A Uni Internship

13 Feb 2017

Pioneers placed a University student from Melbourne in a remote area of Indonesia where he could immerse himself in culture and language, while serving in the local library.  He came home with the vastly improved language skills he was seeking, but so much more…

Around a year ago, at the end of 2015, I took a six-week internship as part of my Indonesian studies at university. I wanted to spend the time actually living in Indonesia, and I was provided with an excellent opportunity to work with a Christian organization on a rural island. Based in the capital of the island, this team ran a local library, and they also took books to outposts all over the island, in many small, local towns. Most of the poorer areas of Indonesia don’t have access to this kind of thing – in my time there, for instance, I saw plenty of kids borrowing school textbooks!

The library also ran an English club once a week, providing high school students with the opportunity to practice their English – something that’s a major part of their exams, and can have a huge impact on what universities they can enter.  I could really see the heart of God at work amongst the library staff, who were all amazingly nice and cheerful. They were also especially dedicated to their work – particularly the ones who, at least once a week, would spend a couple of hours riding on their motorbikes to remote outposts with large bags of heavy books.

The same presence of God’s joy could be seen among the people in the kampong where I stayed with one of the library staff members. A kampong is a small area, like a suburb or neighbourhood, that’s home to a particular demographic. It can also refer to a poorer neighbourhood. The area where I stayed was both – filled with Christians and placed behind a church, but also poorer than many other areas of the city. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the kampong had a real sense of family and community. The people there were always friendly and welcoming, always ready with a cup of tea, and knew each other in a way that many of us in the Western world can’t say we know our neighbours.

What I saw in Indonesia was a real sense of the love of God and joy in Him, something we often lose track of in our day-to-day lives. I know I haven’t always felt it!  But the time I spent in Indonesia reminded me of the importance of God’s presence, not just in missions, but in everyday life. The people I met had faith and hope in the goodness of God, often despite their circumstances. I try to remember that God’s as good and powerful here in Australia as he is there, and we can share in that same joy.


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