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A Different World

2014-05-07 07.47.22

So why was there a picture of a doorknob in our newsletter?

This post is all about things that were confusing for our girls when we got back. On the first day back in Houston, our girls wanted to go outside and started calling for help. Confused, I walked to the back door and asked what the problem was. “The door won’t open, Daddy!” I walked over, made sure it wasn’t locked, and then it hit me – they’ve never used a round doorknob before! Almost all doors in Indonesia have handles like this:


When the girls were confronted with a round knob, they had no idea what to do! Of course, kids are quick learners and now they have it all figured out. Next:

White Eggs


White eggs. Eggs in Indonesia are brown, not white. When I cooked eggs for breakfast one morning, the girls wanted to know what was wrong with the eggs, and they weren’t too excited about eating them. Thankfully, we’re used to that one now too!

Bathtub drain


This is just a stock photo, but it demonstrates the issue. In Indonesia, we have a little rubber stopper that the girls can put in and pull out. In America, there’s some sort of lever, or something you twist. This one is still confusing Smile.



We haven’t been brave enough to take them to a Toys ‘R Us yet. The pink aisles at Target were overwhelming enough! On our first trip to Target, we let each of the girls pick out a new toy since we didn’t bring much back with us. One of them simply couldn’t do it – there were just too many choices.

Lawn Mowers


This new-fangled device was fascinating for them to watch! They have just now started selling them where we live in Indonesia, but I’ve never seen one in use.

We love how our girls have adapted to life in Asia. We’re still working on liking hamburgers and hot dogs – they eat them now, but still prefer fish and rice Smile.


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Things That Anyone Can Send Us Anytime

A long time ago I said that I would share with you the food items that earned a precious place in our luggage on this trip back. Now I think that this list serves a dual purpose – it is also a great list of things that can be put in a package and sent to us! Anyone?

Here is the list:

Rotel Tomatoes (Original)
Bacon Bits or Ready-to-Eat Bacon
Kool-Aid packets
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
Black Beans
Pepperoni (the non-refrigerated kind)
Quart-sized Freezer Bags

I have a really hard time using this stuff up once I get it here, too. C’mon, Kara! Use those black beans and Rotel!

And fyi – if anyone is planning to send a package, could you slide in some stickers and a coloring book for the kiddos?

Getting ready for a 4th of July party here at our house on Wednesday. Should be lots of fun!

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Coming up for air…

Hello Everyone!

Sorry for the silence for a while. Our household has been in the grip of a nasty cold bug that has had 3 of the 4 of us down and out for two and a half weeks now. Matt got it first and then it hit Elizabeth and me last week, just as we were preparing to host our church small group. While we hacked and sniffed and sneezed our way through hosting and feeding 40 people for a Wednesday night church service, we completely collapsed after it was over. The girls and I haven’t left the house since last Monday…

Yes, you can say cabin fever.

But until we are all completely healthy, here we stay.

Today, I think that all of us started feeling better. My biggest sign was that we did SO MUCH STUFF, like we were making up for lost time or something!

After we got all ready this morning, Elizabeth decided she wanted to do a craft, so I opened up one of my favorite idea websites and she picked a story box! I absolutely love this idea, but Elizabeth at the moment is much more familiar with her own invented princess stories than with traditional fairy tales like Jack and the Beanstalk. So… I just went with it and let her make it what she wanted. By the way, if anyone can recommend a good children’s fairy tale book, we’re looking! We ended up using markers instead of paint (she insisted) and then just went outside to find some rocks and flowers to add to the landscape. I think it turned out great! Here is Elizabeth with her creation.


A closer look:

Charlotte really liked the part where we went outside and looked for rocks, and since today seemed to be not so scorching hot, we went back outside for a bit. Have I mentioned that a few weeks ago four tiny little kittens decided to adopt us? They are cute, but sometimes make a racket!

The girls love (LOVE) to play with them, and Charlotte just got brave enough to start picking them up. I feel sorry for those kittens sometimes! Both girls are still learning to be gentle.


Playing with kittens turned into sweeping the porch, and I wouldn’t bother telling you this if I hadn’t gotten some goofy pictures of the girls. The many faces of Elizabeth!
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And of course my cute (and growing so big!) little Charlotte.

Then we had lunch and after that I was in the mood for scones. So I made these. They are delicious. I should know. I’m eating one right now. Yum.

Anyway, after naps I decided that the girls needed a little treat of hot chocolate, so we had a hot chocolate tea party! Someone brought us hot chocolate mix with colored marshmallows from America, and they are a real treat! I’m trying to save them as a treat that they get every once in a while so we can spread it out. Here’s my little tea party princesses!


Earlier in the morning, while Charlotte was taking a quick nap, Elizabeth and I gathered up a few toys and stuck them in plastic containers, filled the containers with water, and stuck them in the freezer. So… in the afternoon they were frozen and ready to come out. We took them outside and they started to melt almost immediately! I guess that’s what happens when you live on the equator. And today was a cooler day!



They had a lot of fun breaking out the toys, watching the ice melt, and saying “COLD!” We do lots of stuff to stay cool around here. And here is a cute new pic I snapped of Charlotte after she got bored with the ice and toys. My little cutie!


Sorry to bore you with the ins and outs of our day today! But we did SO MUCH today, especially after being sick for so long. We are getting really really ready to go somewhere! Maybe we can venture out of the house tomorrow. I think we’re ready. So glad to finally be feeling a little better. Coming up for air…

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Today is our seventh anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Matt!


In some ways these seven years have flown by, and in other ways we have done so much I wonder that it has only been seven years. We have both graduated with Master’s degrees, joined Wycliffe and done MORE school, had one precious little girl and then moved halfway across the globe to learn a new language before having another precious little girl. We have globe-trotted a bit in between and now we are charging forward in the next adventure that God has for us. Still trying to figure out exactly what that is, but we’re still charging!!

I was thinking this morning how different my life is from what I expected it to be. I remember a time in high school when I was pretty clear what kind of life I was and was NOT going to have. The list of things that I said I would never do is very comical for me to look back on.

I will never go to college for piano – now I have a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in piano performance.
I will never teach piano – started teaching just before college, and I absolutely love it. Really miss not having the opportunity to do that now.
I will never get married before I have my doctorate – I got married RIGHT after (like, two weeks) I graduated with my undergrad. What can I say – when you meet the right guy…
I will never be a missionary – ahem, obviously…
I will never live in a different country – also, obvious
I will never (be able to) learn a foreign language – I really thought my brain was unable. Stuck in English.
I will never live in the country (i.e. not in a big city)- we’re building a village house where there is cell phone signal, but electricity and water are sketchy. Most people that live there are subsistence farmers and fishers.
I will never be one of those crafty people – I now have a three year old, and it’s starting. Where we live, if I don’t do it, it won’t happen! Now I can’t throw away toilet paper tubes.
I will never bake stuff – I started baking out of necessity (can’t get good bread here), and now I really enjoy it. Yesterday I baked muffins just because I had a hankering to bake something.

Some of this stuff is really small, but I felt very strongly on what I would and would not be and do. Maybe I should learn not to be so opinionated…

At many points in my life I had everything planned out exactly how I knew it should be. And most of those times were when God started moving us in a different direction. It hasn’t always been easy to listen and follow those directions. Sometimes I have downright said “no” before slowly dragging my feet into sullen obedience. You would think that after all of the changes in direction we have taken I would learn not to say “I will never”, but now if I near those words come out of my mouth I start to get a premonition that the very thing I have jut forbade will soon be looming in my future.

The thing is that everything that I/we have done has been a testament to the verse that God’s plans are not our plans, and his ways are not our ways. Now, I can’t imagine a better life than the one that God has given to us. It’s not always easy, but God is always good. Every experience we have had has been used by God to get us ready for what he has next. Usually I had a totally different plan for it. But God’s plan is always better, even if it seems impossible or repulsive (or both) at first. And yes, I am slowly (s-l-o-w-l-y) learning to listen and obey with a ready heart instead of one blockaded against change.

But the best part is God gave me a partner. He gave this life to me to do with the most wonderful husband and best friend a girl could have. We love to laugh together, talk together, and just be together. I love you so much, Matthew Joseph Menger! Happy seven years!

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Peel a Tomato?!?!

Yes. Have you ever? I have. As of Tuesday I can now cross peeling tomatoes off my bucket list (HA!). More on the tomato peeling adventure in a second.

This week I only got to two new recipes. And I think that was the only two times that I cooked. It was a bit of a crazy week. Nothing in particular was crazy, but when you put it all together it felt really busy. We went somewhere almost every day which is not normal for me here in Indonesia.

And Friday was my birthday!! The big 29. It feels so strange to be in the last year of my 20s. I remember when my mom was 29, so now I feel really really old. Just kidding, Mom! I actually had a really great day. Matt took the day off and we just had lots of family time. I didn’t cook, and then in the evening I went to do karaoke with all my girlfriends here in our little city. It was SO MUCH FUN!! I didn’t have a camera with me, and I was really too busy having fun singing and dancing my heart out to tunes that really date me to take any pictures. Yay!

Okay, back to peeling a tomato. Do you know how? I started making this Tomato Bisque at about 4:45. We usually eat at around 6:00. After getting everything out for the recipe I noticed this tiny little word next to the word tomatoes, “peeled”. Okay…. no canned tomatoes here, so I had to figure out how to get my rather ordinary tomatoes on my cutting board naked. Quickly. So I did what every person my generation and younger does… RUN to Google! If you would like to learn how to peel a tomato, this is the website that taught me how. I also made these Biscuits to go with the soup. It was a frantic hour! Overall, Matt liked the soup and Charlotte, Elizabeth, and I did not. However, we ALL loved the biscuits. Here is a picture!


The other recipe I made was Cheesy Spinach Macaroni. It was a really quick recipe and pretty good. I only had linguine pasta on hand and it probably would be better with a smaller noodle that could hold on to more of the cheesiness. Next time I might try adding chicken, too. I didn’t get a picture of this one so to console you I will leave you with a couple pictures of our cute little girlies.

So, have you ever peeled a tomato?

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The Journey

Hello all!

Matt just returned this evening from a trip to one of the villages where we work. He was there to support the translation team as they prepare for the upcoming consultant check for the book of Matthew. Getting close to being done! Here at home, we had a successful time too! No one got sick (thanks for praying!) and the power never went out – yay!

I know you all just really want to hear how our long (loooong, looooooooong) journey  was from America all the way here. I know that we have been here for two weeks now, but I think that I finally have processed being here, landing, jet-lag, and unpacking enough now that I can reflect back on it a little bit. The whole trip was better than I expected it to be. The flights (#s 1 and 2) from Ohio to California were pretty uneventful other than having to pay an arm and a leg for our 8 pieces of checked baggage on a domestic flight. Grrrrr. Oh well. C’est la vie. Elizabeth now LOVES to fly, and she was so excited to get on an airplane again that we really didn’t have to do much to keep her entertained. Both girls even took a (short) nap on the second flight.

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Charlotte was very curious!

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There was a lot of this…

I was glad that we had an overnight in San Francisco so that we didn’t have to start the really long haul to Asia already tired. We were able to get a good night’s sleep before the next flights. Those flights (#s 3 and 4) were L-O-N-G. The 12 hour flight from San Francisco to Seoul, Korea was SO much better than I expected that I wished we could’ve just kept going instead of having to get off and back on the same airplane again. We all got to sleep on that flight, and the girls and I all slept for like 5 hours in the middle of the trip which on an airplane with two small kids is a small miracle. Yay!

The flight from Korea to Singapore was the roughest one. None of us wanted to get back on an airplane for another 6 hour flight. No one really got to sleep for very long, even though we were all tired, and Charlotte decided to scream herself hoarse on this one. At least then the sceaming was silent…. (sad). She had a pretty bad cold also, so we kept her going on the Ibuprofen and Benadryl almost the whole time. Poor thing! But a big THANK YOU to Aunt Denise who gave Charlotte some Sesame Street stickers for her birthday. They kept her entertained for hours. HOURS. We put them everywhere. And then moved them. And then ate puffs. Puffs and stickers got us through!

We had an 8 hour layover in Singapore and we went straight to the transit hotel when we got there (it was 1 in the morning Singapore time, but felt like I don’t know what to us… we were pretty mixed up by then). We showered and tried to put the kids to bed. I think we all slept something like less than 2 hours. I think. It was a little fuzzy. Anyway, we were up early enough to have time to get breakfast in the airport, look at the butterfly garden…

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(sorry it’s blurry, it was REALLY humid in there and I was trying to keep two kids from ripping the butterflies apart)

… and still be one of the first ones to our gate. The flight from Singapore to Jakarta (#5) was only 1.5 hours, and it felt good to be back in Indonesia when we got here. All our bags made it safely, too!

This was when the jet-lag hit us really hard. We all went to bed by 6:30 p.m.  But then we were up nice and early (ha ha!) for our final two flights to our home city (#s 6 and 7). We didn’t have a seat for Charlotte on those flights, so she sat on our laps. It worked just fine, but neither of the girls napped at all that day. So we were all really tired again and went to bed by 7:30 p.m. But… we were up nice and early the next day to get a great start on all the unpacking.

Which is what I’ve been doing since. Unpacking, settling, re-organizing, going through and tossing, and wiping. Wiping and wiping and wiping. The kitchen (EVERYTHING in the kitchen), the floors, the doors, and I’m not done yet. I think coming straight from America gave me new eyes to see the dirt that I am not willing to live with. Hoping it will last.

Okay… I hope I didn’t bore you with the miniscule details of our travel back to our home here in Indonesia. We miss everyone in America! In some ways it feels like we’ve already been back for a really long time, and in some ways like we’ve barely been here at all. I’m sure some of you can relate.

P.S. – I forgot to praise the Lord for Dramamine Less Drowsy. Lasts 24 hours and I didn’t get sick at all. AT ALL. But yes, I took it for 4 days straight.


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I wanted to share a song with you all that came out of the Choctaw songwriting workshop I just returned from. Many great songs and ideas came out of the workshop which was aimed at producing new Choctaw songs for children based on Bible verses. I received permission from one of the composers, Di, to share this song with you. I am always amazed to hear God’s word not only in another spoken language, but also in another musical language.

This song is based on Matthew 5:44:

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Here are the lyrics in Choctaw (2nd verse only):

Kanah ósh chi ha sa nálih ok ma,

Chiho wat áchih ishI hollash kih.

an^ no pa il^ bash sha ya- ish im

A- silh hash kih Chiho wat- á chih,

yo ba hi ya ha yo be- hi yah

yo-o ba hi ya yo- be hi yah

yo^ ba hi ya^ ha yo- be- hi yah

yo- o ba hi ya yo- be hi yah

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Our new home!

Well, in a few months we’ll be heading to Indonesia!  For a while we’ll be in Bandung on the island of Java for language school.  We’re excited to finally get started, and we realize that there’s not much time left before we leave.  Things are a little crazy around here as we get our passports, submit our visa applications, update our immunizations, and all the other little things that have to happen.   

Map picture

Also, I posted a nifty little world clock at the top of the blog, so once we’re there you’ll know what time it is for us.  We’re excited to be heading out soon!


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