A holy unsettling

Our family’s growing cross-cultural awareness and engagement took a big step forwards in July. Together with Sonia’s cousin Vicki, we spent two weeks at Panti Asuhan (literally, ‘house of help’) Debora in northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

LCA volunteer Rosemary Winderlich took us all under her wingno small feat with five children aged between four and twelve! But Rosemary’s ten years of visiting Debora, and many more in cross-cultural ministry, meant we were in good hands.
While we had planned to offer English and sewing lessons, our main focus was just learning from and being together with the house parents and fifteen or so kids: eating, sleeping, playing, helping where we could, and building friendships.

Some memories: Toby and Josiah playing endless games of soccer, cards and chess … Cheeky Dermawan offering Jemimah some ‘tomato and salt’ to have with her meal, and then his raucous laughter as she discovers  it’s hot sambal! … Noah and Micah building cities and roads with Ando and Judika out of dirt, sticks and bricks … Sharing life stories while doing dishes … Devotions together about the fruit of the Spirit … The vulnerability and laughter of language learning … Cultural dance, and constant singing … Hugs, tearful goodbyes, photos and more photos, and promises to write.

Our trip was awash with amazing scenery and cultural experiences, yet it is the relational encounters that have been most formational and enduring. We never did get to those lessons we had planned, but that was quite okay. Learning through relationships was the lesson.
Boundary crossing with a young family is filled with challenges but, equally, of unique opportunities for experiencing the Kingdom. The ‘holy unsettling’ we have felt together upon our return was an important part of that.

There’s a chunk of our hearts left at Debora. Our ‘new normal’ includes sharing memories, praying for people, writing letters, and thinking about how and when we might return.

This story was also published in the November 2014 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email nevin.nitschke@lca.org.au. For more information, go to http://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/

Read more stories about volunteering at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/join-gods-mission/volunteers/