February 14, 2014

Farewell, Base Life!

It’s Moving Week and in the midst of the sorting and packing, I find myself getting a big sniffly about leaving the base.

Sometimes, people with our organization joke that MAF really stands for “Move Again, Friend.” Our first 10 years overseas, we were blessed to live in the same house.  Now, after two years in our current house on the MAF base, it’s time to move off-base.

When we  first moved to Papua from Kalimantan, I had reservations about what Base Life would be like.  A former teammate from Kal who visited Papua likened staying on the base to being at summer camp.  That made it sound fun, but somehow in my mind I pictured it more like the “Others” compound in the show Lost, perhaps because David and I were blitzing through that series to de-stress as we were wrestling with major life decisions.
The "Others" Compound
I worried that the base would be too cloistered, that it would be difficult to get to know Papuans, that it would be like living in a bubble. Would it seem exclusive? Snobbish?  Would the lack of privacy get to me?

I can unequivocally say that my fears were unfounded and I have loved living on base. Maybe you saw our video about how much we love it: 

I happily trade privacy for a sense of community.  I love the family feel of living on base.  I love how easy it is to connect with my neighbors by simply stepping outside and joining a conversation.  I love that the kids can just run out the door and have a safe place to play, and friends to play with.

It hasn’t been without its frustrations.  Base cats and dogs have done their business in our yard.  To be fair, we’ve had two snakes escape, but I don’t think they pooped in anyone’s yard.

We’re right next door to the airport and MAF office and hanger, which makes for an awesome commute time for David.  However, in the evenings when there are airplane engines running until they sound like they’re going to fly right into the house, airport proximity ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

But the perk of being able to run an errand and leave my kids at home, knowing that half a dozen moms will happily help if there’s an emergency, is priceless.  And the generator that kicks on when the city power frequently goes out?  My favorite machine in the world.
Sunday Night Base Party
Our new home, located on a hill known as Pos 7, has a beautiful view of the mountains.  It will be much easier to get to know Papuans.  We’ll be far from the airport noise.  Our house will be big enough that each kid can have his or her own bedroom, a first for us. (Somehow, in Tarakan, we convinced them all to sleep in the same room, and they loved it.  Now, not so much.) 

And we’ll be a five minute drive from base.  Just five minutes.  As an Indonesian lady told me yesterday, Pos 7 is “jauh sekali” from base.  Very far away, she said.  And I agree with her.  Five minutes may not seem like far away, but really, the moment you leave base, you are “jauh sekali.”  It has been a haven for us, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some fears about leaving the bubble of base life and moving to Pos 7, an area known to have problems with drunks. 

But many lovely people – Papuan, Indonesian, and expat – live there, and I am going to do my best to plug in and enjoy our new home and neighborhood.

Farewell, Base Life, and our fellow base mates.  We’ll miss you!