Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 will be remembered 
as the one where I made 80 rolls with CJ's help so that everyone could have four rolls each (Madi's personal request.)
It will be remembered 
as the one I worked. For the first time in my life, I worked on Thanksgiving day. I taught English to my wonderful 9th graders at Jakarta International School.
It will be remembered 
as the one where I scrambled to collect Madi, Tman, and Meya from school during one of my breaks, loaded them in the car with our driver, and sent them home early so they could enjoy time with Dad.
And it will be remembered 
as the one with the torrential downpour. 
After two hours of hard rain, the main road to our housing complex flooded and was consequently closed.
So our sweet friends (Barkers and Prendergasts) endured more than double the normal commute time to reach our house. 
"Over the River..." has a new meaning.

But once everyone arrived safely, we unloaded the food, gave thanks, and piled our plates.

 Pictured below, our friend, Owen Prendergast, enjoyed all the sides.

We had two kids' tables, and one adult table. Madi is not pictured below because she finally graduated from the kids' table to the adult table this year. 
I loved having a bustling, over-flowing house full of people. It helped me not get too lonely or homesick for friends and family who are far away.

I found a poem by Emily Dickinson about Thanksgiving:

One Day is there of the Series
Termed Thanksgiving Day.
Celebrated part at Table
Part in Memory.

The poem is longer, but this is the stanza I've been thinking about all day. It's true. Thanksgiving is split. It is celebrated at the table with friends who are present. But Memory plays a large part in the celebration. So on this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for friends who braved the Jakarta floods to reach my house. And I'm also grateful for friends and family with whom I've celebrated in years past. And finally, I'm thankful for family who is no longer here. My grandparents. My great aunts and uncles. Memories of them adds a tenderness to my Thanksgiving celebration. It is the joy of the present and the heart-string-tugs of the past that make Thanksgiving meaningful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stake Conference

Stake Conference is a regional church meeting that happens twice a year. Because of living in Jakarta, more than half of the service is in Bahasa Indonesian. Here we are listening to the translation (which puts a whole new spin on the experience). I am so grateful to the translators. My favorite line today broadcast over the live feed was from a missionary: "Louder? I have to be louder?"
There is something powerful in joining voices to sing hymns in Indonesian. I've been singing these songs since I was little. The melodies are the same, the messages are the same, only the language is different. To hear them in another language and add my voice, makes my heart soar. "Come come ye Saints..."
 CJ loved wearing the headset. Certainly helped with the sitting-still factor.
I am grateful for these experiences. For the combination of the familiar and the new. Tradition and the culture. But mostly, I am grateful for the world-wide church, where the teachings and Spirit is the same, no matter where we are.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Hike

We almost didn't go on this hike. Friday night we held an emergency family council to debate. "Too hot..too far away...too buggy" were just a few of the excuses. In the end, we voted. And by a slim 3 to 4 count, the majority spoke, and our course was set.

Just an hour drive out of Jakarta, we turned off the highway to drive the narrow roads. I stopped to talk to this "Ibu" who was drying her rice harvest on the side of the road.
The rice field spread out behind her like a lake of emerald green until it met the base of the mountain.

We hiked up the mountain. Villages peeked through the tree tops. The path snaked passed homes, chicken coups, and village mosques.

Clean laundry decorated backyards and front patios like cheerful flags.
My kids had their moments of squabbling over who was the leader or how fast/slow we were/should be going. We even had a critical point where we were clearly no longer on the path and had to turn around. As seen below: some are happy, some, not so much.

Crossing a fragile bamboo bridge felt very dangerous in an adventurous Indiana Jones way. And suddenly all was forgiven and happy again.
And then the reward: a natural swimming hole, complete with a Tarzan vine for swinging and jumping. 
There are very few things in life that I regret doing...the regrets I have are mostly over things I didn't do and should have. Today was a good reminder of this. Had we not come, I would have missed out on not just the beauty of Indonesia, but this memory with my family. I would have missed the sounds of their laughter echoing off the rocks, the splashing, the feel of the warm sun on my back as it dried my wet clothes, and holding CJ's hand as we navigated the slippery rocks together.

Some days, happiness is tangible. 
This day, on a river in the middle of the Indonesian jungle, happiness was a tangible as it gets.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

God Bless America

Tonight, in Jakarta, we celebrated being American.

 With hotdogs...
 ...and apple pie.

Here's what I want to remember about this day:

I felt a deep homesickness today. Not for Virginia (though I miss Virginia so much!). Not for my friends and family (who I miss even more!). But for America...for the excitement and privilege of going to the polls in person and being present on election day.

The pulse of the students at Jakarta International School was lively as we watched the results unfold.
I stood side by side teachers and watched the big screen tv during my breaks. We marveled together at how close each state's race was (closer than most expected.)
I saw students clustered around laptops, yelling out results as they were posted.
My students requested periodic updates during class time.
There was a tangible interest in the outcome of this election, not just by the Americans, but by the world. And I need to remember that the general, overwhelming desire by non-Americans was in support of Obama. Obama has been embraced by the world.

I am so grateful for my freedom and my citizenship in a country I dearly love.
And that is worth celebrating.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Grandad and Nana Came to Indonesia!!
This was no small undertaking. After 48 hours of travel, including two twelve-hour layovers, they arrived safely in Jakarta. Considering this was their first overseas experience, I wasn't sure how they'd do. 
But they were tough, adventurous, and we had so much fun with them.
 The Ambassador's house at Merisole was our first stop. I love this picture of Nana and CJ playing their own version of outdoor ping pong. In addition to ping pong, we played badminton, croquet, and tag. And we enjoyed hikes, walks, and runs in the clean air.
We toured the gardens. 
CJ fell in the river (the slime factor was pretty gross). Leasie looks like she's going to throwup, but if you look closely, O is laughing pretty hard.
As always, Taman Safari was a hit! I love the screams and giggles as animals entered our car window.

 We also did a whirlwind 24 hour trip to Yogyakarta. It was an hour flight from Jakarta to central Java. This was the first time I had been there.

We toured the Water Castle which was a swimming area in the 1700s for the previous Indonesian Sultan and his 35 wives. While it was calm and serene during our tour, the guide informed us that it was quite a frolicking place when in use.

 Here, Nana looks on as a woman applies wax in the traditional Batik method of dyeing fabric.
 My favorite stops were to the two temples. Prambanan is a Hindu temple. 
 The reliefs depict Hindu teachings and stories.

The next morning we walked from the hotel to the Borobudur Buddist temple. From a distance, the temple appeared to be a small city, clustered on a hilltop. But the entire, colossal structure is man-made. 

There definitely was an "awe" factor here. The jungle. The morning mist. The scale. Even the gaggle of school kids could not lessen the feeling of peace and ancient beauty.

 Some lists include Borobudur as a wonder of the world. It certainly is one of the most amazing structures I've seen. Built in the 9th century, the temple is constructed of black volcanic stone forming four levels. Each level contains a perimeter walkway surrounded by stone carvings. 
We climbed the stone stairs to the top and were rewarded with a 360 degree view of the mountains and countryside.  
 I am so grateful to have shared these "Wonders" with Nana and Grandad!