The dump

Originally, one of the plans for our ministry was to work at a garbage dump.

As you have probably figured out by now, plans changed a lot in Indo.

No, that’s an understatement. Plans changed a TON.

Because our team was on the larger side, we weren’t able to work in the dump. It would have been unsafe for our team and the people living there.

Oh yeah, did I mention, the people that work at this dump also call it “home”?

 

On our last day, Ibu Mega (our host for the day, and coordinator of all the sites) took us to one of the dumps. It is part of a ministry that she and her husband run in which they have set up a room to help people in. I don’t know all the specifics, but one use of those rooms is for educating kids and their mothers.

We got out of the van, and everyone’s heart sank pretty low.

It’s hard to describe, and I didn’t take pictures, but I’ll do my best.

1) GARBAGE! EVERYWHERE! Like, it is everywhere. And people live there.

2) The rooms where people live are 9 ft by 9 ft. And it’s not just for mom, dad, and kid. Families usually live together, so it could mean mom, dad, kid, uncle, grandma, grandpa, nephew in a 81 square foot room, constructed from cardboard or maybe thin pieces of wood. There are no doors. There is hardly any furniture.

3) People who live at the dump earn their keep by sorting the garbage that comes in for recyclables. If they meet a certain quota, they are able to stay and use the community restrooms free of charge. If not, they must pay the rent.

4) BABIES ARE EVERYWHERE. Whenever families cannot make the quota, and subsequently cannot pay the rent, they are in a rut. There is no place to go, because they are ostracized. Sadly, as a result, in order to pay the rent, many families sell their daughters into the sex trade. That is why there are tons of infants and toddlers roaming the dump, and most likely this is where they will live for their lives.

5) It didn’t stink all that bad when we were there, but that was because it was the dry season. However, during the wet season, the rain pours buckets and buckets, causing the place to reek pretty bad.

6) BUGS EVERYWHERE. No matter where you look, there would be a swarm of flies just hovering.

 

The whole experience was really heartbreaking. And we were only there for ten minutes. Everyone got back in the van about 678,432,837,498,237,498,237,482,937 times more thankful for what they had.

 

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Time flies

One word that really described the structure of the team is this: trios.

EVERYTHING came in trios. When we walked in the airport, we stayed in assigned trios. When we roamed the mall, we used trios. Sometimes for seating, we’d sit in our trios. The trios would look out for each other. In theory, it’s much easier to count three trios, than nine people.

We also had daily prayer trios.

The idea was to use the trios in dedicated prayer time, and then throughout the day, whenever there was a spare minute or two, get together and pray quickly. The groups would change every morning so that everyone would get a chance to pray with everybody (although, for some reason, I ended up being with Jesse about seven times in a row 🙂 Just kidding).

Before getting in the van each morning, we had anywhere from five minutes to thirty minutes in between breakfast and leaving. At the guest house we stayed at during our time at the orphanage, we had a little bit more time than at the Wisma. One of the first mornings we are at the guest house, having finished breakfast, we are asked to get in our prayer trios.

“Okay guys. Pray for 15 minutes.”

Here’s how it played out:

minutes 1-5: “Do you guys have any prayer requests?” Spending the first 5 minutes discussing what we are going to pray about

minutes 5-8: praying

minute 9: feels like we’ve been going for 15 minutes…”AMEN”

minute 10-15: awkwardly waiting for further instructions, start talking about the day, etc.

Over the next few days, we read passages about prayer in our devotions and nightly study. We were encouraged, “Don’t talk about praying….just pray.” Also, we were advised to just do short little prayers and go around and around the trio rather than splitting it into three, five minutes sections.

Every morning: “Pray for 15 minutes”

In a couple of mornings, we were praying for 15 minutes in its fullest. No more discussing. No more cutting it short. In fact, 15 minutes just wasn’t enough. As I’ve previously blogged,  our team didn’t complain much, but the complaints we did have went something like this:

“You didn’t give us enough time to pray!”
“PLEAAAAAAASE, just a few more minutes!”

Each morning from then on out, just as before:  “Get in your trios and pray for 15 minutes.”

Unbeknownst to us, little by little, Ken had been increasing the amount of time we’d be praying. He didn’t tell us, and each morning kept saying “15 minutes of prayer time.” In a couple days, the time had been increased to 20 minutes.

“Time’s up. We gotta go”

“That was NOT 15 minutes! You didn’t give us enough time.”

I guess that was a complaint he could deal with. 🙂

Bump it up to 25 minutes

“You didn’t give us enough time!”

Increase it to 30 minutes

“That was definitely not 15 minutes. Can’t we get more time?”

At our debrief site, we had been asked to pray for 15 minutes, like always.

We prayed.

We were again, cut off, having to move on to other things.

“Please, just five more minutes! We didn’t get enough time!”

And then the secret was let loose.

That time, we had not spent fifteen minutes in prayer.

Rather, we had spent forty minutes in prayer.

And still it “wasn’t enough time.”

Seriously, it felt like five minutes.

Fastest 40 minutes ever

After the next time we prayed, we asked how long we’d spent.

“15 minutes”

Again, we begged for more time. This time, it was granted. 🙂

It was really awesome to see how each of us had nurtured a heart and desire for prayer. A month later, many of us attended a summer camp together where Ken was the highschool speaker. Lots of stories about the trip were shared, including this one. The same idea was implemented before the message. We’d get in groups of three and pray for 5, 10, 15 minutes. So many people would be disappointed when they were cut off.  They said “I had things prepared for at least three more turns” or “That did not feel like 10 minutes.” The day before the highschool ministry outing, as tradition, an opportunity was presented to fast through lunch. Typically, about 25 people come. This year, we had 65 people signed up. We spent 30 minutes praying through passages of Scripture with several different partners. At the end, the comments paralleled the ones before: “That didn’t feel like 30 minutes” “That was really cool.” On the last morning of the 11th-12th grade girls Bible class, we quickly went over the lesson and then spent the last 20 minutes in prayer, specifically praying through Revelation 4. Once we were cut off, having to move on to the next activity, I heard so many times, ‘THAT WAS THE FASTEST 20 MINUTES OF MY LIFE!”

The first time the team was asked to pray for 15 minutes, not going to lie, it was difficult. But in a few days, it wasn’t. We knew there were so many things we could pray: we could praise God, we could ask things of God, we could pray for each other, we could encourage each other, we could thank God, we could pray through Scripture, we could pray for ourselves. It became something that wasn’t a chore, but a delight.

Try spending 20-30 minutes in prayer sometime. Set a timer instead of just watching the clock. Do it with a friend. You’ll be surprised how fast the time goes.

During the fastest forty minutes ever.

It’s the 4th of July, how ’bout some Thanksgiving?

Late one night, the girls are in our room throwing thoughts around about the upcoming Fourth of July.

Problem: it’s basically impossible to celebrate the 4th of July in Indonesia because of the 14 hour time difference.

When it was the 4th in Indo, it was the 3rd back home, so that felt weird. But once it was the 4th in America, it was the 5th in Indo, so that felt weird too. Yeah, we could have planned it so that it felt in the window of time where the date is the same, but there was no excess energy for that.

Then the thought popped out, “You know what sounds really good right now?”

“What?”

“Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey and stuffing just sounds perfect!”

I’m pretty sure everybody’s mouths salivated right about then.

And then we chuckled and let the dream drift away into the dark recesses of our mind.

After we left the orphanage, we piled our stuff on the bus again. This time, we were going to stay at Pak Phillip and Ibu Mega’s home; they had been our contact in Indo and coordinated our ministry sites. They lived in the heart of Jakarta, so once again we had to deal with Jakarta traffic.

Three hours.

We passed the time by singing worship songs and sleeping, but it was around 9:00 PM by the time we arrived and unloaded the bus.

We get in the door and Ibu Mega is happily there to greet us.

First question, “Are you hungry?”

“Yeah”

“Okay good. For your dinner tonight, we wanted to give you an All-American meal for a little taste of home.”

Well, All-American can really be anything. Pizza? Burgers? Fried chicken?

While the househelp was bringing out the food, the team settled down in the foyer and waited. Then all of a sudden, one person caught a glimpse of what our dinner was.

“You’ll never believe it! We’re having Thanksgiving dinner! Turkey and stuffing!”

“WHAAAAT!!?!?!?!? You’ve GOT to be kidding.”

We all had the jitters. SO COOL.

Ibu Mega had no idea that we had been talking about having Thanksgiving dinner only a few days earlier.

And there it was on the table, hot and steamy and oh so perfect!

Thanks, God. 🙂

Ready to eat

YUM

Cutting the bird (sorry for the blurriness)

Lindsey’s still so in shock and SO happy. 🙂

True prayer warriors

I’m guilty of underestimating prayer so much.

This fact was proven even more so through this trip.

I’ve never seen the power of prayer more active than in Indonesia.

It’s not just another thing for them; their lives depend on it. At the orphanage, the church that is supposed to support them doesn’t do a thing. They make do with what they have when things break, and when they don’t have what they need, they pray.

And the coolest thing is watching God provide.

A few days before the trip, Ken and Linda had gotten word from our contact that the orphanage we had planned to go to was unable to take us. Something having to do with the summer holiday, it still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but nevertheless we couldn’t go there. Now we had a week with nothing planned.

At the same time, Ibu Mini who runs Abigail, was praying for something special for her kids this summer. She was wondering “How in the world am I going to do this? I have no funds,” but she prayed fervently and trusted God that He would provide an opportunity for her kids. Very soon later, she was asked if she wanted to receive a team from America.

Our team itself was an answer to her prayer.

The next question, though, was “How are we going to provide for our guests?” The only food she had on stock for us at that point was just rice. Once again, she and the rest of the kids went to prayer. Over the course of time between accepting our team and our arrival, several carts showed up with food asking if she wanted it…for free. Abundant supplies of meat, husks of corn, vegetables, delicious giant kiwis, apples, bottles of Sprite and Fanta, even little rolls of Ritz crackers.

Material was also provided for them to embroider towels for us and to give us refillable waterbottles.

WHAT?

More stories like this were told to us throughout our time at the orphanage. One day after the work project, we all came in for a snack. On one end of the table was stacks and stacks of chocolate milk cartons. Apparently, for three years, the dairy farm has been overproducing milk in ridiculous quantities. They tell the orphanage “Hey, we can’t get our cows to stop producing all this milk. Do you want it?” For three years, they’ve had a full supply of milk for the kids.

Ibu Mini shared her testimony on the last day. She told us of a time when she had no food, no money, and was desperately hungry and cried out to God “Help me!” Right then and there, a bird flew overhead and dropped a fish at her feet.

WHAT?

The kids prayed that they would be able to receive the funds to go to school this upcoming year. Because our team overfundraised, we were able to give monetary gifts to both places we worked at. We presented Ibu Mini with the gift for the orphanage; she was ecstatic that the kids’ prayers were answered. They’re able to go to school now.

We were able to see God’s provisions right in front of our eyes.  One time, a team member needed a personal item. It wasn’t just any item though, which makes the story so much cooler. She needed….wait for it…. feminine products. Yeah, see what I mean?  We didn’t know how we were going to carve time out of the schedule to get to the store, especially since we didn’t have a vehicle on hand and policy required us to take a certain amount of people. We get to the orphanage and mention to Ibu Mini that we needed to get to the store. She asked us what we needed, we told her, and she’s like “Well, you don’t need to go to the store. Last night after you left, a guy came by with a whole truckload of what you need” (P.s. for team members reading, this story was shared with permission)

Yes, a whole truckload. Of exactly what we needed. And it’s not like what we needed was very common either like soap or something like that.

For the orphanage, prayer is not just a tool, it is their PRIMARY tool.  Sometimes, it is their only tool. Our team was able to see the value to prayer in a tangible way. It was pretty cool to see how God provided for their needs in so many ways, and how their faith is rewarded.

!Splash!

Swimming pools have always been great.

The jumping, the sliding, the cannonballing, the splashing, the pre-pool shower, the post-pool shower, the racing, the pushing people in, the games. Basically everything about the pool is pure greatness.

Swimming pools are even greater in 91 degree, tons of humidity weather. 🙂

 

The place is conveniently just a hop and a skip down from the orphanage. Unfortunately, the kids have to save and save to be able to go.  It’s about 88 cents for one person to go. After the first evening’s swim, all the little kids really wanted to go again. However, there just wasn’t money to pay for them. The only way they’d be able to go is if the older kids would pay for themselves and the little kids.

The little kids sighed. THAT was never going to happen. The older kids could hardly pay for themselves to go.

The lady who runs the orphanage, Ibu Mini, has such huge faith, and she trains the kids that come through the orphanage in the same way. So, as with other things, “Well, you might not have money, but you do have prayer.” So all the little kids went and started praying that somehow, the older kids would be able to take them.

It just so happened that our team had planned to reward the older kids for helping us so much with the work projects. How were we planning to treat them? By…taking them to the pool again after work was done one afternoon.

When Ibu Mini heard the news, she was ecstatic! Since we were paying for the older kids, the older kids could cover the younger kids. Everyone could go to the pool again! 🙂

We took them again one last time on our final day at the orphanage. The pool became a symbol of family fun time. A place where we could just relax and have fun together. We were able to help teach some of the younger boys how to swim and we played tons of volleyball and frisbee. There was also a big-ish slide that we went down constantly, trying to find the fastest way to slip down it.

The pool was also one way we were able to break down cultural barriers. When we went to the pool the first time, there was some concern about the girls’ swimming attire. Most of the exposure that the Indonesians get about Americans comes from television, so they were expecting something similar when it came to our swimsuits: skimpy bikinis, lowcut one-pieces. But when we came out of the changing room wearing T-shirts and board shorts, as they do in their culture, they were pleasantly surprised. Something little like that was able to benefit our interactions and relationships.

Pools are fun, simple as that. The team was glad we were able to turn something simple and fun into a form of ministry.

And it was nice to get a cool down.

Washin’ each other’s hair 🙂

JUMP!

Such a fun group! It was fun to get some “family time” at the pool!

 

 

 

 

 

The Painting Project

After lunch every day at the orphanage, we did a work project. The girls had the task of repainting the walls surrounding the orphanage entrance and the boys went to do repairs and maintenance.

Repainting. Doesn’t sound too difficult.

The kids had never painted a wall before. The balance had to be drawn between making this a teaching experience, but also getting a good result. We started by scraping and sanding off the layers and layers of peeling paint off the walls. We taught them how to manipulate the scrapers to their full potential. Dust got everywhere.

It was a learning experience for us girls too. We had Indonesian partners to work with and we had to get past the language barrier without a translator. One (somewhat amusing) difficulty that came about though, was that Ken would come over and give instructions to the group, but only in Indonesian. However, the girls from the team had no idea what he said, and we were supposed to lead! This happened a few times, and then one girl finally mentioned something and we began to receive instructions also in English. It helped a ton, not surprisingly.

Then the paint buckets rolled out.

Right around the same time, we got some additional help. The boys had more people than the work needed, so the younger ones came back to help the girls.

Let’s just say, painting is a lot more fun than scraping. However, painting requires a lot more precision than scraping. Everyone wanted to paint, and paint was getting everywhere. It was dripping on the ground, going outside of lines, we couldn’t manage it. Linda had a hard time saying “Uhm, sorry, but no, you really can’t paint right now.” It was an impossible task, to both include everybody and make sure the walls looked good. We’d hide the painting supplies, but they’d be brought back out. Poor Linda; she was in charge of overseeing the project and she had to do a lot of communicating, but her Indonesian isn’t fluent as much as if used to be. Finally a system was developed where only a few people would paint, and the rest would go scrape or wash and prep the other walls.

The kids could see that the team was starting to wear out a little after the first day of work. Not that we were physically weak in general or anything, but working in the heat still trying to adjust to the time zone and such quickly tired us out. The kids wanted to help with that, so they decided to get up extra early the next morning to prep the walls. Then we would come and not have to worry about the prepping and just start painting.

Well, normal rise and shine time for them is 4:30 AM for morning prayer. Bedtime is around 11 PM when evening chores are complete.

So what’s getting up early?

Some woke up an hour early, but several just didn’t go to bed that night. WOW. It was so sweet, how they wanted to fill our needs. It really helped a ton though, because we didn’t have to spend hours on the tedious prep work. It sped up the process wonderfully.

Along with prepping and painting, another job that came with the painting project was cleaning. One day, Haidang and I volunteered to wash all the paint trays, rollers, and brushes. That was so much fun! We trucked all the messy paint dripping things down around back to a faucet spigot, turned the water on, and started rinsing and washing. Haidang and I are both theatre people, and also very fond of musicals, so we decided to pass some of the time by singing our favorite songs from musicals and Disney.

For all of you Les Miserables fans, singing “One Day More” with two people is not an impossible feat. We divvied up the 7 roles and sang the whole song out (maybe not perfectly, but it was sure fun).

We belted out Tangled, the Little Mermaid, and Phantom of the Opera. Some of the younger boys were playing soccer nearby and they saw us frolicking in Disney while washing the paint trays. They asked, “Is your hobby singing?”  “Uhm, yyyyessssss?????? I guess you could call it that.”

Over the course of the project, one thing several team members were convicted on was on the topic of music. After the first couple days, the kids would bring their little music players out and listen to songs while they painted. They listened to the mainstream songs we listen to in the States (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber anyone?) But we would get a little wary when a borderline song came on. Or even a “clean” song. It felt so weird, being on a mission trip and listening to and singing along to mainstream music. We’re like “HEY! We’re serving Jesus here!” but then the realization set in. Shouldn’t we be serving Jesus all the time? Shouldn’t our choices reflect that, not just while we’re on a mission trip, but 24/7? Realizing at the same time that not all mainstream music is bad, many of us decided to watch what we listen to and how that’s affecting our testimony.

Painting was just another way we were able to develop relationships with the kids at the orphanage. By doing work with our hands and not being afraid to get dirty, we were able to break down cultural barriers fairly quickly. It was a pathway to becoming family; ONE group, not Americans over here and Indonesians over there.

And the walls look pretttty nice now 🙂

Getting started! Many hands didn’t exactly reap light work, in this case

Lots of sanding and scraping!

“Okay girls! Assemble! We need a new game plan”

Wonderful ladies! We showed them how to do the painting first

Joanna and Nicole!

The finished project

Shopping and the Fun Day

There are so many more stories about the school, and I fully intend to write about them in the near future, but I do want to start writing about events from the second week. 🙂

After a very teary, sad departure from the school, we rushed over to the Wisma to get our stuff out and hop on the big bus. Checkout time was somewhere around noon; we arrived back at the Wisma about ten minutes before our checkout time. However, thanks to our relationship with Nikki and his wonderful staff, we were able to ask for a little extra time to clean up if necessary and finish packing up our things.

We still had to rush. Even though Joanna and I woke up extra early that morning to get the majority of our things packed, we were still searching for time. At last, after a buzzing twenty-five minutes, all our bags and backpacks and team were on the bus and off we went.

The next stop was a mall in Jakarta. When the bus drivers were told the location of where we wanted to go, they said “But that’s in….J-j-j-jakarta!” Okay, maybe not like that…but they obviously did not want to go through Jakarta.

Ken and Linda told us it was because traffic is TERRIBLE in Jakarta. The team was like, “Heh…how bad can it be?” One person was like “It can’t be worse than Seattle traffic.”

Once we got out of the suburbs and into the city…we found out why the drivers didn’t want to go through the city.

Yes, it was WAY worse than Seattle traffic.

Bumper to bumper, mirror to mirror buses, cars, and vans. Then, squeeze in as many motorcycles and scooters and rickshaws as you can possibly fit. You’ve seen gridlock in the States? That’s NOTHING compared to Jakarta gridlock.

After a couple hours we made it to the mall. We were split into three groups, each with two girls and one guy; in these groups we HAD to stay together no matter what. Half the time, the three groups ran into each other, so we were often one big group. The mall was eleven levels high, with a different category on each level. At the very tippity top were the Indonesian cultural items, where most of us spent our time looking for gifts and souvenirs.

I shopped with Ashley and Jesse. Poor Jesse. Ashley and I were SO stressed the entire time we had to shop, because we had a long list of people to buy gifts for. We felt so bad for Jesse who had to follow us around. I wanted to buy him like twelve Cokes after the shopping extravaganza.

Once our time was up, we stopped for dinner at..wait for it. Good ol’ McDonalds! While I loved the Indonesian food, don’t get me wrong, it was great to have a little taste of home in a big not-so-good-for-you Big Mac. 🙂

We piled back into the bus for a little ride through Jakarta. It took only three hours. We arrived at the home of a lady named Ibu Ayun and her family. They had furnished a couple rooms for groups coming through, and were in the process of building an add-on to their house to put up even more people. The bags were all put in the rooms and then we had a team meeting to decide where we’d go for our fun day.

The options:

1. The beach as planned. Total travel time, at least 6 hours round trip, leaving only 2 hours for swimming. We’d also have to rent a bus.

2. A different beach which was closer. Total travel time, at least 4 hours, and the beach was not suitable for swimming.

3. Staying local and going to a cultural museum and then a swimming pool. Total travel time, around 2 hours, and we wouldn’t need a bus.

After talking it out, we decided to do the cultural museum called  TangMini and then go swimming later in the afternoon.

The next morning, we received an invitation to go to the orphanage in the afternoon and see the kids. It worked out perfectly, because the orphanage was right next to the swimming pool, so we could do one right after the other. After breakfast, we set out for TangMini in two separate cars, and that is when the series of unfortunate events started to unravel.

About ten minutes into the drive, one of the cars got a flat tire. Not a big deal, just an inconvenience. It gets fixed and we move on.

As we’re approaching the area of the TangMini, our driver refuses to listen to the directions given and ends up driving onto a highway going the wrong direction. It was a little frustrating, because there were signs all around showing the way to go, and yet they were ignored and we ended up getting lost.

While the driver is trying to find his way back into familiar territory, we lose sight of the second van. We don’t know where they are. They don’t know where we are. There’s only one cellphone between the two vans. We pull over to the side of the road for a few minutes trying to figure out if they were behind us and if they’d caught up. Thankfully, they were just up the street looking for us.

Nobody’s complaining, but the whole “detour” had taken a good half-hour to an hour of time, and the situation was completely avoidable.

We unload and start exploring the museum together. The heat was beating down ridiculously and we were all pretty drained from the eventful car ride. Even though the museum was very interesting, we ended up spending only a couple hours because everyone was extremely tired, both physically and mentally.

Next stop: the orphanage. They were SO happy to see us. Due to some miscommunication, they had been expecting us for the past two days and when we didn’t show up, they began to think we weren’t coming. The delight in their faces when we did come was ecstatic. We spent about an hour getting to know the kids a little bit (more names) and we did a lot of songs together. They taught us some of their songs and we taught them some of ours. It was great. Everyone agreed that spending time at the orphanage beat out the leisure part of the day.

Ministry > everything.

We still wanted to go to the pool; it was still our fun day and it was really hot out. After about an hour and a half, we walked down to the pool. Unexpectedly, but awesomely, the kids from the orphanage came too. We paid for their admission and we were able to continue getting to know the kids while having an immense amount of fun as well.

At the end of the day, Ashley and I were talking and came to the conclusion that ministry was so much more satisfying. Shopping and doing touristy things was fun, no doubt, but it gave off a different aura than spending time with the kids did. Those couple extra hours with the kids that day helped so much, in retrospect. If we hadn’t started building relationships then, we would have showed up at the orphanage the next morning as complete strangers. We probably would have struggled to connect when we did our program and it would have been harder. But we had a relationship budding and we were able to come the next morning knowing names and faces. It was the start of something great!

This wasn’t too bad for traffic. 🙂 Lucky motorcycles can just squeeze their way to the front.

We did find an elephant at the TangMini that was pretty legit

What to do while we’re sitting in the car waiting for a flat to be fixed? Make faces!

They zoned out after the first hour.

Lindsey was happy to get french fries 🙂

Doing songs with the orphanage. They taught us one called “The Train of Love”

What makes a team a team

I wasn’t planning on sharing about my team just yet. I had a different story drafted out, all ready to go, but that’ll have to wait for another day.

After spending only a few hours with part of my team last night, I was again reminded why I love them so much.

And this is the condensed version; I could really go on for HOURS AND HOURS, but I will spare you that.

Team Indonesia is composed of eleven personalities.

I personality typed everyone on the trip, and statistically speaking, everyone was either too alike (Simeon and I) or too different (Nicole and Haidang) to get along. Eleven people that shouldn’t get along and three weeks in a foreign country is a recipe for disaster.

There were planners, non-planners, public schoolers, homeschoolers, girls, boys, neatfreaks, go with the flow people, athletes, artists. It was a sampler plate of every kind of personality you can get.

The amazing thing is, the differing personalities had an effect that was not at all negative.

Everything was positive.

It didn’t come with just a snap of the fingers though. Much of our team devotion time was spent in passages that taught about unity, humbleness, putting others’ interests before our own, and each person on the team made a conscious CHOICE to obey.

We had this acronym within the team: FAMILY. It stood for “Forget about me, I love you.” That was the choice every team member decided to make for the benefit of themselves, the team, and people who would be watching.

Each person, whenever they were irritated at someone or something, made a choice to put on the mentality “It’s MY problem, not theirs.”

Each person, made the choice to submit to leadership without complaining or grumbling, whether or not they liked the task put before them.

Each person dwelt and leaned on the strengths of his/her teammates, and ignored and covered the weaknesses.

We became FAMILY. The body of Christ actually functioning as a body. The different personalities weren’t a hindrance, they were keys to opening several doors.

I am so thankful for every member of the team I traveled with. They are my brothers and sisters. We laughed together (maybe too much), cried together, prayed with each other, wrote songs together, had good discussions together, and developed great bonds.

There was absolutely NO gossip. I am 1000000% positive of that.

UNHEARD of in today’s world.

And we “shouldn’t get along.”

God worked in each and everyone’s heart to achieve this result. It wasn’t solely based on anything we “did”, rather by listening to God’s instructions of how He intended for us to live in the first place.
One thing that really helped our team, was dedication to praises and encouragement.

We had van rides to and from our ministry sites every day.  They were about 7 minutes long each. 7 minutes out of 24 hours seems sort of insignificant, but over time it racks up. 7 minutes x 2 times a day x 15 days = 210 minutes. A grand total of 3 & 1/2 hours in the van. That’s a pretty good chunk of time.

That 3 & 1/2 hours became utitlized in praises and encouragement. On the van ride to our site, everyone gave a praise from the morning, from the trip as a whole, from some recent experience. It was an incredible way to focus on the positive and what we did have as opposed to what we didn’t have and what was “not planned.” Throughout the day, the team was asked to observe each other and find ways to encourage one another throughout the day. I remember one day I was extremely tired, and then all of a sudden, Lindsey came up to me and encouraged me. A few hours later, Jesse did the same. A few hours later, Haidang did the same. Little did they know how awesome that was. On the van rides home, we’d encourage each other with things we appreciate about one another, using specific examples from the day. Again, dwelling on the positive, not the negative.

Oh what a difference all of this made on our attitudes toward each other.

I am very thankful for our team leaders, who have invested so much time and energy in their labor of love for the team and for the ministries we served at. They are so dear to us, such wonderful mentors and friends.

Even today, we are still continuing to pray for each other and encourage each other. The other day, I had a LONG phone date with my roomie from the Wisma, Joanna. It was SO revitalizing. We talked about our goals and what passages we’ve been reading and so on. 1 hour and 36 minutes. It felt like maybe five.

The concepts of unity and family still are put into use at home. I know it’s one of my big goals and strivings. It’s a lot harder at home, but it’s worth it.

As I was on the road to Oregon last night, I was in the long stretch of highway that never seems to end. I wondered “I’m spending more time driving than I’m going to spend there. Is it going to be worth it?”

Once the partial team came together again, I was able to answer my question with a confident “Yes.”

It was a no-brainer.

I love my team. Simple as that. I am so blessed to have each and every team member/family member in my life.

We like our matching shirts.

On the fun day (which a story is to come), there was plenty of potential for problems to arise. TONS of it. Even in those circumstances, we didn’t allow it to get to us. Unity prevailed

Most of the time, we took two shifts in the van to get places, but every once in a while, we all crammed in.
Yeah, we can fit 12 people in a 9 person van. No biggie.

McDonalds! All-American! No complaints about the local cuisine from me, but it was nice to get a little taste of home.

Part of the team, a few months after the trip

 

Here kitty kitty

I made a lot of decisions on this trip. One of which is this:

I really don’t like cats.

Here’s why:

There are tons of stray cats and dogs all around Indonesialand. Adorable, yes. Healthy, no. At the Wisma, there were a few “regulars” who liked to take a rest there too.

One day, I’m rushing to get out to the van. I usually was the one who kept the key for the room, so I was the last one out. Just as I was walking out the door, I suddenly realized I’d forgotten something. I left the door open just a crack. After all, the bed is only seven steps or so from the door.

I picked up what I needed in no time at all. Apparently that “no time at all” was enough time for a cat to squeeze its way in.

Bad kitty.

I’m really bad with animals. I don’t understand them, they don’t understand me, so I enlisted Lindsey’s help to get the cat out. She called it out, the cat pranced right out, and I shut the door immediately.

Phew. That’s over.

It wasn’t.

We came back that afternoon. The room looked normal. Joanna and I were getting ready to freshen up. I opened the door to the bathroom and found tons and tons of flies/fleas/BUGS scattered all over the four walls. They weren’t buzzing around, just….sitting there on the walls nonchalantly.

Apparently, the cat that had gotten in was infested with some flea problem. Although the cat didn’t make it far in, maybe a few feet, the fleas did, and they rushed into the bathroom with the much warmer, moister air.

They probably multiplied and made flea babies while were out.

Okay it’s just a few flies on the wall, no biggie. That’s it right?

It wasn’t.

I lifted the toilet lid, and inside were tons and tons of flies/fleas/bugs inside the bowl. Probably 30 or so. They weren’t big, but it was still really disgusting.

FLUSH. (add in a couple more for good measure)

They cleared out a few hours later, thankfully. I was also thankful for Joanna being there, since she wasn’t terribly grossed out by them, she kept me sane.

 

So now, I am officially not a fan of cats. For the remainder of the trip, I freaked whenever I saw one come near my room. I freaked inwardly whenever I saw one in general. Even now at home, even though cats are domesticated and inoculated and squeaky clean, I freak out whenever I see one, that it’s going to infest my bathroom with flies.

Sorry cat lovers, no feline friends for me.

 

“That wasn’t lunch?”

After a full morning of constantly interacting with kids and singing songs and playing lots of Quack-diddly-oso, by around noon time we were somewhat hungry. One day, we were all done with our morning program and were waiting for either lunch or time to teach the teachers English, whichever one worked better for them. We were cooling off in one of the few air-conditioned rooms, and in came a tray full of bowls of noodles (Mie in Indonesian).

It was extremely tasty, and the portion size was just right for a midday meal. It was probably one of my favorite dishes of the trip.

We all cleaned our bowls and then we proceeded to start teaching English to the teachers. Mostly we were helping them with pronunciation (more on that to come). Midway through our teaching time, Ashley asked me to accompany her to the restroom.

On our way back, we ran into Ken, who had just come back from an errand.

“How were those noodles?”

“You didn’t have any?”

“No, I was out while you were eating”

“It was pretty good. I liked it.”

“Yeah. Bet you didn’t know that was your snack.”

“You serious?”

“Uh-huh. Lunch is on it’s way.”

Well guess who we’re sitting next to during lunch.

It was then we discovered that in Indonesia, food does not constitute a meal unless there is rice. Otherwise, it is merely a snack. At fast-food places, like A&W or KFC, most meals come with rice in addition to or in place of french fries. While eating breakfast during our second week, a rice cooker sat in the corner.

And, soon enough, we finished teaching English, walked outside and saw a table set up with our lunch for the day.

We were fed very well that day, that’s for sure. I don’t think anyone was hungry for the next day. 🙂

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