Hello from Borneo!
Rhian Roberts shares her impressions while nursing in a Christian village in Borneo
I left UK on 28January and after two flights, two buses and a truck journey arrived in the Living Waters Village (LWV), near a village called Manggala.
The 13-hour bus ride was an experience. About 40 people crammed into a minibus. There were no doors and people were hanging out of the bus. We were travelling on an extremely dusty and ridiculously bumpy road at a fast speed.
At one point the driver stopped to put a plank of wood over a pot-hole as it was so bad. I will never again complain about our roads back home! I arrived late at night on 1 February, covered in dust. The following day I was given a tour of the LWV and then started work.
The project is literally in the middle of the jungle. They currently have about 400 children living there, with more coming in continually.
There are three large houses where lots of children live, and there is the training centre where children come when they first arrive, to learn how to eat with cutlery, wash properly and learn general manners. They come from villages, where such things are strange to them.
Lots of the children are orphaned and all are unschooled. In LWV they live in a safe environment , where they hear the gospel each day and are able to have a good education. There is a school on site, with mainly Indonesian teachers; and building work goes on continually.
The medical centre is practically finished. They are praying for medical workers to work here and for medical equipment. Then there’s the bakery and numerous other houses. The aim of the school, bakery, medical centre, sewing room, carpentry area, garden and building work is to train up children in various skills; also, that they might even go back to spread the gospel in their own villages.
A typical day starts with waking up for personal prayer and Bible study at 5.30am. It is followed by breakfast at 6.30am and morning clinic at 7am. Illnesses presented to us have included many different fevers, scabies, head lice, allergic reactions, two motorbike accidents, two deep cuts to the head, stomach ulcer, and ringworm. After clinic, we meet as a group for prayer.
Dinner is at 6pm. We have a group Bible reading and prayer time, and then eat. This is followed by evening clinic at 7pm.
There are children’s homework nights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, and movie night on Saturdays, where all watch a film on a big screen in the hall. The day usually ends about 9pm.
On Sundays we have two services, and once a month go to the local church in Manggala. It is quite a task transporting all the children safely to Manggala on a bumpy, dusty road. I was in a 4×4 which transported 31 people! Incredible!
We often go swimming on Sunday afternoons, floating down the river through the jungle for a couple of hours on bamboo logs; and we pick and eat jungle fruits.
When I arrived, there were another two nurses at the project, one from New Zealand and one from UK. But half way through my stay they left and I was the only medical person. This at times seemed overwhelming, but I thank the Lord so much that he gives me continued good health and strength for every day.
There have been a number of children with dangerously high fevers at times, and three boys, 8, 10 and 12 years old, have been diagnosed with TB. These are being treated and are doing well.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays there is a mid-week meeting. Their form of worship is very different to what I’m used to back home. At first I didn’t know what to think. They get excited in worship. However although it’s different to home, they do keep God at the centre.
I think culture comes into it quite a bit. But no matter how we worship, if Jesus Christ is our focus and not the music or other people, then surely it’s pleasing to him.
Many of the children love and know the Lord. They all know their Bibles well, and take worship and prayer seriously; even the very small children. It is an absolute thrill to see so many children praising our Lord. It’s overwhelming.
This is a place where God is continuing to do a mighty work. These children come from villages where witchcraft and animism are rife.
Poverty and faith
One Sunday I went for lunch to a brother of some of the LWV children. He is a Christian and married, with one daughter. It is easy to forget how poor the people living outside LWV actually are. When I visited his home, I saw the poverty they lived in. But they were content in the Lord.
That Sunday lunch (I didn’t realise until afterwards) consisted of rice and dog casserole, with all parts of the stray dog included! Although that was rather disgusting, I was so glad I went, to see the joy in these people that love the Lord. It just re-emphasised to me that we have so many unnecessary luxuries which clog up our lives.
Spurgeon said, ‘Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy. Surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. Too much is a heavy burden and all we get is all we should expect. God knows our needs and so a craving for more than this is ungrateful’.
I have learnt a lot by being here and God has been so good. He has answered so many prayers. A number of times I have worried about the sick children; the illnesses here are not what we experience at home (TB, malaria, typhoid, etc.), and I need wisdom to know what to do. So I praise the Lord for each child he has kept, and for keeping me well.
LWV is surrounded by jungle. It’s a beautiful place. I wake up every morning and see what is around me and can’t but praise the Lord for his immense creation. Seeing the sun rise and set over the jungle and seeing a carpet of stars in the sky every night is something I’ll always treasure.