Convention Video on Work in Indonesia and Cambodia by Matthew Wood

There is a lot of concern in Indonesia and the international community about the impact that deforestation is having here. When I read a news article or see someone showing their concern, I most often see concern about the habitat of Orangutans. Indeed, it is a good concern to have. Since coming here to Indonesia I have also learned that deforestation is having a detrimental impact on people as well.

The video below was produced for the 2019 Synodical Convention in Tampa, Florida. In the first two and a half minutes GKLI pastor A.B.G Hutagalung describes his congregation’s work with the Sanak people whose way of life must change due to the deforestation caused by the Palm Oil Industry. Since this video was produced 19 of the Sanak people have been baptized and brought into the Kingdom of Heaven! Read more and see pictures here.

The second half of the video describes the LCMS work in Cambodia. Rev. Sima says, “What makes me so excited about the ministry in Cambodia is that we have a young church body with well trained leaders who are passionate about reaching out to their own communities with the Gospel. We are not coming in to set up LCMS offices and run LCMS projects, but rather we are coming at the direction and at the pace of the Cambodian Lutheran Church. They set the agenda and we serve along side of them.” This is also what excites me about our work in Indonesia. The GKLI—one their own—is passionate about their work with the Sanak people. We are working and serving with them to bring the Gospel to their neighbors. Kali and I look forward to being part of that work for years to come!

GKLI National Youth Jamboree by Matthew Wood

Over the July 4th holiday while most of our friends back in the U.S. enjoyed some time to relax, BBQ, and celebrate Independence Day our, family ventured out to Lake Toba and Sihabonghabong. Lake Toba is about a 5 hour drive from our home in Medan and Sihabonghabong is another 5 hours from lake Toba. Kali already wrote about our wonderful 2 days on Lake Toba.

I was invited to Sihabonghabong to give a presentation at the GKLI National Youth Jamboree. There were about 230 high school age students in attendance. Some of them spent 36 hours driving on a roads like the one picture above in order to get to this event. The theme was “Stand Firm.” The Jamboree began with an opening service on the evening of Thursday, July 4th. All 230 students plus their adult chaperones filled the sanctuary in Sihabonghabong and worshiped. After the service the event was officially opened by Bishop Esra Sinaga with a small fireworks show. As the fireworks winded down we all went back into the sanctuary and each congregation had an opportunity to introduce themselves and sing a song which they had prepared. The time the GKLI set aside to do this reflects their high prioritization of community. Every individual was able to get up in front and introduce themselves and contribute to the Jamboree.

On Friday morning I was given just over an hour to present on Standing Firm in the faith. I opened with the story of Martin Luther standing firm in April of 1521 at the Diet of Worms. They only way he was able to stand firm was because the Holy Spirit had been working in him through the Gospel. The Holy Spirit had given him faith to know that Jesus stood firm for him. We can do nothing to stand firm without the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel! We know that Jesus is even now standing firm for us! Knowing that Jesus is standing firm for us at the right had of the Heavenly Father we do not need to fear in the face of trial. We can be confident in the Good news of the Gospel.

For this event I needed a translator for my presentation. I look forward to a time when I am able to communicate in Bahasa Indonesia! Kali and I just finished unit two of language learning. We are making great progress, but still have a lot to learn. There are four more unites to go and after that we will still need to be immersed in the language and culture here for some time. It is grueling work, but I am confident that it will be worth it!

The occasion of the Jamboree also allowed me to visit the head offices and seminary of the GKLI which are also in Sighabonghabong. The family and I also had the opportunity to spend an evening and morning with Bishop Esra Sinaga and his family. Bishop Sinaga and I talked about concerns and joys in the ministry of GKLI. This was a wonderful time to get to know each other a little bit better.

First Day of School by Kali Wood

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Obligatory first day of school photo

Yes, I let Laurel wear pajamas to school. In her opinion, that’s the best part of home-school. That, and she can have second and third breakfast each day.

July 29th marked the first day of first grade home-school for Laurel. For our stateside friends this seems like a very early starting date and for our Indonesian friends it’s about a month too late. I chose this date knowing that we will need to take some time off in September when baby arrives. If we start now, we can still finish up in May.

So how did it go? We finished the first week with great success. While the content was mostly review for Laurel, the structure was new. We had a very loose kindergarten home-school year due to support raising trips, moving out of our house in St. Louis, moving to Taiwan for 2 months, and then moving to Indonesia. The easy content combined with the structure helped ease our way into the first week.

Laurel’s favorite subject is religion. She gets to take her Bible and supplies up to daddy’s office and he teaches her there. She loves the special time they have together.

She’s most nervous about learning cursive this year, mainly because she’s still needs some correction on her print handwriting.

She’s very excited to do science experiments and is disappointed when I don’t have one planned for each day. Both Eleanor and Laurel love read aloud time. They enjoy snuggling in our bed and listening to the story, even though we read the same story 5 days in a row.

As the teacher, I feel we had a great week. I saw Laurel improve over just 5 days. I look forward to seeing this throughout the year and throughout her life.

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Snapshot of our home-school space.

It’s a small space but functions in every way that we need it to.

Hymnal Workshop and Hymn Festival by Matthew Wood

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From June 17—21 the GKLI pastors and musicians came together to work on a new Indonesian Hymnal, learn about historic Christian worship practices, learn how to critically examine the content of a hymn, and join their voices in a Hymn Fest.

This event was a response to request from the GKLI for help producing a new Indonesian Hymnal and for catechesis in the history and substance of Christian worship.

The first two days were spent meeting and strategizing about the new hymnal. It will be called Buku Ibadah Lutheran (Lutheran Worship Book). The entirety of the hymnal will be in the Indonesian Language. This is a huge step for GKLI. Most people in Indonesia speak at least two languages, the language of their tribe and Indonesian. Christian worship across Indonesia is often in tribal language and this can foster an unhealthy attitude/understanding about worship. The new hymnal will be in the language everyone knows. Worship with the Buku Ibadah Lutheran will help to foster the understanding that GKLI isn’t a Batak church. The GKLI is a Christian Church in Indonesia and it is open to all the people of Indonesia. This is a huge change of perspective for the GKLI, a difficult change, and a necessary one. Please keep the GKLI in your prayers as there is much work to be done on this hymnal and in this country. Pray for steadfastness, peacefulness, and boldness to be the Gereja Kristen Luther Indonesia.

The rest of the week was spent learning from Dr. Robert Rhein about the historic practices and music of Christian worship. The event ended with a delightful Hymn Festival. We were able to introduce five hymns newly translated into Indonesian and we also sang five hymns which the GKLI pastors and musicians already knew and loved.

I had the wonderful opportunity to lead this group in Matins and Vespers. These services are new for them, but they were willing and eager to learn. For three services, two Matins and one Vespers, I was able to lead and preach. The time was used for teaching and catechesis in Worship. The opening versicles of these services provided a perfect opportunity to preach on the activity of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the worship of the Saints.

“O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare Your praise.” Psalm 51:15

“Make Haste, O God, to deliver me;

make haste to help me, O Lord” Psalm 70:1

Our God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is present in worship to open our lips. We can do nothing. We cannot even utter one righteous word without God filling our lives with His righteousness. He gives the saints on earth His righteousness as he calls, gathers, and enlightens his Church on earth. Our God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is present in worship to give us the right words for praise and prayer. God opens our lips and then He gives us the words to say. Our God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is present in worship to hear our praise and respond to our prayer. Even as the saints gathered together begin to sing God is hearing and responding to the prayers being offered. He opens lips, He gives those lips the words to say, and He continues to make haste to deliver and help His people.






Baptisms in Indonesia! by Matthew Wood

What a blessing to see the fruits of the Gospel in Indonesia. The Lord has brought many Sanak people to the waters of Holy Baptism. On Pentecost Sunday at the GKLI congregation in Kusamang Kuning Pastor Hutagalung baptized 19 Sanak people: 13 adults and 6 children! We praise God for working through the GKLI to bring people into the eternal Kingdom of Heaven!

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”

Romans 10:13-15

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Sumatra

You can read more about GKLI work with the Sanak people here.


Home Worship. by Matthew Wood

The prospect of leaving an American congregation and worshiping with my family at home was increasingly on my mind as our family prepared to move to Indonesia. It will be a while yet before we are skilled enough with the Indonesian language to be able to understand what is happening in the GKLI churches on Sunday morning. Their traditional structure of worship is wildly different from the Divine Service settings found in the Lutheran Service Book. So, we attend GKLI services on Sunday when we can, but we still need to worship together as a family at home in English. This is important for our family, especially for our children.

I was concerned that it wouldn’t feel right or that it would lack the power without all the voices of a congregation. Christ Jesus has shown our family that He is present in the Divine Service in our home just as He is present in the Divine Service of the congregations with whom we worshiped in America. It is not about the numbers, but about the Triune God who meets us with His gifts.

The Wood Family after our first Divine Service at home in Medan. Ascension Day, 2019.

The Wood Family after our first Divine Service at home in Medan. Ascension Day, 2019.

Do we miss the congregational life we had? Absolutely. Would we be worshiping at home if there was an English speaking Lutheran Congregation near us? No, we would certainly take advantage of such a congregation. In the Last Chapter of Matthew the Lord promised his disciples, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” He knew they would go out to the world. He knew they would be isolated. He promised to be with them. He promises to be with the whole Church on earth. He promises to be with us here in Indonesia. His presence is what matters and He is fulfilling His promise to us as He comes to meet us in his Word, through prayer, devotions, and most especially in His Divine Service to us.


A Trip to the Country by Kali Wood

After finishing our first unit of Indonesian class we were given a week break. During that break Matt was asked to lead a sectional for the GKLI’s Youth Conference in Sihabonghabong (which is about 8+ hours from Medan). We decided to make it a family trip and make a couple stops along the way.

Destination 1: Parapat, Destination 2: Tuk Tuk, Destination 3: Sihabonghabong, Destination 4: Balige

Destination 1: Parapat, Destination 2: Tuk Tuk, Destination 3: Sihabonghabong, Destination 4: Balige

First, we rode the 4 hours to Parapat where we got on a passenger ferry across Lake Toba to Samosir Island, the city of Tuk Tuk. Our guesthouse was just a short walk from the ferry dock in Tuk Tuk. Our guesthouse was amazing! It is a little organic farm and guesthouse. It only has 3 apartments to rent so it was quiet and intimate. There were bunnies for the girls to feed, a swimming pool, boats to take out on the lake and even fishing.

Matt and I didn’t realize how much we needed a break until we arrived. Learning a new language is difficult and adapting to a new culture doesn’t make it easier. We needed a break from 1) constantly studying, 2) the heat and humidity, and 3) being away from our kids 4-6 hours a day.

Highlights of our time in Tuk Tuk were swimming in the pool, eating delicious fresh caught fish, taking a boat out onto Lake Toba and taking a becak around town to do some sightseeing.

After 2 days of relaxing in Tuk Tuk we hopped in a car and drove the 5 hours to Sihabonghabong. There we stayed at the GKLI headquarters. Matt got to tour their Seminary, conference center and church. There are about 70 students at the Seminary right now with about 20 teachers.

Matt attended opening worship for the GKLI Youth Conference where over 200 youth came from all over Sumatra came together to worship and learn about the theme “Stand Firm”.

Opening Worship at the GKLI Youth Conference

Opening Worship at the GKLI Youth Conference

The next day Matt did a 45 minute presentation on Standing Firm in Your Faith to the youth. A local GKLI pastor translated for him. By this time next year Matt should not need a translator for speaking engagements like this.

After the presentation we hitched a ride with one of the local pastors who was heading back towards Medan. We stopped in a town called Balige just on the shore of Lake Toba. Here we spent the night to break up the 8+ hour drive.

The town is a wonderful beach town that doesn’t have a lot of tourists. We happened to arrive on market day and booked a guesthouse just down the block from the market. We took a nice stroll through the market and heard many friendly greetings from the locals.

We took a becak to the beach and enjoyed time playing in the sand and chatting with the locals. Eleanor was a big hit with the locals. Her blond, curly hair and white skin stand out a bit here. Many people wanted to take pictures with her but she wouldn’t smile for any of them. We have learned a phrase to describe her “keras kepala” which literally translates to hard headed.

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We left the next day and took the 5+ hour drive home. It was a wonderful time away from the city and our normal routine. We enjoyed the cooler weather, the local people, the cuisine and the fellowship with the pastors. We look forward to taking longer trips to explore more of these areas.

Kami sedang belajar Bahasa Indonesia. Boleh perkanalan?  by Kali Wood

(We are learning Indonesian. May we get to know you?)

We just finished Unit 1 of language classes at the Language and Cultural Exchange Center in Medan. For two hours each morning Matt and I meet with our instructor, Sarah. We spend about 80% or more of our time in class speaking or listening in Indonesian and the ratio keeps growing! 

First, one of us begins with prayer in Indonesian. Then, we share our “experience” with our teacher. This means we tell our teacher what we did since we last saw her using as many details as possible. This helps us to learn vocabulary and sentence structure. After that we review our homework which is writing 10 sentences or two paragraphs consisting of new vocabulary and using new sentence structures. Just this part of class usually takes us over an hour. 

Next, we open our workbooks and get into the lesson for the day. It consists of a dialogue with new vocabulary, a listening exercise, 3 sets of new sentence structures, and pronunciation practice. We are lucky if we complete the lesson that day. Often, we work on part of it and finish the rest the next day. We end our class with our teacher praying for us. 

We are expected to try and meet 5 new people each day and introduce ourselves to them and ask about their life. This can take up to 2 hours in a day because Indonesian people love to chat. Often, we talk with our Grab drivers (like Uber). The title of this article is usually how we begin the conversation. 

We are also expected to study/work on homework for 2 hours each day. Usually this gets split into an hour in the evening and an hour in the morning before class. We estimate that we learn about 25-50 new vocabulary words each class. That is a lot of memorizing and practicing. We also try and practice with the children. When we learned parts of the body I had Laurel quiz me by pointing to parts of the body and seeing if I know it in Indonesian. 

Overall, Matt and I enjoy our Indonesian lessons. Most days the 2 hours fly by and the homework doesn’t seem overwhelming. We are constantly amazed at what we have picked up and also at what we can’t remember. Please continue to pray for our language acquisition, that we will be studious and become fluent quickly. 


A sample of Kali’s homework one evening.

A sample of Kali’s homework one evening.

A Day in the Life... by Kali Wood

Now that we’ve been here for a couple weeks I’d like to give you snapshot of what a typical day looks like for us.

6:30am: Wake up to Eleanor crawling into bed with us, followed shortly by Laurel. Eventually get out of bed to make coffee and start getting ready for the day.

8:00am: Coffee ingested, make breakfast in our outdoor kitchen, usually consisting of scrambled eggs and toast.

9:00am: Our Indonesian “helper” arrives. Matt and I work on our Indonesian homework while the girls play.

10:00am: Our Indonesian nanny arrives. We order a Grab car (like Uber) and say goodbye to the girls. In the car we spend a few minutes stumbling through introducing ourselves in Indonesian to the driver and asking about his life.

10:30am: Arrive at the Language School for class. Matt and I spend the next 2 hours with our Indonesian teacher learning Bahasa Indonesia. About 75% of the time is spent in Indonesian. We are picking it up quickly but not without its difficulties. We are introduced to about 50 new vocabulary words a class which means we spend a lot of time reviewing and memorizing for homework.

12:30pm: We walk home or order another Grab car to take us to a store if we need to run an errand. If we run errands we try and introduce ourselves in Indonesian to 2-3 new people and ask about their life. We feel like we are making complete fools of ourselves in front of these people, but they are so gracious to us as we try and learn their language.

Once we arrive home we eat a quick lunch of whatever the nanny has made. Usually some kind of chicken, rice and vegetable concoction. She is a phenomenal cook and it’s such a blessing to have lunch made for us when we return home each day from class.

2:30pm: By this time the nanny has gone home and the girls are anxious for our attention. They have been home for the last 3-4 hours with no one who speaks English.

I put Eleanor down for a nap and then Laurel and I work on some homeschooling. After that Laurel and I spend some time playing cards. Go Fish is her current favorite. After a couple games of cards I usually try and get an hour of homework done. During this time Matt works in his office on homework, catching up on Emails or working on a continuing education module. Our Indonesian “helper” goes home for the day.

4:00pm: Eleanor usually wakes up by this time. I let the girls either play or watch a movie while I do a little more homework then start to get dinner started. Preparing dinner usually means cooking outside on the gas range, though we now have a large toaster oven inside that we can use.

5:30pm: Dinner is ready and we eat in our un-airconditioned dining room. After cooking outside I’m usually a hot, sweaty mess. I’m hoping I’ll get used to the heat soon.

6:00pm: Once we’ve finished with dinner, Laurel helps wash the dishes and we retire to the den for some family time. Usually this involves some card playing, book reading or wrestling.

7:00pm We have family devotions and put the girls to bed.

7:30pm: Matt and I spend about a half an hour or so doing homework then we spend quality time together before bed.

10:00pm: By now we are exhausted from the day and we go to bed.

The next day we have to explain all of the above in Bahasa Indonesia as part of our language class.

 

 

First Day of School by Kali Wood

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No, not for Laurel. Matt and I began our first day of language classes at the Language Cultural Exchange (LCE) Center on Monday. Matt hasn’t had a first day of class in nearly 6 years and I haven’t had one in 11 years. To say I was nervous is an understatement.

We will spend 2 hours a day Monday through Friday in class, 2 hours speaking to native Indonesians, and 2 hours doing homework/studying. Each unit for class is 4 weeks long and the goal is to complete all 6 units by the end of the year.

After class on Monday Matt and I walked to a restaurant nearby our house called, My Burger Coffee. Minutes after we sat down a table of ladies came over and asked if we would take a photo with them. We ordered our food and I pulled out my class notebook and walked over to “interview” them for my homework. They were very gracious of my horrendous pronunciation and even exchanged phone numbers with me.

While I spoke to the table of ladies, Matt was swarmed with the other patrons in the restaurant. An hour later one of us had finally spoken to every patron in the place. And yet our food had not arrived yet. We looked through our class notes to find out how to say “We need to leave,” (Kami harus pergi) and get our food to go.

It was a humbling and exhilarating experience to speak with the people. Humbling because we know so little Indonesian yet exhilarating because while we know so little we can still communicate. The people were so excited to speak to us. I hope we can learn more, so we can listen better.

Please pray for our language learning. Pray that we study hard, practice much and learn to love the language.

First Day in Medan by Matthew Wood

This is our home in Medan. Pictured on the right is Cheryl Ferry who lived here previously. Behind the gate is Ibu (Mrs.) Nana our land lord.

This is our home in Medan. Pictured on the right is Cheryl Ferry who lived here previously. Behind the gate is Ibu (Mrs.) Nana our land lord.

On May 14th we moved into Medan. The day was packed end to end with a flurry of activity. Here’s what it looked like:

  • 4:30 Wake up in Singapore, get the girls ready, finish packing, and check out of hotel.

  • 5:00 Get in a cab and head to the airport.

  • 5:40 Retrieve 180 kg of baggage from the airport luggage storage, check into flight.

  • 6:00 Grab breakfast and chase the inexplicably energetic girls around the airport.

  • 6:50 Arrive at gate.

  • 7:15 Board the plane. Traveling with young children gets you to the front of the line!

  • 7:40 Depart Singapore (gain an hour because of the time zone change)

  • 8:00 Land in Medan, go through immigration, collect baggage, explain to immigration and customs officer why we have so much stuff for just four of us.

  • 8:30 Meet Pastor Aladdin, load luggage into the car, depart the airport, and head for home.

  • 10:00 Arrive at our new home in Medan, unload luggage, talk with land lords, hire house help, take a short break. The house is a bustle of activity as workers are doing some general repairs outside the house.

  • 11:00 Head to the local super market to pick up essentials: dishes, utensils, and food. Head to local Indomaret (like a 7-11) and pay the power bill.

  • 13:00 Arrive back at the house. Prepare a quick lunch (PB&J, bananas, frozen peas).

  • 13:30 Matthew goes with Pastor Aladdin to sign up for internet services. Kali and the girls stay home to rest and start unpacking the girls’ toys.

  • 15:00 Matthew and Aladdin return home and share a coke and conversation. Pastor Aladdin returns to his family.

  • 16:00 Begin attempting to order food for dinner. The internet service provider arrives to install internet.

  • 16:40 Successfully order food for dinner. The internet service provider leaves without installing internet and will return tomorrow. (But he didn’t)

  • 17:15 Dinner arrives. A&W with an Indonesian twist. Matthew’s burger had red cabbage, mayo, pineapple, and beef bacon. It came with a free side of chicken and rice. Kali ordered a mango chicken taco which came in something like a big green pita. The girls had chicken tenders. We all enjoyed some root beer.

  • 6:00 Workers and house help leave. We have the house to ourselves.

  • 7:00 We have family devotions and prayers and put the girls to bed.

  • 7:30 We begin to unpack.

  • 9:30 We sit down and reflect on the day.

First Impressions by Kali Wood

View from the airplane window of our soon-to-be new home.

View from the airplane window of our soon-to-be new home.

[Editors note: This article is from April and reflects on a visit to Medan. We moved to Medan on May 14th.]

On the morning of April 9th we finally got to meet the city we will soon call home. As we flew in I was filled with mixed emotions. We have been preparing for this for months and it was finally here. Because we weren’t going to live in a city full of expats it was difficult to do research on what living there would be like. All the research I could find for living in Indonesia focused on living in Jakarta or on Bali. Neither were very helpful. So we went into this a little blind with a lot of trust that the LORD would provide.

So here are some of our first impressions after spending only 5 days there.

We’ll start with an obvious one that we expected. It is HOT and HUMID! It really is everything we didn’t like about St. Louis summers, but it will be all the time. We pray our bodies will learn to adapt.

Traffic is its own kind of organized chaos. I know there is a rhyme and reason to how it goes, but I don’t get it and I don’t know if I ever will. There were a few times in the taxis that we got a little too close for comfort to a nearby vehicle but the drivers all seem to know what they are doing.

The Indonesian people love children. We visited Indonesia with another family who also has young children. These kids were oohed and aahed over by many. People would stop us and ask to take a photo with the youngest children. Lots of cheeks were pinched and many people shed friendly smiles upon our children. I’m most surprised by the men who openly made silly faces trying to get the kids to smile.

Speaking of the Indonesian people, everyone we met were so kind and helpful. They all seem to genuinely want to help us and want us to love their country. We were blessed by a local pastor who took time out of his schedule to drive us around looking for houses for rent. We were blessed by our new landlord who is looking into hiring household help for us. Not to mention the taxi drivers and restaurant staff who were kind and understanding even though we had a lack of Bahasa Indonesia.

Doctors, Doctors and More Doctors by Kali Wood

Baby at 19 weeks!

Baby at 19 weeks!

Traveling to a foreign country is one thing, moving to one is another. Going to the doctor in one is a totally different thing. In the last 10 days we have visited 3 doctors with one more visit coming up.

While in Singapore last week I scheduled an OB appointment for myself. With all of our travel in the states I only had one appointment with my OB at 9 weeks. So I was anxious to get a check up on baby at 19 weeks. She did an ultrasound and everything looks good and healthy! The major difference I noticed between the doctor in Singapore and my OB in the States was the lack of questions she asked and the lack of tests she did. As this isn’t my first baby, neither of these things concerned me.

Next week I will be going to a hospital here in Taiwan for the big 21 week ultrasound and scan. This is the appointment where many parents find out the gender of their baby. We will be waiting for that news until baby’s birth date instead. I had help from a member at the church here to schedule the appointment with one of the doctors who can speak enough English. I’m so thankful for the people God has surrounded us with to help us along the way. I don’t know what we would do without them.

While in Singapore we also took Eleanor to a walk-in pediatric clinic for her 2 year check-up and vaccines. The walk-in clinic posted that they were open from 9am-11am on Mondays. So we arrived at 9:15am to check-in. They took Eleanor’s height and weight and instructed us to have seat. There seemed to be a lot of kids there waiting to be seen, and as we waited we noticed that no children were being called in to see the doctor. Finally at 10am a man in a white coat breezed through the door. The nurses acknowledged him with a “Hello Doctor!” as he headed into a patient room. Apparently even though the clinic hours were from 9am-11am, the doctor only worked from 10-11am.

I had to go up to my OB appointment and couldn’t wait with Eleanor any longer so Matt took over from there. He said that she was seen shortly after I left and the appointment was fairly quick. He also noticed that the doctor didn’t ask too many questions and he didn’t even take her vitals. He did ask, “Does she beat up on her sister?” and “Can she climb up a ladder and then go down the slide?” A big YES to both of those! But questions our previous pediatrician never asked about Laurel.

Today I took Laurel to the pediatrician at a local hospital for a fever. I don’t normally take my kids in for a fever but as we walked through the “Quarantine” area of the airport yesterday they flagged Laurel for having a fever and require you to see a doctor within 24 hours. Luckily, she was diagnosed with the common cold. And the appointment cost a whopping $10 US dollars and took only 30 minutes.

SOLD! by Matthew Wood

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One of our frequent prayer requests over the last few months has been for the speedy and carefree sale of our house in Maplewood. In 2012 we moved into a fixer-upper, and over the years we didn’t do much fixing. Even so, it was always a good home for us and we learned to love it and be thankful for it. Unfortunately our love for the house and the memories of bringing home two beautiful daughters from the hospital don’t add to the resale value or the curb appeal. We were concerned that we might have to hold on to the property long term or possibly even bring tens of thousands of dollars to closing in order to pay off our mortgage. So we needed a special someone to look at the ugly pink house on the corner of Lohmeyer and Valley and fall in love, or at least see the potential to make a buck in the booming Maplewood housing market.

We knew this could be a tremendous source of stress. We also knew that there wasn’t anything we could do about it other than list the house for sale and pray for God’s blessings. If I may be so bold, God answered the prayers for our house to sell. We listed the house for sale with Magnolia Real Estate on February 14th and received an offer on February 28th. The buyer asked that we fix the sewer lateral, which we did. We closed on March 29th. Even after fixing the sewer lateral (not cheap!) we were able to walk away from closing with a modest amount of cash in our pocket. What a blessing!

Prayer request update: Please give thanks to God with us for His gracious answer to prayer by blessing us with a speedy and carefree sale of our former house in Maplewood, MO.

A New Hymnal with Timeless Worship by Matthew Wood

The Cover

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

The Small Catechism: The Ten Commandments.

On Monday, March 18th, I had the pleasure of attending the unveiling and dedication of The Chinese Lutheran Service Book Pilot Edition. Deaconess Sandra Rheign, who is working diligently on the project, noted that worship is a confession of our Lord. She’s right. When we worship we ourselves become witnesses, proclaimers, and confessors of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. A hymnal, then, is a profoundly important aid to the congregation in that public witness to our Lord.

What an honor to be at the dedication of this new hymnal! As this is a pilot edition, there is still more work to be done. Many more Psalms and Hymns have yet to be completed. Even so, this is wonderful fruit of our work together with our Church partner The China Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Our family has already been greatly blessed by this project. At Salvation Church in Chaiyi, Taiwan (where we are attending until we make our final move into Medan), they have used this Hymnal. The familiar liturgy allows us to follow along with the service. With the aid of our own English Hymnals we can sing the hymns in our language alongside our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ.

I am so excited to be working with Deaconess Rheign on a hymnal in Bahasa Indonesia. This will be a great tool for the Indonesian Christian Lutheran Church, which will aid their worship and confession of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord grant that pictures of the Bahasa Hymnal will be ready to share in 2020!