Children singing at Debora Orphanage, North Sumatra, Indonesia

A passion and heart for Debora

This year Rosemary Winderlich again visited Debora in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Jo Veerhuis and Chris Stott joined Rosemary on the visit to the home supported by the Lutheran women across Australia.

In spending even a few minutes with Rosemary, it becomes clear she has a passion and a heart for Debora but now readily suggests: “I’m not as indestructible as I was”.

The following extracts from her journal include Rosemary’s reflections and offer great insights into Debora and the Indonesian culture. Her travels begin with the bus trip to Debora.

Children at Deborah Orphanage, North SumatraJune 28: Good trip, roads much improved over the six years. Home at Silangge (Debora) in about 10 hours.

June 30: Went with kids to Silangge service ... in our hall or games room ... “aule” The little church of this small village is being rebuilt.

July 1: Now playing UNO with Andri, Vera, Yanti, Herda, Jo and Chris. The card games teach a bit of English.

July 2: We have been served our meals in privacy in the sitting room next to our bedrooms, isolated from everyone. I have asked to eat with the kids as I usually do most of the time, but their sense of hospitality is not happy ... we must be well looked after and well fed. We have had four or five meals with them but have to keep asking.

Music ... someone is always singing somewhere, singularly, in harmony, with guitar ... distant music drifts down the long passage.

Usually about half the children are orphans, whose pastors and parents have applied for a place here. The reasons ... very poor and can’t afford education or can’t be cared for because of loss of one or both parents.

July 3: Devotions are at five in the morning and again at about seven at night, usually followed by an hour or two of choir practice. The children will sing at the opening and closing of synod, next week.

July 7: Music everywhere ... a festival here today to raise funds for the new church ... dancing, singing, camaraderie and, of course, food and worship.

Before church ... Children are practising their song for church (we sing with them); someone is strumming guitar in another direction, bits of singing as kids cook ... it’s a culture of music.

Near mealtimes, there is usually chilli and garlic being fried in the kitchen, and the smell drifts through the rooms.

July 8: I am up ... sore ... three big services yesterday ... normal church, special service to bless the new building, then at night a thanksgiving service nearby for blessing a new house and coffee drying sheds. Lots of festivals.

Life is interesting. I am very happy ... now a girl who lives a long way away has come to see me ... a small girl when I first came, I have not seen her for five years. She will stay two nights. Wonderful. Any people who have come with me will remember Fitri ...very funny, very loving.

July 11: Jo, Chris and I are bursting at the seams with the utter privilege of being here, and all the love we are given.

July 12: Lessons for over two hours.

Children at Debora Orphanage in North SumatraTuesday: last day.

Morning Kebaktian at five, drowsy children drift in and sit silent ... all there, we sing, a Bible reading around the room, a short talk on the text, Lord’s Prayer, Song ... announcements, instructions for the day. This morning the light faded in and out.

Now preparations for school, breakfast, jobs ... chickens to be let out, dogs fed, porch and hall swept etc. They leave at seven for their various schools. Then we might go back to bed for an hour or two.

I am, as usual, full to overflowing with thankfulness and love, floating above the ground, constantly amazed at all the goodness God has shown to me. Peace? ... that takes a while to achieve when I leave, as I invest myself too much and it hurts to leave each time. I do not seem to have a security control to keep love in check! I am constantly aware of God’s presence, and wonderful things have happened ... especially in meeting graduates and connecting them back to their church.

For over two decades, Lutheran Women of Australia have supported Debora and, for much of that time, Rosemary Winderlich has been the visiting follow-up presence of that support. Through you, her visits to the current students and staff, her follow-up with local leaders and her determination to catch up with past students has reflected God’s love and changed lives. God invites each of us to use our gifts and passions to serve those around us.

LCA International Mission is currently working on a position paper regarding clarity on our engagement with residential care homes across our region. We’ll keep you posted.

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LCA International Mission

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