Providence Anglican Church is a multi-national fellowship in Jakarta. God has seen fit to add to our small group people from America, Australia, China, Korea, Indonesia, Iran, and the Philippines. How beautiful that on any given Sunday, the sermon or scripture reading might be translated into one of the languages spoken by our members. One particular Sunday, something really special happened. Our American-Malaysian co-worker, Sandy, helped our Iranian believers lead the congregational singing in Farsi. All of the songs were familiar, but with lyrics in the Farsi language. Sandy must have practiced night and day to master this in a tongue so foreign. Our hearts and voices lifted as one as we cried out “How Great is Our God!” Pedar rahim bar ma, Masih monjiye ma, Setaim namatra, Setaim namatra. The Godhead Three in One, Father, Spirit, Son, The Lion and the Lamb, The Lion and the Lamb.
I can’t say we expected to worship in Farsi when we first journeyed to the far seas to minister in Indonesia. How thankful we are that God always exceeds our expectations. Truly, how great is our God!
People might wonder what the life of a missionary is like and assume there must be to it an air of the romantic or exotic. Well, we have had our share of “exotic” scents (usually sewage) and tropical breezes (laden by smog.) But, really our life would be best described as an adventure (meaning not planned and totally out of my sphere of control) with our heavenly Father as the most amazing tour guide!
Consider our recent trip to Singapore to secure an Indonesian visa (permission to live and work in the country.) Our three days turned into five, as the visa process can be painfully slow. I was anxious at this change of plans because this would mean the kids would miss more school, Jim would be absent from church, and more money would be spent on meals abroad. It was a cry or laugh moment, and so I decided to trust that our Tour Guide must have a lot to show us in Singapore!
Being blessed with superior accommodations at the Anglican Prayer Lodge, we set out to see what the city had to offer. We dined with old friends, took in a light-water-music show at the harbor, worshiped at St. George’s, and strolled around The Botanical Gardens. We had a great tour of Singapore and left with a reminder to “sit back and enjoy the ride!”
It is less than three weeks until I depart for Thailand. Thank you so much to all of you who have supported me financially and in prayer. I have less than $500 to raise before being fully funded, and I am amazed by God’s provision and the generosity of my family, friends, and church community.
The purpose of this mission goes beyond my 9-10 month internship, and it is a gift to see God’s people coming together to help the church in Thailand make an impact on the community. You are each a part of this ministry and I would not be where I am without your support and involvement in this process.
Please continue to pray for me as my departure approaches, especially for preparations to continue smoothly and for safety as I travel. Please also pray for the ministry in Thailand and for the university students that I will be working with. I am praying that we are able to overcome language and cultural barriers to build genuine friendships, and that the love of Christ will be evident to them through the work that I do.
Thank you for your love, encouragement, and prayers as I step out into the [somewhat] unknown and follow God’s call. I am continually grateful for the people in my life, without whom I might never have taken this step and who have played a huge role in the discernment and preparation process.
I plan to keep up with blog posts pretty frequently during the course of my internship to keep you all in the loop. Stay tuned to hear more about my ministry in Thailand!
The kids and I are back in Jakarta and finally starting to feel the effects of jet lag wearing off! What a blessing to be once again in the midst of our PAC family (Providence Anglican Church.) Jim was busy setting up the Lord’s Table with an array of beautiful furnishings provided by St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Phoenix, AZ and the International Anglican Fellowship. What a remarkable visual picture it created in our humble rental space! Upon unwrapping the wooden stand for the display of the Bible, Jim discovered a sticker on the bottom that read, “Made in Indonesia.” Can you imagine this stand, made by native hands here, exported across the vast ocean with years of service in America, then carried all the way back to our little church in Jakarta? We all had a good chuckle and yet this served as a reminder that God is truly at work, connecting believers around the globe. What an encouragement to us. “He’s got the whole world in His hands!”
This will be our last post as a result of our mission to Bangkok. The headline refers to both a poem by Kipling, and a literary term for drawing a meaning or conclusion at the end of a poem. I suppose it is too soon to deeply reflect upon what we did, whom we met, and what we saw, but here goes anyway.
I just reread what I wrote when we returned from our mission to Lithuania these five years ago, (Reflections on return). Much of what I said then would apply now – except for the part about how similar Lithuania was to any other Western country. Except for shopping centers, which are the same all over the world, not much in Thailand was like life and culture in the States. As you’ve been following our blog, you have noticed what I mean, and I won’t rehash here.
A mission, at least in our experience, is like a stage of life. You put down roots, establish relationships, get in the groove, so to speak, and then it’s over. This is very obvious to those of you who, as Bonnie and I, have moved frequently over the years. For those who’ve stayed put, however, think how many people – friends, family, neighbors – or institutions have left or changed beyond recognition. It is with a profound sense of loss that this takes place, and even though we were only at the Centre and our neighborhood for about five weeks, nevertheless bonds were formed.
Memories, however, last for a very long time. It is unlikely that we will ever see any of the folks we met again, at least not until “Earth’s last picture is painted”, but Bonnie and I are much the richer for having had the opportunity. On our first mission trip, to Jamaica in 1998, to an orphanage, a kid named Charles asked if I would ever forget him. I said no – and obviously haven’t. If you’ve ever considered a mission journey, take it. No matter what you may contribute to others, no matter the time, expense and often discomfort, you will be the gainer.
Although we should all bear in mind that day “When only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame . . “, in the meantime there are some wonderful experiences to be had, and some wonderful people to meet.