We Don’t Want to Come Back, Mom
Two years ago, we were still very much newbies on this Papuan Island. Having only lived in this part of Indonesia for about 3 or 4 months. Home schooling is the only education my children had known. We were quite excited when Amy Martin decided to lead in an all weekend youth group meeting, which would include home school kids. So we jumped in (along with many others) to pull this event off. It was through this weekend of hanging out with many of the middle school kids, that attended the International School, that helped Aubrey and Andrew decided that they would like to go to HIS (Hillcrest International School).
This decision was not made lightly. However, it has proved to be key to Aubrey and Andrew thriving in Papua. School is school and some days get very long, but overall they LOVE it. Often I stand in awe at the teachers and leaders that God has called to serve at HIS, so that families like ours can serve well here. I have been impressed with the goals of the school and the key messages that they are trying to impress on the kids hearts.
One of the biggest highlights of the school year in the HIS high school is the Outdoor Education (O.E.) time. Every 2nd semester 2 weeks of school are set aside and the entire high school is flown to a remote location where they are to WORK alongside the native Papuan people. Every year, O.E. “looks different”. As their destination, projects, etc. are always changing from year to year. Darren Berg, the high school principal, is very committed to making O.E. happen…..as he knows that this is what impacts his students the most. And regardless of how difficult the O.E. is….this is what the students talk about and remember the most of their time at HIS. It’s easy when attending HIS to spend all of one’s time in a mostly “1st world setting” and so to get out and get dirty really brings living here into full perspective. And can you imagine, the logistics of pulling this off year after year? From flights, to food, to safety, to activities, to leaders…..I’m sure that I don’t even know the half of it.
This year, while I ventured to England and Darron had meetings in Bali, Aubrey set off on his first O.E. His group worked on building toilets, which involved hauling buckets of sand from the river to the project site. Painting buildings so the termites would not eat them, with a thick oil based high smelling black “paint”. Striping the runway of grass to make an easier landing, which required hours of hauling rocks and dirt and seemed endless. Attending funerals and pig feasts. Helping lead out in children programs and games. Presenting AID/HIV programs. Journaling is required. An Anthropology paper is required. Dan Wisely, the school’s Bible teacher, spoke everyday on the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’. Sleeping conditions and food were simple. They were cold. Hoodies were worn. Laundry was non existent (for some). Bathing was in freezing cold water.
Watching the video after the HIS students returned from O.E. and hearing some of their stories in church, was very moving. We will have this video on furlough (Aubrey helped film and put it together), if any of you would like to see it. My heart swelled with gratitude that my son, could experience this. Many of the senior students felt confirmation of God’s calling in their lives. One, now knows that she wants to become a missionary doctor. Another, Cody, now knows that he will study to be a nurse. Dani now knows that it is not just his own selfish desires that he will return here to work fulltime (he has been raised here all his life), but that indeed God is calling him back.
I have not been privy to Aubrey’s journal (nor do I need to be). Nor am I doing justice to the O.E. experience, as if I had gone myself…..or if one of the students were writing this. Yet, the FRUIT of the experience is seen in the high school students lives. And in my own son’s desires to want to stay here through their senior years, because they have tasted and seen that it is good. If my guys ever get discouraged or overwhelmed, I always let them know that they can home school again. With GREAT clarity they let me know, “We don’t want to come back, Mom.”
The beauty is: I don’t want them to come back either (Aubrey highlighted, bolded and italicized this….LOL). For this season, they are in the right place and I am so grateful for the experiences, opportunities, memories that they are making. O.E. is so much better then a trip to hear a great symphony or tour an incredible museum. Yes, don’t come back my son’s…..but go forth.