Thursday, May 31, 2007


Today we celebrated our tenth anniversary! We are very thankful to our heavenly Father for keeping us for all those years and for allowing us to experience life here in Indonesia. Wow, it feels like a lot less than ten years since that special day! Ibu Tati came and babysat the kids so we could go out for a nice dinner. We went to a big mall that’s actually still in the process of being built but is quite incredible. It is called Paris Van Java. There we ate supper at a restaurant that mixes Western and Indonesia tastes. The food was really, really good. I had my first Caesar salad in a really, really long time. Wow… We had appetizers, fruity drinks, entrees and then a hot beverage afterwards and it cost us only about $25! It was really nice to sit outside on a terrace and people watch.
This morning I woke up with a really tight muscle in my shoulder/back area. I asked Ibu Tati to rub some special muscle cream on it for me. She did and afterwards said that she was so embarrassed/shy because my skin was so white and hers is so dark. (I was just hoping I didn't have any big pimples on my back...) I still can’t get over the Indonesian infatuation with white skin. There are skin whitening creams everywhere here. I would say their infatuation is much stronger than our desire to have nicely tanned skin. That and their infatuation with our “pointy” noses…
At school this unit we’ve started watching a film about a rock star that falls in love with a good muslim girl. Traditionally rock stars couldn’t be muslim. So the film makes the assumption that this guy is a “Christian” and so he is free to have long hair and be in a band and do whatever he likes. It is interesting because the rock star guy and his friends use a lot of English words. The insinuation is that English is a Christian language because those who are true muslims use more Arabic. There is this perception that Christans are “free” to do whatever they want. Of course they feel this way. They all think that America is a Christian country and what they see of America is whatever is spewed out by Hollywood. What else are they to think? So the whole point of the film is to show that you can be a rock star and a muslim now.
One other funny thing that I heard this week is that when people go to the mesjid they have to take their shoes off before going in. The joke is that there are many who go to the mesjid with old wrecked shoes and leave with nice new ones….

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

For those of you who don't know where Medan is, it is near the northern tip of the province of Sumatra, western Indonesia. This city was hit pretty hard by the earthquake and tsunami back in 2005. We live just below Jakarta, there's no dot for Bandung... We are far enough away from the ocean and high enough in the mountains that the climate here is very nice.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We're now two days into Unit 8! Yippee!! We are also busy with getting everything for our crate ready to go. We are very limited to what we can take on the plane to Papua, about half as much as we could take here from Canada so we are trying to get as much as possible into our container.
In the meantime, MAF has asked Hugo to go to Medan for a few days to see if he can figure out what is wrong with the compass system on the Cessna 208 they are flying there. He's pretty pumped about getting to go there and doubly pumped because he knows he'll be able to communicate with the folks out there!
For the rest, the dry season is upon us and the days are a lot hotter now than they were before although we did get a little sprinkle of rain late this afternoon.
We are now scheduled to leave around August 6th again. Our manager figured it would be better if we didn't fast-track our last unit after all. The reality is that our house in Sentani probably won't be ready by the end of July anyways.
For the moment we are all healthy and doing well! How about you?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Facing the Giants

Just watched the movie "Facing the Giants". While somewhat predictable, very American (it's about a football team) and without any Academy Award calibre actors, this film is definitely a good one to see. There aren't many flicks out there that you can say that about, but this is one of them!
Wishing you all a good weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2007

So we went back to this waterfall but this time with our friends from New Zealand who had never been there. It is an amazing drive up to get there. You climb quite high on a narrow winding road with many, many potholes. Along the way you pass by many little nurseries and in the distance you can see lots of rice paddies. It is so beautiful. As we were driving I realized how rare it is to see a patch of grass around here that actually needs to be cut with a mower. People here just don't have yards. Kids play on tiny concrete slabs or on the road. There are no such things as parks with playgrounds here. If you want to go anywhere where your kids can play, you have to pay. Anyways, we had a nice time going down to the falls and seeing a little piece of nature, puffing our way back up and then we went to a neat restaurant for lunch. You eat in your own private little dining hut and you sit on the floor on cushions. It was very nice. Today we just hung around at home with the kids. The big kids had a half day of school today. Mikah went to a birthday party so only the boys came home.
Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The first photo is what we saw this morning as we left the gong.... soldiers running with an ambulance trailing behind them...

Then you have spiderman and superman...

We bought shoes for Mikah at the Canada shoe store. The other photo of a shoe store is of the same store. Crazy! There were a ton of shoe stores like this one. Each and every shoe on display was shrink wrapped so it wouldn't get dirty. If you wanted to try a pair on a store worker would use an intercom to call up to someone and order the one you wanted and it would come down a shute. Hilarious!!

The middle photo is of the Bandung police doing what they do best... pulling people over to get money! They keep any money they get from you for such offences as not wearing a helmet or having your vehicle registration or drivers license on you... Love the uniforms!

The next photo is of the Mesjid (mosque) Raya (Big) of Bandung. It was hard to get a good photo of it from where we were but you get the idea. At the top of both towers are enormous loudspeakers.... One time there was a building built nearby that was taller than the towers and they required it to be torn down...

That's me trying really hard not to look like a tourist.... As we walked down this road, we passed by many people selling pirated DVD's and they like to offer p*rnographic ones to white guys.... yuck...

The next photo is of Holland Bakery. One of the many dutch influences to be seen around Bandung. It is a bakery chain and they are everywhere. It's hard to see, but at the top is a windmill that actually turns.
The last photo is an example of what the traffic is like downtown. Every sort of vehicle you can imagine is out on the road fighting for a spot...

Oh what a hunk!!

This hunk of a man of mine turned 34 today! Here he is modelling his gifts for us...
Goggles for all that snorkeling we're going to do in Papua, and the all important man-purse... much cooler than a fanny pack....

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Here are some of the things we saw today as we drove around Bandung and did some shopping for Papua. The church is the "mother church" of the one we attend. The mall is the Bandung Supermall. The photo is just of the entrance, it is really quite large, although not nearly like West Edmonton mall... The motorcycle parking area is enormous too! How long do you think it took the guy who sells the dinnerware to arrange it all? Gotta love Rambo eh? There are more like that in that area, next time I'll make sure to get them on "film" too.
Can you imagine buying a stove and paying for it little by little every day? That’s what my neighbour is doing only she’s purchased a new kompor. Kompors are little one burner units that use kerosene for fuel. They make a nasty smell and are smoky, but people can’t afford to pay out the 65,000 rupiahs it costs to fill an LPG tank and the 230,000 rups it costs to have a gas kompor. That’s just way too much money at one time. So the neighbours also can’t save up the 90,000 rups it costs to buy a new kerosene kompor so they bought one on credit. There’s a guy that comes around every single day and collects 1,000 rupiahs from them. So, because they bought on credit the stove is costing them about 120,000 rupiahs and it will take about three months before it is paid off. Apparently lots of the people around here are doing this. It is really hard for them to save up enough money to buy things like that outright. There’s always someone who gets sick and going to the doctor costs around 50,000 so any savings are quickly eaten up.
One thing that I won’t miss about living here in Bandung is the terrible ammonia smell that comes up our drainage pipes sometimes. It can be very overpowering. That’s because our sewage basically goes down the hill and into the river… yummy eh?

I saw these two girls the other day wearing their saturday school uniforms. All kids that go to school wear uniforms like this on Saturday. I think it is considered their red cross uniforms and they learn life skills on the day they wear them.

Monday, May 21, 2007


When living in Indonesia, one goes through three stages.
1. Find an ant in your drink you dump the entire drink out and get a new one.
2. Find an ant in your drink, you get it out and drink the drink anyway.
3. Find an ant in your drink, you just drink the ant too… more protein…
I’d have to say I’m at number two right now….

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Today we met our friends David and Santi at Ciwalk, the local mall closest to our house, for dinner. However, bright me, I forgot my cell phone and we hadn't agreed on a place to meet, just a time. So we walked around for almost an hour looking for them, not knowing that they hadn't even arrived yet as the roads were crazy busy. Then we bumped into Davids brother, how fortuitous, and he phone David for us and it turns out that they had just arrived. So that was good that they weren't searching all over for us. But all this meant that supper was rather late and the kids were rather wild... I really don't like going out on a Saturday night with the kids. The roads are often jam packed with cars and motorbikes and we always end up home late. Like when we went down to the mall, we took an angkot. As we neared the mall and Aidan's face was getting greener by the second thanks to an overly aggressive driver, we decided to get out and walk the rest of the way. But there aren't any sidewalks so you have to watch out for motorbikes coming up behind you and then there's the people that walk up to you with their hand outstretched hoping you'll give them some money and then there's the people that just can't help themselves and reach out and touch Brynnie.... At the mall it was a zoo. There are people walking everywhere, but inside the stores it isn't busy. People are just walking around, not actually shopping. It's really funny. The restaurants were the same, not very busy. I managed to find some new sandals for Brynnie that she can actually fit her fat feet into. A bit of a challenge in the land of tiny skinny people. Turns out these sandals light up too! Brynnie is rather tickled pink with her new pink Minnie Mouse sandals and wanted to have them and the mickey mouse box they came in, in bed with her. I put my foot down at the box, but that didn't stop her, she climbed out of her pack'n play for the first time ever to see if she could reach the box herself. What a stinker. Once she figured that out, she had to be put back in bed more than a few times....
That's the scoop on our saturday night adventure... Wishing you all a blessed Sunday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tomorrow we celebrate the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Here in Indonesia this day is a hari (day) merah (red). Red days are holidays. So even though this country is predominantly Muslim, they will still make some Christian events into holidays. They do indeed believe that Jesus lived, but they don’t believe that he died. They think that it was actually Judas who died because good people don’t get punished and die and Jesus was, to them, just a really good man, a prophet.
Once a week we meet with the director of the school for an hour and we can ask him any questions that we want. One day he was talking about how perceptions can be so very different from the truth. Before he worked with folks like us, he thought all Americans walked around with guns in holsters and shot at each other just like in the John Wayne movies he liked to watch. Too funny!!
The end of this week marks the end of Unit 7 and on Monday we have our evaluation. Evaluations in the higher units are one hour and we are given a passage from the Bible and told to explain it and the same with an article. This will be really fun as both the Bible and newspapers/magazines often use a slightly different type of language. Oh well, like I’ve said before, evaluations are a mere formality and no one ever fails any unit but unit one. The teachers use the evaluations from unit four up to give us a score. MAF requires that we reach a score of 61 by the time we are done Unit 9. Hugo and I reached the high 50’s at our unit 6 evaluation so we are well on our way.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The longer we live here, the better we get to know our neighbours. I've heard some rather interesting stories as of late concerning some of our neighbours. Ibu Umi, the one that sells gado-gado, had been borrowing the cart she was using from Ibu Haji. Haji is a term of respect given to those who have gone to Mecca with their own money. No one calls my pembantu Ibu Haji because she went with her boss and didn't use her own money. Anyways, suddenly Ibu Haji decides that she wants to sell this cart and she wants 750,000 for it. Ibu Umi offered her 500,000 but in payments, not a lump sum. Ibu Haji, even though an old friend, wouldn't take the offer, she wants the cash up front. Hugo and I figure that this is because Muslims are actually not allowed to charge interest to eachother. So Ibu Umi uses an old desk that she already had and had a display case made for the top. It cost her 300,000 but she can pay a little bit at a time whenever she has the money. But the guy who made it for her painted it white, but really badly. It looked terrible, I felt so sorry for her because she is just doing what she can to survive, so I went out and bought her some nice blue paint. The other night her son and daughter painted the whole thing and boy does it look better now. Anyways, I wondered why in the world Ibu Haji suddenly wanted to sell this cart. Turns out, three years ago her husband had a girlfriend. Muslims are allowed to take a second wife if the first wife can no longer have children or never could, or isn't able to fulfill her sexual obligations to her husband. Of course everyone knew about it, but Ibu Haji didn't want to believe it. Even when her nine brothers and sisters came to her and told her about it. Finally, her husband came to his senses and dumped the other girl, but somehow or another, this cart was from that girl. I didn't get how or why, but Ibu Haji wants it gone because it reminds her of this bad time in her life.
Ibu Umi, I just love this woman. She works so hard so that her family can eat. Remember that her daughter had her purse stolen with 40 million rups in it and they have to pay that all back? So Ibu Nina's husbands salary is cut 1 million a month and the bulk of the rest of his money goes towards paying for his transportation and then there's a bit left over. So they rely rather heavily on Ibu Umi's sales. Every few days she cuts up a big pile of shallots and thinly slices them and then fries them up to sprinkle on her dishes that she sells. This takes an enormous amount of time and they always end up crying. There is a hand crank tool that will slice them for you, but it costs 15,000 (about 2$ cad) that will do it a lot faster and won't make you cry but she just can't afford to spend that much on a tool. Guess what I'll be getting on my next trip to the store? It just pains me to see how much time and effort it takes them to get everything ready for sale and how little they earn from it. Time is just not valued here in the same way that it is back home. If they priced their wares accordingly, no one would buy them so they have no choice. I have the utmost respect for Ibu Umi, because she knows that I can afford to buy her this tool, but she will never, ever ask me for it.
I would just love for this family to come to know our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Brynnie wearing my helmet backwards...

On Saturday Mikah and I went down to the bottom of the hill we live on, and saw these kids riding on these lions while carried by others. We have no idea why they were being carried like that. Will try to find out later. At the bottom of the hill is a little market. Some people sell things on the sidewalk and there's another little market area where people sell things-that's the other picture. Sometimes Ibu Misiah buys some veggies and fruit there for us if we only need a little bit. Otherwise she goes to another gigantic market further away. Mikah and I hit the second hand book store-English books no less!!
Yesterday was Mothers Day, thanks Mom! I got a cool old framed Dutch advertisement for Jenever and some postcards made from old photos of Bandung. Then after supper the kids took turns giving me massages.... Ahhh....

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Money, Money, Money!!

Guess how many millions Hugo is holding? We have to pay for our appliances today.... yikes...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Today we translated the ten commandments in class and discussed some things. I asked the question of why so many Christians follow all the commandments except the one that says to honour the Sabbath day and keep it holy, on it you shall not work, neither you nor your sons and daughters etc… I have met so many Christians here who believe that this command is no longer applicable to us nowadays and that now we are free in Christ. I have a hard time believing that we need to follow all the other commands but not that one. But then there are also churches that never even read the ten commandments. Maybe some of you can help me explain to others why we don’t work or shop on Sundays. When I tried to explain, first of all, they thought I was judging them, then they just said that we are being legalistic. (I reassured them that I don’t want to judge, but just to understand where they are coming from.) I think that God gave us this day because he knew that we are sinful and would very easily not take any time to worship him. He also knew that we would need a day of rest because we love to get busy and involved with lots of other things. It is also good to have a day of rest on a practical level. I know that there are many who believe that Monday is the true Sabbath but to me that is just semantics. I don’t think it really matters what day we have as our Sabbath, but we do need a day for God. We have to be careful about what we decide we can do in our lives as it might be just for our own desires and not for God’s glory. After all, why are we here anyway?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The first photo is of Mita with her hair all shaved off. She still looks cute anyway doesn't she.
The second picture is of Mikah, front row far right, singing at the recital at her school today. Beside her is her friend Alisha who is from New Zealand.
Today I did a presentation on how Indonesians view handicapped children. It is interesting because Muslims feel that handicapped children are just the destiny of their parents or given to parents to test them. There are many here who just hide their handicapped children but there are also many who don't. Unfortunately there are only a few schools for kids that have disabilities and they are called "School out of the Ordinary". Nice eh? No mainstreaming here. It's really too bad. There is also no financial help available from the government for families with disabled children. So they really don't have much opportunity here to grow. But I have to admit that is changing, thankfully. There is a store in the local mall that sells big excercise balls and stuff like that and they advertise it as good therapy for children with autism. So there is more awareness of syndromes like autism and people are starting to be able to get appropriate therapies.
The big problem here is that, especially muslims, all want to be the same, they don't want to be different. So when you have a child that is different, you feel embarassed. Muslims all have to do the same things-go to Mecca, pray five times a day, fast at Ramadan etc... and when they go to Mecca they all dress the same. Same with the type of clothes they wear here to school, always the same. When children are taught from the Koran they are taught to first to listen and then memorize, then they are taught to read and memorize. There is no explaining and questioning things is not encouraged. There is not much freedom of thought especially for younger children. You must not think differently than your parents or teachers. But things are changing, there is a huge western influence, both good and bad, occurring here now.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

This is Mita, Ibu Nina’s daughter, having her head shaved by the neighbour lady. This is a custom here when a child is around 5 months old or so, they shave all the hair off. They do this because this hair is hair that was inside the mothers womb and so is considered dirty. Poor kid was not at all happy about the whole thing. Things did go a little better after I gave them a new razor that wasn’t dull. Yikes… the things they do here…
Couldn’t resist posting this picture of Brynnie with all her curls. They are just soooo cute…

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Today we heard a good sermon on prayer. The evangelist spoke about how important it is to pray from the heart and not just out of ritual habit and that we should do it no matter what our situation is. It is a way that we surrender to God and have a good relationship with Him.
This past week Hugo and I went out and ordered all our appliances for our home in Sentani along with a generator and a few beds and stuff like that. We’ve decided to buy the majority of our stuff here and ship it to Sentani. There is a lot more selection here, the prices are lower, we have the opportunity, and we can get it without dragging kids along. Once we are in Sentani we have two days before Hugo has to start work. So that doesn’t really leave a lot of time to go to Jayapura, one hours drive away, and look for stuff. We’ve had friends look there for the appliances we liked but they were either really expensive, or out of stock and if we wanted one we’d have to pay for the shipping. So we are going to be sending a container to Papua along with 2 other families the beginning of June. This means that we have to live for two months without a lot of stuff that we’ve bought and are already using like our mattress topper and cover, TV, laundry baskets, microwave etc… That’ll be interesting… especially because the kids will be out of school for the majority of that time… Anyways, it was fun picking things out, but also rather painful… I think our bank card nearly burned up…
Tomorrow we begin week three of Unit 7!! Half way done so that means 2.5 units more to go… Today someone was cooking something around here and it reminded me of good Dutch Sunday soup and I realized how much I so miss good soup. They don’t have soup packages here like back home. All you can get here is cream of chicken and cream of asparagus soup… yeah… We’ve been here for nearly nine months now and I’m starting to miss some things. I was looking at the pictures of Crescent Beach on Nicole VW’s blogsite and realized how much I missed being able to see the sights around where we live. I guess when you’ve been gone this length of time, you can start to feel this way. Last time we lived in Papua we were only there for 5.5 months so we didn’t get to this point like now. Ah well, I’m sure I’ll get over it, don’t really have a choice.

Friday, May 04, 2007


The other day for one of our classes we had to read an article about a team of guys here in Bandung that claims to be able to catch ghosts and contain them in bottles. We might laugh about that, but here in Indonesia the spirit world is alive and affects many. Since I've never seen anyone possessed by any sort of spirit, I have a hard time believing some of the stories that I've heard. However, one of our teachers, a good christian man, has seen a girl that was "possessed". She was able to push off two big men that were attempting to hold her down. Her family called upon a man who specializes in this sort of thing and he told them that she had been possessed by five demons. He got them to go out of her. It is hard to believe that, but our teacher, who had never seen anything like this before, said that after seeing that girl, he believes that they do indeed exist here. There are other teachers at the school too who have said that they have been involved in casting out evil spirits. They just command the spirit to leave in the name of Jesus Christ. I guess satan uses different methods for different parts of the world where he knows those methods will be more effective. People here are very afraid of spirits and ghosts as they are taught about them by their forefathers. We in the west are more realists so satan uses different methods such as film, tv, internet and magazines.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Last night my Mom’s Mom passed away in her sleep. She was in her mid-eighties and had had trouble breathing for a while already. We were all quite prepared that she could go to her Lord and Maker at any time. I feel happy for her that she doesn’t have to suffer anymore, just sad that I won’t see her or get a card from her any more in this life.
What I found interesting was when I told my pembantu that my Nenek (grandmother) had passed away (meninggal dunia) she said this little prayer in Arabic and then asked what time she had passed away. Then told me that she shared my sadness. When I told one of the teachers at school, her first question was, “Had your grandmother already received Jesus?” As most of our family and friends are believers and come from families of believers, that question is just a given usually. But here in this country where 88% of the people are Muslim, it is definitely not a given. In fact the parents of the teacher who asked me are Muslim although some of her siblings have converted. I spoke with another teacher today who told me that when her dad converted to Christianity, his name was scratched off the family list and he was banned from ever visiting them again. He was also not allowed to use the family last name anymore. To Muslims that are very fanatic, conversion to Christianity is punishable with death.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Today I decided to ask a couple of the teachers about what Muslims believe concerning lying. Like Christianity, not all Muslims believe the exact same things. Those that are very conservative and who try to be like their counterparts in Arabia, believe that there is nothing wrong with lying to a non-Muslim. Then there are those that believe that there are different levels of sins and that lying is a small sin, not like stealing or killing. Of course we as Christians believe that all sins are equally bad. In fact many Muslims calling lying a “white sin”.
Today I went to talk with my neighbour Ibu Nina. Her mom had come to our house last night to borrow the money that I had agreed to lend them. But she heard us singing and decided not to bother us then but just wait until morning. They think that we have a little service after supper each night because we read the Story Bible, talk about it, pray, and then sing a psalm. So Ibu Nina says to me, “You have to do that right?” I said to her, ”No Ibu, we don’t have to do it, we want to do it.” This is so foreign to them. A huge difference between our faith and their faith is that we know that we don’t have to earn our way to heaven, by God’s grace and the death of His son for our sins, we know that we go as long as we believe. And when you believe, you just want to live a life that glorifies God. They feel that they must obey all the “rules” in order to enter heaven. It’s not a sure thing for them. So there is a lot of pressure on them to make sure that they pray five times a day and fast at Ramadan etc…
Remember "Masuk(enter) Angin(wind)"? The belief that wind can enter your body and make you sick. Here people wear coats or vests that look like bullet proof vests to prevent the wind from coming in. Anyways, they actually have special traditional medicine for when you are sick with masuk angin. Something else Indonesians like to do to cure it is take a coin and scratch their body until it is raw so that the bad wind can go out of the body. Huh??