Today is the last full day of our trip in which we are not in transit. We are at Dasen’s parents’ house in Teunom. Mom and Dad Ritchey have gone to 2 funerals to take rice to the families. The girls are temporarily next door at the language learning center that Dad and Mom started. They have a couple computer programs for kids there that Hannah and Miriam are especially enjoying. Hadiah and I enjoyed a card game and some good bonding, while Elle played with us each in turn. Dasen is napping after reading a book to Elle. Last night was a difficult night for us as Elle was awake quite a bit. Since coming to Mom and Dad’s she’s had a significant fever and belly ache. She reported this morning that her belly ache is going down and God is healing her. She is still on Tylenol and ibuprofen to keep the fever down, as she has been feverish on and off. It has been quite draining and a bit stressful to have her sick as I get concerned for her, and it’s hard to balance priorities when we are visiting with people here such a short time.
Yesterday, Mom and Dad hosted an open house for us- something new to this culture. It was stressful for mom b/c she didn’t know who would come, how much food to get, or where to put people- the men, women, and children all visit in different areas. It turned out lovely though, and we are so glad to have been a part of that. About 6 or 7 women came and sat with me on and off. We talked about their children and families and Dad translated. Our worlds can seem so similar, with similar desires and hopes, yet so radically different that it’s hard to even know what to ask sometimes. I also talked and played with about 12 grade school kids out front, then Hadiah “hosted” about 15 girls in 5th or 6th grade who have studied English with Mom. They all wore head coverings with long sleeves and dresses. Dasen sat outside on the side of the house visiting with several men. Mom and Miriam and Elle floated in and out of groups. Elle slept or sat on my lap while being feverish.
Shortly we are leaving for a special Acehnese luncheon being hosted for us by Dad’s head worker- Pak Mustafa. He is Islamic and helps to follow through with Dad’s projects. I have been so impressed with Mom and Dad on multiple levels. They have learned the secret of being content in God- not dependant on external comforts. They sacrifice their family bonding, mutual Western friendships, a home church, a kitchen that has a sink and clean water, a “normal” sit down toilet, entertainment, and so much more, and yet they count it as joy. They believe God’s love is greater and more worthwhile. Mom washes dishes sitting on a little plastic stool, and believes God has led her incrementally to be fine with all this. I see God’s grace at work and I rejoice that the same God is incrementally working in me. And I rejoice that God loves these Acehnese people in Sumatra enough to send my mother and father-in-law to them. Their neighbors greatly respect them, as do the two other Christian families from other parts of Indonesia who are here as part of their team. The 2 other families are probably in their late 20’s or early 30’s and both families have a child about 18 months old. How amazing to see this multi-cultural, multi-generational team serving here together- truly unique and beautiful.
I hear the Islamic call to prayer from the mosque. It is actually rather melancholy and lovely. I like the reminder to pray. May we all be prompted to follow suite and the lead of the Spirit.