Thursday, September 01, 2011


I really didn't know what, how, where, or when life's course would take it's usual twist, but I knew one thing... Why!!!!

It never comes easy, so my motto? - make the best of it.

To be truly honest:....... whoa, what just happened???
There is a song that says "Reality used to be a friend of mine." If he's my friend, he is bi-polar.

Let's get to it- No word on the VISA except it would be a possible 2 months to be finished. So? Find a job in Singapore like you may have read in the last post. That job, though, was temporary, so when I finished-I thought, why not spend the time in a country that I was invited to- years ago to come and stay for a long time to help get the sign language moving- Vietnam. As only South East Asia can do, you can find a $60.00 USD flight from Singapore to get there.

After meeting Moises at a random pickup basketball game in Singapore, he turned out to be a great host for a first spot. To be picked up by a brother in a country under restrictions is a gift in itself. To get back to his place and have a 5 course meal after working 10 hour days for 3 weeks straight is even nicer!

(The first meal in Vietnam was a testament of undeserved kindness, the brotherhood, and patience).

I didn't at first have the field service preaching cap on. I was more interested in being a back-packer again for the first time outside of Indonesia in about 4 years; and in theory, the last time maybe ever ???. The excitement flows, the new people, the stories, the adventure, the relationships, the foods, the everything that comes from living out of a backpack. It took me to the end of the Mekong River Delta which flows 2,600 miles through 6 countries.

The funny thing about doing this $7 per day- trip is that all of the events, -boat trip, trying coconut candy, homemade rice wine, villages, etc, are all things that I have encountered normally in my territory in Indonesia. While others are oohing and ahing, nervous, and picture taking, I'm wishing I knew the language to give a presentation!! It felt like home...

(I did enjoy the contrast of a shack home on the river with a modern-day engineering splendor in the back)

Another day trip took us to the Vietnam War Museum and the tunnels that the Vietnamese dug out during the French and American occupations. Intriguing. What people did to survive is amazing! What people can survive on, live in, and do when the going gets tough is something else. What wicked people did to other people is just... Satanic.

It's a learning experience...

So was the way the way they drive in Vietnam. Nothing in Indonesia compares. Vietnam has Indo by the ropes in how they drive, cross the street, and how tight the streets are with 4 story high buildings. Literally there is no break in traffic, you walk out in the street- slowly in front of 100 motor bikes and cars, and they just make their way around you. It's a dumbfounding system.

But as much as I wanted to fight it, I couldn't not go fishing for the deaf. We ended up meeting this mom and her son at a class for deaf artists. SO MANY deaf and only 1 sister knew sign where I was. She has taught some classes, but WOW. What a workload in front of them.

(The mother and son had the most beautiful blue eyes).

I think one of those random experiences you never forget is playing outside soccer in a thunderstorm at 9 pm with a bunch of brothers who don't speak English in a country under the hush hush... You don't forget going out to eat with a bunch of people and some happen to be on a translation team. You don't forget getting invited to eat at one's home who attended a certain schooling for 5 months who you randomly met 5 years earlier interpreting the meeting into sign language in another country -who remember the particular conversation you had to every last word! You don't forget sleeping across from a certain place of work with a biblical name meaning 'house of.' Hope you follow my thread here.

Those experiences are the cherished ones.

I made a 6 hour road trip and had 3 American deaf people from Gallaudet University happen to be on the same bus who never knew what JW's were, and knew too much about the Bible and that's another experience in itself!

Eating fresh fish and shrimp on the sand in a beach restaurant, watching wind-surfers twist and spin while drinking 50 cent liter beer wasn't so bad as well.

Lovingly, my parents sponsored a 4 star resort hotel on the beach for one night on the coast. A lot of Vietnam has areas with beautiful white-sand beaches where the morning sands and tides are sparkling with some of the most astounding colored shells. What do the workers do with this beauty?

(Shoveling over Millions of memories for a 4 year old or a 30 year old)

After another long 12 hour or so, night bus ride {during which they lost my reservation so I laid on the bus floor the whole time} we arrived in Nha Chang where I saw something I have never seen before. Literally thousands of people up, swimming, playing football, badminton, singing, playing, stretching all at 5-6:30 am. They fled to the beach like hungry people at a buffet. Then suddenly at around 7 am ------- GONE------- 10,000 people just vanished.... It was astonishing. All of the Vietnamese tourists go home when the sun gets out so they don't get a tan. Later in the day, you get the foreigners out there burning their skin hoping to get a tan! 5:30 pm -all the Vietnamese come back!

(It was like I was on the Truman Show where all were programmed to do it)

(BTW the domestic tourism and industry growth is phenomenal. They are not in a recession, they're booming)

If you're planning a trip, I do recommend Vietnam. The food is cheap, fresh, and good. You can rent a motorbike for $4 a day. Here are some of the things you can do!

(Listening to a mp3 player; driving through beaches, mountains, and small towns is a cheery day)

(Lunch Break. I swam, goofed around with some kids, Moises preached)

(I show you my big Vietnamese muscles and my peace sign... araararh)

(It is nice... Really nice...)

After our trips together, Moises headed back down south. I honestly got the last seat on a 8 car train and that took me up to the north of Vietnam. Nothing like being on a seat over-night for 16 hours with a 2 women and 4 kids with three seats... HUH? When I got on- the woman complained to the conductor something to the effect that I thought this seat was supposed to be empty, and she was in a bad mood as well. The woman had her son's feet in my seat area and the kid's leg kicking mine from time to time.

What to do?

One of the nice things about growing up and maturing is realizing what you would have done when you were younger is now different then what the 'mind of Christ' teaches you to do. Instead of constantly fighting/pushing them off, I thought to myself, she must be moving or something and is quite poor since she's not in a sleeper car, doesn't have enough seats for her kids, you have a 5 year old on your lap, so does her friend, etc, etc, etc. When she needed her bag I was able to reach and get it, share some food, etc, etc. It's just ironic and I mention it, because for years and still now- I do sometimes like to insist on 'my rights', space, freedoms.' Yielding, though, seems to change everything. By the end -smiles and bye- bye to the kids and sharing of cookies during our 16 hour journey replaced "the rights".

(It's hard to get so bitter if you stare at the good that is all around you out the train window)

Then it's time to get to work. North Vietnam- where the target invite was. It was 8 hour days with the deaf. It was training on how to do picture WT lessons, or making talks with the deaf in mind. It was accompanying the lone deaf male pub on his motorbike whipping through the streets like a horse's tail swatting flies. He knew hundreds of deaf. He used me like show-and-tell. It was BUSY... It was... having an oyster, duck, egg, fish sauce, fresh mint & vegetable meal, and then 20 minutes later to be at a motorcycle garage at 8 pm for a deaf study and getting uh oh......... uh oh............. something didn't agree with me at dinner. (You know what THAT means! Rough spot.

But on the second floor of a garage is the home for 4 of the mechanics (one of whom is deaf).

(They sleep on mats, they are brothers, they have a lot of work)

The deaf have been extremely appreciative. Many have come for years even without interpreting. There was this deaf guy on the street who had his own shoe repair business going on, who rode his bike around 1 hour each way to attend the meeting.

Service is great. Besides the numerous deaf couples in the cities you may go out to the countryside through the rice paddies and fresh markets. One day we did this which took us to a father and son. The son is deaf and really knowledgeable. Again, the Vietnamese tea is bitter and strong. I liked it,,,, but wow, strong stuff, uh oh.... uh oh.... Rough spot! (oh no, not again) in the country-side about 1 and a half feet wide outside and the dog opening the door with his nose.

(I took this picture for you to see the back-ground. Try and zoom in. The dead relatives get cookies, cake, wine, biscuits, chocolate, etc. for their offerings in the after- life. Not too different from ancient Egypt is it?)

When you're out in service you see the most random things that others may not like those that stay on the tourist trail... As in most places in the world, there is a contrast between rich and poor.

In these two cases you will see such.

(Rich people pay to have their dog's walked quite speedily).

(Poor people sell their dogs for a few dollars a kilo -BBQ or fried)

On the spiritual side, it was uplifting... Pics are private as you can imagine, but the stories are real.

Wisdom dictates the work, but so does the spirit. In one area a 'friend' was in Europe where he was contacted, studied, came in and brought it back to a area that never had any Jw's. In fact he was very early. Post war period, it was really dormant until recently. Now you have even 11 year old boys coming in and a crew of need-greaters and sent-in ones.

At my last Sunday gathering about 4 minutes before the meeting started I get approved and asked to give the Public Talk in Vietnamese Sign Language. It was packed with 23 deaf and only 6 hearing in a room 6m by 8m. There wasn't even standing room. I busted out a sweat- to be sure and I don't even know if it was VSL northern, or VSL southern, Indo SL, or ASL, or most likely all 4 sign languages. The deaf got it though and certain points they really got- they started clapping during the talk. I believe it was only the 3rd time in history they had a PT in Sign. At the end, the lone deaf pub fanning me down for about 10 minutes as I was pure sweat but couldn't walk to the bathroom as chairs blocked the door and I would have distracted the whole hall.

Here's some Vietnamese Sign.

(Enjoy life brochure, who's the boss...)

That night...
Brother Thomas Joseph Kittrick... your visa is ready to be processed in Singapore.

Ironic... After a day like that, an experience like that, it's now time for the next chapter in life... but...

I'm a last-minute flight away back to Singapore, or I can go over land back-packing version... What would you do? Fly right back? Or take the scenic route? Have in mind it has been 3 months living "on the edge" not knowing what would happen, visa, country, immigration, America, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, - just go back, it's been tiring, stressful at times, but now I can just move on...??? Reasonable?

(To be in Vietnam and pass up one of the world heritage spots at Halang Bay would be a tragedy)

I was the lone foreigner on the boat and that made me the guy to take pictures with. I did the package solo to save money, and had to make it work, like jumping off the boat's roof some 20+ feet up.

(Pass up the caves???? Hardly)

As great as preaching is, you still need to take some times to do the tourist stuff that you may have passed by normally. There is a library in Northern Vietnam that was to bring in the best of the best from around the countryside to serve the emperor. This little side-trip will be beneficial as I will explain down below.

(You may also get some time in a library to see some instruments that you have never heard before)

One funny thing about Vietnam is if the people were under 30 and you said you were from America you were a celebrity they wanted to take photos with... Older Vietnamese basically would spit at if you if they were allowed to.

(This is the we like Hollywood, MTV, and your other entertainment trash you send our way- group)

Since it's time to move on to this new chapter in Indonesia and in life... I wanted to see some mountains to process it all. Being in Batam doesn't allow this.
Well, if you thought 12 hours on a bus floor was bad, or 16 hours in a seat with a kicking kid, I would take that any day over 12 hour overnight on a hard wooden bench... That was rough.

What did it lead to? This was what I woke up to in the morning...

(Mountains are nature's never-changing landmarks, boasting Jehovah's strength)

Here it is only a short distance from the border with China and 15 hours from the nearest group of brothers. Nothing to do besides preach to the ex-pat backpackers, eat some roasted pork on the street and ride motorbikes through the mountains.

This little village town all full of the Hmong tribe had a place called the "Silver Falls." Somehow it changes colors depending on time of day, rain, etc.

(In reality it was more like the Chocolate Falls from Willie Wonka)

Now I am in the middle of nowhere on my way back to Singapore. Online stories tell of a 'road to hell' that passes from Sapa in Vietnam down to Laos.

Why? Landslides, drunk bus-drivers, pot holes, unfinished roads, flat tires, steep mountain cliffs, hairpin curves, accidents, and of course the road being blocked off.

Yup- That's the road I took.

Probably the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life on one steady stretch of road.

(This is only 1 picture of hundreds of breathtaking shots that photos don't do justice to-)

You had the natives selling these red fruits (Leche) I believe that tasted like a sweet fine wine.

(Shy, Shy, Shy, Big surprise)

OH YES, the road. NUTS. Absolutely nuts. The best thing was some retired American in his 50's cracking jokes the whole time that made the time pass. We even made a song, had some live chickens on the bus, a woman with a 50 pound bag of peanuts, a guy in his 20's vomiting, the road blocked off due to landslides, broken a.c. and about 4 people too many on the bus... -This is on the Vietnam side!
That was another 11 hour bus ride.

That night, it was nice to sit back and eat stir fried water buffalo with 25 cent draft beer!

Crossing the Lao border the next day was easy as I prepaid for my VISA which bought me some extra time in the middle of the border between Laos and Vietnam. Seeing a local shack that looked like an Indonesian restaurant I walked over to see if any food was available... And oh boy it was! Fried crickets, or June bugs, or something like that.

Fortunately the locals laughed seeing I was bald like their immigration friend. Being bald in this case proved to get me some free crickets! What a deal!

(They called us 'brothers.' It was the first 'brother' I had seen in a while. Look in the pan to see the bugs)

Well, Well, Well, they were impressed to see a white man eat the local food, so they gave me some local rice wine that makes whisky look like a wine cooler.

Well, Well, Well, now he eats crickets and can have a shot of the local moonshine?!? Might as well be part of the family. Unfortunately I noticed that my driver was having a little more then a shot or two. How about a bottle... Uh oh.... Uh oh.....

Sure enough about 15 minutes down the road we get stuck in a washed- away part of the road that he got stuck in... Why? He didn't go through the pothole fast enough. Now a landslide and rocks were coming down hitting our bus. So who does our driver get to help dig him out? Well of course his cricket, rice wine drinking buddy. Our driver's hand was all cut up so he couldn't dig us out. So now I'm in my shorts with no shirt on, nor sandals digging out a bus with an iron rod out of the mud in a torrential downpour trying to avoid rocks falling in the middle of the mountains of Laos............
Honestly glad I ate a bunch of crickets; as they had a bunch of protein and energy.

Anyways we get out, and about 1 hour down the road,- the bridge is washed out anyways- and were stranded in a town in the middle of who knows where.

(Make the best of it. Eat some local cuisine, walk around, appreciate what you have, watch Shrek with the locals)

In a twist of fate, one of the cars that was stuck behind us on the mountain had a young man named Jai. They just came from a tourist training meeting in Vietnam. He had an umbrella and was nice enough to hold it over me a bit as I was digging out the bus. Something about him impressed me, so when we got to the next town I wanted to talk to him.

-"Jai, have you ever heard of the Bible?"
"Yes, I used to study it?"
"Really! Where?"
"In Vientene with some Canadians named _ and _ .
"Have you heard of Jehovah's Witnesses?"
"Yes, I know Jehovah, he is God. I studied with the witnesses for a few years then I was moved up here."
"WOW! Do you remember _ from Australia?"
"Yes, he has the curly hair!"
"Jai! You need to study again!"
"I know, I love Jehovah, but very hard family opposition."

Go figure - lost in the middle of nowhere- in the mountains of Lao getting stuck in a landslide and a town with one hotel and having someone who speaks English fluently help you out. It is amazing what the angels can do. It's also brilliant to be able to get this lone interested person back on track and in touch with the sole cong in the country some 20 hours- by bus- away.

After sleeping in some random guys' home who were building the new bridge that is 2 years late- I hitchhiked with Jai and his company to the next town; again bridge washed out. Some kids were mesmerized to see a white man, so we had fun playing sign language games, and they, in turn, tossed fruit into my mouth that I would catch. Hey, you have to make the best out of sitting in the back of a truck for hours on a bumpy road.

(YUP -Make the best of it: Road washed out? take some bamboo, rope, and sticks and get your motorbike across)

The next town: River too strong, can't get past. So, we took a boat across and the journey continued on mini motorcycles, buses packed with 30+ plus people, eating soup on the side of the road and enjoying the breath-taking landscape.

(That's the first big city I've seen in a long... time)

At one bus station after having been sort of "together" with a Czech and British kid through the 'road to hell' I had one of the best meals of the trip. Maybe due to hunger, thirst, or just to be off a bumpy bus... An entire Mekong fish about the size from your elbow to fingers. It was BBQ with lemongrass, and scallions on the inside with a sweet/salty bbq sauce coated on the sides. BBQ on the street with an assortment of other rodents you could choose from; the girl wanted to keep cooking it Asian style {Soooo dry and crisp} Knowing it was fresh- I stopped her- which made a big commotion and shock. It was so soft and juicy and a slice of fish heaven. With a cold native Lao drink and some fried banana with coconut flakes for dessert, I was ready for my next 10 hour bus ride!

(On the sides of roads you see pigs with piglets, double rainbows, people in native garb, fresh fruit and corn stands, 4 year olds leading two year olds to water holes, and of course; the sweet shy mountain girls seeing a white man) TEE HEE

(This same road that started 3 days earlier and only about 150 miles all the way in Sapa Vietnam has now led me into the heart of Laos. Like I mentioned before the road had extraordinary, eye-catching shots that didn't allow you to take naps)

Lubang Prabang is a world-heritage city, a big spot for backpackers, river tours, arts and crafts, nightclubs, and food. There was this unique place called Eutopia that I had to see. The lighting, the setup, the atmosphere, the river, and a beach volleyball court built into this bar/restaurant. Little did I know that the couple I was playing volleyball with had just been contacted by JW's in Thailand and were seriously thinking about a home bible study when returning to Texas to get married. A fine discussion ensued, and informal preaching always goes when you travel; you never know what happens with the seeds that are planted.

That night I slept in a dorm room with Muhammed Hussain from the largest nomadic tribe on earth without a country. Was he impressed with what Jehovah's Witnesses believed! He has read the Quran and the Bible, and the things we believed were things he came to grips with on his own.

Besides informal preaching there are of course temples, museums, and kingdoms to discover. Including the former King's home. The walls were decorated with mosaic stained glass detailing the history of the Lubang Kingdom. It is hard to look past all the wars and fighting that man has done in every kingdom in it's history.

(PURE GOLD: What would it be like to have approached Solomon in "all his glory?")

Laos is also famous for these sets of waterfalls that are turquoise see-through blue. Due to flooding it wasn't as clear this day, but there were people from every corner of the globe! A rope swing, diving off off rocks into the waterfall, fish nibbling your toes, natural jacuzzi whirlpools, everyone becomes little kids while exploring.

(Hopping on a random bus with random people with random conversations always makes best of memories)

The next stop on down on our long bus trip brings us to ...huh...? Tubing down the Mekong river. Some business savy Laotians came up with this great idea:
Let's take a section of the river, put up a bunch of wooden shacks, bring in tons of beer and alcohol, put in rope swings, mud volley ball courts, spray paint, hip hop music, 20 foot slides in to river, zip lines, water guns, and give them a tube to connect from bar to bar going down a fast-moving river... "Ya, great idea! That will make tons of money, and never have any problems!"

As you can imagine, young people, alcohol, away from home, and a river are not the wisest mix.

The nice part of this town are the limestone cliffs that has the most magnificent blue lagoon I have ever scene. You honestly thought there was a neon blue light under the water. It was like being on another planet. Another thing to do is go for a morning jog and watch the sunrise from the mountains and rice paddies. The sad thing was seeing all the dead fish in the water of the rice paddies.

(You can tell some big int'l company gave the local farmers pesticide to keep the bugs away, but of course it killed all of the fish. Meaning, that rice is now contaminated as well... Aaah the west)

As we continue on another local bus ride {one that the tour companies of course said didn't exist so they could get customers} we enjoy 4 to 5 hour busride we have a nice chat with a dutch indian who is an his exploration of the world, it's peoples, and search for answers. As great as the ride was, you can always tell when you get close to a big city. The beautiful mountains disappear, the green trees, water holes, and rice paddies are gone. What you are left with though is after 1 week of bus rides, confusion, sleeping who knows where, you get the best thing you ever can receive while traveling...

(A meal with brothers, good friends, and Rhode Islanders)

Seeing Dave, Tanya, Joel, Ally, Hyesun, all of whom I know, have befriended, and spent time with was a reason for joy. Seeing other friends whom I met in Thailand nearly 4 years earlier in October 2007 at the English District Convention was shocking to them that I remembered. I think they felt the same seeing someone who hasn't shaved in a week!

(Actually, if it wasn't for helping translate into sign some baptism questions back in Vietnam a few hours before leaving I could have been a drama character with a full beard)

Vientiane is busy, hopping, and has changed so much in the last 5 years since being there but the tasty sandwiches remain the same. Side-point- Fresh mint inside sandwiches gives a a whole new twist on a sandwich.
After being cleaned up it was back to well, you know, deaf preaching. We met a incredible girl who studies the DVD in Thai Sign, knows ASL, and of course signs Lao sign.
On my last day in Laos, i was thrown into conducting a Sign Language Workshop with some of the youth. They had been paitently waiting for me, and I for them! Something lost in translation, but acting out Bible Stories in Sign, playing classifier games, discussing goals of sign, and general laughs were squeezed into a quickly bashed class.

(If you read the August KM about moving to another area, Laos would definitely qualify as a place that needs HUGE support)

Now, decision time. In Vientiane there is a flight to KL, and from KL it's close to Singapore by bus, train, or sometimes an even cheaper flight. Or... take a train to Indonesia. Huh? What? Something said that's the way to go. I think it stems from being a youth and dad working on the railroad. My dad had the opportunity to take me as a 5 or 6 year old all over the USA for free on Amtrak. We would have went down south, out west and gone wherever the tracks were laid. My mom being a bit more rational didn't think this was a wise move for Train Jockey Joe and a 5 year old.

When I was older I always wanted to do a big train trip, so if there was ever a time, it would be now. Arriving at the train station as the only train per-day was departing Laos was not the way to start. Running and screaming and Hyesun translating seemed to stop them. Somewhere though the ticket was never exchanged for me, so now I'm on a train departing for Bangkok with a receipt and no ticket... Nice... At least I stacked up on yummy sandwiches.

Out of the goodness of his heart the ticket man on the Thai sign called the travel agent and he confirmed my purchase. So now we're on another 13 hour train ride to Bangkok Thailand on, yes, yes, a sleeper bunk on the second level! Might as well been Club Med from what I was used too!

Arriving in Thailand I saw one of the most beautiful things I had scene since I left USA on May 24th. What was that?

(Advertise, Advertise, Advertise to attend an assembly!)

After having been in countries under restriction: Sing, Viet, Laos, for over 2 months it was sigh's and smiles seeing a convention sign. Have in mind I arrived in Bangkok Thailand at 7 am, and I was on the 2:40 afternoon train down to Hat Yai and hopefully Malaysia. It just happens to be a special assembly day in English very close to the train station on that day!

It was also super to meet people in the assembly that I know, have met before, or have connections too somehow. One brother and his wife knew of me from the Philippines as he attended the sign language training class with good friends of mine at Bethel. We had also met in October 2007 at the English District. He is now overseeing sign in Thailand. The C.O. of the assembly went to Gilead with my Gilead compadres who are now at Bethel in Indonesia and was the very brother emailing coordinating my VISA. Br. Vladimir I remember as his story is in an older magazine how he won Olympic medals for Russia, but then got the truth. We went on a boat tour around Thailand with a bunch of Cambodian need-greaters back in 2006. I saw his wife only a few months ago at the Johor Baru Malaysia 2 day assembly! Not forgetting the Need-greating Aussie couple who we met in Laos in Dec 2006 up in Chang Mi who we chatted deeply about the timing of GT, and how I have ate humble pie every time seeing them since! Then of course Br. George who I met back in 2003 at Thailand Bethel. He has been serving around 50 years as a missionary in Thailand. Then lastly another brother who I remember from October 07 who remembered me too! Excuse me! I know you, your from US right? "Oh ya, your in Indonesia with the sign, ya, I remember you could tell I was from Neeew Yooorrrk. You teased my accent." He then proceeded to say one of the most unexpected and encouraging words that touched my soul.

(With all of the above, and after mudslides, bumpy roads, no brothers, and being in countries under-ban it was such a delight to hear the following)

Back in March the CO told me that one of his recommend places that could use my help for sign was Kupang, Indonesia. That is the island that is connected to East Timor. NTT is not that developed as a province. That's one of the reasons I visited all the art gallery's, museums, and poetry readings I could while back in Singapore. Since the CO is the eyes of the branch on the outside, I did think there was a big chance I would be assigned here. They are very young and really pumped about Sign Language.

(It would have been fun... Here's the Kupang kids with their hats)

Since our job is to get the good news out there and make disciples, this picture means a lot to me. This is just a handful of the deaf brothers who have come into the truth since we help get this going back in 2003/4. In this group only Herman was baptized at that time.

Herman and I have shared a lot together over the years. He was a big influence to me in presenting the info to the branch about the correct sign in Indonesia. When he heard I was being reassigned he found me and gave me his parting words and assured me of Jehovah's blessings. Were both grown men and he's married now, but we both cried and gave each other a deep deep hug.

(Some of the frutiage of our work with deaf men here in Indonesia. I think were at 50 deaf now, up from 3 in 2004)

Another good friend is Tumpal the sign CO. When he was reassigned out of sign to be a CO in hearing he called me right away to tell me how he was bummed. My words were, "don't worry sign will come back around. Your experience won't be forgotten." He pulled me aside at the end of the assembly and said "what do I do without you my teacher?!" "You now will have to take the same advice that you gave me many years ago."

(A big hug, more tears, and 'make the best of it.' 7 new people being baptized always makes us all smile. )

To be honest, I didn't catch the high count for the convention. 543 or so? 198 deaf? Something like that. What I got was the overwhelming feeling that the work is steamrolling ahead. Seeing the long timers now, and many new ones who have joined the ranks and their abilities beginning to show in the language is very satisfying. To see so many men involved is another bright spot and highlight.

For me, als I can do is try to make the material clear and come alive. KISS---- Keep- It- Simple- Stupid-

(Last expressive face for a while, this was my KISS moment)

I think it really started in my mid-teen years where I wanted to go to a country to serve. Reading the yearbooks were a big influence as well as my father's broad perspective training. I remember being in pioneer school and one of the only chapters we skipped was the chapter that discussed opening up a new territory. That was the one chapter that I really wanted to learn from and discuss! Our conductor had mentioned since it's most likely that most will never do this; we'll pass over this chapter due to field service activities and arrangements.

The trip around the world at 22 was to find a country where I wanted to set up my home in to help with sign language in 3 ways.
1. Congregations and a full district in sign
2. A Circuit Overseer in the language / Branch help
3. A DVD. Get a tool in the language.

When the following 3 goals were accomplished; well, I was free. Free to well,,, guess. Besides that, I also figured I could help move on to another country or another language, or start over somewhere else...

Then as the program is ending on Sunday, the following is announced and posted on the screens around the building-

(What a feeling, relief, happiness, and a new chapter to start)
[In the process of being made and released]

The chariot is on the move, we just have to keep going with it. The Vietnamese Bible has since been released the NWT of the Christian Greek Scriptures. The deaf man I worked with every day in North Vietnam has got baptized just a short time after I left. Thailand has released DVD's in sign. Lao has a satelitte group far away from the capital. Indonesia will be soon forming another 1 if not 2 sign congregations. So much going on...

It has been 5 years now being back in Indonesia, and 5 years of operating this blog.
Now as I conclude this nearly 10 year journey with sign language I have nothing but happy memories with the brothers and sisters and of course with the deaf themselves. The benefits we receive from coming into their world can only be superseded by the benefits we an give them by coming to grow and love Jehovah better.

It's a beautiful time to serve the Great and Living God Jehovah...
"By Jehovah the very steps of an able-bodied man have been made ready. And in his way He takes delight." Job 37:23