What Hj has been doing

My adventurous husband is packing up for 6 days in a village 8 hours from here.  I’m so excited that Hj gets this opportunity to go share the Gospel in the remoter parts of the island.  The kids and I will stay here at the YWAM base.  So far, I’m keeping my tears under control, but we will all miss him like crazy!


Hj and Jessie did art therapy with the kids from the orphanage.  The kids each drew their heart on a paper, and then colored it in with different colors.  Each color represented an emotion; for example, yellow = happy.  They chose how much of their heart is happy, or which percentage to color yellow.  After they were done, some of them presented their hearts and talked about the different emotions they were feeling.IMG_4535

Another day they sent the kids outdoors to find something in nature that represents a part of who they are, and then everyone shared what they chose and why.


Jessie spent a long while praying individually with the girls.  They are really amazing kids! We have seen a little glimpse of their hearts and it has impacted us so much.  They are grateful for the family God has given them, even though many of them have suffered great loss and sadness.  No bitterness can grow in a thankful heart.


Hj also taught on personalities and identity to the local YWAM staff.  They did the My-Briggs test, which is no small feat when every word needs to be translated.  Besides the Europeans, there is one other introvert.  Aha!  Everything makes sense now.

Hj is a very engaging teacher, and got his students to draw a picture together on the whiteboard….. without talking.  A great exercise for a roomful of extroverts, wouldn’t you say?


They divided into two groups, and had to illustrate the perfect vacation.  Pictured below are the P’s (Perceiving): they like to keep their plans loose and casual.  The J’s (Judging), on the other hand, had a well-organized, step by step plan for their vacation.  It’s a very revealing exercise to do in a group, and I had fun watching them draw.  Two people did most of the drawing on this one, even though there are 5 in the group.  One person waited until their time was almost up, and then just added details.


During Ramadan, we visited a huge mosque.  In case you wondered, I’m pretty sure we were the only white people for days.  A little wrinkly man who spoke English told us everything we wanted to know (and more) about the mosque and its history, but all I understood was “Willem Alexander.”  Anyway, we were whispering prayers and uttering declarations under our breaths.  It was sobering to be there, even wrapped up in Hello Kitty.


The slum kids are back from holiday, so Hj and the rest of the team have gone there a few times. The kids like learning new songs and games.


Meanwhile, our kids are starved for attention. (haha)  Actually, they are loving it here and thriving.  They quickly adapted to all the new people and developed some special friendships here at the base.  I am so thankful for young people who take time to invest in our kids and teach them new things.  Adam and Ellie bring lots of joy!


Love does

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The other day I overheard Jessie say, “I am hungry for donuts.” Henry, who was sitting next to her, said: “Ok, let’s go on my scooter and get some.”  I quickly, but casually came storming out of our room and told Jessie that when she goes to get donuts to make sure to love her neighbor as herself and get me some too. She agreed, and I eagerly waited for my donuts to arrive. Ten o’clock came along and I started to transfer from hungry to the I could eat a cow, starving kind of phase. No matter how much rice one could eat, it doesn’t last very long without the beans, you know?  So I departed from my room and I found nobody out there, nor donuts for that matter. Finally I made myself a dissatisfying bowl of ramen noodles and went to sleep. This might come as a shock for you but this is how it is with love.  

As part of my “outreach homework” I am writing a book report on the book “Love Does” by Bob Goff. Bob states that love without action isn’t love. You can talk about buying donuts but if you don’t actually go on the scooter and face the traffic you end up with a dissatisfying bowl of noodles. God wants you to get out there and do stuff! 

The following morning I had to share at church and God inspired me to talk about some of the things I learned from the book and so I shared my donut story (the one I just told you). The church seemed encouraged by it but most importantly Carol, my outreach leader, got a very important message from my little story: Jessie likes donuts! So she secretly arranged for a donut delivery. Somehow the “secret” part got lost in translation and Vitha asked Carol during lunch when she wants to pick up the donuts? Jessie sitting right next to Vitha was surprised nonetheless and got to pick out her own donuts instead! Watch this, here comes another lesson. Carol came to know Jessie more, therefore she moved closer to her. When we move closer to God, we get to know Him more. One of the ways we can find out what God wants us to do is to move closer to Him and get to know Him. When we stop focusing and worrying on what is ahead of us and start focusing on God we will be full of Him and the rest will be given to us. Donuts included. 


We arrived here in Indonesia pretty clueless, besides the word of the Lord.  Normally, we like to know about the country we’re heading to; you know, the culture and food and religion.  Not this time.  We didn’t get a chance to research much beforehand, so we just dove in, then asked questions later.

One of the first questions I asked was: “Is there a food we absolutely must try while we’re here?”  I didn’t know it was a dangerous question or I may have started in a little tamer.  Henry and Randy got a little emotional describing the juicy details of sipping live monkey brains and what I mean is that the monkey is still alive while they sipped its brains.  When they started talking about snake meat and bringing out the photos, I had to leave.

On a brighter note: they love donuts here!  Even more exciting is the cronut, a cross between a croissant and a donut.  I got the cheesecake one– filled with cream cheese and sprinkled with cinnamon.  After 3 weeks of rice 3 times a day, a cheesecake cronut will make you all dramatic, like “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my entire life” and “Can we hide several dozen of these under the bed?”  They are everything I ever wanted in a pastry, and I’m not lying.

IMG_0856There’s a Starbucks within walking distance, just like there was in Colorado Springs.  This week’s special here is a triple coffee frappucino.  Jessie got it without the jello chunks, then it was just a double coffee frap.  It didn’t taste much like coffee at all, even with coffee grounds sprinkled on top.  Come to think of it, there may be a few other differences.  I don’t remember the baristas at Starbucks in Colorado urging me to upsize my drink, or swindling me into buying another pastry.

We eat a lot of tofu.  This morning for breakfast we had white rice, deep fried tofu and tempeh and a very spicy sambal.  It’s not a real meal unless there’s something spicy. According to one of the girls, “that’s what’s so hilarious about eating!”  It’s boring to eat food that doesn’t have any flavor, and around here, picante equals flavor.

Supposedly across from Starbucks, there’s a place that serves cat.  The streets are full of mangy looking cats, most of them missing their tails (how I wonder where they are).  It’s hard not to be a little suspicious of the chicken nuggets, with such a funny texture and so many cats missing their tails.

We had a team day, where we went to the mall for the afternoon.  Surabaya is famous for its many large malls, oddly enough.  I’ll save you the details of the whole ordeal for now, but we ended up at Pizza Hut for dinner.  Hj and I were excited for some familiar flavors so we ordered a large meat lovers.  Because I am sparing you details of the whole ordeal, you don’t know why I went into the baby room and laid on the changing table until our food was ready, but that’s what I did.  When the pizza finally arrived, it was about the size of a dinner plate and it had chopped spam and sliced hotdogs for meat.  Mmmm… just the familiar flavors we were craving!  Meanwhile, down at the other end of the table, Ellie was downing her fourth slice of pizza.  I think she had missed her yeast breads and special Dutch cheeses.

I’m sorry I don’t have many photos to go with this post.  I told Hj I really need to include at least a picture of a cronut, and far too cheerfully, he suggested Google images.  So here you go.


courtesy of someone luckier than I

Blending In


We were welcomed with open arms to YWAM Surabaya.  I think there are about a dozen staff members here, and every one of them is overflowing with kindness.  They tirelessly answer our many questions, dote on our children, and extend grace during the meltdowns.  Thankfully most of them are still young and spry, and have an amazing ability to sleep through sirens, storms and even a 2 year old on jet lag.

God must have heard us complain that living in Colorado Springs wasn’t enough community living, what with everyone hiding out in their own rooms and stuff.  So He offered us a taste of real community.  Right now, we have a room to ourselves, maybe 10×10 feet, with a double bed and an air conditioner.  We have our own shower with a toilet in it and that’s the extent of our space.  Ellie sleeps on the floor and Adam sleeps with us.  I thought we couldn’t live without a shelf, or a nightstand, or a trashcan.  I was wrong!

Our room has one big window that looks into the dining room, so we don’t feel too secluded or left out of whatever’s happening out there.  Glass louvers can’t keep us from the party!  Right now I hear some YWAMers trying to outdo each other with stories of their rumspringa days, but often it’s a competitive game of Dutch Blitz.  Did you know some cultures value quiet and some cultures value noise?  We are learning how to be flexible and how to raise our voices, to blend in with the natives.

Blending in with the natives isn’t as easy as you wish sometimes, but we are getting pretty good at working the crowds, signing the autographs, posing for photos.  If your self esteem is getting a little low, and you haven’t been fawned over enough lately, might I suggest a trip to Asia?  Don’t forget to bring the kids.

I was going to write about all the things God is teaching us, and what it’s like to raise kids with a dozen young people in the house, and some more observations of a brand new culture.  Alas.  It’s 11pm on our side of the world and Ellie is still going strong.  What I mean is, she is still singing, chattering and jumping on the bed and she doesn’t show signs of stopping.  I need to go find the guy who gave her a Snickers this afternoon and have a little chat with him.

Indonesia as we see it

The city of Surabaya, from a prayer tower

The city of Surabaya, from the prayer tower

We are loving Indonesia.
It is such a blessing to be here and give our best to be a blessing.
Now, it happens to be a holiday here and even the slum kids are taking a time off so we have been doing a lot of teaching and sharing here on the base and in churches, but not so much ministry outside the base.


Åsa, my school leader, teaching about the heart chart to the local YWAM staff


YWAM base from the outside

YWAM base from the inside (our room is the first door on the right)

YWAM base from the inside (our room is the first door on the right)



We did go visit a orphanage which is part of YWAM in the east of Surabaya.
We divided up in groups and since I am the only guy I got to entertain 20+ boys all by my self. In broken English I tried to ask them questions and they asked me questions. I suggested they play me a song on the guitar. The kids sang as loud as they could and worshiped God. It was an amazing experience to feel God’s presence on these orphan kids. I prayed for them and we parted ways. We will be coming back to these kids and bless them in every which way we can.


English service


We prayed in a prayer tower that has been going nonstop for 10 years. They have seen amazing answers to prayer!

The base leader, Jeffrey, is also one of the pastors at a local church and he sent us out to an English service Sunday night. Happy to make some new contacts, I tried to start some conversations. It didn’t go so well. I wondered why they had the English service so I asked one of the guys and his answer was yes its all in English! So I said no, WHY? do you have an English service? Yes, only English, every Sunday. Then I started to really wonder so I asked someone else. Q: Did you enjoy the English service? A: What? Q: Did you understand the English service? A: Sorry I don’t understand.
We didn’t have much more luck with the children in Sunday school. I told the kids to think of a dream they have and write it down on a paper. I clearly said a couple of times that I am not talking about the dream you get when you sleep. After a little bit of quiet one of the boys said: Did you know when you drink cow’s milk before you sleep, it takes your dreams away?

Undercover prayer walking

Undercover prayer walking

Photos of Adam


Maroon is practicing being a papa to our little superstar baby.


He loves the natives and they love him.


Does he look like Hj? We’re still trying to decide.


We are pretty pleased with him, whatever or whoever he looks like.


Adam is very fun to love, and he loves well in return… in spite of how it appears.


He can smile, even when he’s sleepy.


And an awkward family photo, just for fun.

There was a request from the peanut gallery for some updated photos of Adam Fernando Courage.   Management has graciously complied.


Happy Birthday, sweet Ellie


I guess Ellie read my recent blog post about flower petals on the floor.  The other day I walked out of the bathroom and she had decapitated all my peonies and spread the petals all over the carpet.  She shrieked, “Happy Mother’s Day!” when she saw me, and then danced in the petals shouting, “Messy, messy!  More mess!”  It was impossible not to get caught up in the frolicking and celebration!  Also, much more fun than the careful arrangements I had planned.


This is Ellie right now.  So wild and joyful, surprising and funny.

During the recent upheavals  in her life, I have been talking to her a lot about calling out to Jesus whenever she ever feels afraid.  She took it very seriously.  We were meandering through the halls of the YWAM base when someone unintentionally startled her from behind.  She ran away from him, looking over her shoulder and yelling, “Jesus, help me!”


I was worried Ellie would get really tired of the long journey to Indonesia.  I mentally prepared for when we would board our third airplane and she would pitch a fit about it.  But surprise!  When we landed in Tokyo after 11 hours on the inaptly named Dreamliner, her eyes were still sparkly and she signed ‘more airplane.’


People assured us that the entertainment systems on these Dreamliners are just wonderful, and we wouldn’t hear a peep out of Ellie.  They don’t know Ellie!  They don’t know that I used to be determined to keep her screen-free until she’s 5 years old.  She couldn’t have been less interested in singing cartoons.  All she wanted was to go on walks through the aisles of the airplane.  I’m guessing it was because she garnered quite a few handouts and birthday wishes along the way.  The impeccable Japanese flight attendants doted on her hand and foot, and made a birthday card and present for her.  Ellie was sure her kid’s meal and snacks were all for her birthday because everything was so beautifully presented.




All photos taken by Ellie’s very beloved friend Jessi from Switzerland and Germany.  We are so happy God called her to come to Indonesia too!




I sat down to write an update in the early morning and then this happened: I am in the dining room just outside our room when I hear yelling and barking. The guard dog “Trooper” (the one that eats children) just came running by, a girl quickly flees into the kitchen and slams the door. The dog sniffs at the corner of a wall and lifts his leg. A stream of steaming yellow substance comes flowing out and hits the white tile floor. I hear my self say; Oh No! I ask for some cleaning supplies and clean it up.
I wonder if this is normal; I decide that it is.

We arrived at the YWAM base and it really is a nice place. Twelve, mostly young people live on this base and they run the place. Most of them speak good English. The first couple of days most people were at a conference so we were off to rest. We went to a small group meeting and I shared my testimony. We went to a mall. Yesterday we spent the morning praying in a prayer room downtown. The room is on the 22nd floor of a hotel and overlooks the city. The people who started the room have been there for 10 years and have seen many changes because of prayer.

Our church has asked us for some prayer requests and I thought I could share them here too. Thank you.

– That we could open up and have deep relationships with the people here.
– That the kids will be able to adjust well.
– Finances, we need the rest of the money in 2 days.