Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Moving another step forward...

As we move into the new year....we also transition to another level of our language learning process.  We have completed our time at the Language School and now we will go back to our original method.  This method will be culture derived based on our daily experiences and interactions with friends, neighbors, etc.  Here is an example:

Today I learned how to make "sate" very similar to what we would call a shish kabob (what a weird name).  A friend took me step by step through the process...although I have to admit I missed out on the going to the market and buying the chicken part.  I am just not quite brave enough for that yet :/

 The point is that in our 8 months of living here we have eaten this meal many times.  It is something the people eat on a regular basis and also something that they tend of have a big events.  So we know it is culturally fitting.
Later we will go step by step through this process with our language helper and learn phrases like "the woman is cutting the chicken"

 "the woman is peeling the onion"
 This is another part of the culture that we want to look into.  Someone's job is to make these bamboo sticks...quite the process!  There are all different sizes for different purposes.  My friend told me that the thinner sticks are usually for chicken but she likes the thicker ones because they don't burn as easy easily

 smashing up all the spices by hand

 now time to cook the chicken...
 the meat is cooked one time and then remarinated and then cooked again

 quite the process!
 and then we get to enjoy with rice and a peanut sauce...I also learned to make the peanut sauce but Ill save that for another time!
Craig enjoyed it!  This is one of our kids favorite meals!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Another month come and gone...

It is crazy to think that we are approaching 8 months in country!  WOW!  How did this happen?  We are almost getting to the point that we are not completely "new" at everything any more.  Well, at least I feel that way some days....today was not really one of those days...but more on that another time!
Yesterday I went to another of our monthly women meetings.  Being in this country you quickly realize that everything revolves around "menjalin hubungan" or building relationships.  It is actually quite cool. Our communities are divided into groups and they have monthly meetings.  The men all get together one evening a month and the women one afternoon a month.  We meet in our neighbors houses and it is an good opportunity to catch up and share information.  An awesome opportunity for me to observe culture and show that I want to be a part of the community.  I love that each month I can understand more and follow along more.  This month I was actually able to read and understand most of the little hand out that they gave us!  WAHOO!!! 
 A large part of building the relationships is sharing what you have with those in need.  In these monthly meetings the women participate by each contributing a certain amount of money.  Then all the names go into the "bottle" and one person is chosen to receive the money.  They have a system so that everyone has a chance of winning the money.  I have yet to participate in this way... but it is cool how they are always looks out for those in need.  The women walk into the meeting and suddenly start handing out the designated amount of money to whoever it is supposed to go to.  Usually it is no more than $2 or $3 each.
 Each family also contributes to the "social" fund each month $.50.  This money goes toward buying food and other things within the needs of our neighborhood.  This month it will go towards a Christmas/New Years party that we will have soon.
 I always feel weird taking pictures that is why these are not super good.  I don't want to draw a lot of attention...but the ladies all sit around on the floor.  The women just inside the door is about 60 years old (Very kind).  She was just arriving and wanted to go to the other side of the room.  To be culturally appropriate she scooted on her knees all the way through the room...she would not stand and walk through the room.  I could tell it was not comfortable for her to go on her knees...but that was what she was to do culturally.
Also it is very rare to see women sitting with their feet out in front of them...and believe me after over a hour of sitting cross legged I wanted to!  There are to major contrasts in this picture.  There is a women sitting with her feet out....but what you don't see is that she is probably over 70 years old...so she gets to.  Also the women sitting across for her also has her feet out but as you can see she put a small cloth over top of them as to not show the bottom of her feet...always learning and observing!  I am so thankful for these meetings and all I learn from them! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My sweet girl...

Today as we walked through town I couldn't help my smile.  Just a step or two behind I watched my priceless treasure confidently walk the busy streets.  As she walked just about every head turned and watched, she is a pretty rare sight.  Her pure white skin and bright blue eyes!!! Often people would stop what they were doing and watch her or maybe even reach out to touch her.  Thankful no rough pinching!  We stopped in a book store to look for some colored paper for a Christmas craft we are going to do together.  There was a group of 8-10 middle school aged girls also shopping in the store.  They crowded around her, touching her nose, rubbing her cheek and asking a million questions... What is her name?  How old is she?  Does she know Indonesian?  Where is she from? Where do you live?....kind of fun for me to actually know what they were saying and be able to answer :)  And all the time she stood there...just smiling and allowing them to "giggle" about her. 
We went from shop to shop with the same reaction everywhere we went.  I kept waiting for her to get sick of it or get annoyed by it...but she didn't.  She kept her head held hi and was not only polite but was very kind and gracious.  All the while, asking me "how do you say this?" or "how do you say that?"
I am SO SO SO thankful for this beautiful girl and her beautiful heart for others.  Now, of course I am not claiming she is perfect.  But I am so thankful that already God is giving her a heart and love for others! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hold on tight...

This is a bit of a continuation of  my last post about driving in Asia Pacific.  Sometimes I am amazed at the things that I see people carrying/transporting on the motorcycles.  I really wish I could have a camera ready at all times to capture some of these moments.
For instance, about a month ago I saw a man driving a motorcycle with his dog. This may seem odd in itself but let me explain more...  Picture this, the motor cycle was a Honda CB (a similar bike is pictured below).  As you can tell from the picture the gas tank is on the front of the bike and is pretty long.  Well, on the gas tank sat a little Dachshund (yes, the long skinny "hotdog" dogs).  The little dog just sat there, no one holding on to it, nothing strapping it onto the bike.  Just sitting there ears flapping in the wind.  Oh man, I wanted to take a picture sooo bad! 

On a more recent day, Stella and I were in town doing a little shopping.  As we approached one of the very few stop lights in town I noticed a motor cycle ahead of us that I knew she would be excited about.  It was pink and purple with Hello Kitty all over it.  As I pointed it out to her and she got all excited, we were met with much the same excitement!  And not because of my bike...but because of my sweet adorable little girl.  As we stopped beside them (a little bit behind) the woman on the back of the motorcycle quickly pulled out her phone and took multiple pictures of Stella (wearing her helmet-you could hardly see her face).  As the light turned green the Hello Kitty motorcycle (which I must add was being driven by a man in a purple shirt smoking a cigarette) turned the same direction we did.  As we followed behind them I watched as the woman continued to sit (side saddle in her pink minnie skirt and wedges) texting or maybe even uploading her recent photo to facebook or instagram.  I had to pull out my phone and at least capture part of the moment. (see image below)  Not sure if this will seem as funny or add to you as it did to me...but there were just so many funny elements!

Who knows what we will see next...just hope I have my camera ready in time :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Vacation from my vacation...

Have you ever heard someone say that phrase?  I know I have...I know I have probably even said it a few times.  We plan these trips that seem like they are going to be so relaxing and so fun.  And yet, at the end of it we just CAN'T WAIT to get home and sleep in our own bed.
I kept thinking about this today.  The reason being that, today our neighbors returned from a vacation.  These were our neighbors I have mentioned before that took their trip to Mecca.  40 day "vacation" or trip of a lifetime!  WOW!  40 days away from home.  Sleeping in another bed.  Walking all day.  Experiencing new culture, new food, new language....and so much more.  You would HAVE to be exhausted!  I know I would be.
Well, it all started about 3 days ago. We noticed that people started coming by the house of our neighbors who were gone.  They stayed.  They cleaned up the yard and the house.  They washed the car.  And they made food...lots and lots and lots of food.  I know this because most of it was cooked right next door and there were "different" smells coming from their late and night and early in the morning. 
Today the couple returned home.  Welcomed by friends and family who live near and far.  WOW!  So many people in their yard, in their house.  And it wasn't like people were just there to say, "Hi welcome home."  No, they stayed and ate the food and talked and listened and hung out.  I was exhausted just watching...I can only imagine how this couple felt after traveling all day, after a 40 day trip.  When we left their house, which was over three hours after they got home, we saw people finally unloading their car.  I mean isn't that one of the first things that we do.  We might not get it unpacked right away but we at least bring it inside.  Nope, three hours later the bags started going into the house.
Now, why am I writing all this.  1) to share differences in culture here.  2) Because I am so challenged and encouraged by these people who make life about people and not stuff.  It isn't about what I want...it is about loving other people.  It is about caring for friends and family and considering them above my own comforts.  There are days that the differences in culture make me go crazy....then there are days when I think wow, we could really learn a lot from our new home.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Experiencing new things...like dressing up as a traditional bride!

 Last week a friend and I went to a local beauty school so they could practice on us.  I think it was a pretty fun and LONG experience for us all!!  This is our "before" shot!  A bunch of the students came up and told us that we had to take after & before pictures ;)
 Here they are putting on stickers to help open my eye lids more...
 This was just after they rubbed my face with an ice cube!  This actually happened twice.  I was told that it is a technique to help make your face "sparkling". Any one know anything about this?  It was new and painful for me.  Talk about brain freeze!
 This technique was to make my nose look longer...oh thanks! They were pretty excited to do our make up because our features are very different from theirs'.
 I do believe they used ALL of those colors on my eyes!  I couldn't believe that it took over a hour just to do my eye shadow!  WOW!  We were told that a bride will wake up as early as 3 or 4 AM to start getting ready for her big day.  And I thought I was tired at the end of my wedding day...I can't even imagine!!!
 A shot of the colors...before my false lashes & eye brows!!!
 And they gave us lunch too....YUM!!!
 Here are my tree branch eye brows :)
 Stella was more than excited that she got to be made up also!!!  A dream come true for my little princess!
 Surprisingly my little prince was up for the occasion too!!  YEAH!  This was of course after he ran away from me crying because he didn't recognize me and was scared of me :(
 He forgave me quickly :)  Love my BIG THREE YEAR OLD!!!
 Me & my Groom!!! (isn't he a cutie!)
as always Stella stole the show...and had A MILLION pictures taken of her.  Yes, she also had fake eye lashes...what an experience!!!
And...last but NOT least...
The "AFTER" shot!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lessons from the ants...

Since arriving here in Asia Pacific I have a daily battle with the ants!  Big ants, small ants, red, black, barely can even see ants...EVERYWHERE!  There are good days when they are just in a few places and then there are bad days when I can't find a room that doesn't have a ton.
The more I think about it though you have to give them some credit for their hard work and determined spirit.  I mean seriously I use bleach, strong vinegar, bug spray, ant chalk, borax...and other random methods to try and keep them away...but they just keep coming back!  One day Craig and I sat watching the ants and were amazed.  Here is a short video clip of what we saw...
As I sat in my class today studying language I was encouraged thinking of this concept.  Today was one of those days that I felt FULLY overloaded!  Homework didn't get done last night because I was working on an update video for our friends and family. Didn't get done this morning as my kids really needed me.  My son is going through a VERY STRONG WILLED phase (to put it mildly) and my daughter was diagnosed with pneumonia.  That on top of always feeling the need/want to study and learn more about this new country that is our home.  I felt at my end...I physically do not have the time or the strength to accomplish it all.  The task is too great!
But the cool thing is that I don't have to...I have an amazing Sovereign Heavenly Father who is taking care of the details.  He is providing me with friends and family rallying for us in prayer both in wisdom with our son and health for our family.  He is providing me with friends who are willing to help get to the Dr and get medicine (since I am limited in my language).  He is providing friends who stop by to check on us and drop off "Get Well" gifts.  He is providing teachers who are understanding of my situation that aren't pressuring me to go above and beyond, but rather encouraging me to do the best I can and get the most out of being in class.  And although I wanted to make it all happen and make it all work...instead I surrender to my Father who has perfectly designed the Body of Christ to work together.  And just like the ants...work together to accomplish what may seem like an impossible task.  So here I am at the end of another day...still battling those DARN ants!  But thankful for the lessons they teach me...and thankful for my fellow co-laborers in Christ working together!!!  So instead of feeling defeated at how bad today was...I feel encouraged that tomorrow will be a new day and I will have the support and encouragement that I need to keep chugging along!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Desert Song

Tonight as I was looking through some old music I came upon this song...Desert Song.
I have listened to this song many times before. But something about it tonight definitely struck a chord!  Tears filled my eyes as I listened to the song (multiple times).  I love how our INFINITE Creator created people with the ability to write songs, sing, and be a blessing and encouragement.  Reminding me, reminding us of who we are in Christ and the HOPE we have in Him!!!  I would encourage you to at least read through the lyrics and maybe even listen to the song.
Here is a link to the song on youtube.

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship (x4)

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here (x2)

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favour and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've received I will sow

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I'm curious what comes to your mind when you see this picture.  (Yes, that is my PINK scooter you can see in the bottom of the picture!) But what else do you see?
Here I am...stopped at a red light.  As you can see there are two other people stopped ahead of me and also another beside me.  But notice the large gap?  Why are we stopped so far away?  We are stopped in the SHADE!!!  HA HA!  I have actually never done this before today...but I OFTEN see others doing it.  The red light counts down until it turns green and people are more than willing to wait quite a ways back to stay in the shade.  As the number gets closer to 1...GREEN they will begin to inch forward.  Something you cannot see in this picture is that the women next to me is actually wear a long sleeved (what appears to me as) winter coat.  NO JOKE!  I think it was over 100 degrees today and there she is wearing a coat.  Again you may ask why....as I often do! It is common to see people wearing gloves, longs sleeves, and pants in SUPER HOT AND HUMID weather! As far as I can tell from what I have learned so far...the people here DO NOT like getting tan.  They will completely cover themselves to make sure that their skin does not get more tan.  It is also very common to see people (particularly little kids) with white cream on their faces.  What may appear to be sun screen that is not rubbed in well...is actually cream with whiting agents in it.  Trying to make their skin lighter...ironic don't ya think!
Now, here is the kicker....the other day a local friend of mine noticed Stella's swimming suit tan line.  And her comment was, "oh look how beautiful her tan is!"  I was so shocked and confused.  I said, "I thought that you didn't like to be tan and wanted to be white."  She said, "Tan is beautiful for white people, but white is beautiful for us!" ...OK I still don't get it!
But...for now I will enjoy the shade on these VERY HOT days!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dinner time...Martabak!

  When we first moved here Craig went out with a friend and bought some Martabak. He told me about the fun experience and delicious food...and then he told me it was made of Duck egg.  Ok I know it isn't that odd...but they are GREEN eggs.
A few weeks ago a new store opened near us which along came a few new street food sellers. AND...yep you guessed it Martabak. I have been hesitant to try it but finally it was time!

 Here he is preparing the ingredients.  Green onions, spices, duck eggs, chicken meat, and who knows what else...
 mixing it all up
 now adding some oil to the surface to prepare the dough...oil is a word you hear a lot here...and you will understand why soon
 flattening out the dough...kind of like the consistency of a tortilla but really big
 doing the pizza toss to make it bigger...I got a video of this and it was really cool but seeing as it took 25 minutes to get all these pictures on here I am not even going to attempt a video :(  guess you will just have to come see for yourself...

 spreading the ingredients out on the dough which is now laid out on the hot wok with lots of oil on it
 then he began scooping the oil all over making sure that the entire thing was covered...nice and flavorful and very crunchy!  He took the once flat piece of dough and folded the edges in to make an envelope type shape
At this point I thought he was draining off some oil...but Craig pointed out that he was actually just making sure that the ends were nice and friend in oil too...ha ha
 cutting it up after it has all been cooked
here it is...ready to go home and only for about $1.50
I have to admit that I actually really liked it a lot.  The kids were a little hesitant to try it but that was ok because it left more for Craig and I! :)
ENAK SEKALI!!! (very delicious)
Now we go home to eat...(notice the mountain/volcano in the background?  I am so thankful for it ...been missing the beautiful ID mountains recently!)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Another Unexpected Day

August 17 is the Independence Day of our new homeland.  Although it is DEFINITELY no 4th of July celebration (which we REALLY REALLY missed...the BBQ, parade, fireworks...) this was a day of new cultural experiences. 
We left our house a little after 8 to head into town.  We are so thankful that driving around is becoming more "normal" for us all. We enjoyed using the public transport for a time but we are very thankful to be able to go around more by ourselves these days. We were told that the festivities could start around 9...which ended up being 9:30 not too bad! :)
I definitely had my western/patriotic feeling for the day.  I wanted to dress in RED, WHITE and BLUE...ok just RED and WHITE. I expected crowds of people lined up ready to go.  Maybe we should have gotten here sooner so we could get a good spot.  As we approached there were very few people around.  Not a major crowd by any means. 
 We went to the city center where we watched different groups marching,singing, and different government officials read speeches.  Much of this went right over our heads ....and it was VERY HOT outside.  In fact when we first got there we noticed different medical teams spread around with stretchers.  This seemed a little odd to me but we soon figured out why.  They were prepared!  There were many groups of people standing in line formation out on this field in the direct sun light.  Many of the men were in full uniform and women were covered from head to toe as their religion requires them to be.  And it wasn't long into the morning that they started passing out.  I kind of wanted to say "dropping like flies" but that sounds bad.  But there were definitely quite a few who passed out.  The ceremony was very formal and structured (no big tractors or Hispanic dancing horses)  But it was a very cool experience!  H and his buddies really enjoyed the marching groups :)

 We were about to take off when a woman walked up and asked if we would like to go and meet/shake hands with the Mayor.  Uh...sure!  Our group (15-20 people) filed over to the tent where the Mayor and also head of parliament were seated with their wives.  We all kind of stood in a line and shook hands and took pictures.  S was a show stopper as always...thankfully no painful pinching this time ;) Just lots of, "WOW she is so beautiful!" After we took pictures they invited us to the Mayor's house for lunch. 
Lunch was cultural chicken soup with rice.  It was yummy!
Once lunch was over we were invited to come back for dinner and celebration that night.  We got details on when, where, how....and graciously accepted.

 with the head of Parliament
 meeting the Mayor and his wife

 What a cool opportunity!
more pictures and details on the night next time...
its been a long couple days...what a trooper!!!