Final Reflections – (1/30/17)

24 days. 14 people. 

There’s no way to prepare for showering in mandis, wiping with your left, sitting criss-cross applesauce for hours on end, eating food that stares back at you, eating a sagu worm, sweating constantly, and listening to hundreds of puns about sarongs. It’s through all these experiences and more, we got to have the opportunity of a lifetime. Being able to see how God is moving on the other side of the world.

  

One of the most impactful ideas from this trip for myself (Isaac), was that of the Islamic faith and the work of contextualization. I did not know much about the work that was being done here before and was curious to have a first-hand experience. This idea from one of our guides seems incredibly important to me: Our God is a God who has created a culture and defends it. He does not want to change or rid these people of their culture but rather wants them to be people of their culture who love and know Him. In acknowledging that, it is absolutely beautiful how the people work to bring the Good News to these people of Islamic faith in an applicable and realistic way. Though it may not be your first thought, there are many truths that Muslims believe that is even within the Qur’an. This hit me on our third island as our host sister shared the story of Moses. There is a deep longing for God in these people, and how beautiful it has been to see the revealing of Jesus Christ through their own culture and beliefs.

 

As Isaac previously stated this idea from our guide has brought about so many questions for our group (Caleb). To say this trip was easy would be a lie, which shows the beauty of the people who live and work here. While we jump into their lives for 24 days, they live in it for 365. As we have reflected after every island stay and the trip as a whole we have all had this one reoccurring theme: we are leaving with more questions than answers. When you hear that you’re going to the other side of the world and will be living in Muslim families’ homes who have never heard of this man Jesus Christ even though he is in their book, you fully expect to come home to friends

and family telling of how much you know about God and how you have all the answers to the hard questions you had always asked. In reality, though, you come away with more questions, but a deeper understanding and a glimpse of God. This idea from Adam (one of the team members) really embodies how we need to learn. He shared this idea that you are a bottle in the ocean. God is the ocean and we are the bottle. If you fill up your bottle and pour it out and then fill it up and pour it out, then you will never fully understand anything about God. But if you fill up your bottle and admire, play, feel, and experience the water in the bottle you get a fuller glimpse of our God. Most of us will be coming home with hard questions that we may not have the answer to but in an American culture so steeped with immediate satisfaction, there is no better lesson to learn than patience. The process to the answer requires patience but that process is where we slowly see God working in our lives and in the lives around us.

 

Caleb and I had the privilege of sharing a host family during our third island visit, and we didn’t realize the full level of the hospitality we received until we left the island. One of our guides pointed out how our Bapak (host dad) was always around. We lived at least a mile from the village center and any activity that we participated in during our visit we had to make the walk. Despite making this walk 4-5 times each day, our Bapak was always present. He was watching us at the work projects, watching us play volleyball, and even we left home without him, he would show up with us half way through the walk. His sacrifice of any schedule, any comfort of avoiding that long walk by riding his motorbike, and of his precious time showed a love and hospitality I dream of having. The hospitality we have received here in SE Asia has been moving, and I am honored to have the opportunity to know and live alongside these beautiful people even for just a few days. Upon leaving the last island, our Bapak and I locked eyes as we drove away on the boat, and I was instantly shocked at the level of relationship that can be reached in such a short amount of time. I realized this is why we are here, and this is how God is moving here.

 

As we wrap up this trip as a whole, Isaac and I could not help but think back to this idea of prayer. Specifically a conversation I had with a 17-year-old on our first island. We were wrapping up from our stay there and one night he randomly said to me “Though we may be far in sight, we are close in prayers.” We are all forever a part of these people’s lives that we met throughout this trip and we are forever a part of their journey to Heaven. While we are leaving, that fact can never be taken away from any of us. No goodbye is easy when you view it as a fact of life that we will likely never again see these translators, the workers at Telunas, the people who watched us from afar on these islands or the people we had specific interactions with. As one translator said, though, “I don’t give goodbye speeches, I give see you later speeches”. When we leave this comfort of this tangible world, we can finally see the glimpse of God’s great Kingdom. We don’t share so that we go our separate ways. We share so that we can be connected in prayer and finally be together in worship for eternity with our Good, Good Father.

 

Caleb & Isaac

 

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Island 2 – (1/19/17)

 Nolan

          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. 

Kelsie

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.

Katie

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. 

Telunas – 3 Perspectives (1/13/17)

 Jordan

         On Sunday afternoon, we finally hopped on the boat and headed from Telunas to our first home stay on an island. There was much anticipation and excitement as we realized we were about to engage in conversations and activities we had been planning for months. After about an hour we arrived at the village we would be staying at for the next few days. Our team was greeted with an overwhelming sense of hospitality as much of the village had come to the end of their jetty to meet us. What felt like all of the village children lined the jetty and greeted us with an Indonesian handshake and then offered to carry our bags as we headed to our homes. As soon as we got to our homes our Ibus (mothers) and Bapaks (fathers) welcomed us with tea and coffee (loaded with sweetened condensed milk) and homemade snacks. We sat in a circle on the floor and began the process of encountering a culture very different from our own. While at times it felt very uncomfortable (i.e. being hot, sleeping on the floor, eating sting ray, hearing the mosque, or waking up to giant centipedes in the middle of the night), we were met with such hospitality and our Ibus and Bapaks treated us like family, which made the transition easier. Also, we’re learning more about what it means to be “comfortable” and each of us are loving the opportunity to take steps out of our comfort zone. 

       It feels like much of what we did on these island visits could be divided into two parts – constantly playing with kids and engaging in conversation with adults (mainly our Bapaks and Ibus over meals or at night). While there was still much darkness and confusion on this island, you could say that there was also a sense of hopefulness that this island could be on the brink of a change. This could be seen in both the children and the adults. For example, the children knew some songs about the Son, and while it was sad that they did not really understand what they were saying, God’s presence was felt in many interactions with kids. One of the most well off men on the island has recently begun to trust in the Son during this island visit, we got to have a really good conversation with his next door neighbor/brother and leader of the village. It turns out they both watch a TV program about the Son almost every night and the leader of the village asked about the story of Him and what is true. One of our translators shared the full story with him. He moved around uncomfortably and then sat in silence. When our translator felt the the Spirit prompting her to ask if his heart felt hot and he replied “yes.” It it amazing to see the way God is moving on this island without us, and also how He did choose to use us. 

Grace

     After arriving, our first full day began with a mandi (bucket shower), breakfast (consisting of more sweet coffee and tea, spicy noodles, and homemade donuts), and a work project mixing concrete for a public mandi floor. We then had the honor of jumping off of the jetty into water to cool ourselves after the hard work. Children joined soon after, and we found ourselves playing, wrestling, and running around for hours with the joyful children. The laughs and giggles from these playful kiddos will be burned into our memories forever, and we are thankful to have them. As the day wound down, we took another mandi before dinner where we sat on the floor eating and talking with our Ibu and the children that gathered to listen.

     The next day began the same as the first, but our work project was painting the public mandi a bright orange with a trimming of green. We then had a chance to visit the school and teach some English to the children before heading back to our houses for lunch. Once finished with lunch one of the female houses had the opportunity to follow their Ibu into the forest where she explained that every day she worked with rubber trees. Children followed into the forest singing and listening as the Ibu showed them all how she would cut a sliver of the tree back to release a white liquid that when dried would become a rubber that she would then sell. It was interesting to see more of her life, and it honored her to know that these women cared. Dinner was more lively that night as we spoke about these new topics.

     That night, the village held a closing ceremony in our honor where we danced and sang in Indonesian dress. As we said goodbye during the closing ceremony our hearts were heavy. Children and Ibus followed us to the jetty the next morning as we left this beloved new island. We had made so many friends, and we were thankful for the time we had been given to learn about the culture and love these people fully. We now pray that God will continue to work in this area and bring more into His arms. 

 Drew 

This trip so far has been one of beauty and challenge in many ways. It’s hard to put words to what I have experienced so far but I would have to say though that most sticks out to me is the idea of resting when God is meeting you. It is easy to be comfortable, especially when it comes to our relationship with God. For me, being comfortable has always meant being angry. Questions such as, “why does God allow things to happen in the matter in which they do?” is often on my mind. When I see pain that I cannot reconcile with my view of God it makes me angry. I would fix the problem so why doesn’t He.

God so often has met me in that place of anger but I too often let that be the last emotion I feel. A God that I am angry at is a God that I feel in control of. Through the first visit to the island I am, slowly by slowly, learning to be. Letting God meet me in an emotion outside of anger feels out of control, maybe even dangerous. What if what I feel isn’t something I am comfortable with? What if I feel nothing but emptiness? I’d much rather feel anger than nothing at all.

When going to the final 2 islands please pray that my team and I leave room for emptiness. Knowing that our God is a God who fills. He may not make us feel better or make things easier but He is always filling space, pursuing us in the midst of heartache and joy, pain and pleasure, laughter and cries. Pray that we have the courage to feel all these things and let God meet us there.

“This emptiness is gospel, not law; poetry, not prose. It is welcome to a God who is coming in to fill.”

Travel to Telunas (1/8/2017)

After over 24 hours of traveling we finally made it to our final destination. It seemed like we used every form of transportation from Taylor vans to planes to boats. Everything so far has gone according to schedule. Our longest flight was from Chicago to Hong Kong, which was just over 15 hours. One team member slept almost the whole flight (our very own “sleeping magician”), while some others were lucky to get 30 minutes of sleep (thank goodness for inflight movies and offline Netflix). We arrived in Singapore at 2 am local time and got a couple hours of sleep in the transit hotel before leaving to catch the ferry. The days of traveling definitely felt long and tiring but we are thankful for safety and a few days of rest before heading out to the first island.  

We arrived in the city for some time to get over jet lag as well as to do some culture and language training before heading to Telunas and then to our first island. Our time consisted of meeting a family who plays a key role in guiding the heart of Telunas, swimming to keep us awake, a crash course in the language, and a scavenger hunt in the mall. The scavenger hunt gave us all the chance to practice our language skills and explore a little bit before leaving the city. Perhaps the most relaxing part of the day was getting a cream bath (hair conditioning treatment complete with a massage) and chatting with the stylists in the salon. We had some team time to keep ourselves awake and prepared for our trip to Telunas. 

It took us about an hour and a half to get to Telunas, but we all enjoyed each other’s company, the view, and the breeze. We were welcomed with cool towels and orange drinks, which just speaks to the hospitality of all of those we meet. We had some time today to relax, swim, and prepare for the days ahead. We would so appreciate prayer against sickness and distraction in the coming days, as well as rest in the presence of God and others. 

Hello from SE Asia

After over 24 hours of traveling we finally made it to our final destination. It seemed like we used every form of transportation from Taylor vans to planes to boats. Everything so far has gone according to schedule. Our longest flight was from Chicago to Hong Kong, which was just over 15 hours. One team member slept almost the whole flight (our very own “sleeping magician”), while some others were lucky to get 30 minutes of sleep (thank goodness for inflight movies and offline Netflix). We arrived in Singapore at 2 am local time and got a couple hours of sleep in the transit hotel before leaving to catch the ferry. The days of traveling definitely felt long and tiring but we are thankful for safety and a few days of rest before heading out to the first island.

We arrived in the city for some time to get over jet lag as well as to do some culture and language training before heading to Telunas and then to our first island. Our time consisted of meeting a family who plays a key role in guiding the heart of Telunas, swimming to keep us awake, a crash course in the language, and a scavenger hunt in the mall. The scavenger hunt gave us all the chance to practice our language skills and explore a little bit before leaving the city. Perhaps the most relaxing part of the day was getting a cream bath (hair conditioning treatment complete with a massage) and chatting with the stylists in the salon. We had some team time to keep ourselves awake and prepared for our trip to Telunas.

It took us about an hour and a half to get to Telunas, but we all enjoyed each other’s company, the view, and the breeze. We were welcomed with cool towels and orange drinks, which just speaks to the hospitality of all of those we meet. We had some time today to relax, swim, and prepare for the days ahead. We would so appreciate prayer against sickness and distraction in the coming days, as well as rest in the presence of God and others. unnamed

SE Asia Team – Arrival (1/4/2017)

The Lighthouse home-base has received word that the SE Asia team has arrived safely in Singapore. The team is going to catch some sleep and then head off by ferry in the morning to reach their destination.

Continue to pray that the SE Asia team will re-gain energy after an exhausting trip and that they will adjust well to the new region and culture.

Meet the SE Asia Team 2017

World, meet the 2017 SE Asia Lighthouse team. This team, working with Christian translators, will be ministering to area islanders. They will build relationships through community service projects, prayer walking, and through teaching English and sports ministries. This is the 6th Lighthouse team to serve the islands, where the population is 90% Muslim. Pray that the relationships these students form with the local people will be impactful, as most locals have never had an opportunity to interact with Christians.

The SE Asia Team, along with the 4 other Lighthouse Teams, will be departing Taylor University tomorrow morning (January 3rd.) Pray for these students and leaders, that they may reach their destinations safely.

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