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!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Connect

It's Friday again, time for my 5 minute Friday post-fun!

Today's topic is Connect...

When I think of connecting the first thing I think of is Skype.  Ah, Skype, close friend of many that are an ocean away from their families.  Our Internet is kind of poor (okay, kind of is an takes 10 minutes to load a 30 second YouTube video), so our connection with family and friends is often disjointed, delayed, and frequently cut off, but I can still hear and even see loved ones who I haven't seen in almost 2 years from all the way across the world.  It's amazing, really!

The power to connect across thousands of miles makes this big world seem a lot smaller, and in a way, it is.  As I live overseas I see people who look very different than me living a similar, cleaning, working, talking with friends, running errands around town, the same stuff I do here and that people I know are doing in my home country everyday.  No matter where people live and in what kind of circumstances, all of us are looking to connect, whether it's with one particular person, or many, with co-workers, family members, friends, neighbors, even pets...I think we all want to impact someone, to have someone impact us, to connect and be known.

I want to write more, but I'm going over my 5 minutes!  It's good to be able to connect with people through this blog, as silly and babbling as it often is...thanks for reading it and connecting to my little world!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Passing the Days with Pictures

While reading my friend April's very fun blog, Catching Fireflies (it's connected with her and her husband's super-nifty gift shops of the same name in Berkley, MI and Rochester, MI...if you live in the area and you haven't visited them yet, you totally should), I was inspired to join the Photo-A-Day Challenge  started by Chantelle at her blog Fat Mum Slim.  I joined Instagram (I can't believe it's taken me this long, I've been adoring other peoples' new vintage-looking pictures on Facebook for months), and I've been happily snapping away meeting the daily photo challenge.  Here's the list of photos for August:

If you want to follow my day-to-day in pictures you can check them out on Instagram under the username sessabeesd.  

Side note: I really need to tell my parents that they don't need to worry about restoring their newlywed pictures and shots of me as a baby that have faded or turned pink or yellow, because guess what, they are actually way trendy now!

As our days in Indonesia dwindle (that is such a weird word, and one of those that doesn't seem like a real word when I type it), it's good to record our simple life here in photos.  Somehow the randomness of this list of pictures captures the essence of life here for me, so I can look back and remember little things, like my messy freezer, which I took a picture of today. 

My freezer is absolutely jam-packed because I store months worth of cheese and bacon, lovingly procured on vacations to other parts of Indonesia and stowed in my carry-on...yes, a carry-on full of fat, all the precious herbs, spices. nuts, coffee, and chocolate chips from the U.S. that I freeze to keep them usable for as long as possible, homemade chicken broth, piles of meat in preparation for the end of Ramadan when there won't be much food in the stores and the market for a bit, homemade naan, tortillas, and pita bread to pull out for quick lunches, and lots of other odds and ends that I try to preserve from the heat and humidity.  Funny how just one picture represents a lot of my life here-making most stuff from scratch, carefully keeping and rationing food that isn't available on our island, stocking up for lean times.  Doing this life has certainly been an education!  It's also made me realize that I really love good food and I will go to great lengths (5 hours in the steamy kitchen) to get it!  

Okay, I've hit babbling mode now, but back to the photo-a-day challenge; if the idea of recording daily life one picture at a time intrigues you, I would recommend going for it.  I am having lots of fun with it and my bet is that you will too!

Happy snapping (pictures, not at people)!

Friday, August 3, 2012

My First 'Five Minute Friday' Post

Posts two days in a row, unbelievable, no?  

I was visiting my friend Mary's blog, Bittersweet, and saw she has been doing something that I find so neat I think I will try it myself.  Mary is participating in Five Minute Friday, a "free write flash mob" as termed by it's creator, Lisa-Jo Baker on her blog Tales from a Gypsy Mama.  

Here 's the skinny...a prompt is provided and you are supposed to write anything you want based on that prompt for only 5 minutes, no extra time for editing and making it perfectly spell-checked and grammatically correct, just seeing what comes out in five minutes and sharing that (that's going to be hard for this perfectionist).  After you are done writing you link up to the Gypsy Mama's blog and visit whoever linked up before you to read that person's free write and encourage him or her.  

Pretty fun, huh?  

I'm going to put a button on my blog for Five Minute Friday so you can click on that and read about this link up yourselves, but first I have to figure out how to do that.  I'm trying to learn blogging on a new computer AND trying to get a bit more snazzy with my blog in the process, which is teaching me patience with myself, sort of.  Sort of as in it's teaching, but I'm not always learning!

So, here I go...

The prompt for this Friday is: Here

Here is where I need to be right now.  Even though I am pretty much wanting to be somewhere else, home to be specific.

Here is hot and sweaty, anxious and tiring, loud and smelly, but also interesting.

Always interesting and always changing me, growing me.

Here is the place I can't hide my real difficulties in fun leisure and a never-ending quest for happiness.

Here I see myself and I see just how much work needs to be done.  Here is hard, but here is so good for me in so many ways.

Here is where I have sunk my heart deep into friendships.

Here is where I have time to contemplate in the midst of the daily tasks I know I can accomplish.

Here i have a created a space for my husband and I to rest and have fun, a respite...a home from a cement-walled house in the tropics far, far from home.

Here is where I have been placed for a time.

Here is growth.

Here is a blessing.

The bright red sun setting in a hazy sky after a hot, hot Borneo day

For Laughs

As you can tell from my last post, things have been pretty heavy around here lately.  I don't know about you, but I am in serious need of something to make me giggle!  As I have been going through the multi-step process of recovering the files, pictures, and music from my now long-gone laptop I came upon a bunch of random pictures from the last month that made me smile, and I thought they might give you a chuckle too...

Chris bought a new fan at the store and this is how he carried it home on his motorcycle.  Ah, the ingenuity that is born out of life without a car!

Roti Boy...a fine Indonesian establishment.  'Roti' means bread and, as you can tell by the sign, the Roti Boy is all about buns, sweet, warm, crunchy donut-type goodies that are really quite good.  I'm not sure if the Indonesians quite understand the double entendre in their "buns to die for" slogan, but it always makes me smile.

Chris, ever the fashion-forward chap decided he had to join a couple of our fashionista friends in sporting what he very NON-affectionately refers to as the "belly belt".  Chris has been quite vocal about his confusion and dislike of this trend (he is also outspoken in his horror of skinny jeans and leggings, and the dreaded combo, jeggings), but after his frequent protests went unneeded he figured if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  Let me add that he didn't just wear his "belly belt" for a few minutes, oh no, he sported it for the entire morning.  That's commitment.

Okay, it's very possible that I am way out of what is going on with jewelry styles in the States, because, well, I haven't been living there in awhile, so two finger rings might be all the rage, but I don't know...I found this one rather binding and well, just sort of weird.  What do you think?  Hmm...

Yeah, yeah, I know it's a little strange to post a picture of a bra on here, but relax people, you've all seen one before.  I was just confused and frankly a bit grossed out by this tag...wait a minute are they actually using perspiration as an advertising tool and trying to make me believe  the presence of it will somehow improve the softness of my skin?   Hi, uncomfortable and ew.  Plus they used the word "moist".  Nobody likes that word, yuck.

A martini, a fruity girly drink, oh no my friends, it's so much more, a mocktail!  A staple of most upscale Indonesian restaurants, the mocktail is oh-so-silly, but I couldn't resist!

This cat is having a very bad day!  The dog, Sadie, that we were watching a couple weeks ago went barreling out the door one morning and chased one of the ever-present neighborhood feral cats into a tree in our yard.  Sadie was just thrilled about the whole situation, I was meanly amused because I have an ongoing grudge towards all cats in this culture due to their incessant urination and copulation in our ceiling, and the cat, well, she would have killed us both if she could.  I wondered how she would get down, but after a couple hours I checked and she was gone, and no dead cat below the tree, so she must have made it out okay.  Haven't seen her since.  Ha.

I think this picture is cute, so I put it in, even though it's not funny.  Chris and I had lunch at this little place in Balikpapan during the week of family conference and the owner took our picture after we ate.  The place is a bakery and restaurant that is decorated like a European cafe-very cute!  The ambiance was great and the food was good too. 

I hope these pictures gave you a  couple laughs (Chris rocking the belly belt, come on, it doesn't get much better than that).  Keep enjoying your summer!

P.S. I'm trying out a brand new program to compose my blog posts, so if things are a little weird in this post that's the reason.  I mean that's the reason for weird technical stuff, the weird writing is just you know, me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Experience I Hoped Never To Have

Remember my last post when I said that not much was going on and less momentous events seem to be occurring as compared to when we first arrived?

Remind me to never say something like that again. 

Our house was broken into last week while I was out during the day. My laptop was the only thing taken, which is a blessing, but, of course the most significant thing that was stolen was my peace of mind.

I talk more about my thought process in dealing with all this on the MAF here for the link.

Your prayers for our safety and security as well as for the rest of our team would be appreciated. Our house was one of several that have been broken into in our neighborhood in the past few weeks, and just today a man with a crow bar and an empty bag was seen in the jungle by one of our teammates's empty houses. 

Thanks for your prayers.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Hello, hello after a L-O-N-G absence.  How is everyone?  Well?  I am all right I suppose…I think the title of this post says it all, and explains why I haven’t posted in so long.  Things just seem sort of, you know, blah. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that after almost 2 years here the things that were exciting and new have become, well, familiar (uh-oh, I may need to change the name of the blog, shoot!).  Happenings that would have had me running to the computer to record every detail in the past seem to slip by with a shrug…like about a month ago when I saw a black snake about the length of a yard stick that was probably a cobra slithering down our driveway and into the nearby field.  Before I would have grabbed my camera to get a shot and posted all about it.  Instead I watched it disappear and reflected that I was glad I was on my motorcycle and not on foot when I spotted the snake, and then headed off to the grocery store.  I also think (and I’m a bit afraid to write this for fear of inviting disaster) that far fewer sensational things have happened lately as compared to earlier in my time here.  I am not complaining about that by any means, I am ecstatic to miss the drama of unexpected animals in the house, too-close-for-comfort lightening strikes, you name it…relative calmness just makes for less to write about.  Every time I sit down to write a post I think, “What has really been happening?  Nothing that people would really want to read about.  Maybe I’ll write another day.”  Then two months go by with nothing on the blog. Oops. 

So here I am on another beautiful, sunny, steamy day, doing laundry, getting ready to grind the hunk of beef the size of my head that is sitting in my fridge, trying to decide whether I can put off going to the grocery store for one more day (I’m fighting a headache with dizziness that seems to get worse when I move around…not the best time to get on a motorcycle I think).  I don’t have any crazy stories to tell, just wanted to check in on this little blog since I haven’t for SO long. 

Wow, I’m boring.


See, this is why I never post.

I need to find ways to make the mundane interesting…I’ll let you know how that goes.

For now, here are a few highlights from the last couple months…

  •             Some of the MAF ladies get together about every other month for Cookbook Club.  One person hosts and provides the main dish and the other ladies bring sides.  Usually the host picks a theme, maybe a specific cookbook or web site all the recipes should be from, or a food theme like Italian, Indian, etc.  I hosted our gathering in April and our theme was soup, salad, bread, and pie.  The food was delicious and we had fun gabbing.  Here’s a couple pictures of the tables-I had to bring in our patio set to accommodate all the guests.

          I signed up to bring pies and here are the recipes I used.  They were quite scrumptious, especially     
          the Apple Sour Cream Pie…I would highly recommend them:

          Apple Sour Cream Pie

          Chocolate Cream Pie
  • In May there were several groups of MAF-related guests that came through including a couple guys from MAF headquarters in Nampa, ID to install a cargo pod on one of the airplanes, a long-term intern, someone to test the school-aged kids and give recommendations for the MAF school, and a group of college students and an MAF advocate from Canada who wanted to get a taste of life as a missionary pilot overseas.  We kept busy welcoming the guests and making sure they had places to stay, meals, and whatever else they needed.  No pictures of them, but when I think of the month of May doing various hospitality-related things comes to mind.
  • Chris and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on June 6th by heading to the nearest larger city, Balikpapan (I’ve talked about it in previous posts), and spending a couple nights at a nice hotel, relaxing by the pool, shopping, and eating.  I think food is pretty much the highlight of every vacation for us since there isn’t much Western-style food available where we live.  It was great to get away.  I can’t believe it’s already been three years since our wedding!  In a way it seems like longer than that because we have packed so much into those years.

  •       Our yearly MAF Family Conference was June 10-15 in Balikpapan, so we actually flew in early to celebrate our anniversary and then got together with everyone for conference.  It was a fun time with lots of opportunities to worship together, get to know each other more with team building exercises, and learn from great speakers Kevin & Linda Swanson who very generously travelled all the way from the U.S. to minister to us.  We also, surprise, surprise, managed to eat lots of delicious meals…Pizza, Indian food, Mexican, Sushi, yum!  I can’t talk about it for long, because I just start to crave yummy food that I don’t have to make from scratch *sigh*.  It was a fun and refreshing time hanging out with our friends and co-workers in a different setting.  Here’s a picture of the whole group, as well as a few other pictures from conference.  All the shots are compliments of Tripp Flythe, one of the amazing photographers on our MAF team.
Our MAF Kalimantan team 

Several of the other ladies and I all dressed up for a banquet 

Chris & I

What a handsome guy!

  •       Right after conference about half our MAF team including Chris and I came down with a nasty sore throat/cough/cold that seemed to last forever.  I am still dealing with sinus issues 3 weeks after the fact, yuck.  All in all I’ve been struggling with feeling under the weather for the better part of a month between that cold, an off and on angry tummy, and headaches.  Prayers for health and energy would be appreciated.

  •       Chris has still been flying the Cessna Caravan like crazy and loving it.  He leaves the house at 6:50am and often doesn’t get home until 5:30-6:00pm.  He is pretty tired on the weekends, but he is having fun flying and he is thankful for the opportunity to get more comfortable flying a turbine aircraft (if that means something to you as a non-pilot, kudos, I had no idea the significance before I was married to a pilot).

  •      We celebrated 4th of July last week with a barbeque with our teammates.  It was relaxing and fun.  It’s nice to celebrate an American holiday and actually have it feel like the right weather…Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas just never feel quite right in the heat and humidity. 

Those are all the highlights I can think of, like I said, nothing too exciting right now, although there are some things on the horizon that promise to be interesting.  More about those things in a later post.  For now I will get going on my tasks for the day.  Enjoy your day or night!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lost in Translation

I have two funny little stories for you that have happened in the last couple weeks built around the theme of communication difficulties.  So often (pretty much every day) there is some sort of communication breakdown that happens between me and the culture I live in, whether it’s someone from the local phone/internet company calling yet again about a promotion, and me trying to explain I’m not interested, which usually ends with me hanging up on the well-meaning person due to my hopeless lack of understanding, or trying to decipher the concerns of our yard guy (is he telling me there was someone on our driveway that he told to go away, that is afraid there will be someone on our driveway coming up to bother me, or is he talking about dogs-not really sure).  Anyway, talking and understanding is always an adventure here, both from a language and a cultural perspective, and these are a couple instances I had to share because they made me smile.  Here goes…

A couple weeks ago Chris came home from work saying “I have a surprise for you!”  This is always exciting because it often means delicious pineapple from the jungle or maybe other assorted yummy fruits and vegetables.  Before he pulled out the gift he told me the story behind it. 

Chris had told one of the ladies in a village he frequently flies into that he wanted to bring some fresh flowers to his wife, and since fresh flower bouquets are pretty well impossible to come by in Tarakan, where we live, he wondered if she would be willing to cut some for him from the jungle where she lives.  She was happy to help and assured him she would get a bouquet.  When he came back to the village a couple weeks later she made sure to find him and was excited to give him the bouquet she had worked so hard to get.  He was surprised when she handed him these…

My "fresh" bouquet of plastic "crystal" and metal flowers
When Chris pulled them out to show me I had to laugh, somehow the “fresh” part of the request was, as the title of this post indicates, lost in translation!  I was so touched though, that Chris would go through the trouble to try to bring me flowers, and that this women probably really did have to work extremely hard to get (make) this bouquet.  I actually think the flowers are unique and pretty, and I’ll always have them as a remembrance-my one and only “fresh” flower bouquet in Indonesia!

On to story number two, which really should be called “Sarah makes a fool of herself in Indonesia…yet again.”

So, I am working on putting together a retreat for the ladies on our program to take place in September.  It is going to be at the local hotel in Tarakan, so I went there last Friday to reserve the rooms and establish a contact person.  I initially met with one woman who helped me set up the reservations, and she was excited to use her really good English skills to communicate with me, which was great!  Often if Indonesian people are able to converse in English they are happy to have a native English speaker to practice with, especially in Tarakan where native English speakers are pretty sparse.  The fun began when she called another woman from the hotel to help me make detailed arrangements about how to set up the rooms, and this woman didn’t speak much English.  First of all, I hadn’t put any thought into how I wanted the rooms set up, I thought I was just making the reservations and we would be working all the details out later, so I was caught off guard when the woman from the hotel started asking me, in Indonesian, how did I want to rooms set up, what did I need?  At this point I was sitting there with the two women who were helping me and nearby there were another couple of Indonesian workers and customers, all listening (and staring) at the western girl, because that’s how they roll here.  I was fumbling to think what I needed in the rooms and then trying to translate it into Indonesian, and thankfully the woman who spoke English was helping me.  I was listing off the extra plates, cups, coffee mugs, etc. that we would need and then I came to silverware.  Let me pause to say that I frequently get the word for “spoon” and the word for “shoe” mixed up…I’m sure you know where this is headed.  I explained I would need 12 extra shoes and forks in the room where we would be meet.  I didn’t even realize my mistake until I heard a giggle from a girl sitting nearby, and suddenly everyone was laughing, including me.  It was pretty great.  A bit humiliating, but very funny! 

The fun continued when, later that day, I got a call from the woman I set up the reservations with while I was in the parking lot of a grocery store, and I answered it right then (what was I thinking?  It was so loud with traffic and people yelling and construction, how did I think I would possibly hear and understand her?).  She was trying to explain that she got us a cheaper rate on the rooms, but I had to check in with a special process and oh my goodness I could NOT figure out what she was talking about for like 10 minutes!  She was so patient and kept explaining until I finally understood.  All in all it was humbling day, but everything is reserved and ready to go and the good news is everyone gets a pair a shoes in her room to go with the rest of her dinnerware-just kidding!

Thought those stories of communication folly might make you smile!  I’m off to try to exercise, which includes a “Dancing with the Stars Latin Cardio Dance” DVD.  

Apparently more humiliation is in my very near future.