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Beginning to Cultivate a Lifelong Work

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

By Jake Fettig, Field Staff, Indonesia

The plane was passing over Iceland when Amber turned to me and asked, “What should we say if people ask us what we are going to do next?” It was July 2020, and we were flying to the US for REI’s biennial staff conference. We’d spent the last year and a half as REI apprentices in Indonesia, so naturally people might ask about our plans for when the apprenticeship ended. But the pace of life overseas hadn’t allowed us time to think that through.

Jake (middle) with a village leader (left) and farmer (right) harvesting banana and gathering soil samples

We began to reflect on our time in Indonesia and were struck by how the apprenticeship had shaped us. But, more significantly, we were struck by the ways we had seen progress towards the vision of Indonesians being filled with hope as their nation is developed and their lives transformed. We had seen this when we attended a peace camp, in an area of historic conflict, where people from different backgrounds came together to brainstorm ideas to help their communities. I had been to remote regions of the country to study rare crops with locals, looking to find creative ways for them to profit by the fertility of the soil. Amber had hosted English classes for a group of Yemeni refugees, giving them purpose and hope. She had mentored a young Indonesian educator, who taught Amber as much as she taught her. We had seen the SunREI dried fruit business impact the livelihoods of women. All this and more lay behind us.

Amber shopping for fruit

In truth, I expected it to be a harder decision. I expected to wrestle with it. Instead, it came almost as a matter of course. “We are going to stay,” we concluded as the plane was passing over Greenland. And at the conference we informed leadership of our desire to continue long-term with REI in Indonesia.

Now, as we complete new staff training and look at what lies ahead of us in Indonesia, there is plenty of scope for imagination. Firstly, we plan to continue learning – about culture, worldviews, challenges, solutions, development, and more. We hope to facilitate learning, being open to learn from anyone and encouraging others to do the same.

We want to share the life of our family with others. This past January we hosted our son’s first birthday party with guests from a variety of different Indonesian backgrounds, and it was such a special moment. There are many kindred spirits in the world, and we desire to develop such deep relationships with people here.

Jake, Amber, and a friend walking around a market

We hope to support development initiatives in Indonesia – utilizing grassroots initiatives and training educators. We will strive to take on the challenge of servanthood, continually asking how we can love and serve those around us in appropriate ways.

And, one thing is certain, we will eat lots of rice; as one author said, “The cultivation of rice is in Java what the vintage is in the Rhine provinces and in the south of France.”

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