Thursday, September 27, 2012

More Packing, A Garage Sale, and Goodbyes

Here it is, the eve of our last night in's that for a confusing way to put it!  It's Thursday night and I want to quick share a bit about packing in the last week, our crazy garage sale/giveaway yesterday, and our perpisahan or going away party with the MAF Western and Indonesian staff that happened earlier tonight.  I'm going to mostly show pictures and not write too much because honestly, I am worn out!  I want to post before we move on to the next phase of travel and then on to the States (in less than 48 hours, wow).

First packing..

We started packing up our house last Tuesday I think, and after much sweating, a few tears, and a whole lot of newspapers (used to wrap breakables), our first crate was full and sealed by Friday afternoon, and the second one was all set this past Monday afternoon.  Here are some pictures of the process...

Sitting on top of our biggest crate updating our inventory list

Chris and I taking the wheels off his tool box to get it ready to pack

Chris's poor toe, a piece of plywood caught under his toenail and pulled it mostly off.  He went to the hospital where they removed the nail and treated his toe.  It's healing slowly (I will spare you a shot of it uncovered because it's pretty gross), and Chris has been taking care of it diligently to keep it clean and prevent infection.

I took a few other pictures of the crates being built, but they were deleted by mistake, and I didn't take any shots of the house as I was packing it, or me, which was just as well since I was looking less than cute and not really in the mood to smile!

We had a big give-away with a few things for sale yesterday.  I set everything out organized like a store...

The sale was supposed to start at 1:00pm and go until 4:00pm.  At 12:50pm motorcycles started arriving and wives of the MAF Indonesian staff, MAF Western ladies, and even some of the Indonesian guys from the MAF hangar came pouring in.  It was like a party!  People buying things and collecting the free stuff in bags, asking questions, especially about the uses of some of the more unusual spices I was giving away...and I was trying to answer them in Indonesian, but how can I really explain what mustard seeds and turmeric are used for?  I did the best I could!  The most priceless moment by far came when one of the more gregarious Indonesian ladies picked up a bag of tampons I was giving away and asked what they were and how to use them.  I should explain that tampons are not available in Tarakan and aren't commonly used in Indonesia, so these ladies had never seen them before.  A hilarious conversation followed in which myself and 2 of the other Western MAF ladies tried to explain tampons in of the Indonesian ladies actually unwrapped a tampon so we could show how it came out of the applicator, it was really funny.  To add more to the amusement factor this whole conversation took place in front of Chris and several other Indonesian men, Chris was quite embarrassed, but still laughing!  

By 2:00pm everyone was gone and this was all that was left...

Pretty wiped out, huh?!  A few other MAF Western staff came by and took a few of the remaining things later in the afternoon.  All in all it was a very successful event and a lot of the Indonesian staff got some serious loot!

Tonight was our going away party with the Western and Indonesian staff.  One of the Western staff families hosted it at their home and it was catered by a local restaurant.  We ate together and then watched a slide show of pictures from our time in Tarakan put together by one of our good friends, and then people told stories and memories they had of working with Chris.  I only took a couple pictures and they aren't very good pictures, but it was a really special night.  The tables were decorated beautifully, the food was good, and both Western and Indonesian staff told great stories about working with meant so much to both of us.  Here are a few pictures from the night...

Eating together...luckily we were under a covered patio because it started pouring during dinner!

Chris listening to our friend Karl share memories...and what is that in front of Chris you ask...

It's his "award"!

About a month ago Chris blew a tire in the Caravan during landing at the airport in Tarakan.  It was a Saturday, so Chris had to call guys in to help him change the tire and get the plane off the runway so other planes could take-off and land.  The guys saved part of the tire and mounted it for Chris as a memory of flying in Kalimantan, so funny!

At the end of the party one of the more senior MAF Indonesian staff prayed for us, and it hit me that even though this has been a difficult 2 years for me in many ways, it has been such an amazing experience and a privilege to be a little part of the big work God is doing through MAF here in Tarakan.

One more day tomorrow and packing our suitcases so we can actually close them is definitely top priority!  This is what my bag looks like right now...

Yup, definitely have my work cut out for me!  But first a (hopefully) good night of sleep.

More to come soon as we wrap things up here and get ready for America!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Pretty New Face, Post on the MAF Blog, and Apologies from the Packing Zombie

Whew!  Every time I have a free minute away from packing I think "I really need to write about 3 blog posts..." and then promptly sit or lie down somewhere that isn't covered with mounds of stuff and either fall asleep or stare dazedly at the wall instead.  Yeah, I've pretty much been a packing zombie for the past week and checked out of computer stuff, so let me take the opportunity to apologize to all the people I either haven't responded to or took forever to write back on email and Facebook...sorry guys!  

You have probably already noticed that my blog looks a whole lot different (different meaning WAY more fun), and I am very excited about the changes, but I can take zero credit for them.  I owe the snazzy new design to an incredibly sweet and talented gal named Joy Neal, who, along with her husband and little son recently joined MAF and are actually coming to serve in Tarakan in the future.  Joy and I have been trading Facebook messages as she prepares for moving overseas and has cultural and packing questions, which has been fun for me as I enjoy helping people get ready for this experience as much as I can.  A few weeks ago Joy humbly and carefully (she didn't want to offend me) wrote me and said she had created a design for my blog if I was interested.  I was blown away that she would spend time putting a design together for me and as soon as I saw it I knew it was just what my blog needed, a pretty new face!  I have thought many times about how I would like to change the look of my blog and make it unique, but, not being the most computer savvy of girls, I never got to putting that thought into action.  Luckily, Joy did it for me!  She installed the new design on my blog and made some other formatting changes and you are looking at what are, in my opinion, the adorable results.  Thanks Joy, you are awesome!

Last week came and went and I didn't even bother to let anyone know a post I wrote went up on the MAF blog on Wednesday...remember, I was a packing zombie with no awareness of the Internet, I was completely immersed in burning questions such as:

 "How many pairs of underwear should I pack in my suitcase?"
 "Was the wood used to build our crates heat treated to meet U.S. regulations?"  
"Did I write down every single solitary thing in our crates on the inventory list?"  
"Can I possibly get more sweaty while packing?"

The answer to the last one just has to be "no" because I can't imagine being more hot and sticky and covered with dust than I was packing last week, yuck!

Okay, way off track.

So, my post on the MAF blog is about the frequent "Hellos" and "Goodbyes" that missionary life requires, and the little bit I've learned from them.  You can click here to read it on the MAF blog.

We are T-minus 3 1/2 days until departure from Indonesia and we are in pretty good shape to leave.  Our crates are packed, sealed, and the paperwork for them is in process, the house is reasonably clean, we have started packing our suitcases, and we are trying to tie up all the loose ends before we head out early Saturday morning.  I have some packing pictures and stories, but I will save them for the next time I post.  Now that the crates are packed I am much more mentally functional and I may just write more about packing tomorrow...we shall see.

Until then, take care friends!

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Get-Away with the Ladies

I have been a total Five Minute Friday drop-out for the last couple weeks, but I have a pretty good excuse...well, for last week anyway.  

Last Friday-Saturday I was at a ladies retreat with the other women from my MAF team in Tarakan.  Life is so busy and often overwhelming here, especially for the ladies that have kids, so for the last few years we have been taking one weekend a year to get "away" to the one nice hotel in town (it sounds silly to "get away" to a hotel that is just minutes from our homes, but being able to spend 24 hours in air conditioning, being fairly insulated from the noisiness that is a part of life here, and even getting a break from the ants that constantly crawl around whenever food is out, all feel like a vacation) and connect with one another in an environment with less distractions.  

This year we watched a two-session video designed as a kind of retreat-in-a-box by Sheila Wray Gregoire called Extreme Make-over Heart Edition.  The sessions focused on Philippians 3:4-15...I won't quote the whole passage, but the verses that stood out to me as I was preparing for the retreat were:

"Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Breathren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
        Philippians 3:12-14

That phrase "press on" kept ruminating in my mind, and I wanted to capture it for myself in a tangible way, as well as for the other women at the retreat.  With this in mind I was tooling around Pinterest and found a cute pin from Lisa Storms' blog for felt leaf necklaces and it got me thinking...the retreat usually has an emphasis on fall (even in the tropics many of us lovingly put out fall decorations and burn those fall-scented candles to get even a whisper of the season in this eternal summer), and leaves would go with that, but how would I incorporate the "press on" phrase?  After mulling for a bit I came up with these...

They are bookmarks with a big leaf in the middle with the phrase embroidered on them, and then the smaller strings of leaves on either side that I borrowed from Lisa Storms' design.  It was fun to make them, and really the only way I was even able to put them together was because of my Bible study back in Michigan.  At the beginning of the year the Bible study that Chris and I attended in Michigan sent us an amazing package with lots of awesome craft stuff that isn't available here like felt and embroidery floss in every shade of the rainbow, which I used to make the bookmarks.  Thank you Bible study friends, your generosity was more far reaching than you could have imagined!  

The ladies received these bookmarks in gift bags (made of newspaper with little leaf closures, sure wish I took a picture to show you because I thought they were pretty cute), which also had yummy chocolates in them, a little tea light candle, holder, and matches to create a relaxing mood in their hotel rooms.  It's neat how we all appreciate little things so much more because it takes lots of effort to get them here!

On Friday we worshipped and prayed together, watched the first session and discussed it, had quiet time on our own, ate dinner, and then had fun just hanging out.  One of the crafty ladies of the bunch, Heather, put together a project to make a decorative magnetic board, here are some of the ladies hard at work on their boards...

After the craft the laughs began as we gathered around the big jacuzzi tub in the suite we met in, soaked our feet for pedicures, and put on facial masks...

I'm hoping the ladies in this picture won't kill me for posting this...those who were opposed to their faces ending up online are not included in this shot, and I am not going to tag anyone, so hopefully I'm safe!

We also did some dancing, lots of talking, and of course ate plenty of goodies and chocolate!  After many giggles we headed off to our separate rooms and then met in the morning for our second video session, discussion, and an extended time of prayer for each other.  I thought it was a great, relaxing time and I am so glad we were able to make it happen despite several bumps along the way, such as the hotel having the retreat booked for the wrong night even after I had confirmed with them three times, ahhh!  Serious communication breakdown!  It all worked out though, and I think a good time was had by all.

Leaving the retreat I felt a bit sad knowing my time with these ladies is very limited (Chris and I head back to the States in two weeks, I can hardly believe it), but I'm thankful for the blessing they have been in my life for the last two years.  I have learned so much from them and they have cared for me and given me grace and listening ears as I bumbled through this wild overseas life. 

 I'm excited to see who I will meet in the next chapter of life...she (they) will definitely have some big shoes to fill!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Here's what 4:30am sounds like around here (this video was actually taken during Ramadan so it is slightly louder than usual, but not too much)...wait, before you watch it (although it's really more of a listen than a watch since the video is mostly just our window...there isn't much to see in the dark of early, early morning anyway), see if you can hear the following on the video:

- Call to can hear one main Mosque, but there are lots of others in the background

- Roosters...and don't think they only crow at this early hour, they seriously go all day and sometimes throughout the night, grrr.

- A lizard calling to his's sort of a kissing sound, they especially love to make it during the evening and night, and apparently in the early morning.

Okay, here's the video...

Did you hear the sounds?

You may be wondering how we sleep through the early morning noises...the answer, we don't!  Or at least we didn't until we got an awesome super-loud fan, which improved our sleep quality considerably.  Seriously, that fan is one of the best purchases we have made in Indonesia!

Thought you might enjoy another brief peek into our world here.

Hope your day (or night) is excellent!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reluctant Team Player

I'm a little late with my 5 minute Friday post this week...I've been busy helping my husband celebrate his 33rd birthday, yay!  The prompt for this week is...


I've never been much of a "joiner".  My childhood was marked by memberships and subsequent drop-outs in various clubs and sports teams.  Most of the time I wanted to be home curled up with a book rather than out being a part of this or that event...I'm still the same way today.  Being part of a team was always a concept I liked, but the reality is, being raised by two introverted, slightly non-conformist parents, I didn't want to be defined by what I was involved in, or (horror of horrors), have repeated time commitments!  My nature is to stick with my family and small circle of friends, joining the crowd (no matter which crowd) always makes me feel a little, well, trapped.

Given this background it has been very interesting to become a part of a pretty small team of expats on a little island in Indonesia.  Considering the locals often mix me up with the other Westerners on our team, and I'm constantly defined by those I spend time with, it pretty much goes against how I have conducted myself in life thus far.  It's been an excellent, if somewhat uncomfortable, experience of learning to depend on new friends, letting go of the need to be separate, and extending myself even when I would rather stay in a place that feels cozy.

Although I certainly wouldn't now put myself in the "joiner" category, as I prepare to leave this team and re-enter the all-hail-the-individual culture of the U.S. I want to continue to be a part of different teams, even if the thought makes me feel a little squeamish!

Some of the ladies on my overseas team

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Silver Lining...Sort Of

As some of you may know, our house was broken into a little over a month ago, which was, of course, an unpleasant experience.  Following the break-in the local police came to our house along with various other people, including several photographers.  I think there were about 30 men standing around our yard asking me questions in Indonesian that I was not doing a good job of understanding or answering in my state of stress.  Anyway, I assumed the photographers were part of the police investigation…and then this newspaper article made its way into Chris’s mailbox at work a couple weeks ago…

Yes, that’s an ever-so attractive (ugh) photo of me looking like I’m about to get sick (I felt like I was going to at the time), and Sadie, the poor dog that the robbers poisoned.  The headline of the article roughly translates to:  “Hostility toward a pilot’s house, the thief poisoned the dog”.  It is clear that the dog poisoning was a main focus of the article, although there are a couple of very intelligent quotes from yours truly that appeared to be lifted directly from the police report we filed including,

“They gave the dog poison, but she didn’t die, just threw-up”


“While someone was in our house my husband was flying and I was out eating.” 

My favorite is the quote at the end of the article, which I clearly did not intend to be published in the newspaper…

“We had money in a drawer, but they didn’t take it, they just stole my laptop.”

Great, let’s advertise in the paper that we have drawers full of money in our house (we don’t, well, not much money anyway) so any other interested thieves can start planning their next visit.

The best part about this article is that it appeared on the front page of the paper, the FRONT PAGE!  This gives you some insight into just how small the island we live on is, and how Westerners are viewed here (borderline celebrity status at times).

So there you have it, Sadie and I were front page news on the island of Tarakan, and I clearly came off as both attractive and eloquent (bahahaha, far from it)…I can now say I had my proverbial 15 minutes (or 1 day) of fame.  Likely this will be the only time I make the front page of any paper (hopefully, unless it’s for something a lot more fun than this), so I have to smile a little about that silver lining to an otherwise not-so-great experience.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Elastagirl Checks In

It's Five Minute Friday again, and the prompt is...


Ooo-ooo-ooo, sometimes I feel like I have been so stretched in the last 3 years that you might as well call me Elastagirl!  

From 30 years of living in Michigan no further than an hour and a half from my family to getting married, moving to Florida for 4 months to raising support to go overseas involving regularly speaking in front of churches, going out to meals and staying overnight at people's homes who, as wonderful and gracious as they were to us, were mostly strangers to me, packing up as many of my earthly belongings that would fit in a crate, shipping them across the ocean, traveling across the world to live in a country I had barely heard of before I met my husband, living in the midst of cobras and palm trees and big ol' roaches and rats IN MY TOILET, learning a whole new language (sort of), joining a community of amazing people and making some lifelong friends, being stared at and getting WAY too much attention every time I leave the house, seeing what I believe, I mean what I really believe about God and myself and facing how much growing I still have to do, and, and, and...can I make this run-on sentence any betcha, but I won't!  I feel like jamming all those words together in one sentence is an illustration of how my life has felt, running on like a freight train and me breathless, holding on and trying to not just live through it, but grow too.

Now we prepare to head home to start the next phase of life, whatever that will be...yet to be determined (motherhood? wife of a commercial pilot? living in a brand new city and state? building new friendships?), I gather my limbs and head and heart, all stretched and misshapen, and realize I'm amazingly okay, I have made it this far, God hasn't left me.  I just might make it through the next whirlwind too, and the next, and the next...cause that's life right? One crazy, amazing, awful, wonderful storm after another and us stretching like super-dynamic rubber bands to keep up!