The boys were in bed, the day was drawing to a close and Nathan and I were relaxed in the living room, watching a movie. It gets dark at about 6pm year round for us, so it was already dark out. Our couch sits to the left of the back door and I was sitting on the end closest to it. Amid the noise of the movie, I suddenly heard the familiar click sound of the door opening. It startled me, and I looked to my left. Sure enough, the door was about an inch open. I immediately felt alarmed. I said “Nathan! someone just opened the door!” He jumped up and ran to the door, grabbed the handle and yelled in Indonesian “Who’s out there?!” The door wouldn’t open because whoever was trying to open it was trying to pull it closed again. Nathan yelled again and yanked the door open and started chasing a man into the dark. At that exact moment the power went out. I was standing in the middle of the living room in pitch black, listening to footsteps disappear into the darkness. I shakily scrambled around for my phone and turned on the flashlight. Waiting. Wondering who had tried to come into our house when they could obviously see that I was there and the TV was on. The power flickered back on and Nathan came back, saying he chased the guy down the road before he slipped down a side street. It was too dark to tell who it was.
Was it the young man who I had already had 2 awkward and inappropriate interactions with on the road recently? The way Nathan had been sitting in the corner may have blocked his visibility from the window. Was he trying to come in because he thought I was alone? Uncomfortable thoughts that bothered me the next few days. I found myself glancing at the door frequently throughout the next day, and locking it during the day whenever Nathan was gone for anything.
This had already been a seriously stressful few months with moving into a house that needed to be totally gutted and being the only western family in town for months at a time. I was exhausted emotionally and physically from so many bouts of sickness with either me or the kids. Then a handful of incidents with men in the community made me question going out on my own (with the kids or without) anymore.
I noticed that I wasn’t looking people in the eye anymore when I went out into town or to the market. I generally hold my head up and smile and nod at those in passing but I realised I wasn’t doing that anymore. My eyes were down and I was avoiding any eye contact with men especially. I didn’t want another awkward interaction. At times I was on edge almost constantly, jumping at sudden sounds like doors slamming or phones ringing.
The physical symptoms came during all of this too. I won’t go into detail, but it was a pretty traumatic thing to feel so many things going on in my body and have nowhere to go for help. Looking back it’s pretty obvious it was stress, but I had never had experience with anxiety or any of these other things so it was very hard to accept or believe that it was “just stress’ when it was affecting me so strongly that I couldn’t even function. My body couldn’t cope anymore. It had gotten itself stuck in stress response and would be triggered by almost anything.
We decided to move up our furlough time to get to the bottom of my health struggles. Our time in the states has been enlightening to me regarding stress and trauma. I had to learn for myself what my body was doing in order to believe it. I’ve been reading a lot of books, have had lots of info from doctors regarding stress and its amazing impact on the body. Now, I do have a mild case of autoimmune thyroiditis, which definitely exacerbates the affects of stress. I think the meds I am on now for that are really helping! A huge piece of my “healing journey” (I’m gonna be cheesy and use that phrase) was actually believing 100% that this is all stemming from a sensitive nervous system that is hyper reactive to stress. It couldn’t be someone else just telling me that, I had to find it out for myself.
Brain science is so fascinating! It’s really fun to learn about this stuff. (Maybe I should have been a neurologist...) I have been doing a program that retrains the brain to get it out of chronic stress response. I do an hour (most days!) of practice a day to retrain my brain! How crazy is that! I believe it is actually working. God’s design is incredible! He has designed us so intelligently and it’s a testimony of His great wisdom in the way He has designed the brain to protect us.
I asked myself why I am sharing this, and the main reason I guess is that we are going back to Indonesia hopefully at the end of August and I wanted people who pray for me to know a little more of the kind of stresses I personally have been facing overseas. I hope it will help you to know how to pray!
Some may be wondering why I am going back after all the stress. I believe through your many prayers on my behalf that God has rekindled an excitement in me to go back. For a while there I was willing to go back, but there wasn’t a real excitement about it. I feel that in the past month specifically I have regained the desire and excitement of going back to our ministry. I don’t think this could be from any other source than God. He is so patient and kind to me. I don’t feel afraid, even though it is always hard to leave our friends here in America.
I’ve never felt so weak or helpless as I have in the last year and half, but I also know that God doesn’t waste trials. He will work all things together for good to those who love Him. He is teaching me how to love Him!
I have been thinking about my good friends there, and the opportunity to share Christ with them in these next few years. Lord willing, He can speak through my non-eloquent words and ways to share His truth with them. I am so glad He will do the work and that it’s not up to me.
How to Order
There’s nothing quite so thrilling as seeing new construction go up in our little town in Papua. What could it be? Perhaps a new restaurant, with some semi western food options? Maybe it’s a play place for kids, with real slides and swings inside? Or better yet, a new grocery store with dairy products! I torture myself with ideas while the slow building progress continues. In the end it usually ends up being a new car fix it shop, or another one of the hundreds of barber shops.
New restaurants are super exciting though. And if you are smart, you will go check them out as soon as possible after their opening day. You know why? Because that is the only time that they are most likely to have what is actually listed on the menu in stock!
I came up with a few guide lines when ordering food at a restaurant in Indonesia (especially in Papua).
1. Keep your expectations low. (You saw a picture of a juicy hamburger on the menu, but it's actually a google image they put there for show)
2. Ask what they have available on the menu first. They will almost certainly only have 25% of what is listed, and you can save yourself some time and disappointment by asking what they have first.
3. Always assume it will be spicy, even if they say it’s not. This one is especially important with kids.
4. Going along with the last point, don’t make your order too complicated. If you don’t want it spicy, you can order the sambal (hot sauce) on the side instead of confusing them by saying you don’t want it spicy at all. Same goes with ingredients you don’t like. Just pick them out rather than ask for them to be left out. Thinking outside of the box is a westerner thing.
5. Order one flavoured drink and at least one water. This might be my preference, but the flared drinks are super sweet and super small, so I always mix the water and flavoured drink for flavour a quantity.
6. Say the item you want, and the quantity second. Example: “Rice, 2. Chicken, 2. Veggies, 1.” instead of “2 rice, 2 chicken and 1 veggies”. I observed this after a year or so living in Indonesia when a seemingly simple order would be met with a redundant question of “how many?” Item first, quantity last.
7. And most important - When they don’t have that delicious butter chicken available, or they are somehow out of rice (trust me, it’s happened) just smile, nod and say “ngak apa-apa” (No problem) :)
WHEN YOU GOTTA GO...
I visit a lot of public and private bathrooms. Not because I need to use them so much as my 4 year old does. I try to avoid them as much as possible. I use the bathroom before leaving home and just hold it if I have to go while out and about, but I guess little boys aren't as good at holding it as I am.
Noah and I have gotten into this little routine where we go into a bathroom and he will say what kind it is. “Mom, this is a YUCKY bathroom!” or “Gasp! This bathroom is NOT yucky!”
Most of the time its the first one. When we go into a “yucky” bathroom its always the same thing, I say “Noah, don’t touch ANYTHING. I will help you, just don’t. touch. anything.”
When we were on vacation last year I took Noah to a bathroom that had fancy sinks and flowers on the counter. Clean, nice smelling, paper products galore. He couldn't stop saying “MOM!!! This is NOT YUCKY!!!! It's a NICE bathroom! I can't believe this!” Soak it in kid, soak it in.
Above is a picture of a typical Bathroom here.
It got me thinking about what makes a “not yucky” bathroom.
1. Not wet. Here, they love everything to be wet. Wet apparently equals clean. Bathrooms here are generally made of all tile. Tile walls, floor, a tile water basin to scoop from, and a porcelain squatty potty. The floor is always sopping wet since after someone is finished, they scoop water from the basin and splash it all over the place to clean up (I always hope that what I am standing in is indeed water.) So yes, a dry floor, walls, and toilet seat is definitely what I consider “not yucky”.
2. A raised toilet seat. About 75% of the time the toilet is a squatty. But sometimes there is actually an American style toilet! I still don’t actually “sit” on said toilet seat because, well, its wet. Not many people know how to use an American style toilet so they still climb up and squat on top of it and of course splash water all over it when they are done. BUT, an American height toilet is much easier to “hover” over than a squatty potty!
3. Toilet Paper. 95% of the time this is just a dream. Its always a must to have tissues in your purse since the chance of actually having toilet paper be available is next to none. Also, if it IS there it will probably be, you guessed it, wet.
4. Soap. There are lots of soap dispensers, but if they have anything in them its 90% water mixed with 10% soap. Hand sanitizer is also a must in your purse.
5. Paper towels. Sometimes in the fancy malls in other cities there are actually hand towels!!! (It makes me feel like royalty). But normally a shake of the hands and a quick pat on your pant legs has to do.
Yeah, I think those are the basics of what help a bathroom be “not yucky”.
ps. I hope this did not come across as disrespectful! Just because it is different from how my home culture does things, does not mean it is wrong. Not wrong, just different! Plus, public bathrooms anywhere in the world are not most people's favourite place for comfort or cleanliness!
The year in review (part 2)
A coworker, along with a couple who help run a missions training program in Australia came see our ministry and visit the Moi people group. We enjoyed hanging out with them and showing them the Land the Lord has provided for a base here!
The weekly bible lessons continue on!
Shem is sick again. More fevers and sleepless nights.
Lots of time in the neighborhood walking with the kids.
These kids showed us how to open coconuts with nothing but their teeth!
Rainy season is no joke! It rained so much the local market flooded.
Landscaping the land for the base is put on hold because of so much rain! No land work can be done because of the mud.
We had some more visitors from Australia who are currently in training to come work in Indonesia! We took them out on the boat to see the Whale Sharks. Nathan had a Birthday and 2 days later Noah turned 4 years old and enjoyed swimming with his first whale shark!
Vacation! Bali is an incredible blessing to us. It is in country so it is more affordable for us to fly there, but it has so many comforts of home like restaurants with western food and English is freely spoken. Attire is relaxed and there is much less attention drawn to us since there are so many tourists. We had a WONDERFUL break! Nathan got to swim in an ocean 5K and placed second in his age group!
Eating Shark meat during Shark week!
Exciting times as some friends from the Moi people group leave to attend Missionary training school on another island! Timotius and his wife Mutadi, along with Bubabo are now several months into their missions training!!! SO exciting!
Preschool begins for Noah! I started teaching Noah along with two other 4 year olds preschool twice a week at the MAF base. Noah loved learning alongside Elyse and Jayden!
A group of coworkers from another city flew to our town to visit and see the whale sharks. We never tire of taking people out to see the gentle giants! It really has become a side ministry to take coworkers out to be refreshed by God’s amazing ocean and his incredible whale sharks. Noah was so happy to see his friend Leo.
I was insanely excited to meet one of my best friends in Bali for a few days! Nathan was gracious enough to stay with the kids for a few days so I could reconnect with Candace. It was a blast!
The MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) families, along with us and a few other expat families that serve in the area put on a “missions night” for the community. We invited all the Leaders of each church in town along with some prominent business people to come hear about what each of our families are doing here. It was a huge success and many people came. It was great to give clarity to everyone of why we are here and how we desire to work alongside them.
The man who gave us the land for a base passed away. We went to his funeral.
A baby named Obar was evacuated from a Moi village after he fell into a fire and was severely burned. We was attended in another city and then flown to us for follow up care. Nathan went daily, bringing a local nurse to help clean the horrible burn wounds and administer his medicine but he didn't end up making it. It was a REALLY rough thing to see happen. We were heartbroken. This is the third baby these young parents have lost. It was an emotional few days attending the burial and watching the parents grieve.
Some supporters of ours came to Papua and we were able to meet up with them in our old city, Sentani. My aunt also happened to be in Papua doing a check up on her village’s translation project (she has served in Papua for over 35 years!) so we got to hang out with her for a few days too! My Birthday was on Sep 20th and it was fun to see my good friend Delvin and some others again! Bummer though, Shem got sick again while we were there.
Nathan left for a 2 week long conference on another island! It was a LONG two weeks without him but we survived! Nathan learned how to create phone Apps for Bible translations that the local people here can use. So cool! Photos below are just regular sights around town.
We visited my friend Dora to see her sister’s new baby! Dora has become a great friend over the last year. We like hanging out at her house or she will often drop by to say hi. Noah and Shem like to play with all her cute nieces and nephews.
Nathan left again on an almost 2 week trip to sail a boat to its new ministry location. He had a blast and once again, we survived while he was gone! Below is the group he sailed with.
Nathan returned from his trip just in time for Shem's 2nd Birthday!
We had the privilege to pass out Operation Christmas Child boxes in a village not far from us. It was super fun to see the kids receive such a special gift!
Merry Christmas! This month has been full of Christmas services at different churches and homes. We look forward to what God will do in the year to come!
The year in review (part 1)
Noah started preschool at a local Indonesian school. I went with him each day as he adjusted. (He attended for about a month and then we took him out since it wasn't working with our schedules and going every school day was too much. We hope to start him again a few days a week soon!)
SUPPLY! Our house doubles as a supply room for all the orders we get from our missionary teams interior! This is a small load compared to most! Nathan is always busy with supply.
I was blessed to attend a THRIVE women’s retreat in Malaysia with my friend Kari! It was a wonderful break from the ordinary and exciting to be in a big city with modern luxuries like subway and Ikea!!! Fellowshipping with other women in ministry was very encouraging.
Going to the wedding of a business owner and friend's daughter. The only time the boys have worn long sleeves and pants here, EVER! The wedding was in the evening but we still sweated our faces off. At least they looked cute!
Nathan’s second trip was to another island for a networking conference where he connected with many churches and other missions organizations in this country. He was only gone 4 days this time!
Nathan started teaching a young adults group the Chronological Bible Lessons each week along with our coworker Andersen and a family from MAF. The picture only shows a few of those who attended.
Lots of neighborhood walks where we buy interesting food and fruit! We always create some sort of "parade" with all the kids following us.
I often buy my veggies from this veggie cart. She brings fresh produce right to my street daily and reminds me of Java with her accent.
A prominent man in the community offered to give us a huge piece of land for our new mission base! This was a surprising and incredible blessing. Mr. Yap desires to see the people of Papua progress in education and in the Lord.
Flew to the mountains to visit the Moi, one of the main villages we support from town, Daboto. We brought some local pastors with us who baptized believers and recognized elders under their denomination. Had an amazing time fellowshipping with the church there and hanging out with our coworkers the Crocketts. What a special time to see the believers standing strong there! Many who we tend to in town are from this village so it was fun to see some familiar faces.
We travelled to another city to attend our regional missions conference! Right on cue, Shem got hand foot and mouth virus and had to be kept out of child care. It made an exhausting few days of trying to enjoy conference but also care for a sick boy. We did really enjoy our time and were encouraged at the end. It was great seeing old friends and coworkers and Noah loved being in the kids program and playing with his buddy Leo. I got to catch up with my good friend Delvin!
I attended a one day medical workshop where I learned some medical basics like how to suture and put in an IV.
TO BE CONTINUED!