Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network (YAMEN!) is a joint program of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Mennonite World Conference (MWC). It places young adults from MWC member churches in the Global South in other countries of the Global South for cross-cultural learning and ministry.
SUKODONO, Indonesia – In 2008 I went to Cairo, Egypt, under YAMEN! to work at the Anaphora Retreat Centre of the Coptic Orthodox church. I used my limited English language as a basis for learning Arabic.
After a month and a half, however, just as I was getting the feel of Egypt, a friend drove me to the immigration office in Cairo to renew my visa. To my surprise, the officer told me that I could not renew it; this was different from what the embassy had told me before I came. I had to return to my beloved Indonesia. The lesson I learned at that time was: God lets good things and bad things happen to us, but he never leaves us alone to walk by ourselves.
When I arrived home, my friends were shocked, wondering whether I was unable to do the work. But they prayed for me that all would work out.
Thankfully, my fellow MCCers in Egypt had talked to other international MCC staff and were able to arrange that my assignment could be transferred to Zimbabwe. Was I dreaming? I had heard that it wasn’t a good place to visit. Inflation was very high, and the country was in economic crisis. Health services were unavailable, and many people were suffering with HIV and AIDS.
I was grateful to God for my host, Pastor Milson Ndlovu, a Brethren in Christ (BIC) pastor in Lobengula-Bulawayo. He asked me to be his assistant in his pastoral visits and in his Bible teaching. I attended pastors’ meetings and visited people in hospital and seniors’ homes. I even helped to teach in the BIC’s preschool program in Lobengula.
After nine months, it was time to go home. I was happy that I would see my beloved family, but it was hard to say goodbye to my new family in Zimbabwe. I had experienced Jesus in Africa.
In Indonesia, I completed my studies at my college, STAKKWW Pati, associated with the Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ) synod and the Global Discipleship Training offered by Global Disciples, a mission organization. The GITJ synod is one of three Indonesian member churches of Mennonite World Conference.
Then I took a job as a teacher in a preschool and kindergarten run by the GITJ in Sukodono, a small city in Central Java, Indonesia. In July of 2010 I was married to Deni Kurniasih of the Sukodono church. Recently we opened a new play group that reaches a variety of families, including people who are not Christian. In it we try to concentrate on character development. I also am a youth discipleship trainer with the GITJ synod.
Before I joined YAMEN!, I was not confident with strangers from other cultures and languages. I would feel uncomfortable, foolish and inferior. My experiences in Egypt and Zimbabwe taught me that I am Jesus’ own creation, just like anyone else. Anyone visiting a new country feels lonely and small. When I realized this, I knew I could be flexible and grow as a person.
My growing confidence helped me not only in my YAMEN! assignment; it also made me confident in facing new situations here in Indonesia, too. I came home with a new spirit, wanting to accept God’s call for my life. Currently, it is to serve the church in Sukodono.
When I saw the suffering of the people in Zimbabwe, I also learned to be thankful. Today, I would be ashamed to ask God for something that I don’t need. I cannot be upset when we get too much rain; others in the world need that rain.
I have moved from an exclusive local mindset to one that is international. I have a new spirit that is always open to learn.
God never left me alone when I joined YAMEN! Thanks to Jesus Christ for calling me to serve him in my life.
Participants in this year’s YAMEN! program
Kenia Vasquez of the Iglesia Evangélica Anabautista, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, serving in Mozambique; Luisa Santos of the Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Hondureña, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, serving in Nicaragua; Yohane Mbewe of the Maone Brethren in Christ Church in Malawi, serving in Brazil; Brighton Mashebe of the Kanyama “A” Brethren in Christ Church, Zambia, serving in Brazil; Nancy Sabas of Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Hondureña in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, serving in Indonesia; Aristiya Dwiyanti of the Persatuan Gereja-Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia (GKMI), serving in Cambodia; Nicole Knelsen Hubert of the Vereinigung der Mennoniten Brüder Gemeinden, Asunción, Paraguay, serving in Indonesia; Janny Lweendo Hachilenge of the Choma Central Brethren in Christ Church, Zambia, serving in Indonesia; and Godswill Muzarabani, of the Entumbane Brethren in Christ Church, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, serving in Laos.