Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The 9th of March

Sometimes one is just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
On the 9th of March we had a 100% solar eclipse here in AP, and the best place to see it turned out to be our home town.

 I had already seen a 85-90% eclipse in Norway, and though that it wasn't that cool, but worth seeing. 
Turns out that a 100% is way cooler and very much worth seeing!

These pictures were taken by a friend, and were the best ones any of us took, but it still does not show it really well. It was really an amazing thing to see. God's creation is truly amazing, even though it is fallen... Makes me wonder what the perfection we will see in Heaven looks like.

Alia rocking welding glasses!

The cool girls

Later in the afternoon, when we came home, our neighbors had killed this massive biawak. It came running into the guest house yard, and because the kids were playing there, it was immediately given a knock on the head.
(This is not a Komodo Dragon, these are not rare) 

I estimate it was about 2 meters from nose to tail tip and about 13-15 kilos.

Alia wasn't sure about this thing, but still found it interesting

And then they cooked it... people from the part of the country the man in the picture comes from are known for eating anything

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Language and Culture

The process of learning a language isn't easy. I'm pretty sure everyone who has tried would agree, but I'm wondering if learning culture, even though it is often talked about as the secondary thing, is even harder.

I'm not writing this blog post out of frustration after making a major cultural mistake, but I have heard a few things lately that makes me think culture is, maybe, more important to learn than language.

If you move to a new country, in most cases, you have to learn the language, but in my experience the vast majority of people will easily forgive if you have a hard time speaking, or they will be patient if hey can't understand what you are saying, and politely ask questions to get your point.

Culturally you don't really have those layers of security and understanding.
Even though there is a small degree of "he's a foreigner, he probably didn't mean it" it seems people have to make a conscious decision not to show that you actually offended them when it comes to culture.

Things like when you know the language well enough to a make a funny comment that would have been harmless in your home country, but could literally get you in trouble with the Police, if reported, in your host country.
Or when you have a friend that you feel like you are bothering a lot by often asking for help, so one time you ask someone else, thinking you are being a good friend by giving him a break, just to find out friend #1 is offended because not asking him is a way of saying you don't trust him.

Since I'm Norwegian and my wife is German, two cultures that are quite close, but still different, we have on occasion had strange misunderstandings because we both assumed the other one would understand based on culture. 

Where we live now, in Pacific Asia, the culture is very different, so even though we speak the language at a decent level by now, I sometimes have the feeling that because of that, we are just more likely to get in trouble culturally.

The small, and so far (as far as I know) harmless, cultural blunders we have made, has reminded me of the importance of understanding culture when it comes to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You have to understand how the message you are trying to share is understood by the listener.
We are not in a tribal setting, we just live in a town, but even here I have heard of very small cultural things, that if not explained thoroughly, could make the listener think that you have said something very different from what you wanted to say.
And that is not good when it comes to something as important as the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'm not sure if what I'm writing makes a lot of sense, since im just sharing some thoughts,
but something more specific that I want to ask, is that you all would continue to pray for servants of the Lord around the world.
And we will continue to pray for you guys in the sending countries, we are very thankful for each and everyone that prays for us.

God Bless

Just so that the post won't be without pictures; here's one of the beach

Sunday, 7 February 2016

It's been a looooong time since we wrote a blog post...

And that is very culturally appropriate to where we live!

So there, that's our excuse.

If you are wondering about the random picture, it is here to help prove the point I just used as an excuse to be very late with our blog update.

To be late, to use a lot of time, or even a lot of someone else's time, is not considered offensive here.

Ok, here's the story;

Mr D (in the picture) and I went to a store to buy a couple of Jerry Cans, we need those here to store fuel for the generators, because of the very high frequency of power cuts).

We went into the store, and could not find Jerry Cans anywhere, and finally asked one of the many people working there to help us.

She showed us that the Jerry Cans were on the shelf with the toothbrush holders (obviously), so Mr D found the size cans he wanted and took them of the shelf, but before he could start walking down to the cashier, the employee that helped us took the cans away from him and said that she'd take them down there in case we wanted to buy something else, when we tried to say that we could carry them, because we weren't going to buy anything else, she still insisted on carrying them for us. She walked slowly down to the cashier, put them on the counter, chatted a bit with the other cashier that was manning the till, and the 5-6 other employees standing behind her not doing anything. After they were done talking, with us waiting right there, they started scanning the items. 
At this point yet another employee came over from the information counter and watched the cashier scanning it and printing our receipt.

After being told the price Mr D paid, but before he could grab the Jerry Cans, the employee from the information counter took them, and the receipt, and walked slowly back to the information counter, put them on the counter, pulled the receipt back out from his pocket and started thoroughly checking if the items we had bought were actually the ones on the receipt...
After that was done, he wrote something on the receipt, and kept a copy in a drawer, and then asked if we wanted to have the cans in plastic bags.
After saying that was really not necessary, Mr D finally got the cans and we could go back to the car.

All of this ended up taking 20 minutes and 3 employees helping us, and 4-5 watching them helping us.

It's the same story if you buy an electrical appliance, except that then they ad another step by unpacking it carefully, rolling out a extension cord, plugging everything in to check if it works, checking every different setting, if they all work and then try to put everything back in the box.

Basically, when we lived in Norway, I'd say to Anne "I'll run to the store, be back in 10 minutes."
Here I have to say "I'm going to the store, see you sometime between 10 and 14 o'clock

Our conclusion is that the people here in AP are very service minded, and we do appreciate that, but being quick is not a part of the service.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Wow, it's been a long time since we wrote a blog

And there are of course good reasons... mainly terrible internet connection, travels and just generally being busy...

But we are pretty sure that we'll continue posting when the internet issue is fixed... because we're getting fiber soon :-D

SO be on the look out for new posts

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Visiting an active work

Lately we have had 3 families living in the guest house here. 
They have been here to get paperwork done in some of the governmental offices in town.

While they were here, one of our more veteran missionaries offered to arrange a trip into a tribal location that is not too far away. This place is also reachable by motorbike.
I, Erlend, also had the chance to go along.

Our town is incredibly hot and dry, so it was awesome to go on this trip, because we started by driving on a serpentine road up a mountain to 700-800 meters above sea level.

On the top of the mountain, we had to leave the paved road we had drive on for about 2 hours.

The rest of the trip, about 40 minutes, was all on very narrow trails. Don't let the bridge fool you, that was the absolute best 5 meters of this road, and it was also new. Before it was built, travelers had to go all the way down into the gully, cross a little river, and then hope they made it back up the other side. Having to stop on a steep hill like that, with a very heavy motorbike is not fun...

After arriving in the village, we were greeted by the team, our national co-workers, there. There's one family from another tribal group and two single ladies that are originally from this tribe, but have just lately moved back after 20 years out in the bigger cities.

This is the kitchen in one of the houses. A pile of dirt on the floor for insulation, and on top, a oil burner, and for when they are out of oil, a place for a small wood fire.

This is a picture of their roof. The green part is a type of weak roof that has to be changed every year, and the brown part is a stronger kind that usually last about 2-3 years.

These hooks are to keep their food safe. If they have bought some pork, or have killed a chicken, they hang it on these hooks so that the rats can't get to it.

After seing their houses, we had a meal together. We brought some traditional yellow rice, and our hosts had prepared some rice, steamed fern, papaya leafs and fish.

It was really cool to get to spend time with these guys, and to get to know them a little bit. It is also the first time I have been in the interior since my language level got high enough to speak freely with nationals.

Here we are, us 3 visitors together with the missions team. It was a real privilege to meet them and to hear their stories. Just because they are also nationals, does not mean that their task is easy. This team needs a lot of prayer,  they have had a lot of challenges, and as the time to start teaching God's Word is getting closer, they know there will be more difficulties. Please join us in praying for this team, and the effort they are making to bring the gospel of God's salvation to this lost people group.

Here are some more pictures of the road when we went back down. It is pretty rough terrain up there, so what you see in this picture is farm land on a very, very steep mountain side.

The clouds were not especially low that day, that is just how high above sea level we were.

Can you see me in this picture?

I had borrowed my language helpers Honda Win for the trip. It is only a 100cc bike, which sounds very small, but since we pretty much never made it out of 1st gear, and since many of the hills were very steep, this small, light, bike was much better than one with a bigger engine that would be heavier.

I'm hoping to be able to go back to this work soon, and I'm excited to bring Anne there also, because when we work in town, it is hard sometimes to imagine that we are a part of the team, that we are part of the work to spread the gospel that is going on, so it is nice to be able to do visits like this. Not just to remind our selves that the jobs we do in town is helping these teams, but also to, hopefully, be an encouragement to the people who are really working the front lines.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Spontaneous family photo shoot

For a week now we have had three families, who are waiting for their new visas, living in the guesthouse and we have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them, hanging out and showing them around town.

Today we decided it was time to get out of the city, so we drove up into, what we call 'The meadows'.

One of the guys took his camera and here is what became of that.

We love coming here for a little picknick and some fresh air

 'our' city

 Guess who is making us smile! Hint: His name starts with E and ends with rlend. :-)

 our pretty girl

 we call this the "Marilyn Monroe" :-)... it is windy up there

 she cracks us up

 handsome little big guy

"Mama, stop it, you are embarrassing me!"
Rocking their Polo Shirts

Even though they can push each others buttons, at the end of the day, those two love each other.

We even got some proper family pictures - thank you Payton for taking them!

But then the boys had enough of all that picture taking.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

everyday life is different every day

Hi, anybody still out there? I know we have been really bad about posting regularly lately but we can always blame bad internet connections and the business of everyday life :-).

Every day life is never boring here. Like this morning, Erlend was in the middle of his normal language session when he got a phone call. Within 5 minutes he was out of the house in fancy clothes on his way to a  4 hour meeting at the immigration office that he was supposed to be part of. (it was the first time he had heard of it that morning). We have learned to just roll with it. Some days it is harder to roll than others....

A few pictures of the past few weeks.

The flu has come and gone but language sessions are forever (hopefully not FOREVER, even though it feels that way right not :-))
We are actually encouraged with our progress in language study. I (Anne) seem to have made a long awaited jump (although small, it still is progress). When I listen to Erlend I can hear his progress. 

Telephone calls, official meetings and hour long conversations with friends in the national language have become a lot less scary for both of us and the latter even enjoyable.

Erlend and I both came down with food poisoning for 24 hours and we were so encouraged by our local friends who dropped everything and came to help us, taking care of our kids, cooking and just being there for us. What a blessing they are!

I had to fly to the capital a few weeks ago to get a tooth fixed (it ended up having to be pulled), but my flights were canceled and delayed several times, due to all the smoke from forest fires.
We are so thankful that we have had some rain this week that helped to clear up the air. We can breathe and fly again!

This week we have 3 families living at the guesthouse as they are waiting for their visa. 
We have enjoyed showing them around town, taking them to the beach and hopefully helping them a bit as they are all transitioning to new phases in their lives. 
In this pictures the kids enjoyed a movie night together.

On and major accomplishment of our little big boy.
Ladies and gentlemen, WE HAVE A WALKER!