“Love your neighbor as yourself”

We all have heard this verse, whether we are religious or not.  We all have our notions of what that means, but I’ve really been challenged lately with this, and am seeing how the American culture is anything BUT for loving your neighbor as yourself.

According to Webster:

Love is: unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for another

Neighbor is: a person who lives near another person

How often do we ONLY love those who we are friends and family with?  And how often are we friends ONLY with people of the like mind, stature, political views, religion, appearance, interests, careers, culture, morals, lifestyle choices….?

As I reflect on my friends in the US, I love them dearly and won’t ever replace them, but I do see that I choose to surround myself with people who are like me, because it is easy.  It is easier to love someone you agree with, it is easier to love someone who shares all the same views and interests as you…. but did Jesus say it would be easy?

What about the other 99% of my neighbors?  The ones wearing head coverings, flying rainbow flags, advocating pro-choice, voting for a different candidate, raising their kids differently… am I truly loving them?  To be loyal and do good for another, you must KNOW them.  Not just wave as you walk by, not just drop off Christmas cookies, but you need to know their interests, their needs, their worries, their life, their heart.  THEN, you can love them.  I challenge you to take a look around at your neighbors, on your street and in your community.

Are you loving your neighbor as yourself?

I see that I haven’t updated this for about 9 months!  As you know, babies change your world 😀  And our world has changed for the better

Avalyn is blossoming into a beautiful little girl and is becoming quite the world traveller, with Indonesia, S. Korea, and America under her belt, and Singapore in just a few days. She is quite the celebrity every where we go, but she doesn’t like the attention at all haha She loves storytime in the bath, being bounced on the bed, going for jogs, and watching the bugs swarm around the lights outside at night.  She is living the dream 😉

Josh is busy, as usual, with teaching plus having the athletic and physical education administrative role.  He just finished all the requirements to have his administrative credential, way to go!  His triathlons are on-hold at the moment due to a mystery knee-injury (pray for healing), but he is using the extra time to invest into his daughter’s life. He is such a wonderful role model for not only Avalyn, but also myself (Christina).

Me-Christina- I am at home primarily with Avalyn, staying busy since we must shop daily to have meat that is fresh (not spoiled), and cooking all meals from scratch (no canned food, freezer meals, or anything to make recipes “faster”), and am also tutoring a bit at home and at school on the side with Avalyn in tow.  Due to all my friends being teachers (aka working while I’m at home), I have been praying for more friends, and God has blessed me tremendously with more friends to meet in the grocery stores by “stalking them” to be noticed, and also with the idea of starting a Mom’s club locally.  This has stirred my above thoughts, as my new friends are (regretfully) not who I would have previously “chosen” to love and befriend, but I now embrace with an open heart, to know, to love, and to witness to.  I am eager to know and pour love into my new neighbors’ and friends’ lives.  DSC_0596 DSC_0845 DSC_0894 DSC_0574 DSC_0624

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Merry Christmas from Indonesia!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!  We wish we could be there to celebrate with each of you, and we hope to be able to again in the near future.

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Our Christmas and first week of break from work was quiet, restful, and peaceful.  Tomorrow Josh’s mom and youngest brother come to visit for 2 weeks, which is always a very exciting time, especially since we haven’t seen any family since we came back at the end of July!

A few quick updates since it’s been so long:

Baby Blackburn:  She (yes, she!) is doing wonderful and is already 28 weeks (about 6 & 1/2 months) already!  Time flies!  We plan to use the local hospital (5 minute drive), and we are expecting the unexpected haha such as accepting the fact that our English speaking doctor will likely not be there, that it will be a struggle to communicate, and that the normal American ideas of having a baby may not all be met here.  We trust God that there will be no problems, but we understand that our experience will likely be different than the typical American experience in giving birth (well, some things regarding birth are the same no matter where you are haha).  She does NOT have a baby nursery, but lots of items in bags at the moment lol.  We hope to move houses 1 or 2 months before she is due to arrive, to a home where we can have a baby room and some more space.  There is no definite news from our school though (it’s the school’s choice and responsibility, not ours), so pray that we are able to move in a timely manner before she arrives!!!

Christina:  Christina was blessed with a first grade class full of angels this year!  God knew what he was doing when He gave her this bunch of sweet little children while being pregnant, allowing her to relax more and sit down more often than when trying to teach a rowdy and rambunctious bunch!  She is preparing for her long-term sub that will come around the time the baby is born and will finish the school year so she can stay at home to take care of our baby.  God has finally brought us to a place in life where we can afford (afford, not live like royalty) to have her stay at home and raise our little ones. She is keeping her plate very full with doing tons of pregnancy and newborn research, as well as working on the human trafficking ministry (see below).

Josh:  Josh’s plate has been extra loaded this year, from caring to a pregnant wife, teaching, PLUS being in the athletics administration (making HUGE changes and progress like developing curriculum for the school, getting the school into leagues for the first time, and SO much more!). Soon it will be even more full with starting full-blown triathlon training again (he has a Half-Ironman this summer that he and his mom are signed up for!), completing his last online college course to get his Administration Credential during the Spring semester (to be principal, athletic director, etc in the USA), and he is also praying for an opportunity to pursue his dream of getting his doctorate soon so he is beginning to create his 10 page dissertation (there is no definite answer yet if this is will be possibility to do soon, but is a big prayer request!).

Ministry:  Ever since attending the human trafficking conference in Bali in August, God has really opened many doors, brought us connections, partnerships, clear goals and visions, and has really guided us through developing and doing ministry work locally.  We will begin sending out email updates regarding ministry so we can share more specifics than we can on public internet, so if you would like to be on the email list, please message us or email us your email address and we will add you to the list! Here are a few, brief updates though:

-We have formed a small support team locally called Immeasurable Worth, and are creating our mission and vision statement, as well as our short-term and long-term goals.

-Both of us spoke at a youth conference in downtown Jakarta (capital city) about 2 months ago, about human trafficking in Indonesia and their responsibility regarding it.  There was over 6,000 attending, so this was obviously a HUGE God-given opportunity to spread more awareness and hopefully motivate action from Indonesians (no matter who you talk to, they are unaware that human trafficking is a big problem in Indonesia, and there is very little being done about it).

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-One of the short-term goals:  Host a “Run for Rescues” at our campus and potentially other international school campuses next year, to raise the money to fund rescues as well as to raise awareness regarding the very big and close-to-home issue of human trafficking (the area we live is the #1 place where the most women and children are taken from!).

-Some of the long term goals (beginning next school year): To connect with the teacher colleges in Jakarta and to develop and lead teacher trainings regarding human trafficking AND to create bilingual curriculum for them to take to their teaching placements after graduation to implement human trafficking prevention in their schools and their villages. This could then be spread and shared with other village schools throughout Indonesia after the curriculum is developed and translated.  Also, to do community rebuilding to provide sources of income for the villages rather than needing to have more and more kids to sell to traffickers to afford food and living.

-Every time we begin to feel discouraged and overwhelmed by the thoughts of where to begin, how to get these visions accomplished, etc., God presents us with the PERFECT connections, resources, and opportunities!  Just recently a couple we briefly met at the conference was in town and wanted to meet with us, and they have the exact same goals for next year as us, so we plan to work together on developing the curriculum!  GOD IS GOOD!!!

-Next year, Christina will be primarily home with the baby, and hopes to focus all of her free time to ministry.  However, at this time due to finances, she may need to work 1 day a week at school or do at-home tutoring and work on ministry part-time, unless God provides the means to only be at home and work on ministry.

WOW. This has gotten REALLY long! So sorry.  I guess if we updated it more often then it wouldn’t get so lengthy!  We would love to hear about what your family is up to also, so please stay in contact!  Please pray over all of the opportunities and situations God has blessed us with and presented us with recently, and let us know if you want to be on the ministry updates email list.    You can send your email address to IMworth@hotmail.com  so you don’t have to post it publicly.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!!

Josh, Christina, & Baby Blackburn

Pregnant abroad… say what?!

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That’s right, we are going to have a baby!!! We couldn’t be more happy!  With the announcement of this news, we have had mixed reactions of excitement and concern regarding having a baby in a third world country.  So… we will play a little game of “21 Questions” with the frequently asked questions we have been getting!

Question #1“Where will the baby be born?” – The baby will be born in a jungle hut, with the neighbor ladies helping with labor, and Josh is banned from the site until the baby is 1 day old. JUST KIDDING!!! The baby WILL be born in Indonesia…no, I won’t take “furlow” or whatever it is called to have the baby in the US, because Josh has to keep teaching and I prefer to be near him!

Question #2Is it safe to be pregnant and give birth there?” – Well, as we all know, naturally there can be complications or unexpected events or even things that doctors can’t explain why during pregnancies even in a first world country.  No, I don’t think the risk is any greater here, there just are different risks (such as different viruses and bacterias that I could get sick from, etc).  How I see it is even though my location has changed, my God has not changed, and I trust Him with my baby here in Indonesia just as I would in the USA.

Question #3“Are there modern hospitals there?” – Yes.  We have already been to 2 different hospitals in our area, and we were able to see the baby on the ultrasound and hear the heartbeat at the early age of 10 weeks.  We are planning to continue to go to and give birth at the closest hospital in our town, which is only a 10 minute drive.  The dr. speaks perfect English, and specializes in natural birth.  We are very happy with her, and the hospital is less than a year old so it is modern, clean, and actually under-used (due to its costs and the high poverty rate) so I could potentially be the only woman in the delivery rooms at all and have constant attention from the doctors!  Also, I have found a doula that just moved to our town who is bilingual, so we plan to hire her for labor and delivery classes, to be our translator during labor and delivery (no guarantee our English-speaking dr. will be in), and to assist in *hopefully* giving birth naturally.  God REALLY has provided for us already!

Question #4“Will the baby be an Indonesian citizen?”  No.  From what we have read, the USA is actually the only country that allows “anchor babies”, where even if the parents are not citizens, the baby born on the soil instantly is a citizen (interesting, huh?).  The baby will be issued an Indonesian birth certificate, which we then process at the US Embassy here in Jakarta to obtain a US passport for the baby.  Then we take the baby to immigration to process a visa to stay in Indonesia with us.  We will have 2 – 3 months to make sure ALL paperwork is processed before summer break begins, otherwise we will not be able to leave the country! This is obviously a prayer request, especially because it is known that here paperwork takes longer than it is expected or quoted to take.

Question #5 “Does having a baby mean you are moving back to the US?” Not necessarily.  Having a baby will not influence our plans drastically right now.  Josh is already committed to this year of teaching plus the 2015 – 2016 school year.  We are not sure what our plans will be once that year is over, whether we will stay longer, move back to Cali, or move elsewhere for teaching.

Question #6“Will you still visit CA next summer again?”  Yes, we are planning on it!  Our baby will be a few months old at that point, which we are totally comfortable with the idea of traveling to visit family at that age.

Question #7 – “Can I mail you baby items, or are there Indonesian stores with online registries I can buy from?” Well, you “can” mail items, but if its an expensive item, it would be confiscated by the mail service, and if it’s a non-expensive item, it will probably cost much more than the item did to mail it, so we don’t recommend mailing packages.  I am still scouting out the baby stores here, but most are small stores which likely wouldn’t have registries or shopping online options.  If I find some that do, I will let you know 😉 We DO have family coming out both at the end of December and in March before and after the baby is born, and they are more than happy to bring things with them.

Question #8 – “Are you craving things that either you can or can’t get there?” My cravings seem to go through stages, and seem to be more like obsessions rather than craving because I will eat/drink it for weeks straight before moving to the next item.  1st was pickles, then was chocolate milk, next was white cheddar, then it was chow mien (mie goreng) and white rice (nasi putih).  The whole time I have been craving Hot Cheetos (actually was my 1st pregnancy symptom because I normally don’t eat them… yes, I’m still craving them daily and no you can’t buy them here!!!) and also I always want tons of fruits and vegis, such as my breakfast the past few days has been a spinach and strawberry salad…mmmmm. Josh has been lucky… I don’t crave anything at odd hours, or things that aren’t already in the kitchen, or at least I wait patiently a few days until we can go get a burger or salmon or whatever I wanted… so be thankful, Josh!!! 😉

Question #9 – “Can you buy all the normal baby items there?” Technically, most… yes you can (but probably not the brand or quality you prefer). However, I strive on bargain shopping, finding killer sales, etc and there typically aren’t sales here often and the price of the American brands of baby clothes, bedding, furniture, bottles, everything…. is double to 4 times the normal price in the US! OUCH!  I’m really struggling with accepting the idea that I may not have “everything” (really, do babies need ALL that?! haha), and/or some items may be more simple than I would have bought in the US because here that’s what we can afford.  Baby items are for the rich here, and the poor go without them.  Also, there definitely is no Target baby section or Babies’R’Us here where you could find everything in 1 stop… here you get it when you see it in whatever random baby store you happen to walk into and see a decent price haha.  We are beginning to slowly buy things as we find them, and when we find them at a “decent” price.

Question #10 “Will you have a baby shower?” I’m not sure what the Indonesian culture is regarding the birth of babies, so we will see what happens here regarding the traditional shower like in the US.  I have heard some talk by our mothers about possibly a baby shower when we come next summer to CA 😉

Okay, I’m fresh out of “frequently asked questions” that I can think of, definitely didn’t make it to “21 Questions”!  If you have other questions, post them below and I’ll add them to the list 😉

Our PRAYER REQUEST page has been updated for this year!  Please see it and pray over them, but if you don’t make it to that page, please pray at least for the baby’s health and for Josh to successfully complete his full Ironman in Malaysia, with no malfunction of triathlon equipment or bodily parts, which is in only 10 days!

Keep in touch! We love and miss you all tons!

Josh & Christina (I’ll let you guess who wrote this post haha)

Back for Year Two

A whole year has already flown by?!?!

So much has happened lately, so I’ll give you a short recap!

Triathlons – Josh has now completed a sprint distance, olympic distance, and a half ironman distance triathlon! In September he will also be competing in a FULL Ironman triathlon in Malaysia! This means extra hours of training this fall (up to 6 hours some days!). 10487325_10152496206701293_8362910419195489129_n

Summer – We were blessed to be able to go back to California and Washington this summer to see family and friends! The 28 days flew by so quickly, and we are already back in Indonesia preparing for the school year to start in 4 days!
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New school year – This new year will bring many new adventures! Josh will be teaching English classes, PE, Health (as well as creating the curriculum for it), coaching soccer, and will be the Assistant Athletic Director at our school. With taking on this new position, he has committed to an additional year in this leadership position. That means that currently we have 2 more years in Indonesia that we are committed to (this school year + 1 more). Josh will also be taking his last course online to be a certified administrator! He hopes to be a principal a few years down the road. Christina will be teaching grade 1 again, as well as will be the English Curriculum Coordinator, which means she will be running English meetings, professional development, and will be helping the administrators make positive changes in the elementary English department.

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Ministry – Thanks to Redding Christian Fellowship, we were both able to attend an anti-human trafficking training conference in Bali, Indonesia last week. This was really helpful in establishing connections and communication with others involved throughout the country, get some practical advice on our ideas and plans, and make a game plan for our local area to initiate. The goal will be to do awareness and prevention work regarding human trafficking in Indonesia locally, both to the poor villages who are targeted to traffic, as well as to the rich and powerful who are unaware and need to become involved in making change in Indonesia. We are praying about how exactly God will open doors for this to happen, and are praying for the right people to come on board with us. While doing awareness and prevention work, we plan to use the opportunities God presents us with to also share the Gospel, since that is the saving message not only for this lifetime, but also for the next. Here’s a video by MTV “Enslaved” regarding human trafficking in Indonesia:
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As this new year begins, please be praying for:
Health
Safety
Ministry – opportunities, guidance from God, wisdom, and for effective ministry
School – Effective teachers and to be sharing the gospel through our words and actions
Peace and reliance on God – life in challenging in another country and being so far from family and friends!

We love and miss you all!
Josh & Christina

The End of the Rainy Season

With the extreme change of weather recently (from daily downpours and thunderstorms to over 100 degrees and 80% humidity), there have been many changes and events happening in Indonesia.

Both:  We bought a car!!!!  Riding taxis to Jakarta often is very pricey and challenging since they don’t like to pick you up if its raining (standing in downtown Jakarta for over an hour in downpours while all the taxis drive by and wave you off), not being able to communicate well with the driver, etc.  Also, cars hold their value longer here, so when we move back and sell the car, we will be able to get most of our money back.  It took a while searching because most car dealerships can’t be trusted, and most don’t have cars for less than $10,000!  Finally, we found a car through a recommended dealership, our lovely, squatty, 2005 Honda Jazz… so0o0o jazzy!! Image Josh driving on the wrong side of the road! Our first trip to Jakarta!

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Our beauty.. ready to be driven home (at the dealership)

BUT….. buying a used car in a 3rd world country is NOT always the most trustworthy purchase in your life, even from a recommended dealership!

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Here we are steering the car up onto a tow truck along side of the toll road (highway systems) 😦  First trip and the head gasket blew!  The only positive to the day? We HAD to ride on the tow truck… INSIDE OUR CAR! hahaha the experiences you could never be allowed to do in the states!! Here’s us riding an hour to the auto shop while inside our car above traffic 😉

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^riding along on top of the tow-truck!

*Despite the frustration that our car would break down THREE days after buying it, God provided and took care of us.  Christina’s class-mom advocated for us and gave us advice while our car was in the shop of how to deal with the dealership due to the car failures right after buying it, the dealership ended up texting us a week later that our car was ready to be picked up and that the bill had been paid! 🙂 (about $800).  We are thankful for how God is by our side even during the difficult times of life.

Christina:  She is VERY thankful maids are so inexpensive here because teaching 1st grade while continually creating her own curriculum and lesson plans (plus all of the events, culminating projects, etc) is VERY time-consuming!  However it is very rewarding and uplifting being able to teach the children about the Bible and Jesus’ love daily and openly, to her class which is 1/2 Christian and 1/2 Muslim, Hindu, etc.  After a month praying and seeking opportunities to be involved with anti-sex trafficking in Indonesia,  she found the ONE organization that exists in Indonesia, but sadly on a different island (did you know over 18,000 islands make-up Indonesia?!).  The Christian organization is involved in everything that was laid on her heart…. awareness, fundraising, training local police in rescues, training lawyers for making cases against the traffickers, rescuing girls out of sex slavery, and educating and counseling the girls until they are ready to move on again.  The organization is praying about how she can best be involved, but currently will be working alongside another volunteer in the process of applying for a grant from an organization than gives grants to safe homes for victims of trafficking.  Please pray for opportunities to open for her to be actively involved either with this organization or another method to help fight sex trafficking in Indonesia.

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First graders in math:  figuring out how much weight is needed to sink the different types of paper boats!

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Girls-only weekend at a Jakarta resort 😉

Josh:  Josh’s schedule stays full with teaching middle school and high school classes, training for triathlons (he is competing in all 4 distances triathlon distances this year, including a full Ironman in Malaysia in September!), coaching boys high school soccer,  and advocating change in the PE and athletics departments (helping the school join school-leagues for sports, developing the PE curriculum, promoting the need and opportunity for health classes, etc).  He hasn’t been told what exactly his teaching allocations for next year will be yet, but is hoping for health classes, more PE, athletic administration, etc.  He is still mentoring a highschooler on his team who’s family is struggling with physical abuse, drug abuse, anger, and so on, which means getting middle of the night phone calls, mentoring him weekly, praying, etc.  Please pray for wisdom for Josh as he mentors one of the sons, and for heart-changes in the family.  Josh is also leading his team to now 2 tournament championships in soccer!  Our school is the underdog in tournaments because we are a small school in a small town, but they are learning the effects of unity and dedication!

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Josh’s soccer team celebrating with the basketball team… both won 1st place in the tournament!

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Josh hunting wild boar in the jungle forests with a fellow PE teacher (no luck finding wild boars)

Indonesia:  With the presidential elections taking place on Wednesday, the presidential candidates have been trying to persuade the country that they are the nation’s “savior”.  So far over the last year, there has only been small demonstrations inn Jakarta, the capital, and nothing overboard.  However, since many of the country’s government officials are corrupt, this can cause uproars over ballot counting, etc. and ultimately over who is elected (I think it is announced at the end of summer sometime).  During this time of change in Indonesia, keep us in your prayers for safety and discernment, and that Indonesia can elect a leader who WILL make positive changes for them!

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No, we do NOT go to rallies… this is a picture from the local news.

SUMMER!!!: We can’t believe it is already quarter 4 in our school year!!  We WILL be coming back to the US this summer for about 4 weeks, beginning mid-June.  We will mainly be staying with our family in Cali and Wa, but the homes are always open for visitors! 🙂 We hope to see all of you this summer!

We hope you are all doing well and hope to hear from you soon, too!

God bless,

Josh & Christina

 

 

“Lord, let us walk upon the water wherever you may call us”

Lately, this has been the cry of our heart.  As we learn more not only about the culture, but about the PEOPLE of Indonesia, our heart breaks and prays for God to use us for His good here.  This past month, our eyes have been opened to the Muslim-based view and laws that state women are property, which can be used, abused, and discarded of at any man’s wish.

Josh is now mentoring a high school student of his who, both the high schooler and his dad, physically abuse the mother and sister in their family on a regular basis.  This is not looked down upon by the law or by the culture, but is seen as a norm.  God is using Josh to mentor this student on what it means to be a man, how to control and eliminate anger, and how to live a life in honor of our Lord who has called us for a purpose greater than ourselves.  Pray for wisdom for Josh and for an open heart for the boy to God’s truth, love, and forgiveness.

Christina has been also been called by God this past month to stand up for the respect of women in Indonesia in the realm of sex trafficking.  It is a rampant and extreme issue where young girls (typically children) are sold or tricked into sex slavery, transported to areas with high male-tourism, and held with accruing debt-bondage, most dying within 7 years because of living conditions and diseases.  One island specifically, Batam, is 30 minutes off the coast of Singapore, and holds over 9,000 sex slaves, for the use of tourism-sex for the men of Singapore and other neighboring Asian countries.  Here is an article that describes the extent of the issue that this is

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/04/30/1051381978690.html .

She is earnestly praying for direction of how to initiate awareness, hope, and change for the women in bondage.  Currently, we are not finding any organizations working in the country against sex trafficking, but are finding that many people are unaware of the issue, are afraid to speak out against it, or look down upon the women as prostitutes who are criminals rather than victims.  God calls us to

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
    ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
    and see that they get justice. – Proverbs 31:8 – 9

…so we will not turn and look the other way, or stay silent.  Please pray for us for God’s wisdom and direction in these ministries He is calling us to.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever you would call me”.

~Josh & Christina

Christmas in Indo

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

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Things are beginning to feel like Christmas in Indonesia!! We really feel like we have to help create the atmosphere of Christmas here since we are in a Muslim country, where Christmas barely exists!  Christmas music, Christmas lights, santas, snow & cold weather, city decorations, parades & festivities are slim to none here, but we still have the key ingredient, Jesus Christ is here and we are ready to celebrate His birth and the Life He came to offer us!  After some searching around, we were able to find a fake Christmas tree, a few decorations, and Dana brought us some Christmas movies!  Luckily with our school being a Christian International school, we were able to celebrate Christmas freely with our many-non Christian students 😉  Here’s a little bit of how we did that:

*Christina’s 1st grade class sold & delivered Christmas Grams to the elementary students to raise relief funds for the Philippines… we raised almost IDR 1.000.000 ($100), and the elementary as a whole raised $1,000! Image

*Josh’s homeroom class took a whole period to speak truth into a hurting classmate girl’s life

*The 1st graders did a nativity musical for the elementary school, and did a nativity traditional dance for the whole-school celebration.  Here is Mary & Joseph in the nativity dance!

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*Christina’s 6th grade Bible class studying about the birth of Jesus & the prophecies that were made hundreds & thousands of years before Jesus was born (so that when the Son of God came to earth, the Jews would know for certain that He was truly the Son of God) and how Jesus & the people surrounding Jesus in relation to him fulfilled ALL of them (even King Herod while trying to kill Jesus as a baby, the soldiers who were casting lots for His belongings as He hung on the cross, etc).  This was a big, important topic to study because the Muslims (about half of the class) in their faith do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God.  On the semester exam, one girl responded to a question by writing:

“Before I learned about the birth of Jesus, I wasn’t really sure if Jesus is real. But, after hearing & knowing the prophecies of the Son of God and that Jesus fulfilled all of them, now I really believe He is real and that we should follow His path. I decided to always follow Him, trust Him, and accept Him.”     We are so humbled that God would use us to not only teach these children life-skills, but to also teach them about the MOST important thing in life, Jesus Christ.  There is no greater joy than knowing that we are being used by God to touch lives for eternity!  This gives us a great reason to look forward to going back to work each day.

Often the holidays are the hardest time to be away from family, but we have been so blessed this holiday season!  For Thanksgiving, the group of international expat-teachers gathered together for a feast and time of expressing our thanksgiving: Image

in the beginning of December, Dana (Josh’s mom), was able to come visit us, go to school with us, & travel with us for 10 days:

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And on Christmas day we have a gift arriving of more family coming to visit!

Despite all of the negatives of living in a 3rd world country, we are so blessed and fortunate to have each other, to have our supportive and loving family & friends back in the US, to have new friends here, to have a Christian school that we get to use as a platform to teach children about Jesus Christ, and a new home here in Indonesia.  Semester 1 is ending, and soon the countdown to our summer visit in the US will begin! 😉

We hope you have a Merry Christmas as you celebrate the birth of our Savior!!