Dave Gullett

a miscellanea

Its been a long day…

Well, its been a long two days. We have driving through the backside of Borneo on our way to the villages where we will spend the next ten days. 


We are here to help with some reading and storytelling contests in support of literacy development efforts here. While many here learn to read and write in Indonesian during elementary school, they are not taught how to do so in their local dialect, in their heart language. And since it is useless to have a translation that no one can read, literacy efforts here accompany the translating process.


Half of our team has been riding buses since we left the capital city of this province which, while having a comfortable ride, can be a harrowing experience as the drivers are fearless speeding down narrow roads, bouncing over countless potholes and bullying other traffic out of their way. The rest of us have been following the bus in our host’s Dihatsu Rocky 4×4, trying to keep up despite the truck’s age and the crazy traffic and broken roads.


Driving in Indonesia is an interesting experience. Like many other countries around the world traffic flows in the opposite direction from the U.S. Likewise, the driver sits on the opposite side of the car and show shift with the left hand instead of the right. The accelerator, brake and clutch are in the usual order, though the turn signal and wiper arms are reversed.


Our first three days in the city were spent making preparations to go to the village. The team helped prepare the puppets and make an audio recording of the Bible stories in the local dialect. The Bible story puppet shows are meant to begin the process of injecting God’s Word in to the hearts of this people. 


While the team worked on these projects, Helen and I went around town buying the supplies we would need for our time in the villages. While some food and things can be purchased there, the cost is nearly triple of that in the city, so we will be buying most everything here and taking it with us. We will need rice and noodles, canned meats, powdered drink mix to make the boiled water taste better, soap and many other items.


Our shopping trips gave me some much needed practice driving here, as the rules of the road are different and not always even followed. 


The first day on the road to the village was exhausting. Trying to keep up with the bus while holding ones own against the on coming traffic is difficult. The main road out of the capitol in quite narrow, and you pass on coming traffic within inches and have only inches to spare on the edge of the road. With the aggressiveness, speed and size of the oncoming trucks and busses, we are almost ran of the road nearly constantly. Passing slower vehicles is an adventure in itself, there are few if any passing zones, you just wait for a clear opportunity and go.


Defensive driving is a must, and offensive driving is a cultural expectation. Driving in Borneo is no place to be timid on the road. 

The second day on the way to the village was on dirt and gravel and broken pavement. Sometimes at speed, sometimes crawling in four-wheel drive. Across rickety bridges and through mud and water, around blind curves, through palm oil plantations, and dodging more buses and palm oil trucks.


Driving here is in some ways an act of faith. You have to have faith that the other driver will not stray too far out of their lane. You have to have faith that the countless motorcycles around you will not crash into you. Or you into them. You have to trust your vehicle and your skill. And just like life, when the unexpected and unavoidable happens all we can do is our best and trust God for His protection.


We were on the narrow crazy highway just a few hours out of the capital city when we nearly had a major accident. One of the oncoming trucks strayed to far towards us and we had to go of the edge of the road. When our tires got in the berm it threw the back of the truck to the right and we went off the road straight at a couple of people by their parked motorcycles. We missed them and their cycles by mere inches and barely made it back on to the road. 


It is only by God’s grace we didn’t run over them  and wreck ourselves. IT shook all of us up and reminded us that we are truly dependent on the Lord….even when we do our best things are not truly in our hands. We had a few more close calls on the way to the villages, but this was the closest. And for the rest of our time there it was a reminder to me, not only to be careful, but to trust that God was with us no matter what.


We arrived in the village area just after dark on the second day of our drive. Despite a fuel leak, broken exhaust, bad roads, heavy traffic, that close call and those two long days we had arrived where we trusted God wanted us. 


And despite whatever you faced today, or yesterday…you, just like us, have to trust God..that He is with you, that He is for you… wherever you are, no matter what.




Grace and Peace,


Dave, and for Helen


“Elephants. I just want to see elephants”

…says Lauren, or at least something to that effect. And we all wanted to do something together as a team. All of the team members have spent the last two weeks staying with several different homestay families and we haven’t had any time to spend together, just for fun and relaxation.


So we made them a deal. This past Thursday they moved back to the guesthouse to begin to prepare to go to the villages. Thursday was also the final day of Indonesian class, which means a test. A big test. Each test is worth 100 points. There are 9 team members. So we promised them that if they got a combined score of 700 then we would take them to the zoo in the afternoon for some fun together. We thought that the students who learn language more easily would balance those who do not. And they did. They had a combined score of 737. So off to the Ragunan zoo we went. 


It was a lot of fun and though we arrived to late in the day to see the gorillas, Lauren did see the Sumatran elephants, Melissa saw a hippo and we all saw the komodo dragons and Sumatran tigers (which are my favorites). There are birds from all over indonesia, snakes (big snakes), monkeys and baboons and all manner of fish and deer and many other animals. And even from this small zoo it is easy to see the amazing diversity of God’s creation.


While we are here in Jakarta, we try to give the team an exposure to Indonesian national culture, so on Friday we went around Jakarta to visit the National Monument and the National Museum. And for lunch we stopped in at a famous Padang restaurant, one of the first in Jakarta. Padang restaurants are similar to buffets, except that they carry all of the food to you, on plates stacked two or three or four high. the plates fill the table and when you are done, you pay for the dishes you have eaten off of. There was rice (of course) shrimp, goat, beef, cow lung, cow brain, tripe, leafy greens, sambal (chilli sauce), lots of fish, chicken, fruit and a lot more. We all had a delicious meal (well except for the brain…not my favorite) and then headed off back to the guest house.


Saturday was spent packing and in taking care of some last minute shopping for our village trips and for our  “Thank You” dinner we have for all of the host families. In honor of the Fourth of July and Canada Day (yep they have a day too ;) we had hotdogs and hamburgers. Most of the host families were able to come and we all had a great time of fellowship during or last evening before leaving Jakarta.


The “village phase” of our trip is both an exciting and a challenging time. All that the participants have been learning for the last few weeks leads up to this, and it is a chance to put in to practice many of the lessons they have learned here, and in school. At the same time, it is a whole new experience for most of them. While Jakarta has many of the comforts of the West, most of those cannot be found in the village. The lifestyle and the culture there is very different from that of the average westerner.


After just getting used to the way of life in Jakarta, the team has to readjust again to a new place with somewhat different values and expectations. And this can be very difficult at times


Life in the village also reveals how attached or accustomed to things we have become. Whether for our entertainment or convenience, we often center our lives around stuff and not people. And it is not that the people in the village do not want these things (like the Amish in America) it is just that they do not have most of them yet. They still live in a different mindset.


And so it is important to mark the end of our time in Jakarta, Both to show appreciation but also to reset our thinking for what is coming next. So we can be sure to change our expectations as we change our locations. And maybe so we can listen to what God would say to us as we travel on.



Thanks for praying,


Dave, and for Helen

Leaving Jakarta

Hey Everyone,

Its almost 4am here in Jakarta and in just a few minutes Helen, I and 5 of the Discovery Participants will pile into taksi’s and head to the airport.

Our weeks in Jakarta, packed with orientation classes, language learning and cultural immersion are over.

We are heading off to visit a language project on another island. We will be helping with literacy development in a remote area of Klt for the next three weeks or so.

I apologize for not getting an update out sooner, life has been hectic, as it always is in Jakarta, and I have not had much time to reflect. And with out reflection it is hard to share more than just a travelogue of who, what and where.

Please pray for Helen, the team and I, and our village host as we spend the next few days in the regional capital preparing, then make the long journey to the village, and for the work we will be doing there.

I’ll have internet access for the next three days or so, then not again for about 2 1/2 weeks, but I will have limited cell phone access with my Indo number.

Thank all of you for your prayers and support of us, it means so much.

Grace and Peace