Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Rainy Day

In the middle of the night it started to rain, hard, and rain is loud here on a metal roof!  The rain kept up until morning and just when Chris was leaving for work it really started to pour.  He put on his rain suit and braved the storm on his motorcycle-what a trooper!

It kept pouring as I took my shower and got ready for the day, and when I opened the house up I had to take some pictures of our pond, I mean, yard...

Since we live part way down a hill water flows into our yard and empties out in a waterfall on our driveway.  Even at almost 5:00pm in the afternoon I can still hear the water draining down.

This pipe gushes water when it rains and our driveway becomes a river!
Unfortunately our storage area leaked water too...

Oh well, nothing a little mopping up won't fix.

Just another stormy day here in Tarakan, and I'm loving the cool breezes!

Hope your day is going well where ever you are!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Here I am, finally finishing out last week on Tuesday of this week!  I must make excuse though.  Sunday afternoon I came down with a sore throat and a nasty sinus cold.  I spent the rest of Sunday and much of yesterday in bed or on the couch being taken care of by my husband-what a great guy!  I’m not feeling a whole lot better today, but good enough to sit in front of my laptop and write about Saturday before I forget everything that happened.


7:30am – Woke up and Chris was already up and ready for the day.  It’s was a different Saturday than normal because, as I mentioned earlier in the week, Chris was going into work to get some important avionics stuff done on one of the airplanes.  We ate breakfast together before he left.

8:00am – Chris left for work and I relaxed-on Saturdays we usually don’t do much except rest and that was on my agenda for the day! 

9:00am – Talked with a friend from the States that I haven’t chatted with in awhile.  It probably seems like I spend a lot of time talking to people on Skype, but the truth is it tends to be feast or famine and this week happened to be one of the feast weeks.  About one week a month it seems like I talk with quite a few friends on Skype and the rest of the month I mostly just talk with my mom & dad.  Anyway, I had a nice talk with my friend-she and I like to cook together when I am home in Michigan, so we always have fun talking about the latest things we have made.  During the phone call I was laying on our guest room bed and I saw something moving outside the window fairly close to the house.  I got up to investigate and realized it was a little calf that had somehow gotten away from the rest of the cows (cattle? I never know what to call them) and was grazing right by our guest room window!  The calf let out a loud “moooo” and headed off down the hill when it saw me-I was laughing so hard!

10:30am – Finally got dressed and ready for the day-lazy bones!!!  Talked to my mom and grandma for a few minutes.  They are up at our family cottage on Lake Huron this weekend.  I felt a bit homesick when we hung up-I want to be there with them walking on the beach looking for beach glass, browsing at the little quaint shops in town, reading on the lounge chair in the side yard…owww-that hurts my heart! 

11:30am – Put together lunch for Chris and I, but then Chris called saying he would be working through lunch to try to get done early.  He also proposed we have the other MAF guy he was working with that day, the only single guy on our program, over for dinner that night.  I agreed, we hung up, and I ate lunch by myself.

12:00pm – Decided what to make for dinner, very simple, Sloppy Joes (seriously one of the worst names for a food item-I should call them something else just so I feel better about serving them), oven-roasted potatoes, and veggies and dip.  I took the meat out to thaw and did some prep work for the meal, chopping up veggies and stuff.  I don’t usually work on dinner so early in the day, but for some reason I was feeling inspired.

12:30pm – Okay I’m having a hard time remembering what I did next…I think I brainstormed some decorating options for the guest room walls, spent some time on Pinterest, and looked at one of the great magazines that I received in a package not long ago.  It was a relaxing kind of afternoon.

2:00pm – Chris got home early-yay!  We headed out to run some errands soon after he got home.  We needed some hardware to hang up pictures in the guest room, an extension cord, and I wanted to buy some craft supplies.  All this took about an hour to get done, mainly because it took forever at the hardware store to find nails and stuff that were the right size and we had to buy the extension cord power strip piece by piece since all the ready-made ones looked like they had been sitting there for years, all dirty and gross.

3:00pm – We returned home and watched a little TV Chris had downloaded.  Chris was tired from his day and happy to rest, which is what we did until it was time for me to cook dinner.

5:00pm – I got dinner going and Chris started working on assembling the extension cord and putting up pictures and stuff in the guest room.

6:00pm – Our dinner guest arrived and we ate the simple, but yummy dinner.  After dinner the guys finished putting wall d├ęcor up in the guest room and watched a movie.  I cleaned up from dinner and took out the canvases and paper that I had bought that afternoon and got into creating mode, trying to figure out how to make a fun wall hanging with a Michigan map.  I have an idea in mind now, I just have to find a way to make some Mod Podge substitute and I will be in business.  All the recipes I have found for make-your-own Mod Podge include sugar, which the ants here would be all over in a few minutes-yuck.  I’ve also seen some recipes with watered-down glue, but I haven’t been successful finding the right type of glue here.  I’ll figure something out-making things here (and cooking here) requires lots of creativity!

9:30pm – The guys were done watching their movie and our guest headed home.  Chris and I talked and hung out until we headed for bed around 11:00pm. 

The guest bedroom so far-I still want to put something(s) on the wall over the desk

Wall decor in the guest room (on the wall the bed is facing)

That’s the week-now you have an idea of what my days are like here.  Nothing thrilling or too crazy happened (at least not this week), and that is fine by me!  It will be interesting to do this type of post again at this time next year and see how much my days have changed.

Thanks for experiencing the week with me! 

Now I need to go blow my nose for 278th time since Sunday-ugh. 

Talk to you later!   

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday & Friday

Okay, I started out strong with this whole blog every day thing, but now I’m way behind.  It’s Saturday and I’ve only blogged through Wednesday-yikes!

Let’s power through a couple days.


6:00am – Woke up to a cool, rainy morning, the perfect weather to have coffee or tea with breakfast.  I made yummy pumpkin pancakes, we ate, and Chris got ready for the day.

7:00am – Chris was scheduled to fly again, so he left for work.  I got ready for the house helper to arrive.

8:00am – Our house helper arrived.  I made the market list for next week.  All fresh fruits and vegetables we use come from the open air market; it’s called the pasar (pah-sahr).   Our helper shops there for us on Monday mornings before she comes to our house to work, so I have to get the list and money to her when she is at our house on Thursday.  That also forces me to make a meal plan for the next week, so I know what I will need, which is actually really helpful.  I don’t find going to the pasar a nice experience-it’s crowded, full of stray cats and large cockroaches, hot, and very smelly because of the raw meat that is sold there.  I’m more than happy to let our helper take care of shopping there every week.

9:00am – Wrote the “Wednesday” blog post.  Although my blog posts are not typically super-long or involved, they still take me 1-2 hours to write, add pictures and edit.  I enjoy the process once I get started, but sometimes it’s hard to motivate myself to get it done when I know it will take a significant chuck of my day.

10:30am – Our house helper was all finished for the day.  We don’t have too much work for her since we have a pretty small house, there are only two of us, and we aren’t too messy!  Chris called and said he didn’t fly after all, so he would be home for lunch, meaning I actually had to make a real lunch.  When Chris is flying and does not come home for lunch I generally have a snack instead of making a whole meal.  I wrote several emails, made a couple phone calls, and then got lunch ready.

12:00pm – Chris arrived for lunch and we had fried chicken salad and fruit.  After we ate, Chris started a movie, and he ended up taking an extended lunch and we watched the whole thing!  He is planning to go into work on Saturday, so he didn’t feel too bad about doing it.

2:00pm – Chris headed back to work.  I made iced tea and a pitcher of Crystal Light in preparation for a birthday party later in the afternoon.  I was planning on writing this blog post, but I got completely sucked into the world of Pinterest, a picture-sharing network site of sorts.  A couple of my friends here introduced me to it and I love it, BUT, it is worse than Facebook for sucking away time!

3:00pm – I finally dragged myself away from Pinterest and took a shower and got ready to go to the birthday party.

4:00pm – A friend picked me up and we headed to the birthday party of another MAF gal-she and her husband recently arrived in Tarakan and they are the new program manager family.  The party was nice with delicious cake for the adults, and Jell-O and special bread for the kids.  The kids played and the ladies chatted and celebrated our friend’s day of birth.

5:30pm – Headed home.  Chris was already home and we talked for a little bit while we got ready to go to dinner and Bible study. 

6:00pm – We drove over to a restaurant to have dinner with the team and then to another team member’s house for Bible study.  Every Thursday night the whole MAF team in Tarakan gets together for dinner and then praise and worship time, prayer and Bible study.  It’s a good time to fellowship together and stay focused on why we are here in Tarakan.  I think it really helps unify the team to meet weekly as friends.  This week we had a special time of prayer for our former program manager and his family as they are leaving Tarakan next week for some furlough in the States and then a new MAF position in Papua, Indonesia.  It was a bit emotional as they have been here for almost 10 years.

9:00pm – Returned home from Bible study and Chris was exhausted.  We headed to bed, and he quickly fell asleep.  I tried to sleep but couldn’t, so I got up, and I was excited to see that one of my good friends from Michigan was on Skype.  We talked for a bit, which was really great, and then I spent some time reading my Bible and praying before heading to bed to sleep this time.

On to Friday…

7:00am – Woke up later today-yay!  Chris wasn’t scheduled to fly, so he can go in to work an hour later.  We ate the rest of the pumpkin pancakes and both got ready to be out the door before 8:00am.

8:00am…okay, 8:15am – I arrived at language tutoring at the church office late-my tutor was very understanding though.  On Wednesday my tutor had been asking some questions about the U.S. and Michigan, so today I brought a map of the whole country and a Michigan map, as well as a calendar I have with pictures of Michigan for each month.  I had fun telling her a little bit about where I’m from and answering her questions.  She couldn’t believe how much snow we get in Michigan sometimes and how long winter lasts.  She was amazed by the fall foliage too, and the huge freshwater lakes.  She kept saying, “They’re just like the ocean, but they are lakes, amazing!”  I learn all sorts of things from my tutor about Indonesia, so it was fun to teach her about the U.S.

10:00am – Headed home from tutoring and talked with a sweet friend from Michigan on Skype.  It’s always great to talk to her! 

11:30am – Put together a breakfast burrito of sorts for Chris’s lunch and made PB & J for myself since I can’t eat the eggs in a breakfast burrito : (.

12:00pm – Chris arrived home, we ate lunch and I cleaned up the dishes while he did some computer work to get ready for his afternoon in the hangar.  He was trying to complete all the research needed to do an unfamiliar avionics task on Saturday. 

1:00pm – Chris left to go back to work.  I rested for a bit, wrote a few emails, made a couple phone calls…I’m not sure what else.  Normally I would be getting ready to see my friend’s son for speech therapy at 2:00pm, but since they are out of town this week I had a free afternoon. 

4:00pm – I took my motorcycle over to another friend’s house to make pralines with her.  She is from Savannah, Georgia, home of delicious pralines, and I wanted to learn how to make them.  They were pretty easy to make and very yummy.  It was nice to spend some time with my friend too, as she is the one that will be leaving Tarakan very soon.

What's left of the pralines - they don't look that pretty, but they sure are good!

 5:00pm – Returned home and Chris was soon home from work as well.  We got carry out – one of our favorite meals called Ayam Penyet, which I think I’ve described on a past blog.  We ate and talked.  Chris told me a little bit about the work he would be doing on the airplane on Saturday. 

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing, Chris doing some computer work while we had a movie on.  Chris went to bed pretty early since he had to get up for work, but I stayed up and did some reading and fell asleep on the couch in the TV room-oops!  I woke up and went to bed around 2:30am.  It was a quiet night though, no storms or power outs or loud birds.  It was the first good night of sleep I’ve gotten all week-yay!

That brings us up to Saturday, and since I’m living Saturday right now, I’ll write about it later. 

Bye for now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I’m actually writing this on Thursday morning because Wednesday got pretty busy!

6:00am – Up early again, we ate breakfast, Chris got ready.

7:00am – Chris left for another long day of flying.  I got ready for the day and out the door to head to tutoring.

8:00am – Arrived at tutoring with my second tutor.  My first tutor is who comes to our house to work with me on Mondays and Tuesdays.  My second tutor works on the staff of one of the local churches, so I drive over to meet with her at the church office before she starts work for the day.  I like working with her EXCEPT that she loves to make me sing Indonesian songs solo in front of the other people that work in the church office, which is more than a little embarrassing.  I am stumbling through these lyrics in Indonesian with a new tune in the company of several native speakers.  They always act like I do a great job; I think they’re just being nice.  It’s fairly mortifying really.

10:00am – Finish tutoring and head to the grocery store for a few items and to the bakery.  

The bakery I usually get bread from, and sadly no, they don't sell blueberries : (

The front of the bakery.  It is one of the few places I know of in town where wheat bread, as opposed to white bread, is made regularly.  Since whole wheat flour is not available in Tarakan, buying wheat bread at Blueberry Bakery is the only alternative to the Wonder-bread-like options available at other local stores/bakeries

Inside the bakery
At the bakery they sell these yummy little packets wrapped in banana leaves-I don’t remember what they are called in Indonesian, but my friend calls them rice sandwiches, and I think that’s a great description.  When the banana leaf is unwrapped there is lemony steamed rice inside filled with something like dried, sweetened chicken.  I know that probably sounds really gross, but it is actually yummy.  

The "rice sandwich" opened up

I bought one for lunch along with a chocolate-filled croissant.  A word about Indonesian baked goods-they generally look quite pretty and don’t taste very good at all.  They are often bland or filled with weird fruit stuff.  However, I heated the croissant in the microwave when I got home, and it was probably the best bakery item I have had since arriving in Indonesia.  With my fun Indonesian Starbucks mug of cappuccino (from a grocery store packet...but that's okay) it was just right. 

The surprisingly good croissant and the "rice sandwich" before I opened it
11:00am – Ate the early lunch described (and pictured) above.  Did morning work that I didn’t have time to do before tutoring and finished taking stuff out of the guest room to get ready for the furniture to be delivered.  I started laundry, as I do every Wednesday.  Laundry is pretty much an all-day venture here with each load taking about 45 minutes to wash and 1 1/2 to 2 hours to day.  I don't mind doing it though.  I am one of those strange people who actually kind of enjoy doing laundry-there's a confession for you!  

I spent awhile writing emails and making calls trying to get arrangements pinned down for some upcoming events with the MAF team-I am realizing through writing down my day-to-day schedule that I spend a LOT of time on the computer, especially lately!  All the while I was anxiously waiting for the furniture to come-we ordered it about 2 months ago and I expected it to come last week, so I am excited about getting it!

2:00pm – The gentleman who takes care of our yard came-we talked a little bit, mostly about how windy it’s been lately and how many giant leaves have been blowing down from the trees by our house.  Chris sent me a text message wondering if the furniture was here yet-nope-and let me know his flight day would be longer because he had to take a body back to one of the villages.  Those are usually sad flights, the ones to take a person’s body back to his or her home village for burial.

3:00pm – The furniture arrived!  The furniture-maker and his workers carried the bed up in pieces along with the other items we ordered, and then assembled them.  Everything turned out good overall, although the side table is quite a bit bigger than I pictured, but it will do.  It reminds me of the part in Alice in Wonderland where everything is huge and she is tiny!  The hours slipped by as I organized our papers into the desks and put things away.  It’s so great to finally be able to bring some order to the chaos.

5:15pm – Chris came home and I gleefully showed him the new furniture.  He liked everything, of course, since he is much less picky than I am.  We hopped on his motorcycle to go buy a mattress, a desk chair, and a couple pillows for the bed.  We got everything at one store and their delivery guys followed us home and brought in the new purchases. 

6:00pm - Chris and I ate dinner and he told me about his flight day.  Flying the body back to the village was a sad situation.  The woman who died had just been released from the hospital with a terminal diagnosis, and she was hoping to return to her village to spend time with family and friends before passing.  Sadly, she didn't get the chance.  Chris said her son and several other men brought her body and flew back to the village with it, and they were all quite somber.  A large procession of people met the plane at the airstrip to mourn with her family. 

Not only is taking a body interior sad, the reality is, it can come with a pretty unpleasant odor.  The Cessna 206 plane that Chris flies is very small without a lot of ventilation, and the weather here is very hot and humid, so it can get kind of rough.  Chris said the people who went with the body on the flight today all had handkerchiefs over their noses, and Chris was struggling to bear the scent.  Sorry if that is really yucky to hear about, I just want to be honest about the realities Chris faces flying here day-to-day.

We spent the rest of the evening organizing things and putting them away.  We both were actually in bed by around 9:30pm, although we didn’t go to sleep quite that early.  We were tired after a busy day!

More later!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


6:00am – Good morning!  Chris is flying again today-he got ready; we ate granola, fruit and juice together.

7:00am – Chris leaves for work.  Tuesday is the one weekday that I don’t have to be dressed and ready for the day by 8:00am; my language tutor doesn’t come until 10:00am-hooray!  Sometimes I even go back to bed for a little bit, but more often I leisurely check email, scan Facebook, and take my time showering, getting ready, and doing my morning work-that’s what I did this morning. After fighting with the computer a bit to get the sound working, including a call to my husband for fix-it advice (he is so patient with my ineptitude and impatience with electronics), I also chatted with my mom on Skype-the internet is such a blessing!

I managed to while away the time until…

10:00am-12:00pm – My language tutor arrived and we studied and discussed another long passage in Indonesian.  She said my reading comprehension is getting better and better-yay!

12:00pm – So hungry, as usual!  I ate lunch alone as Chris was busy flying the friendly skies-leftover Bakso from yesterday…that is the last time I can eat that this week I think.  Chris and I generally have a rule that we cannot eat food from the same meal more than twice-we get sick of it after the second time around.  It makes cooking the right size portion challenging sometimes since neither Chris nor I eat a lot and I don’t like to throw away food.

12:30pm – Rested.   I’m usually tired out after language and lunch, so I take some time to rest around this time if I can.  I often can’t sleep, but I read or watch part of a movie or just sit and process.  Today I finished reading the book “Half-Broke Horses” and enjoyed it all the way through.    

1:00pm-ish – Made chocolate chip cookies that I planned to bring to my friend's house.  Chocolate chips are not sold here in Tarakan, and the chocolate available to bake with is not very yummy and not semi-sweet.  Lucky for me my generous friends and supporters in the States send bags of chocolate chips my way, so I save them for when I’m really craving cookie dough-ahem-I mean cookies!  Not so lucky for me our oven freaked out again and decided to heat up to the set 375 degrees and kept right on going up to 450 degrees, at which time I smelled burning and discovered that most of the cookies were ruined-grrr.  I washed the dishes and resolved to look up the problem on the internet later and see what can be done about it.  Not enough cookies left for my friend and each of her kids to get one-too bad. I'll have to make up for it next time I visit.

2:00pm – Usually at this time I am heading over to the home of a friend and fellow MAF colleague to provide speech therapy for her son.  However, today the family is celebrating their daughter’s birthday at the pool, so I spent my time hanging out with another MAF gal-we chatted and laughed, it was great to get together, a good pick-me-up as I have been feeling sort of down and lonely lately.

4:00pm – Headed home to start dinner, chicken strips with dipping sauces, garlic-herb roasted potatoes and salad, one of Chris’s favorite meals.  

5:30pm-ish – Chris arrived home tired after a long day.  We ate dinner soon after and talk about our days.  I cleaned up while he made phone calls and caught up on email and news from the day.  Chris took the trash to the bin on his motorcycle.  We don’t have door-to-door trash pick-up here, so we have to drive the garbage down the street to the dumpster every few days.  Neither of us enjoys the task, but it must be done.  The trash bins are super-smelly and a popular hang-out for roosters, chickens, ducks, stray cats, stray dogs, and of course rats-yuck!

Not sure where the rest of the night went!  I had several emails to write and people to call, which took some time.  Chris received a message that our guest room furniture is going to be delivered tomorrow, so we moved things out of the guest room (all the random stuff that will soon have homes in our desk drawers-so great) and pushed the free-standing closet to the other side of the room to get everything in the place that I had in my mind.  We quickly realized that somehow I made a mistake measuring (it has become clear to me that taking measurements is NOT one of my strong points, as easy as it seems to be), and my original plan for the furniture was going to make it hard to open the guest room door-boo.  We figured out another option, but I’m not crazy about it.  I’m still clinging to the hope that somehow my original design will work (fat chance).

9:00pm – Chris heads to bed, I’m still finishing computer work.  I go in to hang out with him before he falls asleep, but he is already pretty incoherent-bummer.  I grab my PJS, glasses, Bible, and book reader, turn out the light and head to the TV room to get to work on this blog post before reading and heading to bed.

Here's my language tutoring book, notebook and dictionary...

Pictures of the guest room pre-furniture (I still have to take some of the stuff out)...

From the doorway

From the upper right corner by the turquoise wall
Hopefully our furniture actually comes tomorrow and fits like I want it to!
That’s about it for my big Tuesday-a good day overall, I’m always thankful for those.  Hope your day is going good too!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday & Monday

I’m back posting already-do you believe it?!  Actually, to motivate myself to post on here regularly, (at least for 1 week), and to share what life is like for me on a daily basis (since some of you have asked about that), I’m going to give a timeline and description of each day this week and try to include a picture or two representing the day.  Today will actually cover Sunday and Monday since I’m already a day behind (oops!).

So, Sunday

8:00am - woke up feeling overall not great, physically and emotionally-how’s that for a great start to the week!  I have been battling some stomach issues for the past month or so that are really getting old.  It’s probably time for a trip to the doctor to get tested for parasites and stuff, but I am avoiding that because going to the doctor here is just kind of scary to me. 

9:30am - Chris headed out to church alone since I wasn’t feeling well. We get together at our MAF friends’ house every other week for English church with several other MAF families and the guys take turns leading-it was Chris’s week to lead, so he couldn’t stay home to hang out with me.  While he was gone I started laundry, which I do every Sunday, spent some time reading my Bible, writing in my journal, and praying,

10:45am - Made granola-one of our common breakfast foods here in the land of substandard cereal.  I usually make granola every week with my sister-in-law Laura’s yummy recipe.  Unfortunately this week our usually reliable stove went haywire and instead of heating to 300 degrees, went up to 450 degrees, burning the granola, which might I add contained precious pecans that were sent to us from the U.S..  I was quite annoyed, but happy the oven overheating appeared to be a fluke-I was afraid it was broken again and then who knows how long it would have taken to get the parts over here to fix it. 

12:00pm - Chris & I ate pizza for lunch, on which I used some delicious bacon we bought while we were at our family conference in Balikpapan, and it was awesome!  We usually can’t get bacon or any traditional pork products here in Tarakan because of the largely Muslim culture, so bacon is a delicious treat! 

12:30-10:00pm - I did 4 loads of laundry.  I made dinner (Mexican soup and corn muffins) and Chris cleaned up.  We relaxed and read our books, and later watched a movie.  We try to make Sunday a rest day-or at least one day out of the weekend, so we can recharge for Monday.

Speaking of Monday

6:00am – We woke up this morning after a night of thunderstorms.  We ate breakfast and Chris got ready for the day.

7:00am – Chris headed to work-he’s flying out into the jungle villages today, so he won’t be home for lunch.  I got myself ready for the day, and did my “morning work” (making the bed, putting away clothes, putting away clean dishes from the night before). 

8:30am - Our house helper arrived.  I don’t remember if I’ve posted much about our house helper on here, so if I have, forgive me and skip over this explanation.  It’s pretty well expected in this culture that if you are a Westerner, or if you can afford it, you should have a house helper.  It’s a way to provide a job as there aren’t many jobs available here.  Your house helper can work as little or as much as you want.  Our helper comes in on Monday and Thursday mornings to help with going to the market, washing items from the market, cleaning, ironing and she started cooking today.  We just hired a new helper a couple weeks ago because our former helper was pregnant and was about ready to deliver her baby.  Our new helper is older and a mother of 9!  Most of her children are grown up now, and this is the first time she has worked outside of her home since the early 1990s.  She is friendly, a hard worker, patient with my stumbling language, and seems very happy and thankful to have a job, which is great.   

8:30-9:45am - While our helper worked I reviewed the long reading passage that my language tutor and I would be working through today.  With the translator on my phone I looked up unfamiliar words and wrote down any questions I had.  I also thought of several other questions that my tutor and I could discuss.  I’m at the point in language where I can have a very basic discussion as long as the native speaker doesn’t talk too fast.  I can read basic passages and recently I have been moving on to more difficult texts.

9:45-10:00am – Talked to my Dad and wished him a ‘Happy Father’s Day’ over Skype.  It’s still Sunday evening in Michigan, so I didn’t miss Father’s Day.  It was great to talk to him and see him on the video-although I missed giving him a hug!

10:00am-12:00pm – My language tutor arrived and we talked and studied together.  She is patient, friendly, and great to work with-a huge blessing to me!

12:00pm – Ate lunch our helper prepared, a dish called Bakso, which translates loosely to a meatball with vegetables.  I have always been a bit afraid of this dish as the Bakso (meatball) is a bit of a mystery meat, but it wasn’t too bad.  I was thankful to have food ready for lunch instead of having to make something myself because after language I am usually super-hungry (maybe burning calories with my brain-who knows).

12:00-3:00pm – Answered emails and made some calls-the MAF ladies here take turns coordinating and organizing things that come up-Bible study each week, welcome dinners, places for visitors from MAF headquarters and other visitors to stay and eat etc.-and I am taking over that role from July until the end of September, so the communication related to that has begun.  I did some reading-a really interesting book called “Half-Broke Horses” by Jeannette Walls, I recommend it-and started this blog post.

3:00-5:00pm – Went to women’s Bible study, which we have every other week.  We are discussing the book “Sacred Influence” by Gary Thomas, a good book for women about marriage.  It is a nice time of fellowship with the other women on the MAF team.

5:00pm – Chris picked me up from Bible study and I heard about his day of flying-a good, safe, uneventful day-the best kind.

5:00-6:00pm – Finished this blog post

6:00-10:00pm – (A projection) Warm up and eat dinner, clean up, read, sit on the porch and watch the nightly storm clouds roll in, get ready for tomorrow, go to bed.

Here are a couple of pictures…

This was actually from last week-I looked up from working on emails to see this guy walk into our front yard-he's a big one!!!  I snapped this picture quick before he ran away into the jungle.
This steer that was grazing in the field next to our driveway had his eye on me as I headed out to Bible study
 That’s the beginning of the week-I recognize this may be somewhat boring, but I want to give a picture of what life is like here on a daily basis, and that’s not always thrilling, it’s just routine everyday stuff.  The key is finding those moments that make it special to live here-I often find them in watching the clouds in the evening and the birds in the early morning, in the sunsets and the mountains in the distance and the learning to cook everything from scratch.  In those little things there is beauty.

Talk to you tomorrow.     

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Delightful Products

I haven’t done a post with any fabulous Indonesian products lately, so I thought I would share a few gems that Chris and I noticed while out and about lately.

We’ll start in the beauty aisle, where I saw this lotion…

I know cosmetic companies emphasize staying young, but this lotion truly goes back to the womb!  Notice how it’s called “whitening” lotion-many Indonesian people covet light skin, so most of the beauty products here are “whitening”, which basically means they leave a white, powdery coating on the skin.  It’s actually difficult to find lotion without “whitening” properties.

Let’s move on to a more personal area of the store-toileting…

Really, having to wear adult diapers has to be humiliating enough without calling them “Dr. P”-seriously, Dr. P!!!  That’s just unnecessary.

Feeling thirsty?  How about some of this delicious-sounding nectar?

And fear not, if you read the fine print you will be relieved to see that it indeed includes jelly bits, because how could you experience the true taste of a birds nest without gelatinous chunks involved?  There are actually large structures all over the city that are built specifically for collecting bird nests to make Bird’s Nest Soup, a Chinese delicacy, and drinks such as this one.  It’s kind of funny because the structures continuously play a soundtrack of fake tweets to attract birds-sometimes it is hard to distinguish between the real bird songs and the fabricated calls!

What to do when your breath is not-so-fresh?  How about a few of these…

The delicious combination of mint and barley is sure to be enticing-blech!!!

A quick jaunt through the office supplies and I came upon this notebook with quite an interesting cover…

Vitamin+Rabbit-what are they promoting?  And then somehow oranges are involved too?  Apparently whatever this wonder product is it guarantees “sweet and relaxing dreams” AND a “fresh and vibrant feeling”-amazing!  The most confusing thing about this is that it is on a child’s school notebook-how does it all relate?  So weird!

And last, but certainly not least, a cleaning product that is straight from the Heavens above…

Chris found this and we were about dying laughing-who wants the Swiffer when you can have the God Trailer?  Clearly the latter is infinitely better!  I mean, with the mighty God Trailer, “drag ground is not the bitter work anymore”, who can argue with that?!  

Just had to share those with you because I thought they were great fun!  I haven’t gone so far as to test drive any of these dynamic goods, so who knows, Bird’s Nest Drink could be my new favorite beverage.  My experiences here have at times proven and at others defied the adage “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”. 

Have a good week!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Life Lately

I have been terribly lax in blogging lately, and I have no real excuses to give, so I’ll just jump right in to what’s been going on in our lives lately.



I’m having a hard time thinking of much interesting to tell.  Maybe that’s why I haven’t tuned in to Blogger in a bit, I just don’t have much new to say.

I mean, there is plenty of the same old thing-it’s hot and sweaty, a number of cats have decided to make our ceiling one of their new hang out spots, and I mistakenly fried a gecko in the toaster a few weeks ago; but at this point those things have become normal life here.

Our microwave also has the faint smell of dead animal that I haven’t been able to find the source of-but again, this is just par for the course.

The truth is life here in Tarakan, especially for me at this point, is somewhat monotonous-get up, breakfast, dishes, language tutoring, lunch, dishes, laundry, shopping, dinner, more dishes…and the stuff I’m supposed to do, but don’t always rise to the occasion for, like studying language, or writing on this little blog.  Being a person that tends toward anxiety, I appreciate a routine life-last year on the road without a permanent place to live was difficult for me, so having a place of our own and a schedule is good.  It does get hard sometimes though, especially because life on this island is so…small.  Chris and I can’t jump in the car and drive out of town for the weekend to get a change of scenery, and even though I am making some slow gains with language, I still feel timid to venture too far out on my own.  It’s a struggle to “grow where I’m planted” right now and not put life on hold until I’m back to my familiar.  I don’t want to miss all that God has for me here in Indonesia-both to do for Him and others and to experience for my own growth and depth-because I’m waiting for life to begin again in America.  Life is now and I need to live it just where I am, sweat, dead animals, stumbling over simple sentences and all!       

So, I’ve been painting.  And putting stuff up on the walls.

This may seem like a huge jump from the last quite vulnerable paragraph, but it is oh so connected, because I love me a good decorating project-especially since I’ve been here…maybe it’s one of the effects of not working a regular job, but now I love starting and finishing something tangible and thinking “I did that-I accomplished something!”, even if that something doesn’t really impact anyone but me.

So here’s our orange wall in the kitchen:

Orange is a bold move I know, but I just can’t resist those bright colors and every time I look at it I just feel happy!

Here are a couple other decorating conquests in the kitchen created from materials I found here.  Both projects required to me to go to “scary” stores (those are stores where the workers follow me around and ask lots of questions that I usually don’t understand well, and then I, horror of horrors, have to ask the workers for things in Indonesian, something I don’t even like to do in the U.S. using my native language) by myself, which I felt very proud of myself for doing.

A fabric-covered bulletin board to tack up recipes and such

Assorted fabrics in embroidery hoops with little bird enhancements!

My long-time dream of an over-the-couch plate wall was finally realized, along with the paint color on that wall, a springy green...

Note more bird enhancements-I'm into birds right now
We also finished off Chris’s “man cave” with calming beige walls and some nifty pictures printed on blocks of wood-a very cool alternative to the traditional pictures in frames that don’t work well here because the high humidity causes the photos to adhere to the glass in the frames, ruining the pictures.  The marquees, a nod to my hometown, were taken by my brother, and the other 3 pictures are meaningful to Chris-his old truck, an MAF plane and a ride in a dune buggy we took last summer.

So there you have it-I’ve been trying to keep busy, which is both fun and good for me!  We also have furniture for our guest room on order from the furniture-maker, and a desk, which will be great since all our office-type stuff has been residing in random piles on the guest room floor for the last 8 months.  It will be so nice to have an actual filing system, thus avoiding conversations such as:

 “Hey Sarah, where was that really important paper we got from the bank last week?” 

“Uh-maybe in the basket under that pile of Easter stickers or try looking under my rain suit somewhere in between my language school books and those pieces of fluorescent paper I use to make the market lists.”

These exchanges always end in frustration and rummaging through things, thus further displacing items that we will need to search for in the near future.  Yes, having a desk will be wonderful!

And yes, I do more than just decorate the house, which I’m sure seems uber-frivolous. Please understand it’s just one of the ways I cope with the loneliness and by-myself-ness  I’m still plugging away at the language daily and pitching in as I feel able to with the planning of MAF events.  In August some of the other MAF ladies and I hope to be flown into one of the jungle villages for the day to provide classes on abstinence, childbirth, and mothering to the young ladies/young moms there.  If you think about it, we would appreciate your prayers for our interaction with the ladies in the village of Mahak Baru, where we hope to go.  Teenage pregnancy has become a huge problem in all the villages, and since one of the wives of one of the Indonesian MAF staff members works as a nurse in Mahak Baru, we have a connection to go there first and offer classes for the young ladies there.  We are praying for wisdom on how to communicate on these sensitive topics and for the hearts and minds of the young ladies to be open. 

For all my talk of monotony we actually have quite a bit on of action on the horizon as an MAF team.  Our current program manager and his family are headed back to America for furlough in a month and then they are relocating to an MAF program in Papua so they are able to have schooling for their junior high school-aged son.  It is sad to see them go-actually; I’m trying not to think about it because life here will be so different without them!  We are busy having lots of “lasts” with them, last movie night, last dinner get-together,etc., and there will be a big “Good-bye” party for them in a few weeks.  On a happier note, our new program manager and his family arrived last Friday and it will be fun to get to know them more as they settle in. Another family also just came back from furlough on Tuesday, and at the end of the summer 2 couples-the wives are teachers and their husbands are airplane mechanics-will be arriving to help with the school and in the MAF hangar.  So, lots of changes are coming-we are all gearing up for them!  

Chris is doing well, flying several days a week and in the hangar the other days.  He was hoping to take a dirt biking trip with some of his Indonesian friends this weekend, but it fell through because there wasn’t enough gas along the route they were planning to take, so that was a bummer.  No big news to report with Chris, he is happy here, really, he is the most adaptable person I have ever met, and the most content, it’s amazing.  It’s a good thing one of us has such a disposition!

Well, this blog post is officially torturously long, so I’ll end for now.  Hope you are all enjoying summer now that it has finally arrived!  Thanks for enduring through this way-too-lengthy diatribe.  More later, but not so much at once next time!