Jim Larkin Indonesia 2017

INDONESIA 2017 UPDATES

 

NO. 1

Dear Prayer Partners:
 
My colleague, Dave Scovill, and I are in a pleasant hotel here in Jakarta. We met in Chicago on Tuesday. My trip from home to the hotel was 31.5 hrs from the time Diane & I left our home to go to the Sate College Airport. Although both our Chicago and Tokyo departures were late, we arrived at destinations pretty well on time. I was able to sleep some on the Chicago to Tokyo and Tokyo to Jakarta flights. One extra blessing was that Dave and I had a spare seat between us in the 3-seat row we were in on both flights. That gave a bit of extra leg room.
 
We will be going the national church’s busines office in another hour or so, pick up some local currency (we had sent a US dollar bank transfer a couple of weeks ago) and then go to the airport for our 5PM one-hour flight to Bandar Lampung in southern Sumatra. We will have two days of teaching from 9AM to 9PM. Worship service on Sunday then a return to Jakarta late afternoon.
 
Thank you for your prayers.
 
Jim
 
 

NO. 2

Sat. April 29, 2017  5:30AM  –  11 hours ahead of US EDT

Dave Scovill and I arrived in Bandar Lampung, Sumatra Thursday evening at 6PM. The church regional director & Karlos Buburajai met us. After our bags were loaded in the vehicle it took better than 20 minutes to exit the airport parking lot. Traffic is always heavy in the cities and towns. We expected to stay in a hotel that night and go to the retreat center the next day (Friday). However, we departed for the center straight away with a stop about an hour later for dinner at 8:30. A typical Indonesian meal with ten or more ala carte dishes of fried noodles, stir fried vegetables, grilled fish, sweet and sour fish, fried chicken, bean sprouts, and as always white rice as the base for all the other savory foods. We then continued on and arrived at the retreat center about 10:00PM. We immediately crashed and slept for about 5 hours. – pretty good in light of our jet lag.

Our first meeting began at 10AM Friday with about 30 church leaders, pastors and wives of some of them. After the normal pleasantries of greetings, welcomes, and sharing about the intent and schedule for our 2 and a half days,  Karlos gave a devotional on the importance of sharing the Gospel of Christ because people are lost in their sins and unless God intrudes into their lives they have no hope. Dave then followed with some basic principles about discipleship.

Each meeting is begun with some very energetic singing, loud and joyful, lots of hand clapping, body movement. And did I say joyful?  A bit more than what is the choice of Dave and I but they were singing to the Lord. I gave my lessons on some important Biblical truths about the Holy Spirit over the next three sessions – 2-3:30PM, 4-5PM, and 7-8:30Pm. The discussions in the second afternoon hour were quite lively. Some of the folk have come from charismatic backgrounds and questioned the directives of the apostle Paul about the use of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:27-28. I had them read the next and repeated the directives about 2 or at the most 3 people speaking at one gathering. Do not fear, I made it clear that I myself do not believe tongues are for our time but had their purpose in the first century before the Scriptures had been completed.  The discussions were with good attitudes and the desire to learn.

I emphasized several times, that they must be like the people of Berea (Acts 17). They should not accept what is taught merely because of the perceived prestige or popularity of the speaker, whether during this get-together or wherever they are taught from the Bible. Rather they must do as the Bereans did after the apostle Paul and Silas taught them about Jesus Christ, that is, they then searched the Scriptures (for the Bereans, the Old Testament) to verify the truth of the teachings of Paul & Silas. They should not just blindly accept what Dave and I teach just because we are white missionaries (in their eyes that gives us high status and credibility), but because they study the Scriptures to validate our teaching.

By our US standards the center here is rather simple and plain. The rooms are clean and the mattresses our comfortable – very important to us. The room has an underpowered air conditioner – during the warm, humid day, anyway. The bathing facilities ate typical Indonesian: we have a 30-gallon, round plastic container with a 1.5 quart dipper with a handle. The first cascade of the cool tap water on the body causes an intake of breath like diving into an outside pool in early June. But by the third dipper of water, it is copacetic. We do have a typical US sit-down toilet, rather than the ground level squat one.

The meeting room has just about enough room for 30 folding chairs – Asian body size!!! The two air conditioners are also under-powered. By 5PM my shirt and T shirt were soaked from sweating. That is why I brought more shirts than I would normally use at home. Ah, but this too shall pass.

Meals are simple but adequate. The eating area is under roof but open with half-walls. The drinking water is  air temperature. A nice large glass of ice water would be a touch of the Garden of Paradise for Dave and I. But for the folk here, hot coffee and tea are the desired drink of choice. The center is located in the midst of farm country so I have not yet been able to purchase a basic, inexpensive cell phone (called a HP, hand phone) to use in country. I will see what I can do. The center does not have a wi-fi  system. We probably will not access wi-fi before tomorrow evening when we return to Jakarta and our hotel there. So you will receive two or more of thes up-dates.

I will be teaching today from 1 Timothy 4 and 6 about the private life of the church leaders. It is great to be here and see the appreciation of the people for the teaching.

Thank you for your prayers.

Jim

NO. 3

Mon. May 1, 2017  10:00AM  –  11 hours ahead of US EDT

Greetings from Jakarta dear friends and prayer partners,

I shared from 1 Timothy 4 & 6 Saturday morning regarding the personal aspects of the church pastors & leaders, both in life and ministry.  Dave then took the afternoon sessions to teach on the second coming of Christ: both the Rapture and the anticipated tribulation and His return to the earth.

I gave an illustration about integrity: A couple had sent us 2 checks a few weeks apart. I had called them to be sure the second check was not sent in error. The answer was no, it was on purpose and that we could use it anyway we wanted so, jokingly  I said I bought ice cream. Of course they laughed. During the mid-morning break Dave told the area leader, Anthon, that he should get me some ice cream – that’s  Dave. Anthon said to me – in English – , “How big do you want it?” meaning how much ice cream did I want. I said, “No, no. No ice cream.” He replied, “No, I will get you some ice cream.” Well about ten minutes after we returned to our room following lunch, he came with two Magnum bars for the both of us, a white chocolate covered ice cream on a stick!!! What a servant! Dave, who was used of the Lord to establish the church’s ministries in southern Sumatra,  believes Anthon has blossomed well since the original pioneer evangelist and church planter from Papua left Sumatra and returned to Papua.

Anthon took the closing service Saturday night. What a moving service it was. He did something I have never seen nor experienced in my life. He spoke from Philemon which is a letter from the apostle Paul sent to Philemon. Philemon’s slave had run away and possibly stolen goods or money from him. Through Paul’s ministry, the slave had believed in Jesus for salvation. In essence Paul asked Philemon to charge the slave’s debt to Paul as a sign of forgiveness.

Anthon applied the text by addressing the fact that there had been varying degrees of conflict among the church leaders. They needed to forgive one another and move on to serving together as partners in ministry. He spoke for about 30 minutes. Then he called the 8 pastors of the district who were present to sit in the front row. He then brought a basin of water that he had put to the side on the platform and washed the feet and lower legs of each fellow using a wash cloth. The fellows were not aware of what he had planned to do. What a picture of servant leadership and forgiveness. There were a lot of tears and lumps in throats.

Yesterday, Sunday, there was a combined worship service of several churches in the district. There was also the installation of the new district leaders, a child dedication – three couples dedicated their children, and  baptism service. Saturday evening Anthon asked Dave and I to do the child dedication and the baptism. Neither of us wanted to take wet clothes in our bags. Dave preferred to do the baptism and so I led the child dedication. Unfortunately, none of the church leaders came prepared to assist in the baptism, so Dave baptized the seven people. One of the men baptized had become a believer in Jesus Christ after several years of agonizing prayers by his wife, who had become a believer several years ago, as well as her local church family.

These churches are not large, probably averaging 25-40, with a couple having 60 or more in attendance. It was a very uplifting time and we ourselves were greatly blessed by the enthusiasm and passion the leaders have for ministry and evangelism.

We returned to Jakarta last night. Tonight we fly on to Papua and begin sessions about 1 PM tomorrow in Sentani. We will spend this afternoon and early evening with friends here in Jakarta.

Thank you for your prayers.

Jim

NO. 4

Wed. May 3, 2017  4:00 PM  –  11 hours ahead of US EDT

Hello dear family, friends & prayer partners,

Better than 75 men and women are seated in the church yard, children doing their play outside the fence in an open area. The women have been singing some of their songs (a 5-note system) in Dani language.

The 7.5-hour flight Monday night was normal: 2 hrs for the first leg with a “30-minute” stop that stretched closer to 60; another leg, 2.5 hrs in length and the 30-minute stop, also closer to 60! Then a 50 minute flight to Sentani. We lost 2 hours in time because Papua is 2 hours ahead of Jakarta, similar to Philadelphia time vs Denver time.

The church leaders had arranged for us to stay in a nice hotel. We met with the leaders to discuss our schedule. Per usual they had added some events both now and at the end of our time here. Dave and I had planned on low-key meetings with pastors and leaders, giving some lessons and encouragement. But our first gathering yesterday (Tuesday) was a general time of praise, worship and the ministry of the Word for all the church people from several Dani congregations in this area of Sentani. Here on the coast there are people from other tribal areas in the central highlands where our mission members have done evangelism and church planting. They have asked that we provide some teaching for them. We will try to work that in the last weekend we are here. We told them that our schedules do not allow us to go into their area this time around.

Our “quiet” ministry had a bit more publicity than we wanted. On the front fence of the church is a large, 20-ft long banner welcoming Dave and I as pioneers in helping to establish GIDI. And the loud speakers reach beyond the church itself and the yard around it!

The service began about 1:30PM. Karlos started us off with a challenge to continue to evangelize. The Bandar Lampung leader, Anton, had said that the national church (The Evangelical Church of Indonesia – Gereja Injili Di Indonesia) is noted for evangelism and the teaching of the Bible. Dave followed by emphasizing the need to believe in Jesus Christ – the fall of Adam and Eve and that we are all impacted by that sin; we have a sin nature. We cannot clean ourselves up nor please God by our own efforts. But Jesus has made the way for us; we need to believe in Him.

Because of the number of people present, a poor microphone system, and the heat of the building, the second session was held in one of the side yards of the church. I had been asked to begin my lessons on the Holy Spirit. I no sooner got up to begin than a very light and fine drizzle began. Thankfully it ended in a couple of minutes and I was able to continue.

The air conditioning of our room at the hotel is too cold! Yes, unbelievable. But the remote to adjust it is broken. So we called the front desk and they dispatched an “engineer” to our room. He opened the door to the small closet on the right side as one enters the room. He stood on a short ladder, reached into a box with a lot of wires, took a wire connector off two wires, and connected one of them to a third. He said that was the warmest cool setting he could do. I guess I was tired from not more than 3.5 hours of sleep on the flight from Jakarta the night before, but that just struck my ‘funny bone” and I laughed at the “high-tech” solution to our “too cold” room. The room is a bit warmer but we are both glad we have somewhat heavy spreads on our beds. We both slept well last night. We were so tired we could not have done otherwise.

Again this afternoon, our meeting is in the side yard of the church. And again, just as Dave started to share about what is to happen in the future, the second coming of Christ, it started to drizzle! A little longer than yesterday, but it has stopped.

Wupu is very excited about what we are sharing and foresees that the materials can be used by the church leaders in many of their own districts. He would love to see this kind of activity done yearly moving into different regions around Papua

I am not sure when this update will be sent out. The wifi system at the hotel is very, very slow. Sometimes I get disconnected before I connect to our email provider. But I will try later this evening. On Friday we plan to go to an area about 30 miles from here, Arso, a large transmigrant region. Transmigrants form both Java as well as Papuan people from the interior lowlands and central highlands are there, including many Dani folk. I do not expect access to wifi there. I plan to be in Jayapura Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon.

Thank you again for your prayer. Pray that the church leaders and pastors will understand and be able to share the lessons to their church people. One Sentani tribal leader said this morning that the lessons about the Holy Spirit are very timely because there are a couple of groups teaching differently around the Sentani area. Pray that Dave and I will understand questions that arise and that we can give good Biblical answers. Pray for safety in travel and staying healthy.

In the bonds of Calvary,

Jim
 
 
 

No. 5

 
Family, Friends, & Prayer Partners,

I awoke about 4:15 this morning to what I can best describe as a sing-song nasal chant of the Muslim call to prayers. I believe they give a musical note to each letter or vowel as they issue the call to prayer. There is a large mosque (masjid in Indonesian) right across the street from our hotel here in Sentani. They use loud speakers for the call to prayer (5 time each day). It is part of a large military base. Right next to the mosques is a large Christian church building (reform tradition). Built back in 1981, if I remember correctly, it represents the official national policy of religious tolerance. I do feel that I have recovered from the jet lag of the 13 hours difference between Jersey Shore and Sentani.

Yesterday was somewhat warmer than our first two days here in Sentani. The church set up some open air tent-like structures and chairs. Most of the time there was some air movement. But when the air was still, it did not take much physical activity to perspire.

I am always amazed as to how the Lord provides great translators for us as we have these opportunities for teaching. I teach using the Indonesian language, we call it “Indonesian.” We are sharing primarily with Dani folk ( more properly Lani, but the term “Dani” was used for so long, that it is the more common word). My translator is a Dani man, a teacher at the theological college that the church established shortly after the turn of the century. Dave is a fluent Dani speaker. He does not need a translator. He says Lenis is very sharp at grasping what I have been teaching and expands where appropriate.

Per usual the church leaders have expressed their appreciation for the ministry of the missionaries from the late 1950’s. They speak in terms of the mission having given birth to them. Dave and his wife Esther originally came to Papua in 1960, Diane and I in 1971. Lenis told the group that back in 1998, I believe, the students at the Bible school that we had a part in establishing, were unhappy with the national principal of the school. I had left the school in January 1987 to take up mission leadership in Papua. I think part of the issue had to do with food for the dining hall. So a large number of students “went on strike” and marched to the church’s synod office, most of a mile from the school. The church president called me to assist with the matter. Lenis said that I was rather hard on him as he seemed to be the leader of the protest. Then he said that when the church decided to begin its own theological college I was not supportive of the concept. I was not because the Bible school (high school level) was weak in finances, leadership and qualified teachers who agreed with the principles and doctrine of the church. But he said, when the decision was made to proceed with the college, I was one of the first to give a financial contribution. I do not recall that. But he said all of this was an example of how the missionaries have cared for and established churches and pastor training schools – many of them in the tribal languages.

After I completed my lesson on the Holy Spirit yesterday, as usual there were questions. One related to the method of baptism. In the early 1960’s, several evangelical missions who were doing pioneer missions work in Papua agreed that the method to baptize was to have the people squat down in the water. The reason was that the indigenous tribal women did not cover their breasts. It was inappropriate to touch a woman. So to honor that custom, it was felt that baptizing by pushing them straight down was better than laying them back in the water as is the custom we follow in most of our churches in the US that practice baptism by immersion.

New missionaries have come and are working with some of the still remote, unreached tribal people. They have introduced the latter way. The question was: Should they be asked to leave since they are not doing it the “traditional” way. We shared the reason for the old way as well as that the churches Dave and I attend, the “new” way is our tradition. We in the US and western culture are not the only ones who get caught up in cultural traditions.

We will go to the dining room and then to Arso, a couple hours away for ministry through Sunday morning then to Jayapura, about 20 miles from Sentani.

Actually I plan to go to Jayapura on Saturday afternoon. I will be preaching on Sunday at the Holy Word Christian Church, a good evangelical church. Not a charismatic church as some might conclude from the name.

I doubt we will have email communication from Arso, so probably my next report will be sometime on Sunday.

I understand that some folk have not been receiving all of my updates. I conclude that is either because of the poor wifi system here at this hotel or the Indonesian communications system.

Thank you again for your prayers.

In the wonderful love of our Lord,

 

Jim
 
 

No. 6

Hello All,

We are enjoying the temporary, relative coolness of the morning here at Arso 3 before the sun begins to warm up this part of the earth. Temps will be in the mid-90’s and the humidity in the 80’s or better by late-morning. It does not take much exertion to perspire.

Our 7:00 AM departure from Sentani yesterday was postponed until 9:30. Our national brothers were working on different matters like picking up Dani Bibles to sell to the folk here in Arso. The Bibles are sold to the people at half the actual cost. Dave had written a biography about Karlos and that also is available. Then there is a history of the birth and development of the Evangelical Church of Indonesia which Dave wrote in the Dani language. I believe the Dani tribe is the largest one in Papua, numbering well over 200,000 if not 300,000. Many of the government officials including the provincial governor and several county commissioners (bupati) are Dani men.

We arrived here in Arso about 11:30. We were met as VIP’s with several of the Dani gals running back and forth with flowers or small branches in their hands. Two of them wore Bird of Paradise head dresses. A beautiful bird but on the protected species list! There was also another big banner welcoming us. So much for our wanting to be low-key. Following the usual welcoming comments, dare I say speeches, a challenge from the word by Dave, we then went to lunch.

And our 2:00 PM start began at 3:00 – now you know I am smiling as I type this. I had the first session. By 4:15 I needed a break. However we had a question and answer time until 5:00. It is amazing at some of their questions. While some or most are on the lesson material others often deal with issues in their lives or ministries. The Lord gives wisdom in answering. All of us participate in answering.

This morning I will complete my material on the Holy Spirit – it is not a complete study on the Holy Spirit but focusing on the baptism of the Holy Spirit and tongues-speaking – looking at Acts 2, and 1 Corinthians 12 & 14. Both in Bandar Lampung, Sumatra and in Sentani, church leaders said how pertinent this material is. There are two groups making the rounds in Sentani teaching what we believe is in opposition to the clear teaching in Scripture. And two fellows yesterday told of how they were in settings in which people greatly pressured them to speak in tongues.

Another fellow on Thursday in Sentani, urged the people to take our lesson material and study it and teach it. Back in the 1990’s he was one of six or so church leaders who left the church pursuing the false teaching. A couple of years ago, I was told, he came back to the church leaders and apologized. He has been reinstated. He told the people that the lesson material was very good and the proper teaching of the Scriptures.

Sun. May 7, 2017

Yesterday was as I expected. Dave and I gave our lessons. The small church building warmed up quite well by noon-time when we finished for the lunch break. Both of us perspired quite a bit. I left Arso 3 about 1:30 and arrived at our friends’ home at 3PM. The extended family (15 of them) gathered at a new local restaurant. There were a couple of new foods that I had not had previously. All was too delicious!

This morning I preached on Psalm 67 at 6:00 and again at 10. The church building is air-conditioned so with my sport coat I did ok the first service. But the church was quite a bit warmer by the second service and I had to change my shirt afterwards. I was impressed by how the songs tied in with my message. The pastor did not know my message emphasis until Friday and I am sure the songs were arranged earlier in the week. The second service is a contemporary one and the folk sang with a lot of enthusiasm.

I will preach the same message at the third service this evening at 5:00.

Tomorrow morning I will meet up with Dave, Wupu and Karlos a few miles from here. We will be there tomorrow and Tuesday and on Wednesday go to Nalca in the eastern highlands until Saturday. We will return to Sentani Tuesday afternoon/evening because we will probably have to report for that flight at 5AM!!

Thank you again for your prayers.

In the wonderful love of our Lord,

 

Jim

 

No. 7

Dear Prayer Partners,,

Our program Monday and Tuesday went well. Our location was Dock 9 in Jayapura. The Dock 9 and other places around the Jayapura shoreline and bay have the prefix Dock and a number. Those demarcations date back to World War II. We were under tarps set up on a pipe frame. Yesterday especially was beautiful weather. Although hot as usual, there was a lovely breeze flowing off the ocean some 500-700 feet lower down. The old church building sits overlooking the ocean. Take the correct compass bearing and you could sail to Hawaii. A new building has been built beside the old. The new is beautiful: ceramic tile floors. The ceiling has a large inset which has been painted to look like blue sky and white clouds. Superimposed on that is a cross at the base of which is an open Bible, the emblem of the national church. On the front wall is a large color painting of “Jesus.”

The two overhead shelters to protect from the heat and rain – it rained a bit late morning, today – were set up about 20 feet apart with lengths of 2” x 2” lumber. One had a weak spot in it and quite suddenly broke in two pieces. One piece glanced the head of a grade school girl but she did not appear to be hurt seriously. When we returned this morning, a third shelter had been set up between the other two.

The local people prepared a pit meal – pig, vegetable and sweet potato greens cooked over hot rocks – for lunch yesterday. Karlos and I had taken the morning sessions and Dave took the afternoon. The amazing and great part of all this is that one of the church men is taking care of the costs of our accommodations, meals and travel. It is a great help.

Wupu for some reason has seemed a bit reluctant to do much teaching, preferring the “fathers” (Dave & I) to do it. But today he gave a passionate and challenging message calling the people to “grow up” into maturity; have a strong desire for the Word, and move toward maturity in Christ. Although he spoke in Dani he used some Indonesian terms and many of his Bible references are based on the Indonesian language in Dani so that I could follow the essence of what he was saying.

We are scheduled to go to Nalca in the eastern highlands tomorrow via MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) via Cessna Caravan. We have to report for the flight at 5AM. However, there is a bit of a glitch: a missionary who served there for many years and are now in semi-retirement, had planned to go in today. But bad weather caused their plane to return to Sentani. So we have to leave a couple of fellows behind, and they will need to do the same for their group. There may be another flight on Thursday if the weather holds to bring the rest of the people in. This has happened on many occasions over the years so we are not surprised. We prayed with our fellows earlier this evening for good weather and a safe flight.

Again we appreciate your prayers, especially as we head to the central highlands and use the smaller airplanes for transportation.

In the wonderful love of our Lord,

 

No. 9

Dear Family, Friends, & Prayer Partners,

Yesterday was a great day at Nalca for the most part. One disappointment was that the weather did not allow Roger Doriot’s wife Suzanne to get to Nalca. Two planes had been able to work around the clouds that were around the mountain ridges and land. But the plane that brought her to Nalca from Sentani was unable to land. It circled a couple of times but the clouds did not open up so he took her to Wamena, a large town in the central highlands about 30 minutes west of Nalca. In spite of the clouds there was some sunshine but no rain on the days we had our meetings.

Yesterday afternoon, the local missionary at Nalca, Roger, told me that there was still fighting going on now and again between some of the villages. Back in our days of ministry in Papua I had gone to Nalca twice because of fighting between villages and attempted to help them to make peace. It would hold for a year or two but then vengeance would rule and payback would occur.

Two or three years ago, a fellow with some mental deficiencies attacked a women in the in a village garden a few hours away from Nalca proper. She was severely cut in the leg with a machete. It took awhile to get her to a place for medical attention. Ultimately, her lower leg healed, but at a right angle to her leg. A year or two later, some fellows from her village killed a couple of people from the village of the man who attacked her.

Roger asked if I could speak to the matter of the ongoing fighting. He then said that the local church leaders and our team leaders wanted me to give a devotional for the closing program. Would I be able to address the matter? What would you have said? First things I did was lift up a prayer to the Lord, “Lord, please help me.” I only had about ten minutes notice. My mind was wheeling as I went to my room in Roger’s house just a dozen yards away to grab my Indonesia Bible and think of some verses to consider.

I thought of Proverbs 4:23: “Guard your heart.” Then I thought of some thoughts I had shared on Mark 7 in teaching the seniors group at our church a couple of months ago. Jesus spoke that corruption comes from the heart. I also referenced Romans 12 that speaks of not taking revenge. It is God’s prerogative. I only spoke for about 15-20 minutes. Not knowing what was about to follow, in looking back later, I saw how my comments made sense. So what happened?

A very unusual event took place after my devotional. Four men got up to share some thoughts. Two of them had been involved in killing other tribal people back in the early 70’s. In fact I recalled the report of the one. Two men had been shot with arrows. One died and the other was wounded. So one of the missionaries there, Ralph Maynard, used his wheel barrow to scoop up the fellow and get him into his house. The killers were not happy. When the wounded fellow was loaded on a plane to take him to a Dutch-manned small hospital a distance away, the people threatened to kill the missionaries.

One of the three said that there had been about 28 killings in the area over the years. The fourth told of bitterness and disappointment he and the people of his area had when the police were called in by the missionaries many years ago in attempt to bring the warring to a stop. As the police approached the village, they told the people not to run. Guess what? The people ran. The police began shooting. When it was over, four people had been killed and nine wounded. This fellow had been one of those wounded. The missionaries never apologized, nor has there been any help to send any of the young people to Bible schools/colleges.

The men felt that they needed to publicly acknowledge the bad deeds and bad feelings. In the early days, one of the symbolic acts done to part with the past was to have a burning of the festishes, etc., or listing of sins on paper and then submitting them to flames. So they had prepared small net bags with these matters written on them. One old villager had a bag that represented these public acknowledgments of sins. A young boy, maybe ten years old, had a small net bag. They wished that this symbolized that the sins of the fathers would not be held against nor be visited on the child’s generation.

They felt that these unsettled issues may be part of the reason that the greater Nalca area has not advanced spiritually as some other areas have. After the symbolically burning, and after Dave had made clear that it was not the burning that brings release but the change in their hearts and their confessions to the Lord, then Wupu spoke and challenged them to truly choose unity in the Lord. He had the people gather on one side of the field, look to the east, then do an about face and run to the other side of the yard to indicate their heart decision to turn from the past sins and  hard feelings and turn to the Lord in a new way and embrace oneness in Christ. He quoted from John 17 where Jesus prayed for oneness of believers in the same way as He and God the Father experience oneness.

So pray in the weeks and months ahead for God’s continuing work of grace in their lives to truly change and forsake the old ways of payback when people do bad things to others.

This whole event was unknown to us until it happened yesterday afternoon. One never knows what the Lord will do as we are instruments in Hs hand.

Today was a beautiful day to fly. There were some white clouds on the mountain ridges and peaks, but the 50 minutes flight from Nalca here to Ilu was all visual. Very little turbulence. Arrived about 9:30 this morning. We will have a combined church worship service of the many congregations in the area. Then we will begin some of our special lessons late tomorrow afternoon.

Well, I am off to enjoy a warm bucket shower and then relax for the evening.

Your prayers are so important for us. And even though you will not receive this until we get to Nabire in a week or so, you will realize how your prayers have been helping us along the way, including good weather both for meetings and flights.

In the bonds of Calvary,

Jim

No. 10

A beautiful morning, dear family, friends & prayer partners, here at Ilu. Sky is clear. Mountains in clear view.

The house we are staying in has some electric power provided by a government hydro-electric unit. But the total load is larger than its capacity so that the long double-tube screw-in type of fluorescent bulbs flicker throughout the day. They seem to be best after mid-night and before 6AM so we use candles in the evening.

Early yesterday morning I received birthday greetings from Diane via a text message! Appreciate some of the present-day technology. I am using a $27 cell phone that I bought in Bandar Lampung for talk and text while in the country. I paid $8 for pulses and have used about half of them to date. I will have to add some because my allowance expires on May 27. If I add a dollar or two’s worth it will serve me until we leave Indonesia on May 31 to begin our travel back to the US.

We went up to the combined church service yesterday morning. The folk continually gathered even after it began at 10 or so. Several groups representing different local churches sang or led singing, most of it in the 5-note scale of the Dani music forms. Most of their songs tell stories about the Gospel or how the Gospel came to them. Wupu told me the one day they were singing about how the missionaries came into their areas, trekking up over the mountains and down into the valleys to bring the light of God’s Word to them.

Dave gave a challenge from 2 Peter to keep growing in the Lord, guard against false teaching and wait for the Lord’s return. By the time he began to preach, 2000-3000 people had gathered. I find it hard to count when people are seated on the ground in a large group. Even though he finished at 11:30, we did not disperse until 1 PM. There was amplification of Dave’s message, then announcements – no Power Point!!! – then general comments and welcomes. Then a number of us ate together in the church district dining hall related to the large auditorium (aula) used for district-wide meetings of the pastors, elders, & other church leaders. They usually come in once a month for 2-day meetings so they have sleeping, bathing, eating and meeting facilities.

I was about to return to the house when I was told that a group had just arrived from Mulia. A 12-hour walk over the trail in the old days (I did it twice, way back when!) at an altitude of 5,000 – 7,000 feet, 10 minutes by plane, and now perhaps a couple of hours by vehicle on the dirt road. Somehow word had gotten to some key persons in Mulia that yesterday was my birthday. So they brought a large cake – decorated it here, because they did not want it to get “messed up” on the less than smooth ride coming from Mulia. About 3:30, after I had gone up to the meeting, they brought the cake and other baked goods (bread, cinnamon rolls and banana bread) to the house. Enough to feed a platoon – we will share it with the others today. Time did not allow us to celebrate much yesterday. We had thought of doing it after the afternoon session but we were both tired by 6:30. As it worked out it was just as well because the hydro-electric power was not available until after we had gone to bed.

By the way, both here at Ilu and at Mulia, most of our travel is either up or down. Not much level ground here. I laughed yesterday as the leaders had the people move forward and then change direction slightly as more arrived. I thought, “Try that in my church in Montoursville!” You can do that very easily when people just sit on the ground. Not so when you have fixed pews in place in a building!

The afternoon session was to have begun at 3 PM. When I arrived there was one older gentleman sitting there. The meeting got underway about 4:30. At one point we had suggested to the leaders that we postpone until this morning, The folk are not used to afternoon meetings on Sundays, it was a day of rest. But eventually they gathered. By the time we finished, the building was full – all but a dozen people sitting on the wood floor.

We read by candlelight until 8:20. Then I called Diane to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She had gone to our daughter Mary’s in Levittown near Philadelphia on Saturday. Miserable driving through rain the whole way. I expect she is home now. Yes, no internet available here, but cell phones are in abundance as well as a tower or two. I was able to talk with Diane for about 10 minutes for about 80 cents! I suspect that the system uses the internet at some point. But very little delay in one person speaking and the other hearing as far apart as we are. Wonderful technology in these circumstances.

Thank you for your prayers,

Jim

No. 11

Hello again family, friends & prayer partners,

I had to write to tell about the honor given to me today re: my birthday. In the last report I told about the cake & other baked goods brought from Mulia yesterday. Although the intended start time for this morning’s meeting was 8 o’clock, it began at 9:30!! That’s “mountain time” for you. When it was over (just before noon!)  Dave & I came down to the house to get the cake and some of the other baked goods to take to the place where we eat our noon meal. We would share with the leaders and other team members. We thought we would just cut the cake and everyone could take some as they desired. Oh no!

Lenis, who has done the translating into Dani for me, had a bit of a formal presentation – an a-CHA-ra. It seems that when he and one of the other synod leaders realized on the coast that my birthday would occur while we were here at Ilu (they knew that from my passport when they had to get my travel permit – had to have my date of birth on the document), they discussed what they might do to make it a merry occasion. So they contacted Miriam Wonda at Mulia and asked that she make a cake and get it over to Ilu. Miriam is a graduate of the Bible that Diane and I helped to establish and taught at for 14 years (1973-1986). We have known her for many years. She is a very unique gal.

Then Lenis apologized that it wasn’t all that a celebration would be back in the US. He apologized for the things lacking. He, Wupu, and the local church district (klasis) expressed their appreciation for our (Dave & I) being here now as well as what we and UFM have meant to the Ilu-Mulia area, the national church organization, as well as the Bible school in Sentani over the years. I replied that the only thing lacking was Diane not being here to share the time and event. I was impressed by how caring they were, and the preplanning it took to make the arrangements. Not many birthday cakes are ordered from 200 miles away and then brought over 25 miles via a rough pioneer road in the mountains.

The men also said that this had to be the first of a yearly visit and Bible teaching from me. Dave has told them during his last several visits that each one may be his last. They see that he isn’t as strong nor as quick as he used to be. But ME: Well, I am “still young and strong. Just get your passport and visa. Don’t worry about where you will stay or what you will eat. We have lots of sweet potatoes! You just come. We’ll take care of everything else!”

They all sang “Happy Birthday” in Indonesian and in English. While I lit the 8 candles, they sang a song about doing that “Light the Candles!” Yes, another song, “Blow Out the Candles” as I blew out them out. Then while they sang yet another song, “Cut the Cake,” I cut a large slice of cake and then gave a small bite of it to each one of ten men who were present. Then we had our regular meal: boiled rice, stir-fried vegetables, small pieces of fried pork, and also very small pieces of pig fat with the skin still attached, (doctors would not be happy!) bananas, and cake. Water to drink.

It was a very loving expression of their thanks for ministries here both in the past and presently. Truly we are blessed beyond measure. We are thankful for your prayers.

In Christ’s love,

No. 12

Well Family, Friends & Prayer Partners –

Here we are again. We arrived at Mulia about10:45 – just a ten minute flight from Ilu. How I wish I could send these reports sooner. You may get tired of reading the first couple of them and then go about more important matters, understandably. I have learned to my disappointment that there is no internet available here – at least with our contacts and the cell phone service is poor – Ilu was much better.

Well the reception we received at Nalca was child’s play compared to the one here. There were thousands of people lining both sides of the road from the airport exit up to the entry to the field where a shelter had been erected. It was on the lower side of the very large field on the west side of a large church building where services and activities are conducted in the Indonesian language.

It was quite the celebration! The singing, shouting and just a lot of joy. We walked from the airport UP to the field for the service. Like Ilu, everything is up or down!  Small children were pushing their way along trying to get out in front of us. The road lined on both sides with wall-to-wall people, more wall-to-wall that in a US setting! Again branches and flowers thrown on to the road before of us. As we entered the field, some of the gals even placed their large net bags and flowers on the ground in front of us. Neither of us were comfortable with that. We want them to honor the Lord in all of this not us.

During the walk up and after we had been seated on the dais, many people came up to shake our hands and snap our fingers. After a handshake and perhaps a forearm clasp, then snap fingers twice, then another handshake. The finger snap: the pointing finger is grasped between the 1

st & 2nd

knuckle joint and held between 2 fingers of the other person. Then the fingers are separated with a snap, some gently, others with a good crisp one. All the while the two exchange greetings: “Wa! Wa! Wa!” (which covers “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you,”) several times with the added “father”, or “mother,” or “male friend,” or “female friend,” or “son” or “daughter.”  The greetings of respect and appreciation are more for Dave than myself. They see him as their spiritual father, rightly so. It was here at Mulia that Dave began his missionary career. He has been instrumental in translating the whole Bible into their language and he has a special place in their hearts, and vice versa.

After some opening comments, the MC said that since they had been singing along the road while walking up to the field, and as it was after 11:30, and the sun was hot, they would not take more time but have the Bible message straight away. Dave again shared from 2 Peter. After the service was over a number of people Dave knew from years ago came up to the platform to say hello. One was Watlambuk, a key helper in the Dani language and translation beginning in 1960. He has aged considerably and walks very slowly with help of a walking stick – more than a cane.

We returned to the house which will be our residence while here. The meeting was to begin at 3:00 PM but as usual we are dealing with “mountain” time. The thousands of people had to eat, the food was not yet ready for them when the service ended at 1 PM – a pit-cooked meal of pig and vegetables including sweet potatoes, sweet potato greens and taro. So it was decided that we will begin the first session in the morning – at 8, or whenever the folk have gathered. People are still coming in from several places many hours away. And the postponement until tomorrow morning is ok with us.

I think the bigness of the celebration is both appreciation for what our mission has done for the GIDI church (standing for The Evangelical Church of Indonesia) in general and the Dani people specifically. But also because the people think this truly may be Dave’s last trip here. He has said it on several past visits but they see that it might be true this time.

While Dave was preaching, a large contingent (75 or more people) came from one of the villages carrying firewood – long slabs to be broken up – and at least one very large pig carried on a pole. Of course they were singing/chanting as they came reflecting their community-ness, if I may coin a word.

Mulia is much more developed than Ilu even if cell phne coverage is not as good!!! Because of the several thousands of people, we will have open air meetings which is a bit of a problem to me. There are several different Christian churches represented: Baptist, Pentecostal, Reform, Catholic  – though they are for the most part outsiders who have moved in as gov’t or medical workers, teachers, and single congregations have been established in the town center.  But there are 73 GIDI congreagations in this church district. Plus there are the M folk as well. The church here is using loudspeakers, so we will not be contained to ourselves. So I will be a bit cautious so as not to offend while at the same time speaking truth as Scripture declares it.

Last night as we finished at Ilu, the leadership again thanked us repeatedly for our ministry, not merely now but for our investment of lives in ministry, Dave since 1960, myself since 1971. Again the plea to return each year. “It’s ok if you can’t walk so well, we’ll provide a cane. And if you die here, we can bury you here! No problem!!!” It is their expression of appreciation to us as representatives of our mission for all that our mission has done for this entity known as GIDI (The Evangelical Church of Indonesia) with over a thousand congregations across Indonesia but started in Papua among several tribal groups. And there were two other missions significantly involved in its development: APCM (Asia Pacific Christian Mission, which has been absorbed by Pioneers) and RBMU (Regions Beyond Missionary Union, now known as Worldteam).

Lights came on in the house here sometime after lunch so it looks like we won’t be using just candle light after sundown (6PM) – hurrah! We did not have cell phone connection at Ilu after 8PM last night. But it came back on this morning about 8.

Again, thank you so much for your prayers,

Jim

No. 13

Hello All –

The weather has been great here at Mulia. The meeting Wednesday afternoon was cancelled. That was good because about 5 o’clock it rained for 30 minutes or so and that would have been bad for the people. Yesterday was a great day, and today has dawned bright and beautiful. I expressed my appreciation yesterday to the upwards of three or four thousand people for sitting for several hours on the ground in the sunshine. Some have hats. Many of the women place some type of shawl, towels or their folded net bags on their heads. One person reportedly said, “Hey, there is a nice breeze from the west, we are comfortable.” And when I got up to speak at 9:45, the pulpit was moved back into the shade of the overhead tarp so I would not be standing in the sunshine!!

After I spoke about the events of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2: the Holy Spirit came and filled, took up residence in, baptized and empowered the disciples of Jesus, Karlos gave a testimony and Gospel challenge. The loudspeakers carry the services up valley a half mile or so, so some people are hearing it even though not necessarily wanting to! Mulia is Wupu’s home area and he seems more relaxed and free to communicate to the people. He has been quite enthusiastic in his comments..

Wednesday afternoon I went to take some pictures with my iPad but the screen was dim. I thought it was the battery but when I checked it later, the battery was 100%. So I thought it was fine. But yesterday morning, at the podium, I could hardly see the screen again. At noon, I learned that the brightness function had been inadvertently changed to dim. So now all is copacetic, praise the Lord.

Last night one of the church district leaders came and shared about some undercurrents regarding former missionary housing and land (nothing new under the sun!), and Dave going to Ilu on most of his short work visits rather than to Mulia. On the latter, part of the answer is that Leon & Lorraine Dillinger return to Mulia for several months each year, so Dave feels it would be better to go to Ilu since apart from himself no other missionaries go there. The house that he did live in here at Mulia was turned over to the Bible school decades ago and two families now live in it. There are no guest facilities here so there is no place for Dave to stay. Furthermore, most of the people who have helped with the Bible translation are at Ilu. And finally, Ilu is much quieter than Mulia which is the county seat: bigger, a lot more activity and people. We people tend to get territorial and possessive don’t we?!

Dave and Wupu will be the speakers today. I have been asked to speak tomorrow at the Bible school graduation service. It is a 3-year program to prepare men for village pastoral ministries, and some for missionary outreach to other unreached tribes in remote areas. Then we are to have a session with prospective church workers and leaders tomorrow afternoon. Then a large joint service on Sunday with people coming from the 73 congregations throughout the district. We are praying for good weather for Sunday.

The floor around the toilet here at the house is rotted out. Dave found a piece of plywood and he made a temporary fix by placing it under one side of the toilet. We have repaired a couple of door latches and tightened a doorknob here and there during our journey.

Your prayers are appreciated and necessary. We pray that the people would comprehend and say, “the Lord has said in His Word thus and so.” And then live accordingly. We pray that we can use language, concepts, and illustrations that will help the people to understand what we are trying to teach.

In the love of Christ,

Jim

 

No. 14

Good morning, All, -well it is morning here but Sunday afternoon where you all are!

Our time here at Mulia is coming to a close. We expect to leave between 10 & 11AM and fly 75 minutes west to Nabire (Na-BEE-ray). One of our impressions is that the weather has been so good during the day this week. Even the locals have commented about it publicly: they had rain regularly before we came, but this week the rain has held off until nighttime. Only Saturday afternoon did it rain before we finished and that was a light drizzle for the last 30 minutes of our  session.

The graduation service at the Bible school went fine, although a bit long with several people making comments. Twelve men and three gals finished the 3-year Bible program. I had been asked to speak. It was a challenge: although a shelter had been put up, I was standing out in the open sunshine which is stronger in the higher altitude of 5700 feet. I got a bit of sunburn during the 45 minutes I spoke – with a translator. I also had difficulty in reading my iPad screen because of the bright glare of the sunshine. I had expected to be in the shade of a shelter. What helped was that I was able to adjust the screen while the translator interpreted my comments from 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “The Word of God is True, Strong and Unchanging.”

Unexpected was a request to us after the graduation service to speak to children up to the age of 12 on Saturday afternoon. We have joked about “mountain” time. Indonesia is known for “rubber” time because many events, even in the major urban areas start well after the stated time. Well here there is quite often more of a delay: perhaps the morning program ended later than anticipated – because of starting later than the time stated. Sometimes because of an overcast. So the children’s program was to begin at 4PM, the people were told 3 PM, and we started about 4:45.

I began by telling the story of Daniel surviving a night in a lion’s den – Daniel 6. With the microphone and the big loudspeakers I was able to make some credible, supposed noises of growling, snarling lions. It grabbed the kids’ attention – ah, some of them were teens, young adults, and even a few mature adults. Part way through my story it started to rain – a light drizzle. But the audience (several hundred) stayed in place – sitting on the ground in the open field, some had umbrellas or rain ponchos or banana leaves! So I shortened the story but emphasized the point that Daniel had survived a night with the ferocious lions because he had not sinned against God, nor had he done anything wrong against the king. That was in due to the fact he had lived his life as God wanted him to. He had determined as a teen ager he would not defile himself before the Lord having dedicated his life to God. Then as I closed, I said that the people should be careful if they come upon a cave in the mountains, because, who knows, there might be a lion in there. Then I gave a closing snarl and growl. One older gentleman sitting within ten feet of the loud speakers on the right side of the platform, about jumped out of his shorts he was so frightened. Fear was all over his face! That was not my intent, I assure you. The kids around him all had a great laugh.

Dave then gave a testimony about his having placed his faith in Jesus as a young boy. He also told about young Yericho, a young teen-ager who was baptized at Bandar Lampung at the start of our ministries in country. Yericho had a very clear understanding as to why he was being baptized: because he had placed his faith in Christ and wished to make that known in a public way. The rain had continued but the kids stayed in place! Amazing.

Yesterday morning dawned bright and clear. The service got under way about 9:30. Several local congregations from the district took turns singing in the Dani traditional 5-note sing chant. Dave spoke again about how God had created Adam & Eve, their sin and the consequences for them and for us. He used several containers of imitation flowers that were on the platform to illustrate his thoughts of how Adam & Eve were in intimate fellowship with God. Then he used some old dried-up plants on the ground in front of the platform to illustrate the results of sin in their and our lives. The goal is to trust in Jesus and then move toward what Adam and Eve were before the fall. It was very effective. He pointed out that salvation was not based on raising a hand in a meeting or even agreeing mentally with the truth of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross, but they have to make a reasoned choice to believe, make a decision in their hearts to believe in Christ, to receive Him into their lives. After comments from three individuals, Dave and I were then asked to step to the front of the platform. We were thanked for our ministries and small net bags were placed over our heads and hung from our necks.

The service concluded at 1:00 – yes, 3-1/2 hours. The people sitting on the ground many of them cross-legged. And we complain if our services extend much beyond 60 – 90 minutes, most of us enjoying cushioned seats in our church auditoriums. At the close of the service the MC announced a meeting of young adults, the cadres, the potential leaders of the future especially as government workers/civil servants. I had to laugh: the MC said, it would begin at 3PM, then he said no, it was at 5PM, then he said at 4PM. We were ready to go up at 4 but it started to rain. The meeting did start about 6. I shared some thoughts on servant leadership. Then they entertained some questions that were of import to the young adults. Dave contributed some thoughts to the discussion – he does much better at that than I do. We left at 8 and the meeting was still going strong.

We have been told that we will begin our program in Nabire at 2 this afternoon and go until 10:00 tonight. Our 3 days have been shortened to 2 days because an additional program has been added upon our return to Sentani. Some of the eastern highlands people would like us to share our lessons with them since our time in Sentani and Jayapura was primarily with the Dani tribal people. It is always interesting how the real program/schedule compares to the planned one!!!

Thank you so much for your prayers.

In the grace of our wonderful Lord,

Jim
 
 

No. 16

Dear All,

Well here is my last report from Indonesia for this trip. Last Friday after a pizza lunch (at Papa Ron’s – sound a bit familiar like Papa John’s!!??!!) I went to Ernest and Feny Montolalu’s home. The weekend was a bit of R & R for me. His siblings and their families usually eat the main meal of the day together at their parents’ home. So Ernest’s mon made sure that I had some of my known favorite Indonesian foods: egg drop soup Saturday evening. The church service on Sunday was in a small building about 20 feet wide and 40 feet long with only the front fully opened. No windows or ventilation vents and the platform was at the far back end of the building. There was a small 12-inch rotating fan on the floor. I had been told that I would not need to wear a suit coat. I did wear a tie with my dress shirt and by the end of the 75 minute service the shirt was quite wet. Oh yes, the pastor did wear a suit coat!!! About 45 adults attended the service which began promptly at 9 AM.

After the service he invited us (Ernest’s younger brother and wife took me to the church which was 25 miles away on the west side of Sentani) to his home where we had lunch. It included a dish called gado-gado (GA-do GA-do). Blanched vegetables (cabbage, long green beans, bean sprouts, a green similar to spinach), placed around white rice and a peanut sauce over all. Instead of the usual boiled egg, the pastor’s wife had fried eggs (over hard). She said to me this isn’t spicy hot. Knowing she was from Java, I took that with a grain of salt. Either the long green beans or the sauce had plenty of fire power. I am used to it so it was ok, but Diane would not have enjoyed it.

My flight from Sentani to Jakarta was normal and I arrived here at 3:30 PM (5:30 in Sentani). Eventually Phebe found me at the airport – I had left out a 7 in her cell phone number (12 numbers, there were three 7’s, but I entered just two 7’s. Fortunately I had her husband’s phone number correctly in my phone so I called him to let him know that I was at the baggage carousel. He is the high school principal at a Catholic high school. No, they are not Catholics, but he is highly regarded by the president of the private institution – not church-run.

Phebe’s mom and dad were our first national staff at the Sentani Bible school beginning in January 1973. We are as close as if we were family by blood. Her dad, Yusuf Citra has been undergoing dialysis for about two months. He has either 2 five-hour sessions or 3 four-hour sessions each week. Takes about 45 minutes to get to the dialysis center if the traffic is not too bad. His session last night ran from 6-11, and they returned home about mid-night, but surprisingly they were both up at 6 AM this morning.

Dave and I will be hosting the staff of the national church’s office here in Jakarta to lunch today. We want to let them know that we appreciate what they do and what all they did to facilitate our trip here. Then I will hang out with Phebe and family (they have 2 sons in grades 6 & 7) for the afternoon and evening and depart for Tokyo at 6:15 tomorrow morning. That will be 7:15 PM Pennsylvania time. We have a 90 minute transit in Tokyo then the 13 hour flight to Chicago. That transit time could be a bit tight with the transfer to another plane and having to go through another security check. My titanium knee replacement always rings the bells and I get checked very thoroughly. It seems a long way from where we arrive at one gate and where we have to go to the departure date. If all goes well I should arrive at State College (PA) Airport at 9:11 PM Wednesday night. That’s about an hour from our home. Diane and friends plan to meet me there. Dave will arrive in Columbia, SC about the same time.

We have had a great time, a busy time, and the expressions of love and appreciation from so many have been overwhelming. We have experienced good weather, good health, good travel with no significant delays and no cancellations of flights, and the people have responded well. The only missing aspect, is that Diane and Esther (Dave’s wife) have not been with us.

One other great thing is that Dave & I have been able to call our wives from Indonesia using inexpensive cell phones used for talk & text at very low cost – 8 cents a minute. That has been great and while we have not been able to connect to internet, in most places we have had cell phone connection.

Thank you all so much for your ministry of prayer for us in all aspects of this ministry trip. As so many of our church friends here would say, “Shalom” or “Peace be to you.”

In the wonderful grace of our Lord Jesus,

Jim