To the Far Side of the World

Volcano in clouds

This weekend, Lisa and I returned from an amazing adventure abroad. We helped lead a team representing 127 Legacy Foundation across the globe to Indonesia, to spend a couple of weeks serving with our partner church in Jakarta, Getsemani Church, and to carry out facilities improvements at the orphanage we sponsor in Kupang, Timor, Rebana House of Joy.

Mt. Hakone shrine

Our first stop, however, was a few days in Tokyo, Japan, with several team members. We arranged some time in this grand city before the rest of the team would meet up with us for continuing to Jakarta. We visited SkyTree, the world’s tallest public observation tower, in the middle of the city. Standing 634 meters, the tower pierces the sky and is illuminated by night. We visited the Senso-Ji Temple, the oldest Shinto temple in the country, erected in the mid-600s. We spent a day touring Mt. Fuji, up to the “Fifth Station”, and ate authentic Japanese cuisine by a beautiful resort lake high in the mountains. We then took a chilly ferry boat ride across another lake to ride a gondola to the top of Mt. Hakone, where we hiked to the summit in the cloud cover, wind, cold, and misty light rain to visit a small Shinto shrine. A surreal experience. We took a ride on one of the famed bullet trains, speeding though the countryside back to Tokyo at approx. 200 mph. We even rode the city subway system, being jam-packed in just like one might see in photos and videos. The Japanese people are quiet, dignified, gracious, and sophisticated. We enjoyed every one that we met.

Medical clinic

We linked up with the rest of the team and journeyed on to Jakarta. After a day of rest and a little local shopping (whereupon I bought a few of the customary Batik shirts I love so much), half of our team stayed with our friends at Getsemani Church for several days of ministry together, while Lisa and I took a team over to Timor to get a jump on renovations we were doing for House of Joy. We enjoyed an afternoon at a local beach with the HoJ children and staffers, amidst the dried lava flows visible at low tide. Three of us preached at local churches Sunday morning, then I led a youth rally with over 100 kids at First Baptist Kupang that evening. What an energetic, hilarious time we had! So much fun.

Youth rally

When the rest of the team arrived from Jakarta with Dr. Ben (founder, 127 Legacy), we conducted several local medical and dental community clinics, seeing over 300 people total. A couple of our guys held leadership development lectures at the seminary in-town, and one of our ladies with a PH.D. in childhood education led a teacher training attended by over 600 people!

We completed several construction projects while there, but more than anything, spent precious time with the children and staff of Rebana House of Joy. And the joy was all ours, for sure.

House of Joy childrenHouse of Joy teens

Every time I travel over here, the far side of the world from our home in north Georgia, I feel more and more tied to this place, these people. There is great poverty, at least by our standards back here stateside. And yet, maybe it’s not really poverty, but more simplicity. I loved living simply at the orphanage, among the kids and leaders, eating with them, working with them, playing with them, worshipping with them, sleeping as they do. No internet, no tvs, no social media to bury our faces in, none of the distractions we all occupy ourselves with back here in the States. Just simply enjoying each other, enjoying beautiful star-lit nights under a sky not visible in the northern hemisphere, and days in the tropical sun, wafted with tropical ocean breezes.

Song & dance

Maybe the poverty is not theirs, but ours. They have little, and are content and happy. We have much, and yet endlessly strive and struggle to be happy.

Father, grant me the serenity of simplicity.

Smoking volcano

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