Well shortly after my return from Nabire the Lord answered Julie’s prayer while I was away. She was praying that she would stay healthy until I returned, and she did. But not 2 days after my return Julie was spending her first night in a local Merauke hospital. She woke up Saturday morning with stomach pain. Thinking it was something she ate we didn’t think to much of it. However, Sunday morning rolled around and the pain was still there and possibly worse. Fearing it could be as bad as a ruptured appendix we went to the emergency. The doctor there did their checks but it being Sunday and the following day was a holiday there was no one to run the ultrasound machine. So they admitted her and started her on some antibiotics and pain meds for the night. The next day the ultrasound revealed gallbladder stones which came as a relief as surgery was still likely, but no longer emergency like a ruptured appendix would be. So after one more night to finish the antibiotic treatment we went home to start looking into the next step to bringing health back to Julie. Indonesian local hospitals are set up a bit different in that someone stays with the patience. So the kids had two nights at home without mom and dad. Thankfully the house was still standing and we still had 3 kids when we got home. As we started to work through the process of getting pre approval for the next step, the next challenge arose. Thursday evening the fiber-optic line that brings life to all of Telkomsel’s forms of communication broke somewhere in the ocean. Cell phones, landline (not that there are many of those anymore), and internet all dead. At first not knowing how long this was going to be we waited until Sunday morning before making further plans. However, in the meantime Julie is not really getting any better. So using our newly installed sat tracker in the airplane (it’s a pretty cool device that can send emails and text messages) I was able to communicate with leadership in Sentani and the plan was made for us to travel to Sentani on Monday morning provided I could get tickets. There is another cellular provider in Merauke but due to the large overload on their system as everyone switched, this also became unreliable a good part of the time. Monday morning came and knowing that communications was difficult I went directly to the airport thinking I could purchase tickets directly from the airline. Yep, no go, the airlines don’t sell tickets direclty. Our usual travel agent doesn’t open until 9:00am and the plane departs at 9:30am so I guess we’ll have to go on Tuesday instead. Well as I was going home to tell the family to stand down we will need to wait another day I noticed a travel agent office open on the side of the road not far from home. So on a whem I whipped in and asked. Lion was full but he was going to check Garuada. So about 20 mins. later he called and confirmed that there were still seats available. I met him out front of the Garuada customer service office and handed him some cash and he texted me our booking number and we were off, well almost. Next came check in which reminded me of days long ago when people would hand write out boarding passes and luggage tags. Yes, that is correct, hand written boarding passes and luggage tags for all the passengers, my hand hurts just thinking about it. Then to top it off the last security check stop’s xray machine was broken so TSA was hand inspecting every piece of carry on? On a slight side note if you tell them someone in your party is ill you have to get examined before boarding the plane. So knowing what Julie had I didn’t want the hassle nor have her poked and probe anymore than needed. Julie did well putting on a good face walking through the airport not to get noticed that she was ill. By the time we got to Sentani however she was done.
In Sentani Julie was seen by Dr Di, she is such a blessing to have here in Papua. After seeing Dr. Di we made plans to get Julie to Jakarta for what most likley would be surgery. And at this point we could continue to communicate with insurance again as Sentani was not effected by our fiber-optic line break. Giving Julie an extra day of rest before travelling again we departed to Jakarta Thursday morning and again Julie did good getting to the gate. The trip however was pretty hard on her especially the taxi ride in Jakarta. From the airport we went directly to the hospital for Julie’s appointment. I think there were some strange looks as this family of bule’s (foreigners) walking into the hospital will all their luggage in tow. The kids did well watching our bags and playing on their tablets while I worked through the paper work and Julie did her best weathering the pain and uncomfortable waiting area chairs. Thankfully the Dr. admitted Julie into the hospital that afternoon so no more taxi rides for her until after the surgery. Friday (another holiday as well) morning Julie had her MRI and at which time the need for surgery was confirmed and scheduled for the following morning. Saturday morning Julie had her surgery which went well. Only a little stress for me as the Dr. tried to connect with us while we were at lunch and upon our return from lunch the Dr. was unavailable leaving me unaware of how the surgery went. And as one sits in a small waiting room for what seems like forever, one’s mind starts thinking unpleasant thoughts of worse case scenarios, or maybe that is just me that does that. Julie was released from the hospital on Monday. She is still doing well, gaining strength and stamina daily. We took advantage of the last two days in Jakarta and tried to take a bit of vacation. It’s interesting on days off how easily the rest of and relaxation can be quickly diminished with news of a stressful event back on base. I’ll leave the details of this out. Now as I finish up writing this blog we are in Sentani for a couple days to break up the trip and also have a few extra hours with internet access before heading back to Merauke. All in all the experience wasn’t too bad, good time of learning too trust more deeply in the One Who loves us more than we can ever image.
Blessings and thanksgiving from the Doles.
Just a quick few pictures of Estronamba from the last couple days of flying out of our Nabire base. Heading back home on Friday.
Last week I had the privilege of landing in an area that possibly never had an airplane before. We heard about a local pastor’s wife that was having labor difficulties. The area where they live has a section of the river that is challenging enough that checkout with an instructor pilot is required. However, using Google earth, we were able to find a section of river that would give enough margin and similar in length to another post that I had recently been checked out in. Poepe (-7.662095, 139.662926) is where they were from. Yawimu where we picked them up (-7.824544, 139.668902) to (-7.821953, 139.661793) landing area (-7.824322, 139.675490) the dock. The coordinates in the parentheses if copied and pasted into Google maps or Google earth should bring you to the locations. The larger pictures below were taken with my phone at the dock where we met the mother and father. Yes, the baby was delivered while they were en-route to Yawimu on the river in a boat or what some people would more likely consider a canoe (likely something similar in the smaller picture or in the webpage header).
Even though the baby had already been born they still requested to be taken to the city for a checkup and since we were there it made sense to do so. There was no cell service once they left Poepe to cancel the plane after the delivery. For my sake I’m glad the baby was delivered safely on the boat/canoe rather than in the back of the airplane. Not sure I’m ready for that yet. For the mothers though reading this, maybe the back of an airplane would be nicer than a small boat on a river? Next week I will be taking them back home or at least far as Yawimu, from there they will take the 3 hour boat/canoe ride back to their home.
During a routine flight to Kepi I recently pickup a young man and his mother from Kepi. I’m not sure what he was suffering from, it may have been Dengue Fever which had is bad enough in normal circumstances. If I understood correctly he had been suffering from it for a month by this time, which I don’t think is normal 1-2 weeks typically I believe. Dengue it’s not fun, just ask my kids (I found out this week that the boy was diagnosed with leukemia, not dengue as was mentioned while picking him up). Anyway I started out at a mid range altitude 7500′. However about mid way back (1hr flight) a lot of noise and commotion erupted from the back. The weather wasn’t the greatest that day either so I needed to keep focused on the flying. Our non-flying crew member Bobby (so thankful for having him on board) was able to communicate with me that a lower altitude would be better so down we go 5500′ or 3500′ I don’t remember which but anyway things started to settle down a bit after leveling off briefly at the lower altitude, before continuing down for arrival. It was also a bit of work for Bobby to get everyone involved back in their seats with seat-belts on for landing, again very thankful for having him on board to help in situations like this. Later I learned that the commotion had started when the boy had stopped breathing. Thankful for God’s grace allowing us to arrive back in Merauke with everyone on board still breathing.
Lots of other routine flights being carried out, serving the south coast communities here in Papua. And a few special flights that were routine in nature but special because of the individuals we were serving. However to keep this blog from getting too long winded I’ll save those stories of the special guests and their flights for another time.
Both Greg and I grew up in places that always turn cold and normally white for Christmas. And if I was being honest that was about the only time that I actually liked having snow. So as we prepared for our first Christmas here in Merauke that was one of the many little things about the holiday that we missed. Thankfully, we started to see a little more rain coming our way as we drew closer to Christmas which after having a time of dryness here it was just as special.
The kids jumped right into helping decorate the house, helped with shopping, and had lots of ideas about things to bake. Since this was our fourth Christmas in Indonesia the kids had lots of different things that they want to do. Somethings that they remember from Canada really came forward this year. And we added some Indonesia traditions as well to our celebration. I will admit that this can sometimes get stressful as we try to celebrate one holiday with two very different cultures wrapped into one day. While the kids and I were busy at the house all the guys at the hanger were trying to keep up with all the flight request that kept coming in. Normally, this is the time of year that the people want to come to the city in order to celebrate with family and friends.
This year our family was able to host our MAF Merauke Christmas party at our house. This is one of the blessings of having a small team of expats and national staff. The kids enjoyed preparing for this time with extra decorations, offering to taste test anything that I was baking, and helped with extra cleaning. The evening of our celebration we were all blessed to hear from one of the missionaries, who we serve here from Merauke. She spoke about her work in the community of Kotiak. Later each family had sometime to share the blessings God had provided to each of our families this past year. And of course there was a variety of food like a selection of chicken, fish and beef too, And it would not be a true Indonesia party without some nasi kunning and nasi putih, (yellow and white rice). Mixed in with some Christmas baking that has been popping up in our kitchen lately.
Christmas Eve found our family laughing at funny skits, singing songs, and enjoying fellowship with our local Indonesia church that we attend. Then after the service their was a tasty meal and a time of photos with people. The kids enjoyed playing with other children and watching fireworks that were going off around town as we waiting to get out of the parking lot. We were one of the first ones there which meant that we were totally boxed in for awhile.
Christmas morning found our family enjoying a time of opening gifts and talking to family through Skype which actually worked really well. Then our family opened our house up for a time of fellowship with any friends and neighbors that wanted to come for a visit. And we were blessed with have some of our new friends stop in and see us in our home for the very first time. And Jaclynn had some of her friends come to our door which lead to a few hours of playing with them. Then the next day we heading to different peoples house and had the chance to visit with them in their homes.
It was a wonderful time of fellowship and way to much eating as it is not polite to not eat things that are laid in front of you. We would always like to thank everyone one of you for all of those amazing Christmas emails that you sent. And our children (especially Isaac) loved seeing all the snow/winter pictures that were including in those emails. We hope that you all have a blessed New Year and looking forward to what God has in store for all of us in this coming year.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Greg, Julie, Franklin, Isaac, & Jaclynn.
Well after a wonderful family vacation, we have returned refreshed and ready to get back to daily living here in Merauke.
For the first time anyone could remember, this past week MAF Indonesia stopped all operations across the country. To gather all the technicians (pilots, mechanics & IT), for 4 days full of meetings and reports. I’m not much of a meeting kind of guy so that part, well let’s just leave it at that regarding how the meetings went. My highlight for the week was the grand reunion with guys I had met at candidacy going back to 2010, others I had gone through A&P, pre-field training with and language studies. I was starting to get into bit of a low as far why were we here, what makes us different, etc. Departing this morning to come home I’m thankful for the renewed vision and excitement for why were are here and what make us different. As we head into December which will be a very busy month of flying I’m looking forward to the privilege and opportunities that my Maker in Heaven will put before me to serve, reflect His Light and show His Love to those I interact with in days to come.
On the last day of our time in Bali Greg and Jaclynn headed for the Bail Zoo.
As you can tell by the pictures that our little animal lover had a great time.
She had a wonderful time feeding, holding, and playing with a wide range of local animals from the different Islands of Indonesia. It was a great day for hanging out with her dad and just exploring and learning as much as she could about the different kinds of animals. She really loved playing with the elephants and greatly enjoyed going for an elephant ride with her dad. Not many girls her age can say that they have rode an elephant with their dad.
For this family vacation we wanted to try something new as a family. And believe it or not it was both Julie and Jaclynn who thought about trying surfing before we even headed to Bali, Well as you can tell from the pictures below we all enjoyed learning something new but it was Franklin who fell in love with the sport of surfing in a huge way. The whole family did a two and a half hour lesson but Franklin went back for more lesson over the next couple of days after that. I think we found his recreation/hobby of choice. Isaac and Jaclynn were the first to make it to a standing position but it was Franklin who really enjoyed it the most. And all the Indonesia people in the background are the instructors who are teaching and helping us in the water.
This was me most of the time, falling, however I did mange once to stay up for a short run. It was worth the pulled muscles, stubbed toes, and sunburn to see the kids succeed especially Franklin as this was what he wanted to do the rest of vacation. Franklin continued to improve over the next couple days as he continued to practice. Unfortunately here in Merauke we don’t have good surfing waves. Franklin is already made his request that we schedule more days at the beach next time so he can continue master the finer points of surfing.
I’ve been hearing that Winter is approaching and in some places already arrived. Warning this post and the next couple contain no snow or winter weather conditions, viewer discretion is advised for those suffering from winter blues already. There are some perks to living in the tropics, and you are always welcome to come for a visit. Here is the next segment of our family vacation the Villa.
When looking for a place to stay in Bali, the choices became quickly overwhelming for me to say the least. Which was the main factor for taking us 3+ years before finally planing a vacation to Bali. I’m someone who likes simple choices and searching the web for the right place that suites the budget and family was too much. Thankfully a couple months back we received an email about a Villa in Bali that was being managed by a family that had previously lived in Papua and offered a discount to those serving with overseas ministries here in the South East Asia region. Having this new information relieved me of wading through hundreds of hotel/villa web pages looking for the right one, and made the possibly of getting away to Bali a reality for our family.
The Villa was a very nice 2 bedroom, open kitchen and family area with sliding wall that opened up to a nice private pool. It was a perfect fit for the family. Sorry we didn’t get very many good photos of the villa but here are a few from an evening swim in the pool which the kids did almost every night after supper.
These pictures were from just searching the web for this villa, I copied just a few, what these pictures don’t have is the clutter of beach balls, sandals and the fallen leaves.
Again we want to extend our great heart felt gratitude to all of you that are faithfully partnering with us, not so we can enjoy lavish holidays like this, but rather that we can enjoy these times of refreshment, to recharge for the tasks that have been put before us serving here in Merauke, for many years to come. Next up family suffering adventure.
We just returned home from a wonderful time in Bali. Our family vacation experience started out with seeing some cool blessings some of which happen in the travaling to and from Bali. We booked our tickets weeks in advance, not knowing that one of the airlines competitor’s was about to add a competing run from Makassar directly to Merauke. Our original tickets gave us a 2 hour layover. We’ve learned in the past anything less than 1.5 hours can create some stress catching the next flight. Still a few weeks before our vacation while I was departing Merauke, listening to the other traffic on the radio I caught on that the plane we were going to be taking to Bali in a couple weeks was no longer going to Makassar (transit airport) like it was originally scheduled. After getting back I asked one of our staff to investigate if our tickets were still good. Turns out what they had done was their Makassar – Merauke – Makassar flight became Makassar – Merauke – Sentani and there Sentani – Merauke – Sentani had become Sentani – Merauke – Makassar. The only problem with this is now we are departing 2 hours later than originally scheduled. And this flight from Sentani is notoriously late. On a side note Merauke is about as close as you can get for the end of the line. There are or were no connecting flights here prior to this switch in scheduling all the planes would return to their point of departure. And by 12:00 all the jet traffic (3-4) had come and gone and left the Merauke airport for us (MAF) and another small operator to enjoy, outside of the occasional military flight. Back to getting to Bali, as we prepared to depart they continued to assure us that we would make the connecting flight in Makassar as they had moved it back 45mins. But as for normal our departing flight was more than 45 mins late which gave us no layover time. Also knowing that our connecting flight was the only Makassar – Bali flight for the day I was preparing myself and family for the high likely hood that we would be trying to find a place in Makassar for the night. Upon arriving the flight attendant assured me all was good, but knowing a bit of the culture here they will tell you what you want to hear rather than to truth a lot of times. So I didn’t get my hopes up until exiting the aircraft and was met at the bottom of the stairs by airline personal. They whisked us into a van which then raced across the tarmac to our connecting flight. During this whisking across the tarmac I inquired about out luggage which I was assured would make it. But again knowing that I’m likely going to hear what I want to hear rather than reality, and the fact we hadn’t finished stowing our carry on luggage and seated before the plane was being pushed back for start. I was thinking there was no way our bags made the connection. After departure I dug out the address of our villa so I would have it ready to give to the baggage claim counter in Bali. The flight went smoothing and we were looking forward to enjoying our first night in Bali as planned, even if it was going to be with our carry on luggage only (which Julie had packed a few extra sets of clothes just in case). Once we arrived in Bali I almost didn’t bother but we stopped at the luggage belt just in case and low and behold it made. Wow, we were stunned and very thankful! So we started our vacation with what started out looking like a lot of inconveniences ahead of us to everything falling into place. Backing up a bit as were waiting for our first flight (late one) Pak Hammi met us in the waiting room telling us that the flight home at the end of our vacation had been cancelled and we needed to find something else. One bright side for the late departure was I had time to go with Pak Hammi to sort out tickets for our trip home. So we ended up on the competitor’s airline for Makassar – Merauke, but choose to stay with our original tickets from Bali – Makassar (portion of the flight not yet cancelled). And yes the day before we are to come home I get a text message that this flight was also cancelled, thankfully Pak Hammi was able to arrange a different flight from Bali – Makassar. And yes we arrived home safely with all our stuff in toe after a great vacation. Being that this post is already getting long I will close with saying there will be more to come on what we did, along with lots of pictures over the next couple days.
The Dole Clan