As I write, it is Saturday afternoon on July 28th. We have been gone for two weeks and in Jakarta a little less. If you follow me on Instagram or facebook, you may have had a little glimpse into some of the things we’ve been doing already. These days have been incredible, full of so many new things, ups and downs, and it can be difficult to take the time to slow and take it all in. It can feel like we’re on a treadmill where you have to keep moving or you’ll fall off. It’s a blur. Like the treadmill, if you keep going, you will probably get tired, but it feels so good and you will be rewarded with strength and endurance at the end.
This first week began with rising early on Tuesday morning at 2:30am for M and I and 4:30am for the kids (after they slept 13 hours). It was the day after we arrived. We woke, unpacked what we could, had some breakfast of croissants and granola (which was left for us) and talked about the day. Then, when the rest of the city awoke, we were taken to the school for more breakfast and an orientation. Here we were able to ask many questions, sort out banking and get the kids uniforms and school supplies. After lunch was a trip to the mall to get our heads around where we could find things, but what we needed was still a bit overwhelming, so we waited to purchase anything. Then we went home and had a wonderful meal provided by another school family in the building.
Wednesday we took a trip to another mall to get our Indonesian phone numbers. Our kids happily stayed at the school in the care of one of the staff to swim and watch a movie. That afternoon I used my new phone number to call for internet. This proved to be challenging for me. I was just about done with my phone call when we were somehow cut off. So I called back, thinking I could pick up from where we left off. Well, no, I had to start all over. At the end of that phone call, I was told I needed to email a copy of my passport and she painstakingly spelled out for me the email address. I sent this off, only to have the email not go through. In the end, I spent most of my afternoon on the phone with very helpful people who tried very hard to speak English to me and I tried very hard to understand their very thick accents. By the next morning, I had confirmed that they would be coming out on Friday to have everything hooked up. Much faster than I had been told to anticipate. I would say it wasn’t as much a frustrating experience as it was exhausting, just trying to get past the language barrier.
Back to our week. the next few days were work days for M. He hit the ground running beginning Tuesday morning, the day after we arrived, as if it were a normal workday. Mark’s many work trips to Hong Kong proved to be valuable in preparing him to work through the jet-lag. While M worked, the kids an I enjoyed the pool.
We struggled to figure out what to eat as we had no pots and pans or groceries of any sort. And where do you begin with groceries, especially when what you’re familiar with is not easy to find? Well, thankfully we were invited to dinner one day and then tried out a nearby Mexican restaurant to celebrate Friday. Over the weekend we stocked up on pantry items and fresh food, Mark cooked pasta and stir-fry, using a borrowed pot and pan. By Monday I was very willing to let our helper cook us dinner.
I haven’t mentioned her yet. We have adopted her from the family that held M’s position previously. We’re so grateful to have her come highly recommended and not have to start from scratch looking for and interviewing helpers. I will write more about helpers another time, but for these last two weeks, we have been learning what it is like to have someone help with the household chores.
Back to dinner.
I don’t enjoy cooking. At times, I have found it very satisfying, like if I make something we all enjoy, or if I’ve tried something that seems difficult, but if I don’t have to do it, I’m happy to let it go. I’ve been blessed to have a husband who enjoys cooking and is very good at it. When we were first married, he did most of the cooking. Then we had kids, I stayed home, and this task fell to me. I think we all got through the last eight years pretty well. I improved a lot, we ate well, I even successfully fed students who lived with us. But when M had this last year off of work, he stepped right back in and gladly took on the role of family chef once again. So now, I have someone, who I’m told is a very good cook, very willing to cook for my family, of course, I’m going to say yes! Then M can cook on the weekends, and I’ll stick to baking. I think it’s a good plan. I’ll let you know how it goes. (*UPDATE: Although there are a few dishes our helper does very well, I’ve decided to take over the cooking. It’s great to have her cook for us once a week.*)
Our second week started with new family orientation on Monday. This was not just for new staff, but all new families to the school. Another lunch at school and then more shopping. Oh, and we briefly acknowledged our 13th wedding anniversary.
Tuesday, July 24th was our first day of school. The kids were both quite nervous but tried to be positive. They came from a small school where everything had become quite familiar. Now on to a strange place with no friends yet, in a school that is 9 floors atop 10 floors of a parking garage. I had to give them a little grace for not being at their best that morning. But they were brave and made it through the day. And the week.
During our first month, on Fridays everyone wears Batik. This is a traditional Indonesian way of decorating cloth by using wax and dye to make different patterns. There is a lot of beautiful fabrics, although, we found in our mall, that it was easier to find men’s shirts than to find kids clothes. We managed to find something for everyone going to school. I’m sure I’ll find something eventually too.
Again, this weekend was full. We walked to another shop nearby for breakfast, a French cafe. We had the most delicious fresh juice with breakfast there.
Then we walked from there down a few more streets to the back of our complex. This street is a bit smaller than the main roads and we were told that it had a lot of furniture makers. The best shops we found were the small ones with furniture piled on top of each other. A stall, basically, about three meters wide by 10 meters deep. Prices there were comparable if not better to what we could find at Ikea. So, we will be measuring spaces in our apartment and putting in some orders for a few pieces. I’m really looking forward to that!
We love bakeries and took some spoils home from a couple on Saturday.
Sunday we went to a Presbyterian church near the Karawaci campus. The church is actually held in the UPH campus (the University associated with our foundation). All the new families from all of the SPH campuses were then invited to a delicious lunch at the founder’s home. I left my phone on the bus at this point, so I didn’t take any photos, but it was a lovely, very large home with a separate building just for such an event. We enjoyed an amazing buffet lunch and then heard from the founder and his wife.
It was so great to hear their heart for this ministry, how God grabbed hold of their lives and gave them a vision for Indonesia. They have used their bountiful resources to provide quality Christian education for many who could not afford even a basic education around Indonesia. They have opened these five SPH Christian International schools around Jakarta, they have a University with around 14 000 students and the goal of producing quality Christian teachers to teach in these many schools around Indonesia. In addition to education, there is a Hospital foundation that provides quality health services all over the country. I’m not even sure I have a full grasp of all that is involved in this foundation, but it is massive and it is fuelled by a love of God and a desire to have his saving grace proclaimed throughout this country. It is one of the big reasons that drew us to this place. It is what we need to come back to when we face hard days and trying situations. We do this for the Kingdom of God. What a privilege to be a part of it.