Thursday, July 29, 2010

Life on the hill continues as though we’d never left.

I took Ice to the dentist today. The purpose was to pick up some false teeth that we’d ordered a long time ago but then we went on furlough and the dentist was on furlough... Anyways, during our visit they realized that Ice needed to have three more teeth pulled out as 2 were broken in half and one was loose in her gums. People here love to eat beetle nut (nasty nut that they mix with a powder which creates a red juice in their mouth which they in turn spit out-it’s also a mild narcotic – watching people chew this stuff makes me gag...). Anyways, a side effect of years of beetle nut chewing is that your gums are affected in a negative way making your teeth loose. Ice promised to stop chewing after I told her that if she didn’t, she’d have to pay for all her dental work and I wouldn’t... That was enough incentive for her! She hasn’t chewed it since, but the damage is lasting. So now we have to wait for her extraction points to heal and then get new impressions made and wait a few weeks for the false teeth to be made. I am confident that once she has all her false teeth, ergo a mouth full of teeth, her overall quality of life will improve. She rarely eats meat because she can’t and she’s so small she wears size 12 children’s clothing.

I was talking to Mere, Yokben’s wife, the other day. She’s not gotten pregnant during their 3 years (or so) of marriage. She wondered if it was because there weren’t enough pigs paid when they got married... I assured her that that did not play a factor in her infertility... Not sure if she believed me though...

I’ve also been talking with Ice about what happened with her mom – how she was accused in the death of a young boy. Apparently it was the family of the girl who was murdered just over a year ago that was being very vocal in their accusations towards Ibu Termina. They are still upset that there wasn’t a retribution death in payment for the death of their daughter. They keep saying that money can’t replace their daughter. Never mind the fact that Ice’s family had nothing to do with the death of the girl, nothing at all!! So this is the kind of stress that Ice and her family live with daily. It has affected the health of her mother and she’s been sick quite often since the whole thing happened. I’ve put them both on iron and Vitamin B supplements to hopefully strengthen their bodies a little. These events have had such a negative impact on the community up here on Pos 7. We really feel burdened to try to do something to help things get better. Praying for the people up here is a good start!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Life goes on...

Well, we've hit the ground running here. It's been a week since we've returned from family conference and we've barely caught our breath.
One of our a/c units wasn't functioning when we returned from furlough so we had it fixed right away. A few days after our return from family conference, someone pulled out the hoses for the a/c located on the exterior fan box. Not good news. We ended up having to purchase an entire new unit. Not exactly in the post-furlough budget... But they have a new low-watt version that we could get. Hopefully we won't blow our house circuit breaker as much anymore...
Hugo's been busy getting into his new role as manager of maintenance or "MOM" for short. He's been organizing things and getting a fresh start. It's a good time to do this as we are short of pilots right now so that means less maintenance.
I think I'll just list some of the things we've been getting used to again:
making bread... like a lot...
sharing our home with lizards
the war with ants (so thankful for poison...)
the swimming pool, even though both diving boards and the slide are all broken, it's still a fun place to play on the really hot days we've been having
Did I just say hot??? No real rain for over a month now. The grass is getting crunchy...
How much time it takes to prepare food here!
Really really crummy internet... I'm using dial-up to post this post... rather archaic eh?
Hanging out with Ritha - always fun!
Yokben playing the piano in the afternoons...
Roosters crowing at 4:30 (thankfully I sleep through this, but others in this house don't...)
Church at 8:30 am and Sunday School (which they've asked me to help teach) at 7:30... Rise and Shine people!!
Floor hockey!!
Going to at least 3 different shops just to get the basic staples for your kitchen pantry. Then off to the market!
Lousy water pressure...
Warmish water out of the tap. The water in Canada is fridge-cold out of the tap!!
Food wrapped in paper so delicious and for a mere $1.25!
Worm treatments... don't ask...
I could go on and on but I won't...
This week Mikah is helping out at a VBS program done by an American church for the local Papua Harapan (Hope) School. It's a great opportunity for her to have some fun with some local kids in a structured environment.
Today we had to get finger-printed by the police. This was able to occur in the MAF office, thankfully... However, they don't have the sofisticated finger-print scanner that the immigration office in Jayapura has. So it was out with the black ink and then the wet wipes to follow...

Family Conference Continued...

A freshly showered Marc and Mikah spitting some alka seltzer into a bowl as part of a race. The kids had to put a tablet in their mouths, get a good mouthful of water, do a number of jumping jacks, spin around a couple times and then run to the bowl and spit their mouthful into it. Whichever team filled their bowl first won. Mikah's team won of course... Doesn't that sound like fun??

A photo of our entire group of attendees. 101!

Hugo receiving his four year safety award. Me trying to throw a real American football...
This is the road you walk on from the conference grounds to the airstrip. On the way you see women like this one with their nokens (net bags) full of produce from their gardens, and maybe a baby as well, and then a toddler on the shoulders. These women are incredible!
This vehicle is fondly known as the "Red Rocket" for rather obvious reasons... The local kids gathered to see us off the morning that we left.
Here we are preparing to leave after a week of fun. The man in the second photo is sporting the local traditional clothing... or lack thereof... Actually, he was trying to make a buck by selling gourds to us. His friend is sporting a traditional hat made of chicken feathers.
Here we are in a Cessna 208 on our way to Wamena where we caught the same scary plane that brought us and made our way back to Sentani where we arrived safe and sound! Later than we were supposed to, but remember, this is Papua!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Family Conference!!

After being in Sentani for a mere week, we "jetted" off to the interior village of Pyramid for our annual MAF family conference.
This is the plane that took us for the 40 minute flight from Sentani to Wamena. It's a bit of a scary plane...

The airstrip in view as we come into land.
Then we waited for our 10 minute flight to Pyramid with the new MAF kodiak. This plane is really nice but does provide a rather bumpy ride... Gravol all around...
Once we arrived we settled into our luxurious accomodations... cabins with very thin walls containing beds made by hand and probably no level and mattresses stamped with dates like 1958... I left our mattress out in the sun for a few hours in the hopes that would kill some of the dust mites... I think it helped.

The "lodge" where we ate our meals and had our meetings.
The old church building where VBS was held.

Each year a team from New Heights Church in Vancouver, Washington comes to help us with our conference. They run programs for all the age groups of kids and Pastor Matt Hannan teaches us twice a day. This year he taught us from the book of 2 Corinthians. Good stuff! There is also a team of cooks that volunteers to cook for us for the week (on two large wood stoves!). They are assisted by a great team of locals.

The kids had a great time playing with the other kids and participating in the programs.

One night we were the privileged family to sit in the family fun box seating (located on the "stage"...). For this honour we also received water bottles and bags of Skittles!

Brynne and her friend Hanne.
This is how we had hot water for our showers each day...

A traditional shelter where the high school group had their gatherings.

One afternoon my friend Anja and I took a little walk and this was our view as we sat on the side of the road. Then along came a pig, he visited for a bit. There were overloaded pick-ups passing us by and every now and then a local person would wander by. The women with their colourful skirts and nokens hanging off their foreheads down their backs. They were quite curious about us but didn't ask us what we were doing sitting on the side of the road. They just giggled... Many of the people there speak little or no Indonesian.
To be continued....

Monday, July 05, 2010

The end of our epic journey...

A couple days ago we reached the end of our epic journey "home" when we landed at Jayapura International Airport. (located in Sentani and rarely receives and international flight...) Going back a bit to Jakarta, we were able to purchase a new generator and arrange for shipping, yippee... Then we wondered how we should send half of our totes from Jakarta to Sentani. International travellers are allowed 2 23 kg pieces of luggage but once you are in Indonesia, you are only allowed 1 20kg piece. I called the MAF lady in Jakarta and she arranged for us to meet "Yogi" at the airport hotel and he would take half our totes off our hands and air-cargo them for us. The taxi arrived at the guest house and whipped us to the airport in record time as it was night time already. We picked up our stuff from the storage place without incident and made our way up to the hotel where a man immediately walked up to us and introduced himself as "Yogi". We gave him our 7 lightest totes (cheaper!) and he had a couple guys pushing the luggage carts and off they went. A little disconcerting to leave your luggage with a complete stranger! This whole process of getting to the airport and then retrieving our luggage and handing it off, took far less time than we had anticipated. We decided to see if we could check in as there is airconditioning past the security posts... check-in went smoothly and because I am a Garuda Frequent Flyer Silver card holder, I'm allowed 5 kg's extra luggage allowance... whoot whoot!! We then made our way to the gate area where we were very pleased to find that the Fifa game of Holland vs Brazil was on. We settled in to watch. Afterwards we had to go down the stairs to a bus which then brought us to another part of the airport where we exited the bus and went up another stairs and through a different gate into a brand new Garuda airplane sporting individual tv's!! For a moment I forgot I was in Indonesia and then I was offered a candy by the flight attendant and came crashing back to reality... They still offer candies before the flights on Garuda. Our plane left just after midnight and we stopped twice on our way to Papua; in Makassar and then in Biak. So it was a loooonngg flight. We arrived at about 9:30 am and exited the plane to a blast of humid air hitting us full force. Met by 2 MAF colleagues, we quickly made our way to the brand new "arrival hall" which is very spacious and air conditioned! Our luggage came and off we went home!
It's been really great to see our local friends again. The majority of our Western friends are not here right now so we'll have to wait to see them. Ritha is actually on the other side of the island for a church function so she isn't here either. Her sister is however, and is sporting a lovely round tummy! So exciting for her and her husband! Sadly, Awi's biological mother came and pretended to be her actual parent and took Awi from school and brought her to her home on the other side of the island without communicating with Ritha about it. Unbelievable really... Thankfully, Ritha was able to say good-bye to her. Rode is staying with Ritha's sister for now and came over to play with Marc and Brynne today. I was worried how Brynne would react as she has forgotten a lot about Papua, but she was excited to see Rode and they played nicely. Ice has started helping me again. She was very anxious to get back to work. She's been very healthy and looks really good! Yokben had been in a motorcycle accident and has a pretty big wound on his half-foot. They don't understand that you need to cover up wounds in order for them to heal. So I bought him bandaids and antiseptic ointment that day.
Today our other totes arrived safely from Jakarta. Yogi is a trust-worthy guy after all!
Tomorrow Hugo starts work again. Let's hope we have a jet-lag-free night!
Thankful again for God's care and protection of us on this very long journey back home!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Our journey home...

Here we are cheering on Holland as they played against Slovakia. Hup Holland Hup!!

The next day we got up at 2:00am and made our way to Schiphol airport. The traffic is really minimal at that time of day! No traffic jams! Hugo's lovely brother Luke had driven to Enschede the afternoon before so he could drive some of us and all our stuff. We made our way to the British Airways check-in counter where they couldn't find our tickets in their system... we tried not to panic... The nice woman at the counter called the ticketing office and located our tickets... whew... She was well aware of the rules regarding around the world travel and so didn't try to charge us an insane amount of money for our second bag per person... 14 rubbermaid totes in all! We had an uneventful short hop over to Heathrow International airport where we waited for 5 hours for our next flight. Heathrow must be the most unfamily-friendly airport there is (besides Sentani airport of course... :-)). There are no fast food places and no kiddy play area. So Starbucks muffins for lunch it was. You are kept in the dark as to what gate you will board your flight until the last possible moment and then everyone races to the gate where the frazzled airport people try to keep order... We had a lovely 11.5 hour flight to Hong Kong with lovely service from the lovely Cathay people. Upon arrival in Hong Kong we went through the quickest immigration ever... he couldn't speak English... Then we went to get our stuff and waited and waited. Then we noticed that the board said that all the luggage for our flight had been off-loaded... Thankfully I noticed a lady pushing a cart with some of our totes on it. Some airports consider our totes to be oversized and off load them to a different area. All the totes made it, whew! Then we made our way to the transit hotel where the friendly concierge guys took all our totes off our hands after which we and our backpacks went to check in. Our rooms wouldn't be ready for a couple hours so we made our way up to the hotel pool for a refreshing swim. It's quite warm and humid in Hong Kong! After 26 hours, 2 meals from Burger King and breakfast from Starbucks, we were on our way to Jakarta. After a lovely 4 hour flight we were back in Indonesia. The immigration line was painfully slow and our luggage took forever to make it's way out onto the luggage belt. Then we had to fend off porters and taxi drivers as we made our way to the counter of the taxi service hired to drive us to the city. They had only a car to drive us in that couldn't accomodate even one of our totes. So we and our four carts piled high with luggage went up to the transit hotel to see if we could store our stuff there. No dice, too much stuff... really?? So we, sweating profusely by now, made our way down again and found a place where you can store your stuff. We were probably overcharged, but we were just glad to be rid of all those totes! Then we went to the taxi and reaquainted ourselves with Indonesian traffic on our way to the guest house in Jakarta. Thankfully we arrived without incident and were able to order supper delivered. Hugo and I were thrilled not to have to eat another hamburger while the kids were thrilled to eat another hamburger. We hope to be here one night and leave tomorrow at midnight for our final flight to our home in Papua. It's been an insanely long journey and we are very thankful for God's care and protection on our way!

Waiting in Heathrow...
The pool in HongKong.
Waiting to board our flight to Jakarta.

Check out the sky scrapers!! At the guest house... Check out the miniscule salad Hugo got with his nasi goreng!