I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to write an update letter. I hope that my mother and Facebook have been keeping you all updated. The last three months have been incredibly busy for us. After HCBC, Hannah, Charis and I spent a couple restful weeks in Montana. We spent a lot of time with Hannah’s family and took a daylong trip to visit the breathtakingly beautiful Yellowstone National Park. We saw mountains, hot spring geysers, Old Faithful, plenty of buffalo and even a bear! For a city boy like me it was quite an experience.
We left Montana for Indonesia in early August. Out trip took us through Seattle, Washington and Seoul, South Korea. We arrived in Jakarta safely, albeit a bit exhausted from three days of travel. Universitas Pelita Harapan, the school where I currently work, is about an hour drive from the airport – just outside of Jakarta. Our apartment is on campus (which is great for my morning commute). The apartment is large and beautifully furnished. We have four bedrooms, three bathrooms and two kitchens. We only brought a few suitcases between us, so we have lots of empty closet space. Our apartment is on a high-rise with a great view of the campus. We live above the president of the university (an Indonesian) and below the Chaplain (an American) and his family of six.
The expat community here has been incredibly supportive. There are a lot of Americans, Australians, and Kiwis (New Zealanders). Veteran expats have helped us navigate this unfamiliar world. In many ways Jakarta is very Western. Skyscrapers dominate the downtown skyline and shopping malls contain recognizable stores like Starbucks, Nike, and McDonalds. In other ways Jakarta is very Eastern. For every BMW on the street, there are ten rickshaws. While it is possible to find American food, most restaurants serve Indian, Korean, Chinese or Indonesian food (and I’m quickly learning the difference between them). In addition, grocery stores are very difficult to navigate. The shelves have some recognizable brands, but most things are new to us. We spent hours wandering around the stores in our area looking for particular ingredients when we first got here. Hannah and I have both been working through culture shock. Charis, on the other hand, is content as long as she has food and her mommy. She doesn’t seem to notice that she’s on the other side of the world.
My job has so far been incredibly challenging. In short, I am part of a small team of Westerners trying to set up a brand new multi-national teachers college on the campus of a large East Asian University in a developing country. We have run into every wall, hurdle and obstacle you could imagine. Our new little college has encountered accreditation issues, significant miscommunication issues, health issues, facilities maintenance issues, immigration issues, hygienic issues, issues with unprepared students, and issues with the Indonesian government (just to name a few). Through it all God has been good and has provided us with just enough energy to get us through the day.
We are learning a lot through our experience. We are learning how to navigate a highly hierarchical and collectivist culture. We are learning how to communicate cross-culturally. We are also learning a lot about South East Asia. We have students from Indonesia, Nepal, Cambodia, China, Egypt and the Philippines, and we’re learning a lot about each of these cultures from the students. In addition, we are trying to take this opportunity to explore this part of the world. I have already done some traveling around Asia for work, and next week the three of us are going on a little vacation to Singapore. I’m hoping to take the girls to the Gardens by the Bay.
Keep praying for us. Keep praying that the Lord will give us wisdom and endurance. This is an exciting place, but it is also a frighteningly unfamiliar place. It is not always the easiest place to raise a toddler. And it is a little frightening to imagine having a child so far away from the familiarities of Western medicine and the support of our family and friends in America. Nevertheless, Lord willing, we will welcome our second child into the world in early May—so much for Hannah’s infertility.
I’ll try to send periodic updates. Feel free to email and/or Facebook us with questions. We’re not sure when we’ll make it back home for a visit. Hannah’s pregnancy is a complicating factor. Of course, if my older brother were to have a wedding this summer, we would be compelled to come home.
We love and miss you all.
Adam, Hannah and Charis.