Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning

Mery Christmas!  We've had a wonderful day here in Salatiga.  We woke up early (not as early as Zach, he was up at 4 am wondering if it was time to open presents!) and then connected with family in Thomas, Oklahoma via skype.  The kids opened their presents while Papa & Grandma Jackson watched.  Thank goodness for technology.  Unfortunately even technology is unpredictable.  Our electricity went out during the call, but we were able to reconnect with them later in the morning.  We did finally open the rest of our gifts.  The picture shows our family showing off our new Hesston College t-shirts from Papa & Grandma Selzer.  We are proud supporters of the Larks and always welcome new paraphernalia.

Jeff & I decided to get the kids sarongs, traditional clothing worn in Asian countries.  We went shopping at a Batik store downtown and chose fabric.  From the reactions of those standing around we were probably charged three times the original price.  At some point we will start to make sense of the Indonesian language.  Ibu Ti's husband is a tailor (she is one of our pembantus) and he sewed the fabric into sarongs for us.  Abby & Zach were very excited about the sarongs and have had them on most of the day.  Quin's reaction to the sarong was a little different.  In fact this picture may be the only time he is seen in it!

The rest of our day has been a mix of eating, sleeping and playing, all with Christmas in mind.  We are always mindful of our loved ones at home and you are always in our prayers and in our hearts.  We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Selzer Christmas Letter 2009

“Selamat Hari Natal dan Selamat Tahun Baru!”

(Merry Christmas And Happy New Year!)

We hope this letter finds everyone filled with the spirit of Christmas. Finals are done, grades have been recorded, and the last program has been performed, and yet here in Indonesia it does not feel like Christmas. In fact if we didn’t look at the calendar we could say that it is August. We are used to telling the passing of time through the four seasons. Here our weather is the same year round, except for six months of the year when we get rain almost daily. So instead of it “feeling” like it is Christmas with the cold weather, we will carry the “feeling” of the Christmas season in our hearts and share that with those around us.

Experiencing Indonesia

We arrived in Salatiga, Indonesia, on July 9, 2009, and have been trying to make sense of the many changes in our lives. Moving from a town of 1200 to a city of 176,000 is enough of a change to send a person into shock, but throw in a new language, new ways of transportation, new cultural expectations, new jobs & school setting, and to top it all off we feel like giants in a land of short people! Fortunately for us, our Indonesian neighbors are very forgiving and understanding of our “foreign” ways.

During Fall Break we traveled to Yogyakarta with friends. To reach our destination we traveled by bus and then by train. That was quite the experience. We enjoyed every minute of it and plan to travel by train again.

During Christmas break we are planning to travel to Pacitan with three other families. Pacitan is located on the south side of the island and will be our first trip to the beach.

What have we been up to?

Like every year we’ve been busy with our different interests and pursuits. Quintin continues to read, read, and read! One of his favorite authors is Brian Jacques. If he’s not reading you can find him playing games on the computer, His current favorite is “Age of Empires. “ Not only does Quintin spend time on the computer at home, but he will catch the angkota (public transportation) and meet friends at NEO’s (a computer hang-out) where they will sit side by side and play computer games for hours!

Abby continues to amaze us with her creativity and imagination. She spends much time and energy writing and illustrating stories, as well as producing plays in our living room with friends. She also enjoys playing soccer and basketball and is extremely competitive (if you can imagine that).

Zach enjoys spending time with his two friends, Ezel and Jimin. He is taking after his brother in that he also spends much time playing computer games.

Dana still enjoys scrapbooking, but is having to create pages digitally. According to her “It’s just not the same type of therapy as when you are physically moving the elements around and creating 3-D pages!” Dana also spends much time and energy preparing lessons for her first graders, which she is enjoying very much!

Jeff has been busy being a teacher. He has a broad curriculum guide to follow but no student textbooks so much of his time is spent lesson planning. Outside of school, Jeff spends time trying to learn the language and explore the city.

What a year of contrasts. Last year we greeted 2009 with family in Oklahoma. This year we anticipate celebrating the New Year with friends in Indonesia. It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to be a foreigner in a foreign land. Most Indonesians are very gracious and patient. However, when we go downtown to shop, small fearful pointing children remind us that we are different. I hope that no matter where we are we would always embrace diversity as an opportunity for learning and understanding and not a platform for fear and division.

At a Christmas gathering, a long-term missionary told a story about a Muslim man in the last stages of life whom he recently met. This man was sleeping only two hours a night. When asked why, t man replied that he is preparing himself for hell where he knows that he will get no sleep. I continue to be astounded by Muslims who persevere in their practice of faith without hope. Indeed, the harvest is upon us and all around us. Christ’s message of hope and healing for all people is not outdated nor is it obsolete in the post-modern world.

As I reflect on our first six months in Indonesia I’m still surprised that we’re actually here. There was so much for God to work out in order for us to come. The only credit we can take in that process was the willingness to be available. I give thanks for God’s care and provision. Through your availability, your prayers, your fellowship and financial support, God sustains us. This Christmas season, we rejoice in the message of hope found in the birth of the Messiah and give thanks for the great cloud of witnesses that we enjoy fellowship with.
May God bless each of you in 2010!

Quintin Turns 14!

Sorry, that it's been awhile since our last update.  The last two weeks of school went by very quickly and were full of projects, Christmas programs, and finals.  Now that we're a few days into our Christmas vacation we can relax and enjoy our time at home with family.  Yesterday we celebrated Quintin's 14th birthday.  He seemed to have a good day, but it's sometimes hard to tell with teenagers.  He spent the night with a friend and watched movies til late.  They got up early and went to eat breakfast at Soto Kesambi's and had his favorite Indonesian meal, chicken & rice soup.  Then they headed to NEO's, a computer hangout.  They played for hours and then he came home to celebrate with his family.  Abby & Zach had decorated the dining room with "Happy Birthday" banners and balloons.  They had the table set, the cake ready, and his presents wrapped for the moment he walked in.  For his birthday Quin received a hand phone (cell phone)!  He spent the rest of the day playing with it to figure all of it's functions out.  Hopefully he can figure it out and then help me with mine (I have the same one)!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Renaissance Festival

The middle ages were an exciting time. Hope was starting to pull back the dark veil covering civilization during the dark ages. The drama and history teachers decided to put on a Renaissance Festival as a project for their classes. Soon the whole highschool was involved. The large gathering was a re-enactment of one of King Henry's weddings, his last one I think. Keeping King Henry's wives straight is a chore.

I led a session called Heretics and Heathens in which I pretended to be an inqustitor for the church. After familiarizing the group with the inquistitor's job and some of the tortures used in the process, Spencer, a 12th grade Bible student and I acted out the Diet of Worms. I was Johann Eck, the papal representative and the man responsible for questioning Martin Luther (Spencer).

Quintin and others from his class also participated in the festival. They put on a puppet show for some of the elementary students and served as performers in the Renaissance village between sessions. Quintin was a mime. He's pictured with a friend from his class, Zach.

The Renaissance Festival got me thinking. It's only been a few hundred years since the middle ages, yet the world or at least the world I've known, has changed dramatically. Since coming to Indonesia we've seen places barely touched by time; places where the people continue to live just as they have for hundreds of years. In seeing these places I can better understand what the middles ages might have been like. This causes me to wonder what the average Indonesian thinks of us. Are we seen as crusaders armed with wealth, priviledge and a New Testament Bible? During my research on the middle ages, I found myself appalled and ashamed of some of the church's history. I think and will continue to hope that the aliens living among the indigenous people here are living a better story than the one's that came out of the middle ages. Of course this is the hope that we are all called to live out.

Shalom, Jeff