Some Things New

Can anyone else confirm if Solomon looks like Calvin from the comic?

I am sure you won’t be surprised if I told you we have been experiencing some new things here in Indonesia. While it may be common to see new things and label them as “wrong,” we have seen that they are simply “different” and not “wrong” at all! One of the best things about differences is we can learn so much when we stop and pay attention. For instance, we have a woman who will watch Solomon while we are in school. Most Indonesian women carry their babies in a sling for the first years of the baby’s life. Jessica was watching Ibu Kusni (Mrs. Kusni) carry Solomon around in one of the Indonesian slings and she is already on the hunt to find one for herself. Another difference is we always take our shoes off when entering a home. I happen to love walking around barefoot, so it is perfect for me. I haven’t seen a single home with carpet (and don’t expect to) and leaving the shoes out front helps keep the house clean. It is super fun because the kids will often play at the playground at their pre-school in bare feet!


So, here are a few things we’ve been up to the past week. Adelina and Jeremiah are trying out a pre-school for a week before we commit to it full-time. They have both enjoyed their first 2 days and Jeremiah cried the first day because he didn’t want to go home! They are learning letters and getting to do craft projects. All of the teachers speak enough English to get along but we hope the kids will also pick up Indonesian. (The Indonesian word for language is Bahasa and they refer to their language as Bahasa Indonesia) We are grateful for a safe place where our kids can learn and play when we go to language school!


We bought a scooter that will help us get around town a little better. There will be times when we will still walk but it will be helpful if I need to go downtown. The first month I will drive the scooter without the kids so I can make sure I know my way around and have learned the traffic patterns and rules of the road. We have taken the kids up and down our street but we will wait until I have a few kilometers under my belt before we venture further. In case you are wondering, here are a few rules of the road that have been important thus far:

  • Keep left! They drive on the left side of the road and it would be wise to do the same. (“Different” not “wrong”)
  • Position yourself where you want to go. If you want to turn right, hug the right side of the road. If you want to turn left, hug the centerline. Don’t make wide turns because someone behind you might try to pass on the side where you are turning. We use turn signals but that doesn’t mean it will be interpreted correctly.
  • If we happen to get in an accident it will most likely be our fault. So, drive defensively.
  • Whoever is in front or has their nose in front has the right of way. Even if a car pulls out in front of you, they now have the right of way. We drive slowly and always assume the car/scooter waiting on the side of the road is going to pull out.

Follow these rules and you will do pretty well. The nice thing is we can drive slowly and the other scooters and cars will just pass us without a second glance! I have made two trips downtown so far and they have gone pretty well.


We have 3 more days to do some more exploring before school starts. We will be traveling to a larger city, Semarang, on Wednesday to register with the government, take a photo, and get fingerprinted. We hope to visit a few stores and get some things we can’t get here in Salatiga. We can actually get a good number of things, which has been a fun surprise. There is cheese and fresh milk. We found yogurt, brown rice, and there is even a store that sells Tobasco! All things considered, we are doing great. There is an international church that we will attend some Sundays and connect with missionaries from all over the world. God has provided a great team of MAF missionaries here in Salatiga who have helped us at every turn. The kids have been healthy and are on a good sleep schedule. There are a number of extracurricular activities where I can play soccer, basketball, and volleyball while working on my Indonesian. We have a huge team of people praying for us back home! (That’s YOU!)

We are eager to learn the language so we can communicate more effectively. The good news is we can follow St. Augustine’s advice already,

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

Playing soccer at the International School
Playing soccer at the International School. (Phil in blue shorts)
Sunday is Ice Cream Day in the Vana household!!!

9 thoughts on “Some Things New

  1. Welcome to your new home! Don’t you love DIFFERENT! God makes such wonderful and exciting variety. You all look wonderful in your pictures. We continue to pray for God’s blessings and straight paths of His will. Karl & Maria

  2. The trees in the pictures remind me of San Francisco.
    How’s the humidity? Smells? Sounds?
    So glad you’re all off to a good start.

  3. Haha Loved this post. Totally relate. Not wrong just different. After a year And a half here we are still saying that…….to a lot of things. However we have also found a lot of things to be just plain wrong.

    Excited for you guys.


  4. Thanks for the update. I was planning to ride the scooter when I visit, but not if I have to ride on the left side of the road.

  5. What a wonderful update! It is exciting to have the opportunity to learn about other cultures. I continue to keep your journey in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. Glad to see you guys are getting settled in. I am always praying for you and for your stay in Indonesia to be a great blessing and that you will gain understanding for all things there.

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