Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Chop chop

Indonesian Independence Day (Aug. 17) is Thursday, August 17. All kinds of traditional games will accompany picnics, parties, and the parades celebrating 72 years of Indonesian independence. It's a big deal - we have the white and red flag flying at our gate, as do our neighbors.
A beautiful bride and her groom pass us in a restaurant hallway
Our neighbor Dr. Wuri is headed for Jakarta this week. Along with the many honors she has earned, she's been chosen as one of 72 "outstanding citizens" for Indonesian Day. She'll attend receptions and meet with the Indonesian President. Throughout the coming year, she and the others honorees will be Pres. Jokowi's ambassadors of science, art, literature, etc. throughout the country. We're so proud of her.

The first chop comes before Sunday morning church. I take the scissors to my hair. I can feel the shape clearly in my mind, so this cut is actually pretty good. It won't need reshaping.

Tuesday, August 15, 2007
It's our first team meeting in a month. What a thrill to sit around the table and talk about what has been happening, where we're going in the next months, and pray over our plans. Dr. Hanna joins us for the first time: she's a treasure with a loving heart and willing hands. She's also the Rotary Club President this year, a distinguished honor.

In the afternoon, Pak Entang takes me to a wholesale food place on the east side of the city. I snag a new oven to replace a 40-year-old model our kitchen that doesn't heat past 375o and leaks hot air from a non-shutting door. A women's group (NWMN) has sent funds for the new oven. Thanks to them and thanks be to God!

I add some food into the cart for next week's movie night. The nice lady at the register rings the food up, asks for my card, and then starts talking in Indonesian. I think she's saying that the oven can be paid for by my credit card, but I need a different (local bank card) to pay for the food that is already in shopping bags. What to do?

"Could you make an exception for me, this once? I have no cash or other card with me."

"No, it wouldn't work, sorry." It takes an hour to sort out the details. The frozen food is thawing but oh well ... First, we need a bar code for the oven. Then the manager calls his manager who talks to someone else. Will it be possible to put food on my credit card, just this once?

"No. We cannot manually enter the number to put the rice and other food on that card."

Pardon? They just swiped my card for the oven.
Ready for food prep! Gas canisters sit behind.
But when the ibu (woman) runs my card for the oven purchase, she and another checker whisper together. They have me sign the oven purchase. Then they move the food items from our first shopping bags into a new shopping cart.

One by one, they ring up the food items again. They manually enter my Visa number, using the first receipt. Then they walk to the printer where the second receipt cheerfully ticks out of the slot, and ask me to sign it. Somehow it's been done. Paid. The impossible has happened.

Everyone cheerfully wishes me a good day and a happy holiday as I push the food-filled cart to the exit. The man from the appliance department helps us take out the oven and lifts it into the back of the car. And Pak Entang and I drive towards home = another adventure in paradise.
In the street, a typical garbage dump waiting for pickup
Meanwhile, back at the house, W has met with the landlord. Pak H gives us permission to prune trees and replant if we want to. (Good! I've been eyeing a spindly guava tree and a diseased mango tree is pushing against the garage.) We put away the purchases and get to work again.

Wednesday
First thing, we take the dog for a walk.
Barely wide enough for one car: no passing
Then I take a Sharpee marker from my office and draw rings around branches of the guava tree when I want them cut. About 7am, W brings down his Japanese pruning saw and hands it off: the gardener climbs up up up into the tallest branches and begins to chop away at one side of the tree.

He throws the branches down,  crawling lower as he cuts one after another. The last big chunk hits the ground with a solid thud. It looks like we'll have to wait until next week to cut the other side. Things just take a while when they're done by hand.
See that blue shirt up in the tree? Glad it's not me.
We reserve three 6'-8' branches that we'll prop somewhere and hang orchids from. The rest are cut into short pieces, piled for drying, and will be used for a cooking fire in a month or two. Guava wood produces a sweetish smoke.

I spray one of the cut guava trunks with ant killer ... and out pour hundreds of ants. Some run with the nest's white egg casings, but they twitch and drop in a very satisfying way just like the others. There are thousands of ants in the guava tree. Maybe even tens of thousands. I won't miss the few hundred that are no longer in the stump.

Ah, since I cut my hair on Sunday, I might as well finish the job. I have an hour before I have to leave for a study group. I color my hair, shower, and am out the door on time.

It takes 45 minutes to get to the study, normally a 20-minute ride. Traffic is backed up at the university, so we creep along. But the women who meet are wonderful: this week, we challenge each other to a 45-minute "listening session," where we will sit in God's presence without speaking, listening only to what he tells us. we will write what we hear and share it with each other.

My next meeting is postponed so I run a few errands. I pop into an art shop. Um, they want $33 for a liter of gesso (white underpainting for an art canvas)? Nope. A quick stop in a student art shop nearby nets a half-liter of gesso for $3.70. That's closer to my price range, especially when sharing supplies with students.
The blue line marks a typical drive = up and around, following the terrain
And just like that, it's past lunch time. Pak E drives up the hills and around the bends, getting us home by 1pm. Today there's fried rice with chicken shreds in it. I cut and toss a quick salad.

After we eat, W moves the old oven in the back area. (This will ease meal prep, especially when we have big events.) And then he's off to lead an evening study in town.

Read more:
*God says, “In distress you called, and I rescued you.” Psalm 81:7 ESV

*Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:24 ESV

*But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6 NIV

*A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. Mark 1:40-42 ESV

*Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"

"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?" For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36 NIV
*Paul wrote: He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:10 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Source of salvation, give us eyes that look for justice, ears that listen for peace, and voices of righteousness proclaiming Christ’s love. God, in your mercy you hear us. Calm our anxious hearts. From your hand we receive peace. Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Unexpected additions

Each day this week contained a surprise.

Thursday, August 10, 2017
We thought we'd get into the swing of things at home by walking this morning. And a great walk it is through the hills. It's the first time we've walked on roads the whole way, rough though they are. The sky is overcast so it's a cool (78o) 8 km (5+miles) walk. Nice.
Snake in a cage
We always see something new. Someone has put a 5' boa constrictor they've caught in a birdcage. And entire houses have siding woven in ratan and bamboo patterns.
Woven walls
The surprise is that we don't get back until 3. The drive up into the hills takes an hour and a half, but coming down, we have a long detour around road construction. Most streets are 1.5 lanes wide; cars, buses, trucks, etc. pull off the side when possible to let oncoming traffic pass them.

The new paving is the same width: 1.5 lanes. In some places, sheer dropoffs and cliffs lie within a foot or two of the edge of the road. So when half the narrow road is being refinished, there's no way for traffic to go both directions. The paved areas are 6-8" high, a raised lane of solid concrete, which would make a nasty scratch if touching the side of the vehicle.
10 crammed into our minivan
Somehow, another winding mountain road becomes the "other" one-way out of the area. The drivers here are amazing - how we get from A to B is always a mysterious coil of turns. After 3 years, I'm still lost most of the time.

There's barely time for a quick shower before leaving at 3:30 for the study at the Bamboo Shack. We have a wonderful reunion with friends coming back after holidays. And the conversation is uplifting and warm. We pray for each other -

and then go to dinner at Josue and Claudia's. They offer a warm welcome and a wonderful spread, Brazilian food and some noodles brought by Dr. Hanna and her daughter Alice. We're home by 8:30 and fall into bed.

Friday
The day starts early at 4. Our bodies haven't quite adjusted to our time zone so when we walk at 6, it almost feels like noon. We are catching up and preparing for the upcoming classes. We need groceries! We make a quick run into the store on the way to a massage ($10 for 1.5 hours) that kneads the kinks out.

I run a bath. There's no impromptu soak though: it means submerging a heater for 1.5 hours as the water from our tap isn't warm enough. But wait! the water is green. And I can't see the bottom of the tub. Is that because the air is warm and there's already algae forming, or is it just dirty water? (It's dirty and smells like swamp.) I shower and crawl in anyway - I'm craving a good soak and I have textbooks to read.

In the evening, we have an unexpected treat. We eat at Miss Bee with Kamlesh and Eri, a couple on holiday from IESJakarta. We walk back together to the house after and chat - it's a delight to get to know them better, beyond the occasional staff meetings we get to attend in Jakarta.

Saturday
A father and son ask if they can drop in at 9. After our 6am walk, I bake 3 dozen cupcakes and a dozen scones. W and I don't know if our guests have eaten: Indonesians get up early, usually at 6, so they eat early. Maybe they'll be hungry. I asked W to buy eggs yesterday - and then didn't see him in that section of the store so picked up 10 eggs as well. We were in a rush; we got to the register with 30 eggs - his and mine. Yikes. Well, I do have to restock my baking! I toss some in the scones and hard-boil another 8.

I make breakfast for W and me - scrambled eggs and sausage. Our guests arrive before 8:30 as we're about to eat. We put everything on the table: fresh baking, eggs, sausage, and coffee. They bring pastries from a famous downtown bakery, too.

It's hard to anticipate the time of arrival here. Some people show up early, like this morning. (Our study participants often arrive an hour early as well.) Others arrive a half hour or an hour later than planned. It's a bit disconcerting for meal prep, but we are in constant adjustment mode anyway. Time is just another flexible factor.

Sunday
Yup, we start with a 6:30am walk around the neighborhood. This morning, W's back to teaching his class in Christian Thought. We discuss the full humanity and deity of Christ - and the enthusiasm and presence of God is palpable. Then it's lunchtime at Bumi - we are so happy to have friends to share life and lunch with.
It's not uncommon to see overloaded trucks. This little motor-tricycle is heaped with recycling.
Monday
Our first friend shows up at 8:30. Several others arrive by 9:15. It's our first week facilitating the Monday 9:30 study in a month: others have been taking their turn, learning to lead and ask good questions. As often happens, questions lead in unexpected directions - this time (in Luke 11:14+), we talk about how we can build unity in our families and communities. The group comes up with 1) value others; 2) show respect; 3) extend love; and 4) focus on pure and good things. And they repeat these 4 items until everyone has memorized them. I love the learning style - and their participation.

Simon, a regular attendee, asks us to meet him at an international school at 1. When we show up, he introduces us to the principal. She extends an invitation and W agrees to teach the non-Muslim religion class for 45 high schoolers each Friday. (Muslim students have religious training every Friday, so non-Muslims generally have an equivalent mandatory class, too.)

We have a date - and drive up the mountain to Lembang. One street is lined with garden nurseries. You can't imagine the colors and shapes: there's an abundance of flowers like coleus, gardenias, frangipanis, bougainvilleas, geraniums, orchids. There are also citrus shrubs and green plants and trees of every shade, shape, and size. They grow all year in the tropical heat. Their abundance and beauty is renewing for people like us who sit at a desk much of the day. We walk up the street, admiring, smelling, and touching the foliage.

Frangipani
We've wanted to do this for the past years and never took the time. Lembang is famous for its vegetable farms and ornamental nurseries. W and I stroll the dirt aisles and across bamboo platforms: we're on the steep side of a hill and I have no idea how solid these bamboo "floors" are under the weight of the plants and us. In places where the bamboo has broken or rotted, a board is casually placed over the hole.

We choose a few fragrant plants, including the funniest-looking frangipani tree. It has a clump of yellow blossoms, a few leaves, and bare bark branches. We add 11 vines into the back of the car as well. Those will grow to shade and curtain off our teras, providing privacy from the neighbor who overlooks the yard. The huge Vanda orchid ($15) scents the air - it's my sweet date's bouquet "splurge" on this date night. The back of the car is full, but all the plants cost about $25. A green bargain indeed, for my garden-loving soul.

Our dinner is at the Valley, the "best" restaurant in town. The city spreads below. The view is stunning, Someone has strung white Christmas lights through a 50' pine tree.

The risoles (breaded vegetable dumplings) are great. The rest of the meal is a shock: my lamb curry is a finely-chopped tough stew in a screaming hot sauce that almost chokes me (and I usually like heat.) I gulp a few spoons of rice to cool my burning mouth. Our only light is from two candles so I can hardly see what we're eating. That's always a bit scary. But the ambiance is great, and my companion is handsome. It's a good date night.

Read more:
*God said to Noah, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature, that never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Genesis 9:9-11
*Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 NIV
*Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1–3 NIV
Paul wrote: God was entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 2 Corinthians 5:19
*Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20 NIV
Moravian Prayer: Watchful and caring God, pour into our hearts, our souls, and our minds a strong love for you. This is our prayer today. Amen.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Beautiful things

After we travel, it's always good to be home. We landed in Bandung this morning, unpacked, put things away, and had a one-hour nap. That's the way to pulang (return)!
A plant picked up along the way
I'm looking forward to a soak in a new portable bathtub later. I've got 5 or 10 textbooks to plow through in the next week. For whatever reason, I seem to do my best studying in the tub. The water is calming if it's hot enough. I have a heater plugged in to see if I can get the temperature up. It's all part of our new normal.
The weird little plastic bathtub
The original bathtubs from our house became bulrush planters in the backyard before we moved in. I still haven't figured out how they got there: they're enormous stone tubs that must required heavy lifting by 4-6 strong men. Someone placed them over the drainage canal that whisks the water down the hill from the neighborhood kitchen and bathroom sinks.

We've had a busy month. Our non-profit met in Bali (yay! our first time ever in Bali, a nice touristy spot that we may revisit when we have time to shop and relax - or need our next vacation.) People come here from all over the world, but it's a $50 plane ticket and 2 hours from Bandung. It's probably about time we got there, right?
Some of the fun people we met with in Bali, including our friend, the ever-vivacious Claudia
W and I also took our first vacation in 3 years. Being almost offline for a whole week, we had time for naps, long walks, reflection, and meditation on Scripture. We took nature pictures and talked to each other a lot. We always think we're doing something interesting when we travel for work, but this week was a refreshing time off! (Thanks, Bill, our area director, who mandated this in the spring.) What a much-needed treat.
A Bali sale on objects of worship. At least they're discounted. (What?!)
Does anyone else think it's very strange to pray to the works of our own hands?
Whether in streams or trees at the roadside, God's handiwork is beautiful
Now we are looking forward to "end of summer" routines and events. The easiest way to think about time here is with the seasons (fall, winter, etc.) Indonesia has only a dry and wet season. The temperatures stay pretty much the same otherwise.

W and I have a few courses to prepare for the fall. Chances are that we'll travel to some other parts of Indonesia between now and Christmas. It always takes a while to nail down the details of who will go where ... and when.

Many universities or seminaries ask us to teach but each course requires a lot of preparation to find and organize information. Then there's the actual travel classroom time, and post-class grading and student interactions. If I teach research writing, I grade each day's assignments and hand them back the next morning; there's no other way to cram a semester into a week or two, or to catapult students into the next phase.

When you talk to faculty, they tend to love one part of teaching best and tolerate the rest. I like being in the classroom, watching the students grasp an idea, pattern, or relationship. But the prep and grading can be a chore. We limit our teaching to one course a year per school; otherwise, we'd never be home.
The use of paint - a cool poster
Some cool stuff: our oldest grandchild turned 6. We sent a mermaid tail blanet - which she liked. Stranger things have happened ... I think.

My mom celebrated her 82nd birthday last week, and Dad celebrates his 85th this week. Between, they celebrated their 64th anniversary. I'd say that's a pretty outstanding 2 weeks! A bunch of friends surprised them with a big party. What fun. And what a wonderful example to our family, their circle of influence, and to me personally. They're one-of-a-kind, still in love, and still going strong.

I sure miss my family during these rhythms of the year - we used to celebrate every birthday and often touched base with extended friends at weddings and funerals. Thank God for Facebook, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and emails!
Mom, all dressed up as usual, hanging out with me online
Today's to-do list is long. I'll write more details next time - for now, it's back to work. The lizards are chirping in the house. They seem busier than we are.

Read more:
*The Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6

*[God] said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name. Isaiah 65:1

*Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. Luke 4:14-15

*"Sir,” the servant said, “what you ordered has been done, but there is still room [at the banquet table].” Then the master told his servant, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” Luke 14:22-23 NIV

*But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV

Moravian Prayer: We so desire to know more of you. Gracious God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, show us the way of your Son, Jesus, our Savior, our teacher, and our friend. 

Proclaimer of Justice, you call us to the edges—to the work of sharing Good News. May we seek not so much to be seen as to see you, where most of the world isn’t looking. Let it be so. Amen.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

hello hello

We are traveling but will write when we get back. We are ok! but thanks to you all who asked :-)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

W's Birthday and a week in 3 big cities

June 12, 2017
Happy 60th Birthday to my husband, Waldemar. He chose a date night over having a group over ("if we were in Jakarta, we'd go out with our friends...") - but I'm still in Singapore. He's hosting the usual study on our porch.

So I text the helper to find a cake from the freezer. "Back bottom, on the left." She pulls out this
no! please don't eat my Costco Christmas cake!
and this
cupcakes
and then I send a picture of the pan and she finds it. She serves it unfrosted, but in this heat at least it thaws quickly. And she does find the birthday candles in the drawer.

In her TX evening, Kirsten takes photos of all the cards she's received for W: she sends those to me. Combining the emails and photos takes most of my Monday morning. I send the file to W in the evening. He is overwhelmed by the good wishes and kind comments. Thanks to all who participated! It was a good surprise.

---
I hopped a bus to Singapore's IKEA Saturday, where I met the visa agent and handed off my passport. He promised to process the visa papers first thing Monday (today.)
The view from the 5th-floor stairwell at our apartment: basketball coarts, parking, playgrounds, gathering spaces
Sunday, I walk to meet Claudia's friend at the MRT (rapid transit train) station in the next suburb. She hands me cash - this visa run is complicated. I'm grateful to have the money in hand. W took most of our money back to Bandung after he got his visa  Thursday... so I don't have cash to pay for my visa. Our friends offered to help.

I guess I could have taken the bus, but the walk is pleasant and there aren't hills in Singapore.  There are a lot of steps, starting with 100 steps down from my apartment to the ground floor. The freeway overpass has another 100 side-to-side.
The pedestrian stairway to get across the freeway: every step to code height
 I clock 5 miles and +700 stairs in 95oF (35oC) heat and humidity. Of course, I am soaked by the time I get back to the flat: happy to shower in the tepid room-temperature water.

Meanwhile, in Bandung W is hosting two people from Surabaya - Korie and Isabelle - teachers who will be assisting in training preschool teachers in surrounding villages. I'm so sad not to be there: they are taking up a challenge from our neighbor to work with 118 preschools.

W and I sponsored a little library for one of the schools, and another friend (Yoanita) has donated 4 bags of her children's school books. Korie takes pictures - and I feel like I'm there. (But I miss seeing her face.)

Monday afternoon, I hop a bus to town to get the visa. Four #83 buses don't show up, and finally, the first one comes after 45 minutes. It's slow and winding but I don't have to do transfers. I alight but get lost underground in the tunnels under the street - there are entire shopping centers - but I finally make it out to the street I want to be on. A few blocks later, there's the hotel ... and the person I'm meeting shows up about the same time.

The noodle dish (recommended by the server at the little mall restaurant) is delicious - softest beef and spicy sauce. I'm home by 7:30pm - a quick run up the steps to the 7th-floor flat ... and it's time to pack for home.


Tuesday
I catch a taxi on the street at 5:30 am - and make it to the airport for an uneventful flight to Jakarta. After negotiations, the taxi driver is willing to take me from the airport to town for Rp200.000 (about $14) - and then wants toll money (100.000), which is silly - I refuse and tell him to wind through the streets if he doesn't want to pay tolls - it doesn't matter to me. He's already getting Rp100.000 more than a regular metered taxi. He goes through one toll, then pulls off to take side streets, which don't take long at all.

W has come in from Bandung this morning by train. We hand in our new visa applications to the agent in Jakarta. (We have to come back for the completed forms on Monday.) This visa will keep us from having to exit the country every 30 days. Hurrah!
The Starbucks at the train station is curtained; fewer temptations for those fasting for Ramadan
One of the blessings of association is sitting around the table to hear what others are doing. We join the staff meeting and eat lunch with the IES team - love these friends! We are always inspired by their reach into (and heart for) their community. W gets his wish: there's a birthday cake for him and PD at lunch.
Lovely friends and NU connections at IES: Tirza (alum) and Katie (currently in the grad program)
We make it back to Bandung on the train late in the evening. I'm exhausted: Singapore is one hour ahead of Indonesia - so I've been up a while by the time my head falls onto the pillow at home.

Wednesday
My hair is bugging me. Singapore voltage is hotter than Indonesia, and my hair gets burned with the dryer. It takes 15 minutes with a scissor in hand in front of our mirror - and I'm happy. 1.5-5" lengths of hair are swept up into the garbage. (Much faster than the salon and I know what I have to work with when I'm done.)

Today, 5 students from Northwest U in Seattle arrive. Amanda's been here before: in fact, she's left her things upstairs. It's her temporary home-away-from-home for 2 months; her family in the States has moved to a new house while she's been gone.

We take them to Anklung Udgo, a cultural show where they can see some of the region's music and arts. They're still worn out from doing a youth camp last week, so it's a low-key evening.

Thursday
I make French toast and sausages for breakfast: we need energy for what is ahead. We walk 5 miles, up and down and along the river that borders our hill.

Some of the students are wearing sandals, maybe not the best plan for the tall grasses and jungle settings - Gypsy runs ahead and scares off snakes. W bats a 9" spider off the web above the trail, slashing both sides of the web instead of one ... it falls on the path rather than off to the side. But we walk by without incident.
Across the river: houses neck on neck
 One of the students has no appetite at lunch: he probably has a touch of heat stroke: he wore a black T-shirt and cap. Living here, we take certain things  for granted (wear bright, loose cotton shirts, not clingy T-shirts; wear broad-brimmed hats rather than baseball caps, wear shoes not sandals in nature, etc.) The students refused walking sticks so a few are muddy from slipping on the trails. Otherwise, they're tired but in good shape.
from my art book - 5 min sketches
We decide to have the study at the house: getting across town in Ramadan traffic can be a bear. Ibu A has made supper - jackfruit in curry, fried rice, and leaves/berries from our backyard tree. She goes home early: she'll be cooking at night for her family, who will eat at 3-4am and fast food and drink all day. Ramadan is not a rest for women.

One of the cultural surprises when we first came - as it is for most foreigners - was that employers are required to pay a bonus salary (usually an extra month's pay) to Muslim helpers. Meanwhile, the women are exhausted from cooking so their families can finish feasting before 5:45 sunrise. Muslims work at half-speed during the days of fasting month, but that's the norm. Everyone understands.

Friday
The student team is heading back on the train this afternoon, after 3 days with us. Amanda decides to go to Jakarta with them. That means a mad scramble on WhatsApp and email for me. She's left - already on the train - by the time we get things sorted out.
An exotic fish at the aquarium shop near the train station
After many apologies and interactions with our Jakarta friends, I know the process for "next time." This internship has been a learning curve: we will be much more specific with our teams - and stick to the agenda. (Otherwise, it takes more energy, time, and calling in of favors than the benefit for the student or us.)

We have a half-hour at home before W and I walk down the hill. We're meeting a new couple and their friends. W and Finn met at our last conference in Malaysia; they used to work in Indonesia but are based in China. They want to introduce us to locals with a heart for philanthropy and community care.
Meeting Finn and Sandy
We are delighted - what a nice group. They drive us back up the hill, take a tour of the house, and then sit down for a bit. Finn takes a conference call - the way so many of us keep business going - while the rest of us have supper at Miss Bee. The sun is down when he joins us - as does the local couple's son. The young man is an architect who works for the mayor's office. He walks back with us to our house. I serve him and W tea.
Jolly old ? (not St Nick): the Ramadan display at Miss Bee
While they chat, I pull new linens onto our bed. (I stripped off the old bedding this morning. It's still drying on the laundry racks on the roof.) Ah, finally, we stretch out between the fresh sheets; it feels like pure luxury to sleep in our bed with the house to ourselves. It's been a long week.

Saturday
Upon waking, I listen to the Jesuit "Pray as you Go" for the day. The words are startling and the scriptures speak directly into my heart. Thanks be to God. W sits on the porch with his slough of emails.
A street chicken peeks into the window of a chicken restaurant (ayam = chicken)
After a few morning phone calls, I start editing, wrapping up in the early afternoon. This time I'm rewriting my own dissertation into a book. It's harder to sort through the information I know: what to cut? what to keep? But by the time my eyes blur and my back starts to ache, the rough copy is ready. Then I give myself the rest of the day off.

I read, nap, and in the evening, we walk to the neighbourhood Maxis Restaurant. We order ravioli and a grilled chicken entree. I have mango juice, and W enjoys a desert and coffee. It comes to about $15 (a splurge).

We overlook a courtyard where a young bride and groom dance and host their friends. We pray a blessing over them, pay the bill, and walk back home in the warm darkness. The chants and prayers continue through the night.

Read more:
*Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle'sPsalm 103:1-5 NIV

*He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth--the Lord God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13 NIV

*I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit iin you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:26-28 NIV

*We will say no more, “Our gods,” to the work of our hands. Hosea 14:3

*Paul wrote: All belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. 1 Corinthians 3:22-23

Moravian Prayer: Our God and Father, may we truly believe that we are one with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We can never get outside of God’s love. We are created in his image and we receive all the sap which flows from the vine. Our very being is totally dependent on him. May his Spirit continue to push us to drink deeply from the rock. Amen.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Passing by

"And will you grow tired of this?" she asks herself.

"No, I don't think so."

Life is both treasure and adventure.


What if you were meant to be the little boat that rocks the lineup of ships - just by passing by?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Research methods: for theology, food, visa runs, and a sunset thrown in

One of many beautiful harbors in Singapore
The second week of class is over. But there's a wrinkle to going home. I glance at my ticket. It looks like I'll be in Singapore until Monday or Tuesday. More about that later.

Weekend: June 2-5, 2017
My job this weekend is to edit a book. It's long (250 pages or so), being revised from a 350-page dissertation. Those of you who've done a PhD know the hoops of writing a dissertation. Each school has its way of asking and answering questions, defining research methods, writing literature reviews, and organizing sections of repeated information from different angles. That all has to go away in a book.

Books take a reader through information in a different way, based on time, history, or a flow of ideas - with few repeats. I worked on this project for 3 weeks earlier this year and sent it off to the author. By the time it came back, I was traveling and unable to tackle the revisions.
Rapid transit at rush hour
But this weekend ... oh finally! This weekend I took 4 days (Friday pm to Monday) and crashed, crammed, interacted with the author and publisher, and whee: it's donnnnnneeee. It felt good to send the completed file. It's checked off my list and I learned a lot about Korean culture and theology along the way.

What good practice for publishing my own work! And Waldemar's.
A city built into the sky - and on land reclaimed from the ocean
Tuesday to Friday
Morning pickup for school is before 8. I get up at 6am to ensure the PPTs, notes, and handouts are ready for the day. We visit the library, look at online resources, and edit work on the board.

The students also share their research proposals, do class presentations, and think about daily takeaways. In 2 weeks, their writing is so improved as to be unrecognizable, compared to their first submissions.

By 1:30, the class is done. If there are no other meetings, I head back to the flat to grade papers and prep for the next day. Sometimes I watch a bit of YouTube before falling asleep.
FedEx is everywhere - I spot a truck from our outdoor restaurant seating
Waldemar arrives Tuesday afternoon. He explains 2 computer research programs to our class before heading to the visa agent downtown. (If the tech expert's in town, have him teach!) When he leaves for home Thursday morning, he has his extended Indonesian visa in hand.

Tuesday evening, our date night starts with supper at Chilliz (not what you might think - they make delicious Indian food.) We share spinach paneer, mutton curry, and butter chicken.
Indian Chilis - a marvelous menu
Our sunset stroll on the beach is just a few miles from the apartment. Since Singapore is a small island, Singaporeans are only a bus ride from the coast. Families cycle, walk, and sit on the benches, enjoying the cooling evening air (89oF/ 32oC). I'm very comfortable in my long trousers and a blazer. (I guess I'm acclimated, eh?)
Doesn't this look too perfect? It's unedited from my IPhone.
Singapore takes its rules seriously. There's a $1000S ($722US) fine for riding instead of walking a bicycle or motorcycle over the pedestrian bridge of the causeway. Most parts of life are mandated - especially orderliness and cleanliness. As a result, Singapore is safe and clean - almost pristine.
Taking disobedience seriously @$1000S a bike ride
There are broom marks at the tidemark in the sand where the sweeper has just cleared away leaves, seaweed, and debris. WHAT? They sweep the shores? Yes they do.
Brush marks in the sand
The fishing boats are chugging into the harbor as the sun goes down The ferries tie up at the dock for the evening.

Wednesday, friends cook dinner for us downtown. It's a precious time with like-minded peers. Susan prepares a fantastic dinner of baked potatoes, veges, and roast (tender Australian beef). Young Anna welcomes us with a personally wrapped present. After the meal, W and Shane disappear into the office for some tech support. Shane drives us home afterwards.
Ribbon-knot gift wrapping - cute! (6-yr-old Anna and the gift)
Thursday after class, Kathleen first takes me back to the flat to drop my heavy computer bag - I run the usual 6 flights (100 steps up to the seventh floor. There are no Singaporean hills nearby so I do what I must.)
Palm trees in bloom overhead
After I walk back down, Kathleen drops me at the mall to mail some letters. It costs less than US$1 to mail overseas letters. However, when I get to the shop counter, a $4 Hallmark card is $11S ($8US. Gulp - sticker shock.) I find a few art supplies and small necessities, too.
Every night, I put color and words in my black "visual journal"
First thing Friday morning, W and I get a most welcome notice: my own Indonesian visa is about to be processed. The hitch is that I have to be in Singapore for it - and there's a time limit for getting it. Our upcoming weeks are crammed. Wait a minute!

I have a plane ticket home tomorrow. I've been waiting and waiting for our special company, two friends who are staying with us in Bandung for the weekend. Shall I go home tomorrow afternoon and fly back Sunday night?

We decide - thanks to many factors, including the generosity of the school in letting me stay in the flat - that I must forfeit the ticket home. Our priority is to process the visa for which we've waited 2 years. (We'll save a few hundred dollars, time, and avoid a problem if Singapore won't let me back in with such a tight turnaround. Their immigration is as strict as every other government department.)
A typically beautiful apartment complex - our faculty home in Singapore
Each teaching break fills up with visa questions and logistics. W and I are on WhatsApp with various team members; I call the Indonesian visa agent and arrange a Monday meetup; Ruth (the college's Wonder Woman admin) walks me to a nearby shop for passport pictures.

W has taken most of our Singapore money with him. How to pay for this? More texts whiz between us. We have several options. One falls through. Another possibility emerges but the online links aren't working. Our Brazilian friends have connections here - can that work?

We'll have to sort it out by Monday morning when I meet the agent. (You can probably tell that the bumps and requirements of working overseas are not always expected. Flexibility is key.)

W and I usually treat our classes for brunch during their final Friday morning break. Today the class heads for roti parata (fried pancakes with gravy)@ Mr Prata's. It's a walk through the shopping courtyards to the back of the complex behind the college ... and  a new place to some. Delicious.

Ooooohh, the fusion food in Singapore - Chinese, Indian, and Malay. My mutton curry sings in my mouth, the roti melts into the sauce. Fabulous food! Singaporeans demand nothing less and guests anticipate the cuisine each trip. Meals from hawker stalls (like the ones in my pics) cost $2-3US. It's cheaper to eat out than to cook.

It looks like a quiet evening so far. I finish grading in time for an hour's meditation, some art, and writing. The sun's going down just after 7pm.
Growing: playing around in my "2-minute journal"
One final class assignment is due in a month; otherwise, I'm done. These masters and bachelor students include pastors, a doctor, a lawyer, and other NGO workers from across SE Asia. W and I consider it a privilege to learn from them and teach them - and those like them in this region.

Read more:
*Bless the Lord, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases. Psalm 103:2,3 ESV

*The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11 NIV

*Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV

*Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. Acts 3:8 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Your promises are sure and steadfast and we can rely on you for everything no matter how minute it is. We know that we are protected and even if something happens unexpectedly, we can still sing “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.” 
Thank you, Jesus. Amen.