Love has made us friends. 

Love doesn’t kick in doors. It doesn’t have to.
Love lingers and listens and comes along side until invited inside.


Life is complex but not as complicated as I once thought.

I used to fret and freak out, afraid of going the wrong way.

But I am learning another way.

If Love is big enough to save us all, it can save me from myself.

If I error on the side of love, Love can make it right again.

If I love her to change her, it’s not love at all.

And when I love her as she is, I am changed.


It’s a better way, but there’s a catch, of course.

I can’t walk through her door without unlocking my own.

Her heartache keeps me up at night.

Her suffering scars my skin

She is not my good deed. Love has made us friends.

Kartini Day

Raden Ajeng Kartini is an Indonesian hero and symbol of women empowerment. 

Over 100 years ago, she contended that girls of all social classes are entitled to education and should be freed from the requirement of early marriages.

 She’s remembered for her courage, even as lack of education and child brides remain reality and reasons for crippling poverty of so many of our friends here. 

What to do when you are married at 12 years old, have babies by 14 and are abandoned or widowed by your much older husband before your 15th birthday? 

Uneducated and unwanted you find a way to feed your babies and stay alive. You figure out how to sell stuff, you might resign to selling yourself. 

Sometimes being born a girl means fighting hard to be treated human. 

And when she’s too tired or afraid or unaware we fight for her until she discovers her worth, finds her voice, and joins the fight for her own future and the future of her daughter and her daughter’s daughters and the daughters after that. 

Every April 21, on Kartini Day, children dress in traditional clothes and teens in our centers pick up their pens. They write about being brave and going to school and changing their nation by bettering themselves. 

The most thoughtful writers win a trip to a movie about Kartini accompanied by kartinis of their own. 

Everybody is Kartini for somebody. The women that lead our girls are quick to recognize the kartinis in their lives that made them kartinis for others. 

I keep wondering who else will recognize the kartini in the  girl from the safehouse yesterday. 

Maybe someday the world will see and celebrate her worth, but what matters more, is that she does. 

And that I believe, is what kartinis are for.

Dad’s Birthday— by Jaxon

Yesterday (April, 23, 2017) was my dad’s birthday. He turned 42 but doesn’t look a day over 35! We tried to make it special. This is what we did.

The first thing we did was get up early and cook Dad a nice breakfast.

My mom and I cooked breakfast sandwiches. Mom cooked the bacon and eggs while worked on my patented, world-renowned Lime smoothie. Dad loved all of it! He ate up the sandwiches and said he loved my smoothie. (I hoped he wasn’t being sarcastic) I have since perfected the recipe. If you want the recipe, it will be at the bottom of the blog.

We next took a short swim in the ocean and headed off to church.

After church we went to eat at a Mexican joint in Canggo Beach. (Pronounced Ch-ang-u) The food there was filling and delicious. Naturally we all got burritos. The restaurant was highly recommended by most expats we’ve met so far.

One of the last things we did was go bowling. Though I did get a strike, I still lost both games we played. Bowling is fun no matter where in the world you are! My excuse is that I let the birthday boy win, because you know, it was his birthday. It was a lot of fun. The only down side is that you pay for hours instead of games, so we only played half a game the second time around.

Next Mom and Dad went and got a massage and left us kids to fend for ourselves. They didn’t seem to care that there was almost no food in the house. They regained our loved when they brought home éclairs and Corn Flakes ™  

That night we were all tired and fell asleep watching “Storks”. That concludes Dad’s birthday   

Jaxon’s Homemade Lime (or other fruit) smoothie, Recipe

For 8oz serving

Ingredients:

3 small limes

4oz sprite

7 Ice Cubes

2 average sized spoonful’s of sugar

Materials

1 Steak Knife

1 Blender

1 Butter Knife

1 spoon

1 Small bowl

1 Cutting board

Instructions

If you have a juicer, skip steps 2 and 3

  1. Cut limes in half with steak knife
  2. Use butter knife to scrape top seeds out of the limes.
  3. Squeeze limes into the small bowl. (Be careful to take all seeds out of lime juice
  4. Add sugar.
  5. Pour lime juice into blender
  6. Add Ice cubes and sprite
  7. Blend until smooth
  8. Serve!
  9. Enjoy

Dua Belas – Touring Hangzhou – Dirk

I have been to Hangzhou many times for business.  It is a very wealthy Chinese city, considered by many Chinese to be the most beautiful city in China.  I have seen most of the tourist hotspots, but always under rather controlled conditions with a colleague to guide me.  I had a Sunday to kill so headed out by myself.  I caught a cab from my hotel to a large cell phone store near West Lake and grabbed a Chinese SIM for my phone.  Then I walked over to West Lake.

West Lake is very famous in China, and is memorialized in a famous love story.  There is a bridge over part of West Lake called Broken Bridge.  It is said that you have not really been to Hangzhou if you have not been to Broken Bridge.img_1278

Here I am with my new friend Mr. Zho, and the grandson of one of his friends.  Mr. Zho saw me walking toward West Lake and excitedly flagged me down in English, “Where are you from?” he asked.  “America,” says I.  He was very excited to hear that, because his hobby is learning English.  He spends every weekend at West Lake looking for native English speakers with whom to talk.  We learned a lot from each other, I think.  For instance, the boy in this picture goes to a special private English language school every Saturday, where he spends only 20 minutes with an American practicing English — for this, his parents pay ~$3,000/year.  This is a common experience, and Chinese parents aren’t really that concerned if their kids learn anything, they just do what all the other parents do.img_1273

This is a statue of a Chinese soldier from the Korean War.img_1274

This plaque was a quick reminder that China controls its media and messaging very carefully… in China, the Korean War is called the War to Resist US Aggression.img_1279

I climbed up a peak near West Lake to grab a picture of this lovely pagoda.  While really neat, it was a replica of the original.  And you can’t go inside.  So this picture is pretty much all I did there.img_1291

While driving down the road, camera flashes pop every 50 yards or so.  Similarly, phone and internet are closely monitored.  I always feel like I am in a fishbowl.  I found it hilarious to see this book, 1984, on sale in China.  I asked a colleague what he thought about being monitored, and even somewhat controlled, and he said it’s ok if you don’t break any rules.  The monitoring makes it really safe for law-abiding citizens.  I told him he was living in Orwell’s dystopian society… I hope he reads 1984, it will be fun to discuss.
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Whenever I visit a factory in China, and make suggestions about how to improve their operations, I feel like I’m living the inverse of that 80’s movie Gung Ho.  You should go watch it, if you haven’t before… give you a peak into my life.img_1294

I don’t always like Chinese food… much of it is bland or weird.  But the giant shrimps are pretty great.  This baby was halfway to graduating to lobster-hood.img_1270

I don’t spend a lot of time in Chinese malls because, well, I don’t spend a lot of time in any malls.  I did wander through a few on this trip, though.  I thought it was funny to see a MLB (Major League Baseball) store in Hangzhou.  Baseball is not really a thing in China.  They don’t play it, and don’t follow it.  If they have ever heard of a single team, it is the Yankees (there was only Yankees gear in this store, FYI).  But they love western culture.  All text on everyone’s clothing is in English.  They equate Western with stylish.img_1271

I guess someone grabbed a snapshot of Obama in or near this ice cream shop.  So now he is an advertisement.  Crazy.img_1282

My favorite hotel on the whole planet is now the Intercontinental in Hangzhou.  It’s a giant golden sphere, for goodness sakes!  The rooms are just splendid.img_1303

Here is the view of the sunrise over Hangzhou from my room on the twelfth floor.

Sebelas – Hong Kong – Dirk

I can be a little over-focused on business trips.  I normally plan them to be as short as possible, work 12+ hrs every day, and get back home as quickly as possible.  These are not social adventures for me… for the most part, I would much rather be home so I get my work done and get the heck out of Dodge.  But, for many reasons, this most recent trip to China afforded me a Saturday in Hong Kong and a Sunday in Hangzhou.

I had 14 hours on the ground in Hong Kong.  I discovered that there is an express train direct from the airport to Hong Kong island, so I grabbed that with no agenda whatsoever.  I knew of a couple tourist sites that I wanted to see, but no idea how to get to them.  I had tried to pre-arrange a tour, but without success.  I snagged a tourist map at the train station and discovered I was near the ferry pier.  I figured I would just walk from the train station down to the pier and check that out first.  And there, at the pier, shining like a bright beacon to tourists everywhere, was a double-decker “Big Bus.”

This is a hop-on-hop-off tourist affair, with stops along all the points of interest.  Perfect, says I, so I bought a ticket, and a Subway sandwich, and hopped on.  The city is full of tall buildings, fancy stores, and Teslas.  So many Teslas — you probably can’t throw a rock without hitting two Teslas.  But that’s just a theory, I understand they tend to frown on such behavior in Hong Kong.

Officially, this is part of China.  But don’t tell the residents.  This place has it’s own culture, it’s own character.  English is prevalent, as are English people, due to the long and recent colonial history.  A survey-taker at one site actually assumed I was a resident and started asking survey questions.  It is that multi-cultural here.

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In this first of many selfies, you can see a couple of fairly famous buildings.  They were used, for instance, in a particularly compelling building-to-building zip line scene in a recent Batman movie.

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Here I am at Repulse Bay, the scenic spot of a storied battle between pirates and English naval forces.

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Here you see the Sampan we rode around the harbor, and one of the many ginormous yachts that we casually motored past.

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Literally named the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.  I have never seen such an aptly named place.  This is only half of it, FYI.

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Here is a classic-looking Chinese “junk.”  I had hoped to see more of these, but alas, progress.

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A view from Victoria Peak, probably the most famous Hong Kong landmark.  I am standing at the highest point, with a 5-story mall beneath me.

All in all, a lovely day of touring Hong Kong.  The one thing that would have made it oh-so-much better would have been a friend with whom to tour.  But I met some nice folks on the Big Bus, so it wasn’t like I was lonely and miserable.  It’s just that fun is always more fun with people we love.

Levi’s Easter and surfing tips

The day before Easter our aunt came from another island called Sulawesi.

The next day I woke up with my basket of candy on my bed!!!

Then Mom said to bring are baskets to the living room to paint fake eggs because we had no dye.

After that we went to the English service of the ICC church.

Then we went to TJ’s which has good Mexican food.

Next we went surfing with our friends I stood up almost every wave I took!!!:]

Tips for surfing:

Tip 1: Keep the tip of your board up while trying to get up

Tip 2: When you’re going out to surf don’t let waves hit the side of your board.

Tip 3: While starting to catch a wave stay in the middle of your board.

Tip 4: If you are a beginner hop off your board if two strong waves come one already curled and one about to curl if you don’t, it will hurt badly.

Tip 5: Enjoy surfing.

 

 

After we went surfing I went home and ate homemade spicy cury. It was delicious.

Last we watched Big Hero 6 and went to bed.

It was one my favorite Easters.

The world inside of me

How can I change the world when I can’t even change myself? 

This was my waking thought then the topic of the podcast I listened to as I walked to the gym this morning.


Sometimes the work here feels easy compared to what’s being worked on and worked out in me.

My heart is my most brutal battleground. And far too often I find myself fighting on the wrong side and against myself. How messed up is that?

And what does it matter anyway?

In my life, I’ve vacillated between disqualifying myself completely and trying to be so good God had no choice but hear my prayers. But life  is too precious to be squandered on such foolishness. Besides that, it’s exhausting.

And maybe that’s it, maybe I got too tired to play religion for one more minute. I threw in the towel and found myself. And God found me.

I stopped running. I came out of hiding. I gave up covering up…not out of nobility but exhaustion and because of Love.

The biggest challenge of my whole life has been to let God love me as I am, and not as I should be. I can know every verse and keep every rule, but it’s all just heavy and hollow without Love.

And how will I know the reaches of Love if I do not test its depths with my own despair?

I change the world by letting God change me. And in the process I understand that humans are not projects,equations or machines. We are complex and glorious and broken. No bandaid can hide, no program can remedy, the depths of our dysfunction.

This wounded world is being stitched together one healed heart at a time. And maybe my biggest contribution is not my work but my whole surrendered self.

Turns out it matters.

Because if God can get to me, I know he can reach anybody. I have hope the world can be different because he is rearranging the whole wide world inside of me.