Saturday, March 31, 2007

In the higher units of school we sometimes study a newspaper article and then discuss it in class. This week we read an article about a really bad road. This road has so many potholes and there are no street lights either. So when it rains the potholes are covered and because there are no street lights you really can't see them. The funny thing is that the worst part of the road is right in front of the PLN (our version of BC Hydro) building. Also on the same road is a big office building where government leaders meet. Only in Indonesia! Apparently this country is the third most corrupt country in the world. Yikes... There is money here in Bandung to repair roads. The problem is that when someone wins the contract to repair a road, they quoted for good asphalt. However, when they go to repair it, they use a much lower grade and pocket the rest of the money and then four months down the road the pothole reappears and they have work again. There are some rich folks who've gotten together with their neighbours and paid for road repair themselves. That hasn't happened on the road to our school even though there are some absolutely enormous houses on it...
This past week was "Week Without Walls" at the kids school. Christiaan and Aidan made boxes of love and gave them to Indonesian kids from the kampungs around here. Mikah's class went to a Indonesian school three times and taught English. The kids school, BAIS, also invited the kids from all the local kampungs to come to the school for three mornings and have fun doing sporty things. I witnessed an eels in the bucket race... yuck! I saw some of the high school kids filling the pot holes on the school's road with cement. We'll see how long that lasts...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

In the early 1900's Indonesian women experienced an emancipation. This came about because of the hard work of a woman named Ibu Kartini. Before this time, girls were only allowed to go to school until they were 11 and then they had to stay home and study to be a housewife. They were not allowed to go anywhere alone and were only allowed to talk with relatives. They also had to wear a head scarf and veil in public. Girls were often married off at a very young age. Now women can hold any position, officially, but unoffically the muslim faith forbids women from holding positions of authority. But this country is not officially a muslim country. The charter (so to speak) of this country is not a religious one, but the reality is that this is the world's most populous country of muslims. About 88% (I think) of the people here are muslim. But, yesterday I was talking with my neighbour and she told me that her mom was 13 when she got married and her dad was about 16. Yikes, that's young. Ibu Sri said that this was normal for in the kampungs, or villages. She says that it still happens today, but not as often. There is actually a rule from the government that girls have to be 18 to get married, but parents will lie to get around it. The reasons that parents do this is so that their daughter doesn't have a chance to be defiled before marriage and so that they are no longer responsible for her and don't have to pay for her to go to school. They think it is just better if their daughters just get married.
Yesterday was the neighbour girl's (Gerda, whose brother gets french fries for breakfast every morning) birthday. She turned 12. But here when a child is that old there are no presents and there is no party. Especially for people of the kampung. They feel that the money would be better spent on rice. I felt rather sorry for her, but her mom said that the kids are just used to it and don't know any different.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

No Power!

Today at 6:00 the power went out while we were eating dinner. So we got out our tea light candles, really quite inadequate as they are not of Candle Light quality... Usually when the power goes out it is only for a short time. But after we were done eating our enchiladas (tortillas homemade by Ibu Tati) and yogurt, the power was still out. Our neighbours were hanging around outside so we joined them for a bit and compared flashlights/lanterns. They were using a homemade lantern type thing that has a wick and kerosene in it and we were using our Home Hardware wind up LED flashlight special. Talk about old world meets new! Anyways, my neighbour told me that warungs (little shops) usually have candles that are tall. So Marc and I set out with Marc leading the way with the flashlight to go get candles. Well, they were all out at all the warungs around us. But one still had a kerosene lantern which I bought, well I didn't actually pay for it yet as I had only brought enough money along to buy candles, for about $2. They even put kerosene in it for me as we don't have any ourselves. A lot of people here still cook using little one burner "stoves" that use kerosene. Anyways, the power finally came on at about 8:30 and then went out again about 20 min. later. Then our landlord came by and gave us 2 candles. He said that he got them from the PLN (our version of BC Hydro). So generous of them to supply us with 2 candles... Quite hilarious. I'm not sure if our landlord came by because he had heard that I had been going around to warungs looking for candles or not... Oh well, we are now the proud owners of two tall candles... and an incredibly cheap kerosene lantern....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Check out the new deck on our house at
We really love renovating our home from the other side of the world. It's like "presto!!" and it's done! (hate to see the bill though.....) But it sure looks GREAT!! Thanks Rob and Mr. Vandeburgt!

Another funny story....

Every Sunday we eat fries and chicken nuggets for supper. You can buy frozen fries here, but I had been feeling ambitious and was making my own out of fresh potatoes. A few weeks ago I made way too much and gave some to the neighbour kids. They are Gerda, who is 11 years old, and Bilal, who is 4 years old. They loved them. The other day I talked with their mom and found out that Bilal has been eating fries for breakfast ever since... yikes, what did I start? I explained to her that this wasn't really a healthy meal and that we only eat fries once a week... But here, everything is deep fried no matter what time of day....

Monday, March 26, 2007
Just watched the End of the Spear. Fairly well made, although I have to say that they picked exceptionally good looking people to play the Waodani parts. Anyways, this movie is definitely made for a main stream audience as there is no real mention of Jesus, only once in a round about way, and no real explanation of why the missionary families went back. I found the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendour a lot better as far as that goes...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Two Funny Stories...

I forgot to recount a funny story from our time in Jakarta. We had brought along some pembantus to help with looking after the kids so that the parents could go to meetings. At one point when we had free time, the three helpers decided to go for a walk to the mall across the way from the hotel. They brought Brynnie with them. While they were walking, suddenly a police officer called them over. They started grabbing for their identification cards thinking that that's what he wanted to see. He said,"No, No, I just want to see that really cute white kid you have!" Too funny!!
This morning we got on an angkot and right after us two rather short men got on as well. One of them, and I'm not kidding you, came up to below my shoulders and I'm only 5 feet 2 inches tall. This man was not a dwarf, just really short. Anyways, we started moving along and these two men are checking us all out. I guess they didn't realize we understood Indonesian because the one guy said something like,"I guess they don't use KB (birth control)." I replied with, "They are all gifts from God." What else could he do but agree?
This morning we went to church as usual. Every sunday in church we recite the credo. When we first came to Bandung we could barely read the credo never mind keep up with everyone else. Now, we can actually keep up! And we actually know exactly what we are saying! (We know what the credo says, but now we can literally translate it.) This is very exciting. We can also understand a lot of the sermon, but sometimes it is hard to get the total theme as we are still just focusing on understanding it sentence by sentence. But we are making great progress. Right now we are in unit 6 which still focuses on reading and writing. Units 7-9 are discussions about texts from the Bible and articles from the newspaper or other magazines. This will greatly enhance our ability to participate in Indonesian Bible studies. Previously Units 7-9 were not required by MAF, but too many people had trouble with understanding sermons and Biblical discussions as Bible language is not the same as the spoken language.
On another note, our water looks much better than before, but is still a little yellowy. Could be from some residue still in the pipes... hopefully...
Marc is doing a lot better. He actually slept through the night last night. Yeah!! Yesterday I started Brynnie on some Zithromax, that I had brought from Canada, after talking with the expat doctors assistant who is the school nurse at the kids school. I'm so thankful to have a western trained, western person, to ask medical questions of. Doctors here are just not up to par with those back home. People here go to the doctor for every little thing. Then the doctor prescribes antibiotics and vitamins for every little thing without explaining why. This is a huge burden on the average famliy here. If they were just more educated about illnesses it would be very helpful. Unfortunately, here people are taught by rote. They are not taught to figure things out, to examine things and investigate things. Of course the average person here does not have access to resources like a good library or the internet. The lack of knowledge of even the most basic information especially concerning health is astounding. The man that paid for our time in Jakarta is trying to help reverse some of that. He has started a number of schools where a lot of the teachers are from other countries. He is also in the process of building a Christian boarding school in Papua. It is there that the education system is probably one of the worst in Indonesia. Many kids are lucky if their teachers even show up! This lack of education is also one of the main hindrances in getting more locals to be able to work on or pilot aircraft and work in the offices of MAF. Anyways, I've rambled on a bit, but that's the way it is here!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Here in Indonesia people always have water storage tanks. Water supply here is rather sporatic so people like to have reserves. The photo of the dirty water shows you what the water in our tank looked like this morning. We've been wondering why all our white clothes have become creamy coloured.... We figure that the mud was in our tank from the time our well was dug deeper. We probably didn't wait long enough before using the well. So the mud didn't have time to settle. So this morning Hugo climbed inside the tank and drained and cleaned it. That water looks quite disgusting doesn't it? Let's hope that was the reason we had dirty water and that now it's clean again...
Well, our streak of good health has come to a crashing halt. Marc has croup and Brynnie has an outbreak of bacterial spots again. Yesterday she looked like a Klingon from Star Trek.... She also sounds like she might be getting croup as well. Time to head to the apotec (pharmacy).

Friday, March 23, 2007

I've Got One thing to say today....


Thanks to the wonder of the internet I have been able to keep up with my team.... All the way this year!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Well, we've come back from a few days in Jakarta. We had the honour of staying at the beautiful
You're probably wondering how MAF could afford a place like that. Well, they didn't. The owner of the hotel, and probably most of the area around it, is a great supporter of MAF and let us stay there for free!! Yippee!! It was amazing. The pool was the most incredible pool I have ever seen. It is lagoon style. And the food... lets just say it was... amazing... We had the opportunity to meet with our regional manager and the program managers from Sentani, Papua. This was very neat as we could find out about where we are going to live and other important information like that. They are building us a brand new house on a hill in sentani. We will have two other MAF families for neighbours which is nice. One family has kids old enough to babysit... So that was very nice news. Hopefully our bad house vibe, the one that makes every house we live in have water leaks, doesn't follow us there. Feel free to take a look at Nicole VW's blog site for photos of the recent work done to our home in Canada:
Today it is back to the grind stone as we have our first day of Unit 6. Yeah....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More observations/facts about Indonesia
Thinking outside the box is crazy weird
Eating ice cream after supper is bad, bad, bad
All diseases are blamed on the weather
The most important part on your car is your horn
There is no middle class
Only about 30% are truly devout M*slims
Age is very important, the older you are the more you are entitled to
Deep fried is best (makes all food sterile)
If you can’t see it, it isn’t there (viruses, bacteria, you get the idea…)
Children shouldn’t go out at dusk because then Satan can enter them.
The stores go by the motto “don’t order till we’re out”.
Buleh’s (white people) go by the motto “Buy double what you need while they have it”
Wrap everything in clear plastic so it doesn’t get dusty/dirty
Drinking out of a plastic bag…
If you’ve never done something before you probably can’t do it
Need money? Go ask the neighbours…
A policeman’s job is to collect bribes…
Speed bumps are called “sleeping policemen”
You have to wear a helmet while riding a motorbike, but it doesn’t have to be strapped on, so watch out when the wind is gusting…
When speaking in front of a crowd of any size, you must use a microphone with an amplifier turned as loud as it can possibly go.
All music, including Shania Twain, must be cranked as loud as possible for maximum listening pleasure (NOT!!)
This photo illustrates how Hugo brings the kids home from school.
Yesterday we took Christiaan to the dentist to get a cavity filled and some scaling done. It all cost us about $25... crazy cheap... The office was in a hospital and very professional. The dentist has worked in the US for 10 years as a dental assistant. So that was a successful trip and we came early enough that we were number one on the list to see her. No making appointments here!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What did we do this weekend? A look at the photos will give a hint. Mikah really wanted to have a sleepover for her birthday this year. So she invited three friends (one from Finland, one from South Korea, and one from New Zealand) over and they went swimming first right after school. The pool is conveniently located right across from the school. After that we went home and enjoyed the My Little Pony cake that Ibu Tati made. Then it was a Pizza Hut supper and then a movie with popcorn and pop. It took the girls a little bit to fall asleep, but not as long as it could have taken. Unfortunately they were all rudely awakened at 4:30ish by the 5 local mosques around here simultaneously reminding the folks here that it was time to pray at the same time that it was pouring buckets. Wah duh!! Of course no one, not even mom, got any more sleep after that. In spite of that it was a successful party.
This morning we went to church by angkot. It never ceases to amaze me what a cultural experience it is to simply walk up to the top of the hill and over and catch an angkot to take us down the hill. Every Sunday on a road off of the main road near the top, is a market. So it is an absolute zoo up there. If you want to get down the hill reasonably quickly, you need to get on the angkot that’s first in line to go down. So we, like ducks following their mother, trailed behind Hugo and weaved our way in and out of angkots, people, and motorbikes. At the intersection of the two roads there was a major gridlock. There were angkots lined up along the side waiting for passengers and then angkots trying to go up to get into the end of the line and other ones trying to go down. In between them all are the people and the motorbikes going up and down and the guy that thought it would just add to the effect if he repeatedly blew on his whistle as though that would help things move along better. And oh yeah, because we are white and have such cute kids (I’m allowed to brag right?) people are always staring at us and kids are calling out to us, “Hello Mister!” Once we finally entered the angkot that was first in line, we were rewarded for our arduous effort as he left almost immediately and rarely stopped on the way down. Thankfully a friend from church gave us a ride home…
Tomorrow we have our unit 5 evaluation and then we have the week off! Yeah! Although there's a fair bit we need to do like take Christiaan to get a cavity looked at etc...

Friday, March 09, 2007

I'm Mikah

Things I like:



drawing pictures

playing with my friends

playing with my little sister




going to school

chocolate cake

Things I don't like:

green peppers

fat free Kraft brand ranch dressing

Ketchup that isn't Heinz

I'm Aidan.

Things I love:

Play gameboy

Play on the computer

Play with my buddy Jalen

To eat

drawing pictures

making puzzles
Did I mention play?

Things I don't like:



walking long distances

Green peppers and tomatoes

I'm Christiaan
Things I like:
playing gameboy
playing computer
playing nintendo
fries and chicken nuggets
playing with my friends
playing Skipbo
Things I don't like:
green peppers
cake icing
not having a place to bike or play sports

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Couldn't you just eat 'em up?

Things I like to do:
Look at myself in the tv
Wear my new fake crocs all the time
Take toys away from my big brother Marc
Play with my big brother Marc
Go for really long walks and I don't want to be carried
Go outside
Touch the computer even though my mom and dad have told me lots of times not to
Drink milk out of a bottle
Poop in the "bath tub"
Make silly faces
Eat yogurt
Things I don't like:
Having my hair washed
When my mom doesn't listen to me and let me play outside in the rain
Well, there's really not that much I don't like...
Things I like to do:
Watch tv at my neighbours house and then have a nap there
Play computer
Did I mention watch videos already?
Play with my friend Kaya
Go to the Jump'n Gym
Ride on the motorbike with my dad
Eating fries and chicken nuggets
I like to sneak outside while Ibu Misiah isn't watching...
Lock myself into the bathroom or mom and dads bedroom
Eating plain white rice, I love it!!
Eating bread with sprinkles!
Things I don't like to do:
Feed myself unless we're having fries and chicken nuggets
Listen to my mom and dad
Have naps
That's about it...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

As we are learning the language of Indonesia we are also learning about the culture, customs, and religions of this country. Yesterday we learned about circumcision. We had no idea that this was required of those that follow the Islamic faith here. Boys are circumcised between the ages of 5 and 9. The date of the event is chosen using a couple different methods. Some will go to an older person who is known to be able to calculate which day would be the best. Some simply wait until they have the funds. Of course, when this event occurs, you need to have a party. In older times often the family would watch the event as it occurred. Nowadays, people may go to the doctor and have the party a week or so later. Some will also go to a traditional person who uses traditional methods. Apparently both cause pain. The reason for circumcision is interesting. Islamics believe that before a boy is circumcised not all of his pee can get out and therefore he is dirty. Anyone who is uncircumcised must wash himself before he can pray as you must be clean to pray. So they must clean five times a day as that is the number of times you are called to pray. Any female who is menstruating is also not allowed to pray or fast as they are considered unclean. There are some who say that the Koran instructs this. There are those that have told us that there is no text in the Koran stating that circumcision must still occur and that only the story of Abraham is told. Some have told us that the instruction for this is found in the hadiths. The hadiths are held in as high esteem as the Koran. So anyways, there’s most often a party and those that attend are of course expected to bring an envelope with money inside….
We have just found out that there has been a tremendous amount of rain in Sentani and two very important bridges have been washed out. One bridge is on the way to the school and the other is on the way to the nearest bigger city. There have also been quite a few people who've had water enter into their houses, and not through the roof. This may affect the availability of jet fuel, gas and food supplies for a quite a while. Please pray that things may be fixed speedily.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Conversation on the way to school…
Child #1: I don’t want to have any stuffed animals or stuff like that.
Dad: Why not?
Child #1: I just don’t want any.
Dad: I have a big stuffed animal in my bed…
Child #1: Really?
Dad: Yeah, Mom…
Child #1: Ew, I don’t want to get married.
Dad: Why not?
Child #1: Cause I don’t want to kiss girls…
Child #2: Me too…
Child #3: I don’t want to get married either.
Child #1: Why not?
Child #3: At least all you have to do is wait in the waiting room while the women give birth, so I don’t want to get married, I don’t want to give birth...

Wah duh!? Pretty heavy stuff on the way to school…

Meanwhile at home Child #4 was playing with playdoh and Child #5 was whistling… yes, Brynnie can whistle it is really hilarious. No tunes yet though…

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Forgot to post this photo of the outside of Ibu's house. She lives at the top on the left hand side and has to climb those freaky looking stairs to get to her front, and only, door.

Today we visited Ibu Tati and her family. It was quite an experience. Ibu Tati lives in one quarter of a house owned by her mother. They have split it into three apartments and Ibu Tati and three siblings live in each one. As you can see from the photos it is quite poor. Ibu’s portion of the house consists of a tiny kitchen area (see photo), a tiny living room, and two small bedrooms. There is no running water in her part of the house. If she needs water she has to go downstairs to the shared bathroom (closet) and get it. Part of the roof of their house is terra cotta shingles and the rest is just corrugated metal with lots of holes. There is a window in the kitchen but it has no glass (see photo). Through that window you can see a garbage heap and then some more houses. They are fortunate because there is space around their house to play. There are no other houses attached to theirs. In front is a badminton court that’s become rather decrepit. This is where the kids of the kampung play.
Ibu’s story is quite sad. When she was sixteen years old her parents arranged for her to marry a guy ten years older than her. At age seventeen she had her first child, a girl. A couple years later she had another girl. The photo of Ibu with three kids is of her and her daughter in the yellow, her grandson, and her niece. Ibu’s husband was not a very ambitious guy and he liked to play billiards. Each day he would go off as if to work, but instead of working he played around. He would then just ask his parents for money. He also liked to hit Ibu if he was angry with her. So she learned not to say anything. She also didn’t want her parents to know that their marriage wasn’t good because her parents had arranged it and she didn’t want them to feel bad. At that point she was already living in the apartment that she lives in now. (She pays her mom a little bit of rent each month) So in order for no one to find out, she never argued with her husband at all. She also didn’t want her daughters to see them fighting. But after a number of years she couldn’t take it anymore and told her parents that she wanted to divorce her husband and explained why. They were of course quite shocked as they had had no idea of the situation. This is very cultural here. You do not air your problems at all and they are kept extremely secret. At first Ibu’s husband resisted the divorce as he had it good with her. She worked very hard and didn’t complain. But they did eventually divorce. While they were in the process of divorcing Ibu had the opportunity to go to Taiwan with the family that she was working for. If she had been able to go she would have been able to save up enough to buy a house herself. But he wouldn’t let her go even though they were separated. In this country as long as you are legally married you have to have permission from your husband to leave. About five years ago Ibu met her current husband and they fell in love. He too was previously married and has two children as well. Unfortunately his wife left him and their children for someone else. The children ended up being raised by his mother. They visit their dad fairly often and seem to have a good relationship with him and Ibu Tati. He is a good man and works hard. He has a pretty good job but is gone a lot. He is working on a project outside of Bandung and just stays overnight there as it is 1.5-2 hours drive away. He has always helped Ibu pay for things for her daughters even though his family gets mad if he does so because they are not his biological children. He is currently buying a car from his boss and has his paycheque cut each month to pay for it. It is a 1982 Honda Accord. It needs quite a bit of body work, but the motor is good. It is a lot nicer for him to drive a car to work than a motorbike especially when it rains. To own a car here is quite the thing. It is cheaper to own a house than a car! They also have a motorbike which Ibu’s daughter uses to go to work. On the photo of the kitchen, in the bottom left hand corner you can see the corner of a fridge. It is quite unusual to have a fridge here. Ibu’s daughter works at a big department store and was able to buy this little fridge at a discount on payments. So she did this for her mom three months ago. I love how they all help eachother out. Ibu’s daughter is always helping her mom cook and take care of her little sister even though she works and goes to school. Ibu and her husband have a daughter who is almost three years old. She is the one that was sick with Typhus. At that time she actually had to stay in the hospital for a while but Ibu didn’t tell me this because she didn’t want to ask me for more help as she had already borrowed 1 million rupiah from us. I respect her for that as so many people here will come directly to their white bosses as soon as they have any problem. I didn’t know that Bunga was in the hospital but I knew that they had gone to the doctor so I did give her 100,000 rups at that time. I’m sure glad that I did now that I know Bunga was actually in the hospital. It is so hard to get ahead here as it costs them so much of their monthly income to buy medicine and see the doctor. Just over a year ago Ibu was pregnant with another baby but it died in her womb at about 7 months. He was born naturally but they had already seen on the ultrasound that he had a very large head and so was deformed. She was very sad about it and was so afraid that it would happen again that she had her tubes tied. That all cost them a tremendous amount of money so it’s no wonder they still live where they do and the way they do. I love Ibu Tati, she works very hard for us and is a lot of fun to talk with. She loves Brynnie and takes good care of her when we are studying. Brynnie often cries when Ibu goes home. I will really miss Ibu when we move to Papua. Not for her work, but for who she is and what she has taught me.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Today I went up to Ibu Umi’s cart area to ask her some questions for my homework. We had to write about traditional medicine today. Ibu Umi uses traditional medicine for her high blood pressure as she can’t afford modern medicine. As we were talking we got onto a different topic. Ibu Umi told me a story which explains why their current financial situation is what it is. A few years ago when Ibu Nina was working at an office, she was a supervisor and responsible for giving everyone their pay. Most people wanted cash so the night before payday, she and Ibu Umi would organize it all and make the envelopes ready. One morning after doing this while she was on her way to work with her bag full of envelopes with pay, someone grabbed her bag and ran off with it. Ibu Nina went to the police station and immediately filed a report. Unfortunately the office didn’t believe her and she was informed that she would have to pay back the entire sum. It amounted to 40 million rupiahs! A fortune! So Ibu Nina and her mom and brother sold everything they could in their house and paid back 5 million right away. From then until now, Ibu Nina’s husbands pay has been docked 1 million rupiah each month. In fact all he earns is 1 million. He receives 300,000 rups for travel costs and 150,000 rups as an incentive. So they have been surviving on that alone! Remember, about 7,800 rupiahs is 1$ CDN. After hearing this story, I went to see an expat woman who has been living here for a very long time to get confirmation of this story. She confirmed it and she also confirmed that everyone in the kampung believes that Ibu Nina didn’t take the money herself that it in fact was stolen. If she had taken the money she certainly wouldn’t be living in the house that they currently live in. What a story! It sure explains a lot! At this point I’m not really sure what to do. Just giving them money is not the answer. The expat woman, Cindy, told me that I should talk with her husband about what to do to help them without making them dependant on us. I understand from Cindy that Ibu Umi would love to be able to start a larger business. I will talk with Cindy’s husband soon and see what he thinks would be best.