1) A week of spotty power. The timing on the power outages was amazing actually, they occurred precisely 5 minutes before I was planning to get on the internet and catch up on email, Facebook and the blog or 5 minutes after I put in a load of laundry, so the clothes were soaking wet and could sit and mold until the power came back on. Luckily the poor power lasted only a week and it has been better this week.
2) My computer has been being very cranky. For the last 3 weeks it has consistently said that I was on the internet, but would not load any web pages and gave me a message either that I wasn't connected to the internet or that it couldn't find the internet server. It was really beyond annoying. Chris's computer has been connecting to the internet fine, so it isn't the internet, it is my little Macbook. I know, I know, I could have used Chris's computer to blog, but the truth is I don't like to use his computer, I only like mine. I'm a bit of a computer snob. Also, each time my computer wouldn't work I would become angry and shut it none to gently, stomp off grumbling and refuse to do any computer work...not sure what point I was trying to prove, or to who (maybe I was trying to show the computer? the internet? Really, unpacking my various neurosis is beyond me at times). At any rate, no computer work was getting done. We finally broke down and paid $50 to talk to someone at Apple last night and they gave us a fix that is working so far-hopefully the computer is all better now.
3) Our crate of stuff from the U.S. finally arrived-praise the Lord! It came last Friday, so I have been pretty consumed with getting everything unpacked and set up. I don't think I rested at all last Friday, Saturday or Sunday except for collapsing into bed for the night...and attending an awesome Pirate Murder Mystery Party on Saturday (more on that later). Blogging just has not been my priority-sorry!
4) I have kind of been in a frustrated funk. The end of last week was wonderful, followed by a pretty bad week this week. It just seems like things are going wrong left and right, and I have not retained my ability to laugh at the various blunders like I was before. I think my perspective is improving, because I am feeling much better. To be honest, I didn't have a whole lot of nice thoughts to share with you, so you are probably happy I didn't unload my frustrations!
So that's the list of excuses, on to more fun stuff like...
My little motorcycle-I think it's considered a scooter really-the Honda Scoopy arrived last Wednesday! We were told it wouldn't be here until around Christmas, so it was a great surprise to have it come so early. I absolutely love it! I like riding the little Scoopy so much more than driving a car, it's fun to zip around in the open air. I don't know, I might be hooked-it might be scooters only for me from now on! It has been so helpful to my psyche to have a way to get out of the house during the day, being dependent on others for transportation is no fun. Now I go out whenever I want to grocery shop, run errands, whatever needs to be done that my limited language abilities can handle.
In addition to the arrival of the Scoopilicious friend, as I mentioned earlier the crates came last Friday with our stove and all of our other belongings. Does this look like a familiar scene?
Think my parents house about 6 months ago. It was so much more fun to unpack than to pack though-isn't it always?! Our little house was overflowing with boxes and bins. It is somewhat unpacked now, although we need to have some things built, like shelves for the kitchen, a bookshelf and some end tables, so things won't quite be settled until those things arrive, which unfortunately will probably take 3 weeks to 1 month. Patience is truly a virtue that is well-cultivated on this little island of Tarakan! Thankfully our things arrived intact with hardly any damage other than being a little dirty and wet because the customs people did not reseal the crates well when they sent them on from Jakarta. One humorous tidbit, well it is funny now that it is over... so our crate travelled all the way across the U.S., across the ocean to Jakarta, from Jakarta to Tarakan and everything made it splendidly. Then en route from the MAF hangar, where the crate was dropped off, to our house one of the plastic bins full of stuff fell out of the back of the pick-up truck and broke, sending the contents flying all over the road. Nothing was seriously damaged, but our brand new silverware has some significant nicks and scratches and my little red Copco teapot is pretty beat up. All the stuff was safe until the very last minute-I just have to laugh at that!
I was so excited to actually be able to cook and bake with our stove and my very own pots, pans and dishes. Sunday night I prepared a celebratory first meal of chicken meatballs with spicy barbecue glaze, mashed potatoes, and salad with ranch dressing (something that does not exist here in Tarakan-thank you ranch spice packets). We realized that the only way to light the oven was with the electric igniter, so we plugged it in to the power converter, (for those of you that don't know, as I didn't until I traveled overseas, different countries run on different power levels; that's probably not he right term, but anyway, I'm sure you understand what I mean; so many of the electronics from the States have to be run through a converter to the plugs in the house because if not the electronics will blow up), and tried to start it.
We tried again. Still nothing.
Thus began the Saga of the Stove
After checking everywhere in the manual and on the stove itself for voltage information and not finding any, we decided maybe the stove ran on 220 Hz, the local power level. We plugged it in and it worked-hooray! We noticed that the oven light seemed abnormally bright, but the stove lit and I cooked the meatballs, and I must say they were delicious. After dinner I was cleaning off the stove and I noticed that it was still hot...really hot. I checked the in-oven thermometer and it read over 500 degrees-and the oven was turned off! I yelled for Chris and we quickly turned off the propane running to the stove/oven. The next day when we attempted to light the oven again, it wouldn't work. Upon further inspection Chris found that the gas regulator and the oven light were both burned out, rendering the oven useless. This was probably because we plugged it into the 220 Hz. Now if we were in the States, well if we were in the States this wouldn't have happened because there in no electricity differences, but if the stove had broken in the States, no big deal, we would call Sears and get the parts replaced under warranty. After Chris rode the Sears customer service carousel ("let me transfer you to the parts department" "But I just talked to the parts department, they transferred me to you" "okay...let me transfer you to the parts department.") for 30-45 minutes we were told that since we are out of the country our warranty is no longer valid-we found this out after a less informed employee offered to send a Sears repairman to our house to assess the damages to the stove. Chris's response "That would be great, it just might take him awhile to get here." The conclusion of the phone call was that we would have to foot the bill for the parts and shipping, and that would cost nearly as much as the stove itself. This also meant no oven for weeks to months.
Please pause for Meltdown #1
Since we moved into our house I have been cooking on a 3 burner counter top stove that is set WAY too hot and burns nearly everything. I was ecstatic to finally have a normal stove and an oven. Since most food has to be made from scratch here having an oven is pretty essential. Waiting weeks to months more before receiving an oven, not acceptable. That's just what I said to Chris in a cold, stony voice "NOT ACCEPTABLE". Not a happy night in the Desjardine household.
Let me also mention the other issues that arose concurrent to the Stove Saga.
1) Chris lost both keys to his motorcycle, so it was out of commission. He has his dirt bike, but that isn't so great for around-the-town riding, it's a trail bike.
2) Our sink/cabinet finally came back from the furniture-maker with a sink of usable size-yay! However, after it was installed we discovered that water that goes down the sink leaks out underneath the cabinet-so gross toothpaste water, etc. is leaking onto the nice new wood of the cabinet-delightful. This is in addition to the other leak on our bathroom floor that comes and goes at random leaving puddles on the floor.
3) The gauges for the propane bottles kept breaking, like we have probably gone through 4-5 already. This would always happen after the store was closed so we couldn't buy a new one, so I couldn't even use the stove top to cook.
4) My computer was not working, as aforementioned
So the frustration with all these issues was mounting. On their own each one wouldn't be a big deal, but together they were sending me over the edge.
Finally yesterday (Wednesday) we decided to buy an Indonesian stove. Our reasoning was the parts for the stove from America may take months to get here and they may not even work when they get here. We went out and looked at stove, well really, the stove, there is only one model stove/oven that is available here.
The cabinet on the right is for the propane bottle, the stove is pretty tiny, just big enough for a 9x13 pan. There is actually a glass top that comes down over the burners, I have it open in this picture. You may be impressed by the stainless steel...don't be, it's like a grey sticker-type overlay-a faux stainless steel look! After it was delivered we plugged it in and...
Pause for Meltdown #2 (actually I may have been on #3 or #4 by then, it had been a rough few days...I had had a meltdown earlier that day upon finding a swarm of ants on the floor that were attracted by nothing that I could see. I must admit I went on an ant massacre with the bug poison, not pretty, but effective).
Apparently this stove was also broken, and since we were never able to get a flame we think it is a defective model. So now we are in the process of trying to return the stove, but the store owner is giving us a hard time and is convinced we just don't know how to use the stove at all. She won't return it until they send a technician out to see if the stove is really broken, that is supposed to happen at 4:00 today. In the mean time we bit the bullet and ordered the parts for our American stove last night. We are just going to wait it out until the parts get here and use the stove top burners on the American stove, which work, thankfully, and return the Indonesian stove. Unless of course they won't let us return the Indonesian stove, in which case we will have 2 stoves with non-working ovens in our house. Perfect.
So that's the Saga of the Stove. I will keep you updated as the rest of the story unfolds. For now, if you have any great recipes that can be made on the stove top only, please share! The internet is always helpful for recipes too-and now I have my trusty cookbook collection again, so I'm sure I will be fine.
Other developments in the last few weeks, I started working with a language tutor 2 days a week. This is my second week. I am learning a lot, or trying to learn-it's hard. I think I know something, I study it over and over again, but when my tutor asks me a question I stare at her blankly like the scarecrow with no brain! It's quite frustrating and more than a little humbling. I need to be brave and go out and talk to Indonesian people, but it's scary and very out of my comfort zone. I don't even like to talk to people I don't know and ask people for help in my own language! All prayers for patience, strength and boldness in this area would be greatly appreciated. In fact, prayers in general would be appreciated-it has seemed like Chris and I have been under attack between all the little things that have gone wrong, and our diminished ability to deal with them, okay, mostly my diminished ability to deal with them. We end up getting frustrated and lashing out at each other, and that is pretty non-helpful! We want to keep our focus on why we are here, to serve the people, and our prayer is that all this little, frustrating stuff wouldn't get in the way.
Speaking of serving the people, Chris has been working very hard in the MAF hanger trying to get airplanes up and running so he and other pilots can keep ministering to the people of Kalimantan with the gift of flight. He has yet to begin to fly-with so many airplanes in need of inspections and maintenance he is most needed on the ground for now. He is anxious to fly, but is happy to work on planes and put into practice the avionics training he got at Embry Riddle in Florida.
Okay, I feel like I am writing a prayer letter now. Just wanted to give a quick update on what Chris is up to besides fielding house problems and comforting his wife during her frequent meltdowns, which probably feels like a full time job to him.
A couple other pieces of news with links...
We had a very fun Pirate Murder Mystery Party on the eve of Halloween. Everyone had specific characters they had to play and created their own costumes from goods found in Tarakan (for the most part), including an authentic-looking powdered wig in George Washington style made from cotton balls with plenty of baby powder!!! Click here to see some pictures. I was Antonia Napier, the Governor's daughter...look for the girl in the aqua hat. Chris was Sealegs Sam, a merchant sailor and my sweetheart...and he turned out to be the killer!!! It's always the one you least suspect.
This beast was found in the jungle very near...in fact way too near to our house and brought to the MAF hanger for containment.
Yuck, yuck, yuck!!! More prayers please! If you are interested in a more detailed account of the snake story you can click on this link to Dave Forney's blog-he is another of the MAF pilots that works with Chris and not only does he have some impressive pictures of the snake, he has lots of awesome pictures of Tarakan and Kalimantan.
Last, but not least, we have successfully adopted a part-time dog, I think. She has hung around our house since we moved, so we decided to start feeding her in the hopes that she would stick around outside and alert us if there were people or animals (please see the above picture) in the yard. She was pretty wishy-washy at first and very skittish, but now she comes around everyday, lets us pet her, and even takes naps on our porch. In fact she is looking in our screen door right now! She is a cute little dog. We call her Zero (see The Nightmare Before Christmas). She may really belong to our neighbors, but she is a little bit ours too.
I kept trying to get her to look at the camera, but I guess she is a little shy!
She comes and goes from our yard by wriggling through these little circles in the gate. We don't know what she will do if she gains a little weight and is too chubby to fit!
We tried unsuccessfully to adopt a puppy, but that is another longish story that I will save for later. This blog post is already too long as it is! Thanks for tuning in, and thanks for your prayers and thoughts and grace with my lack of posts in the last few weeks.
We will talk again soon...or I'll babble and you'll skim and look at pictures!