Batik!

Fabric lovers the world round, be jealous. I recently got to participate in making batik fabric! Batik fabric has been a favorite fabric style of mine for years, and since we now live in the very part of the world in which this method originated, this was a thrill for me!

Here’s a rundown of how it’s made. First, blocks of a specific kind of tree wax are melted in a pan.

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Unique copper stamps are made and used to stamp the dye-resistant wax onto fabric. The stamps on the table below have a unique pattern of stacked rocks that is specific to the city we currently live in for language study.

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The tables on top of which the fabric is stamped are topped with wet cardboard covered by plastic. The wet cardboard makes a cool surface so that the wax hardens quickly.
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The stamps are dipped into the wax, the excess wax is shaken off, then [usually a master batik maker] carefully stamps the wax onto the fabric. The quality of the stamping, in addition to the quality of the dying, are important in pricing the finished fabric (mine would not have sold for much). Ironically, though, in America, we prefer and import batik that is less meticulously stamped and dyed, giving it a little bit of a whimsical and tye-dyed effect. DSCN3340

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An alternative method for applying the wax is using a special pen (same idea as a quill pen for ink) to apply the hot wax. As you can imagine, that is quite time consuming, but batik made well that way by an expert can sell for around five hundred dollars per yard!  Below, my friend is adding some additional detail to fabric that was stamped.

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After the wax is dry, the fabric is dipped into a bath of dye, or, alternatively, if more detail is desired, a brush can be used to brush dyes onto the fabric.

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The below fabric (not mine) was dyed with a brush, and is now being air-dried.

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The wax is then boiled off, leaving a white design which can be either left white or the fabric can again be dipped into dye (a lighter color than what was previously used) to fill in the white areas.

People don’t wear suits and ties here. Formal attire is shirts/dresses made from batik fabric.

I only stamped mine, then let the experts dye it. Here’s how it turned out:

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Just the Mundane


Many of y’all have asked us to post more pictures, but now that we’ve been here a couple months, all the things that were so exotic and fun at first have now become commonplace. So, since I’m no longer a good judge of what an appealing picture would be, I thought I’d post pictures of the everyday sights around here – things that are now common and mundane for us, but were probably exciting when we first arrived.

Here are a couple of pics from around our neighborhood.

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Free-roaming chickens are always crossing the road. Why? The world may never know.

The local language doesn’t distinguish between “mountain” and “volcano” because all the mountains here are volcanoes. There’s usually a lot of humidity/fog (maybe there will be less during dry season?) so I still don’t have a good handle on what the scenery is, but we get a good glimpse from time to time.

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This has certainly begun to feel like home by now. However, we’re only in this location for language study until later this year, when we’ll move on to our target region.

Here are few pics from the downtown area in our city.
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Oh yes! I almost didn’t even think about it! Yes, in the above pic, Jim is indeed wearing a shoulder bag. It’s what the manly men do here.

This is some of the fish at the supermarket. It’s probably best that I don’t have a picture of the outdoor meat market.

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One of the banana shops. Lots of variety to choose from. 
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Another thing that is common here is having the electricity go out for a few hours at a time. It’s not a big deal; it just means we get to have more candle-lit dinners.

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One thing that’s a little more annoying, however, is running out of tap-water. It’s only happened twice in our first two months here, but I hear it happens often in dry season. Jim thought I was ridiculous for using some of the drinking water to bathe. I thought he was ridiculous for not doing the same. We make a good team. Balance each other out. =)

And this is what bath-time looks like around here. Probably this kid’s favorite activity of the day. Of course, non-potable water makes keeping him from drinking the bathwater a whole new adventure. He must think my reaction to his immunity-building antics is hilarious because he seems bent on finding new ways to ingest everything yucky. He may be a little roly poly now, but he will one day have a stomach of steel, that’s for sure (but for now, I will continue pumping him full of probiotics). Praise the Lord that Noah has stayed healthy so far! (wish I could say as much for the rest of us, but we are certainly grateful that it hasn’t been worse than it has)

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And I’ll leave you with a couple more pics of the scenery outside our city.

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These are some rice paddies with volcanoes in the background, a scene that I imagine characterizes this area pretty well.

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Our First Tropical Christmas

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Our Christmas had a very different feel to it this year, but it was a sweet time reflecting on our Savior’s birth and starting some new family traditions.

Plenty of days in the weeks leading up to Christmas, it just didn’t feel like Christmas season. There aren’t festive lights and music everywhere here. But if I would light a Christmas candle, put on some Christmas music and start baking, that would do the trick. Of course, baking here has been an adventure each and every time. I could write a whole IMG_0636series of blog posts about that (don’t worry, I won’t). Here is one of the “pumpkin” pies I baked. So far I can read very few of the ingredients on labels and signs, so I have to make do with whatever mystery items make it home with me from the market or grocery store.

Then there’s our oven. At one point Jim asked me if the pumpkin pies were finished baking, and he laughed when I simply and honestly replied, “Well, they’ve only been baking for twice as long as they’re supposed to, so they’re probably not done yet.”

 

I love, love, LOVE Christmas trees…Like a little kid… I didn’t know that we’d be able to find a Christmas tree here, so I was ecstatic when we brought this home and set it up. We’ve always enjoyed having real trees in the past (and this one sheds like a real one), but this is most certainly my favorite tree that we’ve ever had, and I’m sure this tree will see many fond Jobe-family memories made over the years.

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Hudson had just put the star on top.

 

Christmas morning we had some sweet family time. This is the gift Jim gave me. I might have cried…

Family picsOkay, I totally cried. We are so blessed to have such a large, wonderful, loving, extended family and we loved being able to Skype in on Christmas.

Here, people usually visit various friends and neighbors on big holidays. In the afternoon we took some esteemed “American cookies” to some neighbors, and we had some kids over to play. Hudson pulled out his new playdough and sidewalk chalk.

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One thing that I am ever grateful for is being away from all the commercial busyness of Christmas season.

Simplifying.

Focusing.

Focusing on the greatest Joy that this world has ever seen. O come, let us continue to adore Him, born the King of angels.

It was a very special Christmas season, and I look forward to many more tropical Christmases!

3 Signs That You Might Not Live in TX Anymore

1. You appreciate the free-roaming geckos in your home because they help keep the bugs out. I even saw a big juicy bug earlier today, and instead of killing it, genuinely thought, “Nah, I’ll leave it for the geckos so they’ll stay around.”

Yep, things have changed.

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2. You learn that company’s coming, so the first two things you do are sweep your porch and put water on to boil. Porches are kept squeaky-clean here. People don’t even wear their shoes on their front porch. What am I sweeping off of my porch you may ask? Of the millions of strange bugs that were swarming last night, a few thousand decided to kill over right outside my door. Our first night here, we somehow left a light on in the room where all our opened luggage was. The next morning, tens of thousands of dead bugs were all over and in EVERYTHING. The good news is, the swarms haven’t been the norm (and we also learned which light switches are for what), it’s just happened two or three nights since we arrived. Reference number one.

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This is not our house, just a random one. It probably has a squeaky-clean porch.

3. 10 people climb into a 5-seat vehicle and it still feels nice and roomy. I haven’t taken a picture inside one of the buses here, but we sometimes fit 20 people in a “bus” the size of a minivan. So it’s quite a treat when our coworkers give us a ride in their vehicle. Here, we accompanied them to a church service in a town up the nearest volcano.

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It’s been fun to have these thoughts and then afterward realize how my thinking has changed in little ways in the short time we’ve been here. Of course, for each one we mention, there are dozens more. Some are lighthearted and some quite sober, and most will probably happen without us even realizing it. And thus begins the long process of becoming.

Noah, of course, has begun to acclimate to the local culture faster than the rest of us, in behavior as well as appearance! Below, this was his own idea to whittle a stick on the side of the road.

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Okay, kidding. This is a neighbor boy. But he’s got mad skills. 😉