As I type this, the earth is spinning at some 30 km a second. Our bodies are replenishing themselves over and over again with new cells. Birds are building nests, bees are buzzing, flowers are blossoming, and cycles keep cycling. It's all in constant movement. It's all going forward teaching us life is always going forward.
Right now in Central Java three things are moving forward for us. The service for the deaf, nature, and life itself.
Recently, we were privileged to set up a booth for the International Day for the Disabled. Over the years in the ministry, it seems sometimes you get a hunch, feeling, you act on it, and- receive blessings. A deaf person randomly told us about the event, so we went to the State Department of Social Services. They were happy that we wanted to assist.
(Interpreting for the Vice Governor of Central Java)
Our crew placed over 40 DVD's in Indonesian Sign Language. We also gave out nearly 60 YPA books. I was most happy that the DVD's/publications reached at least 16 cities throughout the state. Most of them have no witnesses in this 40,000,000 +/- region.
(Smiles, stories, spreading the seed)
As the lone foreigner, you always are going to get asked to take pictures and the basic Where? When? How? What? Even though your doing this, at an event like this you want to listen to peoples stories and hardships as well. It made me think of Jesus. What Jesus must have felt as he went through the 'crowds' who approached him just to touch him. How he felt 'pity' for them. When you see people lame, blind, deaf, crippled, and other various forms of disabled- your heart goes out. We have the hope of the kingdom. And that's the best we can do for now. Jesus could just touch
(It was really emotionally to me)
Another local event was the deaf trying to inform all of using BISINDO (Indonesian Sign Language) Again, having to try to convince others of your language and rights is another tragedy in this system of things. Yet, they've moved forward. Compared to 10 years ago and more, BISINDO is in conversation and moving forward.
(About 200 members of our territory)
Indonesians are very resourceful, and many have a sense of care or duty towards the community. A man turned his property into a school that was designed with colors and fun. Some of the students have special needs. So he asked me to come give a presentation to his teachers. Well, what I didn't know is that he would have some students come too. So, with a laptop, and jw.org videos it was possible to show videos for both. The "How to Beat A Bully" video is so top notch. Surprisingly to me, was the video about James Ryan (Blind/Deaf) brought some of the teachers to tears. That was the one that gave them hope. If he can do it, anyone can.
(JW.ORG is moving forward)
My partner Yeremia (Jerry) -Yes, Tom & Jerry. He had numerous deaf calls all over Semarang. One of the fascinating things about the deaf ministry is when they are in the populated city areas it always tends to be a camera worthy moment. Life is moving all around in these places. Kids flying kites, old people in traditional clothes sitting around, someone cooking something, someone fixing something...
On another preaching endeavor we went to the outreaches of our territory to plant some seeds. Get the DVD's in their hands and the meeting location. Again, strange feeling, we stop, we find around 7 deaf in 20 minutes. Some were visiting from other areas so they now could take the message back to their home town. That one stop planned on having 16 deaf attend the meeting the following week. Yet, due to heavy rain they cancelled.
(Monkey in the middle)
Our congregation is small. Really small. The smallest I have ever been in. Were 9 publishers yet 7 are regular pioneers. So for the annual Elder & Pioneer meeting it gave me an opportunity to cook up a meal for all, live music, and joking joking. The young generation in Indonesia is warming up to the idea of western food. Pasta, Fried Chicken, Pizza, Sausages, is a booming market.
(Weird when I'm the old guy of the group)
Out of the 9 publishers, over half is the servant body. Since all are also either Special Pioneers or Regular Pioneers we meet together all the time.
(Young, vibrant, and vigilant)
Becoming a new congregation is not without it's ups and downs and adjustments. That's why a C.O. visit is a nice fresh look to everything that is happening and going on. Yosia and his wife Fanny are new in the circuit work and new in sign. That doesn't mean too much here in Indo. Spiritual young men and women who apply themselves are really used by the organization. What a contrast where in some areas there is so many qualified persons who have decades of experience. Fanny in her mid-20's already handles herself like a seasoned veteran. Yosia's reasonableness is very apparent.
(The next generation)
Speaking of being used, my good friend Daniel is being used mightily in Indo Bethel. At just 30 years old he is now a Branch speaker. We had the privilege of him giving 2 talks at our recent circuit assembly in Surabaya. Wonderfully some 211 attended from cities all over east Indonesia. We got 1 new deaf sister and nearly 100 deaf attended. The pioneer special day is always a joy too.
I had a brief opportunity to see the old gang in Surabaya English, and see the progress of the friends in Surabaya sign. What a difference it is for the LCD TV's over the projector system. The sharpness, longevity, and price make it the way to go for us.
(Lot of new faces)
In the last few months I have also had the opportunity to give some talks in other areas. One small town that is part of our territory and it has a small Indonesian congregation there. My fellow teacher Toni is there and he invited me to come down. Anytime I give a public talk without shoes on it really reminds me of where I am. As soon as I walked off the stage I literally had to head to my congregation meeting for conducting the WT and several other parts. We do all 5 meetings at one time right now. Walking down the stairs a group of random men were walking up. Strange.
(I love audience contact when you have talks in smaller congregations. You get the random new person saying Amen, and agreeing during your talk. You get the kids taking notes, and others trying not to fall asleep :)
For the last bit of our 'ministry' moving forward story we need to go back to the 7th and 8th century. We still have temples (candi) that date back to those times here in Java. Recently a bunch of young Javanese college students were there the same time as me. I was going, they were coming, but something kicked me to give them a witness. In short the story went like this.
These are your ancestors who built this and worshipped here correct? Yes.
So since they believed this way, where are they now? Hell.
OK. Yet, at that time, Islam hadn't even made it to this part of the world. So is that fair? Hmmm.
So if God is fair, and loving, does it seem right that since they didn't know they would burn forever? Hmmm.
Wouldn't a fair and loving God, give them an opportunity to learn about him? Yes.
Wouldn't a fair and loving God, give them an opportunity to learn about him? Yes.
So they can't be in hell right now if he is fair. So where are they? I don't know, but I was taught hell.
Well, remember from the ground to the ground. They are back to earth.
Yet, there is a hope. There is more! Here's are website- you can find out more. Thanks Mr!
(1. Worship the stone from the mountain? 2. Worship the mountain? 3. Worship the one who made the mountain and than man?)
It had been a while since going up the mountain in front of my house. I went up to try and go see the sunrise, and got a little bit at the end. Nature is always moving forward with it's cycles of growth, death and regeneration. It's a good reminder for how things go in this life. I found this tree, and I still don't know what to make of it.
(Sometimes you need a walk in the woods alone to teach you-your not)
On the aforementioned drive to give the talk I was fortunate enough to make a stop for the sun. In our busy lives that we all lead, it saddens me to not see more random people stop to enjoy a rice paddy, a sunset, a leaf, a animal, a whatever. Time is more precious it seems to things that can stop time.
(The location doesn't even matter)
Here in Indo it seems there are so many 'wisata' 'tourist spots' that you really can't keep up. Some small turn at some random place may in fact be a place that somewhere else would have people lining up to experience. Case in point below.
(On a mountain, viewing the mountains, with the lake reflection of the sky)
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I have a soft-spot for sunsets. The finish the day and seem to make it just perfect no matter what happens. I feel the same with sunrises. They START the day and put it all in the right perceptive.
(Sunrise on sea, what do you even start to think about)
If you like to see what I saw, here is the speed up version. I know your busy.
(Sunrise in Paradise)
At the same sea, just around the corner, and 1 hour later, I was greeted with a view that Forrest Gump once alluded too. Where you don't know where the sea ends and the sky begins.
(Some of these pictures are some of my favorite I ever have taken)
Blue Fire. There's only 2 places in the world were this phenomenon happens. One in East Java at Ijen Mountain, the other in Iceland. Apparently the sulfuric gas mixes at such a high temperature that it creates a blue effect and even liquid effect. It was unique. The more amazing thing is the local workers caring some 70 kilos on their shoulder of these rocks. I had seen on National Geographic that there job was one of the most dangerous in the world. We walked up with one of them, and he confirmed that yes, many die and can't do this long. For 1,000 rupiah or 85cents a kilo, it's not worth it. It seems although they are breathing this horrible stuff, the still smoke.
(It was worth the midnight hike to go and see it)
Another late night hike took us to Merbabu mountain. Another mountain in my territory and close to my home. We got to see some stars, and see the shadows of volcanic mountains. But nothing better then the lightning across the sky. It was also special to see the daytime views around the mountain when hiking. The greens, the trees, the ruggedness, the clouds coming out of nowhere to surround us like a blanket. At the very top some 3200 meters or nearly 10,000 feet was a guy in a tent. I give him a lot of credit. He was hiking with no end of time in sight. Staying as long as he could going up the mountain living in a tent. Water? A stream 1 hour away. Food? Living off the goodness of others. Why? Life. Take a step back. Think. Enjoy. Forward.
(Up and Up we go)
My sister and I are both enjoying our very different lives here in Indo. Although sometimes we cross path's we have a different set-up. I was so proud of her to take the hike up this mountain. It's cold, it takes everything out of your body, and you have to convince your mind that you can do it.
Neither of us had ever dreamed of making our home in RI (Republic of Indonesia). Although we were raised in RI (Rhode Island). Yet, with good parental training, proper planning, and a whole lot of faith, it's been quite a ride.
(After sleeping on some tall weeds and watching the moon overhead. To a nasty sunburn the next day)
Some ole New Englanders made the trip to Indo, and I don't think they were disappointed. From Attleboro Mass, to the jungles of Java, I don't know if Garret and Wesley knew what to expect. Anytime people from back-home make the trip it always hit's the reset button for me. To see what they have come through to make this choice. Hearing how 'life is still going on' back home. To remember what I was thinking and feeling at their age is always welcome visitors.
(To take them to my special spots and share, always makes life more enjoyable)
The inner child needs to come out from time to time. Riding a quad through the woods is a good way to get that done. Seeing life from the view of a 14 year old is humbling as well. Daniel helped me get out some of those wonderful bugs.
(The trees keep growing, the quad keeps moving)
In life, you have to survive. And if your only source of income comes on sunday mornings and special events you need to make it count. Many resourceful Indonesians sell things that appeal to kids to make their business work. Parents are happy to comply.
(Bubble Man -I think his t-shirt says My Other Shirt is Rip Curl)
I believe that very soon, or already, urban populations around the world have over taken country-sides. The county-sides beauty over shines the beauty in a city. It's funny to think about when many people from a city, travel to other cities. Many are one-in-the-same. Granted, cities to offer many opportunities. In this case, the hero's monument provides a brief skip in life where the sun, the water, the fountain, provided a nice mix in life.
(Fountains are Fun)
Life goes on, and so do trucks. Daily I get stuck behind a truck. Here they are normally over-stacked, overweight, and putting stuff in the back the manufacture probably didn't design. Here in Indo as well as other developing counties, it's just another day of life.
(Giant horse statues going down the road to somewhere)
(Coming home from school)
(Going down the mountain)
(Don't know where were going)
I've caught up to the main motivational force behind this blog post. About a year ago now, I felt a strong strong pull to go the mountains. To be with nature. To be in Java that has gone forward in time, yet it's still hanging to days of distant past. Those roots are disappearing slowly but some are going back thousands of years. Some of these roots I feel go all the way back to the Mosiac Law.
I try to take some time to walk without my shoes through the fields here. Put my feet in nature, and watch it's cycles unfold before my eyes. Walking through a corn field and rice paddy at dusk stirs up endless moths, incets, and grasshoppers popping and flying their way away from my feet. They provide almost a grand entrance as you walk through their home. The farmers work with the seasons, not against it. They wake up and sleep based on nature, not forcing nature the other way. Year in and year out, life goes on.
(The Paddy Lady's depending on life going forward)
As another 3 to 4 months have gone by, hopefully you have grown as I have. Grown in what way? It depends on what your planting. How much have you grown? Depends on the weather. Is their pain in moving forward. Sometimes.
Wherever you are, may your personal growth always have some sunshine.
(The sun will be up tomorrow- "To Guy Pierce, there was a greater possibility that the sun would not rise than that Jehovah’s promises would go unfulfilled, and he wanted to share that truth with the whole world." WT 12/15 p.3 He "Knew the Way")