Saturday, June 30, 2007

These are some of the photos. I'll post more tomorrow as our connections here are pretty snail-like, it is testing my patience to upload these...

Safari Time

We’ve just come back from our trip to, well we don’t actually remember the name of the town, but it is near Bogor. Anyways, the main attraction in that area of Indonesia is the Taman Safari. It took us about 3 hours to get there in our rented Suzuki APV 8 passenger van type thing. It took about a half hour just to get out of Bandung, traffic is nuts here. Then we had a short jaunt on the lovely toll road and then the fun began. From then on it was narrow winding roads that go up and down. People here just pass whenever they feel like it, going up a hill, around a corner, when there is oncoming traffic… So there were quite a few white knuckle moments on the way… Then Marc puked… It is neat as you drive along because each main area has it’s specialty. There was one place we drove through that had all these carrot shaped white things hanging in the windows of little shops. Apparently it is singkong (a vegetable) that has been kind of like marinated in some alcohol. You can eat it raw or, surprise, deep-fry it. Then there’s another place that specializes in preserving fruit in sweet syrup (like our Delmonte stuff) only they don’t sell it already in salad form, you buy each individual fruit. Then there’s another little place that makes wooden rocking horses and big wooden red hot peppers that you knock and it makes a neat sound and some other wooden stuff. We had some amazing views along the way as we were driving through the mountains. There are rice paddies just built on the side of hills and it looks so neat.
Our first full day there we went to the safari. We arrived there at 9:00 right when they open and along the way we had bought some bunches of carrots to feed to the animals. Then we proceeded to make our way through the safari. Brynnie was quite freaked when the lhamas and deer type animals started sticking their heads in the windows of our vehicle. There were also some hilarious, but very important, signs along the way. When you go through the lions and tigers area there is a drawing of a lion biting a man’s leg, so keep your doors and windows closed at all times! I actually have video of a lion pawing the car ahead of us. As we went through the safari, we were passed by many large tourist buses that just wiz their way through the safari. I’m not sure the folks on board actually get to see much. Then we went to the recreation area where there are also other animal displays. This zoo is really very nice and very large. Overall it is very clean and neat and well maintained. A bit of a rarity here. We got to see a Wild West show complete with pyrotechnics and stunts. The kids were quite wowed by it. It is really quite funny to watch Indonesians pretend to be cowboys and Indians at a zoo. But the show was really well done and really funny. We also saw a sea lion show and a show with birds of prey and an animal variety show. I don’t think you would see a show like that one back home anymore. They had orangutans doing tricks along with parrots, goats, dogs, and cats. There are also some rides and Hugo and some of the kids went on the log ride. There is so much to see and do there that you could spend two days there. During the entire day there we only saw one other white family. Wherever we went people were poking eachother and saying, “Look! Bule’s!(whites)” We were really tempted to take up residence in the empty polar bear exhibit so that all could observe us in our “natural” habitat…
The next day we went horse back riding through a tea plantation. The horses here are fairly small, as you can see from the photo of Hugo on a horse, but strong enough. Some of the times the path we were on was just big rocks and that was a little freaky as sometimes the horses hoofs slipped a little. But the kids thought it was great and even Brynnie didn’t want to get off when our hour was up. That afternoon it rained so we took out the computer so the kids could watch a video and Hugo built a fire in the fire place. Because this area is in the mountains, it gets quite cold at night so it was nice to have a fire place.
Then our last day, today, the kids went swimming at a nearby pool. When we arrived, there was a group of folks already swimming. They were very, very interested in us and very excited to find out we could speak Indonesian. They were from Bekasi, West Java. They asked us tons of questions and wanted to take photos with the kids. Then slowly they all finished swimming and they all just sat and watched our kids swim with Hugo. We were really like the main attraction. Apparently, in their area of the country they don’t see a whole lot of bule’s (white folks). Only Mikah noticed that they were watching us with great interest. Observing what our species does for fun…
It was a fun few days but it is good to be “home” again too.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Check out the examples of how the strict M*slims in Aceh want the girl university students not to dress like and check out the one example of how they should dress. I have seen a few people like the example of how they should dress, but many don't even bother with the head covering or dress like the examples of how not to dress. But don't bother reading the comments as there is some rather course language in them-all but the last against the suggested implementation of shariah law.

This is what our beautiful little girl looks like right now. The poor thing can't open her left eye as the lid is so swollen. This is result of her bacterial skin infection rearing its ugly head again. So yesterday I got some antibiotics for her. Thankfully they actually have it in syrup form. Most times you have to open up a capsule and divide up the grains or crush tablets... a pain in the neck. Today her eye is a little less swollen. Sometimes she tries really hard to open her left eye and then the right one gets really big. It is quite the look...
The second photo is how you "barbeque" chicken satay without a barbeque... takes forever, but tastes good...
Hugo and I are now done unit 8 and we both had positive evaluations. Now we have two weeks off. I think this is because the elementary and high schools here are off too and their holidays are not long at all. So we have 6 more weeks of living here in Bandung and then Aug 3rd we will fly out to Papua, the Lord willing.
So far the kids are doing pretty well. On Friday our friends who lived near us left for Papua so right now we are the only MAF family in the area until the middle of July when a family from Holland is due to arrive.
This week we hope to spend three nights in a cottage near the city of Bogor. There is a safari there and open green spaces to play... The kids are pumped! (so are the parents...)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Funny Stuff...

When we were in Jakarta we went to McDonalds to eat. The food here actually tastes better than back home and it's cheaper! Anyways, the interesting point I want to make is that this was the first time I have ever had to open up my purse to go into a McDonald's. Had we gone through a different entrance we would have had to go through a metal detector. I guess their still a little paranoid about b*mbs going off here....
This is a store in Bandung where you can buy all kinds of "Indian" stuff including a leather gun holster. Check out the white indian....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Today I did a presentation on food in Indonesia. It is quite interesting when you look at the history of the food that they eat. Indonesia was a country of traders and many traders from other lands came here and introduced their foods to the people. The Chinese introduced them to Nasi Goreng and the wok, people from India introduced curry's and other spices and tomatoes, and the Dutch introduced sweets and cakes and rijstaffel. Of course every area of the country has its specialties, but the most popular Indonesian foods are nasi goreng, rendang and sate. But as many people can't afford to buy meat, tempe (made from soy) and tofu and baso (meat balls that have the consistencey of a hot dog - kind of yucky) are very popular. Indonesians typically cook once a day in late morning and eat whenever hungry. They don't usually all sit down together to eat but just eat whenever the mood strikes. The rice cooker is on all day long keeping rice hot for whenever they need it. Meals are usually quite simple consisting of nasi putih (white rice) some fish or chicken (if they can afford it otherwise tofu or tempe) some vegetables and maybe a fried egg (they looove fried eggs) and of course, sambal. No meal is complete without sambal. They also drink only water with meals. They don't usually eat fruit. According to my helper, it's not that Indonesians don't like fruit, but if they are poor and have some money for food, they will buy rice first. Indonesians usually only cook fancy meals for special occasions like a wedding, circumcision, funeral or religious holidays. Then they fork over the cash to have sate and rendang. Rendang is beef with lots of spices and it is very yummy. Indonesians usually eat with just a fork and a spoon or if you are from western Java, where we live, you just eat with your right hand. Your left hand is considered dirty as that is the hand you are supposed to use when you go to the bathroom.
Food is also a status symbol here. If people ask you what you ate for supper and you say went to McDonald's, that means you have money, you are wealthy. If people ask you what you had for supper and you say tempe or tofu, it means you are an average little person, not much money. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in our country we don't put that much emphasis on what we eat with regards to status (especially not with regards to McDonalds...). Indonesians will say that there are no classes in their country, but the truth is that there are. Education means a really big deal here and you can only get it if you are rich. There are no such things as government student loans. Everyone here knows their place and they just accept it as a fact of life.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

So on Friday morning Hugo and Jason, MAF pilot assigned to Kalimantan, had to write an exam in order to obtain their Indonesian license to fix and pilot aircraft. Officially the officials that give the tests are supposed to be in the office at 8:30, but they don’t actually come in until about 10:00. The tests they write are from the United States, but they’ve been translated into Indonesian and then translated back into English (instead of using the original English version). The translations are so bad, incorrect grammar, missing letters, that at times the guys don’t know what the point of the question is. As there are no tenses in the Indonesian language, it becomes a problem when you have an Indonesian person doing the translating. There are also some questions like, “What important event in the history of aviation occurred in Kitty Hawk, California?” First of all, what does that have to do with Indonesia, and second, Kitty Hawk is not in California… Too funny… The guys also have to make sure they bring their own pens as there are none provided. Jason had some questions that required a chart to answer, he didn’t have that chart, so the guy in charge just X’ed out all those questions as simple as that. We are pretty sure that, if for some unknown reason, the guys don’t pass the test, there is some form of fundage being handed below a certain table… It’s how this country runs…
Today our church had one of its biannual baptism services. So today we witnessed the baptism of a three month old, 8 month old, 3 year old, and 5 year old and three girls in their twenties. Also one other girl did public profession of faith. They read a form for baptism and a form for public profession of faith and the people all answer together instead of each one being called on individually. The three year old boy just wailed when the pastor put water on his head. They don’t just put it on their forehead, but they actually put it on the top of their head. The older girl who did public profession of faith knelt down as well and the minister held his hand above her head and blessed her in a similar way in which he did with all those being baptized. Only, before it all happened, they realized that no one had put water in the special goblet thingy. What was also interesting was that everyone, including the kids, wore white shirts and black pants or skirts. Only the two little girls who were being baptized wore dresses that were only white. In this culture, the clothes you wear mean a lot. They love uniforms for everything, including parking lot attendants and school children. So whenever people have duties during a particular service, they wear white shirts and black bottoms. There was also a professional photographer to capture every moment on film, including group shots after the event. I have to say that I much prefer our way of baptizing the children, if possible, when they are only weeks old. They sleep through the whole thing and there is a lot less fuss.

Friday, June 15, 2007


On Thursday I went with Hugo to Jakarta. Friday morning Hugo and Jason, MAF pilot, had to write an exam to get their Indonesian licenses for piloting and repairing airplanes. So Robyn, Jason's wife, and I decided to go along for fun. I had never been to Jakarta just for fun.
Robyn and I saw some interesting things while out and about. We took one of those three wheeled pollution monsters to a nearby mall. There we saw some interesting signs. I asked a couple people what "string women" meant and they couldn't tell me so it remains a mystery. We also saw the latest in muslim swim wear complete with jilbab (head covering). Wow!
After the guys finished their test this morning, we had a quick lunch and headed out to the train station. We booked tickets on the executive train. It left about 20 minutes late. I found the ride rather frightening as there are a number of very high trestles... The train also passed by many very poor homes that are situated about 5 meters from the trackside. We also passed many kampungs where each and every house had a tv antenae on the top of a tall spindly bamboo pole. It made it look like a field of antenae's. We also passed by many rice paddy's. There is very little open space that is not being used for anything. It is amazing. During our ride we received a cup of water and a snack, just like on a plane. Anyways, at one point we stopped and after about half an hour someone came and told us that there had been an accident up ahead on the track and that we had to wait to let another train go by and that they were going to try and arrange buses for us to get to Bandung. So we waited about an hour and then off we went again. We stopped a couple more times, although for not quite as long. By then it was dark outside. Finally we stopped in a village and they told us to get off. There was a bus there but by the time we got to the bus it was already completely full. So we waited... Then some guys offered to drive us to Bandung in their Kijang (an suv type Toyota) for 300,000 rupiahs. We offered them 100,000 as we thought that was fair. They did eventually agree but then once we were all in they tried to get double. So we all got out and waited again. Then a couple more busses came and for some reason everyone flocked to the first bus. We didn't, we just went on the second one and waited. The first bus was packed to the gills, there were people standing in the aisle as well. There were about 13-15 people on our entire bus. This bus, I believe was built in the year 1960 and the back door couldn't properly close and they didn't even bother closing the front door. We had no idea where we were because of course it was totally dark and there aren't many street lights in villages. But we did rattle and bounce our way to Bandung, ahead of the other completely packed bus, and thankfully made it home safely. The fact is, that anytime you go anywhere here, it is an adventure!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pool Time!

Guess who spent the morning at the pool? I decided to skip school today and take the kids swimming. Even though we applied sunblock, they still got reddish... but they had a great time!
After supper I took the kids up to a little warung (shop) at the very top of our hill that sells ice cream. The four oldest all got some form of popsicle or ice cream and it cost $1 total! On the way up I met our 12 year old neighbour girl. She asked where we were going and I told her we were going to buy ice cream. At night? she asked surprised. She then went on to explain to me that Indonesians don't eat ice cream at night because they are afraid of getting sick.... huh?! I've also heard that the night air between 10:00pm and 4:00am is very bad for you....
At the pool today I talked with a guy who is rather wealthy, owns his own business and has a very large house... Anyways, he told me that he bought his three year old daughter a one piece bathing suit because he is afraid that she will get "masuk angin" if she wears one that is open at the back... I will never cease to be amazed at the strength of the conviction that if you do not cover up your torso, you will get sick, no matter how hot it is outside....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Here are the long anticipated photos of Aidan's graduation. The last picture is of Aidan and his two buddies, Bradley and Jalen, who are also moving to Papua this summer. In the other photo the kindergarten class is singing an action song for us, very cute.
Just want to brag a little.... if I may.... Mikah recieved a few awards this year. One award was the Eagle of the class award. This is given to one student from each class who displays a clear Christian testimony, excellence in character and outstanding academic performance. She was also on the honour roll the entire year (as was about 80% of the rest of her class...), she also received an emerging musician award from the music teacher for enthusiastic participation and emerging talent. She sure likes to sing her heart out! She also got a medal for the physical fitness tests that they had to do. On some she did better than others, but the most important one, the long run, she achieved gold in and as it is worth double compared to the other tests, she got a gold medal. What I'm most proud of is that she did her best and was a good friend to her classmates this year.
Christiaan also had a really good year. He had a great teacher who was full of fun and enthusiasm. He really learned a lot this year and made some good friends, unfortunately none of whom are moving to Papua.
Aidan also had a good year. We were wondering how he was going to do in kindergarten given his free spirit, but he did okay. The most important thing is that he learned how to act in a classroom setting. He also blew away his teachers with his creativeness. He has this amazing ability to create things out of blocks or lego. We'll have to encourage that talent and channel it in the right direction... We will also have to keep working with him over the summer so that he will be ready for grade one.
All in all the kids had a great year and really enjoyed their time at Bandung Alliance International School.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The first photo is how you get coffee over there in Meulaboh, in a bag. The next photo is the landing strip that MAF uses in Meulaboh. The next photo shows the lasting effects of the tsunami. There are bodies of water where previously there was none. The next photo is the same. The last photo is MAN-Mike Alpha November, the plane that Hugo fixed. When we lived in Papua in 2003, we went on this plane home from Nabire to Sentani. Now it is based in Aceh.
Hugo fixed the slaved compass system on MAN. Now that it is working again, the plane can fly IFR (Instrument Flight Regulations). That means that they can for example, fly through clouds instead of having to go around them. After that Hugo fixed the back-up power supply for the MAF satelite internet provider. This had been broken for a while as no one had been able to fix it. In a place where the power frequently goes on "break", it's important to have a working back-up power supply. This internet service is used by NGO's working in the area.
While in Meulaboh, Hugo stayed at the Canadian Samaritan's Purse guest house. There he experienced the luxury of squatty potties and no showers. He also shared the house with enormous gecko's and spiders. The MAF pilot who was working with Hugo is Amber Desist, one of the very few female pilots working for MAF. She had left Bandung a few months after we arrived so we had already gotten to know her. When I told the people in our kampung, she also lived in this same kampung as we do, that Hugo had been a passenger on an airplane flown by her, they thought that was pretty amazing. Because Hugo and Amber were in Aceh, they were not allowed to be alone in the house for supper (there were no other guests at that time) so they ate at a place where local women are learning different trades including cooking. There they have also opened a restaurant where they practice what they have learned. Hugo was happy to be able to speak to the MAF workers there now that he's studied bahasa Indonesia for 7.5 units. It sure makes a difference when you can communicate with others in their own language!
I’m thankful to report that Hugo made it home safely last night at 10:30. He was late in leaving Meulaboh in the morning as one of the orgs’s working there asked the MAF pilot, Amber D., to fly a woman who had been in labour to the hospital in Medan as she needed a C-section. Anyways, Hugo is at church right now and I’m at home nursing an extremely sore tail bone the result of a fall at the pool yesterday. So this old girl’s feeling about twice her age right now. Once Hugo explains the pictures he took, some rather interesting, I’ll post some of them.
On Thursday evening, Christiaan, Aidan, Mikah and I attended Aidan’s graduation from kindergarten. Can you believe it? Our teddy bear has graduated! All the kindergarten kids were so cute and did a program for us including Bible texts that they had memorized and photos they had drawn about what they want to be when the grow up and what their favourite memory of kindergarten is. Then they performed a very cute little play in which Aidan played a leopard. He hissed very well. Then they all got their graduation robes and hats on and marched down the aisle one by one to receive their diploma and rose. It was all very serious stuff. Way too cute. After that we all feasted on chicken sate! Yummy, Indonesians sure know how to do their sate! As Hugo had our camera, I had to ask some friends to take a couple photos of Aidan and once I’ve retrieved them from their computer I’ll post them.
I am pleased to say that I survived those three days without Hugo. It was pretty busy though. Not like back home where if you need to pick up the kids from school you just load the other ones into their car seats in the van and off you go. As I don’t have my motorbike license, I had to walk every time…. Sigh….. So that also means that I really can’t go anywhere by myself with the kids. Taxis here don’t even have seatbelts in the back. But our friends from Canada helped me out and we took the kids to the Jump’n Gym and to the pool. We have to get out here as there is just nowhere to play around the house and our computer dvd drive is broken so we can’t even watch anything. Poor us eh? Next week will be interesting when Hugo and I are in school and all five kids are home….

Friday, June 08, 2007

If you check out this website: it talks about a sunday school being attacked while in progress and the pastors wife hit over the head with a Bible. Here in Indonesia, if people want to build a church they have to have a building permit and the signatures of 40 heads of families living in the vicinity. Without that you are not allowed to build. Of course, mosques can be built anywhere without all the hassle. So if people feel that you are building a church without proper permission, they will go in and destroy it and the police won't do anything about it. People, and I think you all know who I am talking about, will also destroy the contents of an old established church because there are too many m*slim converts attending it. As you know, it is considered the ultimate sin to convert to Christianity. There are now many churches meeting in malls. There have been times where truck loads of people have come to the mall with the intent to destroy it. Of course then the police step in because all the shop owners would be very angry if they didn't. So churches here have to be very, very careful.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sorry to confuse you folks. Didn't realize that I didn't explain it all very well. We are moving to Papua August 3rd. We still have one and a half units to complete yet. However, when we looked into the cost of shipping things from here to Papua, it was a lot cheaper to share a container with three families then each family get crates built. But, the other two families are going to Papua a lot earlier than us. One is already there, although they won't need their stuff for a little bit, and the other one is leaving June 22nd. So in order to save money, we have to live without our stuff for two months. Not really fun, but we'll survive... I hope....
Hugo has left today for Medan. He took a small bus to Jakarta and was scheduled to fly out at around 4:00. Tomorrow he is being flown to the town/city of Meulaboh which is fairly paralel with Medan but on the west side of the island of Sumatera. Lucky guy...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

This was the scene around here today. Yesterday an army of guys came and began packing up all our stuff and the stuff of two other families. We are between the three families sharing a container as that is a lot cheaper than each of us making a crate or two. The company we've hired is very professional. They wrap everything remotely fragile in cardboard and plastic. Hugo's guitar actually is in the shape of a guitar even though it is all wrapped up! Too funny. So they hauled everything up our little gong (they barely got our fridge up as at one point it got stuck against someones roof) to this little blue truck which they then drove down that little narrow road to a big truck that was waiting. It's not far, but the road is way too small for the big truck. So then they would unload the little truck into the big truck and then come back. In typical Indonesian style, they left it to the last minute and at 7:00 today were still taking stuff up the gong even though the train was to leave at 10:00.... I hope they made it....

Saturday, June 02, 2007

What a lovely sight...

These are our crates from Canada sitting in the hangar in Sentani!! Although they look like they've been opened... The second photo is the crates before they were shipped, sitting in our driveway back home. Thanks again to Aubrey and Evert for making them for us almost exactly one year ago! Wow, does time ever fly....

Friday, June 01, 2007

These are photos of the inside and outside of the furniture shop where we've ordered our furniture from. The inside photo doesn't really give you a great idea of just how crowded it is inside. There is a reason why our couch and coffee tables our sitting outside the shop. Well, there's just no room inside to paint them and they make a very effective advertisement as they are well, right beside the road... We've given the guy two months to make them and he is down to the wire. Thankfully Hugo was smart and told him we needed them about 3 days before we actually did. They were supposed to be done today and when I went by I took the photos... not really done yet... Apparently the guy making the cushions is half a meter short of fabric as well... the guy in the first photo is making the bottom of the sitting area of one of our couches, the other one hasn't been started yet... Thankfully, the company shipping our stuff said that they would rather pick up our stuff on Monday as it is a holiday weekend here and there is some kind of soccer tournament going on next to their warehouse so it will be very busy and crazy there. This country kills me....
Wishing you all a great weekend!

Thanks Pearl for digging up this photo for us! Yikes we look young...