Friday, November 24, 2006

The Good, The Bad, and the Better

The Good

How good to see old friends!
It had been two and a half years but finally got back to Jakarta, the deaf, and Bethel. It was nice on Friday night a few weeks ago Bethel allowed me to stay as an overnite guest. Seeing brothers there who are still busy and doing there thing was great. They have soooo much going on there. Legal department and construction office have there hands full. Why? Because the gov't officials want their HANDS FULL. Welcome to Indonesia. Always in the top 3 year after year for corruption. And it affects the speed at which things can get done.



It worked out wonderfully as a brother that is in Bethel was going to Bandung. A city in Western Java right outside these beautiful mountain ranges. So nice to see mountains. Here's some clips of what western java looks like.

(50 seconds of East Java)



I was heading to Bandung to conduct another Sign Language workshop. There an official group in Bandung. It's funny, it is so clear the difference age makes in learning a new language. The younger people get it so fast. The DVD's in Sign Langauge open up there eyes to the beauty of the language. They get the idea of how you need to use expression, feelings, comparisons, and body movement.
The older friends who started learning at the same time sometimes start dosing off into 'sleep world' during the class. It's funny. If you are "older" and learning a language. Don't give up. Just realize you don't run as fast as the other bunnies.

(Say cheese Bandung)


(Thanks for letting me stay! Keep up with SL)


That night a group of 10 of us from the class went to Bandung's famous "Hot Springs." Just like Japan's hot springs where warm water mixed with some sulpher naturally comes up to the surface. It is incredibly thearaputic. The next morning it was...

Back to Jakarta... I lived in Jakarta back in 2004 for nearly 6 months. I went back to my old apt building and there was a few that were still there from before. The one chinese woman who is christian yelled, it's the PASTOR. The other ones said, no it's the white guy who wheres the sarung!

More important it was back to Jakarta Sign Language. In Nov 2003 when the first class of 7 students was conducted there were only 2 deaf baptised publishers in the country. Herman and Anzella. A brother and sister ironically. BOTH did not know any sign language. They were oral and would lip read at the meeting to the best of there ability. April 2004 saw the formation of the first SL group in Indonesia. I had not seen the brothers and sisters in the group since the last day of the 2004 Walk With God district convention on May 31st 2004. How did the group look?
Here's a couple of photos of deaf who had talks in the Theocratic School.






I'll tell you what. That week was the first time the meeting was the Public talk, WT, bookstudy, and Theocratic School all in 1 day~~~! Amazing. But even more amazing was how Herman signed the paragraphs for the bookstudy. His signing was so clear, understandable, and he translated the written Indonesian word into Indonesian Sign like a proffesional. That is extremely rare for a deaf person in Indoneisa. In fact worldwide many deaf have a hard time taking the written words and put it into Sign Language structure. He used concept, ideas, role shifts, character development, and proper pausing and sense stress. It brought some tears to my eyes. To think just a few years before he didn't know 1 sign.
After he told me a sad story. He told me the brothers who give the talks and take the lead have yet to start signing in concepts and ideas, but continue to sign word for word. Or in Indonesian (KATA KATA)
He told me, he has a hard time understanding what they are explaining, it is not deep, and it's boring.


(Herman doing his thing)


That told me a lot. Truly Sign Language is a deaf person's language. Just by how fast Herman has grasped the language with no tools to help him via (DVD, VCD, deaf schools, workshops, or meetings) ALSO, how important it is for us as a hearing person to sign and think the way a deaf person thinks. Word for Word Indonesian with signs is not the same as Sign Language.

The Bad
The bad news was I was in a Motorcycle accident after returning to Batam. I was making a right turn onto the road of the Kingdom Hall, when another motorcycle driver didn't see my signal, and proceeded to slam into me full speed as I was turning right into the hall.
Fortunatly, I bought a bigger than normal Motorcycle for Indonesian standards. He slid right underme and my bike went ontop of his. Then people in the hall heard it, and came rushing out. We had a speaker from Bethel at the hall (Tagor and Milly) so it was packed. At least 50 brothers and sisters came rushing out of the hall to help! It was so beautiful as usuallly in Indonesia, it's the person who yells the loudest is the one who get's paid. And, well, foreigners never win.
My hand was all cut up with blood rushing down, and my ankle was hurting so I asked one of the elders to take care of the situation. He did, and it turned out one of the sisters in the hall formely was a nurse. So they treated my hand and ankle, patched me up and I got to get back in the hall about half-way before Tagor finished.

The bike got a little wrecked, but not bad. It was 8 US dollars to get it fixed. And for me, I didnt go to the hospital as I didn't have any rocks or debris in my hand or ankle. I decided to spend 6 US dollars for a 1hr 30 minute full-body massage. Yes, it's that cheap here. They walk on your back, crack your neck, and really do a good job. That's the best hospital in my opinion.
What happened to the guy that was wrong. We helped him out. Treated his wounds. His bike was in bad shape. Unfortunatly for him is that his bike is his work. He's an ojek driver. They give people rides around for a small fee. Basically a motor-cycle taxi. I was happy as I was calm the whole time as I had been listening to Kingdom Melodies on my MP3 player. (It's a habit when going to the meetings)
I ended up placing a Bible Teach book with him. He was shocked as he was wrong and I was giving him a book for free.
I will see him again later.

The Better
Bethel Indonesian called are congregation in Batam Selatan to let us know that for the month of October we had placed more KN number 37 tracks then any other congregation in Indonesia! That was pretty cool. I feel like switching congregations! They don't need help here! j/k That's whats crazy. We still have ISLANDS AND ISLANDS that have not been touched, and yet we gave out the most. WOW, that's a handful.


Lastly, I want to say thanks to many people who have left comments on this blog. Really encouraging to me. In 2003 and 2004 I had a little trip and would send out these long emails of stories and such. I realized later that most people do not have time to read long emails, nor do they have the same impact as if you are there in reality. Technology has changed and a blog is an easy way to share stories, photos, and videos with friend that create more of an impact.

I established this blog for a few reasons. Mainly so my family and close friends can stay in touch, and see a little what life is like here. The other reason is to say hey! Are you looking to go somewhere? Try something new? Want to serve where the need is great? Go through the proper channels of course, but WOW have you ever thought of Asia? Look in the yearbook and see this whole area of the world. India, Nepal, Bangledesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Mongolia, Indonesia, Malaysia. These areas are just so ripe. I just wanted to show a small part of a different side of the coin that we don't hear from too much. Indonesia.



These pictures and videos are not fake. I didn't create them with Adobe, or make a movie set of a Kampung. I didn't get a bunch of Indonesian's to put on police outfits and take a picture. No, it is what it is. If you feel that you shouldn't forward the address of this site, or that I should not record these stories... (I completly leave that up to you) Thank you very much for the comments, but for now i'm going to let them go to sleep. Some people like coffee, some people drink tea. I would hope though the coffee drinker doesn't tell the tea drinker that he should stop. Or that the tea drinker doesn't say coffee is bad for you. It's better than for the coffee drinker and the tea drinker to be friends. To work as a team. Because both realize it's no good to drink from the toilet!
All the best.
Tom

Sunday, November 05, 2006

KINGDOM NEWS 37 (Islandstyle)

2 Words: “Faith Strengthening.”
Really, It has been something. You do need to say those “Nehemiah like” prayers. Short and sweet.

I just read a report from India about brothers being persecuted for the campaign. Although I have yet to hear a story about that from Indonesia, I can tell you about how it has gone in the Riau Province in northern Indonesia below Singapore.

The campaign started about a week before the conclusion of Ramadan. (Muslim holy month for fasting) What a time to start! It is the most heightened time of the year of spirituality in their faith, we come with a warning message stating “AKHIR AGAMA PALSU SUDAH DEKAT!”
To give you an example of what that feels like, look at the picture.



You have a mosque blaring Arabic prayers at the top of it’s power. It is a very haunting, mystic chant. You cannot go anywhere without hearing it. You have men flocking by the hundred’s to thousands in sarongs, hats, and special shirts for prayers. They all start bowing up and down giving their praise to Allah. People keep flocking from everywhere to perform their worship. Then they see you… a young, bald, white guy on a large motorcycle. Now here you are at the same time delivering the message of the destruction of False Religion.
Yes, Faith Strengthening” is the word.
Jeremiah has come to mind a lot, because of his BOLDNESS! -A fire within his bones.
So that’s a little bit of what it feels like.

Due to the holiday, many had vacations; mine was for around 12 days or so. PERFECT. Everyone is home because of the celebration after Ramadan. Our congregation in Batam South has hundreds islands that have never been preached too. Why? They can’t afford a boat; transportation is rough as were a poor congregation. There are 3 cars in a congregation of 175. That Friday, a young brother and me went to a few islands connected by bridges about 1 hour 30minutes by motorbike. Good way to start. Here are some pictures.
--
(Little House on the Prarie)


(Grandpa and the whole family huddled together and read it after we left)


Now these islands it was mixed. Christians and Muslims. 1 thing amazing, as soon as you give it to them they read it. Especially the back page, it seems always the back page first.
Not one person rejected it. They are so taken back to have a foreigner visiting there poor village and house, with a 13 year old Indonesian boy, that they always accept it. That evening we had not eaten. So we took a road going to a little village. We asked where we could get some food. They mentioned there is no place to buy food here. I said, “How do all of you stay alive?” There is no one that can make us some rice or noodles?
They laughed, and someone cooked us some fried noodles. As we started eating, I noticed no one else eating. Turns out, the entire village of a few hundred was all Muslim! They were still fasting, and had a half an hour or so before they could eat. This is after we had given all of them the tract! I apologized for eating in there presence.
*** Side note*** The Indonesians here who are Muslim mention to me, that fasting is to remind them to have more self-control with others, and to focus more on spiritual things during the month.



That Sunday it was game time… I bought a PomPong. (Cheap wooden boat with a diesel motor) My first boat! I called it PomPong 37. In the Province here in Indonesia there is over 3,000 islands. 7 or 8 congregations for all of those islands with a few groups scattered around. I found a brother in the congregation who had the week off, and another brother could come for 3 days. Let’s do this. A week of traveling island-to-island on a wooden boat, and sleeping in a tent on the beach, one of my dreams… Where find some food? Locals will help, it’s the culture right?

(Plenty of Rice on the islands, just ask the dog's)


The previous owner of the boat brought us to our first island. We asked to go to a “Christian Island.” We met the chief of the village (usually oldest male), and asked for permission to give it to the families on the island. He had no problem.
-FYI we did not have a lot of tracts. The Branch office in Indonesia is all out. Congregation is out. I requested 1 thousand, but only could get around 150. You’re going to islands and peoples who have never heard the good news, so we wanted to be stacked up. Our thinking was then only to give 1 to each (tribe) family on the island. So if there was 100 people on the island with 40 huts, but only 6 families, then only 6 tracks on that island. We had to conserve this “gem” that we had.

Things were going well, until the local “pastor” on the island tracked me down with 3 other men, while I was in a hut talking with a local.
Now this was fun. I have been in Indonesia a month and a half, I don’t know where the other 2 brothers are and I got an upset Indonesian speaking “WOMAN” pastor after me.
-Basically she was mad that we did not come and consult her and ask permission to talk to her “flock.” She also knew Jehovah’s Witnesses, and does not like them. It’s amazing here in Indonesia the tainted, falsified reputation that Christian religions have given JW’s.
So I read Matthew 28:19,20 and explained Jesus said, “GO.” Or Indonesia “PERGILAH”
She wasn’t having that, then she said “I am the one who ‘controls and oversees, the people on this Island.’
I’m not having that. I’m sorry. I told her, “YOU CONTROL?” I thought Jesus was head of the congregation? I’m not head over anyone, nor can I convert, change, or dictate what a person does? You can though? Be very careful. Then I read Ephesians 5:22,23 about proper subjection of Christ, the congregation and a woman.
She then apologized…
It was funny, the other 4 guys in the house starting smiling and chuckling a little bit. When it was all said and done, there was no hard feelings, but the 4 men, were really happy! They must have been glad to hear the scriptures talking for themselves.

We kept going on. There were islands with just one person. We met people fishing in the middle of the ocean and would give them literature.

(Fisher's of Men)



The map we had was basic, and didn’t even have all the islands. So we always asked the locals. We ended up going to a “High Security” gov’t island by mistake. They all came out when we hooked on the dock. Turns out the test weapons and train the military on this island. I would just say, “I’m a stupid American and don’t know any better.” They always laugh at that, and then we can preach.

That night we went an island to set up camp on an island translated: “The Kings Water Island.” It was dark, hit a coral reef, and we couldn’t find a beach to bring the boat. So we went to a person’s house sticking out on the water. Him and his son came out asking who we were. He said no problem, and brought us to an empty house on the beach to set up our tent in.
Turns out his son was deaf!!! Jehovah’s direction right? We don’t know where to sleep, which island to go to, or where to bring the boat. He is the only Buddhist on the island, and his son is the only Christian!
That night though he informed the local “chief” that there are guest here on the island. That night 8 Muslim leaders showed up to our tent at about 10, after they had gone to the mosque. The two brothers were definitely startled. They had to show their ID cards, which says they are CHRISTIAN. Then the get all of these questions; Why are you here? Where are you from? How long are you here? Why did you not write before? On and on. (All the meanwhile I’m still sleeping in the tent)
I don’t have my contacts in, can’t see, but it wakes me up. Now when I come out there is a loud (uuuuaaaaaahhhaaaaa) Why? They are all wearing there sarongs because of going to the Mosque. It is easy for them to pray in these, bowing and such. Also it’s a little similar to what the priest would wear in Israel’s day. In Indonesia, many non-muslims will wear a sarung to sleep, as it’s very, very comfortable. (Guys you should try it, it’s basically a long male skirt) Well, I come out of the tent wearing one, as I sleep in it, and the whole room changed. They started shaking my hand, asking where I’m from, and all these nice conversational questions. Then I had the opportunity to preach with them about the world’s condition and the upcoming “Qiyamat” (resurrection, “day of judgment) in the Islamic faith. Self-Control, love, and obedience to the “prophets,” were some other topics. Needless to say they were all happy, told me to come back anytime, and left some tracts for them.

(THANKS A LOT!!!)


The next morning, the Buddist’s man’s family had us for breakfast. Delicious food, and wonderful hospitality. Also, a place to wash up! A bucket, bar of soap, and rainwater is (washing up). The daughter lives on our island in Batam, and agreed to the study. The deaf son we taught basic Sign Language too, as he did not know any.

The trip goes on as you can imagine.

(TRIP TO A KAMPUNG)


But, I’ll kind of just sum it up, as there’s too much to write. We found an island that you can swim with the dolphins. That was fun!!!

(Man's Best Friend)


One man 24 studied with JW’s when he was a kid. The Bible Story Book. Another island is 8 people who grow fish that is sold in international trade. They live on a man made island of sticks. Nearly all of the islands do not have hot water, electricity during the day, or a toilet. It’s a hole in the wood over the ocean.
Another island I went preaching in a bathing suit. We could not bring the boat to shore, so I had to hop out and walk with my bag above my head. I put my shirt in my bag, but the time I reached the island the only man on this island was already there with no shirt on as well. “All things to all people” right?

(Never preached like this)


Nearly all of the people have next to nothing financially. Were talking less the $10.00US for life savings. Everyone is so friendly and happy with nothing. You can see the truth in Jesus words “KEEP YOUR EYE SIMPLE.” They fish to eat. Bathe outside at a well with the whole village. All eat their meals together. Always sit around and play music at the opportune time. Their all about sitting and friendly conversation. It was going back in time. Their homes are all made of large sticks that run down into the sand basin below.

I’m actually lost typing about this. It’s the way life should be. Never thinking about money. Never busy, or stressed about events. Weddings, is for the whole village, and all of family. No invitations, all are welcome. The little boys and girls grow up together, play, go to school, fall in love and get married from the very same village. Everything is made by hand. Families mean family. All live together. They all sleep in a living room together when guests visit. All work together for cleaning, helping out. Men bring home the fish or squid. Different women will prepare, different will clean up later. When a guest visits always focus on them first.
It’s almost as if the Mosaic law is still in operation, mixed with the Christian way of love, giving, and simplicity, but following the teachings of Mohammed. It really is something. You see soooo many areas and principles in the Western world that we lack in, all summed up together in these villages of old women who are missing teeth, and little children who run around with no shoes… The combined income of these villages on these remote islands could not even pay our taxes on our home, or our are car insurance for 6 months. YET they are HAPPY.

(Bathing on the islands)


While preaching then, it was hard for me as you are really wondering how Jehovah’s mercy will play into areas of the world like this. We know we will not complete the circuit. As we tried to go to as many people as possible, I often thought of this article. *** w84 3/15 p. 19 God’s United “Mighty Nation” to Fill the Earth ***
17 Today the “soft” waters of truth are being taken to the people to encourage them to turn to Jehovah. But the day soon will come when the message will turn “hard.” It will announce the imminent end of this entire satanic system. The soft waters of truth will congeal to become the hard hailstones of truth. So powerful will these final judgment messages be that they are likened to “a great hail with every stone about the weight of a talent,” that is, of gigantic size. That is why Revelation 16:21 states: “The plague of it was unusually great.”
W73
When the “great tribulation” begins upon Christendom the anointed remnant will know it and will have no question about its outcome. What they will have proclaimed already by that time regarding the outcome of that tribulation will be enough.

Well that’s me off the subject. Sorry, 1 brother got sick, we had to rush him back to the mainland. He had to have an operation on his foot.

(My foot looks like a pancake)


Then me and the other brother kept going, but the boat had a bad leak, we were sinking, then the chain broke in the middle of the ocean. There was a huge storm coming, and we had to be rescued.
That’s the way it goes.

(1 Broken Boat can't stop us)



That brother went back to work the next day, and I decided to sell the boat, and go on shipping/cargo boats instead. All totaled went to 20 islands in a week or so. Found deaf on other islands. NONE knew any Sign Language. In fact, when going to some island, I would ask for the deaf first. Start there. One island had close to 10,000 people on it. It’s not been preached too. Where do you start? What can you do? I would meet a bunch of little kids. Usually boy’s 10-14. They always want to talk to a foreigner. They also know where the deaf people live. Usually giving them the tracks, to give to their families. Have some nice pictures, but my camera went missing. I’ll write about that another time when it’s all settled.

Just to summarize. Nearly all in my congregation are out of tracks. Most have been for a while. In the campaign I was rejected once by an old Buddhist woman who was scared of me. Only 1 Muslim man who I wasn't even talking too became upset. He overheard me on a boat at a dock by myself reading the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis. He told me I should not be reading that to Muslims. I asked if he believed in Adam and Eve. He kept barking, but the 3 Muslim people I was talking with, (ship captain, teacher, businessman) defended me and the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden and told him to leave. It has definitely lifted some eyes. They all read it, or skim it for a few minutes. I presented the track to the majority religion as: one of the signs by the prophets that most people do not know. Qiyamat is already close! To the Christians: these are the last days. Pay attention to the signs, please read.
Exciting times we live in. All the best to you, and your family in your area. I really understand deeper after visiting those 20 islands why we are reminded TIME AND AGAIN to “seek first the kingdom.” Money is so not important, and when things steamroll ahead, are money will be worth as much as the trash that goes on the side of the road! (Ezekial 7:19)