Well it’s a new year again and with the new year brings new beginnings. One of which is a new home for our family blog. I was getting a lot of adds on our old blog and I wasn’t sure if others were also seeing adds pop when viewing our blog. So in hope of taking a bit more control over on our blog I felt it was time to relocate.
January has been an exciting month for our family. Julie and the kids have been digging hard into their school studies in hopes of being done before we head back to Canada and the USA in May. We are celebrating 1 year in the same house. This is the longest season for our family with out a move since coming to Indonesia back in Aug 2013. We hope to continue this stretch as we’ve started to plant things in the yard and have started to put down some of our own roots as we build some friendships in what contexts I wouldn’t have thought of before.
I’ve also been busy flying and doing some minor maintenance on MAO. Here are a few pictures from my cell phone on my way up to Sentani the other day. After flying in the swamps of the south coast, it’s a nice change of pace to be able to slip over the mountains at 13000′ on a nice VFR day.
Some challenges have also been faced already this year. Last week our Merauke office manager fell sick, to I’m not sure what. It started out looking pretty bad with blood pressure extremely high. We are thankful that only after a week he is now good enough to be back at home resting and recovering. We are thankful for God’s answered prayers.
Because of the frequency of power outages here it best to protect refrigeration units, A/C, fridges and freezers from starting under load. One of the ways to do this is putting a delay timer in the fridge circuit. However, when the delay unit starts to fail it creates a lot of noise as the contactor its controlling is snapping on and off. That was my project or shall I say a family effort as I removed this protection system that was failing last Saturday. And as per usual this quick project became a somewhat larger one. Before un-wiring the timer and related components it was quickly apparent that some other electrical things weren’t wired up quite right. So an electrical overhaul was in order. I gutted both the panels in the house and rearranged things and did my best to bring our electrical panels closer to a North American standard/code. Now things are better arranged having 220V in one panel and 120V in the other. I won’t go into anymore detail why but I’m thankful for completing the overhaul when I did and also thankful for God’s protection over our home and family this past year. And for those wondering why I would remove the timer system that was protecting our fridge. The system is needed for older fridges or fridges that are imported from countries with good power that don’t have timers built-in already. I did confirm our fridge has it’s on timer, so I see no reason to replace the timer at this time.
This is part way through the project which I will mention again, I had some great helpers and not too many complaints waiting for the A/Cs to work again.
4 hours later, power restored with organized and labelled panels complete with a directory.
And in closing I found this picture a few days ago. Taken by the Hewes family during their visit to Merauke a couple years ago.
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
These first few pictures are from Piramapun, which is just down river from Saman where the NTM missionaries are considering as there location of service. The first picture is the landing area at Piramapun it’s nice and wide with a gentle curve in the landing and takeoff area. The ocean is there as well but we choose not to operate on the ocean for a few reasons so a gentle curved river is our preferred landing zone.
This picture is of Saman from overhead, the curve in the river here is a bit sharper. Hopefully in the next few months I’ll have gained enough experience to be able to up the level of difficulty of my landing and takeoff locations.
A random photo from the trip that Julie wanted me to include.
This next group of photos are from Senggo, which is the place Julie mentioned regarding the book our family is reading together.
They are not standing on water as it may appear in the picture, there is a dock of sorts below their feet and yes below the water.
These next pictures are from Tanah Merah which means red soil. We don’t have a dock here so we just find a good spot along the shoreline to pull up to and secure the plane. The location changes depending on the water levels. The week before these picture was taken, the high area where the people are standing and holding the rope was covered by about a foot of water and we ended up docking up river against a wood dock that during this visit was high and dry. When the water is lower than this (which 2 days later was the case) we beach bit further down stream up against a gravel beach that is visible during low water times. This like many of the places we go to our docking methods/locations vary with conditions. (The flying is the easy part some days)
This picture is of the Boma or Bomakia airport terminal building. This was our last stop before heading home that day. Boma was previously an MAF base for float plane and wheel plane operation for the south coast several years ago.
The MAF hanger just in front of the tower (left side of the picture) as we approach to land back home in Merauke.
Hope you enjoyed seeing some of what we have the privilege of experiencing daily.
As Greg mention in our last post I was able to have my very first ride along in our float plane. MAF allows wives to go along twice a year which allows us to really see what it is like for not only our spouse but for the people that we serve.
For the first stop of the day Greg was able to land at a new place to drop off another missionary who had missed his plane ride the day before. He was hoping to meet up with other missionaries to help them with the process of surveying the area for possible places for three new missionary families to move to. Since this was not a normal place for us to land you can imagine that having a float plane land next to your village would be greatly noticed. There was even a school at the edge of the village that I am hoping was having recess while we were there. For it seemed like all the kids where standing along the river in the white and red uniforms waving to us.
After dropping off our missionary we headed to our next stop to pick up a load of local pastors from a retreat that Greg had dropped off a week before. The cool thing about this stops is that we are actually reading a book about one of the first missionaries to this area with our kids. Since those first few years this village has turned into a large trading post for this area. So right on the edge of the water were small stores where you could park a boat/canoe and find food or clothing as well as bring stuff to sell. My favorite part was watching all the kids swimming off the docks. However, but I had a hard time watching people drive their motorbikes down the boardwalk as I noticed all the boards move and shake a little more then I would be comfortable with!!!
Also, this is were I got to see just how tense it could sometimes be for my husband. As one tries to load passengers and their belonging on a dock that if you step in the wrong place it would start to sink. After watching this for the first time I am very thankful that one of our staff rides along to help him out with this as well as docking the plane. When you are out in the village there is no way for them to weigh belongings so the guys have to do this as the passengers get on, write out their tickets, collect money, and make sure the plane is not over weight. Now remember that this group of guys had already been flown in a week before and knew about all of this. However, through the course of the week they ended up collecting a lot of stuff and most of them had way to much stuff.
After getting that all figured out I was able to see two different places as we started to return all the pastors to their destinations. I loved how it felt landing on the rivers and taxing down them to where they docked (or where they had someone just hold the rope). I loved looking along the banks and watching people appear to see what the noise was or to just watch the plane. And I was really blown away by the different types of boats that I saw on the rivers. I saw those small canoes that barley have room to sit in to larger canoes that they had added a motor to. Then smaller fishing boats to larger ones as most of the rivers do connect to a larger river that would lead to the ocean. And I even saw some very nice looking speed boats especially at our first stop. And I was really surprised for a few minutes when we landed at our second place as one whole side of the river had different types of satellite. Then I remember that was the only way for the people to connect with the outside of the world.
At the end of the day I would have to say that landing on a river is my new favourite thing to do. Even though I enjoyed my time it did open my eyes a little more to what my husband has to do daily. Not only does he fly the plane and deal with passenger but he has to deal with some pretty extreme heat that just drains your body. After I arrived home I could hardly move and he told me that I was feeling this way because of the heat and the continual change in altitude. This would explain while on flight days my guy is falling asleep before seven at night.
I am so thankful for my husband and how he uses his gifts that God has given him daily. Whether he is landing on land or water, dealing with passengers, or dealing with government paperwork he is always trying to honor God in all things.