April 27, 2012

Raden Kartini

What time is it? It's time for an instalment of "HEROES OF INDONESIA!"

How cool would that be if Canada had an official Hero list...who would be on it? Louie Riel was hanged by the Canadian Government, so that excludes him. No, not Don Cherry, that's silly. John A. MacDonald? MacKenzie King? I honestly can't say I know anything about the honourable, Mr. King. Mr. Trudeau? He had some one liners, but if you ask my Dad about him you might get the sense that Trudeau might just fall a bit short.

Maybe it is our lack of domestic war that would have required someone to step up and problem solve. Maybe we're just not good at photo op's and quotable quotes (General MacArthur with his corncob pipe on the front of a battleship exclaiming, "I have returned!" Or Sir Winston Churchill declaring "We shall never surrender!"...If you don't know what I'm talking about, log out of Facebook and open a history book once in while...hehe)  But just maybe our ability to quietly and cooperatively follow along in the wake of Europe and the US is the reason.

But maybe it just would not be Canadian to have such a list, because it would only take one person to complain and the whole thing would be cancelled, and somehow it would be guaranteed to come across as discriminating to pick a singular person for some specific praise. Canadian heroes would have to be abstract groups that sometimes don't have a definite beginning or end. You know, kind of like "Happy Holiday Seasons" is a neat little slogan meant to represent a whack load of religious / ethnic celebrations regardless if they are traditionally celebrated in December or not.

Here in Indonesia, they have certified "official" heroes, whether you like them or not, and April 21st was Kartini Day (I'm sure Kartini was likeable). Now that your curiosity is just killing you, let me gently inform:

Raden A. Kartini grew up in a Central Javanese family of influence, and gained an education through the lenience and progressive thinking of her father. She is known for pushing the rights of women in Indonesia including the right for women to learn and study. She was also outspoken against polygamy, a common tradition at that time in Java. She died at the young age of 25 in 1904 after giving birth to her first kid. If you are dying to know more, type "Kartini" into Wikipedia :)

Luke and a few of his class mates had the opportunity to take part in the ceremonies on Kartini day, and were the 'cute & international' representation. Here's a few pic's:

A bit of the crowd during the ceremony, all dressed up.

The women really get done up for this day, as it is a big part of the Kartini Day tradition.
Simon was very thrilled to see that a lot of the men were wearing swords, and he wondered if they were pirates.
My boy looking handsome and as traditionally Javanese as he possibly can. Amy said I should mention that the red sandal's were not worn during the dance...

All lined up and looking cute for the crowd. I have no pic's of their dance but I recorded it, so maybe another time I'll edit that down (for you Grandma's and Grandpa's).

Here's the photo op with the political who's who of Salatiga, I think that is the Walikota (Mayor) in the middle. Simon and Helena kind of got thrown in the pictures because they were hanging around and are obviously of an 'international' flavour.
And last but not least, check out my new ride, 1977 Honda CB125. It runs okay now, but when we move to Kalimantan it just might get taken all apart & upgraded...And if I'm lucky, put back together too.

April 20, 2012

Around Main Street

These pictures are of the main street in Salatiga. But it's not called main street, it's called "Jalan Jenderal Sudirman". General Sudirman led the Indonesian Armed Forces against the Dutch in the 1940's as Indonesia fought for their independence after WW2. He then died from TB in 1950 at the ripe old age of 35. All that to say, the main thru road in a lot of Indonesian towns are named after him. No picture of his statue though, maybe another time and in another exciting post jam packed with stories about "The Heroes of Indonesia From Times Past!"

"Ada Baru" (sign in top left corner - above) is kind of a mall complex that has a pretty good grocery store in the back. We shop there quite regularly. Instead of a 3/4 ton pickup or SUV out front to load groceries in, we use a scooter.  But then again, there aren't any giant jars of mustard or 3 kilo bulk packs of q-tips for sale that might make the trip home hazardous. Smaller quantities and more frequent trips shopping, that's the way we roll.
Notice above-right the family of four on the scooter...a fairly common site. In fact, I've done it with Luke, Si, & Helena. The kids aren't wearing helmets because I don't think they have to till the age of 12. It's kind of a reverse logic when compared to North America where children seem to require more protection in/on moving vehicles. Car seats, 5 point harnesses, etc. My philosophy is that the actual potential for danger changes from country to country as apposed to merely the perception of what should be done to prevent a dangerous situation.  In other words, driving small children around on scooters with no helmets just isn't as dangerous in Indonesia as it is in Canada. In fact, a lot of things here aren't. But don't worry, this logic doesn't apply to aviation :)
Becaks (3 wheeled bike carriages) parked.
Down a couple side allies from the main drag is the usual gathering location for human and horse powered transportation. They often sit here waiting around for passengers, or doing whatever they do. A great little weight gym I go to is right down here too. The guy who runs it used to be in Indonesian action flick movies like 20 or 30 yrs ago. He once was "Rambu" (Indonesian version of Rambo) and was good and ripped for the part (poster hanging in in gym to prove it). The gym has a personality to it that I have never seen nor most likely never will see in Canada...Including smoke break benches outside the front door, and the odd cockroach by the free weights. I was going to take a picture of the gym store front, but the sign was taken down as it was Sunday.

This elderly lady was fast asleep on the sidewalk. She most likely is sleeping here because she begs in this area. I would imagine (and I am bordering on ignorance here) that most of the beggars along here may have some family and do not live 24/7 on the sidewalk, but come here each day (or are helped here) to beg in order to have at least a bit of income for food. Then again, I could be wrong, maybe this is it.

How very sad. I wonder how many people in just this country alone regularly have a similar sleeping situation. If she was given the usual amount a beggar is given every 10 minutes, 8 hrs a day, 7 days a week, it would take her over a year to earn the worth of the camera I took this picture with. The reality is, she would receive far less. I am so far removed from this woman's life, her plight, her poverty, her everything.

I find it a bit overwhelming to think about, as my heart and my head race to rationalize and categorize the sad plight of someone truly impoverished. What did Christ say about this? I kind of know some of what He said already...What I do for someone in need - how I treat them, it might as well be to Christ...But, I could find several people in the same situation along this street, where do I start and where do I stop? If I stop thinking about it and just go buy my groceries (like I came here to do), is that wrong? What about getting used to seeing this, does that somehow make it okay to walk on by? 
I've struggled with this before when I often passed people on the street in Canadian cities I've lived in. But since coming here God has allowed a lot to go through my head related to poverty and wealth. Amy and I have had many related discussions about this. As expats trying to set up a home for the next number of years, we are doing a fair amount of spending. You could justify pretty well everything ten different ways in the comfort of North American cultural context. Example: "We should probably get a decent stove that is big enough to fit a regular size baking dish inside...After all we are a family of six."  Sounds good to me, no problem.  But, the reality is it isn't a no brainer for the many families that live around us that cook over a fire pit and generally have dirt floors throughout most of their house. How about a new mattress that doesn't hurt your back? Well, when your bed is a sidewalk... Soon the "Norm" isn't normal anymore, and buying a stove or having a decent mattress has quickly gone from "a given" to "a luxury". But is it wrong to have these things? Of course not, but for what is my heart yearning? What is my mind usually focused on? On what do I burn my energy? How do I pray? Are my prayers completely irrelevant to the world around us too? What does the Word of God say about this, and do I dismiss it as quickly as I forget the person on the street?

What a needy mess up bunch we are. I am so so grateful for how completely blessed my family is, but our hearts are so deprived and we need Christ so very much. Maybe it is from their situation that the poor have more clarity and insight into the condition of their hearts.

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen 
those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith 
and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to 
those who love him?
James  2:5

April 17, 2012

The Pasar

The other day I took my camera down to the local pasar (open market) for a few pictures. Many people do their food shopping here. In fact, we eat a lot of chicken, rice, veggies, and fruit bought from here by our wonderful house help. A wide angle lens would have been great here, but maybe that's for another time :)
Dried fish...the smell is quite pleasant when compared to fresh fish.

Some of my new buddies...Indonesians are generally super friendly, and love to ask where you are from, if you are married, how many kids do you have, etc. They also often love to take their picture with you (the "obviously not from here" person) and are happy to pose for a picture or two themselves.
To fu or however you spell it...no thanks.
I wanted to buy a squishy handful of cow to put in my back pack to snack on later, but didn't have the heart to wake this poor lady up.
Again, it is not hard to find someone who will smile for a picture and engage you in some friendly chit chat (great language practice for me).

Hot peppers among other things...yum!

The darker fruit is called "salak" and the lighter coloured is called "duku". Our house help told we have in fact eaten both types already...as I wasn't sure :)  I think I've liked just about every fruit I've tried thus far.

April 14, 2012

Misc. Box

Bilingual Toys
Sometimes we hear Helena speaking a little Indonesian with her dolls, and sometimes her dolls speaking Indonesian to her. Yes, kids learn fast, but it is still quite amazing to hear & watch. Most of what they've picked up has been at school and around the house here with us, and also from our awesome house help.

Chalk One Up For John Wayne
Luke recently described to Amy some of his Grade One learnings:
"We've been studying different countries in class. So far, we've learned about India, Japan, and Texas!"
Our Texan friends were happy to hear this. But that said, I should ask Luke a few questions about what he's learning down there at that school...Nothing about Upper & Lower Canada!?

Quotable Questions  (By Simon)
"Why do boats float and not just sink?"
It's easy to just accept that boats float, but requires a bit of basic physics to explain why, including the specific gravity of water vs. the weight of the boat & the volume of water displaced, and so on. In a classroom in my distant pass I remember something about that...money well spent :)

"Why does God make earthquakes with big waves that smash peoples houses? It scares me!" Why does a good, loving, all powerful God let bad things happen? I never thought I'd be having this conversation with my son when he is just five, but how very cool to be doing so.

Simon: "How does goo make you see?" 
Us: "what?"
Simon: "If your eye is all gooie and squishy, how can you see?"
Um, great question...Retina, light refraction, something else...I don't remember. Honestly, I can't really explain why.

Lost in Translation
We have discovered the place where clothing companies off load all those shirts with 'shocking' and/or rude sayings you sometimes see cool people wear back home. Where would that be? Well, where people don't speak english. I've seen just about everything on clothing here, and I'd saying the vast majority of the owners of offensive apparel here haven't the faintest idea what their clothing says.

Okay, I'm sure there are folks in all cultures who like a little 'edge' to their t-shirts, but let me give you an example of innocent ignorance. For sale in the front window of a little clothing store (near the grocery store we always go to) was a couple nice dark blue hoodies. But on the front were large black, white and red swastikas, that looked like they were just pulled off a flag from a Nazi Germany History Channel special (I wish I had a picture). Well, maybe they were just Hindu symbols? Considering there was also a clothing brand mark that read something like "Arian Brothers Apparel", I'd say 100% white supremacist. I couldn't believe my eyes! First off, how on earth did clothing like that become 'for sale' in Indonesia? And, would an Indonesian actually knowingly sell something like that? There is always the possibility too (like so much clothing here) that it was outsourced and produced in Indonesia. What irony for a racist group proud of the Nazi legacy to outsource their " I'm better than everyone else" clothes to be made in a country in Southeast Asia. Anyways, I sat there for a minute or two with my mouth open, as I have never seen anything like that for sale in a public place in Canada!

It really makes one 'ponder' what that Asian writing really means on that cultural wall hanging, or on that trendy piece of clothing you just bought, or tattoo...

Darryl & Co.
No pictures this post, because the only one I currently have is of a dead rat. I am still wondering if I should put it on my blog. Of course I will, just not today. After all, to say catching rats is not part of our life experiences here would be a lie. Whether ones' view is that they are creepy, disgusting, gross pests, or merely mis-understood intelligent creatures that actually can make good pets...They eat our garbage, are multiplying in our yard, and want in our house. I will say this: With one rat trap (the non-humane type) I caught 4 rats in one night. When they start peering in your back screen door while your house helpers are trying to eat lunch, it's time to do something. Okay, you twisted my arm, here's a picture.
This is a little feller, thankfully he did not have the chance to grow nice and big from dining on our garbage.  I'm pretty sure the original 'Darryl' is also no more. Catching rats is a bit like fishing, and I would imagine it is even more like having a trap line. If it was colder here I could make a nice fur hat. I think the funny part is that I watermarked this photo, like someone was going to steal it and take all the credit.

April 10, 2012

Allah Setia (God is Faithful)

A couple months ago I started writing a post about how God has been faithful to our family. I also was trying to write a bit about the needs the Province of Papua currently had, as at that time we still thought Papua was our future destination. Interestingly enough, I never finished the post, as I was actually hung up on writing about Papua, as I seemed to have only a fragmented collection of thoughts and information. Sometimes your mind desires to go in a number of directions at the same time, and doesn't seem to get anywhere. Sometimes, I think God subtly moves and directs your thoughts. Soon after that, our future and our focus changed from Papua to Kalimantan.

Recently, I put a prayer request at the bottom of one of our posts, it was for our eldest son Luke to have a Grade 2 teacher in Kalimantan next school year. This was a very large unknown for us, and was a big deal for our family. We have seen such amazing results with Luke attending school here in Salatiga both academically and socially, we did not want him to take what we felt would be a big step backwards. Amy enjoyed home schooling Luke in kindergarten, but also found it quite a stretch on her natural teaching abilities. She really felt unprepared for home schooling our kids long term.

Amy and I really felt that together we were kind of stepping off the deep end and putting God to the test. IF God was behind our move to Kalimantan, IF God is good, IF God cares for our needs, and IF God is faithful, He will answer our prayer and provide what we need in Kalimantan. And we did pray, and our plan was to ask many of you to pray.

No more than a few hours after posting our prayer request, we received an email that said there would indeed be a teacher in Kalimantan next year. Allah setia! God is faithful!  One full-time teacher in Kalimantan means one busy teacher as she will be taking care of Grades 1-8. A second teacher is strongly desired at the little school. So again, if you don't mind we would appreciate prayer for just that.

"I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. 
A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he."
Deuteronomy 32:4

 Simon recording his thoughts through illustration (probably something with an 'Angry Birds' flavour) while Dad snaps a couple pictures on the side of the road.

A full moon night...

April 5, 2012

Our Busy Baby

Recently, Charlottes' mobility has been an issue. Considering the hard tile floors and her ability to climb, she has a minimum requirement of one full time parent, when on the loose.

NOTE: This is not a video about what we regularly let our daughter do, but rather a short documentation of what we try hard to prevent  :)

April 4, 2012

In Photos...

Photos of the last week or two...
Amy taking her first ride on our new Honda 'Scoopy' scooter. We traded our old Suzuki Skywave in as it was a bit heavy for Amy...And just not cute enough. I Always wanted a cute scooter. But, I will show pic's soon of my not-so-cute 1977 Honda CB.
The computer...We would be seriously at a stand still without it. 
Helena checking out a small millipede one of her brother's pointed out.
Luke at the school playground showing Dad how he can easily climb to heights that would guarantee injury if he fell.

Putting easter stickers on empty egg shells after a little easter story & lesson.

Two cuties!

Charlotte has become arguably our most busy baby, as she has mastered the arts of quickness and climbing. Soon I should have a short video on the blog to explain more.

Helena baking cookies with Mom.