Friday, December 21, 2007


We found out yesterday that we have a house in Jogja. The situation has been a bit complicated, largely because our positions are not entirely settled. Where Lori will work has not yet been settled and my position is new to UIN so they aren't sure what to do about me. However, we found out that a house formerly used by MCCers was available so we took it. We then had a choice to either move Dec. 24 or wait till later in January. We decided to move on Christmas Eve, which isn't an ideal time.

The house is on a compound owned by a Javanese Christian denomination in the middle of Jogja. It looks to be within walking distance of UIN and Duta Wacana, the Christian university Lori may be working at. The house is comfortable with room for the kids to play. We will post pictures of the house once we move in.

Last night we decorated Christmas cookies. Tonight we will be celebrating Christmas with MCC staff and workers. This marks the end of our time in Salatiga with several other MCC couples. One other couple will also be moving to Jogja where one of them will be teaching at Gadja Mada. Two other couples are moving to Papua. One couple is working on developing an educational program for HIV/AIDS while the other are teaching at a Seminary. We have developed some good relationships here and it will be sad to leave.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Trip to Yogyakarta (Jogja)

This past weekend we traveled to Jogja, mixing a bit of business with pleasure. On Friday we visited the International School that Katie will be attending in January. The school is much smaller than the school in Salatiga but unlike Katie's current school, it is not a Christian school. There is a mix of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu with most of the kids being the children of business people. Another big difference is that the school is comprised of several converted houses and so very different from the school environment Katie is used to. Because it is a smaller school, the grades are mixed so Katie will be in a class that has younger and older children. We met Katie's future teacher who was very nice and excited that Katie would be joining her class. She was a teacher in Alaska before deciding to try something different. The school seems to have a very good learning environment.

After visiting the school, we got down to the business of vacationing. After having almost three months of language classes six days a week, this was our first holiday break. Due to some confusion, we ended up staying in two different hotels over the weekend. The first hotel was much like hotels we are used to but attached to a larger mall. The hotel was in the north of Jogja, which has most of the universities as well as malls. Our second hotel was in the south of Jogja, which has most of the tourist sites including Malioboro Street and the Palace (Kraton). This hotel was a group of converted houses with a small pool in the middle and beautiful gardens. The rooms were comfortable. The hotel seems to cater to tourists and backpackers. We didn't do any tourist stuff but spent most of our time either at the pool or shopping. It was hot (34C) and humid.

We are trying to find a house for January that is close to both of our universities. The process of getting a house has been complicated but we hope that the situation will be settled by the end of December. This coming semester I am scheduled to team teach a course on Justice and Human Rights. My Muslim colleague will teach the first half so I won't really begin teaching till April. There is a chance that I might pick up another course from another university.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of my university but I just posted some pictures of the campus from the outside road. The universities are on break and closed so we couldn't go in. The buildings are very new because the old ones were destroyed in an earthquake two years ago. The classrooms are air-conditioned with most of the electronics one would find in universities in N. America.

I am teaching in the graduate department of UIN (Universitas Islam Negeri - State Islamic University) Yogyakarta. My students are all Muslims with some being women. I met some of my future students and their English is relatively good. They seemed bright and looking forward to working with me. I am very excited at this unique opportunity to be teaching in an Islamic university.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Conference in Jambi

December 8-9, I attended a conference in Jambi on the island of Sumatra. The conference was organized by IAIN Jambi, an Islamic university. The topic of the conference was the importance of Islamic higher education for Islamic society, and the topic given to me was 'Interconnection between Western and Islamic Philosophy'. The organizers had expected about 150 participants but on the opening day, over 200 people showed up. Participants were primarily Professors and teachers of Islamic studies.

The presentations dealt with Islam and its relationship to a variety of topics including secular legal systems, global warming, terrorism, economics, and science. All the papers struggled with finding a place for Islam in the modern world. I was impressed with the thought that had been put into these issues.

The organizers were very gracious hosts and I developed some friendships I hope will grow over our time here in Indonesia.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Learning the language

Monday thru Saturday I (Lori) walk uphill, sometimes on the sidewalk, sometimes on the road (because the sidewalk is broken in many places) to school. Sometimes, usually during the afternoon, I'm too hot and tired to make the 30 minute hike, so I look for a pedicab (becak) on the way. In the afternoons, I can usually find becak drivers taking a nap in their cabs at the side of the road after the roundabout. I try to find one that's still awake, and that actually wants to work. Most of the time, I can understand most of what they say in Bahasa Indonesia, or at least guess what they are saying. The following is a translation of our conversation, which I mostly guessed, cause this time the driver may as well have been speaking Japanese...

Him: Brubel grabel grub "You want to go where?"

Me: Nanggulan, please.

Him: Brubel grabel grub (pointing) "Nangulan up there?"

Me: Yes, is it possible?

Him: Brubel grabel grub (Nods) "Yes"

Me: How much will it be?

Him: brubel grabel grub (pointing at me) "How much do you want to pay?"

Me: (a bit nervous, I’ve never been asked this before, they usually start with a highish bid) Ah, 50? (lima puluh)

Him: Ayo! (waving me in the cab before I change my mind) "OK, let's go!"

Me: (a bit confused as to why he agreed so quickly, when I usually pay more than that to go downhill, and a shorter distance) That’s OK?

Him: (nods vigourously) "yes!"

Me: (realizing that i had said 50,000 (lima puluh) rather than 5,000 (lima ribu) Oh, sorry ! I meant 5,000.

Him: (Lots of belly aching laughter) Grubel grabel grub (pointing at me) "No, no, OK, how much do you want to pay, then?"

Me: No, you tell me how much you’d like (firmly this time)

Him: grubel grabel grub, (holds up 10 fingers) "10,000?"

Me: 7,000? (holds up 7 fingers)

Him: Ayo! (Waves me in the cab) "Done, lets go!"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

31 October

The rainy season finally arrived! Several Indonesians have commented on how late the rains were and they are convinced it is a result of global warming. I am surprised at how big an issue global warming is here. The rains start later in the afternoon and continue into the evening. They aren't as heavy as we experienced in Africa but last longer, at least from what we have experienced so far. One consequence of the rains is that it is a bit cooler, perhaps by two or three degrees. Just the other evening, Katie was complaining about being cold. I checked the temperature in the house and it was 28C, instead of the usual 30C. I think she has acclimatized.

On the 31st, Lori and some other MCC people went off to Jogja for a shopping trip leaving me with the oldest three and Zoe, age 5. This was one of the first days of rain so the girls went out in rain jackets and played in the rain. They would take turns standing under the drainage pipe and be thoroughly soaked. They weren't cold since even with rain during the day the temperature is around 30C. They had a great time. Later, I was told by some Indonesians that I was being a bad parent for letting them play in the rain, since this would make them sick.

After getting dried off, we all went for supper to Bu Rinis (Mrs. Rini's), a local restaurant that serves traditional Indonesian food along with some more Western dishes. We like Bu Rinis because the food is decent and the atmosphere is great. There is a green space with lots of bushes and plants where the children can play. Also, it is open air so there is a bit of a breeze that makes it comfortable. The building is traditional Javanese.

When we left for Bu Rinis, the rains had stopped but they started again after we arrived. This time, however, we had a bit of a storm so the wind was whipping rain into the restaurant. I didn't mind since we weren't getting wet and it cooled things off nicely, but Katie said she was freezing and the Indonesians had pulled on jackets and hoods. The meal was good. I had baked chicken with rice while the girls had grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries. To drink, the Mia and Zoe each had strawberry juice while Sara had orange juice, all freshly made. The girls really like the drinks. Indonesians like their drinks very sweet and so there is always a sludge of sugar at the bottom of the glass which the girls drink up with straws. Aside from the silt of sugar, the drinks are delicious. The meal for all of us came to about $6.

After the meal we drove home. It was still stormy and the power had been knocked out for the area so there were no traffic lights. Driving in Indonesia is always an adventure, Lori is still not quite comfortable being a passenger when we drive, but when it is dark, stormy, and the traffic lights are out, it is even more of an 'adventure'. We managed to get home without accident but we arrived home to darkness. Fortunately we had videos (VCDs) and the laptop battery was charged so the girls watched a movie by candle light and I made popcorn. A great time was had by all. The power eventually came on later in the evening.

Because of the storm, traffic from Jogja was slow so Lori was late getting home. However, the kids were enjoying themselves and I was reading the newspaper by flashlight. All in all, despite the storm and power outage, we had a great day in Indonesia.

For pictures, visit our picture album.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Life in Salatiga

We are at the end of the dry season with the rains expected to start in the next few weeks. In the last two weeks we have had one or two light sprinkles but otherwise it hasn’t rained since we arrived in Salatiga. The temperature has been pretty constant but the humidity has been increasing so it feels more uncomfortable. The mosquito nets stop airflow so we have to have fans directed right at us in order to sleep comfortably. We are looking forward to the rains since it is very dusty though we wonder whether the humidity will also increase.

This past week we had meetings at a hotel near Salatiga. The hotel was on the side of a mountain so the weather was cooler. The Indonesians complained that it was cold but we found it quite nice. My theory is that as a Canadian I am used to large differences in temperature so a few degrees here or there isn’t a big deal. However, Indonesians rarely experience such changes so a few degrees difference is significant. For example, an Indonesian friend drives to work on her motorcycle wearing a leather jacket and sweater because the combination of cool morning and wind makes her cold.

After the meetings, we made a trip to a nearby waterfalls. It was beautiful and I have posted pictures on our Web Album. However, it was also a bit sobering in that this was the place where two MCC’ers were killed in a flashflood several years ago. Apparently MCC, in its history, has had around ten people die. Half of these have been in traffic accidents in N. America. MCC is very insistent on the topic of safety so that people using motorcycles have to wear helmets and that all other vehicles have seatbelts. Here in Indonesia, it is now the law that people sitting in the front wear seatbelts, though this is rarely obeyed and even less rarely enforced. Vehicles here therefore have seatbelts in the front but not in the rear. MCC has installed seatbelts for all seats and strongly encouraged us to use them.

The MCC team is made up of expat service workers, SALTers and local workers. Most of MCC’s work is in education including university and seminaries, but also AIDS/HIV education. MCC has been involved in tsunami reconstruction in Aceh but this work will end soon. This work has been difficult in large part because of political instability in that area. MCC Indonesia works with a variety of partners including three synods of Mennonite churches.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Our life in Salatiga

We have been in Indonesia now for a little over three weeks. We have slowly settled into our home and a daily routine. Lori and I are in Language School Monday through Saturday with usually four hours of classes each day. My classes begin at 7:30am while Lori has days where her classes finish at 6:00pm. This is pretty intensive and I, especially, often feel overwhelmed. The language isn't difficult but I have little time to study.

We wake up around 6am. Our house help arrive at 8am. Ibu Wiwik helps us by cooking a main meal, doing laundry, and general cleaning. Ibu Im looks after the kids, particularly Raina. My classes finish at 2pm after which I pick up Katie from her school. Ibu Wiwik and Im leave at 3pm. The kids are usually in bed by 8pm and we are all asleep by 10pm.

We have been enjoying the food here. Lunch and supper always includes rice. Sometimes it is fried but usually just cooked. Usually there is some kind of sauce or topping for the rice. Ibu Wiwik has worked for Westerners before and will occasionally make chicken nuggets and fries for the kids (and me). We always have fruit with the meal, usually some combination of mango, melon or pineapple. For breakfast we have bread with peanut butter or jam, or cereal (usually the Indonesian version of Rice Krispies), or noodles.

Salatiga is a smaller town. It is surrounded by a few mountains and its elevation makes it a bit cooler. During the day it is always above 30C but not too humid. Usually there is a bit of a breeze. At night the temperature drops down to the mid-20's. We have a number of fans in our house but the temperature inside is always in the high-20's.

Our house is a bit small but comfortable. There are no screens on the windows and there are gaps above the doors to allow for air circulation, so we have mosquitoes. We all sleep under mosquito nets. The house has two kitchens. The one kitchen has counters, a fridge and stove while the other has a sink and pantry. Our bathroom has a toilet and a bak. A bak is a large reservoir for storing water but is not a bathtub. The children bath in a plastic tub while Lori and I take sponge baths. The bathroom is built for water to drain out.

More later.


My School

My school is called Mountain View Christian International School. I have chapel 2 times a week. I’ve got 1 gym class every 2 days. For gym you have to buy a uniform. I have to wake up before 6:30 and get ready for school. I go to school with my best friend who went to Indonesia with me. Her name is Zoe. At school I take Indonesian class. There are 11 people in my class. My teacher’s name is Mrs. Geary.

Katie Enns