Thursday, October 30, 2014

First Birthday Pressure

Hi, my name is Amber. I live in a country that celebrates with a HUGE party the first year of life. Restaurants are rented out, sound systems are set up, cakes are made, goodie bags are given, families go all. out. Presents are given to the guests.

Hi, my name is Amber. I am from a country that celebrates life with small get togethers with close friends and family. Presents are given to the birthday boy/girl. We have cake, we sing a song, and the kids play. You can find everything you need at Walmart.

So here I am. The Amber who lives next door to people who call out to Kate every afternoon to play. The Amber who wants to show them I care about them by including them in my life. But I find I'm also the Amber who doesn't know how to throw a big party for a one year old, who won't remember it but I'm sure will enjoy the photos. I'm the Amber who wants things to be easy and with little or no hassle or effort.

It's hard to believe that Baby Kate will be a year old next weekend. It all seems like it was yesterday, but then when I think of yesterday I never thought I'd get to today- not sure if that makes sense. Some days went by so quickly, other days (and some nights) dragged on for what seemed like eternity. She's a sweet girl. She is constantly laughing, exploring, and what blesses my heart to no end is the way she'll reach out to a light skinned Indonesian or a dark skinned Papuan. That makes my heart overflow with joy to the point where it wells up and starts to spill out of my eyes! She doesn't see color or differences, she sees people and she loves them. She doesn't judge them. Who knew how a hard faced person could crack a huge smile because of the love of a small girl. It's beautiful.

So we'll celebrate. We'll celebrate who God is creating Kate to be, how He has formed her and shaped her since before we knew her, and we'll celebrate with friends, family (from far away), and neighbors. Will it look like either culture expects? Probably not. Am I okay with that? Yes. I'm cutting myself some slack here. The pressure I'm feeling to be that creative mommy who can post ridiculous photos to pinterest to spark creativity in someone else- I just need to accept the reality that that illusion isn't me, and most likely never will be me.

I need to be free to love Josh, Kate, and those around me in a way that I'm capable of doing, not living beneath the burden that this world or culture expects of me.

Pictures to come later of this celebration of 1 year.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Literacy Day

In September Papua joined in celebrating International Literacy Day.

In an article entitled "Economic and social indicators in West Papua", Jim Elmslie said this about the literacy rate in Papua: "Literacy is also very poor – the worst in Indonesia. In the 15-44 years age group Papua province had an illiteracy rate of 34.83% in 2011, the latest figures available. This is against a national average of just 2.30%. The next worst province was Sulawesi Barat which had an illiteracy rate of 6.49%. The 15 plus years age group fared no better; again the worst in the nation by a huge margin which is still growing: in 2003 the illiteracy rate was 25.54 but by 2011 it had leapt up to 35.92%. This clearly indicates that the Indonesian educational system is failing the West Papuans. Without education and basic literacy individuals are doomed to entrenched poverty."

Some women that I have high respect for led the way in planning and preparing for the big day. It was an interesting way things unfolded. Their previous location was unavailable and the celebration was relocated to a local field. This field is a memorial to a Papuan who was a proponent for Papuan independence. In the afternoons this field is used for local soccer teams to practice.

After a week of rain, and much prayers, God blessed us with no rain for the day of the festival. The local military donated tents and chairs and tables were set up as well. Local ministries set up booths to promote the work they are apart of. Young children enjoyed crafts and games that taught them letters and numbers. Adults enjoyed the challenge of tangrams ( What is a Tangram? ).

Josh, Kate, and I met during a lunch hour to stroll through the celebration. We didn't stay long, due to the heat and feeding a hungry little one. We saw people with smiles on their faces. Free books were being distributed. Translated versions of portions of the New Testament were being loaded to cell phones, allowing access to the Bible wherever they are! Local women were selling their handmade goods. It was encouraging to see people having fun while learning about literacy.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dusting Off the Keyboard

Wow it's been a while since I last posted. I'm going to confess the reason why, so I can stop carrying around the load of guilt that I'm not doing enough to communicate with you about life in Papua. In March I enrolled in an online Master's Program through the University of Texas at Arlington. The degree is in Curriculum and Instruction in Mathematics. The program lasts about a year and a half. I take one class at a time. Each class lasts five weeks. So for five weeks I study during nap times and after bedtimes (both Kate's and Josh's). It's hard work, but I have an incredibly supportive husband and baby. Kate some how knows when Momma needs extra time to work on an assignment and the Lord blesses her (and me) with a longer nap time. My prayer for this course has been that any time I have to work on assignments or readings things would get done, even if it's only something small- that all my time would be productive. This program has also helped in my transition from being in the classroom to being at home. I catch myself dreaming of the day when I'll have this "free time" after I've finished the course. I've just finished a class and am 1/3 of the way through the program!

So, there, it's been said. Now when I don't post for a month we all know why, and I will give myself permission to be free of guilt! :)

In saying that I'm going to try to make it up to you by posting a few things over the following week to fill you in on what's been happening here this past month! :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Is it Friday yet??

Before we got here I once had this hilarious idea that Kate and I would get out of the house at least once a day. I think back on that ambitious idea and just laugh. Even as I type I'm thinking of ways to "bend" this so I feel like I still nailed it- and we do get out of the house at least once a day, just not in the same way I had envisioned. I thought we would go grocery shopping, on walks, to the pool, to visit other people- you know stuff like that. But instead we mostly stay home, unless we're feeling adventurous, it's not naptime, or have the energy to gather up the heaps of stuff a small person needs for survival outside of the home.

That's why we love Friday. Each Friday a group of moms get together to hang out while our kids play. It's right after K's morning nap, so she's ready to play. It's refreshing to meet with ladies and chat about life, ask "mom" questions like where to find things, how did you do that, or seriously, you've kept them alive this long so in my eyes you're an expert so tell me everything you know right now!... we also have a peek into the hearts of moms who serve the Lord by loving and caring for their family. It's a beautiful thing.

The kids play and then they eat lunch together. K and I usually leave around that time. She takes a killer nap after the playgroup. She's happy. I'm happy. She's making new friends. I'm making new friends. It's fun to be doing that together, both with K and just sharing life with other mommas.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Polomo Graha

Polomo Graha is the name of the neighborhood we've lived in the past four (almost five) years. It's a middle class neighborhood where many work hard at various jobs in the city- hospitals, internet/phone company, pilot, and others. The community has always been very sweet and welcoming to us- especially the kids.

When we first moved here the kids ranged in ages from 4-8, some younger and some older. Here they are back then: 

Life was simple then. Riding bikes, making up dances in the fields, laughter echoing down the streets, games of tag happening daily right outside our windows... that was the life.
Today it's different. Now four years later, the same kids are practicing riding motorcycles. They are only allowed to drive around on the three streets that make up our neighborhood. Kate and I will sit at the window and watch them drive by. Around 4 o'clock we go outside and sit on a tire that is filled with cement and watch. We watch the kids grow up. It's happening right there. We watch them as they become more confident in using a motorcycle. We watch them sit around and play with smart phones, listening to music that was popular a few years ago. They still laugh and play, but it's just different. The older girls have moved to a different island or city for schooling. I miss them, and I can imagine how their family miss them. Here are a few of them now.

The other shots I have are all videos. I love watching them play with Kate. I'm re-learning names and being intentional about going outside every day.  I'm not sure our family will ever be able to live in another neighborhood, we've got roots here. We're invested.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Indonesia Happenings

It is so easy to get disconnected from the world here. I mean we don't watch the nightly news or read the daily newspapers. It is easy just to focus on what we're involved in and forget that we live in a place where big things are happening. So here's what's happening in our neck of the woods...

Indonesia held a presidential election. This is significant because the current president, Susilo Bamband Yudhoyono (SBY), is not eligible for reelection. Indonesian law allows for a president to have two consecutive five year terms. SBY's ten year presidential rule has come to an end, and the people will elect a new president. The elections were held on July 9. The two candidates, Prabowo Subianto and Joko Widodo, have very different backgrounds and will have two very different ways of leading the country. When the polls closed on July 9, BOTH candidates claimed an early victory. Some are claiming this is the closest democratic election in Indonesian history. The official results will be announced this week.

Would you pray for peace in Indonesia when the winner is announced? Since the results are very close, it's possible there may be some anger and disappointment.

Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population of 205 million. About 88% of the country's population is Muslim. This month many Muslims around the world are fasting for Ramadan. They will fast from sun up to sun down. A blog from a Muslim author explains: "The purpose of Ramadan is to rid man of those habits which he has accumulated throughout the rest of the year. It is a month that prepares man for the remaining eleven months by teaching him discipline and self control. This is a month of reformation and self reflection, where a believer can ponder of over spirituality and piety and bring a change for the better." At the end of the fasting month will come Eid al-Fitr or Lebaran in Indonesia is the day Muslims celebrate the end of the fast. They will begin their day by going for a prayer time at the mosque followed by a feast at their homes with family and friends. We hope to go visit some of our neighbors during the celebrations.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Gotta Feed Her

So, honestly, I can't remember if I have already posted this. I'm sure that's due to "Mommy-brain". Mommy-brain causes you to forget things like the day of the week, when the last time she ate was, when the last time you showered or brushed your teeth, and apparently, if you already wrote about this topic. So please forgive me, but the Momma is going to write about this topic.

Having a baby in Indonesia totally changed things for me! I have babysat kids before, but that just meant locking them in a room with a movie and a box of pizza for a of couple hours. When you have your own you have to feed them multiple times through the day. Milk is easy! It's the solid foods that shake things up. That "routine" you once had changes when baby starts eating solid foods.

Baby food here is easy to find, but it's not great for your baby- or so I'm told. The nutritional facts are in Indonesian and even if they were in English they would be foreign to me! There's a high content of added sugar to the food here. If you want an imported jar of baby food it would cost 30,000 rupiah at todays exchange rate that is $2.47 for ONE (tiny) jar of baby food. Kate would most likely eat on that precious jar of baby food for atleast three days. Ok, I'm only kind of kidding. This led me to...
 making my own baby food.

You read that right.

My lovely helper bought a pumpkin, sweet potato, and an avocado for me from the open air market. We tried the avocado first.

She gagged and then threw up. That was her first taste of solid food, maybe it was the texture or the taste. We're not sure, so we'll try it again some day.

The other foods took some prep work on my part. I pulled out my pressure cooker and cooked the pumpkin and sweet potato separately. I followed a recipe for the sweet potato that said to add a certain amount of water. The amount wasn't enough, and my kitchen and eventually the whole neighborhood smelled of burnt sweet potato.

But I just added more water to the pot and kept going. :) (As soon as I wrote this I realized why she may not like sweet potato...)

After the foods were pressure cooked, I peeled them. They were so easy to peel!

The pumpkin just came right out. It went straight into the blender to puree. The same thing was done with the sweet potato.

After this I scooped the food into a plastic ziplock bag. I just cut the bottom corner off like you would for piping icing on a cake. I then squeezed the food into an ice cube tray. The trays came with lids and I just labeled the lid with a dry erase maker. (Toot!! That's me tooting my own horn- because I think this is cool!)

I thought Kate would love the sweet potato. She just tolerates it. We introduced pumpkin to her recently and she ate two or three cubes. She gobbled up a whole tray within a few days! We have one more tray of sweet potato, which we'll push through. But that girl loves pumpkin. She makes "yummy sounds" when she eats it. She was so messy, but our friends gave us some pacifier type things with netting on it instead of nipples. You just push the cubes into the netting, close it up, and she eats her food like that. There's less mess and we know she's getting more food. She has already mastered the trick of moving food around on her plate to make it look like she ate it all- or rubbing it in her hair or chair.

I'm thankful she likes to eat. I'll be making more food soon. Never in a bazillion years would I have thought I would be making baby food. If we were in America would I choose to do the same?? I have no clue, and thankfully I don't have to choose! :) One thing is for sure, the girl's gotta eat!