Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017

The melodies of Christmas keep ringing in my ears, and filling my heart with the Good News ... Jesus Christ came, at the will of His Father, to enter our realm as a God Man, to be the perfect sacrificial lamb.  He was the long-awaited redemption of Israel and human kind.

This Christmas I have particularly enjoyed an album by Chris Tomlin.  It's filled with the Good News.  One song in particular causes my feet to tap and my voice to echo with Chris, "It's Christmas!  The angels are singing, and I know the reason, a Savior is borne.  It's Christmas!  The bells are ringing, and I feel like shouting, Joy to the World!"  Every time it plays, I turn up the stereo, whether at home or in the car, because it fills my heart with so much thanksgiving and praise, that I absolutely cannot keep quiet, and of course, I sing along, with great enthusiasm.

How I pray, as all things point to His coming at this time of year, that your heart swells with the love that God has blessed us with by sending His only Son, Jesus, to live among us, joyfully give His life's blood, that we can be restored to God.  There is no greater love than this!

2017 has been a year of transition for us in many ways.  We sold our house in Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ at the end of March, taking advantage of the great housing market, and paying off some debt.  We moved into a very nice, leased home in a multi-generational community, and we have enjoyed hearing once again the sound of children playing and meeting new neighbors.  Our new address is:  14559 W Desert Hills Dr, Surprise, AZ. 85379.  We will be looking for a new home after the first of the year.  So stay tuned for a new address to follow sometime in March or April.  It will most likely still be in Surprise.  I told Harry, this was the very last time I wanted to move.  I sure hope so :)

Our family was greatly changed this summer with the last of our parents, my dear sweet momma, leaving this earthly home for her eternal home.  She passed away on July 6 after suffering from severe dementia for several years.  Though I miss her so much, she is now whole in body, mind and spirit, and the promise of seeing her again brings us great consolation.  The service for her was, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful memorial services ever.  It was so lovely and filled with reminders of the home God has prepared for those who love Him ... Heaven!!

In October, we were part of an incredible movement in Washington, DC, called Awaken the Dawn.  From Friday evening at 5 pm on October 6, until Monday morning at 4 am on October 9, there was worship,  praise and prayer on the National Monument Mall, 24/7, going up for our country.  ATD set up 10' x 12' tents up and down the Mall, one for each state in the Union, as well as special tents for gatherings during the weekend.  Harry and I had the 6-8 am shift in the Arizona tent.  This was an experience like none other ... hearing praise and worship ringing out through the night and early morning, and all day long ... WOW!!  Since the National Mall is open to the entire DC community and lots of visitors, we had people stopping by the tents with curiosity to learn what was going on, many asking for and receiving prayer.  It was an amazing time for the Body of Christ to come together from all over the country on behalf of our nation.  In September 2018, this movement will move to each state capital and Awaken the Dawn will host a tent on the capital grounds all across our nation, again with worship and praise and prayer rising on behalf of our country.

We are deeply involved in a ministry, The Well, that is engaged in the common goal of investing our lives to bring not just revival, but transformation, to the state of Arizona and our nation, through prayer, training and activation.  It is our desire to actively be involved in our community, particularly with a new Christian university that just opened in Surprise, Ottawa University.  We are excited to be engaged in all that God has for us.  We don't see anywhere in scripture the word retirement; maybe a bit of retreading but not retirement.

We wish you dear friends, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May God be with you and give you peace and hope in 2018.

Harry and CeCi Smith

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Merry Christmas 2015

Ahhhhhhhhhhh ... Christmas 2015.  It was grand.  It was cold.  It was crazy.  It was so much fun.

It's hard to believe we're already 3 months post 12/25/15.  Time sure has a way of vanishing right before your eyes.  Hopefully by the time you read this, you will have already received your 'Christmas' card.  A little strange to receive a Christmas card for Easter.  I actually tried to get Valentine Day cards out to replace my Christmas cards, but I didn't make it.

Last year was such a busy year.  So busy I can hardly remember what all took place.  We loved, we lived, we spent time with family and friends!  Thankful for every minute of it.  However, a couple events have left an indelible mark in our memory.

October 7 Harry and I were ordained as pastors in our church, Church for the Nations, Surprise, Arizona.  It came as a HUGE surprise when our pastor, Brian Rezendes, asked if we would be ordained.  I came from a belief system that said women 'were NOT' to be ordained, so what was all this about.  Consequently, I embarked on a short journey through scripture and internet to glean the heart of God on this matter for my life.  I didn't find much on the internet, other than the basic description of ordination.  What I did find, however, changed my life and of course what God's word says about women in ministry.  In case you're interested, Pastor Rick Renner (, has a phenomenal teaching about just that.  This is not just his teaching, but what the Word of God says.  It shed God's light on His Word and brought complete clarity to my heart and spirit.  So Harry and I are now Pastors of Family Life at our church.  Our responsibilities haven't changed, we're still doing what we've been doing, serving God in whatever capacity His Spirit leads with the passion of our hearts.  A few things have been bumped up a bit, like personal mentoring.  God keeps bringing us adults around the ages of 35-42 to take under our wings. Once again, we've been put into a position of 'psuedo' mom and dad.  If you know us well, you know we are loving this.  When God has created us, He created our hearts with an amazing capacity to love, and right in this capacity, God has planted us with more 'heart' children.

The second event was Harry's heart attack that came right on the heels of our ordination.  WOW!! October 17 was literally life-changing.  I was away from home (not far) and Harry had done a few things around the house.  As I was returning home, I got a cell message from him, describing what I knew right away were the symptoms of a classic heart attack.  Needless to say, from where I was, I rushed home (praying in the Spirit the entire time) and I knew God put wings on my car :)  When I walked in the door, Harry was on the phone with 911 and I took the phone and finished the call.  From there I went straight to the medicine cabinet and got him two Bayer aspirin, gave it to him, made him cough hard, and a few minutes later the EMTs were on the scene, taking charge, hooking him up, and sending his vitals to Del Webb Hospital.  The gurney came in the door and I asked if they were taking him to the hospital.  "Yes," they said.  "We see some concerns on his EKG and think it best to transport him."  Out he went and I was on my way to ER.  From the time he had his "widow maker heart attack," I would guess it was about one hour and he went from home to ER to the Cardiac Surgical unit.  The cardiac doctor put two stints into the left ventricle of Harry's heart via his wrist, sending life-giving blood and oxygen into that empty left chamber of his heart.  I saw the pictures of his heart before the surgery and after ... they have become the most beautiful pictures ever!!!  There is no question that God spared my sweet husband, even to the extent he suffered no heart muscle damage at all!!

I love God's Word.  In Philippians 4:6, He says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplications, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Friends! ... that's exactly what He did for me during that whole event.  I've had some say, 'Wasn't that scary?"  The answer is NO!!  I can't explain how God does that during a catastrophic event, but He does!  His peace carried me home, walked me through what Harry was going through, winged me to the hospital, in the ER, waiting in the surgical waiting room and into his hospital room following surgery.  Literally not one anxious moment - truthfully!  As I was driving to the hospital, I thought about where I was headed, and I spoke out loud these words, "God!  I know you are not done with my husband yet."  All I can say is, "God!  You are amazing!  Thank you!"

While God's peace flooded over me, Harry was joking with EMTs about always wanting an 'E Ticket' ride in an ambulance.  If there is a funny part to this event, it was that I arrived at the hospital before the ambulance.  They got lost trying to get out of our community and Harry told the EMT about 10 minutes after leaving our house, "Oh!  We're going by my house again."  His humor is always alive and well :)  His recovery was miraculous, and by the end of the first week, you'd never have guessed that he was only one week post heart attack.  We have a Good! Good! Father!

The end of 2015 was celebrated in royal fashion - lavished on us by our daughter, Noelle and her hubby, Geoff.  They flew us to Kansas City on December 17 and we spent 20 incredibly-gifted days with Noelle, Geoff, Kayli, Hudson and Jackson.  Oh my!!  We laughed!  We ate!  We played!  We vegged together!  We celebrated Christmas!  We were treated like a king and queen.  The kids planned marvelous adventures for us to enjoy together--a Christmas concert, wonderful New Year's Eve dinner out together, movie time to see Star Wars in luxurious recliner seats (so glad I didn't fall asleep).  We were royally blessed by their sweet, generous hearts and on top of all the dinners they paid for too, we even got Christmas gifts and they were by no means tokens.  They too were generous.  We had so, so much fun.  Recalling those great days together brings mega smiles to my face and heart (and a few tears just missing them).  I'm including a video, which I'm sure you'll enjoy, of our fabulous time together.  More pictures to follow.

I don't think I could ever top off a year as incredible as the end of 2015.  And there were so many times of driving back and forth to California to be with my momma (now 90) and sisters, visiting long-time friends along the way, spending time with our daughter-in-law, Lori and grandson, Liam.  Having our oldest daughter, Shauna, and family close by in Peoria ALWAYS presents joyful times together.  We are grateful beyond measure to have them only 30 minutes away.  Our oldest grandchild, Nick, turned 18 this past December and he's almost twice my height!  They are a constant source of fun and adventure and all our grandchildren keep growing up :)  After leaving our home in June, our heart daughter, Tonya, came back home in October.  God is bringing healing to her heart and restoring His words spoken and prayed over her.  It is a privilege to be a part of her restoration.  Our heart son, Jeff Denton, comes to visit often from the high country in Arizona.  God is at work in his life and it is a joy to be part of what God is doing in him too.  All in all, we have been showered with our Father's love - so amazingly so.  Thank you for being a part of 2015 with us.  We love each of you and cherish you in our hearts more with every passing year.

Have a blessed Easter!  Jesus Christ is Risen!  With joy-filled hearts, we resound with, "He is Risen Indeed!  - Hallelujah!"

Harry and CeCi

Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Dear Friends and Family,

I blew it last year and you all know it.  I slipped a piece of paper in your Christmas card telling you to go here to read our Christmas letter. However, it never got written.  UGH!!  I just couldn't seem to find enough time to get to it before you received your Christmas card.

So here I am again. This time, however, the cards are sitting right next to me--stamped, addressed, and ready to seal and mail.  And here I am actually taking the time to put our thoughts on paper about the last two years.

At God's leading, we returned home in July 2011 after spending one of the most life-changing experiences for us as a couple.  God gave us a whole new world view and caused our hearts to fall in love with the Indonesians in general, but mostly with the students at UPH (Universitas Pelita Haripan)--both in the high school and on the university campus.  The payback of investing our lives into theirs was in their unconditional love--from everyone, right down to those who swept the grounds of fallen leaves every day.  They welcomed us with open arms and we left with hearts full and overflowing (and very leaky eyes).  Leaving them was so difficult and all the way home on the plane I kept asking God if we had heard Him correctly and we had.

God brought us home in time to minister love and restoration to a young missionary woman and her adopted son, just home from Uganda.  Tonya and Christopher lived with us for 3 months from July to October as God began to redeem what the canker worm tried to destroy.  Spiritual victory and healing returned and today they are whole in body, mind and spirit.  We continue to mentor Tonya and Christopher as our "heart" child and grandson.

We also encountered a young adult man, Jeff, that needed a "mom and dad" to love him unconditionally and lead him back to Jesus.  He was CeCi's Neuro muscular therapist and God just opened the door and we stepped right in.  It has been a joy to see him grow in his relationship with the Lord and desire to become all that God wants him to be.

A year ago September, we began praying that if God wanted us to return to Indonesia, He would open the door.  We were willing to go for two, three, four or however many years He wanted us there.  Unexpectedly, we received an invitation in January 2012 to return as dorm parents to UPH College.  We were very excited about another opportunity to impact the lives of these students for Christ.  We pitched the idea again to our kids and my momma and everyone gave a green light, knowing that if God gave this opportunity, then we should take it.  We began moving ahead and let UPH know that we definitely wanted to return and they began working on the visa paperwork for our return.  After exhausting all avenues for us to return legally, we got word that it was just not possible to secure the proper paperwork that would allow us to be there for the length of even one school year.  Immigration laws had not changed, they were just beginning to enforce them.  Needless to say, we were very disappointed, as well were our UPH College students.

We we did have a wonderful reunion at the end of May 2012, when we returned for a visit to attend the graduation of the students who were 11th graders when we were their dorm parents. The students as excited to see us as we were them.  And of course it was very sad to leave them again.  While in Indonesia, we flew to the island of Kalimantan to visit the Robitailles in Pontianak.  They are missionaries with New Tribes.  We enjoyed staying in their guest quarters and seeing some of the sites in Pontianak, which included standing on the equator - pretty cool!  We went to an outdoor tribal festivity where many were dressed in their native tribal dress (which by the way ewer absolutely gorgeous).  They had dance and vocal competitions.  That was definitely a highlight of being in Pontaniak.

If all goes well and the "natives" aren't restless, we plan to return to Indonesia again this summer in late May to attend the graduation of the students who were 10th graders when we were their dorm parents.  It will be a grand time of celebrating.  While in Indonesia, we hope to fly to Papua and visit one of the UPH Teacher College teachers.   Sos was a TC student and became CeCi's interpreter when we first arrived.  He has become one of our Indonesian sons and he is now teaching in Sengai, Papua.  It will give us a chance to see another part of Indonesia; one that is very different from Jakarta.

One of the best and most unexpected surprises this year has been the relocation of our daughter, Shauna, and her family from Las Vegas, NV to Peoria, AZ.  They now live about 30 minutes from us and what a joy to be close enough to bop on over to visit, have a spontaneous dinner together, enjoy a swim in their refreshing pool, or help as a chauffeur.  Having our oldest grandchildren, Nick, Devin and Shaela, right here is definitely a plus too!! They each bring so much "life" to our lives.

Noelle and her family moved from Owasso, OK  to Kansas City where our son-in-law Geoff took a surgical position at St. Luke's Hospital.  They are enjoying being close to Geoff's sister Rebecca and family.  Noelle ran her first Disneyland Half Marathon September 1 with her running buddies Lori Smith and Shannon Moore.  We were there to cheer them on to the end.  They were awesome!  Kayli now has a school buddy, Hudson, and Jackson gets to enjoy momma as by himself.  They'll all be here for a delayed Christmas in mid-January -YEAH!!

Jeff continues to be a computer geek at JWC Environmental.  He is still very active with cycling and anything outdoors. Our beautiful daughter-in-law Lori keeps very busy as a stay-at-home mom, and now that Liam is in kindergarten, she's able to help out in the classroom once or twice a week.  Liam is a charmer to be sure and we love his cute personality and very creative mind.

Harry is still running his "Smitty the Handyman" business and I'm moving into my 10th year as a Stampin' Up! demonstrator.  In these ventures outside our home, we've met some wonderful new friends and loyal customers too.  Harry's still playing trains with the big kids (seniors) here in our community and I spend most of my free time doing and teaching paper crafts.

We are thankful to be in good health; we still have a lot of spunk and energy too. I think our attitude towards life helps keep us young.  Life is too short to be sour and persnickety so we choose to be silly, fun loving and joyful!

As we close out 2012, and we think of the pain so many people are experiencing around the world, may we be reminded that there is only one who can bring peace in the midst of their storm.  He is the true peace giver ... Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.  May His peace and hope be yours this Christmas.

Until we meet again, whether it be here, there or in the air,  our hope is in Yahweh, the God of Israel.

Hugs to you all,
Harry and CeCi Smith

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trusting God on the High Wires of Life

“Jesus said, ‘Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’” Matthew 11:28-29 (The Message)

I’ve been walking with God for 58 years, having accepted Him as my Savior when I was just eight years old. Wow – that’s a long time. So long that it would almost lead me to believe that I’ve got “this thing of following Jesus” mastered. Not quite! Not in this lifetime any way!

One of the things I love about my relationship with Jesus is the assurance of His faithfulness. He is faithful in His love for me; He is faithful to light my path when I need direction; He is faithful to His word that He will never leave me or forsake me; He is faithful to give me His wisdom when I ask. There are so many ways He is faithful … I could go on and on.

A week ago we had a big rainstorm on Monday and it just poured and poured and poured. Before it grew dark, the rain stopped and we saw a beautiful rainbow in the sky. The rainbow was God's covenant and promise to Noah and his family ... and all of his descendants (that's us) ... that He would never destroy the world by flood again (Genesis 9). So how many years has it been since God made that covenant? I don't know, but it's been a long, long time. Once again, we see that God has been faithful to keep His promise for all these years and He still puts "the bow" in the sky today as a reminder. If I can visibly see His faithfulness through the rainbow, then I have all the years since then to base why I can trust Him now.

A few weeks ago I went with a great group of women from our church in Jakarta to a ladies retreat at Rumah Jambuluwuk. It was about a three hour drive south of us to the city of Bogor. As we left the comfort of the freeway, we found ourselves bumping along on the potted streets of Bogor—-potholes like you’ve never seen. It was pretty slow going and finally we started climbing slightly, around curves and through some beautiful, green vegetation and tall trees. Ahhhhhhh, we finally arrived.

As we drove onto the beautiful grounds, I spotted it ahead and to the left—a Zip Line. Wow! What was that doing in Indonesia? It looked like fun, but I didn’t know if it was available for our use and would it be safe HERE! Wait a minute, I don’t like heights!

I settled into our room with my roommate, Judy and prepared for dinner. As the evening began, the Saturday breakout sessions were presented and sure enough, the zip line was for us to use too; all for the price of 60,000 rupiah (~$6). Not bad! So I determined that I was going to do it. My biggest challenge would be to climb up the tall tower to the platform. YIKES! That was pretty high.

After lunch on Saturday, I found another (much younger, ~28 yrs) friend that wanted to do the Zip Line too. I was already there at 2 pm when Jennifer and another friend, Adele, joined me. HOWEVER, they didn’t just want to do the Zip Line, they wanted to do the whole ROPE course and I can’t believe I let them talk me into it! (Actually, I think I didn’t want these young, agile girls to show up this retired, 65 year old lady.)

They went first. It was no problem for either of them and it didn’t look too difficult. So I got all hooked up to the carabeiners and tether and started up the ropes. It was slow going, and it was hard to pull my body weight up with each step, but I finally got to the top and pulled myself up (yep, all of me) to the platform on the left. The “guide” took off one set of tethers and hooked me up to another for the next part of the course.

Oh my, what did I get myself into?! I had to reach out and grab the rope of the swing with one hand, then let my other hand go and reach out for the other rope--then leave the security of the platform and step out onto the swing with one foot, then the other. (The palms of my hands are sweaty just thinking of it.) Wow! I made it. I waited for the swing to stop swinging and went for the second swing. Little by little, I made it across the 11 swings, constantly being encouraged by Jennifer and Adele.

The last part of the rope course was the easiest. All I had to do was hold on to the side ropes of a “rope walk way” and put one foot out at a time and walk on the bottom rope. I was encouraged “not to look down” – so I didn’t. Yeah!! I did it. And then came the waited for Zip Line. It was exhilarating! A risk I thought I would never take! WOW! Truthfully, I’m pretty proud of myself.

As I’ve reflected on this adventure, watched and re-watched the videos, laughing each time, I realize that stepping out onto those swings is a lot like trusting God. The Bible is filled with God's promises that tell us we can trust Him. Here are a few verses that come to mind as I think about that “tight-rope act” up on those high ropes:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

“For He will give His angels charge concerning you; to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalms 91:11-12

"The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." Deuteronomy 31:8

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. Isaiah 43:2

This one is especially appropriate:

'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Isaiah 41:10

The truth about each of these verses is that God KEEPS HIS PROMISE which in turn allows us to trust Him.

If I could step out on those ropes, trusting that the tether and carabeiners could keep me from falling, when they are man’s attempt at security, how much more should I be able to trust the God and creator of the universe to care for me when He has been doing the same thing from the beginning of time. Have you noticed lately that the stars and planets are still "hangin'" up there :)

In my 58 years as a Christian, I’ve learned one thing for sure that I'm willing to stake my life on: God is dependable and faithful and whatever He promises, He is good for. I know of nothing else in this whole world that meets or measures up with that same criteria. I can trust Him with every minute detail of my life and have nothing to fear. For that I am eternally grateful to the one who holds me in the palm of His hand.

I close with this story, author unknown.

At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized his picture when I saw it, but I really didn’t know Him.

But later on, when I met God, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that God was at the back, helping me pedal.

I don’t know when it was that He suggested that we change places, but life has not been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points. But when he took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on!

Even though it looked like madness, He said, “Pedal!” I worried and was anxious and asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer! and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I’d say “I’m scared,” He’d lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed; gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey. And we were off again. He said, ‘Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight.’ So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

At first I did not trust Him to be in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it; but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with God as my delightful constant companion.

And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore, He just smiles and says, “Pedal!”

Sunday, October 24, 2010

West Meets East

Life in Indonesia continues to bring us many surprises and much laughter. I've had some recent experiences that I thought might bring a little levity and smiles to your face.

Coffee in Indonesia
Obviously we've had many firsts here in Indonesia. I've had my first Avocado Vanilla Coffee drink. YUCK you say. Oh contras, my friend!! It is quite delicious and you can't even taste the avocado. It has coffee, pureed avocado, vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate. I don't know if it's coming to the US any time soon, but if it does, you must give it a try. Yummmmmmmmy!!

Riding the Angkots in Indonesia and Open Air Markets
Indonesia has a very interesting transportation system. Right here in Karawaci, it's really quite simple. You can take a bus, an angkot (ong-kot), a taxi, a motorcycle, or ride a bike. None of which I thought I would ever use here. However, one of the wives here wanted to take me to an outdoor market so I agreed. The first step was to ride the angkot to the market. It was quite an adventure. Most of the locals ride the angkots and when this "bule" (or white person) got on, all eyes were on Ibu CeCi. Marian and I chatted and laughed all the way to the market, and the eyes were still glued on us, especially those of the children, and I learned why, which I'll explain later. All five colored angkots, white, green, yellow, red and blue, have their own route, so if you want to know the route they take and where they go, just get on one and ride the entire route. To get to the outdoor market, we rode the blue angkot and it was quite bumpy :)

When we arrived at the market, we really were at an outdoor market. It had a tent-type canopy, but there were no sides to it. Indonesia is not exactly the cleanest place in the world and so there were many things for me to overcome. One was the flies. I'm glad I didn't go with a shopping list, because this American city girl could not bring herself to select any fresh veggies or fruits. Next we walked back to the "meat" section which is in a back room all by itself. The counters were pretty clean and free of pests and the selection of meat was nicely displayed. But the floor ... oh my. It was tile, but streaked with the glooey part of the chicken skin. I was surprised I didn't slip on it. It was all I could do to keep from thinking of it so the contents of my stomach would stay where it belonged. Maria asked if there was anything I wanted to get. I told her, "I'm just here to observe." She bought her purchases and we boarded the same blue angkot to return to UPH.

White Ghosts
In Indonesia there are many, and I mean many, superstitions. Indonesian parents have taught their children that the "bule" is a ghost. As we were riding back to campus, Maria was telling me this and I told her this explained an incident at the HyperMart several weeks previous. Harry and I had loaded our basket and were ready to check out. We went to this one checkout counter and there in the aisle leading up to it was a little girl sitting in the cart, but no momma around to be seen. So we smiled at her - probably 3 years old - said excuse me in Bahasa (permisi) and walked past her. I turned around to smile at her again, and she began to wail, "Momma, Momma, Momma." Oh my goodness, I thought. They'll think I tried to pick her up or pinch her or something. Pretty soon her momma came over and picked her up to soothe her, but this little girl would not take her eyes off me. I'm sure she thought I was going to "get" her :) No wonder the children in the angkot could not take their eyes off me.

Mistaken Identity
Several weeks ago I was surprised by one of our MYC (Mission Youth for Christ) assistants, Daniel. We were eating dinner with our students on a Friday evening and he came to show us his new baby. A woman approached with the child in a stroller and she was dressed in the typical Muslim garb. I was very surprised he was married to a Muslim. One of our friends in Surprise told us if we got a chance, it would be really great to meet a Muslim family and get to know them. Ah ha, this was my opportunity. So I began to think about this and prayed for an opportunity. The next Sunday at church, they were selling New Testaments in Bahasa Indonesian. Great! I'll buy one and when the opportunity is right, I'll give it to Daniel's wife. I haven't had the chance yet to spend any time with his "wife," but happened to ask him the other night, "Daniel, is your wife Muslim?" "Oh no," he replied. "She's Christian." I started laughing and told him the story of seeing who I thought was his wife. He exclaimed, "Oh No, she's not my wife. She's my maid and nanny to our baby. My wife is a Christian." We all had a good laugh. This was definitely a case of mistaken identity :)

I Had My Students in Tears
A few weeks ago I taught several students - both male and female - how to cook. One girl and one guy had a project together for a class and it was to make a meal that they could duplicate in their dorm kitchens. Their kitchens have no ovens, nor do they even have a toaster oven (which is what we had to buy). So what to fix so that everything could be done on the stove top. We finally settled on making apple compote and chicken and dumplings. None of which are too difficult. So I got all the ingredients together and tried to think how best to teach it and have the students do

the actual cutting and cooking. Some of the ingredients for the chicken and dumplings are carrots, celery and onions. I explained and showed how to slice the carrots and onions. Then I demonstrated how to cut the onions. So I handed off the knife to one of the boys, Dennis, and he got the hang of it right away. All of a sudden, he turns to me with his eyes blinking furiously and tears streaming down his face. "Oh Dennis, I forgot to tell you that onions make you cry." With that, I took the knife from him and told him to go wash his hands really good and, "Don't touch your eyes." This was a lesson I'm sure he won't soon forget. The students did a great job and the meal turned out really good.

Please Try, If You Will
Periodically we have Open House at UPH College. It gives prospective parents and students a chance to hear about the the educational opportunities, ask questions, and visit the dorms. Knowing that I would be greeting parents at a dorm and needed to invite them in, I decided to look up the Bahasa Indonesian for Please come in. Not a problem, just say "Coba Masuk (pronoucned choba masook). Easy enough. So there I was standing by the dorm room as the parents arrived. I gleefully said, "Coba Masuk" and they began to come inside and look around. Not one laughed at me or looked at me strangely. I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

Later at lunch I was telling some of the students I'd learned the way to invite people in. So I proudly said, "Coba Masuk." Immediately they began to laugh. Uh oh, what did I say? I asked them to "please try and come in." We all had a good laugh and of course now I know the correct way to say, "Please come in;" Selikan Masuk. Won't make that mistake again.

Yummy Yummy
I have one last story for you - I saved the best for last. The last night we were in Bali (during Ramadan), I caught the toenail of my left big toe on the bottom of the bed and it pulled the nail away from the nail bed. It bled quite a bit, but we cleaned it up and put bandaids on it to keep from catching the toenail on something and ripping it right off. Over the course of about three weeks, I continued to change the bandaids, hoping that the nail would finally reattach itself. Then one day I felt some throbbing in the toe and pulled the bandaid off to discover I had an infection underneath the nail. I sent Harry to the pharmacy to get some Epsom Salts, Peroxide, and Betadine. He came back with two out of the three - no Peroxide. Okay, I was happy. So I prepared a pan of very hot water and put the Epsom Salts into it and soaked my toe for a while. Next I applied the Betadine and then the bandaid. The next day, my friend Marian came over bearing a small container of Epsom Salts and Peroxide. I told her Harry had purchased the Epsom Salts but was very glad to get the Peroxide. I don't know why I thought of it, but I thought maybe she should look at the bag of Epsom Salts Harry had purchased and see if there were anything different about it - everything was in Bahasa. I went to the kitchen and brought it out. After reading the package, Marian started laughing. "You know what you have here?" she asked. "Epsom Salts," I replied. "No, you have ... MSG." Hilarious laughter erupted. I had soaked my toe in MSG. What a hoot!! Harry said I had very good tasting tootsies :)

That's it for now friends. I had to share a few of the fun little stories that have taken place in this eastern culture. I am sure there will be more to come. For now, please know that you are in my thoughts and my prayers. I miss each one of you and look forward to seeing you when we're home for Christmas. Hugs from Indo! CeCi :)

Friday, September 17, 2010


Okay - I admit it ... I'm homesick. I'm homesick for my family, friends, Friday Night Rice Group (FNRG), our church, comforts of home, beauty of Surprise (the sunrises and sunsets), having a car, driving to the store, familiar foods, and a lot more. I really hadn't verbalized any of this until this morning.

When I woke up this morning and lay in bed, my mind began conjuring up all the reasons why we shouldn't return to Jakarta in January (maybe you didn't know we are planning to do this). I think the only one that carried any merit is the essence of danger here. Living in a predominantly Muslim society does have its dangers. Because of the pastor in Florida that planned to burn 200 Koran on 9/11, we've had security warnings from the US Embassy not to go places where mobs gather. Jakarta would be a place to stay away from and that's where we go to church.

In other words, my spirit was whining!! I lay there for a while thinking of these things and I knew I was wrong. I began to pray and ask God for His peace. I got up (Harry was still snoozing) and came to the living room to do my devotions. I've been reading in Galatians. This morning took me to Galatians 5. Paul starts out talking about the freedom we have as believers, not by living under the Law, but by being justified by faith through Christ Jesus. As I read along, I came to verse 7 and 8:

"You were running well, who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you."

I stopped dead in my tracks. That's exactly what "someone" (Satan) was trying to do - persuade me into false thinking. The truth is that God said, "Follow Me," and in obedience we did - to Indonesia.

I began thinking of what He called us to; to be His light in a very dark and needy world. Our responsibility is to be faithful to that calling - no matter how big a task or how small. As I pondered this truth, Matthew 25:23 came to mind. Jesus was speaking about the parable of the talents when He said,

"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave (servant). You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' "

Anything God calls us to is not small when we are obedient to Him. The task itself may not be large, and may not be complex or complicated. In our case, we are very comfortable in a nice apartment. We have shelter, a place to sleep, food to eat, clothes to wear, people to love and who love us, a lot of time to read and enjoy each other, a beautiful view
from our window, comfortable weather (yes, even the humidity), and we just returned from a vacation in Bali. We are incredibly blessed compared to a large percentage of the world.

More than all of these comforts - and they are exactly that - comforts, we have students who need the light and love of Jesus to ooze all over them. That is easy for me. It would be easy to consider this calling less or small because I am not fighting starvation (although it is here), I am not sleeping in quarters with rats and cockroaches or lots of mosquitoes, my food is not infested with worms or bugs - I've got it pretty nice here.

This is my training ground. Jesus said if we are faithful in a few things, He will put us in charge of many things. The Holy Spirit has been my disciplinarian this morning and I'm thankful that He loves me enough to chasten me and is patient. His gentle voice and love renew my spirit and tears cleanse my soul.

Lord, forgive my spirit for whining. You've given me a calling that is precious to you and if just one student comes to know You, it is worth all the treasure in the world.

The cry of my heart is: Lord, may I be faithful in the few things you've given me to do here. Little is much when God is in it. May I live in the joy of my Master.

UPH Festival

Note: I didn't get this particular blog out as soon as I had intended. It is almost a month late. I send my apologies.

Today is Friday, August 20 and it is amazing to think that we've been here already four weeks. They have flown by very quickly.

As tradition and for the 17th year of this university, UPH kicked off the school year last Wednesday with a festival. It was grand!! It began with a Gala Concert with our students as the main contributors. They were the orchestra, the dancers, the choir, and the actors, each with their amazing talent. It was on display for all to see and enjoy and it made us proud to be even a small part of it.

For the following four days, the campus was alive with a carnival atmosphere as thousands joined our celebration. There were booths of food, beverages, clothing, trinkets -- you name it -- it was here. Even the sudden downpours of rain could not dampen the joyous atmosphere from Thursday through Friday. Saturday evening was the finale and it was spectacular!! Everyone gathered on the soccer field as the light of the sky went out to give way to a light show called Digital Mapping.

The backside of building D became the backdrop and screen to this incredible light show. With music and visual images, piece by piece, the digital overlaps caused the building to take on the appearance of a colonial style building, with columns and pillars, signifying our present status. The building appeared to crack and fall apart, and fire consumed the inside. As the music and visual mapping changed, the building was opened to caterpillars crawling around inside, and then transformed to butterflies. As they fluttered throughout the building, the structure began to "heal" itself. The inner workings of cranks, pulleys and gears (and the sounds to go along with them) began to change the inside of the building (our hearts) and a new "fire" began, with fireworks and electricity (the workings of the Holy Spirit). Slowly, an image began to form on the building ... a butterfly ... with the them for this school year, "Be Transformed," emblazoned beside it.

If you'd like to view this presentation, you can click below to watch (please not it is a little grainy but you'll be able to identify my description above with the images you'll see and the music you'll hear). The ten minute presentation is divided into four videos. Enjoy!

Digital Video Mapping 01:
Digital Video Mapping 02:
Digital Video Mapping 03:
Digital Video Mapping 04:

This digital mapping presentation has kind of described my week (from chaos to order). For several days I've been wondering what we are doing here. Our days have been somewhat unstructured and seemingly without much purpose. We've had great times with the students, joining them almost every day for lunch and dinner, making ourselves available to them if needed.

Then we were asked to join the boys for the devotional time on Wednesday at 10 pm. As we gathered, I was asked to give the devotion. Okay :) I opened my Bible to the place of my own personal study, the book of James, and shared from James 3:1 to James 4:8, about the taming of the tongue. James is a great book about developing our Godly character and the part of our body that is the hardest to tame is our tongue. How is it we can praise God with our mouth one moment and the next be gossiping or using that same mouth to say words of hurt to or about our brother or sister? Verse 10 says, "With the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things out not to be this way." WHOA!! God help us for we cannot tame the tongue without the power of the Holy Spirit. How are we to go about this? James 4:7, "Submit to God (that comes first), resist the devil (that comes second) and he will flee from you (that comes third). (Then) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." (Italics for emphasis.)

Yesterday (Thursday), dawned a day that I think God created just for us. From dawn to dusk, it was like a day in Arizona during monsoon season (right now in fact). The clouds were high in the sky, not low with humidity. There were billowy, white puffy clouds, and streaks of gray ones AND it was Harry's 67th birthday.

Throughout the day he received birthday greetings from family and friends. At dinnertime, I took three cakes with us to meet the students and we lit the "67" candles (just the numbers!) and sang "Happy Birthday" to my dear hubby. The students were awesome and one by one came to him and gave birthday greetings and wishes, some with handshakes and others with hugs. As they headed to study time, we returned to our apartment. Harry was snoozing on the cough while I was scanning Facebook, when someone knocked on our door - it was 9:15 pm. When I opened it, there were all 43 of our students and their supervisor and resident assistants - with a beautiful cake ablaze with candles. For another hour, we enjoyed the warmth and loving welcome they have given us since the day we arrived.

We joined the guys at 5:30 am for morning devotions and Harry shared from his heart. His devotions just took him through the story of Esther and how God used her for a very specific time in the life of the Jews. He shared how God can use each of us in the same way.

We came back to our apartment, weary in body, but very keen to God's presence. It became very clear why God has us here. As we prayed, sweet tears of joy mingled together with our hearts' desire to share our love, God's with each of them. Some have very strained and non-existent relationships with their fathers; others are from broken homes and need heart healing; all need to experience the love of God. He has blessed us with an abundance of just that - His love - to bring to Indonesia and let it spill all over them. We are here for that - God's purpose. How could we ask for anything better!