During our last village trip, there was a huge church service and celebration to mark the end of the Christmas season. Everyone from all over the area was invited and there was a big potluck meal afterwards. Following that, there was batunjuk. This is a tradition from North Sulawesi that immigrants brought with them to our area, and the best way to describe it is a good old-fashioned hymn sing. Everyone sits in a circle inside the church and two people are chosen to start and are given flowers to hold. They choose the first song and as everyone sings they walk around the circle in opposite directions. When the song is over, the flowers are given to the person where they stop and those two new people pick the next song. This continues for several hours, sometimes even all night! The songs are chosen only from the old, traditional Christian songs that are rarely sung anymore, so it has a nostalgic feel to it. Even though they were old songs, it was encouraging to see people of all ages participating. Coffee, tea, and snacks are served and everyone relaxes and enjoys the singing; occasionally there’s dancing as well. I shot some video of the festivities to give you an idea of what it’s all about. The singing went on for hours and hours and hours . . . but it was great fun!
Tag Archives: village
Last Tuesday, we headed to the village to stay in our recently completed home there for the first time as a family. It was exciting to finally get there! This has been a project for two years now, and seemed interminable. After all the construction work, expense, delays, and complications it was a relief to live there for the first time.
We expected it to be a stressful trip, and although some things are different about life there it wasn’t nearly as difficult as we’d feared. Maybe that’s because we had two years to get ready for this! Our girls loved life there once they met some of the other little girls and they had a fantastic time feeding chickens and rabbits, playing in the mud, and last but not least enjoying the beach about 50 yards from our house (it isn’t all rough and difficult ).
There will be much more to share, but for now we’d at least like to give you all a few pictures and a glimpse into village life in our part of the world.
Out our front door:
And another one, with a bit of our car in the picture. That’s the church up above on the hill.
Our girls playing.
Looking back into the house. A view of our dining area (bedrooms to the left):
Elizabeth and Charlotte’s room:
From the back of our house, looking to the front. Dining area is to the left:
Our kitchen, with on of our wonderful helpers!
Our kitchen again:
The bathroom, complete with squatty potty!
Our girls enjoying a bath:
The moon was huge and incredibly bright while we were there. No city lights also helps:
Our girls playing in the sand outside our front door. There’s a nice puddle from a leaky water pipe:
Our girls and some new friends playing:
Walking down to the beach. That’s the side of our house on the right:
Matt and Elizabeth walking on the beach:
Another shot of the beach:
A local fisherman heading out for the evening:
Charlotte being her cute self:
On the road home:
That’s it for now, but there will be much more to come! Matt will be heading up once or twice by himself during December, but given how busy the Christmas season is here our next family trip will be in early January for a few weeks. We’re already looking forward to it!
When I was up in the village last week I had the opportunity to attend a multi-denominational Easter service that included all the churches from the area. After the service there were lots of games and sports played, but instead of arranging teams by church or denomination, they were arranged by village. This was a great way for each of the churches to come together and also for everyone to come together as a community.
All of the games were traditional Indonesian/SE Asian games. There was tug-of-war with a huge rattan vine:
The poles upright and ready to climb:
And last but not least: takraw . It looks a lot like any other net-based game like volleyball or badminton, but the big difference is that you can use anything BUT your hands. That means feet, chest, and head are all fair game and it leads to some pretty spectacular spikes made with a flying kick. The ball is made of woven rattan. I was absolutely fascinated by the coordination and skill it takes to play this game!
If you’d like to read more about the history and rules of Sepak Takraw, here’s a link to a great wikipedia article. Otherwise, I highly recommend you check out this approx. 5 minute video I shot of two local village teams competing. (Sorry if the camera is a little wobbly: I wasn’t really prepared for a recording session so this was all done with a hand-held point-and-shoot camera) There’s some great plays at about 1:25, 2:20, 3:50, and 4:30.
I also got a picture of one player in the middle of a spike/kick:
It’s a crazy game, well beyond my limited athletic ability!
Looking through our files I saw that Matt took this video of our village house last month. We keep talking about our village house in all our newsletters, so I thought that it might be fun for some of you to see it in process.
Today, Matt just got back from checking on it again and it turns out that there is a shortage of cement in the area. So… a few more walls have been completed since this video was taken, but not a whole lot else is different. Later this week or early next week, Matt will take a load of cement up there in our car so that they can finish the walls and do the floor. After that we need to finish the windows and doors and put up the interior walls. If all that is completed before we leave for America, we’ll be really happy! Then when we get back in the spring we can work on getting some furniture.
A few stills first: the house from the front…
… and from the back.
And here in the video Matt explains the interior layout and shows how it’s coming along!
A few days ago I took a trip out past the village we will live in to go visit another member of the translation team who lives much, much further out in the middle of nowhere. No cell phone reception, and either a 30 minute boat trip or a 20 minute, really nasty trail to ride on the motorbike.
On the upside, because it is so remote the village is all the same ethnicity, which means the language and culture aren’t all mixed up with everybody else’s. It means we have some great research opportunities there, although for the foreseeable future it will probably just be me (Matt) by myself making trips out there.
The trail to get there was beautiful:
Although I rode my motorbike all the way in, I opted not to do so on the way out. Thinking about taking a bad fall off the bike out there where the next person may not come along for a few hours/days and there’s no phone reception made me decide to take a boat back out instead of the trail. So, in the standard Indonesian utilitarian way, we just put my motorbike on the front of an outrigger canoe:
While I was there, I had the chance to meet some very talented musicians, and learn about a 2-string guitar-like instrument they have:
Unfortunately the art of playing and building these instruments is almost dead, but the gentleman above still knows how to do both! Hopefully in the next few months he’ll have made a few new ones – one for me and another new one for himself. You can see in the picture that the instrument looks a lot like a boat – there’s a very good reason for that considering they are a fishing culture.
In the morning I also had a chance to go out fishing with a few of the guys. Here, they fish using spear guns. I don’t have a great picture of the guns, but you can see the fronts of some here:
To get in and out of the village, you have to sail through a mangrove swamp:
Once we got out to the fishing spot, the guys just hop of the boat and go diving with their spear guns, popping up every once in a while to toss their catch into the canoe.
Something else I saw out there that caught my eye was this guy in his boat:
At first I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, playing with some hose in his boat. And why was he running an air compressor in his canoe? Then, I realized that he was only the guy on the surface – the other members of his team were diving down deep below to fish, using the air from the compressor to breathe. If you have seen BBC’s Human Planet series, the episode on Oceans shows fishermen doing this in the Philippines. It’s called compressor diving, and it’s not the safest thing in the world.
This turned out to be a pretty interesting trip. On my way back, I had a chance to swing by the village we’re going to live in, and I was encouraged to see that work has started on our house! Hopefully in a few months we can finally start living there as a family.