[This is another of the newsletters that I sent to friends when I was living in Indonesia between 2003 and 2008.]
In November, 2004, 21 friends of mine took a 12 day trip into the interior of Kalimantan. This is the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, 80% the size of Texas and home to over 10 million people. Some of those who went on this trip were young Indonesians that I have Bible classes with here in Jakarta. Others are children of social workers who grew up here in Indonesia. And there were a few adults around my age and of a similar background, heading up the team. Their primary goal was to bring aid and God’s love to 12 villages they would visit, through personal visitation, skits, songs and classes, as well as to distribute several tons of goods which had been donated for this project.
This “Far Country Photos #3” will give you a pictorial glimpse of some of what went on during that time. These pictures will begin from the time after the team had left the capital of the province, Pontianak (population: 390,000 and situated directly on the Equator), and had driven into the interior to a training camp deep in the jungle.
Trucks pull in to Tikalong training camp, 4 hours drive into the jungle.
Rolling out to the first village. “Do you think those planks will hold that truck?” “They should, they’re teak wood.”
“Welcome to our village! We have been waiting for you!”
“Oh-my-gosh! Look at all those kids!”
“OK, guys, let’s work with our friends here and get that truck unloaded!”
“Can you come here and talk to us tonight?”
“But why wait? Let’s get out the guitar and sing something for these kids right now.”
The first night’s meeting. Around 200, almost all kids. Most young adults leave the villages to try to find menial jobs in Malaysia or the big Indonesian cities.
Often the program would partly be a skit of the Christmas story. Here, the 3 Wise Men see His star in the east.
This is what is exciting! This is what sends us across oceans to faraway lands “to seek and to save that which was lost”. This is what is worth seeing— that deep hunger in the heart of man for his Creator.
Next morning: part of the team ready to leave for the next village. Some older ones take the truck, the rest head off on foot for the trail through the jungle.
Bridge washed out? No problem! Just unload the truck, carry everything across those planks, and load up another truck on the other side!
To another village: lots more kids; plus pigs, chickens, mud and “His hungry sheep!”
No desks, no chairs, no carpets. But “the poor have the gospel preached unto them” and we’re lovin’ it.
It’s mostly kids. But the grandparents come too and they seem to get as much out of it as the rest.
“And there was great joy in that city (or village).” Acts 8:8
The other part of each service, distribution of donated goods: towels, books, stationery, toys, clothes, slippers, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and smiles.
Actually, the towels were as big a hit as the toys. All these are things people in these parts can almost never obtain.
“OK, so it’s a little rough. But we’re doing something with our lives and it’s fulfilling!
And the results. A few out of the thousands touched by a sample of the love of God.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I don’t know much of what else to add. Except to say how thankful I am to be able to be a part of this. Not only were these villages reached in this way, but perhaps equally important, a number of young people were able to put their faith and convictions to the test and to get invaluable experience in sharing the Love of God with others, as well as learning to work in teamwork to really live all that they had been reading about and preparing for.
To be working with friends like these is a special privilege and blessing that I’m really thankful for. I hope this will somehow give you a vision of what things are like here and how His work of this type is continuing in this day and age.
With much love, your friend, Mark