I was graciously hosted by precious Muslim friends, including several community leaders who are Muslim peacemakers and the family that Carrie and I describe as "our Indonesian family," as they invited us into their home and hearts ten years ago when we did not have a home of our own.
It is noteworthy that, in my first week in Padang, I only encountered one other foreigner, a German man that I met in passing. And during the first week, I was not aware that I was in the presence of a single Christian. Thus, for much of my journey, I was the lone white American Christian in a context where every single person around me was both Indonesian and Muslim.
Knowing this, some of my Christian friends back in the United States worried aloud for my safety. I admonished them not to worry and explained that I would be on the receiving end of extreme hospitality. Thus, when it happened as I expected, I was not at all surprised and nonetheless completely blessed by the overwhelming kindness and sacrificial love of my Indonesian Muslim hosts.
It was an incredibly wonderful time, and I wish to give you a glimpse into the wonder of it through the photos below!
Carrie and I love this family! On my birthday, they had a family celebration in my honor!
Getting help blowing out the candle on my traditional rice sculpture cake!
Opening gifts!!! Always love this part! : )
With my Indonesian family at the grave of their father, who passed away soon after my last visit. Pak Azwar was an extremely kind and loving man. Knowing it may be our last time together, he and I held each other and cried as I wrapped up my previous visit about 18 months ago. Two months later he passed on. Above, I am pictured with his son and daughter. We cried and prayed together at his grave.
A more lighthearted moment with my Indonesian siblings! We had to find some way to pass the time as we waited on our order of beef ribs to arrive!
Here I am speaking at a major Islamic university. I offer much gratitude for the invitation to my friend and fellow peacemaker, Dr. Shofwan Karim, an Indonesian Muslim leader who is founder and director of the Religious Community for Humanity and Peace.
Another shot of me teaching at the university.
I had the amazing privilege of spending a morning with and delivering a message to these beautiful friends, the teachers and administrators of an elite K-12 school with a massive focus on promoting peace and love and respect for all people. I am so thankful to my friend and soul brother, Budi Albarqy, for inviting me!!
Here is my great friend, Pak Budi, saying a few words after my talk.
I had the opportunity to tag along with Pak Budi and his team of heroes as they serve food and distribute clothing to the poor. They do this all day four or five days per week. I was deeply inspired! Above, children are waiting in line to receive their hot, nutritious meal.
Clothes for needy families.
Debriefing the day's work. Pak Budi and his team care for orphans and serve the poor. I told them they are doing exactly what Jesus said we ought to do!
The celebratory meal. After feeding everyone else, the team gathers around for an end-of-day feast.