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…