Thursday, April 30, 2009

Never a Dull Moment...

Yesterday had its excitement. At around 3:00 pm in the afternoon I heard what I thought were fire crackers and I wondered why people were lighting off fire crackers in the afternoon. Duh.... Here's what happened... well at least what I understand to have happened... A soldier had died and the other soldiers wanted his body to be sent to Nabire to be buried there. I guess that must be where he's from. The c*ommandant of the local military base disagreed at first. Then he said ok, but he wouldn't give the money for the body to be flown. So a bunch of guys from another military base farther down the road towards the beach, came to the military base here in town and wrecked the gu*n storage building (presumably also obtaining gu*ns in the process) and they also burned down the C*mmandants house. So that was shooting that I heard, not fire crackers.... The mall, as it is very close to the military base, was shut down and the main road there was also shut down for the evening. Today all is quiet and I heard that the issue has been resolved and everything is open as normal. Although I did see quite a few more police on the road than normal this morning....

Sunday, April 26, 2009


As I was sitting in church this morning observing everything around me, I couldn't help but be struck by what a sheer cultural experience sitting through a simple church service is.
We meet in a small building that was formerly a school; a one classroom school I think. There are just a few bare light bulbs (the long-lasting low energy kind of course) hanging from the water-stained, sagging ceiling. There is a lone water tap poking through the wall near the front. We sit on benches made of wooden slats (thankfully they have backs on them...). At the front of the church is a rather nice wooden pulpit which frankly doesn't "fit" with the rest of the "decor". There is no piano or organ or other musical instrument, we sing acapella. During the service you may hear the sound of pigs squealing; and the pastor doesn't miss a beat, just continues on (without the aid of a sound system of course). Periodically someone will go outside and throw his sandal or rocks at the stray dogs that like to hang around. (sadly, it is this very behaviour that has made the dogs here very unpredictable and prone to unprovoked biting) Children rarely sit with their parents throughout the service. They prefer to run around outside and play. Last week we witnessed the baptism of a new baby boy born to one of the young couples in the church. The baptismal "font" is a blue plastic stool with a bowl of water perched on top. Should you need to go to the washroom, you may or may not be able to enter the little washroom out back. Should you be able to enter, you will need to do your business in the dark as there are no windows and no lights. The toilet is a squatty potty and there may or may not be water available for "flushing". There is no running water in the "washroom".
But this is a place where God's people meet to worship together and be edified together as we listen to His word explained to us by one of His shepherds.

*Ritha's sister-in-law is home again from the hospital and improving!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Aidan's birthday party...

First off, it was track and field day. The kids had fun won a few ribbons. (I don't have a picture of Aidan yet...)

Then in the afternoon (it was a half day of school), we had Aidan's birthday party. His actual birthday isn't until next week Wednesday, but we decided to have the party now as next weekend Hugo and I are planning a two night get-away to Jayapura in celebration of our 12th anniversary which isn't until May 31st, but I will, the Lord willing, be in Canada then. (was that even gramatically correct???) The boys had a cannonball contest and then a silly dive/jump contest. Fun stuff!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Last Saturday we hit the beach with a bunch of Dutchies... what a hoot!

First you negotiate for a boat (and get hosed of course...) and then you pile in with all your stuff and off you go. This time we settled for a speed boat. The ocean was very calm and the ride is a lot quicker than in the larger boats.

Then you arrive and unload and have fun!! We had the place to ourselves the entire day!

These lovely folks are all working here with the DVN or ZGK. The older couple, Jan and Dini, live here. The other woman (Janeke) and man (Henk O-not her husband) come here periodically for meetings with the Reformed Churches.

Then when the boat comes to pick you up after a day of fun, you pack up your stuff and head back to the dock for the long curvy ride home during which one of your children loses his lunch.... thankfully outside the car....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Introducing the Kodiak...

So this is our new plane. We don't actually have it here yet... We're hoping for a July arrival. Right now this beauty is in Nampa being studied/adjusted by the crew there. This is a brand new type of plane called "Kodiak". It was designed specifically with the mission field in mind. This particular plane is number 11 off the assembly line. We are very excited about this plane and can't wait until it gets here! The idea is that this plane, which requires a shorter runway than our caravans, will replace two of our cessna 206 aircraft. The Kodiak uses jet fuel as opposed to the avgas used by the 206. Avgas is very difficult to purchase throughout the entire world whereas jet fuel is cheaper and easier to find.
Ain't she a beaut?

Friday, April 17, 2009

There's been another plane crash....

You can read about it by following the link above.
One of our guys keeps track of the number of accidents that occur here. During the past 7 years or so it has kept pretty steady at 1 accident every two months. An accident is any incident that results in damage to the aircraft or injury to anyone involved. So there aren't necessarily any casualties. So far this year, there have been 2 a month.... The increase could be due in part to the increase in air traffic here.
Just the other day one of our pilots, in a cessna 206, had a near miss when a large plane passed through his airspace and altitude way too close by... Had our pilot been in the cessna caravan that has the traffic avoidance system installed, this would not have happened. There is no radar (Actually, there is radar, but no one knows how to use it yet...) at the air-traffic control here in Sentani, the controllers communicate with the pilots by radio on one VHF frequency.
Please keep the pilots here in your prayers!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bits and Bites....

We had national elections last week and these types of events always bring out the "Freedom" guys. As I wrote previously, there was some violence that marred the democratic process here. In Abe, part of the university was set on fire. So helpful eh? Along the border with PNG there has been shooting and basic unrest. Friends of ours needed to go to PNG to get their new visa giving them permission to stay here. These have to be renewed periodically. They were going to just drive on the lovely road to the border, but because of the unrest, they were forced to go in a speed boat. Yikes, talk about white knuckling it! But they made it there and back safely.

About a week and a half ago Ritha's older sister-in-law gave birth to her seventh child at home with the help of a local midwife. The baby seemed to have trouble breathing and nearly a week after it was born, when it was seizing and unconsious, they brought it to the hospital. A little late really, and sadly the baby died. The mother has also become quite ill. She was experiencing high fevers and began to fall unconsious and tremble violently. They then took her to the hospital and there she lay, unconsious and trembling and the doctors told Ritha to just be patient and wait for their turn.... Ummm... she's unconsious and shaking all over.... They did eventually help her and she is still in the hospital but she is very yellow which could mean a liver issue. Apparently they gave her a blood transfusion yesterday. However, I can't help but feel that that is simply a band aid covering the real problem. Situations like this make me feel dispair for the people here. The level of health care here is so terrible. I feel that there will soon be six children without a mother. Ultimately it is all in God's hands and we must simply trust in Him.

This week our church has organized a seminar on interactive Sunday school teaching. I should mention that Sunday school here doesn't necessarily mean teaching that occurs on Sunday, but rather it means the teaching of young children about the Bible and faith and all that goes with that. So a member of the DVN (Dutch organization) is here teaching this seminar. Invitations were sent out to all the local churches here and about 38 people (all Indonesians) are participating including a couple ladies from MAF. Today I popped by to check it out during my free hour (Marc is at preschool and Brynne is at a friends every thursday morning). The people participating in the seminar are very enthusiastic about what they are learning and can't wait to put it into practice.
It turns out that the man teaching the course, Henk O., knew my folks in South Africa when they were dating and then married! Makes the world seem really tiny....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I was going through my photos the other day looking for some to put in our latest newsletter when I came across this aerial photo of Sentani. I took it as we were coming in to land on our way home from Bokindini. On the bottom right you can see our new mall in all its glory. The boxed area on the left is the hill that the international school is on and the boxed area on the right is our hill. Our house is located about three quarters of the way up the box. But like I said before, there is no road going from our hill to the school hill. We must drive all the way down to the main road (the road in front of the mall) and then turn right and drive until the school road and turn right again and make our way up the hill. Below the school on the left is a military complex and a social housing project. The soldiers used to do target practice and put up a flag to let the folks at the school know their plans so you would avoid certain areas of the school grounds. However, one day a child did get shot in the leg and that was the end of that.... I believe they no longer do target practice there anymore... or at least not in that direction...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bits and Bites....

*Yesterday was quite a day here. Due to the national elections, the president, possibly in a bit for more votes, declared yesterday a national holiday so that everyone would have the opportunity to vote. Things here in Sentani were quite peaceful and people just waited in long lines for their turn. In Abe however, things were not so peaceful. Early in the morning a group of people, apparently from the Free P*apua M*ovement, attacked a voting station and threw a bomb at it. Police opened fire and one man died and a number of others were arrested. I found this out via the Internet. The gas station in Abe was also set on fire and there were demonstrations.
*As well, there was a plane crash in Wamena yesterday. Wamena is in the mountains and the fog can roll in and out without warning. The aircraft, a large four engine plane, had made a missed approach to the runway, climbed again and was coming around for another go when it crashed into the side of the hill. Thankfully, the plane was carrying fuel and not passengers. All on board died instantly. This incident of course hits our pilots hard. In addition, this was a brand new aircraft and one of the few willing to carry jet fuel for us. There are not many companies willing to fly fuel into Wamena therefore rending fuel insanely hard to get. This tragedy will make it even more difficult.
*This morning we went to church and listened to a sermon about the death and resurrection of Jesus; the foundation of Christianity. It is this very event that allows us to be able to live freely in Him! Hallelujah!!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Ice hadn't been acting quite normal around here for the past bit and I was thinking maybe she didn't want to be here anymore. Well, today I found out the reason why she'd been acting a titch odd. A couple weeks ago I brought a bag of clothes (from the boys and a bit from Brynne) to our guards family. I did it in the afternoon when it was practical for me to go over there and sit and have a chat with Ibu Mika (Meeka). On my way there I passed a few neighbourhood kids who said something like,"Mira (our guards daughter) is probably going to get that." I didn't think too much of it at the time, but now I know exactly what they were thinking. As it turns out, Ice's sister, mother and some of the neighbourhood kids had been nattering on to her about why she didn't get those clothes and why did Pak Nios' (our guard) family get them? Ice's sister has a daughter who is Mikah's age. However, Ice's sister works for another expat family. That is why I decided to give the clothes to a family that is obviously poor, has a need and works for us. I had no idea that my naive act of generosity would give rise to such problems. I guess they have been fairly consistently bugging Ice about this which naturally makes her feel rather unhappy. The problem if I start handing out the clothes to different people is that the same problem would arise. Why her/him and not me? That is why I decided to give it to a family that works for us and has boys that could use the clothing. And they have been. Maybe next time I'll have to give away things secretly....

*On a brighter note, there is cheese in the store again!!!! YIPPEE!!!!

Sunday, April 05, 2009


This weekend we had a visitor. There is a school here in Sentani for Papuans where they can learn English, Math, discipleship, cooking and other practical things. Each year the students in their first (or maybe only) year stay with a western family for a weekend to experience our culture and speak lots of English. This year we thought it would be a fun thing to do. So we hosted Cina (Cheena), who is 23 and hopes to become a radio broadcaster. She's a very sweet quiet girl and we really enjoyed having her over, especially Brynnie...
In the photos up top is Ritha on the right with Cina on the left.
Yesterday I decided to go to town on my bicycle and see if I could get some vegetables from a little market not too far from our hill. I like going there if I only need a few common items because I can drive/ride right in and pass by the vendors until I see what I need. The last photo is our road, part way up. Mount Cyclops is always a beautiful sight.