Saturday, January 21, 2012

2011: Year in Review

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Selzers.
We hope that this Advent Season and your Christmas celebrations have helped you remember the miraculous event of God coming to dwell with humanity.  It is a powerful reminder of the importance of relationship with God first and then with all people.  Certainly our time in Indonesia has fleshed out a greater understanding of just who ‘all people’ means.
Christmas Eve 2011
(Perhaps our last Christmas photo where everyone is in shorts)
Last Christmas we were blessed to host some of our friends from Nebraska, Jay Dee and Wendy Janzen.  It was a good time to reconnect with those from our own culture while exposing them to the culture we now enjoy.  This Christmas, we celebrated Christ’s birth with 34 people from our house church and other friends.  We fellowshipped with a light meal before worshipping God in song, reading Scripture and lighting the Christ candle in the Advent wreath.  The rest of our break was spent getting ready for the next semester and exploring more of Indonesia, specifically a small island off the east coast of Bali called Gili Air.  It was beautiful.  We enjoyed snorkeling with sea turtles, seeing dolphins from our fast ferry and soaking up some sunshine.  In Salatiga, we get very little sunshine this time of year because we are in the midst of rainy season.
The time between this Christmas and last Christmas has gone by fast, perhaps too fast.  Here’s a quick year-end review of the family.
Sunrise on Gili Island
Jeff continues to teach in the high school at Mountainview International Christian School (MICS).  The classes he’s teaching this year include Old Testament Survey, New Testament Survey, Biology 1, Apologetics, Missions and Weight Training.  His other responsibilities this year included Dana.  The girls’ season ends February 26.  On Monday and Thursday nights, Jeff can be found playing badminton at one of the local indoor courts.  He has been playing with members of MICS national staff for about two years.  For Jeff, it’s been a great way to build relationships and stay in shape.
Dana is in her third year of teaching first grade and continues to enjoy these little people from around the world.  She continues to be amazed at how quickly they are able to learn in English when for the majority it is their second or even third language.  Dana spends most of her time perfecting the first grade curriculum and finding ways to make learning fun for her students.  When she is not in the classroom she is planning events for the school.  This year’s events so far have been Book Character Day, the all-school Christmas chapel, and the K-12 Winter Field Day.
Quintin turned 16 and is in 10th grade this year.  During our visit to the US this summer he was able to take drivers’ education and practice a bit before we returned to Indonesia.  He enjoys playing basketball and is on the JV team.  He can’t wait to get back to America.  He misses the good food and his books that are in storage though he reads a lot here.  He also misses family and friends and hopes to see them soon.
Abby turned 12 in June and is in the sixth grade.  Sixth grade is a bit different for her since she now has four teachers instead of just one.  Abby’s highlights this past year included going to the beach and snorkeling where she could explore coral and the life that dwells under the ocean.  She also enjoyed visiting the monkey forest and having monkeys crawl on her.  Abby writes “Although I love it here, I can’t wait to be back in Thomas and Henderson”.
Zach is in the fifth grade this year and turned 11 in October.  Zach has a first year teacher named Ms. Lauren.  His highlights from 2011 include climbing to the top of a volcanic crater (Mt. Bromo) and petting a lion club at the Bali Zoo.  Like Abby, Zach enjoyed staying on an island that you could walk all the way around in two hours and playing in the ocean.
With this being our last year, we’ve tried to see a bit more of Indonesia.  These efforts included going to the Gili Islands and to the volcano, Mt. Bromo.  Mt. Bromo is located in western Java.  It is roughly a 10 hour journey from Salatiga that takes one from the warm moist air of central Java to the cool, thin air of west Java high in the mountains.  Mt. Bromo is spectacular to view at sunrise.  It is also the coldest place we’ve been in three years.
We were also blessed by Pleasant View Mennonite Church this past year to be able to travel to the US over the summer.  Of course we had to get used to driving on the right side of the road instead of the left but that was a small thing in comparison to the opportunity to visit family and friends from California, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.  It was especially good for our children to reconnect with friends knowing that we’d soon be returning to stay.
“Staying”.  That seems to be a word that we’ve had difficulty doing.  For now we plan to finish the 2011-2012 school year in Salatiga and then leave for the US June 4.  We’ve chosen to spend a few days in Beijing, China on our way home.  Our immediate goal upon return is to see family and friends.  After that, we don’t know.  What we do know is that God has been faithful in the past.  We hope His provision for us will include a teaching job for Dana and some type of meaningful work for Jeff.  As soon as we know something we’ll let everyone else know so you can join us in giving thanks to God.
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 2012.
Jeff, Dana, Quintin, Abby & Zach

Saturday, January 7, 2012

When Not Paying Is Expected

Sorry for the late posting of this blog entry.  Inadvertently I saved it as a draft instead of publishing it.  It was originally written at the end of our Fall Break.
One of my national staff friends cuts hair in the evenings to earn a little bit of extra money.  Tonight I called him up and asked if he had time to cut my hair.  "Of course, come on over", he said.  When I arrived at his house I found him in the middle of negotiating a selling price for his home.  He welcomed me in, gave me a place to sit, had his wife serve me some hot tea, then continued with the negotiations.  After about 15 minutes, he asked me if I was ready for a hair cut.  "Yes, if you have time", I replied.  I followed him from his front porch to a small barber's shack he had built on the edge of the road.  In the window hang the words, potong rambut (literally meaning "cut hair").  As he cut my hair he explained why he wanted to sell his house and where he was at in negotiating a price.  If you're interested in a very small fixer-upper in Salatiga, the house can be your's for 110,000,000 rp. (about 12,000 US).
Near the end of the haircut, he stopped and told me that I didn't have to pay.  I thanked him and preceded to tell him that I wanted to pay him for the good haircut.  He laughed and again refused to take my money.  I was determined to pay him so I asked if I could give the money to his daughter or wife.  His daughter is 10 years old, just two years younger than my daughter.  Again, he said "no".  Then his attitude became serious, which is rare for my friend.  He said, "If you pay me, then you are not my friend".  I sat there feeling a little silly.  My friend, who has very little was telling me, an American with a lot, not to pay him.  In Javanese, I thanked him and kept my money in my pocket.  I am unwilling to lose a friend simply because I feel awkward about receiving a gift from him.  
On my way home, I reflected on my Muslim friend's behavior.  Had he just unwittingly become a part of an object lesson designed to remind me what I know about Christ?  Surely not.  After all, he doesn't know Jesus like I know Jesus.  To him, Jesus is just a prophet, not a Savior.  And yet, there is something inside me that has always had a hard time receiving compliments or gifts from others.  This got me thinking, maybe I've treated God the same way.  Maybe on this Thanksgiving Holiday, I'm thankful for my redemption, but feel like I need to pay God back.  Maybe, like my friend, God doesn't want to be paid.  Maybe He just wants me to be in relationship with Him.  Of course, salvation through grace only isn't a new idea.  It's been around for at least 2000 years and perhaps longer depending on how you read the Old Testament.  It's always surprising to me how God uses situations to teach or remind us who He is and who we are.  In telling this story, I hope to pass on what God is teaching me and invite you to respond similarly to the things you are learning about God.  I look forward to hearing your stories.  Blessings from Indonesia.  Jeff  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  We hope this Advent Season has been a time to remember God's love for all people.
Last year we were blessed to host our friends from Nebraska, Jay Dee and Wendy Janzen during the holidays.  This year, we decided to travel a bit in an effort to see a more of Indonesia before we say good-bye in June.  Our travels took us to Bali and then on to a small island just east of Bali called Gili Air.  Our journey began with a 27 hour bus ride to Bali.  Normally, it takes around 16-18 hours however due to some flooding it took us much longer.  The flooding forced traffic to be diverted through one particular city.  As a result, the roadway was over run with the increased traffic.  It took us 6 hours to travel through the largest traffic jam I've ever experienced.  I was thankful that the flooding had receded by the time we were to return home.
Part of our journey included a 45 minute ferry ride
from the island of Java to the island of Bali.  We welcomed
the chance to get out of the bus and walk around on the top
deck of the ferry.  
One of the ferries carrying cars, trucks and buses
from Java to Bali.
Travelling by bus in Indonesia is very different from the US.  In Indonesia, buses have the right of way or that's how bus drivers drive.  While I was thankful that our trip home took only 18 hours, there were moments when I questioned whether anyone on the bus was going to make it home safely.  At times I felt like was in a race car, as the bus would tailgate or "draft" behind the vehicle in front of us before zipping out into on-coming traffic to pass the slower moving vehicle.  Thankfully, on-coming motorcycles would pull to the side of the road and on-coming vehicles would stop as the bus whipped in and out of the heavy traffic.  Sometimes we would meet other buses or large trucks in the on-coming traffic lane causing our bus driver to lose his nerve,  and slam on the brakes before ducking the bus back in behind the vehicle in front of us.  So violent were these changes in speed that Dana lost one of her flip-flops as it slide forward along the bus floor coming to rest behind the bus driver's seat.
All in all our trip was very enjoyable, of course this is much easier to say now that we are home and my backside  no longer is sore.
Merry Christmas to all and may God bless the year that waits you.