Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Last Month Until Now

After an extended vacation from blogging following an actual vacation that wasn’t nearly extended enough, I’m back and it’s August, already!!!  What’s happened since I last wrote, well, a lot and not much all at the same time…things that are a big deal to me here don’t usually seem all that important when I write them down, but here goes a brief list of events…

  • The new house helper that I was getting used to and liking requested a pay raise that was over double what we agreed upon when she started working.  This happened at the end of June, probably later in the afternoon on the day of my last post.  Since we were already paying our helper higher than the average wage of a helper, Chris nicely explained to her that we weren’t willing to increase her salary, especially not to almost triple of what we agreed upon.  She said she could make more selling homemade cakes and cookies to local stores, and she would not continue to work for us, so, no more house helper.  The house helper of one of my good friends agreed to go to the market for us and wash our produce and meat, so we are paying her to do that and I am doing the housework myself.  I must admit I am much more happy and relaxed without a house helper-I never felt comfortable having someone else in the house working, no matter how much I tried to be okay with it.   Predictably, our helper called back about a month later saying the whole selling cakes things didn’t work out and she wanted her job back.  We politely declined since things seem to be working out well without an in-house helper.
  • My first 4th of July in Indonesia!  We had a BBQ with all the MAF families, set off fireworks, and hung out outside.  It actually felt, well, authentic!  It’s the only major U.S. holiday that the weather is “right” for in Indonesia.  The smell of the charcoal & meat on the grill, kids running and playing, watching fireworks, and slapping mosquitos, it all felt right…until the call to prayer began from the local Mosques, then it was a bit difficult to keep the authentic Independence Day feeling!  All in all, it was a fun celebration.
  • On July 5th we said a sad “good-bye” to the program manager and his family who have served in Tarakan for about 10 years.  They went back to the States for furlough and then they will join an MAF program in Sentani, which is in Papua, Indonesia, that has schooling available for their children, especially their 13-year-old son who is at an age where they want him to have some peers to interact with.  We miss them very much!  I didn’t realize all they quietly did for our team and in the community until they were gone-isn’t that always the way it works?!
  •  We said “hello” to a new program manager and his family and they have been getting settled and used to life here in Tarakan.  They actually lived in Tarakan for a year when they first started with MAF, but they were moved down to our other base on the island of Kalimantan (Borneo) called Palangkaraya for the next few years.  All that to say, they are familiar with life on Tarakan and already have some Indonesian friends here, which maybe makes this transition a bit easier for them.
  • Chris and I took an absolutely WONDERFUL vacation to Bali from July 16th through July 24th.  There are many things that make living here difficult, however, living a few short flights away from one of the most beautiful, peaceful island paradises in the world is NOT one of them!  More on our trip in a later post.
  • As a mentioned in a previous email, I am taking my turn as the Hospitality Coordinator for our program from July through September, and that is part of why I haven’t been present on my blog or Facebook.  Honestly, I have spent so much time in the past month on the computer writing and answering hospitality-related emails that I haven’t been motivated to spend extra time composing blog posts.  Right now is probably the busiest time hospitality-wise that we will have during my 3 months as coordinator.  We have a Vision Team of 4 college students who are here for 2 weeks to get a taste of life overseas as a jungle pilot.  Each student must be hosted in someone’s home for the 2 weeks, and each night the students go to a different MAF families’ home for dinner-so all that had to be coordinated.  We also have a new MAF family arriving this Friday, so we put together a welcome dinner for them and provide meals for the week after they arrive so they have a chance to get settled, and that also has to be coordinated.  Plus there are different meetings and odds and ends to take care of-it all adds up to lots of emails and phone calls!  Doing this job has brought home to me what a people-pleaser I am.  I like to get input from everyone and come up with a plan which most people are happy with, but with 11, soon to be 12, families, that just isn’t possible, so I have to make decisions myself that effect everyone and I’m sure not everyone is happy with them, or me, and that’s hard for me!   Everyone has been very flexible and understanding though, which is a blessing!
  • The Muslim Holy month of Ramadan began on August 1 and will last until August 29th (I think).  It’s a holiday that is determined by the lunar calendar, so it lasts from new moon to new moon.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with Ramadan, it’s one of the most important times of the year for people of the Muslim faith.  During the day Muslim people that are healthy and able observe a fast from all food and drink.  Before sun up and after sun down they are allowed to break their fast.  At the end of the month of fasting is Idul Fitri, several days of getting together with friends and family in celebration. Ramadan affects our life here in several ways.  First, since people are able to eat before the sun comes up, the Mosques call over loudspeakers to wake people up to begin cooking and eating at 3:00am, and people walk through the streets banging drums and calling for people to wake up as well, which wakes us up too.  Then there are the usual calls to prayer at approximately 4:30am, 12:00pm, 3:30pm, 6:00pm and 7:00pm, but the last one, instead of ending around 7:30pm like it does during typical months, sometimes goes until 9:00 or 10:00pm during the month of Ramadan.   Also, many businesses are closed during the day because people aren’t eating, so they aren’t working either, and we have to be careful not to eat or drink during the day in public, because that is, understandably, considered rude.  Lastly, food tends to run short during this month because people are cooking and eating so much in the mornings and evenings-pretty ironic, huh?!  We have been slowly stocking up on essentials, because by the time it’s Idul Fitri I’m told the grocery stores are pretty bare.  It’s interesting to experience this Holy month for the first time.  It makes me realize how much Ramadan isn’t a part of my life in America, even though in so much of the world it is of great impact and importance. 
  • Chris and I are having fun dog sitting for our friends’ schnauzer, Sadie, for part of this week.  She is a sweet, very good dog and I enjoy having a buddy during the day.  She is sleeping at my feet as I write this email.

I think that pretty much covers all the major things that have happened or are happening.  I hope the summer has been treating all of you well!  I’ll leave you with one picture from our trip to Bali to entice you to read my Bali post coming up very soon!

The sawah, which means rice paddy, that one of the restaurants we went to looked out on.  It was so peaceful and beautiful, a perfect place for an afternoon rest and snack!

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