Indonesia

10 years. We have been married 10 years! What better way to celebrate then heading to

BALI!!!

Bali is a place that we would never have visited had we not already been on this side of the world. So we decided to spend our first two weeks of Indonesia in Bali before heading to an island in Indonesia called Sulawesi. We saved up some birthday money since Garrett, Adam, Jackson and Gracelyn all had birthdays in the past 3 months and decided to stay at a hotel with an awesome kids pool and slide. They were so pumped. The day after we arrived it was Jackson’s 4th birthday. We had so much fun celebrating and enjoyed the hotel staff as they helped us celebrate Jackson too.

The beach was a close walk from our hotel and we got to see so many sea creatures just wading in the shallow waters.

The kids had so many questions about Balinese culture. every where we turned there were statues and gargoyles and temples.

In fact, we were all so intrigued that we decided to rent scooters one day and travel through town to visit a place called Puja Mandala. In one location, side by side are 5 different places of worship including a Hindu temple, a Mosque, a Buddhist temple and both Catholic and Protestant churches.

As intrigued as we were by the various religions and presence of endless puja stands every 5 feet, there was one place that captivated the kids attention like no other.

……Pirate Bay.

Our kids have had quite the cultural experiences this past year. As much as we hope to have deep probing question and answer sessions with them about what they are seeing, how it makes them feel, or what they think, we know that they are kiddos. In one breath Garrett will ask us, “Do they believe in Jesus” and before we can get an answer out, he’ll shout, “What! A pirate ship!!!!”

All these things for some reason reminded me of a passage of scripture in Luke 2:15-20, “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherd returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

I don’t know why I keep thinking about this passage when I think about my kids and all that they have seen and witnessed this past year. Maybe I am storing all these realities up in my heart, and maybe they are too. For example, walking through Bali there were so many offerings on the ground made of flowers and straw, leaves and incense. The kids would sometimes accidentally step on them or knock them over. We asked a local about their significance. The reply was that the offerings on the ground are to ward off the evil spirits and the offerings up high on the temples and statues are to encourage the good spirits. Of course there is so much more to it than that.

Every space available had a temple or statue and offering and it appeared that a great deal of motivation behind the daily rituals was that of thanksgiving and fear, all to appease the spirits. Do not get me wrong, I am by no means an expert on world religions. I only understand as much as I learned by seeing and asking questions.

But witnessing these practices caused me to reflect in thanksgiving on the freedom I feel that I have in my faith in Jesus Christ. I have stored up this treasure in my heart that daily I know that I can not earn His love or appease His wrath. There is only one God and one mediator, Jesus. My righteousness is in Him alone. He was the ultimate sacrifice and nothing I do or do not do can add to what He has already done. In Psalm 51 16-17 it says, “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O god you will not despise.” It is by realizing that I am broken, and sinful and in need of a savior that brings me to my knees daily, thanking the Lord for His grace and unconditional love.

I am also so grateful for the chance to see so many different people, cultures and worldviews, stuff that I had only read about, I have had the chance to see firsthand. And Bali had so much to it. I am so grateful that we had the chance to visit Bali both in tourist areas and local living. I surprised myself how much I enjoyed the food! But one of the coolest things we did was visit to a Luwak coffee plantation. It was there that we learned that Luwak coffee has a special backstory. The coffee beans are eaten by a furry little animal kind of like a raccoon or cat. The animal then poops it out, processing the bean even further. Which is then dried and crushed. The sight of Garrett taking part in the process made me laugh since he has always had a fascination with helping us make our morning coffee. We all enjoyed a spread of various different teas from the plantation. My two favorite were mangosteen and lemongrass. The avocado tea was surprising as well. Later in the day we hiked through some rice paddy fields. It was invigorating to take in the culture, the outdoors, the agriculture and to see our children’s faces light up with intrigue.

Our last day in Bali was Halloween! Still can’t wrap my head around what time of year it is while we are over here in the tropics. Adam and the boys had a fishing date while myself Gracelyn and a friend of ours went out to the local grocery store to find some unique treats for our trick-or treating evening planned at our friends house. Early the next morning we were back at the airport and off to Sulawesi, Indonesia.

I wish I could share more about our time in Sulawesi. Unfortunately, I fell very sick on day two. So sick that I was tested for dengue fever twice. I still do not know what I had, but I never want it again. The upside was we celebrated our beautiful first born’s 8th birthday, AND I got to have another Starbucks!

See you in Malaysia!……

TRANSITION

“We have this treasure in jars of clay…” 2 Cor 4:7-9

We have all heard this word before. So many meanings for one word. So many visuals.

For those giving birth……. transition!

For those with kids….. transition!!

For big life changes and new stages of life- transition.

Sometimes this word brings hope and excitement. Sometimes dread.

For me, the word transition is often used when my husband and I develop our battle strategy against the kids once we turn the TV off. We actually use the word to our children, namely Garrett and say, “OK bud, this is a transition. Watching TV was so great and it is always hard when the fun ends…… but nobody needs to get hurt…”

Just kidding…. or not. But seriously, whenever we shift from one activity to another, one choice to another, one moment to another, we have a “transition.” If it is one that is against the will of the children….. well then, good luck.

At this point in our time here in India, the transition upon us was a shift from going to an office every day for our language class, to staying home and having our language class happen here. After several weeks of our family going to an office for Hindi class, this transition meant waking up and getting ready to have people come to OUR home. So for the past few weeks we have been navigating having our friend/ language teacher as well as our friend/childcare worker come to our home for 3-5 hours each day.

As with most changes to a routine, this one has not been easy, nor smooth, but the kids have “transitioned” as good as can be expected. In fact, with so much time spent in the house, they seem to have experienced a revived interest in using their imaginations! Play time has included making elaborate scenes with small figurines and miniature doll furniture and building lego homes, cars and robots. We are most encouraged that we are officially half way done with the school year! Homeschool has been a gift. Watching them learn and grow is priceless. However, I do have some new white hairs, actually many. So maybe homeschool isn’t totally “priceless.”

When we are outside, their sense of adventure and exploration has grown tremendously. Aside from riding bikes and scooters, they are most interested in discovering new insects or birds. India often offers a special sight to behold. Just the other day we went downstairs to the front yard of our apartment complex to find 5 green parrots feeding in the bird feeder! Simple as it may sound, we all stopped and watched silently for at least 10 minutes.

Bike riding became “cool” again as well! So much that Garrett in one day decided he would learn to ride his bike without training wheels. Transition! And it was a success! He made 15 laps around the compound on his first try!

Recently, we ventured out to a local “kids carnival” held in the courtyard of a palace. We were all so excited to get out and enjoy festivities and be amongst other families. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the memo that no one actually shows up at the start of the festival. So in the dead heat of the day, we lasted an hour, but they had a lot of fun and I got a sweet memento.

For Adam and I, August brought a special celebration. On August 8th, it was our ten-year anniversary. I still can’t believe we get to say 10 years! Crazy to reflect that on our 1st Anniversary we were in Ethiopia, and here on our 10th, we are again abroad. But this anniversary holds 5 months abroad instead of 12 days. We are feeling it too. Homesickness has not seemed to diminish.

On our actual anniversary we had a wonderful breakfast date at a place called “Home Cafe.” Oh,”home”, the irony. I guess you could say home is where the coffee is? Maybe? just kidding. But the lattes were incredible. And, as we make our plans for our 90 days of travel that will be upon us soon, we dreamt about potentially celebrating our anniversary in Bali!

Gracelyn and I also had our first haircuts here in India! Yes, it has officially been more than half of a year since we got our haircuts. You can only imagine how incredible our freshly cut ends felt when taking our first shower post haircut. You know, that feeling when you drag your hands across the ends of your hair under the water and it feels light and airy and even! No more split ends, no more shedding. Can I get an amen? Long-haired gals hear me. My fave part of this hair cut however, was when my male hairdresser let me know I had a reverse ombre thing going on since it had been over half a year since my last highlight. I think It’s official, I am not sure I can be categorized a blonde! Dirty blonde maybe….. those white hairs though! Ugh. Transition!

They loved Gracelyn though. So much that when the power went out and I suggested no worries, we usually do not get our hair blow dryed anyway, they requested we wait for the power to return so they can style her hair….. and then as always, take pics! I think she enjoyed the pampering.

August was not only our anniversary month, but this year on the 15th, India was celebrating their Independence Day as well as a holiday called Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan. This is a Hindu festival celebrating the relationship between brothers and sisters. We were very excited to be invited by some local friends to join them during the festivities. While we did not celebrate the complete version of the holiday, we did enjoy getting the little bracelets that you give to one another, specifically for Gracelyn to give her brothers!

Tradition goes that the sister ties the bracelet on her brothers wrist and then he promises to protect her! I was so excited to help Gracelyn and her brothers develop a stronger bond! Anything to combat sibling rivalry, am I right? Our friends were gracious to let us watch their family exchange gifts and participate a little ourselves. And highlight, I FINALLY wore a Saree!!! I had one made with the Lehariya pattern which is specific to monsoon season (which we are in) and I had at least 3 different women help me wrap that day because I am a Saree novice. At one point I just wrapped it a couple times around my neck and tied it in a knot. So classy!

We enjoyed an outing with friends recently. It was so good for the kids to play with other kids and to explore new places outdoors. It was so good for us to fellowship with another couple who gets parenting multiples and in another country. It was great to see our children smile and at times literally grow up before our eyes. Jackson had his first soda, Gracelyn braved a rope swing made out of tree vines and Garrett climbed a massive tree attempting to do everything that his 13 year old friend could do. Oh sweet transitions.

I was fascinated by the roots and vines on the trees at this particular park. It was a playground/temple/graveyard. Interesting mix, but not uncommon here. The trees though, they were beautiful. Roots exposed and vines growing downwards from other tree branches. It was remarkable.

Beneath the great tree that the kids climbed, there was a lot of debris including broken pots, paper plates, wrappers, branches etc… A group of 3 young Indian guys were hanging out on a nearby bench and one wanted to let me know that the tree that the kids were climbing was at the site of a graveyard. Unsure if we had offended them, I asked in which he responded that it was OK for us to play but then went on to ask me about the jewelry market in America. There was so much about this moment that left me feeling unsettled. Maybe because what caught my eye the most was the several discarded idols on the ground.

In no way would we want to dishonor or disrespect a sacred area, just so that our children could climb one of the best climbing trees I had ever seen! But, I had a hard time feeling the honor when there were so many discarded worship items left to waste away along with the mouth freshener wrappers and paper plates.

I confess there is much I do not know or understand here. And my reflection of this experience is not meant to disrespect. But my mind was whirling. I couldn’t get my eyes off of the clay pots, broken and collecting dirt and leaves on the ground. I kept thinking of how often I see clay pots being sold on the roadside, too many to count. New clay pots for sale next to old and used clay pots left and discarded. I kept recalling the words clay pots from scripture verses I had read. ” We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9.

So many people, so many clay pots. Fragile, yet containing great treasure. Visually seeing something that is referenced in scripture makes it come to life all the more. It made me give thanks, that though weak-willed, selfish or fearful at times, this clay pot of mine holds within a great treasure, a great light shining in my heart.