Posted by: Jonathan | December 29, 2009

December 2009 Newsletter

Hey Everybody


Well rainy season is finally here. The rain is a blessing most times though sometimes I would be happy to live without it. Every day we have a 1-4 hour rain fall with thunder and lightning. It makes for a lot of house time and with the added pain of rolling power outages across our province the candles and Dutch blitz are getting a real good work out. We have yet to find the reason for our continuing power outages some say the new generator for South Sulawesi does not work and others are talking about it being bigger as other parts of Indonesia are seeing rolling black outs just less frequently. Right now we are on a 9 hour on 3 off 6 on 3 off schedule. Not horrible but a definite change to normal life. We have to plan cooking and work times around power outages which have led to some weird schedules. But a blessing is we have had more than our fair share of candle lit dinners.

November was a fairly slow month but December more than made up for it. On top of Christmas we had had a team from YWAM Darwin Australia stay with us here in Toraja for over a week. The team of 7 arrived in Makassar on the 7th of December where I met them at the airport. For the next 4 days they did ministry throughout Makassar with Jimmy and the rest of YWAM Makassar. The team worked with street kids, prison ministries and women’s ministries while in Makassar. Then on the 11th we all boarded a bus and headed out to Toraja.

For the Toraja leg of the trip we got the team involved in a wide range of activities from prayer walks to Christmas celebrations. The team shared drama and testimonies that helped to encourage the church here in Toraja as well they spent time praying for God to influence the Muslims which are now moving into Toraja in large numbers. The leaders of the team Mark and Andrea had mentioned that they would like to bring another team back in May. I had a very good time with the team here running them around and translating a bit for them. It was great to catch up with Andrea who was a friend of mine and is a fellow BC’er . The team had a great time here in Toraja and headed back on the night of the 20th for Makassar We were disappointed that we were not able to take the team camping as due to the rain but we had a great time and God moved amazingly through the team.

Now onto our biggest news for this year; Meri and I have been praying for the last 2 months about a new calling God has laid on our hearts. At first I was not as willing to accept it as Meri was, but now after many weeks of prayer and seeking insight from supporters, family and friends I feel that it truly is God calling us. Meri and I will be moving back to Canada in early June for a long if not permanent period of time. At first we did not wish to leave our dreams and ministry here in Indonesia, but God has supplemented our earlier dreams with bigger and grander ones. We see an opening for hands on ministry in Canada and feel we have a calling to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and help the poor. We do not know how our new ministry will evolve in Canada but we are trusting in God to show us the way.

In a final bit of happy news we have received a very great Christmas present this year. My parents and sisters will be coming to visit before we head home. We were so happy to hear this news as this will be their first time to come to Indonesia. We cannot wait for them to get here so we can share our amazing experiences here in Indonesia.


Love in Christ


Jonathan and Meri

Posted by: Jonathan | November 19, 2009

Our Identity is Struggle

The citizens of every country have a unique identity. For example Canadians are usually found to be very polite (sometimes annoyingly polite). What this leads me to ask is: What is the identity of a citizen of heaven? How does someone know I am a citizen of heaven?

The common bond of Christians is how we face our struggles. Jesus told us in John 16:33 “…In this world you will have trouble…” The trouble may be a sudden problem arising, a physical disability, an addiction, guilt, or one of many others. But it is not our troubles that identify us as citizens of heaven but how we struggle against our troubles. We are called to stand side by side and fight together so we will be found worthy of the gospel (Phil 1:27). This is where our struggle unites us and forms the common bond. We must battle each other’s troubles taking up one another’s burdens, and helping them to carry on the good fight. We are to befriend others and be open with them honestly about our struggles and through this open relationship we will fight and win our battles. It is like a man standing knee deep in a river. Even if the river is not very wide it can push the man over and drown him. But if that man calls out to a couple of friends for help they can stand together and face each other’s rivers and stand firm no matter how wide the river(Eccl 9-12).

Many of us have fallen into the lie that our struggles are just that ours and ours only. We are afraid, or ashamed to share our struggles with others and therefore end up in the losing battle of small victory, big defeat, guilt which repeats itself in a downward spiral. We need others to stand with us, it is built into our very soul we feel the need. What we must do is throw out the lies of the devil and join together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. For no one is blameless or free of sin and the problem you struggle with is no worse than that of your brothers or sisters. Take heart that we have been promised victory and stand together as a united front of Citizens of Heaven. Let our victory over troubles shine out over the world.

Posted by: Jonathan | November 4, 2009

Appropriate Technology Library

I wanted to share a little known resource with those of you looking at helping in a developing country. It is called the appropriate Technology Library. Some of you may have seen it for sale on websites such as Village Earth. The Price of this library seems very reasonable at almost $500 for over 1000 books. That is until you come across CD3WD which offers the exact same content for download for absolutely no cost. Alex Wier the founder of the CD3WD project has worked very hard to put together this library and offers it free to anyone who needs it.  This library is an amazing resource, yes many of the books within it are out dated compared to the technology we have in the west. But most of the under developed areas are still living in situations where these books make a big difference.

Posted by: Jonathan | October 7, 2009

October 2009 Newsletter

Hey Everybody

Time sure flies! Meri and I were just talking about how this August was the beginning of our 4th year of ministry together here in Indonesia, and how October marks our first year in Toraja. We are amazed at all that God has done for us over the last 4 years.  God has led us on so many adventures: The children’s home in Bali, East Timor, Pogapa Papua, India, Toraja, and many more.  And God has blessed us with many new friends along the way.  We have learned to trust in God for the big and the small.

As some of you may have read in my last short update letter Meri and I have started a blog. We are planning on use the blog to share short stories of what we are up to along with photos. We hope the blog will allow us to better share what we are doing here in Toraja. We will continue to send out Newsletters every month or so. Our Blog’s address is:

Over the last two months we have been dealing with a lot of computer problems.  My notebook which is about 2 years old decided to pack it in. This has left me without a bunch of photos and has me back to the desktop. On top of the notebook dying the desktop got a virus which involved a complete reformat.  So now that that is all over we are ready to go again just need to find a cable so I can access my info on the notebook.

As for news around the house we have had a very busy dry season. As this is the time of year when many crops cannot grow it ends up being a time for all the funerals to take place.  It is a time for the celebration of the life of those who have passed away. The Torajanese people can wait many years for the whole family to gather. In the case of the last funeral we went to Meri’s Grandmother had died over a year ago and just last week we were all able to gather together. As is said here in Indonesia Torajanese live for death. The reason for this saying is many years of wages can be spent on a funeral purchasing food, drink, cigarettes and sacrificial animals. A small funeral can cost as much as $20,000 and take many years to save up for. Meri’s Grandmother’s funeral was a fair sized one with 27 buffalo and probably more than 100 pigs.  It was a sight to see but as well it was sad. There is such a need for God here even though most of the people are “Christian” they have no relationship with Christ at all.

“Be a steward of creation.” This is my new saying for the people from the villages and for everyone who is a Christian. For thousands of years the Torajanese have lived in harmony with their surroundings and have respected God’s creation around them. Yet in the last 20-25 years the people have had a change of heart. They see nature as a way to make money “right now” and butcher the forests. A spirit of greed has fallen over the people and instead of taking only what they need now they take everything leaving barren land that gets washed away causing floods and landslides.  Technology and a lack of education is the main cause for this. A friend of mine has a true story he tells, it goes like this:

There were two men who were walking through a forest. They came across a bee hive filled with honey way up in a tree.  Being as honey was a rare thing and worth a lot of money the men climbed the tree and harvested the honey. 20 years later another two men were walking through the forest and came across a bee hive. As honey was still rare they decided to get the hive as well but rather than climb the tree they decided to cut it down with their new chainsaw.  For it was much easier to use technology to get the honey than to climb the tree.

This story is very common throughout Indonesia. Technology has come to the people with incredible speed but the education for proper use of technology is lacking. Therefore we get deforestation, poisoned rivers from pesticides and dumping, floods from plastic bags blocking up rivers and all other types of problems.  The people of Indonesia need to learn from our mistakes not make them over again. Do you know that most Indonesians don’t even know that plastic bags will take 100s of years to decompose,  that fishing rivers by using pesticides will kill the river, that cutting down trees leads to floods and landslide, or many other simple things we take for granted in the west.

Meri and I pray that through our Small Farm Research Center we will be able to share with the locals, valuable information that will allow the people to become aware of God’s call for us to be Stewards of Creation.


Prayer Requests:

1.       For our land. We now have the letters signed and are waiting for the survey crew to come and survey the land.


2.       For travel as Meri will be headed to Makassar for a few days to help with Kings Kids


3.       For Rain as weather patterns are changing they are really taking a toll on century old planting schedules.


4.       For us to be comforted by God where we are and not to be homesick.


Love in Christ

Jonathan and Meri



Posted by: Jonathan | September 11, 2009

A Camping We Will Go

Morning View of Rantepao Covered in Clouds

So Last weekend our extended fammily decided that a little down time was needed and a camping trip was in order. But where to go camping? There are lots of areas around us that one can camp at, but most are very remote or you are literally sleeping in someones backyard (which due to culture you actually have to stay in their house). So we were perplexed as to where to go. After talking with the everyone that was going camping and discussing how far we really wanted to walk with all our camping gear we decided on Mt Sesean. Mt Sesean know as Gunung Sesean to the Indonesians, is a very popular hiking and camping spot. After a half hour drive from town we parked at a friends house and got ready for our hike. We had a great hike into the campsite and I was very impressed with our 2.5 year old niece Kezia who wlaked the whole way. The hike ended up being a little more than we expected and lasted about 2 and a half hours rather than the 1 hour we were told. But finnaly just before dark we got to our campsite and set up camp.

Our Camp

After camp was set up we had dinner and went to bed early. The wind was a little chilly and the nights were way colder than I had expected. We had a hard time finding fire wood as many campers have striped the area of trees. But we had plenty of water from the mountain spring and it was clean to drink without boiling. We spent a lot of time hiking around the small hills and investigating the caves people use to sleep in. I for sure like my set up much better than a hard cave floor.

My Hammock

This is the first time I have ever been camping where we had to hike in. It was a great experience and I learned a lot especially bring only what you need as weight is a killer. I think this camping trip will be repeated often as Meri’s brothers really enjoyed it.

Roni Out For a Walk

Posted by: Jonathan | August 22, 2009

The First Post

Well this is our first real post on the blog. We are working out the kinks still a bit and filling in our about page. As you can see I have added all our newsletters back to August 2006 when Meri and I first started our journey together in Indonesia. We hope you will check in on us and send us comments. We want to make this blog a place to share our stories of life in Toraja and all the ups and downs. As well we hope to be able to share more photos of what we are up to. Hope to hear from you.

Posted by: Jonathan | July 1, 2009

July 2009 Newsletter

Meri and I have been very busy this last month and a bit. Have you ever had one of those times when you sit down to write an email and all your great ideas just go running from your head. That’s what it has been like for me the last week. We have had so much happening with our lives here that I can barley sit down for 5min to write an email.

I guess that is what happens when family comes to visit and you have an over active 2 and a half year old running through your house. Meri’s family has been visiting from Biak Papua these last 2 weeks. It has been great to have everyone together we even had the blessing of attending a very close cousins wedding. As it is still holiday’s here we have 2 of Meri’s brothers staying with us and one of Meri’s cousins. That gives us a very full house with 8 people staying here. Full houses are a very cultural thing with the Torajans and so I am quickly learning to enjoy the extra help. The blessing is we are still not as busy as we were when we were first married and had 47 kids in a children home with us now that was busy.

In other news our chicken project at the hotel is in limbo as the person watching our chickens had slacked off a bit and it lead to the death of all 11 chickens.  So without chickens we really can have no chicken project. I guess I should have thought about this in the first place as the hotel staff watching the project had no ownership and because of this did not really care about the project. Right now the hotel owners are looking for a new staff member that is interested in learning new ideas and will be more responsible.

As for land we are on the way. We have now got all the forms signed for the land to be surveyed and are now waiting for the survey. We have done some walkabouts on the land and have decided on a house site and design. First off though we need to build a small cabin on the land so that we can be onsite all the time. Next we will start with our tree planting and house construction. Hopefully by December we will have made some headway on rehabilitation of the slopes on the land so as to protect the remaining soil from the rainy season. We are trying to source different trees and heritage seeds. The reason for heritage seeds is that we need a seed that will continually reproduce itsself from its own seed. This does not happen with Hybrids as the harvested hybrid’s seed is not the same as the original seed planted.

In other news Meri and I will be taking a short trip to Bali. We have not been back to Bali in almost a year and feel we need to catch up with our friends over there. I will be headed to Bali on the 20th of July a week earlier than Meri so I can spend some time visiting example farms and finding some need agricultural products we cannot get here in Toraja. It will be very nice to spend our Anniversary in Bali and friends of ours who are home in the States have graciously offered us their house to stay in.


Prayer Requests:

1. Safety as we travel

2. The land process will continue at a steady pace

3. The hotel owners will find a staff member who will work well with the project

4. Family travels as it is holidays here and many of Meri’s family aretravelling

Love in Christ

Jonathan and Meri

Posted by: Jonathan | May 1, 2009

May 2009 Newsletter

Well Meri and I have been officially travelled out. After more than a month and a half of being on the move we are looking forward to some time to settle down and rest. My temporary resident visa is approved and I no longer have to leave the country every 6 months. Now all that is needed is to apply for an extension every year. This is a great blessing as it gives us much more time to focus on our work in Toraja and does not leave us worrying about deadlines, and deportation.

As of my last update I had mentioned that we had possibly found some land. Well I am happy to report that we have made a deal on some land. A few items are still pending but the owner of the land is very interested in seeing our project move forward, and help the people of Toraja. The land is located very near our current house. There is a total of 5 hectares (12 Acres) for us to use for training. As of our agreement with the land owner we will purchase a small portion of the land to build our home and training center and will rent the remaining portion of the 5 hectares. This allows us to display a large number of agriculture and animal husbandry techniques. And have a permanent residence that can display green technologies in building, and power.

We hope to start developing the land this month and are right now looking into to all the technicalities of building in Indonesia. As well we are looking into green building for our home maybe rammed earth or cob and look at solar and wind turbines for power If anyone has any information on green building or knows of anyone who does please contact us as we would love any help we can get.

Love in Christ

Jonathan and Meri

Posted by: Jonathan | March 1, 2009

March 2009 Newsletter

Well it is time for another newsletter. Meri and I have been very busy these past two months. Most of our time has been spent looking at land and figuring out what visa we should be applying for. As well we have been able to enjoy some family time and take a much needed trip to Makassar.

As a family we have spent a lot of time travelling around looking at land and asking God for his guidance. We have been able to find a few parcels of land but the prices have been a little high. The problem with finding land for sale in Toraja is that there is no newspaper or bulletin board to post sales ads. Most of our time is spent visiting different areas and asking people if they know of land for sale. This can be very time consuming and frustrating. The nice part about all this travel is we are getting to learn the area much better and we are getting a feel for where we would like to be situated.

Currently the district we are living in is being split in two what was once Toraja will now be North and South Toraja respectively. The reason for this split is due to animosity between the people of the two areas. The people of the north feel that they have been deprived of development and that most of the money sent to the district has been used in the south. This seems to ring fairly true as most villages in the south have had paved roads, power and city water for well over 10 years. Whereas most areas in the north are just starting to receive power and most do not have safe dirt roads let alone paved roads. Most of the infrastructure currently in the north has been owner built or provided by Non Government Organizations (NGO’s) as district money was rarely spent in the area.

With the current split going on there are a lot of changes in the area. One of these is a refocusing of the economy. North Toraja has put forward and proposal to focus on Tourism, encouraging Organic agriculture and developing infrastructure. This fits very well into what we feel we can assist with as Meri has her Bachelors in Tourism and I have been focusing on Community development including infrastructure and agriculture.

We are proposing to set up a Small Farm Research Center that will be used as a test plot for new agriculture and livestock techniques; as well as a demonstration area for appropriate technologies and Eco tourism. The SFRC will be able to assist farmers in choosing appropriate crops to grow along with training on organic growing techniques. As well we hope to be able to raise awareness of eco tourism and train locals in areas like bean to cup coffee tours, rice cultivation tours, preservation of the environment, etc.

Now on to one of my least favourite subject Visas. After many days of research and finding a friend who knows almost everything about Visas in Indonesia we have been able to get our hands on the new (2006) Immigration law. This law provides many provisions for Visas among them the most important an Indonesian wife can sponsor her husband for a permanent stay Visa. This is an answer to our prayers. What this means is that Meri will now be able to sponsor me for a 1 year extendable visa. This will save us many long drives for extensions which we have been doing these last 3 months. As well it will save us money on fees, taxes, and travel. The only hitch is that because this law is “new” (in the Indonesian sense) officials don’t know how to process it all the time. Welcome to our world we have a law that is in the books but no one knows how to do anything. Some days this can be very frustrating.

Once we get the visa approved I will need to leave the country and pick it up, most likely in Singapore as we have family living there and the flights are under $100 round trip.

As I mentioned above we as a family were able to get a way for a week to Makassar. We had been asked to come down to visit family that was over for a wedding. We had a great time taking our family around. We were even able to visit Bantimurung the butterfly reserve. There was an amazing waterfall there that acted as a river ride with inner tubes. Kezia really loved this and had a great time playing in the water. We also had some time to restock on some of the needed items in our house that are hard to find in Toraja.

Prayer Requests:

1.      Please pray that we will find favour with the new Government in North Toraja and will be able to assist them in their proposal.

2.      Please pray for our visa situation. Pray that God will open the doors needed to get the visa and that we will have safety as we travel to Jakarta to apply for it and then to Singapore to pick it up.

 Love In Christ

Jonathan and Meri

Posted by: Jonathan | January 1, 2009

January 2009 Newsletter

Meri and I are very happy to be starting another year here in Indonesia. We have seen God move in our lives and mission amazingly over the last year and look forward to seeing what God has in mind this year.

As is traditional for a New Years letter I would like to give a short recap. Last year was a very big year for us Meri finished her degree in economics majoring in tourism management. Meri is very happy to be done school and to now be able to help revive tourism in Toraja.

Just as Meri was finishing her final exams a very sad event happened. Meri’s very close uncle fell from the roof of his church and passed away. This sudden tragic event caused a large stir in our lives as Maria and Kezia headed home to Papua to attend the funeral and comfort their family members.

In late September Meri and I packed up all our belongings and moved to Toraja. We had been looking forward to this move for a long time. Though living in Toraja is a lot harder than living in Bali both Meri and I know God’s plan is for us to be here and we both trust God to watch over us and guide us.

In late October Meri and I had the great blessing to join an outreach team from our home church in Canada (Willow Park Church). We spent two and a half weeks in India helping out at a children’s home with construction projects. As well we were able to see a small part of India as tourists. Meri and I had a great time with the team and made some lasting friendships.

After returning from India Meri and I rushed off to Papua. Well we ended up taking the boat so it was not quite the rush but still very exciting. After 4 days on an overloaded boat filled with cockroaches we arrived in Biak. Needless to say I had Meri book air tickets for the return trip. We were just in time to help with the planning of Maria and James’ wedding. It’s quite an experience as it involves all the family even the 3rd cousin you have only met once. After the long days of planning all was ready and Maria and James got married on the 18th of December. It was a great wedding and everything went according to plan.

After the wedding Meri and I were able to enjoy a little bit of rest before the Christmas rush. Meri caught up with her siblings and cousins and I did some fishing with Meri’s brothers. Before we knew it Christmas had arrived and we were running from house to house to greet everybody. They have a great tradition in Biak for Christmas; everyone goes around to each other’s house sharing food and stories. The only problem is by the end of the day you are so full you can barely walk home.

On the 2nd of January Meri and I plus Kezia headed back to Makassar and then on to Toraja. Maria and James followed afterwards and arrived on the 20th. Now we are all one large family living together here in Toraja.

As for the coming year Meri and I are looking forward to starting up our training institute here in Toraja. Currently we are looking for a plot of land that will allow us to present a large range of technical and agricultural examples along with a classroom and a place for our family and helpers to live. For now while we are looking for land and raising funds we are renting a house in Makale. We have also started some small projects on the land we are renting these projects include, village chicken upgrading, soil rehabilitation, and duck meat production. We are also hoping to start up a rabbit project and a brick stove project. We have started each of these projects with the goal of helping villagers learn new skills that will assist them in being more independent.

If you would like more information on any of our projects or have any ideas for future projects please email us.

Prayer Request:

1. Pray that God will show us the land that we are to purchase and provide all the money needed to purchase and develop the land.

2. Pray for Jonathan’s Visa situation as we look into applying for a temporary resident permit. This is a new visa option that has just opened and will allow Jonathan to stay in Indonesia for 1 year periods or longer without need of leaving for extensions.

3. Pray for Maria, James and Kezia as they start to live their new life together as a family and as well with us.

Love in Christ

Jonathan and Meri

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