I returned to the US a few days ago and am adjusting back to Ann Arbor, so I wanted to update you guys on how the trip was before I forget everything! Again, thanks for supporting and praying for me, it really made a huge difference. Unlike some other team members, I didn’t get diarrhea the first week 😀
Overall the trip was both a big personal learning experience as well as a privilege to see how God is moving in Indonesia and Singapore. We first gathered in Jakarta to meet up with the other teams joining us and got to experience Indonesian food and culture for the first time. Food is really good and really spicy, and training with the other teams was an awesome experience to see partnership among various churches. Then flying over to Biak, we worked with a church denomination called GKI and hosted a couple revival meetings and youth seminars. It was really awesome to be able to connect with the youth and see some of them respond to the messages, it felt like the work there is just beginning and that we were just planting seeds in people’s hearts to experience more of a personal relationship with God because of years of tradition and culture. In Jayapura, we helped out with a youth soccer camp and built relationships with some really amazing soccer players. It was encouraging to see many of them open up their lives to us and sharing about their past and convicted us of the need for more people to continue to invest in the next generation of leaders. Sorong was also eye-opening as we visited various villages, orphanages, churches, and people, but what stuck out were the couple of believers who faithfulness and patiently ministered onto the people, a woman who started her own orphanage, a missionary couple that is building a k-12 school, among others. Even as we went to Singapore, despite how modern and advanced the country is, we still saw so much need for community and the church when we talked with students and had a game night at National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University. It was so interested that externally, Singapore and Papua were so different, but the needs of people were so similar.
Personally, the biggest thing I learned was that I still place my worth in the things that I do, instead of Christ. Through the various skits, dances, playing guitar for worship, and other small things I did, I realized that this is in part a big reason why I care so much about my reputation and what people think of me. It was pretty noticeable that when I made a mistake, it would impact my demeanor and attitude because I cared so much about what others thought of me. But on the trip, God reminded me to please Him only, which gives me freedom from the burden of trying to appease so many other people’s opinions or thoughts of me. It’s definitely a work in progress, but it’s been incredible experience to go through. Additionally, God really showed how much he loves Papua and Singapore. In every location there were people with needs, orphans without families, youth without role models, students without community. And it was through this trip that the verse Matthew 9:37-38 really came alive.
*37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (NIV84)*
My personal takeaways were to see how the gospel applies in each instance I catch myself trying to please people, and continue praying for Papua and Singapore. So thanks again for your prayers! Below there are more comprehensive details about the trip if you would like to read. Otherwise, if you have any questions feel free to ask!
*Jakarta* We spent a couple days in Jakarta to join the Chicago, Austin, Singapore, and Jakarta missions teams and spent time training together. We spent most of the time getting to know each other, teaching each other the dances and skits, praying for the trip, and eating Indonesia food (really good and really spicy). One of the best times was getting to play a couple games of ultimate frisbee with all the different teams, some of the Indonesia guys were really good. It was incredible to see how quickly the teams came together with the same heart and spirit, it was almost like they were long lost brothers and sisters that we just hadn’t met yet. And I got to meet my JKT web team counterparts, and it was really hilarious taking photos of our church’s “global” web team.
(sending us off from Jakarta)
*Biak* In Biak we learned the need to be flexible. There was ministry that we thought were scheduled but when we got there, we realized didn’t exist, and also ministry gatherings that we didn’t know existed until right before. We partnered with a church part of a denomination called GKI to do various revival meetings and youth seminars. GKI is supposed to be a fairly conservative church, so when we invited people to come to the front and receive prayer during a meeting, we were shocked at how open some of the people were. In both the adult and youth meetings, some people broke down and renewed their commitment and need for Christ, and some (mostly men) stood in the back just watching others. We also had youth seminars where we were able to connect with some of the more committed youth (anywhere from 15-30 yr olds). They shared that the biggest issues in Biak were drugs, free sex, alcohol, and apathy/disinterest in the church.
(a remote Biak school)
We also spent a day visiting local schools around the island. We saw many teachers and principals share how great the needs for the students were, but also how they were doing their best to use the resources they had. We saw glimmer of hope in many of the teachers and innocent joy in the kids eyes. Also, throughout our stay in Biak, we received the most incredible hospitality from the women of the church who would get up early to prepare us breakfast and stay up late to clean up our dinner, and everything in between.
I was really moved by the stark contrast in Biak, where large ornate churches were half-filled with a dwindling congregation and teachers were holding out hope for students and the next generation of students. Our team really had the feeling that the work we did there was simply to “prepare the way”, and we’re praying that there will be others that go to stir up a generation of youth that will build a church that is on fire for God there.
*Jayapura* During our stay in Jayapura, we spent the majority of our time at a soccer camp called “EMSYK UniPapua”, in addition to visiting a couple churches. We worked with Pak Harry (Pak = Mr.) who’s vision was to use the soccer camp as a vehicle for transforming the people and, eventually all of Papuan society, especially because soccer is HUGE in Papua. At the camp, we actually played a soccer match against their 18-21 year old team and lost 4-2 (we found out later that throughout the game they were yelling at each other to go easy on us). We hosted a 2 day “character and motivation camp” where we shared biblical values of responsibility, integrity, and courage to the players. In one of the times of sharing, one of the students opened up his life and shared about a significant family struggle. The different activities really seemed to connect with the players. We did arm wrestling competitions, soccer ball juggling competitions, showed them how to play ultimate frisbee, among many other things. After the two days many of them did not want us to leave, kept asking us for facebook and email contacts. Even as we left at around 3am in the morning, many of them came back to help us pack and load our luggage and say goodbye. It was an incredible time being able to spend time with these soccer players, share Christ’s love and pray for them that they would become not just the best soccer players, but the next generation of leaders in Papua.
(doing activities with the U20 guys and the team that beat us 4-2)
I was really inspired by the camp and the whole vision of seeing this become a center of holistic education for the soccer player, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We were just able to get a glimpse of what God wanted to do in that place.
*Sorong* In Sorong we did various visits to orphanages, seaside towns, poor rural villages, house visits, churches, and universities. In many of these towns and villages, we saw such a great need for God. There were workers disillusioned by rough working conditions and no government help, villages so remote there were few good schools, sick lepers in hospitals with little hope. But in the midst of those people, we also met a number of people that gave hope to the city. We met the mother of a famous Papuan soccer player who started an orphanage. She exemplified a woman of faith, raising the children to fear God, to be disciplined and hardworking, and many of the children went off to lead successful lives as politicians, businessmen, even traveling to the US. We met a group of youth leaders who were excited to invite another missions team to host a camp, bringing all the traditionally-opposed denominations together to unite the youth of the city to bring change. And we met a missionary couple sent out from Texas who started a school, defying the popular held belief that Papuan children could not learn. They started with only kindergarden, but are looking to build a school that will serve through grade 12. But their influence is not limited to the students, of the students they taught, some were muslim, and they were able to see 14 or 15 muslim parents come to know Christ through a bible study ministry.
(visiting an orphanage)
Again, God showed me just how great the needs are and how he only requires people who will be faithful to their calling to see the greater society transformed.
*Singapore* Singapore was in stark contrast to Papua. City skyline, automated everything, streets cleaned day and night. People in Singapore generally had this feel of “busy”, work life is difficult, and cold interactions with strangers. Underneath the beautiful landscape and prinstinely controlled society seemed like a apathetic, over-worked, soul-less population that needed Christ’s joy. We were hosted by the HMCC Singapore church and had a wonderful time partnering and serving with them. We helped them put together a “game night”, in which by random coincidence (or God’s soveriegnty) another university group had planned a game night at the exact same time and place. We met many people and connections for the Singapore church members to follow up on.