Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's on your Christmas list?

Do you remember what you got for Christmas? What did you ask for? Was it a couple cans of Dr. Pepper? Maybe some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese or a bag of Doritos? Maybe you were wishing for something really special. I know what you’re thinking, Velveeta! Oh, what’s that? None of this stuff was on your wish list. Really?

Today we received two packages from friends living in the US. The packages were filled with things like small cans of Dr. Pepper, Doritos, beef jerky and brownie mixes and yes, Velveeta cheese. While I know that these items sound fairly ordinary in the US, they are extraordinary to have here in Salatiga.

What we received today was more than food. The items were little reminders of the friends and loved ones we know living in the US. Today we were reminded that there are people praying for us and Indonesia. Thank you for your support.

I will probably get in trouble from my wife for what I’m about to write but here it goes. The food items are great. The little cans of Dr. Pepper, something you can’t get in Indonesia, will brighten our day when we’re feeling particularly homesick. However, I also recognize how expensive they are to send. I feel a little like our feet have been anointed with expensive perfume and then swiped with someone’s hair. It’s humbling to receive gifts like that.

We give thanks for the blessing of relationships and the way in which God continues to care for us. Instead of food, another option is to send us an email. It may not taste quite as good as a Dr. Pepper, but we enjoy hearing about what’s going on in your lives and what God is doing in your midst. Like the food, it will remind us of you, of your love for us and our love for you.

May God encourage you this week through those around you and may you seek to encourage those whom God puts in your path.

Students say the most interesting things!

This year I’m teaching freshmen Biology.  I’m really enjoying the class.  I have fourteen students, twelve of whom are boys.  One of the exciting things about students is that you never know what they are going to say, especially freshmen. 
Last night while I was grading papers I came across one such example in an essay entitled How Biology Touches Our Lives.  I received all of the expected answers like contributions to safe food, medicine and the prevention of disease, care for the environment and predicting nature events like earthquakes. 
However one student surprised me a bit.  He stated that “without Biology we wouldn’t know how to reproduce.”  His comment made me laugh.  In fact the more I thought about it the harder I laughed.  I’m not completely sure what the young man is hoping to learn this year but I’m afraid that he’s going to be very disappointed with my Biology class.  We won’t be studying the topic of how to reproduce, just cellular reproduction and genetics.  I think I’ll invite his parents to field the “how to reproduce” question at home. 
If you are a parent reading this post, you might want to sit down with your child and help them understand the "how questions" of reproduction and the appropriate context for its application, namely within the marriage covenant.  I know these can be awkward conversations but I think they are important ones for parents to have with their children.  If you've already had sex conversations with your own kids, please pray for those of us who haven't.  In our household, we've had the conversation with one but still have two to go.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sitting can be a struggle no matter where you are.

School started last Tuesday. By all indicators, we’re off to a good start. Of course everyone is trying to get back into the rhythm of school again, including me. My voice has been a bit hoarse from talking more than usual and I’m sleeping a bit more. After our first day of school, I came home, ate supper and then proceeded to sleep for the next eleven hours.

In class, my students are also having to get used to being back in school. After about ten minutes of sitting, they begin to squirm and fidget in their seats. There were a few students in particular that were having trouble one day remembering how to listen with their mouths shut and their bodies still. As I encouraged them to discipline themselves, I was reminded of a time not so long ago when I was struggling to sit still.

We were about five hours into our flight from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Tokyo. While five hours is a long time to sit shoe-horned into a seat designed for people much shorter than I, I was finding a way to enjoy the trip. Unfortunately, the eleven hour flight wasn’t schedule to end for another six hours. Suddenly minutes began to feel like hours. The little airplane projected on the flight map that the airlines use to mark the flight’s progress seemed to stop moving. For the next six hours, I tried to direct my thoughts from my present reality. The truth was, I really didn’t want the airplane to make an early landing, especially in the water! I found myself concentrating on the hope that the pilot would get us to Tokyo safely and as quickly as possible. In the end, that’s just what happened. While I understand the physics behind flight, I still find it amazing that in just eleven hours a person can travel over 6000 miles. And thanks to the skill of the pilot, land right where everyone expects to go.

This memory changed the way I felt about the students struggling to focus in class. Suddenly, I realized that they were feeling kind of like I did as a passenger on the airplane. The primary difference was that they, or their parents, were counting on me, the teacher/pilot, to get them where they needed to go, safely and as quickly as possible. As my feelings towards the students changed so did my actions. I suddenly felt a wealth of patience to draw from as I continued to encourage them to discipline themselves so that they and the rest of their classmates could be successful in class.

One maxim that I repeat often is that God’s people’s biggest problem is amnesia. They forget what God has done for them. Today I give thanks for the gift of memories; memories that God can use to help mold this lump of clay into something pleasing to Him.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Our Return to Indonesia!

It's been a week since we left Oklahoma and our family and friends to complete our third year here in Indonesia.  Our return has been very refreshing because there is a coolness in the breeze here compared to the hot climate of the midwest.  Currently we are trying to get over jet-lag in order to be better prepared for school which begins next Tuesday, Aug. 9.  Please pray that we are able to over-come this quickly.

During our trip to this side of the world we had time to reflect on our summer spent in the states...  what a wonderful time we had.  In May we felt "empty" and we have returned to Indonesia "full".  Thank you to everyone who had a part in that.  We were able to visit three congregations who continually have a part in our family:  Pleasantview Mennonite Church in Hydro, Oklahoma; Hesston College Mennonite Church in Hesson, Kansas; and Bethesda Mennonite Church in Henderson, Nebraska.  Thank you to all three churches for their continued support.  We covet your prayers during this last year of our three year commitment to Mountainview International Christian School.