Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Christmas Letter

At home in Salatiga for Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Selzers.

I usually write “Greetings from Indonesia” however I realize that we are only five people on an island of 160 million.  I was reminded of this reality on a recent shopping trip to a nearby city, Semarang.  The city was crowded as was the mall that we went to.  Even in our small city of Salatiga there are a lot of people; roughly 10,000 per square kilometer.  In contrast, the city we moved from in Oklahoma had roughly 1000 people per square mile.  One square mile contains 2.59 square kilometers.  In other words, Salatiga has 25,900 people are living in the same space that 1000 of our fellow Oklahomans live in.  While I don’t mind it, I’m still not used to the high population density.  

I suppose that each year one could write about how quickly the year has come and gone.  In truth, it has.  This is our second Christmas in Indonesia, which is hard to believe.  We celebrated it with members of the house church to which we belong.  The casual observer may have thought we were back in the States celebrating with friends and family were it not for the sounds of the free range chickens that roam our backyard, children dressed in shorts, a mix of languages; English, Dutch and Indonesian and the sound of rain on our home’s tile roof.

This year has continued to be a year of firsts even though it is our second year in Indonesia.  The 2009-2010 school year ended well and gave way to a much anticipated summer break.  Within a few weeks the kids were bored.  Dana and I were busy with school summer projects and lesson plans for the fall. 

At the end of June we were excited to host the first of our guests from the States.  At the end of June, Gerry and Jean, my parents, were able to come and spend about two weeks with us.  It was good to see family and take them to see the sights of Salatiga.  We also explored the countryside by visiting a pass that overlooks Mt. Merapi.  Who would have guessed that a few months later Mt. Merapi would make international news?  Mt. Merapi’s eruption was the biggest seen in over a hundred years.  It forced the evacuation of thousands.  Only now, is life slowly beginning to return to normal.  We were fortunate in Salatiga to experience only a little ash fall.

Two weeks after saying good-bye to my parents, we welcomed Dana’s mother, Lynn, her sister, Betty and our nieces, London and Sidney.  This time our sightseeing took us beyond the island of Java to another well-known island, Bali.  We enjoyed boogie boarding, eating Mexican food, touring the island and shopping.  Normally in Indonesia, our family sticks out like a sore thumb.  We’re relatively tall and blonde.  In Bali, we were just a few of the many foreigners enjoying Indonesia’s beauty.  To the surprise of many of the shop owners, we were different from most foreigners in that we could speak some Indonesian.  Between our limited Indonesian and their limited English, we talked about where we lived and what we did.  We met a number of merchants who were from Java, one man grew up in a city about one hour from where we live.  It was fun making these connections and using our Indonesian to barter for souvenirs.  All too soon it was time for our guests to leave and school to begin.

The school is a bit short staffed this year so everyone is a bit busier.  I’m teaching three bible classes, three P.E. classes and coaching girls’ varsity soccer and basketball.  Dana is also busier this year with a bigger class, mentoring the other first grade teacher and helping me coach basketball.  The first grade class was so big this year that the school split them into two different rooms.  One room was just not big enough.

Quintin is a freshman this year.  He enjoyed playing JV soccer this fall and is currently playing on the JV basketball team.  He spends most of his time reading and studies only when he must.  These are his words, not mine.  This past fall he participated in an activity called “Battle of the Books.”  Mountainview had four teams.  Each team read ten books and then answered questions derived from the books.  The best Mountainview team advanced and competed in a “Battle of the Books” showdown within the league Mountainview is associated with.  There are six international schools that participate in competitions once in the fall and once in the spring.   Quintin’s Mountainview team didn’t win, however he was chosen to replace one of the winning team’s members who couldn’t go to the league tournament.  Mountainview ended up winning the “Battle of the Books” at the tournament.

Abby and Zach continue to have fun playing soccer and spending time with friends.  Abby is always working on something and Zach seems to have found a love of reading.  This fall, the elementary had a science fair.  Zach’s science fair project involved finding the optimum angle of incline for rolling a ball down a tube.  For his efforts he won the fourth grade award for “Scientific Genius.”  Abby’s project had to do with the production of carbon dioxide by yeast.  None of us are quite sure how to apply the results of her work, however the judges awarded Abby the overall Science Fair Project winner.  We were surprised and very proud.

We continue to find our service to God at Mountainview rewarding though we miss all of you.  Thank you for all of your support.  Without your prayers and encouragement our presence in Indonesia couldn’t happen. 
Blessings to you and your families as your celebrate the remarkable event of God coming to dwell with His fallen creation that we might be once again restored unto Him.  We are encouraged by the stories of what Immanuel (God with us) is doing in Indonesia and how people are coming to faith.  With these stories we also hear the pain new converts endure when they are cut off from their families and communities.  Whether in the US or in Indonesia, we pray that God will continue to call all people to Himself.  And that the called will be resolved to live as a new people, redeemed by God for the purpose of living in right relationship with God, each other and all of creation.

Blessings to each of you in 2011.