Friday, August 9, 2013

Indonesia: Connor's Perspective

Well, I've now lived "overseas" for roughly 1/8 of my life.  Whatever that means.  It's what Mom and Dad tell me, anyway.  Personally, as long as I still get fed, have my diaper changed, and have plenty of wiggle time on the floor, I couldn't really care less which hemisphere I happen to be in.  That is, of course, provided that Mom and Dad (preferably Mom) are close by.  That said, this "Indonesia" place is really not bad.  Here are some of my favorite activities over the past month and a half.

I have gotten quite a bit more mobile since leaving Spokane.  I can roll and scoot about anywhere I really need to go, which becomes a fun game with Mom and Dad.  I like to try to roll off the bed or couch, or anything else they set me on, before they can see me and catch me!  It's great fun, although so far I haven't quite succeeded yet.  I have also discovered that rolling around and exploring underneath the coffee table next to my "pad" in the living room is great fun!

I've taken a great interest in reading over the past few weeks.  My two favorite books are "The Bear Snores On" and "The Little Blue Truck" which, as you can see, I'm fully capable of reading all by myself now!

I've made some really good buddies over the past few weeks.  This is Tate College.  I got along quite well with him and his three brothers.  They didn't even mind if I needed to take a nap after playing hard!

Another favorite pastime I've picked up here in Indonesia?  Drinking cold water on these hot, muggy Indonesian days.  I like it best if I can hold the cup and do it all myself, but because of my drinking problem, Dad or Mom often hold the cup for me.

Dad is giving me scooter driving lessons!  The helmet fits me perfectly and there's even enough room in there to wear my binky.

I can reach the handlebars without any problem at all, and I can easily see over the speedometer.  I don't have to reach the pedals because there aren't any!  Too bad we're leaving for Spokane tomorrow, because if I had just another week or two, I bet I'd be on my own by then.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Photo Journal: MAF Tarakan

The MAF hangar and admin. building at Tarakan airport, E. Kalimantan, Indonesia
Three and a half weeks ago, we arrived in Tarakan, Indonesia, a small island off the east coast of Borneo.  Kota Tarakan (the City of Tarakan), with a population of approximately 290,0000, is the largest city for over 300 miles.  It is well-equipped with a large seaport, hospitals, schools, and an airport with scheduled airline service, making it a good location for MAF to base their operation serving the isolated people of northern Borneo.  Over the past few weeks we've been enjoying the challenge of adapting to life in Tarakan.  Day to day life here is obviously a far cry from what we know in Spokane.  Nothing comes easily and everything from how you flush the toilet to which side of the street you drive on is different or completely opposite from what we're used to.  We're thankful for the few Indonesian words and phrases we do know (and we're inevitably adding to that precious vocabulary), but language is obviously a huge barrier.  That said, it's been an adventure and a whole lot of fun.

Jodie has already posted some about her life here in Tarakan, so I figured I'd throw in a few pictures of what I've been up to out at the hangar, and beyond, over the past few weeks.

My trusty steed has faithfully transported me to and from the hangar without incident.  It's proven to be quite nimble and adept at zipping between the trucks, taxis, bicycles, pedestrians and swarms of other scooters that haphazardly clutter the narrow streets of Tarakan.  There don't seem to be any real rules of the road around here.  People do tend to stick to the left side of the road, as long as it's convenient, but right-of-way rules?  That sounds complicated.  Who has time for that?  Just swim with the fishies.  For all you mother-types who may be reading this, don't worry, Jodie and Connor don't ride the Hawg with me.  MAF has graciously provided an air-conditioned Toyota for our family transportation needs which is probably much safer, if significantly clumsier in traffic.

Coincidentally, our time in Indonesia has fallen precisely over the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.  We arrived shortly before it began, and we will leave just a couple days after it ends.  Indonesia is the fourth largest country by population and the largest Islamic country by population.  Throughout the day and night, their chanting prayers can be heard blaring through a loudspeaker at a mosque near you.  What a sad reality to live in, to think that you have to do so much, to live so right and pray so perfectly for God to hear your prayers.  Their incessant prayers serve as a continual reminder that we, as the Church, have our work cut out for us to be busy about our Father's business until our Lord's return.

Departing Tarakan's runway 24 for a day of serving the people of the Borneo interior.

As in any tropical environment, weather is always a big factor and must be continually dealt with and evaluated throughout the day.  Convective activity can develop quickly, commanding a healthy respect from the pilot.  Airplanes don't tend to fare too well in thunderstorms.

First stop: Long Nawang

We dropped off a plane load of supplies and teachers for an AWANA training event in Long Bawang.  Much of MAF's flying in Borneo is in support of the local church's training and evangelistic efforts.  None of this kind of activity would be possible without MAF's operations in this region.

Every good flight department is backed by a talented, efficient and professional maintenance department, and MAF-Tarakan is no exception.  I've had the opportunity over the past few weeks to work alongside these guys.  It's been great to jump in and be a part of maintaining an aircraft in the kind of operating environment the Kodiak was designed for.  The Kodiak pictured above, PK-MEB ("Bravo") is the highest time Kodiak in the world, with nearly 2,500 flight hours accrued in the last three years.  That's approximately 70 hours a month of actual airborne time, plying the skies above remote jungle airstrips in the Borneo interior serving people, showing compassion, and building Christ's church.  

"Bravo" is undergoing a phase inspection.  In this picture you can see that the right exhaust stack has been removed, allowing access through the exhaust duct to the back side of the power turbine.  This allows us to perform a borescope inspection of the back side of the engine, the aircraft equivalent to a colonoscopy.  Kinda nice that doctors don't insist on subjecting us to these sorts of procedures every 200 operational hours.  It's rough being an airplane.

The crew door windows on "Bravo" were in need of replacement, so we brought a couple of new windows with us from the States, along with the router (pictured) needed to remove the old windows.

The righthand crew door mounted in place with the new window freshly installed.

This is a quick glance at some of what I've been up to over the past few weeks here in Tarakan.  More to come...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rumah Singgah MAF Tarakan

On Friday, we feel blessed to have been here in Tarakan for the dedication, celebration, and opening of MAF's hospitality house, Rumah Singgah.  MAF frequently flies medical evacuations for small villages in interior Borneo.  Often family members accompany their sick or injured loved one to the Tarakan general hospital.  It can be hard for people to find affordable accommodations close to the hospital once they arrive in Tarakan.  MAF is excited to be able to offer cheap ($1/night) housing right next to the hospital.

Would you join us and MAF in prayer as the doors of Rumah Singgah open? Pray...
  • That the remaining details of care for the house would fall into place (who will clean the house, clean bedding after families leave, etc.)
  • That new relationships would be built, opening opportunities to share the gospel
We have a Great Physician who not only heals the physically sick and hurting but desires all the more to heal people spiritually. May this home be a place of healing, used for the furthering of God's kingdom!
Rumah Singgah MAF Tarakan

The view of the hospital from balcony

MAF Kalimantan Program Manager, Steve Persenaire, beginning the dedication

Ceremonial ribbon cutting

MAF staff and their families gathered to celebrate

After the ribbon cutting, we went to the second floor to gather for a time in the Word, prayer and worship together.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Home Life in Tarakan

A couple people have asked me to share about what I am doing during the day here in Tarakan while Jeremy spends his day at the hanger.  Are you ready for it?  I do the same things here in Indonesia as I do at home in Spokane, which I love.  Sorry that it isn't out of the ordinary, glamorous, or super exciting.  It consists of playing with and caring for Connor, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, walks, laundry, etc.  The beauty of the call to homemaking and motherhood is that I can do it no matter where in the world we are.  Though they are the same activities I do at home in Spokane, some look slightly different here in Tarakan...

Same: Connor loves playing and wiggling around on the floor.
Different: Connor has decided to become more mobile while we're here- lots of rolling around and experimenting with crawling to get where he wants to go.

Same: There is always laundry to be done.
Different: The clothes are hung on the clothes rack or out on the line instead of being thrown into the dryer.  Thus laundry isn't dry in a half an hour.  Sometimes it can take a day or two or more in this humid climate.  Even then it can be a little damp until it has been ironed.  (Yes, I said ironed.  At home, I normally throw things back in the dryer to take out the wrinkles.  Not here.  There is a lot of ironing after each load.  I'm so thankful that the house helper does the ironing!)

 Same: Connor runs all the errands with me.
Different: Instead of being in his car seat or a stroller, he comes along in the front pack.

Same: There are grocery stores and markets.
Different: The stores are much smaller!  Only the bottom floor of the building is the grocery store.  There isn't as much variety in what you can find in the stores.  Also, what you may have found there a couple of days ago may not still be there today.  You never know what you'll find.

Same: We eat some similar foods.
Different: If you can't find it, you make it from scratch.  There aren't a lot of dairy products here, but it is easy to make yogurt out of powdered milk for a good source of dairy and protein.

Same: I make most of my foods from scratch.
Different: There are different, more limited ingredients available as I cook from scratch. 

 Same: I'm not sure what is the same about this picture since we don't have rodents, geckos or even ant problems in our house in Spokane. We are blessed.
Different: I can't let my foods cool on the counter or on the stove top or else the geckos and/or ants will get to the food before we have a chance to enjoy it.  I actually can't leave the kitchen while I'm cooking not even for a minute or I will come back to find something in whatever I'm making.

Same: We have lunch with Jeremy almost every day.
Different: It is close enough for him to come home for lunch. In Spokane, we join him at STC. (As you can see, Connor loves it when daddy comes home in the middle of the day.)

It has been a challenging experience learning how to run a home here in Indonesia yet fun at the same time. The MAF wives have been a huge help and encouragement to me. I have been so thankful for all their help! I'm sure I'll have things better figured out just in time to head back to Spokane. :) 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

One week down...

So just over a week ago, we were wandering around the Jakarta airport with about three more bags than we could reasonably carry, trying to figure out the terminal shuttle system in a tropical downpour, with a collective Indonesian vocabulary of about two dozen words.  Turns out there's an Indonesian word to describe people like us: "bule (pronounced: "buh'-leh")".  Basically, it just means a big, bumbling, clueless white person (probably American).  At least that's the best I can tell.  The Latin American equivalent would be "gringo" and the North American equivalent would be "[insert your name here]".  But that was a week ago.  Seems more like a month ago considering all the new sights, sounds, smells, tastes (chocolate/avocado milkshake, anyone?), and experiences we've had.  It's been great!  A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'm just going to throw in a few pictures and bring you up to speed on our myriad experiences over the past week, in no particular order.

The church we attended on Sunday had a baptism after the service.  Amazing to see the fruits of decades of missions work here on Borneo.  This is what it's all about.

We had a chance to put our tourist hats on and visit an orangutan rehab facility.  Turns out "orangutan" is an Indonesian word: Orang = person from; Utan = the jungle or forest

Connor isn't exactly sure what to think of these tropical downpours.

Connor hanging out with Abetnego, one of the MAF national staff.  Turns out Connor speaks Indonesian just as fluently as English.

Last night, Abetnego took us (Aaron, our MAF host, and myself) out star gazing on the river in this little canoe with a small outboard motor.  We couldn't see the stars so well, but we had a great view of the lightning all around us.  But I must admit, it really was very peaceful to just get out in the middle of the river, cut the engine and enjoy the peace and quiet.  The lightning show was fantastic.  The best part?  If we turned off all our flashlights, we couldn't see the 3" cockroaches scurrying around the hull of our stately vessel.

Another day of flying Borneo's pristine jungle rivers.

Weather adds yet another dimension to flying in Borneo and there was plenty of it on this day.

Adding some fuel at our first stop

The fuel truck

On to the next village with more weather to negotiate.  This leg even featured rock spires poking up through the clouds, just to keep things interesting.

This particular leg we didn't have any passengers.  Just Aaron, myself, and Aaron's spiffy helmet.  Wait... helmet?  Do I get one of those?

We hit a log on the landing here, so I got to check for water in the floats to verify their continued buoyancy.  Check.

More weather.  More rocks.

Adding more fuel.  30 gallons, to be precise.  In five gallon increments, all by hand, on top of the aircraft, over the river.  Oh yeah, and the fuel cans were covered with ants.  And yes, the river sports crocodiles.  This is Borneo.  The dock agent wanted his picture with the "bule".

After a nine hour day, we were on our way home.  One more cloud embankment to pick our way through and we were home free.  If you can't get through the clouds, no problem.  Just land on the river and spend the night in the jungle.  You can always try again tomorrow.

The MAF program here in Palangkaraya is planning on adding an amphibious Kodiak aircraft to their floating fleet.  This is specifically where we at Spokane Turbine Center come in, as we provide the initial transition training for this new aircraft.  Flight days like this highlight the advantages of an airplane like the Kodiak here in Borneo.  The Kodiak has several tools to display terrain (TAWS, terrain overlay, synthetic vision) and weather information (stormscope) which would have been particularly handy today.  It also burns fuel that is much cheaper (jet fuel) and carries more than twice the payload.  Today Aaron and I had to make three shuttle trips between two villages, which the Kodiak could have easily made in a single trip, saving time and money.  It also flies about 35 miles per hour faster and has better takeoff and landing performance on the water than the 50+ year-old aircraft MAF currently operates here.  We are excited to see how STC can partner with MAF-Palangkaraya as they transition to turbine aircraft operations.

Sadly, today was our last day in Palangkaraya.  We have had a fantastic experience here, observing the float plane program and how STC might best serve their future training needs.  Tomorrow we catch our flight to Tarakan, another city on Borneo, to spend four weeks with the MAF program there. We appreciate your prayers as we make the transition.  Three flights and two connections over a span of eight hours.  Who knows what adventures lie ahead?