Heading to the Tropics
We shared in our last post of how we were surviving the cold days of winter and actually enjoying the leisure of getting things done in doors. However, with the recent snowfall (pictured in our backyard) it is time to head for the tropics. The snow was beautiful, and lasted only a few hours, but we are looking forward to returning this week to Indonesia and visiting places where we lived more than 30 years ago.
The primary purpose of our trip is to accompany our daughter’s family back to where she lived as a child. Though we have made numerous trips over the years, Lori has not been back since we left during her high school years. She was 2-years old, and her brother Russell was 10-months old when we arrived as new missionaries in 1970. Our first assignment was to Jember, a provincial city on the eastern end of Java where we were isolated four hours from our nearest missionary colleagues.
After nine years we were transferred to Surabaya, the second-largest city in the country after Jakarta, the capital. I had begun to be involved in a larger regional role and this facilitated travel as well as providing a small international school for the kids to attend. Lori was in the seventh and eighth grades there and then went to boarding school in Jakarta our final year before transferring to Bangkok.
This replica of our first term prayer card evokes memories of Indonesian batik and the challenging life of a young family living cross-culturally. We were well-known being the only westerners in our town of 400,000 people. This provided a ready opportunity for witnessing and sharing why we were there, but the congested crowds and attention everywhere we went was a constant irritant, especially to our children.
I spent most days in the villages, probing for response, starting house churches and discipling and training new believers. Bobbye was both the “P” and “T” of our PTA which brought its own challenges, especially when the children preferred to be outside with their neighborhood playmates instead doing their lessons. While we worked in the Indonesian language, our children became fluent in the local Javanese dialect through interaction with kids in the community. Perhaps their comfort in a cross-cultural lifestyle and awareness of the lostness around us had something to do with their own eventual call to overseas work.
We often wonder what became of many of the believers we worked with. On previous trips we found that most of the adults had died or moved away, but many of the children and young people are now the adult leaders in various congregations. We have had many rich experiences over the years, but nothing was as gratifying as introducing Jesus to people who had never heard the gospel and seeing local congregations of Christian believers established, such as the village church pictured here.
Before converging with Lori and her family for visits “back home” we will spend a couple of days in Malang for consultation with personnel serving with Antioch Ministries International, and then spend a week at our Baptist Seminary in Semarang. I have been invited to present a lecture series on spiritual warfare for four days as well as training in missionary outreach. I am anticipating this being a significant challenge since it has been 30 years since we have used the Indonesian language.