As many of you already know, our final destination to serve with MAF changed last week, as our family was re-assigned from Papua to Kalimantan. From where to where!? If you'd like to know more about Papua and how MAF is involved there, just check out some of our earlier posts on this blog. Remember, Knowledge is Power! (I think I remember that from a strategically placed poster in elementary school, intended to motivate young impressionable students. They might have been better off writing something like "Knowledge may increase your chances of employment...Unless you are dishonest and/or lazy"). As far as Kalimantan is concerned, just maybe I'll give you a crash course right now, so get out your pens and pencils.
Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the Island of Borneo, and it is actually broken up into four provinces. The northwest portion of the Island is part of Malaysia and also the tiny Kingdom of Brunei. Borneo is a very large Island (3rd largest in the world) and is about four times the size of Washington State. It lies not too far north of the Island of Java, which is where we live right now. Kalimantan is actually broken down into four provinces, East, South, Central, & West. Our destination will be the City of Tarakan in the Province of East Kalimantan.
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East Kalimantan is home to the Dayak people whom I have read are broken up into many, many sub-ethnic groups (for now, better to keep it simple). The coastal regions also include many other ethnic groups who have moved to Kalimantan and settled over time including: Javanese, Chinese, & Malays...and the odd Canadian, eh!
So...Why MAF in Kalimantan? One main reason is a similarity that Kalimantan holds with Papua - they are both very large and have virtually no transportation infrastructure in the interior. Kalimantan is very much one of those places that an airplane is a necessity for the people living inland. I recently saw a video online from the late 90's about a competition where a convoy of land rovers & a team of adventure minded folks (obviously with a bit of time & money) attempted to become the first vehicles to cross Borneo. With all their convoy gear I think it took them around 3 weeks.
Speaking of multi-media, please check out the following 1/2 hour missionary documentary filmed about two years ago at the MAF base in Tarakan where we will serve. Maybe the only difference today is a couple of families have changed, and by the time we arrive a couple of the Cessna 206 aircraft will have been replaced by larger turbo-prop (jet fuel burning) Quest Kodiaks.
Initially, when Amy and I found out we were requested to change assignments to Kalimantan, we were shocked - to say the least! I am a bit embarrassed to admit how little I expected it, as I was personally so focused on our future life in Papua. But time has turned our shock into excitement as God has been giving us a heart for Kalimantan and how our family can be used by Him there. I should also briefly explain why our family in specific was asked to change programs. One of the current needs MAF Tarakan has personnel wise is maintenance specialists (mechanics who don't fly), and MAF felt our family would be a good fit for the program. So, as there were three Maintenance Specialist families heading to Papua, we were re-assigned. This is far from uncommon in MAF and in Missions in general, as it is often very hard to predict where the greatest need is a year or two in advance.
One specific prayer request we do have, is for a teacher at the small school used by MAF families in Tarakan. Luke will be in Grade 2 when we arrive, and currently there is no teacher (that we know of) lined up to teach. Amy and I both feel home-schooling Luke again is not a good option for him and we would really like to see him excel in a classroom environment, as he is doing so well in school here in Salatiga. Thank you so much ahead of time for your prayers, and we look forward to telling you all how they are answered!