Friday, February 14, 2014

In & Out - Here and There

   -Every time I go to type an update, more life flashes by, as well as the time to type it. A volcanic eruption spewing lava hundreds of miles of ash and dust have kept me inside for the day. So I'm happy to move fast before your eyes with some snapshots and stories from In & Out - Here and There.-

Indonesians love jalan-jalan {road road or travel}. Being in East Java and our territory being huge it's always good to find English speaking people wherever we go. In this case, a few hours away some friends organized a day trip to some white water rafting. Besides the natural beauty, traditional village lunch, STMJ, fresh air was also the animals...

(After some snakes, crocodiles, lizards and myriads of bats; the crowd goes wild)

I seem to have attended a lot of Assembly's lately. Was this one in November? October? I don't remember. We are using the LAN Govenrment building in Jakarta for all of our conventions now, and it's working quite well. They use this same building for other theocratic events. 

Since the D.C.  and moving to Surabaya I have been assisting and training one long time man who was raised in the truth but never baptised. You know the type. He just needed a little confidence and encouragement, and next thing you know...

(Moment of Rejoicing)

I still remember when the branch office informed me of leaving Sign Language and joining English. After 10 years in Sign Language it was quite a change to be now back in my mother tongue. Praying for h.s. and working with all the tools that English provides has not been in vain. Having 3 studies in 2+ years since join English get baptized was a great honor. 

(Letters of Recommendation since joining English)

One evening after the Assembly we got to go out to eat in one of Jakarta's finer restaurants. It was a treat, meal was fancy italian, but good friends all serving Jehovah with deep conversation is always the special treat. 

(Old friends at a New restaurant)

Monday after the assembly it was good to Seth and do some preaching. Seth planted the seed for me to come to Indonesia.This time we found this park in Sentul which basically said:  hey science is cool, but if you die trying in the process that's no big deal. 

(No safety built in, just do as you please. You should have seen the bike zipline over the river!)

In the busyness of life here in Surabaya a special report came that Batam would have it's first own S.A.D. all in sign. That was a must go. To think just a few years back we were just interpreting for one young man name Firdaus (Paradise). Time, persistance, and Jah's blessings opened up the gym doors...

(BIG FIRST, Batam's Special Assembly Day over 150 in attendance from 4 countries. The school gave the auditorium for free.) 

Seeing old faces, friends, going to old restaurants, sunsets, home, was overwhelming. {Insert the theme song from Cheers}  Honestly I felt like Norm. Completely random people saying hello Mr. Tom. It was nice since Martha invited some of the long time friends in Singapore and Malaysia to come on down to the big party. Even ran into a few RV's who I hadn't seen in 4 years. 

The big shock was having my previous Bible Study and roommate dedicate himself to Jehovah and symbolize by baptism. It was so sweet for me to be the chairman- look at him in the eyes- stand up and watch him walk off, and then...

(Big Smiles- My old study and buddy Rahmad becomes another letter)

At the D.C. in sign 2 years ago Ilham along with Rahmad and 4 other deaf from muslim background stayed in our tiny apt in Jakarta. I can still vividly remember Monday after the convention. 5 of the boys wanted to go out and see the city. Ilham didn't. He was sitting in the chair in the corner of the apt. He was meditating. After years of studying it was the first ever convention or assembly he could attend. He still didn't have permission, he just wasn't let anything stop him from coming to Jakarta. He was so blown away by what he saw, he was deciding if this was what he was going to do.  I just patted him on the back, said to pray, meditate and left him alone to process what he had just seen -Spiritual paradise.-

(One convention to touch his heart,  next convention baptized, assembly after interviewed)

Then there is Tumpal and Aping. Talk about a big circuit. Ya. Talk about it. The whole country. And their are deaf everywhere. They still smile, their still busy. 

(Still going strong all over the country) 

I haven't seen my little Sumatran friend in a few years. Last thing I heard was his parents still opposed him severely, his brother beat him, and he had to move to get away from the witnesses. If you remember he has no hands, he's a little person and he's deaf. He signs and sends text messages with his feet. I saw him take his socks off, get a straw poke it in his water, and eat his lunch all with his feet...

(Still kicking)

For 5 years we toiled and joyed in Batam at all the beauty, and  idiosyncrasies. In the end I think I become part of it all.  You start to even to get the know the animals in your assignment. Their was the king fisher couple, the swimming monitor lizards, frogs after the rain, the 1 monkey,  and mama eagle and her kids. 

(The eagle is still going for her morning calls. This bald eagle still loves his sunrises and sets)

Back in Batam it was so nice to have some good ole Nasi Padang fish head. Real fresh in Batam. When I got to the airport waiting room you should have seen the looks I got. Well, when a foreigner pulls out rice in a bag with a big fish head and eat in in my hand it get's the Indo's smiling. First, it makes them hungry, second the fact I eat nasi padang, third that I know it tastes better with your hand. :) 

(The also stared at me, and when I looked out the window and started taking pics saying: Bahaya! Danger! Next thing you know everyone is on the phone taking pics. I was looking for the exit)

Back in Surabaya there was a sign C.A. less then 10 minutes from my house. Gotta love it! I remember in USA where friends would have to travel across the whole country east of the Mississippi to attend. I love the fact in this assembly they set the AC's full blast at like 50 degrees so no-one slept. The assembly in Batam was no AC's about 95 degrees so no-one slept. The best bit was on the projector seeing the picture of the president in every scene.

(Stefanos the D.O. is still the PPoint Master. Excellent teacher with pics!) 

Here around East Java there are a lot of stories with snakes, dragons, decendants, blood loss, etc. For the historians out there you will remember that Java was this enchanted land influenced by animism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. You see relics and stories in their history that all link back to Babylon.

(Always a story with similarities to Genesis 3:15)

Cris & Andrea are as busy as bees traveling from one end of Indo to another. Because of some last minute emergency's I was able to join the Solo groups first meeting. Again, it's funny and amazing the people you meet who speak English.  Wanna help?

(Solo's First English Meeting)

Since I had a free afternoon, why not join the sign language. At the recent 2 day assembly in Surabaya for sign language they had some 30+ deaf from Solo attend for only a small group in the teens. Truly remarkable. Solo like some cities in Java have this old feel that you think nothing has changed on these streets in 100 years. Near the deaf study's house on the side streets of the old historical sub-kingdom of Solo you get...

(Smiling kiddies in Solo)

There is a story of Indonesian's first President Sukarno blowing up all the train lines that the Dutch had built in Sumatra. Why? He felt it would have led to a possible Sumatra revolt becoming it's own country. Whether he was right or not, the trains that are still functioning provide a more steady transport then many of the roads. 

(Sunsest out the train)

Close by Surabaya is a popular little city near the mts called Malang. Here as well, an English group is getting organized and started. It's fun conducting the WT when you know noones name. Wanna help?

(First English puplic meeting in Malang)

Back in Surabaya the Indonesian speaking circuit had their assembly. It's good to go and meet new people, hear some talks in Indonesian, bump into old students from sign language classes. and see how the big the brotherhood is. Relatively. The attendance of 1000+ has nearly 10 million in the Surabaya territory. Wanna help?

(OK, umm, so if each of us talks to 10,000 people this year we cover our territory)

Recently while talking to a foreigner he described Surabaya as a big village. The second largest city in the country a village? Yes, that sounds about right. There is still paddy fields and spots for fishing mixed in by skyscrapers. 

(Sky-shot of somewhere in Java)

There's a lot of ways to make money in Indonesia. Especially things geared towards children. They have some theme parks close to Surabaya and this one has a 'stuffed animal museum.' 

(Kicking Kangaroo)

In this stuffed museum they also show you animals and bugs that you didn't even know existed. I was blown away at the variety of 'kinds' of bugs. The colors, patterns, beauty, design, legs, were fascinating. I had no idea how varied and intricate they were. Look forward to be able to have some communication with bugs in Paradise. 

(So much variety, you'll never see the end)

Close to the ex-live animal museum are beautiful volcanic mountains and green pastures. When you get out in the country you feel so alive again. You can breathe, you can take it in, it feels so fresh. 

(Buttercups in the mountains makes it all the nicer. )

For some reason around the corner of this you hit a village built like it's supposed to be a city, while all around is beautiful gardens. It reminded me of somewhere in South America. 

(Ladies in the truck, homes on the cliffs, veggies on the hills, and thumbs up in the truck)

Around the corner of this little village, green pastures, is a live volcano, and then in turn when it rains, well...

(Is that snow in Java?)

OK. How do I tell about this preachers paradise. Back in the early 80's a Mr. Colin who was studying in Surabaya was in this small town of Pare. He had a personal teacher who taught him so much about English and teaching it changed his life. Since he had learned English and was the only one known in the area, a few students asked him to help prep them for a upcoming test they would have in English. Well, one thing lead to another and he got more and more, and next thing he had a course. 

Then, more and more heard about learning English and then people from other areas and started coming. Then another Mr. Muslihin came in as another teacher. As it started to grow, it became the Kampung Ingris. Where students from all over Indonesia would come in and take an intensive course. They would take this course and be forced to speak English daily for a period of weeks or months. It became the world's first English Village. 

Well, well, well, when people come up to you and ask for magazines and want to invite you in and have discussions on any topic in English, how can you go wrong? Wanna help?  

(Preaching in the English Village)

We found a great place to eat with a bunch of wild animals some in cages, some not. It has the best BBQ fish cooked in honey.

(Good lunch, good people. good long 12 hour + service day)

Now back to There. My publisher cards were in a new congregation just formed and I was on the svc com. Yet,,, never once attended a meeting in 4 months. Not really a dependable brother am I? Well it was nice to be invited back, or fulfill my assignment? 

(After the talk in Jakarta, it was sweet times in Jakarta...)

It was so encouraging to spend time with some of the friends, and see the city. As much as I loved Jakarta is as much as you don't really miss it. Why?  

(View from Fu's balcony {now under water} floods, baby, floods, traffic baby traffic )

                         That day was one of those days that it head to end in a sunset didn't it. 

(One of those once-a-month sunsets in Jakarta)

That night after the desert and sunset we had an opportunity to play some games. Nah, this game I played 15 years ago and hadn't played since. It's a game called skits. You come up with a skit you act it out, everyone laughs. You can let your creative juices flow. One of those skits had us dying laughing. They acted out ways to avoid Jehovah's witnesses. Apparently all based on true stories of what Aussies have actually done when we come to their home. 

(What is that? Two grown men acting like a table? Yes, what to do if JW's come and you have no curtain shades.)

Here- we had some guests in our new apartment. The yearly visit from a branch representative was a encouraging visit. 

(One of the reasons why we all need and get a good shepherding call once in a while)

Our group in Surabaya had a huge announcement on January 1st. We are a congregation! About 40 publishers. Territory? You saw the note above how big. Islands, volcanos, rice paddies, skyscrapers, universities, mountains, waterfalls, factories, and slums. Wanna help?

(English congregation number 4 in Indonesia) 

So where do we have our service groups and what is like to preach? We focus on the east and west  since that's what we can do. 

(Arial view from the west group with the C.O.)

We are trying to also work in line with the encouragement for public preaching. So Sunday's here in Surabaya are like the other big cities in Indonesia. 'Car Free Day'. It seems every character and their brother comes out to play. Including the Surabaya Reptile Club.

(His name was Mark the Lizard, his owner took a BT book)

I still can't avoid the deaf.  The deaf use 'car free day' as a great opportunity to get together and chat. 

(Smile, 1,000,000 questions, picture, poke on the shoulder, the usual) 

Other places we preach are near the factories for all the shopping bags sold in Paris, Milan and New York. Nothing like knowing that $1000.00 bags are sold for $100.00 or less here. Made by people making less then a bag a month.

(Still can look and find people who speak English or Bahasa Java)

There is always some type of event going on. This was sponsored by a university showing their talents. These students made chairs and tables from cardboard boxes picked up by homeless people. I gotta say, these chairs were pretty neat and pretty stable. So to advertise their product, they dressed up like commandoes in the jungle?!? . I used my 'sword,' they used their rifles.

(Snipers in the Ministry)

In the ministry I noticed this guys blue T-shirt that said South Attelboro Woman's Softball. First, I know he has NO IDEA where Attleboro Massachusetts is, nor what is woman's softball. I asked, he didn't. But, how and why was this T-shirt about 1 hour from where I grew up, doing on this random Javanese guy. Globalism.  

(So, it was the big Beef and Goat sacrificing holiday in memory of what Abraham did. So these guys make a business as Surabaya's Skin Street Cleaners Yes, that's a goats leg in his hand)

Indonesia has many tribes, cultures, and tounges. Everywhere I go around here it's Bahasa Jawa kasar. The Surabaya language. Everything has an aww sound to it. The chinese indonesians speak it. But?

(They also learn to speak English, even the little kids)

Surabaya has so much history with buildings. Some of these old Dutch buildings are still maintained and very nice. 

(Old Banks good place to preach?)

One of the historical buildings is the Hotel Majapahit designed by Iranians overtaken by the British, then Dutch then Japanese. Now run by a Chinese Indonesian group. 

(If your going to look for people to speak English, don't forget to get in the scenery) 

While going door 2 door you never know who or what you will see. In this case I saw this guy and had to stop. Normally a garderer uses his hand cutters, this guy had something else in mind. We stopped and talked. He took a track, I took in a good story.

(It was a Singer sewing machine motor rearranged with a saw blade. His first idea was a fan, but not strong enough. It takes him half the time and doesn't hurt his arm)

Like I mentioned at the outset, life moves fast so you need to be ready to take in the small things... I love these Cambodian flowers as they are known because they always smell so sweet, and if you wash your hands with them they let out a natural liquid that makes your hands smell nice. 

(Small things in Service)

They look cute, sweet, nice, yet their worth hundreds upon hundreds of dollars here!

(Golden Puppies)

In this vast territory that we have, there is 3 congs that are super small. So we can take advantage of being a visiting speaker and check out the response in English. 

For those of you in a western country with comfortable KH's, nice chairs, suits, and security systems; welcome to the Gresik congregation. 13 publishers, a rented home which living room turns into a KHall with 33+ people. Since your in a place of worship, you take off your shoes. No jacket since no a.c., no sound system since the back of the hall is open. 

(You finish your talk and go and sit down on a pink plastic chair ;)

In the back of the hall/home the special pioneer has found a little additional income. They're call tekko. Well, that's the phonetic way to say it. They can sell for thousands of dollars if large enough because of the belief that they provide herbal remedies. 

(Yes the pioneer caught them, yes, that's two eggs in the back which means breakfast or more to sell) 

Indonesia has a huge problem with traffic jams. While preaching here in Gresik, I think I may have found the problem. 

(3 grown men on a bike, that stops them in their tracks every time)

One random day surfing the net a dream was answered. For a few years now I have thought about going to Banda Aceh or Philippines to swim and see the whale sharks. You know, the largest fish in the world. Possibly the fish that swallowed the prophet Jonah in the Mediterranean sea. 

Then I found out they migrate right around the corner of here in Indonesia at Probolinggo. How could you not take part of the annual migration when the migration is right around the corner. Just a walk, a bus ride, a transfer, another transfer, a mini bus, and a boat and your there for a few dollars. These fish are big. They are big and gentle, but they are hungry and plankton is abudnant. 

(That's not two, but 1 fish)

They local people believe that these gentle giants bring good luck, and they have a rule that no one is allowed to kill them. It's partially true; there is more fish at that time since its the season to eat. Years ago, one died the villagers all got together, picked it up and gave it a proper burial. 

They are in the wild, and its impressive to see. Although they still are small compared to the blue whale or the vast sea. The impetuous Peter in me jumped right off the boat and took him and his young friend for a ride for 30+ minutes. They eat plankton, not Americans.  I felt like I had already arrived in Paradise. Priceless.

(Its real, it's hungry, its still about 3 meters long behind me, Altogether 6.5 meters or around 21 feet. )

Here in Surabaya today, we had a volcanic eruption. Most likely we will have some breathing problems for the near future. The friends here are safe, but wow. Imagine waking up not to white snow, but to grey ash. That's what we had this a.m. Snowing ash. The ring of fire is active my friends. We're in for a show.  

(So after checking on the friends, and checking on the pool conditions, it finally gave me the day to stay inside and show you some of the happenings here in the amazing country of Indonesia)

As the lava and ash of this system of things get's ready to blow it's top, we send you again the words. Wanna help?

(The sunset and the mt. are out the window every day, you just have to wait for the haze to move on... Until next time...)