Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Guava Time!

Mikah loves guava and there happens to be a guava tree beside our house right now... So today she was out there trying to get some down and our yard guy, Pak Rumias, came by and helped her get some good ones. He showed us how to tell which ones are good and which ones aren't. He even climbed the tree, barefoot, to get at some good ones. What a guy!

Pak Rumias has experienced a lot in the past years. A few years ago his wife died and he was distraught. Then his wife's family threatened to kill him because they blamed him so he was living a life of fear. Coming to work for the family that lives in this house and the family next door became a sanctuary for him. He really does a great job keeping the yard neat and tidy and looking beautiful.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Today I went to a meeting from some moms that are putting together a preschool. Marc is very excited about it and can hardly wait. It will be an interesting group of kids. There are two Indonesian kids, one Japanese, one Korean, two Canadians, and one child who is born here to a mom from PNG and a dad that could represent the UN. So it will be very multicultural. While I was there, Hugo went with the kids to our friends, who live next to our new house, to hang out and play. They have a trampoline, need I say more? So we looked at our new house. Work is going depressingly slowly. I heard that a lot of guys were sent to Wamena to finish some houses there and should be back next week. Hopefully my prediction of Christmas is really overly pessimistic. In the meantime, the kids are enjoying living here on base and have a lot of fun playing with Doren Togeretz. I’m sure Doren really likes it too as there are no other kids his age here on base.

This morning before going to the meeting I took an ojek (motorcycle taxi) to the pasar. Last week my pembantu came home with some sorry looking veggies and meat that had been previously frozen so I figured it would be better if I went myself. It is quite the place as I’ve described before, but now you can see the photo evidence. I love watching the chicken lady cut up chickens. She is incredibly efficient at it. You will notice that she is Javanese and the people that have their vegetables on the ground are Papuan. Here people distinguish locals from transmigrants by calling the locals curly haired and the transmigrants straight haired. At the market it is mostly the curly haired that display their wares on the ground and the straight haired that have the tables.

The other photos are from last week. Marla Togeretz organized an impromptu soccer game with some local kids, our kids and Doren. They had a great time!

I forgot to recount a funny thing that happened to me last week. One morning after the older kids had gone to school and Hugo was off to work, I went outside to put on a load of laundry. There is a front loading washer with this house and it takes about an hour to do a load so I try to get it going right after everyone is gone. I went outside and starting loading up the machine when I heard the sound of the door being shut with force. My heart sank, we were locked out of the house. We being Marc, Brynnie and I. Brynnie thought she’d be helpful and shut the door... the door that locks once you shut it if a little knob is pushed down on the inside... I had locked the other screen door with the slide lock. There I was in my pajamas, having not yet showered, Brynnie had a poopie diaper and I knew that Hugo did not have keys with him. So I went to my neighbour Karin. As it happens, another neighbour Karen was visiting and they were outside chatting. I told them of my predicament and the two of them leapt into action. Karin got a hammer and screw driver and Karen went to work. They got the pins out of the hinges of the screen door and took it right off and we got in. My heroes!! Whew, that wouldn’t have been fun...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Settling In

Life is settling into a bit of a routine here that includes freaky footbridges and scorpions etc... Each morning and afternoon the kids have to cross a footbridge that was built after the flooding earlier this year wiped out the original bridge (which was built by the dutch...). Unfortunately they didn’t have their best and brightest working on this footbridge. Instead of the lengths of wood on the edges being on the bottom with the slats laying on top, they lengths are on the top with the slats on the bottom and the nails are hammered in the opposite way they should. So truth be known, at any moment a slat could give way... Yikes... Who knows when the new bridge is going to be done. They are actually making the new one bigger than the old one which will be good. But at the moment only one way of traffic can go over the temporary bridge which is slightly better built than the footbridge.

The other day I asked my pembantu to go to the market. So she did and she had bought some potatoes among other things. As I was putting them in a bowl, I noticed something and so I took a closer look... a scorpion was in the bag. Yikes, I have never in my life seen a scorpion in “the wild”. My pembantu took it outside and killed it for me...

We experience a lot of power outages here. On the base, where we live now, it isn’t so bad as they have a big mother of a generator that they will turn on after 15 minutes of no power. However, the power can be off for hours and hours. When we live in our new house we will have to use our generator which due to a lack of funds isn’t all that big. We will only be able to run our fridge, freezer and a couple fans off it... So we are looking forward to living in our own house, but not looking forward to the lack of power....

The heat here can be pretty intense. We have a thermometer in our kitchen. Actually its an electronic alarm clock that we thought would be nice to have in our bedroom. However, whenever the power comes back on after being off, the clock plays a rather annoying, loud tune so for the time being it is in our kitchen... The temperature in our kitchen usually hovers around 30-32 C. When you are out in the blazing sun it is an oven...

For the rest we are doing well. Enjoying small victories such as finding bell peppers at the grocery store a half hour away, or making beautiful looking buns, or getting test equipment working properly or riding bikes without falling...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back to School (but not for the big kids!)

You know your child has older siblings when her most frequently uttered phrase is:

“(insert name of perpetrator) did it!”

Today is the official first day of school for the kids. They were pumped. Yesterday they all picked out what they were going to wear and got their backpacks ready.

Yesterday Hugo went to church, there’s no babysit so we are taking turns right now. We are attending a church that is a member of the federation of Gereja Gereja Reformasi di Indonesia. It is a very small church that meets in the home of one of the members. He happens to be the person who deals with flight requests for MAF. This church actually has its own minister. His Indonesian is pretty good so we are able to understand the majority of what he says. Sometimes during the service you have to deal with some loud music from one of the neighbours or stuff like that... There is no musical instrument so we sing acapella. Most of the songs in their psalm book are the same as ours so we are singing the genevan tunes in the Indonesian language. There are a couple other white families that also attend this church so we are not alone. There are also Dutch folks coming fairly regularly to give counsel to the churches here on matters of finances or other church related issues.

That’s the scoop!
Selamat Hari Minggu! (happy Sunday!)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Independence Day

Today, August 17th, is the Indonesian day of Independence. Back in the 1945, Indonesia was freed from Dutch rule to become a nation on its own. Papua is another story, which you can read here

This is the Papuan flag called the Morning Star. It is forbidden to fly this flag anywhere in Indonesia. So needless to say, unlike in Bandung, there weren’t any noticeable festivities for this day of Independence in our area. We instead, had a water fight, along with Doren Togeretz who just arrived this morning from Canada along with his family.

This afternoon as I was beginning to prepare supper, a woman came to the door. She had rather deep-set eyes, an afro, and was missing a front tooth. She asked if she could speak with Hugo and I. Only she said “nyonya” for me and “tuan” for Hugo. I thought she was asking to speak with me and God. God is Tuhan. I’ve never heard anyone use the word “tuan” with respect to a man. The word is used fairly often in the Bible, but not in everyday language. Anyways, she then clarified to me, as I must have looked confused, that she wanted to speak, very briefly, with me and my husband. (she said the terms “nyonya” and “tuan” are terms of respect that she uses when talking with foreigners) She wanted to go inside our house, which is really rather culturally inappropriate to ask, but I said we’d just sit outside. I don’t like inviting strangers into my house. So we sat outside and she said she wanted to pray with us first before speaking to us, briefly... So she rattled off, at a fair clip, a prayer and her voice got louder and she spoke faster and faster and then ended. So here we are, kids are everywhere, one in the bathroom is yelling for us another one wants to go inside but is dripping wet... you get the picture. So the woman goes on to say that she is well-known around the whole area. Even outside the country, I think there’s a person in Holland who knows her... She used to drink all the time but then five years ago she stopped and now she is a worker for God. So she goes around and prays for people and on June 18th God told her that she should give people an envelope so they could give her money that she could use for transportation so she doesn’t have to walk everywhere. She claimed to have prayed over two blind people who came to see later, but not by her, she assured us, it was God who did it. She spoke incredibly quickly but as her language was pretty good we could understand 90% of it. So we explained to her that we don’t know her, we’d only just met her... she went on to say what her name was and looked at us as if we were odd because didn’t she just tell us her life story? As though that is enough to know her. I said, “Ibu, we don’t know you, we only know your words.” We explained that we like to give money to our church because they have programs set up to help people and we know where the money is going then. She said, that’s fine, I just want to pray with you again. So she did at quite a clip. Then she left. We saw her try to go around to other houses but eventually left. We called the base manager and asked him if he knew her and he didn’t. But he did say that anyone that wants to come on base to ask for money has to have a letter from the MAF office in order to do so. That way we can be reassured that they are for real and we don’t have to deal with people asking for money all the time. There are guards here at the entrance to the compound so we don’t have to deal with a lot of this kind of thing. The other day a lady came by and sold me some pineapples and bananas. That was nice, as I needed fruit and I can’t walk to anyplace where you can buy fruit.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

1 Year Abroad!

Today is our one year anniversary of arriving in Indonesia! I can’t believe that it has already been one year!

Today Aidan learned to ride a two-wheeler! It really didn’t take much. I just ran beside him until I couldn’t do it anymore, a little out of shape am I, and then let go and off he went, until he ran into a toy truck... He was as proud as a peacock. Last year in Bandung the kids only had the opportunity to ride their bikes twice. It is such a blessing to be here now!

Today my old pembantu came by for a visit! So neat! She actually works for friends of ours, also from Canada. One day they put two and two together. However, I think Ibu Termina also had something else in mind. It is so hard to understand her, her native tongue is Dani, and she’s missing a few teeth and talks quite nasally, but I think she thinks she can work for both Janna and I. I just told her that I would have to talk to Ibu Cindy, the MAF wife that usually helps arrange helpers. It was neat to see her though and to be able to talk with her.

The funny thing about the hill where we are going to live is that mostly Dani people live there and there is a kind of helper Mafia up there. People who’ve in the past hired non-Dani helpers have been threatened. Unfortunately they are usually the slowest of workers. Most people prefer to have someone from Java or Ambon. I guess we’ll see what happens!

Hugo has been busy, busy, busy in the hangar already. There are lots of little repair jobs that have accumulated over time. So whenever an aircraft is in for mechanical servicing, in dives Hugo to do his avionics thing. I’ll try to take some photos tomorrow, if I remember...
Cutting up beans for supper (no such thing as frozen bags of veggies here) and finding the remains of a worm that died crawling out of one... (it was dead, I soaked the beans in bleach water for 20 minutes the minute I came home from the market)

Kind of gross:
Ordering ground beef and finding it comes in a black plastic shopping bag... no such thing as styrofoam trays neatly wrapped in saran wrap...

Homemade Hawaiian pizza made with pineapple picked from the bush in front of the house

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Simple Pleasures

  • Being able to flush the toilet without worrying whether or not there will be enough water for baths afterwards
  • Having two big kitchen sinks instead of one puny one
  • Making homemade bread with a Bosch mixer
  • Kids being able to play outside on the grass with water... and not worrying whether or not there will be enough water for baths afterwards
  • Going off to work each morning, instead of school....
  • Being able to have conversations with Indonesians
  • Being able to have a hot shower... and not worrying whether or not there will be enough water for baths afterwards
  • Drinking water out of the tap!
  • Are you getting the picture here! I’m telling you folks, I will never again take for granted drinkable tap water or having enough water.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Old vs. New

Things we miss about Bandung:
Our friends
The easy grocery shopping
The great restaurants
The lower prices…
The Jump’n Gym
Less mosquitoes
Riding angkots…
The lack of humidity

Things we don’t miss about Bandung:
Going to school every day
The loud mosques
The concrete jungle we lived in
My incredibly tiny kitchen
Baking in a box above the kompor
Being woken up at 5:00 by the sound of the neighbours sweeping their walkways or the neighbour boy yelling for his mom or sister…
Riding angkots

Things we love about Papua:
Grass around our house, real genuine grass!
Being able to ride bikes..
No loud mosques nearby
Drinkable tap water!
Great neighbours
Great quiet neighbours
Sweet pineapple from the bush in front of our house
Working on real airplanes!
Working in a real kitchen with a real oven!
The possibility of going to the beach!
Not needing to ride angkots to get places…

I know I wrote riding angkots in both categories about Bandung. They were always interesting to ride on as you never knew who you’d be riding with, but on the other hand it always took forever to get anywhere.

The tap water here on base is drinkable! This is so wonderful after a year of having to be super careful about the water in Bandung. There is actually a water spigot on the edge of the base near the front gate. This spigot is available to the public and whoever wants can avail themselves of fresh clean drinking water. MAF has been doing this for a while and has seen no drop in the water table on base. There has been a new well dug on our new property but the water has not yet been tested. Apparently it looked really good and the well was quite deep.

First Week in Papua

It is really amazing to be back in Papua again! Hugo started work on Tuesday and from what I hear, there isn’t any plane that doesn’t need his attention including the plane in Aceh. Life around the house is quite busy right now as all five kids are home every day. But they are thoroughly enjoying the playground and the huge grassy area on the compound. We had bought some bikes from a family that was leaving the field and they are being put to good use. We are living in the same house as before just until our new house is finished. We have been up to see our new house and it is very nice. We can’t wait to move in. (See photo)

It sure is a culture shock to come here from Bandung! Sentani, although much busier and more modern than it was four years ago, is still no where near as busy and modern as Bandung. But there is definitely more available here than before. People are still chewing beetle nut and spitting it everywhere. Beetle nut is a woody nut and when combined with this stick-like thing creates a red juice. So people walk around with these big nuts in their cheeks and spit out the red juice every now and then. It makes their teeth red too. Very pretty. I went to the market this week with a couple MAF wives and nearly got my leg spit on when I was standing too close to the gutter. There are gutters all around the market for garbage and spit… The market was the same as before, busy and smelly, but there are lots of fresh veggies available. There is also chicken and fish. There are whole chickens lying there with everything but feathers. You just tell the “butcher” what you want and they very quickly cut it for you.

The weather the first few days was actually quite “cool”. We even turned the temperature on our air conditioner up as we were too cold. But today was a much hotter more typical day. It is very humid here but you just get used to it.

The man that takes care of the yard here in the house we are borrowing, is the same man as last time, he just never stopped! At first he didn’t really remember us, but then later memories started coming back. All the folks here that remember us always say, ”But now we can talk with you!”

I have been using my Bosch machine to make bread already. It is such a joy to make bread with a machine like that! It does all the hard work for you and makes a very nice dough. I’ve also made yogurt a couple times already. I have to say that it is so nice to be cooking myself again!

Well, that’s about the scoop for now! Have a good weekend!
The photo of the house is our new house in its unfinished state.
The photo of the bridge is one of the temporary bridges that have been built here in Sentani while new ones are being built to replace those washed away in the flooding that happened earlier this year.
The other one is me with my Bandung pembantus and the other one is us at Jakarta airport checking in to fly to Papua.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

They've Arrived!

As Erica cannot presently access, she asked that I (PJH) update her blog and post some recent pictures of their lodgings and activities in Sentani.

After a long flight, they have arrived safely in Sentani, Papua. With great fanfare, the whole town came out to celebrate their arrival!!!

Well, that's what they thought. Actually, it seems that the locals heard a rumour that their luggage arrived with them - on the same flight!!!!! - and they just wished to confirm that this was true. Then the Feunekes proceeded to their house ...

..... where Hugo, acting upon his paternal instincts, bravely climbed the nearest palm tree, meditated in Indonesian, and surveyed the landscape.

In the distance, he could see Erica, the love of his life, immediately going about household chores, including dutifully hanging the laundry to dry, humming Kum-ba-yah as she went.

Aidan set out to invite the compound guard - apparently armed with a guitar - to join a new band he is setting up. Apparently the first song in their repetiore will be "O Canada".

Hugo started his real work taking apart planes and laughing, as the perplexed locals contemplate putting them back together again.

WAIT...uh-oh!! Sorry, we were caught reminiscing on their 1st experience in Sentani, 2003. This is what happens when friends ask friends for a favour! (-:

But seriously though .... they have indeed arrived safely after a long but relatively uneventful flight. Aidan was ill the night before they left but thankfully recovered quickly. They are coincidentally living in the same house as 2003 (see below) for the next month or so until their new home is completed. As such, they will not quite be settling yet, as they will continue to be living out of suitcases and using other people's stuff. Marc & Brynne approve of the new sandbox although Brynne is sleeping in Dad & Mom's room as she doesn't want them out of her sight right now.

Hugo and Erica - you have reached the end of one leg of your journey and we congratulate you on successfully completing 10 months of language training and reaching your intended destination! It was a long road but what a benefit to interact with the local people in Bandung - we trust that this will make you more effective in your work in Sentani. A new journey lies ahead but we're sure you are excited to "get to work". May God bless your labours as you work in God's kingdom being shining lights in a dark world. Sending our love from your old stompin' grounds in Canada.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Photos of the day!

So here I am posing with some of the teachers at school. The first is Dian. Dian is Javanese. She is a fun person to laugh with and talk with. Next is Merry or May as she likes to be called. May's parents are from Ambon. She is also a lot of fun to hang out with. The last teacher is Ibu Else. She is also from Ambon, I think, and can speak dutch as when she was in school all the good schools were dutch. The last photo is the scene in our upstairs right now. Reality is here. Virtually all of our belongings are packed up and ready to go. Hugo has carefully packed everything and weighed it all and we think that we will be just a little overweight... hopefully not so much that we have to pay.
So we both had our evaluations today and they went well. Wow! It feels good to be done and to be able to move on with real life again... at least once we are actually in Papua...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Today Hugo and I took the day off so we could take the kids to Taman Lalu Lintas (Traffic Park). Most kids here live in kampungs, or cement jungles as we like to call them. Therefore most kids don't ever have the opportunity to bike anywhere. So they have to go to places like this to bike. Tell your kids how fortunate they are to be able to bike on the road near home or go to parks to play for free. That just isn't available here. Any available space is used for something! So our kids, along with the new Dutch kids, had a great time there. The bouncy castle thingy was a real hit! The little train that Brynnie is on on the photo, shortly thereafter derailed. Too funny! I asked one of the guys there when this park was built and he said that it was made when the Dutch still occupied Indonesia. So a little while ago... Unfortunately Marc did take a bit of a tumble and has a rather large goose egg on his forehead. Thankfully for him it occurred towards the end of our morning there. We asked an angkot driver friend of ours to drive us and then pick us up. He let Aidan "drive" part of the way home. Aidan was pretty tickled about that.
Tonight our friends David and Santi came and ate with us for one last time. Then later some church workers came by to say good-bye and pray with us. They gave us photo mugs as a memory. It was really nice. This church does some work in Papua so it is possible that we may meet some of them again in the future in Papua, the Lord willing.
Tomorrow is our last day of school and then in the afternoon we have our final evaluation. We've already handed in our final paper and I guess tomorrow they'll tell us what they thought about it... hopefully only good things.... :-)

Well it is technically our second last day of school today. I say technically because we are taking the day off to take our kids to a traffic play park. We have never been there and the kids are getting a bit stir-crazy as there really isn't much room for them to play here and we have been rather heavily packing up already so there isn't much to play with either. We need to know today if we are going to be overweight on our allowance with Garuda airlines. We are allowed to come into the country with 70 kilos per person but to go to Papua we are only allowed 30 kilos per person. We tried to send as much stuff in our container as possible, but we might still be overweight. If so we may have to send some stuff by boat separately. Hopefully not.
Yesterday I turned a year older. Yikes.... I am thankful that God has given me this many years together with my family. I recieved a souvenir from the kids that has five elephants on a piece of wood. One elephant for each child. From Hugo I received a watch that doesn't require batteries! Yeah, for some reason watches I own always seem to frequently need the battery changed. Hugo also took me out for a nice dinner and I could enjoy a nice caesar salad and steak. Probably our last time out at a nice restaurant for a long time!
Our well is already almost dry. I don't know if Ibu Tati will be able to do laundry here today. I'm sure glad we're leaving in a couple days. I don't really want to repeat our experience of last fall where we had to save any dish and bath water to use to flush the toilet... We now really know how much water is wasted when the toilet is flushed.... lots....