We have been in Indonesia for six months today! It's a little hard to believe. In some ways it feels like it's been much longer, and in other ways it's gone so quickly. In short, we love living here.
A few highlights of the past six months:
Tropical paradise. And, by tropical paradise standards our town is nice and cool. It's a pretty amazing mix. The scenery makes road trips, trips out exploring our area, and just walking through our neighborhood an experience of awe and worship. Of course, sometime it means there are snakes in the bathroom. It's a give and take.
Our neighborhood. It's a village atmosphere but it's really close to town. It feels like we're surrounded by jungle even though there are houses all around. Right around us are lychee, banana, papaya, mango, coconut, rambutan, and tapioca trees. People are always chatting on porches or working in front yards while kids play in the alleys.
Saturday mornings with pancake breakfasts and swimming. Now that it's the rainy season we don't go swimming anymore, but most weekends a local restaurant serves a Western style breakfast that is so nice to take part in after a week of language school classes. For Isaac it all boils down to one thing: they serve bacon. In a muslim country, that's a rare blessing.
Ibu Christiani and Pak Muliono. They're a couple that moved to this city a couple of years ago, so they are also new to the neighborhood and are Christians and grandparents. A couple of times a week we end up sitting on their porch chatting about life and culture and faith while they play with Elly (who they absolutely adore). We are super thankful for them.
Ibu Natalia and Sumarsih. They watch our kids and help around the house while we're in school. Because of them we have time for intense language-learning focus every morning. And because of them our kids are cared for, doted on, immersed in Indonesian, and are starting to learn it for themselves. We really wish we could take them both with us to Papua!
Language school. We really like our school and learning the Indonesian language. It's actually fun! And it helps that the instructors are great people who joke around and provide us with invaluable cultural insight. They're pretty amazing.
Adventuring around Central Java. During the short breaks between units of language school we often take a trip to see something in Central Java, usually historical spots. We've been to see a number of the oldest temples in Java, which are up high in the mountains where it's cool and beautiful.
Language School Friends. It's pretty cool to go to a school filled with Americans, Koreans, Chinese, South Africans, Germans, Dutch, and the list goes on. Although our backgrounds are diverse, we are sharing the experience of entering into this new culture. We will scatter out to various cities and islands after we're done with language school, and we will miss them all!
Motorcycles. We love driving around on them. Like, we REALLY love driving around on them. Even when we went out on a date and ended up driving home through a tropical downpour soaked to the bone... even that was fun!
Ibu Lilis and Pak Can. These are our backdoor neighbors and the only Christian family that has lived in our neighborhood for a long time. They are laborers who live in a shack, but their faith is vibrant, and they're often the ones who tell us when something is going on in the neighborhood, how we should dress, and what is polite.
Pizza. It just so happens that the closest actual restaurant to us is also the most authentic Western-style restaurant in town. When we are overwhelmed it's a place to retreat, AND it has a corner for kids to play in.
Pak Bambang. Isaac meets with Bambang twice a week for tutoring. The only problem is, Bambang (a grad student) is kind of a nerd too. They usually start talking about grammar (which they both love) and end up talking about history, politics, or theology. It's really great practice for Isaac to have deeper conversations like this in Indonesian, and it's really fun to develop that sort of relationship with an Indonesian friend.
Neighborhood Events. Since life revolves around the neighborhood, there's always something going on! There is a monthly meeting for all the men and another one for all the women. There's a free monthly local kids' clinic where kids are weighed and measured and charted to see if they're growing normally. There have also been several neighborhood parades, an all-night shadow puppet performance, "spirit" dancing (we didn't attend this one... it involves spirit possession), weddings, funerals... there's never a dull moment.
We praise the Lord that our first six months here have been so great, and we hope the next six months are just as exciting.