Saturday, August 30, 2008

Last week Monday I wrote that this plane (see photo) had arrived safely from America. It will be used by the MAF program in Kalimantan once it receives its Indonesian paperwork and registration. Sadly, the pilot that ferried the plane here and had supper at our house that night, died in a plane crash in Nevada yesterday. While not an MAF employee, he often ferried planes to overseas programs for MAF. Please pray for his wife and three young children. Once again we are shown that we must simply trust God's wisdom and goodness and not question His timing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The funny thing here is that the literacy rate for the older generation interior is better than the one for the newer. It doesn't usually go that way. However, the older generation here, particularly in the interior, had the benefit of being able to attend "M" run schools. But a number of years ago, the gov of this country decided that they would take over and put up schools and medical clinics (clinics were also previously run by "M's"). What has happened is that they "set" up schools interior but too often there was no clinic. No teacher wants to live where there is no clinic. Plus teachers have to get their pay cheques from cities fairly far away and need to pay lots of money for transportation to get to the city. So they go there and stay there for a while and then maybe go back to the village for a bit. So there is effectively no school system interior and there is no accountability either. There are many families who live interior who've decided to simply move back to their original place of living in the jungle instead of staying in the village as there is no reason for them to stay in the village. No clinic, no school... The end result is a generation of illiterate people. I don't think that was the idea....
There is an elementary school near our house and I often see the kids going home from school wearing their white shirts with red bottoms, at 9:00 am. Just the time when most Western kids are starting out the day...

Monday, August 25, 2008

I noticed that it has been a whole five days since I last posted. I guess not a whole lot of interest has been going on around here... Except for today...
Today one of our four Cessna Caravans had a hard landing at an interior village and one of the wings got bent. (This ends our very long no accident streak) Blessedly, no one was injured. But the two pilots are stranded in the village right now. Thankfully there is an expat missionary there who they can stay with. This is not good news as two of our other caravans are in the process of being repaired right now and we are training some pilots from one of our other progams on how to fly the larger Caravans. The plane that will go to that program arrived here last week from America. A guy actually flew it from there to here by himself with just a big tank of jet fuel as his companion. Think about it, there are no bathrooms on a Cessna Caravan.... It's about a 4-5 day trip...
Anyways, please pray for the pilots as this is a really tough thing to have to deal with and go through as there are many reprecussions that follow and incident such as this.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


One of the saddest things that I see here (and I don’t mean saddest as in the worst) is kids with deformed feet. Today I saw two kids with deformed feet. One is a little girl and the other is a teenage boy. They both have feet that turn inside and curl so they actually walk on the tops of their feet. From what I understand this is fairly easily correctable with special shoes when they are still babies. But not here.
Yesterday Ritha told me that someone, a doctor, came around to their area and said that everyone had to take medicine for elephants foot disease (elephantiasis). Apparently there is a “new” mosquito that carries the disease so they want to make sure that people don’t get it. From what I understand, you need to take the medicine about once a month for two years in order to get proper protection. I wonder who’s going to make sure that each person is actually taking it when they’re supposed to and for the proper length of time? Hmmm.... Again, from what I understand, the disease is primarily found in interior villages and is passed by mosquitos or by walking barefoot in infected soil.
Some folks we know who are in the process of getting a house set up interior so they can live and work there, are currently nursing a little interior girl back to health. The guy was out trekking around in the jungle in the area they will live in and heard about a little girl who was very sick. He happens to be a nurse (among other things) and so he decided to go find this girl. He hiked for an entire day in the rain to get to her. She is two years old (or so they think as she has all her teeth) but only weighed 14 pounds. She was suffering from lice, malaria, whipple worm (I think that's how you spell it) and a prolapsed rectum. She was in really bad shape. So they called in the helicopter to bring her out. Her parents are still living in the stone age literally as they still garb themselves in leaves and grass and have bones protruding from their noses and ears. They could not be convinced to go along with their daughter, they were simply too scared. This couple that took her in have a Papuan lady who helps them out with some of their teaching and so she is taking care of the sick little girl out here so far away from her family. She's doing much better now as all her illnesses have been treated and she's eating a lot more than she ever has in her whole little life. I went to see her the other day and she can't even walk by herself, her little legs are too weak. Had this couple not been determined to find her, she would have died. These are some of the people MAF serves. Sometimes the helicopter is needed to get them out of the jungle, but as soon as they are at an airstrip, MAF can come and get them.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bits and Bites...

So this past week I went to visit our pastors wife and give her a gift for their new little daughter. Marc and Brynne were quite intrigued by the baby as well. I managed to have a bit of a conversation with Mom (I don't even know her name!!) in the "entrance" area of their house. Anyways, I asked if the baby had a name yet. Well, they've named the baby Efrata Reformasi. Yup, you didn't read wrong, they've named their baby after our church which is the Gereja Efrata Reformasi. Hmmm... Then on Friday one of our pastors older daughters came over to talk about her future. She was accepted into a "university" (It's really more like high school level here) into the political science faculty but she didn't have the money to pay the entrance fee so she probably won't get to go now. I had some ideas for her along the lines of working for a year and opening a bank account and saving money so that next year she can pay herself. And also try to get into this really great school in Pyramid where you learn English and leadership skills among other things. I told her I'd help her out with all that so we'll see what she does. Anyways, she told us lots of things about her family and that when her mom died she was three and went to live in a dorm until she was 15... That sort of stuff. She actually moved back in with her dad and step-mom (who is a close relative of her biological mom) when she was 17. I can't imagine what that must have been like! Anyways, her younger half-sister who is about 9 or so is named Eklesia Reformasi! Yikes what a name to give a little girl!! But they actually call her Effie. So that's no so bad.

The last photo is of a guy carrying what is called a noken, full of vegetables. We see people walking like that all the time but I'm not too keen on asking them if I can take their photo. I don't really like it when strangers from other countries take my photo...:-) Plus sometimes they are smart and ask for money. Anyways, I got this shot rather surreptitiously so he didn't even know I had taken it.

Yesterday marked two years to the day that we stepped off the British Airways jet in Jakarta, clutching our clear plastic bags containing no liquids, tired beyond belief and so hungry that the McDonalds in the airport was looking mighty tasty. I can't believe it has been two years already! It's been two years of major learning and lots of fun! (Yes, there are times we really miss our family and friends... I just watched a video that my aunt Ineke from Holland sent us about my parents 35th anniversary and my Mom's 60th b-day party celebration... made me want to see everyone again... and then come back here again...)

Friday, August 15, 2008

I have a friend who lives in Wamena, the city where the pilot who passed away was based in, who has been blogging about what happened. If you would like to read her blog you can click here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Simple Pleasures...

* Last week Marc learned to ride his bike without training wheels. He was so proud. Then two days ago, when the big kids were in school, I went out with Marc and Brynne on my motorbike. Our destination was a local bike shop and our purpose was to get Marc a new kickstand. Upon arrival he and Brynnie eagerly checked out the selection of bikes and sat on a few. Brynnie was partial to a cute Strawberry Shortcake bike and Marc just tried them all. We found a kickstand, 25,000 rups, and Marc was thrilled. As soon as we got home I installed it. Later he and his neighbour friend, Kaya, were playing in the backyard with their bikes. Both have bikes the exact same size and both have kickstands. They rode and parked and rode and parked their bikes. Then they decided to park them inside so in came the bikes and snap down came the kickstands and off Marc swaggered full of pride - he has a kickstand! So unbelievably cute!!
* Mikah has a new pet. The Togeretz family had a male and female hamster (the female just died today :-() and they got "married" and of their four babies, only one lived and they gave her to Mikah. Mikah has named her Suzie and she wasn't too keen on leaving her "house" to be photographed... And Mikah is of course over the moon to have another pet!

These are some more photos from our day at the waterfall.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sadness and Happiness...

*This past weekend has been a difficult one for the M community here in Papua. Saturday morning a pilot with one of the mission aviation orgs here took off from one village, checked in by radio, and was never heard from again. Search planes were sent out, including one from MAF, and found the ELT beacon signalling from a mountain ridge but could not spot the plane because of cloud coverage. On Sunday the weather was clear and the result we were all hoping for was not to be. The wreckage of the plane was clearly seen scattered over the ridge. Please pray for the wife and five children of the pilot as they have much to deal with right now. An event like this shakes everyone up and does remind us that God can call us at any time.

*Last week our pastor's wife gave birth to a baby girl. She weighed 3.5 kilos at birth (huge for here) and has yet to be named. She was born in the evening at a little government subsidized clinic at a cost of 200.000 rupiahs or $20CAD, and went home the next morning. All seems to be well with mother and child. (I haven't had a chance to visit yet but will be sure to take photos when I do)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

* Today we went up to the waterfall with our Dutch friends Pieter and Anja vanDijk and their four kids. It was a really fun day and I took a lot of pictures which I will slowly upload (dial-up internet...).

*This morning the daughter (classmate of Christiaan) of our school head had to be medivaced to Australia as she had suffered internal injuries from a bicycle accident. Thankfully an expat doctor happened to be in Sentani and was able to help them. Right now there is not usually any expat doctors and right now, only one expat nurse. The little girl and her dad were flown to Australia on the plane of another mission aviation group here whose plane can make it there in about 3.5 hours without fueling.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bits and Bites...

* Marc is doing much better. I'd say he's pretty much over the whole malaria thing. So much so, that today he learned to ride a two-wheeler. However, I think it is time to look at purchasing a bicycle that more suits his frame as it seems his knees come dangerously close to his chin as he pumps along. He's happy as punch though! He'd actually really like to get a small motorbike .... :-) right...
* Today I went to the dentist. There is a dental team from New Heights church in Washington here right now. They spent a week in an interior village doing extractions and fun stuff like that. Now they are here helping out those in the expat community with dental needs. As it has been 2 years since both Hugo and I had our teeth cleaned/checked, we thought we'd best avail ourselves of this opportunity. There is a nice little dental clinic at the complex of another organization. There are two dental chairs there. But there were three dentists that came. So they set up another location "village-style". That means a lawn chair propped up on some mats, to make you lie further back, and and portable lamp. I got to get my teeth cleaned village-style. The guy who cleaned my teeth grew up in Langley and went to LSS! Too funny!
*Hugo has been quite busy as of late (what's new?) installing the new ELT's and fixing broken autopilots that were making planes fly like bucking cows... fun stuff...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sidik Jari... (Fingerprinting)

Yesterday marked exactly one year since we arrived here in Sentani, Papua. Yikes!!! I can't believe it has already been one year! (I know total cliche...) But I really can't!? We love living here and you know what they say about time when you're having fun... (I know another cliche...)
So today we headed out to Jayapura (capital city, also a port city on the ocean) to visit the immigration office. Technically, all foreigners need to get their fingerprints done every year. Don't know why... Anyways, we were given a special excemption last year not to go, and they just used our information from 5 years ago. (Including a photo of myself while pregnant, with long hair, and my eyes half closed making me look like I've just used some illegal substance... ugghh!!) Wow! We were happy about that. Jayapura is a one hour drive from Sentani and that one hour is full of curves and hills and much traffic. It is quite the drive. Beautiful too though as you follow the coast so you have the lake, which is enormous, and then the ocean. Anyways, the immigration office has a new computerized system for fingerprinting etc... They have a little infared fingerprint reader and a Canon PowerShot camera hooked up to a computer. The two ladies doing all this are still learning the system so when something goes wrong they're not really sure what to do. Thankfully, this morning things went really well and we were all done quite quickly. Then we did a little shopping; found some feta cheese!!!! Bonus!!!! The kids all picked out a toy at Gramedia (book store/sports store/music store/toy store/movie store...). Mikah found a real Barbie! She was thrilled! Then we headed off to Abe for some lunch at KFC and a little more shopping. Found some nice Earl Grey tea from Sri Lanka! Very tasty! It's Dilmah brand. I highly recommend it. But maybe there aren't many products from Sri Lanka in Canada...

The first photo is one I forgot to post last week. This is a kiosk in Pyramid. I guess you put your money in through the little hole on the left... The second is the older kids enjoying their OR burgers at KFC today. At KFC here you get to eat off real dinner plates... Swanky eh?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Snot and Stuff....

*Cultural differences can be so huge sometimes.... Recently a group of Indonesians travelled with some Americans from Jakarta to here. While on the plane, one of the Americans blew her nose into a tissue. Very polite by our cultural norms but all her Indonesian seatmates were horrified. Why is she saving her snot???? What is culturally appropriate here? Well... When the need to expel some snot arises, you take a deep breath, use your finger to close one nostril and then expel all the pent up air through the unblocked nostril, hopefully also expelling any offensive contents of said nostril. Of course it is a good idea to aim for a gutter or a patch of grass where the expelled contents won't really be visible because if you can't see it, it isn't there. And of course, if you practice this technique from the time you are a wee tot until adult-hood, you get really good at it. I have in fact seen well-dressed women apply this technique and the effect was rather disconcerting to say the least...
*Marc is doing pretty good. Malaria can by rather cyclical. So he'll feel good for a while and being a four year old will figure, great, now I can play!! And then he'll crash and have a bad headache again and we'll give him some more tylenol. He is keeping the quinine down which is great.
*Poor Ritha. She has a tooth that has abscessed a few times and it actually needs a root canal or be extracted. Unfortunately no dentists here can do root canals. So that leaves Ritha with only one option; pull the tooth. The other unfortunate thing is that it is one of her two front teeth. Thankfully there is an expat dentist here (he is training Papuans in dentistry) who can make plates with false teeth. He is actually making one for Ice as she is missing a lot of her molars and really can't eat things that need to be chewed. No, this dentist is not able to do root canals (not sure why...).
*Tonight Christiaan came to me and said that there was a sound bothering him and it was high pitched. He said this to me after having already gone to bed and removed his hearing aids. The cicadas (sp?) here are so loud that he can hear them without his hearing aids! So we stuffed some cotton into his ears and that helped...
*Only one and a half more weeks and the kids start school again! Yikes, I'm not ready for the grind of the school year yet!!!!

Friday, August 01, 2008

This is what you get when your kids decorate your birthday cake! Too cute eh?

Well, we have the first malaria patient in our family. Marc has come down with malaria Tropika +1. Thankfully it's only +1 and not +4. He pretty much just has a really bad headache and just wants to lay down. It's funny because I went to an Indonesian woman who works at SIL and is known to be the most reliable slide reader and had her make two blood slides. One she read and the other I brought to a pharmacy in town. She said positive, the pharmacy said negative. Since a four year old doesn't usually get a headache so bad it makes him cry, I figured I'd go with result number one. So Marc has to take quinine for 4-5 days and fansidar on day 2. I hope he doesn't get really bad side effects from the quinine.