Sunday, May 28, 2006

Joel and Bethany Potter Posted by Picasa
One big cluster! Posted by Picasa
Fallen Posted by Picasa
Chopping down a banana tree Posted by Picasa

What kind of neighbor do you have?

Yesterday afternoon, we were out in the yard full of kids playing games and soccer and our neighbors from across the street were out in their yard. We walked over to chat (of course, with our limited vocabulary) and the subject of trees and what they are good for came up.
The past few days they have been picking coffee berries and had some drying in their yard. Of course this hooked Joel and his curiosity in the whole process was peaked!
They also have a banana tree in their yard with a beautiful flower on it and so I asked what it was called. This led to us talking about how to know when bananas were good and it dawned on me to ask them about the bananas on the trees in our yard. We have two clusters on two different trees but one looks better than the other. So we invited them to our yard to have a look.
The gentelman (we still haven't been able to completely understand his name yet so for now we'll call him Pak Neighbor) took one look and said the tree was dead. Well it hangs directly over our laundry patio and so I asked how we should take care of it. He said it should be cut down or it will break the roof when the bananas fall. So we offered him the job!!
Now in our minds, we're thinking he may come back tomorrow with what he needs and take care of it but before we knew what was happening, he had a ladder, a pole wite a string on it and a machete. He climbed the laddar tied the string around the trunk of the tree way up high and began chopping away at the cluster of bananas. In just a minute the whole lot of them was coming down just feet away from me, missing our roof by just inches!
The best part... the bananas were still going to be good and would continue ripening off the tree. He chopped down the rest of the trunk and carried it off into the back area behind our yard. We still don't know enough of the culture to know what to do now, whether to pay him or just say thanks. So Joel called our friends who have been here longer and they said to offer his family the cluster of bananas. So that's what we did. We told them the other cluster was more than enough for our family and that they were welcome to take the one he cut down home to enjoy!
What an event! I bet you don't have a neighbor who climbes trees and chops them down for you in just seconds!
Mt. Merapi in the distance (active) Posted by Picasa

Earthquakes and Volcanoes

Dear Friends,

Yes, there was an earthquake here yesterday morning and yes, we felt it! We were sleeping in our beds and I woke first to feel the bed shaking and heard our dining room hutch shaking and the dishes inside moving around. Joel was out cold and had I not woken him up, I think he may not have even noticed! J We live about 2 hours away from the town of Yogjakarta where the earthquake did the most damage. We are far enough away that we had no damage here but there is much damage there and lives lost. I’ve heard from others that close to 3000 people have been reported to have died due to the earthquake. NTM does not have anyone stationed down there but there were two families there doing some shopping, I think. They said their hotel ceiling had plaster falling off of it and they had to leave the hotel. They should be here tonight and we’ll see them and get the scoop from them.

There is also a report that the nearby volcano, Mt. Merapi (the photo attached was taken from town. Mt. Merapi is seen in the distance and is recently active and Mt. Merbabu is the dormant one in the forfront) had some activity just before the earthquake but they aren’t sure yet whether the two are connected. In all honesty, you all there at home probably have more info than we have here. Without a TV yet or international news, we are slightly limited in the information arena. I did try to find some things online yesterday right after it happened but I guess it was too soon and the official reports hadn’t been released.

Our mission has asked that we not travel anywhere near the volcano so we won’t be making any trips in that direction. We can see it from town (about 10 minutes ride on the bus from here) so should it go, I think we’d likely go there to watch from a safe distance. Please pray for those who live in “Jogja” – as we call it and also those around Mt. Merapi. Their homes and lives are there and they are very hesitant to leave to get to safety.

Thank you for all the emails and prayers for our safety and our teammates safety. It is so encouraging to us! Please pray that we can learn this language quickly. It is at times like this that people face the true reality that life on earth is temporary and we could be sharing with them the hope we have for this life and the life to follow. Without language though, we can only live it out before them.

We value you and your support via prayer, finances and encouragement.

Your teammates,

Joel and Bethany Potter

When do we get to do ministry?

That’s been a question I’ve been asking myself almost everyday since we got here and even before we got to Indonesia. We’re missionaries; ministry is what we do, right? We’ve had 4 years of training and preparation to come to this country and minister to people, or so I thought.

Being a missionary is my career, it’s my wife’s career. So we finally get here, to the place that we’ve been preparing to come for many years and now we have to wait. Wait 18 – 24 mos. before we can actually do what we’ve planned on. Sometimes, it seems like it’s our lot in life to wait.

But, a new thought from the Lord has often penetrated my wondering. Our God, who is the chief shepherd, who cares more about discipleship than we’ll ever know, has so much more in mind for us than just ministry. I think His work of molding and discipleing us is more important to Him, than our ministry is. He most likely has many things to teach us and expose us to for our own growth before He qualifies us to serve others. He sees the big picture and knows best how to prepare His children to serve Him.

So yeah, I’m a missionary, a highly trained one at that, but In reality, I know that God has so much more in mind for myself and Bethany than just doing ministry. It’s easy to think that what we do, is the most important part of who we are. So if we’re not doing what we “think” we should be doing (ie. Running a guest house, buying supplies, supporting our tribal teams), it’s easy to think that we’re wasting our time.

But the truth is what we are is more important than what we do.

What we are is children of God, constantly in need of growth and His shepherding. Constantly in need of understanding of His word and what it says about us. And I’m confident that God is going to use the rest of our lives whether we’re learning language or serving our missionaries or doing something other than anything we’ve ever thought we would be doing, to continue to shape us to what gives Him glory and praise. So in the end, what we are is far more important than what we do.

So with that in mind, please be praying for patience and the willingness to be content with what God wants to do with us right now. We start our formal language study tomorrow.


Friday, May 26, 2006


Yes, in case you are curious we did feel an earthquake this am around 5:45 or so. I’m not sure yet, but my neighbor says it’s because Mt. Merapi blew. I’m checking online now so stay tuned!  Wow!  Joel’s first earthquake and my first since living in California!!  What a wake up call!!!!



Monday, May 22, 2006

Singing in the Rain???

Ok, well I finally have my own interesting blog to write!  I decided it was time to venture out on my own and head to town via the public transportation, no translator and no help! I had quite a few things on my list to buy and from several places but was pretty confident that I knew the stores to go to and what to ask for.  I had my truly handy new electronic dictionary with me just in case, and with that and several bags for carrying my items home in, I headed up the street to catch the Ankota (minibus).  It took me about an hour and I had found everything I was looking for and felt I got good prices, despite my lack of ability to barter yet. 

So I headed back to one last store, which was near where I would get on a Dokar (Horsedrawn carriage) to take me and all my stuff home.  I was in Ramayana (our biggest store here in Salatiga) for about 10 minutes and when I entered it had begun to rain lightly.  By the time I was ready to leave the store however, it was raining quite hard, so I decided to wait it out a minute and see if it would let up. 

While waiting with about 25 or 30 other people, a woman walked toward the store entrance in the rain.  She had on a Jilbob (Muslim headcovering) and was wearing jeans and carrying a bag full of various items.  Before she actually got to the entrance though, she set her things down with a ballcap on top (like she was ready for tips) and began “preaching” to the crowd, while removing her jilbob.  Of course her discourse was in Bahasa Indonesian so I couldn’t understand a word of it.  It was all quite amusing to me and everyone else watching this crazy woman rant and rave and dance in the rain.  That is until she singled me (the only white skinned person in view) out and walked up to about 6 inches from my face and began screeming at me!  My immediate reaction was to say, very firmly, “Tidak!”, Which means no!  The more she talked, the more I said “TIDAK!”  In just a few seconds a couple of police officers/security guards were by my side and telling her to leave me alone.  She did, whew, and I stood there stunned.  “What just happened?”, I thought!  I looked over to the officer on my right and asked him, “tidak apa apa?” – am I ok?  He gave me a hesitant “ya” – yes and smiled apologetically.  Ok, now what?  I need to get home, it’s raining cats and dogs and I’m afraid if I walk through this parking lot, she’s gonna follow me and then what!?  So I stood there like a deer in headlights, wondering when my brain would kick in and come up with some brilliant idea.  Then it hit me!  “Call someone to come get you, you idiot!”  So that’s what I did and my new friend, Anna came to my rescue about 10 minutes later!  She promised me that had never happened here to anyone else and she’d never seen anything like it!  I believe her, but oh, why me? 

I have now recovered and have since ridden the Ankota to town again.  Get back on the horse, right?


Thursday, May 18, 2006


Yesterday afternoon, Joel began to feel achy and has felt really tired since the night I got sick.  Last night before bed, he was burning up and his temp was 101*.  Around 4 am I woke up with the mosque’s call to prayer and checked him again and this time it was 102.4*  He’s been taking tylenol but it doesn’t seem to be helping much.  Hopefully this is just his way of dealing with the same thing I had, but he’s pretty miserable right now.  Please pray for him today to feel better and that this will pass for both of us quickly.  We have a language session this afternoon and he won’t want to miss it.  Thanks!



Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bug zapper extraoridinaire!

With the volume of bugs in this country and currently in our house, we invested in a $3 miracle worker. It is an electric bug zapper. Now I know they have those at home in the states but this one is so much more fun! It's designed like a tennis racket and istead of waiting and hoping the bugs find it and die a quick and painful death, you get the pleasure of hunting them down and swinging with all your might. The ZAP you hear as a result of making contact is so satisfying. Joel has found extreme pleasure in the use of our new tool! You should see the zest with which he kills the little buggers!

Rainy Season/Dry Season

They kept saying that rainy season should have ended a month or more ago but everyday we got more rain. Well, it seems to have finally passed. I think we've had two or three full days now with no rain. It's nice in that we can enjoy beautiful sunny days all day long and that our clothes dry much faster now. It's also nice to get into bed at night and not feel like the sheets are wet! The downside is that they say with the dry comes the heat! Thankfully our ceiling fans were installed a few days ago and now we have a nice breeze in the house. Modern technology is so nice and we are so thankful to have some here!

Got eggs?

Dear Friends,

Can it be that we have been here one month already? The time has flown by and we are finding ourselves feeling very at home in some ways and completely like fish out of water in others. The home part refers to the four walls we live within (the fish bowl – in more ways than one J). Once out of those walls though, we feel like we are way out of our league. Another missionary here said it well today. You feel like a tiny peon – a nobody, a nobody who can’t even communicate without looking like a bafoon! Oh to be dependant like a child. We now have a small idea of what Jack feels like every day. Completely dependant on others to talk for you, take you places, feed you, etc. Joel has gone to our local neighborhood grocer (tiny, I might add) to buy several items we’ve needed lately though. It’s a great time of exposure and language practice. I must share a funny story that happened the other day.

Joel’s second trip to the Warung (grocer) was to buy a few eggs. We were out of them and had a hankering for some French toast. Before he left the house, he looked up the word for egg in our not so handy dictionary. Feeling confident that all he had to do was smile, lay out the money he had and say “saya mau beli menghasut” – I would like to buy eggs, he headed out the door. The lady greeted him again and he followed through with his plan. The response was not what he expected, however. Instead of taking the money and handing him 3 eggs, she looked puzzled and shook her head while several little boys standing near by giggled. Joel was puzzled. “What do I do now?”, he thought. His next option was to try some sign language. He then looked through the window trying to spot the eggs he wanted to buy. He found them and pointed to them hoping she could follow his direction. She did and he walked home with the three eggs, puzzled all the while. Once he got home, he went straight to our unreliable dictionary to look up the word again. This time, he noticed that there were two words listed. Our dictionary however does not tell the exact meaning of the different options so the only thing to do was try again the next day with the other word. It worked! This time she smiled, gave him 3 very nice looking eggs, took his money and thanked him for his purchase, throwing in a few free items for what we think must be a nod a good effort! J A fellow missionary came by later that day and with a good laugh, explained what happened. The word menghasut means “to egg someone on”, not the egg a chicken lays! Oh, the laugh those boys were having at Joel’s expense. He had asked our warung owner to egg him on and she was greatly confused! I suppose this is par for the course and could be considered our initiation to language learning here in Indonesia.

That is a pretty typical look at how we are doing. We are making attempts at language learning and relationship building. Failing some and succeeding some. What’s that old adage, “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again!”

The Indonesian stomach bug has finally shone it’s presence in our home. Other than a few minor tummy troubles, we’ve done pretty well so far. Yesterday I took a turn for the worse and was sick all day and all night. This morning, after a very long night, I felt like I was run over by a very big truck and ended up on the couch or in bed most of the day. The worst seems to be over for now and in trying to be positive about the whole situation have chocked it up to a quick weight loss system. In just one month in the country I have dropped a whole clothing size. Thankfully, it’s very cheap to have clothes altered here!

We are continuing to spend time with our neighbors across the street, daily learning more about the family that lives there. We’ve actually figured out that two families live together, a brother and his family and his sister and her children (her husband works in Jakarta and has been gone for one year). They have jointly taken in two children who are a neice and nephew who’s parents have died. They are very friendly to us and the kids seem to be Jack’s biggest cheering squad each afternoon, calling to him from the front gate: “hello Jack!” He loves the attention and he loves it when he can go out and play with them on our front porch. The two women are so kind when I look at them with a puzzled look and say “maaf” – sorry! I often don’t even understand one word they say. There is hope though! We begin our formal language study in 1 ½ weeks and will soon be learning more language than our minds can hold! I long for that day!

Ok, well, there’s a glimpse into our lives here in Indonesia. I do have one prayer request. Jack seems to have taken a few steps back in his comfort level here. He has become very clingy to me especially and is fussy much of the day. It doesn’t help that he is cutting 8 teeth at once, but we think he’s having a bit of a time adjusting too. Please pray for us to be gracious and patient with him and that he would adjust quickly. Once we begin language study, we will be gone each morning for 4 hours at a time. On a happier note, he did take his first steps Sunday. Two great big Jack steps, with a grin to match!

We are so thankful for your prayers and for those of you who have written. We get so excited to see personal emails! You are all in our hearts and minds on a daily basis.

Signing off for the Potter 3,


Monday, May 08, 2006

Orientation day one

Did you know that the bottom of your foot is offensive if pointed at a person?  Did you know that when you enter a room of people already talking to one another or go to leave while people are talking around you, you should always bend so your head is lower than the head of the person who is highest in the room and walk out with your right hand in front of you?  Did you know, that to shake hands with your left hand is considered very rude and unclean?

Today was a day of “did you know?” ’s for us!  Our first day of orientation is now complete and we are a little wiser for it.  Not a lot wiser, but just a little.  We only spent two hours with the orientation staff this morning, but even at the end of such a short time, my head was full with lots of new information to be thinking about and implement in everyday life.  You know, for so long, the cultural heeding’s we’d been given while in our training were good things to think about for the future, but now we find ourselves in that place where heeding means implementing.  It’s no longer an “oh, yeah, that sounds good” type of thing but rather an “oh, my, God, please change my thinking and quick!” type of thing. 

Tomorrow begins another day of new information.  Pray for us to absorb all that we hear and to trust God to change us where we need to be changed so that we can truly minister in this culture.



Sunday, May 07, 2006


We sang a song yesterday in our worship service that put goose bumps on my arms.  It was the song “Indescribable”.  It talks about that God put the stars in the sky and He knows them by name… He made the sun to shine but brings cool to the night.  This encouraged my heart so much as we are here in this place where we cannot yet communicate and are feeling quite small in the scheme of life.  Even in the heat of the humid days, we can know that God will refresh us! I was reminded that if He knows the stars by name, He knows the details of our lives so far from what is “normal” to us.  We are not out of His scope.  He will shine the sun on us by day and bring cool by night.  He will be our refreshment, our sustenance, our contentment. He will always understand us even when others may not.  He will give us the ability to adjust here. He will bring ministry opportunities into our path.  Whatever we need, we can trust Him for.  He is our creator, and He is able!



Friday, May 05, 2006

Bartering 101

Yesterday we went to the town of Semarang to get some items that we can’t get here in Salatiga.  Our highlight of the day was in bartering for our family room furniture.  As we walked through the mall, we saw a display of furniture out in the middle of the “hallway” that looked similar to what we were looking for, so we decided to walk over and see it.  As we sat down, the salesman came over to us to begin the process of making the sale.  Now, there are some stores in Indonesia that will not barter with you about the price but there are others that expect it.  If you take it for the first price offered, basically you are a fool.  Often times you can get the price down significantly and they are expecting you to try.  Well this was one of those places.  We soon decided that we liked this furniture and were willing to hear the guys offer.  I say “hear” loosley as we couldn’t understand a word he said but our interpreter translated for us and actually did the talking.


He made his offer as such; one love seat, one matching chair and our choice of coffee table… x amount of Rupiah – their dollar.  Ok so that was not a bad price but let’s see what we can do.  Our interpreter makes a lower offer…yeah, he’ll take it.  Ok lets try some more but first hem and haw about it for a little while to seem unsure.  One more lower offer.  Hmmm, now this time he’s not so sure.  “Let me call my boss”, he says.  Whether or not there was actually anyone on the other line, we’ll never know but once he hung up, he met us half way and said, “my boss won’t let me take any less”.  Ok so now we get serious.  Our interpreter is pretty sure if we get up, say no thanks and begin to walk away, he’ll take our lower offer.  Sure enough. He did.  Well that was a good sale for us for sure but that’s not the best part.


As we began to leave with our receipt, I hesitated and said I’d like to look it over just to make sure he had the order right.  Boy am I glad I did!!!  Upon reviewing the receipt, we realized that he threw in a full sized sofa too!  Or maybe he forgot he only said the 3 pieces and got confused.  So our interpreter asked him, is this right?  “3 seater, 2 seater, 1 seater and table?”  Yep, that was right.  Not believing her ears, she asked again “3 seater, 2 seater, 1 seater and table – four pieces of furniture?”  Yes.  That’s the deal.  Wow!!!  We really got a good deal then as we thought we were bartering for everything but the 3 seater (the largest of the furniture)!


I must say, next time we go for a big purchase, we will be taking that interpreter with us!!!  She is quite the shopper!


Seriously though.  It never ceases to amaze us how God provides.  We are still enjoying our time here and are so thankful God has brought us to this point.  Orientation begins on Monday and so we say, “Let the games begin!”

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

First unofficial language session

There is a house across the street from us and best we can tell, two sisters live there with their children.  We haven’t seen any men, so we’re guessing there aren’t any that live there.  The women’s names are Zulaikah (Zoo ly kah) and Samsiyah (Sahm see yah).  Between them there are 5 children and the first night we came here they all came to our gate to welcome us!  They were so friendly and kind.  Every day as I walk outside my front door, I see one of them outside their house and they wave and say “hallo!”, which is their version of “hello”!  We have used our limited phrases in Bahasa Indonesian (their language) to greet them each day and are learning their names. 


Today we waved the kids over to play on the porch with Jack and brought out 2 puzzles to play with.  Soon we were learning what all the things were on the puzzles. I would say “apa ini?”  What’s that?  And they would reply with the Indonesian answer. I would right it down and the oldest girl would look to see that I spelled it right.  Often I would write down a “k” for a “g” or a “p” for a “b” or a “t” for a “d” as they sound very similar in their language.  She gently corrected me and we moved on.  By the time we finished a half an hour later there were about 10 children on our porch and the 2 women.  It was so fun to learn the numbers 1-10, several animal’s names, colors and parts of the face.  Not that I’ll remember them tomorrow, but thus begins the process of learning this language. 


Even though we use the same alphabet, the letters don’t always sound the same.  For example whenever a “c” is found in a word, it is a “ch” sound.  The reason I have a hard time telling the difference between the letters mentioned above is that they don’t aspirate them.  In English we say the sound for “t” and let air out afterward.  They cut of the air from leaving their mouth when they say it so it can sound like a “d”.  Does that make sense?  Well if it doesn’t then welcome to our world!


One more reason we need your prayers as we begin this process.  Thanks for partnering with us through prayer!



Middle of the night prayer!

I am in tears as I write this. I am so touched by an email a friend wrote today.  She and her husband are also enroute to Indonesia and should arrive in June. She wrote in her email “I woke up several times last night and I kept praying for you until I'd fall back asleep.”   I am sure it wasn't her choice to awaken but that she would pray for ME is so humbling.  I guess the time that that was happening was about the time I was really feeling stupid as far as language goes.  I had been trying to tell one of our Pembantu’s (house helpers), Ibu Nur, something in Indonesian using the very little I know and a dictionary and it just wasn’t working.  She is very patient with me and tries to understand but it's really hard with not much vocabulary.  Thankfully I wasn't in tears but was laughing at myself and how silly I must sound and look with my homemade sign language.  I ended up just stopping what I as trying to say and giving up all together.  I called my best friend back home just to laugh with someone instead of cry.  Perhaps it was her prayers that kept the tears at bay!  It is times like this that we really feel the power of prayer at work in our lives.  If you doubt it’s effects, please be encouraged that God is using them to strengthen us!  Thank you!


We are feeling more settled everyday now.  Today we went to the Market with another missionary here and she let us just look around and see everything.  We bought a few snacky type items there to try and see if we’d like them and will do that for dessert tonight. 




Monday, May 01, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Dear Friends,

Well, we’ve finally made it to home. We arrived here on Saturday evening (Saturday morning back home) at around 6:30 pm. We left Manado around 11:45am so it was long day of traveling but it was uneventful and for that we were so thankful. We were so excited to see our new house and to begin the unpacking process and were so pleasantly surprised when we did finally see our house. It is so much more than we expected and will more than meet our needs over the next 2 years or so. God is good that way though, we’ve come to understand. He loves to bless us above and beyond our expectations and we give Him all the glory!

Our house has 3 bedrooms but one will be used as a family room. Here in Indonesia, the front room of the house is a sitting room, intended to entertain visitors when they stop by. It is generally a formal room and not used on a daily basis by the family living in the home. So our front room will be that and one of the bedrooms will be where we spend our evenings and weekends as a family. Jack has a “Jack sized” room, just right for him and our room is quite comfortable as well. Our bathroom is pretty big and we have a small area where the dining table is just off the kitchen. We will finally have the room we’ve longed for to entertain guests and our back yard is huge! There are banana trees, coffee trees, and several varieties of citrus trees in our yard. Joel is excited to pick the coffee berries off the tree and learn how to roast them himself. Who knows, perhaps we’ll start our own coffee shop here. Can’t you just see Joel doing something like that?

We have taken several trips to town with our orientation staff yesterday and today to begin to buy the things we need for our house. They don’t have Laundromats here so we bought a washing machine yesterday and all the things necessary for hanging our clothes out to dry. Sometime this week we’ll head to the dishes store to get our dishes and then the fabric store to order our sheets to be made for our bed. Jack will have to have a crib made and a mattress ordered from the furniture store and we will also order some furniture for our family room there too. I went shopping for some groceries today at 2 different stores and our fresh groceries will be bought at the market tomorrow. Are you getting the idea that nothing happens quickly here and Wal-mart is a foreign idea to them? We will learn the ropes for these kinds of things in the next few weeks and will piece by piece put our house together. Please pray that we would have patience in this process. We come from a world full of conveniences and they just don’t exist here!

Our house helpers arrived today and so we began the process of language learning. I’ve never felt so helpless as I was today trying to explain how they can help us. We had an interpreter here for a little while but soon she left and we were on our own. The one gal speaks and understands a very little bit of English, so that was a help, but there is still so much left unsaid. Pray for us to learn quickly and to retain what we learn. God will enable our minds to grasp this language but again, patience on our part is required. Nothing comes for free and we have to put lots of work into this process.

There is so much more I could write about with all our first impressions, but I will end this here and encourage you to check out our blog where there is a lot more information.

Thanks for reading and praying and writing.

Bethany for Joel and Jack too!