Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lesson Learned

Living on a remote island can be disillusioning at times.

You forget that grocery stores in your home country don't smell like this.

You forget that it's not normal to see rats racing across the ceiling beams in your home country.

You forget that even though all bell peppers begin the same color and change as they grow on the vine, that same process doesn't happen in the local grocery store, although local store owners believe that it does. 

Living on a remote island has taught me that I will always love the hunt for a good find at the best price. 

I enjoy [when the internet cooperates] finding the cheapest plane tickets. I don't mind sitting for a couple hours in the local travel agency buying tickets for myself or friends, as long as I get a good deal and can exchange my current ticket if a better one comes up before my travel date. 

I enjoy finding discounted items at the grocery store. Another part of the "fun" is not knowing the actual price of anything until you get the register and the cashier rings it up. 

Animal crackers for Kate- only 7,000 rupiah (roughly 70 cents) for a pack of 8, don't mind if I do! 

Imported granola bars from Australia- only 20,000 rupiah (roughly $2) for a pack of- I don't care, they're from Australia!! 

Our favorite fresh chocolate milk 70% off!! I'll take two, I think we can chug all this "Choco-Malt" before the expiration date of the 20th. [And we did!] This is not an item they have all the time, so it was a treat. 

I guess living here there are always some risks that need to be taken when buying these discounted items. I *thought* I enjoyed finding a good deal, until last week... 

I'm strolling through the store with Baby Kate in the baby carrier strapped on my front side. She was fussy and honestly, having a toddler directly screaming in your face is enough to make anyone crazy, even though it's your fault because you strapped them in facing you... I will learn some day. 

Anyway, K had skipped a morning nap and was like her Momma and instead of sleeping chose to stare out the window watching people and the city pass her by... needless to say, she was in need of a nap. She was screaming, screaming, screaming and then she "relieved" herself on me and felt much better. Thankfully we can't tell the difference between urine on the front of your shirt and sweat... so we went on our way. I'm running around like I'm on the old game show "Supermarket Sweep" trying to get the items on my mental list with an upset baby and a urine/sweat soaked shirt...

when I ran by the dairy section and saw this discount staring me in the face...

70% off!! For a cream cheese spread!! Yes, green peppercorn?? That might go well with some ritz crackers... let's get it! So in the cart it went, as we sprinted our cart toward the register, where a really nice lady behind me helped me move my stuff from my cart to the register. 

The following day I wanted to crack open the [potentially] delicious green peppercorn cheese spread and eat it with ritz crackers, tomatoes, and cheese slices- an edified toddler lunch for me :) 

I broke the plastic seal off, preparing to have my tastebuds tickled by this new discounted find...

ummm.... oh, noooooooooooooo.

Thoughts tripped through my mind-
Hmmmmm... how BAD is this?
 Really, can I just scrape it off? (this is a sign of how long we've lived here and if you knew how often I said this we may not be friends much longer...)
Can I save any of it?
Will we die if we eat this?? (This may be a relationship deal breaker too...)
Oh, wait... is this what green peppercorn looks like?? I've never seen it before...
No, that's definitely mold...
How much did I *actually* pay for this?  

I was relieved to see I had paid less than $2 and decided the return trip, which takes about an hour, wasn't worth it. After all another "risk" of living here is there are rarely refunds given. Josh was at a hardware store buying screws. He had just handed the worker his money and realized these were the wrong screws. The lady would not return his money or allow him to exchange them, he had to buy new screws. Although we have had two incidences where we were refunded money or allowed to put it towards a different purchase- a generator and a wireless modem. 

Have I learned my lesson? No. I mean, I will most likely buy another dairy product at discounted prices. Although I may crack open every discounted item to see if there is mold in there before I buy it... who knows. 

So be thankful for your grocery stores, people. Seriously, my vacation "relief" or "fix" of western society involves me walking up and down every aisle just looking... I don't even have to buy, just enjoy looking. Seriously, your onions are huge. Apples, berries, avocado... oh my. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

NYE 2014

The fireworks have been going off for the past month. Now, I love fireworks. There is something breathtaking about watching stuff blow up in the sky, creating a beautiful burst of color across the black canvas of night. However, I enjoy fireworks at specific times on specific days. Not random times- 7 AM, 8:30 PM, 3 AM; not random days- Dec. 7, Dec. 27, January 8. Having a baby here during this time of year really changed my attitude about fireworks. I still enjoy them but cringe every time they would pop off after Baby Kate was already in bed.

To "escape" we decided we would go to a friend's house on the Hillcrest hill. We set up Kate's bed there, and if she slept we had planned to stay the night there. She did nap, but there was no real sleep. We ended up packing up all our stuff and heading home around 1:30 or 2 AM. The fireworks were incredible, spanning 180 degrees across the horizon. They started around 7 PM, really ramped up around 11:30 PM-1 AM, before calming down around 2 AM or later.

Local Firework Stands

Local Firework Stand on NYE

Heading Home at 1:30 AM
 **The following photos are what NYE 2014 looked like the next day at our house and in our neighborhood.
Baby Kate slept in our bed due to the ongoing pops and flashes of the fireworks.

I'm fairly certain that only 1/3 of us slept well that night.

And it clearly wasn't me, and since Josh isn't in these shots we know it wasn't him.

The aftermath in our neighborhood

This cement is stained this rust color. I guess we haven't had enough rain yet to clean it up.

Some did make it to the nearest trash container.
We had an interesting NYE. We enjoyed being with friends, but it was crazy trying to hold a toddler who is literally clawing at your shoulders from fear of the loud pops and bangs. I hope she'll appreciate them more as she grows older. Honestly, I believe that more and more fireworks will be shot off during that time. No matter what, it was an incredible thing to see!


Lazy Sunday

My favorite place in all of Sentani would be the school hill from 3-5 PM. It seems like no matter how hot the day has been, between that time the weather and temperature is near perfection. There always seems to be a breeze, although recently we've turned to West Wind Season and there are huge gusts of wind that could knock you off your feet if you're not careful... ok maybe not that big, but they are big.

I would say about once or twice a week, Baby Kate and I will go up to the school after her afternoon nap to play with some sweet friend that live there. We will sometimes play on the playground and other times we just play in a wide open field. I have a renewed love for city parks, because of the lack of open, safe places for kids and families to play in here.

One Sunday we gathered our hammocks and our friends and had a lazy Sunday. Josh and Ben strung the hammocks in a square. Michelle and I played with our babies. Megan joined us. It was wonderful. We chatted about everything and nothing all at the same time. It was an absolutely perfect Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Christmas Eve 2014

One of the beautiful things of living overseas, is the blending of different cultures. So many people are far from their home cultures and immersed in a culture that collides with a variety of others. Traditions are shared and adopted- creating a unique kaleidoscope of life.

Gather around, readers,  it's time for another history lesson. This cultural tradition is brought to you by our wonderful friends from Down Under- that's right Australia. In years past I have known a few Aussies, but over the past year we have really cultivated a friendship with Megan. Megan is our go to expert on all things Australian. She explains and clarifies terms or vocabulary, and we often make comparisons between America and Australia. The tradition that was introduced this year was "Carols by Candlelight". Thanks to Wikipedia and Megan, I have learned about this Australian Christmas tradition. It began in the 19th century when miners gathered to sing carols lit with candles stuck to the brims of their safety hats. It was popularized by Norman Banks in 1938, who passed by a window of an elderly woman sitting in her bed listening to Away in a Manger by candlelight alone. He had the idea to gather people to sing carols by candlelight, so no one had to be alone on Christmas Eve. This tradition is often held outside in parks in Australia.

Here's a geography/science lesson. Australia is located in the Southern hemisphere. It's seasons are the opposite of North America's due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis. So Carols by Candlelight also is a seasonal marker for the start of summer.

So, we had our own "Carols by Candlelight". We gathered together at the school yard for dinner and carols. There was stage set up with a brass band. We sat on blankets and ate tacos together. Candles were passed out to each family. (We declined ours, due to the fact we have an active 1 year old and didn't want to set the grass on fire.)

The Christmas Story was read out of the book of Luke, and we had the most adorable nativity scene. Baby Kate was asked to be a sheep. I was asked to be her shepherd. Y'all know I am not the "crafty" type. So I asked another Momma Shepherd and Megan to come over and watch a movie and make sheep costumes. Our costumes were white pants and a white shirt with cotton balls hot glued all over it. It looked great when I folded it up and put it in the bag to take with us, but when we actually put it on her cotton balls were coming undone and she looked more like Mr.Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia.


Baby Kate and the other angels, sheep, shepherds, wise men were all adorable. Kate left a trail of cotton balls behind her. We had to fight her against pulling the off and eating them, which reminded me of Buddy the Elf.
We even sang an Australian version of Jingle Bells, with a few words translated for the masses to understand. I'll leave you with the lyrics and no translation! :)
Dashing through the bush,
in a rusty Holden Ute,
Kicking up the dust,
esky in the boot,
Kelpie by my side,
singing Christmas songs,
It's Summer time and I am in
my singlet, shorts and thongs
Oh! Jingle bells,
jingle bells,
jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia
on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut !,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Engine's getting hot;
we dodge the kangaroos,
The swaggie climbs aboard,
he is welcome too.
All the family's there,
sitting by the pool,
Christmas Day the Aussie way,
by the barbecue.

Oh! Jingle bells,
jingle bells,
jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia
on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.
Come the afternoon,
Grandpa has a doze,
The kids and Uncle Bruce,
are swimming in their clothes.
The time comes 'round to go,
we take the family snap,
Pack the car and all shoot through,
before the washing up.
Oh! Jingle bells,
jingle bells,
jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute

Monday, December 29, 2014


One thing I love about this time of year is focusing on Advent. Advent means "the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event." It is so easy to get distracted with routine to forget about the importance of what Christmas is really all about.

I felt that a theme the Lord was trying to teach me through many different things was to focus. Random things like the exercise videos I've been following. The series is called "Focus T25". In the middle of a session the leader says, " Think about it. When you slow down it forces you to focus." I have been revisiting that statement since I heard it in week 1, now 3 weeks later.

Another random thing: the road to the school has construction happening on it. Half the road is blocked off with signs posted that say "Pelan x2" which literally means "Slow Slow" which means "Slow Down" or "Proceed with Caution". This double warning, the times 2 part, made me think of the importance of the words. Slow down.

Then randomly at church, the speaker shared a challenge to slow down, connect less to email and social media and refocus.

Advent has helped us to build the anticipation of the arrival of a baby boy, who is the King of King and Lord of Lords, named Jesus. All these reminders have helped me to slow down and focus on the true reason to celebrate Christmas- the birth of Jesus.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Kate meet Mr. C

Let me give a little backstory of Indonesian history before we begin. Europeans first arrived in Indonesia in the 16th century seeking valuable nutmeg, cloves, and pepper in Maluku. In 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company, which eventually became the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch continued to expand Indonesian boundaries to its current size and remained in control until the Japanese invaded and occupied in 1942 during World War II. So the Dutch influence on Indonesian culture can be spotted throughout the entire country. One specific influence happens every year in December- Sinterklaas (St. Nick) and his servants 'Zwarte Pieten' (Black Peters) parade around town through neighborhoods waving, passing out candy, and chasing small children. (I'm not sure how the last part fits in, but the local kids love it!... I think.)

** I'm going to add a disclaimer here: We are not bad parents. We are normal parents who laugh at the normalcy of Kate reacting to life.**

It was a normal Saturday in our house. After Kate woke from her nap, we walked to the mall to do some grocery shopping and get lunch. On our way home we saw the truck full of Black Peters on our road. The lead car had a gigantic megaphone mounted on the roof of the car. They would ride around announcing the arrival of Sinterklaas and his servants. St. Nick wasn't ready yet, so we were asking the car full of people and the truckload of servants where he was. The car load of people proved not to be helpful at all because they were distracted with our adorable Kate (and honestly, I can't blame them because this happens to me all. the. time.) The woman that had the power to speak through the megaphone would answer our questions using the microphone, which was very very loud. Actually, now that I think about it, she wasn't answering any of our questions only telling Kate how cute she was and trying to get her attention with the gigantic megaphone. She and her car load were not helpful. Surprisingly, the most helpful was one of the Black Peters. He said Sinterklaas/St. Nick/Santa wasn't ready yet but would be soon. (I'll just say this here. Papuans, who already have black skin paint their faces, necks, arms and anything showing black. They also wear black wigs, even though they have black hair. Black Peters are very intimidating, so it makes sense that its their job to keep track of all children behavior.)

We continued our journey home, when we spotted him. There he was. Putting the finishing touches of his outfit together. We asked for permission to see him before he left to visit other children. There were no lines. Santa wasn't sweaty yet from wearing his cold weather clothes in the tropical heat and humidity of Papua.

Josh got the camera ready.

 I handed Kate to Santa....

and she freaked out. Just like every other baby that sees Santa for the first time.

Making small talk just saying to him." Don't worry if she cries."

The hand off- immediate crying

Making a run for it
Fairies are calmed and composed, while Santa practices his "Ho, Ho, Ho"

Loaded up

Still keeping an eye on him in the safe arms of Daddy

The truckload of very helpful, nice Black Peters

We bought some Santa hats at the store. I thought it would be fun to take a family photo together. Well, Kate's was way too big. It could cover her whole head, and she kept pulling it off. We did get a few shots that are far from perfect. This is the best one, and in this photo Kate found the inside of her nose. I still think it's great! :)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Red Light, Green Light

When I put Kate's shoes on everyday at 4 PM, I never know what the hour outside may look like. All I know is a bunch of kids will be there. Sometimes they rollerblade or ride scooters; other times they play soccer. A few weeks ago it seemed like the kids weren't really playing with each other. Almost like they didn't know how? I noticed these kids all standing around, and my head was screaming," Play with them!!!" So... I did.

I taught them the old playground favorite of "Red Light, Green Light". The rules are simple: run on green lights, walk on yellow lights, and stop on red lights. (This is an interesting concept here, because these traffic laws are only obeyed going one direction, which only applies when the power is on or when you feel like it.) We began our play using Indonesian, and then I thought I would teach them the words in English. Most kids are taught English in school and are eager to try it out with a real live English speaker. They caught on quickly and soon knowledge of the game spread through our street. When it was time to go home and make dinner, the kids were begging us to come back tomorrow and play. So... we did. We played "Red Light, Green Light" for about a week straight. When we weren't outside playing with them, we saw the kids running with big smiles on their faces.

Images by Freepik