I'm back from a trip of a lifetime! I'm so thankful I got to know the Wai's and for HPI allowing me to be gone for so long. Below is a summary video put together by one of the high school boys on the trip. Then below that are more details. Each day was jam packed, we were gone for 3 weeks... So it's a bit of a long post. On the trip was Josh, a pastor at my church, and myself. We've said a couple of times that this was a "young man's trip" and once you get to the end, you'll probably agree. :)
Day 1 & 2
San Francisco to Sydney Australia is a 15hr flight. We then had a 10hr layover and took the opportunity to check out some of the sights.
We stayed at a host's house through Airbnb and he let us borrow his bike. We found a beach and the ocean water is ridiculously warm. It's as if you stepped into a warm bathtub. It was unbelievably nice! This was the place we stayed at:
We finished the day with a fresh fish dinner on the beach while watching the sunset.
People in the US are relatively exact with directions. We asked a money changer about a near-by beach and he said, "turn left at the end of this road, then left again at the first light". Seems straight forward. What he failed to mention is that each turn is 5 miles away! So technically correct, but it would have been nice to know the distance was pretty far.
That evening we headed back to the airport for Jayapura Papua (with a stop at UPG airport). When we arrived at UPG all the flight boards had the wrong destination for the flight. People kept telling us to not worry about it. Which we didn't... until we realized that a flight with the same number as ours was loading at a different gate! We asked everyone at the new gate if we were headed to Jayapura (despite all the signs saying differently). Sure enough, we flew to the right place, and our bags also arrived with us.
By the way, Lion Air set a new standard for discount airlines. Our hips barely fit and our knees hit the seat in front of us. Food and drinks were definitely out of question during our red-eye flight. I'll view domestic travel in the US a little differently now.
We arrived to Jayapura airport, which is actually in a city called Sentani. It kind of has a developing nation feel where everything is dusty and dirty... a mix of India and Mexico, but everyone drives on the opposite side of the road! :)
We tried a bunch of new fruit: A red one with soft spikes and clear meat in the middle. We also had pomelo, a sticky yellow fruit, and many others. The third picture of the flower made awesome tea.
We also swam in the Sentani lake. The swim was a little over a 1/2 kilometer, and I quickly discovered that I'm not in swimming shape. At one point I was on my back while being pulled to the other side. Here's one of many awesome views of the lake:
The Wai's, the missionary family (Peter, Diane, and their son Gabe) we were visiting told us more about their project. Wycliffe is dedicated to translating the Bible into all languages. For this tribe, they came up with 20 stories that focus on the Apostles Creed and span creation through the New Testament. They chose these 20 stories because they don't offend different denominations. They also emphasize light and power in the stories because that's important to the people they're translating for. The people live in Taria and speak Taburta, a verbal-only language.
Here's a small glimpse into life in Sentani and as a foreigner:
The next morning we visited the pasar (market) in Sentani. It puts the Corvallis farmer's market to shame. :)
Peter & Diane are mentors to the actual translators who are native to the village. They keep the translators on track and schedule times to check the stories with other native speakers. The translators start with Indonesian and than translate the story into Taburta. To help facilitate the process, they created a phonetic version of their language to check it's accuracy. They also have native speakers listen to the stories and then they test the listeners for accuracy and comprehension. Once the stories are completed, they record them and put them onto an mp3 player for villagers to listen to.
Peter teaching people how to use the mp3 player later in the trip:
That evening we watched their son, Gabe, play basketball with his high school. They were playing an exhibition match to open a middle school tournament. Everything seemed normal until half-time... when the team they played left the court... and a new team... with new jerseys came on the court... and they played the second half without resetting the score board... Very strange.
The next day we ran a bunch of errands. One included a computer store. I found some HP cartridges, but not HP printers. That's probably OK because all the Canon printers I saw for sale were all set up to use non-original ink (called CISS).
While running errands we passed a motorcycle accident. We thought about stopping to help, but decided not to because if we did, the chances were good we would be blamed for the accident (because we're foreigners) and forced to pay for all the medical bills and motorcycle damage. It's a shame. We came by later and everything was gone, so hopefully it worked out OK.
That afternoon we swam again in Lake Sentani and saw some more beautiful sights.
One notable event: we held a water competition between Gabe and myself. It included events such as biggest/smallest splash, longest breath holding, etc. One event was "best trick dive" and I executed a perfect belly flop off of a 10 foot high dock. It ultimately paved the way to my victory. I also managed to earn loud laugher from a bunch of locals watching.
We left for the airport to go into the jungle village at 7:15am, but didn't actually leave until 11:30am. The delay was caused because the plane we planned to take, a small 10-person prop plane, needed maintenance and we switched to a slightly small plane. That meant as a group we needed to lose 36 Kilos of weight! It took lots of heartache, but we eventually made it work.
So this is awesome: I was in the co-pilot seat and talking with the pilot, Brad. I expressed my interest in flying and Brad asked, "Do you want to fly this plane?" Um... Of course! So Brad installed the co-pilot stick and 30 seconds after take-off gave me control. It took me a little bit to get comfortable, which Gabe REALLY didn't like, but I flew the whole way (about an hour) and Brad landed. This was definitely a highlight of the trip for me!
In Taria, we received an awesome welcome:
We also got to live in the house Peter & Diane built by hand. It's a pretty awesome house made out of ironwood planks (wood that's dense enough to sink in water) and lots of screened windows. Since there are no roads to Taria, everything but the wood was flown in.
This is what a typical house looks like:
We chopped sugar cain with a machete,
Swam in the river,
And set up mosquito nets for sleeping.
Day 9: Good Friday
The highlight of this day was attempting to build a dam on the river. You can see our handiwork in the video at the top. All of us managed to burn pretty bad on that day too.
The jungle is thick! It's hard to capture it with photos, but I'll try.
Day 11: Easter Sunday
The village has 7 churches for ~500 people and three main languages are spoken (there's technically 2 people groups in the village that speak 2 different languages). For Easter Sunday, all 7 churches came together as one to worship. It was pretty awesome with lots of special music
Josh preached and his 15 minute message lasted a little over an hour because it was first translated into Indonesian, and then into Taburta and then Gem (the other language). Speaking with that many translations is tricky because each thought needs to be complete given the amount of time between speaking, but also short so the translators capture everything. Here's an example:
That afternoon we taught a couple people how to play the card game War, we also swam in the river (of course), and spent time walking around the village. We also met with Pastor Yaber who was the driving force behind getting someone to come and translate the Bible into Taburta. It was around this time that Josh & I realized how awesome the Wai's are because it's not easy living in the village, and they do it joyously!
We also came to appreciate what it means to "live life together". We shared a bed most of the trip, a bag while in the village, some clothes, a Bible, and even deodorant (until we gave it away). Beyond the material things, we prayed a lot together and shared openly our thoughts on life, ministry, and family. We were living out the end of Acts 2:
"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)I'm not sure how to achieve this in the US, but it's awesome to be this close in fellowship with someone.
We also tried swapping faces, but the results weren't pretty:
I also swapped my face with Gabe. I actually liked that result:
Day 12: The Saddest Day (also the half-way point of the trip)
I woke up this morning wondering what God had in store of us. So far, each day was filled with unique experiences and today had no agenda. It turned out to be a sad day of tragedy.
A lady in the village, around 7 months pregnant, went into labor. The baby was breach and there wasn't anything the doctor could do but wait and see. It struck me that village life can be fun if you're healthy, but deadly if not. We prayed for her and her baby and left when things started to get intense.
Only 30 minutes later we got word that Pastor Yaber just lost his 9-month old infant baby to tuberculous. We sat in his house and cried with his family with the infant in the middle of the room. It was so sad. Pastor Yaber's son's name was Ose, which is an acronym for the software used in the translation process (One Story Editor... I think... It might be One Store Examiner). Pastor Yaber was so excited for the translations that he named his son after it. It was so sad.
A little later we learned that the baby of the lady in labor also died. Thankfully the mom was OK.
Because of the climate, funerals happen quickly and the men started making tiny coffins that afternoon. In a village without cars or many power tools, it's erie to hear cutting and hammering and know exactly what's being made.
We broke into two groups for each house and sang songs, prayed, read scripture, and spoke words. Josh lead in his house and Peter lead in our house. Once that was done they nailed the coffins closed. There was a feeling of finality as the hammer hit the nails.
We then joined as one group and went to the cemetery to bury the babies next to each other. Josh said some more words and Peter translated. It's fascinating how much trust/responsibility/expectations were placed on us simply because we're missionaries. It gave us a glimpse into the life Peter and Diane joyfully accepted.
At the end of the day, we met with a lady in the village who spoke a little English. She thanked us for coming and said, "We are one family now." This is the opening line of our church's vision statement. This is why we travelled to Taria and are celebrating the completion of the Bible stories. It was a sad day, but a good day because it brought all of us closer together in Christ.
That night ended with an intense lightning and thunder storm. It's seemed appropriate. It also meant the water tank would fill up a little and we wouldn't have to haul water to the house tomorrow.
The celebration was the next day, and so this day was all about preparing for it. They set up a main stage, a covered area for seating, and a two cooking areas. While the men built, the women carried buckets of water for cooking. It took a little bit for the mood to change, but eventually there was music, dancing, and volleyball.
We also visited the other side of the village where the Gem live. Again, they're a different people group that speak a different language. Not only that, but they clearly had a higher standard for "curb appeal". Each home looked well maintained with well kept grass and ornamental flowers. They also mastered the concept of fences and therefore had a large garden right next to the village that kept the pigs out. In contrast, the Taburta people kept their gardens a few miles away so the pigs didn't get to it. I'm honestly not sure why there was such a large difference. My guess is it has to do with priorities instead of education.
Also interesting: Peter helped a Gem pastor buy some solar power equipment. The pastor was impressed that Peter bought what he wanted, kept receipts, AND returned the left over money. Apparently there's a lot of theft in the area and giving someone money pretty much guarantees you get nothing in return, and if you do get something, there's never any money left over. Anyways, this pastor was so pleased that he gave Peter his ONLY pig as a thank you.
Talking with Peter, this put him in a tough spot. First, Peter has to accept the gift otherwise it would be an insult. It was a young pig that still needed time to grow, but Peter wasn't in a position to raise a pig. And he can't simply regift it because that would lead to jealousy from other villages. So, the only real option, unfortunately, was to donate it to the celebration. It's not easy being a missionary in another country.
Day 14: The Celebration!
At 6am the pig slaughter began.
I thought I was ready to watch this, but I was wrong. Peter purchased a pig for the celebration and they were tying it up to present to him. While that was going on, about 5 feet in front me (with lots of unhappy squealing), there was another pig a little over to my right.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, the pig on my right got shot with a SIX foot arrow in the ribs right behind its front leg! The pig takes off in obvious pain and soon falls over to a twitching death. I was not prepared for that and was visibly shaken (not to mention the realization that I was in the field of view when the shot was fired).
Next up was Peter's pig. They presented the pig to Peter and he declared it should be killed for the celebration. So, they handed Peter a bow and arrow. Peter, being the trooper he is, killed the pig.
Next was the pig that was gifted to Peter. One of the guys who helped with the translations shot the pig. I actually got it on video, but the pig took off in my direction, and... well... You'll see my reaction in the video below. Note: if you're not a fan of blood, do NOT watch this video. Also, I was shocked with the amount of laughing and joking during this time.
A little later on, we watched them kill 4 pigs on the volleyball court. And then later that day we played volleyball on that same court.
At 9:45am special guests arrived for the celebration via airplane. It's a VP of a local church (and his photographer). A representative from the Indonesia arm of Wycliffe (kind of, the structure of it all was a little confusing) named Todd, and another official government looking person. They're greeted with vigorous pomp and circumstance. Here they were practicing before the guests arrived:
The ceremony itself was great. It included prayers, the telling of all 20 stories, special music, and speeches made by the guests. Josh spoke on behalf of Northwest Hills (our church) and let everyone know how proud we were of the Wai's and how excited we were for the village to hear the Word of God for the first time in their own language.
The ceremony ended with tons of food, dancing to music, and many games.
A little later we (Josh, Peter, Diane, Todd & myself) visited a house that had a bunch of sick ladies in it and who are requesting prayer. They only speak Taburta and so someone, an elder of one of the churches, translates from Indonesian to Taburta for Peter. Before we pray, Peter asks them if their trust is in Jesus Christ. They're not sure, and so Peter shares Christ with the whole family and they each say they want to accept him. The elder commits to following up later with them with one of the pastors. It was a special moment, with them listening to the stories on the mp3 player while we leave (to go swim in the river, of course).
That evening I hung out with one of the families while they cooked more pig. While they were listening to the stories I pet their little piglet.
Josh and I were given two live chickens to take back to America. We decided to take them back in our stomachs. With the aid of a machete, we each, killed, plucked, gutted, and cooked (over a fire we started in the yard) our chickens. It turned out delicious.
That afternoon we flew back to Sentani. We actually didn't know when the plane was arriving, and so we simply stayed alert for the sound of a plane coming. When we heard it, we quickly grabbed our stuff and headed to the airstrip. Once there, we said goodbye to everyone and got on the plane.
The next day was a day to relax. So we bought gifts at the pasar (market), hiked up to a small waterfall, played basketball with Gabe and one of his friends, and roasted squid (and leftover pork) for dinner.
Back to Bali. If Lion Air is on the cheap side of discount airlines, Garuda is on the nicer side of airlines. For example, right before take-off, they handed out candies. We also got drinks, snacks, and a meal during the flight. The flight also wasn't full, so we got our little row to ourselves.
For the second part of our stay in Bali, we decided to head 4 hours North because we heard the snorkeling was fantastic, and it was less touristy. Our host, Ron, turned out to be American. He had just finished building his place in January and we were his first guests that weren't family or friends. Ron did real estate development in the US, met his wife at a wedding in Bali and moved here full time around 2009.
Ron took us snorkeling in the morning
We also walked along the beach and main road, shared 12 ice cream cones, I got a 45 minute massage for $8.50, we swam in Ron's pool, and then Ron showed us a cool place to watch the sunset. There's nothing like two dudes enjoying a place designed to be more of a romantic get-away.
In 1939 the Christians in Bali were rounded up and forced to live in a single village. They made the best of their circumstances and this village is now considered one of the prettiest places in Bali - perfect for visiting. Ron suggested we check it out since it was only an hour away and he had never been there.
We arrived, took pictures of the church and then decided to walk down a random road to see if there was anything else interesting. Along the way, we came across a house with a water park in the front yard. We decided to check it out.
It turns out the owner, named Ayub (which means Job), is a pastor and came to the village in 1975. We sat down for over and hour and listened to his story. When he first started preaching, he informed his congregation that we was looking for a second part-time job and received 11 offers. He accepted the hardest one: plumbing, so he could learn what it means to work hard.
With his plumbing skills, he brought water to this community, plus 3 other villages. He also created the water park to teach people how to swim (the #1 cause of death in Bali is drowning). He also taught people how to keep the community clean and how to respect their environment. In other words, we just happened to stumble into the house of one of the big movers and shakers in this village.
He left the village for a bit and came back to retire. Since then, he's learned that God isn't finished with him yet and has signed up for 2 more terms on church leadership.
One of the key themes: You can have more than one act in life. In fact, the second (or third!) thing you do can even be greater than the first! There's also great joy to be living a purposeful life that advances God's Kingdom.
We drove back to the South East part of Bali, to a place called Sanur Beach, to be closer to the airport. We checked out the monkeys on the way back (not a bad view either).
Sanur Beach felt like the heart of tourism. We spent the day looking for ice cream and a hat for Josh. The style of hat Josh liked seemed to only come with the logo of the local beer: Bintang. It seemed hopeless until we saw someone wearing a hat, in the right style, that said, "Little Bird Warung". He pointed us to a restaurant of that name which sold the hats. Josh wasn't in love with the hat, so I suggested we eat here sometime so it has meaning when he buys it.
When it comes to eating, Josh has a simple criteria he follows: If there's already people there, it's probably good. If nobody is there, it's not worth the risk. He also wanted to go somewhere that seemed lively, and if we could push our luck, included live music. Unfortunately, it was the offseason in Bali and a lot of the places didn't even meet Josh's first criteria...
Until we came across the Little Bird Warung. The place was jam packed with people, music was going, and it appeared a band was warming up. Perfect! While eating, we noticed a young Dutch couple next to us. They had that young love look in their eyes and I also noticed that the husband kept playing with his wedding ring (which is exactly what I did when first married). Josh, who is awesome to travel with because he's not afraid to do things like this, asked them if they were on their honeymoon.
They were! And so we offered to pay for their meal because we miss our wives and believe marriage is a wonderful thing to be celebrated. They were in shock. After they finished up and walked away, they came back and took their picture with us.
Unfortunately, the hat didn't fit Josh's head when he tried it on.
Our flight was scheduled to leave at 10:30pm, but I was emotionally ready to leave that morning. To distract ourselves, we rented a jet ski. If you get the chance, doing jumps off of waves and surfing waves sideways is a ton of fun! The other nice part about Bali is that when you fall off, the water is still pleasantly warm.
We also checked out a really cool chapel:
Day 22 & 23
I managed to watch 5 movies on the way home, which also means I didn't sleep much.
In Papua there was a National Geographics shirt that said "My Trip. My Adventure." These shirts were everywhere. Seriously, every single shop had at least one. There were so many of them it became a meme of the trip which Josh or I would casually say right after something awesome happened.
Thanks to everyone who made it possible for me to take 3 weeks to celebrate the work God is doing in Taria Indonesia!
If you still have time, I wrote another post about the 12 real estate lessons I learned from Indonesia.