Friday, June 27, 2014

Thank You and Farewell

We have come to the end of blogging about our trip.

The trip was excellent - especially, I think, for promoting the work of the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary. And it was wonderful for my wife and me to witness what's all happening in the various churches and mission posts. Who are we but witnesses to the mighty work of the Holy Spirit?

We want to thank all those who hosted us, made sure we were well taken care of in their corner of the world, and made our trip so enjoyable.
  • Sjaak and Cheree Van Laar, of Cairns, Aus
  • Ian and Nadia Wildeboer, of Lae, PNG
  • Henry and Rita Versteeg, of Port Moresby, PNG
  • John and Rose Heys, of Launceston, Aus
  • Alwyn and Anne Terpstra, of Armadale, Aus
  • Hank and Gerda Olde, of Albany, Aus
  • Hendrik and Kristen Alkema, of Albany, Aus
  • Ted and Cathy Van Spronsen, of Busselton, Aus
  • Ed and Femmy Dethan, of Timor, Indonesia
We also want to thank others who went out of their way to make our trip pleasurable (sightseeing, visiting, meals, golfing, shopping, etc).  We have experienced Christian hospitality in abundance wherever we went.

We also want to thank those who contributed to the cost of our trip, making it all possible:
  • Deputies for Theological Education, Australia
  • Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary
  • Smithville Mission Board
  • Toronto Mission Board
  • Armadale Mission Board
We thank you for following us. We'll be leaving the blog up for a while. All the posts, 42 in all, are still there...just click on "Older Posts" on the bottom of the screen. Enjoy. And do continue to pray for the work of all those whom you've seen hereby, also those at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary (

Gerhard and Teny Visscher

More PNG kids

And here's a clip of some more children in Lae singing on the afternoon of Easter Sunday.  Be sure to check for a certain Benjamin in his casual walk-on role.  Enjoy...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Presentations in the Churches

Some have asked about the presentations I did in Australia, and why they aren't done here in Ontario?
The answer is simple: all your church or study group needs to do is ask.

The one talk is a Powerpoint talk on Forgiveness and Reconciliation, examining the biblical principles necessary to resolve conflict and tension in marriage, family, and churches.

The other talk is a Prezi talk on Living by Grace: Paul's Letter to the Romans, and shows how Romans is an answer to the accusation of Paul's opponents that living by grace leads to immorality and loose living. "Nothing motivates Christian living more than the Gospel of Grace."

Here are some screenshots:

For more information either email me ( or our assistant, Leanne Kuizenga (

Saturday, June 14, 2014

PNG kids

As we go through our files from the comfort of our home, here's a clip of some children in Lae singing at the school program just before Easter.  Delightful colours, enthusiastic singing, and a bit of patriotism at the end.  Enjoy...! Just click on the link:

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Yes, we have arrived home safe and sound! We left Kupang on Monday, flew to Bali where we stayed overnight, and then we flew home on Tuesday, via Hong Kong and Vancouver. Flying time was 21 1/2 hours, and including wait time at airports, Tuesday's trip took almost 32 hours. We arrived in Toronto on Wednesday morning, and were delighted that our daughter Estelle picked us up. Thank you!

After almost 10 weeks, and 17 airplane flights, it is great to be home again. We had a wonderful trip and are grateful to everyone who helped make this trip enjoyable and memorable.

In case you're wondering though, we're not quite ready to end the blog.  We'll be going through our files and posting some other remnants for you....

An Indonesian sunset is just as beautiful as anywhere else.

Life in Indonesia

Ed and Femmy Dethan live in the house where Ed was born and raised, right in the town of Noelbaki, a suburb of Kupang, and his father (rather his step-father who raised him), still lives with them. They have quite a large property, and have added an orphanage behind their home, the New Hope Orphanage, which has 18 boys and girls aged 12 and up who have no parents or cannot be cared for by parents. One home is for the girls and one for the young boys, both of which are supervised. They do their own cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. and have chores to do taking care of the pigs, chickens, and ducks, and working in the garden. They all attend the same Reformed Church that the Dethan's go to and most of them go to the Christian school or to the Reformed College. They are happy young people and well-cared for here. 

New Hope Home - sign by the orphanage behind the Dethan's home

The boys' building

The girls' rooms. The small building on the left is the outhouse. 
Inside are beds and their personal belongings. Not much else is needed 
since people live, work, do laundry, cook, and eat outdoors.

Sifting through the rice. Rice is served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Preparing greens grown in their garden 

The girls prepare the food and cook it above an open fire outdoors.

Boys ages 12-15 stay at the orphanage. After that they move to dorms near the College.

Typical homes in urban areas

A typical home of the villages in the mountains

Many Timorese people living in the outlying villages have the practice of chewing 
buai (boo-eye). They break open a betel nut and chew it. Then they add siri or a mustard 
stick with finely crushed limestone. As they chew, they produce a lot of saliva, which 
they spit out. This is called betel spet and is bright red in colour.

Chewing buai is a social event, but also acts as a stimulant and staves off hunger. 
Sometimes parents even give buai to their children.

Red teeth, gums and lips indicate regular chewing of buai. 
Over time, this results in black teeth, tooth rot, and often cancer of the mouth.

We met this lady walking in the mountains carrying a heavy load of bananas on her head

Heavy load on that motorbike!

Indonesian cities are busy, noisy places. Sometimes there are 3 lanes of cars when there 
are only 2 lanes indicated. Lots of honking. And so many motorbikes! Some motorists 
wear helmets, and some don't. Sometimes a driver has 2 passengers, one in front of 
him and one behind, often with children, with or without a helmet on. 
There are no speed limits in Timor. Traffic and road conditions determine the speed.

A street in Kupang

Lots of stands on the side of the road to sell products

A fishing boat near one of the villages - very narrow

Fishing boats at Kupang on the ocean

A couple of months ago the Dethan's started fostering Sam. His father recently died and his mother is very young and unable to care for him, so Ed and Femmy have taken him in. He was under-nourished, underweight, and sickly when they got him, but he is doing much better now. Still quite small and under-active for his age (almost 2), but with the love and care he is getting in the Dethan family, he is flourishing. The Dethan's were asked to care for him at their orphanage, but because he is too young for that, they are taking him in their family. A very cute little guy!

 Sam - don't you just love those eyes?
Yes, he is sporting a cast because he fell and broke his arm.

Jerry knew how to tempt Sam to sit on his lap.

Saying good-bye at Kupang airport

And so our week in Indonesia came to an end. We had a great time with Ed and Femmy, and appreciated getting to know them and their family, seeing the work they do at the College, in the churches, on the radio, and in the orphanage. The Lord has richly blessed their work, and new doors are regularly opening up as more and more people want to know about the Reformed faith.

Friday, June 6, 2014

At Work in Indonesia

Indonesia was our last stop, but due to poor internet connection, we were unable to get pictures onto the blog while there. So now that the week is over, we will give you a glimpse of our time here. We spent a  very good week with Ed and Femmy Dethan, and learned all about the work they are involved with. 

 A view of Kupang. Ed and Femmy live in Noelbaki, a suburban of Kupang.

 Wow, looks like a lot of money! 680,000 rupiah. How much would this be? About $68. 
Just knock off four digits and you've got it.

Wondering what we did there? Jerry taught at the Indonesian Reformed Theological College (seminary), preached, spoke for the congregation, and, in addition, he gave 3 radio talks, which are heard by about 5-6000 listeners. Each radio talk lasted about 1 1/2 hours. Ed kept him busy!

Two mornings I taught an English class to the grade 7'ers of their new Christian school. This was their first year of English lessons so the students didn't know much English yet. We tried some conversational English, but just introducing themselves was difficult. I taught them Psalm 116:1 and 150:3 in English, which they quite enjoyed. They knew the tunes already and sang these songs to me in Indonesian. 

Ed Dethan started the Indonesian Reformed Theological College in 2007. It has about 90 students in all, some of which are preparing for the ministry, and some study to become teachers. These students come from all over Indonesia, so some of them live in dorms by the college. They have finished high school elsewhere and come here to study further. All of them belong to the Reformed Church of Indonesia. They do not speak or understand much English at all. Whereas English is an official language in PNG and many (younger) people understand some English, in Indonesia this is not so. The students at the Bible College seemed like a good group of students, kind, friendly, and eager to learn. The men look forward to becoming ministers in a Reformed Church, and those preparing to teach look forward to teaching in a Christian school. Reformed churches are being set up in various places. There are so far 3 Reformed churches and 5 mission posts. Their own school, Elpida School, has also been set up last year. Timor is a great mission field, and Ed and Femmy are always looking for new connections!

As soon as we arrived in Kupang, Ed and Femmy brought us straight to the College

....and immediately were interviewed to do a radio talk 

The home-stay, our home for the week. The building on the right has bedrooms and bathrooms,
 and the building on the left has a kitchen and a large open eating area.

In front of our bedroom

The eating area, with the kitchen in the background

The eating area as seen standing at the kitchen. No walls are needed, 
just a roof for sun and rain. People live outdoors most of the time.

 A maid (one of the students studying for teacher) is washing the dishes by the outside tap. 
She stayed there to cook, clean, and do laundry (by hand).

This is how Jerry drove to work. Very rough, busy roads.

The Dethan family: Ed and Femmy with Moses (11), Grace (10), Micah (7), 
and their little foster son, Sam (almost 2)

The Indonesian Reformed Theological College 

Jerry gave some lectures and speeches at the College, with Ed translating.

Good response, lots of questions and much appreciation

Jerry and Ed were a good team together.

Break time - no coffee, just water

Group shot of teachers and students present at Friday's talk

Ed visits the Reformed churches and mission posts by turns on Sundays, the farthest being about a 4-hour drive away. While there, we went to 2 church groups on Ascension Day and one on Sunday. 

 Ascension Day is a national holiday in Indonesia with church services during the day. 
Taking the 4-wheel drive, we drove a couple of hours, first over pavement, and then 
through hills over rough rocky roads to reach the church group at Nawen.

Pretty dry country already! During the dry season, from March to September, they get no rain.

We arrived at Nawen and visited the people in their home.

 Inside the home with some church members. Since they already had their service 
that morning, we drove on to the next place.

We arrived at the church of Barate Thursday afternoon, where we had a 4:00 service

Inside the church at Barate

Ed led the service, Jerry preached the sermon, Ed translated it.

After church we were invited to stay for supper - rice with pork. They had killed a pig for us!
Here we are inside a home waiting for the ladies to finish preparing the meal.
Afterwards we had a long, rough, bumpy ride back home in the dark - 3 hours.

On Sunday we went to church in Pili, a little group in the mountains a 3-hour drive away in 
a different direction. We had to cross a river bed. Since it is the dry season, there is not 
much water in the river. They can't cross it during the rainy season.

Again rough rocky roads

Meeting the church group at Pili. This is the house of one of the members. 
You have to shake hands with everyone when you come and when you leave.

Since we were the guests of honour, they gave Jerry and me a hand-woven scarf 
that we wore for the day. You can see many of the men and women wear the 
traditional wrap-around skirts.

Waiting for the service to begin

The church at Pili, a new building. At least it has a tiled floor!

Congregational singing

Again Ed led the service, Jerry preached, and Ed translated.

A word of appreciation after the service. The men on the left are elders.

After church we sat around in the middle of the road (that is where the shade was) 
and waited while the women prepared lunch for us, again rice.

This is where the ladies do the dishes. All their water had to be carried in from a spring or creek.

 The outhouse

Inside the outhouse - just a hole in the cement floor. Flush by throwing water into the hole.

Not a pleasant way to end this post! But this shows the simple way of life among many of the Timorese people. More about life in Timor in the next post.