search & rescue – it’s a team thing…

Search-Rescue Logo FC

I’ve come to the conclusion that you can have a great idea, but without a great team behind you—it will never go beyond your wildest imagination.

This weekend was the launch of our second annual IES Outreach campaign. Our theme this year is “The least. The Last. The Lost.” As I was meeting with my team for the event, they came up with the idea of the “Search and Rescue Campaign.” Over the last month and a half we have been working on making that idea a reality.

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It was 2pm Saturday afternoon, three hours before service was about to start and we were going to launch he campaign. It was just me and one other volunteer in the office, waiting for 800 boxes to come so we could stuff leaves in them for the gift for the first weekend…I was trying to stay calm, but was starting to get a bit nervous. The boxes finally came at 3pm, 2 hours before service was supposed to start, and one hour before I had my volunteer briefing for what they were to do during service. I was staring at the pile of boxes and leaves, and now I really was nervous. Then one by one, various members of the IES staff and my committee started coming and stuffing boxes, putting on the lids, moving them to where they needed to go. In about 5 minutes we were functioning like a well-oiled machine. We were done with the first 400 in about an hour. It so blew me away that not only were they willing to spend part of their Saturday stuffing boxes, but they did it with such joy and excitement—it made it fun!

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Once the boxes were done, we all came downstairs and launched our Search & Rescue campaign. We had the opportunity to talk to people about what it means to reach out to those who are overlooked and hidden. In true IES fashion there was such an overwhelmingly positive response. People want to be involved, they want to be part of team that reaches beyond themselves to those who are forgotten.

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If you aren’t part of a team, you miss out–because, as I’m learning, it’s in community, in working together, that we can stretch ourselves and together make something better than we could have imagined.

I am so humbled and honored to be a part of a community of people that wants to take serving to the next level… to be involved, to make a difference, to make an eternal impact.

I am excited to see what the rest of the month holds!

to change a generation…

The last two weeks I have had the opportunity to host an amazing team of girls from Australia who came to teach English for a week at one of our Partners for Compassion sponsored schools. After talking with them, the importance of our education programs and the importance of what we do really hit me in a new way, and I want to share a few of my musings with you….


Education. Education is a part of life that we generally take for granted. It is a part of our childhood that we may have loved or hated—but never questioned it being a part of our lives.

Imagine a life where education is a luxury and not a basic necessity. Imagine a life where having a middle school education is a milestone achievement. Imagine not having the option to go to school, not because you don’t want to, but because the cost for registration and books is more money than your family can afford.

Education is not supposed to be a privilege or a luxury…it should be a basic part of life. I believe that is why our schools are so important. We provide the best education we can to students who would otherwise not be in school. By investing in the next generation—equipping them to be thoughtful and productive citizens—we can change a generation and maybe even a whole nation.

What better gift can we give a child than a quality education? We may not be able to change the whole world…but we can impact the one. And that one may just be the one who changes the world.

I believe that if we say that we love, than there should be an action that follows. Because to love is to do. Love is a VERB.

to eastern Indonesia I go…part 2 (the village)

My time in Samasuru village was absolutely amazing!
    Before last week I had never really seen the whole process of building a house from scratch. I’m not exactly sure what I expected…but having a whole house framed, partially roofed, and part of the cement walls put finished in two days was not exactly what I expected. To see something start from a slap of stones and cement to a clear house structure in such a short time was absolutely incredible.
     When we arrived at our village the wood for construction hadn’t arrived yet, so instead of just killing time, we decided to work on finishing details on the existing church. We put plamir (kind of like plaster) on the walls, which would serve as a primer for future painting and look much better than grey cement walls.
     After a few hours, our team finished the inside walls and so we moved on to the outside walls. When I started to plamir the walls outside I had a whole group of ladies come up and started intently staring at me while I was working, which was quite disconcerting. Being quite self-conscious about my plamir technique, I made a joke that I was a little slower than the guys. One of the ladies responded in a very serious tone, “Of course, they’re men.” That was the first time I got a feeling that being one of two girls in a construction team of men might not be as smooth sailing as I thought it would be. However, I pressed on and we were able to finish all of the walls of the church both inside and outside before the start of our afternoon kid’s program.
     The second day our whole team got up and met at the construction site by 6am…even before coffee! The carpenters had been working all night to get the pieces of the house all in the right order so that it would just be a matter of pegging the pieces together and then raising the walls. I have never actually seen a barn raising in person, but I think this was probably very similar to what that would look like.
     After a little bit I saw Korry working with a guy on the edge of the construction site; she was using a machete to form pieces of wood into pegs. I decided to head over that way and see if maybe I could help too. One of the guys handed me a machete and a small piece of wood and I started on my peg. I worked for about 10 minutes and was almost done, when an old man came up to me, took away my machete and told me that he would “help” me by finishing it. I was a little disappointed, I had really wanted to at least finish my one peg, but I knew that I was a lot slower than they were, and we needed the pegs quickly so they could keep building, so I let it go.
     A couple hours in, our IES team realized that we had some free time before the carpenters would be ready for us to be able to help them with the next phase. Instead of just standing around watching, we decided to take a break and go to explore the beach a little bit. We put on our sandals and started our 15 minute walk to the beach through the woods/jungle. We had to wade through some water to get there, but it was completely worth it, the view was incredible! It was so refreshing to walk through the mini-jungle and then see the ocean and play and goof around a little bit with the rest of the team.
     After lunch we were able to start “chor-ing” on the walls. We had to nail wooden boards on both sides of where the walls would be and then pour cement inside of the boards. At first I think they only let me start mixing the cement because they thought I wanted a photo of me with the shovel, but when I didn’t give the shovel back after a few scoops, I think they realized that I really wanted to help. It felt so good to have my sleeves rolled up and finally be doing hard work…I guess my inner “farm-girl” came out and it was great! The fact that it surprised all the guys that I could keep up the mixing speed and quantity was also an added bonus. After about 15 minutes, though, they decided that I should help transport buckets of cement back and forth to the house (since I was a girl after all), so I changed jobs. I actually really ended up enjoying that too. I learned an interesting fact about myself on this trip…I don’t do well sitting still when there is a job to be done, I much prefer to get my hands dirty and be in the midst of the action.
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     Our last full day in the village we were able to finish up all the chor we could do with the supplies that we had, which lasted until right before lunch. After lunch, a bunch of the kids from the village decided to take us to the nearby river for some fun before we had to get ready for our last kids program of the week. I think playing in the river was one of the most fun things I have done in Indonesia. The kids were so unbelievably excited to play with us. Korry and I decided that we were going to sit on a log in the middle of the river and watch the kids and our other team members swim and play in the current. Well, the kids decided they would swim towards us and give us pretty stones as a “toll” for passing by. We laughed, we splashed, we got some sun…it was amazing. Definitely a great final afternoon in Samasuru.
     Not only did we get to work on construction projects, but we also got to work with children…both during our organized kids program, and throughout the week in any free time that we had. The pastor’s two children, Icha and Jael, became my best buddies. One of them was always grabbing on to me or Korry. It took me a while to earn their trust (as I don’t think they had ever seen a white person before), but once they decided they liked me, we were best friends.
     For our kids program, we had been expecting 35-50 children maximum. We were going to do music, games, a craft, and story time. By the time our first afternoon kids program started, we had 147 kids…but only supplies for 50! Thankfully Korry is great at thinking on her feet, so we were able to adapt our program, and no one but us knew that it wasn’t how we initially planned it. The kids laughed, danced, and were just full of joy. For much of the story, they were laughing so hard their eyes were watering. It was better than we could have imagined!
     The last afternoon after the story we took time to pray for each of the kids. While we were praying they were singing the most beautiful song in Indonesian. They sounded like a choir of angels, their voices were so beautiful. After spending three days with them, it was such an honor to get to pray for them.
     Though our organized kids activities were awesome, my favorite part was just hanging out with the kids after the scheduled program. We had a group of about 8-10 of them that would take us on walks, or just stay late and sing every Sunday School song they knew with us. It was so special to get to know them a little bit, to play with them, and to show them love. They are so full of joy. When I was with them, I just couldn’t help but feel full of joy too. Though I am not fluent in Indonesian, my language was good enough to be able to communicate and chat about life, about school, about what they do for fun. They told me about their culture and some of the weird things they eat, like giant snakes. I feel like they gave me a small glimpse into their world, and it was such an honor.
    After our last kids program, we had to get ready for the evening service. It was so cool to worship with everyone in their language one more time before we headed back to Ambon. After the service we took a bazzilion pictures, loaded up the ancot, and headed back to Masohi to meet the other half of the team.
     It was sad to leave them after having really connected. I learned a lot about myself, about them, about life…I will forever be grateful for the three days in Samasuru. But while I was a  little sad to leave, I was also really excited to catch up with the other half of the team and hear what had happened in their village for the past three days.
(to be continued) 

to eastern Indonesia I go…part 1 (the journey)

     Since coming to Indonesia two years ago I have been talking with Korry (my housemate and my Indonesian sister) about visiting the Maluku Islands, where she is originally from. When the opportunity to take a team from IES there for a building and kids outreach trip, we both jumped at the chance to join! The trip went above and beyond anything I could have expected.
     The trip can be broken up into roughly three parts – the journey, the village, and the return. Over the next three posts I will share each part of the experience.
Seram 2015 – Part 1: The Journey
     The journey to Seram began at 11pm when our team met at the airport to check in and then  board our midnight flight to Ambon island. One thing I learned very quickly about our team, is that they were definitely a photo-friendly crowd…we stopped for pictures about every 10 minutes through the airport, hahaha.
     After a four hour flight (which surprisingly left early from Jakarta), we landed bright and early in Ambon, where we ate a quick breakfast and boarded a speed boat for our 2 hour ride across the water to Seram Island, where we would be serving for the next week.
IMG_4456     Having gotten very little sleep the night before due to the crazy plane schedule, the whole team fell asleep almost the moment we sat down in our seats on the boat…with a short wake-up time to go to the deck in the front of the ship and get some good pictures and fresh sea air.
     When the boat docked in Amahai, Seram, we piled ourselves and all our luggage into three vehicles and made our way to the guest house, where we would stay for the next two nights. After settling in a little, we went to get lunch and then proceeded directly to our afternoon kids program.
     One of the first signs that we were far from Jakarta came that first afternoon after the kids program. In Jakarta people are much more used to seeing bules (white people), so I was a little surprised when after our program, all 130 kids rushed towards me and wanted a selfie with the “bule”.
     I figured I had two options, either say no, or get fully into character and embrace the moment. Since I was their guest, I figured it would be best to just go for it. It ended up being a blast taking pictures, getting into it with them and making funny faces and the peace sign. While it was quite fun, I must say, I am glad that it is not a regular part of life and just an occasional experience.
     After the kids program, we went back the house, changed, and proceeded to our evening service. It turned out that at the church we went to, they had the same type of dance team that I was in when I was growing up in Mexico and Spain. It was so cool to watch!
     The second day in Masohi, started quite abruptly. At 5am very loud music started playing. I awoke quite startled and a little confused. At first I thought it was someone’s alarm…but it kept playing over and over and over for over an hour. I tried everything to block it out, plugging my ears, putting a pillow over my head, playing my own music, but nothing could drown out the sound. At 6am I finally gave up and decided to get up and get ready for the day. I learned later that the sound is from one of the churches in the valley that plays it to call people to come and pray before they start their day…very interesting.
     After breakfast, we split up into two smaller teams—one to train Sunday School teachers, and the other half to do a seminar on family and leadership in the morning (which was my team). We had about 45 people attend each seminar, which I think was pretty good attendance.
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     Once the seminar was done, my group went back to the guest house to rest up before we had our evening service. Instead of resting like we probably should have, some of us decided to hike up the ridge across the street from the guest house where we were staying. We wanted to see if we could get a better view of the ocean. We got to hike up through beautiful greenery and we did end up with a great view. When we got back to the house we sat and chatted and then took a short rest before leaving for the service.
     During the evening service I was able to share my testimony, and then help pray for people after the sermon. It was so cool to be able to share how God had been faithful in my life through healing me, and then challenge them to believe God for the impossible too.
     After service, I got to chat and take selfies with the girls who were on the dancing team, which was a blast! They even invited me to join them next time I came back. I thanked them, but know that I am no longer any where close to as good as they are, and probably couldn’t even keep up anymore…but it was still sweet of them to offer.
     After that, we had a snack with the Pastor, and then met up with the other half of the team for dinner. By the time we finished and got back to guest house it was almost 11pm. We had just a few hours to sleep before we made our journey in to the villages where we would be spending the next three days.
     Bright and early the next morning I was up and ready to go. After a quick group photo, we loaded our vehicle, piled in, and began our two hour ride to the village we would be staying in for the next three days, Samasuru…
(to be continued)

the first steps to better health in the trash dump…

After months of preparation and planning, and against all odds, our weekly free medical clinic in the trash dump community is now open!!!!


We tried to open the clinic a few months ago, but had to relocate due to issues with the landlord. Then once we moved and we were going to open, the flooding season started, which meant our clinic building was under water, so that delayed the opening again. But now that the rainy season is almost over, we decided to just go ahead and open it now.

The reason we have a clinic in this community is that there is no access to medical care for them within a reasonable distance. The closest clinic they could go to is 5km away. Though this may not seem that far to most people, when it costs them almost a day’s wage to get there, they just cannot afford to go…especially when they have had previously bad experiences there so they feel they might not even get the help they need if they do spend the money to go.

The day of our clinic opening I was a little nervous. How would the community receive us? Would we have any patients? Would we have too many patients that we couldn’t handle the volume?

I arrived ahead of the midwife and got a chance to talk to our community partners a little about the clinic. My language is still quite limited, so our conversation was very basic, but we were able to understand each other enough to figure out some final details. A little bit later, the midwife arrived. The only problem was there were no patients yet…

Instead of just sitting around and waiting for patients to arrive, we all got to work sorting through medicine donations to see what was expired and what could be used. We worked quite efficiently as a team and before we knew it, we were done!


A little bit after we finished sorting through the medicines, the patients started arriving.


Our first patient was a little boy who had been having diarrhea for over a month with bleeding.


I cannot imagine being four years old and being continually sick for that long. I am so glad our midwife was there and was able to help him. Though she saw many other patients with all sorts of problems that day, the young boy stood out to me as why we are there in the first place. People shouldn’t have to live in sickness, especially children. They should be learning, playing, and growing strong and healthy—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I know that the clinic cannot solve all of the medical problems in the community. But you have to start somewhere, and this is our first step. I am excited to see the impact on the community for years to come and how we continue to develop our strategy for better health for the Cilincing trash dump community

my trek through the flood…

Though I’ve lived in many different places in my life, I’ve never really experienced a true flood. I have heard and seen pictures of flooding, but his year I got to experience it myself.

I had gone to stay with my friends the Tahitoes in Kelapa Gading Sunday night so I would have an “easy” journey to class the next day. However due to the heavy rain all night Sunday and all day Monday, there was no way to get back home and I was stranded in Kelapa Gading for four days.

Early on Tuesday morning (the second day of the flood) the rain stopped and we were able to get a big truck to go pick up my friend Jessica’s family. The plan was to be in and out as quickly as possible–but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men… Needless to say it was quite an adventure.

We went and got a quick breakfast, as the house was without water and power, and then headed out to start our “quick” rescue operation.


On the way to pick up Jessica’s grandma, we passed these children playing in the flood water.


We met up with the truck and headed into the flood, ready to evacuate Jessica’s family.



The roads were crazy…I’ve never seen so much water in the streets.



We picked up Jessica’s family and began the trek to pick up Mark, an eight year old who was stranded with his nanny because his family couldn’t get to him due to the flooding.


Unfortunately, the truck broke down and Uncle T and I had to make our way through knee deep water to get to the mall where we could rescue Mark.


Once we got Mark, we made our way to Uncle T’s house, where Mark’s family met us and we reunited them.

After a few hours, the rest of the KG team met us in a different truck and we proceeded to start riding through the flood giving people rides.

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We met all sorts of interesting people that night. People would get in and out when we got them to where they need to be. There were some times when I wasn’t sure that the truck would make it, but it did!


Once it got dark and it was harder to deliver people, we decided it was time to go buy supplies for the emergency food packages for the evacuees in one of our slum communities. I’m pretty sure I have never bought so much food in my whole life.

After dropping off the food and everyone back in their homes, we got in the truck and headed back to the Tahitoes house to sleep for a few hours before day 2 trek activities.

my first health seminar…

Two Saturdays ago I was able to plan and facilitate my first community health seminar!

For the past six or seven months I have really been feeling that health education area of health that Partners for Compassion should focus on, as Jakarta’s health services have been getting better. Plus health education is very relational and long-term, which suits our model of operation really well.

A couple months ago I met with our community partners in North Jakarta and asked them if they would want us to offer health seminars and they said they would love it! I was able to find an awesome doctor from my church who volunteered her time to teach a class on first aid in the community. We spent time planning and preparing  and coordinating with the various parties involved and set the date for Saturday, November 21.


While preparing the logistics for the event, I learned an interesting cultural fact. Apparently when women attend this kind of event it’s expected that they get “simbako” which is a package of rice, oil, sugar, and instant noodles that they can take home with them to their families. Though the concept was a little weird to meet at first, I jumped on board and went to the store to buy all the stuff. While I was loading up my card with 35 packages of 1KG of sugar one of the ladies passing me asked if I was opening a little store. I laughed and told her no, that I was making simbako packages for one of our communities. It kind of felt like I was opening a store, though, as I had never in my life bought so much food at one time before.


At home my roommate, Korry and I put on a Christmas movie and packed everything up into 35 simbako bags.


On the day of the seminar I was so nervous. What if something went wrong? What if the doctor had a terrible time and never wanted to help again? What if the moms hated it and our relationship doing health education was closed forever? What if our partner thought it was a disaster? Though the thoughts were all slightly irrational, I was a bit apprehensive. But the event could not have possibly gone any better.

I was able to open the seminar with my first speech fully given in Indonesian! Though it was just a simple greeting and thank you to the various people who helped, it still felt like such an accomplishment to get to say it all in Indonesian without a translator.


Doctor Elva did a fantastic job teaching. She was funny and interactive and all the moms were on the edges of their seats listening to what she was saying and fully participating in her interactive portions. At one point one of the moms had to get up and blocked the projected and she was immediately told to sit down by the other ladies because they all couldn’t see around her. Even after the seminar they spent about 15 extra minutes asking various follow up questions.


I could not have asked for it to go any better. I am so excited about continuing to expand our health education program!


to the trash dump community we go…

Taking volunteers to the communities where I work is one of my favorite parts of my job. This last outreach event was particularly fun because I got to take a group of 15 teenagers in addition to our amazing regular adult volunteers!


Right before we take groups to the community you can just feel the excitement of everyone– particularly the first-times (which we had a lot of this time around). Before we left for the field, Lew gave them a brief overview on the community, what we did there, and general guidelines for the day. Then I got to give the volunteers a short overview of what they would be doing and explaining how we would break up into different smaller teams once we were there.


After that, we got on the bus and headed to the trash dump community!


The tone was set right away as we got off the bus in the community and were immediately greeted by some of our kindergarten students in their uniforms, waiting at the door shaking our hands and greeting us.


The clinic was as usual a huge success. The community members do not have adequate access to health care facilities nearby, so the fact that we would come and provide them with free care is always amazing to them.

I think my favorite part of the day in the community was the different games that we had the teen volunteers and kids play together. Though all of our games were fun, my two favorites were the relay race and the balloon dance competition.


For the relay race each team had four kids and three teen volunteers. Each participant had a plastic spoon in their mouth, which they had to use to transfer a kelengkeng (kind of like a small lime) from each spoon to the next all the way to end of the line and then back. Now, the community has one small dirt road and shacks on either side, so we had to play on the road. So as the kids and teens were trying their best to transfer the kelengkeng trash trucks and other vehicles were coming by and we would have to temporarily stop and start back up. You would think that they would have been frustrated by that, but it just added to the competitive nature of the game to have to run back to position after getting out of the way of the trucks. It was hilarious to watch and I think the kids (and teens for that matter) really loved it.


My second favorite game was the balloon dance competition. By this point the kids all knew who their teen partner was, so we had them run to find their partner (since we had just come back from a short lunch break). The kids were so excited and jumped up and ran as fast as they could to get their “teen.” The goal of the game was to see who could dance the best with their partner without dropping the balloon that was between the kid and the volunteer. At the end of each round whoever got the loudest applause won. The kids and volunteers really got into it and it was absolutely hilarious and fun.


In addition to the fun of the activities themselves, it was also really great to see some of the ladies and kids that I had met and chatted with on previous visits to the community.


 I am always amazed and humbled that I get to work with such an incredible team and that I get to go to such amazing people in the community.

love is a VERB…

What I’ve been realizing lately is that love is a VERB. Love is more than a feeling, it is an action—it is going beyond yourself to do something for others. It is sacrificial. It requires something of you…

Love is playing with kids in the poorest communities of Jakarta…


Love is serving as part of the medical team in the slums of Jakarta…


Love is working on a nutrition program for kids who live in a trash dump community…


Love is volunteering every week to play futsal with street kids…


Love can even be taking the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness of ALS….

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Love isn’t just something that involves feelings and roses—because love is doing something beyond yourself. As I reflect on the people I work with here in Jakarta, I am constantly amazed at how they really do treat love as a verb. I am honored to be serving with them side by side.