December 01, 2009

Birthdays and Harvest Time

November is a big month for our family, with three of our kids celebrating birthdays.  Our baby girl Zoe turned four and we had a party with the other MAF kids and some Indonesian friends.  Next was Carter, who turned 12 and instead of a party wanted to go on a pig hunt with one of the Indonesian men who works at the hangar.  Pak Nelson took Carter and David into some jungle on our little island of Tarakan, and they said the best part was watching Nelson track the pigs.  They didn't get anything but had fun hiking.  That evening Nelson went back out hunting and was successful and brought us a pig leg.

The 12-year-old

And then Luke turned six and wanted a jungle-themed party, which is a wonderfully easy thing to do when you live near the jungle.

The back of our yard looked like a jungle when we piled up branches and banana leaves that David had recently cut.

And no jungle party would be complete without kids popping balloons using a blowgun, the traditional hunting weapon of Borneo.

                         Luke's Snake Cake

Besides celebrating birthdays, we've been enjoying a time of harvest.  While the words "harvest time" used to conjure up for me images of fat pumpkins, acorn squash, and sheaves of wheat, here I have come to connect harvest with fruit.  Our friends interior have been sending out lots of rambutan, longsat, pisang, and ketimun, shown below.

But the best part of this year's harvest has been our mangoes.  We have four mango trees in our yard that sometimes produce fruit.  This year we had a bumper crop, thanks to the hard work of our house helper Orpa.  She put plastic bags over all the growing mangoes to protect them from fruit bats that like to fly in at night and feast.

Orpa and her sister leave in a few days to head home to Sulawesi for a month.  I am going to miss her so much - and not just because of how much work she does for us.  She is a close friend, and a lot of fun to have around.

And while I'm on the food theme, here are a few pictures of Luke with his friend Christopher.  Christopher's mom came over one day to teach me to make shrimp wonton soup.  Rather than throwing away the shrimp heads, like I would have done, she fried them up into a crispy snack.  They were actually quite good - as most fried things are - and as long as I didn't look at their beady eyes staring at me, I could eat them.

                            The Shrimp Heads Go....


And lastly on the food theme, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our MAF teammates.  We even had a turkey and cranberry sauce and all the other fixins.  We've decorated for Christmas and we look forward to celebrating Jesus' birth with our Indonesian brothers and sisters.

November 03, 2009

A Trip Interior

November 4, 2009

Our family spent this past weekend in the village of Long Taan in the Krayan region of East Kalimantan.  Trips interior are always a blast for our family, and this one was no exception.  We took our house helper Orpa with us.  She is from the island of Sulawesi, from a mountainous village, so it was interesting to hear her observations on how it was different or similar to her home.  We stayed with one of David's friends, Pak Ajang, who frequently flies on the MAF plane.

David, Zoe, and Luke with Pak Ajang

It rained a good bit of the time while we were there, and the river was too high to go swimming like we'd hoped.  We asked Pak Ajang what they do when it rains.  "We sleep."  Oh, that was music to our ears!  Of course the kids weren't too interested in sleeping in the middle of the day, but I snuggled down with my book (Frank Peretti's Monster, a very appropriate read for the jungle) for a few hours. 

The rain, plus being at a higher elevation, made it deliciously cold for us.  It was in the 60s - which felt really, really nice.  The last time we experienced autumn was in 2000, so it was wonderful to be somewhere in October and it felt like October should!

Pak Ajang took us on a hike to his sawah (rice field), which was about a 45-minute walk from the village.  It was a gorgeous hike, through jungle and along the river, everything green and glistening in the rain.  Zoe managed to find every puddle along the way and was quickly covered in muck.  We all were pretty mucky by the time we reached the sawah, except for Ajang and his wife - who amazingly looked barely wet at all. 


We hung out for a while in their pondok (small hut on stilts) and had a meal of noodles, eggs, some kind of fruit I forget the name of, and some durian.  Durian is that enigmatic fruit of southeast Asia that so many people love - and I have yet to figure out why.  It smells like something rotten, and tastes even worse - yet people here love it.  I politely slammed down a few bites - which is better than the last time I tried it (gagged and spit).  Despite the durian, we had a pleasant time in the pondok.

Carter went off with Pak Ajang and his son to explore, hoping to find a snake to replace the one that escaped a few weeks ago.  They didn't see any snakes but had fun looking. 

Any time I go interior and observe how the women live there, I come away feeling like a wimp, like Napoleon Dynamite saying "I don't have any skills."  These ladies are amazing - they carry their own firewood, cook over a wood fire, work in the rice fields, haul incredibly heavy loads, butcher animals, weave baskets and mats.  They rock!

Note in the picture above, the lady in the back with the jean jacket.  She is Pak Ajang's wife, and she carried in our food and water in a woven basket.  I carried an umbrella.  :-)

On Sunday Orpa and I led Sunday school for the village children, and David preached at the church service.  We were blessed by the different groups who sang, particularly the older people.  After church and another meal, we loaded up the plane and headed home.

Some village kids gather around for a look at Carter's Snakes of Borneo book.

Orpa cuddles a very tired Zoe on the way home.

Sampai Jumpa (until later),