Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reflecting on our Adventures and Going On

Remember how it felt the day after Christmas when you were a kid. After months of looking forward to something you’ve thought about all year, suddenly it’s over! So it was on Sunday morning after a lovely little sacrament meeting on the patio of our lovely hotel. We heard feelings about our time together from the kids and everybody packed up their belongings and hoped that something would happen so we could just go on having fun together, but no. The epicenter of everyone’s journey was over.

Still we were grateful for the great times we had treasured together. Forgot to mention that we managed to squeeze in an MFME (Mothers and Future Mothers of Eyrealm) lunch at a wondrous restaurant where the women of Eyrealm had a chance to talk about our “highs” and “lows” for the year. So insightful and fascinating! Somehow we missed Aja. Darn!

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Great memories

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WE love our brave Kristi!

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So the kids left our grand adventure, only to enter into others. Eli and Julie and Noah and Kristi went to Shanghai for a couple of days since they were in the “neighborhood”, Shawni and Dave went to Taiwan to explore Dave’s old mission area and Jonah and Aja dropped by for another quick dip into fascinating South Korea.  Charity went back to start a new job, facing 39 8th graders, all subjects, all day, as their main teacher as the other teacher just retired with a new baby, Josh also went back to his unusually difficult class and everybody else went back to a plethora of babysitters who were probably pretty glad to see them. We all heaved a sigh of relief when we heard that Kristi arrived home safely. All we had left was our magnificent memories and about 100,000 photos and videos safely packed into everyone’s cameras. They’ll be coming out by and by.

It was an adventure beyond any of our wildest dreams. Better than any Christmas morning, as it was Christmas every day for a whole week! We are truly blessed!

And Richard and I stayed on for an astonishing journey through Southeast Asia….coming next.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Butur, Biking, Blessings and a Baby Blessing

Taking advantage of every minute we had together, we enjoyed the fabulous food of Bali after our fun day on the previous post, and in the morning, we scheduled a company to take us up to the base of a spectacular volcano with the beautiful Lake Batur nestled at its base.

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This remarkable tree which shot up past the second story balcony was only made more beautiful by two of our favorite people in front of it!

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That is one healthy tree!

 

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From this heavenly place we were transported to where everyone picked up their bikes and they were off for a downhill ride through the real world of Balinese village life.

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Kristi and Aja and Ezra and I were in a car with Dana (our private car driver) and we watched the countryside go by in perfect air-conditioned comfort although Aja rode Jonah’s back during the second half of the ride and almost 8 months pregnant Kristi was only allowed outside the car to take pictures!

We stopped at a family home on the way down the mountain and were instructed about the amazing life of a typical Balinese family. We learned that the grandmother of the household prepares about 70 offerings each day which is an amazing time and money consumer. And the Mother in the compound spends a lot of time each day cooking in this bleak kitchen. No ventilation over that fire:

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Fascinating information!

It just happened that this was a very special day in Bali. It was a day to be grateful for and celebrate and honor everything made of metal. People were out everywhere washing their cars and their motorbikes and decorating them in anticipation of the arrival of the local priest who would soon arrive to give them a blessing. That includes everything from the kitchen knives to their cars. Here is one of the cars that has just been blessed:

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That may sound like a crazy idea but it inspired us all to be more grateful for the metal in our lives and some of the “kids” even declared that March 21 (the first day of spring for us in the US) was going to henceforth be a day when they honor their cars (by cleaning them and being grateful for them). Not a bad idea! Everywhere we looked on the ride, we saw families preparing their metal things to be blessed!

Part of the celebration includes a ceremonial march to the temple with a little band of musicians and women carrying offerings on their heads to present to the gods in gratitude for their metal belongings.  What a country!

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Our bikers had the good luck of being able to pass right by the ceremony to the temple in one of the villages. Here comes Saydi, blending ? into the parade:

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Thanks for that photo Kristi!

It just happened that this was also a day for a very special blessing in our own family which was one of our favorite memories of the trip. We were all lucky enough to witness Jonah giving a Father’s blessing to his little son. He picked out a beautiful rice field where he gave his little baby son Ezra, his official name and a Father’s blessing. This only happens once in a lifetime. All the men gathered around that little sweet baby and Jonah gave him an inspired blessing of love and devotion which Ezra will carry with him for the rest of his life.

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Proud Mama Aja hovering over the last minute preparations. Several of the guys are standing in the mud, careful not to damage the rice.

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All those uncles got to be part of that wonderful Priesthood blessing of this adorable child who did not make a peep! 

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And here’s the proud Daddy after baby blessing for Number 5. This is one lucky little boy to come to this fantastic family!

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Twas a moment none of us will ever forget!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wild Adventures

If you’re getting tired of hearing about Bali, sorry,just skip to next week, but I have to do this for our family history and I’m going to try to squeeze the rest of our trip into this week so that we can go on with life. This once-in-a-lifetime experience just has to be recorded! So much happened in such a tiny wedge of time!

The fun adventures just kept coming as a nice guy at the hotel told us about an amazing hike to an astounding temple where tombs of the wives, children and concubines of a former ruler were carved into the wall of the mountains on each side  (where Eli and Charity had been before, which is another story). He was even ore excited to tell us about a hike through the rice fields which ended at a “secret waterfall “where he thought our garganuous group would have a splendid time.

We took his advice and when we arrived, everyone was bedecked with mandatory saris and we started our journey through the rice fields and ….

Bali hike R&L

…..about 700 steps later (bless Aja and Krsiti, one who had a baby to carry outside and other a baby to carry inside) and about a hundred vendors hungry for our money, we arrived at the astonishing tombs (no actual bodies in there….just monuments).   

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The walk through the new rice was amazing! Each stock is nurtured in a greenhouse, then planted by hand and flooded with water. This mud was almost like quicksand but is just what is needed to nourish those baby plants.

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After a ten minute walk, we arrived at the “secret waterfall” (which several other people had secretly found) but clothes were shed in a hurry to beat the heat and jump in that gorgeous waterfall for fun.

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After about fifteen minutes the darkening sky unloaded on us. Our guides got giant leaves to put over Ezra and I while we watched the already soaked “kids” revel in the fun. By the time we got back to the tombs, everyone was pretty much drenched, except Ezra who I must admit was “damp”.  Happy Memory!

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The fun continued as we loaded in the cars again and went to what is known as the Elephant Caves. It was a remarkable cave that was open to all denominations for worship and meditation. The cave was supposedly hollowed out with fingers of ancient monks. Singing a hymn together that echoed through the spaces of the cavern made for a magical, memorable moment.

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Such great memories!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Beautiful Balinese Culture

We have loved Bali for its gorgeous panorama of spectacular nature but the thing we really fell in love with 10 years ago when we first visited was the incredibly spiritual and unique culture! Balinese Hindu is very different from Indian Hindu. It has its own unique traditions and beliefs that are so complicated and varied that we will never be able to learn it all. Each visit enlarges our understanding and we love what we learn, both for good and for fascinating.

Here is a little introduction to Balinese Dance and Puppetry from a book called Balinese Dance:

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Probably the most famous Balinese Dance is the Berong Dance, the story of a a classic clash between a wild character representing good (The Berong) and a witch (Ranga). The costumes are simply beyond belief. These pictures don’t do the costumes and the splendor of the sets justice but you’ll get the idea:

The Berong:

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The Witch Ranga:

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Note the very unique gamelan orchestra to the right and the left. They create a sound like no other in the world!

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On our first night at Alum Indah we walked to the restaurant at the top of the road where our cute Dad presented everyone with a ring. He bought some pretty crazy rings for all the guys when we were in Dubai and some beauties for the girls in Mexico. This is the result. We have a crazy fun Dad! We wore the rings while we ate and watched “The Children’s Dance.” Adorable kids who could really do amazing things with their bodies entertained us as we were amazed and delighted!

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Low light so pretty blurry. I’m sure the big cameras got a lot better shots!

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If you look really hard you can see Richard and I in there with all those cute kids.

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Probably the most amazing thing about the Balinese culture is the spectacular rice fields on every side, often as far as you can see! Bali has 4 million people and they feed themselves!  All their rice (their staple) is home-grown!

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As well as endless elaborate temples that make Bali so unique. 

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Art is supreme, from the magnificent wood carving below to the beautiful flower arrangement in a pot of water outside one of the shops.

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To temple ceremonies where men play instruments and women carry pyramids of fruit and offerings on their heads in the procession.

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The most incredible culture on earth!