December 23, 2012

Mike Echo Foxtrot

About a 1 1/2 yrs ago I was in Spokane, WA. to do some aviation training. While there, I took a trip over to Sandpoint, ID where the aircraft Quest Kodiak is produced. The Kodiak is a small turboprop aircraft designed for the kind of flying MAF does a fair amount of - especially in Indonesia, you can read my post about it here if you are a keener.

I happened to visit the Quest factory when they had two future MAF planes taking shape, one of them being serial #58. Here's a couple assembly line pic's below:
#56 getting ready for some wings...
The picture above is of the fuselage floor structure of the Kodiak. The four long silver horizontal lines are seat rails which the cockpit and cabin seats attach to, and also act as tie-down points for cargo of all shapes and sizes. This is the main fuselage structure that a lot of other important pieces end up attaching to ( like landing gear, wing struts, etc.) and it is where the Kodiak starts taking shape.

I am about 98% sure this particular chunk of airplane is the beginnings of serial #58. What's so special about #58? Well, it just arrived here in Tarakan last week as our 2nd MAF Kodiak!
All of us MAFer's gathered at the hangar to welcome the new Kodiak as it arrived from Papua. 

Papua, Indonesia? Why Yes! After leaving the factory in Sandpoint, #58 and one other of it's close siblings went to Nampa to receive some MAF modifications, and also to be fitted for a ferry flight to the other side of the world. After Nampa, next stop was Papua, (I think, as I might be skipping a step or two) and that is where the two brand spanking new planes sat until they cleared all the paperwork required to legally make them flyable in Indonesia.

One plane stayed with the MAF program in Papua, and #58 headed to Kalimantan!
Welcome #58!
Luke catching some shade under a wing with his buddy Sean.
Helena catching a hug from Mom.
Two tired looking pilots. Sentani, Papua to Tarakan, North Kalimantan is quite a haul in a Kodiak. It's like going from Vancouver to like Winnipeg...or Thunder Bay, something like that, but with large amounts of ocean underneath the plane instead prairie and airports.
Here's a photo of a guy taking a photo. Very artistic. The photographer is Tripp Flythe, for some awesome photos & great posts check out their family blog here.
 The coolest part of the arrival is being able to all gather around the plane and pray, a dedication of this plane to the service of Jesus Christ.

It would be so neat to one day look back and see all the ways this plane is used to help people.  Who knows how many thousands of flight hours, landing & take-offs, unloading and loading with passengers and cargo, hours spent with maintenance in the hangar, mornings washing & fuelling, that it will rack up. And, how many sick people transported to a hospital, local churches supported, families moved, pigs that get to ride in the cargo pod, the list goes on!
Check out this one more link from Dave Forney (one of the pilot's who brought the plane from Papua) for some awesome photos of the flight over.

December 7, 2012

Moe & Roe

The other day, while on a walk home from the local grocery store, Amy heard some whimpering coming from a gutter maybe a block from our house. So, she and the kids took a peek and found a couple puppies all tangled up in weeds. With the help of an Indonesian man, she got them out, into a bag, and brought them home!

We had been talking about getting a dog anyways, so saving a couple furry little fellers from a bleak outlook sounded pretty good to us & the kids, Luke especially!
 Meet Moe and Roe! The white one was named "Moe" after Moses since she was tangled up in the weeds and was rescued...That's before we new she was a she. "Roe" is short for "Rocky the Robot" - the name ceremoniously given by Simon.

 Like any self respecting puppies, they are very playful. They also have quite the appetites, which I would expect since they come from a long healthy line of stray garbage eating dogs. (We still see their Mom & Dad everyday making a mess of the garbage at the local "transfer station" just down the road from our house. By "transfer station" I mean the following: You throw your garbage in the little concrete walled type garbage building, and through various means most of your garbage is then "transferred" all over the place...Usually as about as far as a dog is willing to run off with a garbage bag in it's mouth before deciding to splay the contents all over the ground for everyone to smell and see. But I wouldn't want to get too descriptive because this is all tasteful content for a future post!)
 Moe and Roe playing with a leaf...Better than eating my shoes, which they are already fully capable of doing.


Yes, we've given them worm medicine, etc. But we still make Simon wash up after seeing him "help" Roe do all the actions to "When your happy and you know it clap you hands".

December 3, 2012

Out and About

There's a little hill just down the road from our house, it is where Luke's school is located. Sometimes we get up there for a family walk.
A view of Tarakan from the school road.
Kids playing with a toy airplane near some tennis courts.
An all ages game of volleyball was in progress, so I thought I'd snap a couple quick pictures...
...But of course it doesn't take long before everyone is lining up, making jokes, and yelling for more pictures!
When Charlotte is sleeping, it is definitely easier for Helena to hitch a ride, as she doesn't get kicked in the back and yelled at :)
It would almost be weird to go out and about with the kids and not get asked - at least once - by a passerby to get their picture taken together with some of the kids.
Si and Charlotte, two peas in a pod hangin' out!

Not the greatest picture to show it, but it is very common this time of year to have both blue sky on one side and storm clouds building on the other. Pretty cool!

November 24, 2012

Getting Settled

The process of "getting settled" is slowly but surely happening for us.  Rubbermaid bins can still be found scattered about our house, still half full of stuff waiting for a permanent home - 3 of them making a good spot in our living room for our 16" tall Xmas-tree-in-a-bucket to temporarily sit upon (out of reach of Charlotte).

So to match our current "lifestyle" of choice, why not some slightly scattered, somewhat disorganized blog posts. After all, it is a bit hard to introspectively run about the island, camera in hand, until you can remember which rubbermaid bin has a clean t-shirt, and the leak in the back room is fixed, Et Cetera.
Above is a picture of our crates from Canada when I first started cracking them open in the hangar. Notice the hockey stick I thought brought 1/2 way around the world...Looks like more hockey might happen this year in Borneo than in the NHL. And oh yes, that's my toolbox waiting for some wheels & tools to get back in business!
I snapped a quick picture of our Quest Kodiak a few weeks back with the engine cowls off as we were doing a scheduled inspection (notice Mr.Toolbox in the back ground wheels on & loving being back working). Our program here is expecting a 2nd Kodiak soon, in fact, it should already be here. It will get put to work as soon as it arrives!
Here is a view of the MAF hangar from the airport side, to the right is the MAF offices. If you happen to notice how low the tail is on the Cessna 206 in the hangar, it was because the nose gear assembly needed a little love. On the far right, just outside of the picture on a little hill is a concrete Japanese machine gun bunker from WW2. That is material for another blog post, when I find a bit of time to introspectively run about the island, camera in hand :)
BC, Java, or Borneo. Dressing up like a pretty princess is universal for Helena.
One morning before breakfast sitting on the front porch!
Above, take note of Charlotte's red little nose. While at a friends house a few days before, she fell in a little rain water gutter, scraped herself up a bit, and barely cried. For almost a week, I must admit I gave her the nickname "Borris", after the late, great, (often not sober) leader of post communism Russia.
Quite the resemblance, eh?

November 10, 2012

Culture Shock at the Dock

This last week brought the arrival of our shipping container. A couple days ago, it arrived at the port here in Tarakan. The question for us became: How does one get his/her stuff out of a shipping container and to his house? Or, should I start with: Where is the Port? Basically, I didn't know where to start, or even how to know if our container had arrived. But thankfully here in Tarakan we have lots of fellow MAF'ers who have been there - done that. Brian Underhill kindly took the proverbial bull by the horns and found out my container had newly arrived, and so we headed off to check things out at the port!

So here comes the culture shock part. I felt like I was suddenly in a Tin-Tin comic book, or at least scene from a movie. Old trucks loaded up blowing black smoke into the air, rough looking dudes hanging off the side, an old crane working away - that I can't say I felt safe walking near. I guess it isn't that much different to the Indonesia I see everyday, but just the combination of it all in a new setting made it a memorable experience.

Thankfully Brian brought his camera to document a bit of it!

The above photo is us cracking the container open and waiting for the first truck. The guy in the light blue shirt is Pak Nelson, a MAF employee who thankfully came to help out us out (make sure we don't get into trouble).
 Above is a woman selling something...I'm not sure if it is something to drink, or to put in your truck.
It is amazing a truck as old as this Mercedes is still mostly in one piece, considering it's a hot / humid environment, right next to the ocean. A whole lot of bondo and a little paint goes a long way!
 That's our stuff being loaded on the left. 
 Somehow I don't think things at the Vancouver Port Authourity work quite like this.
Flip flops or boots, shirt or no shirt,  no problem. I love this photo! It kind of captures the 'feel' of the situation, whereas sometimes pic's don't do a situation justice. For most westerners, after awhile being stared at kind of becomes normal here, but when they are all tough looking dudes, it takes a bit of getting used to!
As 'exciting' as getting our container was, I'm pretty happy to have it in the past, and our barang-barang presently in our house. Thanks for all the help Brian!

November 1, 2012

Travelling

The prospect of air travel with four little kids isn't something that personally excites me. That said, our kids did pretty good (once again) getting on and off airplanes for the day, and for that I'm thankful! Amy and I kind of mentally prepared ourselves because Charlotte currently falls in that age bracket of kids that is certainly the toughest age to travel...according to me. You can purchase my parenting advice book "How I Think You Should Raise Your Kids" in most major bookstores. The age I'm talking about is just under a year, and up to approx. 2 1/2 yrs. This is the "red zone", as they want to crawl, walk, or run, have extremely short attentions spans, and don't have any concept of where they're going. "Just hold still for 15 more minutes and we're there..." doesn't mean anything to them. But, by the grace of God, we were blessed with a sleepy Charlotte for the majority of the trip! That made things a whole lot easier.
 Helena playing on the Leap Pad in a quieter part of Jakarta International Airport. Having tricks in your bag (by tricks I mean video games) is a real asset when it comes to giving the kids something to do. So, here they're all glued to screens...I know, I didn't recommend this in my book, but better to do as I say, not as I do.

Boy, when I was a kid, if I was bored, my Mom would give me an old stick, and air conditioning was being allowed to roll down the station-wagon window 4 inches (probably only 4 inches so i couldn't throw my old stick at on-coming traffic).
 Simon with Amy's cell phone....
 Luke with the iPod...(and Dad with his camera)
 But not Charlotte! This was the time for her to run and stretch those legs, before boarding the 2nd flight of 3.

In Tarakan we were greeted by most of the MAF Tarakan team, and instantly felt at home. We're thankful for all the efforts people made here to help us feel at home in our first week!

Next time I promise some pic's of Tarakan.

October 28, 2012

Leaving

Well here is my first blog post from Island of Tarakan! But instead of feeding you pictures of pythons, monitor lizards, airplanes and wrenches, I better I first must get caught up on the eventful last few weeks.

What have we been up to!? A flurry of events, a whirlwind of experiences, a (insert metaphor here) of activities. Our family's time in language school and in Central Java came to a close, and we've successfully moved to the town of Tarakan, on the Island of Tarakan. I'll briefly say now, being here has been just awesome, and I definitely plan to write more posts on just what this means to our family in the near future.

But first...Salatiga, where so many awesome friends of ours still remain! We were truly thankful for how down the stretch our MAF friends helped us pack our container, lent us scooters and cars when we had only feet, watched our kids when we were packing, and helped out wherever they could. What a blessing!

The morning we left was quite emotional as we said good bye to our house helpers who had become like an extension of our family. We will truly miss them, both Amy and I, and the kids! Charlotte had spent a few hours each week day with Ibu Yani for the last year. As we left town, Luke cried and cried, as he knew he would not see his friends again. 

But we have felt the hand of God watch over our family and help us along, and I don't say that just to tidy things up with a nice little cliche saying. Just today Luke told me how he loves it here in Tarakan, and loves his new school! I instantaneously thought of that morning we travelled to the airport, and how I didn't know what to say or how to comfort him, but could only hug him. I'm so thankful that God gave Luke a love for his new school and friends. Us being here is not just about Amy and I, t's about all 6 of us. But more on here (as in Tarakan) and how the other kids are doing later!
Above Amy and some of the kids have newly arrived home in Amy's favourite Javanese mode of mass transit: a Dokar (horse buggy).You can get a ride from down town to your front door for maybe $2.50-$3.00, which is relatively expensive compared to the Angkota (mini bus) which cost maybe $0.60 for Amy and 3 kids to get home. We have yet to see a horse on the island of Tarakan. There are plenty of cows, well, there were a lot of cows until a couple days ago which was the religious holiday Idul Adha...but maybe I'll save that one for next year.
 To streamline events in our last few days before leaving, Helena had her 4th birthday party at the same time as our MAF goodbye get-together. Jacinda Basinger kindly baked a purple cake for her, which I must say was delicious! Above, Helena is pre-tasting the cake to see if she agrees with me.

Getting together with the other MAF families just before someone leaves to their program on another island is a bit of tradition in language school and pretty cool. We get to say goodbye, pray together, and kind of "send" the family on to the next phase of what God has called them to do in Indonesia. As hard as it is to say goodbye, I think we're all glad that we are not indefinitely meant to be in some sort of language school purgatory:)


 Our last week in Salatiga involved a lot of good-byes, and in our neighbourhood was no exception! It is cultural to visit all your neighbours and "berpamitan" (give farewell / say goodbye). Above and beyond attending neighbourhood meetings and giving a little speech, for Amy this also meant making something to eat for about a dozen guests who came over one day before we left. If I were back in Canada, I would think, what!? Our house is in boxes, and we're trying to get out the door...could we pick a better time?

Okay, I did kind of think that, a bit. But we also laughed a bit about it too. We are, after all, on the other side of the world. We also know that here it is the way folks here show respect, and it is actually pretty neat. It also means that they really did like us! It is pretty cool how they accepted us into their neighbourhood, and having these relationships is another example of how we have seen the hand of God provide for us in this last year. Despite all our business and some stressful moments, He brought people along from our neighbourhood at the right times that required little effort to build relationships with. Our hope and prayer is that, despite ourselves, Christ was seen in us by them.
Above our some of our neighbours are enjoying the exotic foreign dish called "Pizza" (from the country of Italy) and "cookies" (from the country of Yum). The fresh watermelon, well that is plentiful in Java.