Friday, November 23, 2012

Update on Tison

Tison spent 18 months in the U.S. where he received reconstructive surgery for burns to his face, arms, right hand, both legs and feet. While he was here in the U.S. he became very special to his host family. They sent a big Green Bay Packers bag with several gifts for him. I got to take it and give it to him.

He has grown a lot and each time I see him I notice he is becoming a young man. He was so excited to get his gifts and card. He was also excited to show me that he could read and write. While he was in the U.S. he went to school where he was making progress but was challenged by learning phonics. He was actually really gifted with numbers but reading was his biggest struggle. He had such a big smile as he read to me from a book he selected from the library. It was an honor to see the evidence of his hard work.

Tison is also a thoughtful boy and usually has a friend. He is not one who has a lot of friends around him--he likes to have one good friend at a time. His new best friend was Jek. Jek is the opposite of Tison. He is tall, thin and quiet. The one thing I could see they had in common was they were both kind to each other--there was not a mean bone in either one of them. It was so good to see that he had grown and that he was excited about learning. He is well on his way to becoming a good person. Tison is the only member of the Green Bay Packers fan club. That is loyalty.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

More Than 30 Visits

The beautiful palm trees of the islands of Indonesia have greeted me some 30 plus times. I anticipate each trip and look forward to spending time serving alongside the amazing Indonesian staff. I have fond memories of the amazing experiences I have had with hundreds of volunteers who have paid their own way to touch the poorest-of-the-poor. Respect is too small a word to express my feelings for these volunteers.

At the end of this month another team will travel to Indonesia. This team will consist of eleven people from different places in the U.S. The priorities of the team will be primarily medical training and working with the children’s home staff.  The sick and injured come to our clinic to seek free medical or dental care. We are blessed to have medical professionals who volunteer to upgrade the skills and knowledge of our medical staff. The great medical challenges that the poor face are addressed every day by our staff. When a woman comes in sick and finds out she has HIV—our compassionate staff is there to offer her help and answer her questions.

The value of bringing the skilled professionals to our base is just immeasurable. The training alone is so valued in that it can save lives and reduce suffering. I leave soon and will travel with eleven amazing people—I am blessed.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Real Friends

All of you know what I mean when I say--real friends. Yes, they are like pure gold. If you have a couple in a lifetime you are blessed. I have found that in our work in Indonesia we have found some of the most amazing people who I consider the real brand of friends.

How do you know you have a real friend--they are with you in the worst of times. There is a steadfastness and commitment in the relationship. They always believe the best about you and always seek the best as friends. These real friends do not let obstacles stay in the way of  the friendship. I so enjoy the time I spend with them. I have these real friends in the U.S., Indonesia and Australia. 

I feel extremely blessed--I have several of what I would call real friends. I have an amazing wife and a band of people who believe in me. I am a rich man--not in my wealth but in my friends.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Another Team

I am organizing a large team to go to Indonesia on a short-term trip. This is an awesome team, and I am excited to have them share their skills and giftings with the staff and those we serve. This team is just packed with talented members. We have team members who will train the staff on how to build a website, English as a second language, early childhood development, micro-enterprise, medical skills, and counseling deep trauma. The chance to serve our amazing Indonesian staff by sharing, training, and upgrading skills is so important.

All of our team members apply for a social visa. This visa allows our team members to work with our staff and to travel to our clinic and children’s home. The process to be awarded a social visa takes a number of letters to be included in the application. We apply and just wait to see if the individual is awarded the visa. You cannot get into Indonesia without a valid visa. We always do everything with respect and cooperation with all the requirements expected of our teams. We are guests in the amazing country of Indonesia, and we love coming to serve our friends.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


We had one of our vehicles involved in a roll over near our base. The pick-up is know as a hi-lux. It would be a total loss here but the truck will be fixed as best they can. It is expensive to purchase a vehicle on this remote island. The prices new are as high as a car here in the U.S. but even a well used vehicle can bring a big price tag. These vehicles do not even have to run and will come with a big cost.

It took us over a year to raise the funds to purchase this truck. It took only a moment to be involved in this wreck and it will take a bit of work to get it back on the road. The best part of this is the driver was uninjured. We are very thankful of his protection.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


It has been over eleven years since I first set foot in Indonesia. It was a life changing experience to walk in the refugee camps and witness the sad struggle of thousands of people. Those memories set the direction of our work even a decade later.

We have a passion to serve the poorest-of-the-poor in the remote island of Halmahera. The challenges are always before us--funding--medical resources--training of staff--organizing the construction of facilities. I strongly believe the real heroes in our work are the staff members led by Peter and Esther Scarborough who serve every day. They serve without seeking praise and give unselfishly day after day. They face the challenges directly and keep serving the sick and injured.

The region is now facing an HIV/AIDS crisis. Our staff are treating those who come to us with the breakdown of their immune system--wondering why they are so weak. Every story is so sad and yet we are there to give them comfort and respect. It is a privilege to put our arms around them and to offer them compassion. When I look at the faces of those who come asking our staff to help them I remember the early days.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dishes and Modems

If you think it is frustrating waiting for your slow computer to boot up, then try being in the middle of the jungle attempting to find a satellite somewhere low in the eastern sky. That was the dilemma Peter Scarborough and I were facing. We were trying to upgrade the internet connection in order to get the internet speed increased to a level where we could show detailed images of patients to doctors anywhere in the world via the internet. It would greatly increase our ability to help patients with the advice of specialists.

We were advised to purchase new equipment and then to connect to a satellite on the “C” band. Sounds simple enough for a couple “tech-challenged” but willing characters. The new dish and modem arrived in good shape. It did take time to get it assembled and set on a stable base—this is not a small dish. Peter and I adjusted the dish and used the basic alignment tools we had and finally connected with a satellite. We were excited and amazed at ourselves—we did it. The next day we realized we were aligned with the wrong satellite, so we were back to where we started. It took a few hours, and several trees were cut until we finally locked into the correct satellite. We were reluctant to celebrate too soon but were pretty sure we had found the right one this time. Now the next challenge was apparently the modem we had did not have the right settings. So we were now at a standstill—it honestly made us wonder if it was going to happen. It did have some humorous moments—what else could we do other than laugh.

The provider recommended we purchase a new modem for the new satellite dish and come to Australia to retrieve it. We were in the jungle of northeast Indonesia, and the part we needed was in Australia. It was a costly and hard decision, but I went to Australia to get the new modem. That might sound like an expensive way to get this modem, but if we were to have it shipped to Indonesia, it could have been months and had a good possibility of getting caught in customs. The flight was easier and assured us of getting the equipment we needed. We did not have anyone else who could pick it up, and I also had some business I did at that time in Australia. Finally, I returned two weeks later with the new modem. It was installed, and we were now using the new system. We were all excited and proud of our perseverance. We now had the connection and were testing its speed and capabilities. The next day I noticed a red light on the modem. It was now off, and we worked for a couple hours trying to find the problem. We had the connection for only 24 hours, and we were now offline. After two more days of frustration, we realized the new modem must have failed. It was run thru a check, and it was not working. How could we get this operating? We had to take the new modem back to the provider in Australia for testing and repair. We knew of someone who was going to Australia in the next weeks and asked them to take it back for us. The tests proved the unit had failed, and it was not our fault—it was a problem in the unit. It had to be rebuilt and then brought back to Indonesia. It was about three weeks ago that it was hand carried back to the base and installed. The connection was made with the satellite, and the system was back online. We have been testing it for the speed needed to show the live video of patients. We have found that it is too slow, and the speeds that we need (and were promised) just cannot be reached. It is hard enough to get technical equipment to work when you have all the support in the same city, but we are in a very remote area and can get equipment and help from faraway places. We either need a miracle that will give us the speed we require or an open door for a new system or provider who can help us—such is life at the end of the earth.