Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Going to try this from Facebook.
If that's not working, the youtube version should work well.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Two hardest things about coming back:
1) Climate - it was well below zero within the first 72 hours that we were back in VT. That's a change of 100 degrees.
2) Rural USA - after being in primarily urban centers of 10 million+ population, we came back to a town of 600, pop.
I suppose any extreme change is generally hard.
So now, without further adieu, I'll post days 6 and 7 of the trek. That will wrap up that stint of our trip. Over the next two weeks I'll be putting together (hopefully) the rest of our footage and posting portions.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Our time in Indonesia with Troy was very inspiring. We learned much, grew much and saw a model of a man following Jesus. As we think about what God is doing in our lives and around us, we get excited. And, so it's time to reengage with that. This step back has been an incredible thing, for us to gain perspective, to be re-energized, and to grow together. We are so thankful for this opportunity and while we're ready to turn toward home, we're sad. How do you just stop traveling and having very little responsibility after doing it for two months? I guess it's not hard, just buy a plane ticket to the nearest airport to your house.
Well, we slept 2 hours last night - we thought it'd be fun to sleep in the airport. The Hong Kong airport is wonderful, lovely and huge. So, we decided to stay here for a night. We ended up staying in Kowloon until midnight and then made our way to the airport. By the time we got there at 1am, not much was open including the check-in counters. We had already checked in at the in-town check-in but we still had one back to check. Bummer. So, we stayed on the lame side of immigration and security, watched a movie, had some snacks and slept on the bench for 2 hours. Though not super comfortable, it was really fun. Comfort is over-rated.
OK friends, we're really looking forward to seeing you soon.
We pray for a safe journey.
Tuna (and Cheeks)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Good news is two-fold (in the Kingdom, the good news always outweighs the bad):
1) I'm going to post a bunch of videos after arrival home in less than a week (that's right, we're headed back to VT 1 December).
2) We've got more pictures uploaded... check it out
Sitting with a Lion at Taman Safari
"Mr. Crab" eating crabs at a famous crab house (my host mom called me Mr. Crab since that day)
Looking at Bromo (a volcano outside of Surabaya, Indonesia)
Riding on a traditional Indonesian Becak (pronounced Pechak)
|From Central Java - Semarung, Yogyakarta|
Tomorrow, we head to Hong Kong. Already we're looking at less than 6 hours of sleep and we haven't even begun packing yet. Yikes! Plan is to stay at Bethany Ministries Guest House. http://www.bethanyministries.com/
OK, talk to you soon.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
After randomly meeting Christians throughout India, being connected with Mennonites in Indonesia has been very refreshing and surprising at the similarities. The first Friday in Jakarta we visited two of the GKMI (a Mennonite conference in Indonesia similar to Franconia conference in PA) churches. Both places greeted us as though we had been long time members. The faith connection with other Christians we’ve met throughout this trip has been intense. I’m reminded that indeed the family of God spreads beyond cultural bounds and oceans. What a blessing. As I’ve recognized my intense desire for comfort during much of our travels and pondered why the need for comfort trumps so much of my other desires, I realized true comfort comes in being surrounded by people who feel like family! What a blessing.
|From Indonesia - Jakarta|
We met the pastor, Pak Abdi, and some of the staff of a large Mennonite church in Jakarta. After sadly refusing various offers to spend nights at people’s houses or have more “program” from the pastor, we left feeling very welcomed by the Mennonites of Indonesia. It’s hard to know if the warm welcome was due to their excitement of the work Troy is committed to in Indonesia, the connections Dad Bergey made about 6 years ago (they remember his visit as if it was yesterday!), but I can’t help to believe anyone would also be greeted with open arms!
On Sunday, we worshiped with the Mennonite church Troy attended while he lived in Jakarta. The language felt like the only difference in the style of worship. Hymns, scripture reading, message. A young man even came to translate for us mid way through the service. Beautiful to experience people of all cultures worshipping God. Interesting, also, to attend a larger Mennonite church in Indonesia than we attend in Vermont. Somewhere along the way I assumed Christianity would be sparse in Indonesia, and although they are in the Minority, they seem more prevalent than where we are in Vermont.
After visiting Sea World Indonesia and attending an Indonesian wedding on Sunday night, we made our way to Central Java via train.
|From Indonesia - Jakarta|
In Semarang we were again warmly greeted by Pak Paul. He works at the GKMI conference center in Semarang and was happy to show us around, help us buy our next train ticket, and take us to a beautiful restaurant with his wife, despite our train showing up an hour late! He also set us up with a woman from his church to show us around Jogijakarta… a long day, but a wonderful day. I am learning a lot about welcoming and hosting people. Bu Linda took the day off from teaching and brought her husband and Buddhist brother in law to show us the Buddha central site of Burabudor and onto Jogijakarta, a place of cultural and political significance in Java. And despite all of the significance, I think I will remember most my first taste of “cow skin” Yum…a Jogjakarta special!
Bottom Line: I feel like we have much to learn from the Mennonites of Indonesia. I think if we have a chance to visit Philadelphia Praise Center, the Indonesian Mennonite church in Philly, we will. And yet, once again I’m struck with many Christian Indonesian’s intense desire to be like America. Most of the Mennonites we met are sending their children to university in the states, despite being separated from their children for years! They are happy to talk English and ask about sites in the US. And the church we worshipped in felt very similar to our own. As I think of the challenges in the church in America I wonder if that also exists in the Church in Indonesia. Each continent has work to do, but I’ve been encouraged knowing others are striving for the kingdom.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sorry we haven't written much. Cheeks is going to post soon and I have lots of thoughts, just not lots of time to write them here. Soon.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Here begins a 6-part series of trekking in the Himalaya.
p.s. By email, click on the title or go to the blog.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
We arrived in Indonesia Wednesday 5 November. We were greeted by a friend of a friend at the airport and it was such a blessing to not have to seek out a seemingly trustworthy taxi driver or wonder if the hotel we were heading to would feel "safe" As we drove through the capitol and the biggest city of the country, Jakarta, already Indonesia felt warmer - weather wise and people wise! It started at the airport, when we paid our $25 and got the visa with no questions and the immigration man smiled after he stamped my passport - the first time a smile had been returned for a while. Few tuk tuk's (auto rickshaws) many American restaurants, bigger cars, decent highway, many American Restaurants (everything from McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, KFC and A&W) and MALLS...
This growing city feels much like America. I find myself wondering if this is for the best. Fast food really isn't healthy and Indonesian food tastes amazing. Malls seem to focus on style, success, and every material object imaginable. We spend our first day in Indonesia perusing two really huge malls and catching the new James Bond 007 movie (English, with Indonesian stubtitles) After India this feels more luxurious than Vermont! Maybe God is here in similar fashion as the US? How will we find the differences here?
Enter Troy. Troy arrived in Indonesia on Thursday night. What a glorious time to reconnect with an amazing brother, mentor, and friend. He tried to show us 14 months of his life in Jakarta in about 10 hours - he was very successful - we met some church friends, drove to a village orphanage and were blessed to worship with 10 adolescent boys (keep your eye out for video coming soon) learned more Indoneisan Food, went to Prump Pung to see Troy love and be loved by poorer children in a less wealthy area of Jakarta and lead Baby Shark (BBC is going international!). We ended the day with Saate (tasty meat on a stick) Iced Shang Hi (really colorful sweet drink/dessert) and a time of fellowship, conversation, pondering, laughing and relaxing with my older single brother and husband, a first for me. For a brief moment, I forget about all the crazyness that makes up this world and enjoy the present. It's good to be with family. It's good to explore what God is doing here. And even better to pursue our unique purpose in this wild kingdom...
More to Come Including:
Mennonites in Indonesia
Indonesians in America
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
India. A country of 1.2 +/- people. Dirty, tons of corruption, extreme disequity and corruption. Picture all the bad stuff you've ever read or heard about the states, multiply by 10 and then display it all, on every street, in most establishments, all day long.
Bosnia. A poor place wrought with civil war and so much conflict. Now, they've got pirates. Imagine that, pirates!
Pakistan. Top Government official encourages Pakistani citizens to kill Taliban.
I could go on and on with stories like this, it seems. Then, we have somewhat encouraging news:
Russia and the USA plan to diminish some nuclear arms
One thing that continues to strike me across the face. Self. It's all about self. Why do the pirates do what they do in Somalia? For money. Why do police personnel in Pakistan switch to the Taliban... they get paid more and hey, if you can't beat em, join em. Why does Bush push for reduction in nuclear arms before leaving office? I'm guessing because he wants to achieve one last thing (a good thing I might add. Others might say to achieve one thing - omit the word "last.") And India... sheesh. I have no way to know all the details and haven't been here all that long but everyone has got a pimp. From the rickshaw driver to the hotel manager, most people are working for someone else who allows them just enough cash to eat and live. So, they take advantage of the foreigners who can pay lots more than the rediculous price they ask. Point is, so many places... everywhere actually. We're about self. We're about getting ahead. And, when resources are scarce, we put self above other more noticably.
I'm not exactly sure where to go from here. It remains clear to me that what I'm observing is true and it also seems clear that there are many more layers I don't understand. Regardless of how many layers there are, the apparent issue that we most often serve self instead of other seems to me to cause great distress on the human race. I'm reminded again of this belief I hold - the things God asks of us aren't only best for God, they are best for us.
And so the model of Mother Theresa stands out. We finished recently with a day + at Kalighat. Kalighat was Mother Theresa's first mission (of which now there are more than 130 world wide). It's a home for the destitute and dying. This woman loved God so much, and followed Christ into loving God. She devoted her life to God and was led to love the many, many extremely injured and struggling people of India.
Lord, lead us. Teach us to love you and heal the world.
Monday, November 3, 2008
(in case the video worked, try clicking here - http://www.facebook.com/p.php?i=895845007&k=XZEZPZU3355MZDA1XCXTY)
So, here's what I was trying to say on the video. Vote for hope. We have spoken with about 9 (maybe it was 8, maybe it was 10) people from all different places (Europe, Asia and Australia) about the upcoming US election. A few things seem extremely clear to me now after those conversations:
1) US policy has a significant impact on the rest of the world (this I knew and was reminded of).
2) The point above is so true, that many follow our presidential election more than their own (in most cases, prime minister).
3) Out of the 9 (8 or 10) we talked to, all wanted Barak Obama as president.
One guy followed me on the sidewalk and tapped my arm. He asked me who I was voting for. I told him, Barak Obama. He said, good. He wanted to know what everyone else will do. I told him that America is a diverse place and that I couldn't know the answer.
I hope you choose hope. Whomever you vote for, consider the impact that our leadership has on the human race.
In Kolkata, volunteering at the mother home was very encouraging, a beacon of light in a dark place. I was also inspired by the sheer number of other westerners coming to volunteer, esp Italian Catholics. Many were spending their holiday in Kolkata volunteering. Yet at the same time, I didn’t have a desire to stay. Maybe spending a day with the destitute and dying wasn’t enough of a honeymoon for me. Maybe I didn’t feel like I could really make an impact there. The day spend at Kalighat, mother Theresa’s first love, the home for the destitute and the dying, was a day for much thought and reflection. I didn't get to right away as we spent much of the evening dealing with the train schedule...
Varanasi also exemplified this roller coaster ride…we saw bodies burning on the ghats, had an interesting interaction with our rickshaw driver, observed many aspects of Hindu prayer and worship and I was told to go back to our country by a boat driver….the very next day we witnessed another beacon of hope at a Asha Bhavan, a widows home in Northern Varanasi with a wonderful couple from Ohio volunteering there. We bought brownies and cookies from their store, spent some time with Indian church planters and left wishing we could spend more time helping them.
We visit the Taj Tomorrow then take our final train to Delhi before flying to Indonesia. I have no doubt the rollercoaster will continue and I’m just thankful I really like roller coasters and 2 really great riding partners....
Thursday, October 30, 2008
As always, if you get the email, go to the blog to view the video (click on the title of the post... should be in large blue. Or, visit www.tunacheeks.blogspot.com).
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
For now, you can see some of our trek. Video to come soon. We drove 12 hours by bus on the most rediculous roads you can imagine (the bus had 85 people in and on top of it) to get a whopping 60 miles into the hills. After spending the night at Syabrubesi we started hiking toward a hill village called Langtang. From there, we went on to Kygingompa and from there, up a 5000 meter peak called Chaccorie. We got sick from the altitude, came back down and made our way back to Syabrubesi to catch the rediculous bus back to Kathmandu.
|From Trekking in the Himilaya|
|From Trekking in the Himilaya|
More pictures to come as we find internet time.
We're BACK to civilization - sort of!
Trekking - my favorite part of the trip so far, challenging, relaxing, peaceful, awe inspiring and just really good to be away from everything in outstanding, unbelievable creations, the Himalayas are something else, a couple of times we just looked at each other and couldn't believe we were spending a week in the highest mountains of the world...there is much more to write, give me some more time to wrap my head around it - we will have so much to share when we get back. It's almost like there is too much to take in...
Oh and the day before we left, we met a christian missions group from Arizona who are serving in Nepal for two weeks, got invited into a Nepali Hindu's house for tea and dinner and met a Christian worker for "Word Made Flesh" working here in Kathmandu - God is working in all corners of the world and we are getting a taste of it...
Then, while trekking we teamed up with another newlywed couple from Germany...looking back it is a little sad that we didn't use more of our trekking time for just the two of us, but we did make two new friends in Germany and it was comforting for me to face the unknown with two other foreigners!! We also had some interesting conversations about faith, life in US vs Europe and lots and lots of laughs...We also made quite a few connections with local people along the way - it really was a wonderful time - thanks for all your prayers, we're flying to Calcutta tomorrow afternoon, I'm nervous. Kathmandu, Nepal is so fun and I'm nervous to go back to India...but I think I'm a bit more prepared this time....Keep the prayers coming, Asia is much, much more than I bargained for...but I like it:)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I'm left assured that there will be continued adventures. I'm sure I will feel many more emotions in the days to come including stomach issues and fear but also a complete sense of wonder at this great big world God has created, a sense of wonder at how people live so much differently than me, with much less, yet they survive from day to day...And a continued desire for the comfort I am accustomed to. We leave for a 7 day trek tomorrow where comfort will be limited and people will be different. And I'm excited for this next adventure, scared and nervous, but confident God will continue to move....
I could write more and I will at some point, but for now I ask for continued prayers as we explore this side of the world.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Hey guys, you're welcome. It's been fun and a bit shocking. Our first night was something that we won't forget. We'll tell you about it in person. Not particularly dangerous, just discomforting. Got in late, drove past a bunch of cows, walked past a bunch of homeless people, had a misunderstanding with our cab driver and then tried to sleep in a jail cell-type room at 5am. Again, I don't sense we were in any real danger, it's just that it was a great contrast from the nice 747 that we came from.
It has been an adventure thus far. Tomorrow evening we'll head to Kathmandu, Nepal by land which I think will be a 30 hour trip if all goes well. After we get there, we'll start trekking and so will be out of contact for as much as a week.
Thoughts of late:
Ghandi - amazing. Born and raised high caste but rejected that and spent lots of time among the low caste poor. Exceptional. I continue to be reminded that it's through rejection of self-service that and love of others that we bring good.
I've also been thinking about Hinduism. There are many gods. And there is great divinity among the people to their gods (far more discipline that western religious folks). Somehow I'm reminded of a human system though. I'm reminded of the stories of the old testament. And the way of Jesus brings freedom! That continues to strike me.
Another thought: travel (difference) is bringing out the things in me and Cheeks that we need to deal with. You know, those things in each of us that are underdeveloped or are unhelpful. Well, nothing like a lot of difference (which seems to act like a mirror) to surface those things.
Time for bed here, but another thought from Ghandi first:
Thursday, October 9, 2008
|From Hong Kong Airport|
I’ve had some interesting feelings and thoughts thus far. One thing I’ve been noticing is that I’m not all that excited to be uncomfortable. I remember my uncle Will questioning why we would want to go to India. Suddenly that is becoming more real… his concern of discomfort. I’m reminded of this issue of wealth and how Jesus talks about it. Brian McLaren follows up on that topic in his recent book Everything Must Change. His idea is that as folks accumulate wealth there becomes a need to protect that wealth. And it’s not just wealth but the lifestyle that we live. The hot shower every morning, the ability to purchase anything we want at any time from anywhere in the world and even the comfortable, warm bed we sleep in every night. Starting this journey off on our friend Renee’s floor seemed fitting. And the anxiety started to build – I’m going to be uncomfortable! I’m becoming OK with that but am surprised how strongly I don’t want to be uncomfortable.
And then I was talking to the guy beside me on the plane. We talked about the recent debate and his analysis of what is happening in America rung true to me. He talked about the various ways people are manipulated, particularly religious groups and politicians. He talked about really wanting Obama as president and being scared that it would not be so because of hidden racism. I admit I am fearful that something like what happened four years ago will come again. I remember hearing that the George W. Bush administration was going to serve another 4 years and feeling crushed. Crushed because of what our global neighbors would think. At that time, I didn’t see that administrations failing economic policy that has no doubt not helped our current crisis. Generally upset with legislation like No Child Left Behind and a war that seemed primarily about economic stimulus and oil, I just can’t bear to have more of the same. What impact will it have on our brothers and sisters around the world?
What struck me about my conversation with this guy on the plane was his analysis and wisdom. I found myself wondering what he was doing with his knowledge and wisdom. He reminded me of Solomon – in fact, my plane buddy said, in different words, there is nothing new under the sun. Clearly God’s spirit was alive in this man, but it wasn’t clear to me that he was moving along with the spirit.
Lord, help us move with your spirit. Forgive our doubts.
And if you're getting this by email and didn't see the video in the most recent past post, go to the blog itself to view it.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Some of our time packing and getting to NYC:
Saturday, October 4, 2008
As for Asia – we’re going to spend a week trekking in the Himilayas, about two and a half weeks connecting with various Christians in India (northeast primarily) and three weeks with Mennonites in Indonesia. The time in Indonesia is primarily to catch up with Amber’s brother. If I were to sum up the trip I would state three purposes:
1) To kick this recent marriage to Amber off with a big celebration
2) To get a break from camp, hoping to come at a capital campaign renewed and with focus
3) To see how God is moving in the East
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
09 Oct. Hong Kong to New Delhi
Arrive in New Delhi 10 Oct., 2am
While in India we plan to:
- Travel to Nepal and trek in the Himalayas
- Spend time in Calcutta, home of Mother Theresa
- Visit Varanasi, home of all sorts of ancient religion including the burning Ghats
- Visit Agra, home of the Taj Mahal
- Begin to understand the immense diversity that exists in this subcontinent that hosts a sixth
of the worlds population
- Begin to experience what God is doing here and how we are connected to that.
05 Nov. New Delhi to Hong Kong
05 Nov. Hong Kong to Jakarta
Arrive in Indonesia 05 Nov. at 8pm
While in Indonesia we plan to:
- Travel across the island of Java to Surabaya, where Troy lives
- Spend a lot of time with Amber's brother, Troy (we miss him)
- Connect with Mennonites there
- Again, seek to experience and understand how God is moving and how we are involved
- Get some relaxation
27 Nov. Surabaya to Hong Kong
Arrive in China, 27 Nov. at 1:55pm
While in Hong Kong we plan to SHOP :)
01 Dec. Hong Kong to NYC
Arrive home in the USA 01 Dec. 12:10pm
Perhaps we'll spend the night in NYC before making the trek back to the Green Mountains
Sunday, August 17, 2008
1. black and white
3. From uncle Harold
We also have a plethora of photos to sort through from our photographer Gerry Moore, the best of those will be posted soon. Stay Tuned.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Here's the other thing. I'm running a non-profit that has doubled in revenue in the last two years. We're taking on a whole host of new stuff at camp and I just keep putting in big days to make it all work. Amber is working 50 - 60 hours/week and lives an hour from me. With all the commuting that she does and the time I spend in the car just going to see her, trying to make a significant impact within our work places and spending time together, there isn't much other time.
So, there you have it. That's why when you visit our wedding website there doesn't seem to be much change or when you click over to here, there isn't much info.
If you want to see an interesting site, go to the non-profit I mentioned - Bethany Birches Camp.
Hey, once we're living together and beyond this stage of in between, we'll keep you posted. Until then, know that we're doing well, loving life and following Jesus' lead. Keep us in your prayers.