Sunday, November 30, 2008

Going Home

It's that time. All good things end and that's when other good things start. So, Cheeks and I are ready to start another good thing - regular life, together.

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.

Much Love,

Tuna (and Cheeks)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Abort Video - head to HK

Hey all, bad news. Something is wrong with my video camera. It's having trouble playing back. So, I've finally finished all the trekking videos (all though I haven't posted two) and began working on some current stuff. But, in the middle of it my camera refused to play back. So, I can't get the footage off the camera to edit it to share it with you - crap!

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
From Surabaya

"Mr. Crab" eating crabs at a famous crab house (my host mom called me Mr. Crab since that day)
From Surabaya

Looking at Bromo (a volcano outside of Surabaya, Indonesia)
From Surabaya

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.

OK, talk to you soon.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

People of Faith

Brandon and I had the opportunity to share about camp multiple times since our time in Indonesia. We showed pictures a couple of times at Pelangi, the Christian school Troy teaches at, we described our work to some of his classes at Petra and also to various people we’ve met along the way. Each time we shared that many of the campers practice minimal religion we were met with blank stares. One of the clear differences between Asia and America seems to be the consistent faith in a higher power. Christianity is by far the minority, yet the majority of people seem to believe in some major religion. Some higher being. Be it Hindu, Islam, Buddhist or Christian, the people here believe. Most of the people we’ve explained camp to don’t seem to understand the idea of no religion. What do they base their life on? What principles guides their daily decisions? I’m not sure if one avenue is better than another, Hinduism and the practice of belief in many gods and myths or belief in nothing, only one’s self. I’m struck even more that the answer to that question is not to consume my thoughts, instead, to learn how to love like Jesus, in the spirit of the differences, no matter what continent we find ourselves on, loving like Jesus, this is what I want to focus on.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mennonites in Indonesia

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.

Stay Tuned – pics (click on one of the photos above) and video to come…


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Brief schedule update - Bali

So tomorrow, we're headed to Bali. I'm excited. Everyone we've met in Indonesia has asked us whether we've been to Bali yet (it's the prime vacation spot, apparently). So, we're going for three days and taking a break from shadowing Troy. That said, we've had quite a lot of fun following Troy around, helping him teach etc. Really enjoying it. And what a great model of a man following Jesus.

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.

Much love.

Tuna & Cheeks V - Trekking, Day V

Hello all. Here's the 5th day. I think this is a short video. However the sixth day is long.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuna & Cheeks V - Trekking, Day IV

Day 4 of 6 of the Trek. Today we hike to the top of a large or small mountain depending on whether you measure against the American Rockies or Himalaya, respectively. It was a long day!

Tuna & Cheeks V - Trekking, Day III

Day 3 of 6 in our trek. This is the day we head to Kajin Gompa, a high mountain town.

Click on the title in your email to go to the blog and watch.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Tuna & Cheeks V -Trekking, Day II

Video, part 2 of 6 - Trekking in the Langtang Valley.

Tuna and Cheeks V - Trekking, day I

Hello again friends. It's been a while since we've posted a video. While in Jakarta, Indonesia, we didn't have connection where we were staying (not to mention I've been getting slower with the editing process).

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


Less Trash, Returned Smiles, Cow Less Streets, Familiar Faces, Church Connections, American Food, Malls, Hotter Weather, New Language...some of the more noticeable differences between India and Indonesia...

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
Indonesian Wedding
Indonesians in America

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Absurd World

What a rediculous place this is - Earth. I can see why so many religions focus on getting outa here. Let me paint what I'm seeing in my minds eye as I write:

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

Vote for Hope

OK, I've been trying hard to post a video file and can't. It's not working and until I recreate the file and post, it's going to take forever.

(in case the video worked, try clicking here -

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.


The Roller Coaster Continues...

India is similar to a roller coaster. One minute I feel confident that God is here, I feel comfortable and am able to appreciate a different culture and all that comes with that. The next minute I’m wondering how this society exists, why did we come here and wondering how fast we can leave! For the most part I find myself somewhere in between these two extremes.

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....


Click here for all sorts of pictures from parts of our lives