Furlough So Far

Well, it’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me!  I’ve been head deep in a new baby, a four-year-old with culture shock and lots of sickness.  This has been our life lately:  Layla gets sick.  Layla gets better.  Elias gets sick.  Elias gets better.  Nathan gets sick.  Nathan gets better.  I get sick.  I get better.  AND REPEAT!  I don’t know if it’s these good ol’ American germs that our bodies haven’t been around for the last few years or what, but man, we have been sick a lot!

I don’t want to be a total Debbie Downer though so here are some awesome things about furlough:

Soft toilet paper. Maybe I shouldn’t put this as the first thing I list.  But it is the first thing that came to mind because soft toilet paper is amazing and makes life better.  AmIright?

Drinking fountains. With drinkable water to boot!  We taught Elias how to use these and now he is all about it.

Date nights with places we actually want to go! Does this really need explanation?  I like Nathan…and yummy restaurants.  Mexican is my jam, ya’ll.

Anonymity. We basically can’t go anywhere in Nabire without someone asking to take our picture or pinching Elias’ cheeks.  So blending into the crowd for awhile is quite nice.  Elias still doesn’t quite understand why we don’t know every single white person that we see, but he has stopped asking “who’s that?” at every turn.

English. While I love that we learned Indonesian and can make conversation with our Indonesian co-workers, English is easy and doesn’t take as much brain power.  I don’t have to translate everything in my head before responding.  Maybe I’ll get to that point someday with Indonesian, but I haven’t gotten there yet.  Plus, church in English=my heart language.

Family. This actually should be #1 on the list.  I love hanging out with our family.  I love that Elias loves his cousins, grandparents and aunts and uncles.  Family is cool.  Family that is close-by is even cooler.

Grocery Stores. You know what’s amazing??  Going to the grocery store and buying exactly what you came in for!  And about 50 things that you didn’t come in for because, well, Cheeze-its exist.  And so do tortilla chips.  And jelly beans.  And Pop Tarts (Elias has newly discovered Pop Tarts).  I know that people are jumping on the ClickList bandwagon and I get it…sorta.  But man, do I love walking through a clean, organized, fully stocked grocery store!

Traffic Laws.  Ok, admittedly this may seem like a strange addition to the list.  But when I drive in Nabire, I come home with tension in my shoulders.  When I drive here, there are rules…that people follow!  It’s like a day at the spa.  Well, as much as driving can be a day at the spa.  You know what I mean.

Obviously, there are about 1,000 more things I could add to this list.  But I’m going to stop here for now because Layla needs some attention from Mommy :)  Peace out ya’ll.

easter family

Layla

Two weeks ago, we were in Wamena for an airplane inspection, happily enjoying the cool air.  And today, we are in Nampa, ID, happily staring at our new daughter (and freezing in the frigid air)! To say that the last two weeks have been a whirlwind, would be an understatement.

On Saturday evening, Feb. 11, in Wamena, we received an email from our adoption agency saying there was a new birth parent snyopsis to view.  This has happened 14 times since we completed our home study, so we have learned not to get our hopes too high.  But we read the synopsis and asked the agency to show our profile to the birth mom.  In this case, the baby had already been born and so they expected a quick placement.

The following morning, we woke up to an email saying that we were one of three families that the birth mom was considering!  They wanted to know how fast we could possibly get to Idaho.  After some quick internet searches, we figure out that Elias and I could be in Idaho by Tuesday.  Then the agency asked us to call; we assumed the wanted to discuss travel plans…but they actually wanted to tell us that the birth mom had chosen us!  Tears.  Joy.  Scramble!  We quickly called our families and then some people at MAF’s headquarters.  They helped us book last minute plane tickets, and by the next day, Elias and I were departing Wamena for the States.  Nathan stayed in Indonesia a few days longer so that he could wrap things up on his airplane, and get back to Nabire to pack up our house for furlough.

Travel with a 3-year-old is no joke, but Elias did amazing.  I am so proud of him.  Upon landing in Idaho on Tuesday afternoon (nearly 48 hours after we left Wamena), my in-laws, who had driven up from Arizona, picked us up at the airport.  We quickly got showered and a change of clothes.  By 5:30 pm we were at the adoption agency with baby in hand.  Nathan joined a few days later and we were finally all together as a family of FOUR!

And the rest, as they say, is history…foggy,  jet-lagged-while-similtaneously-caring-for-a-newborn history.  And we couldn’t be happier.
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Christmas at Home

Merry Christmas from Papua!

We had a quiet little Christmas at home this year.  With two of us recovering from the flu, we tried our best to keep things low-key.

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Mom and Son

We have now spent 6 of our 10 Christmas as a married couple sweating it out overseas.  And while we definitely miss time with family, I have enjoyed creating our own family traditions!  Elias has only had one Christmas in the U.S. (and he was 9 months old at the time), and so Christmas in the tropics is all he knows!

Family together

We always get new jammies on Christmas Eve.  By this point in the evening, Elias was DONE and ready for bed, thus the strained smile.

Christmas Morning

He was much more smiley the next morning :) (to our Indonesia friends:  I totally use Bungkus paper as wrapping paper!  It’s the cheapest thing around!)

Nativity

Opening

Hugs for George

So. Many. Legos.

More. Legos.

Stocking

We spent all day opening presents and it was glorious.  After each gift he opened, we would just spend time playing…so we didn’t get to the last one until after dinner!  We are so thankful for our family, who send gifts months ahead of time to be sure we have them on Christmas morning.

How do you open gifts? Do you go through them all at once?  Or spread them throughout the day?

Natalan (Our MAF Christmas Party!)

It’s that most wonderful time of year again!  With humidity and tropical rain showers, right?  Well, at least that’s what it is over here.  But it wouldn’t be Christmas in Indonesia for us without our MAF staff Christmas party.  This year, we decided to do things a little differently and blend our Western and Eastern cultures a bit more.  And, I think, we struck just the right balance.
MAF Nabire Team

Our annual staff photo.  This year on the runway instead of in front of an airplane.

Note from Timika

MAF Timika sent us a little note on a dirty airplane.  Thanks guys!  And Selamat Natal to you too :)

Pondok Natal

Natal Tables

Instead of our normal party in the hangar, this year we did a party in the yard (it’s warm here, remember?) with magical Christmas lights and gorgeous mango trees.

Shepherds

Manger Scene

After the photo, we split into 4 groups: one group per home and each group was assigned the task of coming up with a drama, acting out part of the Christmas story.  I don’t have pictures in the homes, but I loved the drama that ensued afterwards.

Night lights

J's devotional

As the sun set, we ate a meal together that all the wives worked so hard to make.  Traditionally, Indonesians wouldn’t eat at tables at a party like this, but I think they all enjoyed it.  To finished up, we sang Silent Night and Jeremiah shared a short devotional.

All and all, it was a super enjoyable evening for everyone involved.  Selamat Natal!

A Good Story

jump!

I love stories.  It doesn’t even have to be a good story, I still want to know how it ends.  This is why I have trouble not finishing a bad book, or a terrible movie.  I even want to see the end of Elias’ episodes of Octonauts or Wild Kratts.  It kills me when a show is cancelled before the story resolves.

The story I’m currently living, the story of our second adoption, isn’t over.  I’m anxiously awaiting to hear the resolve.  Who will our child be?  When will he or she be born?  Only God knows, and He is the best storywriter of them all!

In the mean time, we are doing what we can to prepare.  So we have set up a site where you can donate if you are interested in helping us with the costs of adoption.  It is a non-profit organization and so your donation is tax-deductible!  You can find it here.

Thanks!

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I Want to Move to Bali

We had an amazing time in Bali!  So much so, that it’s worth saying again.  A-MAY-ZING.  I’m ready to move there, if God should somehow change up our ministry. :)

So, why Bali?  It is one of the cheapest places for us to go that is off-island and somewhat Western.  Did you know that Bali is part of Indonesia?  Yup, sure is!  While it is super touristy, it is so gorgeous and you can get a decent burger!  What more do you need in a vacation, really?

This was our 4th trip to Bali and so we decided to spread our wings and explore some parts of Bali that we had never seen before.  Since it was a two-week trip, we got to spend a decent amount of time in each place.  Something else new for us this trip: we stayed mostly in rented villas rather than hotel rooms.  I’m not sure I can go back to a hotel room now.  A private villa with a private pool is the way to go!  (And depending where you stay and how many people you need to house, it can actually be cheaper than a hotel room!)

Room with a View

Grasshopper

Pool with a View

Could I wake up to this view every morning?  Yes, yes I could.

Coffee

Rice Terrace

One of our stops was this amazing coffee plantation, that not only had an amazing view, but also amazing coffee. Have you heard of Kopi Luwak?  It is one of the most expensive coffees in the world.  It’s poop coffee guys.  Poop.  It’s really good, I swear.  And while one cup of this can go for upwards of $35-$100, I had a cup for about $3.50.  Not to shabby.  Learn more about it here.

At this plantation, called Bali Pulina, they show the process from bean to cup.  Elias was fascinated.  And I was fascinated by how fascinated he was.  They gave us several different kinds of coffee to try for free (and we also opted to pay for a cup of kopi luwak).  Elias tried every single one of them, except for the poop one.  He just couldn’t get passed the “drinking poop” aspect of it.  I couldn’t convince him that you’re not actually drinking poop.

Rice Field

Home Path

Bali boats

Bali Zoo Elephant

Door

Bali Door

I was obsessed with all of the gorgeous doorways.  They range from beautifully ornate, to super simple and I loved each and every one of them.  When I buy my Bali property, I’m definitely getting a gorgeous door 😉

While this life we live comes with many challenges, I never want to forget all of the amazing experiences and beautiful places that are within arms-reach.

Safety Bash: 5 Years of Accident-Free flying!

In September, MAF Papua celebrated 5 years of safe, accident-free flying!  This is a huge milestone, especially considering the environment in which our pilots and mechanics work and fly.  It is not uncommon for their to be an aviation accident, often fatal, every month in Papua.  (I should say here, that in MAF’s accident 5 years ago, no one was injured.  Praise God.)  We are so, so grateful for our culture of safety in MAF and we know that both our pilots and mechanics are striving to make safe choices everyday!

In light of this milestone, we had a safety bash on base.  And, as one does, we had a pig roast!  Pig roasts in Papua signal celebration, especially since pigs are so highly valued.  One pig can sell for as much as $1,000.

Babi Guling

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Different from pig roasts we have done in the past (bakar batu: cooking the pig in the ground with hot stones), this time the pig was roasted on a spit.  This method, called babi guling, is most common in Bali.  However, a man who lives here in Nabire, and is a huge supporter of MAF, offered to roast the pig for us!  Yum.

Happy 5 years, MAF!

Back to School: Letter F!

After a lovely, and oh-so-needed vacation to Bali, we are now home and getting back into the rhythm of life in Nabire, which includes school!  So, we have arrived at the letter H!  But you haven’t heard from me since E, so let’s back up a quick second…

F is for Frog

Day One: F is for Frog!  First we made his letter F frog.  Above, Elias is drawing flies for the frog to eat.

Frog jumping

Next we played a little leap from game with some plastic frogs that we have.  They had to “jump” to the correct lily pad as I called out the letter.

fish scales

 

Day Two: F is for Fish!  We actually didn’t do much fish related this day, however he did paint this fish using q-tips to make scales.new app

Then he played a new game I downloaded on the iPad called “Letter School”  It’s super fun, and helps him to learn to recognize and write letters.

bunny game

This game really has nothing to do with letters, but it is critical thinking.  Each card has a picture of a few objects in a certain arrangement.  He has to look at the picture and then recreate it using the objects.  It’s called Bunny Peek A Boo and Elias loves it.

family photos

Day Three: F is for Family!  First we looked at pictures of Elias’ Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Grandparents.  Since we only see them every few years, we find it important to look at their pictures often and talk about them all.

family tree

Then we made a family tree.  Elias did a great job of putting the right kids with the right parents!  He also decided to put his birth mom on a branch near us.
F book

All the books

Finally, he made his F book.  I love his little collection of books that he has created.  And he does love to read them from time to time!

Backyard Explorers

I have really great memories of my backyard when I was a kid.  I, along with my friends and siblings, played for hours and hours in our backyard: kick the can, climbing trees, swinging on swings, playing in our tree house, building snow forts, camping out, and on and on.

But over here, we barely even go in our backyard (who wants to go to the backyard when there is literally a playground in the front yard?)  However, Elias and I have taken a few exploratory trips into the vast unknown of our backyard and you know what?  There’s a jungle back there!  Full of cool plants and even cooler bugs (although the bugs don’t like to be photographed).

Barb wire

little explorer

Binoculars are a required accessory when backyard exploring!

palm

fern

underside of a leaf

These sweet little flowers were growing on the underside of the leaves…good thing my exploring partner is short, or I may have completely missed them!

roots

inside a palm tree

spider

 

This is definitely not what my backyard looked like growing up in the midwest, but it is gorgeous.  Maybe we’ll start hanging out back there more often!

E Week!

We have made it all the way to the letter E in our little preschool now!  And I feel like we both deserve gold stars.  Maybe 5 consistent weeks of school doesn’t seem like a big deal, but since it is often a daily battle, I’m feeling pretty good about 5 weeks of school!

E week turned out to be a pretty fun week!

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Eagle

E is for Eagle!  Elias made his letter E eagle and we watched a fun little video about eagles on YouTube.  He loved watching the eagles swoop and dive for fish.

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Next we did some review since he’s still getting his letters mixed up.  I wrote all of the letters we’ve learned so far on the floor and he had to throw a bean bag to the letters as I called them out.  After that, he used the same letters on the floor to make play dough versions of each letter.

Escape!

Next, we played a little game called Escape!  I froze several small plastic toys in ice and Elias had to use a hammer to help them escape!  He loves this activity, we’ve played it several times.

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On day two we learned about elephants.  I neglected to take many pictures this day, but we talked about elephants and then walked around the house pretending to be elephants.  We also made letter Es with our bodies!

Elias

The last day of E week was Elias’ favorite.  E is for Elias!  First he did this little activity matching the clothes pins to the proper letter to spell his name.

Egg hunt

Next, he did an egg hunt in his room.  I hid 25 eggs in there and he loved discovering each of them.

What's in the eggs?
Spell your name

Once all the eggs were found, he cracked open each egg to find a letter inside–the letters of his name.  He sorted the letters by making a pile for each letter that he found and then practiced putting the letters in the right order to spell his name.  (his head isn’t really all wonky in real life…it’s just the lens I was using).

We also sang a little song that I made up to help him remember how to spell his name.  It goes like this:

E-L-I-A-S
E-L-I-A-S
That’s how you spell your name, it’s
E-L-I-A-S

A song writer, I am not, but it’s effective and he can usually spell his name pretty well!

Phew!  5 letters down, 21 more to go!