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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Leaping Lizards!

Yesterday, I got attacked by a lizard. Well...not really attacked, but it sure caught me by surprise. At the very moment my airplane was leaving the ground, a lizard jumped out of the air vent beside my head, and landed on my arm. For the next 30 seconds he ran laps from my left arm to my right arm, always making it a point to sprint across my neck on the way.

I remember back in flight school they were always giving us mock mission-flying scenarios to prepare us for the real world of mission flying. I don't remember the one about the leaping lizards attacking you on take-off. Oh, and try landing at a marginal airstrip while the person right next to you is doubled over in a plastic bag. Ya, that can be a bit distracting too. :) And yet, I love my job! Wouldn't want to be doing anythign else!

We've got so many cool & interesting critters here in Indonesia. A few months ago I found a dead crab in the wing of my airplane during a morning pre-flight. I spotted his claw hanging out a small hole where it looked like he was trying to get out but got stuck. Still haven't figured out what a crab was doing in our plane. We often have birds and mud dobbers building homes in our planes, but a crab??

Anyways, heres a few pics of lizards we've seen in Indonesia. There's lots more, but this just gives you an idea.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tropical Critters

[Picture below: Tanner. Below him, Tyler.] Living in the tropics certainly exposes us to more than our fair share of disease-bearing critters. However, the past several weeks have been a great example of the saying, “when it rains it pours,” as far as sickness goes in our household.

We’ve all been taking turns with stomach bugs and flu-like symptoms (actually, I tend to get missed by the bugs, but I’m not complaining…I think it’s the hot sauce I eat that kills everything!) But about a month ago, Tanner got an especially vicious stomach bug. After several weeks with no end in site, we took him to the doctor. A week and a half later, after finishing the medicine, still no change. Now he was beginning to lose weight, (and his appetite,) and we were getting really concerned.

In the midst of that, Joy had to make a trip to Singapore. Over the past two years she’s had a lymph node that’s increased in size continually. Recently, after having it checked here, doctors said she should have a biopsy. But they can’t do anything like that here in Tarakan, and really don’t know much at all about that kind of stuff period. An American doctor in West Kalimantan told her she should go to Singapore soon, b/c it definitely needed to be checked.

Thankfully, although a tumor was found attached to the lymph node, it was NOT cancerous. However, during the descent into Singapore she popped her eardrum do to an intense sinus infection. The ENT specialist said she had some of the worst sinus problems he’s seen in a while. Although she wanted to come back home, she had to stay there several more days to allow the medicines to start kicking her sinus infection out and healing her ear.

Meanwhile, during the time she was gone, I juggled half-days at work with caring for the five kids—most of whom were taking turns being sick. By the time Joy came back, we had to take Tanner to the hospital for further testing. They found that he had a bacterial infection in his intestine. So now he’s on new medicine, and it seems to be making a difference slowly.

Sorry if this was a gross, or depressing post. That was not my intent. Rather, I wanted to let you know a little of what goes on “behind-the-scenes” at times, when you may perhaps be prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray for us or other missionaries, but don’t exactly know why. We really do covet those prayers! Sometimes simple medical issues that wouldn’t be that big of a deal in the U.S. can turn into very frustrating and discouraging problems over here. Certainly it’s an opportunity for the enemy to try to get us down. But praise the Lord, it’s been a rough couple of weeks as far as the health goes, but we’re still loving life here, and very thankful for the privilege of serving. Indeed, God is good! Thanks for being part of our prayer team! I think we’re all on the mend now! :)

Below: A recent Saturday afternoon at our little beach on the other side of the island.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Last Week

Here's a few shots from a typical week--last week, using a small red and white airplane to bridge vast geological, cultural and spiritual barriers. Man I love my job!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


For a long time now, the boys and I have been talking about building a sandbox. It's not like we can just run down to Home Depot, by the supplies, whip it together in a few hours and call it good. Everything here takes time. Well, a few weeks ago we finally found the time over a weekend to make it happen. Here's how it went down: First we laid it out and marked the corners.

Then we started digging. The ground was very uneven, so we had to level it out. All the boys showed up to dig. Tanner wasn't about to let the shovel manhandle him--he tried with all his might to dig to China. I guess since China is practically next door, I'd have to say "dig to America" now if I wanted to be dramatic.

Tyler, however, had a much more supervisory demeanor. He reminded me a lot of some of the PA road crews I used to see back in the day. You know... a couple of guys all standing around staring at a hole (as if it was going to dig itself if they just staired long enough,)--and always one guy, probably the supervisor, leaning on a shovel. But let me tell you, don't try to take that shovel away from Tyler. Whoa doggy! That boy takes ownership of his tools!

Eventually, Britton and I were able to finish off the digging.

Then we formed up and varnished the first of two framed sections that would form the sandbox itself. Again, keep in mind that you don't just run to the store and get nice dimensional lumber. This was rough-cut, non-dimensional wood, that we then had to plane and cut to our liking. But let me tell you, it's gorgeous hardwood. Anything but hardwood would get devoured by termites and ants here. And it's pretty cheap. But I still feel guilty. It'd be like building a sandbox out of oak or something like that back in the U.S.

Before dropping the box into our hole, we lined it with heavy-duty vinyl, so as to keep the prolific grass and banana trees from growing up through the sand later.

Then we plopped in the first secion, built another one on top, and tied the two together.

Finally, we rounded the edges and took the splinters off the top, so as to save on future applications of bandaids to the "backside."

Well, that was supposed to be it. But a few days later we realized that the project couldn't end there. Anytime the twins got out front, they'd head straight for the sandbox and dive in like a pair of home-sick meerkats being chased by an eagle! That wasn't going over to well with the mommy, especially just after their baths. So we built a picket fence with a gate to close it off from the little munchkins. Again, we had to hand plane, cut and rip every piece of wood from large, heavy, rough-cut lumber. To the left of this picture is our little front porch with locally made rocking chairs. To the right, behind the picket fence and under the banana trees is the new sandbox.

It was a bit of work, but a fun project with the kids, and probably the new favorite spot in our yard--well worth the effort.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Recent Views From My Office Window

Isn't God amazing?! These are just a few of the recent views from my office window.
Below are two shots of the shrimp farms that surround the island of Tarakan. Shrimp are one of the few major exports from Tarakan.
I love waterfalls, and we have some really SWEET ones in Borneo!! I'm convinced that many of these have probably never been touched by human hands or feet. They are literally out in the middle of nowhere. I took all three of the pictures below in a two-minute time frame, while passing over the top of one of our very prominent, huge, rugged mountains. I'm guessing that maybe a dozen waterfalls speckle this massive mountain, especially after a recent rain. Look closely to see how many you can find in the shots, and then imagine what they look like in "high-def" as you seemingly float overhead at 8,000 ft. Wow!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Grass Jelly Drink

Sorry, this is a bit long with words and pictures, but I thought it was pretty interesting. And just to warn you, it gets a little disgusting at the very end.

This past Wednesday marked the end of the Muslim holy month of fasting called Ramadhan. This huge holiday, Idul Fitri, is probably the biggest and most-anticipated holiday of the year in Muslim parts of the world. Picture Thanksgiving and Christmas wrapped up in one--but of course, with a Muslim rather than Christian foundation.

Anyway, everyone from all over seems to travel anywhere and everywhere to be with family and friends for the occasion. There's tons of food and gifts are exchanged. As westerners, and Christians, we are not immune to the festivities. In fact, we are absolutely expected to go visit each of our Muslim neighbors and friends to share a meal with them, and visit on this special day. They would be deeply offended if we did not honor and respect them by showing up at their houses. (At Christmas, whether we like it or not, they will all return the favor by showing up at our house and expecting a meal and tons of snacks as well.)

Most of those that we visit are quite poor. But that doesn't dampen their generosity. They heap loads of traditional foods on plates and fill bowls to overflowing with hot soups of various kinds. You learn quickly that if you eat fast, and make to many comments about how good the food is, they'll re-fill your bowl/plate without your asking AND despite your protests--not unlike the waitresses that refilled my coffee cup a dozen times at Heidi's in Gresham, where my buddy Walt and I used to eat breakfast everyday before work.

By the time you leave the first house, you're stuffed to overflowing, like a popping thanksgiving turkey...but alas, that was just the first of many families to visit. You go to the next house and do it all over again, acting as if you haven't eaten a thing while trying to stuff down more food. And then you do it again...and again...and, you get get the picture. It's actually quite humbling to see their generosity.

Anyway, this year we took the twins along, which added a whole new dimension to the adventure. They were having an absolute blast, being hand-fed to their heart's delight by little Muslim ladies who were all to happy to stuff their mouths and hands full of every type of imaginable sweet and crunchy delectable available in SE Asia. At one point we suddenly realized that Tyler was nowhere to be found. Initially unconcered, (usually that just means that one of the ladies has taken him to the kitchen to feed him more, or out the back to see the chickens or something,) we began to look for him. But soon it became obvious that he was nowhere at all in the house. We took the search outside with an increasing sense of urgency. It was beginning to get dark. Somewhere down the street we heard a male voice yelling, "Ada bayi bule cari kucing di sini!" "There's a white baby looking for a cat here!" Tyler was happily chasing a cat down the street. The neighbors were all to amuzed by the entertainment.

Finally, soaked with sweat and stuffed to the gills, just as we prepared to head for home, I heard a distinctive pop of a soda-style can opening. The can was handed to Joy (she never asked for it, but that didnt' matter. Picture kids and food everywhere and general chaos, as a can is opened and placed into her one free hand by an eager host.) It all took place in my peripheal vision, just one of many details lost in the flood of activity--that is, until after taking a quick sip, Joy's hand, holding the can, shot over in front of me. The non-verbal communication was clear. "I just can't drink it. You drink it." And so, closing my eyes and holding my breath, I washed down a half-dozen meals with a nice, warm, non-carbonated Grass Jelly Drink, complete with little floating chunkies of unknown origin. Ahhhhh. Refreshing! Nothing like a warm Grass Jelly Drink to finish off Idul Fitri.

P.S. On the way home, poor Hudson just couldn't hold it anymore. He lost his "cookies" in the back seat of the car--apparently from shear stuffness. Ya, it can be that bad! He felt much better afterwards. :) The rest of us held it "together," but we all skipped a few meals afterwards.