August 24, 2010

Baju Adat

Last Sunday a dream came true for me.  I have for over a year been the owner of a beautiful traditional Dayak outfit, given to me by a friend from an interior village.  It is gorgeous - black velvet decorated in colorful sequins - but there aren't too many opportunities for me to wear it.  It's not exactly the kind of thing that you throw on to run out to the store...or even to church.

Until last week.  It's missions emphasis month at our Indonesian church, so everyone was asked to wear their baju adat (traditional clothing) from their own suku (people group).  Alas, being a Heinz 57 American, I am seriously lacking in the traditional clothing department.  I feel very culturally poor in this regard.  The German, Scotch, Irish, English, and Native American blood that flows through my veins is so diluted that I can't truly claim any of them as my suku, hence the lack of traditional dress.  If I had access to a Goodwill store (or, better yet, my parents' closet) I could have put something interesting together - like a German dirndl, a Scottish tartan, and a Native American headdress.

We tossed around the idea of dressing as cowboys, since many Indonesians have that perception that Americans are all spur-wearing, lasso-toting cowhands.  Luke wore a cowboy hat and vest (David did grow up on a working ranch in Colorado, so he does at least have that in his heritage) but, in a nod to our island residence, wore flip-flops in lieu of boots.

So, not having a traditional American costume, I became Lun Dayeh (one of the tribes of the people interior) for a day.  Several older women in the church came up to me and said, "Oh, you need a belt" or "You need bracelets" so that by the time I went home I had a complete outfit with all the accessories.  

The church service itself was a glimpse of Heaven with many suku from across the Indonesian archipelago represented - Java, Toraja, ethnic Chinese, Bali, Lombok, Sumatera.  David and I looked at each other during one of the songs and we both had tears in our eyes, moved by the visual reminder that even though we are a diverse group, we are unified by our shared faith.


August 02, 2010

Remembering Hannah

When we first arrived in Tarakan in the fall of 2001, we quickly became close friends with our MAF teammates, Dave and Linda Ringenberg.  Their daughter, Hannah, was Carter's age and they played together often.

A year later, Hannah had some strange symptoms, and a trip to Singapore confirmed everyone's worst fears for sweet Hannah - an inoperable brain tumor.  The Ringenbergs left for the U.S. where Hannah received treatment for several months before passing away in August of 2003.

After Hannah's death, Dave and Linda began serving at MAF's headquarters.  We have kept in touch over the years, and I have been so blessed and encouraged by how Dave and Linda have trusted God through the worst possible circumstances for a parent.  

A month ago, after being away for eight years, Dave and Linda along with their two boys C.J. and Ryan (ages 9 and 3) came back to Tarakan so Dave could help with some of the flying for six months.  It has been so fun to have them back, though there's been a bit of a weird role reversal - when we were the newbies here, they were the ones showing us around.  Now, it's the other way around, with us reintroducing them to life in Tarakan.  Some things haven't changed in their eight year absence (the heat, mosquitoes, etc.), but many things in Tarakan have changed for the better - wonderful things like a really nice swimming pool, higher-speed internet, and fresh butter.

So today, August 2, marks the seven-year anniversary of Hannah's passing.  Yesterday the Ringenbergs asked us to help them commemorate together.  

We shared memories of Hannah, the kids drew pictures for Hannah - mostly of butterflies.  During Hannah's illness, the butterfly became her symbol - to this day, I think of her every time I see one.

At sunset we released balloons and reflected on how Hannah is with the Lord in Heaven, and while we feel sad and miss her, we know we'll see her again one day.  

Our lives were forever touched by knowing Hannah.  She taught me some very important lessons - how I need to cherish my children and take the time to really enjoy them.  I also learned that they are in God's hands - no matter how much I may try to protect them from harm, what happens to them is ultimately up to the Lord.  And that is okay, because He is a good, loving God.