“Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust…The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 40) This verse has such a different meaning, when you live on the fine dust surrounded by vast waters that God created with the fish that shine in the sea and proclaim the awesome creator that we have.
Bryn and I were able to experience a little more of God’s beautiful creation during the Christmas and New Year holiday on a beautiful island called Bunaken. Bunaken is unlike the majority of the 17,508 islands, because Bunaken is primarily Christian and it is such a different atmosphere than Bali (which we visited in October) or Java (where we live). While visiting Bali, there were idols surrounding us and incense being burnt to take prayers to the gods. It showed us the lostness and hopelessness of the Hindu people. On the island of Java where we live, it is predominantly Muslim and operates more like what I would imagine it would have been like in the Old Testament without Christ. The prayer calls here remind us daily of the lostness and hopelessness of the Islamic people. While visiting Bunaken, it was a completely different feel and experience that of most Indonesian islands. We were able to sing and worship with believers while we were on the island and got to hear very native bamboo instruments played that were like modern flute, clarinet, trumpet, tuba, and other not as common instruments as a form of worship. It was a joy to worship with the nations in the island’s local language and in Indonesian.
While in Bunaken, we had unique opportunities also to be able to sit in restaurant at the place we were staying amongst very diverse group of people. Bunaken is an island that is secluded and most food has to be brought in from nearby islands, therefore all of our meals were provided at Sea Garden Resort that we stayed at in a family setting and we ate with the other visitors that were staying there. We were able to talk with German, Swiss, Australian, Torajan (Indonesian people group from South Sulawesi—also predominately Christian), and Bunaken people. It was a very interesting experience to meet them and communicate in their broken English or by the German guy, who spoke very good English, translating to the Swiss and Swiss guy talking to the German who translated into English. We were able to talk about God and who He was to us and see a different view from different people while being on a remote island in Indonesia.
Bunaken was a wonderful time to get away and prepare for this new season for Bryn and I, as I would not be teaching when we went back to Java. It was a time of renewal, relaxation, and enjoyment in seeing God’s creation while snorkeling, taking long walks, and reading in the hammocks on the front porch.
Then, we arrived back to reality and Bryn began school and I began to learn how to begin this new season of my life. I also began learning Bahasa Indonesia or Indonesian. It has been a joy to be able to be there for my husband and help him when needed, to learn the language so that I can make this home, to be able to have conversations with my wonderful helper, who is not a follower, and to have a season of relaxing in Christ.
Two weeks after being back home, I was told that my Visa was finished and that I would have to leave the country to do final processing of paperwork in Singapore and then come back. My exit permit was issued and I had to leave the country, however there was a little problem which turned out to be a blessing. It was Chinese New Year and due to that the offices were closed for two days to celebrate the new lunar year. Thankfully, since it was Chinese New Year also in Indonesia, Bryn got one day off and then took a day off and was able to see this amazing city with me. We have friends from our Pre-field orientation that lived in Singapore, so we immediately contacted them and they set us up with housing. Thank you God for your provision of housing and providing us new friends.
Sunday, January 22, we headed to Singapore and met our friends. We were able to spend time with our friends and meet some of the students that went to school at the NICS school in Singapore in a bible study that our friends did on Sunday afternoon. The following days, we went to a flower festival in which flowers were made into dragons, for the year of the dragon, and other animals. We also went to the Botanic Gardens and got to fellowship with the body of Christ in Singapore, which was amazing.
Singapore was a picture of what the New Testament Church should be like and it was amazing the outreached arms and giving hearts of the people that we met while he was there. Bryn had to return after this, but I had the privilege of staying until my Visa got processed, so I stayed an extra day and a half. The next day, I was able to go with Adrielle, my host, to another local garden called the Chinese Garden and see it fully decked out for Chinese New Year. We also went to a Turtle museum that was located in the Garden of a variety of turtles from around the world. It was a unique experience to see and then we got to feed some of the turtles, which was a lot of fun as they swarmed around us in the pond. I also got to try a Singaporean native dish with Chicken and Rice which was rice with Soy Sauce and some other sauce and Chicken Cutlet. I also got to try the famous Bubble Tea, that originally is from Taiwan but Singapore is known for.
So, we come to the end of January and I am in awe of the provision and ways of God and the beautiful islands and people that surround me in this place I call home. I look forward to seeing what God has for the future and for 2012 as February arrives.