the Huttemans: Head (toward) Home

Spoiler Alert—in this email the Hutteman’s move again!
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Some of our suppplies. It’s amazing how the 3 bags we left Palu with have expanded to become many.
We have now been “refugees” for 42 days! In those 42 days, we have moved 5 different times. Now, we are packing to move again—but this time we are finally headed (toward) home.

We are grateful to our friends here in Manado for the housing, fellowship and toys that they loving shared with us. We are also grateful that we were able to spend a little over a week with Amy’s parents who came to help us through the healing process. But now, after nearly 1 month here, it is time to go home.

We will fly out tomorrow at 6 AM, spend a few days with colleagues from Palu who relocated to another city, and then continue on to Palu. In Palu we need to collect and organize some personal stuff that was moved out of our damaged guesthouse. We hope to load up a car and drive back to Lauje-land sometime next week.

Please pray…
…for safety (and sanity) in yet another series of travel
…peace as we return to Palu (esp. the boys)
…wisdom in the many, many decisions that lay ahead.

Michael+Amy (Greyson, Jude + Ezra)


the Huttemans: the rest of the earthquake story

Where we were when the earthquake hit and how far we’ve come since.

an update on how the earthquake/tsunami has and continues to affect our ministry in Asia Pacific
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Seeing Light through a dark time

“…weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5b (NLT)

“the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’” John 8:12

On the morning of September 28th we drove from our home in Lauje to Palu, Sulawesi. Three hours after we arrived, at about 6:00 pm, a massive earthquake shook our world. Immediately, the entire Palu valley was bathed in darkness and quiet as the power lines and cell towers were damaged.

The house we were staying in sustained minimal damage, and our family was all able to run out to the road. We spent tense hours sitting in the road as aftershock after aftershock rolled through. It felt like the ground would never quit shaking. As we sat on the unsettled ground, we looked into the sky and saw beautiful stars lavishly splashed across the heavens. The boys enjoyed picking out the milky way and the little dipper. The darkness revealed the stars.

We spent a sleepless night in a neighbor’s yard, jolting awake with each aftershock. In the morning, “joy comes in the morning” replayed over and over again in my head. The power was not on, communication was still down, and the disaster was far from over, but we found joy in the light of the world.

Over the next few days we were able to hear from our organization’s 130 (ish) personnel that each and every one of them was okay. There was damage to houses. One family’s house fell in on a woman and her daughters, but neighbors dug through the rubble and freed them. The guesthouse where we usually stay sustained significant damage and is no longer livable. As the stories came rolling in the massive destruction began to dawn on us. We found out that a tsunami had struck the beach area. We also heard about the mud that swallowed a whole neighborhood which is just walking distance from the guesthouse.

Conditions in the city rapidly deteriorated, and by Sunday morning it became clear that we would need to evacuate all of our personnel from Palu. So on Monday, the twelve expats from our organization waited for eight very hot and thirsty hours to board an Indonesian Hercules military transporter. We were crammed into every tiny little inch on the aircraft along with over a hundred other foreigners, sick and injured, mothers and their children.

When we arrived in Makassar (a city in the far south of Sulawesi) we were well taken care of. There was a team of people waiting there to help with incident debriefing, helping our kids, and the simple details that we were initially unable to handle. Ezra still talks about how shaky it was in Palu. Each of us have felt nervous when we hear rumbling noises like a jackhammer, but we have been able to process the trauma quite well and are encouraged as we see God’s mercies with each new day, and we praise God that through the devastation that struck Palu, He protected our family and our coworkers from the severe loss and grief that so many others experienced there.

From the beginning Michael felt the burden of caring for and then mobilizing as one of our only leaders “on the ground” in Palu. And, over the next several days, he continued to help with the ongoing evacuation efforts. Cell phone communication in Palu was still spotty, but they could usually get through to him. The rest of our personnel were able to be evacuated by car and by Kodiak flights. The entire evacuation process took a massive amount of effort by our coworker Jerry, the flight team, and others.

In the weeks since the earthquake, our organization has been partnering with local churches and NGO’s to bring help and supplies to communities on the fringe of Palu who are the last to gain access to international aid. We will work on a future email detailing the encouraging things that have come of that.

From Makassar, we relocated to Manado (a city in the far north of Sulawesi). From here we are planning how and when we can return to our home and work among the Lauje. Although our ministry location didn’t sustain any damage in the earthquake, our usual supply route in and out of Palu has been greatly affected. And as we consider alternative routes to Lauje territory, all options involve longer distances overland. That’s why we are beginning to see a truck/SUV as a major need in our new ministry context.

Thankyou for praying for us even while you were “in the dark”. We value your partnership with us as we work to see the Light shine here. We do not know what the future looks like for us, but we will let you know when we do.

In Him.
Amy (for the Huttemans)

Gifts for the ongoing relief effort in Palu can be sent to Ethnos360 with designation:

Any gifts given toward the purchase of a ministry vehicle can be sent to Ethnos360 with designation, “MICHAEL HUTTEMAN—VEHICLE FUND”.

*thanks to Alan and Jason for photos

School Collision


This year, more than ever, I’ve realized how thoroughly American our homeschool books are. No, I’m not saying that is a bad thing. But, it takes some creative teaching.

In Math (Math U See): “How many feet in a mile? How many pints in a quart? How many inches in a yard?”

“No, it isn’t easy like the grams and kilograms that we use every day. You’ll just have to memorize it.”

In Science (AiG’s God’s Plan for the Physical World): “What are some of the major appliances in your home? Your house is probably filled with electrical appliances, figure out how many hours a week they save you… Look at your refrigerator….”

“Well, we have a gas stove, that saves us a lot of time in not having to look for firewood. We also have a wash machine…but since we do a lot of the laundry by hand, and just use the spinner function…it doesn’t save much time, but it does save on effort. Remember the refrigerator we had when we were in the US…”

In Daily Five (First Language Lessons, Writing with Ease, Daily Trait Writing, Spelling U See, and Editor in Chief): “Do you remember the proper name of the state in which you live? Memorize your address. What are the Abbreviations in your address…st., ct., ave.?

“Well let’s write out our mailing address. And we’ll write out Grandma and Grandpa’s address.”


Overall, though, school has been going well. We are nearing the end of most of our books…at the beginning of April. So, we will have to take a long Easter break. After that, we’ll have to fill the rest of our time with “cementing the concept” type projects (it could also be called busy work). The boys have been doing lots of writing. They also have a big history project (I’ll post it when they are finished). And, they have been doing flash cards to cement their basic math facts.

deep waters

Two weeks and one day ago, I was sitting prepping posts for this website. I was taking pictures of the kids’ school books (a school post is coming), typing, and editing while breaking up fights between the boys, changing diapers, and cleaning messes. I burst out the front door to grab the escaping toddler, and looked over to see my “daughter’s” husband squatting under the chocolate tree (we have a chocolate tree in our yard…exotically cool, right?).

I immediately knew something was wrong.

My “daughter” had been showing signs that she would go into labor soon. They said they would call me when it was time. But her husband’s face didn’t look right. He said, “The baby is born. But he isn’t good, he wasn’t breathing. Your “daughter” isn’t doing well either.”

And just like that I was wading into the deep.

I half ran to my “daughter’s” house, and then carefully walked into the deep pool of sadness surrounding them. It is a hard thing to see a beautiful baby boy lying too still. It is a hard thing to hold onto my “daughter”, and cry with her. It is a hard thing to visit every day afterwards, and to sit, offering the only few words of comfort that I have. It is a hard thing to pray that she will not grow bitter, and that the deep will not drown her.

But I choose to believe.

I believe that if she clings to Him, who can give the only true comfort, she will find herself to have grown and changed in special and deep ways. As I face the hard and the deep, I am learning for myself that:

“suffering is part ofthe narrative, and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.”

Shauna Niequist Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

*From what I’ve gathered, I think the baby died because of severe shoulder dystocia.

Mother Thoughts

I’ve found a quote that describes me very, very accurately. It’s a painful one.
“…Flaming Fire who burns through the thick masks and leaves the soul disrobed. I am naked and I am right ashamed. I know how monstrously inhumane I can be. Raging at children for minor wrongdoings while I’m the one defiling the moment with sinful anger. Hoarding possessions while others die of starvation. Entertaining the mind with trivial pretties when I haven’t bowed the head and heart in a prayer longer than five minutes in a week. My tongue has had a razor edge and my eyes have rolled haughty and my neck has been stiff and graceless and I have lived the filth ugly, an idolater, a glutton, and a grace thief who hasn’t had time for the thanks.” —Ann Voskamp

My natural default setting is to feel competent and able. I prefer to soldier on, just do it, and don’t complain too much. I figure that I can persevere through most difficult situations that come my way. That’s my default. That’s me thinking that I (with a big glaring I) can do it.

The reality that I so often find is that when I try to do it all on my own, I turn into a mean mommy. I often “rage at my children for minor wrongdoings.” I turn not only into a mean mommy, but a grumpy server of the disadvantaged (like I talked about in the last post). But, the scariest thing is that when I think I can do it all, I don’t submit and spend time with God.

Do you find truth about yourself in that quote? Are you like me and struggle to bow, “the head and heart in a prayer longer than five minutes in a week?” Are you willing to open up, and ask for accountability from someone you trust? Because I know that it what I need, and I figure that there are others out there too.

Keep a smile on your face.

A few weeks ago we had some guests that didn’t show signs of ever leaving.

The first night we happily fed our guests. We watched nature shows, and talked with them about the big-ness of the world. We held our breath when he smoked. We pulled out our sleeping mat and said, “sleep here, if you please.” We fed them breakfast in the morning, and expected them to head back home. We turned a blind eye when they foraged around the yard, picking fruit, and other things. We started counting the hours. And then it rained.
And then it was night. We scraped together another dinner, but smaller. We didn’t turn the TV on, but looked at pictures instead. We grudgingly held our noses when he smoked (and then when she smoked, and then when their kids asked for a puff). We pulled out our sleeping mat with heavy hearts. We weren’t too sad when they decided to sleep next door at our neighbor’s (empty) house where they could build a fire if they got cold in the middle of the night.
The next morning, we made breakfast. We wondered, “will they ever leave?” We watched them start to make their rounds around the yard, picking up nuts that had fallen from the trees. With grumpy hearts, Michael and I sat down to read our Bibles (true confession: it’s super incredibly rare that we ever sit down together and read, but on this day we did). Michael turned to me and said, “you better not read Romans 12. It’s a little too personal.”

So of course I read it. Here’s some of what it says:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering…
…if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face…Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians, be inventive in hospitality.
…Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody…
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness…” (the Message)

The family that stayed-on-too-long exposed us. Sometimes we convince others (and ourselves) that we rock this working-with-the-disadvantaged thing. We feel like we can see the beauty in everyone, and are good at helping the needy (in a way that doesn’t end up hurting them in the end).

That family is the exact sort of people that we are here to help. They define the word disadvantaged. She was 8 months pregnant. The two kids had the telltale stick out bellies that show they need worm medicine. Their clothes were tattered and unwashed. The wife and kids do not know how to read. The husband looks like he has chronic lung disease—maybe from smoking, maybe from TB. They have the pale skin of low nutrition. And, because they do the stay-on-too-long routine everywhere they visit, not many people in this community like them.

But, we did not serve them with a smile. Sure we may have smiled (through gritted teeth) when they we around, but our hearts were oh so definitely not smiling. We most definitely got irritated with them. We were depressed when we thought they would never leave. We showed only the bare minimum of hospitality. And we had a hard time seeing their beauty through the grime and smell. They messed up our little comfortable world, and our little comfortable routine.

It’s good have my heart exposed. It’s good to remember that it’s only, “with God helping you,” that I can serve others. No, I don’t naturally want to serve people I don’t like, but God working in me makes it possible.


[categories family life]

“Mama can I please have a whole apple all to myself.” said Jude.
To which I replied: “Uh. No. Sorry.”
‘Cuz I’m just that kind of mean mommy. Here in our jungle-y mountain home we have, miracles of miracles, started getting a small bag full of apples almost weekly. Michael buys several apples (they are quite expensive) from a new vendor at the market on the coast. They are like gold to us, so we eat them slowly, slicing them, and sharing them between the 5 of us. We never have a whole apple to ourselves. With lack the boys are appreciative.

Last year, when we were living within walking distance of 4 grocery stores we had a fruit bowl full of apples that was replenished weekly. The boys could have an apple (to themselves) any time they wanted. They only occasionally wanted. With plenty the boys were bored.

My point isn’t that it is good for kids to experience lack…maybe it is…maybe it isn’t. My point is that the things that we think of as sacrifices, the costs that we count up for our kids…those are the things that can be used in their lives to make them more complete and well rounded individuals.

As parents we all want our kids to appreciate the food that they have, the clothes that they wear, the houses that they live in, and to be grateful for the toys that they play with. We don’t want them to be so bored by having everything, that they never appreciate it.

It is tempting for me to try to shelter my kids…I can scramble and scheme to get them each an apple a day (and keep the doctor away). But, I am learning that it is okay that they don’t always get everything that they want. I am learning that sacrifices aren’t always all bad in their lives (or in mine).