Hey everyone! It has been a hectic few weeks in the Vana household. Before we dive into the trials, let’s start with an awesome opportunity from God.
You may remember a few weeks back that I hiked up a volcano and had a great conversation with an Indonesian friend of mine about reading the Injeel (the New Testament). Well, I met a friend who gave me a couple and I finally was able to give the Injeel to my Indonesian friend. One of the reasons it took so long was because I had to find a suitable cloth to wrap the Injeel in before I gave it to him. You see, “cousins” treat their holy books with a lot of reverence and respect because they believe that they are the actual words of God. (I once received a Koran when visiting a mosque. I was quickly told not to set the book on the ground when not reading it. I was also kindly told not to bring the Koran in the bathroom “next time.” It is somewhat funny how we can inadvertently offend when we don’t know or understand the culture.)Many will write the Arabic words on pictures in their house or signs in their cars because they believe that there is power in the written words of God. My “cousin” friend might feel discouraged or offended if I gave him an uncovered Injeel. He may feel like he can’t take it because his hands are not clean, or maybe the book has been defiled in a way if I was just carrying it around. Either way, I am glad my friend who gave me the Injeel gave me a heads up when he gave me the two copies.
Anyways, yesterday I was swimming laps at the International School where my friend works as a lifeguard. I had mentioned that I was going to bring him the gift of an Injeel the next day. He seemed excited and grateful. I swam a few laps and took a break to talk with him again. He stopped me and asked,
“Did Jesus ever heal anyone?” he asked
“Oh yeah, he healed a lot of people. He even raised people from the dead. In fact, he died and rose three days later,” I replied.
I then proceeded to share a little bit of the good news. I spoke about sin, death, and Jesus paying the debt for our sin. He then asked, “What do you do to make God happy?”
“I don’t do anything to make God happy. I can’t. The Bible says that even my best deeds are worthless. I take 2 steps forward and 10 steps back. All I can do is have faith. I cannot make God happy without faith. I believe in Jesus. I believe he paid for my sins.”
He then had to go back to his work of vacuuming the pool, but I was stoked that God gave me an opportunity to plant a seed.
Today, I went swimming with the kids and brought the Injeel wrapped up in a clean cloth. It turns out I had a suitable cloth in my kitchen all along, but I was making the process a little too difficult. When I gave him the Injeel, my friend was super excited. He said thank you (“Terima Kasih”) a number of times and shook my hand. I am hopeful he will take the time to read the book and learn more about Jesus (or Isa Al Masih) for himself.
Right before I left, one of the grounds keepers of the school stopped me and said a few things that made it clear he is a Christian. Then, he pulled me aside and talked to me about me giving an Injeel to the lifeguard. At first I thought he was scolding me, but I am pretty sure he was just excited because he has been praying that these lifeguards will come to know Christ. He then said, “Let’s meet again another time so we can pray together for these lifeguards.” I am super excited because I think God used me to encourage this guy who has been praying, and I should get a chance to pray with this man who loves the Lord. God is good!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
This morning, we woke up early to complete our homework before the kids woke up, especially Adelina, because we were celebrating her 5th birthday! (Can she really already be 5?!?!?!) Well, Jessica was holding Solomon and then she called out for me. Without going into too much detail, we learned that she has not fully healed from her operation after the miscarriage. She is going to travel to Singapore to visit an OB/GYN to find out what is going on. We don’t know what is going to happen, but there is a chance she could have to have a repeat operation. This is pretty difficult thing for our family. Medical stress is difficult all by itself. International travel is a difficult thing to traverse alone. Throw in three kids and it is all kinds of crazy. So, we have decided to send Jessica to Singapore alone while I take care of the kids in Indonesia. Please lift this whole thing up to our Father. Pray for a safe travel day, a great visit to the doctor so we can figure out what is going on, and pray for the kiddos. Adelina went to sleep crying because she wants to go with her Mom.
This has been a great yet rough time for our family. We were invited to a wedding of relatives of some neighbors of ours. Jessica was able to spend a day cooking with the Indonesian women and chatting away. Imagine having to cook food for 300 guests! There were groups of women all sitting on the floor in different rooms of the house. Each group was doing something different. Jessica chopped onions, garlic, red peppers, and even cow liver. It was a great bonding experience for her and the ladies of our neighborhood. She was able to deepen some friendships, make new ones, and let our neighbors know that we are not too proud to join in the joint work of putting on a wedding.
Well, that night Jessica spiked a fever of 102 and shivered the whole night through. She over came the fever after 3 days of it but it was a tough time. Not to mention Adelina had a terrible cough that last for two weeks. She barely ate most days and couldn’t sleep through the night without coughing and waking up because of it.
I don’t bring these things up to complain. Far from it! We want you to know that God has provided great opportunities for us to serve and be a blessing in Indonesia, and He has allowed various trials to come in that we may persevere and trust in Him and His call above all else. We remain excited and blessed to be in this country doing good deeds that God has prepared for us to do. (Eph 2:10) We also ask that you pray for us during this time. We love you all very much and we are grateful for every last one of you! May God bless you, through all the opportunities and trials in your life!