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Indo Of the Month – Feb – Written by George Richard Muller

My name is George Richard Muller, named me after my Opa. I am Dutch-Indonesian. I was born in Redondo Beach Hospital, the 2nd born of 5 boys, in beautiful Southern California. When I was 8 months old, my mother moved us to Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino National Forest. Times were tough on my mom, being a single mother of 5 boys, but it was nothing short of an adventure everyday of my life and I don’t regret a single day. We spent the summers exploring the vast wilderness of mountains, discovering new camping spots, and places to let our imagination run wild. For a time, we had to live in the forest camping for weeks on end, moving place to place within the woods, even through the winters I had to do what it took to provide for my brothers and help my mother through tough times. I became a thief at a young age, stealing orders from McDonalds, breaking open toilet dispensers to take those big roles, showering at campgrounds. Living life on the wild side in a way most people will never know.

The years went by, things got better. We traded off between camping, a mobile home, a truck trailer, and  camper. We would break into vacation homes occasionally to take a hot shower, or wash our clothes. My perception of it wasn’t bad, I just hated other kids complaining about their problems when I’d kill for a fresh pair of shoes that fit. I grew angry in my youth at being bullied for being poor and having to wear the same clothes and shoes that were too big.

Time passed and eventually my mother found a man to love and provide for a woman who had five sons that were not his own. We didn’t take it easy on him. Things got easier as he moved us into a two bedroom house at the edge of the parking lot near Snow Summit, one of the local ski resorts. I still had the camper, my buddies would party there all night, or come back to it after skiing all day and night. They also used it as a safe haven after getting into some midnight mischief. Unfortunately, old habits didn’t die young, and my thievery and burglarizing days didn’t end when things got better. I eventually got arrested and went to juvenile hall when I was 15. From then on I stopped stealing and tried to do better but it was short lived, as I became an alcoholic and became addicted to prescription pain pills until the age of 20. That lifestyle did not end until a girl I had worked at a ski resort many years before called me. It was December 23, 2012 – I didn’t hear her voicemail until the 26th and I called her back immediately!

The woman who changed my life forever is Tara Hall, the Beautiful Dutch-Indonesian girl who shared the same heritage as me. Our love story is one out of a destiny- driven novel, brought together by the hands of fate. When I first laid eyes on her, all those years ago (at the age of 15) I knew there was something familiar about her, something unique. Her light brown hair reached far down her backside, past her butt (I cant make that sound romantic), and the color of her skin was unmistakable. I was pulled to her by curiosity until I rudely asked her,”what are you?” She replied, “Dutch.” I said,”uh-huh, that color comes from somewhere!”, to which she responded, “I’m Dutch-Indonesian actually, but nobody ever knows what that is.” It was love at first sight and I had thought to myself,”I need to marry this girl!” nothing happened between us for many years, as we had both moved away and had different things going on in our lives. But as fate would have it, we both moved back to Big Bear in 2012. She is my greatest inspiration to do good, and to strive to change into a better person – everyday!

In our second year together, I got a job working with the Forest Service working with a restoration crew on various projects. The Crew Captain was a retired Wildland Firefighter Battalion Chief, whose former career peaked my interest. The rest was history in the making, and the start of a fantastic journey back into the forest. I drove to Colorado for a quick Fire Academy to get my training, and worked with a fire crew the same year – The Mojave Greens Fire Crew  to be exact. My first big fire assignment was anopportunity to fight a fire in the heart of my home town. One of the proudest moments of my life, next to proposing to Tara. The year after, I got onto a Firefighting Helitack crew as a Helicopter Flight Crew member with the Apple Valley Flight Crew. My first of many flights to fight a fire was once again to my home Town, Big Bear.

As of this moment in my life, my fiancé and I are planning our wedding and looking forwardto starting our own family. To have our own bundle of Dutch-Indonesian children and making sure that they grow up knowing where they come from, and to be proud of our heritage and culture. My Oma and Opa always said,”Do not shame the Muller name” and “KANNIET IS DOOD JONG!” which means “cannot is dead youngen” these were some of the many inspirational things I was taught by Oma and Opa. They  both played a big role in the way I was raised. I will always do my best to remain grounded and humble like my Opa. He was a hard working man throughout his life, he was once a wealthy man in Indonesia. But,  like everybody else after the war, he lost everything along the way – except his family. When he came to this country he took any job he could, including cleaning toilets in dive bars. Still, he was the happiest and kindest man I knew. He always made sure that anyone who came to his door had a meal before they left, including the mailman. To me, being Dutch-Indonesian is to be a survivor, to be humble, and to serve others. I only hope that my Opa is looking down, and is proud of the man that I have become.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed my story, as scattered as it may be! SALAMAT!

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