Saturday, May 26, 2012

Birds on a Wire

Recently, the basketball teams at Mountainveiw International Christian School competed in an international school tournament.  Travel in Indonesia is slow.  The bus trip took around eight hours.  The teams both played well in the tournament.  For the boys team, this meant easily winning the tournament while the girls team lost in the semifinals to the eventual champions.  I had hoped that the third day tournament would have resulted in a quiet bus ride home.  I was wrong.
The players were wired for most of the return trip home.  However an unexpected sight silenced the boisterous crew.  In the middle of their carrying on, one player exclaimed, "Look at all of those birds!"  Silence ensued as everyone moved or craned their necks to see hundreds maybe even a thousand small birds perched on the power lines running parallel to the road.
Having grown up in the Midwest, birds on power lines was nothing new.  In fact, I wasn't impressed at all but I said nothing because the players were awed by the sight. In truth, it was an usual sight in Indonesia.  Indonesians hunt birds for sport. The possession of firearms by regular citizens is prohibited, but pellet or BB guns are not.  The result is that you see relatively few birds for a place teeming with insect life.
As I reflected on this sighting of birds on a wire, I was reminded how our experience changes our perspective.  No more clearly is this seen than in our decisions.  We make decisions based on our experience.  This is not a bad thing.  Most of the time, our past provides a wealth of information from which we can use to make good, if not godly, decisions.  However, what happens when our decisions clash with the wants of another?  Do you, like me, assume that your experience is somehow superior to the other you are in conflict with?  Do these feelings of superiority lead to a condescending attitude about them?  Maybe you even try to demonize the other.  In a fallen world this happens.  However that doesn't mean that we must participate in such a cycle.  Christ came to reconcile all things and all people.  Through Christ we have the ability to choose a different path, a different way of living.
Watching the high school students be awed by birds on a wire reminded me that sometimes we must simply discipline ourselves to enjoy that which someone else finds enjoyable or be awed by something that seems common place.  This mindset might also include making decisions that enable God to surprise us, especially when we are convinced that we are right.
May God grant us the courage to change the things we can, patience to bear the things we can't and wisdom to know the difference.

School's Out!

When I was a senior in high school back in 1990, I remember anxiously waiting for the final school bell to toll releasing my class from high school forever.  With great joy, my classmates and I joined Alice Cooper in singing his rendition of "School's Out".  It was a glorious moment.  Of course, the song ended and with it the excitement of school being out.  I watched this roller coaster of emotions in my students again this year.  Being an international school changes the way everyone views the end of school.  It is a time of celebration, but tears flow freely because each students knows this very well could be the last time they will see some of their classmates and teachers.
This year marks the end of our three-year commitment to Mountainview International Christian School.  Our time in Indonesia has flown by.  I have not loved every minute of it, but I have greatly enjoyed most of it.  I will miss the students and their rich diversity, I will miss the staff, both expat and national and I will miss the people of Indonesia.
At the close of school this year I found myself trying to do what I have been encouraging students, especially seniors to do; allow yourself to be both happy and sad.  Happy and excited about what the future holds and sad to leave the things you know behind.  With one week to go, I find myself filled more with sadness than excitement.  For three years I have poured myself into students that they may know God.  With tears, I embraced them Thursday (Graduation Day) and told them good bye.  It has been very good to be in Indonesia.
We started this blog as a way of communicating with friends and family what God is doing on this side of the planet.  Indeed we have seen God at work in Indonesia.  He has been changing peoples' lives through missionaries serving in the area.  He has been transforming students from what they want to be to wanting what God wants them to be.  And He has been at work in our own lives teaching us that the Gospel is indeed for everyone.
As for our future, we anticipate boarding a plane to return to the US Sunday, June 3.  We will stop in Beijing, China to do some sight-seeing before heading to back to Oklahoma.  We are looking forward to seeing friends and family.  Blessings to you in the name of Christ. ~Jeff

Monday, May 14, 2012

Counting Down...

As of today we have 19 days left in brain has trouble comprehending that our time here is almost over.  Honestly there were days, even weeks, when I wasn't sure if I would make it the full three years (that's 365 days x 3 years - 30 days for the month of June this year - 60 days for last summer + 1 day for February 29th = 1006 days in Indonesia).  Now that we've reached the end I'm trying to make sure we've experienced everything "Indonesian" that we've wanted to.  There are a few more items on our lists to do and to buy and to eat one last time, hopefully we'll accomplish them before our plane takes off on June 3.  Last Friday I got to experience another "Indonesian" first...while we were on the annual end-of-year swimming field trip at one of the coffee plantations, a young Indonesian boy whipped out his pet python.  Now of course since I'm so brave I asked him if I could hold it?  And of course since it is a priveledge for a "white" person to ask anthing of you he let me...actually bravery was not my motivation, it was all for the picture (and the experience)!  I couldn't leave Indonesia without holding a python now could I?  (Jeff's answer "Of course you could!")  I am hoping that any future students I have will think that this is too cool because I am definitely showing them this picture!

Because we have been so focused on the here and now we haven't spent too much time and energy thinking ahead...  In four weeks we will be in Oklahoma and I am starting to wonder "what will we be doing job wise?"  Is this something that we need to start worrying about?  But once I get started I have a hard time stopping and unfortunately I've started and because I'm at the end of the school year and I've finished teaching the curriculum and we're just reviewing and assessing I have more time to worry...  There is something to be said about keeping busy.

Today I was thinking back to June 2009 when we were leaving and everything we got rid of...oh my!  This is a different kind of move than we've ever done before (and I have a lot to compare it to); we are completely starting over...some appliances, some furniture (fortunately my niece is sleeping on my bed!), all the small stuff like towels and spices and kitchen staples and...I think if I don't stop now I am going to start hyperventilating (that's a really big word for a first grade teacher to spell)!

As I had a bit of time today watching my class take an end-of-year assessment this is where my mind wandered to.  One of my students must of noticed the sudden panic on my face or maybe it was the fact that all the color drained from it and I was pastey-white, anyway, they asked me what was wrong?  Without waiting for me to answer they proceeded to tell me that if I was going to be sick that I could go and lay down in the nurse's office and that they could finish the test by themselves...besides in a week they would "officially" be second graders!  It was at that moment I realized that I've used the word "officially" too often with them.  Again before I could jump into the conversation there were six more opinions about what was wrong and what I should do to "solve" my problem.  I think my favorite was that I must be scared of the smashed bug that was over by the door...

Finally I was able to get their attention and explain that my "problem" was I was letting things I couldn't control bother me.  Their reply "Well Mrs. Dana, how are you going to solve your problem?"  Again they're throwing my own words at me, I say this multiple times a day to encourage them to become independent.  So to take their advice I am going to let God handle the future and I am going to take care of the present which is finishing our service at MICS, and doing everything in my power to finish well.