Last Friday, I went on my second trip to Surabaya, Indonesia. The first time I went was in December of 2010 with a Couriers mission team from church. I’ve always wanted to go back again and got to do so this month, as a birthday present from the best husband in the world!
This time I went with just my sister. It was my first mission trip going with my sister! After all these years. It’s both our dreams to work with children and run homes to save orphans and unwanted or abused children. So it was a great opportunity to visit the ministry of Pondok Hayat in Surabaya.
Also, our church had sent out a volunteer to Surabaya and she’s in her third month there. I wanted to visit her and spend time with her. Alicia is only 19 and wanted to give time to missions before she starts university. It was a great encouragement to see what a blessing she is to the ministry in Pondok Hayat. Also to beat her in Monopoly Deal. Heh.
The most unforgettable part of this trip, that also made it so different from others before, is that we stayed at a children’s home with 11 orphans. So often we go on trips, minister in the day and then go back to our hotel rooms or guest homes. We kind of distant ourselves to what is happening in the third world countries. But to actually stay with the children and be a part of their daily lives was life-changing. When we came home, it was hard to focus on our daily lives, knowing that somewhere, someone is needing love, not just love, but loving guidance and teaching. And we long to be with them.
My sister texted me as she was sitting in a morning meeting at work, Why are we discussing these things that really don’t matter in the long run? And I wrote on my facebook, as much as I’m glad to be home with my family, I also wish I was there with the children, making a difference in their lives simply by loving them and letting them know they are loved. If only I can ‘commute’ there to work! I can live with that as my day job. 🙂 I know my kids would love to go with me too. I asked Evan what he will help me do there and he said, “I can help you cook, Mommy!” 🙂
These 11 children were unwanted by their mothers who got pregnant before they were married. No one in the organisation helping these unwed mothers know who the fathers are. But the shelter, Pondok Hayat (Hut of Life), gives these mothers hope, and these babies a future. It saved the babies from the clutches of death through abortion and gave them a chance to be born into this world. Many of the babies get adopted (thank God for the favour on the ministry), but many also get left behind. When they grow to be 4 years old, they move to Simo Children’s Home, which was where we stayed, with these precious dear ones.
Each of them is special. Each of them is full of life, full of love. On the first day, one of the founders of the ministry already told me, “Please discipline them.” My reply, “I’m only going to be here 4 days! I don’t want them to hate me!” But we all know that disciplining our children is part of loving them. And with their main caregiver going home for the weekend (she must have timed it for when we are there!), I had to hold up my role! I’m glad I didn’t have to do much in terms of correction, just certain things they picked up from school that I had to explain to them are rude or not good. I spent more time hugging, kissing, praying for them, and playing with them.
We played soccer, went on swings, and did cartwheels. Yes, cartwheels. The boys are crazy over a current TV show called Madun, which is about a boy soccer genius. The stunts in the show are obviously fake, but the boys aspired to be able to perform them nonetheless. “Miss, can you do this and kick the ball?” What? Cartwheel AND kick the ball? “No I can’t. I’m too old!” “Miss, I know, you cannot do it because you are a girl.” What?! Trying to provoke me? Not going to work. I’m too old boys. But I can do a cartwheel. Here we go! And they’re only a little impressed… and went on to try their Madun moves. Staying with the children was also a good opportunity to practise my bahasa!
“Miss! Look!” “Miss! Tie my hair?” “Miss! Come!” “Miss!” All of them calling at the same time, while I was trying to get 2 girls to finish their food. By 8:30pm of the second night, I was beat! And after the kids were in bed, the caretakers had piles of folding and ironing to do! We offered to help, but our offer was turned down (not that we were that disappointed!).
Besides spending time with the children at Simo, we also had bible study with the mothers, spoke at a youth outreach meeting (they hold a weekly meeting for the teens in a poor community), helped develop an English curriculum for the pre-schools and elementary school, had a teacher fellowship/sharing, and played with the babies at Pondok Hayat. And these are what the staff and volunteers do everyday and every week. They have such an extensive and fruitful ministry. The schools are an outreach to the community too as they provide almost free education for a lot of children. By meeting the physical needs of the community, the hearts of the people are very much more open to the gospel and the people more willing to listen to the Christians share.
This is what I think we need to do. The church needs to rise up and let our light shine. We need to put the love we have from God in action and bring that love to the community. James 1:27 says, “True and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
(To read more about Pondok Hayat, you can visit their website at www.pondokhayat.org. But you’ll need Google translate coz it’s in bahasa. 🙂 Waiting for my sis to post more pictures of the kids on her facebook since we took most of the pictures on her camera!)