Sunday, June 25, 2006


Well, I guess you could say we are acclamating to the climate here. We live in the hot tropics but this is dry season and it’s a bit cooler now. Without the daily 100% humidity, the heat is much more bearable. Tonight I am sitting here at the computer, wearing long pants, a long sleeved shirt and socks and I’m still a bit chilly (it’s 72* right now). We are putting Jack to bed in the same so he doesn’t get too chilled and I’ve even been bringing a sweater to class each day because I get a little cold. One step into the sunshine will change all that and within seconds, I’m sweating again. (Yes women sweat, at least in Indonesia!) The weather channel forcasts that tomorrow in a nearby larger city it will be an actual 88* but will feel like 92*. I’d say that’s pretty hot, wouldn’t you? How in the world then can I possilby need a sweater? My only explanation is that my by must be adjusting. Now if only my mind could catch up!


Block Party

For the last few days a family down the street has been having a smashing party!  Each night the music has been loud and they’ve had people coming all hours of the night.  You’d be surprised though to find out why they are having this party.  It’s because their 13 year old son was just circumcised!  He has now become a man and the whole of the city has been invited to the party.  They began preparing the food on Thursday of last week and the last of the guests came and left tonight.  Joel and I were privileged to have been able to go and experience this very cultural event.  When we arrived we were expected to shake everyone’s hand, Indonesian style (very weakly- not like a good firm American handshake!) give our gift of cash to the father of the guest of honor, and then help our selves to the snacky food on the table.  There were chairs everywhere to sit on and so we got our food and took a seat.  What we didn’t know was that last night was the men’s night to go and tonight was the ladies.  Joel and another 2 men were the only one’s there tonight (one of whom was a foreigner like us) but no one seemed bothered. Maybe they just know we are still learning!  After the snacky food, we were invited to eat the more substantial food; rice, vegetables, soybean cakes and noodles.  We chatted with a few people and then made our exit.  This may sound to you like a rude way to appear at a party, but while we were there some 20 Indonesian ladies did the same.  People from the market are invited, people from our neighborhood and I’m sure family from other cities were there too.  All dressed to the nines!  I am not sure what underlying things are going on that we didn’t pick up on but mainly I think the purpose was to eat.  Maybe later, we’ll understand more but for now we can say we have done it and it was a painless experience… at least for us J.

From our email update

Dear Friends,

We have reached a milestone here in Indonesia!! One we are proud to say we reached! We completed our first of 9 units of language study! Hallelujia that is now behind us and those ahead of us say it is the hardest. Friday was our last day of class for Unit 1 and now we have a 2 week break before the next one begins. Looking back to the first day of class, we are amazed at how far we’ve come in just a short amount of time. We can now have conversations with our neighbors. As a matter of fact, just this morning I was talking with Ibu Samsia and for the first time, I completely comprehended what she was saying to me, without my dictionary and without having to ask her to repeat it. She asked me to teach some of the neighborhood kids English as they come often to play in our yard. I learn bahasa Indonesia from them and she suggested that when they come to play, having little mini language sessions for them in English. For them to go on in school, aparently they need to master some English so it will help them out and it helps me out! A great combination, I’d say.

Joel has been taking opportunities with the men we’ve hired to do some repairs to the house to learn language on subjects like construction and gardening. Each day they are here, he looks up words having to do with that subject and then goes out to talk, hoping to incorporate those terms in conversation. It has worked well so far and he looks forward to that time each day. It is also a great way to build relationships with the men we see often around our house!

On Friday, we set out to do a very daunting thing! We invited all of our teachers over for dinner. Ten came and so for 2 ½ hours we spoke in Indonesian. It was tiring but it was also a great way to practice what we’ve learned with those who have taught us so well. It was a really nice time to see our teachers outside of class and get to know them a little better. On Monday, they will be giving us our evaluations for this first unit. Pray we can communicate clearly what we know and that we won’t be nervous.

For the next 2 weeks, we will be trying to rest and give our minds a break from the intensity of language school, while at the same time, reviewing what we’ve learned and using it in every day opportunities. We may try to get away one night to do some shopping in a nearby city but for the most part our holiday from class will be spent at home. One of the main priorities is to spend time together as a husband and wife, going on a few dates together and also to spend time as a family with Jack. He is doing so well and we feel like he has completely adjusted to our move here. He is now walking all over the place and loves to bop up and down to music any chance he gets. He is still full of smiles and gives them away to anyone who looks his way. Our house helpers told us the other day that he said his first words to them, in Indonesian! They asked if he was done with his snack (sudah makan) and he said “sudah” – done! Then they asked if he was ready to take a nap and his answer to this was “tidak” – no! Of course, isn’t that every baby’s first word! I guess it’s that way in every language!

Our local volcano keeps on a’ puffin’! Just last night we came out of our family room to find the house covered in ash! I almost slipped on our tile floor it was so slippery from the dust. I keep asking each time it erupts if that is all and my neighbors say, “you never know. It could go on for months like this!” I hope it ends soon but I’m sure those who live closer wish that more than me. The rebuilding in YogyakartaJogjakarta” after the earthquake is still going on. We have been able to help with some of the efforts there finanically, but because the volcano is between us and Yogya, we have been advised to stay here. For safety reasons, it would not be wise to be there when and if there was a large erruption. The response to the needs there has been huge. Many churches around the world are sending money and manpower to help those in need. Keep praying that God will use this to open the eyes of those who have yet to trust him for salvation. Perhaps something of this magnitude will bring to reality their need of spiritual salvation as well as physical. That is our prayer.

We have really enjoyed all the emails that you all have been sending our way these past months. It is wonderful to feel connected to home.

Keep praying for us as God teaches each day how much we need Him. We are so thankful to be here and believe God is using so many of you back home and around the world to be our team mates. Remember, for a wheel to have the rubber meet the road and keep moving forward, that wheel must have spokes and a hub supporting it. The hub is our home church and the spokes are those in between praying and giving so we can go! You are vital to this task!

We love and miss you all!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tidak Mengerti! I don't understand

Today I decided to ask my neighbor to help me understand some of the things that went on at the Ibu Ibu Meeting last week. I thought, this will be a good way to get some language time in, get answers to my questions, and maybe even get some good sentences to analyze the grammar with.
Well, I went to find her and ask if she had time to help me. She was willing, so we walked over to my porch to sit there while we talked. I told her I just wanted to ask questions and write down her answers to look up later for understanding, expecting to get short sentences. Dumb idea. I suppose the concept of keep it simple may not be in their culture and the answers were more like paragraphs. I wrote as fast as I could but the Javanese "accent" is very difficult to understand. Specifically, their constanants sound similar to one another. It's hard to hear the difference between a "t" and a "d", a "p" and a "b", etc. so as I would write what I heard, she would repeat the word with an emphasis like, "no Bethany, not a "b" a "p"". Well if Idon't get that right, Iwon't be able to look the word up.
So I supposed I learned a lesson today. I don't have enough language to do this kind of questioning yet. I should keep it simple too! Oh, I so badly want to understand and communicate well. Talking about the trees and whether it's hot or not, or what we ate or who came over seems so shallow. I want to know what makes them who they are. Patience, Bethany, patience!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Arisan Dasawisma Ibu Ibu - a cultural experience!

Here on the Island of Java, each city is divded into several smaller communities called R.W.’s or “air –way’s” and within those communities are even smaller divisions and those small communities are called R.T.’s or “air – tay’s”. We live in R.W.- 1, R.T.- 4. Basically, our R.T. is our street. It is quite long and has many homes on it. There is one man who is an elected volunteer (nice how that works!) who is recognized by the government to represent his R.T. and he is known as Pak R.T. or Mr. R.T. Each month, the R.T.’s have meetings for the men and women (separately, of course). This past Monday was when the official meeting for June was held and we were able to go.
Our closest neighbors offered to come and get each of us and take us to our respective meeting. It is important for us to make a presence at these as we are new here and to truly be a part of your community, they must see you participate in this way.
Ibu Zulaika came to get me promptly at 4 and we made our way to the house where the meeting was being held. We were both dressed nicely, I in a skirt and she in slacks, which I came to find out later was the better of the two options. When we arrived there were already 30 or so ladies there all seated on the floor on ratan mats with their legs bent and feet pointed toward the wall or “indian style”. This is a very important thing for me to know, as to point one’s foot at someone is considered very impolite. This is where wearing pants comes in handy. Now you must understand that these women, for the most part are a good foot shorter than me and it is much easier for them, in a small room with up to 50 women in it, to sit scrunched together with their legs tucked nicely under them. Not to mention they’ve been sitting like this for hours on end their whole lives. Well this spoiled American, who is used to sitting in chairs was to learn a lesson. First of all, a knee length skirt is not suitable for sitting on a floor and second I’d better get used to being a bit uncomfortable.
As everyone arrived (all 50 or so), they paid what seemed to be dues to several different ladies who were collecting different sums of money. Once all the money was collected a young girl began the meeting by reading from a laminated card with what looked like the schedule for the afternoon’s events. Next another lady welcomed everyone and specifically noted that they had 2 new members with them, myself and another gal, like me, a “M.” who was new to the area also. Then followed a “prayer” silently with everyone standing and bowing their heads hands clasped in front of them. It lasted about 5 seconds and then they all sang what sounded like an anthem of some kind. I later found out it was the neighborhood song declaring that they wanted their neighborhood to be a place where all are welcome and where they care for one another. I was impressed with this and thought that perhaps back home we could learn a lesson or two from these ladies about hospitality!
The evening proceed and with each phase of the program, I observed, in silence, all that was going on. I cannot truly communicate with these ladies yet, and being there was a great reminder to me of why I am here learning this language. I desire to build relationships with them and without the ability to communicate verybally, I am hindered from ever doing that. This evening was a great cultural experience for both Joel and I at our respective meetings. As we learn more about this culture, we are made aware of the mixing that exists in their beleifs. Animism is still at the heart of each person here and layered on top is the fastest growing religion in the world. It is our hearts desire to see our friends freed from bondage and to understand the freedom they can have only through Christ. We hope one day that they will be able to understand clearly from the Word what has been done for them by their Father and that they can know Him personally, without reserve!

A Day in the Life

Are you wondering what it is we do at a language school 5 days a week? Well we thought we’d give you a glimpse of one typical morning for us!

7:40 – leave the house for our 10-15 minute walk to school (Bethany with her trusty umbrella – for rain in rainy season and for the hot sun in dry season, and Joel with his thermos of coffee!!
8:00 – class begins by singing an Indonesian folk song or praise song (we go to a school specifically for “M’s” to learn this language.
8:15 – we each take turns telling about what we did the day before – all in Indonesian. It’s amazing how with each day we can say more and describe things better and more comfortably
9:00 – we go over the new text for that day. For example today we learned how to ask the following questions:
What does an Indonesian say when he goes to visit someone who is sick? Apa yang dikatakan orang Indonesia waktu menengok orang sakit?
What does an Indonesian do when he has a guest? Apa yang dilakukan orang Indonesia waktu ada tamu? Why do Indonesians open and close doors quietly? Mengapa orang Indonesia membuka dan menutup pintu dengan pelan-pelan?
Why do Javanese not like to talk or laugh loudly? Mengapa orang Jawa tidak suka berbicara atau tertawa keras-keras?
9:25 – Fluency practice. Basically for the next 50 minutes we say the text over and over with the same tempo and intonation of the teacher so as to learn to sound like a natural speaker. Sometimes this can be quite funny if our teacher is very animated and we aren’t hearing the correct intonation for say, a question. To emphasize the way it is supposed to sound, they will say it very exaggerated and then we all laugh and we attempt it again!
10:00 – Break time, and believe me we need one by now! Already, our brains are full and we find ourselves yawning!
10:20 – Pronunciation practice. Now is our time to learn how they pronounce certain individual sounds, letters or combinations of letters in their language. A typical class period may find us saying the following words consecutively:
nyonya, nyoba, nyapu, nyamuk, nyanyian, bunyinya, menyepak, menyakiti, bernyanyi, menyadari, menyatakan, menyembah, penyanyi, nyokap, Benyamin, etc…
10:35 – Vocabulary. During this class, we either learn the answers to the questions from that day’s text and thus learn new words in the process, or we learn the words for things like weather, numbers, mathematics, family, etc. On any given day, from when we begin class at 8 to when we finish at 12, we will have been given anywhere between 50 and 100 new words!
11:00 – Grammar. Again we practice the text from that day. Continuous drilling is the main method of teaching here. I find myself dreaming in the text sometimes or that it is going over and over in my head as I do the dishes! This class also gives us new vocab as we replace some words in the text with others to learn where the subject goes, the verb, adjectives and so forth.
11:40 – Text drilling. Our favorite time of the day other than when we see Jack’s smiling face at the door as we arrive home. This is when we get to role play with the text, one on one with a teacher. We make substitutions for words based on the situation we are role playing. For intstance in stead of asking what would an Indonesian do when he has a guest, we would ask what he would do when he is in an accident or at the pasar (market), etc. Yet another opportunity to learn and use new vocabulary!

Ok, so that is a look at a morning in the life of Joel and Bethany. What Jack does, well, someday we’ll have to ask him! For now, it’s Friday and I’m done thinking about school. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I’m attaching some photos here from Joel’s recent trip to see the volcano as it was errupting on Friday.  He was some distance away, thank goodness, but got some cool photos from a nearby rice field.  On the way home, our friends and he decided to stop for a snack – eel and frog anyone?  I was envious that he got to see the volcano but enjoyed my cookies at home – thank you!  Also a recent photo of Jack in his new favorite position – standing all by himself!


Our big boy!  Posted by Picasa
These rocks are actually lava rocks left from the last volcanic erruption! Amazing! Posted by Picasa
How 'bout some Eel? Mmmm tasty! Posted by Picasa
Can you tell where the smoke starts and the volcano stops? Posted by Picasa
Mt. Merapi on the left a little quieter than this morning Posted by Picasa

bird flu

Ok so my ignorance and lack of a tv or time to surf the web will show through now as I give you our update on the bird flu here in Indonesia

WE KNOW NOTHING!  Except that we couldn’t get chicken at a restaurant a few weeks ago!  I’m sorry to say we haven’t heard much here. Maybe that’s good but maybe not.  Most of our neighbors aren’t aware of that kind of a thing either so …  sorry to those who’ve asked. I can’t tell you much!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mt. Merapi

Every morning when we arrive at school, we have a wonderful view of our local Mt. Merbabu Volcano.  Thankfully, this volcano is dormant and has been for a very long time.  There is no threat to us at all!  The one just beyond however has been spewing clouds of ash for weeks now.  Today we watched, as every few minutes, another cloud of ash rose to the sky and then the winds would carry it away over some unfortunate town nearby.  At every break between classes, we would poke our heads out the door to see it spew some more.  There were several eruptions today that were quite large and we are all anticipating the big one to come in the next few days.  Our windows are now covered and closed for the most part and our Pembantu’s dusted 2 times in 4 hours this morning. When we arrived home at 12 noon, there was already more ash on the floor and furniture.  We have heard that they evacuated the people around the volcano on Monday and we are hopeful that they have all chosen to leave that area.  We are fine here and have enjoyed it from a distance!  Just thought we’d update you all on the situation before the news did!  Bethany

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

This is the hill to our house, the other side is just as steep! Posted by Picasa
Count 'em - there's around 20 in this photo!!! Posted by Picasa
One typical afternoon in our yard "halaman kami" Posted by Picasa
Jack playing with the neighborhood kids. "Jack bermain dengan anak-anak tetanga". Posted by Picasa

Reality hits!

As promised, more photos. This is a typical afternoon around 3:30pm in our yard. Between 15 and 30 kids usually show up when the gate is the slightest bit open and we're out on the porch. They won't come in until I say "Silakan" - please (or help yourself) and hold out my hand in an invitation. But then once they do, watch out cause they sure know how to have fun! Jack is always the center of attention with both boys and girls - he loves it mostly. He loves his walker and they always ask for us to bring it out. He is taking more steps every day but still prefers crawling as he can go much faster that way. He is a bit wobbly on his feet still.

I had a "I don't want to hear or speak Indonesian" day today. Joel has been very gentle with me and has allowed me to busy myself with other things. One day in 8 of language study isn't bad right? That's what I'm telling myself. :) He is still a rock and sponge all at the same time! Hey that could be a riddle. He's solid for us as a family and has hardly had an ounce of culture/language shock. His brain is a sponge and is just soaking in all the new words every day. In class each day we are getting around 75 - 100 new words to use and phrases to say. Needless to say at around 11am, I'm done! Then we have to get up in front of our teacher and other student (Caleb- from Korea) and act out the text we learned that day. Whew! That's
just the morning! I have to get in another 2-3 hours of study and talking in Indonesian and Joel has to get at least 4 hours! Bed time comes none too quickly for us each day and we are sleeping hard!

With each new day comes the grace and strenght to begin again. God renews us through his Spirit within us and we march on as soldiers of the cross. And when I say march that is literal. We have to walk to school each morning and that includes 2 very large hills (see the other photo included here)! God has enabled us though and will continue to do so! Thank you for
praying for us and supporting us in this endeavor. Some day we'll know enough language to lead someone to Christ. That will make the process worth every moment!