Monthly Archives: November 2009

Idul Adha

Idul Adha is a holiday celebrated by the majority religion here that commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, but God providing an animal instead.  They traditionally believe it was a different son than we do, but it is essentially the same story. 

For a number of reasons and after discussion with a community leader, we decided to participate by purchasing a sheep to be sacrificed.  Culturally, this is more than just a commemoration of a story – it is an opportunity for those who have means to buy an animal, and after the slaughter the meat is distributed to the poor in the community.  It isn’t always easy to decide how to participate in the local culture and traditions, but in this case we’re glad we did!  We met so many new neighbors got to know others better, and it seems that our participation was well received. 

The video below is about a minute and has some video and still images from the activities of the day.  Enjoy!

NOTE: Since the event revolves around the slaughter, skinning, and preparation of animals, I chose NOT to include all the gory details in this video – safe for all ages!  The only thing you see is some raw meat after it is already cut up – just like at the grocery store.

Idul Adha from Matt Menger on Vimeo.


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Rainy Season is REALLY here.

So rainy season officially started a while back, but we’ve now reached the point where it would be odd if it didn’t rain at some point during the day.  It may sound crazy, but we’re really enjoying it!  The rain clears all the pollution and smoke out of the air, and things cool off somewhat and feel crisp and fresh. 
The rain can really be something here.  We’ve experienced hard rain like this before in Texas, but it never lasts this long.  I (Matt) went outside with the video camera today to shoot some footage just to give you a taste.  The sound is what I really love, so for this video I hooked up one of our really nice microphones that we brought to try to do it some justice.  There’s not much to see on the video except rain, but I hope you enjoy the sound of it as much as we do!  I hope at some point in the future to record some of the spectacular thunder and lightning here.  We are in the middle of the mountains, so the echoes and crackles are phenomenal.
(I suggest turning the volume all the way up to get the full effect)
Rainy Season HD from Matt Menger on Vimeo.

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The Indonesian word for liver (like the liver that is in your abdomen) is hati. However, as in many other cultures, it is also the seat of the emotions, like we use the word “heart” in English.  In our studies of the Indonesian language we have come across some unusual, and sometimes funny when translated literally, ways that this word is used.

The phrase for “encourage” is membesarkan hati, which literally means “make someone’s liver bigger.” The phrase to describe someone as “generous” is murah hati, which literally means “to have a cheap liver”.”  And one we hear all the time is hati-hati which people say to mean “be careful!” But, literally it is just “liver-liver.”  People say this especially to kids and as a way to say goodbye, sort of like our “take care!” Also, in almost every phrase where we would use the word “heart” like “Jesus comes into our heart”,” the Indonesian language uses the word for “liver,’” hati.    It has been fun to learn these phrases and then to hear them in everyday speech. We just have to remember not to translate literally – I don’t want my liver made bigger, but I really don’t mind being encouraged!

We are both in unit 4 of 6 now in our language studies, which is just about the stage where we can not do everything correctly in Indonesian, but we know just enough now to confuse our English! Now we sometimes feel like we can’t speak either language at all :). Overall things are progressing well and it feels like our time here in Bandung is going really fast. Can’t believe we’re almost half-way!

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Driving in Indonesia

Traffic and driving here in Indonesia are quite different from back home!  It’s hard to describe the difference in words, but I think one of our friends here pretty accurately captured the idea when he said it flows, a lot like water.  If there is a space, someone will fill it.  It can appear to be absolutely insane sometimes, but now that we’ve lived here a while I think it is safe to say that we’re both getting pretty comfortable with it.  Motorbikes are everywhere!

IMG_2754I (Matt) tried making a video of our drive home from church one Sunday to share with everyone as an example.  I sped it up to 4x so it wouldn’t be too long, which means our 15 minute drive is about a 4 minute video.  Of course, I’d forgotten just how bumpy the roads can be here – when I looked at the video, the camera was all over the place!  I did as much editing as I could to smooth things out, but the result is still a little crazy.  If you get motion-sick, this might not be the best video to watch on full screen.  There’s no sound, so don’t worry if it’s silent.

Driving in Bandung from Matt Menger on Vimeo.


Filed under daily life

Starting to feel like Home

I thought that since it’s been a while since we posted the video tour of our house I should update you all on how things look. When we made that video we had just moved in and were still living out of suitcases. Since then, we have been able to settle in a lot more and actually put some things on the walls! It really is starting to feel a lot more like home. Thanks to all who make it possible for us to live here and not just survive, but thrive! We love, appreciate, and miss you all.

Here are a few pictures of our bedroom. The crossbar down the middle of the bed that was there before broke, so we had to quickly order a new one. Fortunately it only took the wrought-iron workers two days to make!


There are no closets in Indonesia, so we had this wardrobe made to store all of our clothes. Also, the sink is in the eating area, so I have this vanity table and mirror to put my makeup on and do my hair and all that girly stuff.


We’ve been able to work on the fountain area behind our house too. It has had moments of severe frustration for Matt (leaking and repainting five times!), but we are glad that we’ve been able to get it to work. The plants help add some green to our house too! There are fish in the pond, but every time we go out there they hide under the bridge, so we THINK that they are still there :).


We got a desk for Matt and he loves having room to spread out. Thanks to Matt’s parents for the extra monitor as a birthday gift for Matt! Now he has more room to spread his digital junk out too!


And finally our living area, which hasn’t changed a whole lot except for getting a few more things on the walls. Normally there are tons of toys scattered all over this area, but I managed to take these pictures while Elizabeth was sleeping so that the whole place didn’t look like one big playroom!





Filed under daily life

The Blessing of a Good Toilet

toilet Some of you may be familiar with the British television show called Top Gear, in which they test drive all kinds of new cars and do crazy things.  One of the presenters, James May, also has a column that I (Matt) follow, and today he had a great quote about bathrooms that I just have to share.

According to some people I know, Ronald McDonald is the worst thing ever to happen to the world. He is the unacceptable face of globalisation, the destroyer of rainforests, the red-nosed bringer of obesity.

But in some ways, Ron has done us a favour. Thanks to his relentless clown-shoed march across the planet, every single significant town or city in the world now has at least one decent and functioning loo in it. Each McDonalds is a consulate of American plumbing, which is a good thing.

Having lived here for a while, I just have to agree!  Finding a decent (by my American standards) bathroom outside your own home is a huge blessing, and it’s worth remembering where it was too.

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An Interesting Halloween

Wow – I don’t even really know where to begin! I had my mom send us a Halloween costume  for Elizabeth so that she could dress up on her first Halloween. But up until this last week I thought we might just get her dressed up and go to our friend’s house to trick-or-treat. No one here celebrates Halloween, so I thought it would just be us few Americans doing something really small for the kids. Boy did I turn out to be wrong!

Elizabeth in her costume:


Kelli (another American at language school with us here in Bandung) has two little boys and she found out about a costume contest that was going to happen on Halloween day at one of the bigger malls here in Bandung.  She registered Uriah, her 4 year old, as Spiderman and Elizabeth as a fairy. I got really excited that we would have something more to do and that she would get to be with other kids and dress up for Halloween! They said that it started at 2 o’clock. We got there right about then and then Kelli said that she found out that the opening ceremonies started then and the actual contest didn’t start until closer to 3. So… we hung out at Starbucks and waited – we’ve gotten really used to waiting for things here because it is very cultural to run late by at least an hour. This of course, was all during Elizabeth’s normal nap time, but she was a real trooper!


There were 15 kids in the baby to 4 year-old category. They marched all the kids out on the stage, and I couldn’t believe how huge the crowd was. It was a madhouse. After that each kid got a turn to display their costume.  Some of the little girls had hand-made costumes and strutted around the stage like beauty pageant contestants. One even had to be asked to leave the stage because she wouldn’t stop posing! In the end, I think that this is what the judges were looking for, because those little girls won the contest.

Elizabeth did great and was a real crowd favorite. Of course, she is a little white baby with blonde hair – a real standout here in Asia! TONS and TONS of people took pictures and afterward asked to have their picture taken with her. After a while I had to run away and hide! The other babies in the category were dressed as a bumble-bee and a little panda. They were really cute too!


After the contest we waited some more for what we thought would be the results, but it turned out that at 4:00 they started taking the kids trick-or-treating to the different stores in the mall. We even got treats from Starbucks and Pizza Hut! As I did NOT remember to bring the stroller, my arm still hurts today from carrying Elizabeth around for 4 hours straight.

At 4:45 we asked what time the winners would be announced and they said 5:00. Knowing what that means in Indonesia (somewhere in the 5:00 hour), we decided to wait until 5:15 and if we hadn’t heard anything by then we would go ahead and go home and Kelli’s husband, Chase, would wait to find out the results. This of course turned out to be the case, and we were all so exhausted and ready to go home and relax.

We got home and about 20 mins. later the electricity went out, then back on for 20 mins., and then off again. Fortunately it was not too long this time, but after a long day, it is not fun to have to everything by flashlight as we eat dinner and get Elizabeth ready for bed. We sure are thankful that we have electricity most of the time!

One of the really strange things that we saw caused us all to have a very strong cultural reaction. As part of this big “party” there was also a “fashion show.” Little girls about 6 or 7 years old were dressed up in black skimpy clothes with fishnet stockings and TONS of makeup. They strutted around the stage like runway models. To see something like that in America is just a little different, but here in Indonesia it struck us all as really strange. First of all, all of the little girls mothers not only wore long sleeves and pants, but also had their heads covered. It was a strange dichotomy to see the contrast of what is expected of a married woman, versus dressing a little girl up and teaching her to strut in a sexy way. In a culture that is very proper, reserved, polite, and modest, seeing little girls that had been taught the opposite (and maybe what they think is Western?) didn’t seem to fit. Hmmm…. still thinking about all this.

Overall it was a great day and a lot of fun. Happy Halloween everyone!

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Filed under daily life, our kids