One of the great things about living and working here in Malaysia is the opportunity to meet all kinds of interesting people. We met Scott and Heidi this summer when they came to Penang to renew their visas and showed up at our church. They are missionaries in Indonesia on the island of Papua New Guinea in a tiny village called Bokondini.
This village is located up in the mountains and can only be reached by plane (and I am not talking a 747) as there are no highways or waterways to get you there from any of the main cities.
This couple is amazing. They are hysterically funny and they have two beautiful children. They have been living and working in these mountains for several years. Their electricity, what there is of it, is powered by the river behind their home. Heidi cooks on a wood-burning stove (a la Caroline Ingall's AFTER the episode when they bought her the wood-burning stove for Christmas).
The villagers they work with are only one generation removed from cannibalism... seriously. The mission dearest to the Wiselys is their dream of creating schools for the local villages that offer "american" curriculum. There are a few International Schools on the island but they are primarily for missionary kids, expats, etc. and the local villagers have no hope of ever being able to afford a good education for their kids, one that would allow them to go to college and make a better life for themselves.
They are on their way as they recently started the first local school with a few dozen students but their vision is for much greater than that. That's where we come in. At this moment we are planning a trip over Christmas break to Bokondini. I will be helping with training local teachers and working on their curriculum and John will be helping with all the construction needs. Our kids will just be running around barefoot and playing with the village kids.
It should prove to be very interesting as I am not well-known for my ability to "rough it". People back home think I am crazy for moving to Malaysia but let's face it, I am not exactly living in poverty. I live in a gated community full of luxury condos. So staying in a home where you cook on a wood stove? Yeah, that should offer up many photo ops!
But I am so excited. It seems like every time I turn around another opportunity to use my skills to help people in this area opens up and I am really grateful to have this chance to make a difference.