Faraway Eyes

21 09 2012

Indonesia has many good qualities. City parks are not on that list.

When we first moved to Semarang where I was teaching at the seminary, we went looking for a park where we could have a picnic. I located a small lake on a city map, and it looked like the lake had a small park surrounding it. It was not quite what we anitcipated. But we did have a good time that day. There were pedal-boats that you could rent and tool around the pond–I should not continue calling it anything else–and there was a small patch of grass, rare in Indonesia, where we could sit down for a bit.

We took this picture of Anna, and I remember thinking at the time that this one was different. It was the first one of Anna that had a certain feature to the pose–one that would come back often in the future. She did not look at the camera, but just looked off somewhere else. It was the first of what might be called her “detached” look.

That look captures, for me, Peter’s attitude toward this world that he expresses in his first letter. The detachment that Anna began to show in her photos revealed the heart of a person who knows they are in a place they don’t belong. Peter addresses believers as those who are “exiles” and who are “sojourners” in a foreign land. We are not to conform ourselves to this world, because it is not our home. Neither are we to give sway to our own human passions. Rather, Peter says that since we have been born again, we should love one another with a pure heart. In fact, he seems to intertwine the ideas of being purified, being obedient, and loving one another. He confuses the order of them so that it is difficult to say first you are purified; then you are obedient; finally you love. In 1 Peter 1:22 he wraps these three together into an inseparable triad. Our purificiation, obedience, and love must all coexist, or they will all fall. A purification that comes from God, and obedience to truth, and a true love for our fellow Christian, are concepts that are foreign to this world.

As Anna grew older, it became evident that she realized here alien status in this place. She longed to be with Christ. She knew that my protection as her earthly father was far inferior to the protection she received from her heavenly father. She knew that the care she received from her human mother was inferior to the provision given to her from above. And the companionship that she shared with her human brother was far less that the companionship she would share with her true brother, Jesus. So I just wanted to show you a photo of her with the beginnings of that faraway look that would come to typify her is so many ways. Lord, help me to have the same disdain for the things of this world, and to desire you with the same passion.


Events Take Us Back Once in a While

19 09 2012

It seems that events lately have been bringing back many memories of Anna. Saying that I run the risk of giving the impression that at other times the memories are not there. That is not the case. But it seems that in certain seasons, at certain events, meeting certain people, that the memories become a bit more intense. More tangible. So it has been the last few months.

This past summer Samuel and I made a trip with his scout troop to New Mexico to backpack in the Philmont Scout Ranch. It was an incredible 12 days. It was about the most difficulty thing I have done physically.

Todd and Sam at 12441 feet. The top of Baldy Mountain.

While we were there, we had long days of hiking. Early on, the nine boys in our group talked incessantly. As we all got more tired, and more tired of each other, the talking slowed down and then stopped. Those were the days of hiking with my thoughts. The place was so beautiful. Ponderosa pines. Aspen forests. Wide meadows opening up beneath mountain peaks. My kept asking, “What would Anna think of all this?” The answers were at once evocative and comical. I knew that Anna would love the beauty of the place. She would love the care that the Scouts have taken in preserving a clean and prisitne environment. But I also knew that Anna was not cut out for the kind of grind we had to go through each day to endure it. Instead, she would be content to wait for us at home, and upon seeing Sam get off of the airplane all grimy and stinky, say with a huge smile, “Oh Saaam!” She loved her brother.

Sam with Papa Freddy.

Another scouting milestone we had at the end of the summer was Sam earning his Life Scout rank. His next stop is Eagle. The court of honor that evening was particularly special as all of Sam’s grandparents were present. Timberley’s mother, father and step-mother came down from Richmond, and my Dad and his new wife, Ollie, came out from California.         A few weeks later, Sam and I had a chance to attend a wedding of a friend of ours from Indonesia, who is now at Southeastern. She was married here on campus and many old friends from Indonesia came to the wedding. It was a great reunion for us, but one which brought back many memories as well, as those who knew Anna best were brought back into our lives. Sam and I had a great time there, maybe especially Sam since he had a chance to cut the rug a bit.






Finally, I just returned from a trip to Vietnam. I taught a class there for a Bible school at Grace Baptist Church in Saigon. It was my first time to Vietnam. The similarities between Vietnam and Indonesia were obvious and many. As the week went on, I began seeing the differences as well. But the whole week was a reminder of where we have been, and what we left behind there when we left. It was a wonderful time and I am hoping to return and bring the whole family.The only major mishap was taking a day-long bus tour on the day I was going to leave. My flight left at midnight, so I took a tour that went to the Mekong River delta and visited several local factories that make honey, coconut candy, etc. What I did not know was that the tour also included romps through the jungle getting from site to site and several trips up and down the river, one of which was by row boat. The row boat couldn’t quite get to the dock, however, so we had to wade through the river to get to the boat. Unfortunately, I was dressed in my travel clothes with my good shoes (I had no others, actually). So off came the shoes and socks, and I rolled up my pants, and into the river! I was feeling very Indonesian. Did I mention that it is rainy season in Vietnam? It was a wet day.

Todd and his class in Saigon.

All in all, things are going well here. Joy mixed with sadness seems to be the human condition until the Lord returns. Maranatha.