Dog Hickeys

3 08 2010

Timberley took Sam and Anna into the backyard of our house in Semarang to take some pictures of them.  We did not have school pictures or other portraits of the children, so she thought she would dress up the kids and try to take some nice pictures.  Unfortunately, the day she planned to take the pictures, the kids went out into the yard and played with our newly born puppies.  They were amazed at how the puppies would root around looking for milk to drink.  They discovered that they could fool the puppies by putting them next their chins.  You can see the result in the picture.  Timberley was not very happy with the result.

But even with tongue out, and a hickey on her chin, you could not mask Anna’s beauty and charm.


Any Ideas?

2 09 2009


I came across this photo tonight.  Anna is in the front.  Samuel is in the red swim suit in the rear.  Anyone have idea what they are doing?  (No fair if you have lived for anytime in Indonesia!)

Anna with Her Eyes Wide

24 08 2009


Our family took a break from Switchfoot for a while in our car.  I am not sure what brought that on.  But recently we have started again.  Maybe there is just something driving around in a maroon Volvo station wagon that brings out the rocker in you.

When we listen to them in the car we use an iPod plugged into a device that sends the music to the car radio.  (Disclaimer: The iPod is the only Apple device used in our family.)  We have set the iPod to play our entire collection of 68 Switchfoot songs in random order and to keep repeating them.  I remember on our trips to and from Semarang from our home in Salatiga, one of the kids, I think it was Samuel, made the observation that the Switchfoot songs that came up on our ipod all seemed to come in groups.  That is, there would be a whole section of fast and loud songs, and then a whole batch of sad songs, etc.  Samuel noticed that it was interesting that the songs that came on the radio seemed to match whatever mood he happened to be in.


I remember one particular trip to Semarang the Sunday morning that we found out that our friend, Cyd Mizell, who had been kidnapped in Afghanistan, had probably been murdered.  Every song on the radio seemed to have some bearing on Cyd’s life and death.  The song that seemed most poignant to me was Switchfoot’s song “Burn Out Bright.”  The recurring line in the chorus was, “Before I die I want to burn out bright.”  I was certain that Cyd had burned out bright.

This afternoon Timberley and I drove to Samuel’s school to watch his soccer game.  On the way, we listened again to Switchfoot.  Right in a row we listened to “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine,” “Twenty-four,” and “The Blues.”  The song “Twenty-four” was one of the first songs we listened to the day after Anna died.  It was on our drive from Salatiga to Semarang where we were headed for the second memorial service to be held at the seminary where I taught.  I chose that song first because I wanted to hear the line, “Life was not what I thought it was twenty-four hours ago.  Still I’m singing, ‘Spirit take me up in arms with you.'”  I wanted to recognize the sadness and the faith at the same time.

I don’t know what the life story is of Jon Foreman, the singer and songwriter for the group, but he understands sadness and faith.  After Anna died I found a song that I ended up using in her memorial service in California.  It was from the second Narnia movie soundtrack, Prince Caspian.  Anna had not seen the movie, which she would not have liked, and she never heard this song, which she would have loved.  The song is called “This is Home.”  Jon Foreman explained in an interview that he was trying to write a song that would capture the spirit of the Narnia Chronicles, but there is one line in the song that he felt summed up C. S. Lewis’s writings:  “Created for a place I’ve never known.”  That was the line which grabbed me the first time I heard the song.  Later, after I heard the song 20 or 30 times that first day, another line took hold of me.  It was when I imagined the song being sung about Anna as she entered the presence of the Lord, or to keep with the Lewis theme, when she entered the Land of Aslan.  The line goes, “I’ve got my heart set on what happens next.  I’ve got my eyes wide.  It’s not over yet.”  Three photographs I have of Anna came to mind when I heard the line, “I’ve got my eyes wide.”  They are the ones I have put in this post.  I imagined the playfulness and the sheer happiness of Anna as she stepped into the presence of her Lord.california-2007-071 I imagine this is what Jesus saw as she stepped forward, or rather, as she ran toward him.

Anna Loved Even the Ugly

22 08 2009


Those who knew Anna or have heard her stories know that Anna loved animals.  She loved creatures of all kinds.  We have many photos of Anna with bugs, lizards,etc. (even an infamous and rarely shown photo of Anna with a number of large snails on her face that we were preparing for the Guiness Book of World Records, but that is another story).  Indonesians were always surprised at the boldness of both Samuel and Anna when it came to handling these creatures.  They quickly learned which ones to stay away from and which ones are harmless.  The caterpillars in Indonesia have nasty spikes along the backside that immediately stick in your skin if you touch them.  The cicaks (chee-chalk), the small household lizards that run all over your walls and ceilings, especially at night, are harmless and even helpful because they eat the mosquitoes and other bugs.  In Semarang, our backyard was full of frogs at night.  We think they may have come from a string of frog eggs that Timberley and the kids took out of a large pool of water at the train museum in Ambarawa and then brought home with them to watch hatch, but that is another story.  Walking in our backyard at night was like walking into a pot of corn being popped.  With every step taken it seemed as if four or five frogs would leap into the air to evade your foot.  The kids loved going out at night to catch or corral the frogs into places.  These were the animals that probably caused the most consternation with our helpers.  They were convinced that the frogs had poisonous skins and that the kids should not be handling them.  It surprised them a bit when our kids’ hands did not fall off or turn purple.  If nothing else, our kids gave the Indonesians something to laugh and talk about.

I mention these things because all kids, I think, to a certain extent are attracted to animals that are different, weird, or exciting.  I included a picture above of Anna with one of our dogs, Spotty.  Spotty was nasty.  He was gross.  If he wasn’t so pitiful and needing of compassion, there would have been no positive emotion extended from me to him.  I did not like him.  Timberley did not like him.  We endured him.  Spotty had to be experienced.  The only way I can try to explain what it was like to live with Spotty is to say that whenever he came around, he had a penchant for licking your toes.  It was never your hand or anything else.  Just your toes.  There was something wrong with that.  There were three reasons I kept Spotty.  First, we also owned his mother, Molly.  I liked Molly.  She had her problems, too, but I don’t think I ever had a dog as faithful as Molly.  Second, I loved my kids and it would have torn them and our household apart to even mention getting rid of Spotty.  Third, I don’t think anyone would have taken him, even as food.

When we came back to Indonesia in 2007 after our stateside assignment in the fall of 2006, we had a bit of a shock.  Both of our dogs’ hair was dirty and matted.  For Molly, this was not much a problem because she had pretty short hair.  Spotty, on the other hand, had very long and thick hair.  When we came back and looked at him even I felt a little sorry for him.  His hair was matted into what felt like a thick wool blanket glued to his skin.  We tried to bathe him, but the water and soap would not penetrate this outer armor.  I decided we needed to cut it all off.  During the bath and the shearing, however, we discovered something disturbing.  Both Molly and Spotty were covered in ticks.  We saw them first on Molly because we could see through her fur more easily.  With Spotty we did not see what was happening until we started cutting away these large patches of fur.  We discovered hundreds of ticks on him.  They were nesting underneath the canopy of his fur and breeding new ticks.  We discovered that the mother ticks who are laying eggs attach themselves to the animal and then swell up several times their normal size to provide for all of the eggs.  He easily had 50 or more of these large female ticks on him.  We cut away all of the fur from him, shaved him down to the skin, and began the slow process of removing all of these ticks.  It was dirty work.  It was gross.  And in the end we had two very happy and very ugly-looking dogs.  And we had two very happy children.

Anna loved the bizarre.  Anna loved the unique things of the world.  But Anna also loved the ugly.  Although a story about a pitiful, tick-infested dog may not be the best example of this, I believe that the love of Christ moved Anna to look beyond outward appearances and to love and have compassion for all.

Olga and Sven Fix the Tank

12 08 2009


I told you earlier about our Swedish Tank (93 Volvo 240 Classic).  The other night we had a small setback.  We got into the car and a warning light came on with which I was unfamiliar.  I asked Timberley to look in the owner’s manual and see what it meant.  She reported that one headlight was not working.  I looked ahead of us, flashed the high beams a few times, and, lo and behold, she was right.  Our right headlight was not working.

We decided to call a local mechanic we had heard about who specializes in Volvos to fix the light and look at  a few other things we wanted to have checked.  The next morning, however, while I was at work, I received a text message from my bright son telling me that we don’t have to get the light fixed anymore.  I asked him in return, “Why not?”  He immediately replied, “We fixed it already.”

Of course, I figured something odd had happened.  Perhaps the light had come on by itself.  Perhaps Timberley and Samuel opened the hood and there was a loose wire that needed jiggling.  I filed that thought away and didn’t think about it the rest of the day.

Then when I got home I remembered to ask her about it.  “So what happened to the car?  How did the light come back on?”

“I already told you.  We fixed it.”

“But I mean, really, what happened?”  I could tell that Timberley was enjoying this a little too much.  She had a funny smile on her face, and I was not sure what was so funny.

“I figured that I could fix it, so I got out the shop manual for the car.  Sam and I went out, took out the head light from the car, and pulled out the bulb.  We went to the auto parts store and bought a new bulb.  We brought it home and Samuel put it all back together and reassembled the headlight in the car.”  She said it all as if she had said that Samuel took out the trash and replaced the garbage bag when he was done.

I have been really proud of my wife and son before.  But not often have I been this proud.  Good job.

We are in North Carolina!

2 08 2009

Timberley, Samuel, and I said goodbye to our friends in Louisville and set off for the faraway land of North Carolina.  But we thought we should stop off in St. Joseph, MI along the way for some swimming in Lake Michigan.  While we were there my dad flew out from CA to make the trip to NC.  We picked him up at the airport in Kalamazoo.

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We returned to Louisville from St. Joseph long enough for Samuel to get his warts frozen and injected at the doctor, then we set off for NC.  We went through West Virginia on the way and found the best Italian restaurant in Beckley.  I wish we had found it years ago for all of our many trips from Louisville to Richmond.  We could have avoided Sbarro pizza at the Tamarack travel stop and just gone down the street for some real Italian food at Pasquale’s.  I had linguini carbonara, and it was fixed the authentic way, which I am sure is illegal in some states since it involves raw or slightly cooked eggs.  But it apparently is still legal in West Virginia, or Pasquale has some deal going with the local health department officials.  Anyway, we had a great meal, spent the night at Beckley and then set off for Raleigh.  We entered NC through Mayberry (Mt. Airy) and passed Mt. Pilot (Pilot Mountain) on our way to Raleigh.  My dad took our picture at the border.

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Borgers are Moving to NC

14 07 2009

This past year has seen many changes in the lives of Timberley, Samuel, and I.  We have experienced the death of our daughter, relocated to a new (and always temporary) location, changed our ministry and work, endured the sickness and death of Todd’s mother, and then rejoiced in the sickness and recovery of Todd’s father.His will in certain things.

Through all of these trials we have experienced the surety of God’s hand in our lives.  That hand has not always been comforting, but it has always been certain.  His hand at times has seemed severe, yet it has always inspired confidence.  We have learned through this year to trust in God despite turmoil in our lives, uncertainty about our future, and sorrow about loved ones.

God has led us through some decisions, and the results of God’s leading have led us to better understand, in part, God’s will and design for our lives, and to understand, in part, the events of the past year.  I say “in part” because there is still a vacuum that no understanding will fill.  And it is that vacuum that we must learn to live with and to offer our selves to God’s care and providence without knowing, or liking,

All that being said, I need to let you know about some recent important changes in our lives.  On July 1, we began our leave of absence from the International Mission Board.  That means that although we still have a formal relationship with the Board, we have no responsibilities and are not being supported in any way from it.  That decision was made as it became clear that we were not going to be able to return to Indonesia at this time.

As the time drew near for that break in service to begin we were contacted by a friend at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, about an opportunity to join the Old Testament faculty.  At first I did not think much would come of it, for various reasons, but perhaps the biggest being that it did not look as if they would be hiring anyone for almost a year.  We needed to find some other work before that time.  But I responded that I would be glad to talk to them about it.

As it turned out, they did want to hire someone now.  I have been invited to join the faculty of Southeastern Seminary beginning this fall.  We are working out details now, but it looks as if we will be moving to Wake Forest, NC on August 1.

It seems as if God is bringing together some new things that only He could do.  Southeastern is a place where I can be involved in training young men and women (and probably some not-so-young men and women) for gospel ministry including service overseas.  But the relationship between Southeastern and the Mission Board is such that I will still be able to see to fruition some of the goals I had made while I was in Indonesia.  It became very important to me while in Indonesia to develop theological education in other countries so as to help strengthen the local national churches and conventions.  This was a difficult task while on the field because of limited resources available and other factors.  I can see now how God might be working in a new way, however, as I will be at a seminary with greater resources and with an institutional focus on seeing God’s gospel of salvation go out to the whole world, seeing churches around the globe strengthened, and training pastors of all nations for gospel ministry.