you for doing so.

A local majority religion university recently held a day event on how to better one’s English. My supervisor and I went as guest speakers. We were asked to inform the first semester (Freshmen) students on how they can become better English speakers throughout their university career. The event took place at a local outdoor recreation center. The students rotated through events of recreation such as rope climbing and through various presentations. We were one of these rotated presentations. The Father provided us with an opportunity to share as we presented opportunities on bettering one’s English. For this I am thankful. At the end of our presentation, we were invited to participate in some of the outdoor activities. We chose to zip-line. Both my supervisor and I were secured in our own harness, climbed up a knotted rope net, made our way around a tree, walked across a swinging bamboo bridge, walked around another tree and then were attached to the zip-line device. After asking if I was ready, the outdoor center’s worker counted to three and then pushed me off of the platform I was standing on into midair to rush over a swampy lake that rested below. It was thrilling! After, safely making it to the bottom, I was detached from my harness and my supervisor and I began the climb back up to the main campground of the center.

 This past week my roommate, Rachel, and I went with a national friend to a traditional dance class of a local university. We met outside of the university at a dance studio. The dancing included audition pieces for an upcoming competition as well as a routine for an annual festival coming in one month. This festival is a huge part of our research as it is a major aspect of the lifestyle of our people. After arriving at the dance class, we first watched the dancers practice. The women moved their hands in a very delicate and elegant manner. The men were strong enough to lift the girls off the ground and then dance on one foot while still maintaining rhythm. The instrumentalists creating the piece of music to be danced to played handmade drums, wooden flute, accordion (that one took me by surprise!) and a large seashell found in the ocean. It was amazing how they created such music. They also incorporated singing. However, I think our culture would better describe it as chanting as they were not singing words but rather noises only. After watching and listening, it became our turn to learn. Both my roommate and I had a personal instructor that taught us how to move in the manner they moved. For example, the way they move their hands during dance is a way that I have never before moved my hands. It involves smooth movements of the fingers and wrist. They also use their toes much in dancing. It was fun to learn.

A university in our city is currently hosting an international seminar. Guests from all around the world have come to participate and present at this seminar. The theme of the seminar is Poverty Reduction. It is a three-day event with various presentations and events on each day. Some of our friends from the English Club invited us to attend the seminar. We went and found several booths displaying unique items made only in our city. This included items such as honey, made from our city’s “Pure Tropical Rain Forests,” and decorative pins to put on your clothes. They also had a booth with caged house cats. These cats were extremely fluffy and were labeled with a sign that read, “Fancy Cats.” When I asked what the cats had to do with the seminar, I was told, nothing, they are just for fun. I suppose it was a sight as typically most cats in our city are tailless, thin and stray.
Also, at the seminar, we attended a presentation in which one of our friends was helping to direct. Once we got there we came to find that our homestay mother was the main speaker! As the seminar is an international affair, it is all being conducted in English, which is serving as the common language among all of the countries represented. We got to hear our homestay mom make a presentation in English! It was very exciting to watch her. She did a great job. As she attempted to create awareness, she presented to her hearers a majority religion organization that has efforts to reduce poverty throughout the island. It was very interesting to listen to.

We ended our time at the seminar by attending a formal dinner. At the dinner, they gave thanks for all of the participants as well as entertainment through traditional dance. I became excited as I recognized the dancers as they came to the stage. They were the same dance team that I had taken lessons from the week prior to the seminar. They were dressed in traditional costumes and wore heavy make-up. They danced beautifully for the crowd as the instrumentalists accompanied their dance.
The seminar served as a means of cultural exposure for us. We were able to gather some important information for our research. Also, it served as an encouragement. Here in our city, foreigners are extremely rare. Therefore, when one is present, that foreigner immediately becomes a new celebrity. It is a daily aspect of living in our city to be called a “bule” or foreigner. It is also very common for random people to come running up to us asking if they can have their picture made with us, simply because of our skin and hair. Many days this provides as excellent opportunities, other days it serves as a frustration that must be released to my Father. However, at this seminar, instead of being called bule and asking for our picture to be made with numerous groups of people, we saw many friends that the Father has allowed us to make throughout our time in Southeast Asia. People began to call out our names instead of bule. It was exciting to have made the transition from foreigner to friend. Also, our homestay mom began introducing Rebekah and I to her coworkers as her own daughters. I thank my Father for making this transition possible. We feel extremely blessed that He has provided such relationships during this time of our lives. We intend on returning to the seminar to continue building relations and gathering cultural information.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Southeast Asian Adventure...And…Ordinary Life…

Rebekah’s parents and boyfriend recently made a visit here to Southeast Asia. It has been a blessing to have the opportunity to see familiar faces from home. I believe that this time together was a time of growth and learning. Thank you Whaley Family and Caleb for making the trip to Southeast Asia.

During the visit of Rebekah’s family, we decided to explore part of our island. This involved a mountain hike to the lip of a volcano. Our hike began by hearing the call of monkeys in the treetops. Their sound echoed throughout the mountain jungle as we continued our hike. The mountain was steep (I worked muscles that I didn’t even know I had! Haha) but proved to be a great climb. Once we got halfway to the top, for the sake of time, we decided to ride motorcycles the rest of the way. This proved to be a thrilling experience. First, my motorcycle did not have pegs to place my feet on. However, my motorcycle driver had my safety in mind as he pointed to a random screw on the motorcycle and told me to place my feet there. I felt like Elf in the North Pole as I sat behind my motorcycle driver with my knees to my face. I held on tight expect for the times that I was moving tree limbs away from our faces as he rushed through the jungle branches. This proved to take a toll on the motorcycle, as we had to pull over due to the bike overheating. We gave it some time to cool and then continued our ride. Not too much longer and we pulled over again. This time it was because we ran out of gas. So, here I am with only my motorcycle driver, in thick jungle forest, on the side of a mountain when suddenly, in English, he says to me, “Miss, what is your solution?” Shocked that he could even communicate with me on this level, I responded by saying, “Um, walk?” I don’t think he liked my idea as he then preceded to tell me that he was going to return to the city by coasting down the mountain, fill up with gas and then come back and pick me up. I asked if I could ride back down with him to catch up with my friends and continue hiking the mountain with them so that I would not be left alone. He said, “No, you stay here and I will go to the city. Miss, don’t panic.” So, off he went to refill with gas. Shortly after, Rebekah’s father came running up. He said that as my motorcycle driver passed him on the way down, he told him that he had left someone up there. Her dad and I continued hiking. Later, my motorcycle driver reappeared; full of gas and so we took advantage of his services once again. After making it to the top of the mountain, we had to climb a few hundred steps to reach the top of the volcano. After, huffing and puffing, we made it and saw a huge crater full of sulfur lakes. It was incredible. After enjoying a packed lunch at the top, we began the journey back down the mountain. As you can imagine, going down was much faster than going up. My motorcycle driver went slowly through rocky areas and mud pits and then zoomed off on all other parts of the journey. As off-roading is one of my favorite activities, it definitely was a thrill!

“There are times when we do know what [His] purpose is; whether we will let the vision be turned into actual character depends upon us, not upon [Him]. If we prefer to loll on the mount and live in the memory of the vision, we will be of no use actually in the ordinary stuff of which human life is made up. We have to learn to live in reliance on what we saw in the vision, not in ecstasies and conscious contemplation of [Him], but to live in actualities in the light of the vision until we get to the veritable reality. Every bit of our training is in that direction. Learn to thank [Him] for making known His demands.” –Oswald Chambers – Here in Southeast Asia I have witnessed “exciting” efforts for Him. However, there have been days that simply represent the process of ordinary life. I believe it is in these days that my Father has tested my faithfulness by examining my level of willingness to be obedient in the simple demands of life. As one who is still learning various ways to bring about His glorification, I challenge you to also remain faithful in the ordinary aspects of life. In Paul’s first letter to Corinth, he wrote the words “Called to be saints.” Accept the lifestyle of this call. To those in Thessalonica, He encouraged them to always rejoice, remain in constant communication with Him and to continually give thanks to Him for that is His will. The pictures below represent aspects of ordinary life here. It is the process of daily life among people so that the end might be made known. There are moments of presenting and discussion but there are also moments of laughter. All are important in this method of effort. Other times ordinary life involves making meaning conversation with the vendors in the local market. I am still learning how to put aside my own time and desires for the sake of being genuine among everyday people. The real solution to ordinary life is simply to be obedient to Him in all things.

I was becoming short and she was becoming tall.


Monday, September 24, 2012


I’m simply grieved when I consider the masses of those who have never had someone present to them the story of the One in which I follow. Each day is a constant reminder of the great need that exists for all people to hear such news. I live among numerous groups of people who have never heard accurate Truth. Therefore I desire to adequately respond to the responsibility that has been given to me by my Father in presenting His story among these people. His love for them is enormous and abounds greater than even my own mind can comprehend. It is through Him alone that we must trust and place our reliance upon at all times but we do need wisdom regarding our part for these people. 

I feel honored to share that my parents just recently made a visit here to Southeast Asia. I appreciate their sacrifice in coming to take part in my being here and I appreciate all of those on my team who offered much cultural insight and help in my planning their stay. I believe that our time together was extremely blessed. It was a true gift that I refuse to take for granted. They greatly contributed to our efforts here and for that Rebekah and I are thankful. 

My mom and our homestay mom connected extremely well. My dad was well liked among many of the young gentlemen we visit with on a regular basis at an English club that we frequent. I believe that these connections from the two furthered our relations with these nationals. During their stay I had a national friend come up to me with great excitement. He then made the statement that I needed to quickly talk with my Father because my Dad was sharing. This brought me much encouragement as in that moment I saw the enthusiasm and understanding within a national. We had many opportunities during my parent’s time in country. We were also able to enjoy one anothers company while sharing in a new culture together and I believe they now have a better understanding of our needs in this place and so they can take it back home to those who are faithful.

  My dad is an Lt Firefighter. So, we decided to visit a fire station in our city. It was thrilling. The national firefighters saluted my dad with respect and so in return my dad did the same. They even gave us a ride on one of their brand new fire trucks…unfortunately; it died three times during our ride. This did not give us much hope if a fire was to actually happen but it did reveal to us more of the culture in which I live. Thank you Mom and Dad for coming. 

I believe my Father has continued to reveal to me the importance of the believing community taking part in the lives of one another. Through the writings of Paul and my own experiences here in Southeast Asia I have come to recognize the value of community. I do not believe that we were created to live individualistic lives apart from others but rather I believe that we were created to understand the idea of a corporate reality. This idea is so clear to me as I read through Paul’s letter. It is even evident within the culture that I now live. The people of my island are so willing to offer help for the sake of another. Many will lay aside their own agendas simply to help another in need. I believe we have much to learn from this concept. A communal sense of living also offers great respect for elders on our island. Something I have grown to love about this culture is the respect demonstrated from the younger generation to the older. When a young person meets one who is older, it is customary to gently bow and take the elder’s right hand and bring it to the forehead of the younger person. This applies to people of all ages. Rebekah and I do this to those who are above us. Small children demonstrate respect to Rebekah and I by executing this gesture to us.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!!!

It is so hard to believe that Rebekah and I are now halfway through our stay here in Southeast Asia. It has taken our entire time in country to gain establishment to live in this place. Becoming established has been necessary however we now have much more we desire to accomplish prior to our departure in December. However, I have learned that if nothing else, true accomplishment is gained when we are obedient and faithful in the daily aspects of life and from this glory shall come. As I reflect on the writings of Paul, I am reminded that it is not of myself that good can be offered but rather it is only through His strength, “helping in our weaknesses” that good is brought so that others may know Him. I have also realized the importance of the believing community to be united. Paul wrote that we are to “love one another not of hypocrisy but of devoted love to one another.” This is crucial in daily living.

Followers of the majority religion just recently finished their month of fasting. The week immediately following this time is considered a national holiday. Everybody is off of work and out of school as everybody celebrates by visiting the homes of close relatives and friends. The first day of the week is the most important. This day is for special family members only. Typically the family all gathers in the home of the grandparents. The second day they visit their next closest relative’s home. The third day is for very close friends. The fourth day is for visiting neighbors since your neighborhood is considered a family community as well. The remaining days of the week are spent visiting various other people. We were invited into many homes during this week and so we gladly accepted. We went from house to house visiting with various members of our community. We went to the chief of police’s house, neighbor’s houses and various others as well. While in the homes we discuss the previous month they have just experienced as well as daily conversation of how each other is doing. They all prepare many foods for this special holiday. The food is mostly fried and sugary. They really enjoy these treats. The majority religion of our country requires women to cover their heads. We however do not need to cover while living here. This is so because our country has six official religions. We are recognized as followers of one of these six. Since our recognition does not fall within the majority religion, we are not expected to cover in the same way. We do however choose to display extreme modesty aside from covering our heads since the majority religion is so prevalent here.

As I, along with our closest national friend, was having lunch in the home of some locals, the homeowner asked me if I enjoy “climbing.” I responded by saying that I enjoy leisurely rock climbing. She reacted with great enthusiasm and then invited us to attend an event with her later that day…Independence Day for our country was August 17. However, due to the majority religion, most of the country was fasting during that time. Therefore, it could not properly be celebrated and so Independence Day was just recently celebrated and will continue to be celebrated over the next week. Independence is celebrated through a nationwide tradition. As our country offers many varying cultures on each island, it is this tradition that remains the one true tradition throughout all of the nation’s islands and therefore it holds great importance among the people. The tradition is a display of teamwork among all people. It is called Panjat Pinang. Everyone is to gather around a very large pole carved from the trunk of a tree. The pole is covered in oil and decorated at the top with the nation’s flag as well as “door prizes.” The men of the community are expected to climb the pole and grab the door prizes. However, it is not just one man at a time that is climbing but it is six, seven, maybe eight men climbing on top of one another, using the body of the other as height for reaching the door prizes at the top. The men climb on top of one another’s shoulders of the man below, while at the same time helping the next man to do the same. Because the pole is covered in oil it takes many attempts with the guy at the bottom struggling to hold all of the other men on top of his shoulders…As the nationals saw me, the foreigner, approach the celebrating crowd, they all turned and invited me to join them in their climb. I now realized the reason for the enthusiasm previously displayed from the homeowner who asked me if I liked to climb. Haha. Although, this would have been thrilling, I chose to remain a female face in the crowd, among the other women. The climbing men never made it to the top but the one at the bottom was in tears trying to do so. One man was trying so hard that he even continued to hang onto the pole even after the other seven men below him had fallen. He single handedly took off his shirt, while hanging fifty feet in the air, and from his shirt he made a hook around the pole for him to hang onto. The men are very strong in the way they can grip the pole with their hands and feet. It is an impressive skill that was fascinating to watch. I look forward to more celebrations that are to come! Happy Independence Day!