22 September 2013
It was still dark when my alarm set off at 6am. In fact, I had awaken 10 minutes before 6am. After saying my gratitude and quiet time with God, I prayed for Him to bless my day as well as bless the team for today’s mission trip. Yes, we are going for a day mission trip to Batam today. It’s my first mission trip to Indonesia! I’m excited. So is Henry! He had long awaken before me, walked the dogs and was back to change when I got out of bed.
There were 6 of us going on this trip – Stanley the organizer, Yvonne, Lori, Henry, myself and Gabriele, I made a new friend today :). I felt apologetic for not preparing for this trip. With the exception of Henry & myself, the rest had prepared their goodie bags and brought along clothes and toys for the children. We were going to a children’s home in Batam.
Our ferry set off on time, and we were soon on our way to Batam. The ride journey took nearly an hour in calm water. Immigration was smooth and we got out of custom clearance fairly quick.
House of Shalom
We were met by Sari who runs the orphanage called House of Shalom (HOS) in Batam. Shalom means peace in Hebrew. Understand from Stanley, that this home was founded by his cousin, Jacey who’s based in the UK. Though she travels to Batam a few times a year, HOS was mainly supported by well wishers from Singapore, Indonesia and possibly other countries, in God’s honor and glory, Hallelujah!
We were huddled up into Sari’s van, which was sponsored by well wishers and in 10 minutes, we had arrived at HOS. The children were anticipating our arrival and had lined up in one single row to personally welcome us. They were all so well mannered and polite. It was so heart warming. I must say I’m really glad to see smiles and peace on their faces. Unlike some homes that I’ve previously visited in other countries, some of the children looked very frustrated and had this “I’m angry with life” look on their faces.
The home was Converted from 2 terrace houses tucked in one quiet corner of a residential estate. The 2-storey house had 9 rooms in total comprising bedrooms, mainly 4 children to a room, an office, a computer room and one guest room for Jacey and other visitors. There were book shelves which were supposed to serve as library for books, but I noticed there were hardly any books! This can be further looked into. The place was well kept, clean and tidy and nicely decorated with pictures and bible verses all around.
Residents of House Of Shalom
Started in 2009, the House Of Shalom is currently home to 23 children aged between 6-18 years old. The girls, 19 of them lived in this main house, while 4 boys resided in another house a short walk away. The other house was also where Sari and her husband, Tiban stays. The 4 boys were new additions to the Home as HOS was primarily a girls’ home.
I didn’t have time to explore in depth the reasons how these children came to the Home. I learned that some were orphans, some do have parents or one living parents. Some were sent to the home by grandparents who were too old or had too many children to look after. Sari had said that a couple of them were literally found in the streets or slumps.
As the Head of House Of Shalom, Sari deserves all praises for her dedication and devotion in managing it. She had 3 assistants who were graduates from bible school. All of them lived in the house with the children. The house was neat and tidy, organized and certainly a conducive environment for children of circumstances. The other house where the boys, Sari and Tiban lived were a lot more sparse and in need of a new coat of paint and better lighting. Perhaps some beds for the boys too, as they were currently sleeping together in one big mattress on the floor.
As I understood, all the activities including meals were conducted in the main house. According to Sari, they are expecting to bring in more boys soon, and intends to find a commercial shop house where they can convert the ground floor into a church and worship premise, and housed the boys on the upper levels. They were looking to buy other houses in the neighborhood, but unfortunately none in the vicinity was for sale or suitable.
All In A Day
A typical day sees the children waking up between 4-4.30am. Oh wow, that’s really early! But I guess that’s a quiet hour for devotion time with Jesus. After breakfast, they will set off for school from 6.30am right up to 2.30pm. Depending on their ages, they attend schools in primary levels and right up to high schools. They studied in a christian School a short walk away from HOS.
Back home by 2.30pm, they will have a quick lunch and rest before settling down to study. They will be helping out to tidy and clean the house, prepare and cook dinner in between. I guess it is good for the children to participate in contributing to home chores, to learn some home craft, and at the same time binding them with a sense of belonging with each other and the home.
Dinner at 7pm will be followed by evening devotion before they start with homework for the day, and studying for test and exams. 9pm is lights-off and bed time till the next morning. Evening devotion on Fridays are replaced by Praise and Worship.
I guess the children looked forward to Weekends where school time is replaced by music, computer and creativity classes. They get a lot more free time, or would spend time with visitors to the Home. Church service is on Sunday and held in another location HOS rented every Sunday.
Mission Day Activities
We all sat down together with the children as we get acquainted and try to know each other better. Surprisingly, majority of the children were not shy, even the young ones. They took turns to introduce themselves and tell us the grade that they were studying in. Most of the children could speak English, some little, some better.
Knowing that they were taught to sing, we requested for the troop to sing us a song, and they gamely entertained us with a song, “Blessed The Lord” with Sari’s guitar accompaniment. Our Lord is great indeed!
Thanks to Stanley and Lori for planning some games and activities, we started warming up with the children as we played. We were all having a lot of fun in the games. As usual, there will be rewards for winning teams in the game. My heart warmed seeing the smiles on those faces. And guess what, when we ran out of pre-planned games, the older girls took over to introduce more games for us to continue playing. We really had an enjoyable time.
Lunch was prepared by Sari and her assistants while we were playing games. We had a quick and delicious lunch, after which the children prepared themselves for the most important activity of the week, church service which was held every Sunday! In a short time, they were all cleaned and nicely dressed up for church. For the children and for me, attending a church service is a date with God. So how would you be dressed in? Your best of course!
At 1.15pm, the children and us were ready to go. I noticed they were very systematic in their schedules and kept to their timing like clockwork. This is good training for the children. The one thing that I value a lot is punctuality. I’ve got to be early for my appointments or I’ll start feeling tense if I know I am going to be late.
Two vans took us and the children to the church about 20 minutes drive away. We sat ourselves down as the musicians and servers tested their equipment and rehearse for service to start at 2pm. Church is a simple hall with about 50 seats. The band consist of two guitarist, one drummer and Sari who doubled up as keyboardist. I applaud Sari for her devotion to God, playing so many roles within her personal capacity. There were two girls from the home who were dancers! There were other people who attended the church service. I understood from Sari that some of them were parents of the resident children in HOS. I certainly did witness great bonding between some of them.
Service starts at 2pm with a quick prayer by the worship leader, who is one of Sari’s assistant. This is my first time attending a church service in Bahasa Indonesia, although most of the songs were in English or a mix of English and Bahasa. It was fun for me. Since I couldn’t make out the prayers, I said my own. It was a very joyous worship to God as we all sang, clapped and danced in praise.
Today’s message was by our very own Stanley from Singapore! He spoke in English with Sari translating into Bahasa Indonesia. He shared a personal testimony on his journey in finding Jesus, and how Jesus’s love has turned his life around. Applause to Stanley for baring himself in this sincere sharing. He went on to share a story from the book of John. This is a popular bible story where Jesus and the Pharisees had a confrontation on whether to stone a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Jesus had asked whoever without sin to cast the first stone at the woman. In the end, everyone left and no one casted a single stone, and the woman was free to go and sin no more.
We also had a young girl who shared her testimony about how she was unable to move her hand while in school. She then laid hands with people and prayed to God. She was subsequently healed, hallelujah!
Service ended. We gave our love offerings to Sari in support of the good work and to keep House of Shalom going. It is time to say goodbye to the children. I don’t know how the children felt, but I know I will miss them. Even though we had spent only a short time together, the bonding was clearly there. Next up – maybe a Christmas party for HOS in Dec 2013. We’ll definitely pray about it!
My Defining Moments
I want to conclude by my personal sharing of how this mission had been for me. During church service, I felt really touched seeing how the children praise and worship Jesus. They were all so passionate and expressive. They prayed fervently and sang loudly. I can feel their love for God. It was a defining moment for me.
What I felt most fulfilling was knowing that they love God, and there is a savior who loves them for who they are, regardless of their identity and circumstances. I thank God for giving these children hope and salvation. I prayed for the continued good work of Sari and her team, sponsors, volunteers and other well wishers to keep His kingdom strong.
It’s been a fulfilling day for me and I know I left HOS with a grateful heart, I believed the rest too. We headed for the ferry terminal way ahead of our ferry schedule. The team had a little chill-out time at A&W before heading home.