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Remembering 9/11

This week marks the 15th anniversary of 9/11, a day that will forever be etched in my memory.

Our family had just arrived in Indonesia to begin formal language study. We were so brand new, we could barely get around without a “handler” to help us.

It was actually September 12th in Indonesia when we heard the news. I remember the brightness of the sunshine as I walked my son to his preschool class at the local international school in Bandung, West Java.

Natalie’s husband, David, with their oldest son in Sept. 2011.

The principal’s wife approached us and said, “Did you hear what happened in America?” Immediately I thought the president had been assassinated. She invited us in to her home and together we watched in disbelief as CNN played over and over images of the airplanes flying into the twin towers in New York City.

It was surreal for us, to be Americans living abroad in a country that was carrying on as usual when we knew back home it was anything but normal. We were so new in the country, and we longed to be home to grieve with our fellow Americans.

Soon word began to go around the community that radicals in Java were planning to do “sweepings” and that Americans should be alert. I felt fearful, and we questioned the wisdom of our staying in country during such a volatile time.

A few nights later we met with other expat families to discuss the situation. One of the men, J, had lived in Indonesia for a long time, and was respected in the community.

“I keep thinking about the people on those planes, and how terrified they must have felt,” he said, giving voice to feelings we shared. “I keep imagining myself as a passenger and I think, what would I do? How would I get through it?”

His question hung in the air, then he said, “And I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus would have been with me, and that would have been enough.”

Jesus would be with me. I thought of his words many times over the next few days as we packed up and left Java for Kalimantan, where the situation was calmer.

Having our world rocked—even by events that happened on the other side of the globe—was the beginning of a journey of learning to trust in the LORD more and more, and to hold on to the truth that in the midst of trials and uncertainty, Jesus would be with us.


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