Wednesday, November 2, 2016

One Wild Year. Amanda's Refelctions.

One year.  We have lived out of America and on the island of Papua for one year and two months now.  What a crazy whirlwind.  In one year we have conquered some incredible things….and we have failed pretty miserably at some things too.  It’s all about balance you know.

I’ve been thinking back to that time lately.  The newbie me.  The wide eyed, raw emotion, overwhelmed me.  The me that was experiencing about a zillion “firsts” 

Back then even the tiniest task or experience was a “first” and it was either scary, exciting, draining…or maybe even a combination of all of it.   When I think back to that time not too long ago when I first landed in a strange new land, as I struggled to make it home, to figure out the dangers, the culture, the language, just how to FUNCTION in day to day life…..EVERYTHING was a learning curve.  

For example.

How do I use a squatty potty without making a huge mess? And you expect me to flush this HOW?

I can’t even go potty properly in this country!

It’s hot.  Like I am sitting here doing absolutely nothing and I am drenched in sweat.

The power went out AGAIN?!? 

I was told be careful of ice…..can I drink this juice?  Is this water safe?  Can I eat at this restaurant?  Probably not. It will probably kill me. 

I can’t drive….but I need groceries.  Okay. How do I get to the store?  Taxi.  I finally am brave enough to venture out to the road…flag down a taxi by myself, get in a taxi, with my paper in hand that has my few Indonesian phrases written on it….I make it to the store.  I’ve already conquered quite a feat!

I don't know. 
Okay, I want to bake cookies.  What is flour called in this country?  Sugar?  Chocolate? Baking soda?  Oh my gosh, I know nothing!  Thank goodness for texting a friend who is fluent!  This store is hot, and there is a constant anxiety as I shop, or just during life in general at that time.  Language, culture, this grocery store looks different, the brands are all different.  People are staring at me.  Or asking for pictures with me in the aisles.   I slowly navigate and find what I need.  Time to check out.  But this money is CONFUSING.   So many zeros!  They say the price.  Ummmmm…..say it again???   Again…… again……okay forget it.  Can I just see the price??  But I don’t know how to say that yet… I just lean way over the counter to look at the screen.   300,699Rp is the price…..DID I JUST SPEND THAT MUCH??   No….this is different currency Amanda……  I count out the money in my wallet….but I’m sweating…sure…it’s hot, but I’m nervous.  I hand over the money…. equivalent of about $30 American.  I hand her the money HOPING she doesn’t ask me something…..because if she does then it is mind meltdown.  Did I give her too much? Too little?  I can’t understand her….I can’t keep track of all these zero’s much less do the math on the spot.  (math is my weak spot anyways) Okay. Good.  She said something, but it didn’t seem to be about the money.  I just smile, sweat rolling, rushing down my whole body.  Why is this country so HUMID!!  Okay.  I got my change.  Time to go.  Relief!  But only for a second.  Now I start to wonder…..did I buy so much it won’t fit in my backpack?  I go to a bench in the store and start rearranging my groceries into my backpack.  It is heavy.  And I have another stop or two. No one stop shopping around here.  Chicken is one store; another store has olives…..last I heard from my friend!!!  Better get there before they sell out!  Another store has something else I need.  And the pasar (local market) has the produce.  I walk through the streets and the call to prayer goes off as I walk in front of the mosque.  It nearly scares me to death. I’m just not use to these sounds, these smells, this place, these people. 

I walk the streets, stress is high.  But I am kind of proud of myself.  I am brave I think……but don’t say “BOO!”  cause I might come out of my skin.  

I walk past people.  I cause a scene everywhere I go.  I do NOT blend in.  As I walk past large groups of people they all stare as I go by.  Sometimes they yell something out or try to say something to me…..I have no idea what they are saying.  Is it good? Is it bad? Are they saying “hi, can I help you?”  or are they going to kidnap me and drag me away never to be seen again?  I know this seems dramatic. But bear with me…..I am a total newbie.   My strategy is to smile.  A kind smile, but not TOO kind. That could bring other trouble?!?!  Ugh.  I’m tired.  Emotionally, and physically.   Did I mention it is HOT? Okay. I made it to my stores.  I consider it a success that I didn’t fall into one of the random holes in the sidewalk filled with slime water and tons of garbage.  Small victories.  I will take them.  I can go home now.  Taxi.  Okay.  I stand on the side of the road.  Flag down a taxi.  Preferably one that is not stuffed with people.  One pulls over.  I always try to scan the taxi situation before I enter.  This driver looks safe right?  I double check it is the right kind of taxi.  Okay. Good to go.  On the taxi.  Headed home.  I can see the ground through the floor boards of this taxi.  It’s kind of funny. I chuckle and snap a picture.  Oh shoot.  I hope the driver didn’t see that.  I don’t want to offend him.  Ugh. Almost home.  I forgot to pull out the money for the taxi ride BEFORE I got on the taxi.  Great. Now I have to pull out my money in front of all these people!  They are watching me.  NOTHING can be done secretly in public.  I wish I could just blend in right about now.  Okay.  I pulled out the right amount and didn’t have my money come cascading onto the floor like the scenario in my head played out.    My stop is coming up…… do I say stop again?!  Oh no…..where is my paper with my Indonesian phrases on it.  I dig in my purse frantically…….FOUND IT.   “berhenti”……..he didn’t hear me! Oh shoot!!….and I am painfully shy to try to speak my words.    “BERHENTI”………..WHEW. He heard me. I will live to see another day.   I juggle all my bags and pay the man and start walking down my road.   Almost home!!   I made it!! I enter the house feeling FILTHY dirty. TIRED, HOT DRAINED.  But I DID IT!  And I enjoyed the adventure of it!  But now………  I don’t have an oven.   I call my friend.  Can I come over and use your oven for an hour or so??  I gear up to leave again…..taking all my cookie ingredients.   I walk about 10 min to my friend’s house.  Use her oven….bake my cookies………..(side note…now I know baking cookies at this stage was a bit of a HUGE undertaking.  Haha.  I was determined to do something familiar….I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.  I wanted to produce something that felt familiar and wanted to surprise my friends and teammates at our prayer meeting that night.)
This is a real picture Grace took.  I think I was a little stressed out. lol

I made my cookies. And they turned out. I cleaned up my friend’s kitchen and I walked home.  Crossed the hot street….down my road…..  Get home.  Time to sanitize the veggies.  This was a process I quickly learned I did not enjoy.  What is that sound??!!  Torrential DOWNPOUR!!!!   Oh no!!! My clothes hanging outside!!!!!!!!!.................Too late.  They are drenched.   UGHHHH!!!     I come inside.  The ants are attacking AGAIN!   What in the world! I have an army the size of Texas pouring in my window down the wall and going all over the kitchen.  Oh…..must have been this ONE COOKIE CRUMB I LEFT OUT FOR 30 FREAKING SECONDS THAT INSPIRED THIS 6-INCH-WIDE HIGHWAY OF ANTS TO INVITE THEMSELVES IN!!!!!    Calm…calm…no forget calm.  I’m hot.  I look like a mess.  My floor is a muddy mess from sanitizing my veggies so that they go from veggies of DEATH to something edible. The ants are on my last nerve!  The heat is on the nerve after that.  The humidity is on the nerve after THAT!  The thrill of the success of cookies is over.  Now I start to resent the dumb cookies.  It literally took me ALL the energy I had, ALL day….tons of stress and then even more energy to make these dumb cookies!!!! And I don’t even have that many!!!!! 

Dreaming of Safeway 
I just need some cold water! But we don’t have any cold water.  Nothing in this place is cold……I get luke warm water.  And it is my own fault….because earlier I had a complete meltdown over water.  Yup. No joke.  Tears, sobs, 30 minutes of gut wrenching sobs over water….I think it went something like this…..”MATTT!!! All I do is move water from one place to another place!! That’s IT…..I am SO TIRED OF MOVING WATER!!!!!  AHHHH,, This is so dumb!!!!! All I do is wait for this pitcher to fill up so SLLLOWWWWLLLLLY, (bad water pressure)  then I do it four more times to fill the water filter……then I wait for the water to filter SLOWWWLLYYY…then I wait for the clean water to go into ANOTHER pitcher, and put it in the fridge then I have to fill the filter again because I emptied out all the clean water… I have to make ice cubes……and I AM SO SICK OF MOVING WATER!!!!!!!!!”  (sobs ensue) I know….looking back it is kind of hilarious….but at the time……it was a major world problem.

Was that a little bit of crazy coming out?..... I think so…because I’m feeling a little cray cray)

And while I am at it…. WHY CAN’T I SPEAK THIS LANGUAGE?!?!  Enter my husband’s voice of reason….. “Amanda, you have only been here two weeks.” ……..Please don’t reason with me….….I’m ridiculous! I can’t even remember how to say good morning!  I’ll never get this….I should be fluent by now!!!!  Why is it so hot!!  WAS THAT A MOSQUITO THAT JUST BIT ME??!  Great. Now I am going to get malaria or dengue and probably die.  I just saw a cockroach run into my room!!  Ugh. Whatever.  I have no energy for that cockroach.   (one night I did wake up to one running from my neck down my arm)

Prayer group time.  I put myself together.  Hair frizzies under control as well as can be expected in this humidity.  My (lovingly named) “sweat-stach” always in its place on my upper lip.   I get my cookies and I head to my friend’s house.   I must admit… is fun to surprise my friends with the cookies.  Everyone enjoyed those little nuggets of gold.  Prayer goes good. But I don’t think I was totally honest about everything.  I (foolishly) put an expectation on myself that I was going to nail this whole new country thing.  So I shared a few lighthearted struggles…..or gauge how everyone else seems to be doing…..but no way do I share with the group something more dramatic than they do.  I’ve always had an ability to pull my boots up and get on with life over the hard stuff……but sometimes we sure make it harder on ourselves that we have to!

At my friend’s house Grace put the end of an unwashed leafy green from the pasar in her mouth…….THE HORROR.  Keep calm.  Keep it together….on the outside at least.  I asked my friend...what could happen…. desperately hoping they would say……Awe…she will be alright.  (not that I would have believed that) I was panicked on the inside.  She is going to get some bug…..some tropical PASAR DISEASE!!!!!!  My friend said…..she will probably be just fine…maybe some diarrhea…but she is healthy, has a good immune system.  But that didn’t stop this mom from having a 5 minute “spit in the toilet!!!!”” session, and then “calmly” march home as fast as I could and take care of this!!!!  But how?!  Bleach?!  Of course I can’t make her rinse her mouth with bleach, although that would probably be better than whatever parasite she just swallowed!!!!!!.....

Our bathroom

At the end of the day I was hot, sticky, dirty, sweaty and stinky and EXAUSTED.  Just like almost every day…..I willed myself to wash all the dishes, clean the house, and take a shower.  I sat in our tiny bathroom on the tile floor…..I sat on the ground because the water pressure was so low that it was better the lower I was…..still a trickle.  The shower head was sticking out of the wall.  I sat there each night in our tiny bathroom….my head a foot away from the toilet seat, and washed away the dirt and stress of the day. 

God had His hand all over that year!  He let us face some giants….so that He could show us the power He has to take the giant down, or give us the strength we need to fight it.  Example.  One day alone in the mall, still very new, I was walking to the ATM room. It is a more secluded place.  I didn’t see anything suspicious, but I felt that still small voice of the Holy Spirit say “don’t go in there” I immediately made a sharp turn towards a sports store, just then two large men came out of the ATM room. They locked their eyes on me and my heart sank.  They were almost running toward me.  I walked quickly into the store, near the checkout stand where I knew there were employees, knowing this would be a confrontation….then I turned around to face them.  The look on the man who confronted me was ominous… He looked pleased that he had his prey cornered.  I felt like prey too.  He had this odd smile on his face as he was talking to me taking steps towards me.  I was shaking like a leaf on the inside…trying to appear confident and kind.  In the little language I knew I told him….I don’t understand you, I am not yet fluent, I’m sorry” I kept saying this over and over. He would take a step toward me and be in my bubble, I would take a step back…..I was running out of space…He knew I was uncomfortable, and he seemed to enjoy it.  The store employees were all watching….I desperately looked over at one of them for help….then I caught a whiff of alcohol on the man’s breath….which is bad news bears here.  I panicked inside. I thought “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know this culture enough to know if anyone would help me, or just watch the scene unfold, I don’t know the language well enough to ask for help!  I don’t know the people well enough to know if being firm will elevate the situation, or if being meek will embolden these men….I felt like a mouse trapped in a corner by a cat….I just knew I needed to GET OUT OF THERE.   I said loudly…..”I have to go NOW!” and I ran out of the store and down the stairs and into the grocery store in the basement.  But there was no way out except the way I came, and I was scared the men were waiting for me.  I walked the store, adrenaline in full effect.  I was shaking physically and shaking on the inside too.  I couldn’t get ahold of matt…I called Matt’s friend Jared and told him what happened and asked him to talk to me as I tried to leave the mall.  He talked to me until I got to a taxi.  I was shaken.  That was scary.  It threatened to cripple my ability to get out of my house.  But when I was calm enough (a few days later) to really think about the situation…not just the fear it brought…..I could hear God reminding me…..”but I protected you, I didn’t let you go into that room with them, I protected you”  Yes, it was scary.  But I am glad it happened.  It showed me God’s hands in scary situations.

Another time Matt and Grace went to a late dinner without me. I was feeling sick.  The team was meeting for dinner.  Matt and Grace took the taxi.  It was getting late.  I expected them home already.  I was laying on the sofa watching a movie when I felt like I should pray for them.  I reasoned the feeling away thinking that I was just being a worry wart.  Two more times I felt this strong urge to pray for them. So I turned off the movie and I prayed.  Still thinking it was just me being dramatic…not really the Holy Spirit encouraging me to pray… I prayed for about ten minutes.  Praying for protection for them, for God to put angel warriors around them, that no evil could touch them.  About ten min after I started praying, Matt and Grace walked in the door.  First thing Matt said was “wow, I’ve never been so happy to get OFF of a taxi in my life” Matt and Grace caught a taxi with two people in it.  The driver and another man.  It soon became clear that these two were friends and up to no good.  The driver was behaving erratically and almost ran another car off the road for cutting him off.  The two men acted as though they were “on something” and it was clear they were talking about Matt and Grace…which is not uncommon…but it felt off to Matt.  Matt asked them to stop the taxi, and they acted like they did not hear Matt, when He knew they could hear him.  Instead they ignored him and kept going.  Matt firmly said “stop now” and they did, already past home.  Matt quickly got off and walked home.  We lined the time up.  The same time God prompted me to start praying would be the same time Matt and Grace got on that taxi.  Same thing.  God allowed us to experience something scary, but He was showing us His power and ability over the situation.

One day I woke up to a message on Facebook.  Someone I know of, but have never met, and never talked to sent me a message saying they had a bad dream about our place and our family…they woke up and felt the Holy Spirit tell them to pray for us….so she woke her husband and they walked their house praying for us….  Nothing happened to us that lines up with that time…and I firmly believe that nothing happened because that woman was faithful and woke up to pray for us…who knows what never happened because she was praying for us.  God literally woke someone up in the middle of the night, on the other side of the world to pray for us.  Amazing.

I learned a lot in that first year.   I came to this new country with ideas of what it all might be like.  Ideas only. Before I made the move to this new country I had only been in three countries…. (layovers don’t count) The USA, Canada and Switzerland.  None of them had prepared me for third world. This was like nothing I had been exposed to before…. except in movies of course.  

I can’t tell you in words everything I learned….it was too huge, too much to try and explain.  Maybe some of you know this feeling.  I lost my voice for a while.  I didn’t have the energy or will to try to explain all of this “newness” to you folks back home.  It was overwhelming.

Some people were worried about me.  I mean, a young(ish) girl who has never REALLY seen or done anything like this before, just jumping in both feet, full immersion, with a romanticized idea of missions in her head. Talk about reality meeting expectations.  But you know what?  I did it. We did it.  Jesus and I.  He sustained me, He gave me strength, He carried my tired self, He gave me the capacity to learn a new language….ME, who had NO love of language learning….I learned to love it.  He gave me a love for the people.  A love for this place.

So when I look back at my first year in Indonesia, when I look back at the younger me, the brand spanking new at this me……

It was fun.  I loved it.  I didn’t love every second of it….but I loved it.  I’ve been pushed, grown, stretched.  I’ve been beat up by this place and this place has shown me a great time.  I have had so many adventures here! So many tears and secret fears.  Insecurities roar their ugly head, and those insecurities usually proven wrong.  I love this place. I love these people.  I would do the first year again. 

When I look back I see the hard times, the culture shock, the tears….but that is not what defines my first year. It impacted it, but it does not define it. I love living here!  How awesome! How humbling.  A sinner like me, with my MANY sins, with my rebellious past, and He WANTS me, He uses me.  It is amazing grace.  I love Jesus not because of religion, not because of head knowledge, not because it’s what I grew up with….but because I’ve SEEN Him in my life, I’ve talked to Him, and He has talked to me, He has saved me, and I have seen miracles.  This year has been full of them.


Now I know the words for sugar, flour, baking soda, and butter.  Now I don’t panic when I hand my money over to pay.  Now I can understand what those people are trying to say to me.  I can tell a taxi to stop confidently, now I know that the veggies from the pasar are not going to kill me, or my daughter.   I can combat the ants.  I don’t notice garbage, or holes in the sidewalk, going out and about doesn’t drain me like it used to.   Moving water around is just a normal task now……did I ever not do this??   I know from experience that God is bigger than Dengue fever (the most dreaded mosquito illness here) because Matt and Grace both caught it.  I know malaria won’t kill me….just make me reeeeally sick, because I caught it.    I know God is bigger than drunk people, or scary situations.  I know He is bigger than culture shock, and He is bigger than expectations meeting reality, and all the chaos that entails.  I know He can sustain a newbie, not only sustain but flourish me where I am planted. 

And you know what….I’ve only just completed chapter one.  I know some culture, some language, but I just scratched the surface.  I’ve entered a new chapter, with new difficulties, new triumphs…and I know His fingerprints will be all over this chapter too….whatever it may bring….

So all that being said……..

Dear new missionary. Dear friend in America, Dear friend anywhere in the world….wherever it is God has you…….  You can do this.  It doesn’t matter who says what, it doesn’t even matter what your own emotions tell you sometimes.  It matters what Jesus says.  You CAN do this.  If He has called you to this, He WILL walk you through it….. Yes, there will be struggles.  Hard ones.  And maybe in the moment you will think you can’t.   But looking back you will see how He can, and He did.  And yes, there will be times, seasons, when you feel you are walking through the mud…but there will be times when you are flying over the mountain tops too!  God will bring you to that new place (not even always a new country…new job, new situation, new life stage, new scary…fill in the blank)  to move mountains in your life.  Don’t be afraid of the culture shock, don’t be afraid of the fire. Don’t let that scary and painful fiery season burn you up……..because gold is refined in the fire, gold is purified in the fire. And you my dear friend are gold, in the hands of your goldsmith, your Maker.

It’s not about us, it’s all about Jesus.
Love, Amanda

Papua life.  No seatbelt. 
Set me loose on the driving world....

Because you just can't take yourself too seriously.

The WORST sunburn of my life, hands down. 

Let the crazy helps with the stress. 

Night lobster spearing in the ocean. 

The real me. I'll do anything rugged, I love any adventure! And I'm gonna do it with my pink lipgloss on.  =)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

It can be hard, but it is also AMAZING.

Well hello there friend.  It has been a while.  Here in Papua-land our internet has been quite dreadful. Apparently a shark bit the cable in the ocean and we have been internet challenged.  (Probably not a shark, but fun to think about.)

Beyond broken cables, I think when I move into new situations I feel like I "lose" my voice.  I don't know what to write, how to write it.  Like the hugeness of all the newness is too much, too overwhelming to put in words.  But alas, I must try.  And I want you all to be on this journey with us! So voice or no voice here I am!

We have lived in Wamena almost 4 months!  Wow, time goes fast.  We are almost to ONE YEAR living in Indonesia.

The first month in Wamena was HARD, like super hard.  I was SO homesick, I cried buckets each day, but felt like a wimp (hard on myself, i know)  =)  I just wanted to go home.  I felt awkward and joining the team of people here seemed a monumental task.  I don't even know all the reasons it was hard, it just was....there was an intense ache everyday.  I learned something about myself.  I don't JUMP in new situations guns blazing.  I am more like a turtle.  I join a new situation with all my limbs sucked in my shell and slowly I come out when I know it is safe.   It takes about a month to start feeling comfortable, stable ground.   I feel comfortable now.  We have such nice people in our team, this place is really amazing. I love the Papuan people.  I love the wildness of Wamena.  It is a wild place.  I LOVE that about it.

I am really thankful God chose me to come here.  Sure it is not always easy.  But it is not always hard either.  It is an HONOR to live here.  I love living out of the "norm" I love adventure, I love that living here is like a peep-hole back in time.  I love learning about Papuan culture.
I love trying to break down the barrier that my white skin is....and really trying to create meaningful and life-giving relationships with people here.  It takes more time.....but it is possible, and it is happening!

My hearts cry as I want to reach out to the people here is :   We are different colours, we have different hair, we have different cultures, different houses....but we have the same heart, and to God we are the same!   I was at the local market a couple months ago and I was buying some veggies from some ibu's (momma's) and I was explaining to them what Helimission does here.....they got so excited and explained to me that they love Jesus, they started saying to ME what has been so heavy on my heart.   They said "we have chocolate skin, you have white skin, you have straight hair, we have curly hair, but we are the same, and Jesus sees us the same"  I started misting up right there and told them I completely agreed.  On the spot I invited them to my house the following sunday.  They have now come to my house two times, and we have a future date to bake cookies together (they want to learn how)   What a blessing to my heart.  God placed these ladies in my life.  One lady asked me if everyone in America loves Jesus (this is a common assumption)  I explained to her that America is far from Jesus, that everyone has heard about Jesus, but MANY people don't follow Him or love Him.  This was surprising to her.  How could people who know about Jesus not love him and follow Him?   We live in a place where there are so many languages.  Many of these people don't have the Bible in their language, they don't know about Jesus.  I explained to my new friend that America needs missionaries.....maybe a few from Papua.... =)

I really do love living here.  It is feeling normal.  Third world living.

I was texting my friend in America the other day.  I told her that we all just took our worming pills along with the animals.....she was like "WHAT?!!!"  I was confused as to what she was "what-ing"   she laughed and said "look at you, so used to third world that you don't even know what I am what-ing"  =)
Look how far we have come.  Look where God still wants to take us.  This is amazing.  Like I said,  this place is amazing.  What a privilege to be doing this, living here.  Thank YOU for helping us!

Papua is a rugged place, there are some rugged people.  I find it easy to love them, love this place.  Yes, living here is an adventure, and you know I love some adventure!  But this is so much more than just here has changed me so much more than my presence here has changed this place.  I am being changed, mountains are being moved in my heart, and I pray that God uses me in some way to touch this place and these people.

Love, Amanda  =)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Amanda, Grace and I had just finished studying the language and were finally ready to move to Helimission’s Wamena base.  We arrived and were greeted by our new teammates and were brought to our “new home”!  Amanda and I had planned before hand to go on a Vision Trip to Ngginim, (a mission post Helimission supports) only three days after our arrival to Wamena.  We thought it would be a good way to instill in us the vision of why we are here.  To remind us that it is not just about flying or maintaining helicopters but that it is about getting the Bible translated so that people may be saved!  So we unpacked, and packed at the same time.  We were supposed to be in Ngginim for 3 days.  We boarded the Heli and Tom and
This was the first believer in Ngginim
Tim were our pilots.  As we were passing a lake Tom comes on the radio to us and said, “just so you know, if the weather isn’t good on Monday, you will have to wait until Friday for a pick up as the Heli needs maintenance”. Amanda and I laughed and said, hope we have enough diapers for that! (For Grace of course).  We landed and were introduced to the local missionaries (Craig Schaffer and Jeff Palmer and family).  Over the next 3 days our vision was instilled.  We got to worship with the local believers on Sunday and got to see and hear the Bible read in the local language.  We got to meet the first believer and hear his story.  We got to shake hands with an elderly man that walked days away to hear this “creator’s talk” and he walks around with a walking stick and a solar MP3 player listening to all the recorded “lessons” from Craig and Jeff.  We met another elderly guy who was full of joy because he was blind, depressed and ready to die, but after Craig brought him to get cataract surgery he could see again!  We
met a sweet little girl who had a stroke very young and could barely walk but still held my daughters hand and tried to help her everywhere we went.  We got to look into the eyes of people being changed by the gospel!  We got a glimpse of Revelations where every nation, tribe and toungue will come and worship our God!  We got to focus our perspective on why we are serving with Helimisson.  Amanda and I started praying for bad weather so we could stay until Friday, but then the night before we were to leave a young man showed up.  He had hiked all day from the neighboring village with report of a boy with a broken femur that needed a medevac.  Suddenly our prayers changed from bad weather to good weather.  The next morning we heard the sound of the heli and rushed to the landing spot.  Gunter and Micha picked us up and we flew to the neighboring village to pick up the injured boy and his family.  It was a young boy and his leg was definitely broken.  He was screaming as his mom tried to show us the boy.  We got them loaded and tried to keep the boy as comfortable as possible.  We flew back to wamen and were able to get the little boy to the hospital for much needed medical attention.  The trip to Ngginim was life changing for both Amanda and I and will be a good anchor for us to look back on!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

We live in Wamena, and here is an update.

Hello friend, good day to you. =) 
Heading off to his FIRST day of work here! 

We have been living in Wamena for one month.  Wow, time goes fast!   Our home is set up, and Matt has started working for Helimission!  This is exciting!  about 12 years of work leading up to this.  This is not an accomplishment we take for granted.  There have been a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point, there has also been a lot of excitement, joy and laughter as well! 

Finally here.  The IDEA of living in Wamena and being settled in is no longer an IDEA.  It is a reality.  It is a little bit of a mind trip sometimes.  =)  
Leaving out our gate for his first day of work!

We like Wamena.  It is different than Sentani, and there are things and people that are dear to us in Sentani that we miss.  But we are happy to be in Wamena, and we feel that this place will make a wonderful home.  We love the people here.  There is a real and rugged feel to this place and one can’t help but fall in love with the people here.   

The weather in Wamena is amazing.  Much cooler than Sentani , which is a breath of fresh air….literally, and there are no dengue or malaria mosquitos here! =) 

I am now riding solo on the motorbike around town.
Matt is still grounded from flying FOR NOW.  The government is not recognizing the waiver from the states for Matt’s colourblindness.  Some days, some moments this is hard…like a punch in the gut.  But, we know this is a piece of cake for our God.  He’s got this, and He has a reason for this.  We are learning….learning to have long term vision, not just look at current circumstances and give up.  There is a bigger picture here that we can’t yet see, and sometimes you have to lay down your dreams and plans and expectations in-front of Jesus and just trust Him.  He knows.  =)  And you know what….we are growing from this.  

Matt goes to work each day now, which is an adjustment for us all.  (he didn’t go to a normal 9-5 job for over a year)  but we are adjusting well.  And it is SO nice to put down some roots and set up “normal” life here.  

Thank you SO much friend for praying for us.  We love your prayers.  

Here is how you can currently pray for us.  

Amanda is homesick.   I never felt the ache of homesick in Sentani, sure I MISSED you all….but never felt that gut wrenching ache.   I feel it now.   I think it is because things are changing at home, and I am feeling like I am being left behind, things won’t be, feel, look the same when I come home again.  

Grace and I about to head out for first ride on motorbike with mom driving.
Joining a team.  We are joining a team here in Wamena.  And there are lots of really great people.  Pray for unity, pray for real life giving friendships.  Pray that we will find our “nitch” 

Pray for the Papuan people here.  The HIV statistics here are unreal,  pray for knowledge for the people, and this nasty virus won’t continue to claim so many.

Pray for the teams of missionaries working to translate the Bible into the mother tongue of tribes here in Papua.  They have a huge job, and most of them live in the tribe with the people.  They are amazing, and need your prayers.

Pray for Matt.  He has an AMAZING attitude about not flying, even though it is really what his heart desires.  Pray that He will continue to be encouraged, and for protection against discouragement.  There is another colourblind pilot here as well, he is in the same boat as Matt at this time.  Pray for him as well!  
Riding the becuk with some new friends!

Pray for protection, for guidance, for encouragement, stamina, courage, truth…..and whatever you feel you should pray for us. 

We love you guys.  

Much love, 

The Meeuwse’s 

IBM's (momma's) selling buah merah (red fruit) at the pasar (local market)

Grace and her kitty.   buds

We went to a lake and there was a group of high school students who invited us to be a part of their bakar (local style BBQ)

photoshoot.  They took LOTS of pictures of us. =) we took a few with them. =) 

The food we ate at their batu. 

It is beautiful here!!! 

Traditional attire.

We have had a few adventures too! =)   

Monday, March 28, 2016

Change is Coming...

Hi friend!

Our time is coming to a close in Sentani. We move to Wamena in 9 days!!  Appropriately so, it is time for a little reflection.  

Sentani.  This place.  I am going to miss it.  
Flying to Indo for the first time.

Sentani, the place I thought I wouldn't be able to bear the heat, but I have survived quite nicely. 

Sentani, the place where fantasy merged with reality. The fantasy and wondering of what life in Indo would look like, and Sentani showed me.  It showed me how to live here.

Sentani, the place where I thought culture shock would hit me like a ton of bricks, but instead it stuck up from behind when I wasn't looking.  

Sentani, the place where I struggled to learn more patience for the little things you can't control. 

Learning you must filter all your drinking water.
The place I have had countless adventures and many struggles.  The place where I did things I never thought I could.  Like learn a new language, jump in a lake that has crocodiles, catch a massive ocean fish, be able to live, not only live, but THRIVE in a new culture. 

Sentani, the place that has seen me through the very first baby-steps of this journey.  It is almost like this place has seen me take my first wobbly steps, then learn to walk, but occasionally fall down and scrape my knee, then learn to get up again.  

Here I learned how to navigate a taxi by myself with 3 little phrases in Indonesian written on a napkin.  Here I didn't drive for 6 whole months.  Here I learned to cook from scratch in a box oven.  Here I learned the in's and out's of air drying your laundry.  I learned how to make friends with the ant armies that relentlessly are trying to take over our house.  I learned that I can survive a cockroach crawling all over my face.   Here I went to the local market (Pasar) for the first time and thought there was NO way, NO WAY any of the food in my house would come from there, and it is here that I now have most of my food come from the Pasar.   Here in Sentani I learned that street food won't kill me. 

Here in Sentani I watched Grace and Matt become extremely sick with dengue fever, and here I learned that God is capable and bigger than dengue fever.  

Discovering the Pasar! 
Here I learned how to survive being the "show" because whenever we are out in public people is rare, odd, unusual, exciting.....???  to see us  foreigners "bule" folk around town.  

Here I made friends with my neighbors and watched as Grace became friends with all the neighborhood kids and now calls them "all my friends", even though they can't speak the same language. 

I have built some deep friendships here that are lasting.  

Here I have watched my husband flourish in his language skills, and I have watched him place his hearts desire in God's capable hands.  I have watched him release control of something dear to him, and give the controls to God.   I have watched Matt's faith, and it has encouraged my own.  

Here, I watched my heart be changed, challenged.  I have never been so tired somedays, or so excited others.  
Sentani has seen me through a million "firsts" and in many ways, this town, these people have been my teacher.  Teaching me I CAN live here, I CAN learn not only a new language, but a new CULTURE.  I CAN not only live here, but FLOURISH here.  
I can have FUN here.  And most of all showing me that God CAN and IS using us here.  

I will genuinely  miss this town, and the people in it.  I am thankful we spent this time in Sentani. And I know that God has more awaiting for us around the while it is ALWAYS hard to say goodbye to one chapter closing....I am eagerly waiting to see what the next one contains.

Much love,

Ps.  Enjoy some pictures of our time here in Sentani! 

Let it begin. 
Grace and one of her friends.....Daya
My english speaking mind had a hard time with this one. 

jumping in lake sentani

eating a grub


Movie and dinner night! 

Learning about culture! 


Matt met an old friend who cared for him when he was little and lived in Papua!  It was a beautiful moment. 

The jungle is leaking! 

A day trip on the river in the jungle. 

Met a carpet python in the jungle! 

While walking through the jungle we stumbled across this...a bakar batu! 

We sold our car in America and our only wheels for the foreseeable future....motorbike...or scooter. 
With the wild traffic....sometimes this is how driving on a motorbike makes me feel...... haha

The worst sunburn of my life.  If you look close my nose and chin are a giant blister

Walking around Sentani......discovering lots. 

My first time on the taxi alone....I celebrated with coffee!!!  

Our team and friends, heading off to the lake

My FIRST time getting motion is no joke. 

Making friends

Grace is making friends too! 

The tops of lots of nails

annnnnd then Matt got dengue fever and was more sick than I had ever seen him

And in that same week Grace got diagnosed with reactive airways.  Tough week

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At the beach making friends. 

Coming home from a fun day at the beach. 

On a field trip, we had to speak to people at the pasar

fruits and veggie stand

the beauty is breathtaking.  Mt. Cyclops in the background. 

Matt and his buddy, Septi

Our first time in Wamena......surreal

Falling in love with the locals

Clash of cultures. 

No matter the country, we love to fish!  
We are blessed

boat to the beach. 

our first Christmas in Sentani

Our first bakar batu

Our first Indo New Sentani

LOVE beach trips with our dear friends.  Jared showing grace his monster fish

Our dear friends. 

Kittens in Sentani!!!!  
Fishing in the ocean! 

Success fishing in the ocean!!!! 

She fishes in pink pajamas! 

Learning about culture! 

I love Silvia! 

Hiking around the lake


Ohhh what adventures we have! Snorkeling to a secluded cave. 

We love snorkeling 

And we love adventure!!! 

My first ever night snorkel spearfishing trip.  I was nervous...but I loved it! 

jungle shower

Our bathroom.  

cutie bug