Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!!!

How do you welcome in the New Year in Sentani? With fire crackers/works of course! And what do you use to light them when your cheap Indonesian lighter breaks? A canadian candle stuck in a bottle of course! The kids and the big kids had a blast lighting off a ton of fire crackers. Thankfully the heavy rain held off until later. Now it is 12:47 am and raining heavily so the noise of the "bombs" isn't nearly as bad as it could be! No complaints here!

Wishing you all a blessed New Year!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Seasonal Ramblings...

So yep, that's us on Christmas day having our dinner of pasar (market) chicken, really expensive cauliflower from the interior city of Wamena, mashed potatoes and apple sauce... I had to ask the boys if they could please put on shirts as we were going to be eating a special meal together. It was really hot and because we really really wanted to have lit candles on the table, we had to turn off our oscillating fan in the corner. So we went through lots of "wine"-apple juice mixed with sprite. Can't actually buy real wine here. Although if I went down into the kampung below us, I could probably buy some pineapple wine. And it would only cost about 20,000rups a bottle too! Apparently every year around this time there are kids that try drinking rubbing alcohol because it is so cheap and every year someone dies from it. This year is no exception. So sad.
Pause - sip hot chocolate - yep, I'm sitting here drinking hot chocolate - it's cold! It rained this afternoon/evening and it was a bit windy and so now I'm warming up with some hot chocolate.
The two other photos are of carbite bombs. The first one is the cement variety. This one is conveniently parked right on the other side of the wall around the pool. So every now and then while we are swimming we get shocked with an incredibly loud boom! It is very, very loud. The bamboo ones aren't nearly as loud, thankfully.
On Christmas day and for the next few days afterwards, kids would come to our door and wish us "Selamat Hari Natal!" - Merry Christmas! and then look at us expectantly. So we'd just shake their hands and go back inside. Finally Hugo asked at work what the deal was. Apparently rich people usually give leftover food or cake/cookies to the poor people. We didn't know! As I wasn't about to bake up a pile of butter cookies - have you ever tried to make butter cookies in plus 30 degree weather with humidity levels over 80%? It is really, really hard! The butter keeps melting and so you can't even get the dough out of the cutter and off the counter/cutting board... I had some leftover free cookies that I'd gotten from one of the grocery stores for buying so much so that's what I handed out the next few times and then told them after that that the cookies were habis (done/finished/out of stock). Actually, I have to confess that a few times this week when Hugo was working, I just locked the gates so no one could come in, although one enterprising young lad still made his way in...
Wishing you a blessed Sunday!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” Ps 150:6
Let us praise the Lord as we remember the birth of
His son, our Saviour!
Wishing you all a joyous Christmas and
God’s blessings in the New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Bakar Batu (baking stones)

Traditionally on the day before Christmas, the Dani people that live here in Sentani (I can’t speak for those that live elsewhere) cook a pig and eat it together. I wanted to get a good photo of the whole process, as it is quite interesting, but it was already done and over with by the time I went down there. Earlier today Hugo had taken the photo that’s kind of far away. Anyways, I asked them to explain their method of cooking the pig to me. So here’s what you do:
In the morning, lots of people go into the jungle and get leaves of all sorts that you can and can’t eat. You can see them carrying the leaves in the two other photos. As they are running down the road they are chanting back and forth. It sounded really neat. I can’t even write the sounds they were making. They dig a hole in the ground and line it with leaves. On top of that they put stones that have been getting hot in the fire. I didn’t ask how they carry the stones… Then you put more leaves on top and then you put in the vegetables – mostly leaves that they can eat and get for free out in the jungle or the ditches. Then you put the whole pig in. He said something about the stomach, I’m not sure what it was but they have to take something out. Then they put more vegetables around the pig and then they put more leaves on top and then more stones and then more leaves again. So you end up with this big smoky pile – see photo. The guy I talked to said that it takes only 30 minutes and the pig is done. He made it clear that this is only done by the Papuans that wear p*nis gourds – therefore the mountain people. He said that he didn’t know what the beach people did. Which is really funny because there are plenty of beach people living around here too. Anyways, the mountain people always cook like this as they don’t have kompors (little gas burners) or anything like that. According to the guy I talked to, this was the best way to cook because you don’t have to clean up lots of pots and pans and your kitchen. They just burn the leftover leaves. Very practical not? As for the pig, lots of people around here raise pigs to sell. The people from each church will get together and collect enough money to buy the pig. Right now, pig meat is very expensive here. I’m not sure why exactly, maybe because they figure people are willing to pay lots because they like it so much.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Praise and Worship Evening

This evening we had our annual Christmas Praise and Worship program. We all sang some Christmas songs together and there were some performances by a vocal group from Jayapura, the Togeretz family, the deHaan's, and the kids of the church. The minister also had what he called a "short" sermonette on Christmas. It was still 40 minutes long, which is short for him as he usually preaches for at least an hour... The kids all received a gift as well. Then afterwards we all ate goodies together and had fellowship. The two photos that show us all sitting on chairs and stools is exactly how we have church each Sunday. The room is "L" shaped and there are stools and chairs lined up on each end and the minister is in the middle.
Note the words on the shirt of one of the girls in the vocal group. You can find the most odd and most crude t-shirts here along with the ones with really bad English. I honestly don't think most people know what they mean most of the time, they just like it that it's in English.
I'm going to answer the questions regarding my previous post here. Getting into the comments section is really hard and often doesn't work...
No, Uncle Keith, we don't get our meat from the place between Jalan Pos 7 and Jalan HIS. I've heard that there are people that do though. We get our meat beside where Virgo's used to be. It's just over the bridge on the left hand side as you are leaving town to Jayapura.
Nicole, it is rather gross, but we just cook the snot out of the ground beef and then it's okay! Just like with the chicken that I buy at the market...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Yesterday was the m*slim holiday of Idul Adha. This is where they celebrate the fact that Abraham was willing to sacrifice Ishmael (they believe) on Mt. Carmel. In Bandung the mosque was going on all night long and it was obvious that it was a special day. Here, it was really quiet and a lot of the stores were closed. The only loud sounds we heard were the three Christmas booths near us going at it. There’s one that likes to play rap-style Christmas music and another one likes to play traditional music. Quite funny…
The MAF national workers chose to take today, Friday, off instead of Thursday. So Hugo’s plan is to finish re-organizing the avionics inventory today. He likes to do it when the national workers aren’t in because they ask him a lot of questions so it is hard to get tasks completed and also, he doesn’t want to offend them too badly by redoing their inventory system – which didn’t make sense to him…
The rest of us are spending a rainy day indoors to the smell of a roast cooking in the crockpot getting tender for croquettes… yummm…
The roast is another story. The new grocery store in town has a meat section. They have a lot of fish and sometimes squid or shrimp. They also have frozen chickens (thankfully without all the stuff we don’t want) but they also have whole ducks – eyeballs, legs and all… The other thing they have is hunks of beef. Everything is done where the customers can see, so… I was watching them cut the beef the other day. There are hunks that are a few inches thick and a couple feet long by a foot or so wide and they use a machine like a jig saw to cut smaller hunks off. This meat is so incredibly frozen it’s like cutting ice. The guy who was cutting it was about 18 and was wearing a big black plastic apron. I’m going to guess he’s never studied how to cut a cow up properly… I also have a feeling that they don’t really clean the blade all that well, if at all, between cutting fish and beef. It’s too bad because you can’t buy beef from them that hasn’t been frozen before so whatever you buy you need to cook in the next couple weeks… At least I think that’s how long beef can last in your fridge… I get my ground beef from this little hole in the wall place along side the road and you have to order the day before and every morning they slaughter a cow and later on you can go pick up your ground beef in a big black plastic shopping bag. If you ask, they’ll double-bag it… thankfully…

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This is a photo of our yard guy/night guard cutting our grass. I took the photo through our tinted glass bay window so that’s why it’s kind of light. Anyways, we recently, together with our neighbours, bought the weed eater that he is using to cut the grass. We both decided to take our yard guys out of their misery and make them happy. Prior to us purchasing this wicked piece of equipment, they cut the grass with machete’s while on their haunches. We have a fairly big yard… (Actually it really doesn’t bother them to sit on their haunches, they do it all the time, including when going to the bathroom – squatty potties rule here! But it just takes them sooooo long to do it with just a big knife…) Lawn mowers are just not available here, unless a missionary who’s brought one from back home and is leaving the field sells one - therefore not a reliable supply is available. And the only weed eaters available here are like the one we bought - motorized ones. The part that cuts the grass is not a little nylon string like the ones back home, no, this one has a large metal blade… Thankfully our guy is pretty smart and actually wears shoes and not just flip flops… We’ve seen many guys using those machines while only wearing flip flops and of course, no eye or ear gear…

In the news lately there have been a number of articles regarding toy recalls and contaminated toys etc… In Canada there are fairly strict rules regarding toys that can be sold in stores. I think that it is safe to say that not one single toy that is sold in the stores here, except the real Hot Wheels tracks, would pass any of our rules back home. The selection of toys here is really quite hilarious. For boys it is: weapons – plastic AK-47’s, swords, light sabers, pistols, bows and arrows…. you get the idea and remote control cars. They love remote control cars out here. Well, actually they love any toy that takes batteries and makes noise… For girls the selection is: toy cooking utensils, fake Barbies and stuffed animals. Every toy that you buy here will break within days. I’m not kidding you, everything breaks and there are always pieces that you could choke on…. The plastic that is used is so thin and brittle. They take the meaning of cheap to a whole new level!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

This is a Christmas booth that is near our house. I couldn't decided which photo of it to post so I just did both. The one I took before we went for a late afternoon swim and the other I took after our swim. Thankfully, the folks that made this one don't have the music going until really late at night and it's not too loud either.

What is loud right now, are the carbite bombs that are going off. Tis the season again! Each year, specifically for New Year's Eve, local kids build and blow off carbite bombs. They take a metal or bamboo pipe and cork one end of it with a big rag. The other end has a small opening which they can open or close. The put water and carbite into the pipe and wait a bit. Then they put a match into the little opening and it goes BOOOOM!!! They are sooooo loud. It really does sound like a bomb is going off, or at least what I imagine a bomb going off sounds like. Thankfully, they seem to "practice" more during the day than at night right now...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Not too horribly much new going on here. Our eyes are all slowly getting better. Mine are still pretty bloody looking but I’ve heard that it can last well over a week with adults. Marc and Brynne healed up the quickest and had the mildest cases. Marc’s also the only one who got away with only having it in one eye, lucky guy!
The school that the kids attend is on a hill. It’s kind of a narrow hill that leads up to the mountain behind the city. Our hill is not far away, but we have to go down our hill, travel up mainstreet a bit and then we can turn to go up the school’s hill. The two hills themselves are not connected. Anyways, just before you reach the gates of the school there is a graveyard. It’s really quite humorous because this spot, outside the walls of the graveyard, seems to be the local make-out spot. Especially at night if you drive out of the school gates you will pass couples hanging out together. Of course, here they are snuggling on a motorbike and not in a car. I’ve even seen girls in head coverings snuggling with boyfriends… Obviously their parents don’t know about it…
I also want to briefly talk about flipflops. This is a country where flipflops are standard footwear and are taken to a whole new level. No matter what you do for work, construction, nursing, road repair etc… flipflops are what you wear. I have also never ever seen so many different kinds of flipflops. They even have them for little kids that squeak when you walk! (very annoying in church…) Although, our minister, always wears formal dress shoes when preaching…

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Well, the news from here is rather grim right now. We are all at home in quarantine with the dreaded pink eye virus. Hugo suggested that since we're all home it would be a good time to take a family portrait... right...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

On Friday evening we had the annual MAF Christmas party. The guys had cleared out the hangar and it was decorated and filled with chairs and some tables. The evening started out very warm (we've been having a bit of a heat wave out here) but cooled off nicely as time went on. There were the usual speeches and little skits and then came santa on an MAF plane and all the workers children received a gift. Then we had a nice meal - rice, chicken, spicy Indonesian beef, and chap chay.
The photos at the top are of a test set that Hugo made from scratch. This set is designed to test two similar types of radios that are used in some of the MAF aircraft here. It will allow the systems to be trouble-shooted and fixed here instead of being sent back to the states. Pretty cool huh?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More bad English...

Continuing on with yesterday's theme of bad English....
Read on wrapping paper that is covered in white teddy bears:
The mid music notes rising from tranquility Canbring you in silence (I copied this exactly, spelling mistakes and all...)

Written about the animals on the instruction sheet on how to put together the foam zoo animals:
Polar Bear:
The polar bear is found in all of the polar regions of the entire northern hemisphere. Polar bear reside alone. They float on the floating ice, swim and dive with violent nature and celerity action.

They have the large body, round head, the strong extremities, all of the fur color are orange with rank black stripe. They live in lands and forest, and usually go out alone at night, they take action quickly and good at swimming, their food are some phytophage animal.

Yesterday I mentioned that there was loud music from all sides as I was posting. Well, the really loud non-Christmas music turned out to be my helper's (Icelina's) birthday party... So today she didn't show up for work and when I asked her sister where she was today, she was sleeping... must have been quite a bash...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Indonesians love our language, they truly do. However, it is a difficult language to learn. There are many tenses and many, many words and baffling grammatical rules.(I think I just broke one or two already) I always get a kick out of reading what they write on the packaging of products sold here in Indonesia. Sometimes the language is so inappropriate. I guess when you make something look like it was meant for export, it sells better!

Written on a carton of Country Choice Orange Juice:
At Country Choice land, people drink juice 3 times a day to keep the family healthy. The natural freshness of Country Choice Orange Juice lets us treasure more the loving memories and unforgettable experiences shared with family. Rich in vitamins A, C, and E, it provides antioxidants. Make Country Choice Orange Juice part of family’s daily routine.

Found on the packaging of a child’s xylophone (Brynnie’s Sinterklaas present):
-Real musical instrument!
-It has mallets and musical instrument included.Safe and durable.
-This musical instrument can enliven child’s musical cells, exercise the ability that the child discerns the form, the recognition capability of color, increase the child’s fun!

When I walk around town or around our house I often hear, "Hello Mister!" People love to try out their limited English on me. One woman told me that all the English she knew was: I love you! Kiss me please! Yes and No. I told her those were dangerous words to say...

As I post this, we are being “treated” to Christmas music from all sides… Many have been getting their booths up and their speakers going this week… yippee.... (sorry no photos yet...)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Yesterday was quite a day here in Sentani, Papua. First of all Marc turned 4! Hard to believe that it has already been four years since he was born here in Papua. We had a little party for him at the school. There is a covered area with tables beside the playground so it is an ideal spot for a party (no mess in your house!). The kids, including Ibu Rita's two girls, had a good time. Then in the afternoon we gathered together with the other dutch folks that live around here or happened to be in town here and had a very special visitor all the way from Spain. Sinterklaas was able to make a quick stop in our town. Although he had to leave his horse in Singapore as Garuda (Indonesian Airline) wouldn't allow him to take the horse on board. Interestingly enough, Sinterklaas is fluent in four languages! What a guy! He also had his special book with and all our children were in it, and thankfully none of them needed to be punished by Swaarte Piet. The kids all got a gift and then the grown-ups played the dice and present game. After that we enjoyed a potluck dinner. In the last photo the kids are watching a puppet show about Sinterklaas.