Ogoh Ogoh by Levi

So yesterday we went to the ogoh ogoh parade. We were also going to eat at McDonald’s but it was closed.

All the ogoh ogohs were pretty violent because in their beleif the bad gods/demons don’t go off the island unless they make big statues and burn them.

Then we went and got ice cream at a place where their motto is we make people “happy smile.” It was delicious.

After, we walked home on the beach. It took a long time. There were almost no people on the side walk. At home we ate Chinese fried rice, it was really really good.

Today we ate more Chinese fried rice and now hanging out we can’t really do much because it’s Nyepi (day of silence) so we can’t go out of the house and we can’t be loud. Most people on the island (Hindu) won’t eat or talk or even use electricity.

Chinese Fried Rice – Yum!

 

One of the Ogoh Ogohs
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Another one, with Grammy and Aunt Emily a couple days ago

 

Sembilan – Fish n Ships – Dirk

On Saturday, we drove a couple hours to East Bali with our wonderful friends from Manado: Banny, Lya, and their little one named Lee (after Bruce Lee).  Our principle destination was a place called Tulamben, known for its diving and snorkeling.  The big draw for me was the USS Liberty shipwreck.  Sitting just 100 feet offshore, and only 20 feet below the surface, this is pretty much the most accessible WWII shipwreck on the planet.

On the way to Tulamben, we stretched our legs at a natural salt works.  This is similar to the operation that Lewis and Clark established in Seaside, Oregon some 200 years ago.  Every day, a guy fills his 2 buckets with salt water, trudges up the hill, and spreads the water around the sand.  Over and over and over again.  At some point, the top layer of sand is scooped off and placed in a series of hollowed out tree trunks filled with water.  The water dissolves the salt from the sand, and the water is then flowed into a series of tree trunks until its last stop where the water is allowed to evaporate leaving only a layer of salt.  Really a lot of work, considering how little it costs to buy salt.

The shipwreck was awesome.  Really great.  This was a bucket list thing for me.  I can free dive down ~40 feet, so was able to see a lot of the coral and fishes inside the wreckage.  It was also fun to swim down and wave to the divers.  All of the boyz developed their skills as well — even Levi was able to swim down and touch the highest point of the stern.  So, so, so cool.

100 yards down the beach from the wreck is Coral Garden — a patch of coral and fishes.  It was also nice.  We especially enjoyed the clown fish living amongst anemones, and a mimic octopus.  I swam down and made him ink!  About three hours of snorkeling around, and I had finally had enough… but the boyz didn’t want to leave.  Little fishes!

On our way back home, we stopped at Goa Lawah (Bat Cave).  This is the temple where a cremation ceremony is held for Hindus that pass away.  The temple was built around a large cave that houses thousands of bats.  For nocturnal creatures, they sure are noisy little buggers.  As I understand it, pretty much all deaths on Bali are commemorated here in elaborate and expensive ceremonies, sometimes years after a person passes.

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We live near where it says “Badung Strait.”  You can see the USS Liberty labeled at the far eastern tip of the island.
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Jaxon, up the hill with his pails of water.  Thankfully, he did not fall down and break his crown.
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Spreading the salt water on the sand.  Crown nowhere in sight.
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I got to wear the crown, without carrying pails of water.  Ha!
Mimic Octopus
The ever talented mimic octopus.  I didn’t take this picture, but it’s probably the same octopus we saw.
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Twinsies!
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Looks like Jaxon only counted 2 bats.  He may have missed a few.
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Americans, Manadonese, and Balinese… brought together by Goa Lawah.

Jaxon, Luke and Levi and the ogoh-ogohs 

By Levi

Yesterday was awesome.

Our friends from house cleaning came and wanted to us to go on an adventure.

VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!

I went on a motorcycle with Happy it was amazing with wind in my face.

Then we went to Happy’s house and saw her baby.

Then we saw SUPER WEIRD LOOKIN ogoh-ogohs. They all had something to do with their religion and bad gods so after the parade they burn them to make all the evil spirits go away. Each village makes their own ogoh-ogoh statue for parade.

We went to Ari’s house and played with her kids. They were shy at first but then we had fun together. I had fun riding bikes with them.

At last we went to lunch and ate delicioius rice and a snack. YUMMMMMM!!!!

Our friend Happy
Happy’s baby
Having fun with Ari
By Luke 

Yesterday, we drove scooters to ogoh-ogohs around town with our house cleaning people without mom and dad. Ogoh-ogohs are floats that go around cities with evil spirits and demons, most of them they are bloody and disturbing. The Hindus build them and then burn them at a cemetery as an act of self purification. At every intersection they spin in circles trying to disorient the demons so they will not harm the humans. By burning them the spirits are driven away.

Every village builds their own ogah-ogah usually, some artist build them too. Though there are many Hindu places, Bali is the only one that celebrates the Day of Silence which is the day after the parade with the floats. On the day of silence the Hindus don’t eat or talk or have any source of pleasure. They just meditate.

After we went to see the Ogoh-ogohs we went to Ari’s house and met her kids which were shy at first, but then we rode  the bikes around her house and had fun.

Later, we went to lunch and I got some candy, an ice tea, coke and fried rice with chicken. Then we came home and had dinner with our friend Alter at Rib which was delicious. I got fettuccine with Alfredo sauce and a strawberry smoothie.

New friends
With Agus and an Ogoh-Ogoh
By: Jaxon

Yesterday we went on an adventure with the staff, at the villa. First, we took motorbikes to the first Ogoh-Ogoh (An Ogoh-Ogoh is like a spiritual float that the Indonesians parade around on March 27). It was really bloody. It was one guy getting pierced by spears and arrows from surrounding “warriors”. We hung out for a while before moving on.

The next thing I knew, I was on a motor-bike riding to the next Ogoh-Ogoh. The next Ogoh-Ogoh was very different. It was a man who had recently slaughtered a boar, but the man was wearing the boars head like a mask.

Later, after the Ogoh-Ogohs, we visited Ari’s houses. We got to meet her family and chickens. The house is tucked away in a neighborhood, far away from the main road. She has four children, two pigs, a bunch of birds, chicken and two dogs.

Afterwards, we got lunch at a small  warung. We all decided to get Nasi Goreang (Fried rice) and iced tea.

Overall we had a really fun day out with the staff and I would definitely do it again.

Delapan – Small Bulai – Dirk

I’m a bit taken aback by the financial information disclosed by locals here in Bali.  Perhaps it is a natural cultural openness, but I suspect not.  Beyond the smiles, I sense an underlying frustration about seeing the wealth that so easily flows from the pockets of tourists (FYI, bulai is the bahasa word for ‘white person’).  I’m tempted to be cynical about these disclosures… perhaps such statements have proven to loosen the flow of tourist purchases and tips and such.  But I resist such cynicism, as I desire an open heart toward all the folks with whom we interact.  Below are a few short anecdotes… for context, note that the minimum wage in bali is around IDR 2.0 jt ($150 USD) per month.  (jt is short for juta, which means million)

A random driver named Putu told us about how he used to pay IDR 2.5 jt (~$200 USD) per month for an apartment in Sanur, but he moved to Denpasar and now pays IDR 1.5 jt per month for 3 rooms.  His daughter is studying tourism at a public university so she can get a better job than driving/cleaning.  University is very expensive, on the order of $4000/year.  It is very difficult to afford on a driver’s income.

Andy, our new shopkeeper friend, told us it is very hard in Indonesia because most people are very poor and there are no social services.  If you are sick and don’t have money, you die.  If you do not work, you do not have money, and you do not eat.  He said that IDR 30k ($2.5 USD) is very cheap for tourists for a meal, but very expensive for him.  He said, on that particular day, he had only sold IDR 150k worth of goods at his little shop.

Anga, another driver,  prefers people to pay through the app that he drives for, because that prevents him from spending cash on cigarettes and such throughout the day.  If he completes 12 trips in a day, he gets a bonus of IDR 75k ($5.50 USD).  This is a huge incentive for him, and he and his friends compete to see who can complete 12 trips the quickest.

Rian owns a tiny Mexican warung, which has become a favorite of ours.  She is an insightful 25 year old young woman.  Interestingly, she absolutely has the talent to become very successful as a restaurateur, but she does not want to grow her restaurant because she does not want to become rich.  She says when people become rich, they become cold.  She just wants to save enough to get a good financial foundation under her so she can move back to Sumatra.  She chuckled and said we would be surprised at how “simple” her rented house is.

There have been others, but that’s enough to give you an idea.  Most of their stories are wrenching, as they struggle to feed a family on less than $200/month.  Some are more hope filled, which is lovely to hear.  But even successful folks here live simple lives on maybe $400/month.  Life is easy here, if you have western style money… if you are a rich bulai.  We use our AC all day (electricity is expensive here), swim in the pool, stroll the beach, hire a housekeeper, pay a taxi, eat wherever we like.  We plan excursions.  We play.  Our lives here are abundant.  But everyday we interact with dozens of people who struggle to just meet their basic needs.  Most of them stay barely afloat as long as they are healthy.  If not healthy, they may simply not be here tomorrow.

I’m really not sure what to do with this knowledge.  Of course we can be kind to all, but that seems inadequate.  Sometimes we pay too much for something, just to bless someone.  Once, we took some food to Andy, just to be nice.  I always tip something, even though it’s not super customary here.  But again, these fleeting gestures seem hollow.

I rarely feel small.  I have three college degrees.  I have a big job, relatively speaking.  I have an awesome wife, and three healthy boys.  And don’t forget about the Porsche!  When I am focused on myself, and my easy life, I feel very big.  But I feel small here sometimes — overwhelmed, really.  If there was only one Andy, I could feel big.  I could befriend Andy and invest in him, help him grow his business, etc.  But I can’t do that for the thousands of Andies we meet.  These are huge issues, rooted in cultural and governmental obstacles, and even my American wallet is not big enough to solve them.

What can one tiny bulai do?  It’s a riddle I am very intent on solving.  I am anxious to put my MBA to some useful purpose here.  We are getting connected with some NGO’s, and I am hopeful of finding a fruitful role. Stay tuned!

Fun Day by Jaxon

By: Jaxon

So, I haven’t blogged in a while, but during the time between blogs we did some pretty fun things.

First off, we drove all the way to Kuta to go to a parkour gym. I had my doubts, but it was actually really fun. There was a rock-wall that you jump off of into a foam pit! That part was actually scary. Once you get up there it looks a lot higher than it actually is. We had to learn how to balance on a very thin pipe without stopping. It’s really fun once you get the hang of it.

I loved learning to flip off a wall. I actually felt like a superhero. Watch out Spiderman, cause there’s a new hero in town.

After leaving the gym, we decided to head to the beach. There’re a lot more waves at Kuta than there are here. At every beach we go to, we always TRY to bodysurf the waves. Next time we go we’re going to buy some boogey boards, to actually catch the waves.

Next we decided to eat. Then I heard say something that I never thought that I’d hear from my Mom.

“Lets go get some Mcdonalds.” Though it was a very welcome turn of events, it was still a shock

`I think the best part of the whole day was that we didn’t do any school that day! I think that I could get used to at least part of this whole living in Bali thing.

 

Thanks for reading!

Shelter

I’ve been thinking a lot about shelters. What is takes to build them and what it means to be one. I’ve got much more to learn about both of these.

We chased down a girl stolen from her home, brought here and handed out to men in a jungle brothel.

I’ve sat crossed legged across from a mother begging me to take her trafficked 13- year daughter to a shelter. We don’t currently have an aftercare shelter where geography and religion will permit her to stay.

I’ve wrapped my arms around a girl I watched grow up, now being traded and used.

I live in Australia’s most sought out destination for child sex tourism. It’s as dark as it is beautiful here, and it is very beautiful.


We’ve been invited to build shelters here, but what if we all became shelter everywhere we are?

Maybe she wouldn’t need an aftercare shelter now if she’d had a safe place to run to then…a neighbor, a teacher, a friend, someone paying attention, someone willing to stop and listen,  and maybe even to stand in the way.

I know it’s complicated, especially here. Poverty and desperation fuel measures unimaginable in context of our western realities. Here, the math almost adds up to sell one child to feed three others starving at home.

We are raising money, working with police, searching out buildings and saying our prayers but sometimes it doesn’t takes much to be the answer to some else’s.

Sometimes providing shelter means simply showing up.

We launched a sponsorship program to help care for the most beautiful and talented kids on the planet, they also are among the most vulnerable. They live in a red light district where darkness preys on the innocent as a way of life. In addition to the education and practical care sponsorship provides, it seems the traffickers in the community are increasingly aware of which kids have a “sponsor parent” because that connection could complicate their ugly agenda. It seems knowing she is not alone, can be reason enough  for them to leave her alone. Sponsorship is shelter.

Opening the doors of a new shelter will give hope to hundreds, but it’s the wide open arms of God that heal world.

Because I live here, I get to see her. She is the inspiration and reason why we came. We came to build a shelter so she can heal. She is waiting yet already on her way.

I saw her this weekend, with her arms raised high and tears splashing onto her sandals. And I could see in her eyes and hear in her song she is figuring out where to run.

Not into a place.

Shelter is a person.

The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9 

Tujuh – Small Things – Dirk

I am back in beautiful Bali after 4 days on business in China.  It was a very long, small trip.  It was stranger than I imagined, to fly away from our expat home in Bali.  I didn’t like it.  First off, I’ve had enough China for one lifetime.  On my first or second trip, some years ago, I spent a Saturday to see Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, and Great Wall.  That was cool, worth doing once.  But there’s nothing else there that holds any interest for me.  So, it’s just work now.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it there… there are even parts of the job there that I enjoy.  But mostly I just pack in as much work as possible in as few days as possible to get home as quick as possible.  No looky-lou sightseeing for me.  No bar hopping or other assorted night life.  Just work, eat, sleep, repeat.  And, also, I just really like hanging out in Bali — family, sunshine, beach… bats.

I have a pair of travelling pants.  And though they are not a central figure in any shared sisterhood, I love them nonetheless.  They are well-worn cargo pants with many trips under their belt (puntastic!).  The buttoning pockets are perfect for passports, phones, and boarding passes.

In reflecting upon my pants, I realized that I unfailingly keep everything vital in the pants.  If my bag and jacket are lost or stolen, I can survive with just my pants.  Passport, credit card, phone.  Pants.

That got me thinking about how powerful  so many very small things are.  That passport is all I need to be allowed in virtually any country on earth.  One tiny credit card is all I need to happily live pretty much anywhere.  My phone gives me access to people and data from around the globe.  These three tiny things, happily nestled in my pants, wield more power than the kings of old.  How crazy is that?  My pants are awesome.

Another small but powerful thing is my foot injury from my ill-fated parasailing adventure.  My knee and foot were healing well enough, until going to China.  Because China requires shoes.  And walking.  The shoes plus walking reopened my foot wound and made pretty much every step excruciating.  I hate those shoes every bit as much as I love my pants.  I include a picture below to show that the foot wound is not big at all, but its smallness did not diminish its power to cause me anguish.

I also included a picture from the security line at the Guangzhou airport.  This sign is neither small nor especially powerful.  But it is amusing, and sometimes that’s enough.

Security Line in Guangzhou

Small, but Powerful Foot Injury