Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bits and Bites...

*One of our pineapple bushes, planted just after we moved in last Oct, is actually bearing fruit! It usually takes 1-1.5 years before they bear fruit! We are thrilled, now we just have to make sure no one steals it... Just after we moved in I noticed a green plant sprouting by our gate and I asked our yard guy to pull it out a few times but he never listened. Well, now I know why, it's a papaya tree and it is bearing a ton of papayas. They are yellow ones so not as sweet as the red ones, but I hide them in milkshakes and the kids never know... (again, hopefully the local kids don't steal them as they need to ripen on the tree.)
*Around here we are reading the "Magician's Nephew" before bed...
*The kids have been having a lot of fun with these magnet monkeys. Thanks Larissa!!! (Mikah dressed them up as a boy and a girl..)
*For supper, barbecued chicken (on the borrowed BBQ of our neighbours... seriously wishing we'd packed one in our crates from Canada....). Indonesian recipe: some grated ginger, some fresh garlic, the juice of one key lime, some pepper, some oil, a chicken bouillon cube crumbled - I think that's it. Let it marinate for a number of hours and then barbecue! Yummy!!! (I know the chicken on the photo is rather white - I'd just put it on...)
*Hugo has been faithfully practicing his guitar of late. After listening to Chad the excellent guitarist/singer from New Heights, Christiaan is eager to be just as cool and has been practicing a little. We're not rushing out to get him his own guitar just yet though...
*BTW - The quilt on our bed was handmade by 10 village women in Java over a period of 10 days. There is a Christian guy who organizes the projects for the women and it is how they earn a living. Neat eh?
*Hugo has been busy installing new ELT's (emergency locator transmitter) into all 14 MAF aircraft here on Papua. This is according to Indonesian Aviation Regulations. These new ELT's can have their signal picked up by satelite. The old ones signals could only be picked up by radio.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This is an interesting place we live in. (Papua) About 150 years ago the Gospel was first brought to this area of the world although only to limited places. Most mission work in the beginning was done along the coast. 50 years ago the Reformed church started mission work here and it went interior. With the missionaries came clothes and medicine and different food etc… There are people here who grew up in the “Stone Age” wearing nothing but a leaf, gourd or grass skirt, who now walk around with a cell phone and maybe a watch, wearing “brand name” clothing! Those of us in the West had thousands of years to get out of the Stone Age and into the “modern” age. It’s really incredible when you think about it. How can people make such a giant step without paying a price of some sort or missing some important piece of information?
50 years ago the people here lived in fear. That’s all they knew. Many of the tribal languages don’t even have a word for “love” in their vocabulary! Think about how you would teach these people about the love of Christ for us. If you don’t know what simple love between a husband and wife or between brothers and sisters is, how can you understand the great love that Christ had for us that he gave Himself up for us? This lack of understanding is still evident in their lives today.
People will listen to what you say, but they will actually retain more from what they observe from your life. So think about what the villagers thought when a missionary came on a plane and took many boxes out of it and put them in his house. The people never saw what was inside those boxes, just that there were many of them. Then there was the box that held the refrigerator…. They had never seen anyone live with so much and in such a “large” house with only one family. So what they observed was that in order to be a Christian you need to wear clothes and on Sundays you need to wear a dress shirt and tie and nice pants. When you are a Christian you have lots of money; who knows where it comes from? When you are an evangelist or missionary you can get the MAF plane to come whenever you need it and go fly somewhere. And that same plane brings more boxes for you. There have been villages where the people dug under the houses of the missionaries (while they were on furlough) because they thought that’s where the missionaries got all their stuff. There was also another missionary who upon leaving the village where he worked was asked, “Why did you never show me how to make money?”
If you think about how many years Christianity has had to grow and evolve to become what it is today in the “modern world” and compare that with the mere 150-50 years it has been here (depending on where you are), it certainly puts things into perspective. This can be of comfort to those of us who live here and despair at the lack of understanding of what it is to be a true Christian. Seeing as actions speak louder than words, I think we just need to start with showing true Christian love to those around us. So that’s what we try to do.

Here are two more photos from Pyramid. The rainbow we saw while on our hike up the mountain.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Pictures...

That's our entire group of MAF'ers that were at conference this year. Many expats who work with MAF were actually on furlough this summer so that's a far from complete group!
Mikah was just a puffing away during the surgical glove blowing up contest. Her hair made it impossible to pop the glove so someone kindly popped it for her... :-)
The photo of the two girls on the trail is one I took when climbing the mountain. These girls along with some other smaller kids joined us. Boy could they ever climb! These two girls actually live part way up the mountain. We tried talking to them but it seemed like their knowledge of the Indonesian language was very primitive and they often didn't understand us.
Then you see us at our designated table for the conference. Each meal we had different table mates which was fun. That's the Togeretz family with us on that photo.
The next photo is of a girl with her little sister who we met as we were still at the base of the mountain before climbing. So cute!!
The next photo you see a boy with the typical green goop under his nose. So many of the kids are always fighting colds. Basic nutrition is just not taught here...
Then there's Brynnie. Half girl, half boy...
*All the VBS kids got bright green t-shirts and the high schoolers and adults got forest green t-shirts...
*BTW, a friend has a guy who sells eggs and I was able to get a couple trays today. Yippee!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

As promised, here are some more photos of our time in the village. One day some village kids came and asked if they could play soccer so I organized a game where I played on one team with some of them and another mom played on the other team with some of them. It was great fun and after a while Christiaan and Aidan joined in. Those village kids could play some pretty good soccer.
Each group in VBS received a bandana for when they broke into teams. Photo number 4 is Marc with his two buddies of the week. I took the photo of the valley when a bunch of us, including Mikah, went on a hike up the mountain. Man, was that ever steep! But once we were up there we had a great view of the valley and you can see the airstrip in the middle somewhere. Of course, on our way down it poured and poured! Those two wood ovens are what all our food was cooked on. All water had to be boiled as well before it was drinkable so it had a rather smokey taste. The second last picture is of the chapel located on the complex.
On the home front, there are currently no eggs available anywhere right now. I did manage to get some margarine through some friends who went to Jayapura for their annual finger-printing. (another story...)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back from the Village!!!

Today we returned from an amazing week in the village of Pyramid in the interior of Papua. We took the plane from the first photo, Trigana Airlines, to Wamena. Then from Wamena, after waiting at the MAF hangar there (photo 2) for our turn, we took the MAF plane in photo 3 (piloted by fellow Canuck Tim Smith of Ottawa) to Pyramid. It's about a 10 minute flight. Photo 4 is Tim taking off again to go get the next group. We had to transport 141 people using Cessna aircraft... The fence in the next photo is one that MAF had built just for this time. Normally this airstrip isn't used any more as there is a road from Wamena to Pyramid. But as MAF owns lots of planes, not lots of cars we used the plane. Never mind that the road isn't in stellar condition. This fence is to keep people and pigs off the runway. If a pilot wishes to land and there is a pig on the runway or he does land and there is a pig, the village must pay a one million rupiah fine. We do this as they often don't understand just how dangerous it is to be out there when the plane is. Photo 5 is the row that our rooms were located in. We were the middle two doors. As you can see by the second last photo, the accomodations were deluxe! In front of the main building where we ate and had our meetings, was a small hill and the kids could sled down it... I know, a little odd, but it worked!
The climate in Pyramid is quite dry and much colder at night and when the sun goes away. We really had to wear pants and jackets a lot. We only had rain once and that happened when a group of us, including Mikah and I, were climbing the mountain behind the complex. (pictures of that will be posted later...)
Our time in Pyramid was a great time of fellowship and learning. Twice each day we listened to Pastor Matt Hannan speak and he taught us from the beginning of the book of Acts. The kids attended a VBS put on by young people from the New Heights Church in Vancouver, Washington. The kids had a great time and got lots and lots of American Candy!
I'm so tired as we had to get up at 5:30 for our 6:00 check-in for our flight to Wamena. So I will end for now but plan to post more pics and such tomorrow...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lord willing tomorrow morning at 4:45 we will leave the house to go to the airport and check in for our flight to Wamena, city in the interior of Papua. From there we will wait for our turn to ride the MAF plane to Pyramid. It's about a 10 minute flight. You can take a car but the drive is well over and hour and very bumpy and vomit inducing. While in Pyramid we will be incommunicado as there are no cell phone towers or land lines and the only power to be had is from generators... Good-bye hot showers.. I hope not...
Check out the link above for some photos of Wamena and area.
Will post some of my own when we return!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saturday... and some bits and bites....

Saturday was a beautiful day at the beach with Dutch friends. As there was a large group using the site we normally go to, we decided to take the boat to the next inlet and there we had the place to ourselves. The snorkeling was amazing and we found lots of neat shells, some still inhabited, and the bamboo raft which provided much fun!
*I think Pak Nios is rather proud to work for us. Today in the late afternoon he sauntered in the yard and made his way to the pump house and very slowly opened the lock with his key (presumably to make sure that anyone around could see that he has a key to this door) and went inside and fiddled around for a few minutes and then went out and relocked the door... Too funny!
* We have a new pulpit in our church. Previously our pastor made use of a very well used stand with a little doilly draped over it. Now we have this monstrosity at the front of our humble "sanctuary", complete with said doilly, that actually has steps going up to the area where he stands. That way he is a little higher than the congregation... (I'll try to take a photo one of these Sundays...)
* Pak Nios' family is thrilled with the photos I took of them. Nios says that people were telling him to get a really big enlargement of the photo of he and his wife... I told him that I didn't think the file size of the photo was big enough for that... never mind where he would hang the thing... never mind how much it would cost...
* The other day I went to the market to get some chicken legs. I made my way over to my guy and asked him for some legs and he asked me if I wanted some chicken breast as well. I said,"Sure why not throw in a few of those too." "I'm sorry," he says, "I don't have any chicken breast." Ummmm whyd'ya ask then???? (This is very typical I might add....)
* Last Tuesday Pak Nios told me that someone had stolen his shoes the day before. He felt very upset about it and couldn't work that night so he had his brother work for him. He's convinced that someone from outside their area did it because he knows everyone that lives around him. I wasn't sure what to do. Do I offer to buy him some new ones? That idea, while a nice one, could create problems down the road as it could give the impression that we are willing to solve all their problems. Hugo offered him an advance on his salary if he wanted. He didn't want to do that even though he doesn't have money right now as he just paid the entrance fee for his son to go to high school. So Hugo gave Nios an old pair of still wearable shoes. Even though Nios is nearly a foot shorter than Hugo, he fit the shoes quite well. Dani people tend to have rather wide big feet. So for now the problem is solved... He was quite worried about having to preach with sandals on....

Friday, July 11, 2008

You know you've lived in the tropics for a while...

When you buy your son and daughter new rubber boots (to wear in the village next week if it rains) and they have to practice walking in them first and then they don’t want to take them off. Brynnie wore her new pink ones to the pool yesterday along with her Dora the Explorer bikini…

When your four year old son says he wants to go to Canada and wear one of those hats with a ball on the top of it and play in the snow…

When your two year old daughter is fascinated with socks and long pants and wants to wear them no matter how hot it is…

When 24 degrees Celsius feels like you’re sitting in your refrigerator… (No togues yet Martina, although many Papuans wear them...)

*Next week we are going to a village interior with all the MAF staff for our annual Family Conference... The kids are so excited they've already started packing...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sorry, this one's a bit long...

Last week Ice came to me and said that she felt like she had a fever. I asked her if she felt like she might have malaria. People who’ve lived here a really long time, including expats, can usually just tell when they have malaria. She kind of hummed and hawed. So I asked her if she would get her blood tested and give me the receipt. Two days later her neice was at the door at 7:30am with the results. Positive for malaria. Now, if you’ll remember, the last time she had malaria I gave her a bag of 12 pills and a schedule tell her when to take them and she took all but 5 of them… (if you don’t treat malaria properly, you just keep getting it…) So I called up the only expat nurse around right now and she told me that we could treat this type of malaria with chloroquin and fansidar on day two. We can always use quinine but the side effects are nasty. You can have quite a ringing or traffic sounds in your ears for a week or more. So I went out and got the medication. What’s kind of funny is that chloroquin actually works better when you take it with an antihistamine. I bought 10 chloroquin pills, three fansidar and a box of antihistamine (about 15 pills) for $3.50. The chloroquin was .25 cents, the antihistamine was about .11 cents and the fansidar was the pricey one at just over a dollar a pill. I thought this time I’d be smart and go to her house each time she needed to take some pills and watch her swallow them. Day one went fine, had to go two times. Day two she had to take the fansidar after the chloroquin at 10:30am. One of the pills got stuck in her throat and instead of swallowing it down with lots of water she just sat there gagging and then threw up. So I gave her two more chloroquin and told her to take them within the next half hour or so when she was feeling more like swallowing again and that I’d come back later with some new fansidar. So later in the day at 3:00 I went to her house to give her the fanisdar. I asked her if she’d taken the chloroquin and she said she hadn’t. I got a bit ripped at her and told her that if she doesn’t take it on schedule it doesn’t do a proper job. She took the pills and I told her I’d be back the next morning with her last dose. She then tells me that the malaria is already gone but her body just feels weak yet. I explained to her that the malaria was just in the process of being killed but it wasn’t done yet. It seems like no matter how many times I explain how medicine works, it doesn’t seem to sink in! We may actually give her a round of another drug which will eradicate the malaria parasites from her liver. We’ll have to see if that is necessary.
Sunday afternoon I went to our guards house to take photos of him with his family. I told them I’d be there at 3:00. So I was there at 3:00 and he was sleeping and his wife was washing clothes… Anyways, they got themselves together and dressed up. While his family was getting ready I had a little talk with him. He is in the process of preparing the land beside his house so that he can make his house a little wider. Right now he is living there with his wife and five kids and his brother and wife. It is possible that his younger unmarried brother is also living there. It is such a small house that I can’t imagine there is any privacy at all. I asked Pak Nios how they lived before he worked for us. He said that they ate sweet potatoes and taro root and that his wife had a garden but now that God opened the door for him to work for us his wife doesn’t need to have a garden anymore and she can just stay home with the kids and wash the clothes. He said that the night before his wife had asked him what will happen if we (Hugo and I) move back to Canada and then Pak Nios won’t have a job anymore. I assured him that Lord willing we will be here until February 2010 and then we will go home for furlough during which time we still need a night guard and then we hope to come back again. It is quite humbling to realize that this family is very dependant on us for their lively hood. It is said that the average worker here supports about 10 people and that is the case in this situation! Although Pak Nios’ brother often helps him out or takes a turn guarding at night. They are quite thrilled now as we have a little hut in our back yard around the well pump that they can sit in while guarding. It has a light and a place for them to sit or lay. Before they always laid or sat on top of our sand box which is against the back of the house.

The first photo is of the family in front of their house. They really wanted a photo with us too. And of course Nios wanted one with him and Hugo. They didn't really know how to act for pictures. I really had to encourage them to smile. BTW the baby has a name now, Nelfika but they call her Nel. During the "photo session" Nel got hungry and mom popped out a breast. There was no, I need to sit down and get my nursing cape on and let the baby drink. Nope, this all happened while we were walking to the next location...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Canada Day!!

Well, truth be known, we didn' t really do anything special for Canada day. I had to go to Abe to pick up about 100 kilos (or so) of meat for our upcoming family conference and I got my hair cut as well (super important stuff)... In addition to finding margarine and onions!!!
But when I got home the kids insisted that we needed to eat our little jar of real Canadian Maple syrup in honour of Canada's birthday. So we had pancakes for supper and emptied our little bottle of gold... Yummy!!