March 25, 2012

Give Thanks For 5 Little Toes!

A couple weeks ago Amy took Luke along with some other MAF folks to the 'big city' of Semarang for shopping. One of the bonuses of being in Central Java right now is that IF you know where to look, you can find a lot of stuff you would have otherwise assumed not available in this part of the world. Of course, this will all change for us once we are in Tarakan, as Tarakan is not located in a central heavily populated area like Central Java, it is more off the beaten path. Semarang has some pretty nice malls that could almost make one forget they are in Central Java, and are a nice resource for getting those items you can't find anywhere else (like starbucks coffee...As long as it is available, Amy and I are more than happy to drink it!).

Well, along with malls often comes escalators. If you don't already know, apparently Crocs sandals should not be worn on escalators. My little guy came a second or two away from loosing his foot as his croc started getting sucked between the stationary sidewall of the escalator and the moving stair. Luckily, Local heroine and MAF Mom Nan Grant (with baby in snuggly) mustered up some God given superhuman strength and was able to reach down and rip his foot out of his sandal just in the knick of time. Besides having a bruised foot and being freaked out, Luke was fine! Thank you God for looking after my boy. I can't imagine what could have happened, and I'm very thankful it didn't.

So, with a brand new pair of overpriced Crocs from that same fancy mall, Luke is back in business...Check out the moves!
Simon (with top button of shirt always done up) has a few moves of his own!.
Luke has also began soccer this year at his school, and is loving it! One thing for sure, where ever we go there should be some form of soccer.

Not to be outdone, Helena is showing the gutter she fell into the other day. One moment she was standing beside the gate ready to go inside, and the next moment there was nothing but a couple blonde curls poking up out of the ditch.

March 23, 2012

Change of Plans...Kalimantan!

As many of you already know, our final destination to serve with MAF changed last week, as our family was re-assigned from Papua to Kalimantan. From where to where!? If you'd like to know more about Papua and how MAF is involved there, just check out some of our earlier posts on this blog. Remember, Knowledge is Power! (I think I remember that from a strategically placed poster in elementary school, intended to motivate young impressionable students. They might have been better off writing something like "Knowledge may increase your chances of employment...Unless you are dishonest and/or lazy").  As far as Kalimantan is concerned, just maybe I'll give you a crash course right now, so get out your pens and pencils.

Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the Island of Borneo, and it is actually broken up into four provinces. The northwest portion of the Island is part of Malaysia and also the tiny Kingdom of Brunei. Borneo is a very large Island (3rd largest in the world) and is about four times the size of Washington State. It lies not too far north of the Island of Java, which is where we live right now. Kalimantan is actually broken down into four provinces, East, South, Central, & West. Our destination will be the City of Tarakan in the Province of East Kalimantan.

View Larger Map
 East Kalimantan is home to the Dayak people whom I have read are broken up into many, many sub-ethnic groups (for now, better to keep it simple).  The coastal regions also include many other ethnic groups who have moved to Kalimantan and settled over time including: Javanese, Chinese, & Malays...and the odd Canadian, eh!

So...Why MAF in Kalimantan? One main reason is a similarity that Kalimantan holds with Papua - they are both very large and have virtually no transportation infrastructure in the interior. Kalimantan is very much one of those places that an airplane is a necessity for the people living inland. I recently saw a video online from the late 90's about a competition where a convoy of land rovers & a team of adventure minded folks (obviously with a bit of time & money) attempted to become the first vehicles to cross Borneo. With all their convoy gear I think it took them around 3 weeks.

Speaking of multi-media, please check out the following 1/2 hour missionary documentary filmed about two years ago at the MAF base in Tarakan where we will serve. Maybe the only difference today is a couple of families have changed, and by the time we arrive a couple of the Cessna 206 aircraft will have been replaced by larger turbo-prop (jet fuel burning) Quest Kodiaks.

Initially, when Amy and I found out we were requested to change assignments to Kalimantan, we were shocked - to say the least! I am a bit embarrassed to admit how little I expected it, as I was personally so focused on our future life in Papua. But time has turned our shock into excitement as God has been giving us a heart for Kalimantan and how our family can be used by Him there. I should also briefly explain why our family in specific was asked to change programs. One of the current needs MAF Tarakan has personnel wise is maintenance specialists (mechanics who don't fly), and MAF felt our family would be a good fit for the program. So, as there were three Maintenance Specialist families heading to Papua, we were re-assigned. This is far from uncommon in MAF and in Missions in general, as it is often very hard to predict where the greatest need is a year or two in advance.

One specific prayer request we do have, is for a teacher at the small school used by MAF families in Tarakan. Luke will be in Grade 2 when we arrive, and currently there is no teacher (that we know of) lined up to teach. Amy and I both feel home-schooling Luke again is not a good option for him and we would really like to see him excel in a classroom environment, as he is doing so well in school here in Salatiga. Thank you so much ahead of time for your prayers, and we look forward to telling you all how they are answered!

March 14, 2012

Neighbourhood Harmonious

On Sunday night I attended our neighbourhood's local "RT Pertemuan" for the first time.  What on earth am I talking about? Well, just let me enlighten you.  Pertemuan just means "meeting", and RT is an acronym for "rukun tetangga" which means "neighbourhood harmonious".  

Local government in Indonesia does not stop at the Municiple level as far as geographical representation is concerned (as is generally done in Canada). It continues a few notches further down to individual neighbourhoods which have representatives called RW's (Rukun Warga - Citizen Harmonious). In each RW there are a number of RT's representing the parts of a given neighbourhood, which (I read) usually consist of 18 to 20 households. When we first moved here, we had to bring our Pak RT ("Mr. RT") copies of our passports and visas, so that he knows a bit about who is living in the community. In each RT there is usually a monthly meeting that all the men attend to discuss any neighbourhood business and whatever else might be worth talking about.

So, off I went to my first meeting, and a few things stuck out to me. The first being that I never realized how dependant I am on furniture meant for sitting such as chairs and couches, that is until I sat on a hard tile floor for about 85 min. Ok, there was a mat, but it was super thin. I never thought it would be so hard (literally and metaphorically) since Indonesians make sitting on the floor look so inviting and comfortable.

I also realized how I still understand so little of Indonesians talking informally and fast paced to each other. Catching every 4th or 5th word and then having to spend a bit of time translating it in your head really does very little helping one understand what is being said. IF women were allowed to such a meeting.  Also, there is the fact that some of what is being said is most likely not Indonesian, but in fact the local language of Javanese. But no problem, as I said to someone recently, I'm not sure if I'm actually understanding more, or just getting used to being confused and clueless...Either way, I AM adapting well!

I should also mention what an interesting concept the whole RT/RW thing is. From my short and limited exposure to the Javanese / Indonesian culture, there is a real emphasis on both relationship both in the family and in the community. I have wondered a bit how much this cultural strength has been a real benefit in unifying communities that have people with such contrasting beliefs. Maybe being proactive in promoting relationships in this manner in each community has helped a little to keep peace over the years.

I really wonder what it would be like for all the 'Dads' in given Canadian neighbourhood to meet once a month and officially chit chat about goings on, drink some coffee, etc. and go home. Yah, I know, for many different reasons it probably wouldn't work and might even seem a little weird...And I can't imagine the 'Men Only' thing going over well either. But then again, it is neat when you can actually understand a bit of why another culture does things differently. And in this case, I think the desire for togetherness and mutual respect in the local neighbourhood here is generally a positive thing. In Canada, I've lived in homes for a extended period of time and not known more than half the people in my immediate community. Kind of sad I must say!

Next week, I'm going to tell y'all why soccer is better than hockey...........joke, go canucks.

Fun...But Slightly Dangerous 

The other morning I went on a little outing with Si & Helena with the loose intentions of stopping at a play place we have previously frequented. This particular play place is pretty nice. BUT, from my Western point of view, it has an element of danger not seen at your local government funded park back home. I kept Simon to the relatively low bamboo poles and pirate ship style rope nets, and fortunately Helena could not climb up the more dangerous contraptions. I know the pictures below look pretty tame, but not pictured are a high rope type bridge that crosses a creak, and a zip line that starts about 40 plus feet up a tower and stops at a coconut tree. I would have to see the zip line in action to see exactly how one prevents from smashing ones' self into the tree at the bottom. Of course, my boys have asked to attempt both.

Interesting useless bit of info:  Indonesian for coconut - Kelapa. Indonesian for head - Kepala.

But hey, they had fun, with no cracked kelapa's and no bruised kepala's, and to Amy's delight the kids were out of the house for a bit! 

A terraced rice field across from the park, you can see some rice farmers taking a break in the bottom left corner.

March 11, 2012

Some Photos & Catching Darryl

This last week two new MAF families successfully arrived in Salatiga, and have begun getting used to their new surroundings - something we're still doing :)   We now have nine MAF families here, eight of which will (God willing) serve in Papua in varying capacities, and one that is headed to the Province of Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. This last week also brought our family some more runny noses, fevers, and chicken pox to Charlotte. But that said, it's not all bad as it is more an annoyance than a problem. And, having Charlotte with chicken pox at her young age is a great thing to cross off her "to do" list.  Amy has not had chicken pox yet (although she may have been immunized by exposure), so we are praying that she doesn't get them.

Helena sporting some new pink shoes, with a pink shirt and a pink back pack to go.

When I saw this picture of her shoes, I could not help think of her great grandmother (not mentioning any names...Barden) in a pair of slippers. Cute!

As I write, this "rodent" trap pictured above is sitting outside our house in the dark with a piece of cheese in it, waiting for our little back yard friend "Darryl" to give into his curiosity and hunger (please do not be offended if your name or the name of a loved one is Darryl...It was just the first human name that stuck to our furry little rat friend the first time we saw him. We didn't really consult the meaning in a name book or anything). Darryl has to go. Darryl loves to dig holes in places we don't want him to, he gets into our garbage, and he loves to make Amy scared to visit the washing machine around the side of the house.

The question is: What does one do with a live rat? Yes, some MAF families have pet pythons who would love a live rat for a delicious snack (again not mentioning any names...but you could look up various old posts on this blog: But I don't have a snake, nor do I want one. I need to be more Canadian, which means I should either shoot Darryl with a high powered hunting rifle meant for a full grown Moose, or, I could start a rat wildlife refuge and promote the rehabilitation of "Problem Rats". A good catch and release program will both create jobs AND ensure a healthy population of rats for years to come. Back home this might be a viable option, but I just don't think the government in these parts would jump on board with the funding to make it happen.

So...I'll either release Darryl with the knowledge that statistically there is a very high chance he will re-offend, or I might just give him a swim in a bucket with some concrete shoes so-to-speak, capital punishment for rats. Or maybe he/she just needs a good rat Parol Officer to periodically check in on him as we integrate him back into rat society (how about it Dad). But what I really should have done is purchased the style of rat trap from the Pasar (market) that catches and kills them dead all in one go. They're kind of like the rat traps back home, but they're a bit more menacing with big metal teeth. They looked like they'd create a bit of a mess to clean up so I went for the cage.

Yes, the last three paragraphs were in fact about a rat. My sincerest apologies. That said, I'll definitely keep you updated on whether or not I even catch the little critter.

March 8, 2012

It's Good To Remember...

To some it may seem like we say this a lot (and maybe to some not enough), but Amy and I would like to express our deep appreciation for all of you who pray for our family, our ministry with MAF, and the people of Indonesia. As well, thank you to all of those who provide ongoing support for our ministry with MAF. I believe we were never meant to serve here without God using each and everyone of you back home as an important and necessary part of God's plan to use our family.

If you'd like, check out this short video that highlights just a wee bit of how God used MAF last year through all of those who have faithfully supported this ministry:

March 2, 2012

A Ring Tailed Lemur!

Today was "International Day" at Luke's elementary school. Since Luke's class focused on Madagascar, he got to be a Ring Tailed Lemur. A little ironic considering our good friends  Rob & Karina Barber, who are also from BC, just moved to Madagascar to serve with MAF (their blog is Maybe when one of their four kids have an International Day they'll do Indonesia...or even Canada. Lumberjack outfit!

Luke and his Grade one class! 

Sepeda Motor Cepat Sekali  (very fast scooter)
Running a business or small store out of your home is very common here. Within a one minute walk of our home we have at least two tiny corner stores, a store that sells crafts & purses, and a scooter repair shop. So, last week I took my scooter over to my neighbour's for an oil change and tune up.

Tinkering with scooters is bit of a male pastime here...Well, maybe I should say A LOT of a pastime. Wherever you go you are guaranteed to see some little haunt with guys hanging out doing something to their scooters. Or, you see young guys speeding by (I haven't quite figured out the whole "what's-the-speed-limit" thing) on their noisy, two-stroke, tricked out scooters. Or, just maybe you'll see a kid drive by that looks barely 9 years old, with no helmet & a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, doubling another kid. All great material for a future post!

So, the below picture is of my neighbour's drag racing scooter...Yes, that's right, a scooter built for the sole purpose of drag racing. He told me they run avgas (aviation gasoline) at the race track for better high compression performance. The one drawback is, I just don't think I can fit multiple kids on this one. And, that seat looks awfully uncomfortable. 

And yes folks, it is a scooter, possibly still the "uncoolest" form of transportation in many parts of Canada & the US (besides a segway - if they're still around).  But watch out, Europe loves them, Asia loves them, Australia probably likes them, at least a bit...Don't be left behind North America! Yes, I know, only good for the summer, but I heard gas prices are still on the rise back home. With my scooter, I get killed at the pump. With premium, it's maybe 4 bucks to fill er' full :)  

Helena a little while back looking cute carrying around her princess chap stick. It looks cute, but Amy doesn't much appreciate trying to clean chap stick off all Helena's clothes & the furniture. Now that it has mostly run out, we might just wait till she's four before we give it another try...or eight.