Snow in Papua?

I was sitting in my kitchen yesterday enjoying my peanut butter and jelly sandwich on freshly baked bread, when I glanced out the window and noticed it was snowing!  Well, at least, it looked like it was snowing.  I let myself believe it was snow for just a few minutes until the reality of the bonfire in my backyard settled in.

Our guys have been working hard on getting our fallen tree chopped up and burned.  It’s been quite the process!

First, we hired a guy in town that has a chainsaw.  He and his machete wielding partner hacked away at the tree for about a day and a half to get it all cut into reasonable sized pieces.  The wood from the tree was so hard that they had to stop several times to sharpen their blades…by hand, with a file.

Next, our national staff started piling up all of the wood on top of the tree stump.  The wood was still really wet, so I wasn’t sure how it would burn, but the guys assured me that with the tire they place underneath it and all of the oil they poured on top of it, it would burn just fine.

And burn, it did!  There was a bonfire in my backyard all day yesterday, causing it to “snow” down ash.  And they’re not done yet!

They will continue piling and burning today, and I will continue to pretend that it’s snowing! (despite the fact that it’s completely green outside….and 88 degrees.)

P.S.-there is actually a mountain in Papua that has snow on it!  I’ve never been there, but Nathan flies by it all the time.  Someday I want to go and have a snowball fight!


Christmas Fireworks

Brian (our neighbor/coworker/friend/fellow whitey in Nabire) grew up in Honduras and Ecuador as a MK.  His family tradition (and I believe the tradition in Honduras) is to light off fireworks on Christmas day.  So, to Brian, Christmas isn’t Christmas without fireworks.  Fortunately, we live in Indonesia where fireworks aren’t illegal and they’re sold on just about every street corner.

So for this Christmas Brian bought a bunch of fireworks and we all went out on the runway on Christmas night and lit them off!

Fun with sparklers and long shutter speeds.

Our MAF base at night! (Those fireworks are real…not shopped!)

The whole town, it seems, lit off fireworks on Christmas.  I can’t wait to see what New Year’s is like!

Our Almost Christmas Eve Disaster

I have a love hate relationship with the giant tree in our backyard.

The bucket hanging in the tree is to bring things up to the tree house that the base kids built.  It’s the only tree on base big enough to hold a tree house.  (love)

It’s huge and beautiful and it provides a lot of shade. (love)

BUT it provides so much shade that grass can’t grow underneath it.  (hate)

AND my dogs think that it is super fun to dig big holes in the dirt and then track that dirt into my house. (hate)

On Christmas Eve we had our big Christmas dinner with the entire base (which right now is just us and the Marxes).  We were all standing around in the kitchen pulling last minute things together so that we could eat when the wind picked up big time!  I had never before seen wind like this in Nabire before!

Brian said, “This is the kind of wind that knocks over trees!”  Not two seconds later, our big giant shady tree uprooted and fell straight over…toward the house!

My first thoughts went like this:

“I can’t believe that just happened!”
“Are my new windows ok?”
“I’m so glad that my dogs are in the house!”
“I can’t believe that just happened!”

We went outside to check out the damage.  The tree is resting on our roof, but as far as we can tell there is no major damage.  Praise God!


The first picture and this last picture is from almost the same perspective.  Our whole yard is covered in tree now!

Starting tomorrow, the tree will start getting cut down so that we can really survey the damage.  But we’re grateful that it appears to be minimal so far!

I’ll Be Cold for Christmas

Here it is just 3 days before Christmas…and I’m sweating.  Like, a lot.

So, Nathan and I decided as our Christmas present to each other this year, we are glassing in all of our windows and A/C-ing (that’s a verb right?) the whole house!  Yipee!

As it stands now, we have two A/C-ed rooms, our bedroom and the office.  We spend a ton of time in those two rooms and not much in the rest of the house, because who wants to be sweating while trying to relax on the couch?  So, once it’s all closed in and cool, I think that our house is going to feel bigger!

I. Can’t. Wait.

The A/C is already installed and ready to go.  I have big plans to stain that piece of wood so it matches the frame of the window…but it’s pretty low on the priority list right now.

The glass is cut and ready to go too.  Right now it’s sitting on my front porch.

Unfortunately, you can’t just go out a buy windows with glass already in them.  You have to buy glass and then wood and then stain that wood and then cut the wood to size and then frame the window and then put in the glass and a bead of silicone and then frame the glass again.  Phew!  That was a lot of “and thens.”  But it’ll be worth it once my house is cool!

Nathan has the day off tomorrow, so we are going to work out little rear ends off to get it done before Christmas Eve!

And then, this is the best part, we are going to turn the temp down, wear long sleeves, drink hot chocolate and ignore the fact that it’s 90 degrees outside!

So, while we may not actually be cold for Christmas, we will not be sweating and it will be awesome!


The Bakar Batu was an all day event last Saturday, followed up by our staff Christmas party in the evening!

We started at 5:00, which in IST (Indonesian Standard Time…that’s not an actual timezone, FYI, I made it up) means we actually started when everyone arrived (around 5:30).

Of course, Mr. Sun had to come shining down on us, piercing through the clouds as it set, right when we were taking the group photo.  And I don’t have a flash strong enough to do anything about it.  So, we’re shadowy.  But we’re all there!

Then, we went to the hangar to do some singing.  The whole staff, including Nathan, Steve and Brian stood in front to sing a song for the rest of us.  This was a surprise to Nathan.  He didn’t even know the song!  He faked it pretty well though! :)

Silent Night by candle light.

Heather did a chalk talk, her first in Indonesia!  I don’t think our staff had ever seen anything like it before!

At the end, Heather turns on a black light and another image can be seen!  It’s amazing.  Heather is so talented!

And of course, a party isn’t a party without food!  We had pork (from the bakar batu) veggies, potatoes, sate (satay), chicken and rice (because a meal isn’t a meal without rice)!

Bakar Batu

…or how to cook a pig with rocks.

For our staff Christmas party we had a pig.

It’s a long story of how we got the pig…but it doesn’t matter, we had a pig.

Pigs are HIGHLY valued in this culture.  One pig can sell for thousands of dollars.  So having a pig for our Christmas party is quite the event because it doesn’t happen every year.  (our pig was free by the way….long story)

Bakar Batu (loosely translated as “Cooking with rocks”) is a long standing Dani tradition.  And while none of our guys are Dani, a few of them still knew how to do a bakar batu.

Piggy is already dead in this photo.  Poor piggy.  I don’t have pictures of the killing part of the process…but who wants to see that anyway?  By the way, pigs do not say “oink.”  Pigs say, “rrreeeeeeee, rrrreeeee!”

So, after killing piggy, his hair is burned off (photo above).  Then they get the skin off and take all of the innards out…but that’s gross, so I’m not showing your pictures of that part either.

I have new respect for butchers.

The rock/wood pile getting ready to be burned.

Piggy is placed on top of the rock/wood pile and covered with leaves.  The fire is lit and then he cooks for about an hour.

Next, piggy is place into a hole in the ground along with some vegetables and the hot rocks.  Then he’s covered by more leaves.  A few extra hot rocks are wrapped in banana leaves and placed snugly around the top of the hole.

Here’s piggy all bakar batu-ized!

I was a little nervous to try a pig cooked by rocks, but I gotta say, it was pretty tasty!  (and I didn’t get sick…always a plus!)

The Middle of Nowhere

In the U.S., if I said I was in the middle of nowhere, what I actually meant was, “I’m more than an hour away from Target.”

In Papua, if I say that I’m in the middle of nowhere, what I actually mean is, “I’m in the middle of nowhere.”

How, for example, did this building, tin roof and all, end up here in the middle of nowhere?

There are no roads.  There is no airstrip.

But there is a tin roof (and I assume something besides mud and sticks holding up that tin roof).

Here is my guess:

Whoever owns this house hiked several days, probably without shoes, over dense jungle mountains, while being eaten by the hundreds of species of jungle bugs, to the nearest village with an airstrip.

There, he picked up a load of building supplies that had been delivered by an airplane.  Ordering these items probably required an earlier trip to the airstrip village.

Then he carried these supplies on his back for several days, again without shoes, over dense jungle mountains to bring them to his home in the middle of nowhere.

I’m sure that it took more than several trips, back and forth through the jungle, to get all of the supplies he needed for his house.

Months of hard labor.  Months of walking through rain, rivers, and jungle just to put a roof over his head.

And there are houses like this one all over Papua.  And every time I see one, I am amazed at the work it must have taken to build that little house with a tin roof in the middle of nowhere.

Today at the Grocery Store…

There’s nothing quite like come home after a hard day’s work, lounging on your bed (because that’s the room with AC) and snacking on some Cuttlefish Rice Crackers.


And then for dinner, Instant Roasted Beef!

You want to come eat at my house don’t you?  :)

(I didn’t actually buy either of these things…but if you came (because it’s beautiful here and we’d love to see you) I would buy them for you if you really wanted to try them!)

Christmas Tea

A week ago Saturday, Jodi, Heather and I hosted a Christmas tea for about 40 ladies in Nabire!  We had a great time of fellowship with them while teaching them some of our American Christmas traditions and beliefs.  Although not a single one of the Christmas Teas I’ve attended in the U.S. was held outside in 80 degree weather, nor were we served brownies with cheese on top, but our focus was not on the weather or the food.  We wanted them to hear the messaage.

Praise God that so many women came out and heard!

Can you find me in this photo?  It shouldn’t be hard…I’m the giant Amazon woman in the back!

Indonesians, in general, love photos.  So, we had a photo booth!

Debby (our speaker), Jodi, Heather and I couldn’t miss out on the photo booth fun!

Thank you to those of you who prayed for this event!