One of my favorite things to do here, as I've probably said before, is to take trips interior. It's such a different world interior than where we live in Tarakan, and it's always a welcome break from life on the island. Two weekends ago we went to the village of Kampung Baru, located in the Krayan area of East Kalimantan. David was invited by the head of the Bible school there to speak for their opening services for the start of the new semester.
From the airstrip in the village of Long Bawan it was a 15-minute ride by motorcycle to Kampung Baru. I felt rather conspicuous, riding through the village, part of this long motorcycle caravan, all of us clutching bags and backpacks, trying to hold on to the bike without actually having to wrap my arms around the guy driving it. Afterward I felt like I'd been for a ride on a bucking bronco.
The Bible school is named for John Willfinger, an American missionary who was killed in the Krayan during World War II. You can read more about him here. The school, which has about 50 students and a dozen or so instructors, teaches Bible and theology with an emphasis on evangelism. The campus consists of a few clapboard buildings such as the one pictured above, set in a beautiful mountain valley. The Bible school is low on funds right now, and the instructors (pictured in the top picture by the plane) have not received any salary for several months now. In spite of that, they are a joyful group of people serving God in a remote place, and we really enjoyed spending time with them.
The evening service started about at about 9 and went for about two hours. Different groups sang, and then David spoke. After the service we got the kids down for the night then joined another service, which was just for the Bible school teachers and their wives. It went very late, but was a good time of fellowship. I wasn't sure how my stomach would react to rice and boiled pig at 1 a.m. but it was actually pretty good.
I wish I had a picture to post of the night sky in Kampung Baru. There were so many stars that we had a hard time picking out constellations. It was just gorgeous and the kids said it was a highlight of their weekend. Seeing the familiar outlines of Orion, Plaides, and the Dippers always makes me feel not so far away from home.
Luke, who has like .02 % body fat, had a hard time staying warm and huddled by the fire a good bit. He also had fun playing with one of the village kids' toys.
Who needs Toys R Us?
At the Sunday service David spoke, and afterward had a chance to speak with the man standing in the middle in this picture (that's Tim Maynard, our mechanic, on the right). This man, whose name I forget, was born and raised in the Long Bawan area, and he has the distinction of being the very first medivac patient that MAF ever carried out from that area. He was a young boy when he contracted typhoid and had to be flown out to a hospital in Tarakan for treatment. He is now a police chaplain and has a ministry to inmates as well. Our guys do several medivac flights a week, and it's cool to think how this aspect of MAF's ministry is having an eternal impact on lives.
I was able to spend some time chatting with some of the instructors' wives. Veronica, pictured above, is expecting her second child. She had such a sweet spirit about her. There was another wife who was expecting as well, and the week after our trip we got word that she had delivered her baby, and decided to name it Holsten! I'm not sure if it's a boy or girl, but with a name like Holsten, I'm hoping it's a boy. :-)
We totally switched gears last weekend when we celebrated Chinese New Year with our Chinese friends. A highlight was watching the barong sai or lion dance. Tarakan has a championship barong sai group and it's always fun to watch them perform. Luke got a little freaked out so while we watched he waited in the car. The guys in the costume are so good at what they do they make the lion seem like a real animal.
Another exciting day for us recently was seeing this huge python at the hanger. The man on the right, Pak Nelson, caught it in a nearby garden and brought it to the hanger for everyone to see. We were kind of bummed to hear that it would be consumed the next day. David tried some of the meat and said it was sort of chewy. Our budding herpetologist Carter finally got a replacement snake for the one that escaped - a lovely little python that he has named Sophie - that just doesn't seem to fit a snake, does it?