Category Archives: Uncategorized

Family newsletter – March 2017

Click here to read the PDF version:  borneo-briefings-march-2017

Christmas Songs: too much for our internet

Hello friends,

sadly, I am giving up on daily December posts… our internet cable was stolen *again* and tomorrow we leave for 9 days in Cambodia.  Hopefully you’ve enjoyed encountering some new music and catching some glimpses of our life here.  I wish you peace, hope, and joy in coming weeks.

I leave you with one more Christmas song…Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas/Sarajevo 12-24.”

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Songs Day #8

Internet cable stolen for 8th time since July – not just a little bit, we’re talking hundreds of meters of cable each time.  About a week to fix.  We have learned to upgrade our data plans for our phones, so we can hotspot and use internet on our laptops.  But of our 3 laptops, one can’t receive wifi, one stopped turning on at all, and the one I’m using has no sound (the drivers were lost when we reformatted the laptop in order to salvage it.)  So … I’m sharing this song via YouTube, and hoping that the music is what I am expecting!  (and I’m hoping that I’m not duplicating Day #8…)

This is the 2nd Peter Mayer song so far, and there will probably be more off his album Midwinter.  The song is – click here – God Is A River.  It doesn’t mention Christmas exactly, but it recognizes how we need to let go and let God, and the holidays are  a good time to practice it.

“In the ever-shifting water of the river of this life
I was swimming, seeking comfort; I was wrestling waves to find
A boulder I could cling to, a stone to hold me fast
Where I might let the fretful water of this river ‘round me pass

And so I found an anchor, a blessed resting place
A trusty rock I called my savior, for there I would be safe
From the river and its dangers, and I proclaimed my rock divine
And I prayed to it “protect me” and the rock replied

God is a river, not just a stone
God is a wild, raging rapids
And a slow, meandering flow
God is a deep and narrow passage
And a peaceful, sandy shoal
God is the river, swimmer
So let go…”

Purchase his album, listen to sample tracks, find lyrics here...

Christmas Song Day #7 “Hey Moon”

The Sidewalk Prophets are a Christian group that sings Dante’s favorite song… if you want a song to encourage someone in your life, share this with them – “The Words I Would Say.”

But today you need a Christmas tune, so here’s a heartfelt song from a star to the moon.

“Hey, hey moon
Do you ever get a tear in your eye
When you think about
the time that God came down
I couldn’t help myself
I had to shine so bright
I remember the new born baby
And the wise men that traveled so far
That’s when I knew
I was made for a reason
I feel like the luckiest star”
with a riff on Silent Night to make it that much more lovely.

Click on the blue to enjoy!

Christmas song Day #6 Toy Packaging (comic relief)

Christmas 2007 070.JPG

Today’s song is comic relief.  Does it bring back memories?  (Good or bad?  Hopefully no E.R. visits!)

It’s another one by Sara Groves – click here to sing along with the catchy tune
“Toy Packaging.”

Christmas Song Day #5 Annie Lennox sings in French

Today’s song is Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant sung by Annie Lennox.  This link is to her whole album on Youtube.  Enjoy!

I listen to this song because the boys and I are learning French, and music is one of the greatest ways to absorb other languages.  At their international school, they are required to learn Bahasa Malaysia.  But they only learn a word or two each week, and our boys seem dead-set against remembering any of it.  As far as I can tell, they feel like learning BM will mean that A.) they will have to speak it here and they aren’t confident in it, and B.) they might be a little less connected to America if they know the language of a developing nation.  Strangely enough, though they refuse to speak it here, when we visit America, they love to speak the Bahasa that they do know.  Go figure.

Their school also requires learning either Mandarin Chinese or French.  Because Cade had enough trouble writing in English, we didn’t want to ask him to ask him to learn to write Chinese characters.  And DuoLingo is a free app that they enjoy using.  I am technically 24% fluent in French, but in reality, I can’t speak it at all.  I can, however, write such useful sentences as “My cat is eating butter” and “The elephant drinks tea.”

Christmas Song Day #4

Little differences between America and Malaysia… here the song “O Holy Night” is not reserved for soloists.  It’s a regular hymn in Churches and everybody can hit whichever notes they choose.  I love it.

Here’s today’s hymn … Sara Groves singing O Holy Night   A version that is just different enough to speak to my heart.

Christmas Songs day #3: “I really Don’t hate Christmas”

Holidays in America tend to have gotten bigger over the years.  From Elf on the Shelf requirements to green footprints expected from kids on St. Patrick’s day, to toddler birthday parties that include – I kid you not – renting out a farm with petting zoo and a ride on a real Monster Truck for each kid (I didn’t let Dante go to that one. His backyard tie-dye party three weeks later wouldn’t have been up to snuff).

It doesn’t help that my birthday is December 22.  (My poor Mom – I was due around the 10th.)  So when we were first married I actually banned anything more than a Christmas banister, and when we had kids I suggested that we alternate – even number years, Christmas, and odd-number years, birthday.  Many moms liked the idea but advertisers didn’t.

But I’ve come around to it – I even allow glitter cards inside the apartment now.  In the end, this has become my Christmas season anthem.  Click to enjoy the cartoon for:

“I Really Don’t Hate Christmas”

Merry start to the season, my friends (unless your season started in October, in which  case you are probably ready for the video to distract you).

(In case you’re wondering, Christmas has gotten big here, mainly because businesses really like it.  The Christian side of things is pretty welcome, and most stores are playing a variety of secular and spiritual music.  My favorite so far was the grocery market playing the full album of Garth Brooks singing Christmas songs.  Thanks, Lintas Market!)

Christmas songs Day #2

I just got this in my email inbox… a song by our family’s newest favorite singer-songwriter.  It starts with this line:  “As the shepherds watched their flocks by night, completely unprepared…”  My heart already jumps, because that is exactly how I feel when considering the Christmas in-breaking of God into our world, “the glory of Christ the Lord, born to us, that holy night.”

Matt is currently recording an album and we even commissioned a song from him – which we are excitedly awaiting.  For $12 you can download his earlier albums and get the new album when it’s ready – it’s a great music collection, mellow but catchy and inspiring.

Here’s how to listen to the Christmas song he just released TODAY!  Click here on the blue text, then scroll down to where it says King of Light (to the right of the cheerful gingerbread man).  It says download but it will play on your screen – very easy even for techno-phobes.  As the angel said, “Do not be afraid.”

For today’s reflection – a confession.  I’m great with American names, but terrible with Asian ones.  Part of it is that Chinese names are organized differently – the family name comes first, and the usually 2-syllable name comes second.  Plus, wives don’t necessarily take their husband’s name, so there’s no easy “and this is Mrs…”  Add in that names have varying levels of formality, so when I ask the name of someone of Chinese descent, I may get a name that should only be used personally, not as an introduction.  Then there are a wonderful array of local names that are creative takes on English names – Jollify, Joefrerick, Cornetius.  Then there are names of people from tribal areas, which are intriguing to learn because they are so unique.

I remember when I was first pastoring, and the congregation told me, “oh, we’re small, everyone knows each other’s names” (“so we don’t need name tags.”)  But when I would take someone aside and say, “I am embarrassed, I don’t remember her name” and point to a regular member, often the long-time member would say, “I don’t know either…”  And then we would be embarrassed together.  It’s amazing how often people *say* and even *believe* they know the names of the people around them, but when put on the spot realize they don’t know.  Here, I usually ask by saying, “Remind me how to spell your name?” but last week, my plan failed when the young man answered, “A.J.”  Ah, well… here’s to at least making an effort to get to know the folks around us!

25 days of Christmas songs Day #1

It’s December 1st!  Or 1st Disember, as they say here.  One of our family traditions is to collect Christmas music.  Our computer has almost 24 hours of holiday music.  Over the next few weeks I will share with you a song each day, and maybe a random reflection of what our Advent is looking like.

Today’s song is by Peter Mayer.  There are 2 Christian Peter Mayer singer-songwriters – this is the one from Minnesota.  (They’re both great!)  It’s from his album called Midwinter, filled with gorgeous song gems.  You can find the album by clicking here.

Watch him perform the song by clicking here!

Today’s big event was that I couldn’t get home from the boys’ school because of an accident.  Accidents here are remarkably rare, even though few people understand merging.  When there are accidents, they are usually bizarre.  Today I was going up a hill to the boys’ school, and there was what looked like one car giving another a jump – then I realized, no, that’s a head-on collision.  The cars were rumpled but it didn’t look too bad.  But how one car ended up perfectly lined up with another (and no police or tow truck in sight) … I have no idea.  Twice I’ve seen cars on their side, again with no ready explanation for how they got there.  Each time I’ve seen people standing by unhurt.  Which is good, because there is no phone number here to reach the nearest ambulance – you need to have memorized the 10-digit phone number for the company in that neighborhood (if you drive 6 kilometres to school, that’s 4 different ambulance phone numbers you should know).  Makes me appreciate the simplicity of 9-1-1!

As it turned out, I needed to stay at school for an hour to work on gathering donations for a garage sale (a rare event) at a local school for young adults with autism and other diseases.  By the time I went home, there was only a pile of glass and a puddle of… I think… petrol.  Making me glad to get past that mess!