Let’s see, what did I do yesterday? Yesterday was Thursday. . . We had some neighbors stop by our house in the morning. I served coffee. In the afternoon I went to the police office to give them my new visa documents. We stopped by our friends house to congratulate them on their new baby. And lastly we did a little house work.

I’m always amazed at how Indonesia has a way of completely wearing you out and having very little to show for it. I think in the States I would be able to do so many things, accomplish so many tasks. Go places, visit people, and not be completely worn out by it. But here it’s just uncanny how doing almost ANYTHING is extremely exhausting. I wear out so quickly doing the most trivial tasks.

I really think the heat has a lot to do with this. In fact I’ll go so far as to say that 80% of the issue is the weather. (The other 20% might be language/culture fatigue) But it’s just so hot here and it really plays with your energy levels. Yesterday was a really hot day. Even indoors it was toasty. We were at our friend’s house and they usually have fans running. But the power was out so we had to sit in the heat and humidity. Sweating burns calories, right? I think I was burning a lot of calories just sitting on their couch.

I know it gets hot in the States too. I remember Texas was an inferno at times, over a hundred degrees. But at least there you have AC to run to. Buildings, cars, malls, etc. . . they’re all equipped. But here AC is a luxury that’s hard to find. That’s the reason we frequent coffee shops and the mall in town. Trust me- it’s not for the coffee! It’s to escape the heat.

Ahh, the joys of living on the equator. Beautiful paradise. Lot’s of tasty tropical fruit. Lush forests and beautiful oceans. . . But if you can’t stand the heat. . . go back to Wisconsin, ha!!

“Terserah” or “It’s up to you” is what our landlord said today when we asked him about next years rent. In other words, he is saying we can set the price. It’s up to us! How many landlords do you know would say something like that?

This has been a really great house for Kim and me the last two years. I was walking around it the other day having a quiet celebration in my heart as I looked at all the little renovations and improvements we’ve made. Everything in here, from the cabinets and furniture to shelves and floor we’ve had a hand in improving. It’s not much to look at still, but we’ve made it our own and that means something.

I am just so thankful to God for how He’s provided us this place. We’re surrounded by great people, right in the heart of Anugerah territory. It’s still in the city, but outside it enough to run into a lot of traditional values and village-like mentality. I’d say it’s still pretty village-like around here.

And the people have really accepted us into their community. We never really know what people think of us (because we’re outsiders) but every now and then we get a glimpse into their mind’s eye. Just last week for example they built a little wooden guard post in our front yard. This is used for the night watch and I was asked to participate. So from now on once a week I will join three or four other guys as we take our post and stay up all night watching the community. At first I was like “oh. . . great. . . do I really have to do this?” but I’ve asked people and they say it’s a big honor. It’s a sign that we’re accepted and a big part of our community. All too often we’re guessing at what people really think of us. But things like this are a good sign.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in our house in BK for two years. I can’t think back clearly enough to recall everything that’s happened. We DID go back to the States for five months, that I do remember. But as for our life here in Indonesia, it’s been really really full. We’ve gone through many challenges and have grown as a result. Facing difficulties and the unknown has made us stronger. I’d like to think we’re more confident and together than we were two years ago. Living in Asia has a way of making you feel completely overwhelmed and like a child most days. But we’ve made progress and good things are starting to happen.

So I look back over the last two years and just feel extremely grateful for all God has done for us. He truly is the Provider. We’ve never lacked anything but have seen the power of prayer first hand in our lives. And this is one of the testimonies we have for these people. That they too can call on a God who hears them and cares about them. It’s enough to make us stay. . . and renew our contract for another two years.

“Thank you Lord for this house. Bless it and the people who come here. May it continue to be a light to those who live around us. Amen!”

I made a comment to Kim just now that this is the forth night in a row where we’re sleeping at a different place. For the last four days we’ve been nomads. Starting from Singapore we’re slowly making our way back to little ole’ BK where hopefully our house and cat await us. It’s been quite the adventure let me just tell you- another huge exercise in trust. But like always whenever we step out on faith, relying 100% totally on God (usually because we have to), He always provides for us. This has been no different. So the last couple weeks, although brief, have been an exercise in faith with just a wee bit of craziness.

So, why are we bouncing around so much?? Why not just come straight back home to BK?? Well, the reason for our departure from BK in the first place was to get our new visa. You can only be in country as long as your visa says. And for us it said ‘times up!’ So we made our exit and spent about a week with my relatives in Singapore waiting for our approval to come through. It came (a few days later than expected) and we were able to come back to Jakarta. Now here’s where it got really interesting. . .

We have to check in at immigration in Jakarta. This involves signing a bunch of papers, getting our finger prints and photos taken, and paying fees and other things we really don’t know what are for. And of course we’re not sure where to go for this, what we’re supposed to say to the officials, and how long all of this is going to take. We’re thinking maybe five days. If we’re lucky we’ll be done and can get a plane back to BK. Okay, Lord. . . here we go!

But fortunately Friday morning our visa sponsor comes to the rescue. He hooks us up with a closer place to stay for the night, and all we have to do is drop off our passports. But later that day he says we can go and get it all done that day! Just pay a little extra and we can get the ‘speedy’ service. Doing some mental calculations in my head, it’s cheaper to pay for the ‘speedy’ option, getting it done in one day, and not shelling out all the money for hotel nights.

Long story short, we were able to get all our paperwork and reporting done in just one day. We also were able to visit my new Jakarta office! Ha ha. Well, technically I am an employee now. =) Yesterday we met up with Hendra, our Indonesian sponsor, and he shared about some of the work he’s involved with. I can’t go into all the details, but let me just say that I’m more and more impressed with this man. He has his heart and his priorities in the right place. He’s a solid Believer, a business man, extends visas to people like me, and is doing everything he can in his own way to reach people for the Lord. What a guy. We’re so fortunate to know him, and really really blessed that he gave us a visa.

That’s the story. Kinda crazy. Kinda wild. But ultimately God had it all under control and we just kept trusting that the whole time. Will I remember days like this?- where Kim and I are wandering around Asia, bouncing between government offices in two different countries, getting flights the day of, and checking into hotels with nothing but our carry-on luggage? It’s a pretty crazy lifestyle sometimes. Gotta love it, right?

Still no word on the visa thing. Our visa sponsor said “besok” which literally means tomorrow but in common use can mean anytime in the future. So we have no real estimate of when it’ll come in. Looks like we’re in Singapore over the weekend.

It’s been really nice to be with Scott, Randi and the boys. It’s wonderful to be with family. They have the inside scoop on the city and know the good places to go and how to save money. And we just really appreciate the small things like board games at night and home cooked dinners. It’s definitely the little things that make a big difference. So despite the fact that we’re ‘stranded’, we’re really not that bad off! Just hoping our approval comes in soon.

Well, we find ourselves in a rather unique situation. For the first time ever we are not allowed back into Indonesia. Hopefully this is only a temporary setback! Our old permission (ie. visa) has expired and we’re waiting for the new visa to come through. In Indonesia we have a home, friends, a cat, a job, etc. . . but today we are not allowed back in. Sort of a strange feeling. Usually it’s no problem to cross borders. Just wave our passport at the immigration official on our way to baggage claim. Then life can continue on as normal. But that all comes to a screeching halt once your visa is expired.

Visas are usually the bane of a foreigner’s existence. I know a lot of people who have great difficulties just obtaining a 1 year visa for the country. What happens if you’re only given a couple months at a time? Several years ago I lived in Thailand. I had a tourist visa and every 30 days or so I had to exit the country, go to Burma, and come back in. I did this for about six months. I can’t imagine how it would be for the long term worker. What a pain!

Fortunately for me and Kim we haven’t experienced too many visa troubles. We’ve always had a pretty solid 1 year visa to let us in and out. This will be the fourth time we’ve had to go through this process. The first time- a student visa on Java, the second- a student visa on Sumatra, the third- a teaching visa, and now- a business development visa. Sometimes too there are heavy requirements from the visa sponsor. Your sponsor might require you to work a whole lot of hours just for the PRIVILEGE of working or living in the country. Ha! Imagine that. If you are sponsored through a university (for example) you might have to teach a whole bunch of hours. Or if it’s a community development visa you might get sucked into a bunch of projects you didn’t really come there to do. For us, though, last year I only had to teach about 8-12 hours a week. Not bad really.

But the fact that we don’t have the visa in our passports right now makes us feel kind of stranded. We’re not stressing about it- God’s got it all under His control- but we have taken our liberty for granted. It feels different when all of a sudden we’re not eligible to come back in. It really makes me value our time there a little more. You always value things more after you lose it, right? Our time in Indonesia is not free. The “payment” comes in the form of a little sticker that immigration officials look at when I walk across their border. That says we’re “valid”. We have 1 year and the clock is ticking. Better make the most of our access while it’s ours to have!

Today I had one of the most abrupt transitions ever. For the last couple of days Kim and I have been helping out at a wedding across the street from our house. When I say across the street I mean LITERALLY across the street. So close they used our front yard as a parking lot.

Saturday was the official wedding ceremony and Sunday the reception. But really, between the two days, there hasn’t been a break. After the wedding on Saturday they played techno-ish music from the huge loudspeakers into the whee hours of the morning. People sang karaoke to their hearts content. It was so loud that Kim and I couldn’t sit in our living room and hear each other speaking. So we had a restless night.

Sunday it started up again around 8am. The music started playing indicating it was time to get ready. When we arrived I was invited to stand in the greeting line while Kim went to go help out in the kitchen area. I greeted guests for a couple hours as they came in. Kim handed out drinks at one of the serving tables.

Now the hard part of all this is that immediately following the wedding and reception we had to hop on a couple planes to Singapore- no time to catch our breath in between. We’re getting our new visa and have to leave the country. But because the wedding was across the street from us we had to do that too. So one minute I’m immersed in the culture, greeting guests, speaking the language, and the next I’m back in my American clothes, passport in hand, on my way to the airport. Whoa Josh!! Slow down! Even now as I write this, it’s late at night, we’re in Singapore and I’m still trying to get my head on straight. Who am I anyway? Can I really just jump worlds like that so quickly? Can I go from the village to international flights all within a couple hours?

Perhaps I need a good nights rest. Tonight I have the soft purr of a quiet AC unit in the high rise apartment. Last night, the thunderous booming of karaoke from across the street. Tomorrow is a new day.

This is the thought that ran through my head as Kim and I were out on our walk this morning. The best time to walk is in the morning around 7am. Any later in the day and the sun comes out and heats everything up. Yes, even at 8am in the morning it’s too hot to walk around. So the earlier the better. But 7am is also the time that kids go to school, people arrive at work, and parents drop off their children. So the road that normally is pretty empty was busy. We must have arrived at the sweet spot, because there were a lot of people on the road. I didn’t know how famous we are. But every ten seconds someone was yelling out “Hello Jos” or “Hello mister” or “Where are you going, Jos??”. How do all these people know my name? Seriously! I really didn’t recognize any one them. Our presence in the community precedes us.

As we came around a corner we saw ahead a group of about twenty young girls in school uniforms sitting beside the road. As we got closer all eyes were on us, as if an alien had landed. So. . . they’re all staring at us. . . should I say something or just keep walking?? We gave the customary ‘selamat pagi’ or good morning and kept on walking without too much interaction.

However, they weren’t going to let us pass a second time. On our way back they were still sitting beside the road. Well that was just too much for them. They couldn’t take it anymore! Heaven forbid they let an opportunity like this slip by twice! One brave girl approached us, held up her cell phone and asked if she could get a picture. I said “Ok, but just one!” Big mistake. Open the floodgate! Almost immediately the rest of the group ran over to us holding up their cell phones at odd angles, trying to get their face next to the white people. Fortunately, it didn’t last long. In a matter of seconds it was all over. I asked them where they were from and they mentioned someplace out of BK. We couldn’t understand everything they said, but Kim and I gathered that they were in town for a field trip. That helps explain their excitement on ‘discovering’ a couple of white people. Maybe there are no foreigners where they come from. Oh well. Smile for the camera!!! =)