S: Borneo: My Growing Obsession ~ Part 3 November 2007
FC: Borneo | My Growing Obsession | 2007
2: INDONESIA - a growing obsession Part 4: Return to Adong I had caught the Indonesian bug! No, not malaria, not parasites, not even Montezuma's what-you-ma-call-it. I had caught the "want to go back" bug. Upon my return to Canada after the 2004 trip, I became consumed with the task of editing the many hours of video tape I had shot and categorizing all the photos taken by the team members. I was able to re-live, many times over, the unique experiences that we had enjoyed and the memories of the unforgettable people that we had met both in Pontianak and Adong. Yes! I wanted to go back. Would there ever be another opportunity? Periodically, I would probe (perhaps pester would be more accurate) Dave Bonney to ask if there was a requirement for another team to continue the work at the training centre. We heard little regarding the progress of the construction at the site, but then came the call - Ronny Welong contacted Dave requesting that another team be formed to come to West Kal. And so the planning began. November 2007 was the time suggested and Dave began the task of contacting a number of men to commit to a three week sojourn. Dave Syer had been on two trips and suggested it was time for others to have the opportunity to go - and in the end the team did include three "rookies". Two were members of Dave Bonney's church, Mark Johnson, a retired farmer and Frank Gustin who raised hogs in Wyoming (Ontario). The third, Ralph Meiszinger, a friend of Dave Bonney, was pastor of a Paris, Ontario, Baptist congregation. Returnees were Daniel Konzelmann, Dave Clark and myself. But, there was one snag. My younger son David would be competing in the All-Ontario Volleyball Championships at the end of November. He was a student at Eden Christian High School in St. Catharines and Eden had won the Gold Medal at these same Championships in 2006. Thus, they would be defending their title as #1 Seed. It would also be the last opportunity for David to play as 2007 would be his final year at school. Well, the Lord was gracious and, in His perfect timing, we would be back in Canada on the 27th; the Volleyball Tournament being scheduled for the 28th and 29th. - and in a venue less than a 3 hour drive from my home. And so, the shots having been administered; the anti-Malarial pills purchased, Passports in order (I made certain, this time) and the tickets bought; we were ready to go. Unlike 2004, which had included a hotel stopover, this flight itinerary had none and we would be traveling between Detroit and Jakarta via Taipei and Singapore catching sleep either on the plane or in a departure lounge. This schedule would challenge our powers of endurance but the Sunday evening (November 4th) on which I would make my way to Wyoming (Ontario) prior to the Monday flight, was not the time to dwell on such things. It was an evening to celebrate, albeit, modestly. It was my 62nd birthday and I was going to paint the town.....well, not exactly red, more chocolate and white, courtesy of brownie and vanilla ice cream.
3: Monday, November 5th. At 9:00 a.m., the team and several wives congregated in the foyer of Dave's church and started to load up Mark's truck which would whisk us off to Detroit Airport where we would be joined by Dave Clark. Almost immediately, we met up with Dave C. so the whole team headed to the check-in counter. We each had agreed to bring numerous items that would be staying in Indonesia, such as clothes, school supplies, hygiene products etc. resulting in a total of fourteen large suitcases in addition to our carry-on bags. | From the left: Myself Dave Bonney Dan Konzelmann Mark Johnson Frank Gustin Ralph Mieszinger | I had arranged to meet Dave and Janet at the London (Ontario) Airport where they would be meeting their son, Nathan, who was flying in from Alberta. Nathan arrived around 8:00 pm and we drove to a London Boston Pizza and enjoyed the aforementioned B and V I-C before heading to Wyoming for the last bed sleep for some while.
4: We were blessed by a very helpful check-in counter attendant. She was able to check our luggage all the way through to Jakarta which proved very helpful considering the number of changes of aircraft we would be making. Our itinerary was as follows (beginning with a 3:30 pm. departure from Detroit): Detroit to Denver: 3 hour flight; - 90 minute layover. Denver to Los Angeles: 2 hour flight; - 4 1/2 hour layover L.A. to Taipei: 14 hour flight; - 2 hour layover Taipei to Singapore: 4 hour flight; - 90 minute layover Singapore to Jakarta: 1 hour flight | During the months of planning, we had learned that Dennis and Janet Kirkley were on a three year teaching assignment at the Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH) in Jakarta and they had invited us to spend the evening with them. They were still teaching when we arrived so we "gate-crashed" the class and met a number of their students. Daniel and Mark gave a brief synopsis of why we were in Indonesia. We had a tour of the superb facilities and enjoyed a meal at the Kirkley's Health and Fitness Centre. After a very enjoyable time, we eventually got to bed at our hotel a little after midnight. I had calculated that all in all since our getting up at 6:00 am. Monday morning until our heads hit the pillow at the Sheraton, we had not seen a bed for 55 hours. | Wednesday, November 7th We “lost” Tuesday crossing the International Date Line, so it was already Wednesday at around 1:00 pm. local time when we touched down in Jakarta. We gathered our luggage that amazingly had arrived intact and made our way to the shuttle bus and onto the Sheraton Bandera Hotel were we all enjoyed a much-needed shower. | Thursday, November 8th A mercifully late morning flight to Pontianak allowed us a leisurely breakfast before hopping aboard a Lion Air 727 for the one hour flight to Pontianak. | Pontianak Airport
5: Upon our arrival, we gathered the mountain of suitcases, breezed through customs and were met by a platoon of vehicles from the Seminary. Ronny, Vabro, Bill and Janice Dyck, Laura-Lee Bustin along with other staff members had all come to greet us. We were treated royally upon our arrival at STK and it was so good to see many familiar faces as well as meeting others for the first time. Since the two Daves and Ralph would be spending their week at the Seminary, teaching and/or leading the morning chapels, they were billeted at STK. Mark and Frank would be guests of Bill and Janice Dyck and Daniel and I would be staying with Darrell and Laura-Lee Bustin and their two children, Bronwyn and Caleb.
6: Friday, November 9th. After a relaxed Thursday evening getting to know our respective hosts, we came together for breakfast at the School prior to attending the Friday morning Chapel. As is the custom, each of the team spoke briefly, bringing greetings and sharing a short testimony. The afternoon included shopping, a walk through the market and sustenance in the form of 'kopi susu' (coffee sweetened with condensed milk) at the "Suka Hati" (Heart's Desire) cafe. In the evening, the team was split into two groups; each attending a different house church meeting. Saturday, November 10th This time we did it right! We visited the Equator Monument before embarking on anything else. The Bustins and the Dycks were our tour guides for the day. On my previous visits to the monument, I hadn't noticed how close it was to the Kapuas River. After the obligatory photoshoot and as the day was beautifully sunny, we strolled the 200 metres or so down to the river to watch the constant flow of river craft of all varieties. This weekend was an important milestone in the history of STK and KGBI. It was the 33rd anniversary of the founding of the ministry in Pontianak. In light of this, Saturday evening was devoted to an Evangelism workshop in the Chapel. Several people, including all of the team members, described certain strategies and ministries that their respective churches have tried or are considering in order to bring the gospel to the communities around them. Sunday, November 11th. Party time! The morning service was a rousing celebration of worship and gratitude to the Lord for the past 33 years. Included was the filming of the finale of a video (a corporate "Happy Birthday, Opa") that had been in preparation for some time and which would constitute the birthday gift from STK to Bob "Opa" Williams. "Borneo Bob" would be celebrating his 97th birthday in approximately two weeks time and Ronny and Rit were to leave Thursday to fly to California to be part of the festivities. They would be delivering the completed video to the birthday boy. One of the oversights in writing these reminiscences is that I have not included any vignettes of what has taken place at STK. A longer than normal video clip hopefully rectifies this omission. Play Video 1
7: A brief word about Bob Williams. He was born in November, 1910. As a result of an association with the founder of a ministry known as 'Go-Ye Fellowship', Bob was drawn to the mission field, desiring to take the gospel to people who had never heard the Good News. In the summer of 1939, Bob found himself in West Kalimantan - Nanga Pinoh, to be precise, a village deep in the Borneo jungle. For the next 70 years he devoted himself to the furtherance of the Gospel in West Kalimantan. In June of 2009, his memoirs were published in the book "A Promise Kept", a compelling read. A month later, four months shy of his ninety-ninth birthday, he went to be with the Lord he had served for so long. | However, the anomaly is that many of the "shack"-type homes still are able to boast large satellite dishes giving some indication that culture, education and entertainment are of greater priority than house-pride. | Disparity of Wealth The stark contrasts in wealth in Indonesia are seemingly evident in homes that are located adjacent to STK. On one side, separated from the Seminary by only a footpath and a canal, lie homes that appear to have been constructed piecemeal using whatever available scrap wood and metal that could be scavenged from the local municipal dump site. Less than a hundred metres on the other side of the school, are homes bordering on the palatial that would not be out of place in any up-market gated community in North America.
8: Following the morning service and a packed lunch, the team were on their way to Adong. The condition of the road that leads to Adong is somewhat unpredictable. There are sections where the surface is well-paved, and there are sections that could best be described as having been designed to test the limits of automobile shock absorbers and springs to the uttermost. The latter conditions demand a greatly reduced speed. Consequently, time lost negotiating the various potholes and craters is made up on the better sections and as we hurtle along, the only other hazards the driver faces are the people walking along the edge of the road with their backs to on-coming traffic, many of whom are small children, the motorcycles, the buses, large trucks, geese, goats, dogs, pot-bellied pigs and chickens, all of which appear to be totally unaware of the danger posed by a large SUV travelling at speeds in excess of 70 mph. I comforted myself with the knowledge that our driver had made this journey many times before and has remained unscathed as have the small children, the buses, trucks, geese, goats and dogs and pigs. However, on this occasion, at least, I cannot include the chickens. We encountered one which was trying to cross the road. Unfortunately, as much as one is tempted to ask why did the chicken cross the road, one can only say it didn't! It got half way across, dithered momentarily, and.....he who hesitates is squashed! The main reason for the white-knuckle nature of the drive to Adong was to arrive before darkness fell so that the two Daves and Ralph would have the opportunity to see the building site before they traveled back to Pontianak that same night. After a brief tour, they were on their way back leaving Mark, Daniel, Frank and I to sort out the sleeping arrangements and get unpacked ready for the upcoming week. Daniel and I were, of course, aware of the progress that had been made since the last time we had been in Adong. The building that we had worked on in 2004 was a home now occupied by Pak Damad and his family, wife Maria, and sons Donald and Joel. This was the same family with whom we had shared the duplex three years previously. That home was now occupied by a family new to us; Pak Simon, his wife Mbak Leah, their daughters Lia, Anastasia, and son Alan. The lagoons had been completed and were already stocked with fish. Our sleeping quarters were to be a large dormitory that had been built since 2004. The project we would be working on would become the Chapel doubling as a Lecture Room. Also new to us, was Ivan, a horticulturist who was the farm project manager. What we were lacking, though, was a translator. Apparently, just before we arrived in Adong, the man originally appointed to that task fell ill and was unable to join us. However, the next morning, a young man, a student at STK, was brought to the site to be our translator for the week. This young man was Zachary. He had learned English from time spent with Operation Mobilisation. He was a tremendous asset to the team and we became firm friends. He would later "adopt" me as his 'uncle' and we continue to correspond to this day. | I had brought along my lap-top and several DVDs of footage taken during our time in the village three years ago. As soon as we had settled into our rooms, I set up the lap-top and we began to play some of the discs. The kids especially thoroughly enjoyed seeing themselves but the adults were almost as fascinated. I had also brought along several short video scenes of Canada which they appreciated very much. Play video 2
10: Above left: the 2004 building project as it looked at the end of our contribution. Above: as it looked in 2007 Left: the Dormitory that had been built between 2004 and 2007 and where the team members slept. In the foreground is the site for the new construction that would be a large lecture hall and Chapel plus apartments for the staff and support workers
11: Monday November 12th As can be seen from the picture on the left, the Lecture Hall was at a very early stage in its construction. The foundation trenches had been dug, the wall locations had been established and the height of the floor had been marked out with fine string. The bulk of the work for the week we were in Adong was the completion of the foundation. But, what became a regular practice each morning before work began, was to have the work crew meet together to read a portion of Scripture or have one or two of the men share a testimony and then pray together. This gave us an real opportunity to get to know one another before we got caught up with the routines of the day. Before I get into the details of our week in Adong, I am going to have the children of the Village bring an introduction and an invitation (of sorts) to formally open up the activities of the week. What you are seeing was actually produced on the Thursday of our week; an explanation will follow later. Play video 3 The bulk of the week's work would be the completion of the foundation. The trenches were about 18 inches deep and similarly wide. Firstly, posts about 3 feet long and up to 4 inches in diameter were pounded down until the top of the post was flush with the bottom of the trench. I would estimate that somewhere between 200 and 300 of these posts were used. The strength and endurance of the villagers was amazing as can be seen in the following video clip. Frank took up the challenge and found that it was not only exhausting work but that to keep aim was not so easy either. But all credit to Frank. For me, I doubt if I could have even lifted the ram-rod. Play video 4 | Once the posts had all been leveled, boulders, some weighing close to 30 kgs, were laid in the trenches. Again, the small framed Indonesians were able to man-handle the rocks as easily, it seems, as Dan, Mark and Frank. Once these larger rocks had been positioned, a crude gravel-based cement was poured in to fill up the gaps, lock everything in place and form a somewhat level base for the wall struts. Play video 5 Tuesday, November 13th The work crew continued to build up the foundations. It was tiring and the dirty work. [As an aside, one would not normally associate the rock band ZZ Top with things Christian, but when, during the review of the footage I had taken this day and knowing the words to the ZZ Top song, I could not resist combining video and audio into a brief and hopefully humorous trifle] Play video 6
12: Left: Pendeta (Pastor) Wimfried and Anneke
14: As the morning wore on, it became extremely hot under the tropical sun. The temperature was approaching the mid-90s and the humidity would also have been in the high 90s. Even our Indonesian colleagues found it too uncomfortable to work and so it was decided that there would be no further work after the lunch break. Instead, it was suggested that we take a stroll through the village. Pak Damad joined us as did Pendeta Wimfried and his wife Ibu Anneka. | The home of Pak Calvin and Ibu Ijah
15: Of the children that I had first got to know in 2004, I had already met Donald and Joel. I was anxious to meet as many as possible of the other children, and as we walked back from the river I spotted Sarah who was looking after 2 young boys. She seemed delighted to have been recognised and she had appeared not to have lost any other bubbly personality. | Debora, Saerah, Ijul, Eva | I also wanted to meet Deborah and we eventually arrived at her house and had a photograph taken with her parents and brother. She was able to join us as we went to Wimfried and Anneka's home beside the church where I handed out many of the photographs, taken in 2004, to those that wanted copies. Although I refer to them as children they had become young men and women during the 3 years between visits. Play Video 7 | These 3 people had become special to me during my visit to the village in 2004. Pak Damad is the man wearing a black T-shirt and black shorts pounding the posts in the video clip above. Our first stop was at the home of Ibu Ijah. She was the ex-Bandang lady whom we had met following the church service during our last visit to Adong in 2004. We were greeted as if we were old friends. We also met her husband Calvin for the first time and we enjoyed some refreshments while visiting with them.
16: As usual, there were many choruses sung by the congregation in addition to three impromptu choirs; a men's group, a ladies' group and the children. Play Video 9 Pak Simon had been leading the service which was already close to an hour in duration. Of course, I had no idea what was being said the whole time but we could at least enjoy the spirit, particularly the enthusiastic and worshipful singing. Suddenly, Pak Simon left the platform and took a seat among the congregation. There was a momentary lull and I was beginning to wonder what was happening - or, rather, what should be happening. Since my first trip in 1991, I have had the privilege of talking about things Indonesian with the many western missionaries (several of whom are referred to in these reminiscences). | We continued with the construction but the afternoon session was cut short by a torrential rainstorm. This allowed us more time to visit with various people and get ready for the midweek evening church service. Fortunately, the rain had stopped by the time the service was to start and a good number of the villagers and their children were in attendance. | As already mentioned, Sarah had changed little in her personality, whereas Deborah had become somewhat more shy. The photograph of the four young ladies, taken in 2004, is a particular favourite. Within the first two days of being in the village, I had met two of the young ladies; I still had to meet the remaining two. Wednesday, November 14th. During the morning work session, one of the two ladies who were doing the food preparation, Ibu Numiati, (Pak Simon's wife) called me over to video her and Ibu Maria (Pak Damad's wife). Ibu Maria proved a reluctant subject despite Ibu Numiati's encouragement. However, Pak Fadly, who was plucking a chicken decided to tease Ibu Maria, which eventually resulted in a cute, and amusing, response. Play Video 8
17: Well, the Lord reminded me that my favourite passage was Ephesians 2:8-10 and with His help I was able to stay fairly calm while presenting what I hoped would be relevant truth to the congregation. After the service was concluded, I was able to move into a much more comfortable role; that of being the presenter of several DVD video recordings that I had brought along. Bill Dyck had kindly loaned me his video projector and I quickly set it up to project onto the wall of the church. Most of what I wanted to show was video taken in the village during the 2004 trip. When the kids saw themselves they broke out in screams of laughter. I also had brought with me some footage taken in Canada, which the adults also appreciated. I had just about completed showing all that I had intended when the hydro went out (I was amazed that it had lasted as long as it did) and we all headed of to bed at a late hour. | And I have often pondered on the stress that such a request would cause and how one would prepare oneself to minister in an effective way under such circumstances. I had mentally sympathised with those upon whom such a burden had been placed but when Ivan, who had been sitting next to me during the service this Wednesday evening, leaned over to me and told me it was now time for me to bring the evening message, several hours notice would have been something of a luxury. Several seconds notice, the length of time it would take me to get from my seat to the pulpit, think of a Scripture passage, and wonder how I was going to construct my thoughts and sentences so that Zachary could translate, was not a situation conducive to revealing deep truths from the Word of God. In my mind, I began to coin a corollary to my brother-in-law, Dave's axiom that "a plan is not a plan until it happens!" It went something like"if it happens, it must have been the plan!" My problem was that I hadn't been included in planning the plan (so to speak). | One of the things I learned was that Indonesian people are far less conscious of time restraints and schedules as we are in the West. I have heard of situations where a missionary has been asked on a particular morning to officiate at a funeral or a wedding or a baptism that is to take place later that same day in a village requiring several hours of travel time to reach.
18: Thursday, November 15th. The reason that no one was disturbed by how late the evening had gone was that on this day the people of West Kalimantan were voting in a new Provincial Governor team and consequently was a vacation day. During the days we had spent in Pontianak before coming up to Adong, we had seen many billboards carrying the images of the four sets of candidates. Not only is the governor elected but his deputy also as they run on the some ballot. Although there was no work to be done this day, we still met for morning devotions and many more of the group had an opportunity to share thoughts or a short testimony. | Most of the morning was spent watching the children play games; badminton, soccer as well as just enjoying their day off. Also, the team was able to spend quality time visiting with many other folk from the village. Another downpour during the afternoon brought an end to the "sports" and most of the children headed for home. However, Deborah stayed and we had a very pleasant time basically looking through my photo album. | One of these is Eva which explained why I hadn't seen her during the week. But, because of the election and no school, she had been able to return home Wednesday night. I had now met three of the four young ladies. | The schools were closed also. Adong only has the elementary school so high-school aged children are bused to Ngabang. Most of them return to Adong after school is over for the day. However, because each family has to pay to have their child attend school, some of the older children have to work as home helpers to cover the cost of schooling.
19: I consider it a real privilege to have met these folk be they young children or elderly. There is a bond that is established not only because we all share the same faith in the One Saviour, but because of their infectious carefree spirit; their fun-loving disposition and their generosity. Prior to coming to Indonesia, I had given consideration to making a video highlighting our experiences during our time both in Pontianak and Adong. Many friends have expressed interest in my excursions to Indonesia and there is no better way to present what life is like than to see and hear. Occasionally, I have had the opportunity to visit supporting churches with Dave Bonney and present short video snippets of the work in Indonesia. I had been thinking of some way to introduce a summary video of this trip and I eventually came up with an idea during the late afternoon when the rain had ceased and some of the young people had come back to the site. The result of this idea was seen in Video Clip 3; the rehearsal, in the form of a brief ESL class, is to seen in.......Play video 12 Possibly you, as did I, may have received the distinct impression that they could have managed quite well without my "instruction". | Another benefit to the rain-interrupted afternoon was the opportunity to visit with Pak Damad's dad. I have yet to find out his name but with the help of Zachary we had a good time chatting and, again, looking through my photo album. He was the gentleman with the fine woodworking skills with whom the team had worked during the 2004 trip. Play Videos 10 & 11 | Our week was winding down and the team was beginning to prepare for a Saturday morning return to Pontianak. As I had initially understood, the arrangements were that on Saturday morning Bill Dyck would be one of the drivers coming from Pontianak to take the team back there. I had some 'unfinished business' left over from my 2004 trip. By way of a reminder, it was during the week of that previous occasion in Adong that Pak Damad had told me of his daughter's death and since I had been unable, at that time, to respond suitably, I had made up my mind that, although three years had passed since that all too brief conversation, I wanted to let him know that I hadn't forgotten and was still interested in hearing about the circumstances of this sad event. | I had thought of asking Zachary to help me speak with Pak Damad but I had the concern that with such a delicate topic, I felt that Bill, being North American, would be better able to read between the lines of my questions and present them to Pak Damad in a culturally appropriate way.
20: However, late Thursday afternoon, we received a phone call from STK that, as a result of the election, it would be prudent were the team to return to Pontianak the next morning (Friday). Bill would not be coming up after all and I again lost the opportunity to meet with Pak Damad for a second time. Because of our departure now being a day earlier than planned, a farewell party was arranged to be held at Pak Damad's home (the one we had helped build in 2004). As well as our host and his sons, Donald and Joel, many of those who had become friends were in attendance including Pastor Wimfried and Anneka, Pak Simon and his children, as well as Deborah, Sarah, Eva and Siska. Play Video 13
21: Friday, November 16th The team had packed the previous evening (after the farewell festivities) and, having breakfasted, were ready and waiting for our driver, Pak Sperry, to arrive. But I allowed a spirit of rebellion (forgive me, Lord) to have its way and I made the rest of the team, as well as Pak Sperry, wait as I wanted to spend an hour or so at the school before leaving Adong. But my absence did allow others of our team to take a number of last-minute photos of our hosts and fellow workers. | And so, I hopped on to Ivan's motorcycle and off we went; Zachary following us on another bike. As we reached the school, a gentleman came out of his house which lay opposite the school and invited us into his home for some refreshments. I had never met this man before but I knew it was impolite to refuse such hospitality. So we entered and after we had exchanged greetings, Ivan told me that the gentleman was Eva's dad.
22: Before bidding a final farewell to those villagers alongside whom we had worked and who had served us by feeding us and taking care of our laundry needs, we gathered them all together for a communal photo.
23: After we had enjoyed the refreshments and visited a little, we bid the family farewell and crossed the road to meet Ibu Anneka at the school. The Principal and the teachers (including Ibu Anneka) were very accommodating since many of the children go wild when they see the camera. We visited every classroom. Part of the reason for going to the school was to get an idea of what supplies the team can bring for these children on our next trip. Before leaving Canada, we try to pack our suitcases with such things as colouring books, crayons or markers, maps to pin on the wall, pictures etc.; things that seem to be lacking. Play Video 14
24: We made it back to Pontianak a little after the noon hour and settled in to our respective billets. Frank and Mark would be guests of the Bustins, Darrell and Laura-Lee while Daniel and I would be staying with Bill and Janice Dyck. For supper, we met up with the STKers and went to Dave B's favourite restaurant, Nasi Akwang, although perhaps cafe would be a more appropriate designation, since there is essentially one item on the menu. However, that one item is delicious and very reasonably priced. The evening was spent relaxing with our hosts and beginning the final packing in preparation for the Monday departure. | Sunday, November 18th I have made frequent mention of the children that I had first met in 2004 and with whom been re-acquainted this trip but there was still one whom I had not yet met. Ijul had been one of the quartet of young ladies that appear in the photograph earlier in this record. I had asked of her while in Adong only to be told that she had moved to Pontianak. Consequently, on our arrival back in Pontianak, I asked who might know where she was living. It seemed as if no-one did know so my last hope was that she might attend the church that met at STK each Sunday morning. It seemed as if it would be a case of so near, yet so far when I was told that she regularly attends another congregation in the city rather than at STK. And so, we proceeded with the worship service and I resigned myself that my meeting Ijul was not meant to be. At the conclusion of the service, as we were leaving the auditorium, Zachary came over to me and told me that Ijul had, in fact, been in the congregation and was still present. I was thus able to briefly talk with her and have a photo taken before we went our separate ways. | Saturday, November 17th Most of Saturday was spent enjoying more sightseeing around the city and some gift buying for various family members at home in Canada. Again, the evening was spent enjoying the company of our hosts.
25: And so, we proceeded with the worship service and I resigned myself that my meeting Ijul was not meant to be. At the conclusion of the service, as we were leaving the auditorium, Zachary came over to me and told me that Ijul had, in fact, been in the congregation and was still present. I was thus able to briefly talk with her and have a photo taken before we went our separate ways. I was delighted to have met almost all who had become friends during 2004 but there was one disappointment to add to the successes. | L to R Pirom (Uncle) Ijul myself Asner (Eva 's sister) Zachary
26: And then it was time to go....but not before we were brought under the Lord's protection for our long journey home by way of a beautiful prayer in song. Play video 15 | Each of the team members was presented with a gift and we all enjoyed more delicious food and rousing fellowship. I was especially honoured by a special gift given to me by Grace and Wie-wie which I immediately donned for a final photo with my "nephew", Zachary. | I had heard that my friend Pak Kalam had moved back to Bandang (where I had first met him) from his last home in Pahauman. Sadly, time constraints had not permitted us to go to Bandang (the widow Nurmiati Omboh had also returned there from Tubang after the death of her husband, Norman). And it was with great regret that I would hear of Pak Kalam's passing less than a month after we had returned to Canada. Following the morning service, we drove to the home of Sperry and Lidia (Ronny and Rit's daughter and son-in-law) to celebrate Sperry's birthday after which the team returned to STK where the team was honoured with a lavish farewell.
27: Addendum: Tragic news I have already mentioned the passing of Nurmiati Omboh's husband, Norman, as well as that of my friend, Pak Kalam. As grieved as I was upon hearing of their home-going, the news of their death did not come as a complete surprise since both men were clearly in failing health. But I was stunned into disbelief when, on April 21, 2008, I received the e-mail from Bill Dyck informing me that Pak Damad had passed away in his sleep the night before. This was the man who had spent hours in the Borneo sun pounding wooden posts 3 feet into the heavy clay ground with seemingly limitless strength and stamina. In a little under six months following our mid November, Friday morning departure from Adong, a man with whom I was developing a friendship was gone. This man, who seemed as strong and healthy as anyone I have ever seen, had succumbed (it was surmised) to heart failure. What made his passing even more tragic for me was that I had missed two opportunities to discuss with him the details of his daughter's death; something that had been on my mind ever since the occasion when he had sat down beside me to tell me of his loss during the team's first visit to Adong in 2004 (see Part 3 - Nov. 25th). Damad was a key man in the village and during the morning devotional on the day of the 2007 Provincial Election, he had expressed a desire to study to become a pastor. He leaves a wife, Maria and two sons, Donald and Joel. One is comforted by the truth that Damad is with the Lord and reunited with his daughter.
28: I was now being confronted more and more with circumstances that made it clear that health care expectations and entitlements were vastly different in Borneo that what they are in Canada. TB has basically been eradicated in the West and were Norman Omboh allowed the opportunity of accessing the Canadian Health Care system, he would likely still be alive. Similarly, had Pak Damad been able to receive an annual check-up, including an ECG to monitor his heart, he, too, might still be living. Another condition, Diabetes, is serious, even in the West, but, thanks to Insulin, rarely a killer. Not so, it seems, in Borneo! In mid-December of 2009, I had arranged with Bill Dyck to set up a 'Skype' session sometime during the Christmas period. Bill had e-mailed me back stating that for him, Christmas Day evening (specifically 8:00 p.m. Pontianak time) would be suitable. So, forfeiting my Christmas Day lie-in, I was up with the lark and at 8:00 a.m. (Ontario time) was at my lap-top dialing Bill's Skype address. We connected (audio and video - at least for most of the session) and enjoyed 15 to 20 minutes of conversation. I was anxious to know how the project at Adong was proceeding (the dorm that the team had begun work on during the 2007 trip) as well as the welfare of the villagers with whom we had developed relationships; in particular how Pak Damad's widow, Maria, and sons Donald and Joel were coping. Others whom I was concerned about included Pastor Wimfried and his wife Ibu Anneka. I was disappointed to hear that they had moved back to Manado since they, too, had become friends. But that disappointment turned to shock as Bill informed me that Wimfried had later died as a result of complications from Diabetes. We later received news that the wife of one of the men, with whom we had worked on the project, had died giving birth. These tragedies are a sobering reminder of Psalm 103:15 and 16: "As for man, his days are like grass. He flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more." But for the believer, including the five mentioned above, the Psalmist does not end his thought on such a depressing note but continues in vs. 17: "But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children's children." Praise the Lord!