July 31, 2012


A major change from life in Canada to here in Indonesia is that we have help around the house. Our Helpers have been such an important and necessary part of our lives, especially with Amy and I both in language school this last year.

With the average income in Indonesia being exponentially lower than in Canada, things cost less, and people have less. Having such things as a shower, a fridge, or an oven are not the norm here. In fact, having these types of amenities (that are considered standard back home) puts one in a higher income bracket here - whether you realized it or not!
We currently have two awesome women helping us Monday to Friday. The kind of ways they help us: Cook a meal (from scratch), clean & disinfect floors (more important in a tropical country as it kills potential bacteria & diseases...We've already had friends deal with nasty diseases such as Typhoid and Dungue Fever), take care of Charlotte for part of the morning (allowing Amy & I to do homework and go to school), shop for food, do the mid-day dishes, fold & Iron clothes (ironing here is a must because we do not have a dryer and in a humid environment it sucks out that extra bit of moisture helping to prevent mould), and the list goes on!

Could we do this ourselves? Yes, we could. But, considering we are here (in Salatiga) to learn Indonesian, the amount of time we could devote each day to learning a language (and take care of house & home), would be minimal. It would literally take us years to accomplish what we are coming close to finish doing in just under 1 year!

Not only do these women help us with work around the home, but they have also helped so much with our language acquisition and cultural learning. So many times Amy and I have asked them questions for homework or just questions about life here. They have become our family friends, people we trust, and we will miss dearly when we move in the fall!
Last month one of our Helpers "K" had her first child, a baby girl. As she is now on 3 months off for maternity leave, she invited us over to her home to meet both her baby and also her family. We were very excited to do so!
 Not only did they have a nice spread of snacks waiting for us, they also served us a full meal! Enak Sekali! (very tasty!)

Every time we visit an Indonesian friends home, we are humbled by their generosity, politeness and how they live with so much less. Whether or not you are satisfied with your couch in your own home becomes less important after you have visited with a lovely family that has never had a couch...Talk about reality check! It is so good to be thankful to God for what He has given us, and whatever situation He has put us in, no matter what that is.
  Amy with new baby & Simon eating his 5th helping of snacks.

July 28, 2012

A Stroll with Charlotte

Come on folks! Dad won't let me stray too far, but I'm sure we can find something like a rock or leaf to put in my mouth. Hopefully Dad keeps me away from the chicken poo :)
Is Mr. Neighbour home? This man has cows, chickens and goats and they live beside our house. Sometimes Mr. Neighbour climbs tall trees and gets coconuts. He also helps Dad with making our garbage disappear. It's nice to have a Mr. Neighbour!
Hey, there's some chickens now! Sometimes they sneak in our yard and poop on our porch, but they sure are tasty!
I hear some chickens in here too...
Isn't it nice on my street? Mom sometimes takes me in my stroller down this road and passed the soccer field. She takes us to Luke's school and I get to run around on the grass at the park. I like to put stuff in my mouth there too! My brothers like to take their bikes there, but Daddy has to carry Simon's bike down the hill and across the busy road because he's a little unpredictable.
Come on boys! Follow me!
It's always green here. I'm a warm blooded girl, I'm not even sure what snow is :)
Here's my house, thanks for coming. I better go, I've got toys inside calling my name!

July 18, 2012

Death and a Funeral

A couple of days ago the mother of our Indonesian friend died, so Luke & I attended the funeral (Charlotte was sick so Amy stayed home along with Simon & Helena).

The death was around 12 midnight, and by 10:30am the road outside the family's home had a tent covering over top, chairs were in place, and the funeral service was already beginning. Friends, family, & it seemed like the entire surrounding neighbourhood dropped what they had going on that day and showed up. It is just expected that you show up on short notice in such a situation, that is just the way things are done here. Work can wait, it is the culture.

It was the first Muslim funeral and burial I have attended. The ceremony is filled with prayers & chants as members of the family hold the body on their shoulders with something similar to a large stretcher. Muslims do not use caskets, but they wrap the body in a white sheet, and it is (in this case) subsequently covered by a half circle of cloth material that keeps its shape from a wire frame underneath.

After the ceremony, those carrying the body walked about 3/4 km to the graveyard with everyone in procession behind. The family then lowered the body into the grave by hand, covered it with some wood framing and matting, and buried it. This is followed by more Muslim prayers and chants, which I think are all meant to intercede for the dead person's soul. From what I do know, in Islam it is believed the destination of a person's soul is not secure even after death. For days afterwards the family will pray for the "jiwa" or the "soul" of this lady.

An interesting and educational experience. But far more than that, my heart was heavy for the loss in this family, and also for the heaviness and burden that was still upon them for the soul of their mother, grandmother, friend, etc. It made my spirit tired to even imagine being a part of it. How to put into words how thankful I am for the solid, unmoving, unfailing, unending hope I have in Jesus Christ.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (esv)

Our fellow MAF friends did an awesome post on their experience at the funeral, if you'd like you can read it here.

July 13, 2012

Riding the Dokar

One morning before school started again Amy and I thought it would be fun to finally take the kids on a horse & buggy ( or "Dokar") here in Salatiga, just for fun. 

So, we took the local mini-buses downtown, and then hired two Dokar's to get us back home!

Luke & Si road with Amy, and Helena rode with me, and loved it...

It is amazing to see these horses keeping calm in traffic with trucks & scooters whipping by on both sides.

Above, you can see parts of two different mountains. The closer one is part of Mt. Merbabu, and to the left (in behind) you can see the peak of Mt. Merapi (through some clouds) It is the mountain I climbed a couple months back with a group of guys, which you can read about here. From our neighbourhood, you can only see Mt. Merbabu.

July 10, 2012

Jake The Snake

Can you spot the two reptiles in the photo below? 
The small snake I would have never noticed except that our smart house help (Ibu Yani) pointed it out to my untrained eye. It is the same type of snake (green vine snake) that I had posted about about a month ago when I watched my neighbours club one with a bamboo stick. Except, this one is smaller.

Yes, it is poisonous, but only mildly. If you try and google poisonous snakes in Indonesia, more often than not these snakes don't even make the list. They have just enough juice and size to take care of geckos, small frogs, and maybe even bugs. I think it's lizard buddy is way out of his league as far as meals are concerned. This little fellow hung around for two days in a tapioca tree next to the wall along our driveway. On the second day I noticed a smallish green crested lizard in the same bush. Pretty neat!

July 5, 2012

Welcome to the Zoo!

While in Yogyakarta we made a trip to the local zoo. We didn't stay too long but it was loads of fun. Being in Central Java we have the opportunity to visit big city tourist destinations such as zoo's, something East Kalimantan most likely has little of. So, it is great to take advantage of it while you can!
The zoo here isn't quite like what you might find back in North America, as the animal encasements seemed to be lacking a little in size. But when it comes to big ol' crocodiles, I'm just glad they were caged.
Below Helena is eyeing up a "naughty ol' crocodile" that seemed to be staring right at us, just daring us to come down for a visit through the hole in the chain link fence.

The sign below reading "Masjid" is pointing to where the in-house Mosque is. It is very common here to see Masjid's at all types of locations, including gas stations, malls, and larger department type stores. As practicing Muslims pray 5 times a day, having a place to pray at is kind of a necessity. Although, at the zoo, there was no call to prayer that I can recollect, only Indonesian kids music blaring on strategically placed loud speakers. But hey, it added to the overall ambiance!
In the picture below, I can't say the chains help conjure up thoughts of a happy carefree life for this particular elephant. It reminded me of years ago when at the local Vancouver Area Zoo (in Aldergrove) there was a lot of protest because the local elephant did not have enough apparent space to roam. He/she was subsequently re-located to some large wildlife refuge in the States. A wee bit different than the situation here!

For a small fee you can ride these elephants, but the rides were closed when we happened to stroll by. I feel this was a good thing, because when one of these guys decide they've finally had enough in their long elephant lives with their lengthy memories of being bored to death, cooped up & chain up, I don't want my kids near them. When elephants get crazy, bad stuff happens. They're really big. Sure, I sound a little spooked, but I also just heard (after we got home) that they had 'trampling' incident at Borobudur fairly recently, as they offer elephant rides there too.
Bumper boats with outboard Merc's!!  We didn't try them but I thought is was worth a picture. To make it more exciting I figured they should throw that big ol' croc in the water.

I think the highlight for the boys was the quads you could take for a spin. And yes, I kept that look on my face from the entire time, as it added to the overall experience.

Amy & Charlotte preferred watching the quads to riding them!

July 3, 2012


All self respecting camera carrying visitors to Central Java usually make an attempt to visit Borobudur, and I'm sure basically every local resident here has also been there at least some point in their life. Although, just maybe it is a little like the train museum in my home town. Many people pass through and stop to visit, but I personally have never took the time to drop by and learn some of my rich hometown train history.

Revelstoke Train Museum & Borobudur...I bet they both come up if you google "world locations you definitely must visit" or something along those lines.

Anyways, as part of our little "darmawisata" (excursion) away from Salatiga during our summer break, we thought we'd check Borobudur out. But first, how about another short lesson in Indonesian history. I'll tell you all I know, so it shouldn't take long.

Borobudur is a giant Buddhist temple complex located not too far northwest of the city of Yogyakarta, and about 1.5hrs drive from here. It dates back to like the 9th century and today is one of the most well known ancient Buddhist Temples in the world, and is also still a yearly destination for Buddhist pilgrimage. In the early 1800's it was discovered (anew) by Europeans under layers of volcanic ash and trees. After some years of folks scavenging buddha heads and such for their personal collections, and following years of painstaking restoration, it is what it is today. The picture below gives a little perspective on how big it is.

 One of the reasons I am lacking a little on exciting temple pictures is my little Charlotte was making the camera a bit awkward. But hey, she was sleeping like an angel, I'd take that any day. At least I'll have proof for her when she's older that she actually visited Borobudur.

The fact that our kiddos are posing for pictures (with smiles) is a great segue into part of our Borobudur experience we just have to touch on. Although these pic's seem to indicate a sparse # of visitors, Borobudur was teeming with people due to it being an Indonesian holiday. 

Here, it is not uncommon for an Indonesian to request to have his or her photo taken with a foreigner, in fact it has happened on many occasions since we arrived in Indonesia. I'm still not completely sure why someone would want their photo with a complete stranger - no matter where they're from - but I guess that's what comes with cultural differences sometimes...you just don't quite get it. I do know it is more of a show of admiration, friendliness, and intrigue as apposed to anything negative. But comparatively speaking, can you imagine in North America if you were out in a public place and you made a spectacle out of the one person who had a different skin colour than you, and you whipped out your cell and got your picture taken with them to document the occasion? Not too cool, I imagine it would come across poorly. But here, it is super common and actually kind of seems normal.

But being that it was extremely busy at Borobudur, and also that we have 4 cute kids, we were literally a magnet for picture taking. I think each member in our family must have had their picture taken close to 100 times while on the temple, no joke. I was afraid one of my kids were going to loose it (I think bribing them with promises of ice-cream & treats helped a lot), but Luke actually thought it was funny to take of his hat, show his blond hair, and just wait for all the Indonesians (usually women) come running to rub his hair & line up for pictures.

Amy and I were also separately interviewed by a class of 13-ish year old kids who wanted to try out their English. Although unexpected, it was neat to answer their questions. I can totally empathize with them because I sound the same way everyday as I try to speak to folks in their language, and thankfully they kindly do not break down in uncontrolled laughter at how messed up my last sentence just sounded. And, despite feeling tired from all the questions and pictures, you still really want to give the impression of friendliness to everyone you encounter. One snotty remark or cold shoulder goes a long way in building an impression in someone of who your are & what you are about - even if it was not intended!

 Apparently all of these reliefs surrounding the lower levels of the temple tell information & stories about the kingdom that ruled at the time. One level reads in one direction, and the next reads in the opposite direction. All part of Buddhist symbolism.