This trip as a whole has felt like a good mixture of fun, hard work, and good conversation, and I would say that our second island could be described in very much the same way. I vividly remember on our first day on the island we were asked to play with the kids within an hour or so of arriving. As we were lead to the soccer field to play with the kids I remember looking behind me to see a swarm of 30-40 kids following us. I am always amazed to see the joy that we can bring to the kids faces by playing and joking with them and they have no idea that we are experiencing that very same joy.
For our work project on this island we put up a guard rail along a path in front of the government building with a steep drop on one side. This project consisted of clearing a spot for the rail, mixing cement, and fixing the pieces of the railing together. What I find unique about the work projects is that it does more than provide them the one intended purpose of the finished project. The project acts as a unifier, bringing together people of various different ages and allows us to have a shared space with many different people. We get to work right alongside the people of the island and it creates a great experience for all of us.
Finally, we got to be a part of great conversations with our host families. Some conversations are very surface level, but are necessary to build a good relationship with our hosts. Some conversations, however, can go deeper and feel a little more meaningful. In my home, through different events that occurred, we got into discussing about evil spirits. This gave us the opportunity to share with the grandfather of our home the power that Jesus has over evil spirits. We then were able to share the story of Jesus’ power over the demons from Mark 5. I do not know the lasting impact that this story will have on our grandfather’s life, but I know that it at least got him to think about the power that Jesus has, which to me, is a very beautiful thing.
This island proved to be completely set apart from the first island for me. I was surprised by my level of hesitancy on the first island, overwhelmed by the apparent number of barriers and things to adjust to in order to relate to the people. Getting to know our translator, learning what it looks like to communicate through another person, my own hope of being relevant and relatable when sharing stories, & an incredible amount of pressure I heaped on myself to have every conversation be spiritually meaningful, left me feeling less like myself and unable to share during mealtimes.
The acknowledgment of these lofty expectations I had for conversation and myself, provided me with the opportunity to relax on the second island. It felt like a relearning of how to engage in small talk, to talk about normal life things with the hope of better knowing and being known by the people on the island. As a result, I felt more like myself on the second island, more comfortable & even more confident to engage in conversation.
All that said, the moment I will most remember from this island is one that I observed. The women from the other house met an Ibu and were invited into her home when they went walking around the island one afternoon. My house of women entered the conversation after it had already begun & they were already deep into sharing stories.
When we arrived, they were about to begin sharing the story of the prodigal son. This story seems to continually reappear for me, packed with even more meaning every time I encounter it. This time was no different. One of the women on the team started the story, sharing about how hard the Father in the story worked to save up an inheritance for his two sons. An equal inheritance for both, freely & fairly prepared to be given. After this was explained the Ibu interrupted and said,
“That is a really amazing Father.”
This small sentence was so simple and so incredibly profound. It was one of those moments for me where you feel like you wake up to the reality of how amazing the Father is, & how little I acknowledge it.
I will never be able to erase the image of her face, completely focused on the story being told, eager to hear how the Father will react to a son that chooses to squander his inheritance. At the conclusion of the story & hearing the incredible acceptance of the Father, she retold the entire story back to us, connecting the Father character to God on her own.
I left that conversation feeling overwhelmed with emotion at the level of her wisdom. Her ability to speak profoundly about the Father, left me longing for a future for her of coming to fully know who Jesus is.
I feel grateful to have been in that room, to be so encouraged & deeply moved by her, and to have the opportunity to continue to pray for her as she goes about life on the island. Pray that she would come to know that the really amazing Father, is hers.
Island 2 had a much different feel to it. Island 1 felt more rural and unified as a village, while island 2 felt more urban and not as tight knit. The houses the team stayed in were all in the village. Where I stayed in particular was a beautiful two story house in the center of he village. This house felt really inviting and different than the previous house I stayed in that was much different. The Ibu that hosted us was very spunky and welcoming which was a beautiful thing to interact with for four days.
Our time on this island felt a lot more slow paced and relaxing which was good for the team. Some of the team went out on the streets and got bumbled by kids while others stayed in their homes and drank there overly sweet tea and talked to their Ibus and bapaks. Our work project was building a wall that kept the kids from falling over the edge. We mixed concrete and poured it to make the wall.
This island felt a lot more superstition which prompted some interesting conversations. There were houses that had more spiritual talks than others. In my house we actually got a chance to share the gospel with our Ibu, after she explained that in the Muslim religion there is a point system that measures how good your works are and if you have enough points at the end of your life you go to heaven. This felt like a door opened to share the gospel with Ibu. We explained that we don’t have a point system following Jesus because He took all our points on the cross. During this conversation, I could feel the emotion welling up inside of me while Grace tried to hard to help her see what Jesus did for Ibu on the cross. Not only were tears flowing but my heart ached. I never knew my heart could ache so much from the gospel. I never had seen the power of Jesus take over so much, I prayed deeply while grace used the cup analogy to describe that Jesus took on all our junk. I wanted so badly for her to know she is loved and accepted no matter what she does. The tricky thing with this is Muslims believe we believe the same thing and we are all going to heaven, so even though this conversation was rich it was still discouraging that she didn’t understand.
Overall this was a beautiful island and Jesus was definitely present and working in these people’s hearts.
As we set off to our next island tomorrow please pray for good health and energy as we are nearing the end of our journey. A lot of people on the team have been sick so please join us in praying against any sickness or exhaustion.