It’s Time

(In true Indonesian fashion, as soon as I opened up a new blog post and began to type, the power died leaving me sitting on my couch in the pitch black.  Oh Indonesia…

To begin, here is my current favourite photo of Lake Sentani.  I took it about a month ago.)

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It’s probably time for me to actually post something again.  I’ve been very bad at blogging over the last year.  A large portion of that has been our utterly crappy internet, but it’s also been a lack of clarity in my thinking about how to communicate my life.  More on that in a second, but WE HAVE FIRBRE OPTIC CABLE INTERNET!!!!  As of 13 days ago we now have really good internet!  I am truly excited!  We’re getting speeds of 2MB/s for those of you who are more technically minded.  This means I can Skype people without delays and constant drop outs.  I can even video Skype!  I can watch videos that people send me & it doesn’t take forever to load Facebook photos.  This might sound like a small thing, but when you’re this far from home, it’s a huge thing!

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Now that I have no such excuse for not writing I hope to get back into more regular blogging.  I often struggle to find the balance of talking about the positive things about living here, and the struggles.  It’s hard to communicate the difficulties without sounding like I’m just complaining, and it’s hard to communicate the good things without making life sound wonderful and easy.  I hope you have understood that life here is both.  It is beautiful and disgusting, fun and difficult, rewarding and frustrating.

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At the beach with some of my girls.  And yes, I have blue hair now.

Since I last wrote school has plodded along nicely, but our big event was heading to a remote village for 2 weeks.  As we do every year, we took our entire high school (years 9 – 12 here) into a new remote location to serve the local people and learn more about the culture and ourselves.  This year we headed to the Ilugwa area, specifically to the village of Danama.  We hiked to small villages (each group went to a different village) for a few days and spent the rest of the time in Danama doing various projects.  The projects varied from setting up clean water systems to sustainable gardening setups to HIV/AIDS presentations to medical surveys to kids’ clubs to meal prep and many others things.

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The goodbye feast in Danama

It’s always an incredible time of personal growth as well as service to local villagers who don’t often (or ever) receive the kind of help we are able to provide.  It’s a truly unique experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  It’s not the easiest of experiences, with 80 kids to organise and no access to clean water/showers/toilets etc, but it’s definitely a worthwhile one.  This year we had some electricity because this village had a few solar panels, this meant that we had some light in some places at night time which made things a little bit easier than last year!  Although it attracted all the bugs.  I (and everyone) was bitten by soooooo many mozzies!  I also fell through a bridge on the first day (as did 4 others…) and still have a scar.

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Dancing with the locals in Danama

The local people were so friendly, welcoming, kind, generous, grateful, fun and lovely.  It made our experiences really memorable.  They gave all the girls nokens (hand made bags) and they gave lots of other things to a huge variety of people.  They put on dances for us, spent time telling us their history and life stories, and cooked a huge feast as a thank you for us on the day we left.  We were so blessed to experience life with these people for 2 weeks.  Here are a bunch of photos from our trip.

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A welcome lunch with the locals in the village we hiked to
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The view from the building we stayed in in small village we hiked to
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Lunch in our small village in one of the local’s kitchen
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Kids’ club
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The honai I slept in with some of my girls.  It was warm and comfy but I got flea bites on my legs and a rat ran across my back during the night…
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It was pretty muddy… it rained every afternoon.  We were in the highlands this year and the weather is much cooler.
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Kids’ club in Danama
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Danama
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Preparing the goodbye feast.  They put all the food in huge pits in the ground with hot rocks to cook.
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Paul & Pete were given headdresses and thank you presents
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Eating the goodbye feast

There are only six weeks left until graduation now, so we’re getting to the pointy end of the school year!  It’s strange to think I’ll have to say goodbye to all my seniors as they head to various countries to go to university.  It’s always a hard time of transition here in May when everyone departs either for a break or for good.  We’re losing a number of staff at the school too which is always sad.

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My seniors (year 12s)

If you’ve ever thought about teaching overseas, just let me know!  I’d love to send you some info on our school.  Here’s a video.  There is a fair bit of footage from my classes here (even though I’m nowhere to be seen!) and my choir even made it in!

 

Over the 2 month break I’ll be heading off for a while.  I’ll be gone about 5 weeks and I’ll spend 4 of those weeks in Makassar, a city on another island, doing language school.  It’s been a challenge to learn Indonesian when I’ve never had proper lessons and I spend all my time teaching in English.  Living on the school compound has not helped me learn the language at all.  I have the basics down, but I can’t have a meaningful conversation with anyone, so I’m looking forward to improving my language skills for the final 12 months of my time here.  The plan is for me to stay until June 2017 then move back to Australia.

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Part of my Geometry class

At the moment I’m feeling terrible about the decision to stay an extra year.  I know it won’t last, but I’m missing home right now.  I missed a good friend’s wedding today, I’m seeing photos on Facebook of other friends having babies and I get sad that I can’t be a part of any of that.  I feel so removed, yet so connected at the same time because of the internet.  It’s both a blessing and a curse.  My friends are lovely in that they still invite me to Facebook events, which I love, but it often just makes me sad because I’m reminded of all the things I’m missing out on.  Removal from the people you know and love is a truly difficult thing.  I’ve been here almost 2.5 years now, and that’s a really long time to be away.

So like usual, life is both good and bad.  I know I’m in the right place for now, but it’s also hard to be away from home.  Through it all however, God is good.

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