Sunday, December 31, 2006

This morning on our way to church we were treated to the sight of dead goats with their necks slit having been sacrificed to celebrate Hari(day) Raya(big) Kurban. Last night they were calling Aluah Akbar for the entire night without ceasing... so needless to say, the grownups in this house are a little fatigued today. Then at 7:00 the calling stopped and we heard a sermon extolling the virtues of helping one another in times of need. I don't know if I've mentioned before, but we live about 75 metres from the nearest mosque. But there are many mosques very close to us and they all call out to pray at around the same time, but not in sync of course, and with the volume as high as it will go. It is quite the sound to hear. I wish I could record it for you to hear. Especially at night when sound travels really well; it is amazing to hear. Unfortunately it is all in vain as they are praying to Aluah and not Tuhan (our God).
Tonight we plan to welcome in the new year with the other MAF folks that are still around. The plan is to light fireworks off our roof. Hopefully, it doesn't rain....
We would like to wish all of you God's continued blessings in the New Year! Selamat Tahun (year) Baru(new)!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

What to do when it rains aaallll day long...

Hari Raya Kurban

Right now we are listening to the repeated prayers to Aluah as it is Hari Kurban right now. All week there have been goats and cows for sale by the side of the road.
Eid ul-Adha is celebrated by Muslims worldwide as a commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael for Allah. (Muslims believe that Abraham had to offer up Ishmael, not Isaac) Others celebrate Eid ul-Adha as it marks the end of the Pilgrimage or Haji for the millions of Muslims who make the trip to Mecca each year. Like Eid-Ul Fitri, Eid ul-Adha also begins with a short prayer followed by a khutba (sermon). In Mecca, the khutba is delivered at Mount Arafat.
It is celebrated approximately 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan.
Eid ul-Adha is four days long starting the day after the pilgrims in hajj (annual pilgrimage to mecca by Muslims world wide) descend from mount Arafat.
Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing and perform prayer (Salat) in any Masjid or mosque. Muslims who can afford to do so sacrifice best domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibrahim's sacrifice. Any faulty animal scarification may not be acceptable by Allah (Quran,Hadith); this sacrifice is called "Qurban". The sacrificed animals (camels, cows, goats and sheeps) have to meet certain age and quality standards. At the time of sacrifice, Allah's name is recited along with the offering statement and a supplication as Muhammad said. The meat then is equally distributed amongst the sacrificer's family, friends, relatives, and the poor and hungry. The regular charitable practices of the Muslim community are demonstrated during Eid ul-Adha by the concerted effort to see that no impoverished Muslim is left without sacrificial food during this day. Coming immediately after the Day of Mount Arafat when Muhammad pronounced the final seal on the religion of Islam, Eid ul-Adha gives concrete realization to what the Muslim community ethic means in practice. People in these days are expected to visit their relations, starting from their parents, then their families and friends.
Today our neighbours invited us to a celebration for their new baby. Normally here before a baby is 40 days old they cut a bit of hair off the head and put it in a bowl with water and flowers. Not sure why they do that, but anyways, they at some point want to cut off all the hair as it is the hair from inside the mother and it is considered dirty. We didn’t go for the party as it started at 6:00 and like the house blessing party we observed a couple months ago, the men were sitting together and the women apart and they prayed and sang for a good half hour first and then they ate some appetizers together like deep-fried banana and other deep-fried delicacies. Then they gave all who attended a Styrofoam take-out container with white rice (of course) a piece of chicken, a hard-boiled egg swimming in hot sauce, some cabbage and cucumber and a piece of Indonesian kroepoek (not nearly as good as the dutch style…) to take home. We came when the party was basically done after our kids were in bed. But we still got our take-out meal. So we were able to visit with the parents of the baby, especially the dad. It was nice because we don’t often get to chat with him as he works in the morning and the evening and is home for a siesta during the afternoon. Today he had permission to stay home in the evening for the celebration. He works at a hospital and dispenses medicines like anti-depressants and epilepsy drugs. He didn’t formally train at university to do this, but went through a 2 month training program at the hospital. Our neighbours are always very honoured if we take the time to visit with them. It is really great for our language and cultural training to spend time with them. They are a really nice family.
P.S. This post is actually from 2 days ago, but because of the earthquake in Taiwan we have been having internet issues...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's Thursday and we're at the pool right now. I'm making use of the wireless internet available here. It's a tiny bit faster than our access at home and right now we can't get on the internet or access our email at home. So if you've emailed us in the past couple days and we haven't replied, well, we just haven't seen it.
We are having an enjoyable holiday so far. We took the kids to a bigger Jump'n Gym yesterday and they had fun there. Today, as I already wrote, we are at the pool. It's been a long time since we've been swimming as the weather has been so rainy and cold (at least cold for us...). So it's great to get a little vitamin sun today.
That's about the scoop from here! Praying that all is well with all of you also!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Selamat Boxing Day!

Aidan and Hugo on the go carts. Quite hilarious, Aidan had a few spectacular crashes into the tires along the sides.

Today we took the kids to Bandung Super Mall again. We had promised to take them back when we had holidays as the last time we went it was so incredibly busy you could hardly move. Today it was soooo quiet, very nice. It did get a little busier towards mid afternoon, but by then we'd already had our fun. Please see photos for more about our fun... The last photo is of a bunch of kids that were waiting by the entrance to the mall. They try to earn some money by bring people to their cars under cover of their umbrellas. Of course it was raining by the time we went home and I was trying and trying to get through to the taxi company but to no avail. In the meantime these kids were standing in front of us literally staring at us as though we were an attraction at the zoo. That hasn't quite become entirely normal for us yet... There were taxis dropping people off in front and I ran up to one from our preferred company (BlueBird-clean cars and drivers who don't smoke...) but was told that I'd have to put my name on the list. I kind of acted like I sort of understood but not really and the next time a Blue Bird taxi came the door guy called me over so I guess magically the list disappeared and we were first. Turns out that BlueBird is not actually allowed to pick people up in front of the mall. People are supposed to go outside the mall grounds and wait. So we were just very fortunate that today the rules were bent for us and we made it home safely and in good time. Always an adventure here... Hope you all had a nice relaxing Boxing Day!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Selamat Hari Minggu

It’s the day before Christmas and it’s raining again. It’s amazing how fast our thoughts have changed from, please rain, to, can we please have some sun? We managed to get in this family photo just before it started to rain, hence the spots on Hugo’s shirt… (that's our house on the left)
Well, we have all fallen victim to the evil flu. Aidan was the last victim to fall. Hopefully that means we will all be healthy for the rest of the holidays. The kids had their last day of school on Friday and will be going back, along with us, Jan 8, 2007. Hugo and I had our evaluations on Thursday and they went very well. We have officially passed unit three and are on our way up to unit 4. Yeah! Unit four is 2 hours in the afternoon but there’s more homework of the written variety.
We want to wish all of you, wherever you are in the world, a blessed Christmas as together we remember Christ’s birth.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

We have been having quite the rain storms here. If one were to venture outdoors, one would become drenched in seconds. Today we had a thunderstorm that was so close that the lightening and thunder were virtually simultaneous. It was incredibly loud!
In this country they are much more formal than we are with regards to what you call eachother. In Canada we adults just use first names unless we are speaking to an elderly person or a member of parliament. Children of course use the terms Mr. and Mrs. for grownups. Here, it is quite different. If you don’t know each other yet you must use Ibu for a married woman or Nona or Mbak for an unmarried woman. You may say their first name after the title though. Once you get to know each other and know who is older, the older person may call the younger by name only but the younger person must always use the title. Sometimes an older person will call the younger person Dik which is short for Adik which means younger sibling (even though they aren’t actually related…) At school we must call all of our teachers title first and then name. We must use Ibu even for the unmarried female teachers out of respect. Outside of school we can call them whatever they tell us to as some of them are a bit more modern… All the above rules apply to men as well except they are addressed as Pak if married or Mas if not married. In Canada we use the word “you” when talking to someone as well. Here it is more polite, at school especially, to use the proper title (don’t have to use the name too). It is actually very polite to use your own name when talking about yourself too. That’s weird to do so I’m not really doing it… At school before going home, the teachers must go to the head of the school and ask permission to go home (even though some of them have worked there for almost 20 years…). When asking permission, they must say their title, first name and then ask. Like, “Boleh (may) Ibu Erica pulang (go home)?” I never imagined that there would be this many little things to learn here!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Here in Indonesia people eat a tremendous amount of rice. They eat it for each meal. So when the price of rice goes up, there’s a bit problem. This has happened a few times recently. There have already been demonstrations in Jakarta about it. The reasons for the rise in price are various. The rain came very late this year so the crops were affected. Also there are probably some unscrupulous government workers who sell rice to other countries for a profit instead of selling it to their own people. There are also those with lots of money who buy up tremendous amounts of rice and then sell it little by little for a lot thereby controlling the market. But the fact remains, the price of rice for the average person here has risen. Those who are very poor are beginning to resort to eating sweet potatoes or roots. Unfortunately, while roots might be a lot cheaper, they are also a lot lower in nutritional value. They are only a source of carbohydrates. Apparently the government is supposed to be controlling the price of rice but I’m not sure about all the details yet. Anyways, this is big news here right now and many of the “little” people blame the current government. They feel that life was better under the dictator Soeharto because at least then people could easily buy rice and milk. I think that time makes people forget the bad things….
On the family front, Hugo and I are feeling a lot better, but now Marc is sick with the same flu bug we had. That leaves only Brynne and Aidan who haven’t had it yet….
Tomorrow is our last day of school! Yippee!! Then on Thursday morning we have our evaluation, and we know that it is just a formality, they never fail you if you’ve made it past unit 1… phew….

Monday, December 18, 2006

Today a group of kids and some older "kids" from church came and sang some Carols and read some scripture about Christmas. Here you don't sing in front of the house, you go into the house. This is out of respect for our muslim neighbours and so that we don't all get eaten by mosquito's. It's really neat to be one in faith with these people in this foreign country so far away from home.
Update on the sewage issue: Apparently on Saturday already our neighbours had toilet sewage in their bathroom but they didn't say anything to us. We didn't see anything until Sunday and it wasn't until today that our neighbours told Ibu Tati about it. The people here are so non-confrontational that they didn't even eat so that they wouldn't have to use the toilet. Too funny! Anyways, the neighbour man hired someone, after we agreed to each pay half, to come and unplug the drain. Here that is not so easily done. They first had to dig out the concrete around the pipe beside our house. Then they had to cut open the pipe and use some sort of a long tool to push the blockage out. Then they had to repair the pipe and the concrete. Not very practical. But then they also cement toilets into the floor here... Anyways, the problem is solved thankfully!!
Well, it’s Monday morning and I’ve just dragged myself out of bed to check email and post a blog. Yesterday Hugo and I were hit with a nasty virus that made our entire bodies ache, throw up, fever and the rest… We have never ever been that sick before. At 2:30 yesterday I finally called the other MAF folks here and asked them if they could take the kids. The kids were doing great considering Hugo and I were both in bed so they had no supervision, but when Brynnie got up from her nap we needed help. Unfortunately now the drains of our house, and two of our neighbours are plugged and so any sewage water is coming up in all our bathrooms…. Yuck… One of my Ibu’s is on her way to talk with the landlord about it. Lets hope they just fix it and don’t make a big deal about it. Ibu Tati said that her daughter is doing a little better now but is still sick. But that Typhoid, it can last up to 5 weeks. Christiaan was also sick on Saturday so lets hope that Hugo and I are the last to get this nasty, nasty virus…

Friday, December 15, 2006

Today Ibu Tati came to work a bit late, had phoned first but didn't say why. When I went downstairs to see her it was obvious she had been crying. Her daughter, Bunga (means flower), is very sick with Typhoid fever. Last night she was delirious and didn't want to sleep all night. I have to admire Ibu Tati's dedication to her job with us, but I sent her home to be with her little girl. Typhoid fever is quite common here but it is still rather frightening as people can die from it. It can also take about 5 weeks for one to recover from it. Bunga has been sick for 2 weeks now and so is in the second stage which can be quite bad. Please pray for this little girl to get well and for her family to one day come to know the truth. It is difficult to witness here as you are technically not allowed to evangelize. You are allowed to answer questions, but you are not allowed to try to convert people outright. So we try to show by our way of life and how we treat others etc... Ibu Mysiah has once compared how we pray before and after meals to their prayers 5 times a day. Unfortunately she did this before our language was at its current level. I hope that one day she brings up the subject again because now we have more language to be able to talk better with her about it. One thing I did explain to my helpers was that Christmas trees and other decorations are not a Christian thing, but merely for decoration only. They were quite surprised by this as like many Indonesians, they assume that anything western is Christian.
A photo of Bunga and Brynnie sweeping the floor together.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Indonesia is a very superstitious country. This is still a long-lasting influence of the Hindu background and animism. Today as part of our homework we had to ask Indonesian’s about some of their superstitions. I spoke with one of our neighbour ladies and as we are both women, we talked about superstitions during pregnancy. For example, when pregnant, women should not cut up chicken. If they do the baby might be born missing an arm or leg. Also, the father must not go fishing. If he does, the baby might be born with a cleft pallet. The father also must not play cards or the baby may look like one of the characters on the cards…. And the list goes on… As you can guess, when a baby is born with something wrong, the parents feel an incredible amount of responsibility as they must have done something to make it happen.
Indonesians are also very suspicious of large dark trees. They feel that there are ghosts inhabiting the tree that will snatch children away.
I have written before about "masuk angin", but in case you didn't read it before I will explain it again. Indonesians believe that wind(angin), "entering" (masuk) your body is a bad thing. When air is still it is okay, but when it is moving fast, it is bad. Therefore when riding a motorbike, you must wear something like a jacket, if the zipper is broken, wear it backwards, or a vest. This bad wind entering your body will make you sick with many different things like, the common cold, or the flu. Even while riding crowded stuffy angkots, people will close the windows because they are afraid of the wind.

We are now officially in our last week of unit 3! After this unit we will have 2.5 weeks off, yeah!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This week I decided to put Marc and Brynne on antibiotics. Brynne’s bacterial infection has reoccurred and Marc has been complaining off and on of a sore stomach (we know he has drunk tap water a few times...) for a few weeks now. So I talked with the doctor’s assistant from the kid’s school. She recommended different antibiotics for the both of them. Brynne’s comes in enormous red capsules; suspension antibiotics are only recently making an appearance here and are very limited and expensive. So I have to open up the capsule and empty out the contents onto a piece of paper. It is a fine white powder which I then divide into three even piles. One pile I mix with yogurt and give to Brynnie. The rest I put back into the capsule for the next dose. Quite the procedure. Marc’s antibiotics come in a pill like a large Tylenol. For 10 pills it cost $2,000 Rupiahs, about 25 cents canadian!! First I have to split it, then crush the half and mix it with yogurt. For the both of them I have to do this twice a day. Hopefully these antibiotics will cure whatever ails them….

These are two things that I think we North Americans are missing, but which Indonesians find very practical. Who loves to bend over when sweeping the dust into the dust bin? Never bend again with the long handled dust pan!
Note the strainer that goes into your kitchen sink drain. Never worry about losing your wedding ring down the sink again!

Blog a la Nederlanse...

Zo al weer een poosje geleden, we zijn nu in onze derde week van Unit 3 en we kunnen steeds meer met onze buren en vrienden praten, Dit betekend dat we ook steeds meer leren over onze buren. Vandaag voor het eerste een lekke band gekregen met de motor, s’middags is het mijn taak (hugo) om de kinderen van school te halen. Normaal brengt Erica ze naar school in lopend zo krijgen we allemaal wat beweging en ik haal ze dan op met de motor, ik loop s’ochtends alleen naar school en met Erica terug. In iederegeval ik was op de motor en had Marc met me mee en ik zou Christiaan van school halen hij blijft s’maandags op school voor het voetballen, we waren bijna bij school toen ik merkte dat mijn achterband zachter werd dus bij school gestopt Christiaan opgehaalt en lopend met de motor naar de banden plak “winkel” het is een zijl gespannen langs de weg waar 1 of 2 jongens zitten die banden plakken voor motors, fietsen, en auto’s. Mijn lekkeband koste me 5000Rp dat is ongeveer € 0.50 en het was in een kwartiertje gedaan. Op deze foto is er ook een kleine Warung te zien waar je kunt eten, drinken en wat andere dingen kunt kopen. Wat ons op valt is dat je veel mannen en jongens langs de straat of bij de kleine “Warungs” ziet zitten. Ze spelen de hele dag domino of schaak. De vrouwen of meisjes zijn thuis, normaal gesproken spelen de vrouwen geen domino of schaak, ze “mogen” dit niet want dat zou betekenen dat het huis werk niet wordt gedaan. Er zijn ook andere voorbeelden er is een jonge familie vlakbij ons die een Warung hebben ze zijn net een paar jaar getrouwed en hebben een dochtertje dezelfde leeftijd als Brynne, ze werken alle bij in de Warung waar ze dan overdag ook leven, eten, en hun siesta houden, het dochterje speelt in het winkeltje of er voor, de kinderen leer hier vroeg om uit tekijken voor motors.

Mikah, Christiaan, en Aidan hebben het nog steeds goed naar het zin op school. Ze hebben alle 3 met het Christmas progamma mee gedaan Mikah moest een “Solo” singen en de jongens zongen in het koor, heel mooi en goed voor berijd.
Aidan heeft de gewoonte om elke dag even langs de school zuster te gaan, kijken of ze er wel is en misschien heeft hij wel een schrammetje of of iets anders kleins zodat ze wat voor hem kan doen.
Christiaan vind voetbal heel leuk maar vindt zijn sinterklaas kadootje ook heel leuk een gameboy spelletje waar hij dan ook regelmatig komentaar overgeeft hoe ver hij is en wat je allemaal moet doen.
Mikah leest veel, tekent, en maak hele wereldjes met de playmobil, my little pony’s, en lego.
Marc is een handvol voor de Ibu’s hij speelt graag met motors, gereedschap, bijde echte en speelgoed. En af en toe laat hij de Ibu’s ook schrikken zoals laatst sloot hij zich zelf op in onze slaapkamer en deed als of hij sliep, wel de Ibu’s zagen het al spelen met het stopcontact, met onze`spullen, of uit het raam. Toen zxe eindelijk de deur open kregen lag hij op bed met de handen onder het hoofd.
Brynne word took steeds ouder ze is een echte scharrelaar en de buren hebben haar de ook regelmatig op bezoek, ze houd van trap op en trap af deur in deur uit, de buren en de Ibu’s vinden dit maar niets want ze zijn bang dat ze valt. Indonesiers zijn zeer voorzichtig met kinderen??
We hopen dat jullie allen goede voorbereidingen hebben voor de feestdagen groeten van uit warm Bandung. Feunekes Familie.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A little more info about the island we are living on..

Java (the island we are currently inhabiting) is by far the most populous island in Indonesia, with approximately 62% of the country's population. With 130 million inhabitants at 940 people per km², it is also the most populous island in the world. If it were a country, it would be the second-most densely-populated country of the world after Bangladesh except for some very small city-states. Since the 1970’s the Indonesian government has run transmigration programs aimed at resettling the population of Java on other less-populated islands of Indonesia. This program has met with mixed results, and sometimes caused conflicts between the locals and the recently arrived settlers.
Javanese are the largest and most dominant ethnic group in Indonesia. Approximately 45% of Indonesians are Javanese including one of our pembantu's, Ibu Mysiah. The majority of Javanese people today are Muslim, but their culture owes much to animism as well as Hinduism. The first religion of this region of the world was Hindu, later the Mulsim faith came and the two were somewhat blended along with animism. Only the island of Bali remains truly Hindu.
As is true with many of the cultural groups in Indonesia, the Javanese also have their own language. It is quite complex when compared to the more easily learned national language of Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian). The Javanese language has nine levels ranging from low to high, reflecting status, age and familiarity between speakers. There are regional variations too. The Javanese language of East Java is more course and generally considered less respectful than that spoken in Central Java. In Central Java, politeness and good manners are highly regarded. Loud displays of emotion are considered quite rude. Thus, the Javanese are known for their indirectness and deference to authority in order to avoid negative, embarrassing or uncomfortable feelings. This trait stems from the Hindu court traditions of pre-Islamic influence.
The Sundanese people are the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia. Ibu Tati, our other pembantu, and all of our close neighbours, are Sundanese. Despite inhabiting the western third of the island of Java, the Sundanese are not Javanese, any more than the Welsh are English. The culture and language of Sunda are quite distinct from those of Java, although they are certainly related. They are a soft-spoken people with a strong desire to help others.
Sundanese culture combines very diverse elements. While more overtly Muslim than the Javanese, many Sundanese maintain customs and beliefs rooted in older religions. Sundanese language and manners range from highly refined and formalized, to downright vulgar and ribald. Such contrasts are reflected in the performing arts, ranging from the exquisite melancholy of courtly poetry sung in tembang Sunda, to rhythmic farts squeezed from the armpits of ngajibrut street entertainers. Concerts are rare: ceremonies and celebrations are the most frequent occasions for musical performance. Music, dance and theatre can be for ritual, entertainment or both.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Here is the little cutie. Note the Koran and ginger above her head. Her grandmother told me that her nose isn't nice like white kids noses that point up. People here are not only obsessed with white skin, but they also love our noses because they point up somewhat. Their noses are much flatter and point down. Too funny! She's as cute as a button just the way she is!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

So I visited with our neighbour this week. The one who just had a baby. She's as cute as a button, but yet unnamed (the baby that is...). I think they try to figure out her character first or something. I asked if I could take a picture of the baby and they said sure. This was the first time the baby had been photographed. They don't own a camera so they don't ever expect to have many photos and any photos they do have are proudly displayed in their home. They also don't use diapers on the baby because they are just too expensive. They just change the baby's clothes a lot and she sleeps on a rubber mat in a stroller that folds down flat. Currently she is sleeping with a little copy of the Koran and some ginger. I asked what the ginger was for and Nina, the mother, said that it is an old belief that it will keep bad spirits away....
I'm having trouble posting photos right now, but as soon as the problem is fixed I'll post a photo of the little cutie...
Otherwise things are pretty normal here. We have been getting some massive torrential rain storms with some incredibly loud thunder. Wah duh! The gongs down to our house get so slippery when it rains because they are so dusty otherwise. But we have no shortage of water right now and we can enjoy a luxurious hot shower on a daily basis! Yippee!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Marc opening some presents.
The crowded living room.
Ibu Mysiah grinding fresh spices with a mortar and pestle.
Ibut Tati decorating the cupcakes she baked.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

It's a party!!

Well, we had our party for Marc, and we survived. It is not even 8:00 and all the kids are in bed and the house is back in order and spotless! Quite the experience again it was. My helpers came in at 11:00 am and began preparing the food. I was expecting about 30 guests to come so we needed a fair bit of food. We made fries (store bought) and chicken strips (homemade) for the kids. For the grown ups we made chicken legs (like shake’n bake, only deep fried of course) the sundanese dish made with beef called rundang, and chop chai (stir fried vegetables). We also had kroepoek (a must here), lumpias and a fruit salad made Canadian style (by me-the only thing I made). Here normally fruit salad is actually spicy. The ladies ate tons and tons of it because it was so tasty. My secret, canned peaches from Del Monte… Shhhh…
So the idea was that we would start at 5:00. Somehow the other pembantu’s were told that it started at 4:00- so we had guests long before we were ready. But Indonesian kids are incredibly patient; they just quietly sat and waited while our kids got a bit wild with boredom. The funny thing was that in the empty house next door to us there was a circumcision party today. Here boys are circumcised when they are a bit older and can understand why. And then they have a big party right after-the boy gets no time to recuperate first. Anyways, that was going on next door. Which was a bit of a worry. You see, here people are really good at crashing parties, especially ones with lots of free food. Anyways, we opened the party with prayer (already there were a few boys hanging around the front door) and then we sang a whole bunch of songs and then the kids went to eat. That’s when some of those from outside wormed their way in and once in how do you say no? Well, we kind of ran out of fries pretty quickly, but here that doesn’t matter because kids are just used to eating rice. Then the adults went to get their food, again some people we didn’t know were helping themselves. No big deal, we had a ton of food for everyone. It was just funny because they basically took the food and ran. Then we handed out cupcakes and after that goodie bags to the invited kids. So it went pretty well. It was incredibly crowded in our house, but everyone had a good time and the food was really, really good. As most of the invitees were pembantus of other MAF’ers, the house was cleaned up in no time at all!
In the meantime, this morning our neighbour finally had her baby. A little girl. If I can I hope to visit her tomorrow as that is a very special thing to do. Of course, here, instead of bringing flowers, bring an envelope with money!

P.S. There's a problem with blogger so I'm unable to post photos at this time...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thanks to all you who prayed for us to get rain. Wah duh! We have had quite a bit of it lately. We can actually here water dripping into our well! It’s so nice not to have to worry about water anymore.
We have now started the second week of Unit 3. The grammar is getting more difficult this unit. But the teachers have reassured us that they will go over it again in the higher units. Whew, it’s a bit much to remember all at once. Each day there’s a new grammatical rule to learn.
Tomorrow is Marc’s third birthday. I plan to stay home from school and take him to the jump’n gym. Normally he doesn’t like to go because we leave all the kids and then go shopping. But I told him that I would stay with him this time and now he’s pumped to go. Hopefully his little buddy Cayden can come too. On Saturday we plan to have a buffet supper for our neighbours, friends from MAF, and their pembantu’s. It’ll be quite a crowd if everyone comes. Hopefully it doesn’t rain…

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Not a whole lot new to report from this end of the world. Hugo did some work on our pump and discovered that the pipe to the pump was plugged with some rocks and sand. Nice… So now it seems to be working fine and we’ve had a full tank of water today. It also rained today, although not a lot.
Yesterday I went to visit our old tutor again. Recently she adopted the baby of a relative. The parents of the baby, a girl, already have a one year old child and don’t feel that they are able to care for another baby at this time. Since no one else wanted this child, Ibu Nining has adopted her. It is so sad. I don’t know any of the other details about the child’s parents. Maybe they are desperately poor, I don’t know. Maybe I will find out later. In the meantime this adorable little girl has a place to call home and a woman to mother her.
There are definite “rules” here about what to do and what not to do in certain situations. For example, when someone is sick, do not take flowers, take money and maybe food. It is also considered taboo to give baby clothes to an expectant mother. I did this last month… I gave our neighbour lady an outfit for the baby that she is expecting. Although I did say that it was an outfit that the baby could wear in the hospital or for when she comes home. I think they know that sometimes we westerners do this sort of thing. The rules for visiting a woman who has had a baby are the same as above, money, not flowers. This is because hospital costs here are very high. No such thing as government run medicare or insurance. Only those who work for the government get a card that gives them 50% off hospital costs. And only those who are wealthy can afford any kind of insurance.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

In case you forgot what we looked like....

Today we had a day off! So we took the opportunity to go with the other MAF couples to a waterfall further up in the mountains by motorbike. It is cooler there, which is nice as it has been very hot lately. And dry, our well is beginning to run dry again. Anyways, we went to the waterfall which is in a small valley. It was quite a hike down a lot of stone steps. After we huffed our way back up we went to a really neat restaurant for lunch. This place has all little huts that you eat in and you sit on the floor (on mats) while eating. It sure was a nice change from the usual studies.
There’s another funny myth that many Indonesians believe to be true. They think that if you drive with your headlights on you will drain your car/motorbike battery. So a lot of people only put their lights on for a few seconds at a time while driving in the dark.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thought I’d post a few photos of our school and Hugo and I studying in school. Each morning our class is in two larger groups for the first 1.5 hours and then we split into smaller groups for the rest of the morning. I’m in with the large early morning group and Hugo is with his small group on the photos.
Today we had our unit two evaluation. It went pretty well. We are headed on to Unit three on Thursday! Yippee!! Two down, seven more to go!
Big news! Brynnie is now walking on her own! She looks a little robotic still, but it’s coming along nicely, with the entire neighbourhood cheering her on.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Our two new pet turtles. They are from Thailand. At first we thought our lack of knowledge of the Thai language would prove to be a problem, but so far so good....

Marc and his buddy Cayden at the birthday party...

Today we attended church and heard a good sermon about God’s wrath. Too many people nowadays only want to think of God in terms of love, but he is a God of anger as well.
Yesterday two of the MAF families here hosted a combined birthday party for their children who are both turning one. They invited many kids from the kampung to come. Typically everyone sits down and then someone prays and then they sing. Then came the cupcakes and juice and then everyone got to eat Kroepoek (I think I spelled that wrong). See photos… The idea is to eat it while it is hanging up without using one’s hands. Then it was over and all the kids took home a goody bag with treats and a rice meal with some egg in it. This is traditional that you are given a meal to take home.
I never cease to be amazed that the people here so badly want to be white. They keep out of the sun as much as possible and there are many women who put a lot of white makeup on their faces. Sometimes they use powder which also acts as a sunblock. They often do this on their babies so that they look really white. If you go to the store here, there is a plethora of whitening products available. Dove, who in North America has an ad campaign touting acceptance of all different types of bodies and looks, has a huge line of whitening products available here. Seems like a bit of a double standard doesn’t it? I personally feel that the women here are more beautiful without any makeup on, but they’ll never feel that way. Living here is great for one’s self esteem if white, because they think we are all the most beautiful creatures on the earth… We’ll do our best not to let it go to our heads…

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wah Duh! (Indonesian expression of surprise)

It's amazing what a few well-placed phone calls can do. I stayed home for a bit monday morning and made some phone calls and when we came home from school this (see photo) was waiting for us. Our landlord came through and we now have this brand new automatic washing machine. My pembantu was so excited she could hardly contain herself. This will make her life a lot easier. She works very hard cleaning, washing the clothes and taking care of the kids.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We have water, yes, and quite a lot of it. That’s also partly because our washing machine is now broken and our pembantu can’t do the laundry here. It just never ends! The problem is that the bottom of the machine is rusted out so it just needs a new body. Hopefully we can get a new body instead of having to get our landlord to buy a new machine-which I’m sure they don’t want to do…
The social set up here is quite different than in Canada. Each Kampung, like the one we live in, has a head called an RT. He is on the bottom of a long list of community leaders. He is responsible for security, keeping the kampung clean, helping people with problems, keeping track of who needs help – or who is poor, organizing a doctor to come by once a month to weigh, inoculate and check up on all the babies in the kampung and keep track of who is living in the kampung and their information and organize the independence day festivities. So his job is administrative and practical. Whenever people move into or leave a kampung, they must visit the RT and give him an information letter regarding the move. Usually a family that is moving will also have a good-bye party and invite the RT and their neighbours. At this party people will give their sorry’s for anything they may have done wrong while while living there. Then the RT will have a little speech and thank the family for their kindness and also say his sorry’s for anything he may have done wrong. Then everyone eats of course. Above the RT is the RW. He has an office somewhere in the city hall, a small one though, probably with no window. The RT only works out of his house. There are various other positions above him all the way up to mayor. And as the positions go up a step, the size of the office also goes up a step. They are really big on socialization here. But they have to be because you all live within feet of eachother.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Blog a la Nederlanse...

Wat hebben vele landen gemeen? Voetbal, ook in Indonesia is voetbal een zeer gelievede sport. Misschien niet so zeer op profecioneel gebied maar elke kleine Kampung ( een huizen buurt ) heeft een voetbalveldje. Afgelopen week heeft Hugo met het IMLAC team gespeelt tegen studenten van een hogerschool in een dorpje zo’n 20min weg met de motor. Dit dorpje ligt ten noorden van Bandung het was een zeer intersante rit er naar toe aangezien je door een paar Kampungs rijd waar niet veel Bolehs ( buitenlanders ) komen. De meeste huizen zijn gemaakt van hout en je ziet dat de mensen meer buiten wonen dan dat ze binnen zijn. Ook met voetbal is de Jam Karet ( rubber tijd ) aanwezig, dit omdat het zeer belangerijk is om de mensen te ontmoeten en te leren kennen. Ook voor de Indoneries is het belangerijk om op de hoogte te blijven van het laatste nieuws uit de dichtbij gelegen dorpjes of Kampungs. De wedstrijd begon dan ook zo’n ½ uur later. Het was de wereld tegen Indonesie denk ik het IMLAC team bestond uit spelers van Korea, Finland, Australie, Engeland, Duitsland, Canada, en Nederland ( Hugo was niet de enig).
De uit slag 3-3.
Na ongeveer een week zonder eigen water te hebben gezeten, we deden onze was bij vrienden en we gebruikte water van de berg om te kunnen afwassen, Hebben we weer water. Vorige week kwamen de gravers om 8:00 zaterdag ochtend on aangekondiged bij ons huis om de put dieper te graven. De water put ongeveer 10m diep is in onze badkamer onder de trap, het was dus behoorlijk vies in de badkamer nadat ze de put 2 meter dieper hadden gegraven. Toen de pomp weer was geinstalleerd werkte deze voor 3 uur en stopte er mee. Dus afgelopen donderdag hebben we een nieuwe pomp gekregen en bijna alles werkt nu weer. Wat een heerlijk gevoel weer onder de douch tekunnen staan, je leert hier echt de gemaken van onze westerse wereld te waarderen. Ook kunnen we zien hoe onze buren leven die dus regelmatig zonder water zitten en geen geld hebben voor vers water zij moeten hun vers water krijgen van de put of de berg en dan reinigen. Als familie gaan wij door zo’n 19liter (1 waterfles) drink water. Geen wonder dat de onze buren al om 5:30 de was buiten hebben en de straat schoon aan het maken zijn, de rest van de dag is nodig voor eten en water maken, schoonmaken en kletsen er is altijd tijd om een praatje te maken of ons te helpen met ons huiswerk.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We have water! Yes you read right, water… we’d almost forgotten what it was like to turn on the tap and have water flow out… On Thursday the head MAF guy from the Jakarta office came by and he and Pak Nadi decided that instead of waiting for the landlord to give his ok, (his sister is mysteriously ill right now and she holds the purse strings), they went and bought a new pump and installed it. Now we have water and a pump that works! I kept pinching myself to make sure this is real…. Then I enjoyed a fabulous hot shower for the first time in about a month. Wow, what deprivation does to make you appreciate things! We’re still being careful with water, that’s a hard one to break.
So much of life here revolves around the buying and selling of food. On Friday I spent an hour visiting with our neighbours beside the road just up from our house. They have a little cart up there where they sell gado-gado. Gado-gado is a dish made with tofu, potatoes, peanut sauce and some other stuff. So I hung out with them for a while and watched the people. The couple that I posted a picture of last month – Bobon, Marni, and Sri – have their little warung (tiny shop) around the corner from our neighbour’s cart. They spend their entire days at this shop. They have a mat on the floor for their little girl to take naps on with mom and a tv that’s about 5 inches across. This is normal life for the average poor family here. Kids here learn real fast to watch out for motorbikes and cars. They also learn to eat deep fried foods really early too. So they hang around all day and sell the odd cigarette or deep fried item. This is their life, they struggle from day to day to make enough money to live. But they always have time for a chat and a smile. I love having little visits with this young couple. Although it is sometimes difficult to talk with Bobon as he mixes Indonesian with Sundanese. They keep asking me if I want to learn Sundanese, but I tell them that I’m already forgetting my dutch as it is. Another language would be a bit much right now. As I sat there talking with them all on Friday a truck drove up full of plastic items for sale. There was a guy in the cab talking over a loud speaker. The speaker was so bad that it was like fuzz to me. Then another guy walked by selling inflatable children’s toys. Every now and then some motorbikes would go by. This is life here. A lot of hanging around, chatting and selling.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Another day without a pump has now passed us by. The word is that we should have it back sometime tomorrow, hopefully newly fixed and ready to pump. Please no one start holding their breath… We are now down to “bathing” with the water in our downstairs reservoir. Today I boiled water a la Little House on the Prairie so that we could wash with warm water.
Every day for homework we have to ask Indonesians questions. Today’s questions were on a variety of topics. One of them was the method that door to door vendors use to let you know they’re around. These guys will walk around with aluminum pails hanging off bamboo poles slung over a shoulder. Those selling baso, a meatball (not the Swedish kind Chris) type thing that looks like a ball of flour and butter, will wack a hollow wooden tube. Those selling a special type of cake will blow a horn that sounds like a train. Those selling tofu (tahu), very popular here (sometimes kept in fromaldahyde…), will call out “TAHUUUUU!” Those selling chicken sate will have bells that they jingle. Those selling ice cream sometimes have bells but most have a bicycle with a freezer in front and when they peddle it plays a certain tune. Then there are the guys that will resole your shoes for you. They call out “sole sepatuuuuuu!” Sepatu means shoe. The flower guy just rings all the doorbells of the bulehs (white people).
Tonight I went out with some of the other MAF wives to a café that we pass by every day on the way to school but have never tried. It is in a home and it isn’t clear from the road just what it is. It is a very neat place, very artsy and funky. You can sit at a table inside or sit outside in a pondock (little covered area). This café specializes in teas but also has some food you can order. One of the items is poffertjes! Too funny! The dutch things that you find here are so random it’s not funny.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Fun Continues...

Today I stayed home from school as I had woken up at 3:30 with a plethora of mosquito bites. The mosquitoes here are fierce and when I get a bite the area around it swells up and is numb for the first few hours. So it was hard to sleep with a swollen ear, arm and knuckle... Then Brynnie woke up at 4:30 crying like she was scared. She just wanted to lay with me. Anyways, I felt it would be a good day to use one of my four allowed skips per month.
Today a bunch of guys invaded our house. One was working on fixing the buckled tile in our upstairs living area. So that was rather loud. Then there were a bunch of other guys trying to fix our broken pump and water situation. It's the end of the day and the tile is finished but we are still without a pump. So we have a deeper well that actually has water in it, but no pump. Our landlord graciously hooked up a hose from his house to ours so that we could fill the resevoir in our downstairs bathroom. This is water he gets from up on the mountain, remember the photo of all the thin hoses coming out of the mountain water tank, then it goes into his water tank and then through a hose into our resevoir... You could say that this isn't the freshest, cleanest water ever...
Tonight Hugo is at a prayer meeting from the church. They usually meet about 3 times a month for prayer and fellowship. A great place to get lots of language practice in.

A photo of Brynnie showing off all five of her teeth...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Selamat Hari Minggu! We’ve already been to church today. Today we had a good sermon about the importance of having only one God in your life.
Yesterday morning at 8:00 our doorbell rang. We were still relaxing in bed… It was our landlord with a couple of his buddies. They’d come to dig our well deeper. We had no idea they were coming. Turned out someone had SMS’ed us, but at 6:30 that morning… Typical Indonesian style. Anyways, our well is in the corner of our downstairs bathroom. There was some discussion as to the price etc… Pak Nadi, who is hired by MAF to arrange all this kind of stuff, came by and he called the head MAF guy in Jakarta. Originally the landlord wanted us to pay for the entire amount. This is not normal, he should be the one paying for it. So there was some more discussion and eventually they came to an agreement to split the cost 50/50. We need water. So the guys started digging and the bathroom slowly disappeared underneath a layer of black mud. (which the guys cleaned up at the end of the day!) I took the three oldest kids to the mall so they could play at the Jump’n Gymn and we could get the boys new backpacks. Hugo stayed home with the two youngest to “supervise” the operation. The guys dug the well 2 meters deeper. Now we have to let it sit for at least a day before we use the water. But the main thing is that there is water in the well!! Yippee!! Hot showers, here we come!!
Thought it was about time we gave you an update on the kids. Mikah is loving grade three and is doing well at it. She and her best friend Hannah visit each other a fair bit and are two peas in a pod. Hannah’s mom happens to be in my class as well. Mikah continues to read book after book after book. Christiaan is progressing nicely in grade one. He is learning sight words and is starting to read a little. It is more difficult for him because of his hearing loss, but he is coming along. They are starting up a grade 1-2 soccer program soon and he is eager to join. Aidan has gotten used to school and enjoys it. He has some good buddies in his class too. One lives near us so sometimes they play together after school. Marc likes to stay home with the Ibu’s. He’s quite a stinker and locked himself in our bedroom the other day. The Ibu’s were both having heart attacks that he was playing with electricity or something. He was just lying on our bed. Maybe he just missed us. Marc also has some little friends that he plays with regularly. But his favorite thing is to ride the motorbike with Daddy. Brynnie also loves the Ibu’s and they have lots of fun with her. Just is just about able to walk by herself. She’s just a bit scared to do it. She now has five teeth and a mass of red curls on her head. She’s also figured out that the Ibu’s don’t like it if she’s sad or mad and will do anything to make her happy….
Hugo and I are moving along in Unit 2. We are learning lots of verbs and how to conjugate them. Thankfully we don’t have to use different forms for different tenses, just passive and active. It’s definitely easier than English that way. However, there are times when there are different words for things that in English we have one word for. For example, in English there is one word for rice no matter what state it is in. In Bahasa Indonesia there are different words. Rice in the field (I forget the word), uncooked rice (beras) and cooked rice (nasi). We are also studying more of the culture and everyday language. Which is a good thing, as our neighbours definitely speak everyday Indonesian.

This guys job is to take the mud out and dump it down by the river.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This afternoon Hugo, Marc, Brynne and I went with our friends David and Santi to a town further up the mountain called Lembang. There are some nice hotels there and we went to check one out to see if it would be a nice place for us to have a little holiday the beginning of January. It was an incredibly beautiful place built on the side of the mountain. There is a gorgeous swimming pool and a hot tub and a pool for little kids. There is also a restaurant and café and little huts with pillows where you can eat in private if you want. It wasn’t hard for us to decide that this would be a good place to holiday. After that we went to the town of Lembang itself and went to a traditional Sundanese “restaurant”. It’s basically a big room with tables and stools. It’s really quite high class. Outside, beside the road, a guy was gutting a chicken. Inside there were two guys at a table cutting up chicken that was already gutted and putting into onto sticks for sate. Hanging in the front window were whole, I mean head and all, deep fried chickens… Anyways, we trust our friends choice of eatery so we dared to eat the food. We first dined on deep fried chicken intestines. Yes, you read right, deep fried chicken intestines. I admit, I only ate one piece, but Marc and Hugo definitely ate more. It has a similar taste as liver. Then we had chicken sate which was very delicious. When I went to the front to ask for a sprite for Marc, they were going to give it to me in a glass with ice that they hacked off a huge chunk, that was in a potato sack type bag, with a small ax type tool. Ummm, no thanks, I prefer my son not get sick… Traditionally Sundanese people eat with their hands, but as it was obvious that we are not Sundanese (David and Santi are of Chinese background) they brought us cutlery. Quite the experience, again…
Unfortunately I did not take the camera so no photos of this classy joint are available at this time…

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hi! I’m back again. I hope that all you dutch readers enjoyed Hugo’s blog. He’ll try to do it regularly so that if you don’t understand much English you can still follow along with our adventures.
We have completed the first week of Unit 2 and it is a lot harder than unit 1. Less singing and more homework. But at least we don’t have to introduce ourselves every morning any more... And we are learning a ton of new words.
The rainy season has officially begun. We have been dumped on a few times already. And when it comes down, it comes down. It’s really rather torrential. We can just about surf down our gong. Time to get some poncho’s…. We still have a serious water shortage. Apparently it can take a month after the rainy season begins before the water reaches wells…
There are some old wives tales here in Indonesia which are really rather well, humorous. I don’t want to belittle the people or their culture as they are great and we love living here, but some of the things they believe to be true are really rather silly. One of the things is that wind is BAD. It will make your lungs sick, apparently. Therefore, whenever riding a motor bike one needs to wear a jacket or a vest; which strongly resembles a bullet proof vest. For the longest time I wondered why people wore those vests… Also, while riding an angkot, no matter how hot it is all windows must remain closed as wind is BAD. The air we breathe otherwise is fine, but if it is moving fast it is BAD. I guess the makers of the (bullet-proof looking) vests would like people to continue believing this….
We have made good friends with our neighbours now. There are two different families that we talk with regularly. There are four of us families living in a circle here. Like a mini cul-de-sac you could say. The one couple is Opa and Oma of the one family. The other family is mom (her husband died 4 years ago) with two sons and her married daughter (who is pregnant) and husband and child. They live in a house with one window. That window is in their tiny front room which is where they usually visit with guests. It’s quite humbling when your neighbour says that her house is “jelek”(old/ugly) compared to yours and here you were getting periodically down because your house is not nearly as nice as all the other MAF families houses. Quite humbling…. I have to say that I’d rather live where we live than in one of the other houses because we have great neighbours and hardly anyone comes to our door selling stuff. The other people, because they live in a more open area, get a lot more people coming to ask for money or trying to sell stuff. Anyways, because these neighbours are so happy to talk with us, we are getting in lots of language practice each day.

This completely unrelated photo is of a horse and cart that we often see on our way to school in the morning...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Nederlanse Post...

Beste allemaal

Hier dan mijn eerste poging to bloggen, ik zal proberen het regelmatig te doen als zal het niet zo vaak zijn als Erica.
Deze week hadden we drie dagen vakantie dit omdat het dinsdag Idul Fitri was. Idul Fitri is het feest na de Ramahdan, dit feest begint eigenlijk de dag er voor om 19:00. Om 18:00 begint de mosque met het gebed voor het einde van het vasten dit duurt ongeveer to 19:00 en dan begonnen de trommels te trommelen en de mosque’s een kort gebed te zingen dit duurde to 4:00 s’ochtends. De luidspreekers van de mosque en de trommels waren lekker dicht bij dus konden we ze goed horen. Maar gelukkig vielen we rond 22:30 in slaap en werden we wakker gemaakt rond 6:00 door onze Brynne.
Dinsdag hebben we bij onze Indonesiese vrienden gegeten en de kinderen konden daar een video zien. Woensdag zijn we naar de “Bandung Salju” geweest ,zie foto’s. Bandung sneeuw show. We zijn zeer blij met deze vriendschap, dit stel hebben we ontmoet in de kerk en we hebben regelmatig kontact, wij kunnen onze Indonesies oefenen en zij kunnen hun engels beoefenen. Ook zijn ze van goede huize en hebben dus geen financiele hulp nodig, dit is een van de vele problemen dat de andere MAF families hebben met hun vrienden of buren, zij worden regelmatig gevraagt om geld te lenen wat brengt de moeilijkheid met zich mee, wat de achter grond is van hun vriendschap? Donderdag en vrijdag moesten wij en de kinderen weer naar school, Hugo is Donderdag gegaan en Erica heeft op de kinderen gepast en vrijdag visa versa. De kinderen hebben het zeer naar hun zin op school en Marc en Brynne vermaken zich met de Ibu’s en de buurjongetjes. Brynne begint eindelijk weer op Brynne te lijken na dat de Bacterial huid infectie eindelijk over wonnen is. Ze is altijd zeer blij geweest maar nu begint ze echt meer te “praten”. We hebben Donderdag ook onze eerste echte regenbui gehad ik moest de kinderen met de motor ophalen van school, we kwamen dus behoorlijk nat aan. De regen was goed want we hebben al een poos problemen met onze water voorziening.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


This afternoon we had a big dump of rain. It was just pouring. When Hugo picked up the kids from school on the motorbike they came home absolutely drenched to the bone. We are soooo thankful!
Today Hugo went to school and I stayed home with the two youngest as our helpers are off until monday. I actually enjoyed doing some house work inbetween telling Brynnie not to try to eat the garlic and raw potatoes on the bottom shelf in the kitchen... Later I visited with one of the neighbour ladies. It is tradition here that after Idul Fitri you visit all your friends, neighbours and relatives and everyone has lots of cookies and cake. So she invited me in for a visit. I was given the choice of many different types of cookies. Some were very much like we would make around Christmas. I was also given a cup (with a saucer) of incredibly sweet orange juice like tang. I said a little prayer that it was made with safe water before drinking. This was my first time in the neighbours house. It's kind of a big deal here to actually go into someone's house. You need to know them first.
Hugo is currently out for coffee with a guy from church. It's hard to keep up with learning language if you don't have much opportunity to speak it with someone so Hugo is planning to meet with Ricky regularly.
Some of you expressed surprise that Bandung would have such a large mall. Bandung is one of the biggest cities in Indonesia. It is a bit of a rich man's playground. Indonesia is a huge country with about 17,000 islands-give or take. I would guess that this is the only island with malls such as this. The thing about Indonesia is that there is an enormous divide between the rich and everyone else. You are either fabulously wealthy, or struggling to get by. Many of those who are very wealthy are actually originally from China and own textile businesses. On our way to the mall we passed by families that spend their entire day in the median of a busy road begging for money. There are little children like Brynne and Marc that spend their entire day surrounded by smoke belching cars, trucks and motorbikes. There are also women who borrow babies to use while begging because a child always elicits sympathy. You just can't think about it too much because there isn't much you can do. If you give them money, you only help them with their next meal, not with their living situation. Our church has programs to help train street kids so there is some help out there. But there are so many in that situation that many will live their entire lives that way.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wow, today was a busy day. After getting some laundry done, I headed out to the local mall with Mikah, Christiaan and Aidan. They played at the Jump’n Gym and I hung out with the other MAF ladies at Starbucks. Hugo stayed home with the two youngest and finished the laundry (thank you hon!). After lunch our friends David and Santi picked us up and we went to Bandung Super Mall. It is a monstrosity of a mall. Quite a different layout than West Edmonton Mall. More up than out space wise and we parked underneath it… A little frightening if you think about it too much… There we met Santi’s family and hung out with them for a bit at a juice place and the kids played with lego at a little place that was selling toys. Then we went to the Egypt exhibit in the mall. After that we went to the fantasi place. It’s kind of like a small version of the entertainment park at West Edmonton mall. There Mikah rode the roller coaster and the boys did the bumper cars. After that we had supper at Popeye’s. Then we went to the feature attraction, Snow World. Thankfully Santi’s parents had bought our tickets ahead of time so we didn’t have to wait in line for them. But we had an incredibly long line to go through before we got into the exhibit. (see photo) Thankfully it moved fairly quickly. As we were the only buleh’s (whites) in the crowd we were again the object of much interest. Before going into Snow World we were all given winter coats to put on. Inside it was actually quite cold and there were many ice sculptures. There were Disney and zodiak themes. The funnest thing was the slide. Going down pure ice is pretty freaky! It was hilarious because everyone wanted their photo with us and our kids. We felt rather like celebrities except that no one asked us for our autograph… After that we dropped Santi off at home and checked out her parent’s house. It is really interesting to see how differently people here live than we do in Canada. The ride home from there was also very interesting. We went down an incredibly busy street with wall to wall cars and little warungs on each side selling all different kinds of food. We saw a couple that sell frog… yummm… It was like a scene from a movie of an asian city. Except this was real and we were experiencing it! WOW!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

We survived!!

We have survived our very first authentic Idul Fitri. (It's not nearly such a big deal in Papua) The drums and praying went on for quite a while, but unlike some of the other MAF'ers, we were able to sleep through it. Except this morning our little neighbour boy decided to blow his horn, something like we Canadians might blow at a hockey game, at 6am... Nice... Thankfully the kids slept through it, but the parents unfortunately didn't...
After spending quite a lot of time folding and ironing the clothes I washed yesterday, I draw the line at ironing underwear, unlike our helpers, I will not do that, we had lunch and went with some Indonesian friends to the mall - Istana Plaza. One of them needed to drop off her broken cell phone so we took the opportunity to show the kids the indoor skating rink. After that we went to their house for supper. Wow! What a place. It's actually his parents house of course. It is really quite large.... The kids didn't know what to do with so much room to run around both inside and out. Unfortunately the projection player on their home theater system didn't work so the kids had to watch their video on a 52 inch flat screen tv... bummer... We had a nice meal of nasi goreng with them and then they brought us home. Tomorrow we plan to go out with them again to the Bandung Super Mall (also fondly known as Bandung Super Mahal (mahal means expensive in Indonesian)). At the mall there is an ice sculpture display that we plan to go see.
It's a quiet night and we hope that there's no blowing of horns at 6:00 in the morning, but it's Indonesia so one never knows for sure...

Monday, October 23, 2006

It's started!

Well, the party’s started here. There has been non-stop calling over the loudspeakers since 7:00. It started out with drums and firecrackers too, but thankfully that has now stopped (although, for all we know it could start again at any time). We are settling in for a night of constant prayer to Alluah. From what we can hear there seems to be a lot of people at the mosque echoing the prayers of the one calling out. You can also hear all the other mosques around us echoing over the city. It is quite the sound. They are basically repeating the same thing over and over and over.... Tomorrow will be a day of feasting as the time of fasting is now over.
This afternoon we went to the pool again. I spent the morning doing laundry as our helpers have the week off. Wow, what a lot of work laundry is here. It sure makes me appreciate Ibu Tati even more.
I sure hope we can sleep through all the noise tonight… The drums are starting again....

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Selamat Hari Minggu!

Happy Sunday to you all! It's still dry as a bone here and we are running seriously low on water. So we made a trip to the local pool yesterday to get in our saturday showers. Aahh, a hot shower. I can't tell you how much I miss those! Bathing Indonesian style just isn't as rewarding or relaxing....
Thursday evening we went our for dinner with our friends David and Santi. We went to a new cafe just down the hill from us. Too far to walk though... For $10 CAN we all had a meal, fresh fruit drink, and split two orders of chicken sate! It is so cheap to eat out here. Santi shared with us that her parents are Buddhists. Although not devout, they aren't showing a whole lot of interest in learning more about Jesus. This is very difficult for her and she needs our prayers.
Today we attended church again and the evangelist spoke so fast that we heard it was difficult even for the Indonesians to follow... Thankfully, David translated for us again....

This photo is of Brynnie (wanting to be with Mommy instead) with Ica (short for Veronica) at church. All the girls at church want to touch or hold Brynnie...

This photo is of the room that we have church in.

This is the building that the room is in...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Today was a quiet day at home. I showed my Ibu how to make my chicken enchilada recipe. She has in the past worked mostly for Korean and Indonesian people and loves to learn to cook new things.
Our neighbours never get sick of playing with and talking about our kids. There is this absolute fascination with our white skin. I’ve actually got darker arms than one of the neighbour ladies. But they are always careful to stay out of the sun. They are also very fascinated by Aidan and Brynne because they are so much bigger than Indonesian kids are. One of my Ibu’s is very proud because her husband has very white skin and so her daughters do as well. In fact the name that they call us, buleh, actually means “white skin.” The other main fascination is how much things cost. They are always asking us how much things in Canada cost and how much we paid for some of the things we’ve bought here, how much we pay to rent our motorcycle that sort of thing. Well, there’s always something to talk about…
Today our other neighbours got their son-in law and friend over to help them dig their well deeper as they haven’t had water for over a week. What a messy business! Those guys were covered in mud from head to toe! But they were able to get to some more water. See photo (before they were all dirty)… The second photo is of Brynne and the nieghbour girl Sri. The third photo is of Brynnie learning to walk, with Ibu Tati, down the gong to our house...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Woo!!! Hoo!!!

Yeah!! We have officially naiked (indoglish for risen) to Unit 2! Whew! One down, 8 more to go. So to celebrate Hugo, Marc and I went to Istana Plaza. This is the mall with the skating rink in it. We didn't have much time there last time we went so we wanted to look again and get some bread from the bakery there. We had yummy french bread with our supper tonight... On one of the levels of the mall you can ride around the loop on a large motorized animal... While steering it with a steering wheel... If you should so desire....
On our way home we went to the Eiger store. Before coming here I had no idea what or who Eiger was. It is a company that manufactures and sells outdoor gear. You can even buy a Coleman canoe at this store should you so desire... I was looking for a smaller backpack as the one we have is quite cheap and quite big. Found one and it was less than $20 Canadian. On our way home we got soaked as there was another downpour. Yeah!! We so need the rain...
In two days we start Unit 2. Looking forward to getting it over and done with...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Well, we’ve had a smattering of rain today! Just enough to dampen the dust though. The ground is so parched it would take a deluge to really make a difference right now. I don’t know if we want that though. I heard that when that happens that we could surf down our gong…
Saturday we walked to a nearby pool. It’s about 15 min walking. This pool is mostly used by expats living here and is quite nice. There’s a large pool with 2 diving boards and a smaller pool for little ones. Both pools are heated which is also nice. Around the pools are tables and chairs and there’s also a big grassy area where you can play soccer or baseball. It’s a great place to hang out for the day. Also a very social place as you often meet people you know there. This was our first time going there as a family to swim.
Today we heard a sermon about the Jesus quest. The preacher spoke about how there is a modern trend in the theory as to who Jesus was. There are those who write about there being a difference between historical Jesus and Jesus of faith. He also spoke about the Da Vinci Code. The preacher emphasized that Jesus was both man and God and needed to be to redeem us. If he was only man than he death would have been meaningless.
We are still in the middle of Ramadan here. That means that the mosques are “broadcasting” more often than normal. Thankfully we are all sleeping through the 2:30 wakeup up to eat your last meal before fasting call and then the 4:00 it’s time to pray call. I was talking with our pembantu’s the other day, and Ibu Misyah said that she doesn’t go back to bed after eating at 3:00. She stays up and then naps for a bit when she gets home from work. My other Ibu hasn’t been feeling well lately so she hasn’t been getting up at all to eat. Her husband gets up and warms up food for him and their little daughter and Ibu Tati’s mother who lives with them. I don’t think that this whole fasting thing and getting up in the middle of the night is very good for your body. It takes away from the normal routine and in this heat it is so important to drink lots of water. There are a lot of people sick right now because of Ramadan. However, there are loopholes. If your doctor says that you are sick and need to eat and drink, you may break fast. If you are pregnant or menstruating you also do not need to fast…

Friday, October 13, 2006

I've had some trouble getting onto Blogger, hence the lack of posts for a couple days. Not a whole lot new to report anyways. Yesterday evening we had a smattering of rain, but not nearly enough. We still have water but only because we are being very careful.
Brynnie is improving a lot. She is a very happy girl, for which we are very thankful. Aidan hit his head yesterday and later threw up. Not sure if he was already getting sick before he hit his head or if he got sick because he hit his head. I think he was getting sick before. But he's fine now.
Today was our last day of Unit 1. On Monday we have our official evaluation. It's basically a time where they kind of test you, they've actually already decided whether or not you've passed, and then talk with you about what you need to work on the most. It sure feels good to have one unit under the belt.
It's great to be able to talk with people about a variety of topics. However, today we had some guy come by for the second time talking about our garbage. We understood that he was replacing the guy who used to get our garbage. He of course, wanted money. We didn't have a clue about any of it. I guess we didn't realize that we are supposed to pay for garbage pickup ourselves. Anyways, I got into contact with the head pembantu and she went to our landlords house and there was a big discussion about the issue. I thought I knew Indonesian... Apparently they were speaking Sundanese, a different dialect/language... Then she went and spoke with our neighbour, again a big discussion... Turns out this new guy figures that because we're white we should pay more than anyone else for garbage pickup. The head pembantu was having none of it and insisted that there is a standard rate for all MAF families and that is what we would pay. Whew! I'm so glad to have a local person who I can count on to speak up for us. It is quite hilarious how much discussion goes on about even the littlest issues. Getting straight to the point is just not cultural. You have to beat around the bush until the other person gets what you are saying... That'll take some adjusting to...

This completely unrelated photo is of part of our lunch yesterday. I explained to my Ibu that I do like squid but only when it's deep fried and doesn't actually look like squid anymore.... This was in a dish with clear noodles, carrots, green onions and that browny purple stuff-a kind of mushroom...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I have to confess that we had white rice, mixed vegetables and chicken sate for supper. Yesterday afternoon I went to the doctor again with Brynnie for a follow-up visit. This time I went to his practice which is much closer to where we live. I tried to be there a bit before he opened so I would be close to the front of the line. No such thing as making appointments here. It’s on a first come first served basis. I was number A9. This office was significantly nicer and newer than the other one. I sat on a plastic covered couch while waiting and chatted with a couple of ladies also waiting. This gave me a great opportunity to get in my experience for the day. Each morning we have to recall one of our conversations of the day before with the class. I also got asked if I wanted to have molds made of Brynnies feet and hands to be bronzed. On the wall they had samples hanging. One of the samples was of a little boy’s baby bottom and the front parts as well… Whatever strikes your fancy… Anyways, after waiting about 50 minutes, my number was called. The doctor checked Brynnie out and told me that I could stop the antibiotics (I read the bottle and I was only supposed to give it to her for three days…). Of course most Indonesians would want to continue until the bottle was empty… Anyways, he said that things were looking pretty good. Then this morning Brynnie woke up with a swollen eye lid. Then after her nap she had a rash all over again and a swollen forehead. She looks rather klingon like (for those of you who have seen Star Trek…). Not real pretty as she still has quite a few red spots on her face. It seems that she may have inherited Hugo’s slight allergy to mosquito bites. Mikah also had it when she was young. Wherever she was bitten, that body part would swell up. Thankfully I did bring 4 bottles of Benadryl with… At this rate though we’ll run out in no time.
School continues to go pretty well for Hugo and I. We have now only three days left of unit 1. Then next week we will have an evaluation supposedly to determine whether or not we can go to unit 2. We have been told by others that this is a mere formality, they already know by week 2 whether or not you will need to repeat. We have learned so much already. It’s great to be able to have conversations with our neighbours and helpers about a variety of subjects. We will sure be ready for our little break next week though. Unfortunately the break is a little shorter because the following week there are three days of no school due to Idul Fitri. So our break is split in two this time.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Yesterday we had a very interesting seminar about the muslim faith. We are learning more about it and about how it is similar and different than ours and what is the best way to deal with muslims. We were surprised to learn that they believe quite a few things the same as we do. Of course the most important aspects of our faith are very different. They believe that Jesus was just another prophet. They also have great difficulty with the Trinity. They also talk a lot about fate. Fate determines where they are placed in society and what burdens they are given. So if they were born poor, they just stay poor instead of working hard to get out of it. We were also surprised to learn that the Koran comes mostly from the Bible. The rules about daily life come from other books called Hadiths. It is in these books that rules like the rule about head covering for women are found. There are actually to different types of muslims here. One group is a catholic type of muslim and the other like a reformed type of muslim. The one is very strong in following the hadiths and the other is not. Muslims do not believe in original sin, but believe that they are saved by following the rituals as laid out in some of the hadiths and through the Koran. So at this time of year there are many frustrated muslims because it is very hard for them to follow everything to a T. It was also interesting to learn just how intertwined the culture and language of this country is with the muslim faith. There are actually different levels of Christians here. They are defined as C1-C5. C1 being a Christian that attends a Christian church foreign to the muslim community in both culture and language. This is the type of church we attend. We sit on chairs and we sing accompanied by a piano etc… C2 is C1 in form but speaking the language used by Muslims though their religious terminology is distinctively non-muslim. C3 is a C2 but uses non-Islamic cultural elements (e.g. dress, music, diet, arts). C4 is C3 with some Biblically acceptable Islamic practices like prayer posture, sitting on the floor while worshipping, fasting etc... They are the first group to refer to themselves as Followers of Isa instead of Christians. C5 is C4 with a “Muslim follower of Jesus” identity. They remain culturally muslim but accept scripture as God’s divine revelation and Christ as saviour. C6 are secret believers who may or may not be active members in the religious life of the muslim community. They identify themselves as privately “Christian”, or “Follower of Isa” (Isa being the name Jesus in “muslim-friendly” language), or “Muslim follower of Jesus.” It is extremely difficult for muslims living here to join a C1 church. So that is why the other categories have come into being.
We were also told that it is better to refer to ourselves as being Nasrani (follower of Jesus) than Kristen. The term Kristen has a lot of baggage attached to it relating to Dutch colonialism. We never realized just how important language and terminology is when dealing with muslims.
As there are Muslims here actively searching the internet for information about Christian activities with the intent to jeopardize them, I must be very careful not to write any places or names. Please do the same in the comments section. Please also pray for those muslims that are making their way over to Christianity. It is very difficult for them culturally. We all live close together and as soon as someone changes the way they live, everyone notices. There are also areas of this city where there is active persecution. Please pray that the believers here will continue to be strengthened in their faith and not discouraged.

Update on Brynne - Brynne has now received all three doses of zithromax and now we wait. It is a more powerful antibiotic so you need to administer less doses but it still takes about 10 for the full affect to show. The swelling on her cheek and feet have gone down a lot. Her hands are still a bit swollen, but better than they were. She still has a tremendous amount of energy!

This completely unrelated photo is what you get when you mix a bucket of markers, two boys and no adult supervision....