Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas Day was a ton of fun in Sumatra. It started as most Christmas Days start; the kids wanting to get up before the parents especially Kade and Brooklyn. Now that Sydney is almost a teenager she thinks she should get to sleep in everyday. Even though the kids didn't get a ton of things for Christmas they each liked what they did get. It was actually nice to have a low key Christmas morning. Kathi made some Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls that were so good and that was our morning.

The crazy part of the day came in the afternoon. We had been asked by our church if we would be willing to host the Christmas Celebration at our home. We were more than happy to do it especially considering how Kathi likes to host parties. With the help of our good friends Shane and his son Dylan and our friend Lindsey, we were able to get all of the furniture moved around as well as the the extra chairs and tables moved in for the potluck dinner.

Our church fluctuates between 30-60 people on any given Sunday. We figured we would be safe to plan on about 50 people knowing that some people had gone home for the holiday break. On Christmas Eve we found out that the orphanage was going to be attending as well. That added another 20 or so folks to the mix. So Kathi and I stayed up late that night and cooked a few extra dishes to make sure we had enough food for the added number.

People began showing up at about 3:45 on Christmas. Now our house has a great layout for entertaining because it is an open floor plan. What we hadn't envisioned was the fact that around 115 people showed up for our little get together. We ran out of paper plates and were on to our own dishes by the end. Our Pastor's wife told us that in years past it was always around 30 people who showed up for the Christmas Day service.

Our house was so packed! It was amazing to see everyone in our home and enjoying themselves. We were able to hear a message from our pastor as well as sing Christmas songs and listen to the orphanage children sing and dance. A man in our church sang a rendition of O' Holy Night, a cappella that was amazing. We ended the service portion of the evening with a candle light singing of Silent Night. I am not sure that the Fire Marshal would be too excited about that one but no harm was done.

After that there was dessert and then a ton, and I mean a ton, of pictures taken in front of our Christmas Tree. The local folks here were so enamored with the size of our tree. It will be a shame we won't be able to put it up next year as our house in Stanwood does not have nearly tall enough ceilings. It's memory however will live on in the 400 or so pictures that were taken in front of it that day.

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas as well and we wish you a Happy New Year filled with blessings.

Sydney and her new straight iron. Thanks for the tip, Kerri!

Sydney loves her UW flip flops.

Brooklyn and her new Baby Alive. Thanks, Santa!

The amount of shoes at the half way point.

Full house! This was just part of the front room. People were everywhere!

The kids from the orphanage singing.
The littlest ones were way too interested in playing with Brooklyn's toys to stop and sing!

The Three Wise Men with King Herod.

Joon singing "Holy Night". He is seriously amazing.

A few of our new friends from Iran and Sri Lanka.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Day

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

James 1:27

I am sure some of you saw my facebook challenge. We need to raise some rent to help these kids get in a new safe home. John and I are looking for six people who are willing to pay $333.00 to cover two months rent for this orphanage. We will match the first six people. This will allow the orphanage to be in a safe building rent free for two years. If you feel the call to help please email me at and I will give you the details. We will gladly accept any size of donation and will match it dollar for dollar up to the needed amount.

The pictures below are of the current orphanage. They have been asked to leave the building because the owner would like to sell it. Can you imagine someone wanting to buy it? Obviously, I will not sleep well till they are in a safe home with better conditions.

John and I are hoping to find a church or a non profit that would be willing to adopt this orphanage. If you have any connections please let me know. This is a Christian orphanage and as you can imagine it is not easy for them for many reasons. I wish I could explain to you in words how amazing these kids are. They are extremely talented and smart. They are constantly singing praise song. Being around them reminds me a bit of the VanTrap family in The Sound of Music.

The orphanage can not give them a lot of material things but they are giving them a firm solid Christian foundation. If you have ever wanted to make a difference for Christ in a country he is not readily accepted here is your chance. Please join me in praying for these amazing kids. I hope to introduce you to them over the next few weeks.

Kade with his buddy Joseph.

Everyone helps out with the new baby Samuel.


Living Area.

Study area and doors to the bedrooms.

The bathroom.

The Stove.

The kitchen.

The open well just outside their main living area.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Water Hazard!

On Friday my friend Shane and I headed out to a really nice golf course here in PKU called Labersa. It is a great course that I had been wanting to play for a long time. It is pretty spendy so I have not done it yet since I can play our course on camp for $3 U.S. pretty much any time I want. However on Fridays Labersa now has a 1/2 price promotion that finally lured me in.

While the course was great, my golf game, less so. On the 12th hole I hit my tee shot into a water hazard, of which this course has many. After I dropped and finished out the hole I saw that my ball had come to rest on a little sand peninsula at the edge of the water. I hustled around to the other side of the hazard so I could walk out and retrieve the ball, after all it was a Titleist! It was just sitting there waiting for me to go and get it. The peninsula looked just like what you would see when the tide recedes on the beach.

I was anxious to get the ball quickly so Shane and I could keep going. I failed to test the consistency of what I was about to walk on and low and behold I sank thigh deep into essentially quicksand. Boy was I surprised! It was quite the shock. I was able to get myself out but was covered in sandy mud. I am sure the shock on my face was pretty funny. My caddy drove me back to building which had a water spicket and I proceeded to rinse myself off. My shoes were completely full of mud and socks were not the color of my skin not the white they should have been. Bless my caddy's heart, she didn't laugh at me even though I was laughing at myself. Luckily the only people to see it where Shane and the caddies. I am sure they had a good laugh back at the caddy shack about the boule who fell in the mud.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gingerbread Houses 2011

On our Trip to KL we hit up Ikea for a few things. One of the items was three Gingerbread House kits. Last night we had dinner with two families at our house. The food was provided by our friends Shane and Wendy and was awesome, especially Wendy's homemade ice cream! As you may recall, ice cream here does not melt and doesn't taste quite right so the homemade version is always appreciated.

After dinner each family decorated their gingerbread house. There was some major creativity happening from the kids. They all worked very intently and made the houses look really great. It absolutely made it seem more like Christmas around here. The absence of cold weather and snow tend not to give off the Christmas vibe.

I am not sure if you noticed that I left out the part about the construction of the homes. There is a reason for that. When we opened up the kits the day before everyone came over we saw that each of the kits had broken walls and/or roofs. I am not sure if this happened prior to our buying them or when we hand-carried them home with us, but never the less we needed to do some repair work.

The broken gingerbread would not be something that icing would fix so we needed to find a little stronger bonding agent. Enter: the hot glue gun. Kathi took to the remodeling much like Bob Villa attacks "This Old House" and in no time the pieces were ready to be used for construction; minus the fact that they were no longer edible and they were not as structurally sound as before.

Fast-forward to the day of the dinner and I was tasked with constructing all three houses while Kathi and the kids took in a movie in beautiful downtown PKU. I started with the hot glue gun since it had worked so magically before, not to mention the moisture in the air here makes the icing harder to work with because it doesn't harden as quickly. The problem with the hot glue for construction was that the glue kept drying too fast when you needed to apply large amounts. This meant that I was going to have to make icing for the construction and hope for it to work.

I took to making Royal Icing (as I found out it is called. I love the internet.) It was pretty easy to make which was good. The bad part was that it took a lot of it to make all three houses. It took me 2 and a half hours, and several more reconstructions to get them all together. I thought that it took a long time to do but that it was not too difficult. However when Kathi came home she asked me what happened as she saw me covered in powdered sugar and dried icing all over my shirt and pants. I told her all went well and that all the great bakers get a little messy. I am not sure she bought it.

There was a difference in quality of construction for each one. One was like the little gingerbread man who lived in the gated community, one was constructed like it was in a nice sub-division and then there was the one that looked like it was straight out of the projects. That was to be the Getzinger home. Hope you like the pictures!

We bought local candy to use for decorations. There was one particular type which smelled like stinky feet. No one would eat it after smelling it but Brooklyn. She said it tasted really good. We took her at her word.

Check out Santa coming out of the chimney. Hudson made that out of a gingerbread man. Quite a talented young artist.

Our array of candy decorations.

The weight of the decorations caused the Ghetto Home to collapse.

The finished products.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

I am not sure many of you know this about me, but I LOVE to wrap gifts. I could do it all day everyday for a 100 years. OK, well I might be exaggerating just a bit. But I seriously would quit my job if I could make a career out of it. Secretly, I have always wished to work in the gift wrap department at a major department store. Oh...what fun I could have wrapping gifts all day. Who knows maybe one day I will open my own business purchasing gifts for busy executives.

Wrapping gifts in Sumatra is a lot more difficult than wrapping in the States. I like to think of it as "extreme" wrapping. It is an adventure from start to finish. First you have to hunt down the paper. Since Christmas is not celebrate by 98% of the people in Sumatra it makes finding paper a lot more challenging. When you do find it, its not exactly what we would consider Christmas chic. Think something more in line with a traveling carnival.

I am sure some of you now understand why I drug John all over Malaysia looking for wrapping paper. Poor guy! He never knew what he was getting himself into when he married me and my gift wrapping obsession. Till death do us part, right. ;0}

Evidently no one in Asia uses ribbon because it was MIA. I only saw ribbon at one store and it was definitely not what I was looking for. The term I think best describes it is "bedazzled". Luckily, I saved a good chunk of last year's ribbon. I had exactly enough to get some form of a bow on each of the kids gifts. It's not my best work but under the conditions it was the best I could do.

Once I had all my materials it was time to wrap. Wrapping paper doesn't come in giant Costco size rolls here in Indonesia. The rolls are tiny just about enough to wrap on small size shirt box. I had five rolls of that to cover all our gifts. One of the gifts is round which added an extra challenge to mix.

Remember in Geometry class when you thought yourself "I don't know why we have to learn this stuff. I will never use it again." Well, I was wrong. Mr. Carlson you were right. I did use my geometry skills. This task was made more difficult by the weight of my paper. Think rice paper or working with wet tissue paper. Not the easiest conditions but for a few of us extreme wrappers its what we live for.

The best part was that I do not have a scotch tape dispenser. I only had the roll of tape and the beginning was constantly getting lost. As difficult as it was I enjoyed every second of it. I know that Christmas is not about the wrapping or the gifts but I am sure thankful that God blessed us with coordinating ribbon and heavy weight wrapping paper. :0)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas BREAK

The official first day of Christmas break started today. Sleeping in this morning was lovely. We had a lazy day just hanging around the house. We did make a quick trip into town looking for cat litter. Who would have guessed it would be so hard to find.

Last Friday John surprised me with a quick trip to Kuala Lumpur. It worked out perfect because Friday was a half day of school so we caught a four O'clock flight to Malaysia. It's about a fifty minute flight so with the time change we were checked into our hotel and out Christmas shopping by 7:00 pm.

John and I have become quite familiar with KL. It is a wonderfully modern city that is easy to navigate around. For me it was a bit of paradise and a big breath of fresh air. I probably more than anyone, get completely stir crazy living in camp. Malaysia has an IKEA and I love walking around looking at familiar items. The Ikea in Seattle is just like the one in Malaysia and I love that.

The best part was that they had live Christmas trees which smelled amazing. John and I probably looked ridiculous standing in the isle smelling the trees. One of the reasons I had wanted to stop at IKEA was to buy wrapping paper but they had already sold out. I did find some at Toys-R-Us. Yep, they even have those in Kuala Lumpur. I wish it had US prices. It is EXPENSIVE!

We topped off our evening out with dinner at Bubba Gumps. All I can say is YUM! Saturday morning John and I got up early and headed out for round 2 to do some grocery shopping. We have a favorite Chinese market that we go to called Ampang Grocery. They carry a lot of imported items. We managed to wipe out our entire shopping list except for one item, tarragon, which they only sold in kilo size. A Kilo of a grassy like substance is not what you want to try and get through customs in Pekanbaru! Overall not to bad.

After an hour flight delay we were headed back to Sumatra. The kids were excited to see all the stuff we brought back with us and we were excited for the mini-vacation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Visit with Santa

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Orphanage Christmas Performance

Last night John and I went to a Christmas party for the Insan Permata orphanage. This orphanage is very different from the ones we experienced in China. Insan Permata is run by a Christian couple. They have been taking in children for the last ten years. It is run more like a family and less like an institution. The program the kids put on was so much fun. They are a very talented bunch.

Currently they have about 16 children living at the orphanage from age 3 weeks to 15 years old. Remember when I told you about the song "I Refuse?" Well this is the couple that comes to mind for me every time I hear it. They are living it every minute of every day. They live completely by faith. Each day they are dependent on God's provisions and each day God provides. As you can imagine having 16 children under your care can be stressful and the financial demand over-whelming.

We learned that the orphanage has some significant immediate needs. Currently the orphanage is in a home where they are able to stay rent-free. However, the owner of the home has decided he would like to sell it. Obviously, that creates a huge problem for the orphanage. The way rent works in Indonesia is that you have to pay it all up front. That means they will need to raise approximately $4000.00 in the next few months.

If you have an idea or a connection with a non profit or church that might be interested in getting involved PLEASE let me know. I am sure we will be posting more details about our progress in helping them in future blog posts.

Singing by candle light.

Could she be any sweeter?

Check out those tiny dancers. They could not have been older than three!

Monkeys in the Rain

Monday, December 12, 2011

PYP Kazoozing Christmas

Saturday night we had our youth group over for a Christmas party. It was so much fun. I haven't laughed that much in a long time. We started out the evening with a white elephant gift exchange. Pekanbaru is the perfect place to purchase "treasures" for an exchange. I have to say one of my favorites was a plastic tweety bird figurine that chirped. It was wonderfully terrible.

After the gift exchange the real festivities started. The kids each drew a number as part of the white elephant exchange. After the exchange the kids were asked to put on a Christmas costume. The costumes were each given a number and they had to wear the costume that matched their number. The kids were great sports about it.

If that wasn’t enough Christmas festivities we topped off the evening Kazoo caroling. Yep, its what you are thinking ... Christmas caroling with Kazoos.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just as He planned

Saturday afternoon was the day that Barry, another teacher here, as well as a member of our church, loaded up a van and drove an hour out to a tiny Christian community to deliver soccer balls, cookies, candy and juice for a Christmas party. It was quite an experience, one I will never forget to be sure. It was also one that really opened my eyes to the persecution that Christians face here.

We traveled to the other side of the city from where we are located and then out into the countryside. The roads become progressively worse in condition and you could tell that this was a very impoverished place. Living in a country like this you see levels of poverty and this was by far the least desirable living conditions I had seen so far. Many of the homes were wood shelters with thatched roofs. As you went along you see that the hillsides are being dug away for the dirt and clay that is being used by these people for making bricks, their lot in life.

Just to illustrate what these people struggle is like they must make 10,000 bricks a day, six days a week. All for $3 US a day. Oh, and if they take a break for water or a snack, it comes out of their pay for that day. This particular group of people is a "tribe" that is discriminated against and considered of a lower class. Tack onto that the fact that they are Christian and that is quite a few obstacles they have to deal with. In fact if they were Muslim things would be much easier for them in many regards. Their level of acceptance would be much higher within the larger community.

In fact one of the places you can see the persecution the most is in the picture of the brick structure below. Most things in Indonesia are run with local, neighborhood governments. The church asked for and received permission from the local government to build the brick church which they started and actually finished putting up right next to the shack they use now for their church services. When they were finishing up the building the local government, nervous that this new building could lead to people being converted to Christianity from the predominate religion here, changed their mind and now said that in order for the church to use the new building they needed to have 50 families (with the proper paperwork stating they were Christians) in the community fill out paperwork stating they were part of this church. Well there are only 30 families attending this church now and it will be next to impossible for 20 new families to move into this impoverished area who are Christians in the near future. Now as we have seen prior, nothing is impossible with God so we will pray that either more families come or that the local government softens its stance.

When we got to the to the church Barry and I thought we going to be hanging out at a Christmas party but it was much more than that. About that time we saw 130 or so folks crammed inside this church, which was literally a shack, we were handed a paper with an order of service for a Christmas Program, in Bahasa of course:). I turned to our pastor's wife who had shown us the way and helped organize all of this and said, "I didn't know there was going to be a service?" She apologized for leaving out that little detail. No worries, other than the fact that all of these kids and people were in their best outfits for this special occasion and Barry and I were in Shorts, T-shirts, and hats.

We were all given preferential seating at the front of the Church where we started off our service with Hark the Herald Angels Sing (In Bahasa). Luckily for us the program had the words on it so we could sing along in the proper language. Next was scripture readings, and more songs. Then each of the grade levels from 1st-5th grade came up and had a little speaking part. Later they came up and told the Christmas story complete with Baby Jesus, Mary and the three Wise Men(although to ensure there everyone got a part I counted four Wise Men).

After that Barry and I were brought up to be part of lighting the advent candles. This was a very big honor for us. As you can see in the picture farther down the page, they have no Christmas tree, but instead the best they could do was a wood structure that looks somewhat like a tree with candles on it. When we were standing up there lighting the candles and singing “Silent Night” I got chills. It was a very moving experience for me. Being there celebrating the birth of Christ with these people who clearly are passionate about Him was pretty humbling. Being a Christian in my world is a piece of cake compared to what these people have to endure. Yet here we all were rejoicing in our Savior. I am not sure if “pretty special” is an accurate description.

There was then a sermon and a final song. After that…soccer balls!

Once the service was over Barry and I brought in the bags of soccer balls. You should have seen the smiles and huge eyes on these kid’s faces. They were so excited. As Kathi wrote in the prior post these kids normally get things they need on Christmas from our church, pencils, crayons, notebooks. Things they enjoy but not something with a wow factor. Soccer Balls here in Indonesia, in this community, is a WOW factor. As we handed them out the smiles were priceless. Some of them kept turning them over and over as if they couldn’t believe what they were holding was real. Boys and girls alike were slack jawed at the balls. After the balls were handed out came cookies and then candy and juice.

Once that was over they actually gave us a gift. They handed us a box with water, and some food. The food was handed to all people there. If God had not provided those soccer balls this would have been the only gift they received for Christmas. Can you imagine your Christmas present being water and some rice wrapped in a banana leaf? Kind of puts things in perspective, huh?

We want to thank all of you who were praying about this and we hope you like seeing the pictures. I would also like to thank our Pastor’s wife for taking us there and setting up the logistics. Thanks to Barry for going with me, Wendy for storing our cookies, Shane for helping with the soccer balls, Mrs. M. for helping the PYP kids bake our cookies, the PYP kids for putting all the balls and bags together and our secret Santa who donated money to get those balls. Merry Christmas!

The kids holding up their soccer balls.

One of the storage buildings for the bricks and apparently a rooster's paradise.
Bricks waiting to go to market.

The earth they are taking to build the bricks. The landscape is pretty desolate after this. Think strip mining.

The houses are just like this only with scrap wood for walls.

The Christmas tree/advent candle.

The front of the Church.

Getting ready for the service.

Standing room only.

These kids were so cute reading poems they had written.

Grade three students sharing Bible verses.

Middle school students speaking.

The four wise men?

The lighting of the Advent candles.

The candle light service.

The little boxes with red contained the water and rice.

Some happy kids!

The church staff.

This is the building they cannot use until they get 50 families registered as church goers. The white shack on the right is the building they are in now.

One of the homes.

Some homemade chicken coops.