I decided to post some notes (as I can) from my trip to Indonesia. I hope they give a sense of what it’s like to be here. They’ll be very simple posts, and I can’t promise that they will all get posted on the day they are supposed to.
[CLICK THE PICTURES TO SEE THEM ENLARGED]
I arrived in Jakarta, and immediately you’re aware that you’re in a much poorer place (and this is a big city where many of the wealthiest folks in Indo live). It is crazy busy. The rivers are all used for sewage and trash disposal. Folks burn piles of trash on the side of the road and on sidewalks. Shantytowns are all over. And there are just sooo many people and vehicles (especially motorcycles).
It’s hot & muggy. And the TRAFFIC, oh my word. No rules apply.
We dropped our bags off at the Guest House and walked through downtown to go to a little Lebanese place Kyle had enjoyed before. And for good reason! We ate Shwarma and Hummus. It was great. We came back, showered (I almost forgot about showers and the water here…it will immediately effect Westerners if you drink it–even accidentally), and then I was OUT. Probably around 8:30 pm. Jetlag was weighing hard on me.
Awoke this morning at 3:20 am and felt like I’d overslept. Truly feeling the effects of jetlag. The Imams began the call to prayer around 4:15 am which is so eerie. I’d forgotten how sad and oppressive it makes things feel. Be in prayer for the nation of Indonesia, and for a sweeping move of the Spirit across the Muslim world.
We took a 4 hour train ride from Jakarta to Bandung. Visited with the whole Schiff family at their home in Bandung. Ibu Apong made us some Sunda food for lunch. I spent time at another missionary’s home, the Parks (had some great encouragement and theology talk with John Park), nearby with Misty & the kids while Kyle studied for Bible Study tonight.
Tonight’s Bible Study is for several young adults who the Schiffs have been investing in for quite a while. They are believers. Kyle will be sharing on the Beatitude “Blessed are the pure in heart”. God is so good and it has already been such a joy to see and love on the Schiffs.
Today we took part in an eye clinic in a nearby kampung (community). It was such a joy to see Indonesians that Kyle has trained working to serve their community. The entire clinic was planned and performed by Indonesians. This is the iTec training that Kyle has given the members of the Yayasan (Foundation) that Basswood and the Schiffs have created to minister to the Indonesians. One aspect of this evangelistic ministry is also reaching into the local area with limited medical support like these clinics.
This morning, my Bible reading was in John 1. I was drawn to verses 4-5 where it says, “4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” These Indonesians live not only with physical blindness, but a persistent spiritual darkness. They cannot see. And Christ is both the light and the life. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest, that He would bring in a mighty harvest from these peoples and shed His light abroad in their hearts!
Today we got to go to church. We went to Gereja Baptis Pertama (First Baptist Church). It was an English-speaking service, and I got to meet several folks serving in Indonesia. The sermon was an encouragement to steward all that God gives us well (from Luke 18). It was a blessing to see mainly Indonesians leading the service!
This afternoon we had a meeting with some of the folks closest to Kyle & Misty in their work. It was mainly for praying and sending out a couple who will be spending the next several months on a nearby island doing audio translation work. These folks are true brothers and sisters. We sang sweet songs of praise in their native tongue (I was thankful for the song sheet). And, we had an extended time of prayer.
Tomorrow, we’ll be headed down to the coast lands. It may be mid-week before I’m able to post again.
Have you ever looked at your spouse and said, “Did you pack the dysentery medicine and mosquito spray?” I doubt it. But, even for a simple trip away from home for a few days, that’s exactly the way that the Schiffs have to plan.
I am absolutely amazed at how dangerous just living life in Indonesia constantly is. Try for just a moment to imagine that your reality included constant deception, out of control and completely unpredictable traffic patterns that regularly cause multi-hour delays in your well-ordered plans, living among a people with no regard for common safety or health, water that is undrinkable, the constant smoke of burning trash everywhere you go, a complete absence of what you would consider courtesy or common sense, a 5-times daily reminder of the oppression of Islam through the call that goes out through literally thousands of loudspeakers in every community throughout the entire country, and add in the daily work of translation for even the most basic needs.
This sweet family works serving the Sundanese here in this city with a constant eye toward the prize of the glory of God. Though they go through all the daily struggles that you would, their hope and confidence in His call and supply is sure. Yet, I’m simply floored by how much it takes just keep on going here with even the most basic security and provision. I’m thankful for these friends and their faithful service to the King.
Monday through Wednesday of this week was originally a part of a larger plan that we had to equip and encourage pastors on a nearby island. Unfortunately, as with many plans here, things often don’t happen the way we plan. So, with those plans off, Kyle took the opportunity to give their oldest an outing that had been a promised birthday present. So, the three of us packed up a few days supplies (including dysentery medicine) got in the car and started the 130 mile journey to the coast. When we arrived over 7 hours later I was fully aware that travel on this island is VERY unlike travel that we take for granted in the States.
There was a very limited presence of road signs of any kind. There is no real interstate system, so communities are sort of left to figure out if they want the road kept up or not. And even if they do, they very likely don’t have the funds or any of the technology to actually upkeep it. The last 2 hours (about 30 miles) was what I imagine driving on the moon must feel like, if it had gravity. It was torture. I think my hind end actually broke a spring in Kyle’s car.
When we arrived we went to look at the beach. It was beautiful. It’s one of the few beaches that has not been discovered by local tourists. And, when that happens trash and widespread destruction of an area occurs. It seems like only a matter of time before this little nook disappears, but we really enjoyed it.
Surprisingly, it’s frequented by Westerners, most of them surfers. So, we had the opportunity to meet and visit with several people from places like Germany, Sweden, Australia, and Canada. On our second day there we had several adventures planned. But as we began our day, the Lord had already impressed on us to be in prayer that we might have opportunities to proclaim the Gospel. In just a few hours, the Lord answered our prayers.
We sat to eat breakfast at a warung (small restaurant or roadside stand). In walked Pontus. Pontus is on holiday from Sweden. He’s touring SE Asia finding the great surfing spots in this part of the world. After some small talk, the Lord opened the door and Kyle began to ask probing questions. As I prayed and joined in the conversation, it wasn’t long before the words of the gospel came in to the conversation and Pontus was confronted with his need for a Savior. Though we don’t know the full outcome in Pontus’s life, we are confident that Gospel-seed was sown. Now we look to the Lord of the Harvest. Pray for Pontus. Also pray for the four German friends we made who listened eagerly to the conversation we were having. They heard the message as well.
I realize that I’m typing a long entry, but I felt is was vital both to set the stage and to relay the account of how the Lord provides opportunity for Gospel ministry even when your original “plans” fall through.
To let you know more about our adventurous day, let me say that Kyle supplied plenty of opportunity for me to claim a “manly” trip to Indonesia. A jungle boat ride, cliff jumping, swimming in the Green Canyon, and surfing filled out the remainder of a day that could only be described as EPIC.
This morning, we made one final adventure run before the long journey home. We went from a coastal city near where we were staying to Pantai Pasir Putih, which is the closest thing to a nature preserve here on this island. We took a wild boat ride out into the Indian Ocean that included our small boat launching into the air behind a 15 ft. wave. In the preserve we saw monkeys, monitor lizards, beach-loving deer, and cave-dwelling porcupine. It was truly amazing. I’m thankful for the memories and the pictures. And it turns out, I sorta look like a monkey.
Well, I’ll wrap it up now though I think I could write all night about the kindness of God and the difficulty of the work here. I’m going to post pictures, probably lots of them. But, it may take me a while to cull out the good ones. Kyle’s got some up on his Facebook page if you’re curious.
Today was a non-travel, non-event day! We had such a sweet time visiting and talking. I got to hear the heart-warming sounds of homeschool happening in the other room. Kyle worked hard on his own school work and even took a test. When the kids were resting and playing, I had a fantastic time just talking with Kyle & Misty. This afternoon Kyle & I took the boys to soccer! While we were there, it was also encouraging to get to meet more Gospel workers here in Bandung.
So today was a very interesting day. This morning, Kyle was working on his school and I began to study for teaching their homegroup tonight. The text I settled on was Philippians 3:4-11. The passages focuses on Christ as far superior to every asset in our lives. After our morning studies we headed to Kyle’s Friday morning language lesson. This is when my life got significantly more interesting.I hate to make the roads and traffic a recurring theme, but be fair to me. It really is unbelievable. And the same goes for the corruption. Kyle and I rode his motorcycle to get to the lesson (and anyone that remembers my first trip on a motorcycle in Indonesia is wondering, “Why did you do that?”). As we turned a corner of a busy street a police officer stepped into the middle of oncoming traffic, pointed right at us, and signaled that we were to pull over. Kyle had been not been speeding or doing anything else that would have made us stand out in the crowd. The police officer began to ask Kyle for all of his paperwork for the motorcycle and license. Kyle had everything he needed and was all current. The officer began to insist that Kyle was missing a certain stamp or verification on his paperwork, which was patently untrue.
Misty and Kyle say that this is not an uncommon event for Westerners. Frequently, local authorities will insist that things aren’t up to code even when they are. They do this and then offer to help take care for the problem for a little payment on the side. The trouble of having to get downtown and spend your entire day there getting a non-existent stamp is enough to get most Westerners to just pay the “fee” up front. After calmly showing the officer that everything was in order, the officer then changed his track. He began to argue that there was missing equipment. At this point, Kyle began to discuss with the officer the basic unfairness of the stop and the inconsistent application of stops (by the way, the Schiffs both have such a great grasp of the language). The officer began to get nervous and asked Kyle to step off the bike and come to discuss it with his “boss”. Most Westerners couldn’t handle the language well enough to deal with this kind of treatment, so it probably threw the plan to extort cash from Kyle into a tailspin.
Kyle went with him and I stayed with the bike. After about 20 more minutes, Kyle returned. Nothing more had been required. After a lengthy discussion with the “boss” (which is just a peer officer sitting in a small booth), Kyle relayed that he shared his plea with the other officer and even began relaying stories from Kyle’s own experiences as a military man who trained in law enforcement. No harm, no foul. But, we were very late for language class. Which is a part of normal life here.
Language class was a lot of fun. Kyle and his instructor worked through the more difficult theological language of Ephesians 2:8-9. It was awesome to simply listen as they labored through these life-giving words. After lessons, we got to meet a few more gospel workers that were on the finishing-up side of their language studies. One particular woman spent some time talking about her future home in Papua where Ronnie spent time fighting crocodiles, sleeping in gorilla nests, and killing lions. His trips are always much more manly than mine. 😉
Then in the evening, we had a wonderful time in home fellowship. There were both Indonesians and Westerners. It was a sweet time in the Scriptures and fellowship. It is so encouraging to see how far the work has come here. God has used Misty and Kyle and their family in so many wonderful ways. I am filled with thankfulness for His mercy and grace poured out to this land through them.
Today was a wonderful family day. Kyle was able to take a day away from his studies and the whole family packed up into the car and drove to the Bandung Zoo. Now, before you picture a zoo you’re familiar with, think of this more as one of the world’s largest exotic petting zoos. It’s not like anything I’ve ever been to. Almost all of the animals have very low walls or cages that are within arms reach from the patrons. And the zoo not only allows, but encourages patron-animal interaction. They sell you peanuts as you walk in the gate to give whichever animals will have them. Unfortunately the zoo isn’t well kept up, and there was even a child fatality a few years ago. The animals are in muddy, dirty cages, and it elicits a pretty strong strain of sympathy seeing them. But, I don’t want to overstate that. All in all we had a great time.
I enjoyed watching Kyle feed the monkeys and almost lose an arm (seriously, I have video). I enjoyed riding an elephant with the boys. And, the thing that I’ll remember the longest, because it was so startling, was the peacock. Bless his heart. Just bless it. I don’t think it knows that from the front he looks pretty put together, but a slight turn and all the hens know that he has some seriously rough-looking feathers. The shock overwhelmed me. I really couldn’t stop laughing. And I laugh every time I see the pictures again.
After the zoo, traffic seemed to be flowing unusually fluidly so we made our way to Ciwalk (Chee-Walk). It’s a western-style mall here in Bandung. It was a nice treat for the family. And, I was reminded what a land of contradictions this is. Right outside the mall are some of the poorest of Kampungs, but by Indonesian standards only those with wealth could ever afford to go in and shop there. Though everything there was a discount by American standards.
After the mall, we made our way back to the house and enjoyed a family movie together before the kids went to bed. Great family day with a great family! Blessed.
This is my last day in Bandung. We’ve been to church; we sang, prayed, worshipped, and heard the Word faithfully preached! It was a good day. The remainder of the day is really going to be about getting myself and my stuff back together and packed and ready to go.
It has been so sweet to be here to serve alongside and encourage the Schiffs. But, minute by minute I’m aware that there are 7 little Hudson necks that I’m already itching to hug and one amazing woman I cannot wait to embrace again! Distance is like a magnifying glass for our affections! And I’m ready to get back.
That sort of reminds me of the way that we as believers long for the final return home of our coming King! Our distance should constantly magnify our affections for Him! And what a joy to be with the Schiffs a family whose Godward affections run deep!
Look out Knoxville, I’ll see you Tuesday!