KFC IN KUPANG

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What would we have done without KFC here in Kupang? Being the only western style restaurant here it has been quite a big part of our life. So we cannot have a blog  about our life in Kupang and not have a post about the KFC ( Kentucky Fried Chicken).

Very often when we go to the KFC I ( Monica) think back to the day we arrived here in Kupang. We landed at the airport and got a taxi to take us to the hotel where we had booked a room. The room consisted of 2 single beds, a mattress on the floor, and a lizard…Not very inviting. ( The next day we checked into another much nicer and more practical hotel) So we got out on the street to check out this new city we had arrived in. This street is one of the most busy in the whole of Kupang, and not really that inviting either. So we decided to make our way to the Flobamora mall and the KFC that we had read about on the internet. We tried to get a taxi, but there were just lots of bemos and we didn’t know where we had to go. Luckily we saw a policeman and asked him where we could find a taxi. The policeman didn’t speak much english but understood where we wanted to go, and offered to take us there in his police car! He even wanted to give us his phone number so that  he could come and pick us up after we had finished!

After our first meal at KFC we came back quite often. Especially in the first month when we were still living in hotels.We were there probably 3-4 times per week. Thinking back now I wonder where on earth we ate those days when we did not go to the KFC? Once we got our own place we were able to gradually start cooking ourselves. ( Once we found out a few meals we could make) so our trips to the KFC became much less regular. And now when we have the new hypermarket we can cook nicer food at home and go there even less.

So what is so special about KFC? Nothing really, just that we all like the food, it is nice and clean, and the children really enjoy watching ads for KFC on all the TV screens they have. Also it has quite a nice little play area. This means that it is very popular for arranging birthday parties for children…

The birthday girl

The birthday girl

Last week Daniel came home and proudly showed us his invitation for a birthday party at mars 2013 004the KFC. One of the girls in his class was celebrating her birthday there. After having been to a few parties we are starting to learn the codes for parties in Kupang. The first thing to know is that unless you want to be the first person there you should not come on time. If you want to arrive right before the program starts you should come one hour late. People will actually be arriving all the way up to the time the party is finished. Another thing to say mars 2013 012about parties here is that they are BIG. Everyone is invited. Friends, family, neighbours, everyone you know. And many children will bring their siblings, parents, maids and so on…So back to the party at the KFC…Once the program started they had a lot of party games for the children. A big part of the party is slicing the birthday cake. But only a few chosen people get to taste a little spoonful of cake. Then completely at the end the food is handed out. Boxes with chicken and rice, drinks, and a bag of sweets ( which are enormous and in reality enough for a whole family). Then people go home and eat the food at home. In most parties though the food is served and eaten at the party.

 

Otherwise we just want to wish you all a very happy easter celebration! Our easter holiday starts tomorrow after we have had a ” three way conference” with all the three children. This is similar to the student led conference we had in the autumn, just that this time the teacher is also a part of it. We are really looking forwards to this holiday, as I am sure you all are!

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FEVER IN THE TROPICS

According to our travel health book fever in the tropics should always be taken seriously. If living in a malarious area consider fever to be malaria until proven otherwise, it reads.  You have to get to the doctor preferably within 8 hours of getting a fever, it goes on to warn us.

So, is Kupang a malarious area or not? This was one of our big questions before we got here. According to all medical resources all of east Indonesia is malarious area. Otherwise cities are usually counted to be malaria free, but not Kupang. Most people will say that there is some malaria here, but mostly a less dangerous type (vivax). We had to make a decision whether or not to use anti malaria pills. After a lot of reading on the internet and praying about it we decided not to ( considering all the negative side effects of malaria pills ).  Instead we decided to make sure we didn’t get any mosquito bites.  This is of course quite impossible. By installing air conditioners in the house and sealing all gaps between windows and doors we have been able to make the house mosquito free. The children are sprayed with mosquito repellent before they go to school and before they go out to play in the afternoons. But they still get bitten. We have even tried eating B vitamin pills. Medically it is just a myth that this works against mosquito bites, but after having used them for some months they actually seem to work at least a bit…

mars 2013 003A bigger problem than malaria is dengue fever. We are at the height of the dengue fever season now, being at the end of the wet season. One of our neighbours had dengue fever a few weeks ago and was in hospital for a week. The day she came home somebody came and sprayed the whole area for mosquitoes. This is a free offer from the government in trying to minimize the problem.

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So after having been here for over 9 months we have had our first high fevers.We had had some quite rough weeks leading up to this where we were not able to sleep very well. Mostly because of a lot of very heavy rain in the nights, and also quite a lot of power cuts. (A few weeks ago we had 8 power cuts in a period of 24 hours, the longest one lasting 3 hours. Then last week we had a power cut in the evening/night that lasted for 6 and a half hours. This in addition to all the shorter “normal” daily power cuts).  In addition the kitchen exploded with mould. Wether it was the lack of sleep or the mould or just some virus, we don’t know, but the result was that we all got unwell. Aches, colds, head-aches, coughs…….and fevers…..So we chose to play safe and had our first encounters with the health care system in Kupang.

What we had heard about hospitals here was not that great. The more well off people here will go to Jakarta or some other bigger city in Indonesia when for example giving birth. The facilities in Kupang are not good enough. Luckily we have a small but nice, new and clean hospital just a short walk away from our house. This is actually a maternity hospital, but they also take other patients. We had to go there two days in a row with two different family members. The conclusion was that it was nothing serious. Monica was quite happy to check out their very small and very basic lab.

On the way home we even met a British woman whom we have spoken to a couple of times in the hypermarket. She actually lives 5 min walk from here, and we never knew. She came to visit us with her little baby daughter a couple of days later, which was also very nice 🙂 She actually told us that she has had malaria three times and dengue fever once. It’s very useful for us to hear about other foreigners experiences.

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BEING DIFFERENT

januar 2012 009There are not many foreigners here in Kupang. Once in a while we can see a backpacker or two walking around. (Maybe on their way to see the komodo dragons, the worlds biggest lizards, on one of the nearby islands).  There are a few mixed marriage families, mostly men from Australia married to Indonesian women. There are also some people from other countries, even a norwegian man, we have heard. The Irish/ Indonesian family who we had a bit of email contact with before we came here moved back to Ireland only a few months after we came. As far as we know we are the only all western family here. There are no foreigners that we have any regular contact with, so we are quite alone here in being different. We for sure stick out, not just one white person but 5!

Most Indonesian people are not very discrete, at least not on this remote island. So when we turn up somewhere new they clearly show their amazement and amusement at seeing us. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with their however many children would probably not get as much attention if they showed up in our home countries. Especially the boys get a lot of attention. ” Ganteng” is a word we hear a lot, which means handsome. People will want to touch them and squeeze their cheeks. Our boys actually handle this surprisingly well, so much that we finally realized they quite like it. As long as it doesn’t go too far, like when a big woman pinched Joakim’s cheeks so hard that he started crying. I looked at her, anticipating some kind of apology, but what did she do? She laughed…( maybe more on Indonesians and laughter another time…)

To us adults, people will say ” Hello Mister” ( often to both of us depending on how good their english is) Another word we hear often is “Bule”. According to one blog we found this means ” big, white fat buffalo”. I have unfortunately not been able to confirm this interpretation, but for sure it is used to describe ” white” people. There are long ongoing discussions on expat forums on whether this is an offensive word or not. I guess we would say that depends very much on how it is said…

So how are us adults handling all the unwanted attention? Not very well, we must admit. We do not really enjoy it, and to be honest we are not really getting used to it either. Walking into a shop and everybody bursts out laughing is one of those things we have to put up with. And people are not laughing because of our bad Indonesian, but just because we are different. Even when we walk into more modern offices people will suppress their giggles behind a more sophisticated response. Another thing we have to put up with is a lot of staring. People will regularly just stop and stare at us as we are shopping or whatever else we are doing. Something not quite as bad but still a bit annoying is when people stare at what we have in our shopping trolleys. A few times people have even taken things out of our shopping trolleys to study them a bit closer. Yes, we truly stick out here and so does what we have in our shopping trolleys…

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Luckily we have our places where people are getting used to us and we can feel a bit more normal. And when we are with Indonesian friends we are almost a bit “protected” from the crowds. Of course not all the attention is negative. A lot of people are genuinely friendly and respectful. We see a lot of smiley and friendly people, and these absolutely make up for a lot of the harassment we occasionally get from others.

The boys playing football  in the pictures are examples of some very nice children. We met them one time on a little trip, they joined us, played football with the boys, ate our biscuits and even dared to taste our waffles. Good memories. These boys were very friendly, respectful and helpful.  Quite normal  actually…

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FINDING OUR WAY

Around a year ago we were in the middle of preparations for going to West-Timor, Indonesia. We had already sold our house and had started to give away/throw/sell or pack away our earthly belongings. When we look back  it was quite an amazing time. We were taking a big step of faith, but it didn’t really feel like that. It just felt completely normal. ( even though we knew that what we were doing was not really that normal). The reason I (Monica) am saying that it was an amazing time is because God completely carried us through that time of big transition. He made everything go so smoothly. He gave us such big peace in everything we were doing. We knew that we were doing a crazy thing, but we knew we were doing it for God. We could really feel that He was so present in all our practical work of moving our family. It didn’t necessarily make sense and we knew that we could be wrong. However, even if we were to later find out that it was wrong we would still do it, because we  BELIEVED that it was what God wanted.

We came here because God led us clearly into coming here, but we did not know what we were going to do here.  In reality we knew nothing about anything. The only thing we knew was that we had to wait for God, and do what He wanted us to, and not just do our own thing.We can testify of how God completely took care of us and gave us  everything we needed. We had nothing, He gave us everything. A house, friends, school for the children, a car and everything else that we have needed.  That is worth many posts by itself, and we have written about it many times before. God really showed us his faithfulness once again.

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We thought God took us here because He wanted us to do something for Him here. Now we see that our time here has not been about what God was going to do through us, but what God was going to show us. For those of you who have read the post called “THE BREAKTHROUGH” you might have realized that God has really surprised us here. We haven’t really done much other than spend time with God, but God has really spoken quite a lot. Why we had to come all the way to the ends of the world in order to hear these things, we do not totally understand. We do see though that this has  been a place with  few distractions so that God has had a lot of opportunity to speak.

We really believe that Peter has received a message that needs to be shared. The message  about deception in the church in the end times is for the whole church.  We started to realize that we would not be coming back here after our visa expires in the end of May. We have been in a very isolated part of the world this year. Geographically we feel God is taking us  out of the isolation and back to the ” centre of the world”.  So our next move will actually be to ENGLAND.  We have not received  “writing on the wall” this time, 🙂  ( to all of you who have heard the story of how God led us to come here) but God has given us new direction clearly enough for us to act on it. We have had our rounds of asking God is this REALLY what you are saying, of “counting the costs”, and facing all the new challenges. Now we have come to a place where we feel ready, we have peace, we are happy about our next step, and we see that it makes sense. ( Which in itself is quite a little miracle as Peter has said so many times that he never wants to go back to his home country 🙂 ) And we know that God is going to lead us and take care of us in our new step of faith, just as He has always done before.

Peter’s additions to the post:

God started to show me firstly from His Word, but also in other ways that when Jesus and the Apostles speak of the last days, the first thing they mention is deception.  They go on to warn us against deception.  I believe we are in the days where there are real dangerous deceptions in the church.  Old deceptions, and newer deceptions.   This message of warning against deception, is for the whole church.  I am well aware that there are others around the world whom Jesus is saying the same sort of thing too.  England will, we believe, be a significant place in the last days.  There is much spiritual deception and darkness in my homeland.  In many ways, England is a place that touches the whole world…in language, in commerce and business, in being a place where the nations come to study/work, and in spiritual ways too.  Many ministries and large churches are based in London and the rest of the UK. So from the first of June our address will be somewhere in England…

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THE WET SEASON

februar 2013 009The wet season here in West Timor is shorter than other places in Indonesia. This is why it is so dry here the rest of the year.  Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia,  has experienced very bad floods this year. There are floods every year in the wet season, but this year has been one of the worse ones with thousands of people having to flee from their homes. Even here in Kupang there have been floods. 3 villages were affected, and hundreds of houses were flooded after a day of continuous rain from morning to evening. We have not witnessed this ourselves but read about it in a local newspaper.

The wet season came quite late this year. Not until the middle of December did we start to have some really heavy rain.  UNPREDICTABLE is the word that best describes the wet season here. It is not like other places in the tropics where the rain comes  in the afternoon every day, and it rains for a couple of hours.  There is no system at all here. The rain is at times extremely heavy. So heavy that it will wake us up in the night and we can’t sleep again until it is over. Sometimes it is as if somebody just turned on an extremely powerful shower above our heads, and then turns it off just as suddenly a few minutes later. Quite  fascinating.

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So how have we been coping with the wet season?

When Peter was at the pastors conference the speaker from Singapore spoke about him and his family having  been missionaries in the Philippines. He said that they lived in such a poor house that in the wet season they had to use an umbrella in the kitchen…That sounds very much like us…The options are to use an umbrella, or to just stay out of the kitchen until the rain stops…most often we go for the second option…

Our house  leaks, as we have mentioned a few times before …This is probably the normal thing for Indonesian houses.  Sweeping the floor in the kitchen every time it rains is not really a problem. We have been more concerned with our very wet walls…At times we have wondered if the walls were going to crumble away before the wet season was over…We bought in some  extra fans to try to dry them up, but long before they were anywhere near dry it would start raining again. The worst part is for sure our “outside” kitchen area, but we also have leakages inside. One day even the mattress on the top bunk bed was wet!

Then we discovered an even bigger problem: MOULD. The picture is of the backside of januar 2013 008Erik’s desk.Even my recipe book had mould on it. At this point we were starting to seriously count down days  for the wet season to end. This was in the middle of January, and we couldn’t wait for March to come  with the hope of drier weather.  We were a bit surprised when somebody told us that it was actually February that was the worst month, so we were preparing ourselves for the worst…We washed  the mould away with bleach, the next day it was just as bad. Thanks to the internet we found out that the thing to use against mould is actually VINEGAR. Thanks to the new hypermarket we could buy  some bottles of vinegar, some masks and gloves, we rolled up our sleeves (well, maybe that was a bit exaggerated as we just wear T-shirts here) and got ready to fight our new enemy. After some days of washing and scrubbing and spraying with vinegar ( which we have now proven keeps the mould away longer than bleach does 🙂  ) something very unexpected happened…IT STOPPED RAINING!!!…in the middle of January…

Just minor puddles outside the kindergarten this day...

Just minor puddles outside the kindergarten this day…

Since then we have just had a bit of light rain here and there. Most days are sunny and very warm. ( actually not WARM the locals will correct us, but HOT) To be honest we prefer the heat from the rain. Our air-conditioned house makes the heat bearable… . So now, after some weeks of warmer weather our walls are more or less dry, and with only cosmetic damages…We are thankful. At the same time we are thinking that this must have been an unusually short wet season even for West Timor? We know that most people here are very dependent on a good wet season for their crops to grow. We also know that when the wet season fails there is a big danger of famines here. So we are hoping and praying that the farmers are getting  the rain that they need.

This post was actually written over a week ago, but because of our very unstable internet connection we haven’t been able to post it until now. Maybe just us good, because then we can come with the latest updates…The last week it has started to really rain again…So the wet season is not over just yet…

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TECHNICAL PROBLEMS

Sorry you haven’t heard from us for a while. We wrote a new post for our blog ( called THE WET SEASON) over a week ago, but because of our unstable internet connection we were not able to publish it. And then when we were finally able to write on the blog again we were not able to upload pictures…Now we are at a restaurant where they have free wifi, to try to write here, but unfortunately their internet connection in down…Hopefully we will be able to post on our blog again soon…So now we are sitting here drinking coke, listening to Michael Bolton and hoping that Peter and the boys can soon get to play some pool  : )

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LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

høst 2012 153Last time around we wrote about religion in Indonesia, and in particular about Christianity here in West Timor.  We may be repeating ourselves here, but there are many  things within the church in Kupang that don’t seem to add up; Christianity here is not always so Christian, it would seem.  Yet, at the same time, there is a ‘specialness’ about this place.  It is as if God has given a special grace to the people here.  Let me give you an example of what I mean.

If you have been following this blog from the beginning (thankyou 🙂 ), then you will know that I, Peter, was involved in a car crash (see the former post on this blog, imaginatively titled, ‘The Crash’).  Once the police came and had checked out the scene of the accident, myself and Erik (whom I had been on my way to pick up from school), were driven to the police station.  On the way, the officer who spoke some english told me something quite interesting.  The night before, he had a dream where he was helping a foreigner (there are very few foreigners here).  And here I was in his police car!  I told him that maybe God had shown it to him (I didn’t yet know if he was a Christian or not).

Later, at the police station, he told me that he was a Christian, went to church every Sunday and tried to read his Bible often.  Yet not long afterwards, he was telling me that he hated his Dad, and that he prayed for him to die.  In fact, he said that he always prayed for those he hated to die.  Now, we all know that Christians are not perfect or sinless, but this is not normal Christian behaviour.  I encouraged him to forgive his Dad, and to be reconciled to him.  In the following days the policeman sent  me text messages with quotes from American preachers, whom he had seen on TV.  I would always reply with a Bible verse.  One day, I sent the verse, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).  After that, I never heard from him again.

This young man had a dream (maybe about me), and we know of others who have had dreams.  One of our friends is a Christian lady, with family in Soe.  She has had dreams that seem very much to be from God.  In some of these dreams, God has revealed specific information about a friend or family member, which has been proven to be true.  It’s very obvious to us that God desires to speak to the people here.  Another friend of ours, comes from a Christian family.  She would say herself though, that she is the least Christian of her family, and that she is not committed in her walk with God.  Yet, at times without prompting she will start talking to us about such matters as the mark of the beast, the end times, and how some news item makes her think of these things.  She was also one  of the first people to say to us that there are ‘too many Christians’ here in Kupang, meaning that Christianity here for some is just a religion and not a true life-changing faith in Jesus.

Tradtional hut, Soe

Tradtional hut, Soe

So what is going on here?  There is so much evidence of Christianity here, you can literally see it everywhere.  Yet dig beneath the surface, even just a little, and you see much evidence of religion, nominalism, and even the mix of Christianity with dark beliefs (maybe, at some point in the future we may write about that).  Yet, despite this ‘shallowness’ of faith, it seems as if God really does speak with people here.  There is this common faith among the people, almost like a Christian heritage.  Maybe it has to do with what happened in the mountain town of Soe?

Soe, about 3 hours by car from Kupang, is a town in the middle of West Timor.  Much smaller than Kupang, with a slightly cooler climate due to its height of 800m above sea level.  Back in the mid-1960s there was a revival in that place (many Christians have never heard of the Soe revival.  In fact we only stumbled upon it in trying to find out info on West Timor, before we left Norway).  This revival, was one of the most amazing revivals since the days of the book of Acts to have happened in the world, in terms of numerical growth within the church, number of miracles, types of miracle and to a degree, spiritual growth.  So what happened at Soe?

There were many factors leading up to the Soe revival, including some ‘mini’ revivals beforehand, which I will not go into detail about.  Nevertheless, one thing worth mentioning was the lack of grounding in God’s Word, and the nominalism of the average church member.  A team of Bible students from Java (another part of Indonesia) were led by God to come to Timor and preach there.  As a result of this and later meetings in the autumn of 1965, the revival broke out.   People turned to Jesus in their thousands, pagan fetishes were burned and destroyed, believers caught a new fire in their faith, amazing miracles occurred.  Water was turned into wine, food was multiplied like in the feeding of the 5000, believers were ‘translated/transported’ like with what happened with Philip in Acts 8:39-40.  It was even reported that the dead were raised on more than one occasion.  The believers spoke in tongues, both the tongues of angels, and the tongues of men.

The church at the centre of the Soe revival

The church at the centre of the Soe revival

Much of the information that you can find out about the revival at Soe, can be traced to a certain german Dr Kurt Koch (google him and ‘soe revival’).  He visited Soe at the height of the revival, and writes (in english) of what happened there.  He even witnessed water being turned into wine.  He also told of a time of where a local young Timorese woman sang a worship song to a group of western believers in a prayer meeting or something.  This song was in english, and these men were reduced to tears at the beauty of the song, even though she didn’t have the best singing voice.  However, when they asked her about the song, she had to tell them through an interpreter, that she didn’t know it was english, as she knew not one word of english.  This was just a melody Jesus had given her, that she sang ‘in tongues’ to.

Some of this may seem hard to believe.  Of course, everything is to be checked out with the Bible.  The residents of Kupang at the time, did indeed find this hard to believe.  So much so, that they thought the revival was of the devil.  They rejected the whole Soe thing.  Today, there are people in Kupang who have never heard of the Soe revival.  How did the revival fade away?  Because of the church. Among other things, it was the older leaders of the church who were envious of it being the young people who were used in the revival.  As a result they wanted to control it, and so the revival faded out.

Is this why there seems to be both light and darkness at work here within the church?

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