Wednesday, April 23, 2014

From Excitement to Excitement

This picture was taken on the day our kids met up at the airport in Bali. Since they live alll over creation and normally only get to see each other once a year, they were pretty excited to see each other. I think they were also pretty excited about the adventure ahead. What do you think?  I’m sure they were all happy to get home to their kids and their responsibilities but not quite this excited:

Bali airport reunion

By the time we reached Jakarta they were back in the trenches, being responsible and back to work at home and at their workplaces. That’s just a different kind of excitement!

Our events in Jakarta were so much fun. After my fun trip to the zoo (about a 3 hour round trip where poor Richard had to stay at the hotel and work on a deadline for a new book), we were greeted by the Principal and several professors at a College of Religion where we chatted briefly and a delicious dinner was served.

Next we met with a battery of reporters from the Christian media. They had such good questions and most seemed to understand our English, even though we were working through an interpreter.

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Our hosts for the entire tour were the Weichers who arranged the events in each of three countries. They were full-time volunteer Public Relations Missionaries for our church for the Indonesia, Malasia and Singapore area. What a delight it was to meet them and discover mutual friends and family connections. Amazingly, they have a baby granddaughter with similar heart issues to our little granddaughter, due to arrive at any moment. We had so much fun with them!

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Our Jakarta hosts, who had driven me to the zoo and given me a wealth of information on what we saw along the way, were Jemmy and Indah, who run international tours for people who love to see golf tournaments. Their job is almost as fun as ours!  They were so fun to talk to! 

Indah even bought Richard and I wonderful Indonesian shirts. I needed a different outfit to wear mine with, which I hadn’t brought so “one of these things does not belong here” would be an appropriate name for this picture:

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What a surprise popped up before me when a young mother introduced herself as “the one who organized all of Saren and April’s Power of Moms retreats in Sydney, Australia last year”. Her husband and family had just been transferred to Jakarta where her husband works in the embassy!  What fun it was to meet her! 

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We had a lovely evening with a delightful audience and an excellent interpreter. What made it double fun was that one of our former missionaries (one of our best) when Richard served as a Mission President in London from 1976-79 was now a full-time Senior Missionary in Jakarta doing amazing things in the area of Humanitarian Service in Jakarta. Their incredible projects from providing huge numbers of wheelchairs to eye glasses to those in such desperate need just blew us away.

What a tremendous good the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is doing in that part of the world. Our beloved  “Elder Lucerini” had picked us up at the airport and we were joined by his wonderful wife Mary (Sister Lucerini) and the Stake President as well as the Weichers and Jemmy and Indah for a lovely dinner on the night we arrived. They had all worked hard to make the event successful!

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Hard to believe all that time had gone by! We loved everyone we met, which included a lot of full-time missionaries serving in that area!

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And so many eager minds ready to learn about how to create strong families!

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Our stop in Jakarta was never to be forgotten! Many thanks to all of you who made it happen!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Astonishing Jakarta Zoo

Indonesia is the fourth most densely populated country in the world with 278 million people and something like 13,000 Islands. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia only has ten million and we think we saw almost all of them on the road from the airport to our hotel. It took three hours to go about 30 miles during rush hour. There is very little infrastructure in Jakarta. No subways, buses, light rail or even trains that we could find. some people bought beat up old mini vans and crowded 25 people in there at about 10 cents a ride to make a little money on the side.

There is much corruption and lots of the government money goes into the pockets of greedy people instead of to the good of the masses. It seems that much of the corruption is among the police who can pull you over at any time and demand money on the spot or you will be required to go through a long expensive court process. What a country!

But for all the hard things for the very poor in Jakarta who do so much with so little, big business seems to be thriving and I have to say 1st, that our favorite place in the world….Bali, is in Indonesia and second, Jakarta must have the most remarkable zoo in the world! Our hosts there were friends with the people who organized a most unusual zoo that I think must rival the Safari Park in San Diego (though I’ve never been there). And the wild zoo near Jonah’s house on the Olympic Peninsula.

We stopped at one of a bazillion stands on the main road to the zoo to buy carrots to feed the animals from our car just before we drove through the most incredible, clean, creative spaces imaginable where healthy animals in an abundance of gorgeous natural settings watched the parade of cars drive through their home with interest, glad for a free hand-out of good food!

Pictures will tell a thousand words. it was simply astounding! there were no fences anywhere and actually we didn’t feed the elephants, lions and tigers but you’ll see whom we did feed:

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But not the hippos! One might fall in a mouth that size!

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Looked as though this mom has just given birth. Hope they’re just exhausted and not dead!

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And here is the really fun part. I got to hang out with my buddy for a while. That leg was pretty heavy and the zookeeper instructed me not to put my hand on his head but around his neck. I followed his instructions exactly! Pretty amazing guy!

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And this little fellow and I absolutely fell in love. He really wanted to kiss me on the mouth but I opted out! Such a cutie though!

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It was a school holiday so the crowd to watch the elephant show was enormous.

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What a day to remember at possibly the world’s most astonishing zoo!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Last Taste of Beautiful Bali

The kids all left (sigh), except Jonah and Aja who found had a lovely little night on their own in a little hotel in the middle of a rice field with Ezra. We moved over to our favorite hotel called Alam Jiwah (a sister hotel to the one where we all stayed). It is where we lived for a week about seven years ago while we were buying things to be shipped to our new “Balinese House” in Park City.  Our faithful driver came every day and took us to find everything from tables, chairs and beds to candlesticks and Balinese benches to pile in our ocean container which was then sent to Utah.

So it was a little like going home. It is a gorgeous place that overlooks rice fields and farmers with a gaggle of ducks who eat the snails who would otherwise eat the rice.

Once again we were greeted by the spectacular carvings on all the doors and entrances to our outdoor shower. The gorgeous offerings as well as the peaceful ambiance just makes you breathe in, breathe out….and smile! 

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Even the beautiful patterns in the rock sidewalks and orchids growing out of the shower wall in our bathroom wall were a delight!

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We bid a fond farewell to Ubud which now holds a plethora of memories through the years and we went on to Seminyak and one of our favorite restaurants, Ku de Ta. Even though it was 90 degrees and about 90 % humidity with no air conditioning we enjoyed a lovely lunch in the artistic surroundings.

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Then we had a sumptuous serendipity! We discovered that our plane the next morning was not at 9:30 a.m. as we had thought but at 2;30 p.m.. Since we were pretty close to the airport, we found a great deal on a terrific hotel right next to the restaurant, one of our favorites, the same hotel chain where we had stayed in India many years ago called The Oberoi. We highly recommend it!

It was a relaxing treat before we hit the road for our speaking tour in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore the next day. It was pure delight!

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What a great Balinese finale!

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Gorgeous sunset!

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A breakfast to die for:

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What a perfect send-off….

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