Sukarto smiles widely with his remaining good teeth and motions for us to enter his home.  It’s a small and simple structure, hunkered down in the ash-enriched soil of Mt. Bromo.


His wife Sukarni also gives our team a warm welcome and quickly disappears to make refreshments for her guests.   Even as we start chatting we can hear the grumblings of Mt. Bromo, eruptions that sound like ocean waves and rumbling thunder at the same time.  The active crater is about a mile from their house and you can see it clearly from their front yard.


Sukarto, like many Tenggerese people in this area, farms onions, cabbages and potatoes.   To help supplement his meager income he also works as a tour guide, bringing his horse down to the “sea of sand” every day, hoisting up tourists onto his small horse and guiding them from the parking area right up to the steps of the smoking crater.


Normally Mt. Bromo, a popular tourist destination in East Java, shoots out a manageable amount of sulfuric steam continually.  But since late November, it has been erupting in a more dangerous way, belching out grey ash that has blanketed the community and blown all the way to Surabaya, a few hours’ drive away.


There are no more tourists for Sukarto to make his living.  And even worse, his garden is covered in two feet of ash.  Life is already hard for these people, and this slow-folding disaster has made it much worse.


The house is built short, Sukarto tells us, because of the strong winds that whip through the fields.  If it were taller, it would be easier for the wind to knock it down.  When I stand upright in the home there is about four inches of clearance between my head and the ceiling.


Sukarni comes out with a tray of sweet tea and fried bananas.  We gratefully partake and once again I marvel at the hospitality of Indonesians even in difficult circumstances.  Our team of seven, made up from different organizations in Malang, gather some facts about their situation and try to offer comfort.


The main thing that Sukarto asks for is food staples.  The government has brought water but he and his fellow villagers are getting short on food supplies . Normally in a natural disaster there would be NGO’s crawling all over the place and offering such aid, but this has been a different type of disaster, slowly building and out of the spotlight of the media.  Nothing dramatic but ash raining down and no one has died.



We ask permission to pray for him and his wife.  They seem grateful for the prayers and disappointed when we tell them we need start driving back down this mountain range to our homes in Malang, about 3.5 hours away.  Why are we such in hurry…it’s not even raining yet?  We apologize we must be going and take our leave.


They walk us to their front yard, all covered by this eerie grey snow storm, and heartily wave us goodbye.




Dear Faith Activating Friends,


What an experience our survey team had this last Tuesday in the Bromo region of East Java.  The reason we came is to see what resources our “Disaster Response Team” of Malang could bring to bear on this unfolding disaster.  Our feel afterwards was that the main need is food and maybe some man power to help clean out houses.   If you would like to help with giving toward this village, and one other that we visited, see the info at the bottom of this report.


To see pictures of this trip, please click here:





The first village we came to, called Weringin Anom, is much further down the mountain than Sukarto’s.  It lies along a river and was inundated by a flood caused by the eruptions.  Bromo’s thick ash, combined with mud slides, has chocked the rivers with hundreds of thousands of rocks and newly formed dams from all the debris.  Those dams break when the pressure builds and the rivers overflow their banks.


Where the river normally bends it just kept going and filled half of the 77 houses of there with about three feet of muddy water.  Through they were warned by friends upstream through cell phone calls, they didn’t have enough time to salvage their belongings.  Our host told us that about half the people have decided to stay and rebuild and the other half are looking for other places.  For the ones who stay there is fear it could happen again as Bromo continues to erupt every day.


For our host we gave some money to help repair some damage to pipes in his village.  He was grateful and is awaiting our next response.


If you would like to be part of that response, email me at and I can send you the information on how to give, either online or by check.


Thanks for your prayers and support for the people affected by the Mt. Bromo eruptions.