Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back to America after 3+ years

Back to where I started putting footprints in the sand...

There are over 300 pictures for those 30 days, so we'll just mention some of the highlights.

Just the view out the planes window was enough to send some shivers down the old spine... With no burning fires, illegal shacks in the woods, or mosques blaring their tunes it was back to NYC.
Just being on the LIR and the Subway in NYC was strange. People were speaking English. But it was a different english. People were big. I mean big. I felt like an immigrant. Seeing gang members, lesbians kissing on the stairs, people 6'6 and above, girls wearing next to nothing, guys wearing who knows what, asians, africans, latinos, models, and everything mixed in between.

I was not the bule (white buffalo) who stuck out in Indonesia anymore. I was just another color of paint in variety that only NYC offers. It was time to put back on the perennial NY game face. I had to dig down deep to find out, but that person had not been around in a while. The bow your head when you walk, the stick out your hand softly if you cut in front of someone, the smile to acknowledge that someone older then you is in your presence, the head nod to show you notice another soul is in your general area which dominates Indonesian life was what was coming out of me. That only means easy prey in NYC.

The fact I had flown for 23 hours and crossed 12 time zones and hadn't slept since taking a nap over the North Pole, and being bitten by a white tiger the day before, it was quite an experience trying to get my barring s again after a 3 year absence. It was only fitting I get lost in lower Manhattan and end up a government housing building for deaf people. The person's phone I borrowed to find my friend turned out to be a women who studied for 2 years and attended meetings who now stopped.

Now only some 18 hours earlier a LOT of prayers were answered by receiving a ticket to the 2010 Annual Meeting. It was funny showing up in the 25 lobby with my bags, all sweaty, no suit jacket, and so incredibly tired. When I sat down in a section, a brother asked me who I was and respectfully kicked me out of the section. It turns out I was in the delegate seating section.

Ironically I was an official delegate which enabled me for the special branch tour, snacks, cookies, and to sit down in that 'special section' and all of that. By this time I was just trying to stand. I was quite -breathless- by this point after only some 24 hours after landing. I didn't have much of a spirit left in me. I think I was running on pure adrenaline, shock, awe, and a new smile starting to form.

To make up for the lack of cookies and lemonade from the branch tour I could have drank, I met Dave.

(Dave, Dave, Dave, Still as sharp and fast as when I first met him!)

Just like a typical trip to NYC and the whole 7 degrees of Witnesses, in Dave's office were people who had heard of me in Indonesia since they were in ASL in California. My boy Marion who was my tour guide had actually met them before at a party somewhere. Then Dave just busted on me to say how much I grew up from a wild crazy backpacker traveling the world to the first ex-pat at MTS in Indo. Good times.

During the clean-up for the annual meeting I went up in Stanley Theater and sat on the balcony where I use to sleep, took it all in again. A lot to think about since those 4 years had passed since passing zzzz's in that location. The other blessing was having some young guys who really really wanted to have their horizons opened by life in another country. Sharing
is healing, and it can be some of the best growth possible. By looking back it helps to look forward.

(I take a deep breathe every time I look at pics from Stanley. The building and spirit there is something)

Well, although no cookies and lemonade it was nice to chat with 4 members of the GB. That provides a good shot in the arm when your isolated on a island. Never mind their talks at the annual meeting.

Shot in the Arm. Funny how that works. Seeing other friends like Abraham and Mary, the old Stanley crew, meeting random people like long-time missionaries, Bethelites, Elders school instructors, people that know the same people, and the list goes on. I think these are the things that when going back re-charge all the batteries and give you some extra energy that you didn't have before.

Somewhere in there I received a hot and spicy rabbit in a wild mushroom sauce with fresh Italian bread, merlot, broschuto, cheeses, pepperoni, and some good old french brandy. Not only that but to wash it down with my own personal sauna in my bathroom... I'm sorry, off topic. Mmmm. I can still remember the tastes, aromas, although its 2 months later.

The day after the annual meeting it was back to work. I had to interpret the talk from a Spanish brother giving the talk in English and then I translate it into Bahasa Indonesia at the Queens Indonesian group who meets in the same building with the Filipino congregation.

By this time, I'm running on, I don't know what. But there's enough in me to make a video!

(Mosque and KH. Quite a contrast, wouldn't see that in Indo)

As we get back to the kampong (look in the dictionary it's an actual english word!) it was about seeing family, friends, and re-connecting.

They were building a KH back home so it was nice to go and work for a few days. It again though was about the connections, looking back in order to look forward. One person was Mr. Tom Helmer. The Chicken Man as he is affectionally called due to his love of chickens and ability to sound like one.

He gave me advice about me growing up and balancing me out when I was 18. I still remembered the conversation, and apparently he did too! That was really special to continue the conversation where we left off. A conversation that took 11 years to finish.

(Baaaack, The Chicken Man is still alive and going)

Another good man is Mark O. Both Tom and Mark were elders in the hall when I was a kid. With Mark we just jumped into it. He wanted to hear about the annual meeting, we talked about the deeper things of Revelation, the anointed, prophecy, the American culture, the simplicity of the friends lives in Indonesia, organizational procedures, all the while eating a juicy roast beef sandwich with some coconut frosted cakes and donuts and moving tree stumps. Oh boy, the quick-build culture!

(Mark at the KH build... Go Red Sox!)

Another connection was with Spencer. We grew up in the same town. I grew up on 24 Spencer Drive, Spencer on 24 Thomas Road. We were in the same hall at birth and both had our heads tuned the same direction for deep spiritual things. Spence ended up serving on IC work in Nicaragua, serving in Brooklyn, Walkill, and now has been moved to the Printery in Canada Bethel.

We have a lot of good last minute trips together and so it was so fitting he was down from Canada and me back from Indonesia. So we both borrowed motor bikes and drove around like boyz do.

(Spence and I next to a tractor, on a bike, in the rain, next to a bridge shut down, being stupid kids on vaca from our full-time service assignments)

Here are some of the things we saw. Of course this view is from a local cemetery. The dead always seem to have the best views. Again here we are on motorbikes cruising around a cemetery to check out the scenery. Boys will be Boys.

(Mystic at it's best. On the left is the restaurant I use to work- Seamen's Inne)

In typical fashion I was at my parents home like the old days- A gas station. Check in, fill up, chit chat, then off. I knew the trip would be a crazy month, and so many good friends to see. I had apologized 10 months in advance that I wouldn't be with my family but for maybe 1 week out of the month. I served in 7 places congregations over the years in the states so there were a lot of close people to visit. The conversations with John Lafountain were deep. Beer & Wings with Matt, Dave Trom, Jordan, Jeff and Moe and others from time to time were something.

There is also the fact that I believe the mind needs to make connections of choices. What does that mean? To make a choice to leave family, friends, food, language, culture, normality to move to Indonesia is not an everyday choice a New-Englander makes. So to see what others have done with their choices will help me to appreciate more the advantages that the Indonesian door presents while it is still open for business. Tomorrow though can lead to another door.

(Some small town in New England)

It was soothing to the soul to see cleanliness, orderliness, and history that New England brings. Not to mention the way people think, act, and go about things was a wake up call for what I'm use too. Being on the motorcycle going through the back-country roads with nothing but a backpack and a mp3 player is a feast for the eyes, the ears, and a remberance of how everything has moved forward since last living full-time in New England in 2005.

(Motor bike trip through Massachusetts)

(New England Mountains and aahh)

I made it back to some of the people who changed my life. Definitely the Springfield boyz. Chris, Charles, Potvin. All are married now, Charles and Chris with kids. They as family have moved to where the need is great in Portugese. Going to that Kingdom Hall was like being in a Palace in Indonesia. A Kingdom hall with a carpet! Wow! I crashed on the floor and took a nap...

Chris and the kids thought they was smart. They stole my camera. This is what they get.

(Chris this is was you get for taking pics on my camera without me knowing!)

Then it was on the bike again. Through the fields the rivers lakes and everything else it was time to catch up to Dave. I still remember his first week at Bethel back in 2000, (Or was it 99?) Off the record, it was always nice to have a floor to crash on Columbia Heights after a long weekend at the assembly, or driving through NYC. So many awesome memories crashing in the dorm building of Brooklyn. Also I remember surfing September 11 with Dave at Breakers in Newport. Great break that day!

So, I show up. What's up? Catch up... Anything going on? No? Let's drive last minute to Boston go the season opening of Celtics, see Shaq play, go to a baaah, eat some clam chowder, then get some canollis at Modern Pastry.

Last minute trips, always the most memorable.

(Let's go green and G detti)

There is random places you see and experience while traveling. I love the cushion of a pine tree forest. Your legs seem to just float.

(A long walk of serentitiy)

I was cold even though it was only October. My little toes were cold for a few weeks straight. Not having a winter for 4 years thins out the blood. So at a random meeting with an old friend name Chad that I haven't seen since 1999 when graduating high school who left the truth but now was back serving Jehovah was a pleasant surprise. At his congregation there was a nice reminder of how cute kids can be when they are winterized.

(Man, just too cute)

Again it's all about the good mates who influence who you are as a person. Dan Daly...
Loon Mountain ski-boarding when I was 20 years old on Christmas Day. Typical Tommy story. I just did a road trip from Vermont on Christmas Eve at Okemo Mt. at a home on a lake with some random single brother Vandy that I had never met. There were 6 others there and we stayed up until 2 am or 3 talking about Bible prophecy and riddles. On that same night many compadres from I grew up with had a big party where unfortunately many succumbed to temptations of youth.

So I showed up the next day at Loon with no place to stay after a solid 9 hours of riding snowflakes. Dan was as many of 100 hundred other JW's there that day..
Dan-Hey bro! Oh, your from RI? You don't have a place to stay?
Tom-'Ya man." I thought I might, but I don't know what's going on. I heard some stories.
Dan-If you want, take a left out of the parking lot go 8 miles or so down to 93 south. Take the exit for Danbury. Right off the exit, road will split follow to left. 10 miles down a sign on left ragged mt road, follow turns to dirt, first dirt road on right take a right 2nd house down it's brown cabin.
Sorry no cell-phone reception. The house is in the middle of nowhere.
Tom- "Ok. Maybe I'll show up."

Nearly 10 years later and after Dan help hook me into Sign Language, were still good mates. I think Danny Boy is still shocked I showed up that night! Probably regrets it!?!?!?!?

(Yooooo, Daaaiiily. Where's the bah?)

Dan has a nice home on the bay, which enables him to mingle with people who like to go out on boats. We spent a few hours on Narragansett Bay and just took in the smell of salt water while drinking some blueberry bubblies.

(Throughout all things, there's always a glimpse in the clouds)

Something about the alcove's of New England. They are around in many many places. You just need to be aware of where they are.

(Flowers by the bay)

On to Patterson where Sarah Mel was my hero for letting me borrow her car during a torrential rainstorm. It wouldn't have been a fun trip to Walkill at 9 pm on the motorbike on the highway going to someones home I had never been before. Sarah and I caught up and had a 'special' photo session with A.R.T. department. Xavier and Andera Clairbush who were only dating in 2003 when I stayed with Xavier at the Intl. in Hungary. Now, after many years of patience, he made his goal. Gilead.

But the highlight from Patterson, look where sign language has come too!

(Sign Languages around the World)

Speaking of old friends and acloves, Lisa Marie is one of those people that only New England can handle, and it fails. I met Lisa when I was 16 or 17, at Ryan Flemings farm, and I remember saying out loud in the group of people and in front of Lisa; "is this girl for real, or is she acting?" Lisa and I have had so many great conversations over the years. We went to Pioneer School together, served where the need is great in Mt. Pleasant then on too the Sign Language hall. Talk about seeing things outside of the box,- Lisa sees a square and a circles and says the box is for grandma's shoes.

So too bump into her in the hallway at Walkill with her husband and the same beautiful intricate ways about her after she slapped cancer in the face and kept smiling was, was, was such a...

(An unexpected surprise)

I did do some preaching, but I was actually nervous about going door to door. I just did the direct approach. Why? Here in Indonesia you get invited in and drink tea and eat some snacks at most peoples home, before you even get into it. You have about 10 seconds in New England to get your point across.

Being out in a group of 4 persons in a comfortable car is a nice blessing as well. When your normally by yourself or one other person on a moped it's a different feel.

(Preaching in New England. Nothing like it)

One of my goals before I left was to sit down some young guys and lay it out there... I mean lay it out... I had 10 years worth of good choices and bad that others had laid out to me beforehand. Not only that, but to explain how it's a bigger world then what you see in Westerly, RI.

I don't know why I wanted to do it, but I guess I still remember small conversations from people who told me stories when I was 18-21ish. "I always regret I didn't pioneer and go to Bethel." "Living on my own for 3 months before I was married was one of the smartest things I ever did." "Stay single and see the world, because after your married you can't." Those stories help affect my decisions of where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to do.

I will say it was nice to eat some chewy chocolate chip cookies, doritios, and candy bars and drink Hawaiian Punch. If there was some scotch there I would have talked all night with the boys!

(I wish this happened to me)

There were some other unexpected blessings that happened while going back home. One was to give the last ever public talk at the Exeter Kingdom Hall. The Stonington congregation had me give the Public Talk at the hall so most of my family could come down to see it. It was such a privilege since this was the hall that I mainly grew up in. The talk was mainly experiences from Indo with a worldwide twist.

After the talk we had the good ole Kenyon family turkey, lasagna, salad, italian bread, and carrot cake buffet. It had been 5 years since we had gotten all together so it was long overdue.

That Sunday was a Sunday to remember. It was so nice. I will cherish that day for a long time. To see how all have grown. To see the congregation. To see family. To have the meal where your so stuffed you can't move. It was great to be with everyone.

(Yo, Mama's Italian side of the family)

(Heeeey, Daddy's Irish side of the family)

It wouldn't be a trip back to the US, if there wasn't a picture of a sunrise or sunset. This was a necessity. Amazingly how I even know the positions of rocks and sand at this beach...

Sunrise at WHill

What can I say... I made my goal. Over 3 years without going back to where I grew up. Your immediate family and those close friends always warm your heart in a new way. I don't know how long it will be before the next time, but this time was priceless...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A world away... A world changes...

It's nearly November 2010, but I need to go back to Feb 2010. Why? That's how much stuff to catch up on.

First off- Credit to Dad and Mom for trying to do the Macedonian switch to Indonesia in they're late 50's. It's hard enough to get healthy young people with no overhead to do it in they're 20's. They came, they tried, but, just a little too much for them. It was my father's fourth time, my mom's third time out visiting. In fact most Americans don't even own a passport and they're trekking to Indowonderland.

Well after it was decided they were not going to be able to permanently serve in Indonesia and the transition of moving became a 5 week trip, it was more about making mom happy. SO??? Search for Batik in Bali. We had gone to the home of Batik in Solo Joygja trip back in 2008, but it was not successful- to find the mysterious cotton print batik that is famous amongst the elite quilters of the USA, Europe and Australia.

Of course there are other things to see and do in Bali. Like eating, arguably some of the best suckling pig this side of Tonga and Vanuatu.

(This is the view from the restaurant with little piggy platter)

After years of searching, my mom found her paradise. We met the woman who with her husband invented this batik style on heavy cotton which Indonesians have no use for. But she wouldn't part with any of those samples!!! No worries...we found a shop downtown that sold some!

Indonesia always has music playing somewhere. This is a traditional instrument made from Bamboo. She was trying to get us to buy the instrument to take home. Sounded lovely!

(No quarters necessary. Just 1000 or 10000 Rupiah!)

While doing the market research for sign language last year I spent nearly a week helping out on the Kingdom Hall project here in Bali. Interestingly they are not officially registered as a Kingdom Hall (religious building). The reason is the Hindu religion dominates the masses as well in the political scene. We are registered as a educational center for the Bible. Monthly or quarterly they have to send in a report to the government dealing with the progress of the 'meetings.'

(Finished project, beautiful tempat pendidikian Alkitab)

Mom leaves, Dad stays... Uh Oh? Well, considering it's like 2 C degrees in the US and dad is a pioneer, loves to swim, and the Indonesians always smile and chuckle at him because he's heavy, gray hair, and has a big nose. -For some reasons a lot of Asian women like the big nose-

So dad stayed an extra month to pioneer with me. We went down to the zone overseer's visit in Jakarta. It turned out to be a national convention for all who could attend on the archipelago. It was great to see a lot of old friends that in some cases I hadn't seen since 2004.

I get the news that I will be one of the interpreters for the convention. For whom? A brother on the Governing Body. Of course 2 minutes before the program starts I finally get to meet him to find out what talk he will be giving. When he tells me about Jonah, I say, oh, ya I heard that one before, you talk about Jonah he didn't obey, 40 days more before Ninivah will be destroyed and so on... He say's how do you know that? Oh I have it on my computer. I was given that talk by someone. He cracks up laughing, and after a few minutes of talking he asks again, how did you hear this talk? I repeat my answer and he laughs.

Sure enough the KM shortly after for April talks about sharing recorded talks. But, knowing the talk prior to interpreting helped so much to make the points clear.

(It was in the 90's in the shade and the talk was over 1.25 hours. pheww)

A few highlights of the zone's visit besides having a GB member in Indonesia for the first time in 10 years was a special announcement. BROTHERS- "There is no rule that those in your congregation must wear jackets. Let your reasonableness be known to all men. Colored shirts are also not a problem. To join the Theocratic Ministry School it is not required you own a jacket! It's a personal preference if you want to wear a jacket." It was great! Our sign language congregation didn't wear one anyways, but it was nice to have a national announcement. To make the point clear Br. Lett, the members of the Indonesian Branch Committee, and a helper from US Branch Committee didn't wear jackets. In fact some had on short sleeves.

(Probably a safety announcement would have helped as well)

Back in Batam we always have guests. I met Hyesun in a particular country under ban and then again at the Int Convention in Korea in September 2009. She wanted to get away for the annual Buddhist New Year as it is incredibly chaotic, loud, and well it's vacation time off from work.

We gave her the full-Indo experience including staying with the local sisters a few nights to experience the Indonesian bathroom situation, going preaching in the boondocks, ferry boat rides, and of course exotic fruit. In the picture below this fruit has the effect of Novocain. You eat it and your lips squeeze together and you can't feel anything and you sound like your a little slow in the brain.

(Melly- remember us in Papua, Hyesun- keep laughing wherever you go)

The nice thing when you have guests is you always try to look for the small things in life to bring back to your mind the beauty and happiness that is around all the time.

(Peace of Mind, but where's the fish?)

Well it became time for dad to head back to America. It was a great extra month pioneering with dad, chatting, and just overall everything.
Instead of people inviting him over, we invited over others. He was in a different congregation then me, so we invited some from his congregation. My dad confirmed 18 or 20 people were coming. Which in Indonesia doesn't include, kids, cousins, bible studies, or maid's. So in the end it was right at 49 or 50 people.

So how do you buy food for 20 people and then handle 50?
1. ALWAYS ALWAYS have tons of rice.
2. Willing sisters who take care of cleaning, cutting, slicing vegetables.
3. BBQ grill for fish and chicken, train a brother how to flip over the meat.
4. Watermelon cut really small for dessert.
5. People eat with there hands and use dishes, bowls, tupperware, anything possible for lack of plates.
6. People sit on the floor, balcony, sofas, anywhere.
7. Pray
8. Fill them up beer and get them giddy so there not concentrating on the lack of food.

So we taught them the Insight Book Game. Two teams split in half, strange word no one has ever heard of, everybody gives a different answer, the opposite team must pick which one is correct.

(Liar! Liar! Blushing! Laughing! He's the one!)

After departure from Batam it was nice to take dad over to Singapore and visit some friends and get some of the famous oysters with eggs and pork noodles.

(2 dolla, 2 dolla)

Then it was over to Malaysia to visit the branch and see the Harper's who I hadn't seen in a few years. Amazing couple who were Gilead grads years ago and still going strong. If I'm not mistaken they have served in over 10 different countries. They took dad and I around the town.

(Nothing like the streets of Asia)

(Melacca at Night)

The Harper's skill is translation training. That's what they were trained to do back in 2002 with around 20 other couples who traveled the world helping branches how to more accurately translate.

Their big project was helping to start the Malaysian translation team. A language with some 40 million speakers only started translation a few years ago. Now as you look at this picture how many actual Malay from the Malay tribe do you see?

(Malay is what they learn in school but around the home this team spoke Tamil, Mandarin, English, but there not Malay's. Quite similar to SL translation teams that have non-deaf or no c.o.d.a on the team.)

Now, here's where I can type for hours or just sum up 7 years in two words. -Undeserved Kindness-

2003-First Interpreted Meeting (3 deaf baptized, 0 groups, 0 congs)
2004-First Sign Group
2005-15th Sign Class is taught
2006-10 deaf baptized
2007-7 different cities interpret District Convention. Drama is pre-filmed and sent out to those cities.
2008-4 official Sign Congregations
2009-Circuit Assembly and Special day presented in full sign are held in 3 cities.
2010-June 18-20 First Full Sign District for entire country. 539 attend from 29 different cities/islands. Over 200 deaf attend. 6 deaf baptized brining total to 40 total throughout country. Now 6 congregations and 9 groups. Isaiah 60:17

(I'm sorry, really bad picture. I was too busy trying to pay attention, backstage for things, talking to deaf, old students, friends, crying, assignments, overall shock and awe.)

How did we get there? Our congregation took a 25 hour ferry ride over the Java Sea to get to Jakarta. 3 of the friends flew down. But for the deaf it was too expensive. So to save 40 dollars a person and make it 28 hours longer we had a congregation trip. All together it was about 30 hours from house to house where we stayed.

(Congregations that can sleep on a ferry boat together can stay together)

I have so many more amazing stories for how the deaf got there, the persecution they faced to attend, the sacrifice of the friends, but, I guess, you can get the idea. Time and repetition it seems takes some of the amazing when you start traveling and seeing the outside of the box, and over time that same amazing now becomes a head nod, a good job, and may Jehovah bless you.

One of those amazin's is Rahmad. It was his first time to Jakarta and he saved up all his money to attend. The affect of seeing other deaf Muslims and what they did to attend lead him to immediately join the theocratic ministry school the week after coming back home.

(He put himself out there and Jehovah took care of the rest)

Now if you have seen the blog for a while you know I usually don't end without a good sunset. This time though I want to leave it with the big blue sea.

(Something about being on the open water that just makes the soul smile)

Monday, May 10, 2010

One1 Day Two2 Days Three3 Days Four4

What a special year in Indonesia. We have enjoyed many firsts for sign language, and they seem to keep coming.

Let's start with our days though...

One1 Day = Memorial

The effort of the brother's and sisters payed off as we had a new peak for attendance. We enjoyed 46 at our memorial, although we only have 11 baptized publishers here in Batam.

I don't know how, but I kept pushing as well. I was really happy to see 15 invitees (including studies) come. Of course 4 of them walked in during the program late and in typical deaf fashion waving there hands saying hello and sorry we were late because it was raining. It's something else to keep eye contact with them as your also keeping eye contact with the audience as your giving the talk at the same time. You kind of just hope they don't try and walk up to the podium and shake your hand.

There were many deaf who attended throughout the archipelago. The report is over 400 hundred deaf around Indonesia. That includes places that I cannot even pronounce and even some spots in eastern Indonesia.

Two2 Days = Special Day and Assembly combined in a package combo.

The branch also gave 'first's' being the Circuit Assembly being able to be held in three locations in Indonesia. Jakarta/Bandung area for those 2 congs and groups that are close. Surabaya/Malang area for those 2 congs and groups that are close. Medan/Batam area for those 2 congs and groups that are close.

The program was cut from 2 days into 1. In our case in Medan we had the Circuit on Saturday and the Special Assembly day on Sunday. Welllll, it's all good. Funny, Medan got to interpret once back in November and then they held it in full sign. We in Batam were somehow scheduled to be attending our one day and our two day in two different cities on the same day Valentines Day (Feb 14). Anyways, it's all good. The branch is looking after us, and now for next year -if we have time- we can hopefully attend at buildings that are better seated for the needs of the deaf in mind. The brotherhood though was tight.

Three3 Days = "Keep on the Watch" District Conventions

I almost don't even remember anymore these three days. Probably because I attended the district 4 times. Once in Batam, once in Jakarta, once in Bali, and once in Korea. I do remember the anticipation for attending because of the theme and what the talks were all about. I would sum the convention up as we have no excuses. The slave has given us all that we need to be ready. Here in a islamic country the name badge gave a witness wherever we wore it. Qayamat sudah dekat. "Judgement day is near."

Part of the reason for traveling was tied into previous blogs. You can revert to the blog titled 'Goodbye June, See You July, Here Goes August.' A lot of good stories and pictures in that blog. One thing mentioned was the fact that we have gone toooo much ASL. One of the reasons for traveling was to do Market Research on what the deaf are really using throughout the country - outside of us as JW's- Ever since then my eyes have been really opened to this language which is a far cry from what we have been using. I'm sure the branch will resolve this when the time is right. Since then our Batam congregation has starting getting away from ASL, and using what we find in the ministry. It's a ton more enjoyable. It probably helps that almost no-one watches the ASL DVD's.

Four4 Days= International Convention in Korea.

Again,,, jeez. Where to start.

1. Holy Spirit: I prayed hard about attending and it all came through about 3 weeks to a month before the date. That includes branch approval, using up my airline miles for a free trip {the last week before they expired}, gathering every last penny I own, finding a contact to stay with, borrowing ethnic Melayu tribe Indonesian clothes from a gov't employee, getting a job at a school post assembly, being on the same flight from Japan with Bethelites, (and one knew me and just recently went to a party with my sister) -the bethelites were the last ones on the plane for some reason, and held it up} meeting a Korean Bible Study in the airport who somehow I knew the person studying with him, finding rides for the bethelites to the hotel, using Indonesian to communicate with the Koreans I was staying with as they didn't speak good English.

2. The Korean's work ethic: Unbelievable. The put time, money, and amazing planning to get that convention up and going. They had people at the airports, people staying with families spread out over every-which way. Interpreters for who knows how many languages. Guided tours, gifts for everyone, history packages of the city and the organization, Places to take pictures around the assembly site, special seating for the delegates so we sat out of the sun, and it goes on.

3. Going to Prison: That was tight. Going to Prison to meet a brother. And again, speaking Indonesian to him as he was in the Indo group before jail and doesn't speak English.

(Am I allowed to post this pic?)

4. The food and spas: Man oh Man, Koreans don't play with their BBQ, veggies, and alcohol. I at spicy Kimchi like a champ. Their pork is amazing. The plum wines are oh oh oh so nice. Korean pizza is a trip. Now the spas- My body felt as pure as it had ever been. The heat rooms and cold rooms and sulphur water pools are nice. {{{once you can get over getting nude with a bunch of your brothers it's the best place ever}}} I am proud to say I received a clap from the boys for holding my head the longest under the boiling hot water.

(Ok, So it was bad, but I guess not that bad)

5.The smiles: Koreans can smile and it was contagious. The foreign sections for the assembly were loaded with smiles and gifts being passed around. The deaf section was loaded with people. They loved meeting bros and sisters from other areas. This was first time for me wearing ethnic clothes and it payed off as I left with 3 boxes of souvenirs and a lot of smiles.

6th and final. The conclusion:
I can't put this into words. For 7 minutes we enjoyed a slice of paradise. The announcement was made that the new songs would be played over the speaker system post the prayer. BUT, after that please exit the building as soon as possible. WHY? That Sunday evening the Seoul FC (football club) had a match at around 7 p.m. So we had all 60,000 people had to get out within 45 minutes. In fact Gerrit Losch announced that he had to cut his final talk shor about the destruction of Babylon the Great as we had to get out. During that 45 minutes you should have seen the ants go to work. I mean it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in such a fast time. They broke down an assembly that had been planned years in advance in a less then 45 minutes. IT WAS AWESOME!
-Those 7 minutes were honestly something. There was no negative thoughts, no gossip, no cursing, no worrying about taxes, no pressures, just pure love in the air. Honestly, it was like you could taste the love on your lips like a delightful appetizer from all the tears, clapping, banners and all that went with it. Then you turned around and it was locked up and empty and everyone and everything was gone. The next thing you see is Football fans in their jersey's, trumpets, and you literally felt the holy spirit leave the building and the spirit of the world just zoom right in, and you said, JEHOVAH, BRING US HOME TO PARADISE.



(First 8 minutes)

(Second 8 minutes)

-Some other pics from these random days-

Batam Keep on the Watch District = Interpreting for the last time!

(Yipee buku baru)


In line with the new ways to preach, they did a demo using webcams. Probably should do a 3G Video Phone one as well.

(For the more modern deaf who actually have a computer)


They got a new publisher. Oh man, so many deaf in Bali and now three activities in three different spots.

(Which guy is it?)


Our congregation saved up, saved up and saved up some more money again. It was awesome to travel as a whole congregation as one.

(Back to the kampung/village)


(Always time for a sunset no matter how busy you are)

I may post one more video from the Indonesian Assembly's but I can't do too much better than that video from Korea. That was emotionally touching.

See you post 1st ever Indonesian District Convention for all of Indonesia on June 18-20th. History in the making.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Seven S's Since Simplicity

I think it was 6 months ago I wrote I would let you know how the 'Keep On The Watch' district went here in Indo. Well, I hope you can wait a wee bit longer.

Since our ultimate simplicity trip of earthquake relief in Padang, here's some happenings: (S7). Service-Sleepovers-Sign Language-Socializing-Simon-Singapore-Sunsets-

(S1) Service
November was all over the place for service. Sorry- not too many pictures on that. I really should take more. The once "thrill of photography" in the ministry has become the basic reality. But one of the nice things about being engulfed in the ministry is that you bring that "zeal to witness" even to places you're not prepared for.

One day, on my way to a RV in the big mall in town, I saw a bunch of Chinese tourists. I asked the tour guide in Indonesian if they were from China. He said no; but I offered them the WT and Awake in Mandarin anyways as I heard them speaking Mandarin.

He asked me in English if I was a JW. I replied: 'yes I am.' He said: 'so are we.' I was shocked, but they were Singaporean on vacation for two days in Batam. So the next day I had them come by for a visit.

(They ran on the golf course with no shoes on; it was hilarious- as in Singapore you could get arrested)

On another night in November, we went to a Muslim school at about 6:30 - till 9:30 pm with a small break in between for sholat (prayer time) Our discussion was with 2 Islamic guru's as well as 2 Muslims who are also English teachers. They KNEW the Bible. In fact one of them was quite proficient in Biblical Hebrew and asked why I don't read the bible in the original language that it was written in. Bear in mind that he's a 24 year old Indonesian muslim. He was all prepared to prove why Christianity has gone it's way from the word and could prove it scripturally as well as according to the original writings in Hebrew and Greek and use such as John 1:1, Isaiah, Psalms and other scriptures. He was pleasantly surprised to see how Jw's are not hypocritical but follow the word. He took a bunch of literature and will be contacted again.

I also went back over to Tanjung Uban to help the deaf who previously studied with Maria our Special pioneer. On that day (Christmas Day) the friends were cleaning the KH. Below you can see how they cut the grass. For what would take about 30 minutes in the U.S. took him from 8 a.m. til 5 p.m. You can see why.

(Cutting the grass with big scissors)

(Small beauty, Big Impression)

Other times when you have been informal witnessing you may get invited to "random" events. Case in point-

(An Australian Indonesia wedding at a community center)

(Stop and smell the roses along the way)

(S2) Sleep overs

Lukasz, a deaf brother from Poland, made his way through Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. Linguistically he is gifted. He knew parts or whole of 7 or 8 Sign Languages. He could read and write english, and of course polish, and started to learn Indonesian. Very nice brother who hopped from house to house after 3 days. His sign name was just like John Travolta's infamous p-fiction dance move.

(All the deaf at the meeting. He's the only one without dark hair.)

(S3) Sign Language

We're down to the last 11. Well, technically 13, but 2 publishers are away for an indefinite amount of time. We're having fun, but a bit tired. We had the c.o. last week who was a substitute. He encouraged us to start doing search and rescue outside of our island of Batam. (That's another 2000 islands to cover if anyone wants to help.) He's a young MTS grad full of fire and does it like the book says. A really nice thing here where the ban was lifted less then 10 years ago so brothers like that are needed.

(We play games to keep our sanity)


(S4) Socializing

Socializing comes in many forms. The Ng family, who have really been like a rock in Batam for over 10 years decided to part ways with Batam and go on to Bali where there's a need. Lardi and Febi were on the branch construction team in 1995 when they ended up marrying and being assigned as special pioneers until...oh girl...oh girl again...

Here are some of the funny and cute highlights from the 4 congregation bash. When this video is done, you will enjoy the simplicity and sweetness of the Indonesian friends.

(Batam Picnic Indonesian Style)

Since this was a 'hearing' aimed social event, we had a social event at my home too so the deaf could participate. Lardi and Febi did a real lot for the advancement of Sign Language in Batam. It's so nice having a bbq grill. You can bbq anything and the Indonesian's will eat it as long as there's rice with it.

One of my rv's has a farm and I bought some FRESH corn on the cob. Febi- (sister moving to Bali) said it was the best corn she ever had in her life. It was good. FYI- take the butter and melt it down first, then put in the salt, pepper, and sugar in the melted butter, mix it together and use a new paint brush to spread it on the corn. OH WOW- it's good!

( The deaf and our cong. 81 or BI. It's supposed to be BI or Bahasa Isyarat meaning sign language)

(S5) Simon

Simon and his family took me under their wings all the way back in 2004 when I first came to Indonesia. It was so great to see Simon advance as a spiritual man despite the easy way out that there is for the upper-class Jakarta kids. With the- higher the income, the higher the education, it seems, comes- the harder the temptation. Simon went to school in Australia to become a doctor, but was going to MD school while pioneering and serving with Sign Language.

As a MD trainee in Indonesia, they send you to the hospital where everyone gets sent that has no hope of recovery. THAT'S BEING THROWN IN THE FIRE! In the morning Simon would watch people die in the hospital, in the late afternoons he would help deaf people to life!

His wedding was a few weeks ago, and I had to make it down. It was posh as posh could be, and the food,- well the food was amazing!!! Simon, congrats to you and Melissa.

(Daniel and Dr. Death)

(Simon's mom all decked out. Mon, wah, cantik bangggget deh!!! Bisa jadi aktris sinetron kan?)

(S6) Singapore

I'm working. 35 days straight. It's gotta be done. What am I doing? Something like what's involved in the picture below.

(A whole different world in the offshore industry)

Fortunately I still have some time to meet up with the deaf. And you still can bump into old friends in random places; like bumping into Rick and Michelle at a Chinese hawker stand in Singapore, selling Australian lamb chops to American tourists -next to a Malaysian stand- selling Indonesian fried rice and Indian curry.

(SO MUCH POTENTIAL AND INTEREST, BUT, no men to take the lead ... aaarrrgggh)

(S7) Sunsets

It wouldn't be "Indotom's blogspot" without a little reflection on the creative beauty (s) that Jah has around us all the time. To quote my childhood example of what I wanted to be but knew I shouldn't {Ferris Bueller} "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

(Don't miss it, the real life is on the horizon)