Dave Gullett

a miscellanea


We have finished up the village phase of Discovery 2007 and arrived last night in Bali.

Please pray for wisdom as we help the participants process their experiences of the last several weeks and prepare them to come home next Tuesday.

I’ll be posting a few more updates about our time in Tomohon as I have the opportunity.

Thank you all again for your prayers this summer, it really does make a difference.

The Queen's English

There is a hilarious radio show on Saturday mornings (where I live) on NPR. It is called “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”. It’s a news and current events quiz show featuring, among other things, a segment called “Not My Job”. In this segment, someone, usually famous, is called upon to answer questions totally outside their area of expertise or experience. They have had astronauts, politicians, reporters, authors and nearly everything else on the show doing their best to answer questions they have no reasonableness of knowing.

I am beginning to understand the challenge a little.

Several times over the last couple of weeks, we have been going to the local Theological University (the school that sponsors the Translation Center) and helping teach English to the students there.

Thankfully they have a curriculum and the usually instructors usually stay with us, and they mostly just want the students to be able to practice English with native speakers.

However, we want to be as much help to them as we can and they often have difficult questions about how English works. (and we often have no idea how to answer them)

We take it for granted because we grew up speaking it. And thank goodness because English is a ridiculously difficult language to try to learn. (and to try and teach as well)

Sometimes the instructors have questions for us, and even if we know how it works…it is a far different thing to explain why it works, so they can learn how to figure it our for themselves. Especially when their national language is fairly orderly and tends to follow most of its own rules, rather than trying to break all of them like English.

Even though the alphabets are mostly the same, the sounds they represent are often different. And while the basic grammatical components are there, they come in different orders and with different complexities. How many tenses does a language really need anyways? English has how many? And what if your language doesn’t have articles like English? How can “you” be both singular and plural? Can you explain how Americans use slang?

The English instructors at UKIT have a very challenging task before them., and English is not even their first language.

Again and again Indonesians come up to me and apologize for not speaking much English and then compliment me on my Indonesian. They are far too humble. We all ought to send thank you cards to our grammar teachers and be a lot more patient with people on the phone or at the store who stumble through trying to communicate with us. Remember that English is easy for us because we have been working at it for years.

So the aroma hangs in the air…

Have you ever heard of cloves? Chances are you have, and chances are you have some in your pantry with your other spices. (If you do you might want to go find the jar and bring it back to your computer, open the jar and take a deep whiff.) That fragrant aroma has traveled a long way to find you. And chances are very, very good that it began its journey in Sulawesi, and its is equally likely that it began in the small village of Suluun.

Walking through Suluun two Saturdays ago the sweet aroma filled the air. It was the peak of the clove harvest, the pinnacle of this village’s life. The harvest occurs only once every two years and is crucial to the people’s survival.

They go to their yards and groves and pluck the clove, the unopened but of the flowering tree, by hand and drop them into sacks. They do this by standing on rickety bamboo ladders for hours on end. It’s often backbreaking labor, full of long hours and very tedious. Families with larger groves often hire help for the harvest so that all the cloves can be gathered at the exact right time. Being off even by a few days can cause the quality, and thus the price, of the cloves to plummet.

After the trees are cleaned off, they haul the bags back to town, usually in trucks or oxcarts, but often on bicycle or motorcycle.

Then from the morning until just before the sun goes down, the cloves are spread out on canvas tarps to dry in the sun. The patchwork of canvas covers any open, sunny area: yards, driveways, even half the street or more.

They are laid out for three or for days depending on the temperature and humidity. This is crucial, for if the cloves are not dried properly they will lose their value tremendously.

The villagers must be on the guard for rain, and be ready to gather their drying cloves as soon as rain begins to fall. The moisture could ruin their entire harvest.

After the drying is complete the cloves usually head are usually sold directly to cigarette or spice companies.

The value of these cloves can be such that a family is secure financially until the next harvest in two years.

And it is common for Christians here to bring cloves to the church as part of their offerings instead of money.

The livelihood of the people here hangs on the quality of the harvest and the price of cloves.

There is a delicate balance though. This year they are having a record harvest. More cloves than they have seen in years.

But the abundance has sent the price falling. Often so low it isn’t worth paying extra people to harvest.

Cursed by abundance in a sense, the people must choose to sell the harvest for a low price or store the cloves in hopes of a price increase, taking the chance they might be ruined.

Dependence on “chance”; dependence on things one cannot control is a recurring theme in these hills.

So the aroma hangs in the air, and so does their future.

James 1:27

The other Tuesday afternoon, we had the privilege of visiting a very special place. Nestled in a small neighborhood in Tomohon is a refuge for the unfortunate and the unwanted.

The Orphanage of Nazareth is home to over one hundred children, from little babies and toddlers to school kids and teenagers, who literally have no other place to go than the street.

I cannot even describe the bright smiles and the delight in the dark brown eyes of dozen of faces when we arrived. We were welcomed like long lost brothers and sisters, with such joy that it breaks my heart to tell you of it.

A few of us gathered with the older kids to make some crafts and spend some time with them. I and another guy took the younger school kids and tried to spend their energy doing what they love…playing bola kaki…soccer. And a couple of us went and played with the little kids and visited the nursery.

Playing soccer with those kids was an incredible experience. They take it so seriously, so we began to clown around, falling, kicking the wrong way, whatever…to make the kids laugh…and such laughter, like ice cream on a mid-August day…just delightful.

After the game, we wandered over to where the preschool kids were. Wide-eyed and adorable, these little guys didn’t at first know what to do with me. But when I took off my ball cap and said “Saya tidak ada rombut.” (figure it out) a few of them cracked up and we became friends. I sat down against the wall and let them crawl over me. It just might be the most fun I have had in this country, and certainly some of the greatest joy. And it was very hard to walk away, when it was time to go.

The children of this orphanage, unlike many others you might read about, are loved and cared for. They have a home, not just a shelter. They have school and are taught the Scriptures. Those that had no chance are given an opportunity…not just to “become somebody” but to choose to follow the truth, to follow God.

We met the gracious couple that parents the older children; they have a devotion to God and to the children that is wonderful. They were so welcoming and grateful for our visit.

The visit is a highlight of my time here in Tomohon, but also a sobering reminder of all the other children, especially the street children of Jakarta, that are not so blessed as these. Children that beg to keep from being beaten, or that are rented out to professional beggars or that merely beg to stay alive. Children that don’t have a home, that are not loved and aren’t ever given a chance to hear the Truth.

First Week in Tomohon

To give all of you a better idea of how we have been spending our time (and to fill in the gaps between my more descriptive updates) here in Minahasa, here is the first of three (or so) travelogue style updates.

So we arrived in Tomohon (see “Between Two Sleeping Giants” for a description) on a Monday afternoon and spent the evening becoming acquainted with our hosts and settling in. The people hosting us are an amazing couple who have been working in Indonesia since the late 70’s. They completed the Mirasi translation in Papua, and are not coordinating the translation work in Sulawesi Utara. They have a deep love of the Lord, of people and of God’s creation.

Tuesday morning we gathered in the morning then went to a place called Bukit Doa, Hill of Prayer. Created by a wealthy Catholic businessman, it is the Twelve Stations of the Cross meandering up a hillside with steps climbing from station to station. Meant to be a place of reverence and for mediation on the Lord, there are gardens and a chapel being built, as well as an open air auditorium. From the top of the hill one can see the surrounding volcanoes, farmland, and villages for miles.

After returning to the office, we were introduced to the translation teams working in the different target languages. The translators range from college age to a few in their 60’s, some are single, some are married, a few are Pastors and elders in their churches. All of them have a deep desire to bring the Word of God to the people in the villages. The translation teams are Indonesian, and there are internationals who both help train and consult with the translators.

Tuesday Afternoon we were invited to visit a local Christian radio station. (it is hard for me to believe I get to type that, much less go there) During our visit the dj’s asked us to be on the air….we introduces ourselves and read the tagline for the station.. It was day two of our visit and we are now “famous”, such a contrast to being in Jakarta.

Wednesday we began learning about the process and principles of translating the Scriptures and about the Minahasan culture around Tomohon. We also began working to check a back translation of . A back translation is used to check the accuracy of a translation in the target language by taking back to Indonesian or, in our case, English. This can cause some errors to stand out and highlight difficulties that need to be revised further.

Thursday morning we continued our work on , and in the afternoon we traveled to Tondangow to see the first checking of the translation in Tombulu (see “An Amazing Moment”)

Friday was the monthly day of prayer (and fun) for the office in Tomohon. We all headed to a beach near Tanahwangko. In the morning we had a worship and prayer service, with testimonies from our team and singing in both English and Indonesian. In the afternoon, we played games, swam in the ocean and had a good time building relationships with the translation teams.

Saturday we traveled to a place called Bukit Kasih, the Hill of Love. It is an interesting place, part tourist attraction, part spa and part religious monument. It consists of hot springs, five places of worship (for each of the “legal” religions) and a giant white cross at the top of a hill (it is a landmark seen for miles). There is a giant column commemorating each religion and vendors wander around selling trinkets and food cooked in the steaming water of the springs. We then went to a village called Suluun to visit one of the translators and see the clove harvest. (see “So the aroma hangs in the air…”) We had lunch with his family, a normal meal of rice, pork, chicken, bat and vegetables (yep, you read right…I said “bat”, as in the “flying fox” fruit bat…go ahead and google it) After lunch we then went to another village for the funeral for a family member of one of our host families. When we arrived we were seated in the front, given an amazing meal (no bat) and welcomed like family.

Sunday we went to church with our host families and then went to another funeral in the afternoon. This was for a relative of the other host family who had just passed away. When we arrived, we were given the best seats, ate first (again, no bat, but we did have dog…yep, man’s best entrée….I mean friend) I do not know if I will ever get used to the honor we are shown as westerners, its unnerving and disconcerting….and comes with a heavy responsibility.

After the funeral, our host led all of the guys on the team (the girls were with their hosts) on a trek to find a cave rumored to be near a village. We found it and explored it for a couple of hours. It was challenging but also great fun. We followed the cave for three hundred yards or so, finding crickets, wolf spiders and bats (we didn’t eat any, honest) and could see how the cave was formed from rock falling in a volcanic eruption. We cam out tired, muddy and very excited to have had the chance to explore.

We were far too dirty to take public transportation or even hitch a ride, so we walked home (but not to far) and made it in time to get cleaned up for dinner, and settle in for a good night’s rest.

As you can see, it was a hectic and wonderful first week. We had opportunities for worship, learning, ministry and recreation. Who could ask for anything more?