Sunday, October 24, 2004


This photo of Melody in quiet contemplation is designed to attract your attention to the new photos on the .Mac Photo Page (link to the right). Most are from our most recent visit to Singapore along with few more tasty bonuses from Manado life, for contrast.

Also I would like to call your attention to our most recently added Blog: Project Samaria. In it you will read about our dear friends Shane and Dianne (our former Pastor and his wife), Taylor, Allie, (their children) and Sweetie (their dog). They recently moved to Slovakia to work with the Romany people (aka Gypsies) who are just as shunned, stereotyped and despised as they have ever been, not unlike the Samaritans of the first century. They are a part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and we are proud to have shared a church home, ministry, and many many good meals with them. Shane, in particular, is one of the most independant thinkers I know (though he may chafe at the characterization). Those who enjoy having your particular take on things gently stretched in different directions should give Project Samaria a look.

For those of you who are wondering, I, Matt, am still alive and thinking though I'm letting my thoughts cement a bit more before I try to offer them up to you, our loyal and patient readership. I'm reading a great book (Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples by V.S. Naipaul) that's helping me think through the role of religion in general and now, particularly Islam, in Indonesia. For now, content yourself with this question: at what point does submission to authority (of Government, God or otherwise) become learned helplessness? Talk amongst yourselves.

I'll talk to you soon.

Monday, October 18, 2004

We have returned. A little after one o’clock this afternoon, we stepped off of a plane into a dreary airport. The first time we flew into Manado, I was enthralled. The runway is set next to palm trees and thatched huts. We had no idea what we would encounter in this new land and were excited about the possibilities. The second time we flew into Manado, we were again anxious, but this time for different reasons. We now knew the limit of the health care and were unsure about how our lives here would be changed by my recently developed health problem. Today as we stepped into the airport, I wanted to be anywhere else. I am in the midst of my fourth cold (is it still called a cold if you have fever?) in three months. Sleep is my friend, trying to communicate with immigration officials is not. All went very smooth. We were out of the airport and home (in bed for me) in less than an hour.

Living here is very interesting and at times quite enjoyable. I just think that our quality of life would be improved if there were less mucus, puke, and swelling of limbs. You should be able to pull some prayer requests out of there somewhere.

Singapore was quite nice. Our main objective was to get the ultrasound Doppler study done of my leg and see the doctor. That was accomplished before we were there for 24 hours. The Doppler study showed that there had been much improvement. There is no complete blockage in the vein now, but several places where there is still partial blockage. The doctor (who is quite amiable) upped my dosage of the rat poison and said I should continue it for six more months.

Our secondary objectives were to stock up on reading materials and American foods. We got everything to make a green bean casserole, stove top stuffing, brownie mix, Pace picante sauce, dark chocolate, hot chocolate mix, canned pumpkin, alfredo sauce, and various other goodies. Shopping there was fun because all of the prices are in Sing dollars, which are each worth about 60 cents US. It was a like a huge sale where everything was 40% off.

We were hosted by wonderful family who live in a Balinese resort (as described by the family Matt stayed with last time). I enjoy visiting new places more when we get to stay with a local family and discuss our observations of life in their geographical corner. This visit, I learned more about the school system, mandatory male military service, and Bible Study Fellowship. We also learned (from 11-year-old Victor) that Singapore means “lion city”.

Speaking of lions, Matt and I went on a safari. At least, that’s what it’s called. Someone involved with the Singapore Zoo had the brilliant idea of housing nocturnal animals in a separate place with dim lighting so people could see them when they are most active. They call it a night safari and it was amazing. The barriers were generally worked into the natural habitat and the animals looked happy. We saw all kinds of great animals: lions, a tiger, a red panda (does that count as bears?), various pigs, tapirs, Asian elephants, rhinos, hippos, fighting rams of some sort, many deer like creatures, leopards, a cloudy leopard, and cats that jump into water to catch fish (creatively named “fishing cats”). It was amazing and fun.
Yesterday, we got to go to an English speaking church! That was the first sermon I have understood since the last time we were in Singapore. We spent the day with the Wee’s, the family that Matt and, for a shorter time, I stayed with last time. Matt went on a hike with the father and son of the family. Remember those analogies from standardized tests? Here’s one for you: monkeys are to Singapore/Indonesia as squirrels are to Arkansas/most of the States.

It’s time again for me to go to sleep. Tomorrow is ugly uniform day and I have to get plenty of beauty sleep to battle it.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

“Ma’am, if dead, talk to Ma’am?”

I stared blankly at Do Hee, a fourth grade Korean girl, wondering what the heck she meant.

“No, dead people don’t talk to me.”

“No, no. If dead, talk to Ma’am?”

“You mean ghosts?”

“NO. If dead, talk to Ma’am?”

I looked at her again, even more befuddled. She pointed to a boy in front of her who was lying on the floor not moving. “If dead, talk to Ma’am?”

In a moment of epiphany, I looked at the fifteen fourth grade students and tried unsuccessfully to stifle a laugh. As my stern face gave way to laughter, all control I had gained up to that point was lost.

Friday is story day. Every Friday, I read to each of my four English classes. Sixth grade hears There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom, fifth grade listens intently to Charlotte’s Web, and third and forth grade are enthralled by The Boxcar Children.

On this particular Friday, forth grade was having a hard time sitting still and listening to the adventures of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. Every few sentences, I would be interrupted with a cry of “Ma’am, Andri do like this with her, I mean his feet.” Or, “Ma’am, Deigo is look.” In frustration, I found myself saying words that I had heard all through elementary, “Work it out between yourselves. If there is not blood or a broken bone, don’t tell me about it.”

Of course, they thought this was hilarious. Instantly, in some strange natural disaster striking only fourth grade students, all of them had broken bones. Miraculously, though, they all healed when I threatened to stop reading. That’s when Do Hee spoke up. She wanted to know if death was serious enough to interrupt reading. I assured her it was, then several kids dropped “dead.”


In other news, we are heading out to Singapore on Wednesday (Oct. 13). I have an appointment with my doctor there for an ultrasound/check-up. I’m really excited about going back since I can walk this time. We will leave on Wednesday and return on Monday.