Thursday, November 25, 2004

Two Celebrations

First of all, Happy Birthday (quite literally) Jordan David Roe!!! Congratulations to the new parents--Haven and Jason. We miss you guys.

Secondly, Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrated today with three other American families. Matt and I didn’t have to sit at the kids’ table. It was great. There were nine children (ranging from 5 months to 8 years) and eight adults. Yesterday (Wednesday) I came down with one of my monthly sinus infections. Other than that, Thanksgiving was great. It was the next best thing to being home.

We put some pictures up (.Mac link on the right).

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Bali Mystique

We set out for the beautiful land of Bali on Wednesday (Nov. 10) very early. There was some concern about our tickets as the travel agent had our names wrong, but thankfully (for us, but not for the security of Indonesia) the airports don’t care what your name is or what you say your name is. Our ID was never checked. Thanks to a cancelled flight, we had a seven hour layover in a small airport with few food options and fewer things to do. We ate french fries and Baskin Robbins for lunch (Matt had JMA). When we finally arrived in Bali, we were tired, but greatly impressed by the beauty.

We spent five days on the beach, which is quite nice. The only problem is the enormous number of people trying to sell things. At least a hundred women wanted to braid my hair, give me a massage, or give a manicure. You can’t walk three meters (isn’t the metric system fun?) without someone asking if you need transport.

We did get to enjoy some really nice things there, like cheese. [Side note: Our senior year of university, Matt and I went to visit our friend Ben Utter in China. One of the things he asked us to bring was cheese. I thought he was a bit odd for the request at the time, but after living without good cheese for six months, I understand completely.] We ate some really good food: Greek (feta), Mexican (with cheese dip), and Italian (with lots of parmesan).

Matt wanted to try surfing, so he took a class one day. I sat and watched and was hassled to death by venders. It was a nice day.

After spending some time at the beach, we went up to Ubud, the artistic center of Bali (so we were told). They had real art galleries and interesting crafts to sell. We went into a gallery and ended up staying over an hour talking to the artist who owned it. He enjoyed music and made bamboo flutes. We sat and played flute and guitar for a long time and he told us of his art, wife and life in Indonesia.

We met many interesting people in Ubud, a lot of lonely expats. We talked with a very large European gay man one night after he joined us at our table and started picking over our leftovers. We met a lovely Norwegian woman at a Balinese dance who had some not so lovely things to say about Bush. The next night we met an Australian who, over the course of about an hour and several desserts, spilled his life story out to us.

We had many conversations with the locals about Hinduism as it is expressed in Bali. At our hotel in Ubud, a man named Mega would cook and bring us breakfast every morning. He explained several stories to us and told us about spirits and asked if the Muslims killed Jesus. We had some interesting discussions with him.

The most memorable moment happened in the monkey forest, home of the Monkey Forest Temple. We went to get some pictures of monkeys. They had a different idea. Matt was walking up some stairs behind some of the little critters. A baby monkey got frightened and screamed. The mother looked around, saw Matt and went into attack mode. She bit his leg and scratched his arm before finally deciding she had scared him enough and backed away. (Moms and people who have maternal feelings toward us: the skin was barely broken since he was wearing pants.)

We decided to sit down a bit out of the way and just observe for a few minutes. As we were sitting, an older monkey lumbered up to Matt and sat down right beside him. The monkey reached into Matt’s backpack and took the bottle of water. He held it in his feet and used his hands to open it then took a long drink. He looked up at us as if to say either “thank you” or “ha ha, you can’t stop me,” then dropped the bottle and walked off.

In all it was a nice trip from which neither of us really wanted to return. We go back to school tomorrow. There are four more weeks until Christmas.

**There are new pictures posted to illustrate all the major points of this post.**

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A cool Bali evening yawns its way across our balcony at the Oka Wati Hotel in Ubud. Sips of hot tea punctuate thoughts of our walk in the Monkey Forrest and the intentionally pitiful woman selling flutes at the entrance. My dark feelings of foreboading apparently from being so near the various Hindu temples keep giving way to thoughts of this inconvenient, annoying woman and how would Jesus handle the confrontation of a desperate person seeking a bit of his position of advantage.

I suppose Peter and John did it their way. And I worship the same living God but I hardly feel at liberty to say “rise up and check your bank account, I think you’ll find it full.”

All the other people going into the forest to worship carried stacks of fruit half their height towering above their heads, some with chickens strapped to the front. I wonder what she will bring to the temple. Tonight’s the last night for this festival and prayers end at 10:00 PM.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

We’re off to Bali! At least I hope we are. Our handwritten tickets are for “Mr. Melodi Matthew” and “Mrs. Lumpkin Melodi.” I’m hoping the Indonesian airlines are a bit less strict than the American ones. Matt assures me they are, but it still makes me nervous. We leave tomorrow morning at five and will be gone for ten days.

Here are the parts I am most excited about:
- having consist water and a bathtub
- white sand
- McDonalds and Mexican food
- being in the Southern Hemisphere (I promise to watch the water spin)
- being out of the pink walls of our house
- experiencing another part of Indonesia

On an unrelated note, this is my first official plea for guests. We bought sheets and pillows for our guest room and will reward the first visitor(s) with the knowledge that no one has slept on the sheets before. Wouldn’t you love to be the first to sleep on a set of new sheets? I’ll try to think of better things to entice you with for future posts.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Crime and Punishment

Discipline has never been my strength. For the two years I worked with the youth group, I struggled to maintain control. The semester that I worked as a substitute teacher challenged my crowd control ability even more. Now we work at a school that has very lax policies and minimal procedures for dealing with behavior problems. When I stopped a second grade student from chasing another student around the classroom with a metal ruler and asked him to hand over his weapon, he answered with a loud NO. What then? The school has no set consequences for misbehavior and nothing ready made with which to threaten them (i.e. “go to the principal” or “stay in at recess”). I’ve been working out some discipline measures of my own with mixed results.

Fourth grade is a very difficult class. I have them at the end of the day, right before they have sports. One of the biggest challenges is to get them to keep their clothes on in the classroom as they want to change for sports. After weeks of struggling with them for their attention, I think I have finally found a solution: Mr. Graham-ometer. Mr. Graham is a middle-aged (for people who live to 100) British science teacher. The kids in elementary know him as the bule that yells at them. They are terrified of him. Sensing their terror yesterday, I came up with an idea. I told them that if they could not behave for me, then I would get Graham to switch places with me. I would teach his science class and he would teach their English class. They did not like this idea. Preying even further on their terror, I drew a tall, thin column on the board with several sections and labeled it “Mr. Graham-ometer.” When they are being loud or not paying attention, I fill in one of the sections. It works wonderfully.

Third grade is a wonderful class, full of excitement and eager to learn. They are convinced that I am a walking Barbie doll and sneak up behind me to touch my hair. While this class has won its way into my heart, they still have a few problems. They love to wander. They roam about the room as much as I let them. Today two girls kept getting up. I told them that if they got up again, I would give them a punishment. I looked up again and they were standing together away from their desks. I wrote “I will stay in my seat during class.” on the board and told them to write it twenty times. They cheerfully sat down to get started. A minute later, another girl came up to me and whispered in my ear, “Ma’am, can I make like Ester and Monica?” I looked at her confused and asked if she wanted to write the sentences. She nodded. With a strange look I said, “Okay.” In the end, four girls wrote the sentences. Although it wasn’t perceived as a punishment, it did keep them in their seats for the rest of the class time.

ps- could someone tell us how to do titles? or how to get kittens out of the roof?