All photos and text are property of Dave Forney and may not be used without express permission.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Orpa's Wedding

As I mentioned, last week our good friend, Orpa, got married.  

For many years she has been the house helper to the Holstens, our friends and fellow MAFers that live next door.  She also happens to be the older sister of our helper, Abi.  They're actually from Sulawesi, which is an entirely different island and a long way from here.  Orpa has become like family to the Holstens, just as Abi has to us.

So when Orpa got married, the Holstens said it was like having their own daughter get married.  And in fact, they did play a big part in the wedding.

Holstens asked if I could take of Orpa right before the wedding.  Doesn't she look like she's glowing?  I think that's exactly how a girl should look on her wedding day--glowing and excited and joyous!

I also took pictures of the families, together with Orpa.  I'm not going to show them all, b/c there's a lot of them!  But here's one of Dave and Natalie, along with Orpa, all being silly.  It was funny because people here tend to not smile in photos.  In fact, they like to pose stoically, or seriously.  It reminds me of those old photos you see from the 1800s.  Well, anyway, we made it our mission to get the "real Orpa" to come out.  She's such a bubbly person normally, and often laughing, so we weren't going to settle for the serious pictures.  Hence the spontaneous peace sign--another very common thing in pictures here.  We had her laughing in all of the above photos as well.  Those really capture who she is!

After the wedding there was a reception down the road.  We got there 10 minutes after it "started" (it's set up more like a come-and-go when you want after 7:00pm type of thing).  Already there was a long line out onto the road.  This picture is looking back towards the road, through the palm frond under which you entered.  I'll give you a brief idea what happens at a reception like this.

After slowly making your way through the line from the road into the make-shift meeting area (fancy tarps and lights hung up next to a house), you're given a heaping pile of rice and a variety of meat and veggie stuff to put on top of it.

Then, while you sit in the crowd and eat, there's various types of entertainment going on.  It's very loud and ramai (busy).  Here, the young ladies are doing a traditional Toraga dance from their home area in Sulawesi.  To the left is Dorkas, the younger sister of Orpa and Abi.  In the middle is Abi, who as I mentioned earlier is Joy's wonderful helper and friend.

Meanwhile, sitting up on the stage, the bride and groom look on, waiting for the next wave of people who decide it's time to leave.  Before leaving, you file up onto the stage and shake everyone's hands (the families are also up on the stage and other "important players" are in a line down below and to the side of the stage).  You also drop an envelope containing your money gift into the gift box.  Then you leave.  It's all really pretty quick and crazy and loud and fun.

Here's Abi and Lina, her friend, all dressed up in their Toraganese outfits.

Yeah, they even had a disco ball thing (or maybe it was some sort of laser light thing) going crazy.  That's the source of all the green and red dots all over everyone.  You can see the people filing through shaking hands on the stage as they get ready to leave.  The whole thing went on for several hours like this, with hundreds and hundreds of people arriving, eating, greeting and leaving.

And here we are on our way out.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Beautiful Fam!

The tall one in the back row with the hot pink...yeah, she's a Beauty!  Of course, the one in the pretty pink flowered dress is a beautiful little princess too!

And aren't those boys handsome!?  Well, it wouldn't be a normal shot if Tyler wasn't grumping about something.  This time it was the that the sun was in his eyes, albeit in actuality it was actually shining from back behind their heads.  But I guess it might have been reflecting off of the wall behind me.  I snagged these two shots before they all headed out to a wedding of one of our really good Indonesian friends.  More on that in a future post.

Yikes!  Well, if Joy is the Beauty, then here's the Beast!  Kodiak training is progressing well.  After several days of local training flights, we've spent the past several days doing operational flights interior.  Here I am up at 19,000 feet learning all about how to use the oxygen system...just in case, AND b/c it's cool!  Well, o.k., actually mostly just because it's part of what I need to know how to operate.  We rarely go above 12,500 feet in normal operations here.  (Photo was taken on my point and shoot by my flight instructor Dave H.)

It's been amazing to see how much stuff the Kodiak can carry.  Of course, when we eventually get a pod, it will be even more capable, and easier to load!  But even without the pod we can carry big loads of stuff.  Here I'm helping to unload a whole bunch of medical supplies for a clinic in Mahak Baru.  We had everything from medicine cabinets, desks and chairs, to stretchers, wash basins and thousands of syringes stuffed inside--everything to furnish a small overnight-type clinic.  (Photo again taken by Dave H.)

Here's some of the stuff coming and going in the Kodiak.  At this point, without a cargo pod, we often run out of space and or out the aft CG (Center of Gravity limits) before we actually reach the maximum payload capacity of the Kodiak.  But one thing's for certain, it really performs on takeoff and climb-out!

Here's a shot in Long Sule.  Again, this was a flight entirely full of medical supplies.  In this case, the entire load was medicines, IV's etc.  The ladies in Long Sule typically carry all of the stuff from the airstrip down to the village.  I rarely see the men carrying any of the loads.  That's just not how it happens here.  I'm not implying that the men are lazy--in fact, they are all very hard workers.  The men are probably out working in the rice fields or hunting or building stuff.  But seriously, most of these women could take me in an arm-wrestling match any day of the week, and twice on Sunday!  They're tougher than woodpecker lips!  And they wear cool hats!

More later!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kodiak Checkout and Vacation

Well, on Thursday I finally started my Kodiak field checkout.  Below are two random shots of the Kodiak in action here in Northeast Kalimantan.  I took these shots back in November, on the day that I did the big air-to-air shoot.  If you want to see more Kodiak pics go here

Over the next few weeks I'll be training hard in the Kodiak with my Program Manager, David H., as instructor.  I'll be practicing every type of emergency, all types of special takeoffs and landings, all kinds of air work and MAF-required maneuvers, and general operations to our interior strips.  In a few weeks I'll be heading over to Papua, Indonesia to take a Kodiak check ride with another one of our MAF pilots over there to meet the requirements for an Indonesian type rating in the Kodiak.  Then, hopefully around the end of May I'll be ready to fly without the instructor on board--but I'll still have another Kodiak "observer pilot" flying with me for another few weeks.  Finally, around mid-June, if all goes well, I'll be able to take the Kodiak out solo to those strips that I've flown in and out of so many times in the Cessna 206 over the past couple of years, only now I'll be carrying nearly twice the load!

Two weeks ago we enjoyed our annual MAF Kalimantan staff conference in Balikpapan at the Le Grandeur Hotel.  It was a great time of Spiritual renewal and encouragement.  After conference we took a few extra days of vacation.  Our family had not been off "the island" (as we affectionately call our home place in Tarakan),  together in a year--since last years conference!  Sure we've gone on plenty of trips to villages and took some vacation here in Tarakan, but to truly get the batteries re-charged, you have to get "away" for a bit.  But since we have seven people in our family, it's quite expensive just to get to the closest large city, that being Balikpapan.  Soooo, since MAF already covers our transportation costs to/from our annual conference, we always stay for a few days of family vacation afterwards. :)

It's the simple things that get us all excited in Balikpapan.  First, the nice air-conditioned  hotel with awesome buffet breakfasts!  Second, the exciting food options!  We usually eat a big breakfast, skip lunch (or eat PB&J) and then eat the evening meal at one of two places, either Pizza Hut (above) or the brand new McDonalds (below).

It's not quite the same as a Pizza Hut or McDonalds in the U.S., but it's a special treat none-the-less.  Last year they opened a new mall, that also has a movie theatre and even a Starbucks.  This time there was a kids movie showing in 3D, so one day we chose to skip dinner, and instead took the kids to a movie.  They had a blast!  If you're curious, it cost about $3.50 per ticket to get into the 3D movie on a weekday.  Although this killed our budget for the day, all things considered I think that's super cheap compared to what it would cost in the U.S. for a family of seven to go to a 3D movie these days.  I actually have no idea what it costs now in America--does anyone know?

During the week of conference, the hotel we always stay at was experiencing a string of problems with their swimming pool.  By the fifth and final day of conference the kids had only been able to swim two days, which was a bummer since that's one of the things they most look forward to.  As I mentioned, we had reservations to stay a few extra days, but on that last day we looked out and saw that the pool was actually empty--as in no water!  After talking to the staff, we found out that there was a leak, and they said it would take up to four days to fix it.

There's one other nice hotel with a pool in Balikpapan, but we've never stayed there b/c it's a bit out of our price range.  But I went over and talked with them and worked out a deal so that we could move over there for the remainder of our time.  It was just what we needed!  Here's the view of the swimming pool (that we pretty much lived at for a few days) from our 8th story hotel window.  In the distance is the  Ocean.

I'll confess, it's been pretty exhausting since I returned from the U.S., and I haven't had any time to take my camera out of the closet, let alone do good, regular blog posts.  I hope you understand.  To give you just a brief idea, here's a few of the things we've been dealing with in addition to the normal stresses of life over here:  while I was gone our bedroom A/C unit condenser went out.  Joy arranged for a new one to be ordered from Jakarta ($160), and a guy came and "fixed"it just after I got back.  Two days later it broke again and they had to order another one (they didn't charge us for the second one, but that meant another week or two of no a/c in the bedroom.)

Meanwhile, the sink was clogged and when I tried to drain it the pipe broke right out of the wall (those that have lived in a third-world-country understand the nightmares related to plumbing challenges over here!  It took several days, skinned knuckles, extra pipe and a lot of marine epoxy to finally repair it, but meanwhile the bathroom towel racks fell out of the wall.  When repairing that, the bracket that holds the towel bar broke in two.  Meanwhile, our clothes dryer quit working the day before conference and there's no repairman that will fix it anywhere in Tarakan.  Looks like we'll have to buy another one (nearly $600).   The day we were leaving for conference, our transformer that converts 240 volts to 120 volts for Joy's kitchen appliances from the U.S. decided to quit working as well.  In addition, we had wiring issues in the office and other typical problems of doors jamming and locks broken throughout the house--a result of the walls shifting and sagging.

Oh, and that was just during the one week between the time that I returned from the U.S. and the time that we left for conference.  AND, in the meantime Joy was trying to sort out a million details related to conference planning, and I was trying to catch up on desk work, while also working full-time on the Kodiak inspection, and trying to get the upper hand on stuff breaking around the house (to no avail).

We put it all out of our minds as best we could while we were on vacation, but of course, it was all waiting for us as soon as we got back here--all the stuff to fix and deal with.  And now I'm putting a lot of energy into the Kodiak checkout.  So again, forgive me if the blog updates are a little sparse over the next few weeks or so.  There's a good reason. :)