Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's been 3 and a half months! How are you?

Blogs, great idea, but who has the time?

Well, were still smiling here in Indonesia.

Since the last blog we have experienced some earthquakes, jungle trips, guests from China, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, America, England, orangutans, perfect surf, beach volleyball, district conventions, rice paddies, waterfalls, poisonous insect bites, back to teaching, car accidents, and whatever else I forget to write down.

Back in April I went to Jakarta and so of course had to visit the SL. This meeting they were announced as a ‘official’ congregation. This photo is from when the groups were pre-recording the WT on disc.

(It was good training while it lasted)

What was great was a fellow need greater from U.S. who lives in Malaysia happened to be doing a visa-chop the same week. Funny enough about 3 months earlier through the witness grapevine she got my email. I then gave her the contacts in Jakarta and apologized that I can’t meet her but I will have Daniel meet her and help her out. Well, well, look who ended up meeting in the airport because I happened to be around…!

(You never know… (if you know ASL, Malaysia could use your help)

Back in May

This picture is kind of funny. This character is in the drama. He’s not a nice guy, so they recommended Tom to play his act. What wasn’t good was the friends said I look better with gray hair then I normally look. Thanks… I’ll make a note of that.

(The mustache is my favorite part. Maybe Skolios was of French decent?)


In typical lost-in-translation fashion, I thought my overseas guest's were going to be 3 people, and so I invited 2 local friends. They showed up as far, and the locals came as 4. So we were packed 9 in a van doing a scenic tour of Batam.

The local single sisters felt bad so they climbed up some trees about 30 feet high and gave us all coconuts. Hmmm…. Don’t see that often in the states as a hospitable gesture.

We of course took the friends to the jungle. If you come to Indonesia, you need to meet the jungle dwellers. The funniest part though was the city dwellers. When we went to the famous 'Barelang Jembatan" the locals saw 4 white people get out of the car, and that started the chants.


What would you do do???

(Would you get fined if you did this in the U.K.?)

Then we had some more visa-choppers come from Malaysia who are on standby from there resting place in China and new assignment. Interestingly enough that two of them were in the same hall as the Ives who did the same visa chop in Batam the year before.

(It was nice to speak in English for 3 days, and compare experiences from ‘other’ country service.)

-Summer’s big trip-

After the C.O. came the first week in June, he asked me to go and assist preaching in the islands of Mentawi. These islands have 6 special pioneers and 3 baptized local publishers spread out over the 4 main islands for some 70,000 people.
Christianity ironically enough is the main religion on the islands. The issue is that because there are so few JW’s and no KH, they don’t consider us a legit religion. The C.O. felt by having a white witness from America who speaks Indonesian may open up some opportunities and their eyes that we are a global brotherhood. {Good idea}

Before we discuss that I would like to mention that to go to Mentawi we had to take a 5 hour ferry ride, 6 hour bus ride, have a birthday, interpret at a 3 day convention, take another 6 hour car ride, preach in the mountains, another 2 hour car ride, cross the equator, take a 12 hour ferry ride, then a 30 minute motorbike ride. No sweat…

The only way to do this trip justice is to show you some of the footage. The trip to finish trips.

(Batam to Western Sumatra)



--------------MOVIE COMING SOON-------------------------
Hopefully before Sept 1st.

I hope that came out OK. I doesn’t show the amazing surf, snorkeling, or the experiences in the jungle or the poisonous bug bite that left me in the hospital. That was a good story.

I think it was a reminder from above. On the first morning after arriving, I wanted to get right out to the surf. Right when I was about to hop in the water I reached in to grab a glove and in my glove was a deadly millipede which proceeded to bite my finger. I had to be rushed back to land while sucking and spiting out the blood from my finger and stumble my way to a clinic where I dropped onto the bench, and they proceeded to inject me with antivirus before I would need to have my hand amputated or worse as the venom can go to the heart. Anyways in the clinic they asked me about my religion and in my half-baked nostalgic Indonesian I proceed to give a fine witness in my bathing suit while covered in seaweed and sand. The next day they accepted around 20 magazines. The point was, I could see my goal of a little preaching and a lot of surfing was wrong. In 2 ½ years of living in Indonesia I thought I was going to have my first surf trip. Nope.

It finally hit the heart that is all new system living. Here you are set with a choice. A. Hop on a board and experience a perfect left wave in tropical turquoise blue water with nothing between you the wave and Africa. B. Use some money to rent a little boat so you and the brothers can go on there first ever preaching tour together and open up an area that has never heard the good news. C. Try and do both.

I always try C. The thing is after this trip I realized you need to do B before A, because A will be there forever in the system to come. If we don’t do B now, we can’t do A in the future, or we hold back that gift of A to someone else.
It was hard though. This thing called conscience can be a downer.

Anyways, it was an amazing adventure and eye-opener. I will say it was great to get back to Batam and have a hot shower, sleep in my bed, and reflect.

Then the following weekend in July we had around 30 brothers from the congregation come over to my home to play beach volleyball, kill the man with the ball, chicken fights, and eat some rice and noodles.

(It’s great to have everybody smiling)

Recently I purchased a used car, which in the first week I was in a accident when a man backed into me. Police came, lies were told, and a bunch of magazines were placed and the cop admitted we are the true religion.

Just another day in Indonesia.

Lastly, we started full sign meetings in Batam. We are doing a one month trial and if all is well we will be the 5th congregation some time in September or October. We are 21 publishers in total.

(Come on out and visit!)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

life keeps on tickin...

It’s an amazing thing when hopes-dreams-prayers (HDP) become realities. That is what the following stories are results of.

Being raised in a environment that encouraged theocratic goals over worldly ones brings inner peace fulfillment to the one shooting the arrows. There are many who have the HDP of going to an area where ‘no witness’ has stood before. Or the locals have ‘never seen’ a person of your ethnic background. There are still many of those places left on the earth, but they are prophetically dwindling.

We have 17,508 islands in Indonesia with 242 million people scattered like lost sheep with just some 21,000 of us HDP’ers to reach. If we get 1 publisher on each island, that still wouldn’t be enough.

The following video then is just that. It’s the true meaning of pioneering. Being asked by the ones taking the lead if you are ready, healthy, and spiritually capable of bringing the good news to an area we don’t know if they will befriend you or kill you. We don’t know if they will feed you, or mock you, cry with you, or try to fight you.

While all of us HDP’ers desire white sand beaches sprinkled with bended coconut trees, and mirror-like crystal clear blue water while taking knaps in hammocks, the reality is rarely that scene.
The truth is withered homes, poverty aplenty, hygienic nightmares, decrepit transportation systems, malnourishment and sadness.

Ironic as it seems, the smile of a child and the human spirit seems to rise above all of these things. The good news of something better is the only antidote.

What you will see in the following video is only a fraction. The camera can not give you the tastes, smells, and feelings that go along.

The video will seem positive (which it was), but while we where there we were spied on, chased, interrogated, threatened, and had a good shake up. We had to meet the mayor, chief of police and district judge.

On a personal note; the week before I had prayed to ask for preparation for the fast-approaching Great Trib. While we can’t imagine what it truly will be like, being woken up from sleep and interrogated at 10:30 at night by 2 police officers, a district judge, and a Islamic imam was a good start.

With the following background you will understand our choice of clothes and neutral approach to the work.

Please Enjoy and we hope you too can have your HDP moments come true…

(Opening up a new area on the island of the birds)

When you have HDP as a young man and see it fulfilled as a older younger man it makes your trust, and your smile that much wider.

Truly it started in 2000 after serving in D.R. and seeing life in another country. That put the wheels in motion for wanting to go for good to Macedonia. Then in 2001 learning ASL put the wheels in motion for a vehicle I never planned on sitting in, or even imagined having a turn in helping to co-pilot.

2004 was when the HDP started for seeing a full congregation in Sign Language here in Indonesia. We couldn’t count if we tried how many requests went up through the skies to see this come to fruition.

It now is what it is. Life keeps on tickin…

Depending on the time left in this system, we can see more and more HDP happening in the imminent future for Sign Language in Indonesia.

Going into detail is for another time. Emotionally it is almost overwhelming.

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for the deaf and those supporting them in Indonesia and Indonesian Sign Language.

Here is what the results of our’s and your’s HDP have resulted in.

(Sign Language Congregations)

One of the shortest blogs to date, but for me this is one of the best. It’s like a young child after he learns to walk. He nows sees the whole world as his playground and there’s no looking back but only looking forward.

Life keeps on tickin...

Thursday, March 13, 2008


(How can you make 53 asians all smile at once?)

It is almost as if last blog update in December was a different world ago. Such is life while serving in a third world country. For example, according to a recent survey it stated that Indonesia is which of the following:

a. One of the most religious countries in the world
b. One of the most corrupt countries in the world
c. One of the most vulnarable countries to disasters in the world.

If you answered d. all of the above you would be correct.

Since we still have the rest of the alphabet to catch up on, let's do this in sections.


This was sometime back in December. Amazing. Really is. With the special pioneers and regulars we were about 45 or so. Thats 45 pio's for over 3000 islands, 1.5 million + people. Pioneers that are brothers are about 7 or 8 of us.

In a certain way, this is why need-greaters while not missionaries do bring benefits to where they are serving. It took 10 minutes to get people together for a picture. Then everyone is looking quite stone faced. So,,, I thought about how I could lighten up the picture?
I put the camera on the two-second auto flash. Then you here everyone yelling for me to 'RUN FAST it's BLINKING', but too late.
But, EVERYONE was smiling.
The second time was close enough. To be truthful, I knew it was probably impossible to get back to the place in time but the benefits are getting everyone smiling and laughing together. Foreigners seem to bring an extra slice of life to where you serve.


Good as. Quick story. Our D.O. was a sub. He is around 40, only been pioneering like 15 years, baptised in 1989. Quite young, but quite enthusiastic. Funny thing is that he is looking after the SL group in Jakarta. He was NOT a big SL fan. Well, the deaf in Jakarta worked him over.

Next thing you know, Bro Harris is signing. He went from hater- to - player. In his last talk he had at least 15 signs. Never mind his expressions.

(Honestly, almost didn't need an interpreter for him)


Then we had the pioneer day with the local body of elders. They were going to do it at the KH which is OK, but it's nice having a homey atmosphere. It was a real privilege as the brothers and sisters agreed to have it at my home. It is far for most of them, but we all laughed, had a bottle of anggur, listened to the ocean, and ate babi which is pork and quite expensive here.

(Awww the pioneers)


Public Holidays are a reason for the friends to get together and have a good time. On New Years Eve there was about 40 people who came over. Honestly, I don't know how they all ate, had plates, silverware, napkins, used the bathroom, but they did. Amazingly simple people.

(New Years party? Can, cant?)

Thing about that day is that 22 slept over. Again, how they all ate, had plates, silverware, napkins, used the bathroom, had a pillow, blanket is beyond me.


Dad and Mom came out to purchase the house and visit the first born. I wrote this before, and will reemphasize it again. If you have a child, cousin, parent, good friend, who is serving overseas in any capacity such as miss, BIFF, construction, need-greater, etc, your visits mean A LOT!

It's nice for you to put faces behind the names, feelings behind the actions, and tastes behind the foods. Then for the local resident it helps them to see things fresh and new again. For the local friends who could most likely never afford to go to your country, they get a taste of the brotherhood.

Because we did so much, I won't even get into Batam stories with them but explain the trip. I will say my electricity bill quadrupled that month.

(Dad still can't smile after 50+ years, Mom is always beautiful for photos)


Mom likes Batik. Indonesia makes Batik. Solo founded Batik. Mom visit's Solo. Batik no good.

I am actually still processing this one. THE FOUNDING CITIES of Batik (A Indonesian traditional clothing/fabric) did NOT have what my mom wanted. She buys it in the states, but here they didn't have it. Yes, Mom, i know Balinese Batik.

Anyways, it was quite interesting to go search for it. It was great watching my dad 'go with the flow.' I guess after 30+ years of marriage you have to 'go with the flow' or you 'go out at with the trash.' Dad, thanks for teaching me the 'gift' of singleness.

(Fields of Javanese Green Gold)


We need to thank the amazing hospitality of the brothers and sisters who reached out. The photo above is from Central Java. We had brothers and sisters go so far out of there way to take us around, drive, eat, communicate, etc. Eko was a great tour guide. Thanks bro~

Eko and 2 sisters took us to go see Borobudur which is on the world heritage sites. It is quite a spectacle. We had an talkative tour guide who got as many questions as there are stones from my father. Then the Indonesians selling tourist goods on the outside is relentless. I mean, wow. They make the peanut selling man at a baseball game look like a child.

(Flying at Borobudur)

JOKE JAH = Yoyjakarta

I wanted to give mom and dad a true perspective of how everyday life is here in Indonesia.

(Well, if you can't afford a car how would you get to work?)

Bad son, or good son. Well, it is true that i wasn't actually the best a son could be. I didn't lie but, well... It's part of the cultural experience.
We ate porcupine, goat, eel, frog, and...

(Original _________ and 4 _________ of the apocalypse)

So after eating some barbeque snake, and horse stew its TIME TO DANCE!

I will give this sister Rifka some credit. She is Indonesian which means normally a bit shy. She said she has always wanted to dance, but here, Indo's don't do it. Now I have been craving to dance since going to Thailand back in October. There met a fellow American and we related good ole salsa stories.

So after our feast of mammals I took the laptop and started the Spanish dancing class. To my mom and dad's credit, they do like to get down a bit and have some fun. Honestly, my parents are so opposite in so many ways and really not matched for each other, but when it's time to have fun and do a little dancing they are not shy. Even though dad has like 37 hernias and bad knees he can still bust a move. Mom has rhythm. In fact she wanted to teach them the electric slide.

(I KNEW there was a reason I have saved the electric slide mp3 on my computer)

The next night after teaching a fourth sign language workshop in 4 days it was off to watch some traditional Javanese dancing. Really nice. I can't compare it to Hawaiian Hula but it has many principals of the body telling a story.

(Traditional Dancing)


Wow, skipped so much. Waterfall's, getting chased by wild monkeys, tea fields, the eye doctor medic, floods, fried duck on the street, losing passports, and SO many sign language stories.

This is the Information Overload blog, so we just got to keep moving.

Bandung was the a SL group formed way back in 2005. For some reason they have progressed faster than any other city. Would you like to know why????

(Brother Yoda will be talking to us about the Holy Spirit)

YES, BROTHER YODA. We were all wondering how Bandung has progressed so fast, and then it hit me when I visited. They have YODA, the force is with them.

I have not given this too much fanfare but Bandung has become Indonesians first Sign Language congregation. BUT< it's not really a congregation. It's a Sidang Kelompok Bahasa Isyarat. SKBI. That means Congregation Group Sign Language. Hmmm, were asking interpreters to help us.

IT IS A GOOD THING!!!, but a confusing one. They have all of there meetings now done in full sign. Meetings, field service, publisher cards, body, EVEN have started to pre-translate the WT on DVD. Truly remarkable.

I was so encouraged by visiting. A Sign Language congregation, or even just having full meetings in the language are really indescribable. It must be the force.

(Bandung the first SKBI in well, the world? Maybe.)

Oh yes mom and dad. They get apparently the best massages of there lives while in Bandung. At least the most powerful. Some little Indonesian brother for $5.00 US worked there aches and pains for 1 hr 30 min. My dad said that relieved injuries that he suffered nearly 25 years ago.

I as always enjoyed Bandung's natural hot springs whilst having a glass of bubbly.


Joice, Simon, Daniel, thanks a lot. Was good to be reunited. Floods closed down the airport, what else is new in Jakarta.
They have a revolving rest that goes around the city of Jakarta. If your in town, it's worth the visit. Again, me and my mom got down and did a little dancing on the 40th floor.

(Jakarta's Night Lights)

After writing all of this, and realizing how much more that I have not written, well I'm quite happy. Why?

My parents for late 50's did really really good. We stayed with complete strangers, had floods, ate snake, traveld a ton, lost personal items, and on and on.

I told them thanks for experiencing the way a lot of my life has been over the last 5 years. You never know what today will bring. Tomorrow will bring something completely new again. It's enjoying the spiritual parasdise and doing Jah's will that brings that inner happiness.


My sister came. Wonderful time. Good to see we had both grown up. Everyone thought we were married. She got checked out more than baby polar bears at the zoo.

Jordan and I basically preached, and preached, and preached. She had random people coming up to her and asking to take her picture. We also had a party and played the 'Golden rule game' which everyone wanted Jordan to sing. Then we had an open aired acoustic gutiar and drum night which was fun.

(I think they thought she was Paris Hiltons sister)

The stories though were really about preaching. We just received new territories that were not being worked by another congregation. So I took my old man's van and packed in 12 people inside. Jordan placed a good amount of lit including a BTEACH book with a certain head covered woman.

(12 Indo's in a 7 pass van, NO PROBLEMO)

We also went a to the most southernly point that you could go to do some ministry. Really nice day. Had some great stories to catch up on about life and RI.

I think the best part though was eating our lunch here and being able to preach at the same time. (keeping the time going)
Jordan I think liked the bathroom which consisted of a hole in the wood over the ocean.

(Fried shrimp at Paradise)

Jordan loved fried noodles and avocado smoothies. Jordan thanks for coming. Nothing but love 4ya key... lay

(Jordan and me happy as ever)

On a personal note, the above mentioned pioneer day and 2 day convention basically has cost me my job. Not the only reason, but I declined semi-mandatory work which was the same time as the assembly and pioneer meeting.

I am in the same situation I was back on the blog on February 28th 2007 blog on VOLCANOES, DRAGONS, AND ORANG TUNA RUNGGU. It's funny I wrote that blog after losing my job that day. I lose this job tomorrow.

What does the future hold?


It would really be a shame to not mention the progress of SL in this Information Overload blog. It all started 4+ years ago in a small class of 7 students in Jakarta.

After scratching, crawling, hanging, sweating, pushing, fighting, submitting, and preserving we can look back and see Jehovah’s blessing. Jacob wrestled with an angel, and I think we have a few cherubs to get through.

January saw the first independent congregation/group as mentioned for Bandung. Jakarta and Surabaya have followed up with it as well. We are at the verge of getting stuff ready for translation, but that is still is a few adjectives ahead of us. Although seeing the young guys in Bandung pre-film the WT was a tear of joy.

Doing the old workshop that had been on the shelf for nearly a year was such a blessing. The central Javanese cities of Salitiga/Semarang, Solo, Yoyjakarta (2wice) all were happy to have it. Each has progressive deaf studying and attending the meetings.

Many were new, but some you could see just GET sign language. We have been playing a lot of email-tag here in Indonesia about SL. You can feel the excitement. With a video in the language we will just pop! Behind the scenes there is a lot of hard working brothers and sisters. There are numerous sacrifices of many of the brothers and sisters by leaving their family’s to go to a Foreign Language Congregation. That is not following the traditional norm. Others travel nearly 2 hours each way to attend the meeting. Some have been worried about the intake of spiritual food in a ALL SIGN congregation.

So, just like last year where I was left jobless, visaless, identificaitonless, we in sign language know that the answers all work themselves out in due time.

Thanks for the prayers for the deaf and their assistants in Indo.

(~This is Indonesian Sign for how all of you make us feel~)