Saturday, July 26, 2014

On Last Moments With Family

I literally have 8 posts in drafts from our weeks of travel and settling in here in Indonesia. So, this is obviously dated now, but... I can't not post those beautiful photos!

This week is a gift. We have been in Colorado with my family and in less than two days we will fly out, on our way to England and finally Indonesia. It's the end, and the beginning.

My family has gathered, my sister flying in last minute from Minnesota, we met up with my brother and sister-in-law and niece in the mountains today. We got to be here for my little brother's graduation party and his baptism. We celebrated my sister's birthday and have met a couple of significant others for the lovely single sisters of the family. Today at church we were surrounded by supporters and my dad prayed for us with his voice cracking and breaking.

  I treasure it. My heart is filled to the brim with thankfulness for these times that we are soaking up, knowing we will be away for so much over the next four years. So yes, I treasure a trip to the mountains where we wander Georgetown and or hike in Estes Park, marveling at the beauty of Colorado and sunsets and these life milestones like my brother confessing his faith in baptism and a boy asking my dad if he can date my sister.

I also treasure the small things. We are packing this house to the brim but that means that they are there when I come out bleary eyed with two energetic children and no coffee in my system yet. It means they jump on the trampoline with Judah and he adores them, my dad snuggles Elly and my mom teaches her to push up on her knees and move towards crawling. We wash dishes and do a garage sale and sit in the back yard with the Colorado dusky sky blessing our dinner conversation.

It is beautiful.

I have said that leaving my family is the hardest thing about going overseas. I long to have my parents and siblings involved in my kid's lives and I want my kids to know and love their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.

Because of that, I'm thankful that it took so long to get us headed to Indonesia. I am so ready to get overseas already that I am more eager and willing to go through these goodbyes. One can't put off a life calling to "bury my father" as the gospels put it. So we go, and I go with excitement. I think there has been a shift from mourning the loss of of time with my family to simply soaking up what time we do have and being really intentional.

They are great, they really are. I am ever so thankful that God gave them to me.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Parenting in a new culture

So now I'm a parent.... in Indonesia. And the biggest stressor in my life is still raising two littles, rather than cultural adjustment. It's interesting trying to figure out this parenting thing, though, in a new culture. I was very relieved when Judah's little four year old friend Khansa from across the street threw a total fit and was dragged back to her house by her Dad. It was the first time I've seen a kid here throw a fit! I have felt like Indonesian kiddos rarely fuss, and our toddler is super fussy, so.... that's fun. 

Perhaps the biggest cultural stress for me is actually the way Indonesians comment constantly on your kids and parenting. It's partly just the way they make small talk. They comment constantly on your state of being at the moment - what's in your hand, the child you're holding, the direction you seem to be heading, where you're coming from. In the US we talk about plans for the day, what you'll be doing or at how work is. My teachers have discouraged us from asking people what they will do that day, "They don't have plans. They are not like Americans. They will do things that day but they don't have a plan. And you don't ask what they are going to do at work, because you already know. They are going to work. Nothing more." Such a different mentality than the West!

In any case, because they comment on my being at the moment and I am usually out with one or both kiddos, my neighbors comment constantly on my kids. In the US we take those comments very personally, as criticism. I'm less likely to be offended but very likely to be insecure, especially since I generally feel like I don't know what I'm doing anyways! I am, however, fully soaked in the Western medical perspective that we get sick when we are exposed to germs, and therefore that my kids are sick because they are exposed to new germs.  My neighbors, teachers, everyone is absolutely convinced that both of my kids have been pathetically sick this week because:

1) I do not cover them up, they are too cold. "Masuk angin" or "the wind has entered" them. Elly regularly wears onesies (it's regularly 80-90 degrees and very humid), and even though I've taken to putting her in pants and then long sleeves to assuage their worries, they still worry about her lack of socks or a hat. I just cannot win!

2) We take walks at night. They're clearly getting cold and .... masuk angin. Poor kids, their parents should keep them inside!

3) It was really windy out for a couple of days, which clearly caused a lot of sickness, but then we took our kids out in it without being fully covered so.... masuk angin.

4) I give the kids baths (though not often enough - kids here are bathed at least twice a day), but afterwards I don't put on this warming oil stuff that is ubiquitous here. Minyak telon. It's not so different than the essential oils movement in the US (insert my skeptical face here) but includes an oil that has a slight warming like icy-hot does. So - it warms the body. As soon as Elly got sick our child-minder starting putting minyak telon on her all the time. Because... masuk angin.

I tried to explain to my child minder and a neighbor that in the US we believe that the kids get  sick from being exposed to new...... they jump in, nod sympathetically, and say, "Yes, they have been exposed to new temperatures and are still getting used to the weather here." I mentioned that we would keep our kids inside to keep them from exposing other kids or being exposed when a sickness is going around, and they looked at me blankly. But then I posted about this on facebook and had friends living around the world say that it's the same where they are... so maybe the US is missing something?

I seriously can't go out with a kid without having their lack of appropriate attire being commented on. So, I am trying to understand that here people parent in community rather than as individuals, and I should be unoffended. I am also dressing Elly in longer clothes and making Judah wear shoes outside of our gate (going barefoot is NOT okay here, that's a Papuan thing, and we are not in Papua yet). 

My mom helped prepare me for some of the communal parenting mentality, particularly the way they will sweep Elly away, walk off with her, and I'm not supposed to worry! It's great in some ways. They really care for kids here, and so unlike some other cultures, we never fear for our kids safety when they are with Indonesians. Or at least, we don't need to! I am trying to appreciate instead of worry. When we're shopping with two kids and a store employee takes Elly to the other side of the store, just be incredibly thankful that I am able to shop.  When we are eating and the restaurant owners take Elly to the kitchen, just be thankful I can eat in peace. And in the past couple of days, when two neighbors took Elly and told me to go home and get things done and pick her up later, I had to tell myself to treat it like a free babysitter/grandma, and just take advantage of it. I AM thankful! It's also SO DIFFERENT than what is okay in the US.

As for fussiness, well, I have no solution. At three and a half Judah is excessively fussy and other than just continuing to discipline and guide him, I am at a loss! I'll take tips from any culture for that one! Thing is, I can't discipline him publicly, it's very inappropriate. Our child-minder is also not likely to discipline - kids are pampered until ... well, I'm not sure what age. In any case, it means the hours we are all at home together are pretty intensive in boundary and rule setting and enforcing to try to counter the times when we're out or he is watched by our helper. Thus... the hours we are at home are exhausting for me.

It's the end game, right? It IS worth it because this stage will end and it will result in a more mature and disciplined child, right?

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Hi friends. I just wanted you all to know that I have been blogging at

WE ARE FINALLY IN INDONESIA! That link is a site set up for those that are supporting and praying for us and our work overseas, and we are trying to keep the up to date with our lives and transition. The very best time to write about how different your life is is when the differences are new and you are freshly processing. So, for now, I'm primarily writing there. I'll be back here eventually! I have several draft posts from our travels I will post.

A few random comments:

- I am in the honeymoon stage of adjustment. After the initial week of jet lag, culture shock, and general disorientation, I have settled into, "I cannot believe I get to live here." I drink it in. I hate to talk about it, though, because those around me in language school are in other stages of frustration, loneliness, and sometimes even depression.

- In the US I had to force myself to be social a lot of the time. Here, at least at the beginning, I am out every chance I get, eagerly chatting with anyone who will chat with me. That may change with time, but it does also speak to the fact that I am very comfortable being a foreigner, and much less comfortable in my own people group.

- I am super thankful to have a head start on the language. I don't particularly like challenges, so being at the point where I have some but also have the vision of being very fluent and competent eventually makes me super motivated to learn. I am loving it.

- My three year old. Ya'll. Mothering a toddler makes me feel like a bad mom. Whew. It wears you down, the constant discipline of this stage. God help me, in complete seriousness, love and guide my child well. Doesn't help that it feels like Indonesian kids rarely fuss, and my toddler is excessively fussy.

- It's Ramadan. And we are in the midst of national Presidential elections. And the World Cup. It's been a really big first few weeks here.

Below - the entrance to our house. It looks like we're in the middle of pure greenery, but we're actually surrounded by other houses.... there's just so much green you can't tell! Our area is on the outskirts of town, with some relatively wealthy families and some very poor families around. We love the neighborhood and are getting to know our neighbors. 

Anyways - follow us over at the other blog for stories of transitioning to Indonesia.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

On Looking For Online Community (and Xanga Nostalgia)

I am guilty of romanticizing the past. In this case, I romanticize Xanga. Remember it? The first big blogging platform? The blog you can't remember the password for but is probably still there somewhere in the interwebs, set on private?

Xanga is where I started blogging, to keep up with friends and then just as a way to write about life. What kept me going and pulled me in, though, was not just the blank web page to fill with words, but the community. I think that's what made Xanga great in its day. A ton of people were on it and, like Facebook, you were able to see friend's new posts pop up, see when someone had replied to a comment, and generally be notified of communication so you you could communicate back. Because of that, I got to know the bloggers I followed and even though I don't think any of us are on Xanga anymore, those Internet friends because just... friends... we keep in touch and I forget that I've never actually met them.

And that, friends, is what is frustrating me about blogging these days. Things have changed. Some of the bloggers that I read back in the day have become actual professional writer/bloggers that are writing books. The rest rarely post or have shut down completely. It feels like blogging has moved on to business, and the day when it was used mostly by people like me, just your average Jane looking to write about life, feels like it's passing.

I blog to write about life and process, but at the moment it's missing something. It's missing community. I don't want to write in a vacuum. I want to communicate, to be in a "neighborhood" of people also writing about life. It's not that I want a ton of followers, I just wish for interaction, you know?

Commenting is a problem. Everyone has different blog platforms and we all are trying to guard against spam comments, and so you have sign up for various comment systems, or fill in captchas, or sign in with your facebook or twitter account. Thing is, I follow a good amount of blogs, and chances are that if you're reading this and have a blog, I read yours. But I probably don't comment, or at least you don't think I do, because it happens ALL THE TIME that I try to comment on blogs and get errors or it won't go through, and I give up because I didn't have anything all that important to say anyways.

So, I miss the days of xanga, when it was easy to comment and was notified of replies automatically.

Social media is not my only community, and certainly in-person community is more important, but I do think that we look for community in just about everything we do (sports, jobs, church, hobbies, etc). If I blog, I would like to blog within a community of bloggers.  I feel like the community aspect of blogging is dropping, and I miss it.