After the first trip, Payton and I both felt like our perspective was lopsided. At that time, we only had two potential future ministry options on the table (we now have a few more back in the mix). We had seen one, but knew little of the other. It felt odd to try to decide without at least getting a glimpse of the other place. We felt like the first trip was an eye-opener, so seeing more would probably only help us along in the decision-making process.
Right now, we’re still deep in the throes of decision-making, with doors seemingly opening and closing weekly. What seemed like a good idea last week, turned out be a dead end the next. I feel like my feelings have been jerked around from location to location, not quite allowing myself to really imagine myself in any place for too long without feeling improperly attached to it and then having to give that idea up. I guess that’s the definition of holding our plans loosely. We do feel like God is refining our vision. We had some big fears as well as big expectations going into this process, some of which have been dumped, and others of which have been solidified. God has really begun to show us what matters and what might “make it or break it” with regards to our future ministry.
We traveled to the east of Sulawesi to the Maluku islands. We got to visit with other folks from our org that currently live in the big city. We were very encouraged by their willingness to sacrifice and to be a part of their environment. It was really refreshing to find people of like-mind and the same vision. Our friends had a contact in the area who was willing to help us out and act as our guide. After our second night, small group of us set out the next day by ferry to a much larger, but less populated island.
We just generally toured the area. I was surprised mostly of how wild it all still felt, as well as how clean the small town felt. I guess in the past, they’d had big plans for developing the area, but then all of those plans fell through, but the well-paved roads still remained! A lot of the island is a national park, and so it’s mostly protected. We went to one beach where it seemed the whole town was enjoying their last weekend before school started.
It poured rain, so we all waited it out under a shelter where they were serving “rujak,” which is chopped fruit served with a spicy and sweet peanut sauce. Sounds weird, but it’s fantastic. I enjoyed being stuck. As we were leaving, we said goodbye to the lady making the fruit salad and she looked at little Finn politely waving and saying thank you, and she scooped out a small ball of red sugar and plopped it into his mouth with a sweet smile. Mostly, people just ask for photos, but it was nice to see someone treat Finn just like they would any other little kid. And of course he was happy too.
One day we headed up into the mountains. It was strange to see thick, wild, almost untouched jungle towering up on either side of a paved road.
The gardens we did see had charms to keep people from wanting to eat the fruit that grew close to the road. We drank from the fresh water running out of the rocks and saw wild orchids growing only a hand’s breadth away. It was stunning.
Later, we headed along the coast to see what the towns/villages looked like along the way. They didn’t look very rustic, but that was only an hour away from the main city and close to the coast. Apparently, it gets very isolated once you get inland. We took a break at another beach which was deserted except for the people that lived along it. There weren’t any places to eat nearby, so our guide ask the kids to go fetch some young coconuts.
We drank the coconut water and ate the meat for our lunch. It was surprisingly filling. I was kind of overstuffed from the many packets of yellow rice I’d eaten for what seemed like days on end, so coconut was a nice change.
We headed back to the main island and enjoyed a final meal with friends. We left the next day with our minds full of new ideas and possibilities.
We’d love to give you a deadline for when we will have a decision, but we’ve noticed that God really doesn’t have to work within our personally-set deadlines. And often, they just frustrate us more than anything, so we’re just letting the current take us along at the moment!
We do have some exciting things happening. There is still plenty of forward motion. First, one of the pastors and one of the men from our Colorado church are coming and we are thrilled to be able to discuss this with them. Second, Payton has set up a short trip up north to meet up with several key people involved with an existing work, as well as a man who would be involved in opening the new work on the other island we just visited. Third, Payton has been able to talk on the phone with some people that have really helped to keep us asking good questions along the way.
We are excited to see what’s ahead. Keep praying for us!